Freedom by Ryebrynn


Here is my novel…. ENJOY!!!!!!! 



Dedicated to Dramri Everlasting.
The Jakoso and Crossblade Families and Their Connections
Book One
Ryebrynn ran. She ran from her troubles, she ran from The Orphanage and its commanding Mistress and Master. The thought of the bite of the Master’s whip scared her, as did the thought that she might be caught by the Mistress’s hunting hounds. Almost too scared, causing her to tremble and trip. “Dramri! Hear me! Protect me!” She prayed to the god she hardly knew, her feet were cut and her clothes were in rags.
“Ryebrynn, you are Mine,” a voice resonated from the heavens, “I will not abandon you. I will keep you safe. My power protects you. I am with you to the end of the age.”
Ryebrynn stumbled and fell, looking down at the lump her hand rested on. A glimmering purple mound lay solitary on the ground. Curious, she stooped; seeing an animal alone in the wilderness, she gently picked it up, wondering what it could be. Holding a finger in front of its tiny nose, Ryebrynn felt the faint breath of life. 
“You’re beautiful,” she murmured. “But what are you?” As Ryebrynn was turning the creature over in her hands, she felt small raised bumps on its skin. Investigating further, she discovered that they were tiny scales… and the lumps of wet cloth-like membrane folded on either side were… wings! Ryebrynn heard a startling sound… hoof beats and the baying of hound dogs. 
With a burst of panicked adrenaline, she jumped up and sprinted off, farther east into the dark forest. The Orphanage had sent men out after her. That must be it. A surge of fear entered her heart as she heard dogs approaching. Oh, so tired! She desperately wanted to stop, to catch her breath, but they were hot on her trail, leaving her no choice but to run. She still held the small, purple bundle against her chest. Her feet bled, and she was alone.
She wept, and realized she still held the small dragon. Or, at least, she thought it must be a dragon. Clutching the dragon closer, she wept for her lost life, she wept for her pain, she wept because she had nowhere to go, and soon the men would catch up. “I… I have to do this,” She muttered, hiding the tiny dragon in her tunic pocket, for it was small at the time, and set off to meet with the men chasing her, tears running down her face. The men harshly yelled at her, causing Ryebrynn to flinch. One slapped her, another kicked her harshly, and Ryebrynn tried hard to hold back the tears. To be strong…. Ryebrynn gasped out the tears, failing to hold them in. She was quickly led back to The Orphanage—to punishment.
* * *
Chapter One
Ryebrynn groaned and rolled out of bed, if you could call it that, for it was just a thin straw mattress and scratchy wool coverlet. She pulled on her tunic over the undershirt and leggings she wore to bed, wincing at pain from yesterday’s beatings. Ryebrynn took her brush from beside her mattress and quickly brushed the tangles out of her hair. Ryebrynn quickly braided her hair and bound the braid in a bun on the top of her head, pinning it in place. She fell into step behind her roommate, Tara. The Curro guards nudged the girls with their spears and muttered curses and complaints. The girls’ supervisor, Madam Mar, appeared down the hall. “Ryebrynn,” Madam Mar said rather shrilly, “you are granted an honor. You have the pleasure of mending the Mistress’s feast dress. There is a hole there.” she flicked her wrist at a thumb-sized hole in the armpit, “and the Mistress orders it to be embroidered more intricately.”
“Yes, Madam Mar.” Grumbling quietly, Ryebrynn took the dress into the sewing room and settled into a corner. Five minutes later, she yanked hard on the needle. It flew out of her hand. Ryebrynn searched the ground, found the needle but when she tried to pick it up, it sank skin deep.  With a cry, she dropped the needle. Tara picked up the needle and gave it to Ryebrynn. Ryebrynn quietly thanked Tara and finished the dress. She stood and passed the dress under Madam Mar’s inspection. 
“Good enough.” Madam Mar handed Ryebrynn a coinpurse. “I need you to buy venison and fine wines. Bring back the change. Understand?” Ryebrynn nodded vigorously. “Good. Be gone.” Ryebrynn dashed down the stairwell and exited the building. The crisp autumn breeze chilled her through her tunic and her wounds stung. She stepped onto the dirt road and dodged a dog chasing a chicken. She was glad the butcher shop was only across the road, for it was getting cold. Winter was coming. She entered the warm store. The butcher glanced up at her.
“Whaddya want, street urchin?”
“I’ve come for meat.”
The butcher snorted in laughter. “What type?”
“Sure. ‘ow much money do ya got?”
Ryebrynn peeked in the coinpurse. There were at least one hundred gold coins. “Fifty gold coins.”
The butcher whistled. “Lot’o’money ya got there, little miss.”
“I buy for the Orphanage.”
“Rich’uns, they are.”
“Aye. Could I get my meat now?”
“Sure thing.” The butcher disappeared into a storeroom and she heard him chopping meat. He came out with a bulging bag. He handed her a loaf of warm bread. “A treat, for ya. Ya’ll be more than ya know, someday, little miss. Remember ole Brenniken Roberts when ya get ‘igh.”
“Thank you, Brenniken. I will.” Ryebrynn dumped fifty coins on the table, took the sack, and left the shop. On her way to the wine shop she munched on the bread. She entered the wine shop and started looking at labels for the usual feasting wine. A tall shadow cast over her.
“What might you be looking for, young one? You look to young for wine.”
“I’m an orphan, sir. The Master and Mistress sent me to get wine.”
“What kind?”
“Corfane Red 91, sir.”
“Call me Afronie. You’ll find it on the sixth shelf in the twelfth row. Lemme know when you’re ready to buy.”
“Yessir.” Ryebrynn found the wine and read the price tag. Five gold each. She took ten bottles off the shelf and went to the front. 
“That will be fifty gold coins.” Afronie said, securing the wine bottles in a burlap sack. Ryebrynn dumped the rest of the money out on the counter and Afronie counted it. He waved her away and she started for the Orphanage. She took in the town. It was small. ‘Course, you could expect the town on the corner of Arew was small. Not many knew of Javier. Signs of poverty marked the street. A girl begging by the church. A man in rags stumbling across the street. A woman and boy in rags shoe shining. Ryebrynn stopped in front of the Orphanage, then entered. She made her way to the kitchen and set down the venison and wine. The cook dashed up to her. 
“Orphan! I been lookin’ for ya all mornin’! Ya’re to help make the feast ‘long with Tara, Ruby, Kelsie, Kasey, Mirria, Fenagold, and Gretchen.” Ryebrynn obligingly tied on a black apron and took the musty cookbook down from the high shelf. Tara, Ruby, Kelsie, Kasey, Mirria, Fenagold, and little Gretchen filed in and tied on their black aprons. Tara tossed a smile at Ryebrynn and took the cookbook from her.
“What recipe, Cook?”
“Find the recipe for breaded fried venison.” 
Tara nodded and flipped through the heavy book. She pointed at something in the book “This one?”
Cook walked over and looked. “Aye. Ryebrynn, ya get the second’un and find the recipe for sweet bread.” Ryebrynn lifted the other heavy cookbook off the shelf. She found the recipe. It was simple.
One cup sugar
Half cup cinnamon
One teaspoon nutmeg
Four cups flour
One tablespoon yeast
One cup milk
One cup boiling water
To cook: Knead dough four five minutes. Put in bread pan and let it rise for one hour. Put over fire and cook for thirty minutes. Cool and put on dish. Slice and serve. Good with jam.
Ryebrynn got out the ingredients and turned to Cook. “How much?”
“Triple the batch, That should do.”
“Yessir.” Ryebrynn made the bread dough and sat to wait for it all to rise. Cook kicked her harshly.
“Get started on the rolls, girl.” Ryebrynn searched the book and found a recipe for dinner rolls. She got out the stuff and tripled the batch. She let the rolls rise as she put the risen loaves over the fire. Thirty minutes later, She stuck three batches of dinner rolls over the fire. Twenty minutes later she took those out and Tara began frying the venison. A wonderful smell filled the air and Ryebrynn could almost taste it in the air. Madam Mar entered the kitchen as Tara finished the meat and Ruby and Gretchen put scones in to cook. 
“Ryebrynn, Tara, Kelsie, Kasey, Fenagold, and Mirria, you are to serve the guests. Ruby. Gretchen, as soon as you finish those scones, you go join them.” Tara picked up the plates of fried venison and left the kitchen. Ryebrynn took the rolls and went into the full dining room. She set the plates on the table and Madam Mar handed her a jug of wine. A man waved her over. “Servant. Wine.” She fill his goblet and leaned against the wall. Three hours later, Madam Mar dismissed her. She ran up the stairs, sank onto her bed and fell asleep, forgetting to wrap the coverlet about herself.
Chapter 2
Ryebrynn hated her life and her promised future. If she stayed, the question would be, Where would Amethyst stay? The dragon was larger than a horse, now… way larger. This problem hit her from all sides. What would Amethyst do? This question troubled Ryebrynn. No matter how much she thought nothing could stop her from thinking of running away. Arew wasn’t the place for her, and Ryebrynn couldn’t help but want to run away so badly… No matter how hard Ryebrynn tried, the prodding stayed. Her decision was made. She would run away… after she gathered the supplies. Ryebrynn fell into a fitful sleep full of nightmares. 
Ryebrynn heard a faint whisper of a yell in her ear saying: “GET UP! If you don’t… you know the penalty!” Ryebrynn forced herself to open her eyes and look at the figure leaning over her. It was the familiar Waker-boy. Her limbs aching, she stood and slipped into her tunic and brushed her hair, putting it up in a neat, tight bun. She joined the other girls in the hall, the Curro guards doing their daily routine of urging them along with their spears. 
“Get on,” They always said. Her body protested as she tried to take a step forward.
“Get to work girl,” one of the soldiers glared. Madam Mar appeared from down the hall, commanding Ryebrynn to go join a few other girls in cleaning the remains of the feast from the night before. Ryebrynn hurried towards the grand dining room and saw the Mistress in the hall. 
She quickened her pace, but the Mistress didn’t seem to notice and caught up, saying, “If you are going to the dining room to clean up the feast, tell the other orphans that I have another guest arriving here shortly and they need to hurry up.”
Ryebrynn answered with a curtsy and a ‘yes ma’am,’ and walked away as fast as was polite towards the dining room. Hardly thinking, she shoved open the doors and let them slam behind her. All eyes were on Ryebrynn, and she shifted and fidgeted, her cheeks reddening. They all quickly got back to work as they heard footsteps outside the door. Ryebrynn joined in helping one of her many roommates, Jylee, move a table.
Madam Mar walked in just as they finished, and told them,
“The Mistress requests all orphans to disperse so she can talk to the orphan Ryebrynn.”
As the children left, the Mistress came striding in.
Ryebrynn bobbed a curtsy and said, “Mistress, I am humbled that you request audience with me, your lowly servant.”
The Mistress answered, “Stop flattering me. I have no need of it.” Mistress brusquely flicked a strand of graying black hair from her unwrinkled beautiful face. “I have come here to tell you that you shall be transferred to my friend’s Orphanage, The Orphanage in Havarj. There you shall be properly… disciplined. You shall obey my friends Mistress Jasie and Master Jacob, or you will be harshly punished.” Leave? Leave everything? What she was leaving wasn’t much, but at least she knew Orphans here!
Holding back hot tears, Ryebrynn later went to Amethyst and told her the day’s events including her decision and the Mistress’s news. 
As tears trickled down Ryebrynn’s cheeks, she heard a voice in her mind saying, Ryebrynn, don’t despair! I will stay as you travel to safety. I’ll be safe. No one will find me.
Yes… that is the only way, Ryebrynn sighed. Stay here, please. It is only safe. I’ll come back for you as soon as I can.
Of course you will. Now go!
Goodbye! Ryebrynn mind-spoke, starting to walk away, into the woods. Farewell! I’ll miss you!
I will miss you too. Just be safe. Now go!
Almost choking in tears, Ryebrynn answered, Goodbye Amethyst, friend of my heart. One last goodbye. Tears streaming, Ryebrynn grabbed her sack of provisions that she had gotten together, and sprinted towards the forest, not knowing what dangers or perils might lay in her future.
For days Ryebrynn traveled, without rest. She struggled to move forward, hiding in the woods. The farther she got from the Orphanage, the safer she felt. That night, Ryebrynn camped by a riverbank and was about to make a fire when… she saw torches in the distance. 
Scared, Ryebrynn piled dirt on the pit where, moments before, she had been trying to create a fire. Spurred on by fear, sprinting farther into the forest, Ryebrynn outran the men. Although they were on horseback, they could not catch up. 
As she ran Ryebrynn thought about her speed. Ryebrynn ran for leagues, finally stopping in the village of Canadamad(Can-add-uh-mad). Weary and footsore, Ryebrynn entered the small village, glancing around. 
Since darkness had already fallen, she began to look for an inn or a tavern. There was only one. It had a strange name—at least, it was strange to Ryebrynn. It was called the ‘Portly Monkey,’ and Ryebrynn nearly laughed when she saw it. She walked through the door, straight into a boisterous, loud room, dimly lit and smoky. 
She could hear men carousing nearby, and the smell of alcohol on the air. She could pick out one other smell… food! She approached the counter, where a barmaid, an auburn-haired slave girl about her own age, stood, serving a rough-looking man. Gratefully sitting down in a bar-chair, she asked what they had. The girl told her they had fried eggs, bacon, soup, and smoked venison. She ordered a small bowl of soup; handing over a small copper coin as payment, feeling a little guilty for using the stolen money—the money she had stolen from the Master’s safe-box. She savored the spicy soup, recognizing it to be onion and potato soup with, mmmmm… chunks of meat. She usually never had such luxuries… Then Ryebrynn asked where the Innkeeper might be, so that she could pay for a room. 
“Aw, ya can jus’ pay me,” The bar-maid shrugged.
“How much?” Asked Ryebrynn.
“Jus’ one silva’ coin a night.” And so Ryebrynn paid, and with the knowledge that her room was room 21, she made her way up the stairs and found her room. She opened the door, and locking it behind her, she flopped onto the bed.
** *
The next morning, Ryebrynn awoke to the sound of a brawl downstairs. She waited until the sounds died away, and then went down. The same barmaid, looking tired and with dark circles under her eyes, served her a breakfast of bacon and eggs. Gulping it down, Ryebrynn planned her day. First, she would go buy a horse… a good one. And then she would get supplies, enough for a few weeks, and then set off. She walked over to an old beggar who sat beside the door of the Inn and asked where she could find horses. He gave her directions, and she gave him a half-copper for his efforts. 
“Thankee,” he said thankfully. Following the directions, she arrived at the stable which not very well kept, but still tidy enough for the horses. Asking a stable-boy where she could find the owner, she finally came to talk to the owner.
“I’m Raaj Sarmanil. How may I help you?”
“I’d like to buy a horse,” Ryebrynn announced.
“Obviously,” Raaj said sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
“The best and fastest you have.”
His eyes widened. “The best?”
“Yes, the best.”
Hiding his surprise under a stern face, he said, “Of course,” he directed her over to the only fairly good stalls and said, “This is what I have. Take it or leave it.” 
“How much for the white one, with the hair swirling like a whirlpool?” She pointed to a brilliant well-kept mare. “That one?”
“White-Rose?” Raaj asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes her. Well how much?”
“Two gold coins.”  
“I’ll take her.” He took a rope off the wall and handed it to her. “Where might I be able to purchase a saddle and bridle?”
“You might be able to get one here. That is, if the price is right,” Ryebrynn sighed, walked over to the mare and tied the rope to her halter.
“How much?” Ryebrynn asked, reaching to her waist and untying her coin purse.
“A gold coin.” He took a beat-up saddle and bridle off a shelf.
“I am not spending a whole gold coin on that! I want a new one.”
“That’d be two gold coins then.”
“What! I could buy a whole horse for that!”
“That’s my price, girlie. Take it or leave it.”
Ryebrynn did not like being called ‘girlie’. “One gold coin for the new one or nothing.”
“Fine.” He handed her a nice saddle which, surprisingly, came with a saddle blanket. He handed her the bridle. “Have that stableboy help you saddle her up.” 
Ryebrynn offered a nod. “Thank you, sir.”
“No problem.” 
Ryebrynn turned as Raaj entered his office to find the stableboy standing by White-Rose, stroking her muzzle and whispering to her. White-Rose nuzzled her head against his tunic pocket and he laughed, pulling an apple out of his pocket. She snatched it from his hand and he grinned. Loneliness pulse her heart in different directions. This boy was probably losing his best friend because of her. She laid a hand on his shoulder. He started. “Yes, Mistress?”
“I need help saddling my horse.” She gesture to White-Rose. “Raaj Sarmanil said you could help me.”
The boy’s bright eyes darkened. “Of course. I’m Boy.”
“You must have some other name than that.”
“Well, my ma and pa named me Matthew.”
“Very well. Will you help me saddle my horse, Matthew?”
At the sound of her saying his name, his eyes brightened again. “Of course.” As he saddled White-Rose, Ryebrynn watched closely and cought snippets of what he was whispering to her. “I’ll miss you… You’re my only friend…. I won’t be able to survive the beatings without you… It’s gonna be okay….. She seems nice…. Goodbye, White-Rose.” All this ended with him hugging the horse and hanging a satchel around her neck. He turned to Ryebrynn. “There’s a final present to her in the bag.” And he was gone. 
Ryebrynn chuckled and mounted the mare. Heading towards the butcher’s to buy meat, she started asking the burly man who ran it, “How much is your meat? Do you sell any of it dried?”
“I have dried venison. How much money do you have?” He asked, counting coins out.
“So I can tell you what meat is in your price range. Well, how much?”
“A hundred gold coins.”
A look of amazement filled his face then he said “A hundred, really?” Hiding his true emotions behind a suspicious face, he said, “Now how did a runt like you come to possess so much gold?”
“Earned it,” she lied. She bought some venison and chicken, and exited the village. After that she rode till her horse couldn’t gallop anymore. After that Ryebrynn made camp. She fell into a dreamless and fitful sleep.
In the morning Ryebrynn awoke and made breakfast. She rode all day looking for ways to lose people that may be trailing her. She then made camp in small glen, without a fire it was cold, but if she did make a fire, the Orphanage would trail her and she would be unmercifully beaten. She wanted nothing more than to light a fire and eat a warm meal, but alas, that could not be. The next day she covered leagues with the horse, and she decided to travel at night as well, so she could outrun the people that may be trailing her. Night and day Ryebrynn traveled, hardly ever stopping, but when she did stop, it was only to sleep and to drink. Ryebrynn became weaker and weaker she slept in the saddle, and she hardly ate anything, and she was so terribly weak. Ryebrynn finally stopped for rest and food nibbling on a piece of bread, she went and slept. When Ryebrynn awoke she was so weak and tired she couldn’t move. Reaching towards her forehead, she touched it lightly, she was burning up, and the heat could be felt inches away! 
Ryebrynn fainted remembering no more.
Chapter 3
When Ryebrynn awoke she was in a strange room on a soft bed. Wondering where she was, Ryebrynn got up and explored. Finding she was in a cabin, she wondered how she got there. Panic seared through Ryebrynn’s veins as she realized this could be one of the Orphanages outposts. All of the sudden she felt faint, and then she blacked out.
A voice awoke Ryebrynn, it was saying, “….please eat, you need to keep your strength up.” opening her eyes, Ryebrynn saw a young man, with a silly-looking tuft of red hair upon his head. He was standing over her, holding a wooden bowl and a spoon. Cautiously, Ryebrynn opened her mouth to say something but the spoon was pushed into her mouth. Sputtering, she spit it out. She heard the voice again,
“Now, now, none of that.”
“W-who are you?”
“If you eat this bowl of soup I will tell you.” 
Ryebrynn ate the soup slowly, savoring the chunks of venison and it spicy sweet taste. Then hesitantly he told her, “I am Vrainten Baskewal, of the Gracelandian Forest Elves. And you?” 
She thought for a moment on the safety of sharing her name, then finally answered, “I am Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer, of… um, well I don’t know.” 
“Well then Ryebrynn, will you eat more to keep up your strength? Or will you refuse to and maybe die of norewa?” 
After thinking a moment, she answered, “I-I have norewa?”
“Yes you do. Now which is it?”
“I-I’ll eat.”
“Good, good.” 
Ryebrynn ate another bowl of the venison stew. She snuggled back onto the bed and slept. For the first time since she could remember she slept peacefully with no interruptions.
Awakened by the smell of bacon and eggs cooking, Ryebrynn thought back to the past few days, remembering the man, Vrainten, she got up and went downstairs. When Ryebrynn arrived downstairs, the young man was making eggs and bacon over the fire.
He greeted her with a wave and said, “How are you feeling?”
“Better,” Ryebynn said quietly. Walking out the door she found herself surrounded by pines. She sniffed the air and recognized the smell of manure. Thinking quickly, she walked back in and asked Vrainten, “Where is my horse?” 
“Your horse is in the stable behind the house.”
“Thanks.” She exited the house to go see White-Rose.
Many days after Ryebrynn recovered, she awoke and looked for Vrainten. Finding him nowhere she went outside and walked around back she heard steel striking wood as she got closer she saw Vrainten sparring with a wooden figure holding the model of a wooden sword! Walking over she hid behind a pine watching and noting his every move. Finally he stopped and headed towards the house. Ryebrynn ran over and cut him off from the house. “You know the sword, Vrainten? You never told me! Will you teach me?”
“No. It is too risky.”
“Why not? You do it!” She said accusingly.
“No, It is too risky. A young lady,” he put emphasis on ‘young lady’, “like you could do it, ever. I train too hard.”
“Please!” Ryebrynn begged.
“Fine, I give in. Don’t hurt yourself.”
“Thank you!” she said. Following Vrainten inside, she asked him, “How will I get a sword, and what will I use to train?”
“You shall use what I tell you to use. We will probably start with wooden swords, and end with real swords.”
Ryebrynn grinned. “You didn’t answer my first question.”
“Sorry, I meant to answer it. You will earn a sword when your training is over.”
Ryebrynn went to her room and grabbed a new tunic and put it on, ready to train in a new mode of protection.
Ryebrynn swung at Vrainten. He parried the blow giving her a deep cut on her leg. She doubled over and said, “Time out!” Groaning, she hobbled inside in search of a bandage. After she had bandaged the wound she walked outside. Vrainten handed her sword back and then he charged, she blocked. For hours they sparred collecting bruises and small cuts along the way. Always it was a pattern, attack, block, attack, block.
Weeks past. The training gave her something to do. She enjoyed Vrainten’s company, and found him warm and cheery. One day Ryebrynn walked outside and waved to Vrainten.
“Ready to train?”
He handed her sword to her, and said, “Today is your last day to train. You have trained better than any other student I have ever trained.”
Ryebrynn nodded and struck at him. He blocked. 
“Your skill is great, Ryebrynn.”
“Vrainten you honor me.”
“I might but of course, I might not.” Winking, he stepped inside and came out with a magnificent sword. The handle was intricately carved with runes and the blade was covered with amazing designs. Vrainten handed her a note. She opened it and read: 
Dear Ryebrynn-
I fear my time to go to Dramri is coming near. This sword has seen days in battle. I hope it will serve you as it served me. Farewell, my sister. I have seen many days, many women, trained so many students, but none as great as you. I believe Dramri has a great purpose for you. I will miss you. 
Goodbye and farewell,
-Vraiten Baskewal
Tears poured forth. Ryebrynn remembered Brenniken Roberts, the butcher in Arew. His words rang in her head; “Ya’ll be more than ya know, someday, little miss. Remember ole Brenniken Roberts when ya get ‘igh.” Ryebrynn took the sword and swung it. It was perfect. It fit her arm perfectly. It was like an extension of her arm. She glanced at Vrainten and saw him tearing up as well. She wept. She would never forget this man and all he had done for her.
One day Ryebrynn said to Vrainten, “Vrainten I need to leave soon. I don’t want the Orphanage to come and hurt you.”
“Yes, you will need to leave soon. Maybe I will consider going with you. Come on let us go back to the cabin. ‘Tis nearly dark.” They headed towards the cabin without a word. Immediately Vrainten started on a supper of venison and vegetables. As he cooked Ryebrynn read a history book about Arew. 
About an hour later, Ryebrynn heard the telltale call. “Ryebrynn!” 
“Vrainten, what in the world do you need?”
“I need you to get your head out of the clouds and come eat!” He said.
“Oh sorry!” She answered. Getting up, she walked over and sat down. 
Vrainten gave her some venison and asked, “Do you want vegetables?” 
“Yes,” answered Ryebrynn.
Ryebrynn ran for a thicket not far from her. A ghost-like woman on a black war horse chasing her. The woman had her sword upraised, it glinted in the bright sun she raised her own sword and found herself saying with a sneer, “Get away from me, Queen Jazaroonaé! I have the power of Dramri on my side!” 
The woman’s answer was cold and shrill. She said, “You and you fake Dramri cannot defeat me!” with that a bolt of lightning flew from the sky and the woman fell limp to the ground. Ryebrynn ran not knowing which direction she ran. She just wanted to get away from the woman’s limp form. A man chased her. Garbed in scarlet and black with a magnificent sword, he was truly a formidable foe. He grabbing her streaming raven hair and stabbed at her. Ryebrynn screamed as the sword hit it’s mark. 
Ryebrynn jerked awake. Sweat beamed on her forehead and her heart beat wildly. She heard a noise, it was qujet for a little while then she heard it again. She stealthily dressed and got her sword then she woke Vrainten and he did the same. Together, they walked towards they door keeping in the shadows. When they arrived, they saw a band of thirty or forty men outside. The leader had a knife and was slowly cutting a hole beside the doorknob. Then a gloved hand reached in and unlocked the door. The men swarmed in and saw Vrainten and Ryebrynn. They leader flicked his wrist towards them and all the men ran towards them and surrounded them. 
Then the leader walked over, tossed her sword an arm’s length away and grabbed her by the waist and held his long curved sword to her neck, saying, “If you don’t drop all arms and let us capture you, I will kill your beautiful companion,” A few seconds later she heard him mutter, “But I’d prefer to keep you as a slave.” Laughing, he brought the sword closer to the skin; hot blood trickled down and stained her tunic. 
Vrainten began to set his sword on the ground. “No! Vrainten, don’t do it!” 
Ryebrynn groped backwards and unsheathed his dagger. Ryebrynn fell against him and made choking noises. “Water! I need water,” Ryebrynn spoken with fake desperation. The leader pulled his sword away from her neck. And she pretended to fall, out of breath. 
He pointed to one of the men. “You. Go get her some water.” The man dashed off and the leader knelt beside her and stroked the hair away from her face. He reached into her pocket and pulled out the note Vrainten gave her with her sword. “I’m Stephen Sarm, young Ryebrynn.” Ryebrynn reached up and stabbed him in the stomach with the dagger. 
“Nice to meet you, Stephen.”  His sword clattered to the ground and the men cornered Vrainten and Ryebrynn against the wall.
“Did you have to do that? Now look what a problem we have on our hands,” as he said it he motioned towards the menacing figures that cornered them. All of the sudden a man slipped behind Vrainten and stabbed him. He screamed in pain as Ryebrynn screamed in rage and she charged the man. As Ryebrynn fought she acquired many bruises and flesh wounds. But that didn’t stop her she fought through the night, and sunrise soon came and shined through the open door. It gave her hope; she fought harder and harder soon she felt as if they were she to drop. Blood was splattered all over the wood floor, men littered the ground, but she fought on. 
Once all the men were dead she ran to Vrainten, and he said, “Ryebrynn…. Do not weep. For when… I die… I go to… the… al…almighty…. Dramri. I have something I meant to give you long ago….” 
To Ryebrynn’s surprise he took a necklace off his neck and gave it to her saying, “When in great need say the words to this necklace and the huntress will come. If you find no use for it take it to Jane FireSpeaker and put it in her care.” And with that Vrainten Baskewal of the Gracelandian Forest Elves died in peace.
“What words Vrainten, what words?” She whispered. Weeping silently, she went to the shed and got a shovel she then started to dig, she dug for hours. She was determined to make Vrainten have a perfect grave. She dug and dug. Finally she finished. Then she went to the shed and put away, the shovel and then she grabbed the ax after that she went to the forest—that surrounded the house—and then she cut a tree down and went back. She brought back a wagon and four horses and than she took the tree to the hole she had dug, and then she made a rough-looking coffin and laid Vrainten in it. 
She prepared some spices and sprinkled them on his body. then she got the horses and she had them pull the coffin to the grave. 
Then she put a whole lot of dirt on the hole she had dug—which now had Vrainten in it—and then she got some stone and engraved on it with a chisel: This is the grave of Vrainten Baskewal of the Gracelandian Forest Elves. He saved my life and taught me swordplay. I loved him like a sister would a brother. He was my friend and companion. I will forever miss him.
-Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer of the Unknown
Then she set it on the fresh grave and left weeping.
Ryebrynn knew she would need a map, she didn’t know where to get the map from, so she decided to search the whole house through, every nook and cranny. So she did. But in most of the nooks and cranny’s she found cobwebs, spider, and old musty junk, but in one in particular, she found something of interest! It was an old sketchpad. 
The first drawing was of a man and woman. The man was Vrainten, but she didn’t know who the woman was. Who could the woman be? Is she a friend of Vrainten? Should I find her, to tell her of Vrainten’s death? Is she still alive? Ryebrynn thought, confused. I don’t want to meddle. I should get back to finding a map, she thought. Though she was thinking those things, she was staring a the faded writing in the drawing. 
Vrainten and Jane Baskewal, husband and wife. She flipped the next page. This held a drawing of a sleeping baby. 
In the same faded writing, it said, Sarah Baskewal, daughter of Vrainten and Jane Bakewal. She turned the page again to see a tall young woman, eyes flashing angrily and hair flying. No writing accompanied the drawing. she turned the page and the next page was empty.
Stop Ry, you’re meddling! She thought, sharply to herself. This is none of your business! Stop! Go and find the map! She reprimanded herself, sharper than ever. So she put the sketchpad back and went looking for the map again. Ryebrynn looked everywhere she thought a map could be and finally found one under Vrainten’s bed. 
She settled at the table and looked the map over. She could go to Andor. Too far. Alani? No. Death’s Grip? No, too creepy!  The Scallop Isles? No. BlackDoom? Too creepy. Graceland? Perhaps. Yeah. That’s where she’d go. “Well, Graceland, here I come.” Ryebrynn stood, walked to her room, packed a bag, and laid down to take a nap.
Chapter 4
Ryebrynn woke with a start. She had a nightmare that men invaded the house and killed Vrainten, and then she buried him. It was creepy. Then she had to find a map and found a sketchpad with strange drawings.Then she packed up to go to Graceland. It was super weird. Dreams like that were unusual to her, really unusual. 
Ryebrynn crawled out of bed expecting to see Vrainten cooking happily by the hearth. But no, he wasn’t. 
“Vrainten?” Ryebrynn called. Ryebrynn went towards the door. The hole. Her dream. It really happened. Vrainten was dead. He was really dead. She sat down at the table and wept. 
Then she remembered her pack. She went and grabbed it. Then she went to Vrainten’s grave to say goodbye. 
“Goodbye, Vrainten. I’ll miss you.” Then she heavily walked to the barn to get her horse, WhiteRose. Then she saddled her and put her pack and supplies on it, and then she rode WhiteRose out of the barn towards the forest. The Orphanage men might have caught on her earlier trail, because she stayed at Vrainten’s so long. Soon she was on the road again and humming a hymn to herself. She looked back to the cabin. Orphanage men circled it. Tears choked her. It was burning. They were burning Vrainten’s home. She wept and spurred WhiteRose on again. 
Ryebrynn swerved White Rose over, searching for what she had seen. There it was! A flash of white. Ryebrynn tried to calm her horse. The white was probably a white stag or rabbit. She put White Rose back on course and soon she saw the flash of white again. It was unnerving. She couldn’t stand it. White Rose came to a stop. Ryebrynn dismounted and headed towards where she last saw the flash of white. She stumbled back when a—horse?—Whatever it was, emerged from the trees. It was a… Unicorn! She gasped and fell to the ground. She stood again. The unicorn sniffed her then it went over to White Rose It sniffed around for awhile then came back to Ryebrynn. It stood there for awhile, then it nudged her playfully. Ryebrynn grinned. She looked into its eyes.
“Jaxine,” She said in a whisper. “Your name is Jaxine.”
Ryebrynn yawned and stretched. It was a beautiful morning. She looked around. WhiteRose was gone. Ryebrynn remembered she had forgotten to picket her the night before. Ryebrynn looked around again. Jaxine was still there. “Morning Jaxine! Where is WhiteRose?” The horse pointed her muzzle at some hoof prints leading away from the small camp. 
“Oh well,” muttered Ryebrynn, “I can always keep Jaxine. Anyways, I don’t have time to find her now.” Ryebrynn gave a Jaxine another bucket of oats and an apple and a smaller lump of sugar. Ryebrynn dressed as the unicorn ate and then Ryebrynn made a smokeless fire and cooked some bacon. The bacon smelled heavenly. Ryebrynn soon took the bacon off of the fire and pleasantly chewed on it. 
Then she got her saddle and her saddlebag and put it on Jaxine. She didn’t protest. “Wow. I wonder who trained you,” muttered Ryebrynn to herself. “Let’s go, Jaxine; I need to get my mind off of Vrainten. I think the road will do the trick.” Ryebrynn squeezed Jaxine with her knees and she went forward. Days past, Ryebrynn and Jaxine stopped every night then in the morning they carried on. Despite their rest at night they were horribly tired, everyday they got up and everyday they traveled. Soon a town came into sight. It was the town of Tri. They headed towards Tri and got a room at the ‘Crazed Koala’, an Inn, Ryebrynn kept Jaxine in the stable. Though Ryebrynn hated the thought of Jaxine sleeping in a barn, she allowed it. Thankfully in the morning Jaxine didn’t hate her.
The people always gathered around when Ryebrynn rode Jaxine, or even brought her out. It was annoying. It was giving them too much attention. They couldn’t ever go anywhere alone. It was too much, just too much! So one day, Ryebrynn was by Jaxine in her stall. “Jaxine, I need to take you somewhere else while I’m here. You’re drawing too much attention. I need you to go.” Then Ryebrynn led Jaxine back to the forest and put in a grassy spot there. 
“Bye, Jaxine, see you later,” said Ryebrynn to Jaxine. 
Then she walked back to Tri. Once back she was pelted with question like, “Where is the unicorn?” or, “Where did you go?” or “What happened?” or exclamations like, “The unicorn isn’t with her!” or “Uh, oh! No unicorn!” people wagged their fingers and stomped their feet. It was terrible. Days past. Ryebrynn hoped that Jaxiné was sentient enough to stay. It would be unsafe for Ryebrynn if she didn’t. The day were torture for Ryebrynn, they were days spent worrying about Jaxine. It was horrific.
Ryebrynn needed a job. She had very little money. Soon she might have to leave Tri penniless. The tavern was taking up a lot of money. So, Ryebrynn checked out to look for a job that provided lodging. She soon found one. It was a temporary one, but alas, it would have to work. Soon Ryebrynn had started and it went well. A week past and she had made one hundred gold so far. Ryebrynn was worried about Jaxiné the whole time. Atleast she wouldn’t have to leave penniless. Ryebrynn sighed as she patched a dress. It brought back memories of her days spent sewing at the Orphanage. Her mind wandered into the unknown and she was lost in thought.
“GIRL!” Ryebrynn was jerked awake by the sound of her temporary boss’s voice. “You should be sewing! I don’t pay you for sitting around and lazily sleeping!” 
Ryebrynn could tell she was mad. She got up and curtsied. “I’m sorry ma’am! I didn’t mean to.” Ryebrynn hung her head. 
“You irresponsible insolent girl!” Her boss carried on with her tirade. 
“Ma’am, I’m terribly sorry.” Ryebrynn grimaced, trying to re-apologize. 
“Sorry, you say? I’ll show you sorry! You’re fired!” 
Ryebrynn held back tears as her boss took her ear and threw her out the door. 
“DON’T COME BACK!!!!” She yelled after Ryebrynn.
Ryebrynn ran to the woods where she had left Jaxine. Once there, she was surprised to see Jaxine and buried her head in her mane. Ryebrynn had brought her stuff and told Jaxine everything while she made something to eat. Ryebrynn ate and gave Jaxine some food then she saddled her and got on, they traveled for awhile eating the food sparingly, soon they enter the Black Plains. It was dark, dreary, and gloomy. The cliffs hung over her like hands trying to catch her, it was always freezing and sprinkling, and it all put her in a bad mood. She wondered when she would be able to get out of that accursed place. She remembered her history, this was the place the Arewan’s had taken from Graceland, when King Jacob ruled. She shivered and pulled her cloak around her. She could hear Jaxine breathing hard, for the air made it hard to breath. She now knew why it was called the Black Plains. Ryebrynnn listened as she made a fire out of some grass stubble Jaxine was eating.
Ryebrynn at this time had been wearing Vrainten’s necklace in memory of him, she knew not why it had been of importance to him, but, since it was his, and he gave it to her, she wore it. It was of much importance to him, she knew that. But how much? Ryebrynn decided when she camped that night she would look at it. When she had camped, she built a fire and started her supper. Then she took the necklace off, turning it over in her hands she —unintentionally—said, “Dramri, summon the huntress, please, O, Dramri.” She queried at the words and sent a quick prayer up to Dramri that these words weren’t bad. Ryebrynn turned a spit over the fire, still curious about those words. Ryebrynn sighed. Her food finished and she ate it slowly, then she added dry, dead sticks to the fire and prepared her bed. She laid down and fell asleep.
Chapter 5
It had been days since the ‘Necklace Incident’, as Ryebrynn called it, Ryebrynn still queried about the necklace. Many times she thought she should throw it off the road and forget about it. But it would hurt her heart that she knew, for Vrainten’s last words haunted her mind. Many nights she would sit by the fire and think, sometimes she even wept. But she would never ever wept for Vrainten, but for her loss of a friend. 
Dramri is a God right? She thought one night. If he is, then those words shouldn’t be too bad. Ryebrynn looked up. What was that? She thought when she heard a weird flapping noise. It’s probably just a bird. But though those thoughts were in her mind, she heard another noise, a buzzing noise. It was the necklace! She pulled it out, the flapping noise got louder. The necklace was a hot as the kitchen fire at the Orphanage! She screamed as it burnt her skin. She fell to the ground trying to tear off the necklace, warm breath came upon Ryebrynn and the necklace was as cold as ice. Ryebrynn looked up. 
Is that you Amethyst? She gasped.
Aye, Ryebrynn! It is me, Amethyst. So, you found a unicorn? Or did you buy it? I didn’t think you stole enough money for a unicorn, came a voice in Ryebrynn’s mind. 
No, I didn’t, she was in a forest close to Tri. Ryebrynn said, running up to her and hugging her, she started to cry.
Don’t cry, child. I missed you too, but, am I crying?
No. Ryebrynn wiped her eyes. I guess not. She started to laugh. A deep rumble came from Amethyst. I am glad we are together, child.
As am I. But, how did you come?
Do you not know of The Summoner?
No…. What is The Summoner?
Child, that necklace, where did you get it?
Oh, I got it from a friend. Ryebrynn hung her head, sadly.
Child, that necklace is The Summoner. If you have a connection with a dragon, and you speak the words, ‘Dramri, summon the huntress/hunter, please, O, Dramri.’ Your dragon will be summoned and when they arrive a buzzing sound comes to your ears from the necklace and then it gets burning hot, then the dragon will know what is happening and breath upon you and then the necklace is as freezing cold.
Wow. That explains what just happened. She grinned. 
Is that friend still here? Who is the friend? Ryebrynn’s grin vanished and a sad look dominated her face. 
Um, the friend is dead, and his name was Vrainten Baskewal.
For that child, I hope you have overcome your grief. But, very few necklaces like the one you have ever, ever were made. You are holding one of the four necklaces that exist.
Wow. Ryebrynn looked at the necklace. After a long conversation, Ryebrynn got onto Jaxine and Amethyst took flight. Ryebrynn looked above her and grinned. They left the Black Plains. And most important, they were together.
Ryebrynn and Amethyst had traveled for miles and stopped to rest. Both Ryebrynn and Amethyst fell asleep.
