I didn’t sleep at all that night. Maybe it was because I was nervous about the first adventure with the Black Knights, or maybe because I just wanted to sit in the corner and cry. It was starting to be a usual feeling that accompanied me everywhere I went. That’s why I kept myself busy all night long packing bags with clothes, food and other necessities. If you’re curious about how I got the food, I had to find my way into the kitchen quietly and steal some stuff. It wasn’t much though, except for the huge bag of apples for Freddy and the other horses. I knew for a fact that my partners weren’t going to take anything for their horses because they simply didn’t care.
I took a bag from the closet and started to fill it with clothes, which were some shirts and pants of my size that a maid had left in some moment. As I took the clothes from the wardrobe and look at the magnificent dresses hanging there, I wonder what was the last time I looked feminine at all. I almost laughed at the image of myself wearing a dress that seemed more like a costume than actual clothes; I would look absolutely ridiculous. Looking like a man didn’t seem so bad after all.
It was still very dark outside when a knock was heard at the door of the room. I went to open it and was surprised to find the Queen standing there with a kind smile on her face and looking as beautiful and elegant as the first time I met her.
“Uh... hi your Majesty,” I bowed awkwardly, kind of shocked with her presence. I almost facepalmed myself at my choice of vocabulary.
“Hi? Really Liberty?”
“Hello Liberty, I see you are awake. Preparing yourself for the mission?” She asked in her soft voice, and I nodded.
“May I...?” She asked pointing inside at the room and I almost facepalmed myself twice in like 20 seconds.
“Of course your Majesty! Sorry for keeping you outside, it’s just my mind is kind of a jumble.” I said fastly, not sure if she understood any of the words I said. While she entered the room, she chuckled.
“Nervous then?” She asked with a sympathetic smile and I nodded once again.
“It’s just... there are so many different outcomes to this, and I don’t know if I’m prepared for them,” I said quietly, the silence of the night wrapping us comfortably. “I’m very new to this, and even though Cassius did his best to train me, maybe I’m not ready yet for this type of responsibility and I’m terrified to screw this up completely and never found him.” I opened myself to the Queen, wanting to take all that weight that was crushing me and get some advice.
The Queen sighed and shook her head softly. “I know you are scared, I am too, but I trust you. I know you are going to make the right choices and find my son. Everybody saw you in that fight, and your fighting skills are more than enough."
She moved her hand behind her neck and took the necklace that Cassius had given me. The ring sparkled in the moonlight magically and my heart clenched hurtfully for Cassius.
“My son gave you this necklace for a reason, and I know he wants you to keep it. In times like this is hard to think in good memories, but every now and then when you feel like you can’t do it anymore, look at this ring, and remember everything good you and Cassius did. That is going to give you a purpose to continue.”
"Woah, if she wasn't a Queen, being a therapist would definitely fit her." I thought to myself with amazement at her advice.
She hanged the necklace around my neck and I felt so overwhelmed with emotions, that I just nodded and said a quiet ‘thank you’.
“Hide the necklace from sight, especially from Leo, he is probably going to recognize it.” She said in almost a whisper, not wanting to be heard.
“Thank you, your Majesty. I’m so grateful you trust me and I promise I’m going to do my best in finding Cassius. He’s a fighter, and wherever he is now, I know he is putting a fight against those damn mages.” I could say finally, apologizing rapidly after for my inappropriate language.
She laughed and waved a hand nonchalantly. “It is fine, they are evil rats, and they are going to get what they deserve.”
I was going to say something when she suddenly exclaimed quietly. “Oh! I almost forgot. Wait here, I’ll be right back.”
She left the room in a hurry leaving me alone and confused, but she came back like five seconds later with servants and maids carrying stuff I couldn’t quite see what they were until they were laid on top of the bed.
It was a full silver armor with vines carved into it beautifully, surprisingly, in my size. It included protection for the torso, upper arms, and legs. Beside it was the long black cape with a hood, the signature clothing of the Black Knights. I touched it to feel smooth cotton that seemed newer and smaller than Cassius old outworn one.
I turned around to thank the life out of the Queen to see her with a sword on her hands, her arms stretched towards me. My voice was nowhere to be seen, and I just stood there staring and gaping like a fish at the armor and the sword.
“I would have given you Cassius’s sword, but my husband seemed rather... troubled with that. I still managed for the blacksmith to make you a sword. It’s the same one as your peers, so you do not have to worry about any disadvantage.”
