SEVEN CROWNS | The Black Stone

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Chapter XII

It’s cold.

The breeze is gentle, it waltzes from place to another, looking for a dancing partner to embrace with its iciness. But it is no autumn breeze, no ocean one. There are no flying yellowish leaves and no salty kisses on the cheeks, no, this one is carrying crystal blue particles, shining like stars but in a bright sky instead of a dark one. Each falling like rain droplets, covering Ashley’s hair with microdiamonds making the long locks blueish. The soft current moves her hair, it carries a foreign fragrant. The young woman smells no smoke and no grass, the air is fresh, its sweetness reigning all over the place. Around Ashley are white coated plateaus adorned with the blazing azure diamond flakes. She raises her head and widens her eyes at the mariage of the white snowdrops and the blue gems falling from the greyish sky. But the beauty surrounding her eyes doesn’t last long when she finally decides to stand up. Destroyed glass buildings, broken crystals, abandoned houses… it’s all ruins. Ashley gulps at the sight, her heart aching for the people whose peaceful life was shattered like mirrors, in a thousand pieces. She walks, her feet drowning in the snow and surprisingly she doesn’t feel cold at all. It must be in her nature.

Her feet guide her to what must have been a village before the attack, a beautiful place she imagines has given way to endless debris. She avoids walking on the pieces of glass, reading in each the memories of a happy family whose joyfulness has come to an end. She spotted a piece of fabric of a beautiful sky blue, the young woman crouched to take it in her hand. She blew on it and the little diamond flakes slid into the air. The softness of the silk caresses her skin, she imagines a little girl wearing a pretty blue dress, running in the corridors of a house, escaping her parents while her laughter filled the space. Ashley closes her eyes and takes a deep breath to calm the pain in her heart.

She wonders where are the people who used to occupy these destroyed house. Are they dead? Are they prisoners of Mávros? Is there still any hope to save them?

Before she could think about the answer to her questions, she heard people speaking a little far from the young woman, making her heartbeats accelerate. She looks around for a place to hide, having no idea who are the owners of the manly voices. A huge rock made of pure blue diamond looks like the perfect place for her to escape to. She sits behind it and looks from the side, waiting for them to approach.

Ashley expected some villagers, her people but instead two large bodies dressed in uniforms as black as their eyes and probably as dark as their souls. She doesn’t need to asks herself who they are, they must be soldiers from Mávros. The woman tries to listen to their conversation and she found herself not understand a single word. The two men spoke in a foreign language, one she can’t recognize.

She wonders what they’re doing in the Diamond Kingdom and her question is soon answered when she sees the long haired soldiers collecting the blue gems from the debris. Ashley raises an eyebrow and a deep feeling inside her heart makes her clench her fists from anger. She may not remember anything yet but it hurts her to see them take away what is supposed to belong to the kingdom. The soldiers aren’t just stealing diamonds, they’re stripping her and her people from their pride.

Ashley doesn’t know what to do. The Mávros soldiers don’t look like they’re leaving anytime soon and she can’t spend the rest of the day hiding behind a diamond rock. She keeps looking around, trying to find a way to escape but every single thing that surrounds her is unfamiliar to her. The fog makes it harder for the young woman to see if the castle is near. She sighs and stays in her place for a while until she heard quiet clinks behind her. What she sees after makes her widen her month from surprise; there are about a dozen diamonds placed one before the other, forming a line like little soldiers. She looks at them confusingly and tries not to gasp loud when they start moving. Ashley turns around to make sure the dark dressed soldiers are still busy and looks back at the beautiful gems. They’re trying to convey a message she doesn’t understand at first but as she sees them moving slowly in the snow she guesses they’re asking her to follow them. She presses her lips and walks behind them, praying that the soldiers won’t hear her steps.

Later Ashley finds herself smiling like an idiot while staring at the gems guiding her way. They move slowly on the snowcoat, looking like a caterpillar made of glass. She keeps walking for a long moment, seeing nothing but abandoned houses and empty shops. They left the village after long minutes and what comes next takes her breath away. Ashley saw many wonderful things in the world which was created by the warlocks, she found herself falling in love with flower gardens and ocean views, she thought cathedrals and gothic monuments were the most beautiful things, she used to gasp in front of huge mountains but what is standing right in front of her at this moment is incomparable, something she has never seen probably since she lost her memories. The most gorgeous thing she’s ever witnessed, a majestic scenery making her forget everything surrounding. Instead of water crashing over rocks there are gemstones falling gracefully on a river of immense richness. Ashley is now admiring what has been called for centuries the Diamond Falls.

She approaches slowly, the cold air touching her skin, she admires the way the stones fall, each one glittering, offering its own show before forming a frozen track. There is a certain mystery and strength surging from the falls, tranquility and serenity find their way through Ashley’s heart. A smile appears on her face when her fingers touch the icy gems. She closes her eyes and feels their power consume her body, the connection between them sends shivers down her spine. Ashley turns around and finds the little diamond soldiers waiting for her. She can’t help but grin at the adorable stones. She was about to walk to them when she suddenly stopped, just noticing that she just saw something unusual. The woman walks back to the frozen river, her eyes wide with surprise, she looks again and sees a silver hair instead of her dark one. She hurries to touch her locks and gasps when her eyes confirm the change of color. Then she remembers what Eamon mentioned before, he said that the curse made even their appearances slightly different. Ashley runs to a large crystal buried halfly in the snow to take a better look at her face. She almost doesn’t recognize herself with the bright hair and her gleaming eyes. Light brown, blue and grey are splashed around her orbs making her gaze look stunning.

The clinking of the little soldiers interrupt her thoughts. Ashley apologises to them and walks quickly behind them. Her hands don’t leave her hair, she keeps playing with her silver locks chuckling from time to time because she never imagined herself with such a dazzling color.

Ashley stands in front of the castle sooner than she thought. “Whoa!” she exclaims at the grandeur of the diamond glass palace. The walls must be so strong to have resisted the Mávros soldiers attack. It is built of stones of different shapes and sizes, blue and flashing gems are standing on the hill as strong as ever. Though she can’t remember anything, stories of brave soldiers fighting for their kingdom appear before her eyes just by looking at the humongous castle. The stones have so much to say, so many tears to share with their returning sovereign. They have been standing there for long years, having no ears to listen to their sad tales, no soul to feel the heartbreak that haunted them after the blood was shed in every chamber of what was once the king and queen’s home.

The silver haired woman stands there, her feet refusing to make any more step. Her hands start shaking and her breaths deepen because of the fear consuming her body. This castle was once her house, she must have played and ran in every room, every corridor. She was once there with her parents eating together or even playing. But then came a storm that washed every smile, every laughter and joy away.

There she stands, the only member of the royal family, the one supposed to save the kingdom, there she stands trembling with despair.

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