Discuss Scratch

The-Book-Worm
Scratcher
100+ posts

Written In Stone - Critiques Needed!

Written In Stone
Another incomplete story by @The-Book-Worm


Prologue

It was written in stone before I was born, before my brother was born, before even our great, great, great, great grandparents were born. But as I found out, not everything is written in stone.


Chapter 1

“Ze, come here and decipher this tablet. I think it's in Ancient Di,” my brother said.
I walked over, “That's not in Ancient Di, you idiot. It's even older, ten civilizations prior, at least!”
Michah groaned in annoyance, “Not everyone is a history nerd, Ze. Can you read it or not?”
“Of course I can!” I said, offended.
I plucked the tablet from his grasp, cradling it fondly. I loved trying to decipher ancient writings, reading the links that joined our present to the times of long ago.
I scanned the text and sighed. Another prophecy, “The day will come, all shall fall. The world will meet its end unless one answers the call. The ones we spoke of, the one chose, a mighty girl who must defeat all foes. Her brother rises from the ash surround and the girl will relinquish her crown. A mother crazy, a father gone. A new leader will rise with the new dawn. It's is written and so it must be. Talking lives comes with a fee. Be forewarned those who chose, those not right will always lose.”
Michah frowned, “But Father is not gone.”
I shook my head, “This is only one part of it. You need to put it into context with the other parts we found. Didn't the last one mention the age of the person foretold?”
He relaxed, “Good point Ze. A lot can happen in 3 years.”
I understood why he was so worried, why he needed to be the one mentioned in this prophecy. He had centered his whole life around this, and it was too late for him to turn away. It was either save the world or as the prophecy said, “those not right will always lose”.
He ruffled my short, dirty blonde hair. “The hair of a warrior,” he had said when we had found the writing that spoke of a female hero. He had convinced me to cut it that day and employed a Master of Battle to conduct my lessons. And ever since that day, I knew my job in the prophecy. I was to be my brother's warrior, the one who fought for the crown and for his protection.
Michah beckoned to Grey to come to gather the tablet and other artifacts we had found from the ruins of the city. Grey was a white-haired man who had watched over us all of our lives as our parents were to busy ruling. We straddled our horses, grabbed hold of the reins, and headed back to the castle.
As we rode back, part of the prophecy bothered me. “A mighty girl who will defeat all foes,” and “Taking lives comes with a fee,” confused me. If I was truly the sister of the chosen one, what fee would I pay for defeating my enemies?
Grey broke our silence, “Today was profitable, was it not? We found another part of the prophecy. Your father will be pleased.”
Michah shrugged. “Not when he sees the line ‘a father gone’.”
Geez, Michah had such a one-track mind.
“Are you still thinking about that?”
“Yes Ze, every aspect of the prophecy must fit.”
Grey rode up in between us to block the death stare I was giving my brother, “Well, I for one have been thinking about the line ‘the girl will relinquish her crown’. How do you, Ze, end up getting the crown? Michah is older than you, so he should be first in line for the throne.”
Wow, how did I get the throne? Did Michah give it to me to fit the prophecy? Did father change the order of succession to youngest to oldest?
Grey interrupted my train of thought, “And this line ‘her brother rises from the ash surround,’ is confusing. Does Michah fall?”
I pulled my horse to a sharp halt. Never once had I thought that my brother would fail, would fall, would die.
“Come on Ze, it’s not that bad. I obviously rise again. Plus if Father isn’t ‘gone,’ the prophecy isn’t about me at all.” This seemed to sadden him.
Our conversation lapsed into silence. We traveled the way back without uttering a word to one another. It was near night when we spotted the tall spirals of the castle. Presently, our horse drew up to the wooden draw bridge. The polished horseshoes made a hollow sound as they trotted across to the entrance. The guards put their hands up to halt us.
We pulled in the reins and waited patiently for clearance. Grey introduced us, and we passed through the doors after the guards pulled a chord. As a kid, I had found pleasure in pulling random ones. Little did I know that each chord led to a bell. Every time I rang the black one, I sent off an alarm that we were under attack. Luckily, the confusion was sorted out, and I was given a specific time where I could ring the bells freely. The chord the guards pulled alerted the staff and my father that part of the royal family had returned.
“Ze—- you are a mess. No princess, warrior or not should ever be seen like that!”
And that was my strict nanny of sorts.
“But Made-” I began.
“No buts. Come now, we must get you cleaned up.” she turned on her heels and started heading towards the stairs.
Quickly I dismounted, handing the reins to a waiting stable boy. I rushed up the stairs to my chamber of rooms. It had a room just of bathing, a room for getting dresses, a lavatory, a room for sleeping, and a room to meet my visitors. It was easy to get lost in the maze of rooms as I had done it myself when I was young.
Made pulled me into the water closet, drew the water, started the fire, and stripped off my clothes, ripe from three hard days of riding, She made a tsk sound with her tongue as she threw my leggings, jacket, and training shirt down the shute straight to my own personal washroom to clean my non-formal attire.
I climbed in the tub, and Made pulled the shade down to give me privacy. She waited outside while I cleaned myself from the dirt my body has accumulated during those three days. The warm water relieved my aching muscles. Reluctantly, I got out when the fire died and the water ran cold. I dried off and put on some undergarments. I jumped on the padded cushion and laid down right before Made came in. She sighed when she saw me.
“Princess, you must eat with your father tonight. He wishes to hear the latest news on the prophecy. We do not have much time.” Made said.
“Please? I’m so sore from riding and digging,” I plead.
Eventually, she gave in. As she massaged my bruised body, I told her of what we had found. Sadly, she had to stop before long and ready me to dine with the King. A modest, evergreen dress embroidered with gold was taken from the expansive closet and shoved on my head. I forced my arms through the sleeves. Like most of my dresses, this one had long sleeves and was made of thick material as my father preferred to live in near-freezing temperatures. It also fell almost to the floor to conceal the dagger pressed against my calf. I tightened the baldric that hung diagonally across my body, and grabbed my sword, slid it into its sheath. I could feel the sown in knives up my sleeves and was confident after years of practice that I could bring them out at a moments notice.
“A warrior princess you are. Your mother would be saddened if she was in the state to realize what role in the prophecy you have undertaken,” Made said regretfully.
I hugged her, “I do not control the prophecy. I did not choose this role, but it is mine, what we found today shows it even clearer.”
She kissed my cheek, “I just wish you were able to grow up without worrying about everything. Sometimes I wish you weren’t a princess.”
I didn’t reply; I knew what she meant. If I wasn’t born into the royal family, my mother may still be with us mentally, my father wouldn’t always be gone, ruling the kingdom, my-. Wait, my father wouldn’t always be gone like in the prophecy.
I flung open the door and practically ran down the stairs, only hindered by the low heels on my boots. I yelled over my shoulder, “Thank you Made!”
I burst into the dining room out of breath. I bent over, trying to catch my breath, “Michah I know what the prophecy meant by ‘a father gone’!”
There was no reply. I looked up. Immediately, I noticed the other person in the room aside from my father and Michah.
He rose and bowed, “Princess Ze, it is an honor to finally meet you. I am Prince Taulk from the Far Off Lands.”
I curtsied, “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Prince Taulk.”
Mentally, I found the Far Off Lands on the map in my mind and traced his history back.
I was shocked, “The Forgotten Language! Michah, that was the writing on the-”
I stopped when I saw the look my father was giving me.
“I apologize Prince Taulk, the princess is not always this brash,” the King said.
I sat down embarrassed. Made had only told me that my father had wanted to see Michah and me about the prophecy.
“I find her knowledge of my lands quite impressive,” Prince Taulk quietly.
Michah smiled, “She does have a zest for the past.”
I slouched down farther in my chair, annoyed they were talking about me like I wasn’t present. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one annoyed. My father politely cleared his throat to bring the attention back to himself.
