"King Braxton Queen Adelaide, a group of riders is coming across the sands toward Joyeta." A guard said as he came running into one of the many parliament halls of the castle. "How many?" Braxton asked leaning forward, long black hair streaked with silver falling forward over his shoulder. "Four, sire all armed" he answered. "No, you can't go. I won't let you." The King said "I don't want you to get hurt" Adelaide put her hand gently on his shoulder. "My dear I will be fine I have been for all the years I've followed the tradition" the king took a deep breath seeming to calm himself down "send for my horse please." "NO! I don't want you to get hurt! They said they were armed and you don't know how to fight." "I will be fine. I promise If I see any reason to be afraid I will come back." "Fine but the castle walls will be lined with archers ready to fire." "I swear to you I will be fine" the queen insisted She was wrong.
Chapter 1 I stared into the east as the sun rose. Its rays turned the sand to the brightest gold. "My dear why are you up so early? It is not like you." I jumped my breath catching in my throat before I saw it was only my Father. "Father! You scared me. I-I had another vision" my father looked aghast before he composed himself again. "Leona, why did you not wake me! You know I that you can come to me at anytime you need. Now, what did you see?" I paused, thinking, trying to pull back the bits and pieces and replied "I saw a man riding across the desert. He will be here soon!" "What did he look like?" my father asked eagerly. "He was tall, carrying a saber at his side as he rode across the sand on a horse the color of the snow. His hair was the color of the golden sand he rode on, as he scanned the dunes around him with eyes like the sky." "I will warn the guards to keep watch for this man. Oh! I almost forgot get dressed then come down for breakfast I have a surprise for you" "Yes father," I said. After he left I slipped into a white gown and buckled a gold belt around my waist with the inscription of a green eye on it, my symbol. I believe I am part of a prophecy. Before the old king died he told his companion to write down his last words which are as follows: A maiden will be born With hair as black as night And Eyes the color of the leaves on the trees She will be born with a gift to see And change things around her Her powers will tell her of A doom set in time Waiting for her but when she returns Home will be nothing like before I can see into the future I think that's what it means 'a gift to see'. I am the only daughter of the king and his sole heir to the throne but, I did not tell my father the whole truth if I did he would never have let me go. I've seen myself riding out to meet the lone rider, but I have also seen myself being captured by the raiders. Specifically by Giodan. The raiders are nomads that we give supplies: food, clothes, and other necessities. We give these to them once a month to avoid a war that really is always at a holding point. The supplies were supposed to go out today but instead of supplies, the raiders would be taking home the daughter of the king. As I walked down the sandstone steps leading to the Great Hall, I heard my father say to Iorek, Captain of the Royal Guard "I'm sure she will accept your offer. We could have the wedding in this very hall." He said in an excited little voice. So this was father's surprise, Iorek's marriage proposal. Iorek is my best friend but I have never thought of him that way. He has dark wavy hair and always carries a doubled pointed javelin. When I came down the stairs Iorek stood up a little straighter and look like he wasn't nervous but I hear the nerves in the little waver of his voice when he said, "Good morning Princess you look beautiful as always." "Thank you Iorek" I said sweetly "Father you said you had a surprise for me." "Ah yes. You see Iorek has a question for you!" Iorek stood up a little taller try to tough but I could see how nervous he was and as he was my best friend I thought it was hilarious. "I- Uh Leona. I wanted to um... Leona will you marry me?" "I appreciate your offer but I will have to decline," I said civilly trying to act surprised when really inside I was screaming 'No, no, no not my best friend!' Instead, I say calmly. "But I'll have to think about it. You know, talk to Micanna and such." Iorek's face darkened slightly then went back to his calm look so quickly I'm not sure it even changed. "As you wish, my lady." He said as he bowed and walked away stiffly. My father and I stood there for a few moments then Father said "Would you like to talk about this over breakfast?" "If I must." I sighed as I trudged toward the great hall. When we had ordered the servants to bring the food my father looked at