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The Edge of Danger

Novel By: ProfessorTurtle
Fantasy



They seem an unlikely team. A slave's daughter, a blacksmith, a whore, a princess, and a baker's son. But they are all roped together by the five amulets that give them their power. But when the sixth amulet, the most powerful of all, falls into the hands of the worst man to ever live, it's all they can do to balance on the treacherous edge of danger. View table of contents...


Chapters:

1 2 3

Submitted:Aug 6, 2014    Reads: 15    Comments: 1    Likes: 1   


There were several lands in this world, but there was only one with magic. This land spread so far and wide it seemed to be a world in itself. The mountains held hard, scaly dragons and giant serpents, so fearless that the humans quaked at the sight of them. Only the griffins were strong enough to reside amongst them. The forests below were filled of strange, beautiful creatures, like the famed unicorns, fairies and angels. A rare sight would be a phoenix streaking across the clouds, or the stubby footsteps of a troll in the mud.

But we are not talking about that land. We are talking about this one, cold, and foreign. Where fairies lost their wings and mermaids lost their tails. Not one magical creature would dare step here. Where courtiers connived and planned against their kings, burglars and murderers stalked the streets, children died of hunger and slaves abounded by the hundreds. The human residents of this land barely knew of the glistening land beyond theirs, but magic finds a way.

Long ago, six amulets were formed by the angels, and given to the men. These amulets were designed with special powers specified to help man with governing his lands. Many a creature coveted these amazing gifts, such power was rare even in their world. To keep nothing from stealing the amulets from the rightful owners, the angels enchanted the amulets with the power to choose who they would belong to, only one who was right and just with his gift.

The amulet of health was in a huge lustrous pearl, with gold tendrils wrapping around it like tiny vines. The amulet of war was shaped as a hammer, and made of granite, set with large black diamonds. The amulet of agriculture was carved from a shimmering green emerald, and it was inlaid with silver. The amulet of art and beauty had been made from the kiss of the prettiest angel on a ruby stone, producing a rose with intricate ruby petals. The amulet of wisdom had been made by their wisest scholar, he gave them the bronze owl amulet, studded with sapphires. The last, the amulet of life, which held all the other amulets powers combined, was a pure white diamond with images of the leaf, hammer, rose, owl, and pearl on its surface.

The owners used these amulets to rule their kingdoms with such amazing power that all marveled at them. The amulet of life of course, was the most highly coveted. But the angels' choice to have the amulets choose their owners did prevent many a war, because the rivals knew that even if they killed the owner and did get the amulet, they would not be considered worthy of its power, and it would not work for them. But that did not mean the owners of the amulets did not fight each other.

Using the power they'd gained from the amulets, the kingdoms launched themselves into bloody warfare that lasted for centuries. By the time the amulets had stopped working for them, the riches they'd already gained were enough to fuel the wars. No one could count how many lives were destroyed, how many homes burned and how many cities lay in ruins.

The amulets could only work for their owners if they were in physical contact with them. So when these lords and queens realized that the amulets now belonged to new owners, they locked those powers away. Some buried them deep underground, or tossed them into the deepest sea, or guarded them with the fiercest monsters. The true holders of the amulets searched desperately for them, many dying in the attempts. It was their only hope, in times so dark and with rulers so cruel.

Others struggled for years to get the angels into their world, to stop the madness. But crossing over worlds was already difficult for magic, even more for an army of full-bodied angels bristling with anger. Finally a crack was burst open for a minute, and seven generals slipped through the gap, and it closed again. These generals hunted down the amulets viciously, and gave them to their rightful owners. The generations of lords and ladies who had abused the angel's generosity to start these wars were killed, their torturous long reigns finally over. All the lands could breathe again. People were beginning to hope again.

No one knew what happened to the generals. Maybe they wasted away in a land that was not their own. Or they retreated to the barriers and were still trying to get through. They had taken with them the amulet of life, having realized what too much power was like in the hands of one person. The cities rebuilt and regrew, life slowly eased back, but it was sluggish and tired, because so much had been destroyed. Slowly, slowly, everything healed.

