I woke up and forgot where I was for a brief moment. I sat up in a comfortable bed and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. The room was a mixture of green, gold, and white. That was when I remembered what happened the day before.
I shook my head as I remembered what Angel had almost done to herself. Could she really love me that much to risk such a life?
Octavius came in while I was trying to comb my hair. I finally gave it up as a bad job.
"It's good to see you again," he said, leading me to the throne room.
The royal family were all sitting on their thrones and I bowed at the steps, getting on one knee.
"Please, friend," the king said. "Stand."
"As you wish," I said and looked around. There was only one guard and he was at the door. "Is it safe to speak here?" I asked.
"Of course," the queen assured me.
"When I encountered William, he mentioned the silver didn't kill him."
The king sighed. "Yes. We were most unhappy to discover that."
"Then whoever goes probably won't have any luck with silver-"
Someone knocked on the door and we all looked at it. A servant girl came in with a scroll and a sword in a black sheath. Bowing, she handed it to... me? I frowned and, glancing at the family, I unrolled the scroll.
They have found out who I am. I am to be tortured tomorrow evening. I will keep my silence in respect for your help. Keep this as an apology for my behavior. I hope you are safe. Thank you for what you have done.
"What is it?" the king asked and I handed him the scroll.
I looked at the sheath and slowly drew the sword out. I inhaled sharply.
"Why would he send me this?" I breathed.
"Is that what I think it is?" the queen asked, staring at it with wide eyes.
"The Sword of the Thousands," I confirmed.
At first glance, it was an ordinary sword. To those that knew the legends, though, knew it was much more than that. A soft blue aura emanated from the blade. The hilt was pure silver, black leather wrapped around it, and a single sapphire was imbedded in the center of the blade.
"What's the Sword of the Thousands?" Angel asked.
"Legend has it that this sword was forged by dwarves," I answered, still mesmerized by the weapon in my hands. "It was then blessed by the immortal Queen Mother of the elves. She gave it to a king for saving her from the attack of a man who found out what she was. She said it would never fail him in battle. And it never did. It killed enemies with a single stroke. Thousands fell to the blade. But it was coveted greatly and he was assassinated in the night."
"How did William get it?" the king wondered aloud.
I shook my head, perplexed. "What should we do with it?"
The queen gestured for the guard to leave. When the door was shut, she said, "You keep it. We cannot put it in the armory. If anyone were to learn what it is and where it is hidden...."
"So hide it in plain sight?"
I nodded and sheathed it carefully. I tied it to my waist and sighed.
"What else do you need me to tell you?" I asked, finally breaking the heavy silence.
It felt as if the arrival of the sword was a message of danger. But I tried to push that out of my mind. However, my hand kept resting on top of the hilt.
"No," the king said finally. "For now, we will remain silent. If we receive more word from William, which I doubt we will if his predictions are true, then we will determine when and where to send our spies."
"Then I shall take my leave to the village. As I said, there are things there that I need to take care of."
"May I accompany you?" Angel asked and I smiled.
"That would be wonderful."
She stood and I offered my arm. A servant handed her the white parasol she had used so long ago. We walked down the stairs into the summer heat.
"I had forgotten how beautiful the village is," she said.
"You do not visit it?"
"Not very often," she admitted.
People waved and bowed as we made our way through the marketplace. Suddenly, Angel giggled and I looked at her.
"I am on the receiving end of many jealous glares," she said in an undertone and I followed her gaze to a group of women.
I laughed a little, not sure what to say.
"David!" a little girl squealed and I grinned.
"Sally!" I said in the same tone.
She ran to me and I picked her up.
"Did the king ask about your potatoes?" she asked, her big blue eyes innocent and I smiled, ruffling her hair.
"Yes, he did."
Her face perked up. "Does that mean he's going to help you get money?" That's when she noticed the princess beside me and she wiggled out of my arms. She plopped on the ground and hugged Angel around the knees. "You're the princess!"
Angel looked shocked but gratified as she bent to hug her back.
