Brev was very small. As the group entered the village there seemed to be only seven houses, many small children were running around playing together and some of the older children were helping their parents tend to the gardens or the animals. There were only the seven brick houses but multiple families resided in there, the families are very poor so Brev was very fond of a communal living situation where everyone looked out for each other.
‘Excuse me.’ Lucianus stopped his horse, a man carrying a basket of vegetables in his arms at the sight of the crown prince and his entourage he stumbled and stuttered, ‘My lord.’
‘Peace. We are looking for a Tomas, we were told he is a farmer here.’
‘Ol’ Tom?’ The man pointed to a small, lonely house on the edge of the village, ‘He lives over there. Be careful sire.’ The man leaned in a bit closer to the prince, ‘Hold close to yer coins sire. And tell yer knights to watch their backs. Ol’ Tom’s daughter is a bit of a trouble maker.’ The man then walked off chuckling to himself.
Tomas’s house was very small, made only for him and his daughter. Their house was strategically placed farthest away from the villagers. His daughter’s reputation for mischief was very well known throughout not only their village but of course the surrounded villages. He was a very patient man who made sure to do everything he could to help anyone around him given he had the means to.
‘Excuse me.’ Tomas straightened standing up from his gardening, ‘Your majesty.’ He bowed low, taking off his hat, ‘May I be of assistance to your highness?’
‘We are actually here to see your daughter.’ Annthea urged her horse forward until she was next to her brother. Tomas’s eyebrows shot up, worry creased his forehead, ‘What has she done?’
‘Do not worry; she saved the princess’s life from bandits a couple days ago. We just wish to reward her.’
‘We are just humble peasants your highness.’
‘Nonsense. Is she available? I would like to meet my savior.’ Tomas’s lips spread into a proud grin.
‘My daughter has never had visitors that arrived grateful or in good spirits. But I’m sorry to say she has gone out today. I can try to fetch her for you if you wouldn’t mind waiting inside-Oh!’ Tomas quickly waved over a boy, ‘Faelan!’ Faelan made his way over to the group, ‘Yes Tomas?’
‘Would you know where my daughter is?’ The younger boy glanced over to the group of royals, then back to Tomas, ‘She went into the forest as usual sir.’
‘Please lead the prince, princess and their knights to her.’ Faelan eyed Annthea suspiciously for a bit, Tomas tapped the boy on the shoulder, ‘Faelan?’
‘I will only take the Princess sir.’
‘The princess will not go anywhere with you alone!’ One of the guards, Donovan rose up hand on the hilt of his sword. Annthea held her arm out to calm the guard, ‘Please allow my maidservant to accompany us.’ Faelan nodded agreement.
‘Annthea-.’ Lucianus slid down from his horse, ‘Are you sure that is a wise idea?’
‘I will be fine brother. Rhetta will be with me.’ Lucianus still looked skeptic, ‘I will accompany you as well.’ The boy just nodded his consent.
‘Very well your majesty.’ Rhetta gave her mistress a nervous look.
‘Hush Rhetta, it will be all right.’
Faelan lead them through the forest quietly the prince would try to make small conversation with the boy to learn more about this girl who saved his sister’s life, but Faelan was stubborn and didn’t speak a single word. His eyes occasionally seemed to be clouded and darker, but Lucianus didn’t notice.
The boy was one of the Taellius, or Messengers, they are people gifted with telepathy the ability to send messages of warnings and information to anyone. Messengers were stationed in every village for every kingdom. They reported to the Paeriamos, sending warnings or announcements, they were mainly used as spies and known for the stealth –being able to move about without being heard or seen.
‘She is over there.’
Faelan walked into a clearing, the girl was sitting next to a large lake leaning against a rock leisurely staring out at the water occasionally dragging her finger through the lake creating ripples disturbing the once calm waters.
‘What do you want Faelan?’
‘These people wanted to meet with you.’ The girl’s eyes widened a bit at the sight of the princess, ‘I wanted to thank you for saving my maidservant and I the other day.’
Annthea took a small step towards her. She stood up swerving around to face Annthea, ‘It was nothing your highness.’