That was thousands of years ago, and the humans had gone back to their old, working ways. Magic was still present, but much less mingled with their customs as it had been before. Nevertheless, these powerful amulets still remained. But where on their earth…was the amulet of life?

CHAPTER 1 It was the day of the ball. For all the elders said to themselves, what other way to create unity then with food, dance, and merriment? No expense had been spared, for Kyra's parents were indeed royal, and indeed rich. There were only the finest silk tablecloths, the shiniest wine glasses, the best gold plates and the sweetest yellow roses. For Kyra it all seemed a bore.

Lynn held up a polished gold plate, seeing in it her reflection, her green eyes, white face and small lips reflected back at her. She twirled a gold curl around her gloved finger, "Just a few more hours with him, you'll be fine," She pushed a stray black strand of hair back under the gold wig. Her father came up behind her and slid his arm in the crook of her elbow, making her stiffen. His green eyes were glazing over already, and his hand unsteadily held his wine goblet.

"One mistake and you'll be locked in the pantry for a month," he whispered coldly in her ear. Then he turned to smile at the Duke of Greenfield. She pulled her arm away from him. "I hate that cellar," she murmured, "but not as much as I hate pretending to be your perfect daughter."

"Hah! My perfect daughter! You're filth, you're a slave's whelp, don't forget that." She was almost proud when his words didn't hurt anymore. He swung her around to mingle with other influential and aristocratic families. It was all a charade for him. Perhaps if the lords and ladies liked her, they'd give her some sort of favor. And of course he'd swipe it from her. Smile. Play the act. No one knows you don't belong. She smiled her best and coyly put a skip in her step.

A group of musicians sat in a shell-shaped loft, leisurely playing the violin. Music filled the air, mingled with the chatter of a hundred distinguished guests. A crystal chandelier threw a soft gold light across them, and the enticing smell of roses and vanilla scented the air. Gentlemen stepped lightly to avoid all the rustling skirts around them, while the ladies seductively played the games of court.

James stood in a corner, and silently cursed his Father for suggesting he wear black, in an obviously gold and white theme. All the waiters were also dressed in impeccable black suits. His mother had also insisted on starching his jacket to utter stiffness, and there was an almost visible stain on his white pants. Girls were pointing and giggling at him, and he could feel himself blush all the way up to his blonde roots.

I've never felt so uncomfortable in my life, he thought as he sipped the fizzy white champagne and looked around for his sisters. Catherine looked like a little angel with her gold locks and cheery blue eyes, chattering and surrounded by adoring ladies. Victoria's hairdo was already coming loose, brown strands of hair falling around her face, the sleeve of her red dress was slipping off one shoulder. She was greedily gorging herself on shrimp in a very unladylike manner. He swore under his breath. And when I thought I finally came to a place to be free from embarrassment. The group of gigglers was coming closer, and he quickly made his escape. He'd make sure Victoria got a tongue-lashing when they got home.

Kyra pushed up her round glasses and leaned closer to the parchment. The candlelight was flickering out fast. "Damn these stupid candles," She blew it out and reached into the desk drawing, pulling out a fresh one. The old one was thrown in a pile with four other wax lumps, sad and burnt out. Using her sleeve to dab at her watering blue eyes, she dipped the feather in ink again, scribbling as fast as her tired wrist could allow. The history of the amulets was nearly complete.

"Finally," she laughed in triumph as she scrawled her name at the bottom, flourishing out the K with gusto. Griffin screeched as she held up the paper to the light. "Shh, Griffin," she stroked the owl's soft speckled feathers. "No one can know we're up here." No one could know indeed, that Kyra was not at the party at all, but she had securely hidden herself in one of the many towers of her castle. It was so high up that she couldn't even hear the music. It was a room full of old relics, hardly used because the servants were afraid it was haunted. Griffin's spooky screeches had also helped to keep away a few wandering maids.

"I'm hungry, aren't you?" Griffin only stared at her. She reached for her lunch box, which she had filled with cold chicken sandwiches and a flask of wine. She was about to open it when a loud dog bark echoed throughout the room.

