YOUR MAJESTY!” The captain of the guard put one foot back and bowed from the waist.
“Akronius, this isn’t exactly the time to show your allegiance to…” Alric suddenly realized Akronius wasn’t addressing him. He was bowing to the man in chains, who sat with his back against the dungeon wall.
“It can’t be,” choked Alric with widened eyes.
“Yes, it can, and it is. Alric, this man is King Kaison, your father.”
“My what? You don’t look dead!”
“How observant of you. No, I am not. Although, I have certainly wished for death many times over the last few years. I am grateful that The One chose to ignore that particular request.” Kaison grew quiet and stared at Alric for several moments; “I can see so much of your mother in your face.”
Turning to Akronius he continued, “I can only assume the explanation behind you and my son traveling together is a long one. Can we leave this place so we can get better acquainted in a more conducive setting, before Chumbra returns and foils your rescue?”
“Of course, Your Majesty. Follow me! Alric, let’s go.”
Kaison held up his wrists and shook them slightly. “Forgetting something?”
“Oh right.” Alric looked at Akronius. “Can any of your new senses break chains?”
“Why don’t you try channeling through your bond with Elainea? Her fire should melt the bolt in the wall, and she can figure out the rest back at the farm.”
Alric closed his eyes and focused on his sister like Shama had trained him to do. He felt their connection and then followed the heat to its source, pulling it to the forefront of his mind. Eyes still closed, he placed his palm on the bolt that was securing his father's chains to the wall. It dropped from the hole like molten rock.
Alric opened his eyes and found his father staring at him in awe. “You are very strong. Fire? What else are you gifted with?”
Alric wiped the sweat from his face. “Well, it’s not my gift exactly. It’s Elainea’s, my sister, but I can sort of borrow it.”
“Sister? What do you mean?” Kaison steadied himself on the stone wall as he stood, his legs trembling beneath him.
“It’s a long story. Let’s get you out of here first.”
Akronius went to assist the King as he moved toward the wooden door only to be met with a scowl. He backed away allowing Alric to take his place as they headed for the stairs. The trio moved slowly. Akronius’ eyes showed an amber glow as he tuned his senses to their surroundings.
“We have to hurry. Men are coming from the main road.”
Kaison looked at Akronius and stumbled, “How do you know that? Your eyes! Since when are you gifted?”
“It’s a long story Your Majesty.” Akronius sighed, “I promise we will answer all your questions as soon as we are safe.”
The men hurried as quickly as they could; back up the stairs to the crypt, still avoiding the green luminescent plant life.
King Kaison slowed for a moment as they passed a sarcophagus with his name on it. “So, this is where I was buried. I had no idea where I was all this time. Somehow fitting, I suppose.” Traveling back through the darkness as silently as they had come, they paused at the rusted gate. Akronius began to whistle softly, a series of short chirps and clicks. A responsive call came from the thick canopy of trees nearby followed by another a little farther away.
“There are five men riding this way, if we hurry, we can get around them without being detected. Follow me.”
“If I had not witnessed it with my own eyes and ears, I would not have believed it. How could The One bestow on you such a gift? The very same gift that was taken from me!” Enraged, the veins in Kaison’s clenched hands were clearly visible through his parchment thin skin.
Alric looked between the two men, who could not have been that far apart in age, and sighed. He understood his father's anger, but he knew they did not have the time for it at that moment. Stepping between them he placed a steadying hand on his father’s shoulder, which forced eye contact to shift his way.
“Your Majesty… Father, please. We will explain everything soon, I promise, but please, I trust him with my life; so, trust me.”
Kaison glanced down and gave a faint nod, though his jaw was clenched so tightly it looked as if it would break.
Just then, an alarm sounded behind them coming from Nuru Manor. The place had once been a happy home, now it was no more than a fortified enclosure. Trumpets blasted, dogs barked and that was all they needed to hasten their pace.