(Note: This is the beginning of a book I wrote when I was 13. I know it's not very good but I hope you like it! Oh, and it's not edited, so forgive me for any errors! Let me know if you want to read some more. Enjoy!)
The girl sat on the bench in the garden, gazing up at the stars. One seemed to twinkle and beckon her. A young man stood, leaning against a tree. He watched her.
“Kylos, I often wish that I could reach up and touch a star,” the girl said wistfully.
“Ah, Adara, perhaps someday you will,” the man said.
He then dropped down on one knee before her, and said, gallantly, “I shall tell you, your future. You will face many difficulties but shall overcome them. You will have a great decision to make, and you shall choose correctly.”
When he had finished, the girl laughed.
“Kylos, will you ever be serious?” she asked teasingly.
Another man stood watching the two. Now he advanced towards them. Adara turned to him.
“Sir Adrian, do you believe that you can touch a star?”
“Ah, Princess,” Sir Adrian said with a laugh, “How should I know? But if it is possible, you would be able to do it.”
Adara blushed. Then she spoke, “Sir Adrian, do you believe that Kylos has prophesied correctly?”
Sir Adrian smiled, “Princess, every person faces difficulties, and most overcome them. Also, many make decisions, and some choose the wrong choice. But you, Princess, are as innocent as a white rose.” As he said this, Sir Adrian plucked a white rose up and presented it to Adara. Then he continued, “And the innocent are very wise in their way. I know that you would make the right choice.”
Adara smiled. She bent over the rose and touched it lightly to her ruby-red lips. Her dark curls fell and shadowed her face.
Sir Adrian stood and looked at the pretty picture she made, sitting there with the moon behind her.
Kylos rose and turned to go.
“Kylos! You are not leaving, are you?” Adara asked.
Kylos laughed. “Dear sister, I must go, much as I would like to stay. I must finish my lessons for tomorrow, or Master Blake will be angry with me. He already complains that I spend my time dawdling instead of learning my lessons,” he said, smiling.
“Well, you must admit that what he says is truth,” Sir Adrian said.
Kylos glared at him, but he had a hint of a smile on his lips. Then, Kylos went down the path to the palace. Sir Adrian laughed as he watched Kylos’ indignant form as he disappeared from view. Then he turned to Adara; she still held the rose in her lap. Feeling his gaze on her, she looked up. Seeing how intently he watched her, she blushed. He smiled and said, “Adara! Why do you blush? We are betrothed.”
“Yes, but must you stare so?”
Sir Adrian laughed, and said softly, “Adara, I was merely admiring your beauty. And thinking of a time when you shall not be as innocent and young.”
“And why were you thinking this?” Adara inquired.
“Because, Princess, I almost wish that you would never become a woman.”
“Sir Adrian!” exclaimed Adara.
“Adara, I thought this because you are so pure and naïve now, but you shall not always be so. Someday you will realize the evil of this world.” Sir Adrian said gravely.
Adara glanced down, and said, “Must you be so serious? Usually you are not so.”
Sir Adrian laughed, and bent down. Softly he kissed her. Adara stiffened, and then relaxed; Sir Adrian straightened. Adara’s cheeks were pink, but she was smiling. Just then then they heard a noise. Turning, they saw King Raymond, Adara’s father.
“Excuse me,” he said quietly, “But it is time Adara retired.”
Sir Adrian stepped back, and said, “Of course. And it is time I also returned home.”
Adara rose from the bench. Sir Adrian kissed the hand she held out. Then she and King Raymond disappeared down the path. Sir Adrian watched them go.
Then, he too turned down the path, but in the opposite direction, in which the stables lay. He mounted his horse, and disappeared in the direction of the DeWitt castle, Sir Adrian’s home.
End of Chapter One (of 15? 16? Something like that.)
(Remember, I warned you that I wrote it when I was 13! Don't worry, I've improved drastically since then. Should I post some more of it, or was that enough?)
Scorned as a Coward
Adara rose with the sun the next morning. She dressed and descended the stairs. Stepping out into the sunshine, she stood for a moment. The birds sang in the trees. The sky lit up gold, pink and blue. The perfume of flowers wafted on the breeze. She stood captivated by the beauty.
Suddenly she heard pounding hoofbeats. A dust-caked rider came into view. His horse was crusted with sweat. The rider dismounted, and the horse stood panting. Adara turned and hurried into the palace. She knocked on a door.
“Come in,” said a voice.
Adara opened the door and stood on the threshold . King Raymond half-turned in his seat. A man sat across from the King. Adara quickly told her father of the rider. King Raymond’s face creased with worry, as he hurried down to the front hall. Adara waited, and he returned with the rider. They disappeared into the room, and the doors closed behind them.
Adara stood silently for a moment, and then turned away. Going around a corner, she met her older brother, Kylos.
“What is the matter?” he asked.
Adara explained about the rider. “He probably had a message for Father.” she concluded.
“Probably. I wonder what it was,” Kylos mused, “It must have been important, if his horse was in the condition you said it was.”
The two went to breakfast. Adara asked Kylos what he was doing that morning. He replied that he was going riding with Sir Adrian. Just then a servant came in. He informed them that Sir Adrian was in the drawing room. Kylos excused himself and left.
Adara finished her breakfast and went to the drawing room also.
When she entered, Kylos and Sir Adrian rose from their seats to greet her. Sir Adrian advanced and lifted Adara’s hand to his lips. He then escorted her to a seat. They sat for a moment, talking. Then there was a knock. When the door opened, there stood Master Blake, Kylos’s tutor.
“I beg your pardon,” said Master Blake, “But it is time the Prince and I commenced his lesson.”
Kylos groaned, but he rose from his seat.
“You will have to excuse me, Sir Adrian. I cannot go riding with you after all,” Kylos said, apologetically, “As you can see, I must go off to prison!” he then turned to Master Blake, “Handcuff me!”
Master Blake glared disapprovingly. The two then disappeared down the hall. The door shut behind them. Sir Adrian turned towards Adara.
“Princess, do you wish to go riding with me?” he asked, “With your father’s permission, of course.”
Adara smiled, “I would be delighted to do so.”
They went to the room in which King Raymond was. A servant met them.
“I am sorry, Princess, but your father is not to be disturbed,” he informed them.
“Very well,” said Sir Adrian, “Tell his Majesty that the Princess and I will be going for a short ride. We will not be gone for long.”
The servant nodded, “I will be sure to tell his Majesty.”
Adara and Sir Adrian left. Going to the stables, Sir Adrian ordered the Princess’s horse saddled. Adara returned to her room to change. When she joined Sir Adrian again, the horse was ready. They mounted and rode off together.
It was a beautiful morning. They rode for a time in silence. Then they mounted a hilltop. The countryside lay before them. They gazed with delight at the scene. Rolling hills, wide forests, lakes and rivers lay before their feet.
They had dismounted and were leading their horses, when they came to a wood. Sir Adrian tethered their horses to a tree. Adara leaned against the trunk of another tree. Sir Adrian stood beside her. He gazed deep into her eyes. She smiled. He leaned close, and their lips met. Just then, they heard a noise. It sounded like the cocking of a pistol. They both froze. A voice said quietly, “Beautiful morning, is it not?”
