“I was thinking,” Tristan whispered, I lifted my chin from his chest, “about that afternoon, when we went into the village at Pantona, and met my cousins?” I laughed.
“I was furious,” I said softly, “Aaron was teasing me about being in love with you, and you were so rude to William,” he laughed.
“Athena was teasing me too,” he said, “and I wanted you so badly.” I looked at him. “I’m afraid, Lisette.” I sat up.
“Of the battle?” I whispered. He shook his head. “Of what, then?”
“Of you,” he said, I shrunk back. “You’re changed, and Marina and I,” I tucked my knees to my chest, hearing him say her name hurt. “Never mind.” I looked at him.
“I know,” I whispered, “but I can’t do this and be Lisette, I have to be the sword, after, maybe, I’ll be able to go back,” he kissed my forehead.
“Be the sword for them, for this,” he whispered, “but be Lisette with me.” I kissed him. “A farm girl and a merchant boy.”
“A farm girl took a merchant boy to a hillside,” I whispered. He laughed. “She pledged her love to him, and later it was revealed she was a queen and chosen by the gods for glory. The merchant boy took up a sword and followed her into the darkness.”
“What else could he do?” he whispered back, “when the queen pledged her love, she placed a spell on him,” I laughed. “Will they come out of the darkness, do you think?”
“I hope so,” I whispered, “if it’s the kind of fairy tale that I loved best, they will.” He smiled and kissed me. “They’ll live happily ever after.”
“As you say,” he whispered. We fell asleep, whispering to one another.
I woke up in the morning and went to the armory, tent. Athena was already waiting, as was Aaron, I could see Dovetail below us in the valley and the army was gathered. Tristan was following behind me. Marina and I had already agreed that she would stay behind.
“Are you ready Princess,” Aaron grinned at me. I rolled my eyes at him. Caleb was standing with him too. I then ran and hugged them both.
“Where’s Olivia?” I asked Caleb. I wanted to see her.
“She begs your pardon,” he said softly, “but she can’t.” He looked in pain. I realized suddenly how very terrible today must be for her.
“Of course,” I said, I glanced at the army which would stand behind me. “And Marina, and Uncle Les?”
“Marina is with the other healers,” Aaron said, “preparing.” I nodded. A few guards brought the horses and we mounted, galloping quickly through the city. I was amazed by how quiet it was. Thomas’s evacuation had clearly worked. When we heard the first howl of shadows, we’d already reached the plaza in front of the palace.
“Duck,” Aaron yelled as one charged at me. I slashed it and jumped from horseback.
“Thomas,” I yelled, he grinned, spun his sword, “Caleb.” They both motioned to their squads and I approached the gates with Tristan and Athena and Aaron. We pushed the gates open and entered a courtyard, I saw the palace for the first time, in real life, and my heart caught in my chest.
“Lisette,” Aaron looked at me. I looked at him. “Your dreams?”
“Yes,” I said softly. We pressed carefully on when a host of shadows swirled around us. One lunged at me and Athena slashed it.
“Leave the dark one,” a hissing voice came from the center, “The Lord commands her surrvival.” I found what would likely be the eyes.
“Your lord does not command me,” I said, “and if he wants me, my companions pass as well.” The hissing started and I balled my fist, I prayed to the goddess and felt the power force a glow. The Shadows scattered and the doors of the palace creaked opened. I swallowed, knowing what would come next.