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BRINGER of BALANCE - Book II of THE LAND series

By smatusky All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Chapter 4 - My Haunting Past

As soon as our party entered the Governor’s main council room, I sensed many thoughts that were very strong. I stopped and walked by a number of guards standing in the back of the room.

The Governor stood on a podium in front of a horseshoe-shaped table, like a conductor in front of his orchestra. The council members sat around the outside of the table looking toward us. Riley was about to speak, but I grabbed his arm and whispered for him to wait.

I slowly walked around reading the thoughts of the council. Without showing interest in the Governor or the council I knew my appearance was that of an eccentric royal snoot, but I had to be sure that our information did not fall into the wrong hands. After I completed my circuit, I noticed a guard stationed at a back entrance that had blocked his thoughts. I sensed various weak emotions in the guard and was frightened to find them identical to Riley’s emotions when he had been a protector. If protectors were posing as humans in the room, they would discover how much we had learned about them and their plague.

“I am Quintin McCook, Governor of . We have been awaiting your arrival. What news have you brought my council?”

“Pardon my manners, Governor, but it has been a long journey,” I stepped forward and squeezed Riley’s arm before he could introduce us. “Is it possible my party can first rest the night then reconvene with the council in the morning?”

The Governor was agitated with my actions, though he did not express his thoughts. “As you wish.” he said stiffly.

While we followed our escorts out of the room, I pulled Devin back and whispered in his ear. “Riley and I need to speak with the Governor alone, right away.” Devin nodded and immediately set off to arrange a meeting. The rest of us were led to guest quarters in the Governor’s tower. The tower was part of a larger mansion that held many rooms for meetings and also served as home for the Governor and other officials.

Riley and I entered the guestroom. Our bags had already been brought up from the barn. There was a nice bed and a large window over looking the port. I really wanted to rest, but knew I had to wait. I told Riley that we needed to meet privately with the governor and explained to him the situation with the guard in the council room. He was surprised that a protector would be able to stay among humans for so long until I reminded him of his own actions as my servant. Minutes later, Devin knocked on the door and we were on our way to speak with Governor McCook.

We were shown to the Governor’s study. Sir Gabrial and Devin guarded the door behind us. Soon after we arrived, the agitated Governor entered and stood behind a mahogany desk.

“What is so urgent that you had to request a private meeting?” His irritated tone was barely restrained. “I gathered my entire council when I heard you had arrived. You disrespected the council by ignoring their presence the same way you cast aside my knight who came to you for help.” He glanced at Sir Gabrial behind us. Gabrial quickly looked down, avoiding our gaze.

“My sincere apologies, Governor,” said Riley. “We could not speak our knowledge due to a possible spy hidden among your guards.”

“I don’t believe it! One of my guards? That’s impossible!” The Governor glared at us, ready to put up a defensive shield. (He was preparing to argue that his democratic rule was better than our lax monarchy, so a spy among the ranks would be impossible.)

“Sir, we are not questioning your rule.” I spoke out, interrupting his thoughts. “Only I can detect the spy. Earlier I read the minds of every person in the room, but one guard was able to shield his thoughts from me.”

“What do you mean?”

It was now safe to explain the story of the protectors although convincing this rigid man of anything would be most difficult.

“Your knight told you that I can heal?” He nodded. “Well, I can do many things, like read a person’s thoughts. But among us are hidden immortal beings posing as humans. Unlike humans they can shield their thoughts from me and I read them differently.” The Governor was very confused when I said “immortal,” and I knew that this might take some time.

“My knight is convinced that you can heal, but I have yet to see such magic. Mind you, magic is unwanted in these parts. It is magic that put us through centuries of war with . I care not for magic tricks, and I hardly believe you are capable of such deeds.”

I sighed and took a deep breath. Devin, Riley, and even the Governor’s knight were uneasy with our situation, but it was up to me to bind these men or our kind would be faced with certain destruction.

I began repeating aloud every thought that came into Quintin’s mind. Eventually he caught onto my strategy:

“We have had to deal with centuries of Kings and who think they rule everything and people should bow before their feet. I was elected by the people of , not born into some seat of wealth, and now I have to deal with this young girl who thinks she is a magician. I should have them escorted out of town or just hand them over to the free-roamers.”

“You’re driving me mad! Stop it!” the Governor yelled. But I shouted with him until all of the governor’s forceful words matched my every utterance. We were a single thought and my powers of telepathy were so attuned that I spoke the Governor’s exact words in unison. It was quite strange.