"Oh crap, that can only be one dog!" She leapt up from her chair and grabbed her papers, nearly dropping her lunch box on the way.

"Griffin, here!" He ignored her and flew up to the rafters in search of rats.

"Damn it, Griffin! You'll give me away!" She whispered hoarsely.

"Here, now!" The full-throated dog barks came closer, echoing around the dusty marble statues, piles of tapestries and old furniture. Pulling up the folds of her rustling dress, and silently vowing to destroy her owl, she jumped over fallen chairs and hid quickly behind a painting of her great-grandmother, propped up against the wall.

Minutes ticked by in the dark. It was hot and musty behind her great-grandmother. She could feel a spider crawling on her arm and she flicked it away. The dog barks subsided, and she could hear a low voice. She closed her eyes so that sweat didn't trickle into them. Hunger was growling in her stomach and she looked longingly at the lunch box clutched under her arm. Her mouth was watering.

"Don't open the box don't open the box don't open the box, stupid girl, Beast will smell it…" she whispered. "Oh forget it," dropping the papers, she held it up and opened it slightly. She felt a whoosh of wind as the portrait was lifted away, and the dog was barking excitedly at her.

"Oh come on, Arthur!" She complained. Arthur grinned at her, his white smile shiny in the light of his torch. He pulled the leash on Beast's neck, and the huge orange mutt sat down panting.

"What on earth are you doing up here? You know it's a party in your castle, right?" He asked her.

"I know very well," She pulled out a chicken sandwich and tossed him one, "I didn't feel like going tonight." He bit into it, still shining that devilish smile at her.

"So instead you decide to hide in the hottest, dustiest room in the castle, instead? How is that better than eating fruit cake and roast pork?"

"Don't judge me because you're grumpy that you're missing the feast. I didn't ask you to look for me." She griped.

"Actually your father did." He threw bits of the crust to the snorting mutt. "let's get out of here. I don't intend to sweat through my boots just yet."

She pinned him with her best deadpan stare. "You're hilarious."

They walked down together. In better light, Kyra looked like a total mess. Dust was all over her blue dress and she had a streak of grime across her face. Cobwebs stuck stubbornly to her brown hair. "Just wait a minute, Arthur, I have to go to my room and freshen up." She batted her eyes at him sweetly and made to run.

He grabbed her wrist. "No, clever girl, I'm not giving you any more chances to run off. Eleanor is downstairs, she can fix you up."

She slapped him on the head. "Yes, all I need is your prissy beau to pick mothballs and termite wings out of my hair, while she whispers to you about how disgraceful I am."

"Well unless you want me to take you to your mother…"

"Your beau it is then." Eleanor was at the bottom of the stairs. A few guests looked up at Kyra curiously, and she ducked behind Arthur. As soon as they reached her, Eleanor grabbed Kyra's arm and led her behind some tall potted plants. Arthur chuckled to himself and stood guard.

"What are you doing?" Eleanor hissed, roughly yanking bobby pins out of Kyra's brown hair, "being alone with Arthur? What did you tell him? I've been worried all night."

Kyra made a pouty face. "I'm sorry, I'm just repulsed by your unbelief in me."

Eleanor snarled and ripped out the last bobby pin with such ferocity that Kyra yelped. "Don't get cute with me." She turned Kyra around and began untangling her hair. "We had a deal."

Kyra's blue eyes flashed fire. "As I recall, I was walking in my gardens one day, and found you passionately kissing the Duke of Greenfield behind the rose hedges."

Eleanor's eyes widened. "Quiet! Arthur might hear!"

"And when I went to tell Arthur, you practically begged me not to tell him. It was quite funny, you on your knees crying your pretty little eyes out, and the Duke running for all he was worth," Kyra tapped her on the nose, "and I promised not to tell Arthur, and in exchange, you were to leave me alone. So it seems that you shouldn't be ripping out my scalp and instead treating me with total respect."

Eleanor's pink lip curled up. Kyra smiled. "So, I'd like my hair braided down, very simply. Oh and I could use some of those dragonfly clips in your hair."

"Attention, everyone!" King Henry called from the middle of the ballroom, "May I have your attention?" The crowd quieted down, all eyes were on Kyra's father. A few couriers ushered the people back, until the King had a round space in which to walk.

