ELEVEN

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Chapter Eleven

Looking out at the Temple before me, it strikes me as unfamiliar. Yes, it is the same one I found myself waking up in as I was in a new world, but it seems so different now. Covered in snow, the Temple stands three stories tall, columns surrounding the large opening where stairs lead up to the entrance. It seems dark now, as if some sort of dark power has consumed it. Glancing to the King who looks to Duke Gravon, he seems on edge, nervous almost as he gives instructs and tells some of his men to guard the others that enter the Temple. For me, I know I will be entering that Temple once more, but rather than nervous like many of these men, I feel relieved. I should be scared through, worried that the King may be on to me or that the Temple may suddenly not hold the answers that I seek in the form of my father's journal. As I take in a deep breath and dismount my horse as I see the King and some of his trackers do so, it is then that I begin to feel a bit nervous, every step I take my legs feeling unreliable. "Lady Candice, do not be afraid to lead the way," King Kyril informs, meeting my gaze as he motions for me to head for the Temple. It is not, not just to how he words it, but because of the look he gives me, the glance he spares me. He is supposed to lead his men in, not me, I am not their leader on this quest nor their King, but I simple female from a pack that cannot shift.

"Right away, my King," I reply, trying not to sound worried or on edge as I take my first steps forward, my cloak heavy as it rests on my shoulders, dragging behind as I pull it close, not for warmth, but for comfort as my nerves begin to act up. Letting out a deep breath, I take my steps forward, heading for the Temple as the King and his men follow in pursuit, looking to the Temple not with awe, but in fear. I heard just earlier of the rumors and events that this Temple is surrounded by, how many find it a fearful place depending on your species or perhaps even beliefs. As we approach the Temple, my palms become sweaty as I take my first steps upon the stairs, looking up to the entrance before me as the King walks close behind me, as if breathing down my neck. My legs carry me up the set of stairs heading into the Temple, King Kyril taking from the leather sash around his torso a small stone, throwing it into the air as he hums a tune.

The stone levitates in the air, lighting up the whole entrance of the Temple, displaying the exact location where I woke up what feels like hours ago. A simple Temple, but unlike last time when this place struck me as some minimal stone structure, this time it holds so much more than I had perceived. The same marble slab where I woke up is in the center of the room, the white marble polished as the sides hold a certain carving on it. But unlike last time, this time there are pink roses laid across the top, some of the petals having fallen to the floor, but the stems of the roses are all gathered in a lace ribbon, tied into a bow. This is not some random set of roses, but they were placed here for a reason, and as my skin growls pale and my eyes widen, I realize something none of these men must ever realize.

"What kind of flowers are those?" Duke Gravon asks, walking ahead of me and to the roses as he touches one of the flowers, examining it. "I have never seen these before."

"Roses," a random voice answers, causing every head to turn back to see a young man standing in the entrance. Carrying the flag of Kyril's kingdom, he bows his head to all of us, eyes briefly meeting mine as he offers us his insight. "These are roses, they grow in the Southern Mountains where I grew up."

"The Southern Mountains?" Duke Gravon asks, as if in disbelief. "Where the sun never shines and the dragons roam? What an off location, not to mention a five days journey on horse. A long journey for this person to lay these flowers here."

The young man hands the flag to a tracker, taking off the hood covering his face with a shadow, his bright blue eyes revealed as he looks to the flowers. "These flowers are new to my village, not like they started growing yesterday, but Heka brought them with him. These are the flowers he planted everywhere over the mountain range."

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