Glad you could join us for the next featured episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Although a mere drizzle fell when Ambassador Arturo arrived at the Alliance camp in the dark hour before dawn, thickening clouds and a brisk wind promised a brief dawn and another storm. He thought of the Wildlands Ants and resisted the atmosphere’s depressing heaviness.
Great commotion at the Medic station drew his attention, but the voice calling, “Arturo! What’re youse doin’ here?” turned him around.
“Barry!” His friend was covered with cuts. “What happened to you?”
“Nuttin’ wort’ worryin’ about. Youse should see da stitches dey’re puttin’ in Trev’s face. What brings youse here?”
“I’ve got some good news for the Alliance.”
“We could use some.” Barry looked back at the Medic tent, and spoke in hushed tones. “Da King’s in dere. De Assassin got ’im an’ dey aren’t sure he’s gonna make it.”
“No.” Arturo extended his wings to take off. “I need to see the Prince. Is he with the King?”
“Nope. An’ nobody knows where he is. Da rest of Command is down in Central Fen wit’ da Queen. Maybe he went dere an’ jus’ fergot to tell anybody. But maybe somebody tol’ ’im what happened ta da Princess an’ he’s gone ta help da Lieutenant find ’er.”
“Wait. Princess Cassandra is missing?” The Knight nodded and Arturo took him by the arm. “Tell me everything.”
On his way to see Lilian, Elliot stopped at the Field to watch the pre-dawn de-brief. Wind moaned through the trees while each Captain named those they lost that night. Five troops or ten or twenty or more from each unit.
Each of those was someone’s son or daughter, maybe a mother or father, brother or sister.
His heart tore open a little further with each name to bleed compassion and sorrow, feeding the love he felt for the people he served. Reports of how many enemies each unit had killed fueled his hatred of the oppression and lies that forced innocent families to sacrifice their children and loved ones in a fight against strangers, for no reason but to fulfill the will of a power-hungry aggressor.
How would I feel if I had to make those decisions for my own family? Would I agree to send my child to a distant land to battle unknown people? Would I be willing to sacrifice myself or my family for any cause but defending our home?
Remember these faces — rank upon rank of battle-scarred veterans and inexperienced recruits. So many are younger than I was when I left home. Their commitment and bravery steeled his will to bring this war to an end.
There must be a way to stop any more on either side from dying. There has to be a way to stop the General and the Assassin. He had to see Cassandra.
“Prince Elliot—” Cyrus cried as the Prince appeared out of the dark and whisked by into the Bower.
“Cassandra!” Elliot stopped short. Miranda spun toward him, tail rising in the green light, as little Stingers tumbled around her legs.
“Thank goodness it’s you, Prince Elliot. My heart almost stopped.”
Elliot’s shell was suddenly too small and the room too short of air. “Why? Where’s the Princess?”
“Oh, Sir — no one’s told you?”
He could only shake his head.
She took a tentative step toward him. “The Assassin took her last night. The King and three Knights went after them, but no one’s come back yet.”
“Cassandra must be the prisoner Hai intends to keep,” Elliot said to himself. He turned toward the door and crashed into Cyrus. “Which direction did they go?” he asked helping the guard to his feet.
“They took the path behind the Bower,” Cyrus answered, “—the one leaving Central Fen — but it was raining so hard, there’s no trail to follow.”
Charging past the young bee, the Prince rushed down the path. “I don’t need a trail.”
To be continued. . .
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