He dropped to his knees.
It was over.
The High Circle was insane, Lysander Allard thought. He stood at the edge of the chamber, next to one of the windows. The High Circle’s chamber fittingly resided in the topmost room of the tower, allowing its members to gaze upon the entire realm even from their throne-like seats.
He had one of those precious seats, the right to which he had won with cunning not typical for his race.
In a soft drawling voice that betrayed none of his incredulity and impatience, Lysander said, “This girl – Misty Wall – is married to a Lyccan. How do we know she is not merely a pawn of their race and would indeed fight for our rights?” He didn’t want a quarrel with Milo as he deeply respected the older man. But what Milo was suggesting just didn’t make sense, and damn if he was just going to stop by and let a mortal girl hold the fate of their race in her hands.
Thankfully, Milo didn’t appear offended at all by his question. But then, Lysander knew that the other man was also one of the few who saw past his many deliberate affectations and understood that the safety of their race was of the utmost importance to him.
“I understand your concern, Lysander, but I assure you that there is nothing for you to fear. This was not revealed to the High Circle, but one of the terms set in our earlier pact with the Lyccans was for Misty to cut ties with the Moretti heir apparent.”
Shock reverberated through the High Circle.
“At the request of Misty herself.”
This time, they were not just shocked. They were aghast. Even Lysander didn’t believe he had heard Milo correctly. What woman in her right mind would willingly shun marriage to Domenico Moretti? The man was not just any Lyccan royal. If the rumors and the legends were to be believed, Moretti was supposedly destined to unite all Lyccan packs under one rule.
“And why would she choose to follow us?” Lysander didn’t see which of the High Circle had asked the question, but he was interested to hear the answer to it as well. She must have an ulterior motive.
Milo answered shortly, “Heartbreak.”
More gasps and mutters filled the chamber.
“Moretti himself would be the first to admit that she had been of great help to him in uniting warring packs. She can do something similar for our race. Most of us have spent our entire lives within this realm. Even though a long time has passed since the Great War, we all still bear its scars.”
Aware of the gazes that strayed to him, Lysander maintained an impassive face at the mention of the event that decimated his entire family. Once there had been hundreds of Allards---a family known for its proud and noble ancestry. Their courage was a legend among their kind, but it was that courage that also pushed to be the frontline of defense for the Faeries. It meant that they had been the first to die, too.
He had been the youngest in the family when the war started, and when it ended he was the only one left. If not for the High Circle taking Lysander in, the grief would have driven him insane.
Milo continued, “We distrust humans and I know there are some who still harbor great bitterness for the lack of help we received in the past war. If we send one of our own, the past may color his or her judgment and prevent the Alliance from being fulfilled.”
Milo looked at each member of the High Circle one by one, demanding all of their attention. “All the races need this Alliance to survive. We know so little of our enemies, but it is clear to us all that something – someone - powerful is leading them, one that’s utterly evil. Our true enemy wears the face of a vampire, but we all know it can’t be.”
Lysander knew Milo was speaking the truth. Vampires were ruled by their thirst for blood, and only something more powerful could prevent them from succumbing to their base and greedy desires. Something more powerful and more evil, and Lysander knew it was the latter that troubled them all.
What kind of creature could be more evil than vampires?
Whatever it was, Lysander understood that the Alliance would indeed be necessary to defeat it. Even so, he was still skeptical of the mortal’s ability to represent them in such an important occasion. “She needs to have someone to guide her about the rules of our world---” He stopped speaking at the smile that Milo gave him.
He always had the deepest respect for Milo although many of the older High Circle members despised the other man for his homosexuality. Lysander didn’t give a f**k about it. Milo had more than proven his worth in the battlefield, his courage unequalled, and that was all that mattered to him.
In a voice that rivaled Lysander’s with its smoothness, which instantly put him on guard, Milo said, “I have already considered that, Lysander, which is why I think you – as the one closest of age to Misty – would get along best with her and together the two of you will make the best pair for representing our race.”
Misty jerked in her seat with a gasp, causing Daryl, seated next to her, to gasp as well. The sounds echoed throughout the cavernous hallway, where they had been waiting for the High Circle’s summons for over half an hour.
“What is it?” Daryl demanded, jumping to his feet, his eyes darting nervously around. Nowadays, most of the Faeries were jittery as their race’s impending formal alliance with Lyccans and Caros had become public knowledge.
She slowly shook her head, unable to pinpoint exactly what had made her cry out as if someone had stabbed her. One minute she was all right, and then the next moment she wasn’t, as if half of her soul had been torn away.
Domenico. It had to be him. Did it mean he had read her letter? Tears stung her eyes at the thought.
She lied, “Somebody walked over my grave or something.”
Daryl returned to his seat. “Oh.” A hesitant expression crossed his face as he turned to her. “Maybe…it’s done?”
“What’s done?” She frowned when she saw how Daryl looked like he suddenly wanted to take his words back. “I don’t understand---”
“The cutting of ties, Misty,” Daryl said softly. “Maybe it’s done.”
Her senses started to fade into numbness as the full import of Daryl’s words sunk in.
Just then, the huge twenty-foot doors in front of them finally opened, pushed by a pair of uniformed guards. Magenta, the only member of the High Circle whom Misty knew personally aside from Milo, came out with a kind smile on her wrinkly old face.
“It has been approved,” she told them with a beam.