Last Stand of the World
Chapter 23 bittersweet homecoming
“Asaa, they don’t seem too friendly.”
“Davern? What are...who are they?” She turned her head back to see the corridor lined with spears pointed in her direction.
Then she got angry her temper flared her people she hadn’t seen for months were here pointing spears at her. At Her. Her Royal Highness Princess Asaa Sassun of the Azure Sun Tribe. She stared coldly down at them, all the playfulness gone from her demeanor.
“Where is your commander? How dare you point those things at a member of the Royal family.”
Davern still stood slightly in front of her and didn’t relax, motioning for the goblins to move to the side in case he had to open up a large spell.
“Just who is it that is audacious enough to claim to be a Royal of our tribe and trespass into the Azure Sun Tribe during a time of war?”
Asaa heard the familiar voice, her mother’s second in command, “Aunt Marina?” her voice almost a whisper.
The lamia coming into view paused when she saw Asaa, then rushed forwards. Without knowing what her intentions were, Davern released the spell he’d been holding, freezing everyone in their place.
The lamia in front of them rolled her eyes towards them, unable to do anything else.
Asaa turned to Davern, “what are you doing? Put her down.
“She could have attacked you.”
She thumped him with her tail, “she was just excited and forgot the situation. Allow her to speak.”
Davern was only slightly contrite. And didn’t regret his action, “fine, but if they try anything, I’ll not let them off.” He released the leader. Who came gently to the ground for all of Davern’s harsh words, he could tell that these people meant a lot to Asaa.
“Who is she? She’s my Mother’s second in command, Marina; also my father’s sister, so my legitimate aunt, which is why she forgot herself.
She moved forward, “Aunt,” she said, slipping out of Davern’s protective shield.
“It’s good that you’re alive. We thought that you were gone as well.”
“No, I left like I was told to by Mother and have only returned today.”
“I see, she told you to leave.” her aunt held her hands in hers, looking into her eyes for a second as if she were trying to see something.
“Yes, Asaa smiled. “I met someone and wanted to bring him to meet her,” Asaa felt a bombardment of emotions through the bond but kept her face calm and serene. “Is Mother okay? I’d like to see her, there is someone I want her to meet.” She said, smiling towards Davern.
“She’s a bit busy at the front line right now and can’t meet us, so she has left orders to continue defending our posts.”
Asaa, deflated a little, “I see.”
“I’ll send her a letter to let her know that you’ve returned. In the meantime, you must be tired; let’s go and have some refreshments.” She said, taking Asaa’s arm.
Asaa smiled at her faintly, “yes, very it’s a long way from my mate’s home town to here, and we didn’t get much sleep on our travels.” Asaa knew that she couldn’t keep it from them that they had been married, but she didn’t know how Davern would take the story. She fretted, not to mention the parts about being married were true.
“Asaa, oh, you’ve taken a mate, I see. Then that is cause for celebration, but could you possibly ask your mate to release my soldiers?”
Asaa, pulled away from her aunt and went back into Davern’s sphere of influence. “I’m sorry, Aunt, he’s a little jumpy, something kidnapped his brother on the way here, and we are also looking for Mother; so she can help us find him. Not to mention, the guards aren’t doing a very good job these days. The outer tunnels are a right mess.
‘Ooh, and I’ve made two new friends on my journey, Dugger and Ryli come here. Davern, you can let them go. I’m sure with my Aunt's promise; nothing will happen to me, right Auntie?”
“Of course, dear,” she smiled at her in a way that let one know that she cared.
Davern smiled to himself and thought, what a cheeky girl, then she swayed over to him and wrapped her arm around his and her tail around his waist before leaning her head against his shoulder. A faint flush rose in her cheeks as she leaned closer to his ear, “I’m sorry, please bear with it, okay?”
He brushed his fingers over the tip of her tail that was wrapped around his waist and released all the other guards; from the show, he could tell Asaa had a plan and that the Aunt was lying. Azer had said her mother was missing, so either she was “controlled” by the Nuller, which was possible, or the Aunt had a plan for Asaa, and Asaa wanted to see what she was up to.
He noticed an orb in a prominent place within the balls of liquid light. He’d noticed it the whole time she’d been fiddling with it since he’d met her. He wondered what it did; in either case, he felt sure he was in for a show.
He knew the aunt was up to something, trusting his instincts. He poured mana into his eyes, and looked out into a sea of grey, and blanched his footsteps faltered for a moment.
Asaa tightened her tail around his waist, “turn it off.”
He immediately released the spell, not questioning why she suddenly didn’t want him to use it when they had used it efficiently before.
“So Asaa,” her aunt began in a quiet even voice as if she were asking about anything. “Did your mother give you anything before you left?”
“No, why? I was just given some food and…,” she jingled the beast bag at her waist that, to Davern’s astonishment, had turned into a plain leather pouch. Then he noticed that the band at his wrist had vanished. The only thing still the same were his clothes. What was she up to, and when had she done it?