Ryebrynn jerked awake by the sounds of roaring and the clinking of chains. Ryebrynn sat up and looked around. She tried to stand up and grab her sword, but she was assaulted by rough shouts and the pulling of chains. She struggled against the chains, but she cried out when she was struck with a whip. Her head swirled and she fell unconscious.
Ryebrynn groaned and her eyes fluttered open. She looked around. 
“Boss! She’s awake!” Shouted a small man, with a bald head. 
A broad shouldered, skinny man came forward. “She’s fine specimen, Kirken. But, she’ll need training,” said the Boss. 
“Aye, that’s true, but just examine her! She’ll get us a lot of money, Larridill,” said Kirken, grinning. 
“Up, girl!” Larridill shouted. Ryebrynn stayed where she was. “UP! I said, UP!” He cracked the whip by her ear. She yelped and jumped up. She scanned the camp for Amethyst. She winced as she saw her chained to thick metal bar. 
“Boss, what do we do about the dragon?” A lanky, handsome man asked.
“Kill it. We’ll need food, Gerrid.” Larridill sighed. 
Ryebrynn grabbed a dagger from inside her cape and threw it at Larridill. 
“NO!!!!!!” She shouted. Larridill fell to the ground, dead. She grabbed a keychain off of his belt and unlocked her chains. She looked around and groaned. Dozens of men, women, and children sat in cages all around the camp. Both Gerrid and Kirken rushed at her. She found her sword and killed Kirken. She charged Gerrid. He produced a sword off his back and stabbed at her leg. It left a gash. Ryebrynn fell to the ground clutching her leg. More men rushed out of the bushes. They chained her up and knocked her unconscious.
Ryebrynn groaned and she looked around herself at her surroundings. She was no longer in the camp, but in a vast land full of sand. “Welcome to the Austra Desert,” Gerrid said, grinning. Ryebrynn glared at him. At the crack of a whip she stumbled to her feet. Around children, woman, and men all stood around her shuffling forward. She started at a fair pace and vowed to herself to escape and to rescue all the people around her. “We’ll be rich, Herroll!” Gerrid said to a friend, glancing back at her. She sent him a glare and turned away. 
She glanced forward and saw strong men pulling a cart full of wailing babies. Ryebrynn winced as the whip went across her back; the stroke drew blood and put a cut in her tunic. Gerrid grabbed her and strapped her chains to another cart, this one drawn by women, she was forced to pull it this cart was full of men and women that couldn’t walk till they healed more. It was heavier and she and the women strained against the weight. 
Gerrid laughed and drew the women’s attention to a cart full of bread and food and such good things. Ryebrynn groaned as she saw her weapons there. Another group of slaves pulled Amethyst by and Ryebrynn cried out. 
The driver of their cart laid the whip against all the women’s backs. They all cried out but Ryebrynn bit her lip. Gerrid glared at her when she didn’t cry out. All the women started to weep and kept pulling. Ryebrynn also pulled and it responded with another stroke of the whip. Ryebrynn fell to the ground, unconscious.
The next thing Ryebrynn knew was being pulled in a cart. She was huddled in a corner surrounded by men, women, and children. Where am I? She asked Amethyst through their connection.
Don’t you remember? Amethyst asked her. 
It all came flooding back. Now I do. Ryebrynn answered. So, how’s your day been?Ryebrynn asked. 
Worrying, what do you think? I worried about YOU all day. Amethyst answered.
Come on, Amethyst. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.Ryebrynn glanced at Amethyst. Their eyes met, Amethyst’s were sad and worry-full. Ryebrynn’s filled Amethyst with hope. I love you. We’ll get out of this, I promise. Just keep calm and stop worrying, and I’ll think of a plan. 
A whip stung on Ryebrynn’s back. “Out, Girl! Get back to pulling this wretched cart!” Came a harsh voice, another whip lash came and went. Ryebrynn climbed out of the cart and Gerrid grabbed her chains. He chained her to the cart and had the driver whip her. 
“Get going!” The driver shouted. “We don’t get healthy one like you for laziness! We get you for WORK!” Her back stung with another whip lash. She strained forward. Ryebrynn fell again. Her vision went black.
Ryebrynn lifted her head. Ack! The cart again.
Wait! Amethyst! Their minds connected.
What is it, child?She asked.
I know how to escape! You will be part of my plan, but we also have to rescue those around us. Will you do it? Ryebrynn answered.
What is your plan? She asked.
Weellll… Ok. My plan is, that since I am in the cart again, I will, when one of the slave traders takes me down, I will run for the cart with my weapons and grab them, grab the keys, unlock your chains, we kill all the slave traders, grab the rest of the keys, and unlock all the other peoples chains, claim them to be free, run off towards Graceland, and mission accomplished. How does it sound?
That’s some outrageous plan. Great, let’s do it! I like it! Ryebrynn grinned. The whip stung her back. 
“OUT!” Gerrid shouted. She climbed out. Ryebrynn broke for her weapons. She grabbed them and started using them. She grabbed the keys and ran to Amethyst and unlocked her chains. Amethyst finished off the rest of the guys and Ryebrynn grabbed the other keys. 
She unlocked the other people’s chains and said, “You’re free, Dramri keep you safe!” The people stared at her. “Um, you can stop staring now. I just needed to say, Bye, and by the way, YOU’RE FREE!” Ryebrynn gulped. She motioned to Amethyst, and then took Jaxine by the bridle. She saddled Jaxiné and made for the end of the desert. The rest of the people scattered. Ryebrynn reached a forest. A sign before the forest said,
The Windblown Forest…
Beware of Wyverns, for you may meet your death if you encounter one.
Ryebrynn gulped. “Some forest and some suspicious person to put that up….” She said, trying to laugh. She led Amethyst and Jaxiné in, maybe even leading them to their deaths.
Ryebrynn fought. “Foul beast! Be gone! Leave me alone!” She shouted, blocking an attack from the Wyvern. She grabbed hold of the Wyvern’s clawed foot and twisted. The Wyvern screamed out in pain. Ryebrynn grinned. All of the sudden, another Wyvern, the first one’s mate, knocked her out. Ryebrynn collapsed to the ground.
Ryebrynn lifted her hand to her forehead. Her surroundings had changed, instead of the dark forest; she was in a cave, one big enough for two hundred humans. She heard the clank of chains and looked around for the source. In front of her eyes, there was a chain. Oh, wow, how brilliant. I’m the one chained. Ack. 
She frowned. Wyverns don’t have the mental capacity to chain someone up. Someone else was here. Her brief gaze around the room rested on a blue star etched into the wall. Her connection with Amethyst was fuzzy. She saw a huge animal advancing on her. The animal grinned, blood framed its teeth. Another of the same kind was advancing Jaxiné. Amethyst was unconscious in chains at the other side of the huge cave. She remembered the sign. That person was smart……… 
An oversized wolf ran into the cave and killed then Wyvern that was going towards Ryebrynn. The other roared and charged the wolf. The wolf finished off the other Wyvern. The wolf handed Ryebrynn her blade and unlocked her chains. Ryebrynn stared at the wolf. “Why’d you save me, and who are you?” She asked, thinking the wolf wouldn’t answer. The wolf cleaned her shimmery pitch black coat. 
“I am Shymmer, daughter of Syndra and Midnightfog. And I saved you because I sensed your pure heart.” 
Ryebrynn got up and stepped back. “You… you… you… talked!” She said. A look of pure amazement crossed her face. 
“I always did, and I always shall. My mother and father talk as well, my mother may talk a bit too much.” Shymmer answered with a laugh. 
“Are your mother and father dead?” She asked. 
“No, child, no,” laughed Shymmer. “They are merely hiding, their limbs aren’t as young as mine.” Shymmer howled. A midnight black wolf stepped out of and bush and a pure white one jumped to go beside it. 
“Welcome.” The black one said. 
The white one stepped forward. 
“Forgive me, I have forgotten my manners. My name is Syndra.” 
The black one also stepped forward. “And mine,” he rumbled. “Is Midnightfog.” He grinned. 
“Come, shall we escort you out of this wretched part that is full of Wyverns?” Syndra asked. 
“Uh, yeah. Sure. By the way, my name is Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer.” Ryebrynn managed to say. Syndra lay down and Ryebrynn climbed on. She got back up. Ryebrynn looked back to see a lone woman in a red dress with a black sash, a circlet glimmering in her hair. Syndra, Midnightfog, and Shymmer sprinted side-by-side into the forest.
“Thank you, guys. I really, um, liked that.” Ryebrynn said to her rapidly disappearing friends, wishing she had found out about the Wyverns’ helper.
Yotaiah Gwendolyn Hijalosoe scanned the forest for the Wyvern that she was chasing. She grinned. She put a finger to her lips and used sign language to tell, her hawk, Bilthros, to stay. She attacked with her bow and soon the Wyvern roared as he died. She grabbed her game bag and cut up and cleaned the meat.
Ryebrynn stared after her friends. She heard a roar and headed towards it quietly. She saw a dead Wyvern and a girl about her age, with wavy red hair and kind blue-gray eyes. A hawk was perched in a tree not far away. The girl whistled and the hawk came. She handed the hawk a cleaned strip of meat and he started to eat it. Ryebrynn’s oily black hair glistened brightly in the hot afternoon sun and the girl looked up and drew her bow. In seconds she had it trained on Ryebrynn.
“If you move a muscle,” The girl said. “You will be dead before you know it.”
“Whoa, I, um, come in peace. I’m Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer.” The girl studied her.
“I’m Yotaiah Gwendolyn Hijalosoe.” Yotaiah lowered her bow and pushed back a strand of her hair. “And this,” She pointed to the hawk, “is Bilthros.”
“Bilthros, Bilthros,” squawked Bilthros. Yotaiah laughed.
Chapter 6
“All I can remember from the days before my escape was the orphanage, but somehow, I remember a sister, a relative I don’t remember much, but she has waist long red gold hair, green eyes, tan skin, and a bracelet much like this one,” Ryebrynn pulled away her sleeve to reveal a bracelet that was almost all the shades of green. “But, hers was different colors of blue. It was always a mystery. But in my dreams, I see her and me playing together, then fire, then her calling, ‘Brynna!! Brynna!! Don’t Leave me!! Don’t let them take you away from me!!’ 
And I would not hear her and shout, ‘Raylana!! Raylana!! Save me!!’ and fall into a great pit, then scenes of my life would flash in my mind, and I would jolt awake, sweat streaming. Those were the nightmares I never forgot,” Ryebrynn found herself confiding in Yotaiah.
“Really? That sounds torturous. I wonder how your parents died.”
“So, who did you learn archery from?” Ryebrynn asked, trying to change the subject.
“A woman name Gretchen. She was the best archer in Graceland.” Yotaiah answered.
“Graceland?” Ryebrynn’s eyes widened. “Do you know the way back?” She asked, alarmed.
“Yes. Would you like me to take you there?” Yotaiah asked.
“Would you? Oh, please do!” Ryebrynn said, excited.
“Sure, are you ready to camp?” Yotaiah asked.
“Aye, where do you have in mind?” Ryebrynn asked.
Yotaiah pointed to a clearing almost surrounded by a ‘wall’ of trees. “There.”
“Whoa, how’d you find it?” Ryebrynn asked in amazement.
“I hunt a lot and go beyond the borders of Graceland, most hunters don’t.” Yotaiah grinned.
“You prepare everything and I’ll get kindling.” Yotaiah headed towards the wood leaving Ryebrynn with their horses and packs.
“Oh. Bye.” Ryebrynn muttered as Yotaiah disappeared into the wood.
Yotaiah was deep in the woods and grabbed a stick off the ground. She looked up to see she was surrounded by men. “Who are you?” She asked them, her eyes narrowing.
“Tell us the information we want and we will let you go, don’t tell us, and we will beat it out of you and leave you to die.” The biggest one said, stepping forward.
“What is that information?” Yotaiah asked them.
“It is about a girl. Ryebrynn is her name. She escap—wait no, ran away, from our boss’s Orphanage and we are here to rescue her.” He said in a hoarse whisper.
“Oh, then I have nothing to tell you.” She said, turning her head away.
“But you do!” He shouted, grabbing her by the collar of her tunic. “You’ve been traveling with her most of the day, you are smuggling her to Graceland! That wretched country is no place for a young orphan like her! She is fragile and the Master and Mistress of the Orphanage are worried sick, if you heard the Mistress cry, you would give us the information out of pure pity!”
“I shan’t tell you where she is.” Yotaiah whispered.
“Then you will die!” The man bellowed.
“I shouldn’t be traveling with her,” Ryebrynn muttered. “I’d just endanger her life. If the Orphanage finds her I’ll be doomed.” Ryebrynn said, making a cloth tent and setting up Yotaiah’s bedroll in it. She quickly made her outside of the tent so she could watch from the outside to make sure no one came to hurt them. Ryebrynn set up a fire and waited for the kindling.
Ryebrynn  fell asleep and Yotaiah stayed in danger of death.
The men surrounding Yotaiah grabbed her and blind folded her. The biggest one again stepped forward and knocked Yotaiah out with the butt of his sword.
Yotaiah groggily lifted her aching head. The men had dispersed leaving two to guard her. She was in a large cavern and chained to the floor. She remembered the leader’s threats. The information, girl. Give it up or you die. She shivered and curled in a ball. The men at the door of the cavern started at the sound of her clinking chains.
“She’s awake!” They shouted to the leader. He walked towards the door and walked in.
“The information, girl, or die!” He bellowed at her.
“I’ll never tell you!” She shouted with more bravery then she felt.
“Then you will die! And the girl will be found!” He yelled, and she could tell he had a bad temper.
Ryebrynn awoke with a jerk and looked around. Yotaiah hadn’t come back. “YOTAIAH!” She shouted hoarsely. No answer came.
“YOTAIAH!” She shouted louder. Again, no answer came. Ryebrynn decided to go and look herself. She jumped on Jaxine and tied Yotaiah’s horse, Syri, to Jaxine’s saddle. She galloped away shouting all the while.
Ryebrynn came upon a valley with a cave down the side; two men stood guard by another, larger, cave this one with a door. She reined Jaxine in and sighed. She recognized then men’s tunics, blue with a setting sun emblazoned on the chest. They were from the Orphanage. They’ve found me. She told herself. I’ve got to rescue Yotaiah and go. They’ll capture me, I can’t bear going back. I’m so close.  Ryebrynn rode back to camp hot tears running down her cheeks.
Ryebrynn sat down in camp and tried to swallow down her tears. “The Orphanage, Yotaiah, oh no, this can’t be happening.” She said. “Bilthros? I need you,” She said, hoarsely. She pulled out a piece of paper and grabbed some charcoal she quickly wrote.
Try to stay alive, I am sending Bilthros with this message, dispose of this right away after you read it, I am planning to rescue you tomorrow night, please survive until then.
Ryebrynn rolled it up and tied it with string; Bilthros came over and pecked at it. “I need you to take this to Yotaiah.” She said, tying it to his foot. 
Ryebrynn stealthily climbed towards the cavern. Bilthros flew over her and landed. “Bilthros! You’re back!” She whispered, happily. There was another not tied onto his foot, her eyes widened. “A note! How could she risk it?” Ryebrynn asked the hawk. She grabbed it and scanned it.
I come to warn you do not try to rescue me, you will be overwhelmed and sent back to ‘The Orphanage’ I send this message back with Bilthros, I… I… am glad I met you and hope you make it to Graceland. Again, I warn you, DO NOT COME! Farewell, I shall miss you,
Then there was a rip in the paper and a place where someone tried to burn it, Ryebrynn guessed that they found her and tried to burn it, and then she snatched it back and sent it. Ryebrynn hoped she had disposed of the other message. She crawled forward and grabbed her sword. She jumped into the cave and was attacked. She killed all the men but one and forced information from him. 
“Where is the girl?” She asked.
“The… the…. The…. Boss took her to force information out of her. He planned to kill her afterwards. He left us here to capture you because of the message you sent.” Ryebrynn screamed in rage and pierced his heart.
Ryebrynn traveled for weeks searching and searching. Finally she heard something, someone was muttering her name! She hoped it was Yotaiah and rode towards it, “Yotaiah?” The voice carried on. Soon a girl with red hair, and blue-gray eyes came into view her tunic stained with blood and her hair mangled. Yotaiah? The resemblance is unmistakable! 
It is Yotaiah! Ryebrynn ran forward and untied her. She pulled suave out of her bag and applied it on her wounds. “Yotaiah! I’m here! What happened?!?” She said, hot tears splashing and streaming. 
“I…I…I… was beaten for answers and left to die.” Yotaiah murmured.
“No! I’ll take care of you and we can go to Graceland together! I couldn’t bear it if I caused your death! I owe it to you!”
“No, Ryebrynn go, please! Leave me! They’ll find you!”
“No! I’m not leaving you!” Ryebrynn whistled and Syri galloped over. Ryebrynn grabbed Yotaiah and cut the rope that bound her. She draped her over the chestnut-brown horse and jumped onto Jaxiné. She galloped off to find where she could nurse Yotaiah back to health.
Ryebrynn frequently found herself returning to Yotaiah and kneeling she would repeat the prayer she had heard the Mistress and Master say when they were in need of help. She hoped it would work and healed Yotaioah as best as her suave let her. The more frequently she prayed the more she felt it helped. One day Yotaiah raised her head and got out of bed! Ryebrynn rushed to her. 
“Yotaiah, you don’t have enough strength!” She cried out. She steadied her and made sure she didn’t fall.
“Ryebrynn they’ll find you.” She kept muttering.
“Yotaiah! You’re feverish! Get back in bed!” She cried.
“No, they’ll find you.” Yotaiah muttered again, and with that she fell to the ground unconscious.
“Yotaiah!” Ryebrynn yelled, lifting her from the ground and laying her back down. 
Finally, Yotaiah healed enough to travel. They again set out for Graceland.
Chapter 7
Ryebrynn and Yotaiah traveled for weeks. Ruts and hoof-marks began to appear and they mostly stayed off the road. The girls hoped to arrive in Graceland the next day, to Yotaiah’s calculations, they should. The girls talked and laughed. But, whenever the King’s soldiers passed by, they were as quiet as mice. The men always were talking about Orphanage’s. Ryebrynn brought into memory all she heard. She hoped and hoped the information would stay. The next day, rolling green hills and farms came into sight. “Graceland.” Ryebrynn gasped.
“Aye, ’tis my homeland.” Yotaiah pointed to a forest. “Kajilimae Forest. I, my neighbors, Brittlynn and Zrannah, live there peacefully. Brittlynn’s father died in the war for the Black Plains. Don’t mention him. They take it seriously.” She grinned. “I’m taking you there. We can rest there.” She spurred Sade forward. “Come, we shall now enter Graceland!” 
They rode on. Graceland now had a place in Ryebrynn’s heart, and Yotaiah was her friend. She felt ready to defend this country, and risk her life just to save it. She now felt like she had a home and place were her heart could have peace.
Ryebrynn and Yotaiah traveled for the rest of the day and arrived in Kajilimae  Forest. Zrannah and Brittlynn were out watching the road. Brittlynn ran to Yotaiah the second she saw her. “Yotaiah! You’re back!” They hugged.
“Brittlynn! Zrannah!” She hugged them both. “How is Windstrum? Is she fully healed yet?” Yotaiah asked.
“Fit as ever! Her red-brown coat shiny and soft, her horn sharp and brilliant white!” Brittlynn said, again hugging Yotaiah. Brittlynn drew her sword. “Who is this?” She asked, her face darkening. Jaxine reared as Amethyst landed with a thud behind Ryebrynn.
“That is Ryebrynn, she has escaped from an Orphanage in Arew and is a dragonrider and unicornfriend.” She grinned. Brittlynn sheathed her sword.
“My apologies, Ryebrynn. I feared you to be one of the BlackDoomed.” Brittlynn said, curtsying. Yotaiah stepped forward.
“BlackDoomed? Has Jazaroonae struck again?” She shook her head. “I hope the Chosen Elf comes soon. We may need him or her.”
“Aye.” Zrannah put in. “I don’t want Brittlynn to have to join the fight.”
Brittlynn looked quizzically at her mother. “Mum, you said when my birthday comes ’round, I could train to be a sword maiden! Why now do you contradict yourself?” Brittlynn demanded.
“Brittlynn, you contradict yourself! We agreed on the next time the three kings called, though King Chrys, King Herbert, and King Tirad are readily preparing for battle they have yet to call for more warriors and sword maidens!” Zrannah yelled at her daughter.
“Yes, Mother,” Brittlynn gave in.
King Chrystillion paced. “Sister, calm, I’m sure we will have warning before the next attack.” King Tirad soothed his sister.
“Tirad! Listen, I know the Chosen Elf is here, we must call her! She is our only hope!” Chrystillion argued angrily.
“I agree with Chrys,” King Herbert nodded.
“Herbert, my brother, are you and Chrys sure? If you aren’t what, a disaster this could turn out to be!” 
The Queens Laelyn and Ryla watched from the door.
“Ryla, Chrys and Herbert are right.” Laelyn said. Laelyn motioned for the guard.
“Send a message to the household of Yotaiah, a commoner, tell her to bring her guest to us and also tell her her guest is the ‘Chosen Elf’. Make haste! Go!” She whispered. The guard ran off.
Later on a message arrived at Yotaiah’s.
Swordmaiden Yotaiah, It read.
We harken unto thee, bring thy guest to Queen Ryla and Queen Laelyn, make haste with the Chosen Elf.
Their Royal Highnesses.
“Chosen Elf?” Ryebrynn asked with a raised eyebrow.
“The Savior of Legend. But, Ryebrynn, you are summoned, you must go!” Yotaiah said.
“Fine!” Ryebrynn said. “But promise me Brittlynn and Windstrum will some with us,” Ryebrynn bargained.
“Fine, as long as you obey the Queens.” Yotaiah agreed.
The next day and the three traveled fast as they could. 
Ryla and Laelyn welcomed the guests heartily and gave them food and lodgings.
“We are honored with your presence, Elf. There are many Elves left in this world, but it is always an honor to see another of our race.”
“I’m not an Elf!”
“Why dear, of course you’re an elf.”
“What about King Chrys?” Ryebrynn asked.
“Oh, Chrys? Um, she, he, is. Why?” Ryla said uncomfortably.
“Okay. I was just, um, wondering.” Ryebrynn went out of the room. 
After Ryebrynn left, Rulsen, Ryla and Tirad’s son came in. “Mother, Aunt Laelyn.” He bowed. “Jazaroonae’s armies are coming! We either flee or fight. Please ask Father, Aunt Chrys and Uncle Herbert to consider it.” He rushed out. Ryla and Laelyn stared at the doorway.
Ryebrynn paced. “Yotaiah, Brittlynn. I was summoned here. You were not. I made you come. Zrannah sent a message to Brittlynn, she is dreadfully sick! Yotaiah you may stay, but, Brittlynn, I order you to return to your mother.” Ryebrynn’s friends stared at her.
“I’ll stay.” Yotaiah finally said.
“I’ll go.” Brittlynn said.
“Then go pack, my friend, you shall need supplies.” Ryebrynn sat on the bed in the room she was sharing with her friends, they had told her to have the bed. Brittlynn said she would sleep on the lounger and Yotaiah on the chair. She sighed. Brittlynn was packing, Yotaiah now pacing, and she just sitting. A man appeared in the doorway. Ryebrynn stood. “Prince Rulsen!” She said, bowing.
“M’lady.” He too bowed. She smiled. His face remained grave.
“My lord,” she said smoothly. “There is something wrong. What is it?” 
He frowned. “Jazaroonaé’s armies are on their way.” He rushed out the door before Ryebrynn could say anything. Ryebrynn stared at the door after him. 
“Yotaiah! Smuggle Brittlynn out of the castle! Quick! Jazaroonaé’s armies are coming!” She shouted. She jumped into action. She grabbed her sword and scabbard, strapped them to her waist, and ran down the many stairs to report her for duty as a swordmaiden. She reported for duty and the plan was laid out.
Ryebrynn saw a flash of jade and a man in a jade tunic appeared before her. “Hello.” She muttered. Soon he was on the ground dead. She charged at the closest man in a jade tunic. He blocked. He charged her. She parried. Soon he was dead and she had headed on to another man. Ryebrynn was beginning to tire and the men were thinning out, she was tiring too fast. She blocked a blow and quickly disarmed the man, she drove her sword through his heart, drew it out, and left him. She wondered if all this fighting was legal. She saw Yotaiah with Jaxine on the edge of the fight and headed towards them.
Ryebrynn told Yotaiah of her tiredness, Amethyst relayed to her that she too had seen the armies weakening from above. She also continued to tell Ryebrynn of Curros, coming to attack. Jazaroonaé had sent reinforcements. 
“Retreat! Retreat!” She heard someone calling. Amethyst took flight, Jaxine understood and ran for the castle, Ryebrynn and Yotaiah sprinted towards the castle as fast as they could. The army fled, the other army rejoiced. Clear as a bell, the man kept shouting. The whole army didn’t make it. Many were slain while retreating. Soon, every living person of the army had gathered in Terramont castle. 
Watching. Waiting. King Chrys had organized all the women and children. He sent them out of the castle, guarded by seasoned warriors. Soon, only the army, a few select women, Ryebrynn, Yotaiah, dragons, unicorns, Tirad, Herbert, and Chrys remained. They were surrounded. They were under siege. Only Dramri could save them now. There was no glimmer of hope shining, or at least they thought. 
One morning they awoke to hoofbeats, warcries. They were saved. The Wood Elves had come to their aid. Who had saved them? They all knew the answer; Dramri. Dramri had saved them through the Wood Elves. But, by some weird, outlandish reason, the Curros didn’t die, the arrows glanced off their skin, the sword missed their marks. And men died by laughing. All hope died, then and there. What were they to do? If by some accident, one man hugged a Curro, no one knew why. The Curro then turned to a pile of dust, as if disintegrated. Again they were saved.
One after one, they hugged the Curros, soon, all that was left of the beasts, was a huge pile of dust. They had won, the battle was won, at last, they had been saved by their one glimmer of hope. In celebration, a feast was prepared. Everyone was invited. Ryebrynn looked in the mirror. She wore a magnificent purple and orange dress. Never had she felt such soft material. 
Her hair was in a long braid down her back, golden ribbons woven into it. Ryebrynn went off to the feast, though, she had to admit, she didn’t like the dress, no matter how beautiful. She took the place a servant guided her to, beside Yotaiah and an Elf named Dray. The feast began with music, singing, and dancing. Dray offered to dance with her. Ryebrynn accepted, awkwardly. As they danced Ryebrynn thought. Dray was part of King Chrys’s counsel. He was the son of a nobleman.
Ryebrynn looked up, realizing it was Dray. “Yes?”
“Do you have any parents?”
Ryebrynn stared at the floor. “Well, no. If I do, they didn’t want me. I was abandoned at an Orphanage in Arew. I can’t remember them. Why do you ask?”
Dray shrugged. “Just wondering.” He stared past her then spoke again. “What all did you experience at the Orphange?”
“You really want to know?”
Ryebrynn shut her eyes, letting the memories flow. “It was horrible. Every once and awhile I’d get beaten. Master had a big whip, ugly too. Every morning we’d get up at dawn and if our work wasn’t sufficient, we wouldn’t get any food. And once a month two or three kids would disappear, supposedly adopted. Those who disappeared were never seen again. Sometimes, one of us girls would be married off for an immense amount of money. Mistress and Master would hold feasts every few weeks and I’d work in the kitchen. I escaped the day before I was to be transferred. The thing is those who were transferred were the ones never seen again.”
“Thank you for that, Ryebrynn. I’m sure it was hard for you.” He set a hand on the back of her waist. She started, but realized it was the beginning of another dance.
Soon, the feasting began; there were pigs cooked surrounded by vegetables, and swans cooked with apples, and chicken soup, and white bread, and chocolate sweets for desert.  Ryebrynn was full by the middle of the meal, though she managed a few sweets. She went to her room afterwards and dressed in a silky nightgown. She fell asleep the moment her head hit the heavenly feather pillow.
Ryebrynn jerked awake. Where was she? Graceland. She was in Graceland. How had she awakened? She had heard something. Wait. There it was again, a muffled cry? A grunt? She jumped out of bed. She started for the door but remembered she was still in the silky nightgown. She quickly changed into a tunic and leggings. What time was it? No light was coming into the room, all was dark, she settled that it was 5:00 AM.  She hurried down the stairwell, and into the courtyard. Soon her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she hurried towards where she had heard the noise. She saw something she knelt. 
Blood. It was blood. Who had been hurt? Where was the person now? Ryebrynn bit her lip to stop her nauseated stomach from dumping her dinner. She hurried back inside before it had a chance. She hurried upstairs to her room and closed the door. 
All she could think of was the unfortunate victim. Who had it been? Where had the body gone? She shivered. It was all her imagination. She needed sleep. It was all delusions. She sat on her four poster bed and stared out the window. She needed sleep, she needed food. She knew she was too nauseous to eat, but she was hungry. She watched the sunrise then she went down to breakfast. She smiled at everyone she saw, but inside, she wasn’t as cheerful as she looked. A buzz of words entered her mind. She ignored them. They went away, as she got closer to the dining hall, they came back, again she ignored them. She looked for Yotaiah. She wasn’t there. Ryebrynn, worried, went to Queen Ryla. She knelt beside her. 
“Queen Ryla, Yotaiah isn’t here, I’m going to go look for her.” Ryebrynn whispered. Queen Ryla merely nodded. Ryebrynn rushed out of the dining hall and back up the stairwell. She ran to Yotaiah’s room and knocked. “Yotaiah? Yotaiah?” She opened the door. Yotaiah wasn’t there. She rushed back out, down the stairwell and out the doors. She searched everywhere. Yotaiah wasn’t there. Is Yotaiah dead? Ryebrynn asked herself. Was she the person I heard, the person who left blood in the courtyard? Ryebrynn shivered. The body hadn’t been there. Had she been captured? Ryebrynn wouldn’t know. She sighed. She’d count Yotaiah among the dead until she found out otherwise.
Ryebrynn smoothed her dress. It had been weeks since Yotaiah’s deathly disappearance. She had applied to be part of King Chrys’s court. Nothing could get Yotaiah out of her mind. Nothing. She hoped this would free her of the terror of not knowing anything about Yotaiah’s disappearance. She was in King Chrys’s throne room, trying to find out if she was allowed into the court. King Chrys finally acknowledged her.
“Permission granted.” He said with a smile.
Ryebrynn grinned. “Thank you, sire.” She said and backed out of the room. Her hair flew behind her as she rushed to her room. Her heart sank when she realized, as part of the court, she would have to wear dresses more than ever. She groaned in protest. That was not good. She hated dresses. The only thing she liked about dresses was that she got to wear silken slippers with them. Ryebrynn hurried to where there was meeting she was invited to, but, not before she combed her hair and braided it. She arrived just as it was starting. She curtsied to all the Lords and Ladies in the room and took her seat. The person at the head of the table went over his introduction, his name was Trawai. Then he went over matters of the kingdom. Then he was finished. He motioned to Ryebrynn as she tried to leave. She walked over to him. 
He looked at her and sighed. “Lady Ryebrynn, have you ever considered why your hair stays on your ears, as if hooked?” He cocked his head.
She frowned. “No, why?”
He smoothed her hair off her ears. “Because you’re an Elf.”
She gasped. “Nay!” She reached up to her ears. Sure enough, they were pointed. She looked him in the eye. “Then why don’t I have powers?” She asked.
“You do, you never knew, you didn’t so you weren’t trained, and you never did need them.”
“Then what are they?”
“Simple. Mindreading and healing.”
She looked at him suspiciously. “Oh really?”
“Oh really.”
“Fine! I could be an elf!”
He grinned. “You may leave now, Lady Ryebrynn.”
She started towards the door.
“And milady,”
She turned.
“Try to keep the hair off your ears.”
Part 2
Chapter 1
A knock resounded on Ryebrynn’s door. “Come in.” She said, agitated that she kept being bothered. A man entered, a letter in his hand. “A letter for you, milady.” He said and went out of the room before she could say thank you. She broke the seal and read the letter, her eyes lit up. It read:
Dear Ryebrynn,
It’s me, Yotaiah. I was captured by a Curro one year ago, I was also stabbed in the back. He carried me off to a secret lair of Jazaroonaé’s, here in Graceland. I hope you’re better off than me. I guess you must be, after all, you’re at King Chrys’s, right? Writing to you makes me smile. I escaped just a few months ago, I should arrive soon after you get this letter.
Ryebrynn grinned. Her friend wasn’t dead; she was alive! Ryebrynn looked out the window. A lone rider approached the gate. Ryebrynn ran out of her room, after all, it could be Yotaiah. She ran to the gate and sat on a bench to wait. The rider was admitted and as it rode into the gate, Ryebrynn jumped up. The rider pushed back her hood to show dirty red hair and friendly blue-gray eyes.
“Yotaiah!” Ryebrynn exclaimed.
“Ryebrynn.” Yotaiah dismounted and strode over, her hair was unruly, her clothes mud spattered. “I should wash up before I hug you, Ry.” She grinned.
“Aye, you should.” Ryebrynn also grinned.
Yotaiah handed her a map. “I marked where I was held on that map, and the easiest way to get there.”
“I see you didn’t take the easy way?”
“Yep, I didn’t.” Her grin widened.
“Obviously.” Ryebrynn grinned.
They both laughed.
Ryebrynn dressed in an orange dress with simple red embroidery on it and headed to the counsel meeting being held in the great hall. She hurried towards the great hall, trying to fix her hair on the way. She put it in a ponytail that went down her back. She took her place beside Lord Dray. The meeting began. She soon was getting bored. 
Soon Trawai said: “….And to end this meeting of the counsel, I must announce, that, Ryebrynn, our newest member, must go on a quest with Yotaiah, another member, and King Chrys.” Ryebrynn frowned. A quest. She’d never been on a quest. Unless you could call her travels from Arew a quest. And with the King! She shivered. Everyone stood from their chairs and filed out of the room. Except Yotaiah and Trawai. Trawai beckoned with a finger. Ryebrynn groaned and headed over.
Trawai looked around to make sure they were alone. “Ryebrynn, I must talk with you. In private.”
Ryebrynn raised an eyebrow. “Uh, okay…”
He walked out the door, motioning for her to follow.
Ryebrynn followed, somewhat awkwardly. When they came to an empty room, Trawai entered and so did Ryebrynn. He locked the door behind her.
Ryebrynn sat in a plush white chair. Trawai didn’t sit.
“So,” Ryebrynn said uncomfortably, despite her comfy chair. “What’s all the secretiveness for?”
Trawai drummed his fingers on a table he was leaning on. “What I am about to tell you is of great importance.”
Ryebrynn leaned forward. “What is it?”
“King Chrys isn’t who you think he is.”
Ryebrynn started. “What?”
Trawai’s face flushed scarlet. “Well, sort of, King Chrys is a…..” He lowered his voice. “A girl.”
Ryebrynn was shocked. “What?”
“She felt it necessary when Jazaroonae betrayed them. She needed to hide her identity.”
Ryebrynn leaned back.
“What’s her real name?”
“Chrystillion Grace.”
Ryebrynn whistled. “Fancy name.”
Trawai laughed. “Such deserves a princess appointed to her rule by Dramri.”
Ryebrynn smiled. “Aye.”  
“Now, you must go pack before you leave, but, pack lightly, and only things you need.”
Ryebrynn nodded. “Aye.”
“You may go.”
Ryebrynn stood and headed out the door, hurrying to her room. She packed her pack with necessities, like clothes, weapons, extra shoes, Vrainten’s Book of Dramri, etc. She headed to Yotaiah’s room and knocked on the door.
“Come in.” A muffled voice Ryebrynn knew was Yotaiah’s said.
Ryebrynn entered. “Where do we meet King Chrys?” Ryebrynn asked.
Yotaiah looked up. “In the garden, of course,” Yotaiah grinned. “Come on! We’ll be late!”
Ryebrynn nodded. Yotaiah grabbed her bag and exited the room, Ryebrynn following close behind. When they got to the garden King Chrys waved them over.
“Are you ready?”
They nodded.
Chrys headed towards the nursery to pick up Prince Ain.
They picked him up an headed towards the gates. They arrived and the guards let them out. Chrys stopped a few miles on their way.
“I need to change into a peasant’s dress so no one suspects of us. I’ll be back in a bit.”
Ryebrynn nodded and sat down to wait. Soon Chrystillion emerged from the trees wearing a blue dress and a green cape. Ryebrynn stood and they started off again.
Ryebrynn held the prince close, not letting him out of her sight, the forest was dense, and she had to get to the place where all the trees interlocked to make living spaces for the tree elves. But how? The enemy was behind her, if Jazaroonae got the prince Graceland was doomed. Jazaroonae would kill him if she got him. The three kings would be disappointed in her. This prince was all the hope they had. All the sudden, she noticed she was close to the tree houses! “Guys, we’re here!” She yelled to her friends, who were running beside her.
Chrystillion Grace ran up to Ryebrynn, “We’re here! We finally made it! Thank you Dramri!”
The kingdom of Graceland was huge, at least 100,000,000 leagues across.  they had run all the way from Terramont Castle. even though they had had a several day head start it seemed that the enemy ran on wings, the thrumming had grown much louder and trembling of the earth had increased, they could already hear the hoof beats of the lead rider’s horses.  “We need to get up in one, NOW!!” Chrystillion yelled at the small rescue party.
“Let down a ladder!” Ryebrynn yelled up to the tree elves. No answer, no ladder. “We have the prince!”  She glanced over her shouldder, Jazaroonae’s men were getting closer. “Please let down a ladder!” A ladder was let down and they scrambled up, glad for the safety of the tree. They lay gasping for breath on the platform that was built into the huge ancient tree.
All of the sudden, she couldn’t hear Chrystillion heavy breathing beside her. 
“W-water!” Chrystillion gasped trying desperately to draw in breath. Ryebrynn stumbled down the ladder and ran towards a spring they had seen earlier, hoping the men of BlackDoom weren’t following. She filled a bucket and ran back hoping Chrystillion was still alive. 
She got there and gave Chrystillion the water; then she asked the tree elves, “Where, might I find milk? We need to feed the baby prince.” One of the wood elves came forward bearing a wooden cup of milk with a sucking nipple in his other hand.
Ryebrynn took the cup and jammed the nipple on the top and tilted it for the baby Prince Ain to drink. 
The baby grabbed the cup and began sucking; soon he was asleep in an ample motherly elf’s arms. 
The elf, Mimur, held the babe close beaming at Ain’s little peaceful face, eyes closed, hands still clutching the cup to his chest. 
Another elf came forth and he said, “I am Javon, king of the Wood Elves. You may stay as long as you like. Beds will be made for you.”
“Thank you, you are kind.” Soon the beds were made and the three peacefully fell asleep, they were finally safe.
Mimur gently rocked the babe’s cradle with her foot as the dozed lightly.
The babe looked at the starry sky with wide curious purple eyes.  The sky twisted, and the blackness and stars swirled away from a bright scene, grassy rolling hills and beyond that, a white castle standing majestically in the early morning sunlight. But it was stained. Red with blood, its towers crumbled and fell. The scene changed to a black battlefield. A man lay stretched out on the ground, horrible wounds crossed his body, in his back there was a gaping wound, weeping blood and gore.  The tiny prince softly cried as Mimur slept on and the night sky loomed black dotted with stars again.
Chapter 2
Dray wandered in his father’s mansion thinking of the mysterious and wonderful raven haired Ryebrynn he had met at the feast, then she was let into the counsel, now she was on a quest to save King Tirad’s son, ever since Rulsen was assassinated by those working for Jazaroonae, little Prince Ain had been their only hope. Now Ain was being taken to safety, he wondered if Ryebrynn was safe. As he thought of her an image popped in his head of her, ravens for hair, sparkling pools of green for eyes, and through all of her Dramri shone bright as the sun. He missed her. He missed her a lot. He sighed and sat in his chair to read. He pulled a book off of the shelf. He started to read.
The girls awoke in the morning to a beautiful blue sky, they rubbed their eyes.
  “Javan, we need to leave today. We need to hide the prince among the people. Farewell, Javan of the wood elves.” Ryebrynn said as they left. 
Yotaiah followed Ryebrynn’s lead. “Would you like me to hold Ain for a while?” She asked. Ryebrynn had held him for so long, and she was tiring. But she couldn’t let him out of her sight.
