Shadows embraced the entire outskirts of Tanjerine, causing all light to dissipate as night triumphed over day. Rain began to fall from the heavens and the rhythmic patter echoed throughout the darkness; thunder rolled in the distance. A silhouetted figure bowed his head in attempt of shielding his face from the rapidly intensifying deluge.
This form belonged to the frazzled king of Tanjerine, Edmund Toro.
His violet hair hung about his damp face, unable to conceal his severe stare provided by his vibrant orange eyes. His slight physique shivered violently, due to the icy rainwater, as he progressed onward to the gigantic gates of the city. He tugged at his azure cloak, hoping that the gesture would force the chills within his frigid body to cede.
He swiftly approached the enormous portal of Tanjerine, only to be greeted quietly by a familiar voice.
“Is that you, my lord?” it whispered.
Edmund inched closer to the source of sound while answering, “Yes, um… Symon, where are you?”
Symon chuckled, remaining hidden.
“Don’t play games with me, Symon… This is urgent,” Edmund pleaded.
Reluctantly, Symon abandoned his obscured post, stepping out into the dim moonlight. “As you wish, your majesty. What news do you bring?”
Edmund turned to his companion, grabbed at his arm, and led Symon toward Tanjerine’s gate. “We should speak in safety. I have grave news,” the weary king replied solemnly.
The twosome stealthily entered the city; Symon’s mood was quickly deteriorating, unable to believe that the worst possibility had occurred.
“You can’t be serious,” Symon choked out.
He was seated at a small table; his elbows were placed upon its surface and his hands cradled his tanned, angular face. His expression was wrought with worry.
Edmund sat opposite of him, equally disturbed. “I’m afraid I am… Burgandian troops are surrounding the city as we speak. There’s nothing we can do to stop them.”
Symon refused to admit defeat, formulating a plan subconsciously, for it was only second nature. “There’s got to be something. We could easily retaliate before our enemy rallies up enough men-”
“That’s just it… They already have a massive amount of soldiers aboard those ships… At best, we have a fourth of their army. Physical resistance would be suicide.”
Symon’s body was rigidly motionless as his bright, caramel eyes surveyed Edmund’s features. “You don’t honestly think that they’ll leave civilians be if we surrender peacefully?”
Edmund paused, understanding the situation. “You have a good point…” he said bleakly. “Our last skirmish with Burgandy left the city in ruin and all able bodies were enslaved. I don’t want that to happen once more.”
“Then don’t let it. Listen,” Symon began, “I’ll try and handle this for you. Permit me to speak with their leader… That will buy you some time to evacuate all citizens.”
“That’s ridiculous… The Burgandian forces would never let you get within two hundred yards of their general. You’ll be killed.” Edmund tried to look his friend in the eye, but Symon’s long, dark, unruly hair acted as a curtain.
“I might be,” Symon exhaled. “I’m not a fan of this option, but it seems to be the only one. We need a distraction to keep the Burgandians occupied,” he replied in a monotone voice, his face still masked by his ebony locks.
Edmund sported a melancholy frown. “We have no other choice. I’ll begin extracting all those inside the city tonight. You are to keep watch, ensuring that the enemy doesn’t advance on foot. They haven’t reached the shore yet, so that gives us a few hours.”
“Where will you take the people of Tanjerine?” Symon asked while brushing back his lengthy bangs.
“The mountains… It seems to be the only neutral area left in Mayvel.”
Symon appraised the king skeptically. “The mountains? That’s one of the most dangerous places to go! It would be better to enslave the population, you’ll lose more on your ludicrous expedition,” he grumbled, arms crossed upon his toned chest.
“They’ll be safe in the Sierran Mountain Range,” Edmund assured. “You underestimate me, my friend.”
“Alright. Well, I’d better assume my duty,” Symon sighed as he rose from the chair. “I bid you good luck, my lord. We’re attempting an incredibly risky escapade, and I want nothing more than your safety, your highness.”
“Symon,” Edmund called out, his friend about to exit the faintly lit room, “use caution. Your objective is much more hazardous than mine. Stay alive, that’s an order!”
Symon forced a grin, facing away from the king. “I’ll do my best, sir.”
The darkness and downpour of the night reached the Sierran border, just across the Ogelian Sea. Aggravated waves crashed upon the shore with relentless vigor while the rain descended from the onyx clouds.
A young woman was perched beneath a stubby palm tree, her small pet comfortably seated in her soft lap. Her crystalline, sapphire eyes gazed thoughtfully out at the roaring sea.
“Jacqueline, don’t you wish you could leave this town? It would be such an adventure…” she rambled to her incoherent companion. “Look at those waves… Wouldn’t it be exhilarating to brave the sea?”
The animal, a youthful ooragnac, yelped softly in agreement. Her velvety, russet fur glistened luxuriously in the rain; her delicate, leaf-shaped ears twitched happily, displaying her affection.
“I thought so,” the female cooed.
She heaved her small frame up from the ground and her pet was forced to desert her cozy seat. With a groan of dismay, the woman discarded her much drier position, left the shelter of the tree, and began her long walk home in the cascading rainfall with Jacqueline at her heels.
The storm progressed further as the night pressed on.
The young woman had braved the high winds, rain, and bellowing thunder, eventually completing her journey upon entering her home. She was then greeted by her disgruntled fiancé.
“Madylene, where have you been? I’ve been worried sick about you… It’s horrid outside,” he reproached, offering his hand in a helpful manner. She stepped inside, as did Jacqueline, and shut the door behind her and the ooragnac.
With her hand in his, Madylene provided an answer to his questions. “I’m sorry, Terrence, time just seemed to slip away from me. I was down at the beach with Jacqueline… It’s so peaceful there, even through this monsoon.”
He smiled, his pale grey eyes were dazzled at the sight of his beloved. “Promise me you’ll try not to stay out so late in the rain next time, alright? I worry so much,” Terrence confessed. “You’re my life now, and I don’t want anything to happen to you…”
“Okay, okay, I promise. And nothing will happen to me, there’s nothing here in Sierra that’s capable of presenting any danger…” she grumbled, but still grateful that he cared as much as he claimed. “I love you,” she added, swiftly kissing him while surpassing him on her way toward the den.
Terrence froze and savored the caress before speaking in broken English. “I- I love you too…” he breathed.
Jacqueline playfully licked his palm, refusing to be excluded.
“Jacqueline… Get out of here,” he growled mischievously.
“Elyssia, come inside this instant!”
An adorable, little brunette had just plunged into an unexpectedly deep puddle. She giggled, shaking her moistened feet in an attempt to relieve them of water as she climbed from the pool.
“Sawwy, Mommy,” Elyssia called out with a smile and scuttled over to her mother.
“It’s alright, baby,” she cooed, “Let’s get you cleaned up before your father comes home. He’ll be very cross if he finds I let you play outside in this weather.”
The small girl, barely four years of age, obediently followed her adoring mother inside, glad to be out of the downpour. The mother was concerned, for Elyssia was trembling due to the chilly temperature.
She stripped her daughter of her soaked coat, speaking to her in a gentle tone, “Do you feel alright, Elyssia? You look like you‘re freezing.”
“It’s a wittle cold outside, but I’ll be okay. When is Daddy coming home?”
“It shouldn’t be more than a few minutes, your father only had to close up the shop tonight. He’s probably on his way right now.” The mother handed Elyssia a warm blanket and the child wrapped the quilt around her small body with gusto.
Her mother swung her into her arms, embracing her daughter as she ambled into the welcoming lounge.
Seconds later, a knock from the door resonated throughout the cozy home and alerted both Elyssia and her mother.
Elyssia was much quicker than she looked; she darted across the room, answering the door in no time at all.
“Daddy!” she squealed, standing in the entryway with her arms open wide, yearning for a hearty hug. She received one without hesitation.
“Hey! How’s my favorite little girl?” he asked, his daughter securely in his strong limbs. He glanced over through his thin glasses at his beautiful wife. “Grace, Elyssia feels cold… You didn’t let her play outside in that atrocious storm, did you?” he scolded tauntingly.
Grace sighed with a grin. “Oh, Maeson, she was so eager. It’s the first rain of the season and you know how she is… She loves storms, much like her father…”
Maeson cradled his child and approached Grace. “I can’t argue with that. Rough weather is so fascinating… I just don’t want our tiny angel to catch a cold.”
Elyssia was unable to stay awake; the late hour and comfort of her father’s arms proved to be too much. She slowly surrendered to sleep.
“She means so much to me…” he whispered, gazing down at his blessing with his luminous lime eyes. “And as do you, Grace…” His irises rose to meet her cerulean ones.
“Let’s get her to bed,” Grace proposed.
Maeson chuckled lightly and silenced himself, aware that his laugh could wake Elyssia from her slumber. “Of course. My arms can’t be all that relaxing…”