I looked at the marvelous sword; an exact replica of Cassius sword but shinier, with a flawless blade and an almost invisible inscription of my name near the handle. A bundle of emotions started to surface and before I knew it my eyes where shredding tears and I found myself hugging the Queen.
It was as if a huge dam had given out and all the water was flowing down, nothing in its way stopping it. The Queen’s act of kindness broke the dam, and I couldn’t have been more grateful.
The guards near us were all pointing their swords towards me, but as the Queen patted my back reassuringly, they lowered their weapons and just stared awkwardly.
“T-thank you s-so much.” I whispered, trying to contain a little my overwhelming emotions.
“It is fine, my dear. I owe it to you. You remind me so much of him...”
“Huh? Why does it sound like she is talking about someone else?”
Before I could say anything she grabbed my shoulders and looked at me directly into my eyes fiercely.
“Now, off you go. I know you can bring my son back. I trust you.”
I was the last one to get out of the stables. The sun had barely risen and the sky seemed to be paired with a mix of orange and grey. Ahead of me, I saw the Black Knights in their horses with their whole armor on and their signature black capes covering their backs. Leo turned around as I approached, and the look of disapproval took instantly over his features.
“A white horse? Really? You are begging to be found by enemies.” He clicked his tongue and glared at me as if I was stupid.
At that moment I was in high spirits, so I just shrugged and avoided saying anything nasty.
“Don’t worry, Freddy is very discreet. Besides, now I look quite like the outcast of the group, don’t you think?”
I turned my head to the side to see all of the guys watching the exchange with interest.
“Who gave you the armor?” Leo’s stone-hard voice sliced through the cold air of the morning once again.
“Your mother. Now, can we go? I think we have more important things to do than staying here and chat.”
Nobody said anything else, so I dug my heels slightly into the horse side and I started moving forward, away from the castle.
I heard their horses right behind me as they also started to move forward. The cold morning breeze that caressed my face was very well welcomed. I held my head high and felt the rush of adrenaline all over my body.
This was the start of everything.
As we walked outside of the city, I observed that few people were out in the streets, so we didn’t get much attention. We walked the same route I had taken for the castle, this time I was going back into the woods.
My emotions were conflicted about that place; my most fond memories and the worst ones happened in the same place, and I couldn’t determine if I was happy or not to go back there.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s not a vacation. We’re going in, find Cassius, and get out.” I thought to myself, eliminating any further bullshit idea of my mind.
“You seem thoughtful.” A voice said beside me. I turn my head to my left to see Tybalt riding next to me, looking forward as if he was not talking to me. The others were in front of us, as I had decided to slower Freddy's pace and go in the back a little further from them.
I did the same thing and kept looking forward; the sky was an interesting thing to look at.
“Yeah, I may be overthinking everything.”
“You’re scared?” He said with a low voice, not alerting the guys about our conversation.
“A little. I mean, what if we don’t find anything? The forest is huge. Like, the most enormous thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s difficult to even imagine finding something.” My voice was quiet, but it reverberated through the morning air. I sighed and shook my head. “I don’t know what to expect honestly.”
I turn my head to look at Tybalt and he was already looking at me with a small smile.
“Neither of us knows what to expect, but I do know we are going to find leads. Sooner or later. Maybe it’s going to take a while, but we’ll not stop until we found him.” He flashed me a toothy grin that made a smile of my own to form on my lips.
“Besides, we are the best Knights of the whole nine kingdoms, and you are one of us now. Luck is always on our side.” His cockiness seeped through his voice as I reprimanded a laugh.
“I’ll take your word for granted.” My eyes went forward to see Leo watching us with a blank face. As I caught his eyes, the feeling of sparkles started to expand throughout my body. Thank God he moved his gaze from mine and kept looking forward.
We kept riding in silence for the rest of the day.
We arrived at the ”Weeping Willow” at night and the cold was starting to get my feet numb.
The familiar surroundings were more depressive than I remembered. “Mysery Bar” could be seen from far away, and an idea was formed in my head. I approached Leo, not taking his attention at all when I was beside him.
“Your highness, do you have a plan of where to stay?” I said politely, professionalism clear on my tone.
His gaze held a hint of surprise as I called him how I was supposed to and not ‘asshole’ or other synonyms.
“No, I don’t. What do you have in mind?”
He saw right through my intentions and knew I had an idea. I pointed with my finger at the bar.
"Is not that bad, and we can ask if they have some rooms they can lend us for the night."
Somehow, he did actually consider the idea and we went into the bar.
Hey guys! Well, I disappeared for a long ass time, I'm sorry. So I uploaded all these chapters to make up for it.