With Ruby gone, they continued their discussion. Donna sat down, and continued to listen to them. At this time, Nicolas still was not ready to talk about his father. He was, however, interested in learning more about Darlene’s parents. With that, he sat his tea cup down. “Where are your parents?” he frowned. I would love to meet them.”
Darlene walked over to a table and grabbed a book. “You should be able to some day.” she said, with a small smile. “They’re up in the heavens with The Master.”
Nicolas quietly sighed. It bothered him how Darlene wasn’t sad about the loss of her parents at all. Not one bit. “They are?” he gasped. “And you’re not sad or anything?”
Darlene gave Nicolas what he considered to be a look of acceptance. She followed with a nod. “I used to be sad, but only for a short time. I stopped crying when I realized where they have gone. I realized that they are not really dead at all. They just migrated up to the heavens.”
Nicolas took another sip of tea. “How can you be sad for a short time? Nobody deals with loss like this. Tell me, Darlene. How long did you cry? When did this happen?”
Darlene threw her hands out at Nicolas and shook her head. “It was a short time! Why are you so fixated on sorrow? It doesn’t really matter how long I cried. I only cried for, I guess, a couple hours. All this happened six years ago.
“How about you? You already told me that they raided Tulin. Did you lose your parents too?”
“What would it matter to you anyway? For all you know, she could’ve escaped.”
“Who escaped? Darlene frowned. “Your mother? I am sorry, but I have no idea who you’re talking about.”
Nicolas shook his head. “Why do you need to know?” he scowled.
Darlene stared Nicolas directly in the eye. “Nicolas,” she sighed. “I know how painful it is to lose a loved one. Yes, it hurts. But refusing to share your loss will make the pain you carry inside even greater.”
Nicolas broke down. “How do you even know they’re gone? They could very well be safe.”
“For one thing, you refuse to share with me anything regarding your parents. If they were fine, wouldn’t you feel better about sharing them with me? I know that you want them to be safe, but denial is not going to make you feel any better. Tell me, Nicolas. What happened to your parents?”
“Fine,” Nicolas sobbed. “I’ll tell you if it will make you stop bugging me about it. I lost my mother. Some Saris soldiers stabbed her to death while I was hiding in the closet. My father died four years ago in the Tulin/Saris war. What else is there to know? They’re gone, okay?”
Darlene’s face became somber. “Thank you. Now I’ll tell you how my parents died. But first, their backgrounds. My parents were ambassadors. Six years ago, they were given an order from King Saris to kill King Tulin. They refused to carry out this order and the king ordered them executed. I found this strange for the king to be acting like this. Before that, he never behaved this way.
“This made me sad when I heard what the king did. I quickly got over it since I knew that my parents both believed in The Master and obeyed the teachings of the Copian scriptures.
“Looking back at this, I have plenty to be thankful for. My parents both began teaching me the Copian scriptures when I was 2. They also inherited the wealth from my grandfather’s fief of inn properties. In addition to that, they generously shared their wealth with the peasants.”
Nicolas shook his head. “So you’re wealthy and rich, huh? What’s a rich girl like you doing even wasting time on a peasant like me?”
“Wealth is a burden,” Darlene sighed. “Fortunately one that I handle well. Being wealthy doesn’t make me better than you. In fact, I try to help those who are less fortunate.”
“Like your friend Ruby, right? Do you have an unlimited supply of wealth?”
“Of course not. When they killed my parents, most of the money went to the Saris treasury. I hid all the rest around the house. Fortunately, they let me stay in my parent’s house and allowed me to live here as long as I give my allegiance to the king of Saris. In a way, I do have some allegiance to him. I am concerned with his corrupt behavior and selfish motives, though.”
Nicolas scratched his head. “How long has that Ruby been helping you?”
Darlene’s eyes lit up. “Ruby? She’s been helping me since she first became a streetear. I was one of her first customers, and thank goodness for her! I mean, how else would I be able to know what’s really going on in Saris? They don’t tell us anything at all. The only things they tell us are the things they want us to hear. Ruby has told me everything. Before the Saris/Tulin war, they told us that they were going to have ‘peace negotiations’ with Tulin. That never happened. They went to war with Tulin to gather the Seed Relic.”
“Wait a second!” Nicolas frowned. “Ruby became a streetear after the Tulin/Saris war. Where did she get this information?”
“She heard this from several informed people in Saris. Ruby’s not the only streetear, you know.”
“But wouldn’t the people here be suspicious of Saris going against their word?”