Adara raised her eyes, and Sir Adrian turned. Before them stood a sinister looking man. He smiled a sneering smile.
“Who are you?” asked Sir Adrian.
“I am a good friend,” the man said, “I wouldn’t harm a hair on your head.” He said this, but the pistol waved menacingly.
“What do you want?” Sir Adrian asked, keeping one eye on the pistol.
“Ah,” said the man, with an evil grin, “I don’t want much, just that pretty charge of yours.”
“The Princess!” exclaimed Sir Adrian.
“Yes. I want her not for me, but for my master.”
“Well, you shall not have her!” declared Sir Adrian.
“Really?” the man said. He raised the pistol and pointed it straight at Sir Adrian.
The young knight swallowed nervously, and then looked down.
“You will not hurt her?” he asked.
The man laughed wickedly.
“Of course not!” he exclaimed, “My orders are to deliver her alive and unharmed, or I do not get my pay.”
“Very well, you may have her. But if you harm her in the slightest.”
“Do not fear, sir knight. I will treat her as if she was my own daughter.” the man said.
Adara was pale. Angrily she turned to Sir Adrian.
“You would give me to this…this ruffian!” she cried.
Sir Adrian looked at her, “Princess, if I do not, he will kill me.”
She gave him a look of fury, “You…you…” she sputtered, “You coward!”
He turned pale, but he set his lips together firmly.
“Now be off with you!” ordered the man, fiercely.
Sir Adrian hesitated, but the man waved the pistol. Sir Adrian turned and went to his horse. Untying it, he mounted. Adara stood watching him with scorn.
“You! You coward! You run from danger like a child!” she cried, in a heartrending voice, “Don’t you ever show your face to me again!” She turned her back on him angrily.
Sir Adrian sat on his horse, his face white with shame. Then, turning his horse, he rode away, leaving Adara alone with the man.
End of Chapter Two
(Still good? I should keep going? Ah! As I put this on Prose, I suffer with great pains, and wish that I'd edited this a bit more thoroughly)
Adara stood gazing after Sir Adrian for a moment. Then she turned to the man.
“What are you going to do with me?” she asked, indignantly.
He looked at her silently.
“Well?” Adara exclaimed.
“Get your horse,” he ordered.
Adara untied her mare. The man led a horse from the bushes. Then he asked curtly, “Do you have a scarf?”
She nodded. The man held out his hand. Adara slowly unwound it and handed it to him. He took it, blindfolded her and then helped her mount her horse. Taking her reins, he led her horse.
They rode for some time in silence. Adara wished that she could see where she was. But as she could not tell whether he was looking at her or not, she dared not remove the scarf from her eyes.
Suddenly they stopped. The man dropped back beside her.
“We are going to ford a river,” he explained gruffly.
Then he rode ahead again. He took her reins once more. Adara then felt them go down a bank. Water sprayed on her dress and soaked it. They splashed along. Then the horses began swimming. Finally, they reached the other side. They mounted the slippery bank. The man paused once more, to rest the horses, then they continued.
* * * * *
At the palace, King Raymond paced the floor.
“War!” he cried, “I do not want to declare war!”
“You do not have to,” this came from the man, sitting across the room, “King Leon has attacked your fort. He has declared war.”
“Yes, yes!” exclaimed King Raymond, impatiently, “But I do not wish to fight him! I will, but I don’t want to!”
Lord Garth smiled, “Of course you will!” he exclaimed, “You are merely defending your kingdom and people.”
“Yes,” said the King, “I would give everything for my people. They love me, they trust me! I would give my life for them, if it would add to their welfare.”
Lord Garth smiled quietly.
“I’m sure you would. That is noble of you, but, luckily, it is not necessary.”
“I know,” said King Raymond. He walked over to Lord Garth and laid his hand on his shoulder, and spoke, “I know not what I would do without you. You are my greatest advisor.”
“Thank you, I am honored,” Lord Garth replied.
“But this war!” exclaimed King Raymond, “It will create havoc in my kingdom!”
“Yes,” said Lord Garth, “It will change much. But that is the problem with war.”
King Raymond resumed his pacing. Then there was a knock.
“Come in,” called King Raymond.
The door opened, and there stood Kylos.
“Yes, my son?”
“Father, do you know where Adara is?”
King Raymond looked surprised, “Is she not in the garden?”
Kylos shook his head. “I have searched everywhere.”
The King clapped his hands. A servant entered.
“Jeremy, do you know where the Princess is?”
The servant looked surprised. “Why, she and Sir Adrian left five hours ago to go on a short ride.”
“Five hours ago!” exclaimed the King.
“Yes, I was to inform you, but I had special orders not to interrupt you,” answered Jeremy, “I assumed that they had already returned.”
“Check the stables and see if her horse has returned.”
Jeremy disappeared, and King Raymond continued pacing.
“Where could they be?” he said, “They should have returned by now.”
He turned to Kylos. “Where have you been?”
“I was doing my lessons with Master Blake,” Kylos replied.
Jeremy returned. “The Princess’s horse is not in the stable, Sire.” he told them.
King Raymond frowned. “Send a messenger to the DeWitt castle, with all haste. Perhaps they are there.”
Jeremy obeyed. The messenger saddled and rode off at full speed to the DeWitt castle. When he arrived, the door was opened by a maid. She led him to the parlor where Lady Grace, Sir Adrian’s younger sister, was.
She frowned when the messenger delivered his message.
“My brother returned home three hours ago. He packed his bags and left. He seemed extremely upset. When I asked him what was wrong, he mumbled something about going on a journey. He left right after that. He was not here even an hour,” she informed the messenger.
“Was he alone?” asked the messenger.
“Thank you, Lady Grace. I will tell his Majesty what you told me.”
The messenger left, leaving a worried Lady Grace behind him. The messenger arrived at the palace and delivered the information to Jeremy. Jeremy returned to the King and told him.
“He returned alone?” asked the King.
“Then where was Adara? She has not arrived yet, and it has been more than three hours since Sir Adrian returned.”
The King paced some more. Then he whirled around, and said, “Send out search parties immediately!”
Jeremy hurried away. Kylos met his father’s eyes.
“You think Adara is in danger?” Kylos inquired.
King Raymond nodded.
“But why would Sir Adrian have returned?” Kylos asked.
“Perhaps he ran away. But that is hard to believe. The only son of my best friend, a coward! Impossible!” exclaimed the King.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, Adara rode on her horse, blindfolded. They stopped, and the man whistled.
“Is that you, Derek?” asked a voice.
“Aye,” answered the man with Adara.
Adara heard a gate squeak open. And then they rode on. The horses were walking on cobblestones. Then they halted. Adara was ordered to dismount. A hand gripped her arm, and the muzzle of a pistol pushed into her back. She was led through corridors. Then they began to go up steps. They went up and up and up. Finally, they stopped. Another door squeaked open on rusty hinges. She was forced inside. Her blindfold was pulled off and thrown on the floor.
Adara found herself in a small cell. The iron door clanged shut behind her. Footsteps echoed as they faded away. Adara looked about her cell. There was a window opposite the door. Adara walked over to it. Gazing out, she beheld forests spreading in all directions. Nothing else was to be seen.
