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  • Writer's pictureFiona Hamilton

Chapter 7

“Rienna! It is me, Jen! You are being summoned by the King.” Jen said while knocking on Rienna’s door. Rienna slowly opened her eyes into a squint, “What?” She said, getting out of bed.

“The King wants to see you. He heard that you are from, what was it, Vieryen you said.”

Rienna walked over to the door and opened it, “Mmmh, K’” she mumbled tiredly.

“What?” Jen asked.

“Okay. Just let me get dressed.” Rienna responded and closed the door. She realized too late that it might have seemed rude, but she had been suddenly woken up.

After getting changed into another set of clothes provided by the care center she walked over to the lounge. She didn’t see Jen anywhere on her way and wondered where she had gone. She ate some crackers and cheese from the snack table and waited to see if Jen would show up.

Someone did eventually come through the door and into the lounge, but it was not Jen. Instead it was a tiny child who entered. The girl was only a few feet tall, but she sauntered over to the snack table without even glancing at Rienna. Though she was wearing simple handed down clothes like Rienna, she acted like a princess. She tiptoed to grab some crackers and left just as silently as she entered.

Jen entered right as the child left. “Sorry for the delay, I got called over for some stuff. Did you meet Rildie?”

“I saw her if that’s what you mean. Can she speak?” Rienna responded, somewhat annoyed at how the kid hadn’t even looked at her.

“She can if she wants to, but that does not happen often, as you have obviously already realized.” Jen said in response. “Come, we do not want to be late for the King. Do not worry, there will be food.” With that Jen led Rienna out of the lounge.

Outside the care center a horse bound to a fancy sort of cart was waiting. Rienna was suddenly reminded of a story she had heard about a young peasant who wanted to go to a king’s ball. She had gotten there in a magical carriage created from a pumpkin. She and Jen climbed into the carriage, which was not nearly as elegant as any that she had heard of in stories. I can’t believe I am going to see royalty! If only I wasn’t worried that I am seeing them because I’m in some sort of trouble…

The ride was a pleasant one, especially once they started going through the main city where the roads were smoother and wider. They started by going through the main plaza that Rienna had gone to the day before, then they entered a housing district with a wide variety of houses. Some buildings looked more like duplexes while there were other houses that had two stories and personal lawns. Overall it looked like an interesting conglomeration of well maintained old buildings and recently built new ones. Finally they went through another plaza, but this time there were no random vendors and all of the stores and restaurants were tall and looked regal. Then they crossed a bridge and into the wide entrance to the castle that Rienna had seen before she fell off the hedge.

It was much taller than she had originally thought it was. Perhaps four stories with tall ceilings. When they got out of the carriage a small group of well dressed soldiers came out of the entrance to welcome them.

“Hello. You must be Rienna and Jen. Come with us.” One said choppily, like he wasn’t very fluent in the language. Then they all turned around and led the two visitors into the castle.

The rooms in the castle were huge, with ceilings going up twenty feet. The walls were all stone, but they were covered in tapestries depicting noble knights and kings as well as wizards and witches. There was a long purple carpet that the group followed like it was a path through the halls and doors and finally into the throne room. There Rienna looked around at what she thought would be a giant room with even fancier tapestries covering the walls and a set of golden thrones at the back wall. Instead she was greeted by a startling empty room. There were no tapestries, and the thrones, which weren’t even on a step to make them taller, were made of carved wood. Perhaps the most surprising part was that the thrones were empty.

Rienna had stopped moving since she thought this was her destination, but the rest of the group were still following the carpet through the room and towards another door. She saw Jen look back at her and gesture to hurry up, so she quickly ran to catch up with the soldiers and Jen.

As the visitors were led into the next room, a man’s voice called out. “Hello! You the apprentice negotiator and the girl from the Crystal Sorceress realm, yes?” A middle aged man in thick velvet attire was sitting on a beautifully carved wooden armchair. The room he was in was, to Rienna at least, a thousand times fancier and elegant than the throne room. The floor was covered in a giant rug, there were tall windows looking out into a courtyard, and there was many grand  such as tables and couches neatly placed so that no matter where you sat, you could easily see everywhere but behind you.

“Yes. These are the civilians you asked for, my lord.” The guard who had spoken before said in response to the king. He then continued in his own language, “Yunlog imphil hrumphok?”

“Have them sit down on that couch across from me. After that you may be dismissed.” The king answered. He gestured to a couch that looked as if it was completely made of cloth and stuffing.

