Somehow this one got lost. Sorry about that….Happy reading!
Fresh snow falls gently to the ground as Cade, Luke, Roonie, Jax, Tulip and Nora gather comfortably in the grand hall. While Cade and Luke discuss Luke joining the troops for the Parfon battle, Nora tries to ease Roonie’s worrisome mind about Luke leaving for combat. Tulip and Jax are warming by the fire, and Tulip sits staring into it apparently somewhat lost in thought. Jax nervously looks back and forth from Tulip to the fire. “C’mon Tulip how long are you gonna keep this up? I’m leaving for battle, doesn’t that mean anything to you?” Nora hears Jax say. Tulip turns to look at him, her face formed into a look of hurt. She replies, “I’m dealing with alot of pain right now Jax. How can you not understand that? When I’m just gliding through life happily and then suddenly receive traumatic news, it sometimes takes awhile to recover. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same after this.” Jax sighs, and runs his hand through his hair in frustration, “Look Tulip you of all people know that when I’ve had to much to drink I’m not myself. I didn’t do this on purpose, and besides how was I to know that Clover was just gonna show up after being gone for almost 2 years.”
Tulip whips around in her chair quickly so that she is face to face with Jax. “WHAT!?” she shouts. Roonie glances over at them but Luke catches her eye and gently shakes his head “No”, as if to suggest that she needn’t intervene. Jax’s eyes grow wide, and he begins to wring his hands. “Wait what are you talking about?” he asks. “Never mind that right now! You didn’t tell me that Clover was back. How dare you even speak to her after what happened the night of the festival! Did you…No I don’t wanna hear it, my gut tells me I know what happened between you two-” Tulip snaps. “Tulip, would you just hear me out?” Jax pleads. “NO!” Tulip says as silent tears roll down her cheeks. Continuing she says, “How can you keep doing this to me Jax? Don’t you love me? Remember when we were kids, and you’d push me in the swing by Mr. Leafstone’s farm? Remember what you told me?” Jax somberly hangs his head and gives a nod. “Y-You said you’d always make sure my heart was safe!” Tulip sniffs. Jax looks up and tries to wipe the tears from Tulips cheek, but she leans back and shakes her head. “I can’t do this anymore Jax. You have no idea what I’ve been through the last couple of days, and now learning about you and Clover…I just can’t. I’m sorry Jax, it’s over” Tulip tells him before fleeing the room sobbing. “TULIP WAIT!” Jax calls out, then turns to the fire resting his elbow on the mantle, his head leaning upon his forearm. Roonie and Nora exchange downcast looks as Nora notices Jax’s shoulders shaking slightly. He stands upright and wipes his face, grabbing the fire poker to stir the coals a bit. Cade whispers to Luke, “Keep an eye on him would ya?” Luke nods and the two of them go over to check on Jax.
The next morning Luke, Jax, King Jude, and the troops prepare to leave. We say our goodbye’s and the villagers crowd the sides of the street to bid farewell to the men. Luke shares a kiss with Roonie, before taking his place next to Jax and King Jude at the front of the line. Roonie’s wings sag slightly as she looks on trying to hold back tears. Looking around Nora see’s no sign of Tulip, but notices Jax wearing a very serious face waiting with the other troops in line. The fanfare sounds and King Jude gives a command, then Jax shouts “FORWARD, MARCH!”, and the soldiers march forward down the street as the villagers cheer. Some of the women wave small handkerchiefs occasionally dabbing their eyes. Down the road they march until finally they have left our sight.
As the villagers cheers subside, suddenly we hear a bloodcurdling scream in the distance opposite the direction of the soldiers. Everyone gasps, as we see a woman making her way towards us. Nora see’s a few villagers rush to meet the woman, and the crowd gathers in the street to try to get a better look, speaking with worry to one another. With Nora’s view almost entirely blocked, she can just make out the woman who appears to be limping down the road and clutching her arm. “BONNIE!” She shouts frantically desperately trying to break through the crowd. “OUT OF HER MAJESTIES WAY!” shrieks the herald, and the villagers step aside. Reaching Bonnie she finds her in a terrible way, she’s been badly burnt on her arm and face and she is sobbing. In a whirlwind of frenzied madness we are able to get the fire put out, and Bonnie back to the castle into bed. Cirrus is able to perform a spell that takes the pain away, but is unable to reverse the wound itself. “I’m afraid with the burns as bad as they are it will scar my dear” Cirrus tells her. She applies some salve that will help reduce the scar appearance but it unfortunately won’t remove it completely. I suggest that we let her rest awhile and everyone departs from the room.
