Draekon Destiny:Exiled to the Prison Planet(9)

By: Lili Zander & Lee Savino


“Then meet me at the back entrance in two hours.”



She’s true to her word. When I get to the back entrance two hours later, she’s waiting for me, as are two of my father’s ever-present guards. “The fields are an hour away, my Lord,” she says to me.

An hour to get there, an hour to gather flowers, and an hour to get back. I’ll be just in time to catch my mother before she goes to the audience room to greet the people that have assembled to wish her well. “Let’s go.”

We journey for an hour, heading south to the vanderfields. I don’t often come this way. There are no diarmod mines in the south, and as such, nothing that should interest the Lord of Daetumal.

But the vanderfields are lovely and, unlike the rest of Alvi, unspoiled by the mines. The purple-tipped mountains appear to touch the sky, the trees are tall and green, and when we round a corner, there lies a meadow in front of me, covered with yellow wildflowers.

“This is beautiful,” I whisper.

Rissa nods, a trace of sorrow in her eyes. “When I was a girl,” she says, “Meadows like this were everywhere. Now, only a few remain.”

One of the guards shoots her a sharp look, and she falls into silence.

“I want to bring my mother here.” She’ll be as moved as I am, I’m sure of it. She’ll find the meadows magical. It’ll make her smile.

As much as I’m tempted to linger, I hurry because I don’t want to miss her. I gather a small handful of the cheerful, yellow flowers and get back into the skimmer. The entire way back, I breathe in the light, fresh scent of the flowers and imagine the look of joy on my mother’s face.



My mother is in her chambers, getting dressed. I enter, and she looks up. “What is it, Xanthox?”

I produce the bundle of flowers from behind my back. “Happy birthday, mother.”

She brushes a kiss on my cheek. “Thank you, child.” She takes the bouquet from me. “How pretty it is. Tell me, have you been by the audience hall? Is it crowded?”

She’s barely looked at the flowers. I swallow back my reflexive protest, Apothix’s words in my mind. You will someday be the Ruling Lord of Daetumal. All of Alvi will be yours. Act like a Lord, not a spoiled child.

“Busier than I’ve ever seen it, Lady Mala’vi,” I say formally.

“Standing room only,” my father’s voice says. I look up to see him standing in the doorway. “There’s a delegation from the homeworld,” he adds. “High Emperor Dravex has sent an emissary.”

My mother’s eyes fill with excitement. “He has?” She rises to her feet immediately. “We must not keep them waiting.”

My father’s gaze sweeps over the room. He takes in the flowers and my slumped shoulders, and his lips twist. “You go ahead,” he tells her. “I’ll join you shortly.”

She nods and leaves. My father, the Ruling Lord of Daetumal, strides into the room. “Xanthox,” he says. “Tell me about the flowers.”

“I thought she’d like them.” My voice is small.

“You’re young yet, my son, and your mistake is therefore forgivable.” His expression is stern. “Is this ragged bunch of flowers a gift worthy of the Ruling Lady of Daetumal?”

I thought they’d make her happy. “No, my Lord.”

“You’re right. It is not. Is this ragged bunch of flowers a worthy expression of who you are? Lord of Daetumal, my only son and heir? Does this gift reflect the grandeur of our house? The importance of our place in society?”

The meadow had been so beautiful. For an instant, when I’d first seen it, it had taken away my breath.

“No, my Lord.”

He nods again. “These flowers,” he says, “are the gift of a servant. Cheap and worthless.” A slight smile creases his face. “But your mother is kind. She will not reproach you.” He pulls a small bag from his robes and hands it to me. “At the end of the audience, give her these, and she will love you once more.”

I open the bag, and a necklace made of starstones tumbles out. Starstones are rare, found in the deepest mines of Alvi, and immensely valuable. “This,” my father says, “is a worthy gift. Do you understand, Xanthox?”

If the necklace was sold, a family on Alvi could live well for forty years on the proceeds. Compared to that, what use is my small handful of flowers?

“Yes, my Lord. I understand.”





PRESENT…


I hold out the bracelet. It had been an impulse. I’d seen the tears in her eyes, and I’d wanted to make it better. Some of the other human women have jewelry in their luggage, precious objects that they brought along from Earth, but Felicity wasn’t one of them.

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