Steel and Spell

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Chapter 29

Everyone started to murmur worriedly, and I was still confused about that topic.

“Why are the Eternal Crowns so important?” I asked and everyone turned to look at me as if I was stupid. I put my hands up slightly in surrender. “Hey, I’m not from around here really, so I’ll probably be lost in a lot of things.”

“Where are you from?” The guy next to me, Quinn, asked.

“From... the United States of America?” I answered more like a question, still not knowing how to explain how I got there because I didn’t even know how it happened. I shook my head and just gave a nonchalant wave. “It’s complicated.”

Tybalt butted in. “The Eternal Crowns are a myth from thousands of years ago. Supposedly, when the world was first created, two Gods were born, and they were the most powerful beings in existence.”

“I thought they didn’t believe in Gods...”

“The Gods roamed the world, fixing all the wrongs and flaws they thought the planet had, until one day, they met, and they fell in love with each other. From their love, all the different living beings that exist nowadays where created. But, everything was more difficult from there. Trying to rule over humans, mages, elves, dwarfs, and more was proving to be a very difficult task until they realized they weren’t the right ones to do that job. No one listened to them, and everyone was walking the path on the way to self-destruction. They knew who were the chosen ones to lead, and hoping for the best, they killed themselves, living all their powers and immortality in two crowns that belonged to the Eternal Rulers.”

I nodded slowly, trying to process all this new information and make it sink.

“The Crowns were hidden, and there was a war between every species to get to the crowns, but no one succeeded. After all the destruction the wars caused, peace was what everyone wanted, so the leaders organized and created the Eternal Unity.” Tybalt finished, and by the looks of it, he told me the shortest summary of the whole thing.

“And the Eternal Unity is where we are?” I asked, still not sure.

“Yes. It is formed by other eight Kingdoms, being nine in total. Adendawyn is the biggest and strongest.” Leo answered my question, looking at me curiously.

“So, how is it that I have never heard of the United States of America?” Quinn asked again, apparently more interested in my origins than in what was going on right there.

I waited silently for someone to say something and interrupt, but everyone was interested in my answer. I sighed heavily, passing a hand through my face in slight irritation. My story was the least important thing at that moment, and my focus was on finishing that damn interrogation to get to work on saving Cassius, but eventually, I had to answer anyway.

“Because I don’t even know where the hell is supposed to be or how I got here in the first place. Honestly, what happened, I was in my bedroom and before I knew it, I was fainting. When I woke up, I was in the middle of the forest. End of the story.” I explained fast with a tense undertone.

Everyone seemed even more confused with my answer, and just when Quinn was about to ask another question I rose my hand up to stop him.

“Look, I know my story seems interesting enough, but we don’t have time. I promise I’ll try to explain everything when the time is given, but right now what is more important is your Royal Highness, Prince Cassius.” I promised something I wasn’t sure I wanted to, but to hell with it.

“Alright. What else do you know?” Leo asked, propping both of his elbows on the table, his attention solely focused on me, making something stirred inside me uncomfortably.

“The bastards are hiding somewhere in the forest, not very far from where Cassius and I were, but there is a problem... is a very long walk. Like two or three weeks?” I said, making calculations in my head that were probably a disgrace for a geographer. Nonetheless, it was approximately that amount of time that took to get to the cabin.

“What forest are you talking about?” Leo asked. It seemed he was the only one who made the talking beside me.

“Uhm... I don’t know the name of it, but is next to a town called the Weeping Willow.” I chuckled internally as I remembered the old creepy depressing town I encountered at first.

Leo rose an eyebrow. “Are you sure you mean that forest?”

I nodded furrowing my eyebrows, still not sure what was his point.

“It’s impossible, she should be dead by now.” Gerardus jumps in, looking at me suspiciously. I rolled my eyes, and once again I try to suppress the anger of his distrust.

“Well, mate," I mocked their accent with no trace of laughter in my face. “If it were impossible, I wouldn’t be sitting in front of you, but here you see me. So instead of questioning everything I say, because we can discuss all day the stuff I did and didn’t do, we should be focusing once again on the important. Besides, is five against one, and I barely made it against one of you. So if I betray you guys or something, you can take me down in a snap of your fingers, so chill.” I said maintaining a leveled voice, not showing what laid underneath the cool. Gerardus glared at me but didn’t say anything.

“You were with my brother the whole time?” Leo asked, not giving a care about my outburst.

“Well, not all the time I guess. At first, I had to be by his side at all times because my skills were equivalent to one of a potato,” I said without noticing the joke, “but after he started to train me, I was quite capable of defending myself.”

“How long have you been training?” Leo asked, this time with a certain seriousness in his tone that worried me.