“Prince Taulk, I’m sure your history is a long and fascinating one that if you have the chance, you are welcomed to talk to my daughter about, but I have asked you to come because of something you found on your land, something that concerns the prophecy.”
Prince Taulk straightened, “Yes, my people came across a strang slab of stone engraved in ancient writing. At first, we thought it was the Forgotten Language, but soon realized it was not. I came to you because rumors have been spread about your kingdom’s expansive knowledge of ancient languages.”
He waved his hand, and a servant walked in wearing what I recognized to me the colors of Taulk’s country. I was so caught up in his apparel, that I almost missed what he was carrying. Gently, he transferred the piece engraved with clues to our past to the foreign prince. I lept up, and moved to the side of the table Taulk was on. Peering over his shoulder, I read the engravings.
Michah moved to join me, and I nudged him, “Now this is Ancient Di.”
Taulk turned to me, offering the tablet, “Can you translate it, Princess?”
Michah snorted, “Of course she can.”
I shoved him lightly and then took the tablet, “That’s my line.”
“Roll the dice, take a chance, the prophecy is full of lies. Those who follow like blind fools, lead themselves to death. One must choose to continue on, for the world needs a hero. Not a princess nor a prince, if only royalty didn’t exist. We must fight for freedom and life. One must die before the new king. No tomorrow, no today, if we don’t change the words we say.”
Michah was sitting down, gripping the table hard. The king’s face was equally as solemn. Prince Taulk was confused, and I was dumbfounded. What did this stone slab mean?
Michah looked up, hope spreading across his face, “But it doesn’t rhyme! It can’t be part of the prophecy!”
“I’m sorry Michah, I only make it rhyme for your benefit. Ancient Di and the Forgotten Language don’t translate into rhyming words in ours,” I confessed.
His face fell, “Then I’m not the one the prophecy spoke of.”
My father didn’t speak.
Taulk looked up, “When you came in Princess Ze, you said you understood part of the prophecy. What did you mean by that?”
I had to think for a second, “The prophecy is split up into many different tablets. The tablets are in Ancient Di or the Forgotten Language. Ancient Di ruins were spotted a week ago, and Michah and I went to search for a new part of the prophecy. It was in your old language, the Forgotten. Directly translated without rhymes, it said: One day which is soon coming. All will die or perish. The world will meet its doom unless the chosen one comes. One of the prophecies, the brother of a mighty female who must vanquish every one of her enemies. The brother will rise from the ash of the dead and the warrior will give up her crown. A mother crazy, a father gone. A new leader will rise as the battle concludes at the break of a new day. It's is written in stone and so these events must transpire. The deaths of war will have a price to pay. Be forewarned all who try to fulfill these words, if you are not him, you will lose more than just your life.“
Taulk thought, “And what was the version you told the Prince?”
“Oh, um. The day will come, all shall fall. The world will meet its end unless one answers the call. The ones we spoke of, the one chose a mighty girl who must defeat all foes. Her brother rises from the ash surround and the girl will relinquish her crown. A mother crazy, a father gone. A new leader will rise with the new dawn. It's is written and so it must be. Talking lives comes with a fee. Be forewarned those who chose, those not right will always lose,” I recalled.
Taulk turned to the nearest servant, “Can we get both of those versions written down on a piece of paper?”
The servant scurried off to find a quill and ink. Shortly, he returned with the items and handed them to Grey. As usual, Grey was in the corner of the room taking notes on everything we said so that the king could analyze at them later. In his neat handwriting, he rewrote the two versions of the prophecy on different sheets of paper. The servant took it from him and handed it to Taulk. He examined it for a long time while we sat in silence. Finally, he offered me the two versions.
“The meanings are almost symmetrical though most of the lines are different. The only line that is the same in both is ‘a mother crazy, a father gone’.”
I took the copies and looked at both. He was right.
“But what significance does that have?” Michah asked.
“Well, we know the chosen one has to have a mother who is crazy and a father who is gone. I-” he started before I cut him off.
“About that. Michah, if you are the chosen one, I know what it means when it says ‘a father gone’. Our father is the king and is always busy. He’s not going to die or disappear. He’s already ‘gone’ from our lives.”
“But it doesn’t matter. You read the tablet to us, ‘One must choose to continue on, for the world needs a hero. Not a princess nor a prince, if only royalty didn’t exist.’ I’m a prince and therefore not the chosen one.”
The king stood up, “Silence. Dinner is ready. We will not spoil a perfectly good meal with talk of this cursed prophecy.”
I returned to my seat, and the servants brought in food. We did not speak until the second course was severed.
“So Prince Taulk, I’d be super interested to learn more about your customs. I’ve never been to the Far Off Lands.” I said breaking the building tension.
“Yeah, they’re very far off,” Michah joked.
It was good to see him a little happier than before.
“We changed our language to modern di recently to allow our kingdom to communicate better with our neighbors. Before we all spoke what is now known as the Forgotten Language. We still keep many of our traditions after the switch. The songs past down from generation to generation were not translated. Most of my people, from the smallest youngsters to the wise elders know a handful of our old language.”
I leaned forward, “I wasn’t aware of that. I was under the impression that the people of the Forgotten Language fell to a new tribe of sorts. I did not realize you changed languages to fit the changing world.”
Prince Taulk smiled, “I appreciate your interest in my homeland, Princess. You and your family are always welcomed to visit.”
“Thank you, Prince Taulk, I’m sure we will take you up on your offer,” Michah said with gratitude.
My father nodded, “Seeing as my daughter is so interested in other kingdoms’ culture and past, I am sure you have not seen the last of us.”
He clapped, and the last course of the night was served. Dessert ended with a solemn finalty.
Prince Taulk stood and bowed to each of us, “Thank you for having me King ____, Princess Ze, and Prince Michah. It was a pleasure meeting you, and I hope you come to my lands.”
We bowed in returned and bid him farewell. With a train of servants, the Prince of the Far Off Lands left our castle.
My father turned to us, “Now we must talk about the prophecy.
We followed him into a private sitting room where we deconstructed the parts of the prophecy. The shelves held scores of slabs engraved with parts of the prophecy with a translated version next to it. We fit the two newest pieces on the shelf.
“By golly, did we find the full thing?” Michah said scanning through the translations.
I check too and saw that for once, the entire prophecy made somewhat sense.
Bring the past to the present,
Find the pieces
Scattered through lands
Through different languages
Friendships must be forged
Families might be lost
Train hard, work well
Learn much, die hard
One day which is soon coming.
All will die or perish.
The world will meet its doom unless the chosen one comes.
One of the prophecies, the brother of a mighty female who must vanquish every one of her enemies.
The brother will rise from the ash of the dead and the warrior will give up her crown.
A mother crazy, a father gone.
A new leader will rise as the battle concludes at the break of a new day.
It's is written in stone and so these events must transpire.
The deaths of war will have a price to pay.
Be forewarned all who try to fulfill these words, if you are not him, you will lose more than just your life.
From noble decent or so they all believe.
What one is, can deceive.
What is a sister if not by blood
A warrior to fight side by side
To defend her people
And tell the truth
As we did for you
And to know the truth
Travel far and wide
The world is vast
Roll the dice, take a chance
Be remember this
the prophecy is full of lies
Those who follow like blind fools
lead themselves to death
One must choose to continue on,
for the world needs a hero
Not a princess nor a prince
if only royalty didn’t exist.
We must fight for freedom and life.
One must die before the new king.
No tomorrow, no today,
if we don’t change the words we say.
People of old and young
Prepare for death
At the end of a ruler’s life
The common enemy has arrived