She stood looking across the treetops. Why did this man, Derek, make her his prisoner? He had said he wanted her for someone else. But who?
End of Chapter Three
(What do you think? Have I been living my life with the idea that I write pretty well, when that is complete nonsense? I hope not! :) That would be very sad...)
Lady Grace sat in the drawing room, staring out into space. The portraits of her ancestors seemed to gaze down at her sternly. Lady Grace sat, wondering where her brother, Sir Adrian, could be. He had disappeared in such a hurry. Her mind went back to the messenger from the palace. Could the Princess Adara be in danger? For the fact that the messenger wanted to know if he had returned alone, seemed to point to that.
She rose and ordered a carriage to be prepared. When it was ready, she drove off to the palace. When she arrived, Prince Kylos greeted her.
“Lady Grace!” he exclaimed.
“Prince,” said she, “I was wondering if something was the matter. I saw several groups of horsemen riding out, on the way here.”
Kylos’s face grew worried, “Yes, Adara is missing,” he said, looking troubled.
“Tell me, Prince, did she go riding with my brother?” asked Lady Grace, anxiously.
Kylos wet his lips, “Yes. But Lady Grace, you need not be worried, we are sure to find her soon,” he said.
“But, why would my brother leave her, if she was in danger?” inquired Lady Grace.
“I do not know, but there must have been a reason. Your brother, Lady Grace, was no coward,” Kylos said firmly.
“Oh, no! You see, Prince, Adrian is all I have in the world, since father died.” Said Lady Grace, “And I love him so much, if something was to happen to him…” she paused.
“I know. I am sure your brother is fine,” said Kylos.
Lady Grace sighed, “I hope so,” she replied quietly.
* * * * *
The man stood, leaning against the battlements, gazing off into the distance. His face was thoughtful. Behind him the ancient castle stood dark against the evening sky. The man stood, his mind busy. He had seen them bring the girl into the courtyard. And now, he was thinking of the punishments that would occur if that girl was of the nobility. He wondered what they wanted of her, anyway. He had heard that Derek was in charge of the keys to her cell in the tower. He didn’t like the captain of sentinels. He knew the man to be cruel and coldhearted. The man also was curious to know who was in charge of this setup, anyway. Whoever was, lived in the capital, and was quite wealthy. He didn’t like it. He hadn’t realized what this band was like at first. They had given him lodging for the night, when he came wandering along. He had stayed when they offered to pay him to help guard. He had decided that guarding an abandoned castle in the middle of nowhere should be fairly easy. Now, he wished that he could leave. He didn’t like the shady way they handled things. But, now, he couldn’t leave. He had tried, but they had laughed and told him that once you get here, you stay here. The man frowned, perhaps he could sneak away in the dead of night, while he was on guard duty. The question was, was it worth it? If he was caught sneaking off…the man shuddered. His hazel eyes looked off at nothing for a while. Then he straightened up, tall against the dark sky and continued pacing the battlements.
Late that night, the man laid awake, turning over the thought of escaping in his mind.
“Walter,” he told himself, “You’ve got to get out of here. So far you’ve never been mixed up in anything wrong. The only thing you have done that you would be better off not doing, is wander about, and not make yourself a home. You should get out of here, while it’s still possible.”
End of Chapter Four
I hope you're enjoying it, still!
“One Should Never Trust Another”
The search parties searched in vain. There was no sign of the Princess. Little did they know she was lying in a tower, a prisoner.
King Raymond paced back and forth. The look on his face grew more and more worried as each of the search parties returned, to report failure.
“I cannot believe Sir Adrian would abandon my daughter!” exclaimed the King, “He would not do so!”
“Ah, perhaps he is a coward, and now you know,” said Lord Garth.
“Sir Adrian? A coward?” declared the King, “Impossible!”
“Not necessarily,” replied Lord Garth, “Sometimes someone you trust and rely on, turn out to be not quite what you thought they were.”
King Raymond turned to look at him. Something in Lord Garth’s tone captured his attention.
“Anyhow, you need not worry about your daughter, she is perfectly safe,” said Lord Garth.
“What do you mean?” demanded the King.
“I know she is safe, because she was captured according to my orders,” answered Lord Garth calmly.
“Your orders!” exclaimed King Raymond in astonishment, his face pale.
Lord Garth clapped his hands. Five men in black entered.
“Take them to the dungeon!” ordered Lord Garth.
“What!” cried King Raymond, “I trusted you, Lord Garth!”
Lord Garth laughed evilly. “That was a foolish thing to do.” he said, “One should never trust another.”
With that, the five men turned to go, King Raymond and Prince Kylos in their midst. They were thrust into a cell, in the deepest part of the dungeon under the palace.
* * * * *
Lord Garth sat in the throne room, rubbing his hands with together. He chuckled, everything was going according to plan.
He had known that Sir Adrian and Kylos were going to go riding together. He also knew that Master Blake disapproved of Kylos’s carelessness, and love of sports rather than books. Master Blake took his hint rather nicely. And that ridded Kylos of the scene. Naturally Sir Adrian would ask Adara to riding with him instead, and just as naturally she would accept. They were betrothed, so there was no reason for Jeremy to object, since the King was not to be interrupted. An order that Lord Garth gave.
Lord Garth had estimated Sir Adrian correctly; he had fled at the sight of danger. He would be ashamed enough of his behavior to not tell anyone.
Lord Garth smiled in satisfaction. Everything was going perfectly! Of course, this war was a bit bothersome, but it did not upset the general scheme of things.
* * * * *
Sir Adrian pressed his horse to the limit. He desperately fled, or tried to flee, the knowledge of his cowardice. He, a man that the King trusted so much as to promise his daughter to him, had run away at the sight of danger. A coward! The Princess herself declared that she never wanted to see him again, and he did not blame her. He was a coward!
For a moment he paused, to consider returning. But no! He must flee the country. Perhaps join a ship as part of the crew. If he changed his name, dressed differently, and grew a beard, perhaps no one would recognize him as Sir Adrian DeWitt.
Yes, he would become someone else! He would forget the past! He would start over with life! Thinking only the future! He shuddered at the thought of the King’s anger when he found out that he, Sir Adrian, was a coward! He, who had handed the Princess over to who knows what kind of ruffian!
Sir Adrian shook his head, as if to clear it. Forget the past, he told himself, Forget it! Start over without the stain on my reputation! Forget the past!
* * * * *
Adara stood, staring out the window. She did not understand why she was here. Perhaps she was being held for ransom.
Adara heard footsteps coming up the stairs. She heard a key grate in the lock, and a voice muttering. The iron door screeched open. Adara turned and saw Derek, standing in the doorway.
“Why do you hold me prisoner?” she asked indignantly, “If it’s money you want, my father will pay much to have me back.”
Derek merely looked at her and waited for her to finish. Then he said, “Perhaps my master can explain that.”
And Derek stepped aside. Another man stepped forward.
“Lord Garth!” shrieked Adara.
She flung herself at him.
“Save me!” Adara pleaded, “Lest they harm me!”
