(Antar date 02.17.21345)
The journey to Antar had only taken a couple of hours with the added power of the Granolith. When they arrived they left the ship at a large port, in case it could be tracked. There was every manner of being at the port, but Max had learned from Brody that Antarians resembled humans on the outside. They were met by a representative from Max and Isabel’s mother, who took them and the Granolith to the headquarters of Max’s supporters.
Finally they arrived and stepped out of the vehicle and Max was surprised to see that it was a large estate that looked very similar to one’s he had seen pictures of on Earth. There was a main building he assumed was the house, and a few smaller buildings. The grounds were perfectly manicured with trees, flowers, a pond and fountain. There were paved pathways leading into the gardens, and a large, ornate fence that resembled wrought iron, enclosing everything.
The Granolith was taken to a secure building and they were led into the house. Max clasped Liz’s hand, keeping her at his side, as they went into an ornate room. Again Max was struck with how similar the furnishings were to Earth, but he only had a minute to wonder before a woman came rushing in followed by a small group of men, some in hooded robes and others in dark blue military uniforms.
All the men dropped to their knees but the woman crossed to them. She stopped before Max, smiling brightly, and reached out to touch his arm. “I would know you anywhere my son.”
Max nodded, studying her. “My name is Max now.”
His mother nodded, noting his reticence, and his hand clasping the hand of the brunette at his side. “I am Kasha,” she introduced herself, and motioned to Liz. “And this is Ava?”
Max shook his head. “Ava is dead, and that is a long story,” he said. “This is Liz,” Max introduced her, “my wife.”
Kasha was obviously surprised but she covered it well with a smile. “Liz, how lovely to meet you, my dear.” She turned her gaze to Isabel. “That means you must be my daughter.”
Isabel nodded, tears pricking her eyes. “Yes, my name is Isabel.”
Kasha smiled and touched her face. “My beautiful girl.”
Next she turned to Michael. “Rath?” she inquired.
He nodded. “Michael.”
Kasha smiled. “Welcome home General.” She motioned to the men behind her who were still on their knees. “This is General Darius. He has been leading your supporters Max.”
“Your Majesty,” the General greeted.
“Please rise,” Max said, feeling uncomfortable. He noted that the men in the military uniforms stood, but the robed men remained on the floor. “Who are these men?” Max asked.
Kasha answered him. “Allow me to introduce the head priest Jaetus, and his acolytes.”
Jaetus met Max’s eyes briefly before returning his gaze to the floor. “Your Majesty, it is an honor to be in your presence again.”
“Please stand,” Max said. “I have little memory of my other life and I’m not used to, um, such formality.”
Jaetus and the others stood and Max turned to his mother and the General. “There’s a lot we have to tell you.”
Kasha nodded. “Yes, food is being prepared. You can tell us everything over dinner.” She motioned to one of the men and he came forward with a large box. “But first Max, I have something for you.”
The man knelt before Max with the box extended toward him.
Max released Liz’s hand to lift the lid and pushed aside a brightly colored cloth revealing the sword he remembered from his dreams. It was a long, curved blade, similar to a Saracen sword, with an ornately carved handle. Max picked it up and almost gasped at the rush of sensation that holding it triggered. The sword fit his hand perfectly and it was familiar like an old friend, but it made him feel powerful, like he could do anything, conquer any enemy.
He raised it out of the box and held it up before him, the light glinting off the perfectly polished blade. The priests dropped to the floor bowing, and softly chanted a word single word over and over. Max couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, but he thought it sounded like Zan.
For Isabel the dinner and the conversation seemed to last forever. She, Max and Michael told their mother and the others about their life on Earth, from the time they came out of the pods until they left in the ship. Their story was interrupted by many questions from their audience, drawing the dinner out even longer. It was late when the group finally broke for the night and Isabel was taken to a room, but she’d been planning to wait for dark to make her move anyway.
She had kept the small tracer that Khivar had given her in her pocket, fearful it might be discovered in her luggage. And many times during the long evening she had reached into her pocket to feel it’s reassuring presence and curb her increasing nervousness. She had wanted to simply lead the group into a trap when they landed, rigging the ship to take them to a place where they would be intercepted by Khivar’s troops, but she deferred to Khivar’s experience. Khivar had been worried that not only might Max or Michael figure a way to change the ships’ destination, or use the Granolith against them, but they might also suspect Isabel of collusion.
