the Martell House

“Why do I have to have a new tutor? I don’t need one. I just need to learn it on my own, which I can do without help from some upstart teacher!” Prince Trey Virden glared at his parents, king and queen of all their land now.

“Trey, this one is different. We have searched the far reaches for her. You will work with her each day, after being served breakfast. After lunch, you will do outdoor activities, like always.”

“But she’s a servant!” Trey exclaimed. “She isn’t even on time.” He added, hoping to appeal to his parents.

“Perhaps you could humble yourself a bit-.” his father said angrily. Then a servant opened the large oak doors.

“A Miss Arowyn to see y-” he was cut off by a young girl rushing past him. She bolted across the long hall and threw herself down in from of them.

“If your majesties would forgive my impertinence for being late.” she said breathlessly.

Trey stared at the young girl in fascination. She was no older then him!

“You may rise, Miss Arowyn. We welcome you to our humble abode.” the king stated in a solemn voice.

Trey stepped forward to help her up, but his father shook his head. She rose.

She looked like a country girl, not a school teacher! Trey was suddenly filled with guilt. They had had this girl brought from God knows where to teach him when she probably wasn’t so well educated herself. Why had his parents stooped to this level to have him learned?

Outside the palace, Trey remembered the first time he had seen Arowyn. He remembered quickly learning everything she taught him, because she had made it so he understood. He felt sorry  and wistfully wondered if she could forgive him for inquiring about her life at home. He had only wanted know what it was like living at her station.

“Arowyn!” a voice called. The both looked up to see a young man, approaching with horses and a small cart.

"Thomas!" Arowyn ran forward and jumped into her friend’s arms and he spun her, like he had done since they were little. They had been friends for life and always would be.

Trey felt a twinge of jealousy at this greeting, and decided that the young man had come here to take her away from the fire.

Hoping to find his parents, Trey dashed around the bend where he had seen a guard run.

"No!" Thomas and Arowyn ran around the corner after him.

But it was too late.

Guards desperately formed bucket lines, explosions burst as fire burned through mortar, the intense heat enveloped everything that moved. Screams of the dying could be heard all around, the ground shook as the building began to crumble. Trey stood stock still in horror as he beheld a sight that would scar him for the rest of his life.

The Royal family was burning, he saw, and no one could save them.

“Trey!” Arowyn ran to him, and Thomas helped her pull him away.

"No, that's my family! Let me go. Father!" Trey screamed and screamed as Thomas and Arowyn pulled him away. As they did, Thomas yelled over the roar

"We have to get him out of here! The Reverend thinks he may be a target. His friends, as well."

Arowyn nodded her assent to the plan, and helped force Trey over to the cart.

Thomas ran ahead and ushered the small group into the cart, motioning to the three Noble's sons, then to Trey and Arowyn.

Arowyn nodded a releived smile to her friends as they approached the cart. Kelly, Christopher, Lalaine, Elise, and her mother, along with a few others were present. Korman and the twins were also waiting there, but Trey passed them without a word.

Korman helped Arowyn into the cart, then climbed in beside his friends. Thomas hoisted himself up beside Trey, and pulled a blanket around his shoulders.

"You’ll meet everyone at the Reverend's house, but not formally." Thomas told him as they drove away. "We can’t have them finding you, else we’ll all lose this war that's coming I know it's a lot to take in, but everyone will have to make the best of it, what with the Norwans coming back." he paused and looked at Trey with pity, remembering how much the prince had to take in all at once.  

"Are you alright?” Thomas asked him.

Trey was not alright at all. His family had perished. He was the only one left. This wasn’t supposed to happen, so how could he be alright? 

“Drive faster! Get it out of my sight.” He rasped. Seeing that the shock was too great, Thomas flicked the his wrists, snapping the reins hard. They drove on as the rain began to fall.

The Martell House

Thud, thud thud! Thomas banged on the door of the Martell house, wondering why it had been locked. Arowyn stepped forward to try the door, when it opened.

“Arowyn!” a small girl threw herself into the folds of Arowyn’s now soaked dress, then she jumped back in surprise.  “Yick, you’re soaked. Kate would be mad at you and I know Elysia is going to be for getting into danger again without her. Josh!” she ran abruptly around the corner, coming back a moment later.

“Joshua and Marcus will take the cart back to the stables.” she said, tyring to sound ladylike.

“It can’t be.” Arowyn murmured.

But it was.

“Josh! What are you doing here?” Arowyn ran to hug her younger brother. The threw threw their, laughing.

"Well I thought that due to unemployment and missing my own dearly beloved older sister," (Arowyn made a face at this statement) "that I would pay my debt of hiding from society by helping save it."

"Finally, you show something that resembles potential." Thomas quipped, and everyone laughed.

"I'm going to have to hurt you later Thomas!" Joshua warned.

"Yes, if you can catch him!" Marcus called. "Hurry up, my friend. The rain is pounding."

"In a minute!" He called.