“No, Yotaiah, I’m fine.”
She shrugged, “Suit yourself.”
Afterwards, the traveled for the rest of the day.
Wearily they trudged on, soon they were in Taversville. They walked up to a house and asked the owner’s wife, “Would you like a baby? His name is Ain and he’s a good little guy, he needs a family.” 
The lady looked suspiciously at the little baby boy. “I’m not sure….” She looked closer. Ain blinked innocently at her. “Well,” she said. “My husband and I have always wanted children, but we couldn’t have any… Yes, yes I’ll take him!” She reached out for the little baby.
Ryebrynn handed over Ain, hoping that Jazaroonae’s riders wouldn’t find him. “Goodbye little Ain.” Ryebrynn whispered in his ear. “I hope they treat you well.” 
Yotaiah tapped Ryebrynn’s shoulder. “What next?” She asked.
“We return to the three kings. And report that our quest is over. Soon we may have another,” answered Ryebrynn, shrugging.
Yotaiah nodded. “Let’s go, then.”
Sighing, Ryebrynn turned towards the rapidly decreasing sun, and said, “We should find an inn. I see one over there. It is called…” She squinted, “It’s called the Tavern of Taversville. There we may rest.”
Yotaiah sighed, too. “Sleep sounds splendid to me,” Yotaiah yawned. “Ha, the Tavern in Taversville…”
They walked towards the tavern; soon they were in the tavern. They got three attached rooms, and soon fell asleep. 
Yotaiah had been sleeping soundly, but she suddenly woke up. She looked at the grandfather clock in the corner of the room. It said it was 1:42 in the morning. Yotaiah grunted and wondered why she’d woken up. She looked to see if Ryebrynn or Chrystillion were awake… Ryebrynn was pacing the floor when Yotaiah awoke. She looked up, and said, “Can’t sleep? I’m worried, that’s why I can’t.” 
Yotaiah nodded. “I don’t even know why I woke up. But now that you mention it, I do feel quite worried.”
Sighing, Ryebrynn asked, “What are you worried about? If you tell me what your worried about, I will tell you what I’m worried about.”
“I’m worried about Ain, for one. Two, I’m worried that we’ll be caught. Three, I’m worried about what our next assignment will be. What are you worried about?”
“Oh, I’m worried about Amethyst, and I also am worried about Ain, and I also am worried about getting caught, and I also am worried about our next assignment.”
Yotaiah nodded.
Ryebrynn looked out the window and half gasped and half groaned. “They’re here. Jazaronnae’s men are here.”
Yotaiah ran up beside Ryebrynn. “I can’t believe it! They followed us all the way here? How did they know where we’d gone to?”
“I don’t know. But there is too many for us to take on! Come on!” Ryebrynn grabbed her pouch of herbs and her sword and her bundle of clothes and ran out of the door. They took the back way out and were soon outside.
Yotaiah followed Ryebrynn and ran as quickly as she could. But with all the weight of her weapons, she wasn’t running as fast as she would’ve liked.
All of the sudden Jazaroonae’s men pounced! They captured Yotaiah and Ryebrynn. They tied them up and soon they were off the borders of Graceland and in BlackDoom. Soon they drew close to Aframi Palace(Where Jazaroonae and her son, Edward live) and when they got there Yotaiah and Ryebrynn were forced into a cell.
The cell was dark and cold. The stone walls were damp and the straw that covered the stone floor was dirty. The iron bars at the front of the cell kept the girls from getting out. “What are we going to do now?” Yotaiah asked Ryebrynn once they were alone.
“I don’t know. We’ll find a way out somehow.”
Yotaiah nodded. “Somehow,” she repeated. “Someday, somewhere, somehow. But until then, will happen to us?”
“I don’t know. Dramri protect and guide us.” Just then men came in and took their chains off of a link in the wall and dragged the two girls away to confront Queen Jazaroonae.
Soon they got to the throne room and were forced on their knees in front of the wretched queen and her son. “So, you are the Gracelanders that took the prince. May I ask where he is? I must know,” asked Queen Jazaroonae.
Yotaiah glanced at Ryebrynn.
“Yotaiah, we won’t say anything at all. We are loyal to the three kings and keep their private information secret.” Ryebrynn whisperer to Yotaiah.
Yotaiah nodded. She was willing to save the prince’s life–even if it meant losing her own, Ryebrynn knew that.
“So, where is that wretched baby?” The queen stood up from the throne, taking on an aristocratic look.
“We will never tell you!” Ryebrynn yelled.
The queen’s face turned red. Her eyes flashed angrily. “You won’t now, will you?” She said between clenched teeth. She yelled to her guards. “Take them away! Torture them till they tell the truth!”
“The truth? You shall never have the truth! We will keep the truth away from you! You servant of the Devil!”
Queen Jazaroonae shrieked. “Seize them!!” She ordered to her guards. “Kill them! Torture them! Ruin them!!” She walked up to the two girls kneeling before her. She fixed her jaw and said menacingly, “You two will never, I repeat never, live to walk out of this castle.” She slapped both of them on the face before leaving them to the guards.
“What now?” Yotaiah asked Ryebrynn.
“Nothing. We keep the course that has been laid out before us.” 
Yotaiah nodded. Ryebrynn had enough faith for an army! I wish I had the faith she does. I trust Dramri, but sometimes it’s hard.
They soon arrived in a small dim room full of torture devices, this, Ryebrynn guessed was the torture room. They saw Jazaroonae in a throne in a room separated from this room by only a sheet of glass. The men strapped the girls’ hands to a post and flogged them, after that they took the girls to a bench and made them kneel before it, and then they took a torch off the wall and put it under the girls’ strapped down wrists. When the girls didn’t cry out, the men swore and began to kick them and beat them. The whole time Ryebrynn was silent. 
Then they heard Jazaroonae shout, “STOP!” and the men stopped. Jazaroonae walked into the room and said, “You two shall have mercy. I will make you slaves for the rest of your life.”
Ryebrynn scoffed. “Could hardly be called mercy.”
Then they dragged the girls away and threw them in a highly guarded cell. “Yotaiah, Jazaroonae will probably separate us. But never, never lose hope.” Then Ryebrynn fell unconscious because of her wounds.
A tear slid down Yotaiah’s cheek. She was truly scared for both of them. “Never lose hope,” she repeated Ryebrynn’s words quietly.
Ryebrynn awoke in the morning and she and Yotaiah were roughly pulled out to a slave auction where not even Jazaroonae would pick their ‘owners’. Yotaiah hoped they would be bought by the same person, but she had no idea who would buy them. A man bid five gold for Ryebrynn. Another man topped it with a seven. An old lady bid ten. A rich looking man bid fifteen. Yotaiah’s palms were clammy. Please, Dramri, keep us both safe, no matter where we go. Yotaiah prayed.
A rich  looking priest bid 40 gold. “GOING, GOING, GONE!” The auctioneer shouted, handing Ryebrynn’s chains to the priest. Then the auctioneer pulled Yotaiah’s neck chain and then he dragged her over. “Who’ll pay 20 for this pretty lass?” He shouted with a crooked smile.
Yotaiah was scared and hoped the priest would buy her, but she tried to put on a smile. Rich people like nice-looking slaves, right? Yotaiah thought. Or maybe rich people don’t care much about what their slaves look like. Perhaps they like silent, unhappy slaves. Or maybe they like people with a good demeanor and a cheery attitude about work. Oh, I don’t know! There had already been many bids, and they were slowly creeping up to 40 gold, the same price as Ryebrynn had been sold for. But the priest still hadn’t bid!
The priest bid 100 for Yotaiah, higher than anyone else. “GOING, GOING, GONE!” Shouted the auctioneer handing Yotaiah’s chains to the priest.
Yotaiah was inwardly relieved, but she didn’t let it show until she was with Ryebrynn.
“Oh, thank Dramri! We’re together!”
“I’m glad. But I have a bad feeling about this priest.”
“Yeah, I guess I kind of do, too, now that I think about it. I bet he doesn’t serve Dramri. I just wonder who he does worship.”
“Probably Cupramaé and some fake gods who are supposed to serve Cupramaé. Really, I don’t understand the lies people believe.”  
The priest came into the cabin they had been locked in and looked the girls over.
He pointed at Ryebrynn “You shall serve the gods until the end of your days.” The priest stated, being quite bland.
He turned to Yotaiah. “And you, my friend is looking for a good looking slave for his wife, you should be good enough.”
Yotaiah gasped. The man walked out of the cabin. “Never!” Ryebrynn seethed to his unhearing ears. “Never in all my days will I pray to your gods!”
“I will never ever marry your friend!” Yotaiah fumed. “I’m so scared of what he will do to us.” She said after awhile.
“We never have to be afraid with Dramri on our side.”
Yotaiah nodded slowly. “I guess you’re right,” she said.
Soon someone came to get them so they could start their duties, Ryebrynn bit the man and he screamed attracting more men.
“Ryebrynn!” Yotaiah hissed. “Do we really need more attention?!”
“No, but we do need to escape! Come on!! Here’s our chance!!” Ryebrynn ran out the door and headed towards the dirt road.
Yotaiah followed directly behind Ryebrynn and they were soon out on the dirt road. “Now what do we do?” Yotaiah asked. “They’ll likely send out guards and warriors to catch us again!”
“Not if we’re smart! Follow me!”
Yotaiah followed Ryebrynn through an alleyway and into the slums of the town. “How is this place going to help us escape?” Yotaiah asked as she looked over her shoulder.
“Trust me,” Ryebrynn said. “Just trust me.”
“Fine. Let’s just get out of here fast!”
Soon the girls had gone leagues and leagues. They were now out of BlackDoom, and could tend to their wounds.
Ryebrynn plopped down on the grass. She was exhausted. “Yotaiah, let’s rest,” said Ryebrynn tiredly, her words were slurring. 
Yotaiah nodded her agreement. “Sleep sounds wonderful!” She said as she lay back in the green grass beside Ryebrynn. Soon they were fast asleep.
Chapter 3
Ryebrynn stood and stretched. Faint black shapes got bigger in the distance and she could hear hoof beats. She shook Yotaiah. “Yotaiah! We’re being chased! Wake up! We gotta run, like, now!”
Yotaiah jumped up and they both sprinted off. When the men and dragons got too close, Ryebrynn whistled six times in an intricate pattern. Yotaiah kept running but Ryebrynn grabbed her arm. “Stay.” She commanded, watching the sky. A dragon swooped down, purple scales sparkling in the sunlight. Amethyst landed and they scrambled on her. She took off and flew her fastest. Amethyst flew over the towns and river and cities, and the Grace Canyons. They flew over The Skyrinian Range, The Trynian Range and soon arrived in The Arthlynian Range. They soon came to Terramont Castle. They landed and dismounted. Ryebrynn and Yotaiah ran to go see the three kings to discuss the end of their mission.
They sat down in the temporary study of King Tirad T. Jakoso to wait for King Herbert H. Jakoso and King Tirad T. Jakoso. When King Tirad and King Herbert finally arrived, they sat in their seats. Through the silence of their arrival King Tirad spoke up. “Ryebrynn, Yotaiah, where is our sister?”
Ryebrynn and Yotaiah exchange glances. Ryebrynn coughed and spoke. “Your Highness, I am afraid we lost her in Taversville. And as you can see we’ve been through a lot. Chrystillion was left there when we were captured by Jazaroonae.”
The kings leaned forward. It was Tirade who spoke first. “Was Ain taken? Did Jazaroonae take him?”
Ryebrynn shook her head. “No, he wasn’t found. We gave him to a lady in Taversville.”
Tirad nodded approvingly.
Herbert also nodded. “You may go.”
Ryebrynn and Yotaiah exited the study and headed to their rooms. Ryebrynn headed to her room, engrossed in her own thoughts. She looked up as someone called her name from across the corridor.
She looked around. She waved. “Hello, Dray.” She said.
He ran over to her. He picked her up and whirled her around. “I missed you, Lady Ryebrynn Shveer.” He said quietly, planting a kiss on her forehead.
Ryebrynn nodded and giggled. “I missed you too, Lord Dray Crossblade.” 
Dray looked around. A man flanked by four guards was headed their way. “Gotta go, Ry.” Dray said, running off.
Chrystillion Grace awoke groggily in her tavern room. She jumped out of bed. Yotaiah and Ryebrynn were probably waiting in Ry’s room for her. She put on a green dress and her shoes and went into the adjoining room. It was ransacked. Ryebrynn’s stuff was gone. Chrystillion headed downstairs for a quick breakfast, and then she was going to search. After she ate she asked around then went outside to search further. By the back door there were signs of a struggle. She picked up a green hairpin she had bought Ryebrynn in a small village they had passed through. There were hoof prints too. She ran down the trail. Her stomach knotted crazily. It headed to BlackDoom. She didn’t dare go there. It’d be to Jazaroonae’s advantage. 
She started back towards Terramont Castle. When she reached the forest it was almost pitch dark. She traveled until she reached the place where the trees touched and called for a ladder. A ladder was let down and she went up. For a few moments she lay tiredly on the platform of the treehouse. A few minutes later she was fast asleep. She awoke the next morning and stayed there for a few days. Then she continued on toTerramont Castle.
As Ryebrynn packed she listened to what Yotaiah was saying.
“……Since we accidentally left her, Tirad and Herbert are ordering us to go find her. Apparently, Dray wants to tag along. He’s waiting outside for our answer. What do you think, Ry?”
Ryebrynn turned. “We should let him.”
Yotaiah raised an eyebrow. “I’ve been informed of his welcome to you yesterday. I don’t approve. But… It won’t do any harm to let him come.”
“Could you go tell him? I need to finish packing.” Ryebrynn asked as she sat on her bed. Truly, Ryebrynn had just finished, but, she was avoiding telling him. She was too embarrassed to. His conduct yesterday was unnerving. To unnerving. She couldn’t let it happen again. It would raise her hopes. Dray Crossblade was the son of a nobleman, she was an orphan, taken under The Three Kings’ wing just ‘cause she was, as they called it, ‘The Chosen Elf’ so much for going unnoticed in Graceland. She came here for freedom. And freedom only. Not ladyship, not nice clothes, not a nice bedroom, not even Dray Crossblade. Anyway, she didn’t plan to marry, it’d ruin her freedom. Most girls were married by now. She was nineteen, and she had more than she had even dreamed. She had ladyship, nice clothes, a nice bedroom, and well… she had Dray for a friend. She was even happy, but how could she be Graceland’s ‘Chosen Elf’? She wasn’t cut out for it. 
She stood and closed her bag. Grabbing her herb bag, she walked out into the hall where Dray and Yotaiah waited with their bags.
Yotaiah and Dray started walking and Ryebrynn followed.
“What are we going to ride, Ry? Horses or Dragons, your pick.”
Ryebrynn thought as they walked. “Dragons.”
Dray stopped dead in his tracks. “I’m afraid of heights.”
Ryebrynn raised an eyebrow. “Fine. Horses it is.”
Dray smiled at Ryebrynn.
She shrugged.
Yotaiah watched them warily.
Soon the got to the stables. Dray headed to a stall with Esmeraldi engraved on a strip of gold nailed on the door. Ryebrynn went to Jaxiné’s stall and Yotaiah went to a stall with Sade engraved in on a strip of silver nailed to the door. They groomed their horses and Ryebrynn groomed Jaxine. Soon they exited Terramont Castle at top speed.
Jazaroonae’s anger boiled inside her. “They what?!” She screamed.
The priest trembled fearfully. “T-they escaped, Y-your Loveliness.” He stuttered.
She motioned to her guards. “Tie him up and take him to the dungeon to await punishment.” The men cruelly bent the old priest’s arms behind his back and tied the hands tightly together. They gagged him and attached a chain around his neck to lead him with. Jazaroonaé flicked her hand towards the doors. “Get him out of my sight.” She spat.
The priest screamed and fought the guards.
“While you’re at it, get one of my slaves.”
The men nodded as the dragged the priest out of the Throne Room. Seconds later, a tanned man with golden hair to his shoulders and piercing blue eyes entered, a chain was attached to his neck and a guard followed him, holding the end of the chain. Jazaroonaé addressed the golden haired slave.
“Confiscate the priest’s land, slaves, and anyone living in his home, understood?”
The slave nodded as he wrote her orders down in a leather book.
“You may go.”
The guard led the slave out.
Jazaroonaé snapped her fingers and a small girl of twelve entered.
“Yes, Your Highness?” The girl said.
“Tell the guards to bring Gwennalyn Jakoso in.” She told the slave girl.
The girl nodded and backed out of the room. Soon twelve guards entered six were in front of an Elven woman, six behind her. She was wearing a silken blue gown with small green slippers. A golden circlet studded with tiny sapphires and emeralds held her red gold hair back and her green eyes told a tale of deep sadness, though her eyes were sad, her head was held high with pride and dignity.
“Why, Queen Gwennalyn, I am glad you have decided to grace me with your presence!” Jazaroonaé said sarcastically.
Gwennalyn grimaced. “Katrinnae, I haven’t ‘graced’ you with my presence, I am only here because of you!” Gwennalyn pushed through the guards. “You, Katrinnae, dear niece, you!” Her green eyes flashed angrily.
Jazaroonaé fumed. “Don’t ever call me Katrinnae again, Gwennalyn! I am Queen Jazaroonaé to you and nothing else! I am not your ‘niece’ anymore, Gwennalyn!” Jazaroonaé stood up from her throne. “I have one question to ask of you before you shall serve your sentences! Where. Is. Princess. Brynna.?!”
“I’ll never tell you!” Gwennalyn screamed. Strong arms grabbed Gwennalyn from behind. She fought her captors. “Never!”
Jazaroonaé sat. “Then serve your sentences.” She told Gwennalyn. “Take her away.” She told the guards. The guard dragged Gwennalyn out of the room. Jazaroonaé knew what she would do to the priest. She’d kill him, probably hang him.
The next day Jazaroonaé sat on a throne beside a slightly smaller one. Her son, Edward, sat in the other. They were on an elevated platform with crowds of people below them. They were watching the gallows. The priest was led out and hanged. Jazaroonaé shrugged. That was the end of him.
Ryebrynn, Dray, and Yotaiah traveled first to the wood elves. They said that three days past, Chrystillion left them. They assumed she was going home. Ryebrynn and Yotaiah agreed.
“Which way did she go?” Asked Ryebrynn.
“North; towards Terramont Castle.”
Ryebrynn nodded. “We’ll find which route and we’ll find her. It’s our fault she was left, though, she probably had a better time.”
Yotaiah laughed.
Ryebrynn frowned. “Let’s go.” They departed soon thereafter.
Chrystillion wiped sand from her eyes and grimaced at the pain. Why in Graceland did I choose the route through Trysn Desert?! She thought angrily. Why couldn’t I have gone through the Grace Mountains?! She collapsed wearily and slept.
“She went through the Trysn desert.” Ryebrynn told Yotaiah and Dray wearily as they surveyed the vast wasteland of sand spread out before them. Dray sat on the grass. “Let us rest first.” He grimaced.
Ryebrynn shook her head. “No, we must carry on, Chrys is counting on us. Come on.” She helped Dray up and they headed into the sandy nightmare.
Chrystillion sat up and looked around. Three people were advancing in the distance. She tried to stand, but hunger and thirst made her fall back down. Her lips were cracked and dry. She tried to lick them, but her mouth had no saliva left to wet her tongue. Her mouth was as dry as the desert around her. Her heart raced as she identified those coming towards her. It was Lord Dray, Ryebrynn and Yotaiah! She waved her hands above her head weakly and tried again to stand. She needed water. Food. She leaned on a rock and tried to wait.
Ryebrynn strained her eyes for any sign of Chrystillion. She saw movement about a mile away and quickened her pace. Chrystillion! She pointed at Chrystillion. “Guys! I see him! Over there!” They all began to run towards the figure that was now leaning on a rock.
“My lord!” Dray said as he rushed forward.
Ryebrynn half rolled her eyes. “King Chrys!”
Chrystillion leaned on Dray to stand.
Ryebrynn and Yotaiah both stepped forward to help. Ryebrynn took her water skin out and gave it to Chrystillion. She grabbed bread and dried fruit out of her bag out of her pack and gave it also to Chrystillion.
Chrystillion gulped down the water and gobbled the food. “Thanks Ry, Yotaiah, Dray.” She smiled.
“It was our pleasure, M’lord.” Ryebrynn said sarcastically.
Chrystillion laughed.
“Come on guys, let’s leave this wasteland.”
They all nodded. Ryebrynn started towards where they could see Terramont Castle framed by the sunset. They traveled all night and all day for three days, on the fourth they rested and arrived at sunrise on the fifth.
Jazaroonaé sat in her cold white marble stone throne and beheld the scene before her. Her war captain, Captain Gort, stood before her. Her son, Edward sat in a throne below the upraised platform on which hers stood. Edward walked silently back to his throne after whispering with the captain. He nodded to his mother to tell her he was finished and was handing the captain over to her. She cleared her throat.
“Captain Gort, as you know, two Gracelanders slipped through our fingers the other day when the traitor bought them. I am going with you to battle Terramont castle’s forces. We are going to punish all Gracelanders, surely the girls haven’t made it back. We will strike when they do not have their beloved warriors.” She laughed coldly.
“Your Highness, Your plan is perfect. I will prepare the troops. This day we shall depart, and soon we shall triumph over Graceland! May Queen Gwennalyn weep at the destruction of her people!” Captain Gort praised.
“You may leave.” Jazaroonae said, the corners of her mouth lifting with an evil smile.
Ryebrynn watched Chrystillion pace the room. “I’m sure the scout was right,” she said. “After all, Jazaroonae would do that sort of thing. She’s evil, remember?”
Chrystillion nodded, and then sat down. “She would. If only she’d turn back to good! I miss her.” She looked sadly out the window.
Ryebrynn frowned. “Come on, you can help me prepare the troops for battle.” She grinned and added, “Dressed as King Chrys. It’ll strengthen the troops for the oncoming battle.”
Ryebrynn charged a Curro in a jade tunic and dispatched him. “Here come the ones we hug!” Ryebrynn yelled back to the brave fighters.
There was a series of nods before the started the dangerous task of hugging Curros. Ryebrynn did the first one and the other warriors followed her example.
“They’ve surrounded Terramont,” shouted one of the warriors watching from the parapets.
A high ranking warrior assessed the situation and then shouted, “Retreat, retreat!”
The warriors gathered and entered the gates just as they closed upon the oncoming BlackDoomed. Ryebrynn leaned on the wall to catch her breath then took a bow and quiver from a pile of weapons and started to go up to the parapets with the archers to continue helping in the battle. Dray put a hand on her shoulder to stop her.
“We need your help with the wounded,” he said rather fast, as if he just came up with an excuse for her to stay in safety.
She looked at him. “Oh.” She said rather disappointedly.
He grinned. “Don’t worry; you’ll get your turn.”
A dark shadow enveloped the light and blotted out the sun. Ryebrynn looked up, startled. A dragon. A black war dragon. It was huge! Dray ducked into a building full of the wounded—Most protesting that they were even wounded at all, or saying it was just a scratch.—pulling her after him. 
Though this was an excuse for her safety, Ryebrynn knew he still wanted her to help with the wounded. There was a tug at Ryebrynn’s mind. She shrugged it off, but after a few minutes it repeated more and was more intense. Ryebrynn knew it was Amethyst. 
She opened her mind. What in Graceland do you want, Amethyst? Ryebrynn asked crossly. Ryebrynn could feel Amethyst cringe when she mindspoke the harsh words. Sorry. What do you need, Am? Ryebrynn repeated softer.
It’s Jazaroonae on that dragon, her dragon told me to tell you, Jazaroonae said we must go up and fight her or she’ll tear Terramont apart to find us.
Ryebrynn sighed. Tell her dragon we’re coming up.
Ryebrynn exited the building and rushed through the crowds gathered towards Amethyst’s ever-growing presence.
Amethyst was frowning when she arrived. She wants Yotaiah to come too.
Ryebrynn nodded and tugged at Yotaiah’s mind, for Yotaiah knew what this meant and she headed towards Ryebrynn.
Once Amethyst was tacked up Ryebrynn and Yotaiah mounted and Amethyst took off with a battle roar. Jazaroonae waited. Dressed in battle garb and on her dragon Jazaroonae looked intimidating. The dragon, whose name was BlackFlame, circle Amethyst once and spat flames at her unprotected underbelly. Amethyst dodged and did the same, except she hit BlackFlame square in the eyes, blinding him. Jazaroonae screamed as BlackFlame plummeted downwards. Ryebrynn watched as people ran for safety. The impacting hit of the dragon and rider made the ground shake and the air tremble. She was dead. Jazaroonae was really dead. Ryebrynn slumped into the saddle, shocked.
Edward stood in front of his throne. “They what?” He screamed at the captain before him.
“Th-they killed Queen Jazaroonae. Those two girls did. Their dragon helped too.” Captain Gort stuttered.
“I knew we should have killed them when we had the chance! Now look what they’ve done! They’ve killed Mother!” Edward paced wildly. “Ready your troops, Captain.” He said, breaking the silence.
“But, m’lord, we’ve just arrived!” Captain Gort protested.
“I said; ready your troops!” Edward said, his voice low and menacing. He sat down in his throne. “Leave my sight, Captain.” Edward said coldly.
“Yes m’lord.” The captain said, obviously scared and backing out of the room. After the captain left, Edward leaned back in his throne and wept. “I’ll get you, Ryebrynn. I’ll avenge my mother. You shall suffer for what you have done.” He said through his tears and gritted teeth.
Ryebrynn stabbed at a man and twirled to face the other one creeping up behind her. She swiped at his head and he ducked. Quickly, she stabbed at him with her javelin. He grabbed at the javelin as his eyes rolled into his head and he fell over. She grabbed her javelin out of his body and spun to face another opponent, fighting her way through the battle, she ended up back-to-back with Dray. Dray smiled at her. His smile warmed her heart and gave her a weird fluttery feeling in her heart. Her thoughts were interrupted by a scream. Dray! He was a few paces away, lying in a pool of blood. Blood gushed out of an open wound in his stomach. She knelt beside him and tore off a piece of her tunic, wrapping it around his stomach. Dray’s eyes fluttered open. 
“Ryebrynn, I-I…” He trailed off and went limp. She checked his pulse. Still breathing. Barely. Ryebrynn gave a short whistle and Amethyst swooped, grabbing the two in one of her protective talons. The talon close around the blocking out the wind and battle sounds. Light peeked through a crack so Ryebrynn could see. She took her bag from around her neck and applied a few herbs to the wound. She wrapped the cloth strip from her tunic back around the wound.
Dray breath hitched. Ryebrynn panicked. She took more cloth from her tunic and wrapped his wound more tightly. “Please live, Dray. Please stay alive.”  
Dray’s eyes popped open and he sat up. “Where are we?”
“In Amethyst’s talon. You want down?”
He nodded. “Aye, I do.” He looked a bit green.
She grinned. “I’ll tell Amethyst.” Amethyst.
Dray is feeling a bit green. He wants down.
Okay .
They felt an impact and the talon opened.
Dray knelt. Ryebrynn looked at him queerly. He smiled. He took a tiny box out of his pocket.
“I know this isn’t the most romantic of circumstances, but Ryebrynn, will you marry me?”
Ryebrynn frowned and knelt also. “Dray, why would you settle for one such as me? I am and orphaned peasant. You are the son of a nobleman. You could marry and beautiful rich woman you want.”
Dray lowered his eyes, doing a great job at looking crestfallen. “I want you.”
Ryebrynn sighed. “I’m an orphan. I’m a nodoby, worthless. I was abandoned by my own parents! You don’ want me, Dray.”
“I love you, Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer. You have worth to me. You mean more to me than all the women in Jaydill. Your parents were wrong to abandon one of such worth. Please honor me with agreeing to marry me.” He raised his eyes to meet hers. Her heart fluttered. 
“I love you, Lord Dray,” she grimaced, “but I know it can never be.”
“It can. You are poisoning your heart with thoughts of rank and unworthiness. We are all the same in Dramri. Please, Ryebrynn.”
Ryebrynn lowered her eyes from his unwavering gaze. “It can never be, surely your father and mother would never agree.”
“They would want me to marry for love.”
A smile twitched at the corners of her lips. “You are a stubborn man, Lord Dray. But,” she frowned again, “it can never be.”
“You are beautiful. You have silky black hair, emerald eyes, the most beautiful porcelain complexion, and Dramri shines through you like the sun.”
Ryebrynn met his eyes. “I love you and I would be honored to be your wife.”
Dray hugged her and kissed her forehead. “I love you.”
Amethyst watched the land flow under her as she dived for the kill. She had been hunting since early morning and she had still not satisfied her stomach. As she dived, a spear pierced her wing and she plummeted downwards to crash. As she plummeted she fell onto a strongly woven net. She lay there, wounded and her strength draining fast. She soon blacked out.
Ryebrynn sat in the courtyard waiting for Amethyst to return from her hunting trip. It was early afternoon and Amethyst had promised to be back by now. Ryebrynn reached out for Amethyst with her mind. Nothing. She could be out of range, but usually she was only unresponsive when she was unconscious. Ryebrynn was real worried by now and she jumped up when she felt a faint disturbance in the back of her mind.
Amethyst awoke on cold stone. Cold stone manacles were on her talons. Her mouth was muzzled with chains. A man stood beside her in a golden tunic with pinkish red leggings and purple robes. He had a golden crown atop his head set with some sort of silver jewel.
“Good, you are awake now, Amethyst.” The man said in a cold voice that was evilly tinted with personal humor. He unsheathed a golden dagger and stabbed her through her heart. Amethyst roared in pain, breaking the chains around her mouth. she shot fire at the man and his ashes fell to the ground.
Ryebrynn! She screamed with her mind. Those were the last thoughts of Amethyst, dragon of Ryebrynn and partial hero of Graceland.
Ryebrynn jumped up in alarm at a scream of her name. Realizing it was in her mind, she reached out for Amethyst. No connection. Wait! She connected an as her senses mixed with Amethyst’s, pain coursed through her body. She saw a man, in kingly robes and a crown, her plunged a dagger in her heart, well, Amethyst’s.
“NO!” She screamed as Amethyst died. Ryebrynn withdrew as life left the mind of Amethyst. As soon as she was free of Amethyst’s mind, she blacked out from shock.
When Ryebrynn awoke, she was in the castle and five women stood over her they were bathing her forehead in cloths. A few feet away, Yotaiah and Chrystillion stood waiting to see if she was awake. As soon as there was room, Ryebrynn jumped up and escaped the women by an inch. She ran up the stairs and into her room, lying on the bed, she wept. A few minutes later, there was soft knock on the door and Chrystillion entered. She shut the door behind her and sat beside Ryebrynn on the bed.
“Ry! What on earth is the matter?” She asked in alarm.
“Nothing,” Ryebrynn said tearfully. Just as her life began to get better, Amethyst died! Amethyst. The name made her heart ache.
“Don’t lie to me.”
“Why not?”
“’Cause I’m a king.”
“Is that your only reason?”
“Do you need another?”
They laughed.
“So, what’s wrong?”
“Well, I was waiting for Amethyst to get back from her hunting trip, and I her someone scream my name. It was Amethyst’s mind, so I connected, and….and…well….. Amethyst is dead.”
Chrystillion hugged her tightly. “It’s all right, she’s with Dramri now. There’s nothing we can do to bring her back.”
“I know.”
“Now, dress in some proper battle clothes.”
“Because there is a battle raging outside our doors.”
Ryebrynn sat bolt upright. “What?”
“I’ll leave you to dress.” Chrystillion said, standing and exiting the room, closing the door behind her.
Ryebrynn stood and dressed in a burgundy tunic with brown leggings and then she put her hair up in a bun. She grabbed her sword and javelin and bounded out of her room, out of the castle, and strait into a battle. She stabbed a Curro through the chest, cart wheeled over him, stabbed another, another, and another. Soon, behind her, there was a trail on dead Curros. A man walked into the battle. She felt like she knew him. She stabbed at the man, but, he blocked. She stabbed again, he failed to block. She pierced his armor and her sword was swept away as her grabbed her arm.
“I am going to take this castle, and no one, especially a young girl like you, will keep me from it.” He whispered in her ear. He threw her at a wall, where she lay, sprawled out and unconscious.
Ryebrynn was in a cart, covered with hay. Tirad, Chrystillion, Herbert, Laelyn, Ryla, Dray, and Yotaiah were around her, all asleep. Ryebrynn shook Yotaiah as the cart rolled to a stop. Yotaiah stood and jumped out of the cart, the others following her lead. Ryebrynn jumped out too. They ran for the woods. Ryebrynn didn’t question it. They were going into hiding. Evil had taken the land.
Ryebrynn and the others rummaged through the houses of BlackDoom. They found food and the houses were in good enough condition for living. Ryebrynn led them to the castle and wasn’t surprised to find furnishings and food still in their usual place. They arranged a vigil of watchers and protectors, for the night and then slept.
Months after they arrived in BlackDoom, Ryebrynn and Dray decided on their wedding date, the 27th of April.
Ryebrynn twirled in front of the long but old and stained mirror. She guessed it had been Jazaroonaé’s. Her dress was made up of purple silky cloth and her veil of transparent golden cloth, as was tradition in Graceland, in Arew, it had been just plain gray and green. She was glad of the bright cheery colors. She pinched herself for at least the twentieth time to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. Dray had salvaged the cloth from a few of Jazaroonaé’s old dresses. Much to the delight of Ryebrynn, there was a seamstress among those who had joined them in the past months. 
There was a knock on the door and then Chrystillion entered. Chrystillion had given up her guise as King Chrys, and became Queen Chrystillion Grace Jakoso again. Ryebrynn smiled. “Chrystillion! How nice of you to come see me before my wedding!” She grinned.
“Ry, it’s time.” Chrystillion smiled.
“It’s time already?” Ryebrynn gulped. “Maybe I’m not ready, maybe we should call it off.”
“No, we can’t.”
“Why not?”
“Cause Dray loves you and you love him.”
“Fine.” She sighed. “Lead the way, Queen Chrystillion.”
Chrystillion took Ryebrynn arm-in-arm and led Ryebrynn into the garden where the blooms had grown and beauty had been restored back to BlackDoom. Chrystillion led her down the blue carpet and towards where Dray stood in a fresh new forest green tunic with light blue leggings. Dray had been able to pick his own colors for his clothing, but, it was a totally different story for Ryebrynn. Ryebrynn soon stood facing Dray. Trawai was also facing them.
“Do ye, Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer, take Dray Crossblade to be your truthfully joined friend and companion in marriage in sickness or in health, till death does part the two of you?”
“With the help of Dramri the one and only true god, I do.”
“Do ye, Dray Crossblade, take Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer to be your truthfully joined friend and companion in marriage in sickness or in health, till death does part the two of you?”
“With the help of Dramri the one and only true god, I do.”
“From the power invested in me by the living and only god, Dramri, I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride. Now you enter the adventure of marriage.”
Dray swept her golden veil away and kissed her, picking her up while he did and spinning her around.
Part 3
Chapter 1
“Daddy!” Raylana screamed.
Knives thudded.
King Shèj gasped for breath. “Brynna, my firstborn, I pass my rule unto you. Raylana, Brynna, I love you.” He gasped again, going limp.
“Daddy! No!” Brynna screamed. She rushed at the men who threw the daggers. She grabbed a dagger out of King Shèj’s body and stabbed a man. The man screamed in anguish and fell, dead. The other men overpowered Brynna and dragged her away. As Brynna disappeared from sight, Raylana heard her shout, “Raylana! Be brave, my sister. Farewell.”
“No! Brynna! Don’t leave me! Don’t let them take you away from me!” Raylana screamed, tears flowing down her face.
She was torn away from her nightmare as the door to her small room was opened and she was kicked. “UP!” The jailer said, kicking her again. She painfully stood on her tired legs.
“What is it?” She asked.
“Lord EverDark needs his breakfast, girl.”
She exited the room and headed for the kitchen, as usual; the cook was in a foul mood and was glad to punish someone for it. Raylana was scolded and hit while she made Lord EverDark’s breakfast. Soon after, she carried it to the royal bedroom of Terramont Castle–Aunt Chrystillion’s bedroom. Thankfully, Adrian was in a cheery mood. She could tell he was going to call her a ‘name’.
“Good morning, Princess.” He said with an evil laugh.
“I’m not a princess anymore, Adrian. To you I’m a mindless slave! I don’t mean anything, and certainly, I AM NOT A PRINCESS.” She said, angrily. Someone knocked on the door.
“You are dismissed, Princess.” He said as a man entered. Raylana exited and carefully set his breakfast down, running for the window, in an escape. Raylana grabbed onto the trees and swung onto the ground, making for the gate. Guards grabbed her and she was dragged into the castle for punishment.
Adrian EverDark watched as Raylana was chained and manacled. He set one of his guards to hold her chains and watch her.
Dumb little girl. He mind spoke to her.
I am not dumb, Adrian! Anyone in his or her right mind would want to escape from you!
King Adrian to you, slave!
Shut up.
Raylana scoffed.
“Take her away, guard. Chain her to her cot; punish her, and, DO NOT LET HER ESCAPE.”
The guard tugged on her chain and with one last glare at Adrian, Raylana followed him.
Ten year old Shyla Crossblade watched the battle below. She could see her mother, Ryebrynn Crossblade, and her father, Dray Crossblade, and her brother, Cephus Crossblade. Cephus was surrounded by Curros, Her father and mother was fighting their way to Cephus. She knew how to fight. She wished she was allowed into battle. An idea struck her. Cephus’s old armor! She could fit into it, then she’d go and help in the battle, there also were her mother’s extra herbs, Shyla knew how to use them. She smiled. Shyla soon exited the castle in armor, and armed. She jumped into the battle, smiling to herself. A thought entered her mind.
Shyla Taylor Crossblade! Get back inside this instant! It’s too dangerous out here for you!
I’m fine, Mother. Really, I am. Anyhow, how’d you know it was me?
The hair.  No, you are not. Watch out! Curro behind you!
Shyla whirled around to face a Curro. “Hi.” She said, stabbing at him. 
He screamed as she hugged him at the same time, reducing him to a pile of dust.
What were you saying again, Mother? Oh yeah, my hair. My red-gold hair.
Never mind, Shyla. Just stay close to me, OK?
She made her way over to her mother. She fought off a Curro coming up behind her mother but as she did, she got farther from her mother, as did her father and Cephus.
Mother! Watch out! She screamed with her mind as a Curro grabbed her mother, father, and Cephus. She was stabbed then she felt strong arms around her before she blacked out.
Raylana watched as the new prisoners of battle were led in. One of them looked remarkably like Brynna, behind that one, there was a chocolate brown haired man, then a boy with chocolate brown hair, then a girl with hair much like Raylana’s own.
One of Edward’s slaves was watching her. Ryebrynn could feel it. She reached out her mind to the slave. Hello?
The slave jumped. Yes?
Where are we?
Terramont Castle, Graceland. Um, do you mind telling me who you are?
Sorry. I’m Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer Crossblade, you may call me Ry. You?
Raylana Raysanna Jakoso, you may call me Lana. How’d you end up here?
I fell for a trap. You?
Captured with my mother and sister. My sister disappeared, then, my mother was thrown in the dungeon.
Who was your father?
The fourth king of Graceland.
Oh really?
I don’t believe you.
Why not?
There wasn’t ever a fourth king.
Who taught you your history?! King Shéj was the greatest king ever!
Chrystillion Grace taught me most of my history!
At what age?
Where’d you spend most of your life?
I don’t want to talk about it.
Why not? Too scared?
I’m not too scared! Why, I’m the one who killed Jazaroonae!
Then why won’t you tell me?
‘Cause its private.
Oh really?
I got to go, duty calls, talk to you later.
Raylana rushed off. Of all the rude and ignorant people, that Ryebrynn girl was one of the worst.
Raylana watched as Adrian judged the prisoners when he came to Ryebrynn and her ‘family’ he grinned evilly. “Back into my hands you fall, Brynna.” He sneered.
“My name isn’t Brynna. I’m Ryebrynn.” Ryebrynn protested quietly.
He snapped his fingers and a man entered carrying a vial with a needle attached. 
“Do it.” He ordered the man. The man stuck the needle into Ryebrynn’s arm, injecting the contents of the vial. Raylana watched in shock as Ryebrynn stumbled backwards and fell. Adrian was smiling. That was a vial of something vile.
