Once Gerard was gone, Azure didn’t remain in the camp for long, he wouldn’t reach Alyssia until nightfall and the baby, he knew, was going to need tended to well before then. Once he’d set off, it was easy to fall into the rythm of the forest. He’d left the path behind and entered a world overtaken by nature. The trees were so big, it would take three grown men standing with their arms widespread to reach around them. Even though the sun was shining clear and strong, beneath the canopy of leaves, Azure existed in a green tinted twilight.
Darkness had taken hold of his surroundings by the time Azure finally arrived at Alyssia’s. As he’d expected, however, her home was like a beacon in the night. Candles flickered invitingly in every window and all about the house a warm, buttery glow floated. Azure dismounted carefully, the baby had woken and it had been a small miracle to get her back to sleep.
Before Azure could even touch the front steps, the door came open and Alyssia stood smiling at him, surrounded in the same golden light. Azsure smiled. She looked as she always had, red hair falling in gentle waves down her back, her bright green eyes glowing from an almost inhumanly beautiful face.
“Azure. I know it was ill circumstance that brought you to me, but I am so happy to see you!” Her voice was like a forgotten melody, lilting and joyful. “Come, come” she motioned for him to follow her into the cottage. “We haven’t much time.”
“Alyssia,” Azure began.
She cut him off, looking around as if she were expecting some monster to jump out, “Come in We’ll catch up once you’ve had a chance to rest.” She wrinkled her nose at him and smiled mischievously, “And maybe a bath, you smell worse than your horse.”
She looked around once more before pulling him into the house. She motioned for him to be silent while she barred the door and set a small flower to singing on her windowsill. She pulled the curtains before finally motioning him to sit in a chair. She sat next to him and held out her arms expectantly. When he just stared she sighed and reached out and took the princess. She held her gently, pulling away the blanket and smiling down lovingly.
“So,” she said without looking up, “this must be our little princess.”
Azure had learned long ago that it was nearly impossible to surprise Alyssia. Of course she’d known he was coming, and who he’d bring with him. “Alyssia, she’s in terrible danger. I didn’t know where else to take her where she’d be safe.”
Alyssia looked up startled, as if she’d forgotten he was there. “Of course she’s safe here, as are you, Az.” Her face grew serious, “Something’s happening, Az, something big. I feel it. I can’t figure out what yet, but i know, somethings coming. Not just for her. For all of us, you me and the baby.”
Azure didn’t know what to say. He and Alyssia had grown up together, they’d been closer than brother and sister. She was gifted, special. Alyssia was magic. Not the kind written about in history books, the kind you learn in books. Azura had that magic, he borrowed it from the elements, from the world around him. Alyssia was magic, it was in her blood. She’d taught him all she could and he was good, very good. Alyssia’s power came from within her.
“What do we do Lyss?”
Alyssia looked back down, “What’s her name?”
“She doesn’t have one. Queen Lieza couldn’t decide. She said she was going to wait until the child grew, so she could see what name fit best.”
“Well, for now you will be Auralia.” she leaned down and pressed her lips to the child’s forehead. A soft glow ran from Alyssia into the baby. Alyssia drew back and gasped, “I can’t believe it!”
Azure leaned forward wanting to do something but not knowing what. “What? What is it? Is she well?”
Alyssia looked at him, her eyes full of wonder and excitement, “Who is this child’s father?”
Azure shook his head, “Nobody knows, the queen would never say.”
“Az, this child is like me. She’s magic!” Alyssia looked back down, marveling at the small, sleeping form. “Yes, you will be safe her, little one.”
Azure sank back in his chair, exhausted and confused. Had Gerard known? Had the queen? It was too much, too fast. Feeling dizzy, like he might vomit, Azure leaned forward and put his head in his hands. He took a few deep breaths and when he felt like his stomach wouldn’t betray him, he lifted his head. Alyssia was completely mesmerized by Auralia. It seemed that for her, the rest of the world had gone.
Azure stood, knowing the princess was going to be well tended, he put a hand on Alyssia’s shoulder, “Lyss, I’m for bed. We’ll talk more in the morning.”
He left without a response and went to the small, tidy room she always kept ready for him. He pulled off his boots and shirt and fell, grateful, into the soft, warm bed. He burrowed down inhaling the familiar scent of lilac and vanilla. The last thing he remembered before sleep pulled him down was Alyssia softly singing a lullabye accompanied by a singing flower.