“This is madness!” was the last statement we shouted before I stopped. He told his knight to escort us from the room.

“Wait,” I said. I had hoped that my little demonstration would convince the Governor that the real barrier was political. He disrespected Riley and me because of what we were, a King and Queen. We would get nowhere explaining about the protectors if he did not first set aside his own personal views. “If you do not open your mind to who we are or what we can do, then you will never believe the King’s story. The plague is closer than you think, and if you decide to cast us aside, then humankind may be doomed. Please allow King Riley to tell you the story of the protectors and I beg you, please don’t close your heart to us. We need everyone’s help.” I stepped back and we waited for the governor’s response.

“Speak,” The Governor crossed his arms. Even though he was short-tempered, at least he was willing to listen.

Riley began. “What I will tell you has not been spoken to humankind except at the beginning of our journey. Our starting party is aware of what I was, but Gullane, Sir Edward, and Rhaida are unaware.” Riley asked the Governor to sit since it would take time to explain, but McCook remained standing.

“Tell your story quickly. I have little time for this rubbish.”

Riley sighed and continued, describing the protectors in the same way he did before leaving home. When it came to the part about his being a protector himself, the Governor refused to believe him.

I knew by McCook’s thoughts that Riley was not convincing him about his past adventures as a spy in my castle, so once he explained our trip to the protectors’ fortress, the Governor was ready to have us thrown out again.

“Your guard is a protector, Governor McCook,” I spoke when Riley paused out of frustration. “If this creature discovers that we know about the protectors and what they are doing to humans, then we may be in serious trouble. They’re afraid of us. The protectors don’t want us creating what they call “an imbalance” on this continent. Our emotions frighten them, and your guard will be frightened as well in the form of a human, but I can find him because I will be unable to read his thoughts. Governor, I propose a compromise. If we capture this protector will you believe us? Will you allow us to speak before the council and present our need for an alliance?”

We waited for Governor McCook to respond. He went back to his desk and sat down, deliberating for a long time.

“What do you need from me?” he asked. I told him that we would need Sir Gabrial and three trustworthy men that could keep our search of the spy a secret. He nodded to Sir Gabrial who led us to the other trusted men.

We explained how the intruder could change form and become another person or animal. Riley told the men to watch for clothes lying in a hall or corridor and warn us of anything suspicious.

We went back to our room, and although tired from our ordeal with the Governor, we were not too tired to share a moment of privacy. We had been waiting to be alone and were very eager.

Spending time together for so long and not being able to share our affection had made us frantic when we did have a chance to be alone. Before we even unpacked we were stripping off each other’s clothes.

Devin knocked on the door and opened it to see Riley standing naked behind me. I turned and quickly moved his hands to cover up my bare breasts. Luckily Riley had not yet removed my skirt.

Devin was in just as much shock as we were, and he started to withdraw.

“Wait,” I said. “What is it?”

The scene must have been comical, but I was terribly embarrassed and Devin spoke with the door slightly open. His eyes stayed on the ground in front of him.

“I’m sorry, my Queen, but we think we have found the intruder. I must take you there before we lose it.”

“I’ll be with you in a moment.” When Devin closed the door my tension subsided. Riley kept his hands on me and I turned while laughing.

“Stay here. I hope this won’t take long.” Riley laughed even though he did not fully understand the humor in the situation.

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“No need.” I kissed him quickly.

As I left the room, Riley was standing by the bed, naked and smiling. For me it was a heart-pounding experience to be caught in an intimate moment by someone. Riley did not care though. He just wanted us to be together.

Devin guided me to a stretch of corridor that contained the guards’ quarters. Rooms lay on either side of us, and one area was closed off. Two guards allowed us to enter the room on my right and a silver cover to a food tray rested on the ground next to a set of clothes.

“I saw the clothes wiggle a little then I took this cover and trapped the creature.” A guard volunteered. He was one of the men we had warned about the protector and was proud to have caught the intruder.

I asked Devin to lift the cover quickly and as soon as he did I placed an invisible shield over the creature. It took the form of a rat and tried to escape by running around in circles, bouncing off my barrier.

“Congratulations men, you’ve just captured a rat! And a mighty large one, it seems. All this rodent cares about is eating some stale bread under that bunk.” I pointed to a bed behind us then dropped my shield. The scared rat scampered out of the room and headed down the hall. The guard who had trapped the rat sighed with disappointment.

Devin’s thoughts reflected embarrassment for interrupting the King and me.