“Like I said, they told us what they wanted us to hear. Saris told us that Tulin responded with hostility when they made their ‘peace negotiations’ with them. We were told that they were ‘forced’ to go to war with them. Saris knows that they must keep the trust of their people. That makes them easier to manipulate. Thank goodness for Ruby, or I would’ve never known anything about this.”
This greatly angered Nicolas. Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. He stood up and slammed his fist on the table. “I hate this land!!!”
“Don’t blame the people.” Darlene said. “They aren’t the ones responsible for killing innocent lives.”
“How could I not blame them?” Nicolas argued. “They killed my father and my mother!! Saris is responsible for their deaths and I can never forgive them for it. I hate Saris!”
“Who killed them?”
“You’re accusing the wrong people. The people of Saris, even the nobles, are naïve to the kingdom’s sinister plots. Only a select few who get their news from streetears are aware of what’s going on. The cavalry, dragoons, chivalry, and the Saris monarchy are the ones to blame.”
“Fine then! I hate all the rulers and soldiers of Saris!”
“I too, despise them. They have committed treacherous lies and have deceived most of the people of Saris.”
Nicolas finally opened up to Darlene and the discussion continued. He decided to share with her how his father was quite the fighter. Nicolas choked, recalling the stories his father told about his service in the Tulin cavalry. But he didn’t stop there. He mentioned how his father became the leader of Diamondheart.
“After fighting in the cavalry, he joined Diamondheart,” he said. “He quickly advanced to the highest rank in a fairly short period of time. He traveled all around Copia, slaying beasts and protecting countless towns from numerous monsters. With that, he made a considerable amount of money.”
“Doesn’t that make you wealthy then?”
“Not really. He said that he tried it before I was born. He preferred the simple life. He said that money only complicates things. With that, he sold the mansion, moved into a smaller house, and traveled around – giving all of his earnings to the peasants he met in various towns. The books were the only items that he didn’t sell. One book opened his eyes and he used that book and others to educate my mother.”
“So the Copian scriptures changed his mind about wealth?”
“Actually, he had those views on wealth before he read the Copian scriptures. He did tell me that the book made things clearer for him and he became even more humble as a result of it. He told me that The Master is more important than any gold piece.
“After he spent a few years in Diamondheart, he was asked to join Tulin’s chivalry. That was around the time I was born. With that, our family moved into the castle and he served for about three years. He then retired and moved back to the same smaller house that they lived in before.”
“Does that mean that he was forced out of retirement?”
“Exactly. My father was ordered to fight in the Saris/Tulin war. My father was thrilled at the idea of fighting for Tulin once again. With that, he went off to war on a pegasus and I never saw him again.”
Darlene stood up and walked over to her bed. She grabbed a book on the nearby night stand. She opened up her book. “You should join me.”
And Nicolas did. Donna, however, didn’t want to participate since she wanted to start preparing dinner. As she began preparing, they talked about the Copian scriptures for a while. One topic that they discussed in particular was the Copian prophesy. Nicolas didn’t understand the Copian scriptures as well as Darlene, but she was patient and clarified anything that he didn’t have a good understanding of. They looked at Temler’s prophesy, who was one of several prophets that predicted the coming of the Master’s son: the MacMaster. Darlene stressed that the MacMaster’s coming was soon, and expressed her excitement.
Darlene went into more detail regarding Temler’s prophesy. She gave references to other scriptures, explaining that the MacMaster will be born from ‘one that has never lain with a husband’. This confused Nicolas, and sounded impossible to him. She continued with the passage from Origins I, which gave account of the creation of Copia and the temptation of Axis. Using this passage, she explained how the MacMaster will undo the damage that Axis caused. Nicolas, having recently read the beginning of Origins I, found this explanation new and interesting.
“He will be the perfect sacrifice to The Master.” she continued. “As it says in the Copian scriptures, he will be ‘the shabbit’”
“What would he have to do with shabbits?”
“In our time, we have to make annual sacrifices to appease The Master for the wrongs that we have committed. With MacMaster, he will die as the perfect sacrifice for all of our wrongs.”
“Man! You know everything! How do you know all this?”
“I have studied this book for a long time.”
“But how do we know when this MacMaster is coming? People have said that the son of The Master will be coming for years now!”
“You mean to tell me that you already know of the MacMaster?”
“I’ve never heard him called MacMaster before. I only knew His name as the son of The Master. I also can’t remember a lot of what I read.”
“You can’t remember because you don’t really apply what you read.”
Nicolas scratched his head and thought about what she told him. “I guess you’re right.”
Darlene stared back down at the Copian scriptures. “Do you want me to continue?” she asked him. “I can continue for as long as you wish.”
“I don’t know. A lot of the stuff that I’m learning is kind of interesting. How about as long as you wish?”