“About two months. A little more maybe.” I rested my chin on my hand as I calculated the time, this time doing a better job at it. See kids? School isn’t that useless.

What I didn’t prepare for was all the wide eyes and jaws almost dropping to the floor at my answer. I shrank a little at having all the attention on me, not knowing why they were really surprised.

“What?” I asked almost in a whisper, that in the silence everyone heard it.

“Now that’s impossible!” Tybalt was the first one to break the silence, making me chuckle at his remark.

“And why is that?” I asked confused, a small smile covering my lips. Everyone looked at each other, none wanting to answer that question

Tybalt looked at me with a smile, shock still on his features. “You fight too damn good for just two months of training.”

I laughed at the compliment and waved it off nonchalantly. “I’m not that good. Is the adrenaline working, not me, but thanks anyway for the compliment.”

“Whats adrenaline?” Quinn asked confused, and just when I was going to answer, Leo interrupted.

“Gentlemen,” he looked at me, “lady, we’re getting off-topic.” I blushed in embarrassment as I was the one at first that was fighting because they were getting off-topic.

“Here is what we are going to do. Tomorrow at dawn we’re leaving for the forest. We need to inspect for marks and tracks that will lead us to the Mages lair and find my brother. Althalos and Gerardus, I want you to prepare the weapons and armor. Tybalt, you will prepare the supplies and necessities. Quinn, you and I will get the permissions signed.”

“What about me?” I said unsurely, wanting to have a task to do. Leo eyed me but then proceeded to ignore me.

He waved his hand. “Dismissed.”

I frowned, not liking being unhelpful. Everyone stood up quickly and started to leave the room, but before Leo could even get out of the room I stood in front of him, making him stop in his tracks.

“So, what’s my task?” I said with a smile, showing I wanted to do something. Leo looked at me blankly before chuckling. “You should worry about your horse, you don’t even have one.” And with that, he just passed beside me leaving me a little confused. Tybalt stood next to me and put a hand on my shoulder with reassurance.

“Go to the stables and look for a horse. I will see you later.” He said quietly, somehow wary of Leo hearing us talking.

I nodded, and he walked away into the corridor, leaving me alone with my thoughts.

My nerves suddenly started to jumble, knowing the next day was going to be the start of something unknown and dangerous. Was I going to even make it through all of it? What if I die before we even found Cassius? What if he’s already...

My chest started to constrict in anguish, and I started to walk in a random direction looking for the stables, trying to ease my mind and get away from those thoughts.

I started walking the corridors without an idea where the heck I was heading at, something that was starting to be a habit around there. I walked hurriedly down a hallway when I heard someone calling me out. I looked behind me to see Peyton running towards me, with a grin plastered on his face.

“Liberty! I am so happy you are alive!” He said cheerily, which almost made me snort very unladylike.

“Well, that’s comforting.”

“Uh, thanks?” I said with a small smile of my own, Peyton’s happy aura making me forget all of my previous insecure thoughts.

“They told me you fainted, how are you?” He asked with a worried expression that made me feel warm in my stone-cold heart. Ok, I’m exaggerating. Kind of.

“I’m fine but it is kind of confusing that I won the fight as I was the one in the worst conditions after it,” I said speaking my thoughts out loud, my trust in the boy surprisingly high.

“You have it in you, I knew you were a fighter the second I met you.” He said sincerely, and once again my heart warmed with the cute little boy in front of me.

“Aaaww, thanks. I appreciate it.” The smile on my face seemed to be stuck on my lips with Peyton around me.

“So, where are you going?” He asked looking around the empty halls, trying to figure out my destination.

“I was trying to find the stables, but I think I’m lost. Your brother told me I needed to get a horse.” I said rather embarrassed as Peyton started to laugh wholeheartedly.

“You are going in the opposite direction! Come with me, I’ll take you there.” He said walking past me in the other direction.

I huffed in annoyance, knowing probably I missed the stables many minutes ago but I was too deep into my thoughts that I probably didn’t notice it.

“How old are you?” I asked Peyton as we walked, gazing at the walls and the extravagant paintings that hung on them.

“I am thirteen, turning fourteen this year.” He said with an excited smile which I mimicked. “What about you?”

“I’m seventeen, well, not really...” I hesitated as I calculated that my birthday was going to be in two more months... when I left, and it had definitely passed more than two months.

“I’m eighteen.” I nodded slowly, kind of sad thinking I missed my birthday. Peyton looked at me weird, probably finding strange that I didn’t know my age.

I explained to him it was complicated, giving a summary of what happened to me and how I got to his world, or rather “their earth”.

