Katie watched as Brianna and Ridley walked through the door and out of sight. She sighed, glad to have them around again. It had taken them longer than she had expected to get to the palace. They hadn’t ran their horses the entire way, like Katie and the men with her did.
Zoey leaned over and felt Richard’s forehead. She grunted, not actually saying anything. Katie watched her closely, hoping to get another lesson on how to use her magic. She would use all opportunities that she got to learn how to use her powers. She liked how Zoey called it her “gift”.
“He has a slight fever, but will be well when he wakes,” Zoey remarked as she stood up straight.
“When will he wake?” Katie asked.
“Soon,” Zoey said vaguely.
“Zoey, what is this?” she asked, holding up the ring at her neck. She wanted to get Zoey talking. Zoey seemed mysterious and quiet a lot of the times.
Zoey looked at the ring. Her eyes took it in for a moment then looked away. As soon as she registered what she saw, her eyes snapped back to it. She gasped and her eyes went wide. Her fingers came forward and brushed the diamonds.
“Where did you get this?” she asked in a whisper.
“Richard gave it to me many years ago,” Katie said. “What is so important about it?”
“Lord Zarha did not try to take it from you when you were captured?” Zoey asked in wonder. She lowered her hands, but her eyes never left the ring.
“He did,” Katie said. Zoey gave another gasp, but Katie ignored it. “But he must have dropped it in the forest because Ridley found it.”
Zoey nodded. She turned her back to Katie.
“That ring is one of a kind. It is special because it came to this world when Lord Zarha came here. He is a “god” of another world and was sent to take care of the “trouble”. As was I.
“When a god comes to the world of life, we bring along something of power. A weapon. We know what it is that was brought with us because we start with it when we get here,” Zoey said.
Katie was getting confused. Zoey was talking about “gods”. She was making fairy tales, ones from the Book of Tradition, seem real. Instead of interrupting her, Katie listened carefully.
“If you have ever read the Book of Tradition,” Zoey said. “Then you will know of what I am about to say. All gods have powers that are beyond anything anyone has ever had. We are free to give these powers off, to another person. But when we run low on power, we must come in contact with the weapon we came with. That is why Zarha hunted you down. He wanted the ring back.
“As you might know, not all gods are good. When one comes to the world, another comes as well. Usually, a good god is sent to restore peace on a troubled time. I was sent to take care of Astroth’s grandfather. Zarha was also sent.
“While in a fight against each other, we lost our weapons. I haven’t seen mine since. I haven’t the faintest idea where it might be. I am so low on my magic that I fear I won’t be able to live long enough to find it.”
“What is your weapon?” Katie asked, playing along. She was starting to think that all of this was a silly joke that Zoey created.
“A sword,” she whispered. “One like no other.”
Katie was silent for a while as she waited for Zoey to continue. Most of this nonsense was in the Book of Traditions. She remembered reading it as a kid. When she was younger, she enjoyed reading about “gods” and their holy powers.
“The last time I saw this ring,” Zoey said. “Was probably about ten years ago.” She smiled when she turned back to look at it.
“That would be about the time Richard gave it to me,” Katie whispered. She believed some things, but there was a lot that didn’t fit.
“I am so glad that you were able to get it back,” Zoey said with a smirk. “Zarha is going to hate me.”
“Why is that?” Katie asked. She placed her hand on Richard’s cheek, feeling how warm he was. He was cooling down a lot.
“Because if my weapon shows up, then those who are in possession of it will be the Hero named in the prophecy.” Zoey said.
Katie felt her mouth gape open. In the Book of Tradition, it was said that it the Hero came to the world of the living, then peace would be restored when turmoil was afoot. Did that mean that they found the sword, they would be able to take down Zarha and Astroth?
“I have never seen a sword as you explained,” Katie said, thinking hard. Something, very distant, came to her mind, but she couldn’t place it.
“No,” Zoey said in a sad voice. “I wouldn’t have expected you to.”
