Will Analia be able to save the kingdom she calls home?
"What are you doing?"
"I have to know the truth Philandre."
"Analia, it's not safe for you; please go back to your room."
"No, Philandre, I have to do this. You can't stop me," I said. Before he could say another word, I jumped on my horse and rode away. I knew it wasn't safe, but I had to do this. If our kingdom is threatened, then I must find a way to help. Tonight was the darkest night I can remember: no moon, no stars, only darkness. I let my horse lead me through the forests, hoping no one would discover us. I couldn't wait until morning. A rebellion in the village distracted the guards, so tonight was my only chance.
Just up ahead, I saw a small light in the distance. I knew that light, safety till morning. My uncle was an outlaw; banished from the kingdom, he lived just on the forests' edge, where Doragon ends and Telnaria began. I wasn't sure how he would greet me, but he knew that I was the only one who knew he was there. I never told a soul, not even Philandre.
As I approached my uncle's cottage, my senses alerted me that I was being followed or watched. I wasn't close enough for Uncle to see me arriving yet. Someone was behind me. Overhead, a barn owl screeched as it flew over, startling me inside. I clutched the reins in one hand and my sword in the other. I turned Sani with the reins to the field away from my uncles. Whoever was following me, I didn't want them to think I was headed there, not for my sake, but my uncles. Keeping a slow walk, I listened closely to the sounds around me. A few steps behind me, I would hear twigs and leaves crunching. That's it, no more of this nonsense. I guided Sani to the small creek that ran along the edge of the field for a drink. Tying him off on a branch, I pretended to take a drink from the water as I listened. Those steps were nearby. Too nearby. Someone was walking up behind me. Slowly moving my hand, I turned and withdrew my sword in one quick motion. CLANG
"Wait, Analia, it's me. Please." It was Philandre.
"What the hell are you doing here? I said, leave me alone." I shouted at him, sheathing my sword.
"If you're going to do this, I'm not letting you go alone." The look of fear and concern in his eyes eased my heart. He was my best friend, always there when I needed him.
"Philandre, I don't want anything to happen to you. If they see us together, they will think you put me up to this, and they will kill you. I have to go alone."
"Then I will be killed, but you aren't going alone."
I knew the fight was useless; he wasn't going to take no for an answer. Without saying a word, I accepted his stubbornness.
"We will go to my uncle’s, just ahead, and stay there for the night. We leave at dawn. We will avoid the roads and rivers; guards will be on high alert come morning." I said, and I mounted Sani.
"Your Uncle's? He was banished from the kingdom. Why would we go there?"
"Because he is the only one who can help me!" I yelled back.
"I'm here to help you. Analia, what are you not telling me?" he asked, worry still written all over his face.
"You'll find out soon enough."
He climbed on his horse and caught up to me.
“Are you sure you know what you are doing?” He said with concern in his voice.
“No, I’m winging it at this point.” I said.
“Great. I feel so much better.” He said sarcastically.
Reaching the front of my uncles cabin I grew more nervous.
“Don’t say a word, I do the talking.” I said in a stern voice.
He knew I was serious and simply nodded. Tying off our horses, I gave two knocks on the door.
“Uncle, it’s me, Analia! Please open! It’s urgent!”
The door creaked open.
“Analia, what the hell are you doing here?! Have you gone mad?” He said in a harsh tone. Uncle had aged quite a bit since I last saw him.
“Please, Uncle. I need your help.”
He looked angry and surprised at the same time. “Go home, Analia. I can’t do anything for you.”
I put my hand up and stopped the door from closing. “Uncle, please, you are the only one who can! I wouldn’t have come here if I had another choice.”
Looking down at me, he let out a frustrated sigh and waved us in.
“You are taking a big risk coming here, young lady. This better be good.”
“The kingdom is under attack. Father has gone mad, mother had passed, plague has taken over, protests all over the land.” I explained.
Uncle scooped water from the bucket hanging by the door. “And, you think I can help you with all of that…how?”
“Gilani’s Curse.” Those two words froze Uncle in his tracks.
“What do you know of the curse, child?” He asked, fear written on his face.
“It’s why Father banished you. He accused you of creating it. But you didn’t. You tried to stop it. You have magical abilities, I remember them.”
“You have gone mad! I do not have powers of any kind.”
“You do, and so do I.”
“Haha, oh really?” He laughed. “Prove it.”
With that, I closed my eyes, shattering the cup on the table with a wave of my hand. Philandre and Uncle both stood silent, staring at the broken pieces scattered across the table.
“Mother had them too. You are her brother. I know you have abilities, Uncle. I remember seeing you use them when I was very small.”