Like a ghost, Grey had entered the room unnoticed, invisible to us, “Perhaps we should go through every line to decipher the meaning of each.”
My father sunk into the nearest chair, “I suppose.”
Grey nodded at me, “Princess, will you.”
“Bring past to the present,” I said.
‘Which we assumed meant bring to light our history and this prophecy,” my father replied.
“Find the pieces,” I read.
Michah thought, “Okay, we understood it as pieces of the prophecy. Could it mean more?”
“Let’s continue, Princess. We need to see it as a whole,” Grey urged.
“Scattered through lands, through different languages. Well, we have found parts in different kingdoms,” I reasoned.
Michah picked up the prophecy from there, “Friendships must be forged, families might be lost, train hard, work well, learn much, die hard. Well, we just met Prince Taulk. We can make alliances with others. We do train hard, work well, and learn a lot, and without a doubt, we won’t go down without a fight.”
I noticed how he pointedly ignored the line ‘families might be lost’, “One day which is soon coming. All will die or perish. The world will meet its doom unless the chosen one comes.”
Grey snorted, “Apparently, the ones who wrote this think we will die without this ‘Chosen One’.”
“But what will kill us?” I asked.
“I don’t know. We don’t know. The prophecy never hints at it.”
I shook my head, “That seems important.”
Michah laughed lightly, “It probably is. Let’s keep going. One of the prophecies, the brother of a mighty female who must vanquish every one of her enemies. The brother will rise from the ash of the dead and the warrior will give up her crown. A mother crazy, a father gone.”
“This is important. This is who the Chosen One is.” I said.
“Well, Michah, you have a sister who is a very skilled fighter, she could end up having the crown, your mother is mentally unsound, and if Ze is right, your father could be qualified as gone. You fit the description, but the problem is, a lot of people could. And later in the prophecy, I think it tells that the Chosen One isn’t a prince,” Grey explained.
The King `stood, a scowl across his face, “That’s it. Everyone to their rooms. I’m done. Michah tomorrow you leave to go to the Far Off Lands. I’m revoking your right to the crown. Grey, you are going with him. Take care of him. Ze, you will stay here as the new heir to the crown.”
He stormed out of the room leaving the others in shock.
Michah looked up at Ze, “What’s happening to our family?”
In response, I could only quote the prophecy that was tearing my life apart, “Those who follow like blind fools lead themselves to death.”