So Isabel waited in her room, pacing back and forth, until the house had been quiet a couple of hours. Every moment had seemed to last an eternity and her stomach was rumbling with nervous butterflies, but finally it was time.
She took a deep breath, pushed open the door and stepped out into the hall. He instinct was to hide, and sneak stealthily through the house, but that would look suspicious. So Isabel squared her shoulders and strode quietly but confidently through the ornate hallway, down the main staircase and out the door. If anyone caught her, she could simply say she was taking a walk to clear her head, but luckily she saw no one.
Khivar had suggested she leave the house before activating the tracer, not only because it might be found if she activated too early, but also to make sure she was clear before his troops arrived. And Isabel followed his instructions, trusting him completely to do what was best for her. Once she was outside, she walked through the gardens toward the fountain and sat down on one of the benches.
Isabel felt a pang of guilt about what might happen to her mother, after they had just been reunited, but one of the things that Khivar had showed her about her other life was how her mother had always favored Zan. Her brother was Kasha’s golden boy, her pride and joy, and from the day he had been born, everyone, especially her mother had made Vilondra aware that she was second in importance to Zan.
Vilondra had always envied her brother because of it, and Isabel had seen it starting again in just the few hours they had been on Antar. Throughout dinner their mother had fawned over Max, asking him everything about his life in great detail, but Kasha had barely acknowledged Isabel’s presence other than their initial greeting. And when it was time to retire for the evening, her mother had said a brief good night to her, but eagerly accompanied Max and Liz to their room.
And as Isabel contemplated the events of the evening she looked around to make sure she was alone and listened carefully for any alarms. When none sounded for a handful of minutes, she took the tracer from her pocket, activated it and pressed it to the underside of the bench.
Looking around one last time, Isabel moved slowly toward the large fence enclosing the property. She had to walk across open ground to reach it, and with each step she feared she would be discovered, but finally she arrived and released a deep shuddering, tension-filled breath. It was almost over and she and Khivar would finally be together and safe.
She had chosen an area where the fence was shaded by the nearby trees and used her powers to cut a hole in the fence’s links. The fence was extremely hard for her to manipulate and she wondered vaguely what it was made of. She was forced to use her powers like a blowtorch, super-heating each link of the metal and bending it aside, wasting precious time. Several times Isabel heard sounds and she looked around anxiously, fearing she would be discovered.
It had probably only been ten minutes, but it seemed like an eternity when Isabel finally finished. She had made a hole in the fence just big enough for her to exit, and was about to duck though when a familiar voice surprised her.
“Where are you going, Isabel?” Max asked.
She whirled toward him, quickly pasting a smile on her face. “I’m just going for a walk.”
Max motioned behind her, “Through the fence?”
Michael and Liz emerged from the dark and stepped forward to stand next to Max.
“Or,” Max continued, “are you escaping to meet your lover while his troops come to capture us?”
Isabel shook her head. “Of course not Max. You can’t think that I’m with Khivar.” She turned to Michael and then Liz. “You don’t think that, do you?”
Liz shook her head as a tear escaped her eye. “How could you Isabel? How could you, of all people betray us, betray your family?”
“It’s not true,” Isabel said anxiously.
“How stupid do you think we are?” Max growled. “The missed practices, always being gone at just the right time, the Skins always knowing exactly where to find us, Liz’s vision about you and Khivar. And the so convenient dreams you had where Khivar offers us a ship, with the Granolith, just waiting to take us to Antar.” Max shook his head. “There were just too many coincidences.”
Isabel shook her head.
Michael stepped forward. “Max suspected you before we left Earth but I didn’t want to believe him.” He motioned around them. “So we set up this whole thing. This isn’t the resistance headquarters Isabel, it’s just a test to see what you’d do.” He held up the transmitter Khivar had given her. “I’ve been following you, Isabel. I saw you plant this.”
