Chapter 24 – (TSM) The guilt trip

His words were devoid of any emotion, but the people that heard it still tensed up. The lady that had questioned them became solemn and the two behind her had worries evident on their faces.

“Morningstar” The lady muttered. It took her a while before she recovered her thoughts. “You have been misinformed. We don’t have your Mother’s treasure. Leave.”

Her words were no longer threatening but still held some arrogance. Aizen disapprovingly shook his head. The fact that she replied before considering the consequences that could develop disappointed him.

“I am not sure why Fenris Lycan would lie to me.” He said and smiled palely.

Her eyes quivered as she heard him mention Fenris Lycan, and now that she looked at Yuliya again, her agitation rose. She seemed ready to engage in battle as she channeled her Ice Element.

“We don’t have the treasure anymore.” A voice called out, and all the wolves present bowed their heads. Even the flustered Alpha regained her composure and lowered her head.

Aizen didn’t turn around to find the source of the voice and still kept his eyes on the one that was just about to make a move for his life. A wolf slightly bigger than the rest of her Monster companions climbed onto the summit and leisurely circled Aizen’s group before stopping several feet away from him.

“But you already know that, Morningstar.” The wolf transformed into a woman that wore a White Cloak with golden linings. Her eyes were brighter than any he had seen before, and the aura she exuded was exalted and of the True-Origin phase. The place where she stood now had a layer of her Ice Element covering it. The smile she wore on her face seemed pleased and gentle and her eyes were little curious.

“Tell me why you have come here.” She demanded lightly.

“Why do you not have the treasure anymore?” Aizen didn’t seem flustered, but he had already prepared to channel all his mana on his Time magic if the situation aggravates.

The lady showed no signs of change in her expression and lightly said. “A young Alpha of our Clan ran off with it and died. She took the treasure with her death. Its whereabouts are unknown to us.”

“It could just be a story that you conjured up to hide the fact that the treasure is still in your possession.”

“Do you think that I am lying to you?” The lady smiled at him as if looking at a child who was complaining. “Why are you here?”

Aizen shook his head and sighed. “The reason why I am here is obvious. You lost my Mother’s treasure. Now you have to compensate me.”

“Your Mother lost that treasure, and so it no longer belonged to her so we don’t owe you anything.” She lightly said and her smile ceased.

“You don’t owe me anything but someone does. And who said that my Mother lost it?” Aizen looked in her eyes and showed a faint smile.

The lady didn’t answer him and her brows furrowed. She didn’t know how her cousin had obtained it. And Morningstar’s words implied that the treasure was either borrowed or was left in the care of.

“The one that had the treasure is dead. Her granddaughter who ran off with the treasure is dead. The treasure is gone now.” She said as she looked him in the eyes. “The ones that owed you anything are dead.”

“Not all of them.” Aizen smiled brightly. “Akira Azereus still lives. And the fact that your clan decided to trade off something that belongs to me needs to be answered as well.”

“You think you are in any position to demand anything from us?” There was disdain visible in her voice but her smile was gentle as ever.

“I am pretty sure that I am in a position where I can harm your Clan more than you can imagine.” Aizen’s smile grew wider. “Or at worst, die, taking you all with me.”

His words flustered everyone present on the summit. The lady’s burrowed frowned deeper, and the 3 Alpha’s behind him got ready to engage in battle. No one doubted his words. And their knowledge of history attested to what he had said. All Morningstar were men of their words.

“You cannot have Akira.” The lady waved her hand to stop anyone from taking action. “She’s betrothed to the young lord of Holfeim Clan.”

“Oh,” Aizen didn’t seem surprised and still smiled brightly, “Does it matter? She owes me and even Holfeim clan can’t stop me from making her return what she owes.”

“Huh, aren’t you too arrogant?” The one behind the lady said and made her move.

Before the lady could reply, the young Alpha standing had lunged forward, and her arms turned into 2 pikes of Ice.

“Stop!” The lady called out but it was already late.

The place where Aizen’s group stood quaked and the ground split apart. The entire summit shivered as vines rose from the cracks that had appeared. It was Liafina who had created vines with pointed ends and surrounded them.

