Chapter 6: Fa Palace Deception
Norio – Angelo we need to get to the gate, nevermind the guards for now. I need to get the princess through first so follow up behind us.
Angelo frowned at him but nodded. I could tell that Angelo still didn’t like the fact that Norio would be working with us after what we’d found out, but he was trying for my sake. It was all that I could ask of him. I kept my head down as we approached the gate and we were walking a little faster than we had been when we entered the city. Upon reaching the gate, I was feeling a bit faint. I stopped walking and Norio came around in front of me.
Norio -Malaika? What’s Wrong? Are you unwell?
I started to answer but before I could, my consciousness slipped away from me. I was having another vision and the timing couldn’t be worse. I seemed to be looking down into a dungeon like room from the ceiling. It was as if I were floating above it. On the floor with her wrists bound was my sister Zola. Tears ran down her face and she trembled with fear. I could see blood on her once elegant dress but I could see no wounds on her. I feared the worse had happened to her husband Prince Brice and the rest of the Takeo family. Her thick, shoulder length brown coils looked so unruly and touseled. Dorieus’s men had been very rough with her.
I felt an overwhelming amount of despair as I regained my consciousness. I had been brought to my knees and Norio had me in the circle of his arms. I felt warm tears running down my cheeks and the sounds of concerned voices around me. Angelo and the other two men with him were standing over us concerned and a few of the people in the market had stopped and began staring curiously. I looked up at Norio to see his deeply concerned expression.
Norio – Malaika? Did you have another vision?
He whispered to me in a hushed voice. I nodded a little too fast, trying not to break down and draw more attention to us. Norio helped me up to my feet again and I grabbed his shirt firmly in my hands.
Malaika – Takeo Castle has been taken already…They have my sister in a filthy dungeon…We have to get inside Takeo Castle and save her before it’s too late…
I pleaded. Norio’s expression went stoic, it appeared he understood the situation now without me explaining further.
Angelo -If that’s true, then Dorieus has divided his forces to capture the other princesses all at once. Their presence here is small so they must be feeling the place out before attacking. We need to get rid of the guards in the square before approaching the gate.
Norio gave a single nod.
Norio – The guards at the gate serve the Fa family so they’ll let us in no problem when they see Malaika’s face. I’ll take her up to the gates while you three distract Dorieus’s men.
Angelo – You? I’ll take her myself. I don’t care if we are forced to work together, this is something I definitely cannot trust you with.
Norio – Whatever, just get her to the gates. I’ll catch you all up…
Norio said before letting me go. I watched him leave us and disappear into the crowds like a phantom. Angelo came to stand before me and his men stood off to the side. I noticed Angelo giving them a strange look before nodding to them. They left us without a word and disappeared among the crowds as well.
Angelo – Come my lady.
Angelo walked with me casually up to the gates with his arm around my shoulders as Norio had. I found myself wanting to look around for Norio, wondering if he was able to get close to Dorieus’s men without an issue. I had a terrible feeling that something wasn’t right, something was very off.
Gate Guard 1 – Who are you and what’s your business inside of the royal palace?
Angelo – I am Angelo Griever, we have to see the King and Queen urgently. Their very lives may be in danger.
Both of the guards suddenly pointed their spears at us and grew automatically suspicious.
Gate Guard 2 – How would you know!? Where’s your proof to these claims!?
It was then that I lifted my hood just enough to show my face. The guards eyes widened and they looked at each other momentarily.
Gate Guard 1 – Is it really her?
Gate Guard 2 – Of course it is you idiot! There’s no mistaking it!
They quickly put stood their weapons up at their sides and began to bow. I raised my hand to stop them.
Malaika -No! You mustn’t bow or else I’ll be discovered. Please, I come with a warning. The royal family will only take my warning seriously if it comes directly from me.
Gate Guard 1 -Yes Your majesty, right away.
The second guard went to open the gate. He unhooked a latch and began pushing the gate open.
Malaika – King Dorieus plans to attack Fa Palace and take my sister as a hostage by any means necessary. His men are in the market place right now, you must alert your forces to the threat immediately.
Gate Guard 2 – But we can’t act without the King’s orders.
Malaika – If you don’t there won’t be a King to give you orders. Please, do as I ask.
Gate Guard 2 – Yes Your majesty.
The gate had been fully opened and Angelo and I proceeded onward. There was a long brick road that lead up to the palace. The palace looked like it was about a mile away from where we stood. There were a few trees on either sides of the road but not so thick that it looked like we were in the woods somewhere. As we walked along I could see a few of the palace guards on patrol but they were spread out all over the expansive yard. I noticed that these trees had small, pink flowers blooming from them and the branches hung down nearly to the ground. The pink petals fell from the trees and were floating through the air each time the wind blew. I was enchanted by them they were so pretty. I started to hear what sounded like battle cries from behind us and I stopped to turn around. My eyes widened with shock and terror, it was like my vision zoomed in on the sight at the gates. King Dorieus’s army was charging in through the gates. The palace guards on patrol began rushing towards them from all over the yard.
Angelo – We need to hurry princess!
Angelo shouted as he grabbed my hand and started running with me.
Malaika – I told you to simply call me by my name!
Angelo – I beg your pardon your majesty! But this really isn’t the time!
He said continuing to pull me along. I was barely able to keep up with him as short as I was but I was doing my best. I tried sparing a glance behind us when I could and I could swear that Dorieus’s men were catching up to us despite fighting off the palace guards. Angelo stopped running without any warning and I almost got yanked backwards. Standing only a few feet ahead of us were a group of me dressed all on black and red holding various types of weapons. They looked at us with neutral expressions before kneeling briefly.
Malaika – Who are you people?
One of the men stepped forward and Angelo stepped in front of me protectively.
Delpi – Worry not your majesty, we are The Phaloa. I am Delphi. Please run ahead, there’s no time for introductions I’m afraid.
Angelo – Hmpf…Let’s go princess.
Malaika – Ah- Yes!
Angelo and I continued running on ahead and The Phaloa charge on towards Dorieus’s men behind us. I heard weapons clashing and the sounds of men meeting grisly ends behind us. I felt a pang in my heart the further we got away from the city gates. Angelo’s men and Norio were back there and I didn’t know what had happened, I tried not to think of the worse.
We were out of breath by the time we reached the main doors. This time the guards recognized me right away and didn’t hassle us about an explanation. We were escorted inside to the throne room where I saw the King, Queen, Prince Jian Fa, and my dear sister Nyah. The four of them were seated each in their own thrones but it was my sister who was the first to rise when she saw my face. She looked a little confused but happy at the same time. Nyah was a full figured woman with the same coily hair and milk chocolate skin tone as me and my other sister. Her hair was braided into an updo and her crown placed on the style neatly. Angelo and I both kneeled before them as soon as we were close enough.
Queen Fa – Please princess, there’s no need for such formalities. You’re here on urgent business are you not?
I nodded as I stood up again. Queen Daiyu Li Fa was a slender, fair skinned Chinese beauty. She was known in the other kingdoms as the “blood queen” for her ruthless sense of justice but she was always kind to her people. I gave them all a brief but detailed account of what was happening and why. King Mengyao Liqin Fa ordered his royal army to destroy Kind Dorieus’s men and aid The Phaloa. He didn’t seem to like The Phaloa any more than Angelo but he was grateful for their help to protect them.
My sister broke down upon hearing what happened to our father and our home. I sat with her consoling her on the floor.
Nyah – He’s just gone? Our home was taken?
Malaika -Yeah…I was lucky I got out of there in time. If it weren’t for Ivor and Eula’s quick thinking I’d be sitting in Dorieus’s dungeon with Zola right now. I’m just glad I could at least get to one of you.
Prince Jian Fa – I am very sorry for your losses. Thank you for sparing no effort to warn us.
I looked up at the prince and gave him a nod. Our tear filled reunion was interrupted by the sight of Norio walking into the throne room dragging Angelo’s men by the collar behind him. They looked to be unconcious and beaten up pretty bad. Norio looked like he had a rough time getting here too. I could see small droplets of blood on his face and he was missing a few arrows from his quiver. I let go of my sister and stood up, looking at him curiously. Angelo looked nervous, I’d go as far as to say he looked afraid.
Queen Fa – How did you get in here? Who are you?
Malaika – It’s okay your majesty, he’s my body guard.
She looked over at me with her eyebrows raised.
Queen Fa – A body guard who was absent from the body he was meant to be guarding? I hope he’s fired now.
Norio dropped Angelo’s men in front of Angelo’s feet before he walked closer to the thrones and knelt before us.
Norio – Forgive my rude intrusion your majesties. This is an ugly first impression. I hope the aid of my fellow Phaloa can be of further help to the crowns…
King Fa – Hmpf, A Phaloan body guard…
He said those words with such disdain I wondered if he was going to kick Norio out. Before that, I needed to know what had happened before he arrived here. I stepped down the platform from the throne area and went to Norio. He continued to kneel.
Malaika – Rise, and explain yourself.
Norio – Of course…
Norio stood up again and I was now looking up at him.
Norio – The Phaloa and the royal army managed to stop King Dorieus’s men and seal off the gates again. Unfortunately I found myself fighting allies as well as enemies.
I frowned at him then.
Malaika – Angelo’s men?
Norio nodded and Angelo came over to us. I could feel his footsteps become stronger with each step.
Angelo – Don’t listen to anything this Phaloa filth says princess!
Malaika – Silence! Norio, continue please.
Norio – Gladly.
He said sparing Angelo a glance.
Norio – As I was trying to get close to some of Dorieus’s men to listen to their conversation, Brask and Nilz down there attacked me from behind. When I beat some sense into them they told me it was part of a plan Angelo had to get you caught. When Angelo pretends to rescue you from the enemy they were hoping you’d get rid of me for my incompetence. It seems these three the ones we can’t trust.
I looked over at Angelo and found myself stepping back from him.
Malaika – I can’t…Believe you would…
Angelo – He’s lying! I wouldn’t intentionally put you in harm’s way just to get rid of this fool. Please believe me my lady.
Angelo dropped to his knees with his head bowed then.
Norio – The only liar here is YOU.
A few of the Fa palace guards ran into the room and they all knelt down immediately.
King Fa – Anything to report?
All of the men looked over in Angelo’s direction and then back up to the King and Queen.
General – King Dorieus’s forces have been driven back, most of them were killed. The man known as Angelo that stands beside her majesty is indeed guilty. We witnessed the fight between The princess’s body guard and his men, the Phaloan does not lie.
King Fa – I see. I’ve heard enough. Princess Malaika, if I may?
I turned around and gave him a nod. I was in such a state of denial that I couldn’t question Angelo further.
King Fa – Guards, arrest this man and submit him to torture. He’ll be spilling the truth out within the first five minutes I guarantee it…
The King said with a smirk. The guards stood up and ran up to Angelo restraining him. Norio stood in front of me protectively and I let him do so.
Angelo – T-Torture!? Surely you’re not going to allow this my lady!?
I looked away from Angelo then, I couldn’t meet his eyes.
King Fa – Anyone suspected of conspiring to harm royals or put them in harms way even indirectly is a deathseeker. Take him!
Angelo – Never!
Angelo shouted before he released a burst of magic from his body, flinging the guards off of him in all directions. I watched him start to run for the exit but he was engulfed in a red aura and stopped in mid step.
Angelo – What the hell? I can’t move!
Queen Fa – Of course not. Now, you’re going to walk to the dungeon and torture yourself instead. You’ll stop when I think you’re ready to confess.
She said. I looked back at her to see that she had her hand outstretched to him. This was her power. Angelo started walking out of the room against his will now, I could tell he was still trying to fight against her power but he couldn’t. The queen placed her hands back in her lap in a very lady like manner.
Queen Fa – Such a shame you’ve been met with such an unfortunate path in life dear princess…
She said looking down at me with a sympathetic expression.
Norio – Will you be alright?
I looked up at Norio and shrugged.
Malaika – I’m not sure honestly. I’ve managed to save my sister but I’ve lost someone I believed to be a loyal subject. And we were too late to save Zola…
Norio placed his hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes intently.
Norio – You managed to save one of your sisters and an entire Kingdom along with her. On top of those amazing feats you weeded out someone who wasn’t worthy of your trust. I’d say you’ve gained more than you’ve lost today.
Malaika – You’re right. I should count my blessings instead of wallowing in my regrets yes?
He nodded then.
Nyah – Excuse me Phaloan, I have something to say to you.
We both turned around and looked up at my sister bracing ourselves for more insults. I was surprised when she began to smile.
Nyah – I want to thank you on behalf of the Gahdehsein family for safeguarding my little sister’s life, and trying to save Zola. You’ve helped save two Kingdoms, not just one. As long as King Kamau Refiloe’s daughters are alive, so is our Kingdom. I can’t believe I’m saying this but, we’re in your debt.
Norio and I looked at each other surprised by my sister’s heartfelt words. Norio kneeled gratefully to her.
Norio – You honor me Princess Nyah. Thank you for your words.
We had managed to save one Kingdom, and one princess. This had seemed all too easy. I knew King Dorieus would be even more anxious to take this palace when word got back that not one but two princesses were here. I was the one that got away. How far would he go to get me and Nyah in one move? I shuddered at the thought.
TO BE CONTINUED….
COPYWRITE ALEXANDRIA REEVES 2015