“Are you sure about that? That could take hours. Is that fine with you?”
“I don’t know if I want to study for that long. You can teach me more later.”
Darlene closed her book. “Very well then. We can discuss more later.”
As Nicolas and Darlene were about to continue with their discussion, Donna came into the room. “It’s done,” she said. “Dinner is ready. I’m sure you’ll both enjoy it. Hurry now! You don’t want to eat it cold!”
Nicolas and Darlene followed Donna into the dining room. The table was neatly set with all the food in its proper place. The aroma of grilled flizard filled the room. There was also a dish consisting of tomato, carrot, pickled radish, onion, potato, and cabbage with a hint of a rather strong spice. There were two bowls of berries that were prepared: brambleberries and goldberries. Sitting next to the berries was a plate full of sweetspice rolls. A glass pitcher was filled with pachyow milk (a pachyow is an elephant-like cow), which sat at the center of the table. The food was exceptional, and was something that a peasant could never afford to eat. Nicolas was surprised, as he surveyed the display of culinary excellence. “It all looks so good,” he finally said. “Thank you, Donna.”
Donna nodded with a smile, and motioned him toward his seat. “You’re welcome,” she said.
“Grilled flizard pockets?” Darlene gasped. “You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Donna.”
She nodded at Darlene. “We do have a guest, right? And you do know the proper etiquette when handling a guest.”
“Of course I do. Thank you very much, Donna.”
Nicolas rubbed his stomach and scowled. “What are we waiting for? I’m hungry!”
Darlene laughed in response to this, and they all began eating. Before they began, Darlene said a blessing that she made years ago, around the time she lost her parents. They then dug in, passing the food around the table, until everyone got their fill. The flizard pocket was stuffed with a spicy sauce, which tasted strongly of dragon pepper, honey, and ginger. As they were eating, they began to discuss what they heard from Ruby earlier. Darlene especially wanted to talk about Princess Saris’s capture, considering this greatly concerned her.
“We have to do something,” she said as she reached for a sweetspice roll. “Princess Saris gets executed tonight. We should try to rescue her.”
Nicolas sighed, as he scooped another spoonful of goldberries. “R…rescue her? Are you out of your mind? How do you expect to sneak into the castle? There are guards everywhere. I’ve been in there, and I’m NOT going back!”
“We have to, Nicolas.” she insisted. “They are going to kill her! If they captured her, she can’t be all that bad, right?”
Nicolas finished the rest of his brambleberries. “Yes, but how do we get inside? It would take a miracle to get inside there.”
“We have one. Ruby knows the castle inside and out. She could guide us to the underground passageways she uses to sneak around the castle. Please Nicolas. I need you to help me save her.”
Nicolas thought about it for a while. An idea suddenly surfaced, which totally changed his attitude. Revenge. Those Saris idiots will pay for killing me. “I’ll help.” he finally said, after finishing his pachyow milk. “Those idiots have already killed me. I won’t let them do the same to her.”
Donna, after finishing her vegetable dish cleared her throat. “I’ll help too.” she said. “I just think it’s crazy for a king to order their own daughter killed. We can’t have her die.”
Nicolas moved his dishes forward. “There’s one problem.”
Darlene frowned. “What is it?”
“I understand how we are going to get into the castle,” he explained. “But how are we going to escape with the princess? We’ll be caught for sure!”
“I’ve haven’t really thought about the escape. I guess that’s where things get a little dicey. We might have to fight our way out, or something like that.”
“Fight our way out against a whole army of Saris soldiers? Good luck with that!”
“There’s no other way that I can think of to escape with her. I guess we get her into the underground passageways and try to escape from there.”
“I guess that would work.”
Nicolas and Darlene continued discussing the plan to rescue Princess Saris. There were, however, still a couple of problems with the plan. Nicolas didn’t know where they would escape with the princess. Darlene suggested that they take her back to the house. Nicolas didn’t like the idea, since everyone knew the princess and they would quickly be found out. It was then decided that they would escape somewhere away from Saris, which would be discussed later. In the middle of the discussion, Donna washed all the dishes from the dinner and put them away. She then continued listening to the discussion of the plan, which Nicolas and Darlene were wrapping up.
When the plan was finally finished, Nicolas spoke up, getting Darlene and Donna’s attention. “The time has come!” he announced. “Let’s put this plan into action! What are we waiting for?”
Darlene frowned, and held up her hand. “I think that we should pray first.”
Nicolas nodded. “Okay. We’ll do that first.”
So the three of them all joined hands and began praying for The Master to aid them in their plan to infiltrate Saris Castle and rescue Princess Saris.
©2011 K. L. Walker
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