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The Order of Zarai 2

Fragment 7

As the day ended, Amy entered Laysan. This nightly excursion was something she looked forward to. In fact, sometimes the very thought of the event was the only thing that got her through the day most of the time. In Laysan, there was no one who expected her to be the perfect Fighter of Zarai. Here she could be herself. And she could be with Stephen. Stephen, who was the one bright light in her dark world.

Amy entered Laysan to find Stephen already waiting for her. She smiled as she stepped into his waiting arms. She gazed into his golden eyes as he leaned down to kiss her. For just this moment, she was content.

“I missed you so much,” she whispered. “Every day I worry that I will wake, and that this will have all been a dream.”

Stephen smiled, and brushed his hand against Amy’s cheek. “I promise you are not dreaming.” He hesitated, and his smile disappeared.

Amy felt a wave a panic. “Stephen, what’s wrong?”

Stephen led Amy to the couch he had created using the environment of Laysan. “I am afraid I have not been entirely truthful with you.” It hurt him to have to say such things. But he had decided it would be better that the truth came from him, and no other.

Amy felt her world falling apart. It seemed now that the one thing she had felt was certain was no longer so. “What do you mean?”

“As you know, I am a shape shifter. This is not my true face. I have had to hide my identity for years now to protect myself and those around me. You are a Fighter of Zarai, and there are those who would use me against you if they could. I will not be part of a plan to destroy you. I care for you too much.”

Stephen stood, and let Amy’s fingers slide through his hand. He turned his back to her, and took a deep breath. He let the mask slip away, and wore his true face for the first time in years. He turned around and faced his love for what he knew might be the last time.

Every muscle in Amy’s body froze. The face of the man in front of her held the same deadly beauty as her most dangerous enemy. The only difference was the icy blue eyes. Vincent’s eyes had never held anything except hatred for her. Stephen’s eyes held sadness and hope. Time seemed to freeze; Amy never knew how long it was before she could move. She walked over to Stephen and placed her hand on his chest. “Who are you?” she whispered.

Stephen held her hand to his chest, not wanting to break the physical contact. “I never wanted to deceive you. I am his son, banished for believing the war we fought was wrong. The first time I met you, I believed I would never see you again. You survived against my Father where no other Fighter ever has. Every time I saw you in Laysan after that, you always seemed so sad and lonely. I knew I would do anything in my power to make that sadness go away.” Amy’s green eyes began to fill with tears. “And now it seems I have done the very thing I sought to prevent. I never meant for this to go as far as it has. I will leave if that is your desire. All you have to do is say the word and I will be gone from your life forever.” He backed away from her, creating distance between them.

He is still the same person. No matter what face he wears, he is still the one you love, a voice inside her head reasoned. “No, stop please. I don’t want you to go,” Amy pleaded. “I don’t care whose son you are. It doesn’t change anything.”

Stephen’s heart was filled with joy. He had been prepared to be sent away, never to see her again. Now that his hopes had been renewed, he had one more thing that had to be said. “You have been without a Protector now for some time, have you not?”

Amy was suddenly confused. “Yes, but I’m not sure what that has to do with anything.”

Stephen was even more nervous about this than he had been about telling her the truth about his parentage. What he was about to suggest would result in more than banishment from Xavier if he were to be caught. It would mean his death. But it was a chance he was prepared to take. “I want to become your Protector in the coming battles. I cannot watch from the shadows any longer. It you go into any more battles without someone by your side, I am afraid you might die.”

This time the tears did fall from Amy’s eyes. Even when Darian had confessed his love for her, she had never felt so loved or so safe. “Normally this type of decision is made by the High Council and the Fighter’s Leader. But, I am not a normal Fighter, and have never cared much for the customs of the Order. Unfortunately, I do not know the spell to create the bond between us, as it is normally created by a Leader.” Amy’s thoughts drifted to Donovan. “But I think I do know someone who can do it for us.”

Stephen smiled. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt so elated. “How soon can you arrange it? I will not feel at ease until I know I can do everything in my power to keep you safe.”

