Sorry for the long delay in PoVs!
I was so glad to be back on solid ground.
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly, warming my skin as I rode down the dirt path. A slight breeze tugged at a stray piece of my hair, tossing it gently back and forth. Birds swooped through the air, singing to there own little tune. Trees peppered the roadside that leads, hopefully, to the castle, but at the very least leads away from the ship that I had come to hate so much.
It was a practically perfect day. There was only one thing that spoiled this otherwise gorgeous day, and that was the tall, dark-haired mass slumped on the horse to my left.
I glanced at Jem who, in reality, was sitting tall as he rode.
He felt my eyes on him and turned to meet them, smiling as he did so. I could tell he was about to start speaking.
"No!" Willow scolded from behind.
Both Jem and I turned to face her.
"No! No turning around. No talking. No looking at each other. No anything." Willow rattled off her rules for the umpteenth time.
I whipped back around, eyes rivited straight ahead. Jem did the same.
"Honestly," Willow continued. "You two are behaving like children. I shouldn't have to set rules to keep you guys from arguing. Is it so hard to just ignore each other?"
"Yes." We chorused, eyeing each other. I
"No looking!" Willow repeated.
My focus shot forward again.
"You know," I began. "We wouldn't have this issue if Jem had stood by his word."
"I did!" He exclaimed. "I'm mean I will!" He corrected, turning to face me. " I mean...I am!"
I could tell he was frustrated. I had poked a sore spot and I knew it. The deal was that when we were done using 'his' ship, he would leave me alone...forever. But somehow between the shores of Raifr and Jachi Jem had managed to convince Willow he was a good guy. I'm sure it wasn't very hard, Willow can be very gullible when she wants to be. He probably just flashed his perfect little teeth, and used those stupid brown eyes of his to charm his way into her heart. Not that she liked him or anything. No, she had someone else in her sights.
I glanced at Chase.
He must have thought I looked at him because I thought he'd side with me. "Woah!" He said, eyes wide as he held his hands up in mock surrender. "I have nothing to do with this." Chase pointed to Willow. "She's the guilty party."
I switched my gaze to Willow.
"What?" She asked.
"You want us to stop fighting, right?" I questioned.
"Right." Willow nodded.
"And your the reason why Jem's still here, right?"
"Yeeess." Willow answered more hesitantly.
I nodded, satisfied. "So there you go."
"I don't get it." Willow said.
"It's your fault we're fighting." I clarified. "If you hadn't broken Jem and I's agreement, we wouldn't be here arguing."
"Now wait-" Willow broke in, holding her hand up.
"Just think of how peaceful it could have been." I said wistfully, cutting her off. "If only you had let me ditch him waaaay back at the ship." I let out an over-exagerated sigh.
"Macai, we've been over this. The deal was that Jem would leave when we were no longer in need of his services. We may very well still need him, the more the merrier, right? Besides, it's dangerous for two young women to travel across a strange continent alone."
"Not when ones a fully trained kung fu assassin ninja." I retorted.
Willow raised her eyebrow. I had noticed that she had been doing that a lot these days.
"Fine, minus the assassin part." I amended, rolling my eyes.
Her eyebrow raised further. How did she do that?
"Aaand minus the kung fu part." I admitted begrudgingly.
"And the part about the ninja?" Willow prompted.
"Oh that's totally true. I really am a ninja."
"No you're not."
"Did you see me do that?" I asked.
I smiled and leaned my head back toward her. "Exactly." I pulled myself upright and stared forward.
"Can I talk now?" Jem asked.
"No." I responded at the same time Willow answered:
"Yes." She glared at me before turning her attention back to Jem. "What's on your mind?"
"Well, I was just thinking -" Jem began.
"Always a dangerous pass time." I commented smiling to myself, while receiving glares all around.
After a moment Jem continued: "I was thi..." He seemed to realize he was about to repeat himself, and open himself up to the same sally. "...Contemplating about this whole 'leave us halfway back while you two head on to the castle' plan? And I was think...wondering whether it would be safer for us to all go, instead of just you two."
