Father Anxo and Prince Ramiel
Verulus roused me from sleep sometime early the next morning. I was tired, stretching my sore muscles.
“Come on Alys. We’ve got a ride to the capitol.” He smiled.
I groaned. “With who?”
“Priests from the Grand Church of the Gods.”
I got up, shaking, with a yawn. “Seems bad we’re taking advantage of the priests.”
“We’re not. I offered twenty stags as a donation.”
I nodded, thinking already about falling asleep again. I followed him to the waiting covered cart, a priest humming some sort of hymn. I didn’t know which one, as Irinis didn’t even have a clergyman never mind a church. Another one greeted us as we climbed into the cart while scooting over to make room.
“Glorious morning, is it not?” The priest I sat next to smiled at me.
“Yes sir, good morning…” I mumbled.
“Will you be joining us in prayer?” Another asked Verulus.
“We would be honored, Father Anxo.” Verulus nudged me, trying to wake me more.
I yawned as Verulus and the priest next to me took my hands and began a prayer that made no sense to me. The cart moved, and the driver spoke the prayer with the priests. As the prayer finished, I was more awake, and realized the priest beside me still held my hand.
“Dear child, you did not pray?” He asked, slightly disappointed.
“I’m sorry sir, but where I am from, I was not privileged to join the people in prayers. I did not learn the standard prayers.”
The priest nodded and patted my hand sympathetically. “I see. Were you not blessed as a babe either?”
“I’m afraid not. My hometown could not afford to build a church, never mind baptize the children.”
“Poor dear…” Father Anxo looked at me. “Yet you’re a caster?”
“Only as of recent Father, she is my student.” Verulus butted in. “The past month has been turbulent event wise.”
“Perhaps while you visit the capitol you can choose to receive a blessing. There never has been an age limit for blessings.”
“I’ll keep it in mind, Father.” I smiled. “I’m afraid there is much to be done while in the capitol.”
Father Anxo nodded and the subject was dropped. Verulus glanced at me, being silent. I said nothing and relaxed, listening to the conversations between the priests. They spoke of the state of the world, knowing little of the darkness that had officially rooted in Irinis.
I felt a chill run down my spine as I realized one of the priests, one that hadn’t spoken much since the prayer, was watching me.
“Is there something wrong, sir?” I asked with a polite tone, unsure how to take his stare.
He simply shook his head. “No, you are fine.”
I shrugged, trying to dispel the uncomfortable gaze of the priest. I shifted in my seat.
“Nearly there!” The driver finally said several hours later.
I looked out the front of the cart, past the driver and horse. The gray walls of the capitol city, named after the country, grew larger and larger. I was amazed; this was my first time to the capitol. I felt Verulus place his hand on my shoulder.
“Father Anxo, do you know the quickest way to gain an audience with the King?” Verulus asked.
Father Anxo looked at us confused. “Perhaps, but why would you want to speak with him, boy?”
“I’m afraid I have bad news, Father. I have foreseen war and darkness, Alamer is in danger.” I looked to the Father, trying to further convey my sincerity. “The King and his son must be warned, and if they have any information on the missing Princess I need to know. Lord Erwignan has commanded me to find the Princess of Alame, as well as a specific item.”
“An item you say?”
I nod. “The Dragonglass Eye of Erwignan.”
“It was lost a long time ago, I remember that much.”
“We know. It’s supposedly in the swamp.”
“The Osymljun Swamp. It is best you venture with caution if you truly must go there. It is believed a giant spider dwells within.”
Verulus shuddered and muttered sarcastically. “Wonderful, a giant spider, can’t wait to see it.”
Trumpets blared and the cart came to a stop. Father Anxo quickly clambered out of the cart as a group of horses thundered towards us. I followed Father Anxo, curious as the group slowed. A young man, clad in hunting clothes, roughly the same age as Verulus slowed his pitch black horse, patting it’s neck as it obeyed.
“Good morrow Father Anxo! Back from your pilgrimage I see! Father will be pleased to see you.” The man waved, grinning.
Father Anxo bowed. “Was your hunting trip successful, your Highness?”
“It was it was! We bagged a few deer; and a boar too! We will dine well tonight in honor of your return to Alamer!” His Highness dismounted and approached Father, the two embracing.
“It is good fortune we meet on the road today, Prince Ramiel. There is someone who wishes to meet with your father.”
“Who wishes to speak with my father the King?”
Father Anxo turned to Verulus and I, gesturing to us to approach. I quickly got out of the cart and curtsied.
“It is I who wishes to speak with the king, your Highness. The matter is urgent.”
“Well met stranger, what is your name?”
“Alys, your Highness. My wizard companion is Verulus, my mentor and friend.” Verulus had bowed beside me.
“Rise, the both of you. What is the matter you deem urgent?”
I rose, gripping my staff tightly as I looked the Prince in the eyes. “Alamer is in grave danger, the Dark One has risen. Darkness and war will come.”
The prince frowned. “Most princes would consider beating you for looking them in the eyes and spouting nonsense. Alamer has been at peace for a while, but even I have heard of the rumors of the Black Witch of Irinis. Come with me, I will take you to my father immediately.”
I curtsied again. “Thank you, Prince Ramiel. Your help is appreciated.”
“In light of the circumstances, stop curtsying. It’s annoying.” He smiled and turned to a guard. “Is your horse strong for two?”
The guard nodded. “Yes, my lord.”
“Take the wizard.”
“Yes, my lord.”
The Prince turned back to me and smiled. “You’ll ride with me.”
“As you wish, your Highness.”
“Ramiel is fine.” He mounted his horse and held his hand out to me.
I took his hand and let him help me up in front of him. I quickly caught a glare from Verulus as he mounted behind the guard. The Prince chuckled and bid the Father a good day.
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