me intently and said, "You will think about it won't you?" I sighed trying to think of a way to put my thoughts lightly "Father, I like Iorek as a friend. I really do, a best friend. He and I have been friends for so long it would just seem... odd. " I say slowly. "Leona, my darling you are almost 15 years old and I believe you're wise enough that at this point in your life if the time came and you were needed, you could become queen. But that can't happen unless you have a husband." "But I don't love him!"I finally blurted out before I could stop myself. "This is not about love. This is about finding someone to help you rule against the..." but I didn't hear the rest of his sentence because I stared at horror at the man standing in the doorway. Iorek. "All you had to do was say no." He said in my general direction. Then turning to my father, he said "A rider was seen coming across the horizon." Chapter 2 "How long would you say till the rider gets here? Iorek!" Iorek just stood there waiting for orders from my father. "Iorek, please! I'm sorry, but don't think...I am fairly certain that you aren't the next king." I had only ever told four people about my sight, my mother, Father, Iorek and Micanna. They were the only ones I trusted. Still looking at my father he said, "He will be here in about 20 minutes sire. What should we do?" He emphasized "sire," to show he was not going to talk to me. Shifting uncomfortably in the awkward silence Father said, "Well that is up to Leona. She is the lady of the house." "Walk with me please, while I explain my plans," I said standing up. "Yes, princess," Iorek said stiffly. When we were outside I flagged down two guards and said "You, fetch my horse and you, get my armor and take it to my room." I turned back to Iorek, he was looking everywhere but at me. "You have good reason to be mad at me. But I can see you're not the one" "Then who is?" Iorek snapped finally looking at me with piercing eyes that were like a falcons. I think really hard trying to dig into the visions to pull one forward that would give me the answer I wanted. "I-I can't tell." I put my hands to my head I was getting dizzy from concentrating to hard. "I think," I slid down the wall, beads of sweat forming under my fingertips. I saw a flash of blue. Iorek was beside me in an instant. "Leona are you ok? I'm sorry I shouldn't have forced you to do that. I was just so mad. I just......" He saw my face and stopped. "What's the matter, did you see something?" Iorek asked slowly. "I saw a brilliant flash of blue....." I replied, only half listening, trying to figure out who it could be. The rider had blue eyes it could be him. I jumped as Iorek broke my concentration. "You better go get ready to meet the rider. Do you want a guard?You still look pale." He said worriedly. "No I won't need a guard ever if I did that would be breaking the tradition. Goodbye, Iorek! See you in the courtyard!" I called back to him as I ran up the sandstone steps to my room. When I got there Micanna: my other best friend and advisor, was setting out my armor. "What should I do?" I said and launched into the day's events. "I think you should go. What if you're right and the rider is to be the new king?" "But what about the raiders?" I whispered not wanting the guards to overhear. "You're one of the best fighters. I think you'll be okay." She pauses then said, "Just promise me if, they manage capture you that you will come back as unhurt as possible." "Don't worry. I will." Just then a guard came in and announced, "Your horse is ready." "Thank you. You are dismissed." I said, turning back to Micanna. "Let's get this over with." Micanna helped me into my breast plate, buckled on my gauntlets, and hung a quiver at my side as I strung my bow. I counted my arrows as she buckled my sword to my back. Finally, I slipped my dagger into my boot. We walked down to the courtyard together. When I was mounted on my horse, I bent down as she said, "Be careful." "I will," I replied. I nodded to Iorek and thundered out into the desert. My stead Sunset is a beautiful chestnut stallion. As I rode out I couldn't help thinking of what happened the day my mother rode out for the last time. The guards had spotted a small band of riders coming so they called her and told her what they had seen. She'd immediately mounted her own horse and ridden out. Giodin, the leader of the band, drew his sword and struck at Fleet, my mother's horse. Ironically, Fleet is my horse's mother. My mother was not a fighter so when Fleet fell she was left defenseless. Giodin murdered her for no reason, she couldn't hurt him and yet Giodin was threatened by her somehow. I wish I knew. As I drew closer to the rider I slowed down. When I knew he could hear me, I called saying, "I am Leona, princess, and daughter of King Braxton of Joyeta! State your name please!" "My name is Adrian, Princess." Replied the rider. "Adrian. What business do you have in Joyetta." I said then I spotted the raiders coming over the next sand hill and quickly I said, "Um never mind hehe funny story, but are you any good at fighting, Because those riders will try to kill us otherwise." chapter 3