After a few hours of rest a guard announces that Bonnie has awoken. Arthur, Cade and Nora make their way to the guest chambers and find her awake lying in bed. Arthur has a seat next to the bed, taking Bonnie’s uninjured hand in his and kisses it. Cade and Nora join them and she asks Bonnie how she is feeling. “I guess I feel as good as expected” she replies downheartedly. “If you are ready to talk about it, we would like to know what in the world happened” Nora explains. Bonnie nods, “That’s the thing, I don’t exactly know! I went to the village to the troops send off, then decided to head over to the school for a bit. I hadn’t seen the children in awhile and wanted to leave them a message. As I was writing a message for them on the chalkboard I heard something crash and then a boom sound. Suddenly the whole place was up in flames! I was able to find my way out, but as I neared the entrance something looked as if it was going to land on me, so I put my arm up to protect my face. It hit me, and my arm and face became filled with excruciating pain as I ran from the building. I must have tripped over something on the way out because I fell. The rest you know” she tells them. “How awful! Oh Bonnie, I’m so sorry!” Nora sympathizes. “What could have happened that caught on fire?” Arthur wonders aloud. “With all that’s been happening, part of me wonders whether or not this was an accident. Bonnie I hate that this has happened, and I will get to the bottom of this!” Cade declares as he rises from his seat. “Please excuse us” he continues, as he motions for Nora to join him. She gives Bonnie a kiss on the forehead and follows Cade out of the room.
After Cade informs Nora that he is heading down to the village with a few guards to check out the school, she decides to ask him something that she’s been pondering over. “I was thinking with Tulip having no family left, that we might bestow damehood upon her, and invite her to become a permanent guest at the castle. What are your thoughts?” Nora inquires. “That’s a wonderful idea my love! There’s a book in our chambers that explains how to do that if you would like to take a look” he tells her. Taking her in his arms he kisses her tenderly, “How lucky I am to have such a beautiful, wonderful wife and Queen” he says. She blushes and replies, “I do believe I’m the lucky one.” He gives her a wink and calls for the guards. Nora requests that one of them stays with her, and asks him to find Tulip and have her meet Nora in the throne room. “Yes your highness” the guard replies, and heads out to seek Tulip.
Once Tulip arrives in the throne room Nora can tell that she has been crying again and she hugs her tightly. “Welcome, please have a seat. Cade and I were talking earlier, and I’ve been doing some thinking. You have been nothing but loyal and kind to us, and we would like to honor you as a royal Dame of Brendlewood. You would live at the castle for as long as you choose, and also be able to marry a royal if you desire. Do you accept?” Nora asks her smiling. Tulip’s eyes widen with excitement, “You really mean it? That would be wonderful! Oh my gosh, thank you!” she exclaims, “I-I don’t know what to say…I would be honored to accept this title!” Nora grins brightly, “Wonderful! I’m glad you accept. Tulip, please stand before me” She requests. She rises from her seat and gives a bow. Nora also rises from her seat and says, “I hear-by dub thee Tulip Petal Warner, Dame of Brendlewood. You may rise.” She stands and smiles proudly as Nora tells her that Cirrus and Roonie are waiting for her in the enchantment room. “Cirrus is going to begin training you and Roonie in the art of enchantment spells” Nora explains. Tulip claps her hands together excitedly, “Oh! Thank you Nora. This is so exciting! Let’s go meet them now” she replies as she hugs Nora tightly and they exit the room.
As Tulip and Nora enter the royal enchantment room, they find Cirrus and Roonie standing in front of a huge metal pot. “Well look who’s a Dame!” Roonie says playfully. “Glad to see you’ve accepted!” Cirrus chimes in. “Thank you” Tulip tells her as Roonie gives her a congratulatory hug. “Now that we have the two of you here, it’s time to begin your training. The first thing you need to do is begin learning the ingredients and the spells. The spells you will find here in this leather book” Cirrus instructs pointing to a large bound book. “Now, in this book you will learn all about the different ingredients to add to your faerie dust. This is what makes it possible to perform certain spells. Roonie why don’t you start with this one, and Tulip with the spellbook. Whatever you do, don’t speak the words aloud until you have learned what they are, and what they do. Don’t worry, I’ll start you off with an easy spell to learn” Cirrus continues. Tulip nods then walks over to the large book, and starts looking over the inscriptions. “Well I will let you ladies get to it, I have some other matters to attend to. Let me know if you need anything” Nora tells them with a smile before leaving the room.