Isabel stood to her full height, knowing it was useless to deny the truth. She raised her chin stubbornly and met Max’s eyes. “You’re right. I led you into a trap. Khivar and his troops will be here any minute.”
Max shook his head. “Killing me is one thing,” he said angrily, “but you were going to kill Michael and Liz.”
Isabel turned her gaze to Liz and Michael. “I tried to get you both not to come, to spare you, but you wouldn’t listen. Max has to die, but maybe…”
“Shut up, you traitorous bitch!” Michael growled as he stretched out his hand toward her.
A voice came from Max’s communicator. “Your Majesty, we must leave now, Khivar’s ships are approaching.”
With a gasp Isabel saw a silent ship decloak behind them and land softly.
“What do you want to do with her?” Michael asked.
Max held Isabel’s eyes. “If you do this and leave now, you can never come back. I’ll never forgive you.”
For a moment Isabel seemed to hesitate and then she slowly backed toward the fence.
“Max?” Michael asked, waiting for his command.
A muscle twitched in Max’s jaw as his scowl deepened. “Let her go,” he growled.
Isabel turned, ducked through the fence and ran.
Max watched her until Liz’s hand on his arm drew his attention.
“We have to go, Max,” she said softly.
Turning his back decisively, Max put an arm around Liz and together they went into the ship. They walked to a window in the control room and stood silent as the ship lifted off.
Liz wrapped her arm around Max and leaned into him as she spoke to him through their connection. I’m so sorry Max.
Max tightened his arm around Liz and he placed his chin on her head. I knew it was true, he said in her mind, but I didn’t want to believe that Isabel would really turn us over to Khivar. He shook his head. But I planned this to work to our advantage even if Isabel did betray us. While Khivar is distracted sending his troops to kill us, we’ll use the Granolith to destroy them and hopefully Khivar too.
Suddenly there was a flash of light outside the window.
“What was that?” Max asked the ship’s captain.
“Your Majesty,” the captain answered, “the ship carrying the Granolith reports that it suddenly started spinning and burst through the hull.”
“Dammit!” Max roared. “I should have suspected Khivar would do something like that! He must have used a delayed program to return the Granolith to himself. A backup plan to ensure that we wouldn’t get it. I just assumed Khivar was planning to take it back when he captured us.”
Michael came to stand beside them, speaking low so only they could hear. “Aren’t we pretty much screwed without the Granolith? That was our whole plan. And now that Khivar has it he can use its power against us, and we’ve got no way back to Earth.”
Max shook his head. “It’s a setback but we’re not screwed at all. We’re going to make sure Khivar pays for everything he’s done. We’re going to take this war and shove it down his throat, and he’ll wish he never started this whole thing.”
They arrived at the real headquarters in a matter of minutes and exited the ship to find Kasha and a large group of soldiers and priests waiting for them. They were in two lines next to the door, the soldiers dropped to one knee, and the priests fell to the floor, genuflecting.
Kasha walked past them and stopped near Max and Liz. “I’m sorry Max,” she said soothingly. “I didn’t want you to be right about your sister. I didn’t think she would be capable of betraying you again, especially when you have been so close.”
Max clasped Liz’s hand more tightly but that was his only outer sign of distress. He shook his head and spoke softly. “We had to know the truth and now we do.”
Kasha nodded, seeing the tired look on his face. She motioned to the door. “It’s late and you’ve had a long day. I’ll take you, Liz and Michael to your rooms and we can discuss your plans tomorrow.”
Max nodded and Kasha led them between the long lines of Max’s supporters.
Liz looked curiously at the soldiers and priests they walked past. The men were motionless, bowing before their King, but Liz could hear the priests murmuring something that got louder with their every step. At first she couldn’t make out what they were saying, but as she and Max reached the house, their words rose into a chant. It sounded familiar but they spoke in a strange accent, and it took Liz a moment to realize what they were saying.
Over and over again they spoke a single word. “Zha’an.”
Isabel hid deep in the woods until she saw a group of ships fly over and then she activated the personal locator Khivar had given her. Within moments a ship landed near her, but Isabel stayed hidden until she saw Khivar emerge. She ran to him, throwing herself into his arms. “Oh Khivar I was so scared.”
