This is a continuation of the Mortis Custos Part 53 by @lex-zaiya.
To start at the beginning of the story please see the links provided at the end of this post!
Viewer discretion is advised due to gory violence! Undead! Swords! Death! Beware!
Magna stared at Adiran.
She saw in him both familial members that he represented. The uncle that had always been around the castle in her youth, had been a shadowy background character that had never really interacted with the rest of them.
It had been strange and she had caught servants and soldiers talking about the fact that Adiran appeared older than her father and yet was not in line for succession, not even 4th or 5th in line. He merely stood nowhere in the lineage.
Magna had heard a rumor spoken among the old maids in the castle that they do not remember Magna's grandmother bearing Adiran into the world. There had never been a pregnancy. It was further deduced that Adiran had to be the son of the King but not the Queen and thus bore the same family name as the King and yet had no claim over the combined throne of John and Mary.
And now she truly knew the truth, he was closer to her in the family than she had known. They were the same, born the same... a different time... He had come from their future and yet some details pulled on the edge of her thoughts but she could not make sense of them as yet.
Adiran smiled and immediately she recognized her brother despite the facial hair.
"You always wore such an expression when you were thinking too hard." Adiran said. "It is an expression that will stay with you your whole life. You might as well ask me what it is that you are thinking."
Magna hesitated. "I... I am not sure I know what the question is yet. A lot of our shared past as my uncle is now making sense and the rumors and stories that were spoken among the servants of the castle."
Adiran's smile widened. "I spread several of those rumors myself." Adiran laughed at her shocked expression. "Magic of course. I would appear as someone else and fed them a story. Castle staff are often bored, they spread the stories like wildfire. I needed these stories to help conceal the truth. If people are absorbed in juicy and likely gossip, then they are less likely to dig for uncomfortable truths."
"Have you always been such a good liar?" She asked.
Adiran's smile turned rueful. "Not always and you were always really good at telling when I was telling a lie. I made sure not to spend too much time with you and your brother. The temptation to interact with either of you had always been high and..." He stopped short and his face caved in, the humour and confidence melted away in a second and he quickly turned away before she could see.
She stepped closer to the old man and took his one hand in her two hands. "You don't need to hide anymore." She said gently. Besides the lies that had infuriated her before, there was something else in her future brother's expression that stopped her anger short. There was pain in his eyes when he looked back at her. He looked like he had cried out all his tears and still felt more sorrow that could not be expressed.
She felt in her hand that his trembled. "What is it?"
He stared into her eyes for a long time. By the second she realized that the one thing that was completely identical between Adiran and Adrian were his eyes. If he had spent more than a minute before her like this in the past she would have known.
Their stares were still locked. When the twins had been younger they had been able to communicate a lot in a single look or in gestures before they learned to speak. It had only when they grew older that this ability seemed to disappear as they had very different interests. Yet she tried again.
He was different, of course. But there was still something.
"Something pains you..." She said finally. There was barely any expression difference on his face but she saw him draw breath slowly, trying to keep it measured. He was trying to remain calm. There was longing. Fear. She... knew... she had a feeling. "I think I understand." Instead of asking she stared at him for a long moment more.
"Where you come from... before you came here..." She said and Adiran drew a quick breath as though to forestall her from speaking the words. She held her hand up. "Let me finish. Our bond still exists. Its different, but I know just by looking at you... You lost me didn't you?"
Again Adrian's face fell. His bushy eyebrows drooped and his mouth turned into a pinched expression.
"I... died... in that time... It was not your fault."
"It was my fault." Adiran choked out in a half sob. He seemed angry and on the verge of tears but he was old. His tears had turned sour, into a form of loathing.
"Oh brother. I very much doubt that." Magna said gently. "I know you and how you think. Something bad happened but you are so very keen on taking all of the responsibility for the bad thing that happened and you never stand up to take credit to yourself that is due."
"I... am... still alive." Adiran chocked out. "And you are not. How can I live with myself like that?"
Magna thought about it for a second.
"And yet, here you are. Somehow using magic and all your soul to come to a time where we are alive not for yourself but for your past self. Which has made it very difficult to think about this... Why have you not changed every moment something else changes with Adrian? Surely you did not have an Uncle Adiran when you were growing up... or did you?"
Adiran laughed nervously. "I don't think we have time to discuss all the details."
"Is that a pun?" Magna narrowed her eyes.
"No... but we need to get to Adrian as quickly as possible." Adiran replied. "if we are going to free him of the place, the best bet is to do it quickly."
"Very well. I will agree to that for the moment." Magna said. "But I won't forget... big brother. I will ask you again when there is more time."
Adiran smiled. "Yes. Sure. I will be glad to answer questions and try provide a decent coherent explination."
We'll see about that. She thought to herself.
The audience chamber was smaller than the throne room, but served well for Queen Mary when she needed to attend to state affairs. No longer did the Kings and Queens of Dragonshold need to see every little grievience as they had in her mother's Kingdom and for that she was thankful.
John's grandparents had been the ones who oversaw the establishment of the lawmen and magistrates that dealt with the day to day runnings of the law. But the High Magister did need to report to her weekly.
Thus the crown could focus on other matters.
"Thank you High Priest and good luck with your condition." Queen Mary said graciously. It had been the seventh time the High Priest had seeked an audience with her since Adiran and Magna had left. The man had insisted that he have something to say and yet failed each time.
"The next seeker is an envoy your majesty." The doorsman said.
"Where does he hail from?" She asked and glanced at the guards on either side of her, who sharpened up. Now was not the time for the Queen to be assassinated.
"The Envoy of the Kingdom of Naan."
"Naan?" She looked at the record keeper, but the old man nearly shrugged. "Well send him in. Let's keep a close eye on him. Who knows what manner of man this is or who the Kingdom of Naan is."
The doorsman bowed and went outside. He reappeared momentarily leading a man with a travel cloak over his shoulders and his hood drawn up. The envoy bowed low. The colors of his cloak and breeches were grey and he wore dark grey leather shoes of an animal skin Mary did not recognise.
"Your Majesty, Queen Mary of Dragonshold. It is an honor to meet you." He stood up from his bow. With a shock Mary realized that his skin was almost as grey as his clothes, though a slight bit darker. Contrast to this, his eyes were a bright yellow. "I am Lucien. Court Envoy of the Kingdoom of Naan."
"Well met." Mary replied. "I have never heard of the Kingdom of Naan. Where is it? What manner of men live there?"
Lucien lowere his hood and there was a collective intake of breath. "We are not men, your Majesty." The elongated and pointed ears were unmistakable.
Before Mary could even give the order, the guards had drawn their blades. "Arrest him!"
Back to you then @lex-zaiya!
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