Copyrighted Kristen Banet/K.N. Banet 2019
All Rights Reserved
First draft state and full of errors. I make a whole bunch of typos in my first draft.
Luykas is the son of a dangerous and powerful woman. If you’re here, you probably know his mother is the Empress Shadra. This is his last day living with her before leaving for Anden, the land of the Andinna.
Luykas woke up that morning feeling bored before he even got out of bed. He was slow to rise, and began his morning routine of stretches late, the maid walking in to make the bed before he had the chance to leave. He looked away from her, trying not think about how a month prior a new maid had started coming to his rooms to clean up after him. He didn’t know her, didn’t understand why she even had to be there. He’d grown up with the last one. They were friends.
I thought we had been becoming something more, but I guess not.
He ignored the new maid, trying not show the hurt he always felt by her presence. He quickly found clothing and dressed before things grew too awkward. He could have sent her away but then it would have been reported and he would have had to explain it.
Luykas left his rooms without looking back, wondering if it was just the loss of his friend that had made the large estate stop feeling like home. Something had been off months before that, beginning with his mother’s announcement of her engagement. The servants had grown a little colder, a little more distant, and too subservient for him. Her engagement pointed to big changes for the family, ones that terrified him.
He saw the sun peeking in through the windows as he marched down the halls built too small for his frame. His wings, if he wasn’t careful, would catch things and knock them down or off the wall. He had just finished his last growth spurt, his mother said, and he was still adjusting to his full height. At nine-five, he had hit it a couple years early, and he desperately hoped it would be the last one. As it was, he’d been taller than every one he’d ever met for twenty years. Now he felt like a giant.
He found the parlor he went to every morning and stepped in.
“You’re late,” a golden haired woman said, looking out of a large window. Her back was to him but he didn’t take that as an insult. “That’s very unusual for you, Luykas.” She turned to look at him and he sighed. “Is everything okay?”
“Everything is fine, Mother. Just slow getting out of bed this morning,” he explained, crossing the room. As he did every morning, he bent to kiss her cheek and she touched his face gently, smiling.
“Good. I think we can have an easy day for lessons then. We’ll focus on the creative arts and see how your musician skills have been faring. Or maybe your painting. You have a talent for it.”
“That sounds lovely,” he murmured, trying to sound grateful to her. He really wanted to groan and walk out. He wanted to go out into the very field she was staring at when he walked in and practice with a sword, but she had forbidden him from those things decades ago. Her excuse had been that she didn’t want him tainted by violence.
They both knew he already was.
He walked away from her to grab an easel and canvas while a servant rushed forward with paints. He picked bold colors, reds and purples, with a dash of oranges and yellows. When the servant walked away, he began to paint, not really planning what he was going to end up with.
“Ah, going for a fictional scene?” His mother was so serene. She always wanted him to channel it and he appreciated her efforts. He understood that she didn’t know what was wrong with him either.
Neither of them could explain the bloodlust that brewed in his chest, so instead, they ignored it.
“Yes. Something… I’ve been dreaming about,” he admitted as the painting took shape quickly. He would clean it up later in the day after the first layers dried, but he felt a pressing need to put down his idea now. Once he had picked those colors, he knew what he wanted to paint.
“Mountains,” she whispered, stopping behind him. “Beautiful.”
He didn’t believe her words. She hated when he painted mountains. He knew his mother well enough to know that anything he did that seemed more Andinna than Elvasi wasn’t approved of. She didn’t want him thinking of Anden or the warrior people his father hailed from. He didn’t want him acting like his father.
Not that he could really blame her. His father had gotten her pregnant and disappeared, leaving him with her to raise on her own.
He wanted to throw the painting across the room, angry that he wanted something that had anything to do with the piece of shit that left him in the Empire and with a mother that didn’t understand. He loved his mother, he really did. She tried her hardest to educate him, introduce him into society and find him a place, but she didn’t understand that he needed to spread his wings more. He needed an outlet that he didn’t have.
“Would you like me to practice music next?” he asked softly. She placed her hands on his shoulders.
“What’s wrong?” she asked gently.
“It’s nothing,” he said, trying not to choke on the words. He shouldn’t lie to his mother, but she didn’t deserve to feel bad for his own conflicted feelings. She hadn’t asked to be his mother without a father to help. “How is the wedding planning?”
“Exhausting,” she said with a sigh. A stool was placed next to him and she sat down. He lifted an arm and let his small mother lean into his side. “Are you excited about moving to Elliar?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll fit in there very well.” He slumped and she pulled away. With one hand, she straightened his posture before leaning back into him.
“You’ve been getting better at managing your emotions,” she reminded him.