Chapter 2

Michah left in the early hours of the next day. Unlike most of his adventures, this one lacked half a dozen servants, tons of gear, and part of the royal guard. The only one who left with him was Grey, the man who had taken care of us, and the man I prayed would take care of my brother.
The castle was alive and buzzing with activity the next day. None knew of the events that had transpired last night. They all continued with their daily lives, unaware that my normal life had just been flipped upside-down.
“Princess, rumors are spreading around of why you didn’t go with Michah on this adventure,” Made gently shut the door behind her as she stepped into my room.
I sighed, “What is the worst thing they are saying?”
“Honey, they are saying you are pregnant,” Made said trying to conceal the smile threatening to appear.
“Oh great!” I wailed stuffing my face in a pillow, “My brother is disowned and banished from the kingdom, and everyone thinks I’m bearing a child.”
Made sat on my bed and rubbed my back, “That’s the worst of the rumors. Few actually believe it, but more will unless you show them another reason why you didn’t come.”
I groaned. Sticking my arm under my mattress, I grabbed a knife and sliced down the side of my calf. I grimaced in pain as blood splurted everywhere. It wasn’t deep, but it definitely would keep me from further adventures for a while and hopefully shut up the rest of the castle.
“Oh, Princess! I did not mean like that!” Made said, running the first aid. She washed the cut and stitched it up. What it lacked in depth, it made up for in length, but soon I was back on my feet.
“I have to protect Michah. If the whole kingdom knew he was out there alone, people might attack him!” I said, hobbling to my closest, “I’ll wear the short, blue dress.”
Made helped me put on the dress. As the one the night before, and most of my others, it was embroidered with gold. The dress fell short enough to reveal my bandaged leg.
“Hey, on the plus side, I get out training today.”
Made just shook her head, “You sure are something, Princess.”
“I love you too, Made,” I said as I wobbly left the room.
The nearest servant who saw my leg rushed off, probably to inform her friends of the reason the princess hadn’t gone with the prince. I brushed my hands together. There goes those annoying rumors. I only hoped I had brought Michah some more time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ze’s words stuck with me as we rode hard to leave the border in the week span I had been allotted. Were we following the prophecy to closely? Are we the blind fools that lead themselves to death?
“Prince Michah, what are you thinking about?” Grey asked, concerned by the look on his charge’s face.
“It’s Michah now, just Michah.”
“Your father made a rash decision to fit the prophecy,” Grey said.
Michah spun his horse around, blocking the path, “Do you think I don’t realize. Do you think I missed the part where I was disowned and thrown out of my homeland? I can never go home. What if I’m not even the one the prophecy foretold? We’re fools to follow events predicted centuries ago. Ze was right.”
Grey rode around him, “We need to keep going. What’s done is done. If we go back now, we will never make it to the border before the week is up.”
“Where are we going?” Michah asked.
“You mean where are you going. I have to get back. I’m the King’s main adviser.”
Michah looked at him in shock.
“What? You thought I was only a babysitter? I am much more important than that, and I need to get back. You, on the other hand, will find some means of employment and live there.” Grey pushed his horse onwards to the border with a renewed sense of urgency.
Michah frowned before speeding up his horse to match, “So you’re just going to leave me at the border?”
“No, I’ll help you find a town, and then take your horse back to the castle with me.”
Michah growled, “Some help you are.”
He dug his heels into the horse’s back and rode ahead. They didn’t stop when the sun went down for the path they traveled on was well worn and safe. Many others had left or came to the country. Briefly, Michah wondered whether they might catch up to Prince Taulk and his entourage, but as the days past, he concluded that a different path had been taken to enter the Far Off Lands.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Please dismount so we may check your bags,” a guard at the border ordered.
Michah and Grey swung off their horses and stood by as the guards searched the contents of their bag. Swiftly, it was over.
“And your purpose for traveling outside of Di?”
As prearranged, Michah didn’t answer.
Gery cleared his throat and said in an accent, “I’m just talking this wee laddie out to visit his big man in the Far Off Lands. I’ll be back here within a fortnight.”
The guards let them pass without further questioning.
“Did we really need the accent?” Michah asked exasperated.
“What accent laddie? I was born with this speech. My fancy court accent is the fake one,” Grey replied.
Michah rolled his eyes, “Let’s just get on with it.”
“As you wish prince. Turn left at the next turn,” Grey said slipping into his regular speaking voice.
The pair rode on till they arrived at a small town outside of the capital.
“This is where I leave you,” Grey said.
“Can you leave me with something? At least something that says I’m a good worker.” Michah pleaded.
Grey split up the provisions, “If I helped you get a job, people may wonder why I unemployed you. Better to pretend to be a fresh 19 year old just leaving the family business to start out on his own.”
“Goodbye then Grey,” Michah said patting him on the shoulder.
“Goodbye, Michah may fortune smile upon you,” Grey said before turning his horse about and starting back on the trail we had just come from.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“And that is the worst drawing of the Forgotten Language alphabet I have ever seen.”
I threw down my pencil in frustration. Every since Michah had left, the throbbing in my leg and heart had made it hard to concentrate on my studies.
“Princess, maybe you should take the day off,” her teacher said.
“Yes, I think that would be advisable,” I muttered pulling myself to my feet.
I limped out of the room, barely managing to stand on my own. I made my way to the prophecy room. A figure sat in the room, gazing at the engraved slabs.
“Father… why are you here?” I wondered.
He sadly turned his head to face me, “Did I make the right decision?”
I sat down beside him and hugged him. We sat there for a while, free of royal duties, united by the pain of loss.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Excuse me, sir?” Michah knocked on the door to a lit farmhouse, “Are you in need of a guard?”
“Huh?” a middle-aged man wearing overalls opened the door said.
“I’m searching for employment in this area. I have experience in fighting and guarding.”
“Well laddie, I already have two able-bodied young men working for me, but maybe someone down the road will be needing help,” he said before shutting the door.
Michah went from door to door asking if they needed help. He offered as many services as he could, guarding, farming, even cooking! Sadly, no one seemed to need a disowned prince of a foreign land. He ran his fingers through his dirty blonde hair. Would he ever find somewhere to work?
Michah sighed dejectedly as he knocked on another door.
“Hello? Ow!” the tall man exclaimed as he hit his head on the door frame, “I swear that thing keeps getting shorter!”
“Sir, I was wondering if you needed help of any kind,” Michah said tiredly.
“A strapping young lad like you should have no trouble finding work. Have you asked anywhere else?”
“Oh, yes,” Michah nodded vigorously.
“Currently, I can’t offer any money, housing, or food. I barely have enough to provide for my wife and me.” the man said scratching his head.
Michah’s spirits sank lower, “I understand sir. Is there anywhere you can think of that may need someone like me?”
The man sat down on the steps, “Let me think. Hmm, I seem to recall a school that took boys 14-20 to train to fight for our country. I know it’s quite near the capital as are we, but it’s not the sort of school you get into just by showing up.”
A smile spread across Michah’s face, “That’s wonderful! I’ll head there first thing tomorrow! Where did you say it was?”
The man stood and put a hand on Michah’s shoulder to stop him, “On sec sonny, did you hear me say you can’t just walk in there? You need recommendations of sorts.”
“Oh, I’ve had years of fighting. I’m sure I can prove my worth,” Michah confidently informed the man.
“It’s your funeral. To get there, stay on the path to the capital. You should spot a well-worn trail to the left. Turn there, and soon you’ll find the school.”
“Thank you, sir! You don’t know how much this helps!” Michah said enthusiastically shaking the man’s hand.
“Good luck laddie,” the man kindly said as he shut the door.
Michah couldn’t find a place to sleep and didn’t have any money, so he decided to start on his way to the school. That way, he could wash in a nearby stream before entering the school. He wanted to put his best foot forward if getting into this school was really as difficult as the tall man said.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Your left foot is going too far to the right. It’s throwing you off balance,” the Battle Master instructed.
I scowled. I was still recovering from my self inflicted injury.
“Let’s try again.”
The sound of metal on metal rang through the air as our swords clashed. We dueled, blocking each other’s lunges and avoiding the point. The battle was long, the student and teacher almost equals at the art.
“I’m betting on the Princess,” came a voice from the doorway.
I twisted my head at the familiar voice. Suddenly, I felt cool metal against my skin.
“Never turn away from an opponent. Don’t lose focus. You are dismissed,” my teacher scolded before removing the blade from her pupil’s throat.
I ran to the figure who had just entered, “Grey! You’re back!”
He slowly pulled himself out of my embrace, “Yes, Princess.”
I looked over his shoulder, “And what of Michah? Were you not supposed to look after him?”
“He is a strong young man. FInding employment shouldn’t be a problem. In addition, your father needs me,” Grey said.
I frowned with concern, “Are you sure he’ll be alright?”
“Quite sure, Princess.”
I threw down her blade, only realizing now that I still held it. Storming out, I yelled over my shoulder, “You haven’t heard the last of this!”
I made my way through the long corridors of the castle to my father’s office. She encountered servants who quickly moved out of my rampage when they caught sight of the look on my face. Brushing past the secretary, I flung the door open wide.
“Why is Grey back?” I demanded.
“He is my most trusted advisor. I need him here at the castle.” the King explained in a calm voice.
“What about Michah? What about your son? Do you know how many people would love to get their hands on a member of the royal family?” I questioned furiously, desperately worried for my brother’s safety.
“Who is Michah?” the King asked.
I threw up her hands, “My older brother! The former heir to the throne that you disowned.”
“You are the heir to the throne Ze,” her father said simply.
My next words choked up in her throat. I turned and ran, the door slamming behind me. Tears were streaming down my face as I raced to my room and flung myself into Made’s open arms.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” Made asked.
“Grey is back, and Michah’s not with him. Grey left Michah in the Far Off Lands!” I sobbed.
“Shh, it’s going to be okay. Michah is highly capable of taking care of himself,” Made comforted the princess.
“But Father pretends not to even remember him,” I worried.
“Hey, that’s good. That means he won’t publicize that part of the royal family is off in another kingdom.”
Made’s words helped, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that Michah was in danger.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The dark haired man did a double take as Michah walked into the office.
“And you are?” the secretary asked with obvious distaste.
“Michah, sir,” Michah said running his fingers through his damp hair.
He had tried to tidy up at the lake, but he had been riding hard for more than a week and sleeping on the dirt. The end result made him look like a vagrant, cleaning up to beg for money.
“Michah what?” the engraving on the desk read Hemsworth which Michah figured was his name.
“Oh, umm,” Michah’s mind raced as he tried to think of a last name, “Grey, Michah Grey.”
“Spelled with a e or an a?” Hemsworth sat back in his chair.
Grey spells it with an e, so I better spell it differently.
“With an a, sir.”
“And why are you here?”
“I would like to enroll here.”
The secretary raised an eyebrow, “Really. Do you have recommendations?”
“No sir but-”
“If we accepted every young man into our school, our reputation would plunge. We are a very prestigious fighting academy for men and boys who have lightly studied the art of swordsmanship.”
“Sir, I have-”
“Yes, yes, I’m sure you think you’re a wonderful swordsman, but honestly, even people with recommendations don’t always get in.”
Michah was frustrated, “I’d like to speak to the headmaster.”
“Speak to me about what?” a man entered the room.
Michah turned on his heels, “I’m fully aware that you don’t accept random people who walk in here, but I’ve had years of training in fighting with a sword. I’d like a chance to prove my worth.”
The headmaster nodded, “It’s only one person.”
“Headmaster, with all due respect, if we allow him, what’s to stop others from coming!” the secretary asked concerned.
“You do raise a good point, Hemsworth. Well then, I suppose we’ll just have to make it so only the most determined try. Anyone who wants to come here without papers will have to fight me.”
Michah nodded, “Thank you so much for this chance, sir. You won’t regret this.”
The man looked him in the eyes, “But will you?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“And this is the Far Off Lands,” I explained, pointing to the land mass adjacent to Di on the map.
“Where are we?” one of the little kids asked.
I smiled; teaching the younger kids was always the highlight of my week, “We live in Di. It’s the kingdom south of the Far Off Lands.”
“Who owns Di, and do they own us?” a boy said crossing his arms in a pout.
“Well, King ____ rules over Di and makes the rules,” I answered.
“But what about the queen with the jeweled crown and pretty dresses and the princess!” a young girl asked spinning as if she was wearing a beautiful gown suited for royalty.
My smile saddened, “The queen says in the castle tended by servants and doctors. When I was as little as you guys, there was an attack on the royal family that severely affected our queen’s physical and mental health.”
One little girl took my hand and looked into my eyes, “Oh, that’s very sad. I don’t think I want to be a queen when I grow up.”
“Does the Prince and Princess get to fight dragons?” questioned an energetic boy.
“Come on, you know dragons don’t exist… or at least not that we know of, but the Prince and Princess get to go on adventures and go into ruins of old cities,” I ruffled his hair.
The girl holding onto my arm squeezed it, “I want to be a princess someday… or at least meet one!”
I squatted down to her eye level, “I am a princess, and trust me, you can still do amazing things without the crown. Plus, princesses have to study a lot and learn the customs of other languages.”
“I guess I’d rather not be a princess then,” the girl twisted her face in thought.
I laughed, “I guess not.”
“Princess Ze?” a guard peeked his head in the classroom, “You’re out of time.”
“Darn,” I turned to the children who were antsy after sitting down for a half an hour, “I’ve got to go, guys. I’ll see you next week.”
The children swarmed me, hugging me, “Goodbye Ze!”
I untangled myself from them and stepped left the room while the other teachers took them to their parents. It was always nice teaching the younger kids. They didn’t even realize I was royalty most of the time and called me by my first name. They were so cute, and their curious questions always made me happy. Learning history was fun but sharing it was even better.

