“How is he doctor?” Nikz asked as she, Angel and the chief doctor stood outside Riku’s room, the door open enough to see a sleeping Riku inside.
“He is resting now Your Highness,” The doctor replied, “Let us be grateful the dagger did not puncture any vital organs.”
“Thank goodness,” Angel said, breathing a sigh of relief.
“However,” the doctor went on, “He will need to remain in bed for a week, and will be unfit for battle for at least a month.”
“Riku can’t do anything?” Nikz asked in surprise. “Wow, that’s going to be interesting, I wonder how he’ll take not being able to do anything.”
“Nikz,” Angel interrupted, “You are not annoying him in there.”
“I was just joking Angel, I know he needs rest.”
“Also,” the doctor spoke up, “The Duke will need someone to be with him at all times in order to assist him, seeing as how moving too much would aggravate his wounds.”
“I understand,” Angel said, nodding to show the doctor he was excused before turning to face Nikz. “Why don’t you go inform the others? I’ll stay here with him for now.”
“Okay, thanks Angel.” As Angel quietly slipped into Riku’s room, Nikz turned and made her way through the seemingly deserted hallways. The attendants had all been shocked over the past events, as everyone had been, and were cautious not to broche the subject when a royal was within earshot.
As Nikz opened the doors to the royal lounge, everyone’s gaze turned to her, with Romeo standing beside the burning fireplace, with Abigail standing next to him. Katherine stood near the entrance to the garden while Lydia and Ginny sat on the lounge facing the fire and Midnight sat on one by herself. Strawberries had gone to her room shortly after treatment began on Riku, and Shards had wanted to be alone for a short while.
“How is he,” Ginny asked, leaning over the back of the lounge.
“He’s resting,” Nikz replied, walking over to the couch and sitting down next to Ginny, “But the doctor said he’ll be bedridden for a week.”
“A week?” Abigail asked in the same manner Nikz had earlier, “He’s not going to like that.”
“Yeah,” Lydia agreed, “He doesn’t like being idle, does he?”
“Maybe it has something to do with what Ales said,” Romeo stated. “Where’s Shards? We need her to explain what Ales meant.”
“She asked for some time alone,” Katherine said, stepping into the flickering light of the fireplace. “There’s no need to go find her because I also know the truth.”
“You do?” Abigail asked again, now resting against Romeo’s frame.
“Yes,” Katherine replied as she sat down on one of the empty lounges. “It happened when all of you were toddlers. Terrya and I were old enough to remember what happened, and when Riku and Shards came of age to choose their titles, they were informed of the secret as well.”
“Please tell us,” Nikz said as all of the royals looked at Katherine to continue.
“Very well,” the Queen sighed. “It was a cloudy day, and although it was fine at that moment, you could see a storm approaching on the horizon. Terrya and I were playing in the gardens in front of the Palace as our father, a King at the time, was enjoying a walk. But then there was a commotion at the gate. We were too far to see what was happening, and a guard came to explain the situation.
“Father left with him, heading towards the gate while we watched on. It began raining then so we took shelter at the doors to the Palace, waiting for Father. Eventually he appeared, walking back towards us, and we were pleased he was alright.
“But then we saw him carrying a small child dressed in rags. We didn’t know how to react, and we didn’t realise how serious the situation was until later on that night.”
“That child,” Midnight asked, “That was Riku?”
“Yes,” Katherine continued. “Apparently he had been wandering the streets for weeks. We waited for someone to come forward to claim him, but then we learnt that his mother had died the week before.”
“How awful,” Ginny mumbled to herself.
“When he learnt of this, Father decided to adopt Riku as his own son, making him our little brother and having his birthday on the day he was found. We were sworn to secrecy, and Riku grew up none the wiser. Terrya and I decided to tell him, and we believe that was why chose to become a Duke instead of a Prince.”
“I see,” Romeo spoke up, though more to himself, “He most likely felt that he wasn’t one of us, and owed a debt he would pay for all of his life.”
“Are you sure about that?” Lydia asked.
“I agree with Romeo,” Nikz spoke up, “I mean, why else do you think he’s been so intent on protecting us?” All royals went into quiet thought.
“What are we going to do about Ales?” Midnight asked, and Katherine’s hand went to her chin to dwell on this further.
“I wish I knew,” she replied, “I understand that he is a concern, but I’m also worried about Terrya. I would rest easier if she was here with us.”
A rapid knocking on the door interrupted the discussion, followed by the doors opening to reveal a military officer standing at the doorway.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Romeo asked in an annoyed tone.
“I am sorry,” He replied, kneeling at the doorway, “But I bring urgent news for Lady Lydia.”
“For me?” Lydia asked nervously, rising from her seat to face the soldier.
“My Lady,” he went on, “I regret to inform you this, but Paragos has fallen to enemy forces.”
“What?” Lydia gapsed, her eyes widening as she took an unsteady step back. “How, who would do this?”
“Ales,” Romeo answered.”