Lord Garth pushed her away, disgustedly. Adara stared at him in amazement. This was a man she had known all her life. What was he doing here? Suddenly, what Derek had said, dawned on her. His master?!? Adara pointed a shaky finger at Lord Garth.
“You!” she cried, “You ordered me to be kidnapped and held prisoner?”
“Prisoner?” said Lord Garth, “What made you think that you’re a prisoner?”
Adara gazed at him, “What made me think that I was a prisoner?” she repeated. She waved a hand about the cell.
“Ah, that.” Lord Garth shrugged.
Suddenly Adara understood. “You’re not going to help me, are you?” she asked in a low voice.
Lord Garth smiled.
“I trusted you! My father trusted you!” Adara cried, growing hysterical, “You will pay! My father will not let you get away with this!”
“Your father will do nothing, and neither shall your brother.” Lord Garth said fiercely.
“What have you done to them?” Adara cried.
She threw herself at him, beating him with her fists. He thrust her away, and as she crumpled to the floor, he sighed.
“Such a pity,” he murmured. Then he turned and left.
The door clanged shut behind him. His footsteps receded, and there was silence. The only noise was the sound of Adara’s sobs as she lay on the stone floor.
No one could help her! Not her brother, not her father, not Lord Garth, since he was her enemy. Not even Sir Adrian! She shuddered at the thought of Sir Adrian. He had run off and left her! What Lord Garth would do to her, she could not imagine. But whatever he wanted, she would not give him! Lord Garth could not and would not conquer!
Adara rose and went to the window. Looking out, she clenched her hands. She would not give in! She would fight! She would not lose hope! Over and over she said this, but even as she did, hope was fading away. It was crushed by a sense of despair. What could she, a girl of seventeen, do against a grown man? But she would fight, for her kingdom, for her father, for her brother! Tears filled her green eyes at the thought of her father and brother. What had Lord Garth done to them?
End of Chapter Five
(Are you still enjoying it? Did this chapter surprise you? Let me know if you want to be tagged when a new chapter comes out!)
The bearded man stepped into the inn. He looked about the dark room and noticed that there were few travelers. Not unusual for such a night as it was. The fog off the sea was thick. The few lanterns along the roads of the small fishing village, glowed dimly. The inn had one lamp in the center of the room. Three men sat playing cards. One looked up and saw the man standing in the doorway.
“Come, my fellow traveler, and join our game of cards,” he called out, cheerily.
The bearded man shook his head.
“Come now! Don’t be shy," said the man at the table.
With a shrug, the bearded man crossed the room and sat down.
“Ah, that’s better, my friend! Now what does ye call yourself?”
“Barlow,” said the bearded man, gruffly.
“Barlow it is!” exclaimed the other. Then studying the bearded man carefully, “Though, from the looks of it, that’s not the name you were born to,” continuing reassuringly, “Now, now! My good fellow. I don’t say something’s wrong with the name. Barlow suits you just fine. There ain’t much in a name, anyhow.”
Thereupon, they started a game of cards. The stake went high, and the man called Barlow, seemed to have a stroke of luck.
“There now, that’s the last of me money,” declared the other man, who seemed to be named Payton.
Then, as he drew a losing hand, he watched the last of his money disappear.
“Ah, that’s too bad, and me with a wife and young un’s.” said Payton, ruefully.
Then he watched in amazement as Barlow carefully divided all the money between the others.
“Hey! What are you doing? Are you giving all the money back?”
“I don’t need it,” muttered Barlow, “And you do.”
Then raising his voice, he called out, “Innkeeper! Is there a room I could have for the night?”
The innkeeper hurried from the back room, “Yes, milord. Right this way.” And the two disappeared up a rickety staircase.
The other three sat, staring at the piles of money before them.
“Well, I’ll be!” exclaimed Payton, “He done give us back all our money! Now, that is a good man!” turning to the others, he said, “I propose a toast in the honor of our friend Barlow!”
The three lifted their mugs of ale and drank heartily.
“Ah. Too bad he’s not here right now,” Payton said, “But, fellows, I vote that in the morning we find out what he’s after and give him a hand. What do you think, fellas?”
“Aye, aye!” called out the others. With that, the three turned in for the night.
The man called Barlow rose the next morning and descended the stairs. He was greeted by loud cheers. The three men sat down with him.
“Now, me lad, to return the favor, we’d like to give ye a hand. Lad, what are you seeking?”
“I wish to take passage in a ship,” answered Barlow.
“Ah! As a passenger or part of the crew?” asked Payton.
“Part of the crew," replied Barlow.
“And what experience have ye at sea?” inquired Payton.
“None, but I am willing to learn,” said Barlow.
“All righty! You’ll ship out before dark!” exclaimed Payton, “Me and my buddies will put in a good word for you with the cap’n. we’re mighty short of hands, presently. He’ll be glad of a chance to get an able-bodied man.”
The sailor was right. The captain took him on, and by that evening, they were at sea in the Fairy Princess.
* * * * *
King Raymond stood looking through the grate of the door. Kylos sat on one of the narrow cots, his head in his hands. King Raymond looked over at him.
“Kylos, you needn’t look so downcast. We will be fine,” he said quietly.
“Yes, I know,” Kylos said, his voice muffled in his hands, “But I’m worried about Adara. If Lord Garth has her in his power…”
“I had forgotten. Yes, your sister is in greater danger than us. She is only a girl. I hope she will be safe,” King Raymond said.
He laid his hand on Kylos’s shoulder. The boy trembled. “Father, if he even so much as touches Adara, I’ll…”
“Yes, yes,” said King Raymond, “I know. But there is no point in losing your temper. I only wish I knew what Lord Garth wanted.”
* * * * *
Adara paced her narrow cell. Where did Lord Garth have Kylos and King Raymond? She hoped that he had not harmed them. Because if he had, Adara clenched her fists.
Days passed. Lord Garth remained in the palace, seeing no one. Though King Raymond had requested a hearing, Lord Garth refused. Adara stayed in her tower chamber, and King Raymond and Kylos in the dungeon cell.
* * * * *
The moon was behind a cloud. A few stars glimmered in the night sky. The lone guard on the battlements stood silent, his musket leaning against the wall next to him. His eyes swept rapidly about the silent courtyard.
It was Walter, and he looked preoccupied. He had seen the man enter the courtyard that day, and had recognized him as Lord Garth, the King’s counselor. What, wondered Walter, was he doing here? He felt faintly irritated with himself. Why did he have to get mixed up in this?
It was then that Walter decided that he would leave. Glancing about, he saw no one. He carefully lowered himself over the wall. His feet scraped the wall, as he searched for footholds. When he found some, he cautiously climbed down. He hit the ground with a soft thud. Picking himself up, he ran into the forest and disappeared among the trees.
* * * * *
The ship tossed to and forth on the rough sea. The wind shrieked overhead. The man in the oil slicker clung to the rail. Slowly he made his way to the captain’s quarters. Opening the door, a gust of wind blew him inside. The door slammed behind him. The captain looked up.
“You sent for me, Sir?” asked Barlow, for it was he.
“Yes,” replied the captain, “You, Barlow, have caught on quickly. I need a third mate. I thought I’d ask you, first. You are better fit than most for responsibility.”
