How Jernard & Rhaynan first met.
The Hannaria Series: “First Meeting”—Rhaynan
May 7th, 207 B.C. (Earth Time)
Palace City, Hannaria
“I still believe we shouldn’t have brought her here this soon,” my mom said, helping me out of my chair’s restraints as my dad powered down our ship. “With everything that’s changed...”
“All the more reason for her to learn now rather than later,” Dad replied, but he smiled at me and tapped the tip of my nose. “You’ll behave while we're at the meeting, won’t you?”
I smiled back and nodded. This was my first visit to Hannaria, and from what I understood I was getting the opportunity much younger than any of my brothers and sisters had.
“Stay within the guard’s sight, and no exploring alone,” I said, repeating the instructions they’d told me multiple times for almost the entire trip. “Are there going to be other kids around?”
“Maybe,” Mom replied. “If that’s the case, don’t go anywhere without the guard being with you. Which one of the twins is it?”
“Ashner, I think,” Dad said, sounding unsure as he opened the back hatch door. “I’ve met both of them at the same time, but I still can’t tell them apart.”
They each held one of my hands as we stepped down the ramp, and there was a group of people waiting for us that I didn’t recognize. One man came forward and shook Dad's free hand and nodded to Mom.
“Thank you both for coming. With Myla's condition, it's been difficult to keep watch over this on my own. I'm hoping the others will agree to reinstate you in our place--at least until we can get through this.”
“I would've thought you'd pick someone more moderate like Glaven,” Dad replied, but the man half-smiled like it was a joke. "If they'll allow it, we'll do everything we can to help you. It's not like we really wanted to leave in the first place. It's just--”
“What striking eyes,” a woman interrupted as she approached us, but she seemed to be talking more to my parents than me as she crouched down to my level. “I’ve never seen anyone with that particular mix of blue and green. Have you thought about having her genes tested before her defense system becomes active? You might be able to correct—”
“I see nothing that needs to be corrected,” Dad replied in a calm tone, but I noticed his grip had gotten tighter. “If you’ll excuse us, Pasha. We’re not taking her inside with us. We'll see you in a few minutes, Cryuse.”
They led me past the crowd where a palace guard was waiting for us. Ashner towered over my father by almost a foot, and I could see veins sticking out from his arm muscles. I knew he was there to protect me, but he was still kind of scary.
“Hello, Rhaynan,” he said, laughing when I ran and hid behind my mom. “Shy one, isn’t she? If you want to walk with us a little farther, there’s plenty of space for her to play in the central courtyard. I’ll still keep watch at the entrance, of course.”
As we walked, I noticed a lot of the people we passed kept staring at us.
“Makes you wonder if she mated with a Kydenan while he was away,” I heard someone whisper behind us, but Dad picked me up and put me on his shoulders before I could see who said it. “Even if one of them had a colonist ancestor, you have to feel sorry for the poor child now. Nothing’s going to hide those eyes once she gets older…”
“What are they talking about?” I asked, starting to feel uncomfortable when no one answered me and kept walking. “What does ‘mated’ mean?”
“It’s something children don’t need to be concerned about,” Mom replied, but her eyes had flared bright blue as she looked at Dad. “I told you this was a bad idea.”
Dad sighed then let me down to the ground. In front of us was a garden filled with flowers and a series of connected stone walls of varying heights.
“We’ll be back as soon as we can,” he said as he hugged me. “Thanks for watching her for us, Ashner.”
Mom kissed the top of my head but kept glancing back at me as they left. When I couldn’t see them anymore, I tilted my head back so I could see Ashner’s face—almost falling backward in the process.
“Mom and Dad both think royals should be nicer to colonists,” I said, and this made him grin. “Are you a slave?”
“No, I get compensated more than some royals do,” he replied, but his attention darted to something behind me. “Though sometimes it doesn’t seem like nearly enough. Bardin—get down from there! If you tear up those tiles, it’s going to cause a leak.”
I turned around to see a blond-haired boy balancing on the top edge of the roof. Without hesitation, he jumped then did a roll onto the ground in front of us.
“Hi,” he said, but then he tilted his head sideways as he got closer to me. “Your eyes are funny.”
“Well, your smile is…really weird,” I replied in frustration, but his smirk got bigger. “If you’re going to be mean, just stay away from me!”
“Hey, he didn’t mean it like that,” Ashner started, but I marched away from both of them and sat down in the far corner of the courtyard. “Bardin, go tell her you’re sorry. She just got here, and her parents and your parents are friends.”
I kept my head down but saw his shoes when he got closer.
“I’m sorry your eyes are funny,” he said in a serious tone, but he smirked again as I looked up to face him. “That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be your friend. I'm named after a dead star, and people here talk about me and my family all the time. Just ignore them.”
I shook my head, feeling tears coming at the thought of having to face the same awful people on our way back.
“I don’t know if I can.”
He sat down beside me and put his arm around my shoulder.
“If you’ll trust me, I have an idea.”
We didn't technically break any of my parents’ instructions—though Ashner had to keep up with us from the ground because he was too heavy for the rooftops to hold him.
“I want down,” I said the first time I almost slipped, but Bardin shook his head as he helped me regain my balance. “What if I fall?”
“You won't,” he replied and grabbed my hand. “I promise I'm not going to--”
At that point a tile broke beneath his feet, and I screamed as we both fell towards the edge--Bardin catching his footing and gripping both my hands as I dangled off the edge.
“I can catch her if you let go,” Ashner said below us, but I shook my head because of the height. “Do you have her, Bardin?”
“Yeah,” he replied, laughing at the look I gave him once he helped me up again. “I promise I'm not going to let you fall again. We're almost there. Just don't give up yet.”
It turned out he was right--the top of our ship came into view after the next building. Ashner found and started talking to my parents a few minutes later, and we figured out he was trying to distract them long enough for us to climb down.
“I have to go,” I said, and Bardin nodded but with a sad expression. “If your family ever goes to Kydena, come find us. The people there are really nice.”
He shook his head.
“My dad is an adviser to the Emperor now, so he doesn't travel much anymore,” he replied, and his gaze went to the ground. “My mom has been sick for a while, and we don't know if she's going to get better. I don't know when we'll ever go back to Kydena.”
“Then maybe we'll come back here soon,” I replied. “It's different, but I like your smile.”
He smirked again.
“I like your eyes.”