Beneath the Crown

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Chapter 44

Ash

Two days with Connie and Raylon flew by in the blink of an eye. We had so much fun together. I never knew Raylon could be so funny. He always looks so serious.

After packing up and making our way back to the palace, I went to my room and tossed my bag on the floor by the bed.

I looked around the room and bit my lip, should I go find him? Does he know I’m back? No, leave him be, he’s probably really busy right now.

I shook my head but I couldn’t shake the smile. As much as I loved spending time with Connie and getting to know Raylon better, I couldn’t wait to see Zasrus again.

I let out a sigh and looked around the room. What can I do to pass the time?

Maybe I can go sit outside, in the fresh air, and have a glass of wine.

I nodded at my own idea and spun around to the door. I made my way through the halls until I finally found my way outside.

I went over to the bench underneath the big tree and sat down. Only a short moment later, a young woman came to me, “My lady, may I get you something to drink?”

I smiled, “Yes, please. Some of that wine, the pink one?”

“Pali wine, of course, right away,” She said and went back inside.

It only took her a few minutes to be back with a silver tray, a crystal carafe filled with wine, and a tall glass. She placed it on the stone table to the side and left.

I reached out for the glass and took a long sip of the surprisingly delicious drink. Not too sweet, not too tangy, and just enough of a bitter taste to be enjoyable.

“Hello, Ash!” I heard a little voice call out and I looked around to see where it had come from. I frowned when I couldn’t find the source.

“Up here,” The voice said and I looked up into the tree to find Tomlee, the young prince and the other sister, Asytar all sitting way up high on a branch. My heart sank at the sight, “Get down from there!”

They all laughed and began making their way down. When they were all safely on the ground, I could breathe again.

“What were you all doing up there?” I asked as I sat back down.

“Just playing,” Tomlee said, “Will you tell us a story, like the one you told me at the lake?”

The other children all nodded eagerly and I smiled.

“Sure. Why don’t you all sit down, and let me think about one.”

The children took a seat on the grass and watched me with anticipation.

I thought for a moment then began, “Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there lived a young boy named Jack,”

My heart swelled at the sight of these three little faces, all smiling at me, and listening to me tell them the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.

As I spoke, my mind thought to what it would be like to have another little face sitting with them. One of my own.

I was still shocked that Zasrus had not only told me they could fix me and give me the one thing I always wanted but that he would be willing to be the one to give it to me.

“What’s a cow?” The prince asked with a frown.

“It’s an animal on my planet,” I said and took out my phone. I tapped the internet icon and shook my head at how amazing it was that I could still Google images from so far away. I showed them the pictures and continued with the story.

The more into the story I got, the more passion I spoke with.

“Fee-fi-fo-fum;” I said with a deep voice, “I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!”

When I finished the story, they begged me for another one.

“How about we save it for tomorrow. It’s getting late, and you all need to get to bed soon.” At disappointed moans from the lot of them, I stood, “Come on. I will take you inside, and maybe, maybe, I will tell you one more while we walk.”

They all shot up off the ground and came running over to me.

Tomlee grabbed my hand and walked beside me.

We made our way in, and as we walked I spoke, “This story is about a place called Never Neverland, and a boy named Peter, who couldn’t grow up…”

*****

After the children insisted I tuck them into bed, and finish the story, I smiled when I left Tomlee’s bedroom.

That’s it, they are all in bed. Is it still too early to go find Zasrus?

As I made my way in what I hoped was the direction of the garden again, I noticed a painting hanging on the wall that I had not seen before. It was of an incredibly beautiful woman, with all her children around her. Her long dark hair reminded me of Laylar and she had the same smile as Asytar.

That must be the Queen, I thought as I went up to it.

She’s beautiful.

The kind of woman that I could picture with the king.

Her eyes held a natural joy in the image, as though the moment this was painted was the happiest day of her life.

The little baby in her arms, a much younger Tomlee and Asytar on either side of her, and Laylar standing just behind her with a hand on her shoulders.

A perfect family.

I gave the picture a respectful nod and made my way out of the hall. I got back to the garden and looked up at the night sky.

I will never get tired of this sky. All these stars, and that moon. It’s so-

A hard wack to the back of my head made me fall to the ground. My vision swam as I tried to turn around to see what had happened, but before I could roll over, I felt a crippling electrical shock run through my body, then nothing.

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