Ryebrynn blinked and fell as a barrage of memories, good and bad, coursed through her mind.
Dray stepped forward. “What did you do to her?” He asked angrily.
“It’s alright, Dray, I’m not hurt.” Ryebrynn stood and closed her eyes as a headache arrived at the doors of her mind.
“You sure, Ry?” He asked.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” She smiled reassuringly at Dray, Shyla, and Cephus.  She shot a glare at Adrian.
Raylana reached out her mind to Ryebrynn’s.
You alright?
Why’d he do that to you?
Somehow, I’m a princess named Brynna; anyhow, I got most of my memory back.
Wait, if you’re Brynna, you’re a princess, daughter of the fourth king to be exact, you’re my sister! Another mind entered the conversation.
Great reasoning, Princesses, sorry I have to break up the reunion, but, Brynna is late to her execution, so excuse us, you’ll never see her again.
What! Raylana protested.
Say your goodbyes and then Brynna needs to depart.
Farewell, Brynna.
Farewell, Raylana.
Ryebrynn was grabbed from behind and hoisted onto a soldier’s shoulder. Tears sprouted to her eyes as Raylana waved goodbye. Dray, Shyla, and Cephus were chained together and the guard that held the chain followed the soldier with Ryebrynn. Ryebrynn was tied to a post and dry sticks and logs were piled around her. Men with torches surrounded the pile of sticks and logs, ready to set it on fire when Adrian gave the word. Adrian came out on a balcony, her supposed mother; Gwennalyn, Raylana, Dray, Shyla, and Cephus following.
Hang in there, Brynna. A musical, beautiful voice said in her mind.
Who are you?
I am your mother, Gwennalyn.
Are you going to save me, Mother?
I shall try, my dear.
I’ll be waiting.
Dramri be with you, Brynna.
You too, Mother.
Ryebrynn squeezed her eyes shut to await the fiery air of the fire, instead she felt herself being lifted, and the ropes broke away as she went up into the sky. She opened her eyes and looked up, seeing a dragon above her; she grinned. 
It was a brilliant blue dragon, with an Elven rider. The rider was medium in heighth, with silvery hair, in a pony-tail that reached to her slim waist. She also had blue-gray eyes that were mysterious and looked full of secrets. She smiled down at Ryebrynn and sped the dragon towards the Grace Canyons with at least ten other dragons following. Ryebrynn worked on climbing on behind the rider as the canyons drew closer and closer. Finally, she was up behind the rider. Ryebrynn hadn’t been on a dragon for a long while. It felt good, but painful. 
After all, she had lost her own dragon. Tears came to her eyes as she thought back to how many times Amethyst had been there for her, there to love and protect and comfort her. She tried to keep back the tears, determined not to cry in front of the silver-haired rider. Soon, the dragon landed on one of the canyons, as did the other dragons. Ryebrynn climbed off eagerly, wondering why they were here. Around her people were jumping off their dragons and cheering and whooping, making her ears hurt from the noise.
“We’re free!” She heard one woman shout. “We’re free!”
Dray, Cephus, and Shyla edged towards Ryebrynn, wary of the crowd of people, young and old. Ryebrynn leaned against a rock tiredly and could barely make out two people following Dray, Shyla, and Cyphus. As they got closer, she made out her mother and Raylana. Wait, no, there were also two others, teenagers, a few years older than Shyla. They came forward and introduced themselves as Aorun and Aoruna, twins who apparently were her brother and sister. Aorun and Aoruna had green eyes and black hair like herself. Aoruna’s hair went down to her waist and was in an intricate braid. Aorun’s hair was shoulder length and was wavy. They seemed to be thirteen or fourteen, maybe fifteen. Aoruna if measured, Aoruna would be around five feet and five inches, same with Aorun. Ryebrynn shook their hands before her mother led her away to meet more people. 
Ryebrynn hoped this would end soon. She was tired and needed to get away from the crowd, finally around 10:00 PM she got away and sat on the edge on the canyons, her feet dangled off the edge and over the ravine. Dray came and sat by her and they spoke silently for awhile before her stood to go find out where they would sleep. Ryebrynn sat alone, staring at the sliver of a moon and taking in the day’s events.
“They’ve prepared bedding for us,” Dray told Ryebrynn. “We’re to sleep in a room built into the canyon.”
Ryebrynn looked up. “What about Shyla and Cephus?” She asked.
“Shyla and Cephus shall sleep in an attached room. They’ll be safe, don’t worry.” Dray helped her up.
“Are they in bed yet?”
“They are in bed, fast asleep.”
“Then I may rest peacefully,” Ryebrynn said as Dray led her to their room.
“Here we are.” Dray said, opening a door.
They entered a fully furnished room, complete with a bed and clothing. Ryebrynn lay in bed later, worrying. She had many things on her mind, most of all was her new identity. It was all so confusing, one moment she was Ryebrynn the next Brynna. Ryebrynn rolled towards the sandstone wall and shut her eyes.
Morning came in a bright burst of sunlight and icy cold water splashing in her face. “I’m up!” She protested, standing. She grimaced and dried her face. Shyla, who had been the one dumping the water, exited the room with a giggle. Dray was nowhere to be seen. Ryebrynn picked out a fresh new tunic and dressed into it, exiting the room. On her way to the outside of the canyon, she put her hair up into a bun. Dray met her at the end of the hall and led her to a dining area outside. Ryebrynn ate her breakfast of bacon, eggs, and ham, listening to the conversations around her.
“Has to be awakened,” said one scornful woman.
“Aye,” answered her friend.
“Isn’t fit for royal life,” another said.
“Agreed!” The other two said. Ryebrynn gulped and felt her face burn in embarressment. Her mother came up behind her.
“Don’t listen to the gossip, Brynna. The women lie.”
Ryebrynn frowned. “You better hope so, or I might make a quick exit.”
Queen Gwennalyn laughed. “Don’t worry.”
Ryebrynn finished her food and stood, looking into her mother’s eyes. They were full of love and joy, mixed in with the beautiful green color. Her mother’s hair was put into a tight bun with a few strings of hair hanging out to frame her face. Queen Gwennalyn hugged her daughter tight and handed her a gold necklace. “It was your grandmother’s. She gave it to me when I married your father. I meant to give it to you when you married, but you were taken from me.” 
The necklace was shiny and pure, with a locket. Ryebrynn pushed the locket open and found small drawing of her mother and a tall man. He had black hair, purple eyes, and stood with an aristocratic air, whom Ryebrynn guessed was her father. Her mother smiled in remembrance. “I switched out the drawings in my spare time, convinced you were alive. You can switch them out again when you give it to Shyla.” Ryebrynn smiled. Her mother was so thoughtful. Ryebrynn wandered off, fingering the locket and not noticing the sinister figure slipping in and out of the shadows following her.
Aracora slipped in and out of the shadows, following the princess. Her associate, Jewelia, an Elf who agreed to work for her, had agreed to betray all of the escapees even though she herself had aided in their escape. Aracora had offered her riches and, not surprisingly, she had accepted. Aracora wasn’t really going to give her the riches; it was just a temptation to keep her going. Afterwards, her master would deal with Jewelia, work her into his service. Aracora’s job was to assassinate the newfound princess. A few years back she had tried, failing and instead capturing Yotaiah, the princess’s friend. This time she would succeed, she would be favored in the eyes of her master, Adrian EverDark. A cold smile lit up her lips. She was going to succeed. She knew it. And soon her master would too.
Shyla skipped happily up behind her mother and grabbed her hand. Ryebrynn looked down in surprise, but smiled warmly when she saw Shyla. “Hello, Shyla.”
“Hello, Mum.”
Ryebrynn heard a rustle, whirling around; she drew her sword and looked around. Shyla looked up at her mother her facial expressions showing confusion.
“Shyla, stay behind me.” Ryebrynn said as they heard whizzing and then an arrow sped past her left shoulder and imbedding itself in soft sandstone behind them. “Who’s there?” Ryebrynn asked, trying to detect the attacker’s location.
“I am,” said Aracora, stepping out of the shadows.
“Who are you?” Ryebrynn asked, studying her.
“Aracora DeathSeeker, shapeshifter and assassin,” Aracora smiled cruelly.
“Shyla, go find your father,” Ryebrynn whispered.
Shyla nodded and dashed off. 
“A family person, I see. You don’t want her to see what you know is coming.”
Ryebrynn turned back to face Aracora. “What do you want with me?”
Aracora grinned. “Simple. Your death.”
Ryebrynn backed up. “No way. I have a family to take care of, and a country to help, I can’t die.”
“Oh, but you can…” Aracora said. “Let me kill you and I’ll take care of your family, give ‘em what they deserve.”
“No.” Ryebrynn shook her head. “Why don’t you people come for tea, or coffee, or, or supper? Why do so many people demand my death?”
“Because you are the princess, you are the highest in the land.”
“Not the highest, Dramri is the highest.”
“Fine, he’s the highest. But you are the second highest. We must eliminate you to get power.”
“Oh, so that’s it. You guys are power hungry.”
“No, not power hungry, we’re more than that, we’re hungry for the world.”
“Yeah, power hungry.”
Aracora sighed. “You people never understand. Anyway, back to your death. You willing to die yet? I’m getting impatient.”
“No, I’m not.” Ryebrynn glared at her. “So it’s clear you don’t want tea, so, leave.”
Ryebrynn shook her head. This was annoying, suddenly Aracora’s eyes changed from brilliant blue to bright red. “Um, Miss DeathSeeker, your eyes…”
“Yes, I know, they changed color.”
“Yeah they did, what’s wrong with them?
“You succeeded in making me angry.”
“That’s why they changed?”
“Yes, it’s a shape-shifter thing.”
Aracora punched at Ryebrynn.
Ryebrynn ducked.
Aracora drew a nastily curved blade and stabbed at Ryebrynn.
Ryebrynn blocked with her sword.
Aracora threw a dagger at Ryebrynn’s side.
Ryebrynn tried to move out of the way but the dagger imbedded itself in her side. She cried out in utter pain as it coursed through her body.
“You know,” Aracora said. “That dagger has poison on it designed for a slow and painful death…”
Ryebrynn tried to ignore the pain as she tried to mind speak to Dray not to come. Too late. He was already here. Ryebrynn fell down to her knees as the pain continued to flow. “Dray! Go, save yourself!” She yelled.
Strong arms lifted her as she entered a half unconscious daze of pain. “Dray, go. Leave me.” She whispered.
“No, Ryebrynn, I’ll never leave you not even in death. That I swore at our wedding. I love you, Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer Crossblade, and never, not even in death, shall I abandon you. My love lasts with you for eternity.”
Aracora laughed, bringing attention back to her. Her eyes had turned back to blue.
“You’re killing her!” He yelled angrily, handing her to Cephas and dashing over to Aracora. Aracora shapeshifted into a great blue dragon. “Yes, I am. Too bad I can’t be defeated.” She laughed again.
Dray drove his sword into her left shoulder. Her shape blurred and she turned into Dray’s father, tsking. Ryebrynn watched, the pain blurring her vision. 
“Dray, go—Aaaaaaahh!!!” She screamed in pain. Pain invigorating long stores of forgotten adrenaline, she screamed again, jumped up, stabbed Aracora and fell down again, utterly defeated. Aracora smiled and her figure morphed again and she was again a dragon, but this time a bigger red one. She blew fire at Dray, and he burned in the flames for awhile and then disintegrated.
“Noooooooo! Dray, my husband! No!!” Ryebrynn screamed, glaring at Aracora. 
Cephas ran up to face Aracora, at least to save his mother and sister. “Monster,” Cephas snarled. Another spurt of flames ushered from Aracora and Cephas writhed in flames, after awhile disintegrating. Shyla ran to her mother’s side. 
“Shyla,” her mother held out a locket. “Take it. Remember me, Shyla. Remember. You aren’t ever far away from me. I live on in your heart. Farewell Shyla. I am in Dramri’s hands now. Save Jaydill in my place.” Ryebrynn said.
“Mama! Mum!” Shyla screamed as her mother went limp and her eyes closed in death. Her mother was dead. She was the only survivor of this attack. Shyla ran for the canyons, tears blurring her vision and her long red-gold hair flowing out behind her.
They set out in the morning, a line of people in black. They boarded dragons and set off, not noticing they were being followed by a traitor…..
The scout scanned the sky for any threat of enemies. Spotting dragons heading from Graceland, he ran to warn Queen Chrystillion, once she had been told he returned to his post. Soon thereafter Queen Chrystillion came out in a simple white dress with a silky purple robe.
“They are advancing, M’lady.”
“I can see that, Sir Jordan.” She answered.
“Of course you can, M’lady.”
“Very well, Sir Jordan. Go report to the captain to see what you can do. I must talk with these people alone.”
Chrystillion sighed after the scout, Sir Jordan, left. Once the people were close enough, she waved her hands to and fro to guide them to land close to her. Once the people on the dragons were recognizable, she saw Queen Gwennalyn, Princess Aoruna, Prince Aoruna, Princess Raylana, and Shyla. Ryebrynn, Dray, and Cephas weren’t there. As soon as they landed she ran for them. Shyla look up and waved forlornly.
Chrystillion sensed something was terribly wrong with the newcomers. Shyla covered the distance between them slowly.
“Shyla! What is the matter?” Shyla started to sob.
Queen Gwennalyn came up behind her. “Ryebrynn, Dray, and Cephas are dead. They were assassinated. Also, we have a new enemy. He is referred to as The Dominator, but recently we found his real name is Adrian EverDark. He is the one who attacked and took over Terramont after Edward was killed. He and his wife, Azalea EverDark, have been trying to take over the world for centuries. Sir EverDark sent an assassin named Aracora Irene DeathSeeker to kill Ryebrynn. That assassin was one of the few rare shape-shifters left in this world. She used a poisoned blade to kill Ryebrynn. The poison of a shape-shifter never fails. Alas, she died. But, when we went for her body it was gone. We suspect she took it to show to Sir Adrian EverDark and Lady Azalea EverDark.”
Ryebrynn stood in a palace. Not like any other regular palace. This one was special. She could feel power and love coursing through the walls. Ever-lasting love. She was here, with Dramri. A man in shining armor stood before her. Life, power, love, and light burst from him. Dramri. It was Dramri. She knelt. 
“My daughter,” he said, his deep, loving, powerful, awe inspiring voice resounded against the shining walls. “It is not your time as of yet. I will send one of my servants to care for you as you recover from the poisoned blade of Aracora DeathSeeker. You must go, save your people, your family and your country. In doing this you please Me and bless Me. Go now, My daughter. Live.”
“Dramri, my father, please. Let me stay here with You. With Dray. With Cephas. Please!!” Ryebrynn pleaded.
The last thing she heard before she went back to where she lay with a poisoned blade in her side was, “It is not your time, My daughter.”
Jane FireSword, Prophetess and Servant of the one true god, Dramri, went for a walk. Dramri had spoken. In the canyons she would find Princess Brynna, alive and wounded with a poisoned blade. She would keep her alive and teach her the ways of Royalty. Then, she would help the Princess go home so that she could save the world. This Dramri had told her. This she would obey.
Ryebrynn awoke in a colorful room. The walls wear bright yellow, the wooden floor had a bright orange rug and the door was red. Ryebrynn sat up. Her side burned. Where am I? It hit her. Dray. Cephas. Her mother. Her brother, sister and sister. She wept. Dray was dead. Gone. Forever. Cephas too. Had Shyla survived or was she too in Heaven with Dramri? The thought comforted her. At least Dray and Cephas were with Dramri now. A woman with shiny brown hair and sparklingly warm chestnut eyes entered the room and bowed. 
“My lady. I see you are awake. Might you be hungry? Thirsty? My service I pledge to you, my lady.”
Ryebrynn rubbed her side in an attempt to ease the burning. “Just some water for now. I’m not exceptionally hungry.”
“Of course, m’lady.”
“Call me Ryebrynn. Also, what is your name?”
“I’ll try. I am Jane FireSpeaker, Prophetess and Servant of Dramri, at your service.”
“May I call you Jane?”
“Of course, m’lad-Ryebrynn.”
“Thank you, Jane.”
Jane smiled and exited the room, coming back a few minutes later with a glass of water.
Dray Crossblade sat up in his bed. Who was he? A man entered his room. Dray rubbed his head. All he remembered was his father telling him he could not marry a peasant. The peasant was a girl taken in by the three kings. Ah yes. Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer had been her name. What had happened? He wasn’t home, he wasn’t at Terramont. Where was he? The man crossed the room and bowed. “You Majesty, I am Fario Dian.” Majesty? “The Prophetess of Dramri, Jane FireSpeaker, has your wife. She will train her, do you want to see her?”
“My wife?”
“Aye, sir.”
“I guess so. Take me to her.”
The man nodded, helped Dray out of bed, helped him dress, and then they set off towards Grace Canyons.
Jane dressed Ryebrynn, explaining she had visitors then took her outside to meet them. It was then Ryebrynn saw the most handsome man ever. A man she had thought she would never behold or see again. She broke into a run, ignoring the burning in her side. It was Dray. He was alive.
Chapter 11
“Who are you?” Dray asked. “Why do you approach me, peasant?”
Ryebrynn skidded to a stop. “Dray–“
“Lord Dray to you, peasant.”
Tears welled in her eyes at his hateful tone.
“Lord Dray Crossblade, respect your princess!” The man who had brought Dray shouted.
Dray—no, Lord Dray scoffed. “This is not a princess.
“So, you think that the daughter of the fourth king is not a princess? Justify yourself!” Jane yelled from behind her.
“There is no fourth king, woman.” 
Ryebryn winced. Her side. It burned. It was on FIRE. She fell. “Jane!” She yelled, resisting the urge to writhe. Jane ran over to where she lay. Tears issued freely. Pain sped to kill her. To demolish her time in this world. “Jane. Take me inside. Please. I can’t be seen like this.” Jane nodded. That was the last thing she saw before everything passed into the void. 
“M’lady! Are you still in pain? Answer me, m’lady!” Jane’s tearful voice lured Ryebrynn from her unconsciousness. 
“I’m alright Jane. Is Dray still here?”
“No, m’lady Brynna. He ran off as soon a you blacked out.”
“Your real name is Brynna Särayla Jakoso.”
“Oh. Yeah. I remember now.”
Jane smiled. “Are you hungry? I have Rayl fruit.”
“I’m starved.”
“I’ll get you one.” 
Jane came back with a mottled blue green Rayl fruit and handed it to Ryebrynn. “Here you are, Ryebrynn. Eat.”
Ryebrynn bit into the juicy fruit and laughed. “My, aren’t you demanding.”
Book Two
Chapter One
SOMETHING WOKE HIM. THAT Ain Aiden Yiden was sure of. “Mom? Dad?” He called. No answer. Apparently it wasn’t his mother or his father. His little sister Jenanna crept into the  room. 
“Jen! What are you doing up?” 
“Ain! Bad men. Downstairs. Hurry. Sissy Anna killed. Need you.” Three year old Jenanna said, shivering. 
“It’s gonna be okay, Jen. I’ll go check it out. You stay here, okay?” Ain thought on Jenanna’s words. Sister Anna was the elderly woman who helped his father with the bakery and slept downstairs. 
“Yeah. I stay.” 
He headed to his parents’ room. Blood spattered usually spotless white sheets. He charged forward. “Mom! Dad! No!” He wept freely. “Not Mom. Not Dad.” He heard a strangled scream. Jenanna! He dashed down the hallway, fists clenched.  A man in all black stood over his little sister, a knife raised above his head to strike. 
“Stop! I command you not to hurt her!” 
“And who are you that you command me?” A snarling voice spoke.
“I ain’t much more than a Baker’s son, but I am Ain Aiden Yiden! You killed Mom and Dad but you will kill my sister.” 
“You speak with power, princeling.”
“I ain’t no princeling.” 
“Ah, but you are more then you know.” The knife stabbed down. Jenanna gave a gurgled scream and fell limp, her eyes still wide open but glazed over.  
The man laughed. 
Ain grabbed an iron fire-poker. “You killed my mother, father, and sister, monster. Now you shall meet your end!” He charged and dispatched the man. More men filed into the small room. Ain was smothered in body heat. A man hit him on the head with what felt like the butt of a sword and Ain gratefully welcomed unconsciousness.
PAIN L.ULLED BRYNNA FROM a peaceful slumber. She clutched her side and moaned. It’s been two years. Every day a remembrance. Every day a painful remembrance of Dray. O Dramri! Help him remember! Brynna prayed. Dramri, be with Shyla. Be with Mother, with Aorun and Aoruna, with Chrystillion, with Raylana, with Tirad, with Herbert, and with all the orphans. Amen. Brynna sighed, laid back, and slowly drifted into blissful sleep.
BRYNNA JAKOSO LOOKED OUT on a black sky. The stars were beautiful. The sky twisted, and the blackness and stars swirled away from a bright scene, grassy rolling hills and beyond that, a white castle standing majestically in the early morning sunlight. But it was stained. Red with blood, its towers crumbled and fell. The scene changed to a black battlefield that strangely smelled of cinnamon. 
A raven haired man lay stretched out on the ground, horrible wounds crossed his body, in his back there was a gaping wound, weeping blood and gore. Aorun! Brynna tried to run forward to help him, but she couldn’t move. 
It was as if stone encompassed her legs. A breath-taking Elven woman with black hair wove her way through the piled dead blackened bodies to him. She sighed. Aoruna. She’d help him. But it was as if Aorun wasn’t there. Aoruna passed by. When she came to Brynna, she stopped. She spoke, except her voice extended, became masculine. 
“Brynna Särayla Jakoso Crossblade, Terramont will fall. Come to its rescue or Adrian will destroy all that is pure. Leave the home of Jane FireSpeaker and go save your people. Go, my chosen ruler. I command it of you.” She’d heard that voice before. Years ago, at the young age of twelve she had run away from the Orphanage. Yet, she had gone back, her heart bound with self imposed chains. It was when she was running she heard the voice. 
“Dramri!” She called, her voice echoing throughout the emptied battlefield. “I am Your Servant, but tell me, what do I take?”
Again he spoke through her sister. “Take Prophetess FireSpeaker and some belongings. I will provide food and water and shelter. Go, Chosen One.”
Brynna nodded. As she did, the dream ended abruptly and she woke.
LIGHT STREAMED INTO HER room through her tall, arched windows, lighting up its colorful design. “Jane!” She called, practically leaping out of the bed.
Jane skidded down the hallway, heading for her room. She burst in, and upon seeing a night-gowned Brynna standing in the middle of the room, midnight hair in a cascade of unruly tangles, she said; “Brynna Crossblade! Calm yourself! You scared me with all that yelling.” 
Brynna laughed heartily. “Ah, Jane. I fear we must leave this dwelling.”
“What? But Dray will be here soon! Must we leave before we see him?”
Brynna groaned and shook her head, the tangled midnight hair rippling. “I will ask Dramri. For he is the one who has told me to go.”
“I will go make breakfast.” Jane left.
Brynna knelt by her bed to pray, but as she did, a bright light came to her. 
“Do as I have told you. Take Dray Crossblade with you, for as you have thought this, his memory has returned.”
“Oh, Dramri! Thank you, my Father!”
“It pleases Me to see you happy, child. Now go, for Dray has arrived.”
Brynna jumped up as the light faded. 
“Ryebrynn?” A masculine, loving voice called.
“Dray, oh Dray!” 
“Ryebrynn!” A man burst into the room. He wrapped her in a warm loving embrace, like a fire on a cold night. “Oh, Ryebrynn! Ryebrynn, my love!” 
“Dray, Dray.” She wept happily into his broad muscled shoulder. She inhaled his spicy-sweet smell of cloves and cinnamon. It warmly greeted her nostrils like Dramri’s words. 
“Ryebrynn, I-I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t remember, I’m sorry I rejected you. Oh, Ryebrynn, my love, I’m sorry.”
“Oh, Dray, I forgive you. I vowed that much at our wedding. Let nothing come between us, my love. Promise?” 
“I promise, Ry, love.” They kissed, embraced, and headed down the hall hand-in-hand.
SHYLA STARED OUT ON the brilliant blue sky that hung over Tryadi like a curtain, fingering her mother’s locket. 
Chrystillion came over and sat on the ledge beside Shyla. “You miss them, don’t you?”
Tearfully, Shyla nodded. 
“Just remember, Ryebrynn, Dray, and Cephas are with Dramri now. They are experiencing the eternal luxuries of Shayali, heaven. Do not mourn, be happy, Shyla.”
Little did they know that both Dray and Ryebrynn lived.
CEPHAS PEATYR CROSSBLADE HAD braved the heat of the Trysn desert for two years. Stripped of his memories, he had wandered the scorching desert and had been taken in by Jarlindina Fahrid and her twelve year old adopted daughter, Gemma. They had wed a year after they had met. His life carried on the same until he heard a voice.
“Cephas Peatyr Crossblade! Leave your desert home. Take your wife, daughter and provisions. I will lead you where I desire you to go.
Cephas gasped, and stumbled off towards he, Jarlindina and Gemma’s home. As he entered, Jarlindina and Gemma looked up from making supper. 
“Jarly, Gem, we must leave. Dramri has spoken.” It was then Cephas fainted.
BRYNNA SLID OFF HER tall white and brown horse, nervously fingering strands of her long midnight hair. A pure white unicorn galloped through the long green valley separating them from a tall stained castle. Brynna spotted the unicorn and squealed happily. 
“Jaxine!” Brynna yelled. The unicorn gracefully swerved, adjusting its course toward Brynna. Though Brynna was heard by the unicorn, she was also heard by the men on the walls. 
Dressed in the white and gold ensemble of Graceland, the men called down to her.
“State your business!” 
Brynna threw down her hood, baring her gold circlet, midnight hair, and green eyes. “I am Princess Brynna Särayla Jakoso Crossblade, heir to the throne of the Fourth King. Grant me entrance in the name of my father, King Shéj Jakoso, Highest and Fourth King. And my Lord, Dramri Everlasting!” 
A woman came through the crowd of soldiers. “Brynna, darling, is that you?” She called.
“Yes! Mother! It is I!” 
“Oh, Brynna! My love!” Queen Gwennalyn turned to the soldiers. “Open the gate this instant! That is my daughter down there!”
Brynna rode through the streets of what was once BlackDoom. She got to the castle and stopped hesitantly. She dismounted and entered, once again raising her hood. She headed up a flight of stairs. A servant passed. 
“Excuse me, where might I find the chambers of Queen Chrystillion?”
“’Ead up the stairs two flights and you find yerself in a long ‘all. She is in the third door on the right.” 
“Thank you.” Brynna obeyed and found herself knocking on an ornate Rayl tree door. A maid opened the door. 
“Yes, m’lady?” The girl asked. 
“I am here to see Queen Chrystillion.”
“Do you have a meeting arranged?” 
“No. Tell the Queen that an old old Elven friend is here to see her.”
“Aye, I will.”
“Thank you.” Brynna waited at the door for fifteen minutes before it was opened again.
“Now,” Chrystillion asked. “Who is this old old friend Hyalia told me of?” 
“Hey, Chrystillion. How are you doing?” Brynna asked, once again pulling down her hood.
Chrystillion gasped. “Ry! Ry, oh, Ry!”
“Wait, Chrys. I am not who you knew me as. I am Ryebrynn, but I am also Brynna Särayla Jakoso, daughter of the legendary Fourth King of Graceland.”
“Oh, Ry. Why did Gwennalyn keep this concealed from me? And Aorun. And Aoruna. A-and Shyla. And Raylana! Why?”
“I do not know. That was their choice.”
“Wait! If you are Shéj’s daughter….. Then you are my niece!”
“Oh, Ry. Is Dray with you also?”
“Yes. And my wonderful mentor, Prophetess Jane FireSpeaker. Oh, Chrys. I saw Shayali. I met Dramri, and he wants me to rule. He has spoken to me. It is amazing.”
“Ry, truly? Dramri spoke to you!”
“Now, Chrys. I would stay and chat, but, I must go see Shyla.” 
“Okay. See you later, Ry.” 
Brynna left there and headed for the section of the castle that housed Lords and Ladies. 
SHYLA’S RED GOWN SWISHED quietly as she headed to her room, hurrying through her school assignments given to her by her tutor, Mayanna Gyld. Shyla collided with a tall cloaked woman, a white and gold dress marking her as a Swordmaiden of Graceland. 
“Excuse me, my lady.”
“The apology is mine, Shyla.”
That voice…. Shyla knew it. Shyla threw herself on the stranger. “Mama!” 
“Oh, Shyla.” 
“Mama,” Shyla wept. “Mama.”
CEPHAS, JARLINDINA, AND GEMMA left their sandy home sadly. 
“Oh, Cephas,” wept Jarlindina. “Cephas.”
“It’s gonna be OK, Jarly, love. We’ll come back. But first we must obey Dramri. Remember your DOC.”
Jarlindina nodded. “Dramri first, Others second, and Comfort last.”
Cephas laughed. “Aye.” 
Jarlindina shoved him in the chest. “Oh, Ceph.”
“Now, now,” Cephas laughed again and shoved her back. “None of that, Jarly.” 
Jarlindina giggled. “Ceph!” 
“Cephas!” Jarlindina cried, tears of laughter pouring from her golden-brown eyes.
“Come on, Ceph. Stop it!” 
“’Stop it!’” He mimicked girlishly. 
Jarlindina giggled. “You merciless Elven humorist!”
Cephas sighed, ran a hand through his chocolate brown hair, and grinned. “That’s me!” 
“Ceph!” Jarlindina screamed. A black barbed arrow protruded from his wife’s back. She collapsed onto the sandy ground. 
“Gemma! Take your mother and go!” After lifting his wife and daughter on a horse, Cephas swept a bow and quiver of arrows off of his horse. He strung the bow and waited. A group of men in black on horses emerged above the next dune. A half-mile ahead of the men was a single archer, bow ready for another shot at the couple. Cephas stood his ground as the men and archer charged forward. The men were way closer now. He swung onto his horse and squeezed his knees into it’s sides. His bow ready, he steadied himself as his horse galloped away. 
But the men were too close. Cephas fell from his horse, arrow protruding from his back.
Chapter 2
“WE MUST STRIKE THEM before they strike us!” General Elladenae Raya Hiltblade said, slamming her fist onto the wooden table.
“Wait, General. Do they have any major prisoners, ones that would immobilize our leaders?” Asked First Major Jake Raed.
“Not that I know of, First Major Raed.” Swordmaiden Princess Brynna spoke up. “And Jane and I kept close watch on Adrian and Terramont.”
“Then we strike!” General Hiltblade yelled. 
“Calm, General,” Queen Gwennalyn said. “We will strike soon enough. But right now our forces are weak. We need to rally more of the able loyal before we strike Adrian. He is a strong enemy. His forces are huge. Ours are small.”
“More Jaydillians are joining us. We have at least a legion. Couldn’t we try at Terramont?”
“No!” Chrystillion said angrily. “General Elladenae Hiltblade, we are in a tight spot. We have hardly enough to feed the people we have now. And, well, we have enough food for a few weeks or less. Even if we struck now, Adrian is too strong! We would be captured or worse, killed. Princess Brynna’s dream would come true, then. Remember Dramri’s words to her. Basically, he said that was a vision of Jaydill’s doom and we need to tread carefully.”
General Hiltblade hung her head. “Sorry, m’lady.”
“Pray, sister, what would we do next then?” King Tirad Trayden Jakoso asked his sister. 
“We raid his forces. We take prisoners and supplies. Also, a prisoner finally answered our questions. His answers are a grave matter of importance. Ain has been found. General Hiltblade! Take a squadron of men to raid Ain’s captors. Bring the boy to us, take prisoners and supplies. And to help you out, Ain is a fourteen year old boy with shoulder-length auburn hair, and purple eyes. He is around 5’9 in height. Leave immediately. Take dragons as an element of surprise.”
“Yes, m’lady!” General Hiltblade’s solemn brilliant blue eyes shone with pride.
“Commander Wildana Klyk?” Herbert Harru Jakoso asked the woman sitting across from him.
Commander Klyk looked up from where she was outlining a battle plan. “Yes, m’lord?” 
“Take 100 men and find one of Adrian’s parties to raid. Take prisoners and supplies. Anything you think will serve us well.”
The commander nodded. “It will be down as you say, Majesty.” 
CEPHAS AWOKE GROGGILY TO rough shouting and women screaming. He shot up. He raced out of the tent he had been laid in. Feet away men were abusing Gemma and Jarlindina. Apparently Jarlindina’s wound had been treated, for there was a lump under her dress where her wound had been. 
“Unhand them!” He shouted, brandishing a dagger from his boot. A broad-shouldered man headed towards him. 
“Are you telling us what to do? Slaves don’t speak to their masters like that.” Ack. Slave traders… The man drew back his fist and punched Cephas. Cephas stumbled backwards and fell. 
“Daddy!” Gemma shouted from where three men restrained her. Her once beautiful tanned face was blotched with bruises. 
“Cephas!” Jarlindina shouted, fighting against her captors. 
“Oh, my. I hurt him did I? Too bad.” He kicked Cephas in the ribs. 
“Stop it, monster!” Jarlindina screamed.
Cephas groaned. Dramri! Father God, You told me I was Yours then You allowed this to happen? Why?! Jarlindina and Gemma don’t deserve this! Why when we are helpless, do You allow these men to abuse us? Why do You cause Gemma and Jarlindina so much pain? Do you enjoy it? After asking Dramri that, Cephas gave into unconsciousness.
The smell of cinnamon flooded his senses. Blessed are you when other revile you and make you suffer all kinds of pain on My account. Rejoice and be glad in Me for your reward is great in Shayali. 
Cephas was greatly moved by this. We are Yours, my Father. Do with us what you may.
My son, I reward your for your great faith. When you wake I will send somebody to help you.
Thank you, my Father.
You are welcome, My son. The smell of cinnamon left him and all was gone.
CHRYSTILLION GRACE JAKOSO WAS in Terramont. Back in her old room, she sat in her favorite chair reading a theology book. A knock came on the door. She ignored it. 
“Open to Me, My daughter.” Chrystillion jumped up at the fatherly voice, startled. She cracked the door. Bright light and the smell of cinnamon poured in. 
“Dramri? My Father?” 
“Yes, My daughter.”
“My Father. What is the objective of Your visit?”
“Send a squadron of soldiers to the heart if the Trysn Desert. There they will find a camp. Raid the camp and rescue it’s prisoners.”
“I will do as You ask, my Father.”
“Thank you, My daughter.”
“You are welcome, my Father.”
Chrystillion jumped out of bed. “Hyalia! Dress me!” Hyalia jumped off of the pallet at the foot of Chrystillion’s bed. 
“Yes, m’lady!” Hyalia extracted a green dress out of Chrystillion’s wardrobe. She slipped it over Chrystillion’s head and tied the laces in the back.
“Thank you, Hyalia.” Chrystillion burst out of the room and raced off.
GENERAL ELLADENAE RAYA HILTBLADE surveyed the caravan of soldiers below her and her dragon, D’nae. She ran through her orders in her head. 
Objective One: Attack the caravan.
Objective Two: Find Prince Ain.
Objective Three: Take provisions.
Objective Four: Take prisoners.
Objective Five: Burn what I don’t take and leave.
Good plan, Ella. Spoke D’nae in answer to her plans of attack. 
Thanks, D.
I only compliment you when you deserve it, Ella. 
What? It’s true! 
Aye, D, ’tis true. 
Well, you know what? The rest of the time you are rash, impertinent and disrespectful!
Hey! I’m not that bad, D.
Truly, Ella, you are. 
Okay, Ella, now you can attack. Make haste.
BRYNNA AWOKE TO BANGING on her door. Dray was sitting up in bed, his night clothes hanging loosely about him. “Ry? Could you open the door?”
Brynna nodded. “Of course, Dray.” Brynna swung her legs over the side of the bed and slipped her feet into her night slippers. She put on a robe and wrapped into around herself, tying it. She opened the door to see Chrystillion. “Chrys. What is the meaning of this? And why so late?” 
“Sorry, Ry, but it isn’t too late. It is an hour before dawn.”
“So I see. What is the meaning of your visit?” Asked Brynna, yawning. 
“Dramri gave me a vision. I need your help to fulfill it.”
Brynna was suddenly wide awake. “What?” 
“I’m going on an adventure with a squadron of soldiers. I want you to come along, Swordmaiden Princess Brynna.” 
“An adventure? Wouldn’t miss it. Let me pack and we can leave before dawn.” 
“Good. I’ll see you in the dragon stables. Okay?”
“Okay.” Brynna grabbed her herb satchel and a pack. She stuffed things that she would need in the pack. Clothes, weapons, ect. In ten minutes she was in the dragon stables. Chrystillion picked a white dragon and Brynna felt drawn to a blue one. This dragon was a mixed dragon. Surely a flower and gem dragon, like Amethyst. She smelled of hydrangeas. Tears stung the back of her eyes. She composed herself again and saddled the blue hydrangea dragon. She stood by the dragon for a few minutes and wandered over to Chrystillion. 
“Hey, Chrys? When are the men getting here?”
“Now,” Chrystillion said as men filed into the stable. They found dragons for all the men then took off towards the faint line in the distance that was the Trysn desert.
GENERAL ELLADENAE RAYA HILTBLADE stabbed a Curro and fought her way to one of the only three wagons in the caravan. She looked inside and saw piles and piles of provisions. She fought her way to the next one, looked inside and saw tied up Gracelanders. 
“Prince Ain?” She asked a boy that matched Queen Chrystillion’s description. The boy straitened.
“I am Ain, but I ain’t no prince.” 
Hello. A warm feminine voice sounded in her mind. 
Who are you?
I am Sapphire, the very dragon you now ride. And you?
I am Swordmaiden Princess Brynna Särayla Jakoso Crossblade, heir to the throne of the Ryllian Range, and daughter of the legendary fourth king.
A beautiful name. What may I call you?
Brynna. You can call me Brynna. May I ask why you chose to speak with me?
I would like to be your dragon. Bonded, so to speak, that is, if it pleases you. 
Oh!  Brynna grinned, tears of happiness glistening on her cheeks. Of course, Sapphire. 
Thank you, Brynna. My rider died in The Battle of Tryadi a year ago. It pleases me that you accept, for I was so lonely. Sapphire landed gracefully and heat instantly assaulted Brynna. They had reached the Trysn Desert
CEPHAS AWOKE TO SOUNDS of fighting. A beautiful Elven woman stood in the opening flap to his tent. She was beautiful. Especially her face. It was an angular face framed by midnight hair, and sparkling green eyes. She had a small mouth and nose, thus adding to her beauty.
“Oh, Cephas!” The woman said, tears glistening in her emerald eyes.  
“Should I know you?”
“Of course! I am your mother, Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer Crossblade, otherwhise know as Swordmaiden Princess Brynna Särayla Jakoso Crossblade.”
“Did you rescue the other prisoners too?” Cephas asked obscurely, not wanting to let this strange woman in on his secrets. 
“Could you take me to them?”
“Of course,” She walked over to him and cut his bonds with a dagger. “Follow me.”
Cephas followed and found himself in another tent. Jarlindina lay on a cot, golden-brown hair splayed out under her. He looked to the woman. 
“She is alive, but near death.” The woman confirmed. Gemma sat in the only chair in the room. As soon as she saw him she jumped up.
“Daddy!” The small fourteen year-old threw herself upon him. 
“Oh, Gemma! My little gem.” 
“Is Mama alright?”
“Will she be alright?”
“Soon, my gem.” But to himself he added, I hope.
HOW CAN YOU BE Ain but not Prince Ain?” General Elladenae Raya Hiltblade asked Ain.
“I am Ain Aiden Yiden, the only son of Taversville’s baker.”
“You match the Queen’s description, commoner. You have the prince’s looks, you are his age, and his height. How can you be Ain but not Prince Ain?”
“King Edward has no wife. How can we have a queen?”
“Come with me. I will show you.” She cut Ain’s bonds and led him out of the wagon and over to where D’nae waited. “Wait here while the battle finishes. I will come for you soon.”
“Yes, m’lady.”
“Not ‘m’lady’. It’s General Elladenae Hiltblade. You may call me General.”
“Yes, General.”
“Stay here.” With that, Elladenae dashed off.