Lucianus stepped in front of Annthea and gave a curt bow in respect. The girl looked a bit confused at the sight of the prince’s lowered head. Annthea wanted to speak to her privately, to let her know that no one knew of her true ability.
‘The king wishes to reward you for your quick wit and skill to fight against the bandits.’
‘My skill and wit sire?’
‘The princess has told us you were very quick in your thinking and outsmarted the bandits to save her and her maidservant.’
Realization dawned on the girl’s face she seemed to relax a bit the tension leaving her eyes. A small smirk pulled at her lips.
‘Of course sire. I am the quickest and wittiest girl in all of Brev.’ Faelan scoffed behind them.
‘What do they call you?’ The girl now turned to Annthea before offering a bit of a sloppy curtsy.
‘They call me many things your highnesses. The mischief maker, petty egg thief, lazy daughter, but mostly they refer to me as the infamous Brat of Brev.’
With a flourish of her hand she bowed exaggeratedly low. Rhetta coughed to hide the giggled that bubbled from her throat. Lucianus raised an eyebrow unamused.
‘How do they call you then?’ The now confident and smirking girl jumped to stand on the rock, hands behind her straight back, ‘Many things that, I have been told, are things a proper lady should never say.’
‘And how should we call you?’
‘Whatever you wish sire.’
Annthea had to quickly raise a hand to her lips to keep from breaking into a smile at the irritation etched into her brother’s face. Jumping into the conversation Annthea smiled at the girl whose eyes were twinkling now with mischief at the crown prince losing his temper.
‘We wish to call you by your given name.’
‘Well why did you not say that in the first place?’ She jumped from the rock and stood in front of the royals.
‘Faye, daughter of Tomas of Brev.’
The group made their way back to Faye’s house –her father insisted that before talking the Prince and Princess had dinner. It wasn’t much but they accepted and received everything placed in front of them. Annthea never dined in the house of a common person before. They had simple food of grains and stew with little meat in it, of course the bowls of Annthea, her brother and their entourage had more meat than Faye or her father. The inside of their house was just barely big enough to fit Annthea, Lucianus, Rhetta and their four guards.
‘Thank you sir, your hospitality is greatly appreciated.’ Tomas chuckled softly and shook his head humbly, taking the prince’s bowl from the table handing it to Faye who collected the other bowls and taking them to the sink for washing.
‘You’re too kind sire. We do not have much but we are happy you enjoyed the meal.’
‘As we have stated earlier, the king wishes to reward your daughter.’
‘We do not require a reward sire.’
Faye leaned against the wall crossing her arms, the tension returning causing her posture to stiffen again.
‘You have saved my life, I am indebted to you.’ Faye inclined her head a bit, her gaze piercing Annthea’s. She looked a bit curious, what did a royal want to do with her? Faye knew that Annthea and Rhetta heard her and the bandit talking, and that she did not simply save the princess and maidservant with witty conversation and quick thinking.
‘The king wants to offer you residence within the citadel and employment within the castle.’
Tomas stared back at the princess, to live within the walls of Adunan one had to be of a higher status than Tomas and Faye currently were. And to live within Adunan one was subject to all the politics and the happenings of the kingdom, in the heard of the kingdom. It was a high honor but also it also carried a high standard, especially for people like Tomas and Faye who had never had an education higher than practical work required for survival.
Faye cast a quick glance at her father. He was obviously weighing everything out.
‘Forgive us your majesty. But we will need to think about this.’ Tomas smiled graciously at them, he returned Faye’s gaze.
‘Of course, take your time.’
‘Please, you are free to use our home for your comfort.’
Tomas promptly got up and made his way towards the sink to finish cleaning up. Annthea stood up but stopped at her brother’s hand on her arm.
‘What do they need to think about?’
‘Just be patient Annthea.’
Faye stood, leaning against the wall a little bit longer, watching Annthea and her brother. Tomas had no idea that his daughter was one of the Paeriamos, her mother was one as well but she hid it from her husband, Tomas did not know why his daughter always went into the forest on her own or why she disappeared at times for days. Tomas was worried for his daughter, if she was moved into the kingdom of Adunan and if she was found worthy enough to work for the princess she would be subject to the views and judgments of the nobles and higher-class who live and work in the kingdom. And knowing his daughter she would get in trouble as soon as she stepped foot in the kingdom.
