• My neck strains as I glance behind me- vainly trying to make out the shapes of my pursuers. Nothing is distinguishable in the darkness. The only sounds that greet my ears are those of my horse's hooves pounding against the cold hard ground. Despite my inability to locate any sort of danger I urge my horse to continue running- my inner senses telling me that evil is not far away. I break out into a deep sweat as I remember how close I had been to death- even now I can still feel its choking grasp and clawing finger that had almost ended my existence in this world. From somewhere behind me a horse lets out a neigh- an unnatural sound that reveals that its rider- probably a Bolgon and defiantly not one of my race- is under the command of the Dark King Abaddon. The sound echoes through the surrounding forest, sending shivers down my spine and causing the hair on the back of my neck to stand straight up. Pushing my horse to go faster I draw my sword. A loud horn cuts through the silence- and from all around me the sound of hooves grows as their riders begin to close in about me. Tears start to flow down my neck as I realize that escape is impossible.
    An arrow whizzes by my head from an unseen person in front of me. I reign in my horse- just as a rider breaks though the bushes immediately in front of me, our horses almost colliding. The rider looks at me- then to my sword which is hanging, quiet nonthreatening, from my right hand. "Are you going to fight me, son?" he asks in the common language- with an accent that I do not recognize. "Are you going to try to kill me?" I answer with a question. I am skittish about whether or not to fight this man. The mere fact that he has not tried to kill me yet is causing me to doubt that he is one of Abaddon's riders- for they are taught to kill and then ask questions. "No," the man answers, causing my heart to skip a beat and making me suddenly become aware of people fighting all around me. Swords clash in midair, and the cries of the dying piece the cold night air. Intently watching me the man says, "We are warriors of the Eastern Realm- more specifically that of the Mandural kingdom. We came to fight off a band of Bolgon's that our leader discovered had entered into our border. I was told that they may be following a prince, and am under the instructions that if the prince is found I should bring him back to our camp. Do you have any items that can confirm your identity?" I wince at his words- knowing that it is important to gain his trust, while at the same time battling the worry that a person whom I do not know- and other, more important people if his words are true- know of the recent fate that has befallen me. Being so commonly known is never a good thing. I was raised on the principle that it is better for no one to know of your existence than for everyone to know about it.
    Searching through my pockets, I at last find a gold necklace that my mother had given me at my last birthday. Taking it out of my pocket, I hand it to the man. Looking at it closely, he at last speaks, "This will suffice." Handing me back the necklace and asking for my sword, which I hand over, he lets out a loud, shrill whistle. The rest of his group- as I assume that he is the leader- form a circle around us. A horse steps forward as its rider issues a report, "All of the enemy has been killed, my lord. We are confident that no one was able to escape." "Thank you, Joram," their leader replies, "Our mission is a success, and the boy before you has identifies himself as the prince the Bongol's were pursuing." The men look at me- their faces unreadable at this proclamation. "Let us now depart!" the leader cheerfully shouts, "At a quick pace we are sure to make it home by dawn!" The men cheer at his words, and staying in a circle around me- bid their horses onward. we ride for hours- causing both me and my horse to almost pass out in exhaustion. Then, just when I think that I will not be able to go any farther, the first of the sun's rays appears in the sky- and a large row of tents comes into view.
    When we enter the camp we are met by several young stable boys who I hesitantly give my horse to. The men begin to disperse- leaving me standing awkwardly in the middle of the camp- unsure of what to do next. Someone taps me on my shoulder. Turning around I see a girl around my age standing next to the leader of the warriors that had rescued me. She is clothed in a light blue gown that goes all the way down to her ankles, so beautiful that it lends her an air of authority and royalty despite her lack of any adornment, including a crown. Her long, blond, curly hair goes halfway down her back- and her skin is very fair, and pale though not extremely so. Though by far her most noteworthy figure is her eyes- a glowing gold surrounded by a deep green. Her eyes are compassionate, and bear the look of one wise far beyond their years. Studying my expression she at last speaks, "What is your name?" She talks in the common language like the soldiers had, but unlike them has no audible accent. "Marcellus," I answer, suddenly aware of my own very strong accent. "Marcellus," she says slowly, as if my name has answered some important question. Tilting her head to the right, her hair sways gently as she asks another question, "What do you want more right now- answers and explanations or food and rest?" My eyes grown heavy at the thought of sleep- and my stomach churns with anticipation. I open up my mouth to speak, but the girl cuts me off.
    "It is apparent that right now sleep and food would do you the most good. Kilian please see that Marcellus gets everything that he needs. I am sorry to keep you from getting your rest but I have another more pressing matter to attend to." She looks up at Kilian, who bows in response. "It would be an honor to fulfill this task," he says, respect for the young girl before him shining in his eyes. "Thank you," the girl replies, than pauses before saying, "Please tell the person whose care he ends up with to send him to me when he wakes up." The girl then turns to me, "I recommend that you sleep as long as you can." Turning around the girl walks away, two women immediately joining her and beginning to talk, leaning in close so that they will not be overheard. Both Kilian and I watch her until she is out of sight.
    Looking up at Kilian I ask, "Is she your queen?" A smile breaks out on his weary face- "No, but I guess that would be an easy conclusion for you to reach with how well she takes charge. She is our princess- the king and queen left her in charge while they and the prince went on an important trip." "Oh," is the only response that I can think of. Kilian's face suddenly grows serious, "But do not be fooled by her age or small size. She has been through more in her young life than I have in my own life. Everything she now has is completely justified: she has earned her place among us." Kilian begins walking towards a tent so I follow his lead- his words still reverberating in my head. Kilian abruptly stops walking, causing me to run into him. Turning around he asks, "How old are you Marcellus?" "Twenty-two," I respond, to which Kilian rubs his chin thoughtfully. "I thought you were near her age," he says. Then seeing my questioning look he continues, "She is seventeen." Turning back around Kilian walks into the tent as I follow, my head now filled with unanswered questions.