He didn’t tell her it was because he was oftentimes half drugged by a tea that calmed him. He needed it to survive the cooped up like he lived with her.
I love her so much so why can’t I be happy here? Why can I be happy going to Elliar with her? She deserves a good husband and the life of her dreams. Why can’t I do it?”
“Luykas, you can remain here and manage this estate. We’ve discussed this. There’s options. You only have to come to Elliar for the wedding and the initial change over. He needs to meet you and understand why you—”
“Live with you?” He sighed. “He doesn’t know, does he? That’s I’m your…”
“He knows you as my son,” she snapped.
“Adopted son,” he finished, pulling away from her. “And I’ve always understood why we kept the secret, but… you’re going to have kids with him. I’m going to have siblings and… are they ever going to know?”
“If everything goes the way I plan it, yes,” she promised. “Luykas, I don’t ever want to leave you behind. You’re my firstborn and my beautiful son. A wonderful miracle.”
He closed his eyes as he heard the honesty of those words. She really did believe those things and the love she always showered him in almost eased his aching heart.
They didn’t do much for the rest of the morning. Luykas jumped up and went to the piano, beginning to play her favorite. She danced with no one around the parlor and he could see how beautiful she was going to be on her wedding day, finally with a husband like she deserved.
A knock on the parlor door interrupted it. He sighed, knowing it was a common occurrence. As the wedding drew closer, he had less and less time with her and she was the only person he truly had.
“Come in,” she called.
A servant came in and Luykas stood up quickly. The poor man was pale.
“Lady Arien, there’s… a visitor to see you. He…”
“Out with it,” she ordered sharply.
“He says he’s bringing good tiding from Anden and the Andinna Royal Family about your wedding.”
Luykas let those words sink in.
“His name?” his mother whispered.
“General Javon Lorren.”
“Luykas, I want you to go to your quarters,” his mother said, snapping her fingers. “Take General Lorren to my office. Serve him. I need to freshen up.”
“Mother, is he—”
“No,” she answered. The shortness to her answer, the terse angry in it made him think she was lying, but he didn’t call her on it. “If you wish, you can stay in here and continue your practice on your own.”
He didn’t move, thankful she added that. As servants jumped into action, he stood there, turning to look at the painting still drying. Sunset mountains.
Once the room was empty, he still waited. He had spied before. He was kept in secret for the most part. As the adopted son of Lady Shadra Arien, he didn’t have the privilege of being in important meetings, meeting nobles and merchants. She promised that would change once she was married and things settled.
But he grew up with things decidedly not settled, which meant he got very good at spying. The servants never told him he could or couldn’t be somewhere and his mother never got onto him if she did find out. So he atleast thought he was good at spying.
After waiting long enough to feel comfortable, he left the room and walked quietly to the other side of their mansion and found himself in the hallway outside her office.
“—here to offer you the congratulations of the Andinna Royal Family on your upcoming marriage,” a rough, male voice said. “You got the Emperor, Shadra. I’m both amazed and not. You were always a smart, beautiful woman.”
“Thank you, Javon,” his mother responded. “Are you in the Empire alone? Tell me you didn’t come all this way just for that message alone.”
“Oh, no. Queen Alyna would never let me leave Anden without men. I left guard in the village your estate oversees, paying good money to the inn. I hope that’s okay. They’ve been told I’ll be back by sunset. You know the whole deal.”
“And if you aren’t, they leave for Anden and we’re tense until you’re found. Yes, the whole political game of being in a foreign land when you’re the leader of an army and a direct confidant of a leading family.” His mother laughed. “It gets old, doesn’t it?”
“You’re about to rise up, so I hope you aren’t going to start complaining now.” This General Javon Lorren seemed to think it was all funny as well. “We have something important to talk about, Shadra.”
“What’s that?” She sounded so innocent.
“I volunteered for this assignment because I heard some concerning… rumors. You and Behron were close ninety-seven years ago. I was there, you remember. When a member of the royal family leaves Anden, I go with them.”
“I remember Behron,” his mother said quietly.
Luykas stepped closer to the door.
“I would hope so,” the man said, his words growing harder. “How long did you think you could keep him a secret?”
“I don’t know—”
“The boy,” Javon said with a growl. “You and Behron had an affair. At the time, I ignored it. Behron was always a sad excuse of an Andinna. He had a wife and during the mission, no one knew she was pregnant. He’d left on the trade mission where he met you only days after his wife’s fertility cycle had ended. So I ignored the affair he had with you.”