The girl had to abruptly call forth her Ice Element to protect her from crashing into the Spears that awaited her. Pillars of ice rose from the ground to block those Vines, but her route to her target was already blocked now by a wall of rock. Her Pointed arm crashed right into it but failed to fully pierce through.

She tried to retract her arm and saw the Ice on her hand get layered in Darkness. The darkness swallowed her limbs. Her legs were bound where she stood. She tried to summon her Ice element with all her strength to break free but realized that the time surrounding her had stagnated.

Viara was already by her side, and Aizen’s cold dagger kissed her throat. The coldness of the blade sent chills down her spine and the shadow of death engulfed her senses. She regretted what she had done, but now her life was not in her hands.

“Leave her!” The lady said in a grave voice.

“Give me a reason and perhaps I will spare her life.” Aizen laughed lightly and said.

“She’s my daughter.” The lady said in a warning.

“Do you think I care about who she is? She tried to kill me and that’s all the reason I need to kill her.” He turned towards her and said gravely.

No one moved or said anything as silence loomed on the summit.

“Leave her and we will compensate you for the loss of the treasure.” The lady said after she thought for a while.

“Ahahahaha” Aizen laughed at her words and showed contempt. “Do you think you Azereus can compensate for my Mother’s treasure? You can’t even compensate anything to save your lives from the predicament that awaits the entire clan.”

His words had pierced the soft spot of the lady’s heart, and her face winced. It all seemed like he had only come here to insult them. Her Aura got stronger and the temperature of the place dramatically dropped. Even the air surrounding them burned their lungs as they breathed it.

“Make one wrong move, Morningstar. And I will make sure you all die here today.” Her words were severe and her eyes showed her determination.

Liafina and Lysaria were already by Aizen’s side as they channeled her Earth element and prepared to defend any move against them. Yuliya stood by his side transformed into her Wolf form. Her lustrous black coat shined in the Moonlight and her Black eyes stared at the Lady.

Seeing that her words had no effect on these people hurt her pride but she realized that her one move could cause many to lose Life even if in the end she eliminated them all.

“You cannot have Akira. If you have any other demand, I can try to meet it.” She made a concession and told him sincerely.

“I only want that girl,” Aizen replied adamantly.

“She’s betrothed to….” Her words were cut off before she could finish them.

“I don’t care. If Holfeim clan has a problem with it then they can come to see me in the Star Palace. And if Azereus have a problem then I am not even interested to listen to it.”

Displeasure was evident on her face at his haughty words, but she found that she couldn’t refute them. Azereus were not as powerful as before, and only she and her sister were the reason that people still hadn’t moved against them. But now the war was already on their heads. If she gets injured or loses her people present on this summit then the destruction of the clan would be cemented.

“Lyla, Take him to Akira’s residence.” She said to the girl that had the dagger kissing her throat.

“You are not allowed to take her away without my permission, Morningstar. And not before you have talked it over with the Young Master of Holfeim clan. I will inform them and they will be here by morning.” She said and then waved to disperse the wolves that awaited her orders. When everyone had left, she transformed back in her Wolf form and jumped off the summit.

“Lead the way.” He said and drew back the dagger.

Lyla didn’t hold back her hostile gaze as she got free of the bounds, but she had already learned from the earlier lesson and didn’t act on her impulse again. They climbed down one of the edgy paths that connected the platform to the rest of the surrounding mountains.

Even if they all had their guards up and didn’t observe the scenery with much attention, the castles built in the mountains that reached the sky left an everlasting impression on them. No wonder so many forces coveted this abode. But not all of them were able to bear the harsh climate of this place.

It took them half an hour even with their focused pace to reach their destination. This castle was bigger than the ones they had seen so far on the road. It was situated at the end of the road and was surrounded in three directions by the ice-capped mountains.

Someone was waiting for them at the door of the castle, and Aizen only glanced at her before taking back his gaze. His heart tightened as he could see the resemblance.

“Akira, this is the new Morningstar. I have led him here under the order of mother Alyson.” Lyla said and then ran off after transforming into her wolf form.

“Lord Morningstar” Akira slightly bowed and then looked at him curiously. “What do you need from me?”

“We will get to that but first I would like to be invited in. It’s freezing out here.” Aizen lightly said and smiled.

