Katie’s mind came awake in an instant. She wasn’t sure what had awoken her, but she found herself alert. She sat up in her bed and looked around, ready for someone to attack. Richard, still lying below her, was sitting up and rubbing his eyes.
Brianna rose from her bed. Katie looked around and saw that there was light shining through the window. It was daytime. Katie threw her feet over the side of the bed and stood. She stretched.
Brianna walked to the door and opened it. A soldier stood there, waiting. Katie understood what had caused her to awake so suddenly. She had heard him knocking on the door.
“Sir Ridley and Lady Zoey would like you to meet them in the conference hall when you are ready,” the man said, bowing his head. “I shall escort you when wish.”
“Thank you,” Brianna said. She shut the door and turned to Katie and Richard. “This is early for a meeting.” Katie nodded, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
Richard stood and walked to the window. He glanced out it and sighed. Brianna came up behind him and hugged him.
“I’m glad you are okay,” she said. “What time did you wake last night?” she asked him.
“How did you know I woke last night?” he asked her, watching her with suspicious eyes.
“I saw that Katie had the bed and you had the ground,” she said dismissively. Katie smiled, thinking she hadn’t been the only one listening in last night.
“Are you two ready to see the Queen?” he asked. Brianna nodded as she tried to fix her hair. Katie ran her hands through her own hair. Tangles came out easily.
“Yes,” Katie said. She looked over at Richard and opened her mouth to say something, but changed her mind. She would talk to him after they met with the Queen. Richard leaned over and picked up his sword. He threw the strap over his shoulder and placed the sword at his hip. He winced when he stood up straight.
He opened the door and lead the girls through. The soldier nodded when they came out of the room. Richard set off after him. Katie and Brianna sped up to walk next to him down the hall.
“Katie, there is something I need to talk to you about,” he said, not looking at her.
“Yes?” she asked, hoping he would tell her first.
“You have control over your powers?” he asked. In her mind, Katie said ‘OH!”.
“Yes,” she whispered, disappointed.
“You can do anything?” he asked her.
“Well, no. I only know how to heal right now. I was hoping that Zoey would give me a few lessons before we leave,” she said. Richard nodded, making Katie wonder why he had asked.
The soldier stopped and pointed to a door off the right. “This is the conference room,” he said. “Sir Ridley and Lady Zoey are inside.”
“Is the Queen there as well?” Katie asked.
“The Queen is not feeling very well this morning. She will meet with you all later,” the soldier said, walking off.
Richard reached out and grasped the knob. He turned it and opened the door. Katie and Brianna followed him into the room.
The room was filled with a large table with many chairs all around it. Paintings sat over all the walls, making the scene look wonderful. The walls were painted a rich mahogany color. Zoey and Ridley sat next to each other at the far end of the table. They looked to be in deep conversation about something.
They looked up when they were footsteps. Richard strode straight over to them. Katie and Brianna followed in his wake. Zoey stood and walk close to him, taking in his sight. She smiled at him.
“Richard, I am glad that you are well. I am Zoey,” she said, placing a hand on his chest for a moment. She took one look at Katie’s murderous glance, and removed her hand. “Ridley told me that you woke last night and that you were feeling well.”
“Yes, thank you for your concern,” Richard said. “We were told the Queen is ill.”
“Yes, her Majesty came down with a cold this morning. She will be in here in an hour to talk to you and Katie,” Zoey said. “Please, sit down. We have much to talk about.”
Richard sat next to Ridley. Katie and Brianna sat next to Richard. Zoey leaned over and smiled at them. Her eyes rarely left Richard.
“What are your plans, Richard?” she asked him. Richard seemed startled by the question.
“Why does it matter?” he asked her.
“I would like to know what it is you plan on doing after you leave this palace,” she said.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “I think I will go back and help fix my village.”
“You have no intention of fighting Zarha?” she asked him, her eyebrows raised.
“I have no reason to,” Richard remarked.