Tomas put down the now dry dishes and turned around to see his daughter walking up to him. She was almost the spitting image Abbey.
‘I’m sorry Papa.’
‘For once my dear girl, you have done nothing wrong.’
Faye smiled and leaned her head on her father’s shoulder.
‘What are you thinking?’
He was quiet. They had become quite settled in Brev, they knew everyone and everyone grew to at least tolerate Faye and her albeit childish and mischievous personality. The two of them had a house, not a grand house but a house that fit them well, a house with a nice and flourishing garden. And her mother was buried in the village burial lots –a main reason that Tomas was very reluctant to leave. But in his heart he knew that though all of the stress of working for the royals, if they lived within the walls they would be safer and if offered employment he could provide more for Faye and maybe even get her some sort of literary education. Her mother would have wanted that.
‘Do you want to go?’ Yes, if he were to answer her truthfully then he would have said yes.
‘Not if you want to stay.’
Faye waited until her father and their royal guests fell asleep before she grabbed her coat and silently made her way to the Center House. The Center House was the largest house in the small village; it was divided into two sections, the men and the women, it was an orphanage as well as the home for elderly or widowed. She stopped at a window peeking inside to make sure that everyone was asleep.
Peeking up again she tried to not be impatient waiting for the Taellius boy to answer her.
‘Faelan! Ariante! (Wake up!)’
Smiling at the soft whistle that answered her she made her way to the door trying to be as silent as possible.
‘What do you need Baetheus?’
The poor boy was rubbing the sleep from his eyes, hair was tousled into a style resembling a bird’s nest.
‘A meeting with Alphaeus Eilin, tell her that I’ll be on my way.’
‘Do you need me to accompany you?’
‘No, you rest. Antheire, luvienthien. (Thank you, go with peace)’
Faelan nodded, eyes darkening and clouding just a bit.
‘Ana lien ie. Luvienthien. (Go safely, go with peace).’
Her name was Eilin, she was the leader –the queen of the Paeriamos. They chose their leaders by whoever was proven to be worthy of the role. Eilin was an Arividen –a Seer, given the gift of dreams that showed a potential future. She was also the person who decided if someone with gifts were found and made sure they were protected and trained in their society. For Paeriamos there is one leader the Alphaeus and about five second in commands –Baetheus, who prove themselves with strength of the gift. Whoever is chosen to be Baetheus also has to show wisdom with compassion and punishment, any potential Baetheus goes through a test administered by the Alphaeus.
Faye was the youngest of the five, she was deemed strong enough when she was just ten a year after her mother died. Her mother had contacted Eilin when she thought that Faye’s gift was strong enough, she wanted Eilin to take Faye into a training period. But she got sick before Faye was formally introduced. When she was ten Eilin sought her out and when Faye proved herself to be one of the Natvilior –element bearers. Her gift was with the water, she was one of the only Paeriamos to bear the gift of controlling one of the elements and that alone made her gift very powerful.
When she was almost eleven years old she was taken to the citadel to see the royal family making their way through the market greeting and smiling at their subjects.
‘Do you see that man Faye?’
‘He is the one who wishes all of us dead.’
The older man was smiling with his beautiful queen on his arm. Their children were trailing behind them laughing and playing with the children that were wandering the market. He laughed and shook hands with the shopkeepers, he did not look like a murderer.
‘Do not let your guard down.’
Fay looked up to Eilin, the Paeriamos queen held a stern look in her eyes unease creasing her forehead.
‘He has ordered the deaths of our innocent people if they are found.’
Eilin pulled Faye closer to her side as she pulled her cloak tighter around her shoulders. The king and royal family made their way through the crowd closer to where Eilin and Faye were hiding.
‘Offers them no sort of fair trial. No sort of mercy. He ordered them hung, drown, burned alive.’
The haunted queen turned away abruptly pulling Faye to the side. The little girl allowed the older woman to guide her through the crowded area.
‘What does he deserve?’