Chapter 3

"En garde! Prêts? Allez!”
Michah advanced and feint a lunge. He swung his sword to the left and to the man’s throat. The headmaster brought his sword up to meet his with a clash of metal.
“You’re going to have to do better than that if you want to get into this school.”
The headmaster retaliated with a counter-attack. The sword moved with blinding speed, yet Michah had no difficulty parrying each of the cuts. Michah performed a compound-riposte in response, feinting and lunging rapidly.
The two continued their duel. After the headmaster’s initial shock at Michah’s skill level, he focused and his attacks were clean and powerful, yet Michah had not faltered. Several of the boys had walked in to see the battle, and as the word spread, many came to watch. Sweat was dripping down Michah’s face as he lunged and spun the sword out of his opponent's hand. A collective gasp went up from the crowd. The headmaster grabbed Michah’s arms and pulled them behind his back, forcing him to drop his weapon.
“But that’s not part of sword fighting,” Michah complained.
“Tell that to the enemy on the battlefield right before he kills you,” the headmaster said breathing heavily on Michah’s neck, “But you fought well.”
Michah shook his head, “My sister would put us both to shame, and if you tried this move on her, she would break your arms faster than you could say ‘I yield’”
The headmaster smirked, “I’d like to see that., but regardless, Michah, welcome to the academy! You’ve earned it.”
Michah ran his fingers through his hair, damp with sweat, “Thank you, sir.”
The boys watching couldn’t decide whether to clap or not until the secretary started applauding.
Hemsworth walked up to Michah, “I knew you were an incredible swordsman from the moment I saw you. I told the headmaster you deserved a chance.”
The headmaster only chuckled, “Sure you did Hemsworth.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Up on your feet! Classes start in thirty minutes. Make sure your bed is made, space is clean, and you are ready!” came the loud wake-up.
Michah sat up and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. The room was still dark, and the sun hadn’t broken the horizon. He looked around and saw other boys getting up and dressing. He swung his legs over the side of the bed before falling back down.
“Better get up. Classes start soon. Wouldn’t want to be like ‘im over there,” said a young boy pointing to a lump under the covers of a nearby bed.
“By the way, I’m Keith,” he said helping Michah up.
“Michah. Thanks.”
Michah searched his drawers and pulled out his only outfit which he had washed and dried last night. Most of the other boys were now making their beds and cleaning the floor in their space. Keith had already finished and came over to help Michah.
“You want to make the bed as tight as possible. I’ve heard rumors that they sometimes flip a coin on the sheets,” Keith showed him how to do it.
“Thanks, I’ve never made a bed before.”
Keith turned to his with an eyebrow raised in disbelief. Michah realized he had said something wrong.
“I mean I haven’t made one this seriously. This is like hardcore bed making.”
Keith laughed, “Yeah, it’s like they’re preparing us to make beds for the royal family.”
“I’m sure the royal family has more pillows on their bed,” Michah said only half joking.
“Come on, we have enough time to grab something to shove in our mouths before we have lessons,” Keith said pulling Michah toward the door.
Michah followed Keith as they raced down the stairs. They grabbed two pieces of warm bread for each of them. Keith led Michah to their first class as they ate. When the two entered the room, they saw that most of the class had already arrived.
“Better sit down you two. Sir ____ will be coming in soon.” one student warned.
They with their legs crossed on the floor, waiting for their teacher. Everyone sat up straight without talking. When the teacher came, he was dragging someone behind him.
“This lazy bum didn’t get up again. Double the punishment as yesterday, Tommy,” Sir ____ said pulling him up to his feet by his collar and pushing him toward the rest of the students.
Keith leaned over, “Tommy’s the lump I pointed to under the covers. He never wakes up in time and always gets punished.”
“Mr. Peters, do you have something to share?” Sir ____ asked.
“No, I’m sorry sir.” Keith.
“How about you Mr. Gray?” the teacher questioned.
It took Michah a few seconds to realize he was talking to him, “Oh, sorry sir. Not at all, sir.”
“What are you doing sitting down, boys? Get on your feet!”
The boy who had told them to sit earlier raised his hand.
“Yes, Mr ____?” Sir ____ asked.
“We started planning a fighting routine, and you said we would work on them today.” ___ said.
“Ahh, now I remember. Well, you need to warm up and practice what you have first.”
Everyone stood and began to stretch. Michah was confused but copied Keith.
“Mr. Gray, can we talk in the hallway?” the teacher asked.
“Go,” Keith urged him.
“What?” Michah wondered aloud before realizing that he was Mr. Gray, “Oh.”
He followed Sir ___ out into the hallway.
“Headmaster ____ asked me to get you accustomed to our ways. We don’t really have classes exactly. Basically, we expect you to practice sword fighting and exercise on your own. You will duel with another student every day and once a week, you will be given the option to fight a teacher. Once a month, a Battle Master comes in and our top ten students have the opportunity to have a spar with him. Oh, and since today is Monday, you have one real class of sorts which is just me watching your technique and helping you improve it. I’ll leave the tour to Keith. Go in there and I’m sure Keith will give you a routine. That’s a good friend to keep close Michah. He’s an amazing swordsman, but if the rumors are correct, you are talented too.”
Michah jogged back into the classroom narrowly avoiding a swinging sword. He ducked just in time, and Keith who had seen the sword coming at Michah grabbed a blade and blocked it.
“Thanks, Keith. Awesome reflexes!” Michah said appreciatively.
“No problem, you too,” Keith turned to the boy who had almost hit Michah, “Tommy, watch what you're doing! You could have decapitated Michah.”
Tommy growled, “Shut up Perfect Peters. No one needs a lecture about how to do better.”
Keith turned and stormed out. Michah looked at Tommy is confusion.
“Don’t be friends with Peters. Nothing good will ever come out of a friendship with him.”
Michah felt lost. Was Keith a good friend or not?
The noisy classroom was filled with boys fighting invisible enemies, Keith was gone, and the teacher was focused on helping others. Michah decided to go to his own corner and practice an old routine. He began a series of lunges and parries but began to realize how beginner level the moves were. He figured adding more advanced moves would be a better practice.
Suddenly, Michah realized it was quiet. Briefly, the self-centered part of him wondered if they had stopped to admire his complicated series of moves, but soon realized that wasn't the case. Everyone was looking at the door, and in the doorway stood Keith, sword in hand. Tommy’s feet were planted in front of Keith, preventing him from entering.
“Move out of the way Tom,” Keith said, scraping his sword on the stone like nails on a chalkboard.
“Make me, Peters,” Tommy sneered clenching his sword tighter in his hands.
The onlookers pushed back away from the two, making them a small ring to spar in. Michah fleetingly thought that maybe he should break it up, but he didn’t want to take sides because he still wasn’t sure about Keith. From previous comments about Keith talent and the relaxed way he stood, Michah assumed the match would be over quickly.
But he was soon proved wrong as the two began to duel. Tommy was just as good as Keith. What he lacked in experience, he clearly made up in natural talent and quick reflexes. The fight went on almost as long as Michah and Headmaster ____ battle, but the end result wasn’t as clean. At one point, Tommy lost his sword and grabbed Keith. What had started as a semi-organized duel became an all-out brawl.
Two bulky students stepped in and broke up the fight. Keith’s arm was at an unnatural angle, and Tommy’s nose was bleeding heavily.
Sir ____ marched into the room with a trio of boys at his side, “What is going on here?”
The room was filled with the sound of no one talking.
“Keith and Tommy. Again. Well, we need to take them the med-ward. Keith, better get that arm checked out. You could be out of the year-end competition.”
Some friends of the fighters helped them up and took them out of the room.
Sir ___ scolded the rest, “Why didn’t you step in. You’ve seen their fights. I’m disappointed. Lavatory Duty for a week for all of you save for the three who got me and the two who broke up the fight.”
The class let out a collective groan complaining that it was Keith and Tom’s fault.
“Don’t forget the fighting schedule for today and workouts,” Sir ____ left the room.
One boy started cheering, “Hey guys, if Keith and Tom continue to attack each other, one of us might actually win the end of the year competition!”
“Sure Rylan. Keep dreaming.” another boy yelled back at him.
“What’s the end of the year competition?” Michah asked in a small voice.
Rylan turned to him, “You don’t know what the end of the year competition is? How do you not know? It’s like the biggest thing ever. Everyone in the Far Off Lands has heard of it!”
“I just don’t know,” Michah said.
Someone began to laugh, “Listen to that accent, Rylan. There’s no way he’s from here. Sounds like he’s from Di.”
Rylan nodded, “Ahhh, well my foreign friend, the end of the year contest is a series of duels. You fight a student, and if you win you get to fight another. If you lose, you’re out. You keep fighting until there is only two left. The winner gets to be the personal guard to an important person. This year, a famous diplomat is looking for a guard. For poorer families, this would be incredible because the pay is super hard, and it’s anyone’s dream because the rooms you get are close to the quality a royal would put up with.”
“Do they travel with the diplomat?”
“Oh yes, anywhere and everywhere. You’d even get to go back to Di… if you win,” Rylan said.
Michah smiled, “I might be able to manage that.”
Rylan punched Michah in the arm, “You’ve got to beat all the rest of us first… and then Keith and Tom.”
“And how long have they been studying sword fighting?” Michah asked.