Once evening has fallen, and we’ve all filled our bellies with scrumptious glazed ham and new potatoes, the lot of us stand gathered in the dining hall talking. “I’d like to discuss plans for the upcoming Dragon Valley battle, won’t you join me in the library?” Nora hears Cade ask Novus. He nods in approval and tells him that sounds just fine. “I couldn’t help but overhear you’re having a private chat in the library, I think I’ll head up there and grab a book for the evening before you all need to use the room” Roonie mentions. Cade and Novus tell her no problem, as Tulip and Nora chat about her first day working with Cirrus and enchantments. Bonnie and Arthur congratulate her on her new royal title as Thistle happily skips off heading out of the room. “Where are you off to?” calls Arthur. “Just to our room for a bit of reading” she smiles. Bonnie smiles warmly and replies, “Alright not long though, you’ll be needing to get to bed soon.” Thistle nods and continues skipping. “That girl loves to read!” Arthur mentions, and the group of us continue talking.
A servant enters the room and requests for Novus to see her in his chambers for his uniform fitting. “I thought I had already taken care of that” Novus tells her. “It’s just some of the measurements were a bit off” she explains. Novus shrugs and tells Cade that he’ll meet him in the library shortly and heads off for his fitting. Cade kisses Nora’s cheek sweetly and tells her that he’s heading to the library to talk with Novus and he’ll catch up with her later.
As the group of us resume our conversation we laugh at some of Arthur’s corny jokes before Tulip continues describing her first day with enchantments. “The healing spell looks like it will take awhile to-” She starts but stops short as suddenly the castle goes totally dark. A few of us gasp with surprise, and try to find some sort of light source. The maids come pouring into the room with lit candles, and go throughout the dining hall and bathrooms placing them. Handing us each a candle they quickly leave the room. “What happened?” Bonnie asks. “A blackout! Maybe some animal has chewed through the wires again. That happened once before. Darn things!” Cirrus replies. “Oh! Thistle is all alone in the dark!” Arthur exclaims. “Don’t worry I’ll go find her” Nora offers, thinking she would check on the others as well. Half way up the stairs Nora can hear Roonie shrieking from the dining room, “NOVUS IS DEAD! NOVUS IS DEAD!” Nora clutches her chest in fear and turns to go back downstairs, but remembering little Thistle all alone in the dark she decides to find her first, then catch up with the others to find out what’s going on.
Walking along the dark empty hallway Nora makes her way to the room Bonnie, Arthur and Thistle are staying in. The moonlight streams in through the windows here and there and toward the end of the hall she thinks she spots a small figure. “Thistle?” Nora calls and lightly jogs toward her, but once she reaches the spot where she thought she saw her, she finds no one. Suddenly a gust of wind through a nearby open window steals the light of her candle and suddenly she is left in total darkness. The only light source is that of the faint moonlight shining through the hall windows. Nora feels something whoosh past her, just grazing the back of her skirts. Turning quickly she tries to adjust her eyes to see what it could have been, but she can’t make out anything. All at once she feels someone grab her, their hand covering her mouth, and a slimy tongue sliding across her neck. She tries to jerk free but they cover her mouth with a cloth and she can feel herself losing consciousness.
Cold winter air dances across Nora’s skin and she shivers, opening her eyes. She grasps her head as it throbs with pain and suddenly jump to her feet as she looks around in terror at her surroundings. Large gray stones cover the walls met with a bare cold floor. The room is completely empty except for one old wooden chair. There is but one door in the room, big, and wooden, and locked tight. “How can this be…” Nora wonders to myself, “….Madame Parfon’s.”
A high slit of a window provides little light and standing on a chair Nora is able to just barely see out. Off in the fields in the morning sunlight she see’s two or three dozen troops making their way back to Madame Parfon’s. “They must be retreating!” Nora thinks to herself, and shortly afterward Madame Parfon’s screeching voice comes echoing through the vents. “WHAT!? What do you mean they drove our troops back!?” Nora hears her snarl. One of her men replies fearfully, “I’m sorry Ma’am but we just lost too many men to continue the battle.” As their bickering continues Nora smiles to herself knowing that surely Cade will find her and they can take down Parfon!
Hours pass and Nora awakens, startled of her whereabouts. Now moonlight fills the empty stone room she’s being held captive in as she hears voices in the hall. A guard opens the door and woman stands in the doorway. Her slender figure adorns a face of malice and cruelty, and stringy brown hair hangs from her head. Her elegant robes do her no kindness and she points a bony finger at Nora, motioning for her to go to her. “Come with me wretch” the woman sneers before turning to leave the room. Silently Nora follows her down the hall, descending the stairs, and into a room of Madame Parfon’s that she hadn’t seen. “Sit down” she commands. Nora has a seat politely, then she can’t believe her eyes as Cade enters the room with…Madame Parfon!? “Nora my sweet!” he says rushing to her, “They didn’t hurt you did they?” Nora shakes her head no still utterly confused. He kisses her forehead and states, “So we’re settled then?” Madame Parfon scoffs and replies, “Yes. As agreed Nora is freed and your kingdom untouched so long as you deliver the lycan scum to my cousin and I.” The other woman wrinkles her nose and jeers, “…and if you don’t, then we destroy your village and your Queen will become our slave!” Cade pierces his lips together and scowls, “That wasn’t part of the deal! You shall have your lycan filth to do with what you will. My Queen and my kingdom will not be part of your treachery!” The woman throws her nose in the air, and Cade takes Nora’s hand leading her out of the evil Madame Parfon’s home.
Outside Cade and Nora mount his horse and he shouts for the horse to take off quickly. Once we they’re well outside the boundary of Madame Parfon’s, Cade sets up camp for them. As they sit by the roaring fire he’s built, Nora glances over at him. He sits slightly slumped, forearms resting on his knee’s, staring into the fire. “Cade…are you alright?” Nora softly asks placing her hand on his arm. “Huh? Oh, yea I suppose so” he mutters shifting his eyes from the fire to the ground. “Now c’mon. I know that tone, what’s bothering you?” She asks playfully. He looks at her with a frown, deep frustration covering his face, and replies, “Nora I love you! You’re the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me and I let this happen to you. A king is meant to protect, I’ve barely begun to be King and with Novus’s mysterious death and your kidnapping, I’m not off to a very good start. A husband is meant to protect! I feared you wouldn’t understand why I made a deal with Parfon, but with the lycans in her hands, it will leave Queen Carolin to us. I thought over and over this but I just don’t know if it’s the right thing. All I know is that I had to get you out of there. I always knew one day I would become a King but to be honest…I just, nevermind.”
Nora gently runs the tips of her fingers through his hair and looks into his eyes, “My darling I love you as well. No one knew they would take me, you can’t blame yourself. You are an excellent King and husband, don’t doubt yourself or your abilities. That’s what they want, that’s how they chip away at you. Don’t give them that power!” She tells him. His face softens into a sheepish smile and he kisses her sweetly, “You always know what to say my love. I’ll never let this happen to you again!” Bringing his lips to meet hers once again he kisses her passionately and gently leans her down to the blanket by the fire.
Back in Brendlewood the next day, Cade and Nora sit in the throne room talking, the door bursts wide open as Luke enters the room with a guard right behind him. “What is the meaning of this?” Cade asks. “Sorry your majesties, I tried to announce Sir Luke but he rushed past me” the guard states. “I’m sorry for the intrusion, but I really need to speak with you, Nora and Roonie. I have news of the Parfon battle.” Cade sends a guard to retrieve Roonie and a few minutes later they are all gathered for Luke’s news. “Lukie! Your back!” Roonie smiles as she leaps into his arms, he kisses her and places her down. Roonie looks slightly confused and asks what all this news is about. He looks down at the ground then from one person to the next, stopping at Roonie. He takes her hands into his and begins, “I’m afraid I have returned with some terrible news. I regret to tell you that, King Jude has fallen during the battle.” Roonie claps her hand to her mouth and cries, “Daddy!” She tries to contain her tears until Luke has finished explaining and scrunches her eyes tightly. “We did all we could to protect the good King, but we were caught off guard when we were hit with an ambush from behind. Cade, Roonie, I’m very sorry to bring you this news. I grew to know the King well, he was a good man” Luke finishes somberly.
Cade stands and walks to the window looking out as he rubs his hand over the hair of his chin. “Father…” Nora hears him whisper. As Luke embraces Roonie, Nora see’s the sunlight catch on a single tear that is sliding down Cade’s cheek. Discretely he wipes it away and takes a deep breath turning back to face them. “Has he any word for us” he asks strongly. “Yes, he wanted me to tell you to believe in yourself the way that he has always believed in you. Roonie, he told me to make sure I take care of you.” Luke replies and then continues, “I had hoped for a more joyous occasion for this to occur, but after talking with your father, he made me promise to do this as soon as I had returned.” He then kneels down before Roonie, and reaches into his pocket as a small black box emerges. Opening it up it reveals a glittering diamond ring, and he holds the box extended as he takes Roonie’s hand.