Khivar held her shivering form close. “When we flew over, it appeared that the manor is empty. Obviously Max discovered your betrayal.”
Isabel nodded. “Max suspected me before we left Earth and set up this whole thing to test me. I thought he was going to kill me.”
Khivar stroked her face. “Why did he let you go?”
Isabel shook her head. “I don’t know.”
Khivar’s communicator sounded. “Your Majesty, the manor is completely empty…”
Suddenly several huge explosions sounded, sending a fireball into the air and shaking the ground where they stood.
Khivar pulled Isabel to the ground, shielding her with his body. “What the hell was that?” he bellowed.
A soldier rushed toward them, bowing low. “Your Majesty, the manor blew-up. The whole thing was rigged with explosives. We lost three squads of men inside and several more outside.”
“Max led us into a trap,” Isabel said incredulously. “He planned this the whole time.”
Khivar shook his head as he helped her to her feet. “I’ll bet he was planning to use the power of the Granolith to enhance the explosions, hoping to kill us all.”
“But you got the Granolith back, right?” Isabel asked anxiously.
“Yes,” Khivar said. “My men recovered it just before we got here.”
“That’s good,” Isabel said with relief. “It’s too dangerous to let Max get his hands on it.”
Khivar nodded. “By now the Granolith is back in the palace, in the safest and most highly guarded room on Antar. Max will never be able to get to it.”
Max showed no sign of what he was feeling as he said goodnight to his mother. Since they had discovered the truth about Isabel, he had shut down, putting up a brave front. He had barely even reacted when they’d lost the Granolith. Liz knew it was because he was trying to play the part of the King his people expected, but she could feel his heartache and anger through their bond.
And when the door to their room closed, shutting out the rest of the world, Liz took Max into her arms. “I’m so sorry about everything, Max.”
He wrapped his arms around her, holding her to him tightly, shaking with emotion.
“Why didn’t you tell me you suspected Isabel?” Liz asked. “I could have helped you.”
Max shook his head. “I know how close you’ve been to Isabel, and I didn’t want to involve you if it wasn’t true.”
“You don’t have to protect me Max,” Liz said, pulling back far enough to look into his eyes, “not from yourself. I want you to share everything with me, the good and the bad.”
Max met her eyes and flinched. “I wanted to kill her, Liz,” he growled. “I was so angry.” He shook his head. “I still am. I can’t believe Isabel would betray us to Khivar.”
“Max…” Liz soothed, touching his chest.
But he cut her off, his rage apparent even in his soft tone. “First my former wife betrays us, and then my sister.” He motioned around them. “Am I destined to have everyone I know turn away from me?”
Liz touched his face forcing him to look at her. “I’ll never turn away from you, Max,” she promised fiercely. “No matter what happens, I’ll be there for you. I’ll do anything for you, face any danger, give my life to protect you.”
Max’s face softened as he took her face in his hands. “I know, Liz. I didn’t mean you. I’d never doubt you.”
He took her lips in a searing kiss and his sorrow and rage came flooding through their connection. But Liz could also feel the effort he was exerting to stay in control. Let go Max, she whispered in his mind. I want to help you. Give me all your anger, all your pain. I can take it.
Liz felt his relief along with his desire. His hands went to her shirt and jerked it apart, sending buttons flying, and then he ripped off her bra. He grasped her breasts quickly brushing his thumbs over her hardening nipples. Yes Max, she gasped through their connection as she arched into his touch, I want you so much. Fuck me like hard and fast like you want to.
Max shuddered with desire, Liz’s dirty talk driving him wild. He broke the kiss and growled her name. “Liiiiz.” He pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it aside, and his hands automatically reached for the fastening on her jeans, opening it quickly. Hooking his fingers in the elastic of her panties, Max used one practiced motion to push them down her legs along with her jeans. And kneeling before her he lifted each leg, divesting her of her sandals along with her clothes.
He had intended on taking her hard and fast like they both wanted, but the spicy scent of her arousal met his nose, tempting him, and he grasped her hips and leaned in for a taste. Max swiped his tongue deep through her wet folds and Liz’s body shivered and jerked in his grip, making him want her even more. Again and again Max brushed his tongue from her feminine core to her clit, greedily lapping her juices.