A soldier outside the door knocked. Zoey turned to him and gestured for him to step into the room. The man did so. He was tall with light brown hair. He wore a light green uniform.
“Yes?” Zoey asked.
“Lady Zoey,” he said to her, bowing as he did so. “The Queen would like your company.”
“I see,” Zoey said. She turned to Katie. “When he awakes, send for me. I shall leave a few men outside the hall. When this man wakes, I want you to have one of them run to fetch me. He may be unstable, so I would have to set a few things right.”
“Should I tell him about the things you have told me? About the Gods and such?” Katie asked.
“No,” Zoey said, walked to the door. The man vanished out it. “Because he will be able to recall all that we have said. His hearing was not affected and so would be able to recall all that was said in his present.”
“How is that possible?”
“Because I awoke his magic,” Zoey said simply. “See you in a bit.” She waved and vanished out the door.
Katie sat for a few minutes, thinking about everything that Zoey said. Everything seemed so silly. She just couldn’t believe what she was saying. It couldn’t be true. How would it even be possible?
Katie stood and walked to the window in the room. She looked out it and down upon the city beyond. It was an amazing site. She grinned for a moment. When she thought of Richard, the grin faded.
She turned her back to the window and walked back to Richard. She placed her hand over his and wished that she could tell him that she loved him. She wanted him to be okay, so she could tell him how she truly felt about him. She just hoped that he loved her too.
There was a knock at the door. Turning, Katie saw a man standing there. He bowed to her and stepped into the room. Smiling, he took one step into the room and stopped.
“I was told that when your friends get back, you are to talk to the Queen. Lady Zoey has asked me to escort you when they get back,” the man said.
“Thank you,” Katie said, politely smiling to the man.
“My name is Scott,” he said.
“Katie,” she whispered. The man nodded and back out of the room, leaving Katie to her thoughts.
The Queen wanted to talk to her. She wondered what it was going to be about. Thinking about it, Katie realized that she had never been in the presence of anyone with power. She had never seen a King or Queen before. She wasn’t quite sure how to act. Bowing, she knew, was a safe way to start.
A little while later and Brianna and Ridley entered the room. Brianna’s long hair hung in wet strands. She smiled at Katie and gestured to the fresh clothes she wore. It was only a pair of pants and a white shirt, same as Katie, but Katie knew that she was happy to be clean.
“We are to meet with the Queen,” Katie said to the others. Ridley nodded, not bothering to look up at her. He was pulling something from around his waist. Katie knew what it was: Richard’s sword. He placed it on the dresser.
Brianna placed her own weapons upon the dresser. Katie knew that she didn’t want to have such things while around the Queen. Katie set herself to do the same thing. She thought that it would be better to leave it and not seem like a threat.
After she and Brianna had placed their weapons upon the dresser, Katie walked out of the room and into the magnificent hallway. Quickly scanning around, she saw five men walking up and down the halls, not very far from she. When Scott spotted her, he sprinted down the hall to her.
“Are you ready?” he asked her in a rush.
“Yes, but will there be someone here to see if Richard wakes?” she asked him. He nodded and gestured for another soldier to come up.
“Stand guard over the man in this room. Alert Lady Zoey when he wakes,” Scott said with authority. The man nodded and bowed to Katie. He walked into the room and stood near the window, watching Richard closely. Katie felt a little nervous about him being in the room while Richard was defenseless, but didn’t say anything.
“Now?” Scott asked her. Katie nodded and gestured for him to lead the way. He did so, taking off quickly. Katie could tell that he was anxious to get going. Brianna sped up to walk next to Katie, on her right side. Ridley did the same, on her left.
They walked past paintings of amazing styles. Katie had never seen such art. It was amazing to be in a palace. She looked all around, trying to remember where everything was. Scott led them up a small stairway and down another hall.
Katie could tell that they were getting closer to the Queen. All of the art around them was looking more and more expensive and artistic. She knew that the Queen was a respected woman who would get anything she asked for. These people probably worshipped her.
