The second the princess had fallen my heart had stopped. My senses went into momentary overdrive. Memories of coffee, Fruitloops, The Sleeping Potion 'Whiskey', Eve as she crawled- what?
No time to think on it now. I scooped up her limp figure and held her in my arms. Herezar was with us then, the poor old man, I'd completely forgotten about him. He came out of the open door in a hurry, his pink and blue floral dress flapping with the southern winds. I grabbed his hand as he reached us without hesitating and held the Princess tight to my body with the other.
The burn of the teleport was no less painful, even if a little more expected. We materialized by the Kings pavilion, where we were met instantly by a swarm of servants. Eve was ushered away into the royal tent and Herezar's apprentices crowded about him.
I pushed past them, painfully aware of my nakedness to my personal tent- emblazoned with the sigil of my house, a golden oak on a black background. It meant a lot to me to still have that sigil. It was important.
I ducked inside and quickly donned my armor, buckling my sword to my hip and fastening my shield over my shoulder. As I stepped back outside a young man, perhaps twelve or thirteen, was waiting with my horse Lock- already saddled and packed for what seemed to be a long journey. The boy also held a second horse I saw, similarly saddled.
"The King is waiting for you in the War Tent." the boy said, with an attempted boldness to cover the timid quiver beneath. I smiled at him warmly, and was relieved as he relaxed some... it was never a good feeling to be an intimidating presence.
I thanked him, and took the Lock's reins from him and mounted.
The king greeted me with the same somber look he'd worn all the years since Eve's abduction. Herezar was standing by him, back in his regal robes. On the table in front of the a map was laid out, but not a map of Cigam, it was a map of the entire country, and their focus seemed to be on the mountains to the north.
I knew some History of the North, taught to me by my father when I was very young. The North was not spoken of in Winteroaks. None of what I could recall was good.
The boy who'd come to fetch me from my tent stepped in behind me. The King nodded once to acknowledge him. "Keth" he said in a slow voice, "Meet Ray, he's to be your squire."
I opened my mouth to protest, I didn't need or want the responsibility of a squire, the King and I had discussed this many times in the past, but he held his hand up, cutting me off before I could begin.
"You will need the company I fear... the road before you is long, but Herezar believes it is the only way to wake Eve." His light green eyes were cold and uncompromising, "You're heading North to recover an artifact known as the Eversphere; Herezar will brief you on the rest."