“Well, Keith’s the son of a wealthy landlord and had several teachers. I heard he even got to fight a Battle Master before he came here. Tom grew up in a small town where a retired prestigious teacher of the art had decided to live. The lessons combined with Tom’s natural talent got him into this school.”
“But none had a Battle Master for a teacher?” Michah questioned thinking about his own training.
Rylan just laughed, “Good one Michah. Only the prince has teachers like that.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ze-” Madde started.
“No! I will not marry! Michah is the heir to the throne and no one can make me rule. I’d rather die!” I exclaimed from my perch on my bed.
Madde sighed, “This isn’t even about that.”
“Oh,” I deflated a little.
“Your father wants you to go to a fighting school in the Far Off Lands.”
“As a student? Aren’t most of those schools all boys?” I asked aghast.
Madde smiled, “Not as a student. At this particular school, Battle Masters visit once a month and the top ten students get to duel with them.”
I jumped up, “Oh that sounds so fun! I would love to beat the stuffing out of those boys!”
“Hold on Princess. You would go with your Battle Master who has been asked to come. I’m not sure if they would let you fight,” Made warned.
“I’m sure I can convince them to let me.”
“And I will accompany you on the journey.”
I squealed in delight, “Best adventure ever!”
“And Grey won’t be coming.”
I started dancing around the room, “I think I died and went to heaven!”
A knock came on her door, stopping the twirling princess in her tracks. I quickly smoothed her dress and hair and sat down on my bed in a proper pose. There was no sign that I had been spinning and yelling only moments earlier. Madde hurried to open the door.
“Hello Father,” I said coolly.
“Your majesty,” Madde bowed.
“Ze, has Madde told you the plan?” the King asked.
“Yes sir,” I said trying to contain my excitement.
“I have decided to alter your journey slightly.”
“Oh,” I wasn’t surprised; just when I got excited about something, he took it away from me.
“You will be traveling through the kingdoms of ____, ____, and ____ before you go to the Far Off Lands. Because your teacher won’t go to the academy for another four months, I thought you could fulfill your dream to travel to other countries.”
I was elated, but I couldn’t ignore the small cynical part of me that knew this was his way of getting on my good side.
“When will you tell the kingdom of the change in succession?” I questioned, knowing the answer could affect Michah’s well being.
The King thought, “I think a month after you leave would be fine. He should find a safe place to stay by then, heaven help us if he hasn’t.”
I nodded, “That works for me. When do I leave?”
“I would start packing if I hoped to be out of here by daybreak tomorrow.”
“Very well father,” I bowed to him.
As he was leaving the room, he turned back toward me, “I do love you, Ze.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“What the heck Michah!” Rylan said running up to him as Michah wiped the sweat off his face.
Michah had just come out of the ring after a spar with Tom.
“You’re like a Battle Master or something!” Rylan exclaimed.
Michah smiled modestly, “Or something.”
“There goes my chances of winning the end of the year competition. I think you’re even better than Keith!” Rylan yelled jumping up and down happily.
I’d better be better than Keith. I trained with Battle Masters since before I was out of waders.
“Tom is very good,” Michah said reflecting on how similar to a puppy Rylan seemed. He always had so much energy and was happy about even the strangest of things, like not winning the end of the year competition.
“But Keith is better than Tom,” Rylan insisted.
“But this is Tom’s passion, Keith was forced into it by his parents,” Michah explained.
“Hey, good match Michah,” Tom said as he jogged up.
“You too Tom, you’re a natural.” Michah praised.
“Where did you learn to fight so well?” Tom asked.
Michah scratched the back of his neck nervously, “Oh you know, my father was really into my sister and I learning.”
“Wow, is your sister as good as you?” Rylan wondered bouncing up and down.
Michah laughed, “Oh no, she’s way better. She could defeat a senior Battle Master.”
“Mmmhm, sure Michah. We totally all believe you have a warrior sister who is better than the best Battle Master.”
Michah defended himself, “I didn’t say the best Battle Master, just an older one.”
Tom and Rylan laughed, yet Michah knew they didn’t believe them. Oh well, it’s not like he could tell them that his sister was the heir to the throne of Di who had taken lessons with a Battle Master since before she was able to walk.
Keith pulled Michah way from the two, “I’m scheduled to fight you in two days. I can’t wait. Your style is so unique and well practiced. I think we’ll both get better from fighting each other.”
“I have a question, Keith. Why do you sword fight?” Michah asked.
Keith’s smile dropped, “Because I like to.”
But his reply came out as more of a question than an answer.
“You don’t have to like it, Keith,” Michah said kindly.
“I’m sorry Gray, but you know nothing.” Keith sadly walked away.
Michah didn’t yell after him that he did know what it felt like to have a father controlling his life.
Tom walked up and put his arm around Michah’s shoulders, “Don’t mind Perfect Peters. He probably peed in his pants after watching you fight. Ha, Perfect Peters pees in his pants.”
Michah forced a smile, “Yeah, I’m sure it was nothing.”
Rylan came up from behind and pulled Michah away from Tom and to the exercise room.
“Woah, where are we going?” Michah asked as he was dragged along.
“Oh, I figure we should get our daily exercise out of the way as we have to spend at least two hours there.”
“But what about dinner?”
“You’re fine. It’s only two hours after noon,” Rylan said happily as he picked up the pace, half running, half skipping.
Michah struggled to keep up with the perky boy, “And what do we do there?”
“There’s always one or two trainers who enjoy giving young men like ourselves painful workouts. Come on!” Rylan bounced on the balls of his toes as he turned the corridor and opened one of the double doors, peeking his head in.
“Helloooooo? Anyone hear?” his voice echoed loudly off the tall stone ceilings.
“Rylan! Are you here to exercise or just to visit me?” a voice inside the room teased.
Rylan stepped into the room, pulling Michah along with him, “To see you of course, but if you could give my friend some training drills and stuff, that would work too.”
The woman laughed, “Well I’m sure Jon and I can think of a few things to keep you both of you boys busy for the next two hours. Who’s your friend?”
“Oh right, Charlotte, this is Michah Gray, Michah, this is Miss Charlotte,” Rylan pointed to the man in the room, “And this is Sir Jon.” Rylan loudly whispered in Michah’s ear, “That’s without an h. He’s very particular about it.”
“Welcome Michah, you can just call me Charlotte. The miss is too formal. So Michah, are you good at sword fight?”
“Is he ever! Let me tell you, Charlotte…” Rylan dragged Michah all the way in as the door shut.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“We have to do that every day?” Michah said rolling his sore shoulders.
“Yep! But it gets better. I only wish I was more flexible,” Rylan expressed.
“What do you mean? You can do the splits? I’d say that’s pretty flexible.”
Rylan blushed, “You think it’s impressive?”
“Considering I can’t even touch my toes, hell yes,” Michah marveled.
“Thanks! That means a lot coming from you. You’re an amazing fighter,” Rylan praised.
“I just want to keep my skills quiet. I don’t need whatever is going on between Tom and Keith.”
“Well, as long as you make top ten, you can still fight with a Battle Master every month,” Rylan suggested.
Michah considered this, “Yeah, I’ll just keep everything basic and win the duels with simple moves and fast reflexes.”
The night was falling fast. As Michah though back to his first day, he realized that it was just as chaotic and dramatic as the palace. It was weird. His whole life up until now had been centered on the prophecy. He had grown up training, learning, and preparing for whatever was coming to destroy the world, but today, he hadn’t once thought about it. The only brief thought of his former life was of Ze.
That was the one thing he missed from the royal life. The servants and attendants always at his heels could disappear for all he cared. He just missed Ze. They had done everything together from searching for the prophecy to hiding together in a closet when the raid on the castle happened. Ze wasn’t the crying six year old in the closet with him, waiting for the attackers to storm past. She was a strong sixteen-year-old girl who could beat him in a sword fight, hand to hand combat, and archery.
They had grown closer after their mom had been injured from the raid. Together they withstood their father’s rage, the pressure of being heirs, and strain from riding day after day to look for part of the prophecy only to find nothing. He just wished she could see him now, normal, doing things average boys, without a crazy mother and his father as the king, did.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I debated what to take. Four months seemed so long. I gathered all my gear, fingering each one, long time companions on all of my journeys with Michah. Madde was coming soon to help with the clothes, but she trusted me to part what we needed, and I didn’t trust a stable boy to pack everything I needed. In the end, I was left in my rooms, searching for everything I thought would be of use as we traveled from kingdom to kingdom.
Surely we wouldn’t need all the bridles I had. Probably only two extra just in case. I grabbed my favorite two. Hmmm, a sewing kit? I’m sure Madde would make good use of that. What about the things we had found in any of the ruins?
I gazed at my shelves weighed down by ancient ruins. I remembered the story behind each one, finding them with Michah. Every object contained a memory filled with the joy of discovery, but also with the happiness of finding it with my older brother. We had never been close before he turned ten. The three year age difference had kept us away, our daily lives filled with separate training and studying, but after my mom snapped, after that terrifying night, that I admit still gives me nightmares, we stuck together.
And then Prince Taulk came with his stupid part of the prophecy. My father was so bent on Michah being part of the prophecy, he had to throw him out. I wondered if he loved Michah or the person Michah was prophesied to be. I know who I love, and who I always have. I love that scared, nine-year-old boy who hugged his sister comfortingly as the castle was stormed.