"What! I have my saber and this knife, but that won't do much good against those soldiers. It looks liker there is a score of foot men and then there are 2 riders." Said Adrian, slightly stunned. "I have a short sword and a bow with a full quiver of arrows. The rider on the left is Giodin; leader of this band and on the right is Vaxen, his right-hand man, and seer." I said smoothly, knocking an arrow to my bow. "Um, right....... Your highness, what is a seer?" Adrian asked awkwardly. "It's like a psychic, he can see into the future by using magic. Oh, and leave Giodin to me. He and I have a score to settle." Adrian stared at me curiously but didn't get nosy. "Get ready," I said. "It's about the get pretty hairy." Giodin and Vaxen pulled their horses to a stop just outside my range of fire. "Well, Leona, long time no see. How long has it been? Five years, I think. You're old enough to be queen. Am I right?" Giodin said in a matter of fact tone. "What does is matter to you? I would rather marry a scorpion than you," I scoffed. "Well that's a good way to greet an old friend." He mumbled sarcastically. "Friend, friend? You murdered my mother! She never did anything to you!" shouted as the anger in had held in for years began to boil in my veins. "Ah yes well let's not let that get in the way of our marriage," Giodin replied. "I will not marry you!" I cried angered by his impotence. "Yes you will, and if you refuse I will just capture you." Finally letting his rage blow over me full blast. "Just you try!" I shouted. "I have trained for hours in our guard tower and have only been beaten by my teacher, waiting for this moment so that I can cut you to shreds!" Out of the corner of my eye I see Adrian's mount dance away from me. "Hmm...either I've scared the horse or Adrian, I just hope it worked on Giodin." I think to myself. "Fine, you give me no choice. Capture them!" Giodin shouted, waving on his soldiers. Immediately the twang of my bowstring filled the air. Suddenly, a volley of arrows came out of the mass of bodies. One of the arrows streaked down at me one brushed my leg tightening my face in a mix of rage and pain as I dismounted, I drew my sword and began to cut my way through soldiers blocking my path, heading toward Giodin and Vaxen. They had retreated to the back during the charge, the cowards. I cut, slashed, jabbed, and pushed my way through until there was nothing left to block my path, but Giodin facing me with sword already drawn. "I don't want to fight you." He says. "It's a little too late for that." I as I advance on him, striking again and again, not giving him enough time to strike back. It took him everything to keep me from hitting him. Finally, a blow landed on his upper thigh, bringing him to his knees. "Call off your men and leave! Go back to your pitiful camp, Now!" I commanded, holding my sword to Giodin's throat. "Leona, look out behind you!" I heard Adrian shout over then, before I could turn, a dagger was at my throat. I heard Vaxen's dry rasping voice in my ear, "Even after being one of the best of the guard, you forgot one important lesson 'Always watch your back'!" Then he was putting a cloth soaked with sweet smelling herbs over my mouth and nose. The last thing I saw before everything went black was Adrian fighting to escape the mob of soldiers. chapter 4 Slowly I awoke to find I was bound in the middle of a tent. The ropes holding me pole dug painfully into my wrists as I tried to wiggle free. Suddenly, I heard the thud of someone being kicked and grunting in pain. "Then why did you help her!?" Shouted a voice I didn't know. "I-did you really think I was going to let her fight alone? I mean she's a princess" grunted Adrian though a fat lip. I looked around, taking in my surroundings. There were two guards outside the tent flaps and Adrian was kneeling, hands tied behind his back at the feet of a young man. He looked up from Adrian, seeing me awake and said, "Ah good Princess, you're awake. Now we'll get some real answers." He aimed a hard kick at Adrian's ribs, who grunted again. The man came over and flicked out a dagger that I would have thought was mine if I couldn't still feel it in my boot. The tip of the shining blade hovered inches from my face. "How long have you known Adrian here for?" "I've knew him for about five minutes before Giodin kidnapped us." The man did not seem pleased with