BRYNNA STOOD BY AND watched Cephas—Yes, her son! Her grown up son!—gently hug a girl they had rescued and lovingly push a young elf’s hair away from her face. Obviously in two years he had developed a family. It pained her he didn’t recognize her. 
The woman stirred on the cot. She opened her eyes to reveal melting golden-brown eyes. “Cephas?”
“Jarlindina!” He exclaimed.
“Mama!” The girl shouted. 
The woman—Jarlindina—sat up slowly. “Ceph? Gemma? Cephas, did that man hurt you? He kicked you several times after you fell unconscious. We saw him. Have they treated you yet?”
“No, not yet, Jarly, darling.”
“Ceph, you need to be treated.”
“Not until you are.”
“Cephas Peatyr Crossblade! You are injured. Please! Just let them!”
Brynna watched all this from the opening. She wouldn’t interfere. But she went against that when Cephas fell. 
“Cephas!” Jarlindina screeched, diving for him. 
“Cephas.” Brynna said, stretching out the words, mesmerizing him and, easing toward her son. “Just relax. We’ll treat your wife when we treat you.”
Cephas moved to stand. “No! Cephas.”  Brynna said again. “Calm.”
Sapphire, we need a medical doctor in this tent now. One of the rescued prisoners is injured. 
You are sad. Do you have emotional attachments to this freed prisoner?
Not many.
He is family, isn’t he?
Yes. My son. 
Why do you anguish then?
He does not remember me. 
Ah, I see. Excuse me now, for I must carry out your instruction. 
Thank you, Sapphire. 
GENERAL ELLADENAE RAYA HILTBLADE dashed across the battle field yelling. 
“Prince Ain has been found! Repeat, Prince Ain has been found. Retreat! Gather supplies and prisoners! Retreat afterward!”
Men turned and ran, horses strained to pull wagons, and all in the middle of it, while carrying out her orders, men fell and died. Emotions tangled. Anguish clasped her heart in a vice. Pride at their bravery. A thirst for revenge from Adrian. She turned and yelled out to Cupramae. “You did this, false one!”
“General?” Ain stood behind her. 
“Come, my prince. Let us take our leave. Our time here is finished. My remaining men will follow.” Remaining. What remained of such brave warriors. It is my fault, she thought. I should have never attacked this caravan. From the start I knew there was too many. I was too prideful. Let me never do this again, Dramri. She turned and saluted the dead in a silent farewell.
As she walked to D’nae she sang. 
“Farewell, my braves, 
May my Father welcome thee home,
Like prodigal sons and daughters thee returns,
To the house of thy Father.
Never say Farewell, 
For in Shayali,
We shall always meet again. 
Farewell, my braves,
May my Father welcome thee home,
Like a prodigal son thee returns,
To the house of thy Father.
Our time on this earth is short,
But for thee I may mourn, 
But when I think of thee, 
I shall rejoice always.”
Farewell, my braves,
May my Father welcome thee home,
Like a prodigal son thee returns,
To the house of thy Father.
Her voice raised in pitch.
“In Shayali, thee are,
In Shayali thee rejoices,
In Shayali, thee will remain forever on!”
Her voice went lower.
“Farewell, my braves,
May my Father welcome thee home,
Like a prodigal son thee returns,
To the house of thy Father.
Father God, my Dramri,
Welcome these brave ones, 
Dear Father, 
Welcome them. 
Give them all they need,
And comfort their widows and children,
Farewell, my braves,
May my Father welcome thee home,
Like a prodigal son thee returns,
To the house of thy Father.”
Again, higher.
“Oh Dramri, give their hearts a peace,
Oh, my Father, 
Give them rest,
Peace from this war. 
Farewell, my braves,
May my Father welcome thee home,
Like a prodigal son thee returns,
To the house of thy Father.
Bless them my Father. May they rest in peace.
Farewell, my braves,
May my Father welcome thee home,
Like a prodigal son thee returns,
To the house of thy Father.
Oh Father, Bless Them!”
BRYNNA FOUND IT HARD to sleep that night, back at Tryadi. There had been a perfect reunion. After seeing his family, Cephas had remembered. Soon after they arrived back, Tryadi had been attacked by vile Curros. They had taken three prisoners and were going to interrogate them the next day. She hoped they would find something out from them. Something they needed. Hopefully, good news. 
“GENERAL HILTBLADE, WE ARE going with your plan. We will attack Terramont. The menace of Adrian EverDark will be destroyed.” Swordmaiden Princess Brynna said, sounding confident.
“What of my failure leading my men last time?”
“That will be over looked. We need you, General.”
“Thank you, Madam Crossblade.”
“Lieutenant Aloysius Babajoe Sehkar, General Elladenae Raya Hiltblade, First Major Jake Raed, Second Commander Riana Ryna Ridyn, Commander Wildana Jayne Klyk, and Major Daianli Dyla Didell, stay. Everyone else, out.”
“Yes, Swordmaiden Princess Brynna?” Lieutenant Sehkar asked.
“M’lady?” General Hiltblade asked. 
“Madam?” First Major Raed asked.
“Yes, Your Eminence?” Second Commander Ridyn asked.
“My lady Brynna?” Commander Klyk asked. 
“Yes, Your Majesty?” Major Didell asked.
“All of you will be commanding regiments. The Kings and I will take regiments as well, also will the Queen Chrystillion.. We will be in front line, leading. Understood?”
They all nodded. 
“Good. I welcome you all to Mission Terramont.”
Brynna donned her helmet of gold, after straining to put on her heavy fancy armor. 
“There.” Dray said after helping Brynna tie the last laces of the armor. 
“Dray. Promise me, if I do not survive this battle, that you will take care of Shyla, Cephas, Gemma, and Jarlindina. Promise me this, Dray.”
“I promise, love.”
She buried her face in his muscular shoulder, weeping. “Dray, I love you.”
“I love you too, Ry.”
Brynna fought her way back to her regiment, stabbing and thrusting. 
“M’lady!” A foot-soldier cried. “Watch out!”
She turned, too late. A Curro stabbed her in the stomach and slung her over his horrible smelling shoulder.
“M’lady! Your orders?”
“Go! Tell Queen Chrystillion I want her to lead you!”
“Farewell, M’lady! Good luck! Dramri protect you.”
“And you too!” Thus, Brynna succumbed to unconsciousness.
“Awaken, O ruler of the Fourth Range!”
Brynna sat up, manacles jingling like coins. “Who are you?” She asked the woman who stood before her. The woman laughed. 
“I am Queen Nicalla Astrados of Arew. I assume you are Swordmaiden Princess Brynna Jakoso Crossblade?”
“Aye. I first came from your cruel country, Astrados.”
“Please, call me Nicalla.” 
“Fine. What do you want, Astr-Nicalla?”
“Easy. Battle plans, basic interrogation answers.”
“I would never betray my people by telling a Queen like you our secrets.”
“When I am finished with you, Princess Brynna, you will.”
“Really.” She motioned to guards behind Brynna. “Take the prisoner home, boys.” As movement jostled her untreated wound, Brynna was again enveloped by unconsciousness.
Brynna awoke again in a dark room. It was familiar. She lay on a thin straw mattress. A thin sheet covered her. Wait… She shook her disoriented head. She jumped up. Girls younger than her lay about sleeping, all on beds like hers. This was strange. She was somewhere she had never wanted to go back to. She was at the Orphanage.
Brynna dashed out of the drafty room and past sleeping Curro guards. It was then she knocked into a tall looming figure in a nightshirt and with a silk nightcap perched in a precarious way on top of his bald head. It was the Master! “Where do you think you’re going?” He snarled. 
“Just for a walk.” 
“Let me guess, a long one? After all our trouble getting you back here, you try to run back to your friends. Let me tell you, soon they will be dead and you will be an Orphan again, under our power! Queen Nicalla promised us that much.” He nodded to somebody behind her and a cloth was held over her nose and she fell fast to the clutches of unconsciousness.
Brynna awoke again to a young Waker-Boy. He stood about half her height and had curly red hair. “Ya gotta wake up now, miss, or Master will be displeased.”
“Young man, do you understand my stature, age and race?”
“Ummm…. You are an Orphan, you are human, and you are about sixteen.”
“Wrong. I am thirty-seven, I am an Elf, and I am Swordmaiden Princess Brynna Jakoso Crossblade, otherwise known as Ryebrynn Lyla Shveer Crossblade.” 
The boy gaped.  “But Elves are myths!”
“Here, of course. Not where I come from.”
“And you come from…. where?”
“Graceland, Dramri’s country.”
He gaped again. “Graceland is so far away! And if you are so important, why did Queen Nicalla put you here?”
“To hide me. She doesn’t want my husband, son, daughter, army, or the Four Kings and Queens to find me, I suppose.”
“Oh. I hope Jaerdi(False God) lightens your burdens, M’lady.”
Brynna rolled her eyes at the mention of the false God. “Of course.” She said through gritted teeth. 
“’Urry up!” A Curro guard yelled. 
“Yes, sir.” The Waker-Boy dashed off, leaving Brynna.
Brynna sighed and stood. After a night of terror, she was very tired. She stumbled over to the door and rubbed her stomach. She groaned in pain as movement jostled her wound. Nobody had the sense to treat a wounded person here, she guessed. Ha! She’d forgotten her powers. Concentrating on her wound, she prayed it would be healed and all pain dulled away. They only sign of it’s earlier presence was the blood matted on the front of her white dress. 
“Get forward, girl.” A Curro said, shoving her forward with his spear.
She whirled around to face him, eyes flashing. “Don’t touch me!”
“And why?”
“Because I am older than you, and I am superior to you!”
“I am twenty-two! You are sixteen. I am a guard, you are basically a slave.”
“I am thirty-seven, and I am Swordmaiden Princess Brynna Särayla Jakoso! I am Dramri’s chosen ruler for Jaydill. I. Am. Your. Chosen. Queen.!” 
“And you think I’ll believe a tale like that? Likely I’ll just call the Master and you’ll get beaten…. Lies are bad things to play with, girl.”
“If you are going to do it, then try.”
“Ha. MAS-” Brynna tackled the Curro. She wrapped him in a headlock. She probed deep into his mind with hers. 
“Now do you believe me?”
“No….” The Curro gasped.
“Well, I hate to kill a worthy subject of mine, but, farewell.” She tightened her grip on his throat. He gave a few more shuddering breaths before his mind pushed her out, just like Amethyst’s had when she died. The heaviness of death weighed her down for a few minutes, then, heavy-hearted from killing, she walked away, hoping to somehow get an excuse to go buy something from the butcher’s, of the bakery. 
Chapter 8
Escape and Retry
“NOW, WITH THE SWORDMAIDEN Princess gone, we are losing hope. Fast. Our defeat at Terramont was very shaming to us and our people are losing hope. We need fast ideas of how to rebuild our trust. Ain is now back, so he can take the Swordmaiden Princess’s place for now. We will attack Terramont again at dawn, in three days. If we die in the end, let us die for the freedom of Jaydill.”
Brynna finally got her excuse when she told Cook that the Master wanted her to go pick up bread and muffins from the bakery. Cook gave Brynna a pouch of coins, then sent Brynna off to ‘get the bread and muffins’. Brynna could not believe her luck! She was away! She went as quickly as was not suspicious, past the butcher shop, past the bakery. Soon she was out of the small village and on her way home.
“Gah!” The Master yelled. “You let her go? After all we went through to get her back, YOU LET HER GO?!”
The Waker-Boy and Cook jumped back. “I don’t know what I did wrong, Master.” The Waker-Boy said after a long silence. 
“You encouraged her misbehavior and renewed her dreams of escape. Now, Cook. What did you do, exactly?” 
“The girl told me you told her to get money to go get bread and muffins. I sent her with enough for fifty muffins and fourteen loaves. She left and didn’t come back. That is when I came to you.”
“Yes, Master. I did. I’m terribly sorry. Please, just don’t punish me! Please, don’t! Please, Master! I’ll do anything! Just. Don’t. Punish. Me.! Please, Master!”
He advanced upon the begging man. “I will punish you, Cook. We’ll need a different cook now, eh?” The Master pounced. With inhuman strength he pinned Cook to the ground. “Farewell, Cook.” He said, laughing. Cook screamed loud. 
The Waker-Boy turned away as the Master tore into the screaming man with unusually sharp-looking pointed teeth. Graceland had no idea who the Master was, nor the Mistress, nor Adrian EverDark, nor Azalea EverDark. This creature was beyond their power to destroy. They needed a hero for this. Jaerdi, God of Arew, keep Jaydill safe from this creature. Destroy it, Jaerdi. Amen. The Waker-Boy sent up a small prayer to Jaerdi. The Waker-Boy knew now. The Orphans needed to leave now. Or they would suffer the same fate as Cook. He could lead them.  With Jaerdi’s help. But, why would Jaerdi listen to an Orphan? He could do it. And he meant to.
Brynna had been running longer than her first time on  this terrain, passing many places she had been before. She stopped at the remains of Vrainten’s cabin, weeping. Searching quickly, she found his crudely cut gravestone covered in Vilias{A purple, blue, pink, and white flower, Vilias are very poisonous it eaten, but are very beautiful as well}. Weeping, she knelt. A sudden calm washed over her, like cold water in hot summer. Cinnamon flooded her senses. “Dramri?”
“My Daughter, this man died for you, My chosen one.”
“Dramri, I know that now, I weep not for him, but for my grief at the loss of his friendship.”
“It is hard to let go of friends, I know, My dear.” 
“Why did you take him Dramri?”
“It was his time. No one can deny the call of My Father.”
“You are not the Alpha God, Father?”
“I have a father. He is called Imial, the King.”
“You or Your father could have saved Vrainten. Why didn’t You?”
“As I told you, it was his time.”
“His time…. Bah! Let us live our lives for once, Dramri!”
A deep laughed issued from above. “My Daughter, you are wrong, you live until Imial, My Father, calls. When he calls, no one doubts.”
Brynna bowed her head. “My Father, how wise are you.”
GENERAL ELLADENAE RAYA HILTBLADE waited for the signal. There it was! She jumped off the rock she was sitting on and shouted, “Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarge!!” 
The men charged forward, following her lead.
They collided with the enemy. 
Her men screamed in pain. 
Adrian’s men grabbed at them for prisoners. 
“Stand your ground, men!” She shouted, avoiding Curros and preparing for the next onslaught of the inhuman creatures. Three animals charged out of the gates, bounding toward Elladenae. They were small, had lethal claws and teeth, and blueish gray-green mottled skin.
All stopped as if in slow motion. They ran forward.
Their eyes thirsted for blood. 
They were hungry. 
All would die.
They were hungry.
They had come for blood and revenge.
The creatures morphed into humans, two matching Swordmaiden Brynna’s description of the Mistress and Master of the Orphanage she grew up at. The other matched the description of EverDark’s wife, Azalea. “General,” A man called, “what are they?”
“I do not know, brave soldier. But, whatever they are, we can face them. If we die, we die for the freedom of Jaydill!” 
“Aye!” One man called.
“Aye!” The rest of the army joined in. 
“For Jaydill!” Elladenae screamed. 
“For Jaydill!” The men repeated. They charged. Everything was as if in slow motion. The creatures grappled men. They fell. Half a legion fell to the inhuman, strange creatures. She herself fought the creature called Azalea. 
“What are you?” She asked Azalea. 
Azalea shook back her copper hair and laughed. Not a human laugh, but a screeching, keening, yes literally screaming, laugh. Like a banshee. “We are the last of the Acoppa, once the rulers of Jaydill, except we call it Grakati, which in our language means suffering and fire. Once  Edai rules, it will once again be the land of fire and suffering!”
“The one you call Adrian EverDark, my mate.”
“So, plan to make us suffer under his rule?”
“Yes! And more! You will die for our feeding, you will live to serve us and our eggs, and children!!” She again did her screech of a laugh. 
Revolted, Elladenae let down her guard. It took that for Azalea to charge with flashing sharp teeth at her throat. “Agh! You are revolting!” She said, jumping away. Elladenae whistled. D’nae swooped down and trapped Elladenae in one claw and Azalea in another. 
Are you alright, Ella? 
Aye, D’nae. Just having trouble with these Acoppa. 
She whom you also trapped is one of them. Through their bond, Elladenae felt D’nae wincing at numerous cuts and scratches on the inside of her left claw. 
How far up are we, D?
About one hundred feet, Ella. 
Good. It is far enough. Quick! Open the claw carrying the Acoppa. 
Obediantly, D’nae opened her left claw, and Azalea, one of the four remaining Acoppa, plunged to her death with a scream. 
BRYNNA TRAVELED ON, PRESSING herself. After Dramri’s words at Baskewal Memorial, as Brynna now called Vrainten’s grave, she had quickened her pace and would be at Austra Desert in a week. There, she would be close enough to Sapphire, so she could summon her and they’d be a Terramont in a day, if Sapphire pressed herself like Brynna would. Brynna traveled for a week, reached the Austra, and summoned Sapphire, waiting for a day while she made the trip to the Austra. 
When Sapphire arrived, there was a warm greeting of friendship and love.
My companion! 
How are you, my companion?
I am well. You? Chrys? Herbert? Tirad? Mother?
They are fine, as am I.
Good. How goes it at home?
We have attacked Terramont again. Now we have it under seige and EverDark is in semi-shock, grieving his wife.
He sent his wife into battle? Brynna asked, incredulous.
What? Why?
They are not what we expected. They are a race we thought destroyed long ago. They are what us dragons, humans, elves, and all other races called the Acoppa. Commander Hiltblade and her dragon, my friend, D’nae, killed one known as Azalea EverDark. The others, who were called the Master and the Mistress escaped, returning inside the walls to consult EverDark, whom they call Edai RightfulRuler, whom we suspect is also Acoppa-kind. 
Master? Mistress? You mean my evil Orphanage Master and Mistress?
The same. 
All along! Inhuman creatures! Agh! I feel so stupid!
Before you left, they were sending you to the capital of Arew for Feeding Preparation or as they call it, The Rebirth. 
Wait, Sapphire! You mean they were going to eat me? 
Aye, my companion. You would have never met me, nor any of your friends. What counts is that Dramri guided you and saved you. 
Aye, Sapphire, aye. 
Dramri chose you. He protected you as his Chosen.
Aye, Dramri chose me, and I am ready to take my place as his Chosen.
SAPPHIRE AND BRYNNA TRAVELED all the rest of that day and through the night. By morning, they reached Terramont to find a devastating pile of bloody bodies garbed in the white and gold of Graceland. Sapphire landed and Brynna dashed towards the pile, praying the whole way. Oh Dramri! Please, no! She dug into the pile, uncovering bodies of her friends, Yotaiah, Brittlynn, and many of the friends she had made in her time with Gracelanders. Yotaiah and Brittlynn had life-threatening wounds, but they were still breathing. “With the power you gave me, O Dramri, I heal these two.” Brynna whispered. Brittlynn’s wound faded away, as did Yotaiah’s some of Brynna’s own strength left her. “I thank you, O Dramri.” She said, leaning back and waiting for Brittlynn and Yotaiah to awaken. Yotaiah stirred and opened her blue-gray eyes. 
“Ry, the kings. The queen. They were taken. Hurry! You must rescue them before it is too late….” 
“Too late?”
“Hurry!” Yotaiah jumped up. 
“Yotaiah! We must wait for Brittlynn.”
“She survived?”
“Aye! Now. Sit back down, Yotaiah, and talk intelligibly. Explain everything.”
“So, after you left—“
“I got captured.”
“We decided to attack again,”
“Quite a mistake, Yotaiah.”
“Stop interrupting!”
“And there were these Acoppa,”
“Sapphire already told me about the Acoppa.”
“Okay, I will skip ahead, to after Sapphire left. So, when she left, Chrystillion decided to sneak into Terramont. She got captured, along with Tirad, Herbert, Commander Elladenae, and Ain.”
“Wait! How did Ain get into this?”
“He was rescued by the Commander on his way to Adrian.”
“And how did this pile of bodies get here?” 
“Adrian’s work. We were defeated. The only loyal Jaydillians left are Brittlyn, me, and other who are in hiding, unable to fight. We must rescue our sovereigns or they will die and we will not be able to do this. We must do what they could not. We must get into Terramont unseen.”
AFTER BRITTLYNN AWOKE, THEY explained their plan and she agreed to help. Next, doing what Yotaiah said had been a challenge, but they soon emerged onto the streets of Terramont. 
“Where do we go from here, Ry?”
Brynna turned and sighed. “Now, we go to the dungeon, the most horrible place in all of Terramont.”
“Well, Ry,” said Brittlynn. “Geronimo!”
AFTER WALKING IN CIRCLES for three hours, Yotaiah questioned Brynna. “Where are we actually going? Have you ever been to the dungeon, Princess Brynna Jakoso?” Brynna gulped. Yotaiah had to be pretty peeved to use her real name. 
“No,” Brynna answered. “Not really… Only to the third level down. It’s level six down.”
“Knew it. Never follow someone to where they have never been.”
“Yotaiah, I’m sorry. I have no idea where I am going.”
“It’s hopeless, ‘Taia, Ry.” Brittlynn said from behind them. 
“It is.”
A woman came out of the shadows. As light spilled across her face Brynna recongnized her mentor, Jane FireSpeaker. “You know who is glad to hear that?”
“Answer my question.”
“All of them. I come from the dungeon myself. I escaped, but the Kings and Queens were in a different section, so I had the wrong keys. Queen Chrystillion want you to know she believes in you, same with your mother. Tirad threatens to banish you if you give up, same with Herbert. Ain says you are his hero and Dray says he loves you. Cephas says if you give up, he and the others will be killed. Shyla says your are the best mother ever and Commander Elladenae sent you this.” On Jane’s extended palm there rested a necklace, whistle, and Commander’s badge. “She said it was vital you also got this.” Jane reached into her dress pocket, pulling out a small pouch. Brynna took all four of the gifts, sticking the first three in her tunic pocket then examining the pouch. She opened it and was assaulted with lovely scents. 
“Wow. Smells good, but what is it?”
“She said it would help you overpower the guards.”
“Overpower? How?” Brynna took a pinch of it and sniffed it. A few seconds later, she hit the floor and all was black. 
“RY, RY! GET UP, sleepy!” Brynna opened her eyes. 
“What happened?”
“You took a nice whiff of that powder then fainted. Jane thinks it is pollen from Valias, most use Valia pollen to make knock-out powder. It’s pretty hard to get and super expensive.”
“My, that is strong. Sure gives you a headache.”
“So we do that to the guards and BAM! we’re in?”
“Yeah, now we got stuff to do, so come one, we have people waiting! This is a life or death matter, Ry!”
“Geronimo!!” Jane, Brynna, and Brittlynn joined in. Then they all ran after Jane.
Chapter 12
THEY ARRIVED IN THE dungeon a half hour later, and ended up lost again. Since they could ask no one for directions, they were very vexed with themselves for this, and Brynna was especially discouraged. Help came in the form of a girl, no older than eighteen, no younger than twelve. She had golden hair to her waist and catlike green eyes. When she noticed them and went after them, the three women turned and pounced. Jane instantly had her arms around the girl’s neck, and Brynna twisted the girl’s hands behind her. It was Yotaiah and Brittlynn who interrogated her. 
“What are you here for?” Yotaiah asked harshly.
“I’m ‘ere to see me brother, Eddin Ratyl.”
“Why did you follow us?” Brittlynn asked her.
“I was curious why yer runnin’ at the sight of them guards there.”
Brynna loosened her grip on the girl’s arms and Jane let go of her neck. “What is your name?”
“I be Gretchen. Gretchen Ratyl.” 
Brynna searched the girl’s well-organized mind before she got pushed out by walls that guarded the girl’s mind. “You are lying.”
“I ain’t! I am absolutely not lying!” 
“Your tone, voice, and English just changed. Who are you really?”
The girl stared at the ground for a moment then mumbled something. 
“What was that?”
“I am truly Lady Caellia Silver, eldest daughter of Lord Rylin Silver.”
“Ah! Then it will please you to know your father lives, but we try to rescue him now before her meets a terrible end.”
“I can’t go back.”
“What?” Brynna turned to Yotaiah for answers. Yotaiah mouthed what looked like: ‘She ran away a few years back. She must have joined Adrian’.
“I can’t. He won’t let me. Not after what I have done.” 
“What have you done?”
Caellia broke into sobs. “I joined his enemies! He’d hate me now! I turned my own brother in! Eddin is in jail because of me! I turned in the Queens, Kings, and everybody else captured in the past battle! I deserve to die! Please, I beg you, kill me now!”
Caellia’s plea broke Brynna’s heart. “Are you willing to serve a sentence for your deeds? Are you willing to confess them to Dramri?”
“Yes! Yes!” Caellia wept. 
“Then I, as Princess Brynna Särayla Jakoso cleanse you from your crimes, as long as you will promise to serve the Four Kings and Queens until you die or we release you from this promise.”
“I promise! I promise on the throne of my father!”
“Good. I will hold you to that. Now, do you know where they are being kept?” Caellia nodded. 
“Lead us there, will you?”
“Sure!” Caellia started off on a swift pace and they all followed.
TWENTY-THREE MINUTES AND FIFTEEN seconds later they arrived in the wing of the dungeon The Kings and Queens were being kept in. The Kings and Queens were filthy. Dirt covered them from head to toe. They were also very thin. 
“Brynna! You found us!” Chrystillion cried happily. 
“Chrys! Sh! They will hear us!” 
“No, they are changing shifts so we are alone.”
“Who is the friend, Ry?” Chrystillion squinted. “No… Is that you? Caellia Silver, is that truly you?”
“How are you, Your Majesty?”
“Oh, Caellia! You will not like this, but your mother was killed. She died protecting your father. I’m sorry.” 
Caellia broke into sobs again. She leaned on Brynna and the tears absolutely rained from her eyes. “Mama. Not Mama….” She mumbled.
“It’s okay, Caellia, at least your father lives.” 
“No, Ry, he died during the torture. Only we Kings and Queens, Dray, Cephas, Jarlindina, Shyla, and Commander Hiltblade lived.”
At this, Caellia wept harder. The only movement she made was handing a key ring to Jane. Jane unlocked the door to the prison and the prisoners were free. They had been rescued. It was now time to save Jaydill from Adrian EverDark.
CAELLIA LYANA SILVER LAUGHED and ran after her brother. “I’ll get you for that, Eddin!” Caellia called, panting. She sat down on a log to catch her breath. Rustling came from the bushes behind Caellia. “Eddin?” She whispered. A man approached her from the bushes. “W-who are you?” Caellia asked the man.
“I am Ryan Ryder, ShadowWeaver. You know your father always loved Eddin more. Essa too. I offer you a chance to get revenge! I offer you a chance to be an important person in the new ruler’s court, you can even become Queen!”
“Ah! It is true!”
“Join me, Lady Caellia, and I will see to what you deserve—Life as Queen!”
“I join ally myself with you and your master. I will do whatever you ask of me.” 
The man chuckled. “Good, good. My master will be pleased.” Shadows enveloped Caellia, she screamed and awoke.
Caellia Lyana Silver shot up, screaming. She wiped the sweat from her brow and wept. Her familiar nightmare, a ghost of the past. It replayed the worst decision of her life. The loss of her pure heart. She rocked back and forth, crying her heart out.  “Why did I ever do it? WHY?! Why did you let me do it, Dramri?” She yelled. “WHY?!”
Cinnamon. “Caellia Lyana Silver, because I loved you, I let you make the choice, Me or him. Now, you can turn from Cupramae’s ways and give into me. Choose again, My Daughter, Me or him?”
Weeping and still rocking back and forth, she said, “You, I choose You.”
“Good. No longer will this haunt you, for you have been forgiven!” A flash of bright light, then all smell was gone and Caellia was alone.
BRYNNA AWOKE TO A  scream, a long wailing scream. Then sobs. They came from Caellia’s tent. Brynna stood and walked over to Caellia’s tent. She stood in the door flap, watching Caellia talk to something unseen, then a bright flash. “Caellia? You okay?” Brynna called.
“I am fine, my lady.”
“You sure? I heard you scream.”
“Just a bad dream.”
“Okay. I’ll see you in the morning, Caellia.”
CAELLIA LAID BACK AFTER Princess Brynna left. The fire of happiness lit in her heart. It was all too good to take in. She was forgiven! Her nightmare would no longer come! She was free from her past! The bucket of unhappy water dumped on the fire. All but Ryan’s tests on her. She shivered had the thought of what he had done. Ryan. Never trust a ShadowWeaver. The shadows around her lengthened. She lit a candle to reveal a man hiding in them. “Ryan!”
“Hello, traitor. You swore allegiance. The only way to break it is to rejoin us of die. Choose, Caellia. Remember what was promised. Just do what I taught you and come with me and all will be well. If not,” Ryan produced shadows black is night. “Death will be your punishment.”
“No, no!” Caellia whispered fearfully, taking a step back. 
“Just do it. All will be well, Caellia.”
“No!!!” She screamed. 
“Do it or I will manipulate your power on my own. Whether you like it or not, you are coming with me.”
She could already feel him doing just that. “Noooooo!!!” She screamed as she felt it starting up. “NO!! DRAMRI!!” She screamed as the change made her fall unconscious.
Chapter 14
The Change
CAELLIA AWOKE, LYING IN a soft bed. She shot up. No! No! No!!! She could not be back!! She stood up and looked around. She was in her room back at Terramont. No…. Dramri promised. She had given herself to Dramri. How could he let this happen? Ack. How could this happen? A man entered. No, not EverDark! He chuckled at her resistance. She felt like the shields on her mind were covered in liquid butter. They slipped from her grasp. She felt him sift through the memories of the last day. 
“Welcome back, Caellia Silver.” He said, smiling. 
“Adrian,” she spat back. 
“My, my. Such venomous words for one so easily…. manipulated.”
“I am Dramri’s, you cannot harm me.” She thought for a moment. 
“Words have power, Silver.” 
“Power that my King overrules. With him, I fear nothing. Not you, not Master, not Mistress, not Azalea, not Astrid in her egg, nobody. Dramri is my strength even in my greatest weakness.”
“Again, Silver, such venom.”
“Venom. You are one to speak, Adrian.”
Adrian raised an eyebrow. “Ah. What is your point, Silver?”
“You. Will. Be. Stopped.”
“Anger guides you. Give in and all will be well.”
“Your words sound true but you lie.”
“False wisdom flavors your words.”
“A quote from Imial’s Book, ‘Blessed are you when other revile you and make you suffer all kinds of pain on My account. Rejoice and be glad in Me for your reward is great in Shayali.’”
“You do evil, but you memorize from The Book. Is it so true you really follow him? You said that when you joined me, but your actions showed otherwise.”
His persuasively spoken words were already muddling her mind. “Stop it. Go away, Adrian.”
“Ryder!” Adrian shouted harshly. 
Ryan scurried in. “Yes, Your Most Handsomeness?” 
“Take care of the traitor. Do what you want, but keep her alive.”
“Yes, Your Most Powerfulness.”
“Good. I will see you and the traitor in three days. Make sure she masters her power. Do not fail me.”
“Y-yes, Your Most Evilness.”
“Three days, Silver, Ryder.”
“Three days, Master.” Ryan echoed, shooting a glare of pure happiness at Caellia. This did not bode well.
BRYNNA STOOD IN A battle, wolves, men, elves, and the loyal of Jaydill all around her. Bright light spilled across the army, and spicy-sweet smell of cinnamon reached their sinuses. 
“Dramri? Imial?”
“My Daughter,” it was like Dramri’s voice, but enforced with more love, more power, more awesomeness.
“I take it My Son told you of me.”
“Yes, but, oh, Imial, you are my Father. Oh, I live to serve YOU.”
“That is what it takes. To achieve the freedom of Jaydill, you must gather all races and sacrifice one you love. It will be a willing sacrifice. One must do it of willing love. Here is a riddle, what you may call a prophecy.
Midnight’s Light, 
Ever Bright,
Will tell the tale,
Of one male,
Tryadi’s Night, 
Sacrifice’s Might,
A Man,
Will sacrifice his happiness,
For his Love’s. 
That is True Sacrifice.
“A man. Oh, Father Imial, you cannot mean Dray!”
“I do mean your husband, but there is a way to avoid it.”
“How, Father? HOW?” 
“It will be told to you when the time is right. Farewell, My Daughter.”
Brynna awoke in the morning with a bad feeling. Screams echoed in her brain. Caellia. She had screamed. Later, she heard another through her dreams. What had been the poor girl’s fate? She sent up a quick prayer to Imial and Dramri and headed to the tent they had set up for Caellia. Empty. Breaking into a run towards the nearby forest, Brynna yelled, “CAELLIA!!” Her yell echoed on the thick trees and then silenced. Caellia was gone. Had she betrayed them or was she gone against her will? Brynna would found out the truth. Amethyst would be avenged. Tears pouring forth, Brynna ran swiftly, practically traveled at the speed of light towards camp. “Okay, everyone! Pack up! We make for the Windblown Forest to seek out the Wolves of Legend and the Wyverns! Then we go the The Forest of the Elves, for the Forest Elves! Then to Trysn Desert, for the Desert Elves! Then we seek out the fabled Jameil, The Home of Stars! Then to the center of the Grace Canyons, to the great volcano for the Fire Elves! We make to Rayil for the underground home of the Dwarves! Then we look to the shadows for ShadowWeavers! The to Terramont for a non-evil Acoppa! Then to the Kalajamae Forest for the Dragons! Then to the abandoned Castle Sarri for the Dryads and Wizards! And lastly, to The Dry River for the Shape-Shifters!! . Can. Win. This.! FOR DRAMRI!!”
The men echoed, “FOR DRAMRI!!”
Chapter 15
THEY ARRIVED AT THE Windblown Forest at about noon the next day. The men spread out, searching the forest. But Brynna knew they would only come out to one of pure heart. The only one close to that title was herself, not to brag. So she set to wandering the forest, waiting. About 4:00 o’clock when they were setting up camp, a slim figure slipped out of the woods, followed by two others. “Shymmer? Syndra? Midnightfog?” 
“Hello, friend. You turned out to be more than we imagined. We owe you our allegiance. And along with it, the allegiance of our people, the Wolves of Legend.”
“You mean you are aiding us in our stand against evil, do you not?”
“Aye,” Syndra said, “as the Queen of my people, I give you all we have to give, our teeth, claws, and hearts. We will fight on your side, and fight as fierce as if you were our brethren.” 
“Thank you, brave ones, you honor me with your allegiance.”
“Ah, but, you honor us with your acceptance, Your Highness.” Syndra answered, doing a strange wolf-like bow. 
“Go and bring back your brethren. I and my army will await you and your brethren.”
“We will come back, Your Majesty.”
“Please, Syndra, Shymmer, Midnightfog, call me Brynna. None of that ‘Majesty’ stuff. I’m just a regular Elf.”
“As you wish.” Shymmer bowed and sprinted off. 
“Forgive our daughter, for she know not the mannerisms to use around royalty,” Midnightfog said, ducking his head.
“It is alright, Sir Midnightfog.”
“Your new title.”
“Thank you, my lady,” Midnightfog dashed off.
“I will go now to round up the loyal Wolves for your army, my lady. Until then,” Syndra raised her paw to her forehead and saluted.
“Until then, General Syndra.” Brynna saluted back, watching her friend leave. She sighed and turned into the scarred face of a man surrounded by shadows. A ShadowWeaver. He grinned.
“Hello, my lady. My master would like to see you. Maybe do a few experiments… After all, you miss Caellia Silver, do you not?” Before Brynna could scream, he covered her mouth. He hit her hard with a rock and as darkness took her, she said, “You… Will… Not… Get… Away… With….. This…..” 
“But I already have, my lady,” She heard him say with a laugh. And all was dark.
RYAN ENTERED THE ROOM, carrying a woman, long midnight hair sprawled out on her fair face, elven ears poked out of the mess. She wore a long white dress, trimmed with gold. 
Caellia jumped off the bed, limbs aching and head swirling. “Princess Brynna!”
Ryan laughed. “She is alive. I you do not cooperate, though, she will die.” Humph. The princess would die anyway if she cooperated. Adrian showed no mercy. Ryan laid the princess down on the room’s extra bed. Caellia walked over to sit beside her. She combed the hair from Brynna’s face and sighed. Was she willing to slay her freedom for her liege lord’s? 
She looked up to Shayali. “Dramri, give me strength.” She laid her head on the princess’s slow-moving, shadow wrapped chest, and wept.
BRYNNA AWOKE SLOWLY, FEELING depressed and wanting to die. Weight on her chest slowed her already slow breathing, and she felt useless. She opened her eyes. “C-Caellia? Where are we? How did you get here? Why am I here? Did you betray us?”
Caellia sat up and shook her head. “I definitely did not betray you! We are at Terramont, I was captured… You were also captured, as well.”
“So, why does Adrian want me?”
Caellia sighed and whispered, “To kill you. To keep you from your destiny.”
“Ah. How do we stop him?”
Caellia laughed. “’Stop him?’  He cannot be stopped! What you propose, is impossible. A dream. A fairy-tale. It. Is. Impossible.”
A voice sounded from behind them. “So, Silver. You sound like you are giving in.”
“What? No, I’ll never give in.” Though her words were strong, her voice was shaky. 
Brynna turned halfway to the face of Adrian EverDark and a handful of… shadows. He threw them at her, and she screamed, falling back onto the bed and again met the blackness.
BRYNNA AAWOKE AGAIN, SOAKED in sweat and heart rate rapid. “Caellia,” she gasped. “W-what happened?”
“My lady. You are alive!”
“I never died.”
“You ask what happened…. Adrian is trying to turn you to evil. Shadows darken your heart, so he tried to use them on you. After you fell unconscious, you emitted a bright light and Dramri spoke through you.”
“What did He say?”
“He said that you were His, and Adrian could not harm you. And He said something else. To me. Personally.” Brynna saw the faintest sparkle of tear-streaks on Caellia’s fair face. 
“I understand.”
“You understand why I am not telling you?”
“Yes, and it is not considered deception. It is called privacy.”
“Oh. Thank you, my lady.”
“Please, call me Brynna.”
“Okay, m’lad-Brynna.”
“Thank you.”
“It was an honor.”
“And while you all babble politely, you do no stop to think, what is your fate?”
Caellia turned halfway. “Go away, Adrian, you’ve done enough damage here.”
“Truly? I’m just getting started. Ryder!” A different man enter, with handsome black hair and a tan face, brought together with brown eyes. “Start the shadows.” The man chanted, the shadows growing.
“Caellia! What is he doing?”
Face pale, Caellia spoke, her words ghostlike, came in a whisper. “He is calling the shadows. We must flee! We must flee now! H-he’ll make me c-change!!” Caellia jumped up and dashed for the wall. She pressed stones in so they shaped a door, then they all fell apart, into fine silver dust. To reveal a gleaming metal door. Caellia dashed through, but Brynna watched in horror as Caellia morphed into something fearsome. She was an Acoppa.
Chapter 17
“NO!” CAELLIA CRIED OUT in horror. “No!” She had felt it coming. Why? And in front of Jaydill’s young future queen! “Ryan, how dare you? And with no warning!”
“Caellia? How? I-I thought you were on our side.”
“My lady, please, I can explain. I was not born one!” She glared at Ryan and Adrian. “They did this to me.” The shadows continued to grow as they spoke, the seeds of discord lengthened the dark, dark shadows. “My lady, please, go while you still can!!” Caellia screamed, anguished. When the princess escaped through the hidden door, Caellia went unconscious. 
Brynna closed the door all but a little bit, when she saw Caellia fall, she ran down the tunnel, weeping bitterly. The door shut with a bang, and Brynna was alone in the dark.
CHRYSTILLION AWOKE TO GENTLE PADDING. SOMEONE was coming….. She jumped out of bed, struck a hasty match and lit her candle. It illuminated dark blue oceanic eyes and black fur. A wolf stood in the door flap to her tent, bowing. “My lady,” the she-wolf spoke in a soft, growling voice, almost like a purr, but this was no feline. “The Swordmaiden Princess has been kidnapped. Soon after me and my parents finished talking with her, a ShadowWeaver took her to Adrian.”
“Thank you….?”
“Lady Shymmer of the Windblown Forest.”
“Ah, Lady Shymmer, thank you. Ry has a tendency to get captured. After all, everyone wants to do it. Though I suspect there is a spy in camp, for how did he know her exact location?”