Liz grasped at Max’s shoulders to keep herself standing as Max’s mouth worked its magic. She was building quickly to orgasm and gasped his name. “Max.”
Liz’s desire mixed with his own in their combined minds and Max knew he couldn’t wait any longer to have her. With a final sweep of his tongue, Max kissed her flat stomach. “I love how you’re always so wet and ready for me.”
“That’s because I always want you,” Liz purred as he got to his feet. She reached for the fastening on his jeans. “I want you inside me all the time.” Slipping her hand inside his boxers, Liz stroked his hard shaft. “I never get enough of you.”
Max pushed his boxers and jeans down and kicked off his shoes and socks. With a growl he grasped Liz’s derriere, lifting her up and impaling her with one motion.
Liz whimpered as an orgasm tore through her, the pleasure of having Max’s long, hard cock filling her pushing her over the edge. Her legs clamped around him bringing him even deeper within her and she arched back as electrical sensations washed through her body.
Liz’s pleasure passed into Max through their bond, as her walls pulsed around his shaft. He kissed her neck hard as he walked them the few steps to the bed, and placed her on the edge laying her back. His eyes roamed over her body as he let her momentarily recover. Watching Liz climax sharpened his desire even more, and he held her eyes as he began to move within her.
Max set a slow pace, but Liz could feel him holding back, suppressing the anger that still raged through his body. “Harder Max,” she urged. “Let me have your anger and frustration, all of it. Pound it into me, let me take it away.”
“Liz,” he gasped as he increased his pace. “I love you so much. Inside you, your mind and your body, is the only place I’ve ever found comfort.”
“I know,” Liz soothed. “Give me your pain. Don’t be afraid that you’ll hurt me. I want this Max, as much as you do.”
Max thrust into her harder and faster at her request, releasing his tight control gradually so he didn’t overwhelm her. He carefully felt for her emotions through the connection to make sure she wasn’t in pain, but Liz craved more.
Let go, Liz urged once again in his mind. I love you Max. Just let go.
With a groan of pleasure, Max finally loosed his control entirely. Immediately he felt a wall of rage pass from him into Liz and both their motions became frenzied. He pistoned into her again and again, slamming their lower bodies together as his eyes greedily devoured the sight of her beneath him. It was so incredibly sexy, watching Liz’s whole, beautiful body as she arched up to meet him. He could see his cock emerging and disappearing inside her with every stroke, her breasts bouncing to the time of his thrusts.
Liz’s own controlled rage emerged and mixed with Max’s, boiling to an impossible point, and he realized that she needed this as much as he did. They found not only physical comfort and pleasure in each other, but emotional healing as well.
“More,” she demanded desperately. “Harder Max, faster.”
Max leaned down gripping her shoulders to give himself more leverage and pushed a steady stream of power into her, as his pace increased even more. Each of his powerful strokes buried him to the hilt and Liz writhed beneath him, her orgasm quickly building again.
Liz wrapped her arms around him, attempting to bring him even closer, digging her short nail into his back as she pushed her power into him. “Yes Max,” she gasped, the pleasure nearly taking her breath away.
Max’s whole body shook from exertion and anger, and they were both slick with sweat, but Max could feel that they were both so close and he continued his quick pace. Liz’s body glowed with power and he manipulated it, sending pulsing waves across her sensitized nipples and clit. Liz cried out with pleasure and a few more deep strokes sent her over the edge.
Her body clenched around him making him explode into her, and he groaned with physical and emotional release, their powerful climax dissipating their anger. Max collapsed on top of her, his strength suddenly gone, and he buried his head in the hollow of her shoulder as he began to cry.
Liz hugged him fiercely and they both cried together.
Michael lay in his bed unable to sleep because of all the thoughts running through his mind. He missed Maria terribly and wished she was there with him, wanting to lose himself in her even if it was just a temporary fix. Isabel’s betrayal had affected him almost as much as it had Max, and his mind was still reeling with the implications.
Michael hadn’t wanted to believe Max when he had confided in him about it yesterday. Max had given Liz and Isabel the assignment of getting the house ready as an excuse to get Michael alone with Larek. And he had told the two of them of his suspicions about his sister.