that answer. "Did he say what weapons he had?" "A knife and a saber," I said curtly. "Finally, what does this mean?" I watched him as he pulled my belt out from a sack with my bow sticking out of it. "Well?" the man said impatiently. I was not about to tell him what the eye really means. "It's just an inscription. It doesn't mean anything." I said innocently. "May I ask who you are?" I ask my voice sweet but obviously sarcastic. ."I will ask the questions and I think you're lying. Just as well, we're on our way to see Giodin now. But if you must know my name is Nato. Guards! Is not like you won't learn sooner or later." He snapped. Nato dragged me to my feet and held my arms, while someone clamped shackles to my wrists. The guards walked behind me, poking me in the back with their spear butts when I wasn't going fast enough for them. "What is Giodin going to do with us?" I called back to Nato who was tugging a struggling John along. "How should I know?" He sneered back. Adrian didn't look good a bruise was already forming around his eye and dried blood was smeared all over his face. He was barely keeping conscious. As I looked around, I saw children running playfully, fully fed and thought 'this wouldn't be that bad of a place to rule if their fathers weren't all murderers and scum!' Then a camp tent that could only be Giodin's came into view with the raider's flag flying high on it a black background with a white silhouette of a horse and rider sabers raised. The guards push me into the tent where I stumbled and fell at the feet of Giodin. "Good that's where you belong," Giodin said with a smirk. I struggled to my feet without the use of my hands. Nato held my chains as he didn't need to take care of Adrian knelt gasping for air "So, how has your sleep been? Comfortable?." asked Giodin. "I wouldn't worry about my sleep." I said, my voice dripping with as much sarcasm only to have it hardened "because you're going take an eternal nap when I get free." "Yes, well I have a proposition for you," Dismissing what I said, Giodin continued, "marry me or else you will be handed over to the gray maidens and Joyetta will come under siege!" chapter 5
I stared into Giodin's hard face in disbelief. Then, blood boiling, I said in a voice as hard as steel "And what makes you think that we will fall so eas..." my voice faded as a vision began to form in front of my eyes. It was nighttime, and I was walking surrounded by guard's spears pointing at my chest, my hands bound by a length of cord behind my back. We came out of the darkness into a place as bright as day. Fires blazed everywhere unchecked. 'It's the courtyard!' I thought. Men ran everywhere to stop the flames from spreading, but also to not be caught by the raiders running after them. Some of our soldiers were fighting. Iorek was trying to fend multiple foes, but the light of battle left his eyes the moment he saw me bound. "Leona! No, don't let them take you! Fight!" Before I could shout a reply the scene faded away to be replaced by Giodin's tent with me on my knees gasping for breath. I looked up at Giodin. "Look that got her! More threats like that and she'll be like clay in my hand." "Well, this girl's not clay you can mold for your desires. I do what I want for me! And me only!" I snarled "You will never get Joyetta!" I ripped the chains out of my unsuspecting captor's hands. I swing the chains above my head, then I brought them down on Nato's head, he fell like a rock. Vaxen's dagger yet again has planted itself at my throat, as I knew it would "Are you thick enough to make the same mistake twice or are you just ignorant?" Vaxen rasped in my ear. "I am neither, but you are arrogant and overconfident," I said quickly and swung the chains over my head. They hit Vaxen with a loud; "Crack!" and he fell in a heap next to Nato. As I bent to grab the keys of my chains from one of the Nato's belt I heard a scraping sound and saw a glint of metal out of the corner of my eye. "You see what I mean son. I told you she had a fire inside her." Giodin said casually flicking his sword beneath my chin. I stood up slowly, wary of the bright blade inches from my throat. "Yes, I do see it." Nato said rubbing his head as he slowly sat up. "and feel it" he muttered "Son?" "Would you like to help me explain my plan?" "Father, do you think that is wise?" said Nato doubtfully. "I mean if she escapes and tells others of our plan then what do we do?" "That is true my son, but I want her to fully comprehend what will happen if she fails to obey me," Giodin said curtly while his sword flickered ominously beneath my chin. Turning back to me, "The meeting of the raiders is tomorrow night and I intend to be there early so listen here and listen clos-" "There are more of you scum? What is the