Chapter 2.

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"But he that dares not grasp the thorn.
Should never crave the rose."
Anne Bronte

Lennita strolled through the halls of the consulate building in Urbe civitus. The white tiled corridor meandered round the building to the back of the estate where the guest houses were located. Five cottages in all lined down a path with pink hibiscus bushes interspersed with short pine trees.
She walked to the fifth door of the door and rapped on the door twice.
She heard a groan on the other side of the door followed by the shuffling of feet.
A half dressed man openned the door rubbing his eyes like he had been roused from a deep slumber.
"Ryan! You stink!"
"Hi siz"
He said grinning at her. She glared back at him pushing to enter the cottage.
He closed the door and followed his sister back into the room.
"Stop smirking at me and put a shirt on."
He walked into one of the bedrooms and came back out with a polo shirt on and a toothbrush in his mouth. His sister had already cleared one of the leather sofas and had sat down sizing him up.
He mumbled.
"Mother called,"
He shrugged settling on the sofa's arm.
"Katrina is pregnant."
He stared at his sister as if she had grown an extra head.
"No way!"
"Yes, on a third month i think."
"I don't believe it."
His sister sneered at him.
"You better believe it. Now get up and stop moping. I am not ready to lose another niece or nephew because of your stupidity."
His once blank look now mirrored his anger as he glared back at his sister.
"I was not the one who arranged that marriage !"
"True, but how long will you continue to feel sorry for yourself! Katrina is a nice girl. You may even grow to love her if you tried!"
They locked eyes, two pairs glaring at each other. Finally Ryan stood up and walked back to his room where he threw a few of his posessions into a duffel bag. When he walked out his sister had already left and on the table before him was a note and plane ticket waiting.

Thought you would need this


Ryan smiled despite himself. He looked at the time stamped on the ticket then at his watch.
"Thirty minutes!"

He folded the ticket and placed it in his black duffel bag swinging it across his shoulder and turned towards the door.
He twisted the door knob and openned the door coming face to face with the consulate chauffer.
The chauffer grinned at him.
"Mr Thorpe, the car is waiting to take you to the airport."
"Thanks man."
He patted the chauffer's back and followed in him to the waiting car.
The car zoomed past traffic barely msking it to the airport in time. He sped past customs using his diplomatic ID and bustled past their air attendants just as the were gearing up to close the terminal.
A red haired stewardess showed him to his seat attempting to flirt with him, but his mind was too occupied to notice. Eventually she gave up giving him a sour look as she went back to her seat.

"This is your captain speaking..."

A male voice boomed through the public adress system as he fastened his seatbelt and slipped on his earphones drowning the voice. He peered out of the window appreciating his sister's efforts to get him a windows seat. He smiled ruefully to himself and closed his eyes planning to get some much needed sleep.

He would be going into the dragon's lair and he needed all his wits about him.


The flight past Veterum borders and into Ueteribus air space had taken about five hours.
The same red haired stewardess shook Ryan from his sleep notifying him that it was time to alight.
He had slept through the entire flight and landing to exhausted from the previous night spent drowning his sorrows in alcohol.
He thanked the stewardess retrieving his duffel bag from the overhead compartment and  walked out not sparing her a second glance much to her disappointment.
He run a hand through his head attempting to tame his unruly mass of yellow blond locks which lay in a tangled mess. His hazel eyes glittered in the sun despite the slight hangover he was nursing coming to rest on thr familiar black sedan that was waiting on the runway.
He strode to the car coming to halt before the middle aged woman standing next to it, his six foot tall body towering over her.
"Ryan, it's so good to see you." The tried. Ryan acknowledged her with a nod and maneuvered past her to get into the car behind her.
"I see, we are still doing that."
She mumbled to herself joining him in the car. Ryan looked busy in his phone and she tapped the driver on the shoulder and he turned to face her.
"Take us home Philiph."
Ryan looked up and frowned at them.
"I am going to my house."
The woman and the driver looked at each other before she turned to adress him.
"Are you sure?"

Ryan gave her a hard look then slowly let out.
"Mother, i said i am going home. To my house!"
His mother lifted an eyebrow before turning to nod at the driver.
"Okay Philiph, do what he says.Drive us to his house."
Mildred Thorpe stared at her son the whole ride to his house trying to figure him out. He had plugged on his earphones reclining back on the seat and closed his eyes in meditation. She reached out her hand to hold his but changed her mind retracting it back deciding to just be content with looking at him.
The car pulled into a gated community in the outskirts of the town and stopped in front of one of the houses. A two story craftsman house that acted as his home studio and house.
Ryan was an accomplished artist with several of his works hanging in galleries all over the country. His parents had wanted him to join the family buisness, but he had declined immersing himself in his work and making a name for himself in the world of art.
He had bought this house with the proceeds from the sale of his earlier pieces turning it into a studio and a refuge from his family and the Maracheli's.
He got out of the car and stared at the house standing before him.

"Home at last,"

He thought to himself.

"Are you going to be okay?" His mother asked peering from the car window.

"I think so." He mumbled back.

"See you later then, I'll have your hotel room reservation booked by the time you get there."

He turned and gazed at his mother who was giving him an expectant look.
Hazel eyes gazed into his full of hope and he smiled back at her.

"Thanks mum."

With that he turned to walk into the house pausing at the door to take out his keys. He rummaged into his untidy bag finding them at the bottom.

Finally he managed to open the door let himself in as his mother's car pulled out of the driveway.

He closed the door behind him and walked through the living room to the flight of stairs that led to the upper parts of the house where his room was located.

Taking two steps at a time he finally made it to his bedroom where he dumped the duffel bag in the laundry basket. Locating a suitcase in his closet, he dumped a few jeans and shirts then headed to the adjoining bathroom for a quick shower. He took the time to shave the stubble that had formed on his jaw and combed his hair feeling the need to look presentable when he appeared before Mr Maracheli.

Finally dressed up in dark blue jeans and a navy polo shirt, he closed his suitcase taking his phone,wallet and car keys to the silver SUV parked in his garage.
The suitcase went into the back as he slid the wallet into the inner pocket of his black jacket.

He gave one more look at his phone, still no reply to his messages to Katrina.

With a heavy heart, he pressed the button to release the doors to the garage and threw the SUV into  reverse pulling out of the garage.

It was going to be a long and treacherous journey to the mountains  but he had never been one to back up from a challenge.

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