The Sword Of The Goddess

Annalise and I sat talking pretty much until dawn. Once we were past the terribly heavy burden of the fact that she’d had a Dream of me as Brayton’s queen. (Just the thought of it makes me gag), and the Tristan mess, we were able to just talk, which was kind of amazing.

I like her. She’s funny and smart, and she’s a very good listener. I think all of this is going to make her a very good queen. I got back and found Papa sitting at his desk, asleep on his book. I smiled and slipped it out from under him. I glanced at what he was reading.

The sword is said to rise from the union of land of sea, Chosen by The Goddess and blessed by The God, The Sword will cut the strings that bind the wheel of fate and return the gods to the world.

Something about that seemed familiar, but I knew that I’d never heard it before. Except, I thought of the vision I’d seen when I’d sat with General Martin, he said something to Cornan about the sword, and about Annalise.

I couldn’t think anymore and collpased onto my cot. I slept and for the first time since coming to the Camp, I had a Dream.

It wasn’t like any Dream, I’d had before, I wasn’t someplace specific, at least not that I could identify, but there was a large wheel turning above me in the sky. It didn’t look like a wagon wheel, more like a spinning wheel, for making thread. Seated on either side were the God Cornan, and I realized a woman who could only be Rana.

She had dark skin, and black hair tied up in a blue scarf. She was dressed in a blue gown as well, and I wanted to call to her, to ask why she wasn’t with me. Then I noticed that the thread on the wheel was also binding her where she sat, and binding Cornan.

I glanced across the field in front of me and saw Annalise. She was holding the same sword that was at her hip in my first vision of her.

But that was when I realized, the sword itself didn’t matter. Annalise was the sword. I woke up and I wondered if she knew.

“Ah,” Papa walked in, “I was looking for that.” I nodded. “I see you’ve learned something.”

“Yes,” I whispered. “She’s the sword, it’s not a real sword.” He nodded. “How long have you known?”

“Longer than she’s been alive actually,” he said softly. I cocked my head to the side. “The night my sister was born there was a prophecy that she would bear the sword of the goddess. We didn’t know what it meant of course but, well, there it is.”

“Does she know?” I asked. He shrugged.

“I don’t know what Caleb and Anselm have told her and I don’t know what she’s Seen,” He admitted. “I do know that Marie found the prophecy frightening.”

“I can see why,” I mumbled. “When she takes her throne, is that when the threads will be cut?” He shrugged again.

“I’ve studied every prophecy about the sword, I’m still not sure what cutting the threads means.” He sighed. “This isn’t for you to worry about, Marina.”

He doesn’t understand, and I think it’s the first time that I see that. this is for me to worry about, this is why I’m here, this is what Annalise was talking about last night. This is why she needs me.

“I suppose not,” I said and got up. I slipped my blue uniform dress and white apron on and headed to the tent. Annalise was waiting for me. She looked concerned.

“You Saw it, didn’t you?” She whispered. I nodded. I knew she had Seen me as well. “I have to free them.”

“I know,” I said softly. She looked worried. “I don’t think you have to do it yet though.” She laughed without much joy.

“Oh, right,” she mumbled, “not yet. But someday I have to free the King and Queen of the Universe from some kind of bizarre spinning wheel based prison. After I reclaim my throne from the evil tyrant who orchestrated the murder of my parents.” Without thinking I pulled her close into a hug. “I don’t want any of this.”

“I know,” I whispered. “But what you said last night, about needing me.”  She looked at me and nodded. “Annalise, I think this is why you need me.” She sniffed back tears and wiped her eyes.

“I think so too,” she whispered.

By The Water, In The Moonlight

There’s a lake right near by the camp and after dinner (which we ate with the contingent from Pantona. Countess Olivia is very good at keeping things from being awkward. I ought to ask her to teach me.) After Annalise asked if we could walk and we wound up here. We were silent for a few minutes until she started moving bubbles of water around, by carefully waving her hands.

“That’s amazing,” I whispered.

“Parlor tricks,” she muttered, “I’m out of practice and I’ve never been any good at battle magic. I don’t know how I could ever beat a shadow, let alone an army of them.” She looked at me. “I’m going to need a lot of help.”

“I don’t know that I’ll be much help,” I said softly. She looked at me. “I’m not a fighter, and you have warriors, and the twins, and,” she laughed.

“Yes, I have plenty of warriors,” she said, “and I can fight well enough on my own, that isn’t what I need help with.”

“No?” I whispered. She shook her head. “What then?”

“Just, everything else,” she shrugged, “magic, and Dovetail. I know that if I,” she inhaled deeply, “when I’m crowned, I’ll need to deal not just with fighting a battle but with being a queen, with holding court and making decisions and all that.”

“And you think that I can help with that?” I scrunched my face. She cocked her head to the side.

“Tristan said that you know the court better than anyone,” she explained, “that everyone likes you and that you understand much more than you let on.” I looked at the lake and the full moon reflecting off of it.

“Did he talk about me much?” I hoped that my voice didn’t give anything away. She shook her head.

“Only when I asked,” she said softly. “To be fair he doesn’t talk much at all.” She looked out now. “I don’t want him between us, if it can helped.”

“He isn’t,” I said. When I think about it now, I think I might have been lying. She nodded. “He’s wrong though, I’m not terribly popular. The resistance thinks I’m a silly girl, my father is an eccentric who prefers his books to their company, and the courtiers laugh at me while Brayton leers.”