“I was told to go find a suitable mate. You know Mother said I was finally of age,” she lowered her head, and a soft red color rose over her cheeks; she looked up under her lashes towards Davern and smiled, “so other than the food, she only gave me my wedding attire and my consorts attire.”
Davern cursed. He knew there was something fishy about this skirt.
“You know your mother would never approve of a human.” Marina snapped and whirled on her as well.
“That’s where you’re wrong. He’s not human. He can just transform like Azer. She winked at him, and he felt a slight discomfort in his lower region, and his lower body grew together into a gorgeous white scaled serpent with a slight undertint of blue along the edges.
He arched upright, straightening his tail and getting used to his new center of gravity. He wrapped his tail around hers, squeezed, and then relaxed, “we’ll talk about this later.”
A white lamia?
Aren’t they an extinct tribe?
Aren’t they from the legends?
“Asaa?” her eyes never left his scales; the potion was supposed to just turn him into a blue snake-like she was. Then she recalled Azer saying that there was more to Davern’s powers than he knew; maybe she should be more careful in the future.
Her aunt backed off when she saw that Davern had turned into a lamia. “Well, if that’s what your mother told you to do. I can’t question her decision, but we are still at war.”
“Are we?” Asaa looked around the lively place; it looked far from any place at war.”
“Okay, in this district, we aren’t. We’re just back up. But the tribe is at war is what I meant and what I was trying to make you aware of.”
“Asaa, paused, turned to stare at her Aunt for a moment. “I’m aware. I was chased from my home several months ago; and told not to return without a suitable mate. Which is what I have done. So if this is the backline, then my mother must be at the front, and we are up against a truly deadly foe?”
“It is indeed,” Marina said, a glint flashed in her eyes as she watched Davern with Asaa curled around him.
Asaa hopped around Davern as if she were indeed a newlywed dragging her mate home, which she was, so she didn’t truly feel conflicted except that they were once again delayed.
Still, she kept finding herself transfixed by his scales and his strong movements that belied the fact that he was human. He moved with a natural grace no matter the form. She sighed, bit her lip, and drug him to the lake; there were several young women in veil -covered boats playing soft songs on instruments.
Asaa leaned back into Davern’s chest and took a moment to just listen. Emotions and memories flooded into her, and at this moment, she didn’t control the bond, allowing him to feel the bittersweet emotions within her. As she said goodbye to her kingdom, her paradise, her sanctuary, and the only home she’d ever known, she knew her Aunt had plans the moment she’d seen her rushing up; but not putting down the weapon.
The fact that her aunt should have clearly recognized her voice didn’t escape her notice, nor the fact that even now, the guards had yet to truly lower their spears. Was she their returning princess or prisoner?
Neither wanted to tear off the mask yet, but she’d felt it through the bond when Davern had turned on his mana eyes. She knew that the probability of any of them being sane like Ryli was low. She’d paid attention.
She just wanted to pretend for a moment to see how much information she could get, and also to see what it would have been like bring him home to meet her family, though she looked back over at her aunt it was sad that they had changed so much, gone was the kind and cute aunt, replaced by this cold and distant woman.
Welcoming with a fake smile and false warmth. Ryli was right. The “controlled” really did hurt. Though it seemed like they were after the inheritances for some reason.
“Auntie, I’m tired,” Asaa said, and this time it came from her soul. She truly meant it.
“Alright, I will prepare a meal and rooms. Since we’ve been driven from the castle, we’ve had to stay within the city proper.”
“I see;” Asaa rose up a little from Davern’s chest. Her swaying motions that followed her aunt had a gloomy cast.
Davern moved to her side without even looking at her and curled his tail around hers. She shot him a quick glance and saw that he was looking straight, pretending not to be comforting her, so she took it for what it was and covered her face with her hand. He was so stubborn, refusing to admit it but showing acts of kindness, not knowing any of their ways but knowing them intuitively. He was one strange man.
She straightened her shoulders, so what if she was losing this part of her kingdom. These tunnels made them slaves to the Nullers’ whims, but she was saving her people in reality, saving them from a vicious cycle. She looked at his glistening white scales. Maybe there had been other tribes who had escaped before the Nullers’ had devoured even their legacy mother.
She paused at that thought; maybe another girl hadn’t listened and escaped. What would happen to their legacy if the Nullers got a hold of it? She looked at the spears and thought of the leading questions of her Aunt.
Something told her they’d better be careful about anything that they ate, and she had a feeling her aunt would arrange various warriors to fight the battle of acceptance.
It was standard at the wedding feast, and even if this wasn’t one, her Aunt would host it, and since they had goblins with them, they would probably be questioned about the others.
She tightened her hold on Davern’s tail. Her nervousness increased. He squeezed back in reassurance. He could probably tell what she was thinking.
(add some more building and scene details into this chapter)