“My thoughts, my lady. We cannot grieve her capture, for my troops are assembled. She informed me you intend to go other places. We are ready to go. And we are at your service, as you, I see, are of pure heart. Like your niece.”
“Good. We travel to the heart of the fair forest for the dreaded Wyverns.”
Caellia Lyana Silver jerked out of unconsciousness. “Lord EverDark, she is awake!” Ryan’s voice. 
“Finally!” Adrian’s. He came into her field of vision. “Hello Caellia. Just thought you would like to know, we caught your infamous escaping princess. She’s ours. Just though I’d tell you that.” 
Caellia met blackness.
Brynna dashed out of the tunnel, into the light, and strait into the arms of a burly guard. She screamed and felt a blow to the back of her head. And she met unholy black.
BRYNNA AWOKE CHAINED TO the floor of a dark, dank cell. She was alone, all except for the lone guard who stood there, looking proud. “Hey, why am I here?” She called to the soldier, batting her eyes. 
“Don’t you try your looks on me, missy, but if ye be wonderin’ yer here for high treason to the crown of Graceland.”
“You attacked him, turned his servant against him, and killed Azalea EverDark.”
“I attacked him because he is very evil, Dramri himself chose me to rule, not some mutated creature.”
“Hey, I do my job, and that’s what I heard, so ye better get quiet, or I’ll quiet you myself.”
“Children, children.” Adrian strode in, holding up a hand.  Brynna glared at him, spitting.
“Adrian EverDark, what are you doing here?”
“I’m here to resolve this once and for all.” Men dashed through the slim opening to the dungeon. “Jailor, unlock the cell.” The Jailor unlocked her cell, and three men dashed in. One drew his sword and held it by her throat. The other two unlocked thick metal links by the wall and held the ends of her chains. 
“Up,” the man who had her at knife-point, well, sword-point, said. Brynna obeyed and awkwardly stood. “Walk forward.” She willed her legs to go forward. When they came to Adrian, the soldier said, “Stop.” Brynna obeyed again. 
Adrian smiled. “Please, my lady, sit.”
“Shut it, EverDark.”
“My, my is this how you treat YOUR KING?”
“You are the king of nothing.” 
“I am the king of this country, and you best remember that, Crossblade!”
“Keep the ‘my lady’ it’s better than that.”
“Keep quiet….. my lady.”
“Now, what do you need?”
“I need you to DIE!!” 
Brynna met darkness for the last time.
“Awaken, My Daughter.”
“Dramri? Am I dead?”
“Yes, but I thought you would catch on at ‘Chosen One’ and ‘My Daughter’.”
“You mean I am the Savior some many have waited for? I cannot be!”
“When My Father told me, I doubted, but as I grew to know you, it was clear.”
“So I will fulfill this prophecy?”
“Aye. You know the prophecy?”
“Ah. Here it is:
When oppression is near,
We could Perish in ‘Fire and Death’,
A Savior will come,
To save us all!”
“Father, how can I fulfill this? If I am this Savior, I am not ready!”
“It is for that reason, Daughter, I know you are. Go now, save Jaydill, you are now alive.”
Brynna breathed in and stood. “It’s time to defeat you, Adrian EverDark.”
Chapter 19
Adrian took a step back and gasped. “How? He killed you!”
“Yes, I understand that, but Dramri raised, me as I am His Savior.”
“What? No! I cannot be defeated!”
“According to my Father, it is possible.”
“Now, where are you keeping Caellia?” Brynna asked, hoisting up her guard’s sword to Adrian’s neck.
“In the imfirmary.”
“Goodbye, then.”
“Guards! Get me Ryan Ryder!”
Two guards ran off. Brynna dashed down the hall, up the stairs, through the archways, out into the street, rescued Caellia out of Terramont’s imfirmary, turned a ShadowWeaver to their side, and ran out of Terramont. Once in an open field, praying Sapphire had gotten an earlier mind-message, she whistled long and loud. Sapphire swooped down from the sky and landed gracefully. “Sapphire!” Brynna hugged the dragon. 
Hello, my companion.
How is everyone, Sapphire?
Well, Chrystillion is about to go crazy with traveling, but we’ve gathering all but the Acoppa and the ShadowWeavers.
Did you tell Chrys?
Well, let us go! Brynna helped Caellia and the ShadowWeaver onto Sapphire and then mounted. On command, Sapphire flew off.
CHRYSTILLION GRACE JAKOSO ROUNDED the last bend and Terramont was in her view. Grassy rolling hills and beyond that, Terramont was standing majestically in the early morning sunlight. Ry’s dream! 
Grassy rolling hills and beyond that, a white castle was standing majestically in the early morning sunlight.
The exact explanation! It was all coming true. The fall of Terramont. Her majestic home, the home of her ancestors. Mother and Father were buried there. This cannot happen! 
Dramri, show us how to avoid Terramont’s fall. 
Cinnamon. A voice boomed in her mind. Go to Tryadi after rallying ShadowWeavers and Acoppa. Meet with Brynna in a field three miles from here. Go! She will explain what must happen.
Thank you, my Father.
You are welcome, My Daughter.” The scent of cinnamon left her and she ran off to tell Dray, Tirad, Gwennalyn, and Herbert.
After Dramri repeated this all to Brynna, she sat to wait with Caellia and the ShadowWeaver, who introduced himself as Ryan Ryder. Thirty minutes later an army marched into the valley. Brynna met up with Chrystillion, told her of her new identity and told her Dramri’s prophecy. 
“So, you are ment to save us?”
“Yes, and I intend to sacrifice myself in Dray’s place, Cephus and Shyla need a fazther more than a mother.”
“Ry, they need both.”
“Sorry, but I can’t give them that.”
“You can.”
“I don’t know, but you can.”
“Humph to you too, Ry.”
Brynna and Dray stood over a fiery river, one called by Dramri. It was the color of blood, and Dramri said if the prophecy was not fulfilled, Jaydill would be a river of blood. 
“Dray,” Brynna’s voice caught in her throat. “I love you.”
“I know you cannot bear this, Ry, love, but for your happiness, for you life, because I love you, I must do this.”
“I know. Farewell, my love.” They embraced and kissed, but as Dray was about to jump, Caellia dashed in. 
“Wait! I cannot let you die, Lord Dray. I will sacrifice myself for Jaydill.”
“Caellia, you must fight in the coming battle, Dramri said.”
“But Dramri just told me, I must go. I will do it.” And before they could stop her, Caellia Silver jumped into the river and it vanished, taking Caellia with it, thus, Caellia Silver passed from Jaydill and into the hands of Dramri and Imial. 
“Goodbye, Caellia, now you have cleaned the hearts of many and saved Jaydill.” Brynna and Dray passed into Tryadi, bombarded with questions. 
“Caellia did it, she sacrificed herself. She is now with her mother and father. Come, we must go and fight Adrian’s forces, destroy the last of the Acoppa. Tha sacrifice might have killed Adrian, but his army still lives, and while it does, I fear we cannot rest.” Dray said.
“Geronimo!” Brynna yelled.
“Geronimo!” Her army yelled in answer. And they set out for Terramont again.
They arrived back at Terramont four hours later. His forces stood there, ready. 
“Attack!” Elladenae Raya Hiltblade screamed over the clamoring voices. Her regiment charges forward with the others, clashing with the evil side.  From above, the dragons roared and dived, dropping rocks and burning Curros. Wyverns and Wolves charged forward together,  Stars fell from the sky, turning into different things and shooting flames out of their hands. 
All creatures attacked the evil side. There were,
The Desert Elves,
The Water Elves,
The Wood Elves, 
The Fire Elves,
The Shape-Shifters,
The Acoppa,
The Dwarves
The Dryads,
One Shadow-Weaver,
And the Wizards. 
Elladenae charged forward, felling many. A Curro stabbed her from behind and with a startled cry, she fell. A soldier dashed over. “Commander!”
“First Major… I pass my job to you. Take good care of the men. Farewell.”
“Commander!” He shouted again as Elladenae went limp and the life left her.
Brynna Särayla Jakoso watched in shock as Commander Hiltblade fell. She shook out of it and ran forward, killing two Curros. 
Two Acoppa ran up to her, looking smug. “Hello, m’lady.”
“Aye, I see you remember me well.”
“Yeah,” Brynna said darkly.
“How are you, Brynna?”
“Master,” she spat.
“Oh, be quiet.” Master said, as he and Mistress jumped forward. 
Brynna took a big step backwards. “You harmed me many times in my childhood, same with many innocent children. Now I put a stop to your abuse! Die!” She stabbed Master and then advanced upon Mistress. “Your mate is dead. Join him!” She again stabbed forward, killing Mistress. She looked up, realizing no one came out of the gate anymore. They had reached Terramont and the army was dead. “We won! Dramri has won!” She yelled. 
“WE WON! DRAMRI HAS WON!” Her army repeated. And it was true. Good always wins. Always.
Brynna wished for a week of rest. Or a day. Just an hour! But, Terramont was busy preparing for her coronation. They wanted white and gold silk, fine. She just wanted to get crowned! Finally, today she would become Queen Brynna Sarayla Jakoso, Queen of Graceland, Arew, and Tryadi, and High Lady of The Sea of Andornyon. She just hoped she’d survive the ceremony.
Brynna walked arm-in-arm with Dray down to the Thrones of Jaydill. Two thrones. Two rulers. Her royal red, purple and ermine cape felt like boulders on her tired shoulders. She and Dray turned to stand in front of the thrones. 
“Do you, Dray Crossblade, promise to be loyal to your Queen, and advise her well?”
“With the wisdom Dramri gave me, I do.”
“Then I anoint you the Queen’s right hand.
“Do you, Brynna Crossblade, promise to be loyal to Jaydill, and do what is best for it?”
“With the wisdom Dramri gave me, I do.”
“Then, I anoint you Queen Brynna Sarayla Jakoso Crossblade, Queen of Arew, Graceland, and Tryadi, and High Lady of The Sea of Andornyon.”
“I give you all your King and Queen!” The crowd cheered. Brynna sighed. Well, she’d survived. 
Book Three
Chapter One
Loud voices drifted down through a vent, waking Gemma Gemayla Crossblade Jakoso. “Our prisoner is a direct descendent of our greatest enemy! I say we use her to draw her father and family away from Terramont!”
A nasally voice spoke. “No… My spies found her real lineage. She is the daughter of Adrian and Azalea EverDark. If we can make her change, then her true self will destroy our enemies and we can rule.”
“No,” whispered Gemma. “It can’t be. I cannot be an Acoppa,” she raised her voice a tone louder. “I am no Acoppa!”
A man stepped out of the shadows. “Your true identity scares you, does it? Well, Astria, this is your destiny. To take on where your parents left off.”
“I told you! I. Am. Not. An. Acoppa.!”
He chuckled. “You have your mother’s hair. Your father’s eyes. Her attitude. His drive.”
“Be silent!”
He crept towards her. “Truth scares you? A weakness.” He spat.
“Leave me be!” She said, as his advancement pressed her against the wall.
“Weak. Weakness can be trained out. Now, change! Turn to us. All you have to do is change!” She felt him probe past a wall she had never ventured by in her mind, and she met black.
Brynna Särayla Jakoso Crossblade gasped and shot up. “Gemma!” Beside her, Dray awoke.
“Ry, you okay?”
“Yeah. Just a bad dream.”
“About what?” He rubbed her back.
“They haunt you, don’t they?”
“Try to sleep. Tomorrow’s a big day.”
“Our Cephus’s coronation.”
“He’ll make a great king.”
“Yes, he will. Now, sleep, love.”
“Yes,” she giggled. “My King.”
“My Queen.” And then Brynna laid back and slept.
Cephus Peatyr Crossblade knew how his mother felt when she carried this same cape. Man! He thought. I’m gonna have shoulder pain for a week! Jarlindina walked beside him, wearing a similar cape.
Yes, Ceph?
You look regal. How can you bear that cape?
Mine is probably lighter. Her soft laughter filled his head. 
No, really.
I’m telling you, they probably expect me to not be able to bear something so heavy.
Cephas gazed at her fair willowy form. You’re probably right.
Keep your eyes ahead and don’t turn your head. You’re ruining the ceremony.
Ha. Lemme guess, ‘The future king turned his head and gazed at his beautiful future queen and the ceremony blew up.’
Cephas. You know what I mean.
Hey, I can joke, right?
Yeah. You see Gem this morning?
Hmmm…. Wonder where she got off to. We picked out a lovely dress for her to wear.
Jarly. You know how she is about dresses.
Yeah. ‘I don’t wanna wear dresses, Mama! I’m fine in comfy tunics and leggings!’
Cephas grinned at the thought of his defiant twenty-four-year-old daughter. I’ll ask Ain after the ceremony.
After the ceremony is the feast.
Fine. After the feast.
After the feast is the parade.
After the parade?
That should be fine, love.
Good. Happy?
“Prince Cephas Peatyr Crossblade, come forth,” his elderly father, also his mother’s chief adviser, king of the Land, lord of the Sea, said. Cehas stepped forward. His father lifted an ornate crown, engraved a dragon fighting another dragons, and on the front, the crest of Jaydill; a white dove with wings widespread, gold light spilling from it’s chest, filled in with what was once melted gold. “Kneel, Prince Cephas.” Cephas knelt before his father. “Do you, Prince Cephas Peatyr Crossblade, promise to be true to Jaydill and it’s people, to govern them as wisely as those before you and to obey the call of Dramri and Imial?”
“With the wisdom given to me by Dramri, I do.”
Dray set the crown on his head. “I crown you King Cephas Peatyr Crossblade, King of the Land and Lord of the Sea!” Dray turned to Jarlindina. He lifted a crown made of silver and gold, it was beautiful, for the maker must have melted the both and twisted them, it was set with jewels of all colors, all around a rainbow. “Princess Jarlindina Raiola Fahrid Crossblade, come forth.” Jarlindina came to stand in front of Dray. “Kneel, Princess Jarlindina.” She knelt. “Do you, Princess Jarlindina Raiola Fahrid Crossblade, promise to be true to Jaydill, her people, and her king, to advise him wisely and to obey the call of Dramri and Imial?”
“With the wisdom Dramri gave me, I do.”
Dray set the crown on Jarlindina’s head. “I crown you Queen Jarlindina Raiola Fahrid Crossblade, Queen of the Land, Lady of the Sea, and royal Adviser of King Cephas!” He beckoned for them to stand. They obeyed. “Jaydill, I give you your King and Queen, Queen Jarlindina the Lovely,” at this Jarlindina blushed, “and King Cephas the Kind!” The crowd roared.
Wow, they love us.
No, my king. They love you.
But, my queen, it must be you they love. You are the beautiful one.
You are the kind one.
But, all in all, lovely queen, it has to be both of us.
Yes, my king. You are right. No wonder you are king.
“Stand in my presence!” He boomed. Gemma forced herself to stand, wiping the blood from a gash on her forehead.
“What do you want, Pada?”
“Your allegiance, like usual.”
“Well, you are not getting it. It belongs to my father, King Cephas of Jaydill.”
“Ha! Your father was Edai RightfulRuler!”
“That may be my biological father, but my father is the only one I knew, Cephas Peatyr Crossblade!”
“Be quiet already. Your speeches are annoying.”
“Hey, kid, you know, We could always kill two certain someones….” Two men walked in, carrying Saraine and Elisik.
“Saraine! Elisik! Let them go, Pada. They have nothing to do with this.”
“Ah, but they do. Friends can be very good bargaining tools.”
“No! They are not your family!” He glared at Saraine and Elisik’s captors. “Take them away.”
“But I am.” A tall woman walked in. “As your little sister, Astrid ElfKiller.” She grinned. “I’m ten.”
“Ten?” Gemma gaped.
“Yes. Our race matures rapidly in the care of another of our race.”
“So why am I not maturing rapidly?”
“You did not grow up in the hands of Acoppa.”
“So, there is another Acoppa out there?”
“Yes. The father of us all. Cupramae.”
“The devil? I am a spawn of the devil?”
“Yes. What did you expect? Dramri? Imial?”
“Well, no but this is drastic! The devil?”
“Why, yes. Wanna meet him?”
“Noooo. I cannot.” She back into the corner, Astrid stalking closer.
“Open the doors. Unleash him!”
“Nooooo!! Dramri!! Imial!!”
“They have no power here, Astria. Sit down and get ready for the show. This is what will turn you.” Astrid morphed into the creature she really was and sat to wait. Dumbfounded, Gemma also sat. A huge beast stepped out of the large gate that opened. A large Acoppa. Gemma noticed.
“Who dares wake me?” A demonic voice boomed.
“It is I, Astrid ElfKiller.” Astrid said, standing.
“Ah, my dear Astrid. Why do you wake me?”
“I have found my elder sister, Astria LightsBane.”
“Ah, Astria. It has been so long.”
“You speak with the venom of a believer.” He pressed Astrid against a wall. “Is she a believer?”
“My lord, I did not know of this…. deception!”
“Yes, Cupramae, I am a believer! I am a believer of Dramri and Imial!”
“Were they ever there for you?”
“They are always here for me!”
“What about the time you got lost in that sandstorm? You had to find your own way out! And you broke your leg in the process.”
“You dare command me?”
“Now you’ve done it, Astria,” Astrid mumbled under her breath.
“I shall teach you to command me!” He swiped his enormous claw at Gemma, gashing her stomach and knocking her against the wall. Gemma held a hand to her stomach, gasping for breath.
“You won’t get away with this!”
“Really?” He hit her again with his claw, widening the gash in her stomach.
As she started to feel faint, she repeated herself. “You won’t… Get away… With this…”
Brynna jumped out of bed, screaming a war cry.
“Ry? You okay?”
“Yeah. I’m fine. Another nightmare.” She flopped back onto the bed. “I have a feeling Gemma is in a lot of trouble.”
“I’ll talk to Ain in the morning.”
“You better.”
“I will.”
Cephas pulled Ain over after the ceremony. “Hey, Ain. How is Gemma?”
“Oh, Gemma….. Yeah…. Uh…”
“She was captured while we were out riding.”
“Okay, that is outta line, Ain! My daughter gets captured, and you do not notify me? That means Jaydill is no longer at peace. It has been sixteen years since you met the smartest girl in all of Jaydill. Didn’t she lend you some of her brains?”
“Well, Your Majesty, if you think about it scientifically, brains cannot be borrowed.”
“Scientifically! Bah! What did they teach you in school?”
“Well, I learned a manner of things, Mathematics, Language, and many other mind blowing subjects.”
“That was a hanging question, Ain!”
“Oh, sorry, Your Majestic Handsomeness!”
“Stop it with the flattery, boy!”
“Now, somebody get me a cup of chamomile tea!”
When Gemma awoke, she was in a different room. Astrid slept in a plush chair nearby and in the middle of the room lay an egg. Then it struck her.
This was the last egg of the Acoppa.
Gemma gasped and backed up, knowing it would be bred for Jaydill’s doom.
“Scared for your precious people? Well, too bad, ’cause you won’t make out out to tell the tale. You’ll stay here forever.”
“Hello, Astrid. How nice of you to drop in.”
Astrid jumped off the chair, copper hair flying about her. “Yeah right. You hate me.” Astrid made her way towards the egg, then caressed it’s shell lovingly. “My egg. The last egg of my people. My offspring will grow up into the greatest Acoppa ever! Free to do as it pleases and no master will control him.”
“You don’t get it, Astrid. It will be yoked to Cupramae, never truly free. Freedom can only be found in Dramri.”
“Dramri abandoned us! He does not care about the Acoppa!”
“Did you ever try?”
“Cupramae said….”
“See! You rely on what the devil said! Concentrate on what Dramri said.
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the Kingdom of Shayali.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness,
For they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they will see Imial.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they will be called sons of Imial.
Blessed are the persecuted,
For theirs is the Kingdom of Shayali.
Blessed are you when other revile you and make you suffer all kinds of pain on My account.
Rejoice and be glad in Me for your reward is great in Shayali.’”
“He speaks for the Elves. The Acoppa take no part in that, for he cares not for us.”
“He cares. He cared when my mom almost died.”
“She was Elven. We are Acoppa! We are those abandoned by the great God!”
“He abandons no one. One of your own, Caellia Silver, was accepted by Dramri, and she felt moved to sacrifice herself for Dramri’s people. He cares, Astrid.”
“Caellia was half-elf.”
“But half-Acoppa as well, so why love her and not you guys?”
“Because we are full Acoppa.”
“You are just trying to make yourself believe that.”
“’Believe the truth, my dear,’ a quote from my all-knowing teacher, Cupramae.”
“All knowing, bah! Lies!”
“You just wanna prove your point.”
“Well, yeah!”
“And I wanna prove mine.”
“Evil never wins, Astrid! The Battle of Terramont, Brynna vs. Jazaroonae?”
“Brynna, only because BlackFlame went blind.”
“The Battle of Tryadi?”
“Chrystillion, only because Dad cheated.”
“And The Battle for Jaydill?”
“Brynna! Only because we were betrayed! I get it!”
“Still, good always wins. Your child will grow up in captivity and live to serve the devil! Do you want that?”
“Then you are with me?”
“I am with you.”
“Good! Let’s get out of this place!”
Ain Aiden Jakoso tossed the rock into the pool, missing Gemma terribly.
“Miss her, Ain?” Queen Laelyn said from behind him.
“Hey, Mom. Yeah. And, well, my father-in-law hates me.”
“Hate is a strong word, Ain. Dislike could be a better word. I’m sure he’ll grow to like you. You are a wonderful man.”
“Bah! I’ve known him for sixteen years, Mom, and not once did he ever like me!!”
“Aw, don’t go to hard on yourself, Ain, I’m sure he’ll like you in a few years.”
“Few years! Mom, he doesn’t even like me now.”
“Give it time, Ain.”
“Time! My, time sure worked for the last sixteen years!”
“Time,” Queen Laelyn said. “Will help. Please be patient with him.”
“Ha! Lemme guess, ‘Patience is a virtue’?”
“Ain, please, he was just upset about Gemma, I’m sure he likes you…”
“Yeah, in the deepest part of his heart! All the rest hates me!”
“Ain, talk to him. You know, man-to-man.”
“For you and Gem, Mom, I will.”
“Thanks, Ain.”
Gemma ran for her life. Literally. “Okay, Astrid! Do it!” She felt Astrid push into the wall as they practiced and manipulate the change into a Acoppa.
“Got it! You are it, Astria!” And Gemma charged forward, but not as Gemma, but Astria.
Chapter Two
A girl stood on the edge of a cliff, no older than sixteen and no younger than twelve. Far below, the angry, frothy waves of the Sea of Andornyon lapped against the cliff. Tear-streaks glittered on her rosy cheeks. A man came behind her, his handsome chiseled olive-toned features etched with worry. Black hair was slicked to the top of his head. His piercing green eyes stared past her. “Allie, I–“
“To you I am Lady Allixandria Arydea Avery, Drake! Allie is what my friends call me. You are not my friend.”
“Fine. Lady Allixandria, I can call off the betrothal. T-to please you.”
“Father would lose honor. As would your father.”
“Then why can’t you accept it?” He slapped Allie across the face. 
She gasped. “How dare you!”
“You know what? You are bethrothed to me! Live with it.” He yelled and ran off. She sucked in a sharp breath. How dare he! Tears ran down her cheeks as she sank onto the snowy ground. Men were so insufferable. Sighing, Allie stood and started the long trek home.
Astria ducked a sword and gashed Pada’s stomach. His eyes bulged and he fell. Feet away, Astrid fought two guards. Astria ran to help her. One of the knights pinned Astrid to the ground with a sword to the arm. Astria yelped. “Astrid!” 
Allie knocked on the wooden door, wishing she had brought her fur coat. No answer. She kicked the door. “Hey, could someone help me here?” She yelled. The door opened. 
“My lady Allixandria! Lord Asaen has been so worried. Come in! I will have a hot bath went up directly.” 
“Thanks,” she muttered, running up the staircase. 
“Allixandria? Is that you?” Allie turned to see her mother, looking striking in midnight blue.
“Yes, Mother, it is I.” 
“Where were you? We were so worried.”
“I…. I went for a walk.” No need to mention Drake’s offense. And renew the fresh grief of her betrothal. 
Lady Allyna smiled. “Father wishes you to meet him and Lord Serin for supper.”
“No. I will accompany you as chaperon.”
“I… will be there directly.” Allie dashed up the staircase and into her room, the first on the right. She sat in her favorite chair, a massive cushioned red lounger. She leaned back and closed her eyes. Drake would be at supper if his father was. Also, she couldn’t say no to her father and risk him losing even the tiniest bit of honor. Here in Alani, honor was precious.
Astrid cried out. “Astria! Take my egg! Escape while you still can. Let him grow up as an elf. Name him Marcin.  Tell him… Tell him I love him.  Tell him… Momma loves him.” Astrid’s head lolled to the side and she went limp.
“Astrid!” Astria screamed, weighed down with the last death of her immediate family.
“Astrid!” A sack rolled away from Astrid’s body. There lay the egg of her nephew, Marcin. Astria grabbed it and ran, weeping.
A hot bath and two dresses later, Allie stumbled on the right dress. It was sea blue, with a sweeping skirt. It was embroidered with expensive forest green thread. The sleeves were regular, except the swept out at the end and reached to her waist. She wore her necklace of blue sea conchs and pearls. She pinned her long gold hair in a bun and donned a ornate circlet, which was also Drake’s engagement gift. Engagement. She hated the word. Allie sighed.  Time to face it. She twirled in front of her long mirror once more and dashed towards her father’s private dining hall.
Jarlindina Raiola Fahrid Crossblade shot up. She shook her husband. “Cephas!” 
“Jarly, you okay?”
“I am, but Gemma isn’t.”
Jarlindina bit her lip. “You are keeping something from me.”
“You are way too perceptive. Saraine, Elisik and Gemma were kidnapped.”
Jarlindina gasped. Her hand flew to her open mouth.”No!”
He sighed. “They’ll be okay. I sent out search parties as soon as I found out.”
“Cephas, how could you let this happen?”
“Jarly, I’m sorry. Truly.” 
Jarlindina jumped away, squinted and gasped. “You aren’t Cephas! Leave me alone!”
Pounding came from behind her. 
“Jarly! What’s happening in there?”
“Cephas!” She back up into the door of the wardrobe. The fake Cephas transformed in a huge Acoppa. He opened the wardrobe door and shoved her in. Her whispered something crude and she heard him leave. 
“What is he? Why is he here?”
“Acoppa. Cephas, in my past, I made many mistakes. And sometimes, what you don’t expect will come up and ensnare you.”
“What things, Jarly, what haven’t you told me?”
“Long ago, when Tryadi was BlackDoom, and Jazaroonae still lived, Adrian lived in a lair there. Azalea had twin eggs. One hatched earlier than the other. He named the younger Astria and the older Astrinna. He was going to kill the younger twin, but I took her in. I named her Gemma. Her twin died. Adrian went after me. I hid in the Trysn Desert.”
Cephas looked hurt. “And you didn’t tell me?” 
Jarlindina sobbed. “I told no one! Not even Gemma.”
He drew her into an embrace. “Shh… The past is the past. Today is a new day. But why would this one try to get revenge?”
“This is Cupramae! Adrian’s master! He wants power.”
“And you knew? You didn’t tell us?”
“I didn’t want them to go after Gemma! I loved her as a daughter. I didn’t want to lose her.”
“I forgive you.”
“Thank you for that, my lord.”
“So it is ‘my lord’ now?”
“Hey! I meant that.”
“Of course.” 
Jarlindina laid her head in his lap. He began to stroke her hair. 
He began to sing. 
“Sleep, my love,
Lay you down.
When this day ends,
There is always tomorrow.
Sleep, my love,
Lay you down.”
With those words echoing in her head, Jarlindina slept.
Astria ran as hard as her legs would carry her. Everything passed in blurs. Across Graceland. Grief blinded her. She knew not where to hide. Farmers stalked her with weapons. Day passed. As did night. She finally tired. And there she stood, in front of the Sea. 
Allie ate her food slowly, concentrating on on the conversation around her. 
Lord Serin laughed. “Asaen, you haven’t changed a bit. Is Allixandria any thing like you?”
“Well, she looks like her mother, but she has my humor and attitude.”
“Ha! You should hear how this engagement came to be.”
“Go on, tell me.” Allie perked up.
“Well, I told Drake, ‘Son, I want you. to marry for love.’
‘Oh. Father, I love Lady Allixandria.’
‘You do? I don’t think she is promised to anybody. I’ll talk to Asaen.’ 
At first, you said no, Asaen, but Drake is so persuasive. So here we are! A toast to the happy couple!” They raised their goblets and then took a sip. Allie finished her food quickly and stood. 
“Father, may I be excused?”
“Of course, Allixandria.” Allie fled.
Elisik Cephas Crossblade awoke in chains. He sorted through memories of what had happened. He shot up. Saraine! Where was she? What had they done with her? “Saraine!” He yelled. “Saraine!”
“You looking for this girl?” A man said from behind him. Elisik whirled around. A man stood there, holding a struggling girl. As he saw her desperate face, he recongnized it. Saraine! He lunged, but chains held him back. 
“Let her go!”
“Nay. If I did that, it’d be called mercy.”
“It would do you some good.”
“What do you want?”
“Actually, I wanted Gemma EverDark’s allegiance… But, hey, you are her friends, so give 
me your allegiance.”
“Gemma EverDark?”
“You know her as Gemma Jakoso.”
“Gem isn’t any old EverDark!”
“Actually, she is supposed to be Astria Lightsbane, but hey, she grew up differently.”
Saraine screamed. “Elisik! Behind you!” 
Elisik whirled and deflected a dagger with one of his thick chains.
“Too skilled.” A man muttered. 
“Who are you? What do you want with us?”
“Why, I thought you would have known. We are The Remnant.”
Chapter 3
Allie awoke to sunlight streaming in through the window above her bed. Birds sang, and altogether, it was a beautiful day.  She dressed in a warm gold dress and braided her gold hair. She headed down to breakfast, which she was to eat with Lady Allyna, Lord Asaen, and tortuously, Lord Serin and Drake. She dressed in a warm gold dress and as she passed through the courtyard, pain stabbed in the back of her head. She steadied herself on the wall the pain grew, intensified into…. a memory. She fell to her knees, gasping. 
Caellia Lyana Silver yanked her hair-ribbon out and chased after her sister. “I’ll get you, Essa!” She grinned, lifting her skirts. 
Five-year-old Essa grinned. “Nuh uh!” Essa jammed the stolen piece of cake into her mouth and ran.
Caellia frowned and considered the chances of getting the cake back. She shook her head. Not happening. She settled under a Rayl tree and took a book out of her satchel. And she began to read.
Allie blinked and held a hand to her throbbing head. She groaned and leaned back onto the wall. She clenched her eyes shut.
“My lady Allixandria? Are you okay? Should I call the physician?” 
Allie opened her eyes to see the steward, Briean Alkiarim “Nay, Briean, I’m alright. And due to breakfast.” She stood. “Thank you, though.” 
He bowed. “No trouble.” Allie curtsied and dashed off. She was so going to be late.
Elisik laughed. “The Remnant of what?”
“Just The Remnant. Let me formally introduce myself. I am Pada Kalowstoe.”
“Kalowstoe? You some joke?”
Pada’s eyes lit up like a bonfire. “I am the heir to BlackDoom! My mother was the valiant Jazaroonae! You dare not insult her!” 
  “Yeah… nice to meet you. I’m Elisik Cephas Crossblade.”
“I know.” 
“Oh yeah. I forgot.”
“Now,” he shoved Saraine into the arms of the other man. “We can talk sensibly.”
Saraine awoke in a huge room. Sunlight filtered through the glass ceiling. On the marble floor, a mural of a dying ember stretched all across it. A man stood int the middle of the room. Pada. “Welcome, Saraine, to the Ember Arena, the home of The Remnant, and our… special… place for visitors like you and your brother.”
“What do you want?”
“Only allegiance.” 
“Really, you guys never give up. From Princess Katrinnae’s betrayal, you guys all want allegiance. I wasn’t born to give it. Give up.”
“Nay. Ember!” A slim woman with hair the color of the paint used on the ember entered through a great arch. 
“Yes, Father?”
“Take Princess Saraine and ready her for the fight.”
Ember’s eyes shone. “Yes, Father.” Ember clamped manacles on Saraine’s wrists. As she began to lead her away, Pada called after them.
“Saraine, five words. Five easy words. And all will be well.”
“Fine! Ember, take her away!” And she was led away.
Elisik was kicked awake. “What do you want?” He growled. 
“Not what I be wantin’ ’tis what Master Pada is wantin’, sir.”
“I’m up.” Elisik stood. The man unlocked his chains and twisted his arms behind him, binding the wrists with rope. He led Elisik into a huge room. Sunlight filtered through the glass ceiling. On the marble floor, a mural of a dying ember stretched all across it. A man stood int the middle of the room. Pada. “Welcome to The Ember Arena, Elisik. This is the home of The Remnant.”
“What do you want?”
“As always.”
“What do you say? Join me, and we shall rule Jaydill together.”
“That’s just it! One ruler! With four, betrayal happened. It invokes jealousy. And… I couldn’t do it. I follow the One True God. He wouldn’t give into Cupramae, so why should I give into you? Nay! I say nay!!”
“Fine. Ash!” A man with ash-blond hair entered through an arch.
“Yes, Father?”
“Prepare Prince Elisik for the fight.”
Ash’s eyes glowed. “Yes, Father.” He took Elisik by the shoulder. “C’mon, Prince Elisik, time for preparations.”
“Elisik!” Elisik turned halfway. “Join me and you won’t have to do this.”
Pada chuckled. “Your sister said the same thing. Take him away, Ash.” As he was led away  he was swallowed in a pit of dread.
Being readied for the fight included being fitted for armor, chainmail, clothing, and finally dressed. Ember took Saraine into a plush white sitting room and left her. 
After Ash dressed Elisik he took him into a plush white sitting room and left him. A girl in a maroon dress with a dress of chainmail and armor sat on one of the cream chairs. 
“Elisik!” Saraine glanced up, grinning. Her golden-brown eyes betrayed her true emotions. Sadness and dread filled those golden-brown orbs, tainting them. The connection in their minds as twins applied as it was in range. 
It’s gonna be okay, Saraine. I’ll get us outta this.
You were always the knight in shining armor, Elisik. 
Thanks. I try my best.
It appears your best is the best.
It’s true. Elisik sat beside her and she buried herself in his shoulder, her lavender-smelling brown hair falling out from the order a leather head-band had kept it in. She wept, her thoughts flooding into his head in fragments. I miss Mama…. Papa is probably king by now… Will I ever see them again…? 
“Of course you will, Saraine! Dad’ll rescue us as soon as Ain tell him. I just hope… He’ll go easy on Ain, won’t he?”
“Of course he will! Ain is kin. Papa wouldn’t dare hurt him.”
“I know… But Ain can be… Well, you know. He’s book-smart, but Dad doesn’t like him overmuch.”
She swatted his arm. “You… You pessimist!”
He grinned. “Yup.” His playful mood skidded to a fragment as Pada entered. 
“Hello, Saraine, Elisik.”
“Pada,” Elisik spat. 
“Please don’t spit. This is my nice furniture.”
“What do you want with us?” Saraine asked, and through her voice, Elisik could tell she was on the verge of tears.
“I am here to explain the choice you and your fool brother have made. You will fight in the Ember Arena to the death. The winner lives and will live to serve The Remnant. The loser, of course, is dead. If you refuse, you die.”
Uh oh. Should I do it and doom Saraine to a life of slavery? Or do we both just die? Surprisingly, Saraine spoke up. “We’ll do it.”
We will?
Gemma stared out across The Sea, past tears. Why would Dramri do this? She understood Adrian and Azalea’s deaths, but Astrid’s? Astrinna’s? Her twin had been a baby. Absolutely innocent! Was her God not so good after all? Had He been lying to her all these years? That she deserved Life in Him and He deserved her? Subdued to sobs she thought emptied out, Gemma reached into her lap to Marcin’s egg and caressed it. “I still have you, little one.” The egg gave a little to her touch, so she could tell it was going to hatch soon. These eggs carried out the same cycles as snake eggs. Where her hand rested on the egg, it had begun to give under the vigilance of… Marcin! After an hour, the small Acoppa was free of the egg. He cocked his blue-green-gray head to the side spoke. “Momma? Food?” He asked, his booming voice that of an adult. Gemma jumped. 
“I’m not food,” she pointed to a herd of antelope. “That is food.”
“Hunt, yeah, yeah, we gotta hunt.”
“Yeah. Um.. Follow me?” It was more of a question than an order. Yeah.. I can’t do this! She brushed past the fragment of the wall that had blocked her turn to Acoppa. “C’mon, Marcin. We need to get out some food.” Some food that isn’t me! 
Allie’s day was spent with Father, Lord Serin, and Drake, for as Father put it, ‘she needed to get used to Drake’. Ha. Like that would happen. Right now, she was alone with Drake, other than the servants in the garden and her bodyguard. “My lady?” Drake asked. 
“Yes, my lord?”
“Are you sure that you don’t want me? Not even deep down?”
“Of course I’m sure! Drake Dradda, how dare you ask such a question?” She glared at him.
“I’m sorry! I just thought—” 
“You just thought I’d love you?”
“Well… yeah. ‘Cause I love you.”
“You don’t even know love! Like me, you grew up with a nurse to take care of you! Your own parents ignored you until they found a way to use you! That’s all we young nobles are for! Our parents knew no better, we all grew up that way. It’s time for a change. It time we had a right to love. A right to live our lives.”
Drake stared down at the ground. “I agree. But, we can’t do it alone.”
“Drake, what I meant is, Dramri made us for different people. He made you for when a lady comes and steals your heart. He made me for when a man comes and sweeps me off my feet. I’m sorry, but you aren’t that man.”  
“I want to be. You stole my heart.”
“No, stop living in the illusion you could get me! We aren’t for each other, I kept up with the charade to please my father.” Allie sat down on a stone bench and closed her eyes. Drake took her hand. She drew it back sharply. “Didn’t you hear anything I just said? Go away!” 
She could see the tears in his eyes. “Allixandria, please! Don’t break my heart like this!”
“I. Said. No.!” She yelled. “Great. Now you made me yell.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Drake dashed off. Her skull pounded as if someone had stabbed it. She gasped in pain. She closed her eyes and fell forward. 
Caellia Lyana Silver crawled away from Ryan Ryder. “Get away from me! This isn’t what I wanted! Let me go!” She fought him. He injected something into her arm and let her go. 
“That should do. Adrian, get in here. We need to test it out.” 
“I’m coming, Ryder. Be patient.” Adrian EverDark entered and bowed to her. “Welcome, Caellia Silver. I’m surprised you gave up your life for this.” He chuckled. She felt him in her mind, where he didn’t belong. 
“Get out of my mind!” 
“One second. Got it.” He locked on a wall and plowed it over. 
“Ha! It worked!” 
“What have you done?” She screeched. Her small pale hands were now leathery and blue-green-gray. “What have you done?”
“My lady! My lady!” Drake’s voice.
“I thought I told you to go away.”
“I…I did. But then you were… It was horrible!” 
“Go away, Drake,” she said bitterly, standing and dashing off. “I want to be alone.”
Saraine was surprised by her answer did she just agree to this madness? What had she done? Elisik’s cryptic comment entered her mind. We will? She bowed her head. 
“Very well.” Pada sounded disappointed. “Ember! Ash! Get in here.” The two entered. 
“Take the to the Arena. I will be there shortly.” As they were led away, Saraine fought tears of shame.
Chapter 4
The Ember Arena was stuffed full of people. Women, men, even children. Elisik grimaced. Wasn’t this going to be a bit violent for children? A young girl his age stared pityingly at him then ducked her head in shame. Perhaps some did not wish to be here, like him. He rolled up his sleeves and drew his sword, looking to where Saraine stood ready. He was going to die today. For Saraine. For Jaydill. For Dad. For Mom. For Gemma. For many things. Useless and useful. For evil pleasure and punishment for his country. He would die well. He would make Mom and Dad proud of him. He would make Jaydill proud. And die trying. Literally. Saraine charged and stabbed at his leg. He tried to block and failed. His leg burned. He swiped at her head. She ducked and rolled for him, bowling him over. He heard people cheering. He looked up to the young girl he had seen earlier. She stood away with a group of other teenagers, young children, and adults. Strange they weren’t cheering. He felt Saraine stab him in the side. He gasped and looked into her eyes. He saw shame matching that of the other girl’s. 