"Tonight is a very special night, the first time in all history when all owners of the amulets have decided to unite." A round of polite clapping ensued, "with this feast, we celebrate a turning point in history."

"I'd like to ask all the chosen to come stand here with me, and I will present to them my very own gifts. These gifts were very expensive, and incredibly hard to find, I might add." The crowd chuckled and whispered and looked around. Lynn sighed and slipped through the people, nervously making sure her wig was on.

"Ahh, here's our first one! Lynn Meron, owner of the amulet of agriculture." She smiled and curtseyed beautifully. The crowd sighed in awe at the young girl. "That's the owner?" James craned his neck over the head of Madame Evergreen. "She's lovely!" The blonde girl in a soft, white dress glided to stand near the king, a green leaf amulet gleaming on her pale neck. She received a small green box.

"James? Owner of amulet of health?" Victoria pushed her older brother from behind with parsley stained hands, "get in there!"

"Oh, right." James adjusted his collar and stood up straight. "Here I go."

"James Grand, owner of the amulet of health!"

"Thank you, thank you." He bowed generously and the onlookers laughed. He stood next to Lynn and accepted a box covered in white fur. Daring a glance at the girl next to him, she glanced back and smiled a little.

"I'm James." He whispered.

She laughed. "I know."

"Arthur Damian, owner of the amulet of war." For Arthur, a path cleared as if by magic. He certainly looked like the owner of the war amulet. He was a tall man, with dark hair and stunning ice blue eyes. He was dressed a little carelessly, and a black chain with the hammer amulet on it hung around his tanned neck. His suit barely hid his powerful back and the muscular, bulging arms of a blacksmith, his trade. A big, ugly dog walked behind him, its fur the color of mud smeared on orange, black paws scraping the floor. Arthur towered a good four inches above James, who instinctively drew himself up to look bigger.

Lynn was clapping when suddenly she saw the dog. The breath froze in her throat. The dog looked at her curiously and sniffed her gloved hand. It recognized her. She let her hand rest on his wet muzzle. "Hey, you," she said softly. The dog nuzzled her, and went to sit next to Arthur. James looked at her.

Her face was white, her pink lips trembling, as if she'd seen a ghost. "You've seen Beast before? When? He's a very rare animal." "Oh…it was a long time ago." She glanced again at the big, calm dog, its giant head raised proudly. The memory flashed through her mind and she pushed it back. Not here. Not now.

Shrugging, James turned towards Arthur, who was staring straight ahead of him. "Hi, I'm James."

Arthur laughed deeply. "I know."

Poor James could hear his sisters sniggering at him.

"Here comes Kyra, my beloved daughter, and beholder of the amulet of wisdom!" Kyra curtsied and quickly hurried to stand next to Arthur, smoothing out her dress and smiling. He leaned slightly towards her, and said through his own smile, "stop smiling. Are you trying to give the impression of a she-wolf?"

"The only person who's a she-wolf is Eleanor." She grumbled at him. James reached over and extended his hand to Kyra. "Hello, my name is…"

"James, yes I know." She smiled and shook his hand.

'Thank you' he mouthed at her.

"Well that just leaves the owner of the amulet of art and beauty." Arthur scanned the audience, "where's the most beautiful girl in the room?"

"Right here, you twit." Kyra nudged him. He nudged her back playfully.

Everyone else was looking around too, hushed whispers running around the room. "I heard the new owner is a prostitute." Lynn said quietly. The others stared at her in shock. Not only because she'd spoke but also because of the news.

"That can't be." James said.

"The amulet would never choose a prostitute." Kyra said.

"I'm here!" Someone burst through the ballroom doors. Waiters stopped to stare. Every eye was swiveled towards the blushing figure at the doors. She certainly was a beautiful woman. Her long, dark red hair was twisted up in a hairdo that showed every exquisite aspect of art and taste. Gold jewelry was everywhere, in hoops swinging from her ears, necklaces looped around her neck, and heavy bangles on her wrist. Hazel eyes stared bashfully back at everyone, framed by dark eyelashes. A long, black dress clung to her curvy body; it might've been a dress for mourning if it weren't for the slit in the side showing long goddess-like legs. She curtsied as best as she could, but stopped, confused.