“He kidnapped Katie. He had your village destroyed. He would have had you killed. He wants you killed. Are those not reasons enough?” she said. Katie watched her with a hint of distaste. She knew what Zoey was trying to do. She was trying to get Richard angry.
“They are good reasons, but I am not ready to take on a wizard,” Richard said. “I do not want to fight.”
“But fight, you will,” she said. Richard’s eyes went wide for a moment.
“No, I won’t,” Richard said.
“I see, so you will run away from your problems?” she asked him.
“I have no problems,” he said. “Katie is safe; that is all the matters.” He stood up and walked to the window. Katie watched Zoey. When Zoey’s eyes locked on Richard’s sword, her eyes went wide.
“Where did you get that?” she whispered in a strange voice. Richard turned to see her pointing at the sword at his hip.
“It was given to me by a friend from my village,” Richard said.
“Was this friend a wizard?” she asked him.
“Yes,” Richard said. “Why?”
“Because that is my sword,” she said, standing and grinning. Katie stood too. In the corner of her eye, she saw Brianna and Ridley stand. Zoey walked towards Richard. “Can I hold it?”
“Why?” he asked, taking a step away from her. Katie advanced on Zoey.
“Because my powers will be restored,” Zoey said. “I haven’t been able to use my powers in nearly twenty years.”
“You said you came to take care of Astroth’s grandfather, right?” Katie asked.
“Yes, but I came before he was a threat. I was sent early because they wanted me to kill him when he was young. I took pity on the child,” Zoey said. She didn’t take her eyes off the sword. She reached out for the sword.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Richard said, taking a few steps away.
“Please,” Zoey whined. Richard watched her for a while before he pulled the sword over his head. He held it out to Zoey. Katie felt herself shaking.
This reminded her of when Zarha had taken the ring from her. The day had turned black as night. It had been terrifying.
Zoey slowly reached out to grab the sword. Her eyes were wide as she took it in her hands. She pulled it close, inspecting it closely. Katie came and stood next to Richard. She placed her hand on his arm. She could feel a slight tremble from him.
After a moment, Zoey smiled. She pulled the sword free of its hilt and held it high above her head. She whispered something, but Katie couldn’t understand what she said. A dim light came from her hands. The light seemed to roll down her hands and over her arms. After a minute, her whole body was enveloped by a bright green color. Zoey grinned.
A moment later and the light faded. Zoey lowered the sword until the tip touched the ground. She sheathed it and walked back over to Richard and handed it to him. Her smile brightened the room. Richard took the sword and threw it back over his head.
“What happened?” Brianna asked her from right next to Katie.
“My powers were restored,” Zoey said, gleeful and triumphed.
They remained silent for a while. Zoey ran her hands through her hair. She couldn’t stop smiling. At last, she talked again to Richard.
“You need to fight him,” she said.
“No, I don’t. Why can’t you fight him?”
“Because I am not destine to kill him. You are,” Zoey said. “I do not have the powers to do it.”
“You said that you came here to take care of the threats. Now you are saying that I must take him on? I don’t understand you,” Richard said.
“I had been sent here to take care of Astroth’s grandfather, not Zarha. In the prophecies, you are to fight him. I am to help you,” Zoey said.
“I won’t do it. I have no reason to fight him,” Richard said.
“But there will be a time when you have to choice to fight or die,” Zoey said. “Or allow a friend to die.” Her gaze swept over Katie and Brianna. Richard was silent for a moment.
“I will protect my friends, but I will not fight him. He is one of the most feared men in the entire world,” Richard said after a while.
“Yes! Which is why you must fight him. You are named in prophecy. You are said to be the one to fight off the tyrants that are ruling over us,” Zoey said in an irritated voice.
“If he doesn’t want to fight, he shouldn’t have to,” Katie said.
“He will fight when he wants. He just doesn’t realize that he wants to fight. Not yet, at least,” Zoey said. “When a friend’s life sits in the balance, he will fight Zarha to the death.”
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