The Alpha King’s Claim chapter 45 by desirenovel
Yes, we finally arrived in Cirelles, the town near the castle where it had quite a busy market. Our travel time was about twenty minutes on foot after declining the offer of my maids to use the castle coach. It wasn’t really an arduous walk. We had fun just watching everything around us.
Apparently, the guards in the castle didn’t bother us when they saw us walk past the castle gates. Security for a royal persona seemed close to nothing. Unlike on Earth where the royal family was heavily guarded with bodyguards, here, as queen, I had none and I thought it was either their lax security or that they were just really confident with their kingdom’s peace and order and their people.
Rhea and I were both in awe of the town and its not-so-little market. Stalls after stalls were seen from left to right of the sidewalks. It was organized in a way that customers could freely choose the merch.
Not long after we arrived, an item caught my fancy and so I decided to approach the seller.
She was an aging woman, sitting on a stool wearing a large printed turban and a long-sleeved dress. Wisps of gray hair fell down her forehead. The moment she noticed my approach, she quickly got up to her knees and bowed.
I was eager to stop the gesture, still not comfortable with all the royalty status.
Beside me, Rhea chuckled.
“How much?” I asked, bending forward to pick up a silver bracelet that was designed like a wolf’s head. In a werewolf world, I was bound to find one, or two, or more.
The old woman looked up and smiled at me, her eyes beaming. “It’s free for you, Your Highness,” she answered with a short nod.
I quickly waved my hand. “No, please. I want to buy as your normal customers would. Give me the right price for this item.”
I heard Rhea chuckle again with this. Her eyes were set on the other trinkets in front of us.
“In that case, fifty maltis, Your Highness,” the seller answered.
Honestly, I didn’t even know what she said and I had a feeling Rhea was the same, but since we got money to burn, I handed over the payment without thinking of the change.
“Here, and keep the change,” I said with a big smile.
The old woman’s eyes twinkled even more and her mouth dropped. “You’re generous, Your Highness. Are you sure you don’t want the change?”
“No, don’t worry. You’re my first buy after all. Enjoy!” I winked at her.
She responded with a deep blush.
We moved to another stall after that whilst I donned the silver bracelet on my left wrist. Rhea poked my rib and clucked her tongue.
“At this rate, you’ll be giving away our money. Are you sure the king is okay with this?”
“The money we have now won’t even scratch his wealth.”
She shrugged her shoulders, accepting this as a valid point. We were talking about the king after all. The man basically owned the kingdom.
We walked further into the road, checking out a variety of trinkets. She bought some for herself and I did the same, laughing at the same time when we realized we were actually shopping in a realm other than Earth. It was our therapy and she was right, it did take my mind off of the king even for just a bit.
Rhea tapped my shoulder again to get my attention while I was busy haggling another merchant.
I straightened up and faced her, arching a brow.
“What?” I asked.
I picked up the panic on her face immediately as she pointed to an angry black smoke just a few blocks away.
“Fire?!!” I shouted; alarm bells clanking inside my head.
Seconds later, the market’s liveliness turned to chaos. People probably coming from the area hit by the fire fled, bringing with them sacks of their belongings. In their faces were pure fear and desperation. I felt for them as I was once a fire victim back in my youth too.
My sense of urgency kicked in and without thought, I started to shove all the items I bought to Rhea.
“What are you—” she cried out in confusion, but I cut her off when I suddenly shouted.
I spotted him passing us, clearly running towards where the danger was.
“Your Highness! Why are you—”
I shut him off with a hand in between us.
“Are you going there?”
He looked hesitant for a moment and then nodded. “Yes, Your Highness.”
“Then I’m going with you.”
“No buts!” I lashed, giving him a no-nonsense glare.
This seemed to affect him.
“I’ll—I’ll get a horse, Your Highness.”
“No, let me ride on you,” I grabbed his shoulder and gripped his muscles tight. “Now, shift!”
He immediately took a step back and shook his head.
“Oh, no, no, Your Highness,” he cried out, looking very much uncomfortable.
“King Aero is going to kill me if you so much as ride another were.”
He pivoted on the right and stretched out a hand just as an incoming coach tried to pass us. “You over there! Halt! Unload that horse now!” he ordered to the driver.
I understand his intention right away.
“Serena?!” Rhea, who had been a spectator earlier, now stepped in and captured my attention.
I placed a palm on her shoulder and smiled at her.
“Go back to the castle and prepare the courtyard. We are going to house and take care of the fire victims there.”
She nodded without delay.
“Right, but you take care, okay.”
“Yes, I will,” I said just as a brown stallion galloped towards me.
Like a pro, I climbed up the animal while William and Rhea gaped. “Let’s go!” I cried out to him.
He bobbed his head and to keep up with my pace, he shifted, showing the two of us his werewolf form for the first time. It was a dark brown color, still small as compared to the king’s but muscular and furry too.
Or maybe I was just this biased… For me, there was no better-looking werewolf than the king.
