Chapter Twenty

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After the guard interrupted mine and Noah's date, we immediately left the beautiful meadow and are now rushing our way to the edge of the kingdom where the rogue army stands waiting to talk to Noah. 

I have no clue as to why these invaders suddenly wish to make themselves known or exposing themselves to simply talk to Noah. It would seem that the better option would have been to catch us by surprise and attack, but it feels as though there is something more behind this. More devious than a simple attack.

I can tell Noah is just as curious as I am. Ever since we left the meadow he has held a frown on his face, almost as if he was searching for a reason as to why this could be happening. I wonder if he thought that this could be something his parents are behind like I have, but after continuously going over this it doesn't seem likely for them to be up to something. So Noah and I continue to gallop to the outskirts of the kingdom with several other guards surrounding us for protection clueless. 

Suddenly I feel our horse slow down to a simple trot, while Noah asks one of the guards, "This is where they requested to meet?" I look up and see nothing but thick trees that cast shadows as big as the surrounding mountains.

"Yes sir," the guard replies. "The message was very short, but clear. They wanted to meet right where the edge of the kingdom meets rogue territory.

I almost wish I could have stayed back at the palace and spent time with Mother and Agatha, but I know that whatever this meeting is about effects more than just Noah. More than just me. Whatever this has to deal with must effect the whole kingdom and everyone who lives in it.

"Sera, are you alright?" Noah whispers over his shoulder.

I turn my head to Noah and show him a fake strength that a queen would have to do. "Of course, just worried this may not be the safest place to meet."

"I know, darling. That is why I called for extra guards. We have enough protection for nothing to happen to either of us." I simply nod at this response, not entirely convinced by his words.

Noah dismounts the horse and then helps me down as well. The guards must have got off their horses while Noah was talking to me, because I see them now doing what seems to be a quick survey of the area. Though, I don't understand how they could see anything with woods being as dark as they are. Completely contrasting to where I was only a few hours ago. 

Noah takes hold of my hand as we both step forward, looking for the reason as to why we are here. Curiosity is now bubbling inside me, and the anticipation is causing the hair on my body to stand at attention.

Suddenly three people seems to appear in the shadows, keeping themselves hidden enough for us to not see their face, yet allowing their presence to be known. "Welcome, your majesty. So glad you could join us," a deep raspy voice comes from one of the shadows.

Noah holds my hand tighter, while slightly pushing me behind him as a way of protection. "Reveal yourself," Noah commands in the strongest voice I have ever heard from him.

A simple laugh echos off the trees as a response, not seeming effected by Noah. No sooner than a second later there are three people standing in front of us. Two men with hair they seemed to have left unkempt for weeks and ruggish clothing that hangs off their bodies. The other person is a women, she had dark hair that matched mine and eyes like Mothers. Looking to be...

"Devina," I manage to whisper out while clutching onto Noah for strength, not able to hold myself by myself.

The women smiles, showing she had heard me, "Hello, my baby sister."

Tears make their way to my eyes and I feel my breathing stop. I knew my sister wasn't dead. I knew she was out there somewhere. But something felt different. I have always dreamed about reuniting with my sister, but in all of those dreams I never felt this dread that I have now. Why hadn't she returned to me and Mother if she was out there? Why had she never let us know she was okay?

I push myself out from behind Noah and ask, "Dev, what is going on? Why are you here?"

A smile stretches its way across Devinas face that feels as though it should slap me. That is not my sisters smile. "Years ago, when I was took from our house, I didn't realize that it was the best thing that could happen to me. I joined a movement. A movement that would change everything. The kingdom would finally be in our control and we could ensure that no one had to suffer anymore. That no more families had to lose their loved ones like we had to. But, I wasn't the only one. As the years went on, we recruited more and more people until we finally had enough. And now we are ready."

One of the men steps forward after Devina stops talking, causing our attention to turn to him. "You see, your majesty, we are here to give you a choice. You may hand over the kingdom to us willingly and spare your life or we will take it by force.  And since we aren't ruthless tyrants like you, we will give you a day to make your decision. See you then."

And without another word the three of them turn and start walking away from us. I can't seem to make out the words that Noah is calling out after them. My head seems to be in a fog. I finally have my sister back, but at what cost? The loss of the kingdom? The loss of Noah? 

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