"Jeeem." Willow warned, giving him that You know better look.
"Yes Willow?" Jem winced.
"Your pushing it." Willow let go of her reigns with her right hand which she made into a blade and shot forward. "Way too far."
Jem sighed. "Yes, Willow."
"This was the best compromise for everyone. This way no one's happy."
Nobody looked happy.
Trash in the streets, buildings smashed and torn, people wearing rags...it was awful.
"Compared to this, my village looks like a wealthy town." Willow said, watching the people as we rode by.
I nodded, but said nothing...there was nothing to say. It was the aftermath of war.
Willow and I continued to ride silently as we passed through many a village, most of them in similar conditions.
As the day wore on we began seeing less small towns and villages, and more fields of green grass and trees. Soon we had stumbled upon a stone road, and before we knew it, we turned a corner and there it was...the Castle of Jachi.
It was illustrious. Made of beautifully carved stone, large windows, and strong towers. There was a tall, outer, stone wall with an intimidating gate bolted to it, which stood as a first line of defense around the castle. Beyond the gate was the erect standing castle, both beautiful and defensive as it peered down from its hill top. Thick, intricately cut wooden doors separated the castles inhabitants from the elements outside, and served as a center piece for the ginormous building. Windows peppered the the castle with their delicately, carved designs. The rooftops glistened in the glow of the sun, as did the soilders that dotted the palace's walls armor.
We stood in awe for a moment before regaining our composure.
"Soo... What do we do now that we're here?" Willow asked. "I mean," She folded her arms across her chest. "You do have a plan...right?"
I smiled to myself. "Of course I have a plan." I assured striding forward. "Follow along little duckling." I called.
"Not that again." Willow muttered. I couldn't see her face, but I'm almost positive she rolled her eyes at me...something that was becoming a more frequent phenomenon.
I paused, a few feet away from the men guarding the gate.
They crossed their long spears.
"Halt!" The younger looking of the two yelled. I studied him. He didn't seem to pose much of a threat, kinda skinny, probably not much older then me, and very energetic.
"You don't have to scream, dude...I'm right here." I said, gesturing to the few feet between us.
"State your name and business!" The younger man yelled.
I hesitated as I debated giving him my real name or not.
"I'm Willow, and this is Macai." Willow introduced, making my devotion for me.
"Yeah." I added. "What she said. And we're here to see the...uh...Ruler here if this...uh...fine nation." I rambled awkwardly, forgetting who exactly ruled this part of the world.
The guard laughed. "Ha! That's a good one...see the King, as if!"
I placed my hands on my hips and glared at him.
The man stopped laughing. "Your not actually serious," He asked, studying me then Willow. "Are you?"
"Yes actually we are." I said, switching my weight to my left leg.
"Oh," The young guard grew serious again. "Then you cannot see the King!" He yelled.
"And why not?" I challenged.
The man scuffed. "Why not?" He repeated, continuing to bellow each word. "Because he is busy! And because I said so!"
"Busy!" I exclaimed tossing my hands up in frustration. "With what?"
"Well the ball of course!"
"Oh, yes, Of course. Silly me." I caught myself rolling my eyes, beginning to see where Willow got it from. "Well lucky for him this will just take a second." I said stepping forward.
The guard mirrored the action. "I'm afraid I can't let you in!" He said raising his voice even louder.
I took another step in his direction. "Well I'm afraid you don't have a choice." I said jabbing my pointer finger at him.
"Are you threatening a Royal Guard!?" He shouted advancing two steps closer.
"Your not much of a gaurd!" I said raising my voice slightly as I took another step, and he followed in suit. We were now inches away from each other's face.
"I resent that!"
"I resent you!"
"I command you to leave!"
"I'm not afraid of you."
"I am a Royal Guard!"
"Stop YELLING!" I screamed.
"Ok! That's enough." Willow broke in. "Macai, can I speak with you for a moment?" She asked as she grabbed my wrist, pulling me away.
After we were out of earshot Willow turned to me...or more accurately, on me.
"What is your issue!?" She shouted in a whisper.
"He wouldn't let me through!" I exclaimed, also in a whisper.
