~Bravaldor - city in the mountains~
It was not part of her mission, but she could not resist her burning curiosity. She knew there was something else the humans were hiding from them, a secret plan to prevent the return of her god, or perhaps destroy him altogether.
She had heard it whispered behind royal walls and despite her sisters' insisting that it was nothing to worry about, when she saw the confidence with which the human kings held themselves, she could not help but wonder.
Today she would find out what their secret was. She would warn her father and surely, her efforts would be generously awarded.
Tentatively, her hands picked up the envelope. She broke the seal, which she could see despite the darkness of the cellar. Her kind did not need light to see. The symbol embossed on the seal was an old one, one used back when gods and men mingled freely. Back before the end of the world had begun.
She opened the envelope, careful not to damage the seal further as she peeled it off, and read the yellowed paper inside:
"Mortal men, heed us, and heed us well. These shall be our last commands to you before we depart. You wonder why we cannot be by your side as we have been before, in your time of suffering. Alas, we may not tell you this, lest the enemy uses it against us. But know this, dear sons of Hope; though our one true God may be deceased, we are with you. Heed our commands and victory shall be yours;
I. The necromancer is to create an army, under the control of Solace, as the elves have abandoned humanity.
II. The watchful eyes of Wyden are to keep watch for the enemy's return.
III. The brave men of Bravaldor are to forge the finest of weapons, they will build within the mountains a fortress in which all men will reside when the end does come.
IV. The dragons we have slain, and with your army, the shifters you will end.
Fare well, and Hope be with you."
She scoffed. Was that really it? Was this the grand plan humanity and its gods had? It was almost... sad.
Finally needing to use the candle she had brought with her, she rubbed her fingers and concentrated. She snapped them to spark a flame, which blossomed into existence. Her shadow danced alone in the empty room, containing only a metal chest. Casting a flame with magic was a neat trick she'd learnt from the humans during her years spent pretending to be one of them. Today, those years came to an end.
She used the candle's flame to melt the wax on the underside of the seal and resealed the envelope. Only one with a very keen eye would notice that the seal had been tampered with, and even they'd have to be paying very close attention.
Satisfied that the mountains had nothing else for her, she placed the envelope back into the chest. She locked it and stuffed the keys into a sleeve pocket on her borrowed servant dress. The owner would not miss it, the dead often didn't miss much of what they left behind.
Before she could turn to leave, she heard boots beating hastily against the floor followed by voices echoing in the passage outside.
She cursed and drew two knives from her boots. It was about time she left this claustrophobic city anyway.
~Solestia - where peace and prosperity reign~
"Give it up, princess. There's nowhere left to run!"
The guard's crossbow was carefully aimed at the young princess' chest, his finger gently brushing against the trigger. A second guard arrived, closing off her path to the left. Ducking low and bolting in that direction was no longer an option. She heard the clanging of metal as a third appeared. It seemed the right was off limits as well. She started backing away as they converged upon her. Behind her, a thousand-foot fall into an oily moat.
"Why do you wait? Kill her!" the king ordered as he emerged onto the platform.
Although said to be the strongest man in all human kingdoms, it seemed his gold-laced, layered robes had slowed his ascent to the top of the city walls.
"Are you deaf? Shoot, you fools!" he commanded again, seeing the hesitation in his guards.
The princess also saw this and took advantage of it. She jumped, gambling on the fact that they would not fire.
A loud splash thundered across the castle and waves of water crashed against the wall as she landed in the moat, too loud an impact for it to have merely been just a little girl.
"You insubordinate, incompetent imbeciles!" the king spat, angrily shoving one of the guards aside to make his way toward the edge. He looked down into the moat and his face paled.
"Set it ablaze, and send in Knights to recover the body."
"Light the moat? Knights? But surely she's dead. After-"
"Follow your orders or I'll have you sent to the dungeons!" the king bellowed. The three guards ran off without another word.
"Dense buffoons," he whispered to himself as he looked up into the distance.
Far past the moat and the people's intricate houses, past sheets of farmland and the , he could see a hazy dark mass that was the beginning of The Walking Forest.
"May the gods have mercy upon our souls."
Do share the story if you are enjoying it. Shout out to the following wattpad accounts that helped edit this chapter: H.M. Fuqua and Rebel Town
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