Regan’s feet couldn’t move fast enough. Her son cried into her shoulder, but she couldn’t to stop and hand him off to someone else, not when everyone else was behind her as well. Helmuth was panting as he lagged at the back. Prentiss and Aeary were struggling to move quickly as Prentiss tried to help his limping wife.
She couldn’t slow down for them. Maybe, maybe she could get there in time. Maybe it would still be alright. She wasn’t ready. She couldn’t do it again. She was too young. Dainan was too young, and Mari… they’d never figured out Mari’s true age, but Regan knew it was far too young for death.
By the time she reached the large throne room doors, Regan had lost the others. They would catch up soon enough, and it had already taken too much time to get there anyway. She kept her son steady with one arm as she flung the doors open. Regan stumbled to a stop, covering her mouth to muffle a scream. Her son thrashed in her arms. She forced his head down. He didn’t need to see this regardless of the fact he wasn’t likely to remember.
How long did she stand there, looking at the awful scene?
“Lady Regan,” Helmuth huffed behind her. Regan could only shake her head. She couldn’t let go of her son who had fallen silent. He screamed all his little lungs could. She kept his gaze blocked as she slowly walked towards her brother, her little brother.
Regan knelt beside him, not caring about the wet seeping through her dress. With one hand, she touched his face, but immediately drew back. There was no life left. It was dark and hard to see, but Regan could just make out their figures. They had died holding hands. Had Dainan gotten the chance to tell her?
Regan sincerely hoped so. She knew from experience those words could never be said enough.
At least Mari looked peaceful.
Still, it was wrong. Regan adjusted her grip on her own boy. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Dainan was her little brother, and Mari was so much like the little sister she had always hoped she might have. Why wasn’t there anything she could have done?
Dainan was king at far too young an age. He hadn’t been ready. Mari was far too young to be queen. Her husband was far too young as well. He had been her senior by three years, but never lived to see his son walk or talk.
Regan hadn’t even turned thirty.
How did this happen?
Why Mari or Dainan? Why any of them?
“Lady Regan, are they—?” Aeary whispered. Her voice carrying over the silence.
Regan jumped, almost dropping her son. He used the chance to pull himself up and look around. He spotted Mari on the ground. He reached his small arm out, crying desperately, “Ri! Ri!”
Regan ignored the tears in her eyes as she stood up, turning him away from the scene. Her voice was thick with everything she was holding back. She said, “They are no more. So, I suppose, it’s Queen Regan now. I’m the only one left.”
“Oh,” Prentiss groaned, covering his eyes from the horrid and painful sight.
Helmuth bowed his head, and Regan could never even begin to guess at all the things going through his mind.
“What do we do now?” Aeary stared at the ceiling.
Regan looked out the window where faint moonlight filtered through. She took a deep breath. She forced herself to think, to ignore all the turmoil twisting through her heart. There wasn’t time for her to focus on her emotions. “We go on. I take the throne, we fix the kingdom, and we try to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
“And,” Prentiss blanched, clearly hating to even bring it up, “what do we do about… what’s left?”
Regan lifted her head and hardened her gaze. She couldn’t afford to be a sister right now. She had to be a queen, a leader. She had a kingdom to run. She had to be strong for them, even stronger than steel. Oh, how she had never wanted this. “Dispose of the filth. Burn the demons. Dainan and Mari will be given a funeral fit for any great king and queen. They’ll both be honored for what they’ve done today.”
“Yes, your Majesty,” Helmuth said. His voice caught on his words, but he pressed on to say, “I’ll have someone get started right away.”
“Regan, you need to rest, or at least try. We should go for now,” Aeary said.
Regan glanced back at her family once more. Why hadn’t she prepared herself for this possibility? Why did she allow herself to be hurt once more?
She nodded and started to walk towards the others. Her son had started crying, not the loud attention grabbing wail from before. He was crying because he simply did not know what else to do. He knew something wasn’t right, but he didn’t know how to handle it.
Regan slowly walked out of the throne room, with Aeary and Prentiss slightly ahead of her, but keeping an eye on her. They were giving her space, yet still looking out for her. She would have to thank them later.
Regan cradled her son close, whispering, “Oh, my son, my son, you are all that’s left for me. Please, Vitalis, for your mother, let us protect others. Let us strive so that no one else has to grow up like Mari did, like you will, Vitalis.”
Night had fallen.