"I…um, would like to announce Amber Eileen, everybody, the owner of the amulet of art and beauty." The clapping was more polite than ever. She smiled and blushed, as a waiter led her to the circle of the chosen.

Kyra was frowning at her. "She does look like a whore."

Amber heard the whisper and her hazel eyes went hard. She looked down at the floor and took a deep, harsh breath. James smiled at Amber cheerily. "Hi, I'm James."

"Oh, hello," she curtsied again, but it was awkward and she didn't do it right.

"It's okay, don't curtsy, I'm just a baker's son." "Oh…thank you." She was nervously twisting her long elegant fingers, eyeing the goggle-eyed guests hesitantly. A blush crept up her pretty face and deepened her rosy lips. When the king handed her the dark red gift box, she nearly dropped it in shock and it was three minutes before she stopped saying thank you.

"Alright, everyone is here. Let's give them one more round of applause shall we?" The applause was weak and bored. The guests were getting restless and a few had retreated back to the buffet tables. The five people standing with the king looked a little awkward. Lynn stood with her hands in front of her, eyes down. Kyra and Arthur stood straight and silent, James was rocking back and forth on his feet and Amber was fidgeting relentlessly with her bangles.

"Now, I'm sure you're all itching to open your gifts. Open up!" One of Arthur's brothers started a chant. "Open! Open! Open!" The five figures curiously opened them and the girls let out gasps of delight. In Lynn's emerald green box nestled a little red egg, the size of a chicken egg. She touched it gingerly, and it was hot. "A phoenix egg," Lynn said in shock.

"Yes, a phoenix egg, dear girl," King Henry came up to her gently, "Keep it warm for a few more weeks, and it'll hatch into a small phoenix. In a few years it will be its full size. Phoenixes are fierce guardians, and he'll destroy anyone who tries to hurt you."

She tried not to think of her father. Lynn took out the egg and cradled it in her hands. It was so small. "Thank you sir." In reality, Lynn was overwhelmed. She'd never received such a lovely gift in her life, other than the amulet. A slave's daughter did not own a phoenix egg, not in a million years.

"Excuse me, King Henry," Arthur approached the king and bowed low, "but might I ask what this is?" He held out the open box. Inside was a rock. It was just an ordinary, plain rock.

The King looked excited. "Oh, yes Arthur, you'll love this! Give me your hammer amulet!" Arthur quizzically removed the chain from his neck and handed it to the King. Taking the small, black diamond hammer, the King hit the rock with it. There was a sound like a gong and the rock cracked, and suddenly the king vanished.

Shouting erupted amongst the people. The five could only stare at the empty space where the king had been. "It's alright everyone! I'm right here!" Something dropped to the floor and the King reappeared. "It's an enchanted stone." The King pointed to the now glistening blue rock on the floor, "it just needed some of the magic from your amulet to make it work. It will make its owner vanish just by touch. Go on, pick it up." Arthur kneeled down and picked it up. He disappeared. Everyone began screaming ecstatically and clapping. It was a sensation!

"I left it in its rock form because I understand that you're a blacksmith," The King winked, "this stone can be melted, and then shaped into anything you want." Arthur was beaming. Kyra had never seen him so happy before. "I thank you with all my heart, dear King."

Amber's box revealed to have held seven gorgeous butterflies. They fluttered about in perfect synchronization to each other, and each glowed in the dark, and could change the colors of their wings. One was small and pale green, and smelled like buttermilk and daisies. Another had dark purple wings that looked like they were dusted with silver, and when threatened, its kiss was tremendously poisonous. One had wings like mirrors, another like lily petals, another was dark red and smelled like roses, another had wings like gold leaf, and the last was soft pink like a baby's cheek. They followed Amber wherever she went.

James eagerly opened the box. It was empty. The King quickly went to his side. "Ah, this is a special one. Say any food that you'd like to have, while the box is open, and it will be created." James' brown eyes widened like dinner plates.