Michael would have said he trusted Isabel with his life but as Max laid out one piece after another of his suspicions, Michael’s faith in Isabel had been shaken. He’d readily agreed with Max’s plan that they should set up a test for Isabel. That way if they were wrong neither Liz nor Isabel would know of their mistrust.
Isabel hadn’t been left alone once they arrived on Antar, until she had been taken to her room for the night. Michael had hidden in the hallway outside Isabel’s room, waiting for her to make a move, but praying that she wouldn’t. And when she’d emerged and gone out into the night, his worst nightmare had come true. Michael had signaled the waiting soldiers to search her room for a transmitter, and he’d followed Isabel silently through the grounds.
With a hollow heart, he had watched as Isabel withdrew a small device from her pocket and hid it under the bench. He had called Max to inform him that his suspicions were correct, and while everyone else was evacuated out the back of the house, Michael had followed Isabel to the fence. It had only taken a small amount of his powers to hinder her exit by increasing the strength of the fences’ links, and he’d stalled her long enough to allow Max and Liz to join him.
When they had confronted her, she’d denied it at first, but when she knew she was caught she’d admitted the betrayal defiantly. Michael had been shaken by her attitude more than her actions. And when she’d said she’d tried to spare himself and Liz, Michael had been even further enraged. Not only was she betraying her King, but her brother, and her family, himself and Liz. They had loved and supported her, sharing her loss of Alex, who was taken from them by betrayal. And Isabel had obviously been colluding with the Skins when Maria had been killed.
Isabel’s betrayal would probably always haunt him, but it had made several things very clear. Max and Liz’s safety were his only priority. Nothing else mattered, and it only reinforced his commitment to them. No longer would his attention be divided, protecting them was his purpose, and he would do anything to make sure they were safe.
(Antar date 03.17.21345) When Liz awoke it was morning and she was alone in the bed. She and Max had cried together for more than half an hour, holding each other fiercely. Then they had made slow, sweet love overloading each other with power and falling asleep in each others’ arms.
But Liz knew that Max was still terribly upset about Isabel and she quickly pulled on her clothes to go look for him. She left the room, looking down the hallway in both directions, wondering where to go, when she heard voices coming from a room on the right. The door was slightly ajar and Liz could hear Max’s voice inside along with that of his mother and the priest Jaetus.
She reached out to open the door and join them, but their words stopped her.
“Liz is not a suitable wife for you,” Kasha said.
“Yes, your Majesty,” Jaetus agreed. “Liz is not worthy of you. She is merely a human.”
“Enough!” Max roared. “Liz is my wife and your Queen and you will treat her with the respect she deserves.”
Max laughed harshly. “Liz is a much better choice than Ava, who betrayed us and colluded with Khivar. I can’t believe I agreed to marry that whore in any lifetime.” He shook his head, struggling to remain calm. “Liz has saved me more times than I can remember,” Max continued more softly. “She even saved me from myself. I wouldn’t be standing here now if it wasn’t for her. She would do anything for me.”
“But your Majesty,” Jaetus continued, “you don’t remember the past, your other life. There are traditions, expectations. According to Antarian law you are not truly married to Liz unless the ceremony is conducted here. You can keep Liz of course, but we will make some suggestions from among the daughters of the noble families for a suitable wife. We may be able to secure a treaty with some of the more powerful families with a marriage…”
“I’m already married!” Max roared, cutting him off. “I’m not going to marry some simpering noble’s daughter to gain support. Liz is my first and only wife. I love her and I would never upset her or dishonor our vows by marrying anyone else for any reason. I don’t need to remember the past to know that Liz is my soul mate, my other half, the best part of me. Perform whatever ceremony is necessary, but Liz is the only woman I will ever marry.”
“But Max,” Kasha protested.
Max cut her off. “And Liz hasn’t been merely human for two years, since I brought her back from the brink of death.”
“You brought her back?” Jaetus gasped. He whispered something under his breath that Liz didn’t catch.
Max continued. “Liz is changed. She’s like me now, she has powers and we are bonded.”