We arrived in the fire scene in less than a minute. The first thing I noticed was the size of the fire. It was indeed huge, covering at least five buildings in the area including the stalls on the roads and the nearby garden and trees.
Fortunately, the area was already secured. No one was there except for the firefighters who were battling the fire the same way the firefighters on Earth do. Further surveying the scene, I caught sight of a man barking out orders and this was where I led the horse.
“More water!” he shouted, pointing to his subordinates whilst holding the fire hose. I recognized him as one of my guests at the latest party in the castle. He was sitting in a table next to Prince Elijah’s. Alpha Aaron, as I remembered his name to be, was the leader of some kind of security pack.
Unlike a few leaders in King Aero’s council who had an obtunded stomach, this man here had none. He was muscular and quite tall; a few inches taller than me. He had a long beard, probably left it for a purpose. He wore the same uniform as William, but in a different color: maroon to be exact. He had a firefighter helmet on but I could notice the long hair he sported, kept in a low ponytail.
“What happened here?” I told him, cranking up the volume of my voice in consideration of the noise of the flames.
He turned to me with utter surprise showing on his face.
“Your Highness!” He attempted to bow. I just let him whilst I climbed down the horse.
“What happened here?!” I asked again, furrowing my brows. William had shifted back to his human form and joined us. The fact that he was already clothed gave me relief. A naked man wasn’t one I wanted to battle as of the moment.
“There was an explosion, Your Highness. We are still learning where it came from but the fire is behaving unusually. There must be some magic contained within it,” Alpha Aaron explained.
“Magic?” I parroted, then gazed at the blaze.
I wasn’t an expert but I noticed it was indeed different from all other normal fires I had come across.
Then, a memory hit me.
′The witch murderer!′ my mind cried out.
I gasped and stared at the scene again, connecting the dots and coming to a very possible conclusion.
Back then, the flame on the murderer’s hand didn’t mean a thing to me other than a weird, but a scary phenomenon.
Now, it certainly became a piece of irrefutable evidence.
Could it be that this was arson? If yes, then why? Why would the murderer start a fire in the Kingdom of Phanteon?
I kept this revelation to myself and hoped that I was wrong.
“I trust that you douse the flames as soon as possible,” I told Alpha Aaron with most seriousness. “We will help with the victims. Where are they now?”
“We have gathered them there, Your Highness. The wounded were already sent to the infirmary,” he replied, still holding the active fire hose.
I turned to the king’s beta and pointed a finger to the direction of a parked brown coach.
“William, gather as many coaches as possible for the victims. We’ll transport all of them in the castle courtyard. Do it swiftly and make sure no one gets left behind.”
The man puffed up his chest and nodded.
“Yes, Your Highness!”
When he left, I climbed up the horse again and rode where the victims crowded. There were plenty of them; most were families securing their belongings. Women were crying whilst holding their kids; their focus directed on the flames of the buildings.
My heart melted for them. Truly, they didn’t deserve such a harrowing experience.
“Your Highness!” Two women chorused as soon as they saw me approach.
“Will you help me?” I asked, huffing. “I need everyone here to transfer to the castle courtyard. We will provide transportation. We will provide everything you need there.”
They nodded without hesitation.
Soon William came with the coaches and the fire victims lined up for their turn to ride.
I organized the whole process whilst riding my horse. It was easier and faster this way.
By the time the last of the victims left the area, the fire was already under control but it certainly left half of the market in charcoal. At the sight of it, my stomach clenched.
How could someone be so cruel to do this to a peaceful town?
“Your Highness, you should return to the castle too,” Alpha Aaron said when he neared me. In his hand was a soaked towel, probably for wetting his flushed face.
I nodded at him, but my peripheral vision caught something humanoid hiding behind a charred tree.
“The cloak!” I cried, recognizing the garment worn by the witch murderer instantly.
Without thought, I guided my horse to that direction, galloping past a confused Alpha Aaron.
“Queen Serena!” he called behind me, but I was already too far ahead to even give him an explanation.
By the time I arrived on the spot, the cloaked person was nowhere in sight. What remained was the charred tree and a small stone next to the roots enveloped in a blue fire.
“A rune,” Alpha Aaron said behind me. He was definitely quick with catching up with me.
I looked down from my horse and gave him a solemn face.
“You said this fire had magical properties to it.”
“Yes, Your Highness, and this rune confirms it.”
“I just saw the arsonist in this specific spot,” I stated, cringing at the memory.
“I’ll request General Halcynos for a witch-hunt then. She might not have gone far.”
“A witch?” My brows furrowed. “How can you be so sure it was a witch?”
“Only witches could use a rune, Your Highness,” he confidently answered. “And there are witches too who could call out the element of fire at will.”
He then bent forward and tipped his head. “I apologize, Your Highness, but I have to go and inform the general. For your safety, please return to the castle.”
It wasn’t a strong justification for me, but I had no choice but to accept it at least for the time being.
“Alright, I will,” I stated.
Taking into account what I witnessed yesterday in the forest, I was more than sure someone was out there trying to cause discord in the Kingdom of Phanteon.