Scarlet Shadow: Secrets of a Kingdom - Part Two
Reign shouldered the sack she had filled. Food, water, and an extra cloak were all the Princess had brought. The Acara strapped her scabbard to her waist, checking to make sure her butterfly swords were there. Short and lightweight, they served the girl well. Runes were carved into the metal.
The Acara smiled as she thought upon the words. She swung one in her right hand, while twirling the other in her left. A semi-arc was done with the left, while a complex jab was done with the right. Though most thought her as frail, none knew of her inner strength. It seemed the blades merely took that strength out and flooded her entire body with it. It was like her frailness had never existed. Sadly, it lasted only as long as she held the swords. As she returned them, the weakness returned. The Princess sighed, making her way to the hall and hiding in the shadows from the guards.
The two siblings met in the hills and set off on their journey by foot. While they walked, they discussed their destination. “How are you so sure we’ll find info on it on Scurvy Island?”
“Because,” Reign stated, “if there’s a treasure you need to find, chances are some pirate has at least heard of it, and an even bigger chance that one of them has searched for it. We just need to pick up where that someone left off.”
“How exactly do you know this?” Kiel asked, eyeing the frail Acara.
“I know because I’ve dealt with pirates before,” she replied curtly.
Kiel’s eyes widened. “You what?!” Reign just continued staring down. “How? When? How?!”
“Father sent me on a diplomatic venture. He wanted me to set up trades with them.”
“He sent you?” Kiel looked skeptical. “He sent his only daughter to one of the fiercest and most dangerous islands on this world.”
“I actually begged him to let me go.” Reign smiled slightly. “I was getting bored with palace life.” She unsheathed one of her swords. “That was where I got the metal for this.”
Kiel raised an eyebrow. “So then, how did the meeting go?”
“You can’t bargain with Pirates. We ended up leaving with a number of cannons firing at us and five ships tailing us.”
“How did you get out of that?”
“That’s another story.” Reign stopped there and Kiel knew the conversation was over. They were now past the valley between the mountains on the west of their Kingdom and were facing the sea. A ship was waiting for them a little way from shore.
He looked up to see the fine vessel they were to take to the island. It was a small craft, around two times his height from bow to stern, but it was sleek and well built. A sail held fast to the medium-sized mast. No emblem or decoration was upon the craft. At the wheel stood a Pirate Kyrii, his hand twirling a small dagger.
“Greetings, Captain Aquezi,” Reign said cordially. “Are we read to set sail?”
“Aye, Milady,” the Kyrii responded. “An’ this time I chose a better ship.” He chuckled. “Still, I do hope ye will no’ attempt to negotiate with me ‘ol mateys like ye did the las’ time...”
After scouring Scurvy Island for hours for informants, the two siblings were exhausted. Aquezi had stayed at the harbor, saying simply that he would be ready should they need to “run ‘way jus like a‘fore.” To this, Reign had given a small smile.
The two stopped over at the Rusty Anchor for a meal. Kiel was discouraged and quite annoyed. “Phew, if I have to pay ONE more lying-”
“Don’t!” Reign hissed suddenly. Her eyes darted from left to right and it was only then Kiel noticed all the attention being given to them. He kicked himself inwardly for the outburst.
One of the loners in the inn jumped down from his seat and slithered toward them. He was cloaked under a hood, but it was apparent he was a Hissi. He stopped at their table and dropped a scroll on the wooden surface. The only thing distinguishing it was the strange seal. The seal was imprinted on white wax and had a unique design. It was of a fancied letter ‘M’ with swirls twirled around it in undistinguishable patterns. Strangely, the seal was unbroken, proving that the scroll had never been opened.
Reign looked down at the scroll and raised an eyebrow. She turned to face the Hissi, but their mysterious guest had vanished. Quickly, the Acara grabbed the scroll and broke the seal. She unrolled it to reveal a map with a path already marked. Upon the corner were written the words: Only One.
“Are you sure about this, Reign?” Kiel asked. The island they were now facing was not as large as either had pictured it. In fact, it was much smaller than Scurvy Island. A path had been cut out through the greenery, and in the center sat a magnificent castle. Its walls were a dull grey and there were three towers rising just slightly above said walls. The design was triangular and its gates were opened, as though anticipating the arrival of guests.
Reign shook her head. “Nope, not in the least.” She hopped down from the ship and made her way toward the palace. Kiel followed shortly after, hoping against hope that the castle was empty.
They entered together, watching cautiously as though the paintings on the walls were alive and awaiting their guard to drop. There were many halls connected with the one they were in, but both felt a strange sensation that caused them to keep moving on the same path. Finally, they arrived.
It was a large room that greeted them, its walls void of any design, of any painting or form of art. There were no windows, no chairs, no decorations, and no torches. The only light was streaming in from the open hall, revealing the flying dust and the spyderwebs now abandoned by their makers.
There was only the table. A single piece of fine craftsmanship standing alone in the dusty room. It was a wooden stand. The intricate carvings were of beautiful flowers and thorns, entwined in an ever-complex, yet natural way. The stand itself seemed to come alive in this manner, blooming wooden flowers and sprouting the sharp thorns. On top sat a miraculous pinkish gem. The flowers and thorns at the stand’s top were appearing to hold it up.