“I’ll be in my room awhile, so if you find anything else tell me later.” Devin nodded. “Be sure to knock and wait before you open the door, all right?”

“Yes, yes, my queen. I’m so sorry.”

“Happy hunting.” I headed quickly back to my room.

When I returned Riley had already fallen asleep, so I left briefly to find something to eat. When I returned candles lit up the cozy yet cramped room. I sat next to Riley on the bed then informed him about the rat and my concern that we may never catch the protector spy. If we could not catch the spy, I did not see how we could convince Governor McCook that protectors even existed.

Riley’s urges were back, but he was not frantic like before. Something was different about his thoughts that I could not quite understand, like a somber repose. He lifted my shirt over my head, touching my skin while watching me. It seemed like the first time we were together as man and wife, but this time he knew what to do. He gently laid me down upon the bed, soft with his words and his touch.

“This is more than what I first thought,” he whispered. “I believe I’m beginning to understand this feeling. It’s more than reproduction for humankind. It is a sense of being ‘one’ with your mate, even if that feeling lasts just a moment.”

Riley brushed back my hair with his hand and spoke hypnotically. “When you left with Devin earlier I was sad. I wanted to be with you, I wanted to be one with you, but you were gone. To be with you like this is everything I have ever wanted since I first saw you that night in the woods. I cannot imagine how I survived as that secluded creature all alone, and I can’t imagine being without you now as this man called Riley.”

I smiled and for the first time we both understood what it meant to be in love with another being. It was not about mating or reproduction, and we shared a love that could not be matched; we wanted nothing more.

The next morning we awoke refreshed. We knew our meeting with the council would be difficult, especially since there was no sign of the spy.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” Governor McCook said, remaining skeptical. Riley responded that we had not and asked the Governor if we would be allowed to explain to the council our findings.

“Do you really expect my people to sit and listen to your stories about invisible creatures?”

“Yes,” I responded. Riley and the rest of our alliance were shocked at my bold statement. “If it’s proof you want then we shall grant you your wish. I had to be sure your spy didn’t suspect anything, so I decided to let him come to us. The protector is here, in this room. He is trapped by my energy field and starting to feel fear: an emotion he neither understands nor wants to experience.”

I walked toward a guard standing behind me. He was a different man than yesterday, but nevertheless our same protector was trapped within my invisible force field. His eyes blazed. I ignored him and turned back to the council.

The members were bewildered. I nodded to Riley and he began to explain.

“Protectors are immortal beings that have been a part of this world long before the first organisms formed. They are the keepers of balance, and when one species dominates they intervene with any means necessary. Unlike most animals that rely on instinct, humans are unpredictable. They have deep feelings that protectors fear, especially when taking human form. Protectors prefer that our world not harbor such mortals and they have devised a way of exterminating us…completely.”

Riley glanced over his shoulder at the guard lifting his hand to my invisible shield.

“What is this? Release me…now!” The guard began frantically pounding on my shield.

The mood was tense. The council could not understand what was happening, yet I knew that the protector was close to losing control. The Governor asked what we were trying to prove and I raised my hand for silence. Beads of sweat appeared on the guard’s forehead and he screamed to be released. The feeling of entrapment worked to our advantage and he could not stand his human form any longer.

The protector changed into a massive scaly two-headed beast that clawed at my shield of energy. Everyone jumped. Then the protector transformed into a dozen ferocious creatures in just seconds. It was a blur of fur, scales, and feathers –– no mortal form could break free from my shield, so he reverted to his true form. My shield held and we watched the green mist bounce around in its confined space.

“Here’s your spy, Governor McCook!” Riley yelled. The Governor was speechless.

“I can’t hold him, Riley. I’ll have to drop my shield. We might have convinced the council about the protectors, but they know their secret has been exposed.” Riley nodded.

The protector had served our purpose so I was prepared to set it free. Before I released him I spoke while everyone listened.

“You have a chance to show yourselves to us. We know you exist, so you can either fear us or speak with us. Take this information to your kind, but understand that ridding us from this world will be difficult. Humans are as much a part of this world as any animal, so choose your path wisely, protector. Fear can unleash irreversible forces.”

When I lowered my shield the green mist passed through a wooden door. I knew it was headed straight for the protectors’ fortress and I hoped that my speech would be shared with all the protectors. I let out a sigh of relief, certain we would achieve our goal of an alliance.

“What was that thing?” asked our own Sir Edward. The same thought raced through the minds of every person who failed to hear Riley’s first speech at the onset of our journey.