The guards let Rienna and Jen into the room to sit on the couch. They then left the room and closed the door into the throne room behind them. Almost immediately Rienna discovered that the couch was not made entirely out of stuffing, it indeed had some wood or other solid material on the inside, lending support to the seat. Though that was true, she was pleased to find that the couch felt like the giant pillow she had guessed it to be.

“Hello, your names are Jen and Rienna, correct?” the king asked them.

“Yes, your majesty. I am Jen and this is Rienna from the sorceress’s realm.” Jen responded, bowing her head, “What have you summoned us to discuss, if you do not mind me being too direct?”

“Not at all, you need not worry so much about being polite. Though I am king, and do deserve respect, you are not required to ask me before you speak.” The king said, smiling.

Rienna jumped in before Jen could answer, “Then is it okay that I inform you that we refer to our kingdom as Vieryen and not the Crystal Sorceress realm?” Rienna said, then mumbling under her breath, “Especially since we didn’t know that her magic had anything to do with crystals.”

“Ah! I apologize! Your kingdom does not… talk much about themselves. Your soldiers come and go without much as a word. Perhaps you are a sign that that is changing?” The king said, his voice hopeful while speaking that final sentence.

“I am sorry to say that I am not here on behalf of my kingdom. Or much reason really… in fact, I may be a bit of a fugitive in my kingdom.” Rienna responded, hanging her head slightly.

“What?! What did you do?” Jen burst in.

“No one is allowed to leave the Suppression, the border that surrounds Vieryen, there was a spy of some sort who had a crystal. He used the crystal to get through the Suppression, he found us and we had to use his crystal to escape. My cats convinced me to stay outside a day, ‘realize that magic wasn’t evil’. As you can see, we stayed a little longer than that… and now I can’t find them…” Rienna said to Jen and the king, “I climbed a tree and fell over your wall, leaving my cats on the other side. Oh! One of them speaks and the other one kinda flies.” Rienna added.

The king's eyes lit up, and he thought for a moment. “You thought magic was evil? Is that what they taught you?”

“Yes. Specifically the king of the fairies, the Sun. He has been patrolling the borders of our kingdom since… since we became the last humans… which I guess also wasn’t true…” Rienna said, looking out the window. How many things that I think I know are just lies?

“Indeed. The Sun is not even a fairy. It is a little complicated to explain to someone who has had such a lacking education in that department. Think of it as a giant ball of fire high in the sky, in space in fact. We, our planet, rotates around the Sun, making it seem as though it is the sun that rises and sets, when in fact it is just our planet spinning.” The king said, trying to condense a large amount of information into two sentences.

Rienna nodded, acting like she understood. Apparently beyond the sky there is space and ‘planets’. I’m not sure how there can be stuff in space. As far as I know, space implies empty.

“If you are correct about yourself being a fugitive, perhaps you can join our kingdom as a refugee. You could stay in the room you have already been given and you could find a job somewhere in the city. … We would need something to compensate for all of the food and space you will be taking… that crystal that you mentioned would more than cover it…” The king said with both true and fake kindness, “Rufdand would be honored to have you.”

“She will think about it tonight. I am sorry, your highness, but she does already have a temporary job, which she must get back too.” Jen jumped in, smiling at the king.

His face darkened and the king looked angry for just a second, then he turned to Rienna and said with a smile, “I see. You probably don’t have it on you anyway. Still, I would like a decision by this time tomorrow.”

“Of course. I will bring her here tomorrow, your majesty.” Jen said, standing up and dragging Rienna up with her, “Thank you for your patience.” She bowed and then exited the room, hauling Rienna along behind her. They left the castle without seeing another person. Which, personally, Rienna thought was probably not a good sign. Either that something was wrong or that the security was terrible.

The carriage was no longer outside, so the two of them walked back to the care center in silence. When they did get back, Jen led them into the lounge room and closed the door, “Do not give him the crystal. He wants to gain magic powers and take over your kingdom.” she said gravely.

“I almost guessed that by how you acted. What am I supposed to do now?” Rienna said, “He wants an answer tomorrow and I assume he won’t take ‘no’ easily.”

“I am sorry to say, but you must leave. It is hard to hide in Rufdand. Get some rest now, we will probably have to sneak you out in the middle of the night. Look for you cats, they are likely somewhere outside the wall looking for you.” She said, sadness in her voice, “All I can do more to help you is give you a plentiful supply of food for your journey. After that… we will probably not see each other again.”

“I understand. Thank you so much for helping me.” Rienna smiled gratefully.

“No worries. Now get some rest. I will wake you up when it is time to leave.”

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