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Monday, February 21, 2011

"Prince" Chapter 5

There was no one at the gated entrance when Glory paused to inspect the initials carved on either side of two stone columns - the letter “S”. Mr. Schevolsky had been kind enough to give her directions and what to expect the clan to look like. However, instead of an abandoned, frumpy looking yard, the entranceway consisted of trimmed grass, with rose vines gently curved over a stone wall surrounding the clan’s property. Up ahead came the distinct sound of voices, and when she looked she saw a multitude of people coming and going from inside a great mansion. It was unlike her home back in Lexington, a comparable version to Luxor itself.

As she approached, several people emerged from a side door to toss furniture out in the yard. Most of it looked old and worn out, and fit and description Mr. Schevolsky warned she might see.

“Can I help you?” someone asked, and Glory turned toward a gentleman heading for the pile with arms loaded down with wooden drawers. “Watch out,” he said, then tossed them on top of the pile. A few spiders crawled out from the bottom of the heap.

Glory quickly sidestepped.

“I’m looking for a friend of mine. Can you help me?” She lifted her chin in a proud stance as she spoke, having seen her stepmother do it when feigning importance. Glory was pleased when the man obliged her in the same fashion.

“‘Of course.” He glanced over her fashionable gown. “Who are you looking for?”

“His name is Keith. I was told he was the new prince here. Can you tell him he has a visiter?”

There was a moment’s hesitation. “No ‘Keith’ that I’m aware of, although we do have a new prince.”

Glory stood in puzzlement. “ the Eastern Clan, isn’t it?”

“Is it.”

A pause. “Is the prince albino looking?”

“Albino, yes.”

Glory started to ask another question, but was caught off in mid-sentence when the man interrupted and began moving toward the main dwelling.

“Maybe I should just fetch him for you instead,” he insisted, then walked briskly to the side door and disappeared within.

Left in doubt, Glory waited with a look of irritation quickly spreading across her face. She turned so her backside faced the building, having seen several others peering from windows down at her. Men! She could not imagine anyone else fitting Keith’s description, especially being the only albino magic-user she knew of in the area. Silent anger erupted within. Had the farm woman lied to her? Maybe the Schevolsky’s were right. Poor people don’t how to handle rich things.


Keith had just finished cleaning up pieces of broken glass on the second floor when Alexander hurried into the room. The shortness of breath from the Western Prince cued Keith in to the importance of the matter.

“Hey, Alex,” he calmly greeted. “Something wrong?”

Alexander just laughed. “What could be more wrong than a beautiful woman asking for someone who doesn’t exist?”

“What are you talking about?” Keith got off his hands and knees to brush his pants off. He took the pan filled with glass shards and dumped it into a nearby bucket. “What woman?”

“I didn’t get her name. She apparently knew your appearance, but the name was different.”

When he mentioned the name, Keith stiffened.

“Really pretty face, too,” Alexander continued. “A little demanding, if you ask me. I said I’d find you just to make sure. I didn’t think you knew that person.”

Keith closed his eyes, picturing the woman from Alexander’s thoughts. Dark hair, maple-brown eyes; there was no mistaken her identity.

“I don’t believe this!” He left the pan and bucket near the window and pushed passed a few members bringing in a new sheet of glass. In his haste, they nearly dropped it. “Sorry!” he apologized quickly as he flew down the stairwell. He knew Alexander and others would be puzzled by his sudden behavior, but explanations could come later.

Her back was turned when he finally stepped outside. A slender arc in the way she held herself caught his breath, for the drape of fabric allowed a glimpse of smooth skin beneath the length of dark hair. Unconsciously, he lifted a hand to the necklaces hidden beneath his shirt. The ring was still there. As he approached, memories of their first encounter flooded his mind. His chest felt heavy with the way his heart throbbed to say something, to get her to turn and see the loveliness he had always seen in her. Only a few feet remained between them. Her body showed impatience by the tapping of a foot.

“Still spoiled, I see,” he finally said.

Startled, Glory turned her head with a graceful slip of hair falling off one shoulder.

Keith grinned. Alexander was not wrong in his description of her face. She was as lovely as he remembered.

Emotion caught her words, leaving her struggling for a proper response. Her shoulders shivered in the warmth of afternoon sunlight. When tears threatened to fall, it was Keith who took her in his arms to try and calm her.

“You have no idea what I’ve been through,” she finally said, and turned her face away so it wouldn’t bury in his neck.

“I’m here now,” he whispered. The smell of her hair was intoxicating.

When they finally pulled away, Glory wiped under each eye. That smile beamed up at him, then suddenly switched to surprise.

“You do have them!” The touch of fingers to one of his ears was enough to send him back a step.

“You knew?” he asked in confusion. “But...I never...”

Because she traveled with me, that’s why.

Glory whirled around at Shy’s mental thought, with Keith stunned into silence at his brother’s sudden arrival. The two watched as a hawk swooped in, transforming mid-flight to land in front of them. When the green glow of shifting faded, the hawk had vanished, replaced by Shy’s true form.

“Surprised to see me, I’m sure.” He nodded to his brother.

“You!” Glory accused. A well-placed slap caught Shy off guard. He rubbed his aching cheek, emerald eyes meeting her angry maple-brown gaze. “You left me in a swamp!”

“I didn’t leave you,” Shy returned. “I told you to swim to the other side.”

“But then you never came!”

“Well, excuse me for not abandoning Chanté sooner, your royal highness.” He took a mock bow. “You don’t have the luxury of added weight to your back pulling you down in filthy muck!”

