411 Defeated Duelist
Honour stood with Madeline behind the large group, watching their friends setting off on the Trials. The small path that had allowed Lina to the Farewell banner at the forest’s edge had long been dissolved.
Seeing so many people openly expressing their affection towards the princess was a sight that brought tears to her eyes. It didn’t surprise her… No, it didn’t. Lina was the kind of person that was bound to attract this much attention. She cared for others more than she did about herself and it wasn’t long before the werewolves of the Sirius pack had figured that out.
Without her peers constantly beating her down, she was shining more than ever. Fortunately, the sudden boost in fame had not gotten to the princess’s head. Honour’s insecurities were put to rest when the princess started using her family’s cottage as an escape from her duties as the princess of Sirius.
A mixture of worry and pride swirled through the young goddess’s mind. On one hand, she wanted her friend to win the Trials. On the other hand, she was worried about her. The wilderness was nothing to take lightly, “Do you think they can win?” the grey-eyed girl asked.
‘Why not… What’s all that hard work been for?’ Honour thought to reply, but someone beat her to it.
“They should. With Wyatt on their side now, they should stand better chances of winning, don’t you think?” a male voice interrupted them.
“Good morning, Derrick,” Madeline greeted the alpha with a bright smile.
“Morning, Derrick. You seem oddly comfortable with this arrangement. Did something happen?” Honour raised a brow at him.
The alpha sighed and slumped his shoulders, “I wanted to ask her for that position, but then, so did Wyatt. I don’t know why though. To settle on a decision, we fought for the chance and he won. There was no turning back after that.”
“That was not your choice to make. You should have just asked Lina yourselves. I know Crysta’s position by Lina’s side is set in stone, but you would have been a more favourable choice than Wyatt,” a spark of hope forced her to turn to the Farewell Banner, but the princess and her crew were already gone and the crowd was now starting to dissipate.
The Trials had now begun. Lina and her two escorts were to make their way to the Great Arena. There was nothing they could do to help them now. It was forbidden to interfere with their journey. They weren’t even allowed to stop by any of the packs that were littered on the way to the Great Arena.
Tearing her attention away from the crowd, the thrashing sound of heavy wing beats reached her ears, drawing her eyes to the sky above. A great eagle as large as an elephant commanded the sky, spiralling upwards from one of the palace spires.
With smooth rhythmic wing flaps, the enormous creature shot to the sky and gained so much height that it was rendered no more than a speck to her vision in the span of mere seconds.
“What are you looking at?” Madeline noticed her friend’s distracted mind.
Honour thought for a moment before replying, “Nothing, Maddy. It’s nothing. We better get to the royal convoy. They offered to give us a ride. From what I know of the king, he’s not the patient type.”
Before Honour could locate the royal convoy, Bree broke through the crowd and approached them. The girl had her hands in her pockets and her face trained on the ground.
Honour pulled the girl into a hug which she hesitated to return, “I know it was the right thing to do, but…”
“It’s okay, Bree. I know Lina was just as torn to have you switch with Wyatt,” Honour cooed. The right choice was not always the most desirable.
There was a limit to how many a royal could have with them when undergoing a trial and Lina had already hit her limit, “Let’s get ready to cheer them on at the Great Arena, okay?”
“Yeah, that’s what I told her we’d do,” the girl replied. Just then, she lifted her teary eyes and noticed Derrick, “Why wasn’t it you that came to switch with me? I wouldn’t…”
“I lost a duel. If I couldn’t beat Wyatt, there was no way I could prove that I was a better substitute than he was,” the alpha replied and wouldn’t meet her gaze.
“You will do well to remember that feeling of defeat well, pup,” Liam intervened, walking up to them, “Work harder if you want to beat Wyatt. He’s stronger than I am. I can assure you of that and he’ll always be an obstacle to you if you can’t find some way to surpass him.”
“Why are you, of all people, telling me this?” Derrick scoffed at the man’s advice. No one had seen him approach them either. It was like he was suddenly there… materialised from the shadows. His dim red eyes were a sharp reminder of the authority the Lost princess had stripped of him.
“In my experience, Wyatt is trying to find a distraction. Something to play with to pass the time and amuse himself. That has always been his game, long before the two of us stopped seeing eye-to-eye. Hurry up and surpass him, Knight in Shining Armour. Just a piece of advice… from a fallen warrior,” the alpha concluded before walking away from them.
“If you knew that, then why didn’t you fight him then?” Derrick shouted at his retreating form.
“He would have defeated me. And if I’m being honest with you, I don’t want to get caught up in his antics once again,” Liam shrugged, waving at them before vanishing with the dispersing crowd.
Derrick clenched his fist in frustration, “Those two are even more twisted than they were before Katie demoted them.”
“Who knows! Either that… or they are simply more lost than they have ever been before. I know someone else that was once as lost as well before she found her way again,” Honour gave Bree’s hand a light squeeze, “We better get going. See you later, Derrick.”