“I’d be glad to, Sir,” said Barlow.
“Good!” said the captain, shouting to be heard above the wind, “This fog is so thick, I’m afraid we might run into an island of sorts. There are many around here.”
As if the ship had heard him, there came a crunching sound, and the Fairy Princess shook from bow to stern.
“We hit something!” cried the captain. They hurried on deck. The Fairy Princess had sailed directly into the rocks off the shore of an island.
“We’re going to sink!” shouted the captain, “Man the lifeboats!”
The lifeboats were lowered one by one. The captain and Barlow stood watching them. The first flipped over, and the occupants disappeared. A few heads appeared, only to disappear seconds later. The second boat smashed on the rocks. Barlow took a deep breath as he stepped into the last boat.
“Well, lad,” shouted the captain, “Maybe we’ll make it! I doubt it, but we can always hope!”
With that, the boat pushed away from the ship. Through the wind and rain, they watched the Fairy Princess sink into the dark water.
A wave hit the rowboat, flipping it over. As he disappeared into the murky water, Barlow thought to himself, “Adrian, you shouldn’t have ever left Adara with that man. But now, it’s too late.” Under the water he went, and then, everything went black.
End of Chapter Six
(Wow, I can't believe that I was only 13 when I wrote this. I felt SO old back then! Let me know if you want to be tagged when new chapters come out!)
Walter stood watching the bustling bandit camp. He had come across the river to their camp, and since he had friends among them, he stayed. He listened idly to the gossip and watched a card game. Suddenly he heard the name, ‘Lord Garth’ and began to pay attention to what was being said. Walter wanted to know what the King’s counselor was up to in the abandoned castle. Listening he heard a man saying, “I heard that Lord Garth told everyone that the Princess was with her father at King Darren’s. But I was talking to the guard there, and he said that none of them was there. Mighty strange, if you ask me.”
Here Walter broke in, “Did you say the Princess is missing?” he asked quickly.
The bandit eyed him and said, “Why sure, but that don’t affect me at all.”
Here the bandits’ leader spoke, “Why do you ask?” he inquired with interest.
Walter told him about his experience in the abandoned castle. He told him that now, he suspected that the girl was the missing Princess.
“I see. If I had some money, I’d go get her, since I’m a loyal subject of the King,” he said fervently.
“I’m thinking about going back, myself,” Walter said, “I know the castle well. I think that if you didn’t mind the risk, it would be relatively easy to climb the tower up to the Princess’s cell window. I’m pretty good at climbing, and maybe I’ll try it.”
* * * * *
The fiddler played buoyantly, and the men playing cards laughed joyously. Though the night was gloomy, the people of the inn were certainly not.
A carriage drew up outside. The driver dismounted and opened the door. Outstepped a gentleman. He turned and helped a lady out of the carriage.
“Are you sure you wish to spend the night here?” he asked quietly.
“Yes,” she spoke firmly, “I cannot ride on any longer. We can continue tomorrow.”
“Of course, Lady Grace, if you wish,” the gentleman replied.
“It was kind of you, Sir Francis, to accompany me,” Lady Grace said.
“I could do nothing else. This is not a time for a young lady to travel alone.” answered the gentleman.
“It was still kind of you to help me search for my brother,” she said, with a sad smile.
“Your brother was also my friend. I hope that we find him, milady,” Sir Francis said.
“I will search until I find him. I cannot understand why he would run away. Adara was found, Lord Garth told me so. She is with Prince Kylos and King Raymond at King Darren’s palace. Normally she would not accompany them on affairs of business, but she gave them quite a scare,” Lady Grace said, “If I could find him, I would tell him so.”
The two entered the inn. The innkeeper hurried over.
“May I help you?” he asked politely.
“Yes, a room for the lady, and one for myself,” said Sir Francis.
“Of course! Right this way!” the innkeeper led them away.
Two men were watching from the corner of room. When the innkeeper returned, one sauntered over.
“Say, did they pay for the rooms in advance?” he asked casually.
“Yes.” The innkeeper held up a gold piece.
“I see, thanks.” The man went to the door.
Tossing down a coin for the drinks, the other left also. Outside, he hurried into the forest. The first man greeted him.
“Did you see that coin?” asked the first man.
“Sure, gold, wasn’t it, Trenton?” replied the second.
“Yup, solid gold. Say, those two must be loaded with money. Gold is a might bit heavy, perhaps we might relief them of a bit, eh, Jake?” said the first man.
The man called Jake grinned, “Sure, just what I was thinking. We should go and tell Penter about this.”
The two disappeared. Soon they arrived at a bandit camp. Entering a hut, they beheld a man lying asleep on a cot.
“Hey, Penter, we got news!” called Trenton.
The man on the cot stirred. He opened his eyes and yawned. “What is it?” he said, drowsily.
“There’s a rich lady and gentleman at the inn.”
Penter closed his eyes. “You woke me up to tell me that?” he asked lazily.
“They paid in gold.” Said Trenton.
“Gold!” suddenly Penter was awake, “Real gold?”
“Yes, I saw it myself.” Replied Trenton.
“When will they leave the inn?” asked Penter.
“At dawn, most likely. They seemed to be in a hurry.” Answered Trenton.
“Well, they will have to stop in their journey to help a fellow man,” said Penter, with a grin.
* * * * *
Lady Grace and Sir Francis rose before dawn. After they breakfasted, they set out. Down the lonely road they went. Just when they reached a lonely spot on the road, a rider rode out of the shadow of the trees.
“Halt!” he ordered. He held a pistol.
The driver pulled up. Sir Francis put his head out of the carriage window.
“Driver, why have we stopped?” he inquired. Then he saw the man. Quickly he drew his head into the carriage.
“What is it?” asked Lady Grace.
“There is a man out there with a pistol,” Sir Francis informed her.
She drew in her breath sharply. “What does he want?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I’ll ask,” said Sir Francis, but before he could do so, the man spoke again.
“Get out of the carriage, and don’t try anything funny,” he instructed.
Sir Francis obeyed, then he helped Lady Grace out of the carriage.
“Now then, all your money,” demanded the man.
Lady Grace looked at him. She studied him from head to toe. Then she spoke, “Gladly, you seem to be in need of it,” she said softly.
The man looked at her, startled.
“What do you mean?” he queried.
“Your clothing is ragged, and you seem poor,” she replied, “I would gladly give you all my money, but I need some. You see, I am looking for my brother who has gone missing. I need money so that I can look for him.”
The man stood looking at her.
“Then, you feel sorry for me, a bandit?” he asked, astounded, “And I just tried to rob you?”
“Yes. You may have half the money I have with me. I only ask you to reconsider, and restart in life. You can’t always have been a thief,” Lady Grace said kindly.
She opened her purse and emptied half the contents into her palm. She held it out to the bandit. He took it and stood looking at it. Then he glanced up at her.
“Can’t say enough,” he said gruffly, “But thank you. You are the kindest lady I have ever met.”
“You are welcome. If you ever need anything, come to the DeWitt castle, and I will gladly aid you,” she replied.
“Your brother, what does he look like?” asked the bandit, or Penter, as he was introduced to you.