“In here,” Scott said, pointing to an upcoming doorway. This doorway was larger than any of the others. All around it were statues of amazing sculptures and paintings of interesting designs. It wasn’t really Katie’s taste.
Two guards were posted to each side of the door. They stood in armor that was shinier than anything Katie had ever seen before. At their waist were swords and other weapons. In one hand, they each held a spear painted black at the tips.
When Scott stopped in front of them, they nodded for him to continue into the room. Katie stood behind him and was granted access as well. As were Brianna and Ridley. They entered, single file, into a large room.
Katie looked around as she entered. This room was larger than her own house. She smiled as she looked at the statues of men in armor. When one moved, she realized that they weren’t statues. They walked along a red carpet down the middle of the room. Katie slowed so she was walking next to Brianna. Ridley sped up and walked in front of them. Scott led the way through the room.
A few large windows sat to each side of the room. Light shined through them. The ground under the carpet was, what Katie thought, marble. It glistened in the light from the torches hanging around. The windows were pitch black.
Katie watched her feet as she walked towards the Queen. She knew that she would probably be the most important person she would meet in all her life. She smiled with pride that she would actually be meeting a Queen.
She saw that Scott and Ridley had stopped walking. Katie and Brianna stopped right behind them. As one, Ridley and Scott sunk to their knees and bowed. Katie and Brianna did the same. Katie kept her eyes down.
For a moment, everything was quite. Katie would have liked to look up, but she was terrified by what she might see. In her mind’s eye, she saw an evil old woman who took over Serdio. She imagined an evil old hag who would strike her dead the instant her eyes came into contact.
“Rise up, all,” came an airy voice that Katie hadn’t expected. She rose along with the others and looked up at the woman that was their Queen.
The Queen was beautiful. She had long silky blonde hair that cascaded over her shoulders. Her peach skin contracted to her ruby red dress. The dress looked to have been specially made to fit her perfectly. It touched the ground at her feet.
Her hazel eyes blazed at them, taking each of them in. For a moment, she almost looked displeased. Then a warming smile met her lips as she walked down a few little steps to greet them.
She came to Ridley first.
“Sir Ridley,” she said. “How are you?”
“Quite well, my Lady,” he said, bowing again.
“I hear that you have been healed?” she asked.
“Yes,” Ridley said. “By Katie.” He gestured to Katie behind him. The Queen looked back and nodded.
“So I have been told,” she said. She turned from him and walked to Brianna. “And who are you, child?”
“My name is Brianna, my Lady,” Brianna whispered.
“Pleasure to meet you. Perhaps you will be helping through this struggle?” the Queen asked.
“I will do my best,” Brianna said, smiling.
“I am glad.” The Queen turned to Katie now. “You are Katie, no?”
“Yes, my Lady, I am,” Katie whispered quietly. She admired this woman. And yet, she feared her more than anyone. She looked down, fearing to look her in the eye.
The Queen’s hand came under her chin and lifted her head up. Katie looked up into her hazel eyes. The Queen smiled widely, her white teeth gleaming. Her eyes lit up with the smile. Katie realized that she was probably only a few years older than she.
“No need to fear me, child” she said. “I am here for one reason, and that is to help lead you to your true potential. I would never have thought that this was the real reason why I became Queen, but after reading the prophecy...” her voice trailed off.
“You have read another prophecy?” Katie asked. The Queen moved her hand away.
“Yes,” she answered. “I have read many prophecies within the last month.”
“Where?” Katie asked. Brianna was standing at her shoulder.
“In the Book of Tradition,” the Queen said. “We never knew there were so many in that vile book. But when Zoey read it, she knew what they were. She understood them.”
“How do you know that you are only the Queen because you are to help me?” Katie asked.
“That’s not exactly what I meant,” she answered. “I mean to say that my life’s suppose is to help you and Richard see and understand what must be done.”
