I was surprised by the desolate state of the village as we made our way towards the foreboding looking castle. A niggling feeling that something wasn’t right knotted my stomach as we drew ever closer to the castle. We had yet to see a living soul either villager, trader or guard. Reluctantly I stepped down off the carriage as we reached a locked gate leading up to the palace. Kiimi clutched my hand tightly, her other hand firmly on Hiero as I picked up the ancient tome and led her towards the side gate that was swinging off its hinges. A young guard jumped startled as he hurried to his post, clearly late as he fought with his belt. Kiimi hid behind me frightened as he stared at us shocked.
“We’re here to see grandfather” I stated simply, his eyes widening in shock.
“Where is Master Caine?” he babbled uncertain.
“Following behind, no doubt regretting his rudeness” I sniffed indifferently, a small smile spreading across his lips.
He nodded understandingly, gesturing for me to follow. I kept Kiimi close as he led the way through the dilapidated corridors towards the throne room. A nervous mousy brown haired man sat rigidly on the throne, watching us intently. A young blonde haired beauty stood to his right in an ornate flowing gown, her gentle honey brown eyes full of fear and disgust.
“What is the meaning of this interruption?” The man demanded.
“We were summoned by my grandfather. But clearly he has more important things to be doing, so please let him know we came and should he want to see us. He comes to us” I stated coldly before the guard could even reply, everyone staring open mouthed.
“And what makes you suppose that I am NOT your grandfather young lady?” The man demanded taken aback, his voice quivering slightly.
“Grandmother spoke fondly of him. He has auburn hair not mousy brown and piercing blue eyes not doe brown like yours” I stated indifferently as I glanced him over before turning to leave.
“Just like your mother” A gruff voice sighed wistfully from the nearby shadows.
“I am not here for games” I stated evenly as a greying, auburn haired man stepped into the light watching me curiously.
“Of course dear granddaughter, forgive me we have recently had a little...trouble” He smiled guardedly, eyeing Kiimi warily as the man on the throne eagerly left the room.
“And how is this helpful avo?” I queried slightly confused, the feeling of uneasiness growing with each passing moment.
“Who is this?” He demanded, ignoring me completely as Kiimi tried to hide from his prying stare.
“Kimberly-Ann Sears” I stated proudly, stroking her hair tenderly.
“I only have one granddaughter. Is she your daughter?” He demanded icily.
“No. My half-sister” I laughed amused.
We all jumped startled as loud arguing split the unnatural quiet.
“When will you learn to bloody well aim!?” Caine snarled fuming as Fyn couldn’t help but smile as he rung his shirt out.
I blushed shyly, glancing away as the water drops followed the contours of his chiselled body.
“And might you explain WHY my granddaughter was left to arrive ALONE?” Grandfather demanded, fixing Caine a dark glare as Fyn quickly pulled his shirt back on blushing embarrassed.
“He was rude and obnoxious so I thought the walk back would give him time to think” I replied sweetly as he fumbled for words.
“Excuse me young lady?” Grandfather demanded angrily.
“Oh don’t start that with me Avo. You have had long enough to come and see me. I was never raised a princess and quite frankly I find it an insult to real princesses to be called as such. And I DO NOT care as to who you are, if you belittle or condescend me or my kin we will not get along.” I warned coldly, quickly scooping Kiimi into my arms as a needle thin tendril shot towards her.
“We’ll continue this later” Grandfather snarled unimpressed as a loud alarm echoed shrilly through the ghostly halls.
“This way” Caine stated simply as he raced off towards the young girl still standing beside the throne.
“Go with Caine Kiimi-cub” I ordered softly, pushing her towards them with Hiero.
“FALL BACK!” Fyn’s voice rang out warning as men screamed in pain and yelled out encouragement.
“Prudey” Kiimi whimpered pointing to the shimmering ghostly figure that had tried to kill me earlier.
