The Prince and Princess race into the giant maze they chanced upon. He goes right and she turns left.
“Let’s see who gets to the end fastest,” he shouts.
He races ahead alternating looking sideways to catch a glimpse of her. There she is - long golden-red strands catch his eye on his left so he continues right.
He slows down — something is wrong! He looks behind him and sees bright light but forward where the end of the maze is near, the light is fading. It’s a Trick!
He turns around but hears behind him an excited shout “We see her --the Princess!”
Oh no! He runs back towards the darkness.
When he reaches the end he skids to a stop —his chest nearly pierced by the sharp points of the Tirent spears. The soldiers’ armor clank as they surround him. “It’s the Prince! His long hair confused us.”
The princess also notices the sky turning darker further into the maze.
She threads her way back slowly to the maze entrance hoping her prince is doing the same.
Then luckily the premature shouts that they captured ‘the princess’ alerts her that a trick is at play. She is sure the Tirents will have soldiers at both maze entrances -- ready to snatch her.
She avoids falling into their trap by taking the side route. She pulls a silver knife from her boot and cuts her way out though the tangled brush at the left of the maze. Once through the brush, she sneaks around to where she can get a view of what’s going on.
Her prince is being held by soldiers who wear the emblem of the evil Queen, Teres.
They lead him into the darkness. And he’s not fighting... Oh….he believes they have her, she concludes.
’Oh dear, this is a pickle we’re in she thinks to herself. She looks at the ring that sparkles on her finger — ‘I cannot risk this falling into their hands.’
She peeks outside the maze and more soldiers have arrived — searching for her no doubt. The prince will have to wait for a rescue.
She dashes to reach the cliffs but before she can leap, a lasso of chains rattle in the air above. And then fall over her.
The metal noose encircles her ankles. Then snap, the chains tighten upward...intending to wrap her snug like a sausage. She turns and sees the Tirent Captain riding up to her on his black beast.
He grins as he gloats “gotcha.”
Then his grin fades.
She takes the silver knife still in her hand; and in one swift move, she slices her throat.
Her taunting emerald-green eyes meets his flashing red tinted pupils.
Feeling her life blood draining away, she gives him a wink as the ring disappears from her finger.
...and to torment him further, she waves her ringless hand at him, grinning as she collapses at his feet.
He screams in rage— “the queen will have my head for this!”
And he was right. The Tirent queen is not satisfied with having the prince. “He’s useless without the princess. It’s the RING we need. HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU IMBECILES, SHE MUST BE BROUGHT TO ME ALIVE!” So with that she waves her hand and the Captain’s head rolls.
As for the prince, she cocks her head at him, ‘his dear princess is dead’ she taunts him. He shrugs. He already knows. He felt her life blood release the ring.
Queen Teres stares coldly back at him. Her red eyes flashing.
“You’re the one they call ‘Richard’. What a weird name.”
“It’s a translation,” Richard replies.
Queen Teres looks Richard up and down. “Is your appearance a translation too?”
Richard puffs out his chest and smiles his best rakish grin. “I find I get more compliments in this outfit.”
Queen Teres who has no sense of humor stonily retorts “What is it with you Neynrt’s? You have so much power and you won’t share it with us. Why is that?”
She purses her lips and looks haughtily back at him. “You think we can’t be trusted...that we’d misuse the power?”
“If past history is any sign, then yeah we know we can’t trust you” Richard replies back in a firm voice.
The Queen waves her hand like she’s batting his accusation away. ” It’s all propaganda. We’re curious about other worlds and that blue planet you Neynrts love so much is so inviting.”
Richard looks at her warily, “You already go there. We know!”
“Yes...but.. we are limited.. she whines. We want what you have and I assure you we’d cause no harm..” the Queen trails off... then snaps her fingers.
“We’d be like tourists!” the Queen announces with a big forced smile. She waves her arms upward towards her court of evil followers.
“TOURISTS” they shout back in unison while waving their weapons in the air.
Richard is not buying their sell. “I definitely don’t feel the sincerity.” he says.
The Queen’s fake smile disappears. “Throw him into the dungeon! she shouts. Let him experience our land’s hospitality.”
The soldiers’ swiftly toss him into a nearby hole. “Let him take the express route,” they chortle having fun with his predicament.
The Queen yells merrily as he falls tumbling down deep into a cavity of metal and stone whose only opening begins to slide shut.
“We’ll see who if anyone comes for you.”
He laughs heartily back at her as if she just said the funniest thing.
“Well, I hope you’re the patient type, because it’s going to be awhile.” His words carries through the crevice up to her ears,
Meanwhile —- far far away, Aalis feels something settle in her palm. She unfolds her hand and sees the Ring - it’s sparkle gone.
“Grace!” she cries out. Then she disappears.
The ring falls