Akira nodded to them and then turned around to lead them into the castle. The giant door closed behind them. The flame torches on the stone walls illuminated the hallway and provided some warmth. They walked down the hallway and then headed into the drawing-room. It was quite spacious and was adorned with Cold Stone furniture and Lifelike Paintings. She gestured them to be seated on the couches close to the chimney and ignited it with a Firestone. The wood that burned was fragrant, and the incense soothed and relaxed the nerves.

Aizen gestured the rest of them to be seated but he didn’t. He walked over to the wall that held portraits of several women. Their facial features and same shiny blue eyes and snow colored wavy hair spoke of their identity.

“These are the Alphas of this Castle and the 2nd Line,” Akira informed him as she saw him observing the portraits with interest.

“Is this your Grandmother?” Aizen asked as his eyes stayed on one portrait.

“Yes. Daliyah Azereus, one of the strongest Alphas in the history of Azereus Clan.” There was pride in her voice as she introduced her Grandmother.

“And she died unjustly,” Aizen spoke lightly and walked over to the next portrait.

Akira was taken aback by his words and couldn’t understand the meaning that was hidden behind them.

“Is this your Mother?” Aizen asked.

“Yes. Jennera Azereus, The last Alpha of this Castle.” She words lumped in her throat as she said this.

“The one that was befuddled and beguiled to sacrifice herself for the clan, I believe?” He said lightly with no trace of emotion in his voice.

It didn’t sound like a question, rather seemed like he was sure that this was what had happened, and she could not help but have her heart ache at his words.

“Why are you here, Lord Morningstar?” She asked again.

“You ask me as if you have not been informed already.” He said and had an all-knowing smile on his face. He didn’t keep his eyes on her for long as he moved to the next Portrait.

“Princess Alana. The one that ran off with my mother’s treasure.” Aizen commented as he looked at the girl in the portrait. She looked to be only 15, but her age couldn’t hide her grace and beauty.

“She ran off with the treasure because she didn’t want to hand it over to the clan,” Akira said sternly as if asking him to not blame her sister.

“Or perhaps she ran off from her responsibilities. What a rebellious princess she was.” Aizen said in contempt, but Akira couldn’t see his eyes from behind that had a layer of mist covering them.

“I would not have you insult my Older Sister if that is what you have come here to do,” Akira said gravely and earned a scoff from Aizen.

The misty layer on his eyes vanished as they became stern and now held anger.

“Why didn’t you run off with her then? You knew the Clan was falling apart and the other Alphas looked at this castle as a sacrificial goat. But you stayed with your Mother and didn’t listen to your Sister.” He didn’t turn around but his voice was grave. “Tell me, was it the love for your Clan that made you forsake your Sister?”

The girls on the couch all looked at him worriedly as he said those words. The anger in his voice was unusual. They didn’t know why Aizen had wanted Akira, but now things seemed to be not as simple as acquiring an asset. Even if she didn’t know the reason, Liafina could feel how his heart ached, and her eyes were already wet.

Akira couldn’t understand the anger his voice held but her heart was raging, and the guilt that she had hidden in her heart surfaced on her face. Her body trembled as she tried to keep her emotions in control. It was the thing she regretted the most in her life and not a day had gone by when she had not thought of how things would have turned out to be if she had escaped with her sister. And perhaps her sister wouldn’t have died if she was with her.

He glanced at her and his heart softened as he caught the painful expression on her face. The anger had abated a little, but the pain had risen.

He turned around and looked at the portrait again. It was his Mother’s portrait, and the smile she wore in the portrait was different from the pale and gentle smile she always wore in his memories. It was haughty and prideful.

“Want to know how your sister died?” Aizen asked in an indifferent tone.

Akira was taken aback by his words and blankly stared at his back. She felt suspicious now. The Prime Alpha had informed her that the Morningstar had come here to take her with him, but it didn’t seem to be the case. However, she didn’t care about his reason for coming here. All she wanted to hear was what had happened to her sister. And so, she ardently looked at him to say it.

Liafina rushed from her spot and locked his arm tightly in her embrace. The pain that she had felt him be in had scared her.

“I killed her.” His cold words reverberated in the minds of everyone present.

♛ Author’s Note:


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