“Your father gave his blessing for your hand in marriage before we reached Parfon’s home. Roonie Meadowstone, I have loved you since first glance. Yes, as you came round the corner and knocked that vase off the table I smiled and knew you were the most incredible creature I’d ever seen. I can’t imagine my life without you in it. You are my one and only true love, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” he asks. Roonie stands speechless for a moment, then bursts into tears. Luke raises an eyebrow and glances to Cade who smiles. All Roonie can do is nod fervently, and Luke grins ear to ear as he places the ring on her finger. Nora holds her hands against her heart and smiles excitedly and lets out a squeal of delight. “Congratulations! We’ll give you two a minute” Cade smiles and kisses his sisters cheek. Out in the hall Nora tells Cade that she’s going to find Shelly so Roonie can share the good news, and he grins and rubs his belly, “Well I’m going to find a snack! I’ve got a hollow belly and I just know Cookie will have something tasty made up!” Nora giggles and takes off to find Shelly.
As Nora passes through the hall she see’s Thatcher standing by the bathroom door. “Why Thatcher what’s the matter?” Nora asks in response to his worrisome expression. “Well Shelly’s in there and she’s pretty sick. I don’t know what’s wrong, nor do I know what to do to help her” he replies. Nora gently places her hand on his shoulder and gives him a warm smile before replying, “I’m sure she’s alright, but if it will make you feel better, I can check on her if you would like.” Thatcher perks up a bit and says, “That would be great! Thank you!”
Nora gives him a smile and enters the bathroom to find me with my head resting over the toilet. Kneeling down Nora gathers my hair, pulling it from in front of my face and asks, “Oh dear, are you alright? What can I do to help?” “I don’t know what’s wrong with me! I felt great last night, and I woke up feeling like this, this morning. Maybe I’m coming down with the flu?” I say with a small frown. “Aw sweetie I don’t think anyone’s been sick around here lately. Maybe we should see Cirrus, she might have something to help you feel better. She’s in the royal enchantment room just now, but I’m sure she’s not too busy to see you” Nora tells me sympathetically. “You’re right. There have been alot of strange things happening around here lately, and I don’t wanna take a chance on this being something serious. Nora, you’re a dear friend of mine, would you mind coming along with Thatcher and I to talk to Cirrus?” I ask. “Not at all! Let’s get you to your feet and be on our way” She tells me.
As we enter the royal enchantment room, Cirrus is explaining spells and ingredients to Tulip. Cirrus glances at me, then at Thatcher, then Nora. Tulip will you please give us moment,” Nora asks her and She nods leaving the room. “My goodness child! What’s happened to you?” Cirrus asks. “I wish I knew. I was feeling just fine until I woke up earlier. I think I may be coming down with the flu” I explain. Cirrus gives me a grin before speaking, “Oh sweet girl, it’s not the flu! You have a special light to your eyes, and your skin is radiant! There’s a look about you, it’s the look every woman gets when she knows she’s about to become a mother” Cirrus beams. “A wha-” Thatcher exclaims pressing his palm to his head in bewilderment. “I-I’m with child!?” I blurt out in shock. Cirrus just smiles ear to ear, then replies, “Yes. It’s true! I can give you something for the nausea and to help you relax.” “That would be wonderful” I reply. “Oh, Shelly! How delightful! Congratulations to you!” Nora cries out. Nora grabs me and embraces me in a snug squeeze, and I smile a rather confused but happy smile. Cirrus then hands me some ginger from her herbal cabinet and says, “This will help with the nausea, just mix this in your tea three times daily. It will help you feel better in no time. Now, this is a salve you can rub on just like a lotion, it will sooth your anxiousness, and help you relax. Congratulations my dear, congratulations to you both” Cirrus says giving Thatcher a wink.
I give Cirrus a slight smile and thank her as I walk over towards Thatcher who appears to have wandered away from us, and is mumbling to himself in what appears to be confusion. “Neither one of us planned for this to happen, and I don’t want you thinking this is some scheme I came up with to get you to stay with me. I’ll fully understand if you decide to just walk away from me” I tell him. Thatcher wraps his arms around me as he gently places his hand on my belly and replies, “Shelly, I’m just as shocked as you are, but I’m not going anywhere! That night when I met you in the forest, I saw something in your eyes I had never seen before, and I knew from that moment on that I wanted to be a part of it. Shelly, I’m in love with you. I have been from just after the moment I met you. My heart stopped when I realized you are with child, but only from excitement. You’re carrying the gift of us, and our future together. I couldn’t be happier!” I burst into emotional tears and Thatcher smiles scooping me up in a loving kiss.