meeting of the raiders!?" I interrupt fervently. "Why of course." Said Giodin, not noticing the icy stares I was throwing his way. "There are three clans. The black raiders which is us, the red raiders and the gold raiders. The gold raiders are our leaders. Any Grey maidens, or female warriors, who really are just prisoners must fight the beast!" "What is the beast?" I ask my stomach dropping I think have heard of this beast. "The beast has two heads, one of a lion and one of a ram. Its tail is the head of a viper. It is said the one who kills the beast will be the chosen one, who will help us win back the lands we lost to the cities and kings." Giodin said as if he was teaching a child that the sky was blue. "What?" Like a chimera? And why would I help you take land from my people are you completely brainless?" Nato jumped back as if I was the viper. "Don't say the name." He said, his voice hoarse with fear. "Yes, that's what the beast is, but we don't call it that. We have two others like you. SO when the guards come you will be taken to their tent." He said ignoring him. "Wait, will I be allowed a weapon?" I asked hurriedly. I needed as much information as I could get before the guards came, anything to help me get home. "What does the beast have for weapons?" I asked. "The viper's bite is so poisonous you will die within a minute. Ah good, the guards are here." He said, clapping his hands. "Take her to the Grey Maidens and bring her armor, but not her weapons. We don't need her escaping." So the guards lead me out, spears pointed at me warily. As we walked away I risked a glance back. Giodin was standing over the still unconscious Adrian. I wondered 'what would Giodin want with him?' as I was lead away through a sea of tents. chapter 6 The guards led me to a grey canvas tent. The canvas was thin enough to see the silhouettes of two other women, but nothing more. "Go on, get in there!" One of the guards said roughly using the butt of his spear to shove me through the tent flaps. I stumbled and fell onto another woman bringing her down with me. When we got back up and straightened out, I shouted at the receding backs of the men. "I can walk by myself thanks!" As I take in my surroundings the other two women stare at me. One is slightly shorter than me with shoulder length black hair pulled back loosely with a ribbon. The other is a head taller than me with long, flaming red hair. It's wildly curly, sticking up and out in random places. "My name is Kai and this is Fleur." The redhead said. "My name is Leona, daughter of Brayton King of Joyetta." I reply formally. Fleur gasped and when Kia and I look at her she says "You're the one." I stare at her, wondering what she could mean. "I'm what one?" I ask slowly. "That man that follows Giodin around, the one with the grating voice," Kara said pausing, trying to think of the name. "Vaxen?" I ask. "Yes, Vaxen. I overheard him telling Giodin that he had seen somewhere that they would capture you!" I was taken aback, he had seen it too? "What did he say?" I asked quickly. "I think he said 'Giodin sir, the time has come to take Leona, I have seen a sign that we should take Joyetta and if she refuses to marry you, send her to the gray......" That's all I heard because they walked away." She answered slowly, trying to remember each word. "So you denied him marriage." Kia said. "Of course I did! He killed my mother." I said savagely. "I'm sorry. What was he thinking! He must be dense." Fleur said. "You told us about yourself, now it's our turn. My father was a blacksmith, so was my brother. I was talking with them in the forge before Giodin's men took me. I was walking back to the house when Vaxen came up behind me and said 'my, what a pretty girl.' I tried to fight him off with a hammer that was hanging against the forge wall, but he just laughed and said 'Ha, and skilled too!' Then a guard came up behind me and knocked me out. When I woke up I was here in this tent." Fleur continued. "My story is similar," said Kia. "I was walking back from the fields when I was intercepted by Vaxen. What happened to you?" "I'll start at the beginning," I said. "20 years ago when my father took the throne the raiders attacked. We the war but got a lot of their land. We made a treaty saying we would keep the land we won and we would give them supplies once a month. They never really liked it, but they agreed with it because they didn't have a choice. Five years ago on supply day my mother went out like she always did to give them what they needed and Giodin struck down her horse then her. I have hated him ever since. It was and still is the tradition for the woman of the house to hand out supplies. So, when my mother was killed it was my job. I decided to enroll in the training of a soldier