Protection. That was his job. Making sure Irina was safe. And he had failed. Looking down at the girl in his arms, he knew he had to get her back to the palace. Without the two princesses, the kingdom could fail. They needed to be alive.

Picking Iri up in his arms, he motioned to Lexia to do the same with Ari. And so began the long march. Around them, fighting stopped. Every warrior, no matter what side they were on, turned to look as the two protectors walked past. Silence fell.

The gates opened for them, a procession followed though.

Up the stairs, watched by hundreds of eyes.

Into the great hall- to see the king and queen.

It felt like all the people in the hall had stopped breathing, awaiting the response of the dreadful news. A pause, and the queen looked up. She took in her surrounding.

‘You promised. You promised to keep them safe. The two people I trusted, and they are both dead. What did you do?’ the Queen shouted. ‘You killed them both!’ she stood, her rage flowing off her, not knowing who to blame.

A man stepped forward, wizened with age. ‘No, your highness. Not dead. Each has enough in them to stay alive- but not wake up.’

‘Then what do we do?’ Vertas asked.

The man laughed. ‘Why, there is only on thing to do. If they can not die- but can not truly live in this world, send them to another.’

‘That’s impossible. A fairytale.’

‘And how would you know, Vertas. Yes, I know your name- I know a lot of things. I know that this fairytale is no myth.’

Vertas went to reply, but the queen spoke over him. ‘What do we do? Please, we need them. Tell us what to do.’

‘One must go with them, to guide them to their destiny, and to protect them from the world they do not know.’

‘I will go.’ Vertas said.

‘No,’ Lexia spoke up. ‘We will both go.’

The man nodded. ‘Then close your eyes.’

The last thing Vertas heard was the queen. ‘Good luck’, before he drifted out of the kingdom.

The End

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