"Cherry tart!" He squeaked. Two red and cream colored swirls burst from the box and formed a luscious, juicy looking cherry tart.

He bit it. "It's delicious!" Oh, how the crowd laughed again!

Kyra was holding her blue box stiffly, almost afraid to open it. Her Father saw her trouble and quickly went to her. "This, my darling," her Father took it from her, "is a sign of how much I love you. With this, you will never be alone, tired, hungry, or unprotected."

Everyone hushed. The box was opened. A thick, white cloud poured out, falling all over the floor. Arthur came behind Kyra and put a warm hand on her shoulder. She was shaking. The cloud swooshed and rose, forming something. A more concrete figure was rising up out of the smoke, and Kyra thought she'd never seen a more magnificent thing in her life.

It was a unicorn, the color of fresh white silk. It neighed softly, shaking its great head in the air. It was two times the size of a normal horse. Black hooves stomped the floor, and its mane was pure black and sapphire. The horn was long and sharp, clear as a diamond and glowing at the tip. Kyra ran up to it and threw her arms around its downy neck. "He's amazing." She whispered.

The unicorn nuzzled her and snorted warm breath into her face, looking at her with crystal blue eyes. "The unicorn's horn has special powers," The King explained, "if you touch the tip, instantly if you are hungry, you will be full. If you are tired, you will feel rested and vigorous. Take care of him well, Kyra," he kissed her on the cheek, "and he will love and protect you for the rest of his life."

"Thank you, Father."

The party continued. James had taken his 'lunchbox' as he called it; into a corner with his little sisters, and the little group were busy calling out different foods and eating what the box created. Amber sat alone, a dreamy look on her face, letting the butterflies fly in and out between her fingers. Arthur was with Kyra, Eleanor and his two brothers, Charles and Daniel who were as tall and handsome as he was. They were deep in a heated discussion of what he should shape the rock into.

"A bird!"

"Why a bird?"

"It symbolizes freedom!"

"I've plenty of freedom thank you very much."

"Just leave it as it is. Why melt it?" Kyra stood back a little, eating a piece of cake. Eleanor had her hand on Charles knee and was twirling her blonde hair flirtatiously, but Arthur didn't seem to notice. She sighed and tapped Arthur on the shoulder. "We have to talk." Eleanor widened her big blue eyes at Kyra and shook her head vigorously, but Kyra ignored her and pulled Arthur away.

They were safely behind some pillars when Arthur caught her shoulders.

"Kyra, what's wrong?" "I'm sorry Arthur," She looked at him sadly, "but…last week, I saw Eleanor…um, getting very intimate with the Duke of Greenfield." She waited for his reaction, a look of shock, a gasp, anything.

Instead he just stared at her, and burst out laughing. "What is it?" She demanded, surprised. "You're not upset?"

He couldn't stop laughing. His whole body shook and he had to lean against the pillars to support himself. After a while Kyra clapped her hands over his mouth and hissed, "Be quiet, you donkey! Are you trying to get the attention of everyone here?"

He laughed into her hand, his face pink and teary. "Oh…Kyra! I've known! I've known for so long!"

She gasped. "What…you mean...?"

"Yes! And believe me, it wasn't only the Duke." He wiped his tears on his sleeve, "you might want to write a list of all the men she's had in her bed. There have been delivery boys, slave masters, the whole lot."

"Why, you sly fox! How did you know?"

He coughed. "She's not very…quiet."

"Huh, another thing I don't need to know about Eleanor."

"Don't worry, my little friend," He rubbed his hands with glee, "I have the most humiliating of endings for her."

He chuckled again, sweeping the dark hair from his eyes. "It's just…you looked so funny, all earnest and wide-eyed, like you were telling me this big secret."

"Well, it is…was, a big secret!" They continued arguing for a while. Meanwhile, Lynn's Father had caught up with her. His tie was loose and his hair ruffled, and he couldn't even walk straight anymore.

"Give that egg to me," he hissed, wrenching the box from her, "a guardian, huh? Who do you need guarding from? Me?" His breath stunk of alcohol. She swiped for the box but he held it away from her.