Wide eyes looked up at Eilin. Confusion written on the young girl’s face, and for a moment Eilin wondered if she was too young. Too young to learn these harsh truths, how her kind was being hunted and killed. But before she could change her mind Faye straightened, her gaze was set on the royal family watching them share in a joke together laughing and the townspeople blissfully ignorant of the horrors that the lost queen had witnessed, the war that was starting to form outside the citadel walls.
‘Who am I to say what he deserves?’
Faye turned her attention back to Eilin, the Queen and leader to the lost, forgotten, hurt and broken Paeriamos. She was too young. But the gaze in her eyes was strong and confident. This was the girl she saw in her vision those many nights ago, this strong girl who would hold herself tall in the midst of a battle stronger than any of the warrior men who charged at her. One who Eilin could trust to one day be leading their people with compassion and strength.
‘Donna thonni,Faye? (What brings you)’ The Queen stood in the clearing waiting for Faye to arrive, the moonlight bouncing off the silver ring that circled her head, her purple robes made her look ethereal like a true queen, not just a queen hidden within the forest.
‘Le-ilohiem, Alphaeus. (You know the reason.)’
Amusement crinkled in the Queen’s eyes. Of course she knew the reason, the Queen always knew what Faye would ask her. Although it was just a potential future she would see, Faelan would report to her everything that happened with Faye so she knew when the potential future was becoming definite.
‘You must go Faye.’
‘But it is the citadel. And I will be surrounded by the royals, I will be found out.’
‘We need someone on the inside.’
‘I thought you had people on the inside your majesty.’
Eilin placed a hand against Faye’s cheek, the girl came to be like a daughter to her. Faye’s own mother had been a dear friend to Eilin before her untimely death, so it was due to a promise she made to her that Eilin made sure to train Faye to be able to control her gifts extraordinarily.
‘But they are simple Taellius. They cannot save the ones we find within the citadel. You can.’
‘Can not the other Baetheus attend to such a problem?’
‘They could, but you were chosen not them.’
It was almost always a death mission to go into the citadel and save someone before their death was carried out. Everyone who had been called to such a mission never returned.
‘I am to go alone then?’
The Queen smiled fondly at Faye, shaking her head.
‘Of course not, I am sending Faelan with you. And within the citadel there is a Valliator, who will be told of your arrival. He goes by the name of Byrne. He will be there to help you and protect you if you need it.’
‘I did not say I would need protection.’
Faye did not like Valliators, they were people gifted with strength stronger than any man which made them ideal warriors. In the war they were the Alphaeus’s champions, but their enhanced strength made them arrogant. They thought themselves to be invincible, the only Valliator that Faye met was Actaeon who had been the bandit tried to hurt the princess and ever since she moved to Brev and started her training he had always tried to bully her.
‘And I did not say you had a choice.’
‘Le-iloheim, Alphaeus. (I understand)’
‘Luvienthien Faye, ihai benneithian. (Go with peace Faye, the journey is long)’
Brev woke up early the next morning, Annthea could hear people outside their little house bustling about with their morning chores. The bed that she slept on provided her with an aching back as she stretched, she was given Faye’s ‘room’. It was a bedroll that was placed behind a tattered curtain. Annthea did not understand how a witch allowed herself to live in such conditions. Why did she not just use a spell to clean up the house? Why subject herself to such poverty? Was it a ruse to throw her father and his men off their trail? Rhetta’s place next to Annthea was also empty, but she could hear her voice rolling in from the kitchen area along with Tomas’s low answers.
‘Good morning, Milady!’
Annthea smiled up at Rhetta who handed her a small cup of water. The maidservant seemed much more at ease than she was days before.
‘Good morning. Did you see her?’
‘Not yet Milady. She was gone before I even got up.’
‘Do you know if they gave my brother an answer?’
Rhetta’s eyes widened, she cast a quick glance behind her to make sure that no one else could hear her.
‘I heard the men talking,’ she whispered, ‘they said that Tomas wants to accept you offer, but he was waiting to see what Faye wanted.’
‘Did she say anything?’
‘Not to my knowledge.’
Annthea quickly got dressed and made her way outside the house, her brother and his men were checking the village. Lucianus, although a bit more serious, always cared for those who lived less fortunate lives always wanting to give whatever he could to help them with food or living conditions. It made Annthea proud to watch as he talked and listened patiently to the villagers, keeping his men in line. He would make a great king.
