Chapter Two

Straight as the Raven Flies

The sun shone gently through a thin layer of clouds, its rays dancing on the surface of the sea. The peaceful beauty of this sight would have done little to calm the soul of King Alexander of the Land of the Green Isles, had he seen it. He was sitting alone on one of the twin thrones in the grandest room in the Castle of the Crown, staring at a tiny, golden object that lay in his open palm: Cassima's locket. His fears about Shadrack had all but been eclipsed by his grief over losing her.

"I know you knew what you were doing, Cassima," he whispered, half to himself, half to the only piece of Cassima he possessed now. "I just want to know what it was."

He turned the locket over in his hand and stared at the vacant seat immediately beside him. How achingly empty it was. It was as if Cassima had never been at his side, that all he ever had was a vision of a dark-haired maiden and this little locket.

"Where are you?" Alexander asked, his voice choked with anguish. "How will you get back?"

Rosella was sitting quietly next to a window in Castle Daventry, with her father seated next to her. She was still trying to make sense out of all that had happened that morning in Etheria. It had all been so sudden and unexpected that it was as if she had missed the entire thing. All she knew was that Edgar was gone and no one knew where he was.

His father, King Oberon, was taking the whole ordeal very badly. Rosella had eavesdropped on a conversation between him and his wife, during which he seemed convinced that Edgar's disappearance was entirely his fault. His guilt was compounded by the fact that he had been with Edgar when Malicia had kidnapped him only a few months prior. In addition to this, Oberon had also been steering the swanship when its wing clipped one of the islands (or one of the islands had clipped its wing, it was difficult to tell since some of Etheria's islands weren't stationary), rendering it unworkable and thus unable to transport Edgar to the Land of the Green Isles in a more conventional manner.

Queen Titania had tried to console him, saying that Edgar hadn't been kidnapped this time, that he had vanished of his own free will, and if the pendant that had enabled him to do so had any properties that could have proved dangerous for its wearer, she would have noticed them and never let her son use it for his journey. Besides, Edgar had a good head on his shoulders, as his heroic actions immediately following his return to his original form had proven, and Titania was confident that he would get out of whatever situation he was in at the moment.

Oberon refused to be calmed by these words, and continued bemoaning how this was the third time Edgar had disappeared from his homeland, to which Titania explained that there was no way anyone could have prevented or foreseen his abductions on the first two occasions, and as for this being the third time, it was most likely another manifestation of the Rule of Three, which meant that there would almost always be three wishes, three sons seeking a princess, three beasts or barriers protecting an item of importance, or three precious treasures.

Oberon remained unconvinced of his son's safety, and Titania had begun to tell him something about how this fiasco was probably just another line in "the Great Story" in a hushed voice, but Oberon had stormed out of the room before she could finish her sentence. The queen had started sobbing quietly after this – despite her boundless optimism, she was worried about Edgar as well.

Shortly after this, Rosella's family had elected to return to Daventry to deal with this minor tragedy on their own. Oberon and Titania had solemnly agreed, since they needed ample time to do the same thing, plus spend some time with the infant Malicia, the sister of Titania who had been changed into her current shape after her last encounter with Rosella…and Edgar.

Rosella let out a trembling sigh as she gazed at the tranquil landscape of her homeland.

"Father, what happened to him?" she asked, not turning away from the window. "Is Edgar safe or isn't he?"

"I don't know any more than you, Rosella," Graham replied softly. As unfamiliar as he was with Edgar, he saw parts of himself in that boy. He was noble, kind, and brave if the occasion called for it. He was the sort of man Graham would welcome as a son-in-law with open arms…he wondered if he would ever get the chance to do so now.

"I wish I knew why…" Rosella said. "Why it had to happen, why I miss him so much. I hardly know him…"

"But you love him, don't you?"

Rosella looked into her father's clear blue eyes, and then cast her own downwards, hanging her head in despair.

"I don't know…" she murmured. "I just don't know."

Choose your path: