Chapter 3: The Promise
I think my heart nearly stopped when I saw my tiara in his hand. This man didn’t seem to be out to hurt me, but I planned on being very careful until I knew for sure if he was a friend or a foe. I stepped back from the door so that he could come into the room. I sat down on the bed and he closed the door. The room key was dual purpose, meaning I could use it to lock the door from the outside as well as the inside. He turned the small golden key and locked the door. He didn’t speak a word to me as he set the tiara down on the bed beside me. He stood a few feet away from me and looked down at me with neutral eyes.
Norio- I can assume this is yours since I found it some yards away from where you were, correct?
I hesitated to answer him. My eyes wandered away from his face unsure how to answer.
Norio- I understand that you’re not sure whether or not to trust me, and you’re right to do so. You don’t know a thing about me apart from saving your life…
He started to slowly pace back and forth as he spoke and I watched him as cautiously as an antelope watching a lion from afar.
Norio- There was an attack on the Gahdehsein estate leaving King Kamau dead and his youngest daughter missing. Word is traveling fast that there is a bounty on her and the sum is quite large. I don’t think she could get very far alone…I wouldn’t be surprised if she was caught before morning.
I looked back up to him with great hesitation, my heart just wouldn’t be still. It wasn’t enough that my father was dead, but King Dorieus was doing everything he could to covet me as well as my land. I wanted to go back so badly to see the condition of my home but, I knew I never could. I wondered if my father would be properly buried at least. Wishful thinking.
Malaika-…Why did you follow me here? Are you here to collect the bounty then?
I said clutching the sheets against my body tighter.
I watched Norio shake his head no before going down on one knee and lowering his head.
Norio- My lady, I would never betray the crown of my people. His majesty has always been generous. However…
He paused then, raising his head to look at me.
Norio- There are many people who choose money over loyalty. Some even feel that they were excluded from your father’s generosity and secretly plot against your family. If you put your trust in me this night, I promise to protect you and help you take back your homeland in any way I can.
I was hearing every word he’d said but I just couldn’t understand them. All he knew was that I was royalty and he was ready to help me at any cost. I’d lived very sheltered my whole life; I didn’t know much about the world and how things worked. How people’s hearts and minds worked. For all I knew he could really be after the bounty set on me or even trying to get close to me for power. Whatever his reasons, it was very risky for him to come to me like this of his own will and offer his aide.
Man 1- I know it’s her! I saw her face!
Man 2- Do you know how rich we’re going to be if we bring her in!?
We both looked over towards the door alarmed at what we were hearing on the other side of the door. The doorknob started shaking and turning back and forth followed by banging against the door.
Norio looked back to me as if waiting for something and I realized he was waiting for me to give him permission to rise.
Malaika- Oh! S-Sorry, please rise.
He stood up before taking my hand and pulling me up from the bed to my feet. I held the sheet up against my chest tightly with my other hand. The banging on the door intensified and it sounded as if they were going to break it down. Norio released my hand and ran over to the window. He looked down below and I think he was assessing the injuries from a jump because of how high up we were.
Norio- This is our only way out.
My eyes widened at the thought of it.
Maliaka- I really hope you don’t expect me to jump, it’s way too high!
I watched him snatch my dress from the hook on the window frame and he held it out to me with his head still turned towards the window.
Norio- Hurry up and put this on, I need the sheet you’re wearing.
I ran up to him and snatched my dress from his hand. I changed into the dress as quickly as I could and then tossed him the bed sheets. The door was creaking now with each slam and bang. I was sure they would break through it before we could get out of here. I picked my tiara up from the bed and went over to the window. He’d secured the sheet onto one of the legs of the radiator near the window and handed me part of the sheet. I looked up at him curiously and he held out his empty hand.
Norio- Give me the tiara, you can’t be seen wearing it or carrying it. I’m sure I don’t need to explain why.
I nodded and handed it to him; he stuffed it into his knapsack.
Woman- Hurry up you idiots! It’s not like she has anywhere to go!
Man 1- Why don’t YOU try kicking down the door then!?
The bounty hunters were arguing among themselves outside of the door. Norio helped me up on the window sill and I firmly gripped the sheet in my hands.
Norio- Propell yourself down, I’ll be right behind you alright?
I nodded a little too fast but I climbed over to the outside of the window with my bare feet against the side of the building. I began pushing myself off the wall and sliding down the sheet carefully. I suddenly heard the room door burst open which startled me, making me loose my footing. I slid very fast down the sheet the rest of the way. When I felt the ground beneath me, I let go of the sheet and looked up to the window, seeing Norio coming down the sheet using one hand with ease.
Man 2- Damn it! That bastard is helping her!
Woman- So what!? Go get her! NOW!
Norio jumped down the rest of the way and I gasped. He didn’t even hurt his legs on the landing, which made me wonder if he did this sort of thing often. He ran up to me and grabbed my hand before pulling me along with him.
Norio- Come on!
We ran down the man road a ways before Norio pulled me down a back alley and continued on. This alley lead to what looked like a secondary community. There were tall residential buildings built of bricks and stones very close together and the streets were made of stone as well. People we passed by looked shocked while some looked on curiously.
Man 2- They went down there! Come on!
Norio spared a glance behind us before making a swift turn down another alleyway. There was a small diner down there with a single gas light illuminating the steps and we went and hid behind the building momentarily. He moved me against the wall and stood in front of me, so close that he loomed over me. I looked up at him with wide, nervous eyes but he wasn’t looking down at me. I wasn’t sure how tall he was, but if I were to guess he was about five foot ten.
Malaika- Norio what-
He said placing his hand over my mouth. He had finger-less gloves on so I was spared the feeling of his sweaty palms on my lips.
Woman- They have to be close! Check everywhere!
By the sounds of things, the woman was in charge and she wasn’t going anywhere until she found me.
Norio looked down at me before taking his hand away and backing up a little.
Norio- Sorry. Do you have anywhere that you can safely hide? We have to get out of this town right now. There’s no telling how many people know about the bounty here.
I thought about the letter tube Eula had given me before the accident. I took the letter tube out from my bra and handed it to him.
Malaika- This has the location of my family’s safe house on it, you must protect this information with your life. This is the only place I have left to go.
Norio took the tube from me and opened it. I watched him unfold the small letter and skim it, he read it so fast I wondered if he would remember the details.
Norio- I understand. Let’s hurry…
He said quiclky putting the letter back in the tube and putting it in his pocket. He took my hand firmly in his again and we took off running.
We had to take a small boat to the location of the safe house. It was in an underground city called Monterburry where the houses were built from clay and wood. I’d never been there of course, but my father told me and my sister’s about it when we were children; it sounded fascinating. The people here were aware of my family’s safe house and were some of the most loyal of his subjects. Norio and I made it into the city without any problems. It seemed the news of my father’s death hadn’t reached this area yet. We went to a specialty store first to meet with the store owner. The letter mentioned that this person held the key to the safe house.
The store owner wasn’t as old as I was expecting him to be, he looked to be in his mid thirties. He had long, jet black hair pulled back into a ponytail. He was very tall, at least six foot with broad shoulders and an athletic build. I wasn’t sure but he looked like he could possibly be Mexican, yet his eyes were a deep blue. He greeted us with a smile when we came up to his counter.
Angelo- Welcome to Angelo’s specialty foods, what can I help you find today?
Malaika- Hello Mr. Angelo I-
Angelo- Please call me Angelo young lady, no need to be so formal.
Malaika- Uh, Angelo then… There’s something I need that must be spoken of privately.
His smile wilted a little. Norio took out my tiara and looked around before setting it down on the counter top. Angelo’s eyes went wide and he looked at me.
Malaika- I am princess Malaika of Gahdehsein. My father said this would be proof enough.
Angelo- Hurry and put that away my lady, please.
I quickly took the tiara off of the shelf and handed it back to Norio, he put it away again.
Angelo- Please, follow me…
He put up a sign that read, “meeting in progress” before taking us to his office in the back of the store. Once I explained the situation and what happened to my father, Angelo took a small metal chest from his desk and waved his hand over it once. The chest glowed brightly before it opened and a small silver key rose from it. He grabbed the key before walking over to me. He opened his hand revealing the key and I took it from him. He knelt before me then, and he was still so tall in comparison to me.
Malaika- Please rise Angelo.
He rose up from his knees and his tall form loomed over us again.
Angelo- I am truly pained by this news my lady, I am very sorry. If you need anything, anything at all please do not hesitate to let me know.
I bowed my head gratefully.