‘Good morning your highness.’ Tomas smiled at Annthea as he placed a basket of freshly picked carrots on the floor next to her.
‘Did you sleep well?’
‘Yes, thank you.’
The ache in her back reprimanded her for lying, but her manners complimented her.
‘Where is Faye?’ Tomas frowned a bit before looking around, the villagers were very busy even so early in the morning. But Faye couldn’t be found.
‘I’m not sure, she was gone by the time I woke-.’
A large commotion caught their attention, an older man threw some baskets and old carrots yelling angrily.
‘I think I found her.’
Tomas chuckled a bit before sighing with a hint of a smile on his lips.
‘Thief! Varmint!’ Sure enough, Faye emerged from the commotion laughing, a small bag dangling from her hand.
‘Thank you Farmer Cael for your generous donation!’
‘Donation? You good for nothing trouble-maker! I donated nothin’!’
‘Then why do I have these nice potatoes wrapped up so delicately in this bag here?’
Faye feigned innocence, the farmer’s face now red.
‘You stole ‘em!’
‘Goodness, my good sir. I thought you donated them to me for my poor father slaving over a hot stove sir. He had been using up all of our own for the wonderful royals visiting sir.’
The man was now shaking, rage evident on his face.
‘You would not wish these poor royals to go hungry would you sir?’
Cael groaned in exasperation throwing his hands up into the air in defeat. Faye’s eyes sparkling in victory. She bowed in exaggeration
‘Your donation will be well received.’
Tomas shook his head at Faye as she sauntered over to them, a faux-innocent smirk playing at her lips.
‘What is with that face father?’
‘We have enough potatoes.’
‘And now we have more than enough.’
She gave her father the sack of potatoes, and nodding to Annthea and Rhetta before walking into the house.
‘Forgive her your majesty. She’s just saying goodbye to a favorite past-time of hers. Upsetting poor, old farmer Cael.’
Tomas chuckled, smiling to himself at the small sack of potatoes. Annthea looked up at him questioningly.
‘What do you mean, saying goodbye?’
Lucianus made his way over to his sister, his guards walking closely behind him. Lucianus nodded to Tomas, ‘Has your daughter answered you?’
Tomas looked back towards the house, ‘We will be more than grateful to accept your generous offer sire.’
Faye stuffed the last bit of her clothes into her rucksack. She took one last look around her small area before picking up the last thing she needed, her one treasured item. It was just a simple leather cord with three blue, purple and red wooden beads dangling. The bracelet was a gift her father made for Abbey when they were just courting. The leather was fraying a bit and the paint chipping from the beads, but Faye wore it every day.
‘Are you ready?’
Tomas had peeked his head behind the curtain, Faye quickly put her bracelet on and swung her rucksack onto her shoulder.
They rested at Parvas once more for the night before making their way back to the castle the old lady was more than willing to offer them rooms and meals again. But Lucianus insisted that they would be paying this time.
Tomas was currently sitting with Faelan –who Faye insisted had to accompany them, since he was so much like a brother to her –the prince and guards getting to know each other over a few pints of beer provided by the owner as a gift. Annthea looked over to see Faye make her way through the busy dining room of the inn.
Annthea stood up and followed the path Faye took with Rhetta close behind her. Faye made her way through the sleepy village. She slipped through the buildings towards the lake, they found her sitting on the docks leaning against a mast looking out at the moon-lit water.
‘You don’t have to hide your highness.’
‘I did not mean to sneak around.’
Faye just smiled and lazily outlined the moon with her finger.
‘Ask whatever is on your mind your highness.’
Rhetta nudged Annthea, she was a bit uneasy to be around the witch. Rhetta lost her father in the war, he was drafted when things were getting desperate. He was a farmer, not a warrior.
‘Why did you save me?’
‘You were a princess, in distress. I did what any of your people would have done.’
‘But you are…’
Faye turned her head to face Annthea, her eyes glinted ominously the moonlight seemed to have been caught in her gaze piercing Annthea and almost daring her to speak the unspoken.
‘I am what? Your majesty.’
