Glad you could join us for the next interrupted episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Now it’s Vernon’s turn.
Buoyed by the verdant glow, Vernon’s voice drew them into Fen’s past. “Since Fen’s beginning, its people have been free. Each citizen may pursue education, bond with whomever they love, and aspire to any job regardless of their ancestry. Even in the Hive, where everyone is born a Royal, they are free to leave for love or other occupations.
“Young adults wishing to serve the Queen hoped to be called to join the Suns of Glory. In times of peace, they worked to keep it; in times of war they fought to win it back. Princess Lilian and her closest friend, the accomplished and beguiling Persephone, received the Call.
“Princess Lilian was betrothed to a devoted young soldier of the Hive, but Persephone resisted the pursuit of many hopeful suitors. Only the Princess knew Persephone’s heart: ‘I’ll know my love when I find him, but I know I won’t find him in Fen.’
“Persephone’s most ardent admirer, Benito, a courageous wasp from a fine family, hoped to follow her into the Suns of Glory, but he never received the Call. Of course, he was disappointed, but he was still devoted to his Queen, his homeland, and his dream that one day Persephone would love him as he loved her. So he enlisted in the Aero Reconnaissance Corps, where he might fight beside Persephone and prove he was worthy of her love.
“When the King of Bog asked for help to repel the Marauders, Benito was assigned to remain in Fen. To her great satisfaction, Persephone received orders to fight in the Kingdom of Bog.
“On the eve of her deployment, Benito draped a shimmering silken scarf around her neck and entreated her, ‘Please, take this token with you to remind you of my love. While you’re away, hold me in your heart knowing mine holds you at every moment.’
“Persephone saw Benito’s sincerity. She didn’t want hurt him, but spoke honestly. ‘Benny, you are a good friend and I will cherish your gift, but I ask you not to wait for me. I can’t promise to share your future.’ “
Elliot lay his head against Cassandra’s neck. “That must have broken his heart.”
Vernon nodded. “Her words tore at his soul. ‘It is our destiny to be together,’ he insisted, ‘and I vow to spend Forever proving you are meant to be mine.’
“That was the last time they met as friends.”
“That attitude would put a damper on any woman’s friendship.” Cassandra said.
“Yes, it would,” Vernon laughed. “As you know, the Suns of Glory and Knights of Service defeated the Marauders. Princess Lilian returned to Fen with tales of valor and grief, but the story that changed Benito was the one Lilian told to explain why Persephone hadn’t come home.
“Hearing the jewel of his heart loved another — a Prince no less — fired a raging hunger for vengeance in the darkest pit of his gut. His broken heart spilled out a desperate scheme to take Fen as his own, conquer Bog, and wrest his Lady Persephone from the slimy grasp of their Prince.”
Elliot’s eyes widened. “He actually tried to do that?”
Vernon nodded. “Benito was cunning. He showed everyone in Fen a face of loyalty, but in secret, he recruited an outlaw named Spike to enlist an army of outcast malcontents to execute the coup.”
“Spike? Flightless Mr. Spike?” Cassandra asked.
“His wings were still whole back then,” Vernon explained. “The renegades’ strike was lightning fast and unforeseen. First they killed every Sun of Glory except the Princess and one other. Then they clung to the Hive and slew every Royal who tried to drive them off. By nightfall, Royal resistance had waned, but still the Queen was safe. Benito assumed Princess Lilian hid inside the Hive as well, but she had already gone for help.
“With the rising moon in a twilit sky, the air shook with squealing bats and buzzing bees and dragonflies. Princess Lilian returned with a fighting force so fierce, Benito’s villains fled or died.
“Just like tonight!” Cassandra exclaimed.
“But Benito saw one last chance to take the crown for himself. He flew to the Princess and grabbed her from the sky. ‘Call the Queen!’ he screamed. ‘If she wants you to live, she will give the Kingdom to me!’ “
To be continued. . .