For three days they waited. There was no sounds from Oracia’s cove, but at times there seemed to be a rumbling from deep within the mountain. The prince never moved from mouth of the caves.

As the moon was rising on the third night, the mountain roared once more, more violent than before. Aric stood and gripped the doorway in the stone, peering into the coves and calling to Oracia.

And she appeared.

Where moments before there had only been shadows, Oracia stood. She was pale, more like a ghost in the moonlight. Aric reached for her hand.

“Are you alright?”

For a moment, she looked into his eyes and then her gaze snapped to the commander at his shoulder.

It took a moment for Farleigh to realize and then his hand was pulling on Aric’s shoulder.

“What are you doing?” The prince resisted, shaking off the commander’s hand and turning back to Oracia.   

Her eyes were wide and glistening. But as a tear budded on her eyelid, it vanished.

“I tried,” she said softly. More tears disappeared before they could fall. “I tried harder than anyone else.”

Over her shoulder, a shadow appeared. A man in green appeared.

“Knave,” Aric snarled. He reached for his sword, but Farleigh caught his arm.

“Get back, Knave,” the prince said. “There is nothing for you here.”

But his voice was faltering.

Farleigh pulled him back another step.

“There is nothing for him here,” Aric said again, a new desperation in his voice. He looked to Oracia.

She merely stared back. The sheen in her eyes was retreating and the pain on her face was fading, leaving a void in its wake.

“No,” Aric breathed. Farleigh kept a tight grip on his arm. “No!”

Her voice had a different cadence to it when she spoke. “The magic takes some time, but it has already begun.”

Farleigh was already dragging the prince further away. Aric was not fighting him anymore.

Knave offered his hand to Oracia. She looked at it for a moment and turned back to the group. She felt no regret and, in that void, found more meaning than in any emotion.

“Go,” she said. “Warn your king.”

She took Knave’s hand and began the path to the Stone Mountain.

The End

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