"Yes, yes I am. And who might you be?"
"I'm Sally! My brothers and I play with David every day!"
As if on cue, her three brothers came out with their ball. They all yelled my name and tossed the ball to me. I looked at Angel who nodded, smiling and holding Sally's hand.
"Start running," I said and threw it as hard as I could down toward my home.
Behind me, Sally was chatting Angel's ear off. Angel's face was nothing but rapt. She responded in all the right ways and I enjoyed the sight.
"Again, David!" one of the boys yelled then gasped. "Whoa! Is that a real life sword!"
We had reached my home now and I felt a little uncomfortable, wondering what Angel would think of it.
I laughed. "How about you see if your mother would like to join us for some cold drinks?"
He beamed. "Yeah! Come on, Sally!"
"I'm gonna stay with the princess," she said haughtily and Angel giggled.
"Is this your home?" Angel asked me, unable to get out of Sally's death grip.
I nodded. "James, the shoemaker, helped me build it."
"These are his potatoes, Princess Angel!" Sally said, pulling her over. "I help him water them every day!"
"They are looking magnificent," Angel said and Sally beamed in pride. "Let's go inside, though. It's quite warm out here."
I led the way in just as the boys returned with their mother. At first, Christina didn't notice Angel.
"It's good to see you again, David," she said, placing two large jugs of her ice cold lemonade on the table. "Thank you for sending over all that meat! We ate like kings and queens! Here's some lemonade for you and-" She froze, having finally noticed Angel. "Oh. Oh goodness." She curtsied. "Please forgive me, milady. I didn't you see there."
"No, it's okay. You have a lovely family," she added after accepting a glass of lemonade.
Even though I kept telling her not to, Christina insisted on trying to pay me back for doing so much for her. Finally we agreed on her famous lemonade.
"Thank you," she said. "It's been hard with just the five of us, but we make it work."
"Where is your husband?"
I shifted on my feet as Christina answered. "He.... Well, he passed away," she said finally and Angel's face fell.
I hadn't told anyone about Bryan and I didn't plan to.
"I'm very sorry," she whispered. "How do you make your living?"
"David helps us very much."
I cleared my throat. "I keep telling her to sell this lemonade," I said to lighten the mood and Christina smiled modestly. "Especially to the castle. Angel loves lemonade."
Angel grinned. I didn't know if that was the truth but I had to get Christina to smile somehow before the kids picked up on it.
"Speaking of the castle, I have an offer," Angel said suddenly and we looked at her. She placed her glass to the side and stood up straight. "We have a lot of room and I knew your children mean a lot to David. I know that he would give up anything for them," she added in a whisper, smiling at me. I returned it a little. "Would you and your children be willing to live in the castle?"
Complete and utter silence followed. Christina was gawking. The kids hadn't noticed. They were playing with a spin top I made for them. Angel stood politely, her hands folded in front of her.
"I couldn't possibly," Christina finally spluttered. "I don't want to be a burden and-"
Angel held up her hand to silence her. "You will not be a burden. Please, come live with us."
Christina burst into tears, getting Sally's attention.
"Mommy?" she asked, grabbing her skirts. "Mommy, what's wrong?"
Christina sniffled and smiled. "Nothing's wrong, baby." She glanced at Angel. "Why don't we go back with David and the princess to the castle?"
Sally grinned and the boys looked up in excitement.
"We get to see the palace?" one boy asked me, eyes as wide as saucers.
I nodded and he jumped to his feet.
"Let's go, Mom!"
Christina laughed as her children dragged her out of the home. I laughed and, when it was just the two of us, I kissed Angel deeply. She smiled into my kiss.
"Thank you," I said. "You have no idea the good you've just done for them."
"Well, Sally is bent on marrying you," she told me with shining eyes as we followed the family.
I laughed. "Is that what you two were giggling about?"
She rested her head on my shoulder as we walked back and my smile grew. It was hard to worry about William and the mysterious pack of werewolves as we watched the children racing and as Angel's hand took mine.