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Chapter Fourteen

If anything, the fact that having to climb to the top of the highest mountain in the area has not made my day at all, rather crushing my spirits even more as the Duke tied our horses down to a tree a few miles back as the trail got too dangerous. It is not the fact that that the cliff beside where I walk is a plummet into an endless abyss, but that the weather has begun to change ever since our trio left our horses. No, the weather has not just changed in temperature or the snow falling, but the clouds...the clouds swirl around the peak of the mountain we are headed to, the clouds seeming to glow golden, lightning strikes not running vertical, but horizontally in the sky. Duke Gravon said it is because a demigod is reaching out to his mother, to a goddess that crafted the most dangerous beasts of the realm and struck fear into the heavens and hell. As I look away from the frightening sky and to the landscape surrounding us, the other mountains hold no comparison to the one we are hiking upon, the trees below like ants, the frozen rivers looking like cracks in an artist's painting, and the white stone Temple looks like nothing more but a pebble.

"Tell me, Lady Candice, have you ever been up to such heights?" Duke Gravon asks, looking down to the abyss with me. If I was completely honest I would say that I have flown in the skies, a passport in my bag and a ticket allowing me to fly from the city I grew up in to halfway across the world. I remember that time my mother took me with her on one of her adventures, how we stopped in India, and while I wanted to indulge myself in the culture, mother was on an archaeological dig, leaving me with a hired nanny to make sure I stayed within the limits of my mother's orders. That was the first time I saw my mother in her natural habitat, dressed from head to toe in what you would expect an archaeologist to wear, her headphones drowning out the voices around her, and a certain atmosphere around her. That trip was the first time I had ever heard her not just yell at others, but yell at me, telling me to stay out of her business when I asked her if I could go out and explore one of the local sights. I was just twelve when I smelled strong alcohol on her breath and expected her to hit me for some impatience. I swore I would never go on a trip with her ever again, nor did she ever ask me anyway. I only went with her because her sister urged her to spend time with me rather than me spend my summer break at some boarding school where I learned to appreciate the arts. Have I forgiven my mother for all the times she shut me out and wanted to forget the world around her? I have, I have because I love my mother, because even if it may seem like she never loves or would even care for me, she does. She is the woman who brought me into this world and she is my family, my flesh and blood, and nothing could take that away from me. But she is delusional in a sense, to that my father and her husband may return home before she decides to shut out his memory forever.

"I am afraid not, Duke Gravon," I reply, peering over the cliff even more as I see the dirt moving from under my foot, heading for the cliff, falling off and into the dark abyss where time seems to not exist. "There are not many mountains from the territory of my pack." I still must play along with my being werewolf, at least not in front of the King as he knows exactly what I am. As for who I am, I pray that he never finds out.

"Dragons are not the gentlest creature to ride upon, their scales digging into your flesh with a sharp turn, and the power of their, they can blow the roof off a house with one mighty stroke," Gravon comments, a small smile kissing his lips as I imagine anyone riding a beast I am only familiar with in fairy tales. "Oh course, the age of those who tamed those creatures and would fly into parties on them, those days are long gone."

"People used to fly them to parties?" I am in awe at the thought of someone arrived at some masquerade dressed up in elegant attire having just hopped from a beast known for burning villages and stealing princesses. "I would think them more useful for battle."

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