“The boy is mine,” his mother said shakily. “You don’t get—”
“You are an Elvasi noble woman about to marry the Emperor, Shadra. You can’t take him with you.” The man’s words grew softer again. “Not when he’s the son of the Prince of the Andinna. He’s a foreign royal growing up in the wrong court.”
“I found the letters you sent his father,” the man answered the unspoken question.
Luykas couldn’t process what he was hearing. This man knew his father. His mother had been affair. Did he have siblings out there? He needed more. He had to know more.
Foreign… royal? This Behron is my father and he’s the… Prince of the Andinna?
Luykas staggered, slumping in the wall with a thump as his wings hit a painting and knocked it down.
The office door flew open and his mother stared at him wild eyed.
“Luykas,” she gasped. “What are you doing here?”
Behind her, a massive male stepped out of the door. He had black wings, the exact opposite of Luykas’ white ones. His horns spiraled like a great ram’s. Black markings like tattoos covered his face, neck, and bare chest, disappearing underneath his pants. They made intricate designs all the way down his arms, covering the back of his hands. The massive sword at his waist had a wicked curve. His tail curled harmlessly behind him, but one swish made Luykas nervous.
“He looks exactly like him,” the big male said softly.
“Like who?” Shadra snapped.
“His half-brother. Prince Alchan. If he didn’t have your grandfather’s coloration, very Elvasi, they would be twins.” The Andinna stepped around his mother and held out a hand. “Let me help you up. This must come as a shock if your mother had never told you who your father is.”
He was scared to take the hand. It felt like he was making a deal and didn’t understand what.
“I’m Javon,” the man said softly. “I’m a friend.”
Luykas took the hand and let the big man pull him up. He was shorter than the big male, which was the most unusual sensation Luykas had felt in years. He wasn’t used to be shorter than someone.
“You’re going to be tall. You’ve got another growth spurt coming—”
“No, he doesn’t,” his mother said sternly.
“He’s Andinna. He’ll have one more and then he’ll be granted his tatua.”
“He’s not getting—”
“He’ll be an adult soon enough, why don’t you give him the choice?” Javon snapped back at his mother.
“Don’t speak to her like that,” Luykas growled, finally finding his voice. “That’s my mother and she’ll have your respect.”
Javon turned back on him, a smile forming. “You are Andinna, all right. You know who’s in charge. Females rule this world and the next, don’t they?”
Luykas inhaled sharply at the sudden shift in the male Andinna.
“Luykas… I’m here to take you to Anden,” the man said when no one spoke for several moments. “If you’re willing.”
“You mean if I’m willing,” his mother said. “He’s still a minor.”
“His father’s bloodline gives him the ability to order me to remove him from the Empire which is more powerful than a mother with a minor son on the verge of adulthood,” Javon countered. “Actually, it gives me the duty to remove him from the Empire and the possible threat your future husband might pose to him.”
“Don’t do this, Javon,” his mother whispered, shaking her head,
Luykas’ head was spinning. His heart was pounding. She didn’t want him to go, but he had dreamed of Anden. He had wanted to see it since he knew what it was called. He wanted to see a city where everyone flew and it scared no one. He was desperate to find the other half of himself.
“Mother, I want to go,” he said, feeling the guilt well up in his chest. “Please don’t make this hurt.”
In a heartbeat, his mother’s hurt face changed into a cold mask.
“You don’t even know them,” she reminded him. “You don’t know how they can be violent and unforgiving. You’ll be a male in a world where women hold all the power, and not just in the motherly way I run this house. A male only climbs if a female doesn’t want the position. Ask Javon. Everyone would rather have his wife as the General than him.”
“She’s not wrong,” Javon agreed, shrugging. “But that doesn’t mean males are second class citizens.”
“Your father left us. He ignored my messages about you for decades. Javon isn’t here because your father suddenly loves you. He thinks he’s cleaning up a mess.”
Luykas heard all of it.
And none of it mattered.
“Mother, I want to see Anden. There’s a chance I’ll hate it and come back to you. I’ll never let anyone stop me from coming home.”
The smile his mother gave him chilled him.
“I love you,” she whispered. “Go before I…” She shook her head, went back into her office, and closed the door on them. He heard the lock click, leaving them out in the hall.
“Go pack, son,” the big male whispered.
“She’s suffering from nothing you can fix now, not even by staying here.”
Luykas let those words sink in. “I’ll meet you at the front door,” he said.
“I’ll be waiting.” The General bowed to him and walked away.
Luykas was leaving home for the first time in his life and it wasn’t to Elliar with his mother for her upcoming marriage to the Emperor.
It was to Anden, where his father was a Prince.
For some reason, even through the hurt of leaving his mother in her state, he felt like he was making the right decision.