"That's because you gave him an attitude!"
"I did not!"
"Yes You did. You almost always get an attitude when your nervous." Willow noted.
I stared at her.
"Look, we're going to go back over there, but this time I do the talking." Willow explained, grabbing my wrist again and dragging me back.
The two guards seemed to be arguing, with the older looking one of the two leading the disscution. As we approached the older one pushed the younger back to his post, with the younger looking slightly abashed. I wondered why they put two, obviously, inexperienced guards in protection of the gate.
Again, we stopped a few feet away from the young guards, this time though, no one spoke. We all stared at each other for a moment, until Willow broke the silence.
"Let's start over, shall we?" She asked, taking charge. "My name's Willow, and this," Willow paused and gestured to me. "Is Macai."
"Yeah, we meet." The young guard glared.
The older one elbowed him, and he stared down.
Willow ignored him. "What are your names?"
"Our names?" The younger man questioned. "Why should we give you our-"
The older one hit him upside the head. "Quiet. When someone extends an olive branch you don't bat it away!" He scolded. Then turning his attention back to Willow said: "It's a pleasure to meet you Willow, my name is William." William have a small bow. "And my brash, but well meaning companion here, is named Nathaniel."
Willow smiled. "Well it is lovely to make your acquaintances William and Nathaniel." She greeted, giving a curtsy to each one in turn.
I rolled my eyes. This was ridiculous, we weren't here to make friends, we were here to get information. Willow was much too friendly.
Willow straightened up and continued. "My friend and I have traveled all the way from Riafr to see the illustrious King..." She trailed off, not knowing the King's name.
"Elliot." William provided.
"...Elliot, in the hopes that he would have the information we need for our quest." Willow finished.
"You said that very nicely." William commented, smiling.
Willow curtsied again.
"Unfortunately the King is very busy right now and cannot be bothered." William explained.
"And we have orders not to let anyone in." Nathaniel added.
"Couldn't we at least knock?" Willow asked, trying desperately to come up with a way to get us in.
"You could technically, but no one would answer." William said, as he shrugged his shoulders.
Willow pressed. "Can we try anyway?"
William shrugged again. "I don't see why not."
"William!" Nathaniel burst, practically dropping his spear.
"It's fine Nate." William calmed, then he looked us over. "Leave your swords and that stick." He commanded, gesturing with his chin to the spot we were to leave them.
I disarmed myself, well, of my swords anyway, and me and Willow walked past the guards up to the large doors. We stared for a moment. Partly in awe, and partly because we didn't know what to do.
Then Willow shrugged. "I guess we just knock." She hesitated a moment before pounding her knuckles on the door.
Silence. Nothing happened, just as the guard said.
We waited another minute or two before giving up. We had just turned around when...
Willow and I whipped around, startling the man who opened the door. I had to hold back my disappointment when I realized it was not the King. It was, in fact, an oval-ish, half bald, slightly wrinkled, head sticking out of the door.
"Ummm...Hello." Willow greeted, unsure of the whole situation.
"Well..." The man prodded.
Willow and I glanced at each other nervously, not sure what to do.
The man seemed to sense that we were lost at what to say. "What did you want? He asked not all that kindly.
Finally realizing what was happening I sprang into action.
"We're here to see the King." I stated.
The man's countenance turned from impatient to uninterested. "The King is busy." He said as he began to shut the heavy door.
"Wait!" I called. "It will just take a second! Please? It's important."
The man's head popped out again. "Is it about the ball tonight?" He asked, his face showing his complete disinterest.
"Then it's not worth noting." He said as the door began to slid shut once more.
I was becoming anxious. This may be my only shot at speaking with the King, and I was blowing it! I frantically racked my brain trying to come up with something to stall this guy. I shot a panicked look at Willow, who also seemed panicked.
"Do something!" I whispered, still trying to come up with something.
Jolted into action, Willow blurted loudly: "What's your name?"
Both I and the door stopped moving.
I stared at Willow. What? I mouthed.
Her eyes were wide. I don't know! She mouthed back.