One of the council members stood and spoke to Riley. “King Riley, how is it that you know so much about these beings?”

“I was once a protector.” Riley calmly informed the council while walking close to them. None believed him. “I hid among your kind as a protector for years, just like your spy, but I decided to make contact with the Queen of the Land, an act strictly forbidden by immortals. While hiding among humans in the castle, the protectors refused to seek me out for punishment for fear they would be tainted by human emotion, but when I followed Queen Crystal alone into the east woods we were captured. I was injected with a potion while in this mortal form, a potion meant to punish protectors who have not kept the balance of our world.”

“What do you mean you didn’t keep the balance of our world?” asked another council member. “What did you do to be punished by these protectors, besides speaking with us?”

“I didn’t kill the Queen on her first journey into the woods as instructed. Instead, I saved her from a fall that would have taken her life. I interfered with the balance of this world by acting on emotion and changing what was meant to happen.

“During my travels I saw more compassion in this one human than I had seen in any animal. Rather than attacking her prey as a predator would, she succeeded by understanding her foe. I saw hope in humans, hope in their existence because of .” Riley turned around to smile at me before continuing.

“The potion is meant to trap an immortal into a mortal form, the worst punishment for a protector. Every banished protector before me had died from the potion before transforming. But was able to save me from the potion’s deadly transmutation. The Queen healed me, risking her own life.

“The protectors realized that the potion would kill humans as well, so they began testing it. They started with the nomadic people who are often alone, but I fear the killers are becoming bold and moving into more populated areas. They are posing as animals or reptiles such as snakes, which carry the substance within their venom sacks and strike unsuspecting victims.”

Riley motioned for Devin to reveal the syringe that contained the potion I took from the protector’s fortress. After that, we spent hours in the council chamber answering questions. Then we discussed the past and what we should do next. There was a lot of information for everyone to absorb, and we agreed that what was said that day would stay secret as long as possible.

As a group we had not yet decided what actions should be taken. Meanwhile, Governor McCook ordered his biologists and medical scientists to examine the potion. They would need just a few drops to study its content.

Late that afternoon we concluded our meeting and took a walk along the dock. Riley and I were relieved and happy to enjoy some time strolling through the streets. We sampled the local food and found some entertainment. George joined a group of musicians set up along the boardwalk, and we sat and listened for almost an hour until it became too breezy to remain outside.

On our way back to the Governor’s tower I read Sir Edward’s thoughts. He watched Riley closely during most of the evening and acted far more fascinated with the King than he had ever been with me. I also noticed Wolfe sitting by himself when we entered the tower and I sensed his pain was back. He told me that his head hurt even more than before and could not figure out why. I asked if he wanted me to help with the pain, but he declined and went to his room.

We retired for the evening and each of us went to our rooms except for Devin and Rhaida. Devin was still very interested in her and spent even more time with her now than when we had first found her in the desert. He tried to communicate with her as much as possible despite the language barrier. They walked hand in hand on the boardwalk that evening and I wondered what would become of our most interesting Rhaida. I had not foreseen her traveling with us once leaving , but that was because I had been preoccupied with other more compelling images.

The next morning we met with the council again to discuss our future plans. The weather became turbulent and the wind blew harder than the night before, forcing the Governor to leave several times to handle the crisis. Ships docked at the Port crashed onto the boardwalk while others left because of the rough sea. The Governor remained confident his city would hold against a vicious storm, but I was less certain. I found my attention drawn to Wolfe, who sensed real danger. He did not want to tell anyone because he did not understand what he was feeling. I trusted Wolfe’s instincts, so I left our meeting briefly to speak with him.

“My head doesn’t hurt as much. Not like last night.” Wolfe was nervous and shaking. “The weather is really frightening. I know this sounds silly, but I’m afraid I’ll be swept out to sea and I can’t swim very well.”

“It’s not silly. Your instincts are sharper than most animals’, so it makes perfect sense. Animals know when to escape danger, but humans tend to ignore it. I’ll see what I can do.”

I stood at the entrance of the tower trying to manipulate the sky, though I could not visualize what was happening. If I had created the storm in my own mind that would have been different, but this foreign weather was beyond my ability to control. My attention was interrupted when Devin called me back to the council chamber.

“The Governor wants to see you right away.” We hurried back to the dimly lit room.

Everyone was seated and Governor McCook spoke directly to me.

“Is your name Crystal Elderbee as stated by your first in charge?” Devin looked at me and shrugged his shoulders, wondering why this would be important to the Governor.