“Saraine…” Elisik said. Saraine dropped to her knees, mopping his hair from his eyes. 
“Elisik. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Master Pada!” A feminine voice rang out. “This girl has done as you asked. Heal her brother and you will have another strong man to serve you. These people have seen what you wanted them to see, now you should heal him, for surely this girl will not serve the one who made her kill her brother.”
“Yes, Mercy, that is true. Who wishes it that I heal him?”
“Heal him!” The crowd yelled as one. 
“Very well. Mercy, you may heal him.”
Mercy ran forward. She dropped to her knees beside Saraine. She met Saraine’s eyes. “Thank you, miss.” Saraine said, tearfully.
“Please, call me Mercy,” Mercy set her hand on where Elisik’s wound was. Scarred skin replaced the bloody hole. “I’m a slave here. I fought in this Arena when I was eight. I beat my best friend here. It… brings back unwelcome memories, so forgive me for silence.” She smiled and stood. “I was glad I could help.”
“Thank you, Mercy, for your kindness to Elisik.”
“’Twas my pleasure, Princess Saraine.”
“Please, just Saraine.”
“Very well, Saraine. I will see you around.”
“See you, Mercy.” Mercy walked back to the crowd, head bowed, dragging her feet. Saraine was determined to help these poor people, with death deeds on their hearts. She could do it. Evil doesn’t always win. She grinned, a plan already forming in her mind.
By the time Allie made it to her room, she felt shame. If her father persisted with this betrothal, she’d have to leave. At least long enough for him to see her way. But how long would she be able to hide before another lord turned her in? Then the guard would be tighter, the halls making her more claustrophobic, and how she would miss the grass. The sky. The sea. The feel of Brille’s hooves pounding against the earth in full gallop. She began to sob. She’d have to go across.  Across the Sea of Andornyon. She could not stay here forever. She looked up at a knock on the door. “Yes?” She called. 
“My lady, a Master Prophet Jenricutt Alawsi is here to see you, shall I permit him?”
Strange. “Yes, please.”
The door opened to reveal a footman and an old bent over man. “Master Prophet Jenricutt Alawsi,” he announced, bowed and closed the door behind the man. 
“Master Alawsi, would you please warm yourself by the fire?” Allie asked formally.
“Many thanks, my lady.” Jenricutt Alawsi bowed.
She curtsied. “You are welcome, Master Alawsi,” she cleared her throat. “But, I am curious, what is the object of this visit?”
The old man grinned. “A Lord Drake Dradda sent me. Said you needed some help. Dramri already wished it so, so I came. I am here to tell you something that will change your life forever. You’ve been having visions, yes? It’s time for you to leave. This castle, this family, these people, this land. Go to Graceland and meet with their Queen, Queen Brynna. She will see into you and know what you are truly to be. Do not even wait for morning. Board the Moon Flower. She waits in harbor for you. If you wait, all will be wrong. Go now!” Jenricutt Alawsi stood and exited. He turned back. “Go, or all will be lost.” Or all will be lost. She shivered at the power of those words. They weren’t even in that old man’s voice. She turned her back on the closed door and packed a small trunk with dresses, things of home, and small hand-held paintings and drawings of her family and Alani. It was time to face her fate. 
This was one time Brynna Jakoso wished she was young again and hadn’t lost her healing power. Dray lay on the floor of their dungeon cell, severely injured. “B-Brynna….” 
“Dray!” She crawled over to him.
“Remember Cephas’s baby girl that died?”
“She didn’t die. An organization called The Remnant kidnapped her from where she was safely hidden at age eight with her best friend, Drathila. Her name was Mercy. She still lives as a slave to The Remnant.” Dray’s breathing hitched. “Brynna! Dramri is taking me now. I leave you in his hands. I love you, Brynna. I go to be with my Creator. I am at peace.”
“Oh, Dray, I love you too! Don’t leave here, all alone. Please Dray!” Brynna was crying now. Dray’s breathing stopped. “Dray… Please, no! Dramri, please, no!! Dray! Dray!!” She sobbed. “Dray. Dray. My love. Don’t leave me. I need you Dray, I don’t want to live on without you!”
Elisik felt a pit of worry growing all through the chores the women of The Remnant made him do that morning. A messenger came to the house he was working in. The messenger bowed to the woman, Mistress Rykolle, and repeated his message. “Mistress Rykolle, you are hereby invited to a feast celebrating the death of King Dray the Valiant.” Oh my! Grandfather was dead. Grandmother must be horribly sad.
“How did he die?” Elisik demanded. The messenger looked to Mistress Rykolle. She nodded for him to answer the question.
“He was stabbed when the castle was attacked. He died when his wound got infected, though, he said to tell you a girl named Mercy is here and to meet up with her and Mistress Rykolle if you want to escape. And, Mercy is your sister.” That angelic girl who saved him? His sister?
“Did he say why I never knew?”
“She was hidden when at age eight. The Remnant captured her. That is all I can tell you. Farewell, my lord.”
“Farewell,” he echoed. Mistress Rykolle handed him a broom. 
“Sweep the room, boy,” she said, not cruelly, but more motherly.
“Yes, ma’am,” and he set to the chores.
Cephas felt like banging his head against the wall. Father dead. Mother, easing into grief and dying slowly. Him, stuck in this cell, unable to comfort his dying mother. Jarlindina, stuck with him, a failure of a husband. Ugh! He felt so useless. 
“Yes, Jarlindina?”
“D-do you suppose Elisik, Gemma, and Saraine are all right?”
“’Course they are.”
“Oh, Cephas. This is all my fault! I wish I’d given Gemma over to Adrian when he wanted her.”
“No, you don’t! Gemma is out there, working to save Jaydill. Elisik and Saraine have Mista Rykolle and Mercy.”
“Mista isn’t much of a help with Jerrick devoted to The Remnant.”
“Mista is a Swordmaiden trained in The Old Ways. She is a warrior. She’ll bring them back to us.”
“But, when she tried to rescue Mercy, she failed.”
“But now she has Elisik, another warrior of lesser skill.”
“I guess. But how will they defeat Cupramae?”
“They have Dramri and Imial.”
“I suppose.”
“I’m sorry.”
“For what?”
“For not being the knight in shining armor coming to rescue his fair maiden in distress.”
“I forgive you.”
“Thank you.”
“We all have our pitfalls. Some in past actions, some present actions, and some in future actions. And some, are in our character.” A key rattled in the lock and the guard entered. 
“Yew ‘ave a visitor. Be’ave or yew’ll be puwnished.” He opened the door wider for a cloaked figure. The person entered and the guard closed the door and locked it. The person fell to his knees. 
“Cephas and Jarlindina, praise Dramri, you’re alright!”
“Prophetess FireSpeaker!”
“How many times do I have to tell you to call me Jane?” The old woman laughed. “I am near my death, as I am human and do not have the blessing of long life. Dramri and Imial gave me a message for His king and His queen. ‘Pada Kalowstoe lives. Another Acoppa has hatched. Elisik and Saraine are fine. Don’t mess this up, My Son, or you’ll have severe punishment.’”
Jarlindina groaned and leaned against the damp cell wall. “Are you okay, Jarly?”
“Abdominal pain. I’ll explain later.”
Jane chuckled. “I’d call it pregnancy, Jarlindina.”
Jarlindina shot Jane a glare. “Pregnancy?” Cephas asked, raising an eyebrow.
Jarlindina growled. “We’ll talk about it later, Cephas.”
“I must go, Cephas, Jarlindina, for my time is short and I have a message for Dray and Brynna.”
“Just Mother, Jane. Father died this morning.”
“Then I must go comfort my friend.”
“Go then, if you must.”
“I shall.” Jane knocked on the door and left with the guard. 
“Jarly, you’re pregnant!” Cephas cried, turning to his wife.
“Yeah. I planned to tell you today. I’m eight and a half months into it.”
“I was wondering why you were becoming round.” 
Jarlindina slapped him. “Don’t be vulgar.”
“It’s hard to tell with Elves. Last time you didn’t tell me until four days before they were born. And I didn’t even notice.”
“This is a week before the due date. Though, it could be an early baby.”
“An improvement.”
Allie stood on the deck of the Moon Flower watching the only land she had ever known disappearing slowly. Gradually, the tears came and the tears brought on a killer headache, complete with a memory.
“Caellia Lyana Silver, come here this instant!” Caellia turned to face her governess, arms crossed and putting her nose in the air defiantly. “You have soiled your fine dress and have been unladylike. Miss Silver, put out your hand.” 
Caellia thrust out her hand. The governess whacked it four times with the edge of a ruler. Blood sprouted from a small cut and Caellia winced. Father came out to the garden. “Mistress Jerilam, what are you doing to Caellia?”
“M-my lord! She soiled her dress climbing a tree. I punished her.”
“As you very well know, Caellia is allowed to do such things, and it is not your place to punish her. You no longer have a job here. Leave my property this minute!”
“Father, she only did as she saw fit.”
“And that was not as I saw fit. Caellia, Master Tylien is here for your lessons. Go on in.”
Caellia bowed her head. “Yes, Father.”
“Caellia, are you bleeding?”
“Yes, Father. The ruler cut my hand. I’m fine.”
“The audacity of that woman!”
“Father, I’m fine.”
“Go on in, Caellia.”
“Yes, Father.”
Allie shook with tears of pain. Pain at leaving home and pain at her headache. Allie stood and ran down the deck, shimmied down the ladder and went into her cabin. Succumbed to tears, Allie threw herself on the hard bed and wept.
Chapter 5 
Mista Rykolle stroked the aged blade of her sword, going through all her training in her mind. Not everyone got to train in The Old Ways. The door creaked and she looked up. 
“Hello, Jerrick,” she said quietly, looking up at her husband. His fierce features drooped with disapproval. “You still think you’re a Lady, Mista? Your service to The Remnant shows your betrayal to The Crown.” 
“I stay here for you, Jerrick! If I hadn’t run off with the handsome peasant warrior, I’d be at home with my sister-in-law. But I’m not gonna leave you, I love you. I don’t want to see what comes of your union with The Remnant. I want what is best for you and will give it to the extent.” 
“Dray is dead! Your mother and father past long ago. You can’t rescue your grand nieces and nephew, face it, you’ll never escape.” 
“I very well know that, Jerrick! It does stop me from trying. ‘There is always hope, even when all seems lost.’ I remember when we were training together, Jerrick, we both learned it all.” 
“I left that behind when I joined The Remnant! Spare me the preaching, Mista. You always were the one to preach.” Mista sighed. “You can’t leave it behind. It was trained into your very soul. It’s the words of our God. Yes. You know it. You remember it. It will be with you to the death.” 
“That’s it of that treasonous talk. I’m turning you in.” Jerrick whistled and three burly guards came up. “Take her to Pada.” 
“Jerrick! You wouldn’t! ‘One who turns on his companion is not worthy of their matrimony’! Jerrick, please, you wouldn’t.” 
“I am.” 
“Then I will do what I must.” Mista lifted her sword and yelled, “’A warrior protects the weak, upholds justice and to the extinct of it’s abilities it uses them for good.’” She charged at one of the men, stabbed him through the belly, whirled to face another, stabbed him in the chest, and then turned to the last and cut off his head. “Look to me, Jerrick, we’re getting out of here and were getting out now. Are you coming with me or no, Jerrick?” 
“I’m sorry, Mista, but as you have a duty of Graceland I have one to the Remnant.” 
“Very well. I’m sorry to say this, Jerrick, but I can’t trust you anymore. I have to kill you.” 
“What? Mista, no!” 
“I’m sorry, Jerrick! Truly, I am. But if you won’t come, you can’t be trusted. Goodbye. I love you.” She clenched her eyes shut as she stabbed him in the chest. 
“Goodbye, Jerrick, my love.” Choking on tears, Mista ran. Once and for all ready to meet her Maker if the time was right.
Elisik looked up at rapid footsteps. “Mistress Rykolle?” He asked, brow furrowed. 
“Elisik! I’m your great Aunt Mista. Your grandfather was my brother.” 
“Oh. What brings you here?” 
“Oh, stop with the casual talk, Elisik. We’re getting out of her. Where’s your sister?” 
“With Mercy and Mistress Freilk in the Bakery.” 
“C’mon. I’m taking you home to bust your relatives out of jail.” 
“Um… Thanks. You’re pretty young.” 
“Yup. Born ten years after Dray.” 
“C’mon! What was that word my sister-in-law liked? Oh, yeah, Geronimo!” 
“Um, yeah.”
Allie arrived in Tryadi two days after leaving home. She caught up with the captain and aked him a few questions.
“What is the fastest way to get to Graceland, sir?” 
“That’d be by dragon, miss. They’re up for hire a mile from here. At Daygone Farms.” 
“Thanks, sir.” “’Twas a pleasure, miss.” Allie set out for the place he had specified and hired a red dragon called Ruben. She also hired a guide and asked him out how long it would take her to get to Terramont Castle. 
“Mister Greish, sir, how long will it take to get to Terramont?” “Two hours, Miss Avery. But if you be headin’ there you better know, Terramont was taken by some place called The Remnant. If you wanna see The Kings and Queens, try the dungeons.” 
“Thank you, Mister Greish.” “No trouble, Miss Avery.”
Saraine looked up as someone enter the Bakery. It was Elisik. 
“Elisik! What brings you here?” She asked, wiping her floury hands on her apron. 
“Tell you soon. Where’s Mercy?” 
“In the Bake Works with Mistress Freilk. Why?” 
“We’re getting out of here,” he turned to the young elf who came with him. “Saraine, meet Mista Rykolle. She’s our aunt.” 
“Oh. Want me to fetch Mercy?” 
“Please do. We’re in a hurry.” 
“I can tell.” 
“Yeah,” he grinned. 
“Go on.” Saraine exited the main building and heading to a shack marked, ‘The Bake Works’. She went in and saw Mercy and Mistress Freilk cooking everything she sold. 
“What’re you doin’ here, girl?” Mistress Freilk asked, reaching for a hickory switch that hung on the wall. 
“No need for that, Mistress Freilk. Someone asked for Mercy in the Bakery.” 
“Very well. Git along, you two.” Saraine left with Mercy and explained everything. Mercy nodded slowly. 
“I can’t want to see Mama and Papa again. It’s been so long.” 
“Yeah, once we get outta here, you’ll get as much time with them as you want.” 
“Let’s get outta here then!”
Allie slipped off Ruben’s back, thanked the dragon and sent him and Mister Greish back to Tryadi. She gasped at the scenery. A majestic white castle was built into the mountain, the blue sky, vivid green grass, sun, and puffy white clouds completed the valley. Three men on horse-back rode to meet her, having apparently seen her coming. One man stopped. 
“Hello, miss. What can we do for you?” 
“Could I have a ride to the castle, sir?” 
“Sure. Where do you come from? I don’t recognize your accent.” 
“That would be Alani, Rojo,” one of the man’s friends said, grinning. Rojo raised an eyebrow. 
“Quiet, Atrin. Alani, eh? Exotic. That’s a long way.” 
“Yes, but I seemed to have made it.” 
“Aye, ’tis true. If you want a ride, I’m your man. Coming or not, miss?” 
“I’m coming.” Rojo extended his hand. She took it and he pulled her up sidesaddle behind him. Rojo clicked to his horse and the mare pulled forward, first slow, but getting faster. Allie had to put her arms around Rojo to keep from falling off. 
“Rojo! Go easy on the lass!” Rojo turned slightly. 
“What do you say, miss? Wanna keep at this pace or do you wanna slow down?” 
Not wanting to sound scared, Allie said, “This is fine, sir.” 
“Please, just Rojo.” Rojo sped up and then came to a stop. Terramont Castle loomed before her, the majestic silvery walls glimmering in the late afternoon sunlight. Allie gasped. Such stone she had never seen before. 
“W-what kind of stone is this?” 
“Mitarinid. The Elves mined it from the Craggy Mountains on Andor and then King Ratril brought it with him when he was led here by Dramri.” 
“Mitarinid,” she murmured, eyes lost in thought. 
“Mitarinid,” confirmed Rojo. “This is your stop, miss. Enjoy your visit.” 
“Thanks. I will.”
Brynna awoke to a kick in the side. She looked up into the face of her guard. 
“Git aginst de wall, woman. Yew ‘ave a visitor.” Brynna obeyed and the guard let a young woman in. 
Flowing gold hair framed a well-known face and laughing blue eyes. Brynna gasped. “Caellia Lyana Silver!”
“No, no, my lady,” Caellia said, falling back, holding a hand to her head. “I am not this Caellia person. I’m Lady Allixandria Ardyea Avery. I’ve come all the way from Alani to see you.”
“Me? Why?” 
“A Master Prophet sent me. His name was…. Jenricutt Alawsi.” 
“Jane spoke of him once. Said he was Dramri’s strong follower. An Elf, I think.” 
“Yes. He sent me. Said, ‘Go to Graceland and meet with their Queen, Queen Brynna. She will see into you and know what you are truly to be. Do not even wait for morning. Board the Moon Flower. She waits in harbor for you. If you wait, all will be lost. Go now!’” 
“Sounds important. I see no way I can help you, young Allixandria.”
When the old queen said the name Caellia, it brought memories…. And a headache. Allie groaned. 
Caelllia Lyana Silver laughed and ran after her brother. “I’ll get you for that, Eddin!” Caellia called, panting. She sat down on a log to catch her breath. Rustling came from the bushes behind Caellia. “Eddin?” She whispered. A man approached her from the bushes. “W-who are you?” Caellia asked the man. 
“I am Ryan Ryder, ShadowWeaver. You know your father always loved Eddin more. Essa too. I offer you a chance to get revenge! I offer you a chance to be an important person in the new ruler’s court, you can even become Queen!” 
“Ah! It is true!” 
“Join me, Lady Caellia, and I will see to what you deserve—Life as Queen!” 
“I join and ally myself with you and your master. I will do whatever you ask of me.” The man chuckled. 
“Good, good. My master will be pleased.” Shadows enveloped Caellia. She screamed.
Caellia screeched. “Get away! Get!” 
“Sh, young Caellia.” 
“Get away from me!” 
“Shut her up, man!” A man came over and gagged her mouth tightly. The huge Acoppa sat. “Now we can talk reason.” Caellia whimpered. “Good,” the Acoppa chuckled. “Good.”
“No!” Caellia cried out in horror. “No!” She had felt it coming. Why? And in front of Jaydill’s young future queen! “Ryan, how dare you? And with no warning!” 
“Caellia? How? I-I thought you were on our side.” 
“My lady, please, I can explain. I was not born one!” She glared at Ryan and Adrian. “They did this to me.” The shadows continued to grow as they spoke, the seeds of discord lengthened the dark, dark shadows. “My lady, please, go while you still can!!” Caellia screamed, anguished. When the princess escaped through the hidden door, Caellia went unconscious. 
Memories flooded Allie’s head. From birth to sacrificial death. “No, no, my lady,” Allie said, falling back, holding a hand to her head. “I am not this Caellia person. I’m Lady Allixandria Ardyea Avery. I’ve come all the way from Alani to see you.” 
“Me? Why?” 
“A Master Prophet sent me. His name was…. Jenricutt Alawsi.” 
“Jane spoke of him once. Said he was Dramri’s strong follower. An Elf, I think.” 
“Yes. He sent me. Said, ‘Go to Graceland and meet with their Queen, Queen Brynna. She will see into you and know what you are truly to be. Do not even wait for morning. Board the Moon Flower. She waits in harbor for you. If you wait, all will be lost. Go now!’” 
“Sounds important. I see no way I can help you, young Allixandria.” 
“Please! I need you, my lady!” Part of Allie shouted she was the daughter of Asaen Avery, the other boasted of being the daughter of Lord Effon Silver. 
“Who are you really, young elf?” 
“I-I do not know. W-when you s-said C-Caellia…. I don’t know what happened, all the sudden, I was Caellia. Now half of me in Allixandria Avery, the other is… Caellia Silver.” “Do you remember? What happened the day you gave yourself for Dray?” 
“I stood in a palace, lit by the lights of dancing rainbows. A man was there. It was… Dramri. He hugged and sent me to a family in Alani, replacing their daughter that had died that moment. I grew up there as Allixandria Avery.” 
“Oh, Caellia! I’m so glad for you!” Allie brushed away a tear of regret and straitened. 
“We’ve got work to do, Queen Brynna. It’s time I busted you outta here.”
Elisik dashed through the gates and up the stairway, Saraine and Mercy behind him. 
“Aunt Mista, hurry!” Mista, meanwhile was delayed by a band of soldiers. Two of them twisted Mista’s arms behind her. 
“Run, Elisik! You’ve the blood of Kings and Elves in your veins. Run like you’ve never run before! Your Grandmother was The Savior, Dramri’s Warrior and Champion. Go! Please! Please. I still have a duty to someone here. Go on. I’ll get back to you!” 
“Aunt Mista!” 
“Go Elisik! I’ll be fine.” His aunt’s shining sapphire eyes begged him. “Goodbye, Aunt Mista! Dramri protect you!” He yelled, grabbing Saraine with one hand and Mercy with the other. And they ran.
Mista was shoved to her knees in front of Pada. She glared up at him and spat. 
“Mista Rykolle, you are charged with attempted murder and treason. As punishment, you will burn at the stake.” Great. She should’ve gone with Elisik when she had the chance. 
“You injured Jerrick Rykolle greatly. He was near death when we found him. He begged us to let you live, but a criminal like you cannot be trusted. You tried to help slaves escape, so that they could go endanger our hold on Terramont.” Mista glanced up. 
“Jerrick lives?” She asked, trying not to let pain from her deeds leak into her eyes. 
“Yes,” he glanced up at the guard. “Let them in.” The guard opened the door to reveal a woman with chocolate brown hair, and startlingly blue eyes, wearing a elaborate gown with her hair in a yet more elaborate hair-do. Beside her stood Jerrick 
“Finna! Jerrick.” The woman glanced up. 
“Mother!” She ran to Mista and hugged her tightly. “Mother?” 
“Yes, Finna?” 
“Is it true you stabbed Daddy?” 
“Finna, he tried to have me arrested. I had to rescue my great-nephew and nieces.” 
“Do they matter more than Daddy’s life? He was your husband.” 
“They do not. But I have a duty to Dramri.” 
“So you were so heartlessly lost in your god you stabbed Daddy and almost got him killed.” 
“And I regret it every time I take a breath.” Finna turned to Pada and curtsied. 
“My lord husband, I beg pardon for my mother’s life. If you must burn her,” Finna glanced down at Mista, “Then burn me as well.” 
“Finna! Do not be foolish, daughter!” Jerrick yelled from the doorway. 
“Dearest Finna. I love you so. You would stand for her even though she almost killed your father and did such treasonous acts?” 
“I do.” 
“Finna, my wife, you have a daughter and two grandchildren who need you. You would throw all this away just to die with your mother?” 
“I would.” “Very well. Free the prisoner.” 
“Thank you, my lord.” “Meet me in my room later,Finna. We must speak.” 
“Yes, my lord.” Mista held out her hands to have the rope cut. Grunting, her guard cut it and straitened. “Thank you, sir.” 
“Urgk.” He grunted, glaring. Mista stood and watched Finna leave with Jerrick. She turned to Pada. 
“Where is Atrin, that I do not see my own son when I am in mortal danger?” 
“Atrin inhabits Terramont with two legions of my men. He knows not of your danger.” 
An hour later,Finna Rykolle Kalowstoe was taken up to her husband’s room. She settled in a chair to wait for him. When he entered, Finna stood and bowed. 
“My lord husband.” 
“Call me Pada whilst we are alone.” 
“Yes, Pada,” she sat again. “You needed me?” 
“I didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of all those people, but, Finna, we cannot have a mad criminal loose among us.” 
“Mother seemed fine to me.” 
“Yes, but she tried to kill Jerrick. What if she goes after you or Ash?” 
Finna raised an eyebrow. “She wouldn’t.” 
“I need to recapture her and burn her.” 
“No, Pada! That’s my mother you are talking about.” She jumped up to stand eye to eye with him. 
He combed a hand through his hair. “I don’t want to lose you to a maniac, Finna.” 
She glared at him. “Mother is not a maniac!” 
“Finna, please!” 
“I will not let you murder my mother! I thought I made it clear to you in the Throne Room!” 
“Finna, this devotion is unnatural!” 
“Unnatural!” Finna scoffed. “She is the woman who gave birth to me! She knows me better than you do. She’s my best friend. I’ve spent my whole life with her.” 
“Please, Finna.” Finna gazed up into his eyes, those pools of purple splendor, and shut her own. 
Sobbing, she spoke. “Fine! Do it.” 
“Thank you, Finna.” He kissed her on the forehead. “I love you. Truly, I do.” Yeah right, she thought, sure, killing off Mother was the perfect way to show it.
Chapter 6
Jarlindina groaned and opened her eyes. The door slowly creaked open and a figure in black entered. “Who’s there?”
“I am,” a female voice said.
“Who are you?”
“Wake your husband and follow me. Your mother-in-law is waiting. Hurry, now.”
Jarlindina shook Cephas. “Ceph, a woman here says we need to follow her.”
“Come on, Ceph.”
“Yeah.” He opened his eyes. “Need something?”
“Yeah. There’s a woman here who say we need to follow her.”
Cephas stood. “Why?”
“She says your mother is waiting.”
“Come, or you’ll be left behind.” A pale hand extended from the woman. She beckoned. “Hurry.”
“We’re coming. We’re coming.” Jarlindina stood and brushed off her dress. Not that it helped, the dress was hopelessly covered in dirt. “Where are we going?”
“Somewhere safe.”
“Where’s that?”
“You’ll see.”
Atrin Jerrick Rykolle shoved Rojo Laric in the shoulder, snorting with laughter. “Nice one, Rojo!”
“You did some pretty good ones yourself, Atrin.”
Atrin sobered. “Hey, um, Rojo, you think I should have come?”
“Well, yeah!”
“B-but, Grandmother’s brother is dead because of me. I was the one to stab him.”
“S’okay, Atrin.”
“You sure?”
Marcin TrueOne padded over to sit beside Auntie Astria. “Auntie Astria?”
“Yes, Marcin?”
“Did you know my mother well?”
“No, Marcin. I only knew her for a week.”
“Why did the farmer call you Princess Gemma?”
“Marcin, I grew up with a woman named Jarlindina Fahrid. She married Cephas Crossblade and is now Queen. Thus, I am a princess.”
“But why the name Gemma?”
“That’s what she named me.”
“Oh.” Marcin curled up beside Auntie Astria. “So, you didn’t know my mom. well?”
Tears glistened in Auntie Astria’s eyes. “I knew her well enough to say she’d do anything to give you a better future. She loved you so much. Even as she died, she was thinking of you.”
“Did you try to help her?”
“There was nothing I could do! She lay there, somehow a blade to her arm killed her. I couldn’t heal her, for I was not born into Queen Brynna’s lineage! It was horrible! Oh, Marcin, it’s my fault she’s dead!”
“No. It’s not.” Marcin said as he drifted on to sleep.
Elisik stood on a hill and watched the sun rise over Terramont. “Saraine! Mercy! We’re here!”
“Why so many soldiers in gold?” Saraine asked, brow furrowed.
“That’s The Remnant’s color. I’d say it was taken,” Mercy frowned.
“What!” Saraine gasped.
“Yup. It happens.”
“How else do you expect Grandfather died? For Elves, he wasn’t that old.”
“I know,” her voice cracked. “I just hoped…”
“It’s gonna be okay. We can always get Terramont back.”
“It’s not that easy.”
Mista ducked into a hall. A young boy of twelve years dashed up from the hall. She pressed against the wall, frowning. “Coal! What took so long? Where’s Charcoal?”
“Charcoal got delayed. Mama wanted to speak with him. Do you think she suspects?”
“’Course not. Charcoal is perfectly safe. Do you have it?”
“Yes.” Coal handed Mista a map of the fortress. 
“Thank you, Coal.”
“Thank you, Grandmother Mista.”
Allie braced herself against another wave of the blistery heat. Agh! This is only a furnace room. Imagine our destination. The Trysn Desert. “C’mon! We don’t have all day!”
“Can’t you even feel this heat? We’re going as fast as we can! Why won’t you even tell us your name and where we’re going?”
Allie smiled grimly. Of course she could feel it. “Later.” Silence emanated from behind her. She turned to see the queen fall. The king rushed to her side.
“Jarly!” The king dropped awkwardly to his knees. He looked up to Allie. “Get over here!”
Allie dashed over and knelt. “What’s wrong with her?”
“Cephas! It’s happening!”
Allie looked into the king’s face. “What’s happening?”
“She’s pregnant. She told me a week ago. I forgot today was the due date. I think she’s in labor.”
“I know nothing of midwifery! We have to get her out of here!” She glanced down at the queen. “Fast. Here, you take her by the shoulders. I’ll get her legs.” The king stood, took his queen by the shoulders, and waited. Allie heaved up the queen’s legs and stood. “Let’s get this over with.”
Rabetta Rubiala Jakoso Rokial coughed and bit back a laugh. She stabbed the Curro. “Caressa! What devilry is this?”
“I know not! It’s never happened before…” Caressa trailed on into a girly giggle and fell.
“Caressa?” No answer from her cousin. “Caressa!” She dashed over to Caressa. “Forgive me,” Rabetta whispered, ripping the hem of her tunic and tagging Caressa to prevent the maniacal laughter. Rabetta collapsed.
Rabetta shot up.
Caressa stood nearby, gag off and looking worried.
“Rabetta! Are you alright?”
“Yes. Do you have news of Ritta?” 
“Yes. She has been found. Rique watches over her for now.”
“Good. Let’s do this thing.”
Cephas grunted and laid Jarlidina on the bed. He knelt beside the bed, brow furrowed. Maryn Sarcad entered the room and shut the door behind her. 
“Cephas, it’s best you leave.”
“Go.” She helped hm stand and pushed him gently out the door. 
“But, Maryn-” And promptly a door was shut in his face.
Thud. Each of Saraine’s steps shook her body in a methodical cadence. Thud. Loneliness gripped her in it’s crushing hold. Pain rocked her from side to side and tears flowed down her face, striking the ground before her. Her brown hair kept falling across her face and sticking. An explosion sounded behind her. Again, the tears flowed. She looked down the small bundle Mama had given to her. She stared into the line-less face of her baby sister. “Dekunte,” she whispered, “all things take time.” And she collapsed to the ground in an unholy unconscious mess.
Book Three
Chapter One
Aydunonna Rayne tossed her red hair over her shoulder and scowled. “Hey? You here?” Aydunonna called, crossing her arms across her chest.
“Aydunonna Wendilla Sakim Rayne, is your name, is it not?” A female soprano called back across the cavern.
“Yes. But I prefer Aydunonna Rayne rather than my middle name and my father’s last name.” Aydunonna absentmindedly traced her finger across a long grotesque scar on her arm. She looked up, startled, as a slim woman stepped out of the shadows. She had a pale face, rosy lips, and strangely black eyes. Her hair was long and black and she wore a shimmering silver dress with a gold sash holding her hair away from her face. Around her neck was a large chain and attached to that chain was a round thick piece of wood, on which was carved a scepter and knife, and they formed an X. Half her face was cast in shadow, the other half glimmered in the warm light of Aydunonna’s torch. 
“I am Banussa Banumi. I have summoned you from the house of your stepfather to ask a mission of you,” Aydunonna relaxed. Anything to get away from Quiwall and Mother. “You must go to the hideout of Elisik Crossblade and enlist. Once a week you report to me with news. A hearty sum will br your reward. What say you, Aydunonna Wendilla Sakim Rayne?”
“I’ll do it.”
Shyla Taylor Crossblade Gerkon knelt beside the bed in the dark room. “Mother? It’s me. Shyla.”
“Shyla… I love you. Where are Brion and Tiarla?” Shyla sutned and motioned to a man and woman who held back. The woman ran forward her dark green dress fluttering with her red-gold hair.
“Grandmother?” Tiarla stroked the silver hair away from Queen Brynna’s face. Brynna’s mouth curved in a small smile. 
“Tiarla. And Brion?” The man came up.
“Here, Grandmother.”
“Shyla, take it.” Shyla glanced down at a hand Brynna had extended. Shiny gold shimmered in the faint light.
“Your locket?”
“Of course. Take care of the family. I love you, Shyla.” Queen Brynna went limp. 
Shyla’s hand flew to Brynna’s wrist. No pulse. Next to her neck. Again, no pulse. Shyla trembled. “Mama! No, Mama. Don’t leave me.” Shyla wept. “Mama….”
Fifteen-year-old Dekunte Faith Crossblade knelt in the dewy grass. “Lord God Dramri and Father Imial, please help us! We need you. Please, please let Mama and Papa still be alive. And keep Elisik and Mercy safe. Bless Grandmother Brynna, who just went to You not five minutes past. Bless this army, us Jakosos, and those who have You. Keep Gemma and Marcin safe. Thank you and amen, Father.” Dekunte stood, brushing stray tears off her fair face. She turned and walked away.
Mista Crossblade Rykolle handed her sword to the eighteen-year-old boy who stood beside her. “Coal, try to beat Charcoal. We can’t have you be a wimpy fighter when we must defeat The Remnant.”
“Yes, Grandmother.”
“Aunt Mista? Jamik needs your help with his parry.” She glanced across the stone cavern to where her thirty-one-year-old nephew Elisik Crossblade stood. 
“Jamik can wait. I’m helping Coal right now.”
“Mother!” Atrin’s cry rang out through the cavern. “Danger! They have a Demon Hydra!”
“Blast.” Mista grimaced and turned to Coal. “Gather the troops, Coal. Charcoal, hand out weapons. Elisik, help me get the women and injured back to the caves!” Mista dashed down the tunnel and with a flap of her cloak, she was gone.
Twenty-year-old Cessiana Karokil gazed across the barren wasteland that had once been the beautiful valley that led up the Terramont. Now Terramont’s white towers were stained black and all beauty had fled long ago. “Argh!!” Cessiana fell to her knees. “Why have you done this to us, Dramri? We have only ever loved and served you!” 
A hand rested on Cessiana’s shoulder. “Cess?”
Cessiana barely glanced up. “Hello, Ritta.”
“Hello, friend. What ails you? Can you not sleep?”
“What ails me! Argh! The whole injustice of Jaydill ails me!”
“Perhaps I can help.”
“Not likely.”
“Barely a year ago, I thought the same as you, but then I asked Dramri for help and I have been fine since.”
“Yeah, well didn’t it ever occur to you it’s Dramri’s fault all this happened?”
“No. Because it isn’t. It’s our fault. We were born to stray from the flock. Now we have to find our way back.”
“But it’s so hard!”
“I know.”
“Maidens of Graceland!”
Cessiana and Ritta turned. “Aye?” Cessiana asked the frazzled soldier who stood before them.
“Two riders approach from the north! Come, you have been summoned.”
Cessiana and Ritta drew their swords and ran after the soldier.
Cephas Crossblade combed a hand through his graying brown hair and turned to Jarlindina. “Is there any hope she escaped?” 
“Only Dramri knows. Saraine had skill enough. I’m sure she would have made sure Dekunte was safe.”
“My lady! My lord! Two travelers are requesting you. They said their names were Astria Lightsbane and Marcin TrueOne.”
Jarlindina’s eyes widened and she stifled a gasp. Cephas looked shocked. “What in Jaydill…?” Jarlindina grabbed his hand and together they dashed out into the hall.
Gemma glanced up. Two people were exiting the mountain. Speachless Gemma dismounted her unicorn, Darmin. “Mama? Daddy?” Tears sprung to Gemma’s eyes. “Mama! Daddy!”
“Gemma! Gemma!” They embraced her and she crumpled to the ground. 
“Mama. Daddy.”
“Astria?” Gemma looked up. 
“Well, Gemma. Who is this young man?” Cephas asked suspiciously.
“Mama, Daddy, meet Marcin TrueOne. My nephew.”
“Nice to meet you, Marcin.”
“Daddy, I bring grave news. I have crossed all of Graceland just to deliver one message from Dekunte Crossblade.”
“Sadly, Brynna Särayla Jakoso Crossblade has passed into the hands of Dramri.”
“No!” Cephas’s face contorted in pain.
“Cephas! It’s okay. Brynna went to be with Dray.”
“Daddy? Is Ain here with you?”
“Ain’s inside, Gemma. Fiftieth door on the right, first floor,” Jarlindina said, grimacing.
“Thank you. Marcin, come on. We have something important to do.” Marcin dismounted. 
“What about Darmin and Damere?”
“They’ll come back when we whistle.” Marcin unlaced the girth and slipped the saddle and saddle blanket off Damere and then did the same with Darmin. The unicorns galloped off. “Come on, Marcin.” Gemma entered the mountain. Marcin dashed after her.
Ain Aiden Jakoso sat in his favorite chair, engrossed in a science book. He looked up at a knock on the door. “Come in,” he called. By the time the door opened, he was reading again. White fabric edged one side of his vision.
He glanced up at the man and woman who stood before him, taking in the woman’s fiery red hair, green eyes, fair skin, sleeveless white gown, and the gold arm-bands that decorated her slim arms. He knew that face all too well. 
A grin spread across her fair face and she broke away from her male companion. “Ain! I missed you so!” Gemma knelt beside his chair and wrapped her arms around him.
“Where were you all these years, Gemma?” The words came out with more venom than he intended.
Gemma drew back, frowning.”I tried to come, I did! But I had to raise Marcin and-” 
“Who is Marcin?”
“My nephew. Ain, I’m really Astria Lightsbane, the last living female Acoppa. Marcin is the last male Acoppa other than Cupramae.”
“How long have you known this?” Again, harsher than he intended.
“Sixteen long years. I’ve been all over Jaydill looking for you. You’re hard to find.”
“Sorry. But seeing as you guys are the last of your kind, wouldn’t they expect you to mate and produce?”
“Ain Jakoso! Don’t even suggest I’d go and mate when I’m already married to you!”
“Astria! Calm down. I was wondering the same thing,” Marcin said, coming up.
“Marcin! The thought you are even suggesting it is unreasonable! The next Acoppa will have to be half elf.”
“Astria!” Marcin’s sharp cry resounded against the stone walls. Marcin grabbed Gemma’s arm.
Gemma slapped his hand away. “Don’t touch me,” she growled, standing. 
“Try to make me.”
Gemma morphed into an Acoppa and lept on Marcin. 
Marcin did the same. “Your choice, Astria.” Marcin said, eyes narrowing.
Astria didn’t want to fight Marcin, but the greedy fool needed a lesson. “My mind is made up, Marcin TrueOne.”
“Gemma, please don’t!”
Astria turned to him. “Don’t interfere, Ain.” Astria nipped Marcin and he yelped. He slashed at her with his claws and she rolled across the floor.
Marcin pounced and held his claws to her neck. “I don’t want to kill you, Astria. You forget in all the emotion of the moment that you have a duty to your race.”
“I know that, Marcin. I love you like a brother. But I love Ain like a wife.”
“Do you really think he loves you?”
“He loves me for who I am.”
“Really? You’re an Acoppa. Your ancestors killed and ate his kind. To him, you’re an alien monster. The spawn of the devil.”
“I won’t give in to you.”
“Astria, I love you. Together,  you and I can rebuild our race. I’ve traveled with you for the last sixteen years and I know you just as well as he does.”
“Marcin, I am twenty-four years older than you. Plus, I’m your aunt.”
“I’ll let him live when I take control of Jaydill. He can be your personal slave.” 
Ain glared at Marcin. “Boy, what my wife is trying to say is she is already married and she and I can produce children just as well as you and her.”
“I am not have my race become half elf!”
“Marcin, please!” 
Marcin growled, stood and morphed into his elf form. “You are a selfish fool, Astria. I will be back.” And he was gone.
Astria stood and once again she was Gemma. She coughed and a little bit of blood dripped onto the pale green rug. “Sorry about that, Ain.
“Gemma! You’re hurt.”
“Only a few broken ribs, I’m sure.” As she crumpled to the ground, Ain stood and lifted her in his arms. He lay her on the bed and she heard him leave. Slowly, she sank into the soothing river of unconsciousness.
Finna Rykolle Kalowstoe looked up as her door opened then closed. It was only twelve-year-old Mista, her daughter whom she named after Mother. “Hello, Mother. Ash said you needed me.”