"Father, stop it! You're drunk!" She grabbed for it but he ran away laughing, bumping against guests as he ran. Tears filled her eyes. "I'm sorry, so sorry," People stared at her as she ran after him. He was cackling as he ran outside, throwing the box on the floor.

"Let's see what happens when I do this." He stomped on it as hard as he could. There was a loud crack. "Come on, break!" He was stomping manically and shouting.

Her heart flooded with panic. "Stop it! Stop! It's an egg, you'll break it!" She shoved him away, picking up the box. People were peeking out of the doors and watching them. He staggered to his feet, eyes blazing. With one hand he slapped her across the face as hard as he could. Her head snapped to the side, her cheek stinging. She put a finger to her lips. Blood stained her nail. The ring on his finger had cut her.

Now she was running, running desperately outside to the gardens. Panting, she didn't stop until she was far away from the castle, near a huge crystal fountain. The moon seemed to look down at her with a compassionate glow. She took a cool drink and sat down on the cold stone, her box clutched tightly in her hands.

Her father had cracked the entire top of it. She took a deep breath and removed the pieces. The egg was in there, smashed to bits. A tiny bird lay there, bare and broken, tiny and still barely formed. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She was hiccupping, sobbing bitterly.

Someone had followed her. It was James. He jogged to a stop and took it in, the sad figure near the fountain, the sobs, the smashed egg and the broken box. He kneeled beside her and gently took the box from her. She stared at him with red eyes, still sobbing.

He placed his finger on the bird. "Heal." The shattered eggshell pieces suddenly flew back together. As the eggshell was reforming, he filled it with water. Each piece came back into place and the cracks were smoothed over. He breathed on it, and when he put it back in Lynn's hand, it was warm again. She couldn't believe that. She gave a squeal that was half-delighted and half-scared. The egg was warm. It was pulsing, and alive.

"How did you do that?"

He shrugged. "The amulet of health does include resurrection, and since it was such a small animal it was actually pretty easy, like repairing a cut." He tapped the pearl amulet around his neck.

She stared at the egg. "Can you…uh…heal the box?"

Laughing, he said, "No, I can only heal people and animals."

"Oh." She placed the egg carefully in the box and covered it with a hanky. Then she stood up and directly hugged him.

"Oomph, it's alright," He wheezed, her arms were squeezing him like a vise, her leaf amulet digging into his skin, "Ok, you're welcome…um, you can let go now."

She released him and air flew back into his lungs. "Thank you," she said.

"You're welcome. Now, please don't cry, it makes me uncomfortable."

She laughed sweetly. "You didn't happen to see what happened to my Father back there, did you?" She asked.

"I did. After you ran off someone summoned the guards. The King was very upset when he found out he'd broken your gift. He was removed from the castle immediately. I don't know where they took him."

She was giggling. "Oh, I don't care anymore. He can rot in a dungeon for all I care. Come on James, let's go back."

"Uh…ok." Strange girl, he thought. They walked back, chatting casually.

"Why do you think King Henry insisted we all unite?" James pondered. "It truly has never been done before."

"Perhaps he thinks something is going to happen, some sort of crisis."

He was puzzled. "What crisis? Like a food shortage?" She laughed, and he wished she would more often. There was a sad look in her eyes most of the time.

"No" she said,"it will be something more serious, something like an attack."

"Speaking of an attack," he said slowly, "why did your father hit you back there?"

Lynn froze. It was like a shadow covered her face at the mention of her father. "It wasn't the first time." She replied in a small voice. He opened his mouth again but she stopped him, "don't ask."

James looked into her spectacular green eyes, now red around the rims from her crying. Was something going on with her, and her father? His eyes were warm and brown, like chocolate, and she couldn't look away. Then he reached out and touched her lip with his thumb. The blood dripping from the cut stopped, and the cut was healed.

Hi there! Thank you for reading the first chapter of this book. If you want to know what's going on with Lynn's father, her history with Beast, how Kyra knows Arthur so well and how the rest of these events will unfold, please show me your support, and I will be posting the next chapter soon. Any thoughts on the characters?





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