“Caleb told me that part,” her face was hard now, the face I knew from my Dreams, fierce, spoiling for a fight. “He said that Brayton hopes to marry you so that he can command Brightcoast. And he thinks that Caleb is indifferent, so he figures Pantona will come too, that’s most of Cammadan.” She looked down, and swallowed, “but it’s more than that.” I looked at her an nodded. As if something we’d both always known and yet never known passed between us. “He loved my mother. He wanted her, and she chose my father.”

“Everyone always talks about how I look like her,” I said. She nodded. “You too.” She nodded again. “What have you Seen?”

“You, I knew it was you, even though I didn’t,” she said, sounding embarrassed, but I knew what she meant, “but you were at his side.” I looked at her in horror.

“I’d never,” I whispered, “not in a thousand years.” Her face broke into the fierce, terrifying smile that I knew so well.

“Good then,” she said softly. “Because I need you on my side.” She stretched and stood up. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Lady Athena & The Viscount

This morning I was working at changing over the cots. It seems like every day people came in injured from skirmishes with the black guards. I like the work though. I especially needed it today. Elodie looked over at me.

“What’s she like?” She asked.

“I’m not sure yet,” I answered honestly, “I think she was trying to feel us out, to be honest. It’s like she knows in concept that we’re her family, but in practice,” I shrugged. She nodded and we looked up as the tent parted. Lady Athena walked in, wearing her green guard uniform dress.

“Hello Elodie,” she said, “Lady Marina.” I nodded at her. “Could I speak to you?” I nodded and we walked outside. “I know that we’ve never quite gotten along.”

“True,” I said softly.

“I wanted to thank you,” she said quickly, “for taking care of Martin, and also to tell you that my brother is an idiot, and he was writing to you all summer and he should have told you that he and Lisette were,” she frowned, “whatever they are. I told him to.” I smiled at her. “But he said that I was being ridiculous that it wasn’t like that between you two.”

“It isn’t,” I said, “I mean, not for him.”

“Hence, the idiot,” she grinned. I laughed. “Anyway, I, thank you.” I nodded. “It was an eventful summer.”

“So I understand,” I said softly. “You’re going to be a Countess?” She blushed.

“No,” she said, “I don’t think so. The General doesn’t approve, and Aaron hasn’t asked me or anything, it was just a few kisses.” I nodded. “I wanted you to know that I appreciated you helping, I don’t know what I’d have done if I’d lost him.”

“I know,” I said softly. “It wasn’t anything, really.” She nodded.

“I hope you don’t hold it against Lisette,” she softly, “she’s really amazing and she was so excited to meet you.”

“I wouldn’t,” I said, “I don’t hold it against him, even,” I looked away. “I know you always thought I was silly.”

“To be fair you often made yourself silly,” Lady Athena said, “but having done it a few times myself over the past few months, I’m more sympathetic now.” We sat down and she hugged her knees to her chest. My breath caught in my chest. She was just so impossibly beautiful, so was Tristan at that. It was incredible to think that either of these two people existed, let alone that both of them did. “I hated Aaron when we first arrived. I thought he was just awful, he’s a terrible flirt, and he makes the most terrible jokes at the worst moments.” She laughed. “But he loves her so much, and I think he loves me, but it’s awfully hard to get him to commit to it.”

“Goddess,” I stared at her, “you do sound like me.” She laughed and then we were quiet for a few minutes. “For what it’s worth, I never thought he felt the same way. It’s only he was writing, and I missed you both so much.”

“For what it’s worth,” she said quietly, “if he hadn’t met her, I think he was about to fall in love with you.”

That wasn’t worth much. But I keep thinking about what she said, he was about to fall in love with me.

“I should get back to work,” I said. She nodded and I headed back to the main camp, but I passed Princess Annalise and Viscount Aaron on a field, I think they were sparring but they stopped when they saw me.

“Good morning, Lady Marina,” the Viscount smiled at me. “Lisette say good morning.”

“Good morning,” Annalise smiled at me, “he’s only stopping because I was beating him.”

“You were only beating me because I was letting you,” he retorted. She rolled her eyes.

“Ignore him,” she said, “I wanted to talk to you, but I have to spend the day with the General.” She kissed Aaron on the cheek. “Tonight?”

“I suppose so,” I said.

“Be good,” she pointed at him and walked away. He shook his head.

“She was beating me,” he sighed, “she’s beaten me a lot lately. I don’t like it.” I smiled. “So,” he looked at me, “you’re the Duchess of Brightcoast.”

“I will be,” I said. “You’re the Viscount of Pantona,” he nodded. “In any other time in history we’d have know each other forever. And even in this one if weren’t,” I looked down, “your parents have always been very kind to me.”

“They are very kind people,” he said and we started walking. “You aren’t what we expected, you know, based on the twins.” He stopped. ‘They weren’t quite what we expected either.”

“Annalise isn’t what I expected either,” I said. He looked at me and smiled.

“No, she’s surprising to most people,” he laughed. “She didn’t even know she was a princess until she was seven. The first thing she did was tell me that I had to do everything she says.”

“Technically speaking I think we all do,” I said. He smiled.

“It’s been just the two of us for a long time,” he said, “this is a lot. Even when the twins came it was a lot. Our lives changed completely in a matter of weeks.”

“Your father seems to think she’s ready,” I said. He looked at me, and he looked serious for the first time I’d ever seen him.

“My father and I disagree about a lot of things,” he said, “that’s the main one.” He looked over at her, talking to General Martin. “She isn’t ready.”