• Grace A. Johnson

The Crossing (Reign: Part 11)


Reign

Part 11: The Crossing


Brehn

We neared the fringes of the City. Were we truly that close to freedom?

I eyed the last remaining pillar that stood as a testament to the raw power of the flood from years past. There was nothing beyond it but open ocean, which the Siren claimed was usually guarded by the Naiads.

Usually, but not today.

I wouldn’t know if there were any Naiads or not, what with how well camouflaged they were with the elements, but if that rogue nymph was trustworthy, then these waters were empty. But for us, that is.

“This is as far as I can take you.” Seira halted before our boat, her wispy fingers holding it back. “All you have left to do is cross the ocean to reach Parvi,” she said, the tip of her tail reaching out toward a dot on the horizon.

Parvi.

Freedom.

I drank it in, even though it was nothing more than a grey speck…because, to me, it signified a liberty I had never once been granted. No more dictatorship, no more obligations, no more corrupt powers. No more restrictions, no more oaths, no more shame.

Aye, my reason for leaving was to keep Ambrosia safe…but now that I was here, on the brink of a new life, I saw that there was more in it than just protection. We could carve out a completely different existence for ourselves, one guided by our own desires—not the cruel hand of the monarchy or the constricting vice of the Guardians.

If only Corinna were here.

Nay, Brehnan! You must not think like that! Corinna is dead, what you had with her is dead, and all of this fanciful nonsense ought to die as well. You are Ambrosia’s Guardian, and it is up to you to behave like one—that doesn’t mean daydreaming about what was not and could have been. That means preparing to give my life and all my dreams for my—for my queen.

I drew my eyes away from the ocean, shut them against the images that formed in my mind. If it weren’t for me, none of this would have happened. I was the reason the Regent wanted the throne. I was the reason Ambrosia was in danger. I was responsible—and it was time I started acting like it.

“Can you not stay, Seira?” Ambrosia’s voice, a great deal softer than it had been an hour ago, broke through my guilty haze. “You have come this far.”

Seira laughed—and even though it poured forth from her fanged, forked mouth, it was strangely musical. Nay, not strangely—exactly the way it should be. She was a Siren, after all, and every note her lips formed was meant to swell and sway, meant to tantalize and seduce.

And it was working.

If only she would laugh again and let me soak in the sound. If only she would sing to me.

“I have come too far, Your Majesty. Charis cannot hold the Naiads off for much longer, and I have no doubt that my sister Sibylla is on my tail, waiting to confront me. Better than I meet her alone than risk her meeting you.” Seira’s eyes flicked to mine, rolled until the slits were vertical instead of horizontal, and seemed to scan me up and down.

“Sibylla prefers brunets with a little more bulk, but it’s been so long since a man has ventured to the City that I’m sure she’d find even your Guardian tempting.”

Sibylla prefers? Really? The monster has a preference of which type of man she likes to eat? That’s just…that’s wrong.

I wonder what Seira’s preference is.

And there I went again, letting my mind drift to places it ought not.

“My point is, Queen Ambrosia, that this is where I must leave you. I understand if you feel no need to…compensate me. I don’t know what’s going on or why you’re running, but if you find yourself in the castle again, if you would remember me and my family…”

“Of course, Seira. But it would please me greatly to have you accompany us to Parvi. I can assure you that my uncle will not fall prey.” Ambrosia gave me a small smile (she was apparently oblivious to my incredulous expression) and reached out to take the Siren’s hand in hers.

That girl. She was as overbearing as her mother, as stubborn as her uncle, and as cunning as her father.

And she made him proud every day, that much I was sure of.

Seira sighed, jostling a curl of dark hair that had wound ‘round her scales. “I appreciate it—”

“Nay, no more of that. You’re coming with us, where you can be free! Don’t you want that?”

“Of course I do, but…”

“‘Tis your family. You don’t want to leave them.”

She nodded. “I couldn’t. I know I couldn’t, even if I were able to leave this place.”

Ambrosia leaned even closer, and I would have jerked her back and demanded she be silent if it weren’t for the fact that she was known to disobey me and the vulnerable expression on the Siren’s face.

Vulnerable. Ha!

But as strange as it would seem, there was fresh moisture in the creature’s odd eyes.

“Come with us,” Ambrosia repeated, this time in a low whisper. “And once we’re settled, you can go back for your family and bring them with us. Let’s cross over into this new place, this new life, together, Seira. Please? It’s the least I can do, since…”

Since she can do nothing else with the Regent in control.

There was a long, aching silence that fell over us before Seira’s blood red lips parted and released six life-changing words. “Yes, I will cross with you.”

Missed Part 10? Read it here!

#theriver #reign #serial #fantasy #theguardiansofmagni


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