“Yes. Mista, I am sending to training school. Stay there until you are summoned back.”
“Yes, Mother. Jimmia said to tell you Father needs admittance immediately. He’s getting angry with her.”
“Tell her he is allowed at any time except when I say otherwise.” 
“Yes, Mother.” Mista left and Finna slouched in the comfy chair. She heard the click of her door opening and closing. 
A hand rested on her shoulder. “Finna?”
“Yes?” She asked without opening her eyes.
“Sit up and I’ll tell you.” She sat up and opened her eyes as he sat in the chair across from hers. “What is all this gossip about Mista going to training school?”
“She needs to learn how to use a sword. She turns thirteen in two days. It’s a family tradition for the children to learn the sword at age thirteen.”
“I thought it was just for boys.”
“It was always for both.”
“What? Isn’t it enough I elevated you to queenship and gave you whatever you desired?”
“Of course. But this isn’t for me. It’s for Mista.”
“Very well. She can go.” A slow smile took of Finna’s face. 
“Thank you.”
Ain needed to find a doctor. Finally, Gemma had come back and now she was injured because of a selfish fool. He ended up at Maryn Sarcad’s door. She agreed to come with him and treat Gemma. She pulled Gemma’s dress up far enough to expose five deep oozing gashes in her side and a broken bone poking out of one. The skin around it was a grotesque myriad of black and blue. Ain looked over to Maryn. She was frowning. “What are you going to do?”
“Well, these gashes are finger depth. Strait to the bone. Looks as if someone with claws just poked her too hard and then punched the skin aground it to break the rib. I could stitch the gashes closed and put suave on them. I’d put suave on the bruise. I’ll have to set the rib. She can’t get out of bed for two wooks or more. You’ll have to watch her continuously to make sure she stays in bed.”
“Just do it, Mistress Sarcad.”
“I will. You can’t hurry me or I could hurt her. Go over there and sit down. And wait. If she wakes, I’ll tell you.”
Gemma awoke propped up on pillows. Pain pounded through her body as she rolled over and looked around. She was still in Ain’s room. As she rolled back onto her back, pain lit up like a bonfire on her side. She felt like fiery icicles were piercing her skin. Shivers racked her frail body. She cried out weakly. 
“Ain!” She broke into a sweat. “Ain!” She heard his steps hit the stone floor. “Ain.” His hand rested on her forehead for a little bit. Then cold cloth pressed againet her forehead. “Ain.” She coughed up blood and stared into his purple eyes. 
“Shh… I’m here, Gemma. It’s gonna be okay.”
She reached feebly to stroke his cheek. “I love you, Ain.”
“And I you.” And Gemma again sank into unconsciousness.
Elisik Cephas Crossblade crossed the cavern over to the willowy elven woman who sat despairingly in one of the room’s chairs. She looked up,her purple eyes reflecting sadness of all she had experienced. “Hello.”
“You okay, Adanna?”
“I just miss Mother. I wish she couldn’t have escaped with me.” She grinned. “I thought I told you to call me Ada.”
“I know.” 
Ada brushed her honey-blond hair away from her eyes. “Thank you for rescuing me.” 
“It was nothing.”
“But it was! I hate all The Remnant lives for. And soon they were going to send me somewhere, I don’t know where but Dinah, my sister, overheard Father taking with the other Elders about it.”
“It’s okay. That is all behind you now. You’re safe.”
She kissed him lightly on the cheek. “Thank you.” Ada stood and walked away. 
“You look silly, standing there and watching Adanna leave with your mouth hanging open,” warm breath came to the back of his neck, accompanying the words.
“It’s none of your business, Saraine,” Elisik said, turning. 
Saraine raised an eyebrow. “You are in love.”
“How would you know that?”
“You forget we are twins.”
“Aye. How is Mercy?”
Saraine sobered instantly. “Not good. The fever just keeps getting higher.”
“I’ll have Doctor Tye go check on her.”
“He’s there right now.”
“Have you seen Dekunte? Doctor Tye was looking for her.”
Grinning, Elisik shook his head. “Kids.”
Dekunte meanwhile, ran into Doctor Tye in the hallway. “Lady Dicante.” He said, taking her hand and kissing it.
“Hello,” what was his name? “Matt.”
“Marcus. My name is Marcus, not Matt.”
Her face flamed as she blushed. “Sorry,” she stared at her feet. “Marcus.” 
Marcus smiled shyly. “Not a problem, Lady Dekunte.”
“It’s rare to find a man who can say that and mean it.”
“Well, I assure you, my lady, I mean it.”
“Glad to hear that, Marcus.”
Marcus bowed. “Sadly, my lady, I am due to see a patient.”
Dekunte curtsied. “I’ll see you around.”
“I look forward to it.”
Adanna Oriole Sanadan trembled as she slipped a small key out of where she had braided it in her hair. She fell to her knees in front of the chest she had brought from home. She used the key to unlocked it and then lifted it’s creaky lid up. Inside lay assortments of jewels, dresses, a jeweled knife, hair nets, pouches of money, books, and gold ornaments. She lifted a jeweled gold ring and pouch of money out. She carefully locked it, made sure no one was looking and braided it back ito her hair. Ada stood and clutched the valuables, wary of every movement. She easily located Elisik and pressed the pouch of money and ring into his hand. “Thank you for saving me.”
“Now, Ada, wait I minute! I can’t take this. I didn’t rescue you because I wanted money. I did it because I care.”
“What do you mean?”
“I love you.”
Ada looked sceptically at him. “You love me?”
“That I do.”  He lifted up the ring she gave him and knelt. “Adanna Oriole Sanadan, you you do me the pleasure of becoming my wife?”
“You sure? There’s no going back on it.”
“Yes, I’m sure!”
“Very well. In a week you’ll be Mistress Adanna Oriole Crossblade.”
“A week?”
“Yes, why?”
“That’s a long time.”
“You’ll survive.”
“Don’t be so sure about that.” 
Elisik grinned and pulled her into a hug. “I love you, Ada.”
“I love you too, Elisik.”
“That’s the first time you’ve called me that.”
“Elisik. You’ve never called me Elisik.”
“Now I have. You can’t say that anymore.” Ada slipped her hand into his. He didn’t draw back in surprise like she’d expected. Instead, he gazed down at her with those perfect brown eyes and kissed her forehead. Ada laid her head on his shoulder and for the first time in months, she felt secure. 
Gemma awoke to icicles of pain. She shivered wildly and writhed weakly. She hit a hard surface with a thud. She gasped. She broke into a fit of coughing and blood mixed with bile sprayed from her mouth and across the floor. Her chest heaved. Her vision blurred. Icicles of pain stabbed in her side. Ain’s face came in to her vision. 
“Gemma.” His voice began to fade along with her vision. “Gemma! Gemma!” And all was swept away and replaced with silent blackness. 
Ain glared at Maryn. “If it’s just a regular wound, she would be having these seizure attack things.”
“I don’t know what to say! I can’t assess anything until I know what happened!”
“I don’t want to talk about it!”
“Then I can’t do anymore for you.”
“I’m out of ideas. I need to know exactly what happened or I can’t help her.”
“Fine. I’ll tell you. Just promise you won’t tell anyone.”
“You have my word.”
“So Gemma came with a man named Marcin. When we reunited, she told me that she and Marcin were the last living male and female Acoppa. Marcin, however, wanted to mate with Gemma despise her marriage to me. So they fought and Marcin ended up leaving to go win Terramont, saying he’d be back and we’d be sorry.”
“Great. Just great. In the latest research, we proved Acoppa claws carry poison. That explains everything.” She clapped him on the back. “Thanks Ain.”
Ain sighed and shut his eyes. “No problem.”
Chapter Two
Gemma gasped at the warmth flooding her body. “That’s the end of it. The fever’s gone so her wounds can heal. She should be rational now.” Gemma coughed and opened her eyes as footsteps led away from the bed.
“Ain, she’s asking for you.” Rapid footsteps approached. 
“Ain!” She coughed and tried to sit up. 
“Help me prop her up, Ain.” Her body elevated and she was sittting against pillows. 
Gemma smiled weakly. Ain sat down on the bed beside her. He took one of her hands in his. “Ain…”
“Shhh… There is no need for words.” 
“Could we be alone, Maryn?” Gemma asked feebly.
“Sure. Call me if you need me,” Maryn left the room.
Aracora DeathSeeker crept down the heavily guarded hall and entered a door. She shut it behind her and with a glance around the room she knew this was the right room. A man and a woman were fast asleep on the bed, oblivious to her presence. She shape-shifted into the woman’s mother. “Gemma, dear,” she said in Jarlindina’s voice. “Come with me.” Gemma stirred in sleep. 
“Come on, Gemma, you and Ain are needed.” Gemma sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She put on slippers and walked over to the man’s side of the bed. 
“Ain, Mama needs us to come with her.” Aracora heard Gemma say. Ain sat up, wrapped a robe around him, handed Gemma one, then they both followed Aracora. Her plan was working.
“Finna! Come with me!” Pada’s voice was desperate. Weeping, Finna took his and, took one look back at her daughter’s limp body, and ran. A stone passage sealed shut with a thud. The Remnant was once again doomed to darkness.
Marcin TrueOne looked up as a skittish warrior entered Terramont Castle’s throne room. “Yes?” Marcin asked gruffly.
“Assassin DeathSeeker brought the prisoners. She wishes to know what to do with them.”
“Put the man in the dungeon and bring the woman here.”
“Yes, sire.” A few minutes later the cunning Shape-Shifting Aracora DeathSeeker came in, leading Astria, tied up in a nightgown, robe, and slippers.
“Sire.” Aracora dropped to her knees. “I have brought the prisoner you requested.”
“Astria, my love, look to me.”
Astria looked up at him, green eyes lit with fiery defiance. “You look ridiculous in that crown and robe, Marcin.”
“Witty as ever.”
“What did you do with Ain?”
“Well, Astria, let us make a deal. If you mate with me once a year, Ain can be your slave. Also, all the rest of the year you are free to duties as his wife. But if your refuse, you will be locked in Terramont’s high tower.”
Astria bit her lip. “Marcin, I have raised you and given you all you wanted. But yet you get greedier. This is past the way of Dramri. Astrid would of been disappointed. You shame her death. I will never mate you.”
Marcin growled. “Lock her up, Shape-shifter.” Aracora nodded and left, leading Astria away. Astria turned back, pursed her lips, and shook her head in disappointment.
“So, as the daughter of Elder Terroque what was your title?”
Ada smiled, her rosy cheeks dimpling. “Eldè Adanna. If I had been male, it would have been Elde Adan.”
“Eldè. I like that. Does that mean my title when I marry you is gonna be Elde? Also, Adan?”
“Most likely. Unless Father disowned me as soon as you rescued me. My parents picked two names when Mother was pregnant with me. Adan and Adanna.”
“Ah. Cool.”
Ada laughed, her face radiating happiness. “Yes, Elisik. Very cool.”
Gemma shook all over with the sobs racking her body. She vainly grasped the silk bedcovers with clenched, trembling fingers. The room was beautiful, tapestries of great deeds, multi-color curtains with bedding to match, a soft four poster bed. a full intricate wardrobe, two comfortable loungers, and plush rugs cover all the floor. The stone walls had been scrubbed and painted recently, so it wasn’t like she was being mistreated. It was the evil dwelling in the hearts of the castle’s occupants.The greed in the heart of her nephew, whom she considered her son. 
Oh Marcin, realize what you’ve done wrong. Another bout of sobbing made her fall back on the bed. She sank into the soft mattress, but without the comfort Ain had always offered, the bed seemed hard as stone, the bedcovers rough like cotton. Keys jingled in the lock and Gemma wiped the tears away, stood, smoothed the wrinkles out of her white dress, and settled into one of the loungers. She clutched it’s crimson pillow to her chest. Marcin entered, flanked by two brawny guards. 
“Astria, my love. you look so pale.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Don’t call you what?”
“‘My love.'”
Marcin settled into the other lounger before answering. “If you wish it. But what else am I to call you?”
“Gemma. Gemma Gemayla Crossblade Jakoso, currently married to Ain Aiden Jakoso.”
“Will you not just get this act over with and accept my offer, dearest Gemma?”
“Haven’t I made it clear already, Marcin? No! N-O.”
Marcin sighed. “Dearest, do not dwell on this man. I’ll kill him if I have to.”
“You disappointed me, Marcin. All these years I raised you, yet you think about the one thing I haven’t given you. My heart. My heart is no longer mine, but Ain’s. If you kill him, kill me also.”
“Astria, please, this is futile. Just let nature take it’s course.”
“Nature take it’s course! If that was gonna happen Ain and I would be together right now.”
“Astria, please,” he reached across the empty space between the loungers and took her hand in his own. 
“Don’t touch me! Get out of this room this instant, Marcin!” As if she was a danger, Marcin’s guards escorted him from the room. Gemma sighed and leaned back in the lounger, eyes shut tightly. 
Elder Terroque Sanadan trembled as he broke the seal on the letter.
Elder Terroque Sanadan-
I got rescued by Elisik Crossblade and he and I are engaged to be married. Don’t be angry with me. I love you.
-Eldè Adanna Oriole Sanadan
Terroque clenched his fist and crumpled the letter. “Adanna,” he whispered. “How could you?” 
Caellia Lyana Silver sighed and put her head in her hands. “I can’t do anything for her, sir. Shyla has to sort out her grief. Though, if you insist. Have Tiarla give her this,” Caellia wrote out a note on parchment. It said; ‘Brynna’s with Dray. Rejoice. She is put out of all pain and is cleansed. You have a family who needs you, Shyla. Don’t be stupid.’ Caellia gave a wry smile and handed it to him. He left and she leaned back in the uncomfortable metal medical chair.
“Miss?” Caellia shot into an upright position.
“Oh. It’s just you, Atyda.”
“Mistress Caellia, you’re needed in the hospital unit. Matthew was severely injured by incoming riders. Matia is disabled with worry and Rayena and I are swamped with excess duties.”
“I’m coming.”
Caellia had just finished binding Matthew’s shoulder wound when she felt a hand on her shoulder. “Really, Atyda, I’m busy.” She turned and fell back gasping. “Drake Dradda!”
Aydunonna shivered in the cold cavern. “Banussa Banumi?”
“Yes, Aydunonna?”
“Nothing of importance has happened. Can I have my money now?” A scowl tainted Banussa’s pale fair face as she handed Aydunonna a bulging coin purse. Aydunonna bowed and dashed out of the cavern.
Aydunonna rolled across the dirt floor and jumped up, hands balled into fists. “Oh, Quiwall, you are so good at this.” Would Mother never stop fawning and see into the heart of this man? Quiwall kicked Aydunonna. She fell back hitting the dirt floor. Aydunonna grimaced. 
“Mother, I only came to tell you I have been hired for a considerable amount of money. I wanted to make you proud.”
Quiwall smiled sadistically. “A sum of money that we be ours. As long as we live what’s yours is ours.” He bent down and unclipped the bulging coin purse from her waist. “Thank you, Aydunonna. Porina and I have talked and thought it over and decided to accept the sixteenth proposal of marriage from Kirk Chappu. You’ll be married next week. This money will pay for the dowry and his money will be ours. For now, be gone from this house.” Aydunonna stood and dashed out of the house, bruised and battered.
“Allixandria Avery!” Drake grinned and picked her up by the waist. Caellia bit her lip as he set her down gingerly.
“Drake, I need to tell you something.”
“Go on,”
“I once was known as Allixandria Avery, but then I recovered memories. I am truly Lady Caellia Silver daughter of Effon Silver.”
“Whatever. Allie, your father is dead. Your mother has lost the will to live. Please play the part of the faithful daughter and return with me.”
“Drake! You would dare ask me such a thing?”
“Yes. What say you?”
“I cannot. I am a healer and we already lack so many. I cannot abandon my responsibilities.”
“You had no problem with it back home.”
“Drake Dradda! I was told to go through a prophet who got it strait from Dramri!”
“Yes. Of course. You abandoned so much, Allie! Your life! And the one who loves you.”
“Come on, Drake. Will you stop fantasising our friendship?”
“Allie, the point is,you are needed. Pleas for you come in day after day. So many. Please, Allie, please.”
“Unless you solve two problems, I can’t.”
“And those are…?”
“The replacement healer and what to do with my land.”
“First problem…. solved.”
“I brought healers with me I can afford to leave a few of them. They won’t care.”
Caellia raised an eyebrow but nodded. “And the land?”
“Give it back to the Crown.”
“Ha. Like I’d give the enemy more land.”
“Keep it in reserve.”
“Fine then. I’ll go with you.”
Cessiana tossed a rock over the edge on the mountain. She glanced up to seed a huge army making it’s way towards them. Cessiana gasped and turned, sounding her trumpet. 
Caellia jumped up at the sound of a trumpet. Four more short notes. Attack signal! She grabbed hr bow and quiver and trekked up the stairs.
Drake Dradda groaned as he awoke to knocking on his door. 
“Drake! Get up! We’re under attack!” Allie’s voice sounded frantic, but yet excited.
Drake jumped up and pulled on his tunic, grabbed his belt and sword, and ran out the door.
Aydunonna was sitting in her room when she too heard the trumpet. Did Banussa expect her to fight will the rebels? Frantic knocking sounded on her door. “Yes?”
“M’lady, Miss Caellia Silver says you are good with the wounded.”
A pause. “Yes. Yes, I am. Why?”
“We need your help. We’re overrun with the wounded.”
“I’m coming.” 
Gemma shot up at the sound of trumpets blaring. War trumpets. “No!” She ran over to her window, which showed the valley below. In the valley, two armies fought. She saw flashing white and gold meeting with Marcin’s emerald and crimson. “No! My people!” Gemma fell back onto the marble flooring, weeping.
Gemma wept so hard she didn’t hear someone enter the room. “Astria, my love, these rodents have to be eliminated before you and I can begin our glorious rule.”
“Away with you, Marcin!”
“Nay, Astria! This time you will accept my offer.”
“About that, Marcin, you are sorely mistaken.”
“You will, Astria!”
“Nay, Marcin!”
“You will!”
“Fight me then. If I win you must give the kingdom and Ain back to the Jakosos and consent to execution. If you win, I will mate with you.” Gemma shifted into her Acoppa stage and sat by the window.
“If you wish it.” Marcin said, doing the same.
Astria charged.
Shyla chopped the Curro’s head off and fought a giggle. “Tiarla! The Rayl leaf.” Tiarla handed her a cup of sticky green mush. Shyla downed it. 
“That should delay the Laughing Death, Mother.”
“Thanks. Where’s Brion and your father?”
“They’re helping Elle mash more Rayl leaf.”
Dekunte stabbed the man in the belly and winced. She’d never killed anyone before. She yanked her sword out of his belly as he fell. A crushing pain stabbed in her back. Then another in her head. Dekunte fell.
Finna glanced over at Pada in the poor lighting. Swords clashed above in Marcin and Graceland’s battle.
“This is all our fault, Pada! If you had smashed Astrid’s egg and killed Cupramae when you had the chance, none of this would have happened!”
“Be quiet, Finna.”
“No! I won’t be quiet! I’m going to take the troops and help The Crown out. If you want to be a coward, fine by me. Stay in this godforsaken pit.” Finna stood and dashed down the tunnel.
Astria kicked Marcin in the gut and held her claws to his neck. “I win. Surrender, Marcin. I am sorely disappointed in you.” 
Marcin handed her the crown and a large and full key ring. “I love you, Astria.”
Wincing, Astria drew her claws across his neck. She fell back from his body as he went limp, shifting into her elf form.
Mista stared in wonder as a legion of men rode up, her daughter at the lead. “Finna!”
“Mother!” Finna rode over to Mista and held her hand out. “Come on.”
Mista took her hand, grinning. “What are we waiting for?”
The ground rumbled beneath Elisik’s feet. He took Ada’s hand. “This is it, Ada!” Ada grinned beside him and together they ran into battle.
Through the clouds, a bright light shone. The sun! Hope, wonder, and vigorous adrenaline course through Gemma’s veins. She dashed into the battle, grinning.
Marcus Tye stumbled on Dekunte’s body. “Dekunte! No!” He knelt beside her. Her armor was caved in on her back and the back of her head. Blood gushed from her head wound as she groaned. As he lifted her into his arms, her soft brown eyes fluttered open. “Marcus. Marcus Tye?”
“It is I, Lady Dekunte.”
“Isn’t there something you wanna ask me?” She knew! But did she share his feelings?
“Yes, Dekunte, there is. Dekunte Faith Crossblade, will you marry me?”
Thysta watched the humam armies’ atnics, rolling her eyes. Her amethyst hair fell into her eyes as she flapped her wings. She watched Marcin’s army die away as a legion of humans joined the other side. She brushed the hair from her face and flew away.
Elisik shot up and stared around him. “Where’d the army go?”
Ada giggled. “It’s dead, silly!”
Aydunonna stood in front of Banussa, scowling.
“You, Aydunonna Rayne, have failed me. You allowed the enemy to win. I have no choice other than to kill you.”
“Nay, Banussa Banumi, today will not be my day. But,” Aydunonna nocked an arrow to her bow. “It will be yours.” She let the arrow fly. It struck Banussa in her silver-gowned chest before she could say anything. 
“Curse you, Aydunonna Rayne! Curse you!” And with a swirl of gray light, Banussa turned to a pile of ashes. Aydunonna’s bottom lip trembled as she turned and fled.
Aydunonna Rayne stood in a vast meadow. A white majestic castle stood against the early morning sunlight. Terramont. Dead trees were alive again, grass again filled the valley, and flowers grew at her bare feet. The sweet and spicy scent of cinnamon hung in the air. “Aydunonna, my child.” A warm breezed caressed her cheek. 
Aydunonna whirled. “Who’s there?”
“It is I Dramri.”
“Oh my. Dramri. I’m so sorry! I’ve made a mess of myself. I’m not worthy of You!”
A bright light shone at the other side of the valley. “Nay, Aydunonna. Run to me, my child! Run to me!”
Aydunonna grinned and broke into a run. Thus the prophetess Aydunonna Rayne’s legend began.
Elisik glanced down the aisle and bis heart surged with joy at the sight of Ada, clothed in a flowing purple dress and wearing a transparent golden veil. Her honey-blond hair was in an intricate doubled braid that fell across her back. She reached him and under the veil he could see her brilliant smile. 
“Do you,” intoned Elder Terroque. “Adanna Oriole Sanadan take Elisik Cephas Crossblade to be your truthfully joined friend and companion in marriage in sickness or in health, till death does part the two of you?”
“With the help of Dramri, I do.”
“Do you, Elisik Cephas Crossblade, take Adanna Oriole Sanadan to be your truthfully joined friend and companion in marriage in sickness or in health, till death does part the two of you?”
“With the help of Dramri, I do.”
“Then, with the power invested in me by Dramri and Imial, I pronounce you husband and wife. You now enter the adventure of marriage. You may kiss the bride.” Elisik planted his lips on Ada’s.
Dekunte tried not to giggle as she walked down the aisle. She could hear her skirt swishing and out of the corner of her eye she saw Father beside her. Calm down! You’re not walking the death walk here, Dekunte! Dekunte concentrated on the Marcus, who stood on an elevated platform. Father veered off towards Mother and sat down. Dekunte approached the platform. Seriously, Dekunte, you aren’t walking into battle! Utterly frustrated with herself, Dekunte tried not to show it. Dekunte moounted the three steps to the platform and stood before Marcus and Terrion Dittal, the family priest.
“Do you, Dekunte Faith Crossblade take Marcus Martin Tye to be your truthfully joined friend and companion in marriage in sickness or in health, till death does part the two of you?”
“With the help of Dramri, I do.”
“Do you, Marcus Martin Tye take Dekunte Faith Crossblade to be your truthfully joined friend and companion in marriage in sickness or in health, till death does part the two of you?”
“With the help of Dramri, I do.”
“Then, with the power invested in me by Dramri and Imial, I pronounce you husband and wife. You now enter the adventure of marriage. You may kiss the bride.” Marcus kissed Dekunte, the kiss an explosion of love.
On far off Alani, Caellia progressed down the same type of path. She stood before Drake, the humorous man she had grown to love. 
Lord Serin spoke. “Do you, Caellia Allixandria Ardyea Silver take Drake Darren Dradda to be your husband through the best of times and worst of times, never to part unless death takes you?”
“I do.”
“Drake Darren Dradda, do you take Caellia Allixandria Ardyea Silver to be your wife through the best of times and worst of times, never to part unless death takes you?”
“I do.”
“Then with the power invested in me my the Father God, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.” Lord Serin turned to the crowd. “Alani, I give you Lady Caellia Allixandria Ardyea Silver Dradda and Lord Drake Darren Dradda!”
And they all were better off than before.
The End
Cast of Characters
King Ratril Jakoso- Father to the Kings and Queens, Dramri’s first King. Last seen smiling serenely in a garden with his wife, Queen Trylla. Married to Trylla Yikkal. Deceased.
Queen Trylla Yikkal Jakoso- Mother to the Kings and Queens, Dramri’s first Queen. Married to Ratril Jakoso. Deceased.
Queen Chrystillion Grace Jakoso- The middle child of King Ratril and Queen Trylla. Queen of the Arthlynian Range.
King Shej Jakoso- The Eldest child of King Ratril and Queen Trylla. The deceased King of the Ryllian Range. Married to Gwennalyn Teffin. Father of Brynna Crossblade, Raylana Jakoso, Aorun Jakoso, and Aoruna Poppial.
Queen Gwennalyn Teffin Jakoso- The daughter of Fykiral Teffin. The deceased Queen of the Ryllian Range. Married to Shej Jakoso. Mother of Brynna Crossblade, Raylana Jakoso, Aorun Jakoso, and Aoruna Poppial.
Queen Brynna Jakoso Crossblade- In Book One she was known as Ryebrynn. Retired High Queen of Jaydill. Married to Lord Dray Crossblade. Mother to Shyla Gerkon and Cephas Crossblade.
Lord/King/Advisor Dray Crossblade- Son of Drekan and Wellaia Crossblade, married to Queen Brynna Jakoso. Retired High King of Jaydill. Deceased.
Princess Shyla Crossblade Gerkon- The only daughter of Queen Brynna and King Dray. Married to Fikki Gerkon. Mother to Tiarla Gerkon and Brion Gerkon.
Prince Fikki Gerkon- A warrior under the training of a Sir Tikon. Married to Shyla Crossblade. Father to Tiarla Gerkon and Brion Gerkon.
Princess Tiarla Gerkon- Daughter of Shyla and Fikki Gerkon. Unmarried. 
Prince Brion Gerkon- Son of Shyla and Fikki Gerkon. Valet to Squire Fikki Gerkon. Unmarried.
King Cephas Crossblade- The only son of Brynna and Dray Crossblade. High King of Jaydill. Married to Jarlindina Fahrid. Father to Gemma Jakoso{Astria Lightsbane. ADOPTED!!}, Mercy Crossblade, Elisik Crossblade, Saraine Crossblade, and Joy Crossblade.
Queen Jarlindina Fahrid Crossblade- Daughter of a peasant. High Queen of Jaydill. Married to Cephas Crossblade. Mother to Gemma Jakoso, Mercy Crossblade, Elisik Crossblade, Saraine, Crossblade, and Dekunte Crossblade Tye.
Princess Gemma Crossblade Jakoso{Astria Lightsbane Jakoso}- Adopted daughter of Jarlindina and Cephas Crossblade. Is biologically the daughter of Adrian and Azalea EverDark. Married to Ain Jakoso. 
Princess Mercy Crossblade- Daughter of Jarlindina and Cephas Crossblade. Unmarried.
Prince Elisik Crossblade- Son of Jarlindina and Cephas Crossblade. Unmarried. A trained warrior of surprising skill. Twin to Saraine Crossblade.
Princess Saraine Crossblade- Daughter to Jarlindina and Cephas Crosblade. A trained warrior of skill. Unmarried. Twin to Elisik Crossblade.
Princess Dekunte Crossblade Tye- Daughter to Jarlindina and Cephas Crossblade. Married to Marcus Tye.
Prince Aorun Jakoso- Son to Shej and Gwennalyn Jakoso. A trained warrior. Married to Cadia Corondail. Father to Rabetta Rokial.
Princess Cadia Corondail Jakoso- Daughter to a knight. A trained warrior. Married to Aorun Jakoso. Mother to Rabetta Rokial.
Princess Rabetta Jakoso Rokial- Daughter to Cadia and Aorun Jakoso. Married to Rique Rokial. Mother to Ritta Rokial.
Prince Rique Rokial- Son to a knight. Married to Rabetta Jakoso. Father to Ritta Rokial.
Princess Ritta Rokial- Daughter to Rique and Rabetta Rokial.
Princess Aoruna Jakoso Poppial- Daughter to Shej and Gwennalyn Jakoso. A trained warrior. Married to Mark Poppial. Mother to Caressa Poppial and Tiok Poppial.
Prince Mark Poppial- Son of a peasant. A trained warrior. Married to Aoruna Jakoso. Father to Caressa Poppial and Tiok Poppial.
Princess Caressa Poppial Karokic- Daughter to Aoruna and Diviollan Poppial. Married to Terokal Karokic. Mother to Cessiana Karokic.
Prince Terokal Karokic- Son of a knight. Married to Caressa Poppial. Father to Cessiana Karokic.
Princess Cessiana Karokic- Daughter to Terokal and Caressa Karokic.
Prince Tiok Poppial- Son to Aoruna and Diviollan Poppial. 
King Tirad Jakoso- The second child of King Ratril and Queen Trylla. King of the Skyrinian Range. Married to Laelyn Harka. Father to Rulsen Jakoso, Ain Jakoso, and Katrinnae Kalowstoe{ALSO KNOWN AS JAZAROONAE}.
Prince Rulsen Jakoso- Deceased son of Laelyn and Tirad Jakoso.
Prince Ain Jakoso- Son of Laelyn and Tirad Jakoso. Married to Gemma Crossblade{Astria Lightsbane}.
Princess Katrinnae Jakoso Kalowstoe{ALSO KNOWN AS JAZAROONAE}- Deceased daughter of Laelyn and Tirad Jakoso. Was married to Jirred Kalowstoe until her left her alone with their sons, Edward and Pada. Is the Mother of Edward Kalowstoe and Pada Kalowstoe.
Prince Jirred Kalowstoe- The son of a peasant. Was married to Katrinnae Jakoso{ALSO KNOWN AS JAZAROONAE}until he left her and their children. Father of Edward Kalowstoe and Pada Kalowstoe.
Prince Edward Kalowstoe- Deceased son of Jirred and Katrinnae Kalowstoe{ALSO KNOWN AS JAZAROONAE}.
Pada Kalowstoe- Son of Jirred and Katrinnae Kalowstoe{ALS KNOWN AS JAZAROONAE}. Married to Finna Rykolle. Father of Ash Kalowstoe.
Ash Kalowstoe- Son of Pada and Finna Kalowstoe. Married to Ember Triallical. Father of Coal Kalowstoe and Charcoal Kalowstoe.
Ember Triallical Kalowstoe- Daughter of a peasant. Married to Ash Kalowstoe. Mother of Coal Kalowstoe and Charcoal Kalowstoe.
Coal Kalowstoe- Son of Ember and Ash Kalowstoe. Unmarried. Twin to Charcoal Kalowstoe.
Charcoal Kalowstoe- Son of Ember and Ash Kalowstoe. Unmarried. Twin to Coal Kalowstoe.
Queen Laelyn Harka Jakoso- The daughter of Wuttyr Harka{Lord of the Water Elves}. Married to Tirad Jakoso. Mother to Rulsen Jakoso, Ain Jakoso, and Katrinnae Kalowstoe{ALSO KNOWN AS JAZAROONAE}. 
King Herbert Jakoso- The youngest child of King Ratril and Queen Trylla. King of the Trynian Range. Married to Queen Ryla Riccoll. Father to Rogin Jakoso.
Queen Ryla Riccoll Jakoso- Daughter of Tiakilyn Riccoll{Lord of the Wood Elves}. Married to Herbert Jakoso. Mother to Rogin Jakoso.
Queen Kathryn Fargoll Penoso- Historic Arewan Queen. Married to Herciles Penoso. Mother of Diferon Penoso.
King Herciles Penoso- Historic Arewan King. Married to Kathryn Fargoll. Father of Diferon Penoso.
King Diferon Penoso- Son of Herciles and Kathryn Penoso. Married to Farhiah Feril. Father of Rilliana Penoso.
Queen Farhiah Feril Penoso- Historic Queen of Arew. Married to Diferon Penoso. Mother of Rilliana Penoso.
Queen Rilliana Penoso- Historic Queen of Arew. Unmarried.
King Anthrow Arca- Historic King of Arew. Married to Hatillianah Fridod. Father to Jovano Arca.
Queen Hatillianah Fridod Arca- Historic Queen of Arew. Married to Anthrow Arca. Mother to Jovano Arca.
King Jovano Arca- Historic King of Arew. Married to Terri Rebeki. Father of Jacob Arca.
Queen Terri Rebeki Arca- Historic Queen of Arew. Married to Jovano Arca. Mother of Jacob Arca.
King Jacob Arca- Historic King of Arew. Married to Rachel Reddi. Father to Nicalla Astrados.
Queen Nicalla Arca Astrados- Arew’s young Queen. Married to Dilion Astrados.
King Mark Astrados- Arew’s young King. Married to Nicalla Arca.
Lord Drekan Crossblade- A lord in the Court. Father of Dray Crossblade(look to Royalty) and Mista Rykolle. Married to Jiana Diccin.
Lady Willaia Diccin Crossblade- A lady in the Court. Mother of Dray Crossblade(look to Royalty) and Mista Rykolle. Married to Yecca Crossblade.
Lady Mista Crossblade Rykolle- A lady in the Court. Married to Jerrick Rykolle{look to Peasants and Warriors}. Mother of Finna Kalowstoe{look to Royalty} and Atrin Rykolle.
Lord Atrin Rykolle- Son of Mista and Jerrick Rykolle. Unmarried. Is a Remnant warrior.
Lord Effon Silver- A lord in the Court. Married to Wiloa Diccin. Father to Eddin Silver, Caellia Silver, Essa Silver, Gika Diccin
Lady Wiloa Diccin Silver- A lady in the Court. Married to Effon Silver. Mother to Eddin Silver, Caellia Silver, Essa Silver and Gika Diccin.
Lord Eddin Silver- A lord in the Court. Son of Wiloa and Effon Silver. 
Lady Caellia Silver- A lady in the Court. Daughter of Wiloa and Effon Silver. Married to Drake Dradda(See Nobility- Alani)
Lady Essa Silver- A lady in the Court. Daughter of Wiloa and Effon Silver.
Lady Gika Silver Diccin- A lady in the court. Married to Rikole Diccin. Mother of Karen Diccin and Rilo Diccin.
Lord Rikole Diccin- A lord in the Court. Married to Gika Silver. Father of Karen Diccin and Rilo Diccin.
Lady Karen Diccin- Daughter of Gika and Rikole Diccin. Unmarried.
Lord Rilo Diccin- Son of Gika and Rikole Diccin. Unmarried.
Lord Asaen Avery- A lord of the Court. Married to Allyna Kikan. Father to Allixandria Avery.
Lady Allyna Kikan Avery- A lady of the Court. Married to Asaen Avery. Mother to Allixandria Avery Adylla Dradda.
Lady Allixandria Avery- Daughter of Allyna and Asaen Avery. A lady in the Court. Unmarried.
Lady Adylla Avery Dradda- A lady in the Court. Married to Serin Dradda. Mother of Drake Dradda and Tika Kikan.
Lord Rygin Kikan- A lord in the Court. Married to Tika Dradda. Father of Allyna Avery.
Lord Serin Dradda- A lord in the Court. Married to Adylla Avery. Father of Drake Dradda and Tika Kikan.
Lady Tika Dradda Kikan- A lady in the Court. Married to Rygin Kikan. Mother of Allyna Avery.
Lord Drake Dradda- A lord in the Court. Son of Adylla and Serin Dradda. Unmarried.
Master Prophetess Jane FireSpeaker- Prophetess of Dramri. Is also Queen Brynna’s advisor. Deceased.
Master Prophet Jenricutt Alawsi- Prophet of Dramri. Wanderer. 
Prophet Trawai Jaripp- Deceased Prophet of Dramri.
Peasants and Warriors—Jaydill
Jerrick Rykolle- Warrior of The Remnant, trained in the Old Ways by Trawai Jaripp. Married to Mista Crossblade. Father of Atrin Rykolle and Finna Kalowstoe.
Rojo Laric- Remnant Warrior. Trained by Jerrick Rykolle. Friend of Atrin Rykolle.
Vrainten Baskewal- Queen Brynna’s Arewan friend. Deceased. Was married until his wife left him.
Madam Mar- Deceased adviser of Master and Mistress.
Larridill Garka- Deceased Slave Trader.
Kirken Kikkle- Deceased Slave Trader.
Gerrid Fargon- Deceased Slave Trader.
Herroll Raycon- Deceased Slave Trader.
Yotaiah Hijalisoe- Huntress and Warrior from Graceland. Is a good friend of Queen Brynna.
Zrannah Fantillian- Peasant from The Kalijimae Forest. Widowed. Mother of Brittlyn Fantillian
Brittlyn Fantillian- Peasant from The Kalijimae Forest. Daughter of Zrannah Fantilian.
Gretchen Graken- Best Acher in Graceland.
Javon Carid- Wood Elf
Mimur Ryil Carid- Javan Carid’s wife.
Captain Gort- A Captain in Katrinnae Kalowstoe{ALSO KNOWN AS JAZAROONAE}
Jewelia Carimi- Traitor Elf
Aracora DeathSeeker- Adrian’s Head Assassin.
Fario Dian- The man who took care of Dray while Adrian had a grip on Jaydill.
Jenanna Yiden- Ain’s sister from his adopted family. Was killed by Adrian’s men.
General Elladenae Hiltblade- General in Queen Brynna’s army.
Commander Wildana Klyk- Commander in Queen Brynna’s army.
Lieutenant Aloysius Sehkar- Lieutenant in Queen Brynna’s army.
First Major Jake Raed- A soldier in Queen Brynna’s army
Second Commander Riana Ridyn- A soldier in Queen Brynna’s army.
Major Daianali Didell- A major in Queen Brynna’s army.
Adrian EverDark{Edai RightfulRuler}- An Acoppa who tried to take over the world. Married to Azalea Fishon. Father of Astrinna WolfDeath, Astria Lightsbane{look to Royalty} and Astrid ElfKiller.
Azalea EverDark{Fija Filon}- An Acoppa. Married to Adrian EverDark. Mother of Astrinna WolfDeath, Astria Lightsbane{look to Royalty} and Astrid ElfKiller.
Astrinna WolfDeath- Daughter of Adrian and Azalea EverDark. Deceased twin to Astria Lightsbane.
Astria Lightsbane- See Royalty.
Astrid ElfKiller- Daughter of Azalea and Adrian EverDark. Deceased mother of Marcin.
Marcin TrueOne- The son of Astrid ElfKiller. 
Master{Fifo Tyko}- Orchestrator of The Orphanage. Married to Mistress{Filo Trilad}. Father of Adrian EverDark.
Mistress{Filo Trilad Tyko}- Orchestrator of The Orphanage. Married to Master{Fifo Tyko}. Mother of Adrian EverDark.
Animals and Dragons
Jaxine- Queen Brynna’s unicorn.
Amethyst- Queen Brynna’s deceased dragon.
Sapphire- Queen Brynna’s current dragon.
Shymmer Shyne- Wolf of Legend from The Windblown Forest.
MidnightFog Shyne- Shymmer’s father. Mated to Syndra Bryte.
Syndra Bryte Shyne- Shymmer’s mother. Mated to MidnightFog Shyne.
D’nae- General Elladenae’s dragon.
WhiteRose- Queen Brynna’s horse that ran away.
Sade- Yotaiah’s horse.
Gods(Mostly false) and The Devil
Cupramae- The Devil, who takes on the shape of the Acoppa.
Jaerdi- The false god of water
Miarkishon- False god of sky.
Iomisla- False goddess of love.
Jeorj- False god of soil.
Dorhedje- False god of wine and humor.
Dramri{CREATOR}- The one true God and the Son.
Imial- Dramri’s father.

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