“I will try to call to him now.” Amy closed her eyes and drew in the power of Laysan, using it to fuel her desire. She called to the only other man she would trust with her life. “Donovan, I need you please,” she whispered. Amy opened her eyes and grinned at Stephen. “Now we wait.”

They didn’t have to wait long. Donovan knew Amy would only call him if it were very important. He entered Laysan and used its power to lead him to the strongest Fighter in Zarai. He appeared before them, and almost used his power to strike against Stephen. He realized just in time, that it was not Vincent who was standing in front of Amy protectively. He felt a great relief wash over him. “So I see you finally decided to tell her the truth,” he addressed Stephen.

Amy and Stephen were both shocked. “You’ve known all this time?” Amy asked, stepping in front of Stephen so she could stand before the fallen High Council member.

“Yes, I have, and don’t look so upset at me. I knew you weren’t in any danger from him, and I was not going to be the one to tell you his secret. It would not have been my place.”

Stephen stepped forward and extended his hand in greeting. “It is nice to finally be able to meet you. Amy talks about you all the time. And, I must thank you for letting me be the one to tell her who I am. I did not know that anyone else besides my father and Xavier knew I existed. They tried very hard to erase all evidence of my existence.”

Donovan nodded his head. “I made it my business to find out who you were when I realized Amy had lost her heart to you. I did not want to see her hurt.” Amy blushed, and Stephen shifted uncomfortably. “But that is not why you called me here, is it?”

“Donovan, I want to do something that I know the High Council, and maybe even Anthony would not approve of.” Amy started to explain.

“That has never stopped you before,” Donovan joked.

Amy pretended to pout. “I’m sorry, continue,” Donovan said.

With a flirtatious glance at Stephen, Amy continued. “It had recently been brought to my attention that I have been fighting without someone at my side for quite some time now, and that I may need help in the coming battles. Stephen has offered to become my Protector, and I have accepted. I know the Council would never approve of this action, so I need you to perform the spell of bonding for me, if you are willing.”

Donovan stared at the ground for a moment to gather his thoughts together. When he spoke, he used Amy’s formal name. “Zarine, you know I would do anything for you. I have told you this before. All you have to do is ask.”

Amy stepped forward and hugged him. “Thank you Donovan,” she whispered into his ear.

Donovan whispered back. “Your happiness means everything to me.” His words held something Amy had never sensed from him before. She tilted her head, so she could look at his face. Amy stared into his eyes with shock. He loved her. Why had she never seen it before? Donovan saw in her eyes that she had seen his feelings for her. He stepped out of the embrace, and dropped his eyes. “It is getting late. I will need to do the bonding now if you want it done tonight.

“Yes, we would,” Stephen said as he put his arms around Amy’s shoulders. He lent her his strength to overcome whatever she had seen in Donovan’s eyes.

Donovan nodded. “You will be good for her. I need both of you to hold each other’s hands here in front of me.” They did as he asked, and he placed his hand on top of theirs. He sent a small surge of his power to them. It enveloped them and formed a link to their souls. Now, they would know when the other was in danger. As Amy’s Protector, Stephen would also be able to locate her and sense what she was feeling at all times. “I imagine it will take some time to get used to Stephen. Amy should adapt quicker as you are not her first Protector. It’s very ironic, that she has lost one Protector to the Dark, and gained the next one from it.”

Amy glanced to the side and seemed to be staring at something that wasn’t quite there. “I don’t remember this feeling from Darien. It’s not as cloudy as it was before.”

Donovan nodded. “That only confirms what I have suspected for a while. I don’t believe that Darien was meant to be your Protector. In fact, I don’t think he was meant to be in the Order at all. It’s just one of many mistakes the Council has made out of desperation.” The sky began to lighten, signaling that it was almost dawn in the real world. “I must go. I try not to stay too long in Laysan if I can help it. The Council hunts me still. Both of you should leave as well. It wouldn’t do good for us to be seen together.”

Amy and Stephen both agreed with him. “Thank you for helping us,” Stephen said. Donovan waved goodbye and faded away. Stephen took both of Amy’s hands into his. “We should leave as well. I will come find you tomorrow. We will need to let Anthony know he has a new group member.”

“Yes, we will,” Amy agreed. He kissed her one last time, and they disappeared together.