to learn to protect myself. No one can beat me but my best friend Iorek, and even then it's close. Yesterday was supply day but," I lowered my voice "can I trust you?" I asked both girls nodded after another pause I continued "Sometimes see visions and I saw one with a lone rider coming across the sand on a white stallion, before the riders would come for the supplies. It was true so I went out to meet him and Giodin came with a score of soldiers. Adrian and I fought the best as we could with all of those men. Giodin wanted me to marry him so when I refused he captured me." Kia and Fleur stared at me. "You see visions!" Kia whispered. "Yes, the only people that know are my Father, Iorek, my advisor, and now you two. My mother also knew before she died. You cannot tell a soul." I whispered. It was a good thing too, because right then Giodin came in with a band of guards. "Wait outside." He ordered the guards. Then, turning back to us he said, "I see you met the newest addition to you group, I hope you all can get along save the fight for later." Turning to the others hesaid "She brought a friend as well, how sweet. We were just getting him ready for tomorrow." He said sarcastically. "What do you need Adrian for, Giodin?" I said fiercely. "he didn't do any thing Giodin interrupted me saying "but help you." "why are you here? I mean you must be here for some reason other than to bother us. I would think the lord of the raiders would have more important maters than checking up on his prisoners." I said, prodding him in the chest. "You're right." He said grasping my wrist painfully. "Kia, we need to talk." Kia's face paled. "What-why, I didn't do anything!" "We'll see," Giodin said knowingly and pulled her from the tent. Chapter 7
I paced back and forth waiting. "It's been two hours! What could have they done to her?" I asked exasperated. "You should eat especially if we have to fight that thing tomorrow," Fleur said pointing at the food the soldiers had brought. All of a sudden clamor rose from between the tents. As I burst through the tent flaps the guards reached for my arms. "I'm not trying to escape you, dimwits!" I screamed at them. Then while they sat staring at me I turned and ran toward the noise. When I arrived at the scene Vaxen was standing over Kia who was on all fours a dagger was in his hand ready to strike. "No!" I cried hurling myself at him. I cried out in pain as the dagger slashed open my arm, Vaxen's eyes bulged in rage. Kia had crawled over to where I had fallen clutching at my arm. "Oh Leona, I'm so sorry! Oh god, look at your arm!" She said scared. "It's okay let's just get out of here," I said getting up and starting to walk back toward our tent. Kia stumbled and began to fall before I caught her. "Are you alright? Here, let help you." I said letting her lean on me so she could walk. "Leona I'm sorry I think I told him about you I tried not to. I really did but Vaxen gave me this drink and...I'm so sorry!" Kia sobbed. She looked into my face, but it was blank of emotion. Seeing this she sobbed even harder. "It's okay Kia," I said stroking her hair. "He has that influence on people." By the time we reached the tent my hand was dripping with blood that fell in large drops on my dress. Fleur seeing this gasped "What happened? Did you have to fight?" she asked in concern. "Not now," I said wearily as I changed into a gray dress that matched the others. Fleur came over ripped some cloth off my dress to bind my arm. I look over at Kia she had lain down and fallen straight to sleep. "They did something to her Fleur. When I got there she was on her hands and knees and Vaxen was ready to stab her! She said Vaxen gave her some potion and she thinks she said something. So I don't know what they know, but when Vaxen went to stab her I threw myself at him to stop him." I said flatly. "How are we ever supposed to fight the Chimera with your arm, even if you are trained? It's almost like they're doing this purposely so we don't win." Fleur said. "If my plan works we won't have to fight," I said then, lowering my voice I told her my plan. Chapter 8
