The Rebel's Heart: Part Six
“I will be a knight. I will endure whatever it takes. I can’t turn on what I most desire.”
“Very well, Princess. You will doubt this decision, but you can never know what would have been had you chosen to let me stay as your protector. You no longer have my protection. Go and fight for what you believe. Become a knight. Know that you have the ability to do so. Your problem is not a lack of ability; it is a lack of belief. Good luck, sweet child.”
“You’ll never believe what happened to me today, Darena!”
“Given your excitement, I’m apt to believe you. I’m guessing that it’s good news.”
Amaretta told her story to a very curious Darena.
“So now nothing is stopping me from becoming a knight!”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Amaretta, I could have told you that you could be a knight. I saw the determination in your eyes. The problem was that you weren’t willing to work hard enough to get what you want. The faerie never stood in your way. While it may be true that she kept you from harm, you are the only one to keep you from becoming a knight. Keep that in mind. Whenever you feel like giving up or letting go, know that the only thing that can stop you is you. You have the determination and the drive to achieve what you so desire.”
“I guess you’re right, Darena. Now we need to go or we’ll be late for supper, and I’m famished!”
Weeks passed and Amaretta slowly improved. She was not excelling like 295, but she was no longer completely inept. It was then that the trouble came. And that trouble came in the form of a royal Flotsam named Quiet.
Quiet stood before the large assembly of pets and spoke, “I come seeking a Uni. If all Unis would please quickly and quietly form a line, I would greatly appreciate it.”
As the Unis in the camp hurried to follow the duchess’ orders, Amaretta managed “accidentally” bump into Quiet.
Quiet took Amaretta aside and then spoke to the assembled Unis. “A mistake has been made. I am deeply sorry. Please return to your scheduled activities.”
She then returned to Amaretta. “Your father is coming for you. Darigan has nearly breached the southern border and he wants you back now. You must come with me.”
Amaretta stared into her friend’s eyes. “I can’t. I must stay here. I now know that nothing can stop me from becoming a knight. Not even my father.”
Quiet sighed deeply. “Very well, but you know I’ll have to tell him the truth, don’t you?”
Amaretta looked at the ground. “Yes.”
Quiet lifted her friend’s head and looked into her eyes. “You do the right thing. Regardless of what others tell you, know and treasure that fact. You are doing what is right. If we are forever separated, know that I am proud to have you as my friend.”
With those final words, Quiet left Amaretta standing in the camp and she returned to Ziana and her carriage.
Amaretta yelped. “Oh dear! I forgot to mention those poor Unis to the light faerie. I hope I see her again.”
Amaretta sighed and returned to her camp to spar with 295 again. Although she was not best friends with 295, neither was 295 her bitter enemy.
“What was all that about? I saw you talking with that duchess.”
“Oh, it was nothing.”
“A duchess who walks into a peasant training camp doesn’t mean nothing. It means that something is going on with you, and I want to know what it is. You always hang out with that really good Zafara. I hear that she’s definitely going to train with Jeran when he gets here to train the advanced pets. Why should she hang out with you? And why would a duchess come here looking specifically for you? What’s going on, 648?”
“Look 295, it’s nothing, really.”
“I don’t buy that for one second.”
“Why should I tell you even if something was going on?”
“Because I know that you’ve been sneaking off to talk with that Zafara and one time you were wandering around the forest. It’s not allowed to leave the camp without permission. You know the punishment for breaking the rules. I’d rather not report it, but if you don’t tell me what’s going on, I might feel guilty for not telling the director how you’ve been breaking the rules repeatedly. The Zafara probably wouldn’t get in trouble because she’s a good fighter. You, on the other hand, well, we both know that the director has nothing to gain by letting you fight and not improve much.”
“Fine! But you won’t believe me anyway. I’m the Princess. I’m,” Amaretta’s voice gained a mocking and sarcastic tone, “‘her royal highness Amaretta Creme’.”
295 rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I’m really supposed to believe that.”
Amaretta growled, “You wanted the truth and I gave it to you. I told you that you wouldn’t believe me. Why else do you think that I haven’t told anybody here my name?”
295 shrugged. “I don’t know, but I was wondering about the name thing. I still don’t know why I should believe you. Do you have any proof or anything?”
“Of course not. I didn’t want anybody to know who I was. Why would I bring proof?”
“Fine. Tell me the truth about this land. Did the King take it from my family?”
“No! I often listen in to my father’s conversations, and no, I won’t tell you how. Anyway, a few months ago I heard that bandits had been using this area of the forest for smuggling and stealing. The leader was finally caught and my father took the land to use it somehow. He didn’t know that the bandits had stolen the land from families. He figured that the bandits had just found and used the land.”
“I still don’t know if I should believe you... what about what my father says about the royal family?”
“Look, I don’t know. He was always so nice and polite to me. I cannot think of a time that I was rude to him. If I was rude, it wasn’t intentionally so.”
295 sat down and tried, unsuccessfully, to massage her aching head. “So you’re the Princess who doesn’t want to be a Princess. You want to be a knight, but you aren’t much good. You’re here against your parents’ will, I’m guessing, and you don’t want anybody to know. This all just sounds like one big story.”
“I know how it sounds, but it’s the truth. Why would I lie about something like that?”
“For attention, maybe. So why’d that Flotsam visit you?”
“My father wants me to return, but I refused.”
“How can he want you to return if he doesn’t know that you’re here? And why did she know where to find you?”
“She helped me trick my father into believing that this was all a health retreat.”
295 looked around the camp. “Some health retreat.”
“I know. Anyway, this needs to be a secret. I don’t want anybody to know.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that. I’m probably the only one here crazy enough to believe you. Which reminds me, what’s the deal with that Zafara.”
“Look, she isn’t just some Zafara. Her name is Darena and she’s my good friend.”
“She some knight or something? She’s certainly got the training for it.”
“No, she’s my servant. But she was well trained before she could become my servant. However, she’s much more than my servant. She’s my best friend.”
“What does she think of this whole thing?”
“She trusts me and I trust her. I don’t know that there’s much else to say about that matter.”
“There’s plenty more to say, but that can wait until later. So, what’s it like to be royal?”
“Look, do we have to have this conversation? I know that you’re curious and I don’t blame you, but being a royal pet doesn’t mean that my life is great. In fact, in some ways, your life has been far better than mine. I’m sure that there are also ways in which my life has been better than yours, but my point remains that my life has not been some walk in a beautiful garden. I’m surrounded by rules and regulations. I don’t get to be like anybody else. Like my father tells me, I’m defined by my position. Nobody knows anything about me. Everybody just assumes that I’m some stuck up and snotty Uni. That’s not the case.”
295 was taken slightly aback by this revelation. “Wow. That is harsh. But still, you don’t know what it was like for me to grow up either. My life was rough. But I learned some good skills.”
“What are you talking about?”
No longer was 295 a ghost JubJub. 295 had transformed herself into a smirking dark faerie, with nothing on her face but an evil grin. Amaretta looked into the faerie’s vacant eyes and knew that something very bad was happening.
To be continued...