Suddenly Liz felt Max in her mind. Come to me, he said.
She was somewhat surprised that he knew she was there but she pushed the door open and entered the room. Without looking behind him, Max held out his hand to her and she automatically crossed to him and took it.
When their hands touched Max turned to meet her eyes and pushed a burst of power into her, and knowing it was some kind of test, Liz held his gaze and pushed her power into him. They felt each other’s power rush into them, joining with their own, mingling and building. And they turned as one, showing their eyes that burned with power to Max’s mother and the priest.
Kasha gasped and Jaetus dropped to the ground murmuring.
“I’m sorry Max, Liz,” Kasha apologized. “We didn’t realize you could share power. It is a rare thing among our people and requires great power. You are truly meant to be together.”
“I shouldn’t have questioned your judgment, your Majesty,” Jaetus said groveling on the floor. “I just thought because you don’t have your memory…” he trailed off. “It was arrogant of me, your Majesty. Liz is truly worthy of you and being Queen. Please forgive me.”
“Get up,” Max ordered Jaetus. “We have enough problems without all of this crap.”
“Of course,” Kasha said. “I will call a meeting with all of the commanders.”
Two hours later Kasha led Max, Liz and Michael to the door of a conference room, stopping them outside. “Traditionally the marriage ceremony for the King is attended by all the houses of the nobility and is a very public affair. That will have to wait until after the war. But we have arranged for a small ceremony to take place after the meeting.”
Max turned to Liz. “Is that okay with you?”
Liz leaned into him. “You know I would marry you any time, any place.”
Max squeezed her hand and looked at his mother. “Okay.”
Kasha smiled and passed her hand over their clothing, changing Max and Michael’s jeans and shirts into dark blue, military uniform with gold and red accents. She changed Liz’s clothes into an elegant cream-colored dress in almost an identical style as Max had created for her.
Liz wondered briefly if it had been one of Max’s memories that had made him choose the style but his mother spoke, drawing their attention.
“These are the traditional colors of our house and the uniform of your military, my son.” She motioned for a servant to come forward, who was holding the box that contained Max’s sword. Kasha indicated the scabbard she had created on Max’s side. “I thought you would want to wear it in the meeting.”
Max released Liz’s hand to open the box and take out the sword. “It feels so familiar. What significance does it have?”
Kasha nodded. “This weapon has been passed down from King to King, from father to son, for over five thousand years. It was discovered in an archeological dig along with the Granolith.”
“The Granolith?” Max asked. “What is it exactly?”
“It is power,” Kasha said. “It is millions of years old, and we don’t know who created it or what its original purpose was. But since it was discovered, the Kings of Antar, your ancestors, have made use of its powers to help them rule, and it has become the symbol of authority.”
Max nodded and sheathed the sword. Once again he took Liz’s hand. “Is there anything else we should know before this meeting?”
Kasha nodded. “This morning Khivar announced the return of the Granolith to Antar. He let it be known that it was given to him by the reborn Princess Vilondra, as proof of her love for him, a gift for their upcoming nuptials.”
“Their getting married?” Michael asked incredulously.
“The wedding will take place at the end of the week,” Kasha said. “Vilondra always did resent that she wouldn’t be Queen.”
“She still won’t be,” Michael said, motioning to Max and Liz. “The real King and Queen are right here.”
Kasha nodded. “And we will never stop fighting until they are restored to the throne.” She turned to Max. “Your Generals know that you have not recovered your memories entirely, but they believe in you and trust in your power.” She touched his face gently. “Your are the most powerful King that Antar has ever seen, my son, and you have many loyal allies. Larek, of course, always stands with us, as does Hanar and many of the noble houses. Sero supports Khivar, and after the conference on Earth so does the usually neutral Kathana. Khivar has a great military but so do you, and with the addition of your powers, I am sure that we can defeat Khivar.”
Max met her eyes. “Thanks, Mother.” He pulled her into an embrace for the first time and Kasha’s eyes filled with tears.
When they stepped back Kasha’s smile was incandescent. She motioned to the door. “Your Generals await, Max.” She gave him a short bow. “Your Majesty.”
Soaring With Angels |
Part 13 - Part 15
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