Malaika- Thank you Mr. Angelo, please take care. If I may request, please wait to spread the news to your inner circle.
He gave me a nod.
Angelo- Before you go and take what you need from my store, it would be an honor to help you and your friend.
I briefly glanced over at Norio before I spoke.
Malaika- Well, he’s not exactly…
Norio- Thank you Angelo. Let’s go get what you need my lady…
Norio interjected before leaving the office. I quickly followed him out.
Malaika- Are you in some kind of hurry?
Norio- No, and I’d appreciate it if you said as little about me to people as possible. If you say we’re not friends that will make people curious, curious people become suspicious, and suspicious people start snooping. Understand?
Malaika- Yes, I think so.
We said nothing more to each other as we gathered some food and other supplies in the store. I wondered if he was warning me for my sake or his.
We found the safe house just fine and got settled in. Norio decided to put the food and things away on his own without letting me lift even one item so I went to lie down. There was only one room and it had a queen sized bed, a vanity, and a book case filled with all sorts of novels and educational material. I lie on my side curled into a ball around one of the pillows. All of the tears I’d been forcing myself to hold back all day had started rolling down my cheeks and soaking the blanket beneath my head. My sisters were likely to be in danger and I didn’t have a clue how to warn them or help them. I had no magic nor fighting skill, and now there was a bounty of an unknown amount on my head. I felt so useless. I closed my eyes and my consciousness was yanked away into a vision.
I was standing on the top of a stone pillar, high above the ground looking at all four royal kingdoms as if they had been moved into one place. All but one was engulfed in flames and the one that stood untouched was shrouded in darkness. It was strange. Though it was shrouded in darkness, the castle itself beamed with light. An illusion. Gahdehsein, Raythe, and Igole had all fallen while Karahshai stood bigger than ever. It’s large army surrounded it’s base like thousands of tiny ants. I looked over and saw Norio by my side hovering in the air, supported by nothing but what I assumed was his own power. He pointed down below and I looked down to see nothing but corpses surrounding the pillar I was on. I gasped, covering my mouth. I thought, “But why?” as I looked back at Norio.
Norio- Before the first light, there will be much bloodshed…
He said to me with his usual neutral expression. I watched him pull his bow and one arrow out before he aimed it down at the corpses below. A bright light that felt of warmth and all things holy surrounded his arrow before he released it into the piles of bodies. An explosion of light rose up and I was forced to shield my eyes with my arm. When I lowered my arm again, I saw hundreds of people standing below us where the corpses had been. They were all smiling up at me with their hands on the pillar. Suddenly, the pillar started to wobble as they had started pushing it back and forth, all the while they were still smiling creepily. I lost my footing and began to fall…
Norio- Hey! Wake up! What’s happening!?
I heard Norio’s voice calling out to me, and it brought me out of my temporary trance that I had gone into. He had sat me up holding my arms to my sides tightly and had been shaking me slightly. When my eyes finally focused, he stopped shaking me and I could see his worried dark eyes.
Norio- Your eyes looked weird, I thought you were having a seizure or something. Are you alright?
Maliaka- I’m fine, that happens when I have a vision. I have no control over when it happens or what I see unfortunately. What’s even worse is that I might not even know what the visions mean sometimes.
Norio looked down at his hands on my arms as if he was suddenly embarrassed and quickly let go of me.
Norio- That sounds like it could be a problem for our travels… So it really is true that you and your sisters possess psychic abilities.
I looked away from him then. I couldn’t exactly deny it, almost everyone has heard the rumors.
Malaika- Yes, it is…
Norio- You three have a nickname, you and your sisters. People call you “The Divine Ones.” Everyone believes you were all touched by the Gods and given your abilities.
I looked up at him then, a little overwhelmed by his words. It was the first time I’d heard of this.
Malaika- What do you believe?
Norio- I don’t think it matters what I believe. The reality is that your value makes you a target for power hungry people. I wouldn’t exactly call that a blessing.
I looked down, unable to meet his eyes. His words expressed exactly how I felt and I couldn’t think of any words to respond with. I thought of my vision and tried to decipher what it could mean. I had an idea but I didn’t like it. A lot of people were going to die because of me and it was possible King Dorieus would succeed in his plan if I didn’t do something soon.
TO BE CONTINUED…
COPYRIGHT 2015 ALEXANDRIA REEVES