Lady Grace quickly described Sir Adrian. The bandit stood listening. Then he spoke, “I met a man like that, but he had a beard. He could be your brother though. He was going as part of the crew on the Fairy Princess. He called himself Barlow.”
“Barlow! That is my brother’s middle name. Where did you meet him?” asked Lady Grace.
“In the fishing village of Kiderden. They were to leave that evening,” explained Penter.
“Kiderden, is it far from here?” inquired Lady Grace.
“A day’s journey.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Lady Grace.
“You are welcome, I only hope that he is your brother,” replied the bandit. He turned his horse and rode away. The two stood watching him leave. Then Sir Francis turned to her, “Lady Grace, you are truly a gem. You just gave a bandit half your purse and your best wishes.”
“Ah, not so much a sacrifice. He would have taken all my money. He also gave a clue as to where Adrian could be. I sincerely hope that he will take my advice and turn over a new leaf.”
The two climbed back into the carriage and drove off.
* * * * *
In the village of Rathin, the courtyard was crowded. The people were shouting and waving their fists. Gallows stood in the courtyard, and a man stood, his neck in the noose. The drums began to roll. An official stood, overlooking the rabble.
“This man, Charles Murton, of been accused of robbing the coach that carried the payroll for the soldiers. He will now hang,” the official announced, “If you have nothing to say for this man, you may forever hold your peace.”
The people of the crowd watched as a man wrapped in a cloak, pushed through the throng. He mounted the platform.
“I have something to say,” he said, in a gruff voice, “It was not this man who robbed the coach…it was I.” He threw back the cloak, revealing his face.
“Hey! It’s the bandit, Penter!” shouted one of the crowd, “He’s wanted by the law!”
They swarmed about him. The noose was taken from about Charles Murton’s neck, and was placed around Penter’s. Charles Murton stood, looking astonished as the death sentence that had faced him, was removed. Then he realized that Penter was going to take his place. The man would die for him! Quickly he raised a hand and pointed.
“Look!” he shouted.
Everyone turned to look, and while everyone was distracted, Murton rapidly removed the noose from Penter, then they ran towards the gate, and out. Mounting their horses, they rode off. The guards mounted also and chased them. But the two men reached the safety of the forest just in time. Deep among the trees, they paused. Penter turned to Murton. He grasped his hand.
“Thank you,” The bandit said quietly.
“You’re welcome. Thank you also for saving me, with the probability that you would lose your life,” said Murton, “Here we must part. I wish you a pleasant journey. But you had better flee here. You will not be safe.”
“Aye. I shall flee for my life. Thank you for your service. I hope no one knows who freed me,” Penter said.
Then Charles Murton rode away. Penter stood in the dark forest, watching him disappear in the distance. The bandit’s hand went into his pocket and touched the gold pieces resting there. Because of Lady Grace, now Penter could do what he had planned; rescue the Princess from the abandoned castle. When Walter had told him about it, he decided to rescue her. Penter remembered what Walter had said. You could climb the tower to the Princess’s cell window. He would try that.
* * * * *
Lady Grace made inquiries in the village of Kiderden about a man called Barlow. One villager told her this, “He set sail in the Fairy Princess. The ship sank during a storm. There were no survivors. A passing ship found the wreckage. There were searches for any sign of survivors, and there were none. No one could have possibly survived.”
Lady Grace felt shocked. Adrian was all she had in the world. If he was dead…
End of Chapter Seven
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The Kingdom or Life
Lord Garth ordered the prisoners brought before him. when King Raymond and Kylos entered, they beheld Lord Garth, seated at the desk.
“What do you want?” asked King Raymond.
Lord Garth sat in silence. He studied his nails thoughtfully.
“Well?” exclaimed the King.
Lord Garth looked up. “What do I want?” he repeated reflectively, “That is simple. I want your kingdom.”
“My kingdom!” cried the King, “Well you shall not have it!”
“Ah, but it is either that, or your life.”
“My life! Elliott!” cried the King, using Lord Garth’s first name, “We grew up together! And yet you would do this to me?”
Lord Garth listened calmly, then he spoke, “Yes. And I always got less. You always had more! It was not fair! Now I seek justice!” he said fiercely.
“Justice! Murdering me would be justice?” exclaimed the King.
“No, I do not wish to kill you. If you will only give me your kingdom, I will give you your life.”
“My kingdom,” said King Raymond, stubbornly, “I will nevergive you.”
“Even if the lives of both you and your son hang in the balance?” asked Lord Garth.
King Raymond grew pale. “You would kill my son also?” he exclaimed, unbelievingly, “Kylos is but nineteen!”
Lord Garth shrugged.
“Anyway, I am willing to give my life for my kingdom! I will not place a tyrant over my people,” declared King Raymond.
“I also will give my life,” Kylos said quietly, “If my father is willing to do so, I can do no less.”
“Ah, but it is not you who will make the choice, anyway.” Said Lord Garth.
“It is not?” asked King Raymond.
“No. Your daughter will make the decision.”
“Adara! She is a child!” said King Raymond.
“Yes, but she is loving. I have the feeling that she will not willingly sacrifice her family for a measly kingdom,” said Lord Garth, “Guards, take the prisoners back to their cell.”
“Wait!” said King Raymond, “May I write a message to my daughter?”
Lord Garth hesitated, then he said, unwillingly, “Yes.”
King Raymond quickly wrote on a paper. He finished and then signed it. Lord Garth read it. He looked up, “You think that this will change her mind?” he asked mockingly.
“No, but perhaps it will help her make a decision,” replied King Raymond.
The guards dragged King Raymond and Kylos back to their dungeon cell.
* * * * *
Walter journeyed back towards the castle. But then one night, he heard from an outlaw friend that there was a man named Derek looking for him. Walter feared Derek greatly. His fear overcame his loyalty to the Princess, and he fled from that part of the country, traveling at night, on horseback.
* * * * *
The man wrapped his cloak tighter around his face. The night was chilly. If he could find an inn for the night, he would stay there until morning. He could continue in the morning. His back was hunched with age, and his steps faltered. Then, ahead of him, he heard hoofbeats. Out of the fog, came a horse and rider. “Whoa,” said a voice.
The horse stopped and stood still. The rider dismounted.
“Do you need any help?” he asked the traveler.
“Ah, I wish to get to an inn for the night,” the traveler told him.
“My horse can carry two.”
“Thank you, you are kind.”
The rider helped the traveler mount, and then did so himself.
“This is a dreary night to be traveling alone,” said the rider.
“Aye, and my old bones are weary, but I have a mission.” said the traveler, quietly.
“A mission?” questioned the rider.
“Aye, a mission to bring Hope,” said the traveler.
“Hope? To whom?” asked the rider, curiously.
“A friend. I must complete the journey by tomorrow evening, or it will be too late.”
The rider listened silently. “Is it a far journey?” he asked.
“Ah, my destination is near Rathin,” replied the traveler.
“Rathin! You will not make it in time,” exclaimed the rider, “Not on foot! I have just come from near there, and it took me nearly a day’s journey, and I was pressing my horse to full speed.”
“Aye, I know. Perhaps…” he hesitated, then went on, “Perhaps you could deliver my message?”
