Chapter Five: Firelander

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I was surprised to find the king standing near my bedroom door, slightly turned away so that his velvet cape glorified the hallway. He seemed to be deep in thought, almost to the point that I didn't want to interrupt him. I quietly looked around, noticing that his guards were nowhere in sight. I wondered if he'd made them leave, or if he had journeyed all the way to my room alone. Gaining a bit of bravery, I spoke first.

"Your majesty."

When he turned toward me, I gracefully curtsied and met his beaming eyes. He seemed to always be in good spirits, contrary to his own son.

"Ah, Lady Anya, how lovely to see you this morning." He glanced at my baggy attire and frowned. "Are the maids not dressing you properly?"

"I just came back from training," I explained. "I can't train in gowns, your highness."

He laughed.

"You are quite right, forgive me for assuming otherwise."

I hesitated. "Your grace, might I inquire on your position right outside of my bedroom?"
"Oh." His cheeks turned red. "I am making visits to the guests in my castle...making sure they are well accommodated...even my warriors in training."

"Well, I find that my room is fit, the food is quite superb, and the training is awful," I admitted.

"I supposed it is, especially with my son leading the lessons. Let me know if he gets too hard on you."

"Between you and I, your grace, I find him to be especially tough on me," I admitted.
"He always is rude to the ones he likes," the King laughed, waving my accusation off as if it was child's play. "Don't worry about him, he likes to bark but under my strict orders, he cannot bite. Even if he says he will, he cannot."

The King took several steps toward me and whispered in my ear. His breath was nowhere near as pleasantly cold as his son's and it made me shiver in the wrong way. "That'll be our little secret. And for gifting you with that piece of knowledge, I'll expect a favor in return someday."

My skin crawled. "Yes, your grace."
"Very well," he backed away. "Glad to see that you are finding everything to be up to standard. I shall see you another time, my lady."

The King' cape slashed through the air as he spun on his heels and walked away. I stood there, trying to process everything that had just happened. The King wanted a favor in return, and I was to give him this favor someday. I wondered what he could possibly want.

Just then, I felt static, and my heart quickened like the pace of a horse in battle. I only felt such thickness in the air when the Prince was near. Everything Titus had said in the hallway rushed toward the front of my thoughts. The Mad Prince was bad business. I quickly walked toward my door and shut myself inside.

I stood there, just near the entrance, listening for something...anything. It took five minutes for the static to lift from the air, and then it took me ten additional minutes to finally calm down. I was thankful that Mandy wasn't waiting for me inside of my room, I needed the time alone.

The next morning was a repeat of the morning before as the guards rushed into my room.

Tying my hands behind my back and covering my face, they led me to the same location as last time. I honestly didn't understand the need for the scarf over my eyes as I could tell where I was: West of the castle.

The scarves and rope had been removed, and we all gasped at what stood before us. Two men from the Fire Clan, tied up with cloth around their eyes. The only difference between these two men and us was the material used to keep them tied up. Steel. They can't burn through steel fast enough to attack.

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