Sighing softly, I slowly looked through the book I had won. Taking a deep breath I flipped the page to the spell I knew I needed but was frightened to try. Who knew what it would truly do. But it was the only hope. Closing my eyes, I laid my hand on the page remembering well the several warnings I had read about performing such ancient and powerful spells. The clamouring quickly faded and ceased as I sang sweetly, everyone staring at me enthralled and shocked. I was surprised to see the ghostly figure was much clearer when I next opened my eyes, the final note echoing hauntingly as the guards whispered softly as Grandfather glared suspiciously.
‘Only time will tell’ the woman whispered ruefully before suddenly disappearing again.
“What on earth was that?” Grandfather demanded angrily as I hugged Kiimi tightly as she beamed proudly.
“An old spell.” I stated simply
“You are a caster?” He demanded disgusted
“No. I merely can. And don’t take that tone, considering it just saved your sorry ass from being overrun by the dead.” I snapped angrily, pulling Kiimi towards the door as they all stared stunned.
“Wait! Forgive me child, come let’s talk” He called panicked, gesturing me to follow.
Little had been done to allay my fears but I had agreed to stay, at least for a few days. Grandfather watched me curiously as I tended to Kiimi as she fidgeted nervously at the dinner table. There was little conversation between anyone as they tried to assess me silently. Kiimi soon fell asleep in the grand bed, Hiero sprawled around her protectively. For such a young dragon he had grown considerably already. Time ticked by as I paced. I couldn’t shake the feeling that things weren’t all they appeared to be. My heart skipped as I heard Fyn’s voice arguing heatedly, grandfathers voice quickly cutting him off. Grandfather whirled around startled as Fyn trailed off as he saw me.
“Get to bed child” Grandfather ordered.
“Master Fyn is the only reason me and Kiimi are even here Avo. And so far you have done nothing but prove Avinjo wrong” I remarked absently as I eyed him warily.
“It’s alright Pru, please go get some rest” Fyn smiled sadly.
“How DARE you” Grandfather began
“He is addressing me as I requested.” I snapped angrily cutting grandfather off.
“This has nothing” He began angrily, taking a deep breath to regain his temper.
“If master Fyn leaves then so do I. He is the only one I trust here” I stated boldly, my heart hammering in my chest frightened.
“I am family!” Grandfather stated slightly hurt.
“So was father but it didn’t stop him trying to kill me” I shrugged indifferently
“You are so much like your mother” He sighed smiling sadly, nodding absently before turning and walking off.
“Why’d you do that?” Fyn demanded angrily, turning and storming off out of the castle.
I sighed frustrated as I turned back towards the corridor leading to my room. A huge brown wolf stood blocking the way, the smell of singed fur and death filling my nose.
‘You are not afraid?’ it asked crackily
“No. If you intended to kill me you would have done it already” I replied intrigued as I stepped forward, frowning bemused as it took a step back.
‘Not all is as it seems here. Not all who act as friend mean you well and not all who act as your enemy wish you harm, beware the wytches kiss. No harsher fury than a woman with a broken heart and nothing left to lose’ It remarked cryptically before vanishing into thin air.
I sighed confused. Wytches kiss. What the hell was it? All I had read had deemed it a myth, an impossibility. Yet why was it being mentioned so often? I hurried back to the room, Kiimi and Hiero sleeping soundly, and grabbed the book. Skipping all the way to the back, my heart skipped shocked. Neatly written in grandmothers handwriting was my name. They had known for well who I was. They had tricked me. It hadn’t been their special prize. Merely a way of delivering a book without raising suspicion. What had grandmother known? Like me she had been ‘blessed’ with gifts. Telepathy, elemental control. One thing I didn’t envy was her seer abilities. I was more skilled with telekinesis than seeing the future and I didn’t wish it any different. Often the things she had seen had upset her to the point she couldn’t stop crying for days on end.
“Just what did you see coming Avinjo?” I whispered softly to myself.