"It's a good thing they gave us grey to wear. I almost got caught a few times." Fleur said. "Adrian's tent is a row over and a couple from the horses." She informed me. "Good." I replied "but I don't know how fit those are to ride." Kia had awoken, eaten, and gone back to sleep. "So, let's go over the plan again." I said as Fleur put a small leather draw string bag on the table. You'll slip some of this powder into each one of our guard's drinks" I had plucked it off of Vaxen's belt when he stabbed me "and when they are asleep. I'll tie them up while you get Adrian and Kia then we'll steal the horses and try to make it as close to Joyetta as possible. If we make it then we'll figure out what to do from there." Fleur whispered. "I hope this works. You'll be the only one with a weapon unless we take from the guards, but I don't think even with your dagger we can do much." "If it comes to that go I'll hold them off as long as I can, don't look back, just go East to Joyetta. Tell my father I have sent you." I said firmly, getting up to gather the things we would need to escape. "Go do step one." I told her and she slipped out of the tent. I turn "Kia, please wake up." Then softer, "we're almost ready to leave." She sat up rubbing the sleep from her eyes "Already?" She replied groggily. "Yes Kia, do you think you can ride?" I asked looking at her bruises. "If it gets me away from Vaxen then, yes, I can ride." "Good," I said as Fleur slipped back into the tent. "They'll be asleep in about five minutes." She said. "Good, my turn," I said picking up the coil of rope we made from strips of my white dress. I slipped silently out of the tent and crouched in the shadows. I could hear men walking past. I quickly and quietly bound each man guarding Adrian's ten and our tent hand and foot, grateful that no one disturbed me Fleur and Kia would meet me at the horse's stable after I got Adrian. Kia stuck her head out and I nodded then I made my way back to Adrian's tent. I would have to explain what we were doing because we hadn't told him yet. I pulled back the tent flap and crept inside. "Adrian." He jumped and turned. "It's me, we're escaping! Hurry!" I whispered urgently. "But-how-the guards...?" He said uncertainly. "We gave them sleeping powder, but they're bound to wake up soon so hurry." "Ok, I'm coming." He whispered, following me out. "Go, I'll be right there," I said, pausing to unsheathe one of the guard's short swords. Then I ran quickly and silently toward the horses. "There aren't any saddles," Kia said weakly. "Can you ride bareback?" I asked. "I'll try." Suddenly, I had an idea. "Adrian you can ride bareback right?" He nodded. "Kia you can ride behind Adrian to save horses. Quick! I think I hear someone!" I said pulling myself up onto a horse's back. Adrian pulled Kia up onto the horse and we galloped out of the row of tents. Just as we reached the last row a bugle rang out through the camp. "No! Now they're going to catch us!" Fleur wailed. "Just ride and remember what I told you!" I shouted, falling back behind Adrian. Fleur shouted something, but I ignored her. I glanced behind me, it was Vaxen flanked by two men. "Leona?" Came a weak cry from in front of me. "Leona, what are you doing?" Kia asked. Vaxen's men were coming up fast, so I slowed mine. Adrian started to stop. "Go! I'll slow them down!" Kia looked At me scared. "Follow Fleur she knows what to do," and with that, I turned to face Vaxen. Chapter 9
to slow, Vaxen was tiring. It had been at least ten minutes. Sweat rolled down his face, into his eyes. I figured now was as good a time as any and took the beat up a notch. Vaxen, startled by my renewed vigor, stumbled and fell backward over one of the men's fallen. "I win, Vaxen." And with a sharp thrust cut his leg. It wouldn't kill him, but it would keep him from chasing me. Getting back on my horse I took off for Joyetta. I urged the horse, hoping it could go faster. 'I'm almost home!' I though blissfully then I heard it, the pounding of hooves. "Please!" I shouted to the horse, "Go faster!" when I was close to the gate I screamed. "Open the gate! Quickly!" Then seeing their bewildered faces I shouted "I am Leona! Open the gate!" Realization dawned on their faces and they disappeared. The gates opened and I fled inside. Outside, I heard a cry of outrage. "No! You idiots! Why weren't you paying attention to them!? Leona, I know you can hear me! You will pay for this!" 'How could I pay for this' I thought, glad to be home. Then I turned and saw Iorek come running down the wall steps. His eyes were bright red like he hadn't slept during the time I was gone. I dismounted and ran over to him. I joy to be home I jumped into his arms and faded into nothing. Chapter 10 "Go and rest Iorek. The doctor said she'll be fine. When she wakes up I'll for send you." said my father. "No, your highness, I will stay. The doctor also said she'll wake soon. I want to be here when she does." Iorek said, his voice laden with fatigue. "How sweet, you are fighting over who should stay at my bedside. You would think it was my death bed." I said slowly, opening my eyes. "Now Leona you know what we-Leona!" Iorek said and I laughed him. "Leona my darling are you alright?" My father asked rushing over to me. "Yes, I'm alright. Where are Kia, Kara, and Adrian?" "Sleeping. They will be glad to hear you are safe Kia came here distraught with worry." Father replied. "Go and tell them father. I