Chapter 4

Keith growled as their swords clashed, “You’re not trying!”
“Yes, I am!” Michah said through gritted teeth as he shoved Keith’s sword away.
Keith swung his sword in a downward arc, “Clearly you're not! I saw how you fought with Tom.”
Michah blocked the blade, knocking it to the right, “Actually, I’m trying harder than I normally would.”
“Oh, do you find it harder to do beginner moves?” Keith sneered.
“In a duel against an experienced fighter like you, yes I do in fact,” Michah stated.
Keith lunged straight at Michah in frustration. Michah dodged and rested his sword next to Keith’s neck. A whistle blew, and they climbed out of the designated area for sparring.
“Good job Michah,” Keith offered his hand.
Michah shook it, “You too. My sister has the same problem as you. The only thing on your mind should be what your doing. My bat- teacher always frowned upon conversations while in a duel.”
Keith smiled ruefully, “Yeah, I just want to be challenged, and I was hoping you would finally be the opponent to do that.”
“Hey, trying to fight with basic moves is challenging. There’s a reason those are the first things you learn,” Michah offered.
“Don’t tell that to my father. If it doesn’t involve some crazy skill, then you shouldn’t use it in the ring,” Keith frowned.
“Fathers can be tough. Mine is… was?”
“Was? I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Oh, he’s not dead. He threw me out of the ki-house and withdrew my inheritance.”
“Geez, that’s harsh. And I thought my father was bad. What did you do?”
Michah realized he might have said a little too much, “I’m not really sure. I blame it on the weather. He’s always in pain when it rains. Something about arthritis.”
Keith nodded, “I’m sorry about yesterday and in the ring today. I just have a lot of pressure on me to be perfect.”
“No offense, but that doesn’t seem like an achievable goal.”
“I know,” Keith said putting his arm around Michah for support.
They walked out to go do Lavatory Duty which was as unpleasant as it sounded.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Grwtsjnf Paethysa Ztehryfsa.”
Greetings Duke ___. It is a pleasure to be welcomed into your land with such hospitality,” I replied in the same language.
When we arrived at the border, I suddenly remembered that the natives spoke ____, a language that Madde had not mastered. Luckily, ___ was only one of the many languages my classes covered. I could be Madde’s translator, but as my status was higher, I shouldn’t be translating for her. We debated what to do. Finally, we just gave in to the fact the Madde wouldn’t be able to understand what they were saying. I quickly taught her some keywords in the language, and the fact that every word starts with the same letter as a word in ours but the length, and the letters after it can be completely different.
“How was the journey?” the Duke asked.
“Pleasant, thank you. Your land is gorgeous with the rising snow-capped mountains in the distance and clear skies.” I replied, trying not to look to see how confused Madde was.
“The sky becomes even more beautiful when it comes alive in the evenings.”
I could barely contain my excitement, “Oh the lights in the sky! Will I get to see them?”
“You will have a perfect view from your balcony,” came the reply.
I was elated. The rumors of the lights in the northern sky had portrayed them as a beautiful wonder. I had never thought I might actually see them. Traveling to the north in the winter, which is when they were said to appear, was dangerous due to the harsh weather. Luckily, instead of traveling over the Far Off Lands and through the mountains filled with peril, we went to the west into ___ before going north and then back east.
“I’ll let you settle in.” The Duke said signaling to servants who rushed to grab our bags.
“Tjweth ysd shg. Igte csrf nsdfg wdht tttt sffg tdff lfgts.” I bowed in his direction before motioning Madde to follow me up the long stairs the servants were climbing.
The rooms I was to stay at weren’t nearly as nice as the ones at the castle, but compared to the hard dirt-packed roads we had slept on, it was luxurious. As soon as we settled in, I related the conversation downstairs to Madde.
“You’re excited to see the lights, Princess,” Madde said hiding a smile.
I threw myself on top of the bed, distraught, “It’ll be too long before the sunsets. I wish it was night already.”
Madde sat on the edge on my bed and ruffled my hair, “You are too dramatic. Nightfall is only a few hours away.”
“I suppose I can wait” I mumbled through the pillow, anxious to see the beautiful event.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Schedule for the week is up on the board,” Sir ___ said as the boys streamed out of his weekly class.
“Let’s go see who we’re fighting!” Rylan eagerly exclaimed following the flow of traffic to the board in the main hall that contained all the information for the week and important upcoming events.
They pushed through the boys crowding around the board to find Keith looking at the schedule, “Good luck Michah, you’re fighting Jon.”
“Oh, is he good?” Michah asked in surprise.
“Not as good as Colette. Sorry, you have to fight her, Keith!” Rylan said happily patting Keith reassuringly on the shoulder.
The chatter increased around them. As Michah looked closer at the board to see what new things were happening, he was pushed back away from the board.
“Huh, guess something big is happening,” Rylan said.
“Yeah, I wonder what it is.”
“Oh well, we’ll figure it out later.”
“You don’t want to know, Rylan?”
“There’s no sense of urgency. Let’s go fight the dummies!”
“I have to go clean the bathroom. Lavatory duty isn’t over until the end of next week, and I had a fight while you cleaned,” Michah explained.
Rylan whined, “Aww, come on, you can’t skip it. Just once?”
Michah shook his head, “You know I came here without recommendations, I don’t want to do anything to give them the idea that I don’t belong here.”
“Oh… well, I guess I’ll just have to help you! We can ask if I can do half your time at the same time so you only have to do half,” Rylan suggested, excitedly grabbing Michah’s arm.
“You really don’t have too.”
“I insist! Then, we can both train together after.”
Michah wondered what he did to have Rylan as a friend. It made him feel guilty about hiding his identity from him, but he technically wasn’t a prince anymore…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“It’s even more beautiful than I imagined,” I whispered breathlessly as I stared at the sky in awe.
Madde couldn’t find the words to express herself as she stood beside me on the wide balcony looking up to the lights of the north.
“Look! It looks like a shadow is flying across the lights.” I pointed in worry.
“Tyju ladfgs cgasne adgh ceth rsdgfblf sfgeaw,” my servant said following my finger to the blur in the sky.
“What did she say?” Madde asked.
I couldn’t pull my eyes away from the sky, “Something about the lights moving and resembling objects.”
“Mmhmm,” Madde said.
We lapsed into silence, held captive for hours by the beauty of the lights.
Next thing I knew, I was being gently shaken.
“Princess, it is morning,” Madde said waking me.
I had fallen asleep draped sideways of a wooden chair on the balcony. My muscles screamed in protest as I slowly rose, using my hand that had fallen asleep to block the light radiating off the sun peeking above the edge of the world.
Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I wondered, “Did that really happen?”
Madde smiled, “Yes Ze, it did.”
“It was so beautiful, I thought I dreamt it.”
“It’s a shame you only got to see it once. We head south today. Come now, we must pack. The sun is just rising. We must be gone before it is fully visible. Get ready, and then go thank the Duke for his hospitality,” Madde instructed.
“Ugh, do I have to? Can’t I just write him a note?” I complained.
Madde gave me a serve look, “Princess.”
“Fine,” I grumbled going inside to make myself presentable.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Oh yeah, I need a name for the King and a full name for Ze, and the headmaster, and some of Micah's classmates! Please suggest if you have any ideas!!!!!!!
I know there are a lot of spelling errors, but I wrote part of this offline, so my spell check didn't work Umm, please give feedback. I might turn this into a full-blown book. Idk. Oh, and if the world and everything is a little bit confusing, I'm trying to explain it bit by bit so as not to throw everything on you, the reader at once. But seriously, if anything really doesn't make sense by the time you get down here, please tell me!