“No!” cried the rider harshly. He felt the other start in surprise. “I mean, I have had trouble there. I cannot return.”
“All experience trouble. It is those who overcome it, who get on in the world,” the old man said, “Tell me your story, perhaps I can help. I specialize in helping those in trouble.”
“And I need all the help I can get. But it is long.”
“I have time. How far is the nearest inn?”
“I passed it a few miles back. I am going there now,” said the rider.
“Ah, it is the right direction for me, but you have just come from there,” said the traveler.
“It is no trouble. I may start my story?” asked the rider.
“Aye, it will shorten the journey.”
End of Chapter Eight
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An Unwanted Decision
Lord Garth stood at the door to Adara’s cell. He hesitated, and then unlocked it and stepped in. Adara stood, gazing out the window. She turned to face him. He stood smirking.
“What do you want?” asked Adara.
“Princess, I have a decision for you to make,” said Lord Garth.
“A decision?” asked Adara, puzzled.
“Yes. I hold your father and brother prisoner, you know.”
Adara’s lips tightened.
“The first choice is this: I want your kingdom. I want it, your wealth, and your rank.”
“Well, you shall not have it!” declared Adara.
“Ah, but the choice that you will decline if you choose that is this: your father and brother,” Lord Garth said quietly.
The color fled from Adara’s face. “My father and brother?” she repeated, incredulously.
“Do you want them?” asked Lord Garth, “Because if you do, the kingdom is mine. If you want the kingdom, I will kill your brother and father.”
Adara stood staring at him, then she cried, “You expect me to decide this? What makes you think that I want to decide this?”
“It does not matter. You have until tomorrow morning to decide,” said Lord Garth.
“Tomorrow morning!” cried Adara, “It is already afternoon! I have been here for days!”
“Yes. Decide,” said Lord Garth. He reached into his pocket. “Here is a note from your father. Don’t worry, I did not change it. I expect you to be sensible.”
Lord Garth tossed Adara a slip of paper. Then he left, shutting and locking the door behind him. Adara watched him leave, then she looked at the paper he had given her. She opened it. It said, in her father’s firm handwriting: “Choose the kingdom, choose the kingdom, choose the kingdom. – your loving father.”
She stared at it. Choose the kingdom! He was asking her to give him and her brother up! Adara’s mind whirled. What was she to do? Should she give Lord Garth the kingdom and condemn her people to tyranny, or should she give him her brother and father? How was she to decide?
Throughout the fading afternoon and into the advancing dusk of evening, Adara had been pacing the confines of her prison. All it took was four short quick steps to traverse the space from the motheaten cot to the grey cold stone wall. At least one could break that routine by the six steps it took to walk from the bolted door to the barred window. While the steps were not wearisome, the fragile mind was being worn down step by step by step. Even twilights last hopes were dimmed as night fell all around save for the miniscule light of the candle.
The voice abruptly awakened Adara from her thoughts, startling her and breaking the routine her four by six steps. She had not heard the echoing steps in the passage, the rattling of keys, nor the shooting back of the bolt that had preceded all past conversation, save her own. There! Again, the voice whispered as if it were the wind coming through the cracks. Spinning around her position facing the door, Adara confronted the only hope she had on any given day since having been kidnapped…the window.
Dusk’s last lights allowed Adara to only dimly see the shape of a hooded face, which when she looked closer, was masked. Faintly the voice whispered again. With only the light of the candle, Adara hesitantly stepped towards the window. The knowledge that she was many feet in the air was only somewhat comforting. She paused and then advanced again, with a small measure of confidence, due to the bars of the window. Then in a voice that trembled she asked, “Who goes there, and what right do you have of startling a helpless maid?”
The words resonated about loudly in her cell, but the sound was reassuring to Adara. With caution thrown to the wind, Adara took quickly the last step to the window and stared back with all the courage she could muster at her indistinct invader. “Who are you and how did you get to be at my window?”
Silence. And then, the soft whisper was heard with the reply, “Never mind who I am or how I got here, my lady.”
Taken aback, Adara stumbled, and caught herself on the sill of the window. She thought she recognized the hooded voice but what had astonished her was the recognition of her high estate.
The shadowy figure adjusted its position and spoke ever so softly, “I am Ryder. I have been sent by friends with a message and a gift for you. Please keep the candle back from the window as I must not be seen.”
A rough, and well worn, leather purse was quickly thrust through the window along with a very small folded piece of parchment.
“What are these?” Adara asked curiously.
“Open the leather bag and pour its contents into your hand. But do not drop any,” instructed Ryder
She did so and drew in a sharp breath, for in her palm lay ten gems.
“What are these?” she cried.
“They are the Gems of Tragedy and Decision,” Ryder replied, “There are but nine Tragedies in life for you. All but one shall happen before you are twenty.”
“Twenty! That is three years from now!” exclaimed Adara.
“Yes. Some have happened already. You alone know what they are. Can you name them?”
“Aye. The first is that I was ever born.”
Ryder met her gaze, and then dropped one Gem back into the bag. “One,” he said softly.
“That Lord Garth was ever born,” Adara said.
“Two,” And Ryder dropped another in.
“That I am a princess.”
“Three,” Another dropped in.
“That I was chosen to make this decision.”
“Four,” Yet another Gem dropped in.
“That my lover is a coward,” Adara said sadly.
Ryder’s hand dropped another in the bag.
“I cannot think of any more.” Said Adara.
“There is but one I can think of, Princess. It is this, that you are so young, so innocent and so beautiful, yet your life presently is such as it is.”
“Six,” this time Adara said the word as the Gem dropped in the leather bag.
“There are but three Tragedies left. Two shall take place within the next three years. The other shall not happen for a long time, I hope.”
“Why do you say that?” asked Adara.
“It, Princess, is your death,” answered Ryder, soberly.
Adara drew in her breath sharply. Then she said, “You named three Gems, what is the fourth?”
“That, Princess, is the Gem of Decision. It is larger than the others, just as this Gem is more important. It stands for the greatest decision you will ever make. Do you know what this decision is?” Ryder spoke quietly, but firmly.
“The one that I face right now?” asked Adara, softly.
Ryder nodded. “I cannot tell you much, but I must warn you. If you choose to give Lord Garth the kingdom, he will tax your people beyond their strength. But if you choose to give him you father and brother, you will have to live with the knowledge that you killed them.
“Remember this though, your father and brother are only two people, willing to give themselves for their country. On the other side of the scale, there is ten thousands of people, who you will destroy if Lord Garth gains control of them. One other thing. I cannot tell you which is which, but one choice destroys a good man who looks bad. The other will rid the world of a bad man who looks good.”
Adara listened in silence. Then she said, slowly, “I understand that Lord Garth is the bad man who looks good, but who is the good man who looks bad?”
“I cannot tell you.” answered Ryder, “But I warn you, if you allow Lord Garth to gain control of this kingdom, the entire world will be chaos. He will be able to control your entire army. But on the other side of the balance is the fact that he will be able to blame you for killing your brother and father. He will kill all but you, so you have no one to back up your story. You will be shunned, no one will believe your story, it is too farfetched. I also know, that if Lord Garth gets the kingdom, he has agreements with King Leon.”
