Chapter 1:

The Runaways

Song Of The Lost Birds

Hiding underneath a black velvet cloak, Irina and Alabaster made their way towards the old station as they trudged through the muddy path that led to the station.Bookmark here

Lostrea was a small business town situated in the northern part of the Kingdom Of Serpia, It was surrounded by small hillocks and grassy plains and since the Town was located on the northern edge it was considered to be the last town of Serpia after it was nothing but forest and maybe some small villages along the way until you reached the border.Bookmark here

Being located so far from the main civilised areas Lostrea had only one means of transportation and that was the steam locomotive. Other than that, there was nothing that would let you reach your destination in one piece. If you tried to use the carriage then you will have to take the Northern pass, which was a narrow path that led you through the Astex Mountains and there were enough stories about how anyone who tried to take that path never reached their destination.Bookmark here

That path was so scary that even the merchants that came from the capital avoided it and instead took the train to the closest town. Then they used the waterway to make their way to the mainland Serpia. However, this journey took so much time and money that only the wealthiest merchants ever used it. But with our duo that was their only way out if their prison.Bookmark here

They had two choices, either they take the train and then use the waterway to reach the border or take the northern pass and make their way through the Woods of Luna. Either way, they had to reach the border to escape the country because they knew as long as they stayed in Serpia they would never be free. One way or the other the Count would eventually get them. So they had only one choice and that was to flee to the neighbouring kingdom of Azrestria by using the waterways. Bookmark here

The Northern Pass would keep them safe from the Count but wouldn't let them reach their destination. And if they ventured into the land of wolves, they would never come back alive . That's why they called the Northern Pass as also the 'Land Of The Wolves'. That left them with only one choice and that was taking an overnight train to Hughen and then taking the waterway to reach the border town of Kadeo. After that they had to bribe the soldiers to let them pass and enter the Kingdom of Azrestria.Bookmark here

He sighed as he entered the rundown railway station. The stone platform had no shelter overhead from the sun rays that could let them blend in better. The two ticket booths and the small lobby was all that was there. A small restaurant was located at the other end of the booths. There were only about half a dozen people in the restaurant and of those half dozen there were only two that interested Alabaster Dorhemeint. These two sat at the ticket counter. The younger was a likeable-looking man of thirty, clearly a Byrian. It was, however, not he but his companion who had attracted the young Knight's attention.Bookmark here

He was a man between the ages sixty to seventy. From a little distance, he had the bland aspect of a philanthropist. His slightly bald head, his domed forehead, the smiling mouth that displayed a very white set of false teeth – all seemed to speak of a benevolent personality.Bookmark here

Only the eyes belied this assumption. They were small, deep-set and crafty. As the man, making some remark to his young companion glanced across the room, his gaze landed directly on the duo for a moment, and just for that second there was a strange malevolence and unnatural tensity that developed in that glance. Then he rose, his snakelike eyes staring at Alabaster.Bookmark here

His heart skipped a beat. Alabaster couldn't believe his eyes, he had made sure that no one followed them he had even left no trail but this man had still found him.Bookmark here

Lycarion Asderth the right-hand man of the Count.Bookmark here

"Contact the count, Lyolf. It seems the birds are finally trying to leave their nest." Bookmark here

His voice was slightly husky in tone. It had queer, soft, dangerous quality. He smiled at the duo as he walked towards them, his fingers gripping the hilt of his sword as he prepared to engage in combat with Alabaster.Bookmark here

Irina who was hiding behind Alabaster had a sudden urge to give up on her plan to run away and quietly go back to the Chateau. The moment she heard Lycarion's voice her heart halted. All the dreams she had until that moment, suddenly disintegrated in front of her eyes as her soul once again returned to the darkroom of the Chateau as she recalled the cold stare she used to get from everyone in there. Bookmark here

The voices began flooding in.Bookmark here

'Isn't she the Count's bastard daughter?'Bookmark here

'Why don't you kill yourself already just like your mother did?'Bookmark here

'You are a stain on the Elvenstein name. You are no daughter of mine.'Bookmark here

'I want to be free.'Bookmark here

'Is this how it's going to end? Will I never be free?' Irina shrieked internally.Bookmark here

She couldn't think rationally anymore. Her entire body was shivering as her eyes widened with shock and fear. Her face grew pale and she clenched her fists tightly. She looked like she was going to have a mental breakdown any second.Bookmark here

'NO-NO-NO'Bookmark here

Something within her slowly began to crack, with every passing moment as her past slowly caught up with her. It was as if the shadow of her past had become human and was now strangling her. With every passing second, she broke. The glass-like sanity within her slowly began to crack and there was nothing she could do to stop it.Bookmark here

"S-some-somebody," her voice broke as the hand on her neck tightened.Bookmark here

The new Irina that had formed out of her past was about to kill her present self and take over.Bookmark here

"Pl-please save me…"Bookmark here

A trail of tears escaped her eyes as realization dawned over her. This was it. This was her punishment for trying to go against her father. This was the price for her freedom. Bookmark here

"A-A-Al, M-m-m-mom I love you both. Th-thank yo-y-you."Bookmark here

As she was about to close her eyes to accept her fate, Irina heard something. It was a sound coming from far away. There was a faint sound of metal clanging against each other but that wasn't what caught her attention was the song of the Raven.Bookmark here

"You have done well Irina, now its my turn…" a soft voice whispered in her ears as the world around her once again came back to life.Bookmark here

She had heard this voice before, it was warm, soothing and protective. It was the voice of someone she had met long ago but she couldn't remember it. Who was it? She didn't know but for some reason as soon as she heard that voice she felt fine. All the anxiety from moments ago seemed to have dissipated into nothing.Bookmark here

'People once believed that when someone dies, a Raven carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can't rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the Raven can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.'Bookmark here

As she opened her eyes she was met with Alabaster's sword clashing against Lycarion's. His arms were bleeding and yet he kept swinging his sword. His eyes were burning with determination. He wasn't going to give up, it didn't matter to him who he was fighting with, he was going to do everything in his power to protect her smile, the smile of her Fiance.Bookmark here

"Why are you trying to protect that bastard child, Al? You have such a great future ahead why are you destroying it!" Bookmark here

"Back Off!" Alabaster Growled. "Don't you dare touch my wife, Lyacrion."Bookmark here

"We are not yet married and I still haven't gotten a marriage ring!" Irina complained.Bookmark here

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