I’d never felt so helpless.
Even though it was killing me not to be out there fighting alongside Kenna and the others, such is the price to pay when you have someone waiting for you to come home.
For years, Rose was at my side while Marco Nevrakis occupied Stormholt. In that time, we’d grown closer and once Kenna reclaimed her kingdom, Rose and I became husband and wife.
As I expected, Kenna was more than generous in allowing me time to spend with my beloved Rose, but I also felt guilty. I knew Kenna’s work was far from done and she would need to lead her army once more to restore the rest of the Five Kingdoms and eventually rid the world of the threat posed by Luther Nevrakis. And for the first time, I couldn’t be there for her.
My nights became extended periods of torment with nothing to distract me from my own thoughts stabbing at my soul. If Kenna lost or, worse yet, was killed I knew I would never be able to forgive myself.
On a particularly troubling evening, I got out of bed and opened my window. Brilliant moonlight poured into the room, illuminating Rose’s form hugged by the sheets. How torn I felt then. My heart wanted nothing more than to return to my wife; to feel her soothing touch. But my mind kept telling me that if the Five Kingdoms were to be freed of the tyranny of the Nevrakis’ no one could sit this one out.
I breathed in the calming breeze that cooled my exposed skin and felt charged with energy. At the time, I couldn’t explain it, but it was almost as though the wind itself was calling me to ride the night sky on it’s power. There was something powerful going on within me and I needed answers; maybe if I stayed behind it was for a purpose.
“Dom?” Looking back, I saw Rose sitting up and clutching the sheets. She was a vision of beauty but wore a sad face. “You’re thinking about her again, aren’t you? Do you truly love Kenna so?”
“It’s not like that,” I tried to explain, “Kenna is like my sister. Yes, we’re very close but it’s not like what you and I have. And I just feel so guilty letting her go off into battle without having me to support her. You’ve seen how dangerous Luther Nevrakis is. She shouldn’t be alone.”
“She isn’t alone, Dom.” Rose’s watery eyes sparkled against the moonlight. “She doesn’t need you following her everywhere. I’m the one who needs you. All of you.”
Now my guilt shifted to my wife’s tears. She was right to be upset with me. I’ve spent so much time talking about Kenna that I failed to be the husband that Rose deserved. That had to end.
“I’m sorry, Rose. Perhaps I’ve just struggled to adjust to this new life but it is what I truly want. Believe me when I say that you’re the most important person in the world to me.”
For an agonizing moment, Rose looked at me, her face indiscernible. Finally, her face softened and she released the sheets before cradling my head between her breasts. I kissed them tenderly, thankful for another opportunity to prove myself.
In the weeks that followed, I renewed my pledge to love Rose with all my heart. We worked hard by day and every night we bathed in the river and made love under the stars. My mind was clear for the first time in a long time. Not only was I making Rose and myself happier by staying in Stormholt, but I was a greater help to Kenna by focusing on my training. I would trust her to take care of herself and by the time she was ready to take Lykos, I had become one with my dragon.
How imposing a sight Sei and I were, wreaking havoc from above. Luther didn’t stand a chance and soon he, Hex and the entire Abanthus military were dead or prisoners.
Within seconds of Hex’s cell being locked, I was struck with a vision. I saw a gilded city in the mountains, from the looks of it, I figured it was Aurelia. There were flames and rubble everywhere but then the pieces formed back together and the fires died down until the city was intact in its full glory. Only Sei could help me decipher what it meant.
Rose looked on as Sei attempted a mind-meld. Having my wife around always helped me keep a clear head so it only took seconds for Sei to snap back to reality.
“We are in an alternate plane of existence,” Sei was breathing heavily, her eyes wide as she tried to carry the weight of what she saw. “Today’s events didn’t originally play out in this fashion. You were captured, Dom and Hex used you to destroy Aurelia. Something must have happened to alter our world, and it would appear, for the better.”
I looked up to Rose and in that instant I knew she was the difference. In this world of darkness, she always radiated light and helped me be a better man. In my youth, I had gone from woman to woman seeking out pleasure of the flesh but Rose was the one who saw someone better inside of me. And in doing so, unlocked my potential not only as a force to win the war, but as a better man.