Last edited by The-Book-Worm (July 8, 2019 22:49:35)


Read - Write - Live
Give 100% in everything you do… unless you're giving blood
I'm too busy on my own grass to notice if yours is greener.
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
When life closes a door, just open it again. It's a door, that's how they work.


Stories I've written:
Mary_ic5
Scratcher
28 posts

Written In Stone - Critiques Needed!

Interesting concept! I simply love the setting, the mood, and the characters so far are very interesting. One thing that I'd like to point out is that the language sounds a bit too casual and modern compared to the setting this story takes place in. I like how the prophecy isn't so dramatized because that would be cliche, so I suggest keeping it consistent like that throughout the book (if you plan to write the whole thing).
Right now, the beginning definitely has me hooked in, and I really do hope you write more. :-)


eraqon0207
Scratcher
1 post

Written In Stone - Critiques Needed!

This is incredible!! I'm interested in specifically what will happen to Michah. Right now there doesn't seem to be much going on with Ze at a scene level, but whatever she does within the castle will I'm sure remedy that. (I for one would be interested in some sort of training scene, then you could show off her fighting prowess, and get the chance for a character interaction with either or instructor or someone who barges in/needs to see her. I don't know if there's anyone that would be doing that…but still. It would be beneficial to show that she is, in fact, a capable warrior princess.) I don't think there's much plot-wise that I'm missing. The only things that I would've liked clarification on are the rest of their world, and their mother. But both of these are on track to be explained as the plot progresses as neither one is important at this time. Another thing I would say is that the King's decision to cast out Michah came very out of nowhere, and completely changed my perspective on his character–I don't know if that's what you were going for or not. I agree with @Mary_ic5 in what she said about the prophecy. It's nice to see one that isn't ‘THE MOST EARTH-SHATTERING THING YOU’VE EVER READ THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR ENTIRE LIFE FOREVER'. And even if it is, that is not how it appears to the reader. The only scene level advice I would say is just sneaking more detail about their surroundings in, so that it feels grounded and the reader can clearly visualize it. Also, perhaps a bit about the characters appearances. (This is all coming from someone with comparatively little writing experience, so if something I said is completely wrong: ignore it.)

I think this would be a great book, and I'm very interested in the rest of the story. <3
tl14740
Scratcher
4 posts

Written In Stone - Critiques Needed!

Awesome! I suggest for the king Xander Zoltar or Lear… IDK it sounded better in my mind XD
Maybe the secretary could be Titus? that name sounds like his pants are too tight or something though…
Nathaniel could be the guy who talks to him…
if it is a co-ed school than a girl could be named Sai?
Nazia (na-ze-a) could be the one asleep?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
More names for Boys:
Kylo
Beli (Beh-li)
or Nile
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
More names for Girls:
Avalie (Ava-li)
Willow
Noeva (No-e-vuh)
Sacora (Sa-core-uh)
Jocelyn (Jaw-suh-lin)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
IDK though if any of these are going to work so…. Hope I can help you!!!
FlowerCat4444
Scratcher
45 posts

Written In Stone - Critiques Needed!

Wow! I love this so far! I really like the way you write. It's got a very unique yet professional feel.
Vanessa88812
Scratcher
28 posts

Written In Stone - Critiques Needed!

This is really amazing! I kind of skimmed through the passage as I read all the way down. However, I still found this a very interesting story that you can actually turn into a full-blown book. I know I will be keen to read it! Just a suggestion, instead of posting this on the Discussion page only, you should also upload this text onto a Scratch project, so that it might be a little easier to read. XD

Overall, I think that this story had very detailed characters and the prophecy was very vague, which makes it thoughtful and provocative for people to read.

I think the full name for Ze could be Zephylus, which is a very ancient but creative name, something that readers won't forget. Or perhaps, Zerron, which again is a unique and memorable name. Of course, these are names I would consider naming Ze if I was writing this. You can use these two names as a template and construct your own name!

I definitely think you did a great job on this, and I am interested to know everything that happens next. It was worth the effort you put in!

Cheers,
Vanessa88812

Last edited by Vanessa88812 (June 28, 2019 01:18:49)


Click the links below to view my projects :

Hogwarts House Quiz

Ultimate Science Quiz

How Smart Are You?

Patronus Quiz (NEW)

Please remember to drop me a FOLLOW, LOVE and FAV the projects! Thanks for the support! :D



ratsarecute
Scratcher
1 post

Written In Stone - Critiques Needed!

This is super good and I'm excited for more! I'd love to see the full blown book. Maybe you could blow out a few of the parts to make them longer, though? For example, I feel like you rushed the part where the king threw Micah out which is one of the most significant parts. Also, since Micah ends up with the prince, maybe you could put the part where they meet originally in Micah's pov and have a bit of foreshadowing or have him show some particular interest in him. Again, I'm super excited to read more and hope you can update it soon! I could honestly see this plot/story getting published if/when you finish writing, which I have to say I don't see in a lot of non published excerpts like this. Also– I'd suggest you get a Wattpad account or something if you don't have one already. There are a lot of aspiring authors there who could probably give you a lot of great feedback! Oh, like someone else said, I'd also be interested in hearing more about the world and time period how it's different from the one we in today. It would also be nice to have a bit more description of the setting. I feel like the characters are pretty well-rounded. For example, the king is obviously very bent on this prophecy and so far seems to be the “bad guy” in the story, but is definitely not an overall bad person like most villains you see today. Each character is also definitely a different person and their personalities don't all blob together like in some stories I've read. I'm just wondering, but how much of the world have you created so far? I'd be curious to know just how much it differs from this Earth and whether it's a completely different world with magic, different creatures and customs that may be normal to them but we don't have,etc, or if it's more of an alternate universe and different time period to the one we have now.

Last edited by ratsarecute (July 8, 2019 19:59:38)

The-Book-Worm
Scratcher
100+ posts

Written In Stone - Critiques Needed!

ratsarecute wrote:

This is super good and I'm excited for more! I'd love to see the full blown book. Maybe you could blow out a few of the parts to make them longer, though? For example, I feel like you rushed the part where the king threw Micah out which is one of the most significant parts. Also, since Micah ends up with the prince, maybe you could put the part where they meet originally in Micah's pov and have a bit of foreshadowing or have him show some particular interest in him. Again, I'm super excited to read more and hope you can update it soon! I could honestly see this plot/story getting published if/when you finish writing, which I have to say I don't see in a lot of non published excerpts like this. Also– I'd suggest you get a Wattpad account or something if you don't have one already. There are a lot of aspiring authors there who could probably give you a lot of great feedback! Oh, like someone else said, I'd also be interested in hearing more about the world and time period how it's different from the one we in today. It would also be nice to have a bit more description of the setting. I feel like the characters are pretty well-rounded. For example, the king is obviously very bent on this prophecy and so far seems to be the “bad guy” in the story, but is definitely not an overall bad person like most villains you see today. Each character is also definitely a different person and their personalities don't all blob together like in some stories I've read. I'm just wondering, but how much of the world have you created so far? I'd be curious to know just how much it differs from this Earth and whether it's a completely different world with magic, different creatures and customs that may be normal to them but we don't have,etc, or if it's more of an alternate universe and different time period to the one we have now.
Wow, thank you! I guess it's a bit like Earth, they have the northern lights. Most places are ruled over by a king/queen. I think I've decided the common enemy is going to be mythical creatures. It's in the past, and their clothes are similar to what we have. (Oh and the king dies.)

Read - Write - Live
Give 100% in everything you do… unless you're giving blood
I'm too busy on my own grass to notice if yours is greener.
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
When life closes a door, just open it again. It's a door, that's how they work.


Stories I've written:

Powered by DjangoBB

Standard | Mobile