In the Light of Day

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“Why didn’t Quintessa tell me who my mother was?”

“Quin had sworn to keep you safe. If no one knew Persephone had a child, the rebels had no reason to return to the Deep Woods.”

“Your Magnificence,” Elliot wondered, “why did the rebels keep fighting? Why didn’t they just go back to their old lives?”

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Enduring Enemies

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“You’re the friend who told King Arnie that Lady Persephone had gone to the Deep Woods?” Elliot asked Queen Lilian with quiet respect.

“I am. We’ve been friends all our lives. When the Prince and I were children, we often played together while our parents talked about Kingdom business. As youths, we sat in their meetings to learn about being rulers. But I didn’t tell him everything — Persephone asked me not to tell him she was pregnant.”

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The Redeye Out of Fen

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Photo credit: Tom Vezo

Back to Bog, where the battle continues.

~~~

The first few Knights to meet the front line of Marauders outside Connie’s home were leaderless and astronomically outnumbered, but they fought with grim resolve: better to die than lose any of Bog’s children.

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She Didn’t Go Alone

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“…condemning them both.” ~~~ Photo credit: Keith Balmer

Vernon continued, “Before another word escaped Benito’s mouth, the Queen shot from the Hive and stabbed him in his treacherous heart, condemning them both.”

“I hope someday I’ll be such a fierce and devoted mother.” Cassandra’s eyes glowed with determination.

Elliot’s eyestalks shivered and bent her way. “I am certain our children will never wish for a better mother,” he said, “but I shall be very careful never to threaten them without your approval.”

A slow smile spread to Cassandra’s cheeks.

Elliot turned to Vernon. “What happened next?”

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Benito

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Now it’s Vernon’s turn.

~~~

Buoyed by the verdant glow, Vernon’s voice drew them into Fen’s past. “Since Fen’s beginning, its people have been free. Each citizen may pursue education, bond with whomever they love, and aspire to any job regardless of their ancestry. Even in the Hive, where everyone is born a Royal, they are free to leave for love or other occupations.

“Young adults wishing to serve the Queen hoped to be called to join the Suns of Glory. In times of peace, they worked to keep it; in times of war they fought to win it back. Princess Lilian and her closest friend, the accomplished and beguiling Persephone, received the Call.

“Princess Lilian was betrothed to a devoted young soldier of the Hive, but Persephone resisted the pursuit of many hopeful suitors. Only the Princess knew Persephone’s heart: ‘I’ll know my love when I find him, but I know I won’t find him in Fen.’

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Vernon

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Rushed back into the bower, Cassandra strained her eye stalks and stretched on tiptoe to see beyond a wall of drones six drones deep that blocked her from leaving. Beyond that protection, the Hive Elite waged a vicious air battle against the renegade wasps.

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Reign Clouds Gather

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Photo credit: Joel Sartore

“Elliot! Elliot where are you?” Cassandra’s voice enticed him from his shell, the slow extension of his eyes preceding the wary exposure of his throat. The troops had passed, but the shock of their ferocious faces still tingled.

“I’m here!” he called, returning the way he’d come to find his love and Queen Lilian searching through the grass for him.

“Your Magnificence, where are the Suns of Glory?” he asked, “I was hoping to see them.”

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