The Price of Betrayal


Ayden watched as row after row of Elven warriors filed past him. They were leaving the Light Elven Kingdom. Those who had families had packed what they owned and were taking it with them. Parents either carried their infants or led those old enough to walk by their side, by the hand. They were beginning a new journey, a new life. There was no cheers or smiles to see these Elves off: it was not a happy time, not for anyone. There was; however, a lot of tears.

Tears, Ayden fought to keep contained. The Elven Empire was being torn apart by the rift the leaving of these Elves was causing. He was ashamed to admit the fault for the separation was his, and his alone. All the trouble and strife that would be caused by the Elves leaving was of his doing. There was nothing he could do to stop what was happening. Nothing he would do, if he were to be truthful. He was ashamed of this weakness of character deep inside. Yet he did nothing to change things. He could have. Deep inside something told him that it was not too late to correct the wrong he had done. He did nothing.

As Elves passed Ayden on their way out of the Empire no one looked at him. In fact those who were leaving looked at no one. They held their heads high and walked proudly from the world they had called home. They had no idea where they were going, but they were sure that the creator would lead them to another place where they would settle and create a home. Theirs was the journey of the just. They had done nothing to deserve this exile. The one they followed was innocent of the charges that had been brought against him. They would not support the judgment of a King that would condemn one who was innocent.

Ayden watched as the old King stood looking stern and proud. He would not back down from his decision. He had done what he had felt he had to. This was the price of being King. Row after row of warriors passed before the King’s sight. They had been warriors who had proven themselves time after time to be honorable and true to the King and the Empire. They had; however, chosen to disagree with his edict in this case. They would follow the one they considered right. The one that was being punished for no reason other than that others thought he might be guilty of treason of the worse type imaginable. The speaking of secrets to the enemy at a time when it seemed war was imminent.

He had done that; he was the guilt one, Ayden. He hung his head in shame as he remembered the circumstances. He had thought himself so smart. Spite can do nasty things to a man’s mind. When he thought about it, now that it was all over, he realized he had nothing to feel spiteful about. He had convinced himself that all the lies that he had made up in his mind were true. He had lied. He felt a set of eyes on him and lifted his face to follow the connection, but no one was looking at him. Not that he could see. Had someone been watching him? Someone who noticed that he was seeking where the other was? There had been something special in that look, he had felt it, but he didn’t know what it was. With the thread severed between him and the one who had watched him he turned his attention back to the scene before him.

The old King stood viewing the exodus of his people. There was a suspicious sheen to the old Elf’s eyes that spoke of his deep sorrow. He had not been happy pronouncing the sentence. He had been left with no other choice. The warrior that had been declared guilty had done nothing to deserve his punishment. He had unfortunately done nothing to defend himself. The King had been left with no other alternative than to act as he had. His heart was heavy. He was feeling every day of his ten thousand years. His son stood beside him, but refused to say anything. There were times when having someone who knew the answers, but would not speak them, was not comfortable. When he had asked his son, Daroth, what he had seen in his visions, he had been told it was not his story to tell.

The Crown Prince Daroth stood beside his father and stared at Ayden as if willing him to say something. Ayden steadfastly ignored him. The Prince knew, Ayden was sure of that. He was not going to put himself in the position of being exiled or worse, though it would have been the honorable thing to do. Everyone knew the young Prince was highly talented with the sight. This gift was one that showed what would happen in the far future, as well as what might happen tomorrow. They also knew that such a gift was fickle and could not be depended upon. There were often variations of the same scene. The actions of others often decided the outcome of future events, most had to be played out to their final moments to know the outcome. It was a very taxing and frustrating talent to learn to live with. Daroth did well.

A sudden pull on the thread that connected Ayden to his twin brother Arlyn pulled his attention to the leader of those who were leaving. Arlyn. The only Elf Ayden could honestly say he truly loved: but, he realized, not enough. If his heart had been true he would have admitted his shame, his guilt. He could not do that. Their eyes met over the distance. Arlyn knew. How could his brother not have known? Their bond alone would have told him. He watched as Arlyn’s attention turned to his Life Mate, how he cupped her face with his hands and kissed her tenderly. Ayden’s heart hardened.

It was her fault, his brother’s Life Mate. She had stolen his brother from him, caused the rift that now existed between them. What he had done should have fallen on her shoulders, not those of his brother. She should have been the one that had been banished from the realm. Without her in the picture his brother would return to his side. They would be a family again, friends again. His brother was shielding her, and in doing so she was forcing the rift wider.

Again Ayden felt the tug of another watching him and he looked back to where it seemed to be coming from. A dozen maidens stood together solemnly watching the crowd as it left, but none seemed to be watching him. Yet, there was one… one with cinnamon colored hair and green eyes. If only she would turn towards him, to look at him. Was she the one that he was feeling? Who was she? He felt the bond that connected him to his brother flutter and he turned to meet his gaze.

Arlyn raised a hand to bid Ayden farewell. He turned with his Life Mate tucked protectively by his side, and left. Ayden watched him leave with malice glittering in his eyes. His brother had made his choice. So be it. He turned to see if the girl he had noticed was still there, but she was gone, though the feeling remained. Ayden decided it must have been a figment of his imagination. He turned and went into his home. It was going to be a lonely existence without his brother.

Price of Betrayal Cover

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