Glory leaned in closer, her face mere inches from the tip of Shy’s nose.

“Like it was my decision to go through it in first place?”

“Wait, Chanté is-” Keith began.

“Would you have rather gone through the storm?” Shy interrupted.

“Well, that’s where Keith went, didn’t he?”

“Keith?” Alexander questioned.

“Not to mention the men who saw me bathing naked, or those Shevolsky’s in town!” Glory went on.

“You went to the Shevolsky’s!” Alexander demanded, with Glory and Shy carrying on at the same time.

“Eee-nuff!” Keith threw his hands out, causing the earth to tremble under his fiery temper.

Everyone hushed.

“As if I don’t already have enough problems!” The prince let his fingers work the remaining magic from the tips, then clapsed his hands together at his waist. He glanced over his shoulder where members had ceased work, distracted by the sudden argument.

Put off by Keith’s statement, Glory started to argue, but the prince held up a hand for silence.

“No, no. Let’s start over, shall we?” He pointed to Glory. “Now, you know my brother?”

“We met in Lexington.” She did not bother hiding that aggravated tone.

Keith’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You went to Lexington?”

“If you let me explain, I’ll tell you why.” Shy’s gaze slid over to Alexander. “In private, of course.”

“Meaning you didn’t come on your own, I take it.” When his brother did not respond, Keith took a breath and turned to Alexander. “Okay. Alex, may I introduce you to Lady Glory Elite, Roland Elite’s daughter. Glory, this is Alexander, Prince of the Western Clan.”

“The Elite family?” Alexander took Glory’s hand and raised it to his lips. “A pleasure.” He lightly planted a kiss before releasing it. Keith noted her temper slightly fade as she seemed to accept the new recognition.

“Thank you,” she said in a much softer voice. Her gaze traveled to Keith, who cracked a smile.

“Alex, would you mind showing Glory around the clan for a bit while I talk with my brother?”

“Wait a minute!” Glory exclaimed. “You’re not just putting me off like your brother did. I came here explicitly to find you.”

“What I have to tell my brother is far more important than why you came, which wouldn’t have happened if you never met me.”

Keith just shook his head. “Please, Glory. You can come with me to the shipyard, if you want. There’ll be plenty of time on the way to say anything on your mind. Until then, I need to hear what’s happening with my family, as I have no other connections with them being in the human realms.”

Glory eyed him a moment before finally acknowledging his request.

“And another thing, for all three of you,” Keith glanced around to make sure no other had approached during the conversation. “While I’m here in the human realms, I only go by one name. Wisdom, or Master Wisdom. That’s it. Not Keith.”

“Wisdom?” Glory inclined her head out of curiosity.

“I’ll explain later.” He gestured to Alexander. “If you please?”

“Not to worry about a thing.” Alexander had Glory take his arm, then led her away to point out things about the clan.

Keith waited a moment until the two were out of hearing range before speaking.

“You want to tell me what’s going on?”

I’d prefer someplace solitary, came the thought from his brother.

No sooner had the word, “Fine,” escaped the prince’s lips, then the two shifted into birds and flew together toward the nearly woods. Linked with his brother, Keith allowed thoughts to guide him to a secluded location where the two shifted back once on the ground. With arms crossed, he waited for Shy’s explanation.

“Have you read her mind yet?”

“Can’t say I have,” Keith replied flatly.

Shy spread his fingers to emphasis his words. “She’s got this whole vision about the two of you. It’s quite—”

“—Cut the dramatics, Shy! There’s no way you’d be here without Chronicles somehow involved in this.”

“Possibly, but not the way you think it is.”

Keith felt his brother open his thoughts to him, felt the anarchic power churning within a ravished landscape, and he cringed.

The valley!

Father believes it’s human involvement, but I know otherwise.
Shy then relayed the moment upon the cliff where the Dark Unicorn attacked him. Whatever it did to me, it erased memories of its appearance. I had to prove I wasn’t crazy; otherwise, Chronicles would have made Jangus his heir.

Keith remained silent as he was continuously fed mental images: Chanté currently in hiding while his wings dried, how they met Glory, and the decision to go around the storm that led into the swamp. When there was no more to be told, and the last of the thoughts lingered within the prince’s mind, Keith felt his brother pull away and the link close.

“Thank you for helping her,” Keith’s voice was barely a whisper. “But Chronicles was not far off about humans. At least…one in particular…” A sly smile crept across his lips. “Allow me to show you what only a handful know.”

Keith poured his thoughts into Shy, so fast the Healer flinched. There came a gasp when he learned Osha had given up her horn for protection, then a gurgling growl at Jenario’s attempts to take over his brother’s body.

It’s the horn that’s controlling him, Keith warned. My greatest fear is the Purification. While we have no say-so in what unicorns do, if the wrong one tries to purify the land, we’d all be in trouble. That’s why she came to me.

Unicorns are not made fools by anything, not even their own kind,
Shy returned with a sigh. This complicates things a bit.

You think?

So what’s the plan?

Keith nearly laughed. What plan? If there’s something I need to know, Osha will tell me. Right now, the only thing I’m concerned with is getting our two kinds back together. When he received no comment from his brother, Keith continued. Most humans that do remember us are willing to have us back. With us balancing Nature, we were greatly appreciated during harvest time.

What about the girl?

Keith flattened his ears. “Leave her to me.”

Shy grinned. “With pleasure.”

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