The oval head squeezed through the small opening once more. "Henry." He answered.
I rolled my eyes and let my head fall into my hand. Willow was off making friends again.
Willow let out her breath. "Well Henry it's lovely to meet you. My name's Willow and my friend and I have traveled all the way from Riafr to see King Elliot. It really will only take a sec-"
"Do you know Queen Maria?" Henry interrupted.
My head shot up. "I do!" Two heads shot toward me. "I mean...kind of, anyway."
Willow now rolled her eyes. "Yeah, and the Queen of England is real," She muttered. "Give me a break."
Henry regarded me with some interest. He glanced back behind the door, as if someone was speaking to him, then turned to me once more. "Are a messenger?" He asked.
His head disappeared from the remaining space between the open door and the closed one.
"Wait, please! It's about my family!" I called.
"Are they Jachian royals?" Henry asked, continuing to close the gap.
"Well, no but-"
"Can't help you! Too busy!"
I clenched my fists. "Cassandra and Nicholas!" I shouted.
The door hesitated, before scraping open again, but only just enough to pop the man's head out comfortably.
"What was that?"
"Cassandra and Nicholas...they were my parents." I added, hoping this was the foot hold U had been searching for.
Henry studied me once more before slipping back inside the door. There was some low whispering that I couldn't make out, except for a few stray words like: Ball, Time, Hair, Peasent.
I stepped closer to the door so I could hear.
"...But I want to talk to her!" The mystery man was saying.
"No! You don't have time. Besides she's probably just a peasent."
"But she knows Cassandra and Nicholas," The man, who I was now dubbing the King, stressed.
"So? They died years ago! How do you even remember them? I can barely remember!"
"Exactly! You said she was young, right?"
I couldn't see, but I assumed Henry nodded.
"So how would she know who they were unless they were really her parents!"
"She's even the right age Henry."
"We don't know that for sure.
"I want to speak with her."
"You don't have time. You must get ready for the ball."
"Then invite her to the ball."
"Sire, that is very unwise. She could be an assassin, or worse. You don't know this girl, and you have know idea of she really knew those people. She may have just picked two random names."
"Maybe...but she just picked Cassandra and Nicholas by chance?" A sigh. "Maybe your right."
I heard my chance slipping away. I stepped back from the door and yelled. "Is anybody still there?" Willow looked at me like I was nuts, but I ignored her. "Look, it was a long shot coming here, I know that. But I really do only have a couple questions, they won't take long. I'm..." I inhaled deeply, not wanting to say what I was going to tell them next. "I'm looking for my family, and I'm running out of places to search, I thought, maybe you could help? If...if their even alive that is." I said, my voice trailing off. "Please?"
It was silent for a moment, then the voices started up again, this time I could just barely make them out from where I was standing.
"Invite her to the ball." The King ordered.
"She could be a spy..."
"I don't. Care."
"Henry, I'm the King. Do it."
There was an audible groan.
Then a minute later Henry's balding head came back out.
"You are both invited to the King's ball tonight." He droned. "It starts at seven, please dress appropriately."
I glanced down at myself. "I hope this is appropriately." I stated. "'Cause it's all I got."
Henry looked horrified and quickly slid back inside, only to come back out a minute later. "I have been ordered, under much protest, to invite you ladies into the castle and allow you to select clothing to wear to the ball out of the...Royal, wardrobe." He said, hesitating on the last two words.
Willow squeeled. "You mean we get to wear the same dresses as a queen, or princess would wear?" Willow asked, hardly containing her excitement.
Henry sighed. "Yes."
"Ah, yes." Henry regarded Willow disdainfully. "I will show you to your temporary quarters."
We stepped into the castle.
"Fine." I said, finally agreeing to the invitation. "But I'm not wearing a dress."
So if I'm reading things right, the Queen of Jachi is now mine(was Tyvia's but her characters are now my characters). So with that being said I have absolutely no use for her, soooo... I killed her off. I don't really know how she died( I know, I'm such a great author), but I'll come up with that later I guess. Anyways so I replaced her and so on and so forth.
More PoVs coming soon!