“King Leon!” exclaimed Adara, “He is my father’s greatest enemy!”
“Hush. Yes, he is. Let me sum it up for you, Princess. Lord Garth will destroy all if he gets the kingdom. If he gets your father and brother, he will blame all on you, and there will be little chance of revenge. Princess, choose wisely!” Ryder said firmly, “Now, examine these Gems in the light.”
Adara brought them over to the light. They sparkled brightly.
“Ryder, “ she spoke softly, “Who is the good man?”
Hearing no answer, she turned. Ryder was gone!
End of Chapter Nine
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The Gem of Everlasting Hope
Hurrying to the window, Adara stared out. All was dark and silent. Adara dropped the Gems into the leather bag softly. She set it down, returned to the window, and her hand bumped something on the window ledge. There lay another bag, this one of velvet with a note attached. The note said this: To be opened after the message.
What message? Realizing something was in her hand, Adara looked down. She grasped the parchment Ryder had given her with the pouch. This must be the message. Carefully she unfolded it and began to read. It ran thus: Princess, in this bag lays the Gem of Everlasting Hope. This Gem will bring you a Hope that shall never end. A Hope of a better tomorrow. A Hope that all will be right in the end. A Hope that love and good shall conquer. An Everlasting Hope. But I warn you, if you make the wrong decision, it will become the Gem of Everlasting Despair. You will have no Hope. You will be overcome with the knowledge that evil shall conquer. Princess, be sure of your decision, before you open this bag. Because after you open this bag, you cannot change your decision. It will be final. I wish that you should have wisdom in this decision. I wish that you should open it to find the Gem of Everlasting Hope, not Despair. For this Hope cannot and will not die. It will survive, because it is An Everlasting Hope. May wisdom overwhelm you. -Ryder.
Adara read it and reread it. Her heart throbbed. Which choice was she to choose? For hours she paced, what was she to do? She forced herself to think calmly. What would she have done in any other situation? She would have asked her father. But he said to give him up! Should she listen to his words, or not? She clenched her fists and decided quickly. She would obey her father. She would choose to have the kingdom. With that, perhaps she could fight Lord Garth, and destroy him. Slowly she raised the bag in her hand. She stared at it. Then her shaking fingers loosened the drawstring. She emptied the contents into her hand. Adara drew in her breath sharply. There in her palm lay a Gem. It was quite large compared to the others. It was extremely beautiful. It had every color of the rainbow and more in it, both there together and separately. It glimmered in the light. As Adara looked at it, she felt a feeling of Hope overwhelm her. Suddenly she knew that all was going to be all right.
The last couple days she had felt hope slipping from her. She had tried to seize it and had failed. Now it rushed back in a torrent. Shakily she drew in a breath. She had made the right decision! She had chosen correctly! She let out a sigh of relief.
Suddenly she realized that her cell was growing brighter, it was morning! She watched the sun rise over the hilltops and flood the world with light. She breathed slowly. Today was the day she would tell Lord Garth her decision. She placed the bags containing the Gems in her waistband. Then she heard footsteps approaching. She quickly straightened her dress and fixed her hair. When the door opened, she was ready. Derek stood in the doorway. He motioned with a pistol for her to leave. Adara obeyed. They descended the stairs, and Adara followed Derek to the library. She could see that they were in an old abandoned castle.
Lord Garth stood before Adara. He smiled at her.
“Princess, you have made your decision?” he asked.
Adara shuddered at the sound of his sneering voice. She lightly touched her waistband.
“Yes, I have,” she said firmly.
Lord Garth looked her in surprise at the firmness of her voice.
“You have? Well, what is it? Do you want the kingdom or your father and brother?”
Adara took a deep breath, and answered, “I want the kingdom.”
Lord Garth gazed at her. “The kingdom? Very well, we will see if you change your mind when you see your father and brother.”
Lord Garth clapped his hands. A door swung open, and in stepped King Raymond and Prince Kylos. They looked haggard from spending nearly three days without light. Adara looked at her father and met his gaze. He spoke three words, three times firmly, “Choose the kingdom, choose the kingdom, choose the kingdom.”
“Father,” said Adara, feeling her throat tighten, “I chose the kingdom.”
King Raymond smiled, “You have chosen wisely, my daughter.”
“Oh, father!” cried Adara. She flung herself upon him.
King Raymond clasped her to him tightly. He buried his face in her hair. Kylos stood watching. Adara stood like that for a moment, and then she flung her arms around Kylos.
“Oh, Kylos! I am sorry!” she whispered.
“Adara, you choose wisely.” He murmured brokenly. He held her back and gazed into her eyes. She smiled bravely.
“Adara?” asked Kylos.
“Will you tell me why you look so happy?”
“Because,” said Adara, “I have a Hope. An Everlasting Hope. A Hope that you and father will not have sacrificed yourselves in vain. A Hope of a better tomorrow.” Adara turned and looked at Lord Garth, “Yes, I even have a Hope that Lord Garth will realize his evil ways and repent of what he has done. I, Kylos, have Hope! A Hope that cannot and will not die! An Everlasting Hope!”
“I wish I had that,” Kylos said softly, his eyes watching her, as she stood arms flung out, a smile on her lips.
Here Lord Garth interrupted. “Such a touching scene.” he said mockingly. He clapped his hands and the men in black entered. “Escort them to the courtyard.” He ordered.
The men obeyed. Lord Garth turned to Adara.
“May I accompany you to the courtyard?” he asked.
“Must I watch?” asked Adara, horrorstruck.
Adara stared at him, “You are heartless!” she cried in fury.
She turned, “I will walk by myself.”
Lord Garth shrugged. Adara stepped out into the courtyard. Her father and Kylos stood, their backs against the stonewall. Ten men with rifles faced them. “Aim!” ordered Lord Garth.
Adara covered her eyes.
“Fire!” Lord Garth cried.
The shots rang out and echoed through the stillness.
Adara let out a sob. Someone pulled her back into the castle. Opening her eyes, she saw that it was Lord Garth.
“Now, Princess, sign this,” he ordered, as he thrust a paper into Adara’s hand.
She looked at it, and then gazed at him in fury.
“But I thought that I got my kingdom!” she exclaimed.
Lord Garth laughed, “You believed me?” he asked, mockingly.
Adara felt horror overwhelm her. She had ordered her father and brother killed for nothing? The shock shook her.
“No! No! NO!” Adara cried passionately, “You monster!”
“Take her to her cell.” ordered Lord Garth.
Derek obeyed. Adara was forced into her cell, sobbing. Thrust in the small tower room, she crumpled to the floor. They were gone! Gone! Gone beyond recall! She felt all give way. She sobbed as if her heart would break. Lord Garth had lied! He wanted her kingdom also.
Adara cried for hours. When she finally lay silent, too exhausted to cry, the sun was low in the sky. She fell asleep, her hand around the Gem of Everlasting Hope.
End of Chapter Ten
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(When my sister found out that I killed the King and Kylos, she said that she'd never forgive me. She used to lay in her bed, and pretend to say in her sleep, "Why did you kill the King and Kylos?" in a quavering voice. :P )