When we got to the stables, I gawked at how huge it was and the hundred of horses that were inside of it. The high ceiling gave freedom for the air to circulate and a feeling of space that didn’t make you feel clustered at all. The light-colored wood covered the walls and ceilings and countless high windows were everywhere. The smell reminded me instantly of when I accompanied my mom to work and we went to people’s farms and she would take care of their horses.

“You can close your mouth now, there are a lot of flyes in here.” He laughed at my expression, and I close my mouth immediately when he mentioned the flyes.

“Let’s go,” Peyton said as he continued walking deeper into the stables. I followed him, a bright smile on my face as I looked at the huge horses. The variety of breeds had me almost squealing like a five-year-old in a candy store. There where even some horses I had never seen in my life. It had to be one of the most exciting days of my entire life.

Peyton stopped suddenly and motioned with his hands around me. “These horses don’t have an owner. You can choose whatever you want.”

I bit my lip, looking around trying to figure which one was the right one. But no, I wasn’t going to make the decision. I was going to let the horse choose its owner. I grabbed some hay from the floor and walked to the first stable. Inside there was a tall black horse with white spots. Its black eyes looked at me as I cooed at him, but it did not attempt to move. The next horse was light brown with blonde hair that looked more fabulous than Madonna’s. This one didn’t even glance at me.

I went to the next one but turned around as I heard Peyton’s voice. “What are you doing?”

“I’m letting the horse choose; it has to be he or she that has to be comfortable with me, not the other way around.”

Peyton didn’t say anything else as I went to the next stable to look at a dark brown horse that also didn’t pay any attention at me.

It had already been almost an hour trying to find the correct horse when I peeked into a stable and saw the most breathtaking horse I had ever seen. It’s white fluffy fur was almost like cotton, its white hair cascaded down its side and the hoofs look like boots. Without even trying to call it or anything, the horse slowly approached me and started to eat the hay in my hand. Its tallness surprised me, not being nearly as tall as Lucy, but still.

“Oh, honey, how are you?” I cooed as the horse kept eating from my hand and I pet its neck.

“What's its name?” I asked Peyton who was behind me looking incredulous at what just happened.

“Name? We don’t put a name to horses.”

I almost facepalmed myself as I recalled the conversation Cassius and I once had. They don’t have any kind of attachment to animals, so names are kind of useless, or that’s what they think at least. I remember being so angry at their idiocy that honestly, I don’t know how Cassius calmed me down.

“Oh, right. That’s a shame.” I said quietly.

I opened the door to the stable and let the horse step out of it. Peyton stepped back fastly, fear edging his face.

“Hey, there’s nothing to worry about. You are safe.” I calmly stated to Peyton, who just remained standing still a few feet away from the horse looking scared.

As I took a good look at the horse, I could see it was a male and a swirl of names started to appear in my mind.

“Hmh, what is your name?” I asked as the horse looked at me with his big brown eyes.

“You are going to name it?” Peyton asked, not taking his eyes from the animal.

“Of course. Animal or not, it deserves an identity. Right now he’s not any horse, his mine. Thus, he needs an awesome name that represents him and me. With time, a bond will form. I’ll be loyal to him, and him to me. That’s how a relationship works.” I explained while petting the unnamed horse, which was starting to be a hard job to choose a name.

“Do you want to pet him?” I asked Peyton. He looked scared but started to walk slowly towards the horse. His hand reached the horse and slowly started to pet him. I smiled and nodded encouraging him to continue.

“I thought you had a horse,” I said and he quickly shook his head.

“My father has tried to force me into riding, but I refused. Even Leo tried, but I just... can’t.” He said, his head cast down in shame.

“You don’t have to be afraid. Horses may seem intimidating with their huge size and everything, but they are truly gentle souls on the inside. One day, when you feel like it, I can teach you how to ride. No pressure though.” I put a hand on his shoulder for support, and a small smile graced his face. We stayed there for a while petting the horse when an idea occurred to me.

“Let’s go for a walk, shall we?” Peyton agreed and I looked for a rope to tie up the horse’s snout. I tied him gently and walked out of the stables into a garden. The three of us walked side by side and I talked to Peyton of random things as to distract him so he wouldn’t be so nervous around the horse. The sun shone in the sky and the soft green grass muffled the sound of our steps. The site was so beautiful, that it wasn’t hard to relax and just enjoy the moment.

“I think I know the perfect name for you,” I said looking at the horse, and Peyton looked at the horse thoughtfully.

“I honestly can’t think in a name for a horse.” He said frowning and I chuckled.

“Well, in honor of one of the greatest singers of all time who left a great legacy behind and my hero, I’m going to name you Freddy,” I said proudly.

A moment of silence passed before it was interrupted by Peyton’s ridiculous question.

“What kind of name Freddy is?”

“Oh, boy. Let me tell you all about the great Freddy Mercury. He is a frickin legend.”

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