The title spat out like an after-thought, a threat. Royalty did not back down against threats, Annthea stood up straighter steeling her gaze.
‘A witch.’ Rhetta glanced back and forth between her mistress and Faye. Ready to jump in front of Annthea if she needed to. Faye stared a bit dumbfounded at Annthea, the corner of her lips quirking upwards just a bit before she broke into laughter.
‘What is so amusing?’
‘Forgive me princess.’
Faye stood up, her back once again to two other girls her silhouette illuminated with a silver glow. She glanced back her eyes once again shining, but this time with a bit of mischief.
‘I am no witch your highness. Despite what you hear about me.’
‘You cannot deny it, I saw you.’
‘It is not by sorcery or witch-craft by which I am able to do those things.’
‘Then what is it?’
Faye gestured them towards her, and despite her poor maidservants gentle tugs on her sleeve Annthea stepped forwards.
‘Would you like to see?’
Faye’s arms were now stretched out over the gentle waters, the moonlight now seemingly was caught in the girl’s eyes. Annthea never witnessed the Paeriamos up close, the closest she had ever been was when Faye rescued her but now she was only an arm’s length away from her. Faye was staring back at her expectantly.
‘Well, your majesty?’
Faye had her arm raised, fingertips stretched out as though she wanted to touch the sky and bring the moon down towards it’s reflection in the water. The girl’s lips stretched into a smug smirk, as though she already won Annthea’s curiosity.
Without even waiting for her reply, Faye spun around facing the water the palm of her other hand that wasn’t stretched to the sky flew up to stand next to her other arm. Droplets of water flew into the night sky, like little diamonds glittering in the moonlight. Her arms stretched out in front of her as though the little water droplets were on hundreds of thin strings, they swirled into the moon before breaking back into the lake like little, falling stars.
‘That is not magic?’
Annthea gasped, feeling the breath come back to her. Rhetta gaped on, mouth slightly open. Faye shrugged her insistent smirk growing into an irritatingly wide grin. Feigning an innocent expression throwing her hands up in the air with a shrug.
‘No sort of enchantments, charms or spells.’
‘Then how do you explain it?’
Faye’s hands fell back down, pursing her lips thinking to herself. She turned back towards the water waving her hands out again the water responding in a dance. Little droplets jumping at the surface of the water, little dancers in the moonlight glowing like silver and diamonds. Annthea was reminded of the beautiful noble women dressed in colorful silken dresses and jewels as they danced during the parties held in the castle when she was a girl. She remembers after the war, the ladies not dressed in their colorful gowns dancing or laughing, but crying and dressed in black mourning for their sons and husbands. With another wave of her hand, the dancers dropped back into the water.
‘Just a gift I was born with.’
Before Annthea could speak again Faelan and Lucianus came out from the village and walked towards them.
‘Annthea you cannot just go off alone like that. It’s dangerous.’
‘I was accompanied by Rhetta, and Faye has proven herself worthy to guard me.’
Lucianus sighed, shaking his head shooting a quick glare at Faye for allowing his sister to be out and about late at night without notifying him. They had been eating dinner when one of the guards notified Lucianus that the princess was missing and not in her room.
‘Well, at least let me know before you go.’
‘I will. Forgive me, I did not mean to worry you.’
Lucianus escorted Annthea back to the inn with Rhetta following behind them, casting a quick glance back towards Faye and Faelan standing on the dock. Faelan sent a disapproving glare back at Faye who still stood there on the edge of the dock arms crossed.
‘Senthanos Baetheus. (You’re acting senseless.)’
Faye huffed a bit, avoiding his gaze. Faelan had warned her that the princess and her maidservant followed her out of the inn, but she needed the fresh air to clear her head. She wasn’t a spy and she was not trained to be a spy. Whenever the queen sent her out on a mission it was for something that needed action, break up a fight between Paeriamos or if there was a Taellius in trouble she was the one sent to rescue them before they were caught.
‘Ithienor, le-iloheim en. (Don’t worry, she knows)’
‘That does not mean you just show off.’
‘I was not showing off.’
Faye feigned indignation at his comment, he just shook his head before bowing slightly to take his leave.
‘Serannon-ie Baetheus. (Sleep well)’