“Light,” Reign whispered. They had found it at last. She made her way over to the stand, reaching out for it. But as she did, the vines and thorns lashed out, grabbing the gem and covering it with spiny thorns. The carved blossoms on the table seemed to wither and die as the thorns became more prominent. Reign jumped back in surprise.
The whole room flooded with light as the table began to glow; releasing an almost deafening cry. Reign and Kiel shut their ears quickly and shut their eyes as the whole room burst forth light. They fell to their knees in pain as the sound continued. Just like that, it halted. “Arise!” a voice commanded.
Neither made a move, both too scared to do anything. Their eyes were still shut, but they knew somehow that they had to obey. They rose, expecting something awful to meet them. Their eyes opened and both were struck with what they saw.
A Light Faerie stood before them, her golden hair barely reaching her ankles. The brilliant lilac eyes stared at them, questioning them silently. Her long purple dress was strewn with the beautiful flowers and her arms were decorated by the blossom-dotted vines. She was emitting a soft, radiant glow and in her hand she held the gem. “Welcome to my castle, Lady Reign and Lord Kiel,” she stated, her voice a melodic soprano.
For a few moments, neither said a word. Then Reign cleared her throat and cautiously replied, “Thank you, My Lady.” She wanted to say so much more, but she could not.
“I had such high hopes for you, Reign,” the faerie continued. “I was wrong in bringing you here.” She waved a hand in such a way that one waves away a mozito. “Leave.”
Reign and Kiel stood there for a moment longer before Kiel spoke up. “Hang on there,” he stated. “We came all this way to find that gem you have, and we’re not leaving without it!” He gulped as the faerie stared at him, his voice taking on a respectful tone. “We just need it for a little while.”
“Really now?” the faerie questioned. Her gaze turned cold and her grip tightened on the gem. “You cannot have it. Only one may possess it, and that is neither of you.”
“You said you had high hopes for me,” Reign interjected. “Perhaps I am the one and you are not aware of it.”
“I will know the one when I see him or her,” the faerie stated simply. “You are not that one.”
“Really?” Reign continued, her voice having a clear testing edge. “What makes you so sure?”
“You are weak, child,” the faerie said. “You have the magic, but you do not have the power to control or sustain it.”
Reign grabbed her swords, feeling the power flood her. “Tell that to me now,” she stated.
With a wave of her hand the faerie’s magic caused the blades to fly from the Acara’s hand. “The metal in those swords may give you strength, but they cannot make you strong.”
“Then tell me where I can find the one that can possess that stone!” Reign begged.
The Acara’s blue eyes shined so fiercely that the faerie was impressed. Perhaps the girl was connected to the one. Perhaps she was not as far from her prize as she thought. For the first time since they had seen her, the faerie smiled. “I believe we can come to an agreement,” she stated. “Your kingdom is under the rule of your brother, correct?” Reign nodded. “And your brother is currently believed to be under a spell?”
“How do you know all of this?” Reign questioned.
“I know because I am Lady Morning, the Radiant,” the faerie replied, enjoying the shocked looks of her two guests. She was known far and wide as one of the most powerful light faeries in the entire world. “I will give you this gem, but you must first promise me something.”
Reign nodded. “Whatever it is, I’ll do it.”
Morning smiled. “I need you to
The white Aisha stared at the next page. The words made no sense. He looked back. It ended with the faerie speaking. Once he turned the page, he was reading a poem seemingly unrelated to anything on the last page. He checked the book’s spine for any signs of tearing, but there was nothing. The rest of the pages were empty.
The Aisha turned to the blue Acara who sat braiding her long, scarlet hair. “So what did she say?” he asked finally.
“I have no clue, Cenoal,” the Acara responded. “You now know as much about that book as I do.”
“Come now, Scarlet,” the shadow Uni, Shade, urged. “You must have SOME idea where it came from!”
“None,” she replied. “It was just there when I woke up. I read it until that very page, and then it just didn’t make sense anymore.” She narrowed her eyes. “And, Shade, it’s Crystal, not Scarlet.”
“There must be more,” Cenoal continued. He stared at the last page containing writing. “What about this poem?”
Crystal stood. “Make of it what you will; I’ll check our map to make sure we’re on the right path.” She grabbed the map from inside Cenoal’s bag and walked off.
Cenoal continued to stare at the strange piece of literature, contemplating its meaning.
Rays of the sun cannot compare
With a blossom’s fire that hath no care.
Trapped by one with magic’s curse;
Another girl must prove her worth.
Two great faeries have their war;
Both want power, maybe more.
The time has come to set things straight.
The warrior comes; the thief awaits.
The kingdom sleeps ‘til she returns,
The queen of whom the faeries yearn.
The power received from both shines through
In ways that no one can subdue.
Anger, hatred, pain and loss,
Hope is taken, freedom tossed.
Revenge, betrayal, despair, and cold
The promise made will she uphold?
Cenoal remained baffled as he placed the book in his bag, intending to return it to Crystal later on. What did it all mean?
To be continued...