“It is.” I stated. The Governor stepped down from his podium and paced in front of the council.

“Are you the great-granddaughter of Sabastian Elderbee?” The council members gasped at the mention of my great-grandfather’s name.

“I am.”

There was a shriek, then whispers erupted among the members.

“I am also the great-granddaughter of Christopher Farmoore, but my family history has little to do with joining an alliance against the protectors.”

The Governor pounded his fist on the podium while shouting. “But it has everything to do with us joining an enemy of !”

Riley and the rest of my closest friends were scared, especially Devin. He must have mentioned my full name to the Governor during our talks. I had not thought that my past would come back to haunt me, but it seemed that my great-grandfather had left a deep scar on South Port, one that had faded, yet had not been forgotten.

“You have the same blood as a sworn enemy of our city, and it is our duty according to law to take you into custody. No one even remotely related to an Elderbee is welcome here, much less trusted to form an alliance. You possess the same evil magic as your relatives, and you will be locked in the tower until the council decides your fate.” Governor McCook motioned for his guards to arrest me.

Riley and Devin began shouting at the Governor. I left the room, escorted by the guards and sensed powerful emotions ranging from fear to anger. I could not believe we had come so far to have my ancestry tear down our hard work. I wished that I had never been an Elderbee, although somehow I knew it was the mix of good and evil that had made me stronger than both my grandfathers put together.

They threw me into a dark stone dungeon high in the Governor’s tower. Strangely, the room Riley and I had slept in was just below the cell. We never knew the dungeon existed. Then the memory of my earlier vision emerged; locked in a dark, confined space with whistle sounds roaring in my ears, but it was clear that the sound was actually the fierce winds outside the tower.

I wondered about my future. Would Wolfe’s fear of being swept out to sea become reality?

Despite my inability to control the weather I could still use my powers to protect myself and everyone I had been traveling with. I knew that the Governor and the rest of did not like magic, but that would not stop me.

I sat down in the most comfortable position possible and placed my hands on my head. I visualized an invisible barrier surrounding a large portion of the City; the barn that held our horses, the mansion, and scattered areas close to the boardwalk. These were places I had visited so I could imagine my barrier around them, but any area I had not seen could not be covered. I had to be able to visualize what I was protecting.

Nevertheless, my barrier must have been massive, and I was unsure how long I could keep concentrating. In the past, I had covered small areas for a short period of time. This moment would once again test my limits. I knew that I could create a storm, but could I actually protect an entire city from a storm so forceful?

Hours later, Riley and Devin were allowed to visit my cell, and both of them were frantically speaking to me. I did not respond until they stopped talking. Then I asked if my barrier was working. I kept my head in my hands while seated and finally Devin spoke to me.

“Yes, yes! It’s working, my Queen. It’s amazing! We can see the storm all around us. The waters are rising around your barrier. Huge ships and debris are knocking into us and passing around the city. If you had not used your powers, I fear the city would be gone by now.”

I sensed that Devin and Riley were concerned about my situation. Riley asked how long I could hold the barrier. I told him that I did not know, but I could not stop concentrating or I might lose energy. I politely asked them to leave so that I would not be distracted, and I asked them to tell me when the storm was over and the waters back to normal.

Day turned to night. The frightening sounds did not cease and the winds howled and whistled, roaring and screeching like evil monsters. Guards brought a torn corner of bread on a dented plate. They placed it on the floor beside me next to a tin cup filled with water. I did not budge, nor did I speak. I sensed that the Governor himself came by to watch me, along with other council members. I did not acknowledge their presence. As the hours passed, I became sleepy and hungry, yet I could not stop concentrating until the storm had subsided. A few times my mind drifted and I was certain my barrier had disappeared briefly, letting in the ocean water surrounding us.

Riley came to my cell the next day and said that the storm was over even though water surrounded the barrier. It was another day before the water actually receded and Riley was allowed into my cell. He begged me to lower the barrier. My eyes hurt from the glow of my powers, and my mind was empty. As soon as I dropped the shield, I curled into Riley’s arms and fell asleep.

The next thing I remembered was waking in the room that Riley and I had first stayed in. I removed a wet cloth that was placed over my swollen eyes. I could barely see around the room and shouted for Riley, hoping he was close by.

“I’m here!” Riley flung back the door, then asked if I was feeling all right.

“Yes, but I could really go for something to eat.” I squinted. Riley’s face was a blur.