need to speak to Iorek alone for a moment." I said. He nodded and left. "I'm sorry for what I said before this mess started. And well, when I passed out, I didn't just pass out. I had another vision." I said slowly. Iorek's lip twitched but he didn't say anything so I went on, "The first vision must have been a warning of what would happen if I went to met Adrian. Then the only I had at the camp was what would happen if I disagreed and the one I had just now told me what is to happen." Iorek waited for me to go on, when I didn't he asked, "Which is?" I paused then said, "You are king." He looked stunned so I continued, "But first I must fight Giodin" As I walked down the sandstone steps to the dining hall to meet my father I heard some guards talking. "The princess is just like her father, bringing a war on our doorstep with the raiders." "I think we have some disloyal soldiers here." I whispered to Iorek and he nodded. He walked down in front of me into view of the soldiers. "What is this, men of the guard talking against the princess?" Iorek's asked sharply. The guards looked appalled, but when I stepped out from behind a pillar they look mortified. "When you," I said. "have fought when the odds pointed to your death, then you can talk." I said, my voice as smooth as steel. As I walked into the hall with Iorek I heard a squeal of "Leona!" Iorek had to jump back to avoid being run over by Micanna. "Thank goodness you're alright!" She said, tears forming in her eyes. "I'm ok, I'm ok." I said soothingly looking around I said "Father, where is everyone?" "They are still asleep. Now what did you want to tell me?" I looked at Iorek then said, "I wasn't unconscious." My father's face looked bewildered so I explained. "I had a vision, a vision of Iorek being crowned King." Micanna squealed again, this time in delight and squeezed my hand. "But first I have to fight Giodin." Micanna gasped and my father squeezed the back of the chair till his knuckles turned white. "Princess, Princess! A message for you!" "Thank you." I looked at the seal. "It's from him," then I began to read.
It is to my regret that you are home. I hope you enjoyed your stay, but I would like you to give me back the stolen goods. To prevent the killing of our men I suggest single combat. Sincerely Giodin,
Lord of the Black Raiders
"Well, I guess I don't have a choice." I said rolling the scroll up "Do you think you can do it?" My father asked. "He doesn't stand a chance." Micanna shied away at the steel in my voice. "You there, send a message back to Giodin. Tell him I accept." "Are you sure you want to do this?" Micanna said, strapping on my sword, "It's this or war. I'll be okay.", with that I walked out of my room to meet my enemy in the final battle. "This ends now Giodin!" My voice rang out across the sands. The men made a circle around us. Men and women also lined the walls. Iorek's voice rang out as he addressed Giodin. "in this fight Leona and Giodin will battle unaided till one is dead or unable to fight anymore." He looked at me as if willing me to remember all my training; I nodded "Begin." I raised my sword and Giodin met mine. We slashed and jabbed, parried and flicked. The seconds dragged on into minutes. Sweat rolled down my face and my arms felt like lead weights. Giodin's troubles were equal, if not more. I was waiting for the perfect opening as we did this deadly dance. When it felt like an hour had gone by it was there, and I struck and I struck home. The blade slashed into Giodin's sholder. The men cheered telling me to finish it. "What are you too weak to kill a man? You maim them, but you can't kill them!?" Giodis voice rang out harsh as he tried to keep the blood from flowing. "No Giodin, I am not weak, but I am not like you. I won't kill a man who can't fight." I turned to walk out of the ring when I heard a twang and "thund!" as an arrow hit home. I turned back in shock, but it was too late the arrow was protruding from the middle of his chest then he crumpled. With the weight of the battle falling heavily on my shoulders, Iorek ran up to me, "You did it! You waited it out and it worked!" "Yes, I did do it didn't I?" I said heavily. The people were shouting, "Leona, defeater of the raider!" They shouted it over and over again. "Just ignore them." Iorek said seeing my face. "No it's not that it's just if my mother hadn't died on one of this would've happened." I said seriously. "Don't worry. She would have been proud." And we walked side by side back into my home.
I don't know what happened to the Chimera, I guess I'll never know if it was killed or even was real. Maybe I'll learn in the future. In time Kia and Adrian fell in love. Fleur stayed with me and my family. Iorek will be a great king. And I know that to be true.