"He means an hour!" Arowyn and Thomas called as Elysia joined them.

“Your boyfriend, Arowyn?” Josh joked when he was introduced to Trey. His laughter stopped at the glare he recieved from Thomas.

Alyssa, standing on a stool, whispered the rest into his ear. No. He’s the one. .”  Josh nodded, his eyes going round, then left abruptly up to go and take the horses and cart to the stables.

Alyssa lead Trey and Arowyn to a back room, giving Trey wide-eyed looks from time to time. Any others were led into the kitchen by the Reverend .

“Does she know?” Trey whispered to Arowyn after Alyssa had told him where to wait.

“Probably. But she only knows you’re someone important.” Arowyn didn’t want to say too much, so she grabbed the dress that laid on the table and walked off to a small antechamber to change, Elysia waiting there for her.

I have to wait to claim my title

“Looks like Thomas has got some competition.” Elysia whispered, looking out at Trey for a moment. Then she shut the door.

"Thomas and I have been friends our whole lives, and that’s it. That’s all it ever could be.” Arowyn sighed and hung up the soaked purple gown. "Besides, it's not like I have a choice in the matter of staying single." she added.

“Don't be so dreary! Although it’s a waste of material, to get caught in the rain in something like that.” Elysia remarked.

“Not that I’m complaining. As far as I'm concerned you can call me your sister, Arowyn. But what if the whole world finds out about you? Thomas and Alyssa and Marcus and everyone else will be crushed. And what about your sisters? Haven't they been found already?” Elysia looked worried.

Arowyn said nothing then. After a moment of silence, she changed the subject. 

“With Trey gone, there’ll be campaigning for the throne. Our country is not in decline, but it could be worse. Let’s hope that things get better then before.” Elysia glared at her friend through the small mirror hanging on the wall, but she shrugged it off. Arowyn sighed.

“Look, El, I’m not saying anything to them. You and a few others know, and that’s how it is, because that’s how it’s supposed to be. They're targeting people who were involved in the history in any way and that’s why your father bought the Inn.

"If he’s a bartender, certain people won’t suspect him of being a Reverend, or of harboring me. That is, people who don’t know your father. He’ll hear things. Bartenders always do. He can get information easier that way. Besides, my sisters are with my mother now.

"Josh and I are in hiding because we’re the ones who need to hide. Our whole family could be killed. I mean it. Trey’s aunt married into a certain noble family, making them heirs to the throne after Trey, maybe his heirs if he has any. But right now, I have to stay here. You know why. It could change history! You’d be lucky to be a keeper of records, El. I have to wait to claim my title.”

What? As Trey listened, he had a hunch that something wasn’t right. She was of noble blood, possibly royal blood? But of the two most powerful families in all the land?

Was it possible that she was the missing daughter of Lord Bennett and Lady Cluere?

Yes. Maybe she didn’t say it, but he could tell.

She had the elegance of one, to be sure, but she had the humility of a farm girl, because that was who she was now.

I have to wait to claim my title? What was that about? He should have suspected something sooner.

 He was about to knock on the door when they were all called down. They were going to start fixing the inn today, and they had to get ready now if they wanted to get anything done.

The inn

The inn was dark and damp. The tables were falling apart, and there were no chairs or stools. The drapes hanging in the front were shredded and there were boards on every available window. The stable was worse, and needed a new roof.

Formerly known as the Steady Hand, it had been popular in it’s time. Now it was run down, a home for street dogs.

Almost all of the household had come to get it ready. As they unloaded cleaning and building supplies, Trey wondered how they would fix it. He had never seen a building so run down in such an industrial part of the city.

He had seen this place in it’s prime when he was very young, but why was it so run down now? He walked over to stare at the stable roof, thinking about how he could help here, yet wondering if he was able to in any way.

The men and boys marched up to the building, ready to fix it. The girls marched inside the building, ready to clean it out.

Within a few months, this would be a brand new inn.

"We. . .we are fixing this?" Trey said in an awed voice. "Why not just put up a new building, restructure the whole thing?"

"There are some parts of it that could still be used, and the Reverend doesn't wish to waste any time in fixing it up." Thomas explained to him as they unloaded wood and shingles. "We use what we have here."

"I don't. . .understand." Trey said. "A year ago-"

"A year ago, this building wasn't foreclosed, and our exiled friends were just beginning to pop up." Thomas interrupted, ignoring Trey's icy glare. "A year ago, the good lady, and patronist to our dear Reverend was not going through such an ordeal as she is now-"

"Thomas!" the Reverend called. "Trey shall not learn as you dictate him to. Teach him the tasks we all share, nothing more. I will explain what he must do later on."

Thomas seemed disappointed. "Yes, sir." he murmured.

"Come, Marcus, let us teach Trey how to brace doorways and windows." Thomas called. Marcus hurried to answer his call, and they were soon explaining their tasks as if they had been practiced for five lifetimes, which they had.

The End

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