Before I could speak again, a bowl of delicious-smelling stew was placed in front of me and Devin joined us. Riley and Devin told me about the devastation suffered; many people lost their lives. They also told me that the Governor was an ungrateful man who permitted me to return to my room only after the council decided it would be an appropriate action. Governor McCook told Riley that he would not decide the fate of the Queen until his city was back in order. Devin thought that it would be wise to leave the mansion immediately, even if that meant going without an alliance.

The next day the council reconvened to discuss my fate. The Governor did not want an open meeting, but Riley insisted that everyone who had traveled with us attend. Once again McCook stood in front of us atop his podium, spouting past law and regurgitating old battles fought with my bloodline. He remained rigid, unwilling to show mercy to an enemy of We listened, and listened, and listened. I fell asleep and Riley nudged me when a council member asked the Governor if he was going to announce their ruling. A number of people were tired of his speech.

“In conclusion,” the Governor cleared his throat, furiously fixed on the man who had interrupted him. “It is the ruling of this council that you forever be banished from and if you dare return you will be put to death for your great-grandfather’s atrocities. The majority of the council voted to spare your life for saving our city, but I can see through your manipulative magic. If I were the sole leader you would not live another day within these walls.”

My back ached, so I stood up before addressing the council.

“Thank you, members of the council, for your pardon, but my intentions were merely to protect my friends – those true to the King, myself, and the alliance we are seeking. I’m displeased that some of you are toying with the fate of by dwelling on the past. You nearly lost your city to the ocean and now you sacrifice it to the plague!” The Governor’s thoughts were unbelievably malicious. He hated me and anyone possessing magic.

“Governor, hate is a strong emotion.” My eyes locked with his. He knew I had just read his thoughts. “Men and women with or without magic are very much the same. It is what we believe which makes us different. My best wishes to the council.”

Riley and I bowed, then exited the room. My alliance packed within the hour, and we left the city as quickly as possible. I was relieved that we were leaving but distressed that we had not formed an alliance with this great city. No one in our party could have changed the mind of the incredibly stubborn Governor McCook. I still had hope that others would challenge him, and I expected to visit the great city of again.

“I am so sorry, my Queen,” Devin said as he rode up along side me. “Had I known that they would have been so upset with your past I would never have mentioned your family name. This is my fault.” He was deeply troubled.

“Don’t worry, Devin. Things happen for a purpose and I believe you saved us from many future quarrels. Forming an alliance with individuals who hold lingering grudges wouldn’t have been a good idea anyway. I’m just glad you didn’t mention that we asked Sir Edward to join us while knowing he had raided a shipment from ” Devin laughed.

Our path to was cluttered with uprooted trees and I used my power to clear them away. A huge ship that was docked at the port during the deluge lay on its side in the woods. What a mess! I picked it up with my magic and placed it upright alongside the shore.

“Wait!” We heard a voice behind us. A man on horseback galloped toward us. All I could imagine was that the council had changed their minds and wanted me put to death after all. As the man came closer, I noticed it was Sir Gabrial, the knight who originally came from to speak with me. When I was ready to offer my assistance, his great city had turned me down.

“What do you want?” asked Devin, disgusted.

“I wish to join you.”

Riley was fuming. “As what, a spy?” he asked. “There will be no alliance with Your Governor has already decided.”

We turned to continue, but the knight spoke again.

“I know, but I don’t want to join for I wish to join for the Queen. You promised you would come back and you did. You were right about everything.” We stopped and turned.

“Go on,” I said.

“At first I too was wrong about you when I came to seek your assistance, but we do not all feel the same as our Governor. I’m ashamed that Governor McCook treated you with such disrespect. I told him that my loyalties are to the King and Queen of The Land – that is, if you can use my help. Will you allow me to join your alliance?”

“Yes,” I smiled at him. “I believe we would do well with another loyal member. Welcome, Sir Gabrial.”

“Oh, here, I have something for you. One of the council members gave this to me when he discovered I was leaving.” Gabrial held out a box and handed it to Devin. When Devin opened the box he showed us two empty syringes inside. “We figured these might be useful in extracting blood from individuals. You said you didn’t know how to make these, but we have knowledge of medicines. I’m sure that whatever our scientists discover they will inform me no matter which side I’m on.”

Sir Gabrial shook hands with Devin, Riley, and the Knights of Farmoore, and we were off once again. We headed to , home of great-grandfather Elderbee and once home to my father. In we would discover chaos at its worst brought forth for centuries by my own flesh and blood. It was a journey into my past that I truly dreaded.

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