“And what would that be?” Katie asked.
“To kill Zarha and Astroth,” she said. Her smile was gone.
“But... we aren’t fighters,” Katie whispered. “We are from a simple village where we don’t fight that much.”
“Ah, but fight, you will,” the Queen said, turning her back to them. “As I have heard, Richard is quite the fighter.” Katie remained silent.
“Do you know the real reason why Zarha had you captured?” the Queen asked her.
“Because of this,” Katie said, holding up the ring.
“No,” the Queen said. Katie’s eyebrows rose. “Zoey told me about this. But no, that is not the only reason he captured you.”
She turned to look up at her throne. Katie looked at what she was looking at. Zoey sat next to an elegant chair. The Queen gestured for Zoey to come down. Zoey stood and walked down the steps. When she reached the Queen, she bowed.
“Zoey, would you like to explain?” the Queen said.
“I would, my Lady, but I think we should wait until Richard awakes. Then we can explain everything to him as well,” Zoey said.
“Very good idea,” the Queen said, bowing her head. “Very well. I would like to see you all tomorrow in the morning. If your friend does not wake by morning, come to me when he does.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Ridley said. He placed a hand on Katie’s lower back, urging her to walk. Katie bowed and followed Ridley down the red carpet. She could hear Brianna right behind her.
A soldier waited in the hall. When he saw them, he nodded and walked off. Ridley started after him. Katie sat back for a moment until Brianna was walking next to her. Brianna leaned in to whisper something to her.
“What do you think the Queen meant?” she asked her.
“I don’t know,” Katie said back, not bothering to ask what she meant. She knew what she was talking about. Brianna was curious as to why Lord Zarha had captured her. The real reason. What was more important to him than the ring?
They walked along in silence. Katie ran a hand through her hair as she thought. She wondered what the “real” reason was. Why would Zarha want to capture her so bad? What could possibly be the other reason why he attacked her village and kidnapped her?”
In no time at all, they arrived back to the door that Richard was behind. Katie was anxious to see how he was doing. She hoped that he was getting better. She found it amazing that he had come so close to death, and was brought back in the nick of time. She smiled to herself, having promised that she would tell him the truth about how she felt about him.
With a sudden flash of fear, she wondered if he was already awake. Then she would tell him everything. She would tell him that she loved him.
Would he love her back?
The soldier opened the door and Ridley went in first. Brianna followed him. Katie lagged behind, fretting over her thoughts. She had promised herself that if he lived, she would tell him. But would she have to guts to do it now?
Entering the room, Katie glanced at Richard. He was still sleeping, or maybe unconscious. His chest rose and fell with even breathing. He appeared to be breathing better now than when she had seen him only a little while ago. Brianna walked to him and felt his forehead.
“He’s cool,” she announced. Katie nodded and walked over to him. She sat on the edge of his bed and placed her head on his shoulder.
“Why don’t you tell him?” Ridley asked her. Katie’s head came up.
“Tell him what?” she snapped.
“Never mind,” he whispered. Katie looked out the window and saw that it was very dark out there. A light was lit in the room. Ridley glanced out the window as well. “Brianna, do you want another room to sleep in?”
“No, I think I will stay in here with Katie and Richard,” Brianna said. She walked over to the other bed and sat down on it.
“Where will you be staying?” Katie asked him. She stood and walked over to the window.
“In my room,” Ridley said. He walked to the door. “Good night.”
“‘Night,” Katie murmured. Ridley left the room and shut the door quietly behind him.
“You wouldn’t mind me getting some sleep, would you? I have been awake for a long time,” Brianna said.
“Go ahead,” Katie said. “I want to stay away until Richard wakes.” Brianna nodded and placed her head on the bed. In less than a minute, her breathing evened out and she was asleep.
"This extract remains the exclusive property of the author who retains all copyright and other intellectual property rights in the work. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced or used by any person or entity for any purpose without the author's express permission and authority."