This weeks chapter is kind of long, so I'm posting it in two parts. Hope you enjoy.
Original characters/Places: King Vedlien and Dunavia
Chapter Two, Part One
Prince Adam could hardly believe his good fortune. Not only had Teela readily agreed to cancel combat practice, which was a miracle in and of itself, she had also consented to joining Adam and Cringer for a picnic in the Evergreen Forest. Adam suspected that this had something to do with the sweltering heat. He could not remember a summer ever being this hot, and he’d heard mention that today’s temperature was some sort of record. Luckily the shade from the trees made the forest feel at least ten degrees cooler than the rest of the world.
Adam felt rather sorry for his parents, who were stuck in a meeting with the King of Dunavia. The man struck Adam as being quite difficult, and he was fairly certain that Randor and Marlena would be spending most of their afternoon trying to placate him. Adam had actually offered to attend the meeting with his parents, earning a raised eyebrow and a “Really?” from his father. Marlena declined the offer and all but shoved Adam out of the meeting room.
“Leave now, while there’s still time!” She’d hissed. “Save yourself!” Adam had managed to wait until the door was closed before laughing out loud at his mother’s quirky sense of humor. Even now he could not help but grin at the memory.
“What’s so funny?” Teela asked. She was sitting under a large tree, munching on a sandwich and stroking Cringer’s head.
“Something my mother said earlier.” Adam answered.
“She’s a funny woman, your mother.” Teela agreed. “Do you know she said this would be the perfect day to, and this is a direct quote, ‘sunbathe’?”
“What’s that mean?”
“Apparently people on Earth lay out in the sun until their skin gets darker.”
“You mean they devote an entire day to getting a tan?” Adam frowned at the thought. “Couldn’t they just walk around and do that?”
Teela shrugged. “Maybe it’s different on Earth.”
“It must be.” Adam leaned forward and reached for the picnic basket. “Hey, are there anymore sandwiches left?”
“Are you sure?” Adam peered into the basket. “I don’t see any.”
“Check under the fruit.”
“Okay. Oh, here’s one.” Adam leaned back on his heels, looked into the forest, and gasped. A stream of light was shooting through the forest, passing through tree trunks and racing right for them. The prince sprang to his feet and whipped around to face his companion. “Teela?”
“Yeah?” She looked up, and her eyes widened when she saw the light. “What on Eternia is that?!”
“I don’t know.” Adam answered grimly. “But it’s definitely headed our way.”
Cringer, who had been sleeping, was wide awake now. He was on his feet and backing away before Teela could stand. Adam grabbed his friend by the hand and pulled her to her feet. Then the trio began running. They had barely gone ten feet when Teela felt Adam’s hand leave her own. She stopped and turned just in time to see the light completely engulf the prince.
A wave of intense, almost painful exhaustion hit Adam. His eyelids snapped over his eyes like heavy curtains over a window. He barely felt his knees buckle, and only vaguely heard Teela shrieking his name. Adam was unconscious before he hit the ground.
King Vedlien of Dunavia was, without a doubt, the most unpleasant monarch Queen Marlena had ever met. He had been in Eternos for exactly two days and had done nothing but insult both the city and his hosts. Now Marlena ground the heel of her shoe into the floor while Vedlien complained about her continued presence at the meetings he had scheduled with King Randor. Apparently Dunavian women were not involved in matters of state.
“My wife would never even want to attend something like this.” King Vedlien grumbled.
“Most fifteen year-olds wouldn’t.” Marlena responded with a smile.
While King Vedlien tried to decide if he’d just been insulted, King Randor took the opportunity to open the meeting with the most pressing topic at hand: Dunavia’s annual requests for aid.
“It is not that we mind giving you the money to rebuild your kingdom, but you always rebuild in the same place, which is near a river that overflows every year.”
“What would you have me do? Move everything? Dunavia has been in the same location for two thousand years. It is a spot sacred to the gods.”
Then leave it for the gods, Marlena thought. Aloud she said, “It does not seem to me, King Vedlien, that having homes and crops washed away year after year is a blessing. Perhaps you should think about moving out of the valley altogether.”
“My people do not want to move.”
“Your people are already moving.” Randor interjected. “Your population has decreased by two thousand citizens in the last four years, and that’s not counting those who have died in the floods. A group of three hundred Dunavians sought refuge in Eternos just last week.” He looked King Vedlien in the eye. “They’re not waiting for the floods to come anymore. If this continues, you’ll soon be the first king in Eternian history with no subjects to rule.”
“This is a waste of time!” King Vedlien snapped.
No, your being an hour late for this meeting was a waste of time, Marlena thought. She looked past the man’s head, out the window, and inwardly sighed. It was such a nice day, yet they were stuck inside, trying to reason with this infuriating man.
“I’m sorry you feel that way.” Randor responded patiently to King Vedlien. “However, it has come to our attention that…”
“Enough!” The visiting monarch slammed his hands on the table. “Will you give us aid or not?”
“My wife and I have decided to provide enough money for your people to move out of the valley before the next flood.” Randor stated calmly. “It is, of course, up to them whether they move or not. However, recent statistics suggest that they will choose to leave.”
“That is ridiculous! I’m not giving the aid money directly to my people!”
“That’s right. You’re not.” Randor leaned forward and mentally braced himself before continuing. “We are.”
Randor and Marlena had known in advance that King Vedlien would be livid when informed of their decision, and they were not disappointed. The man arose from his seat with a roar and kicked his chair back. His hosts stood as well, though with a considerably greater amount of decorum.
“Have you lost your minds?! You can’t just give them all that money! I need it!”
“You’ll be given enough to repair your castle.” Randor answered firmly. “Or to build another one in a different location.”
Marlena nodded in agreement and was about to respond when a bright light from outside the window caught her eye. At first she thought it was the sun, but it shimmered in a way that solar rays do not. It was also moving right toward them in a wide, silent wave.
“Whose idea was this really?” King Vedlien was yelling. “Yours or your alien wife’s?” He turned his attention to Marlena. “Maybe this is how they do things on your world, but it’s not…” He threw up his hands and looked to the ceiling. “Gods, she’s not even paying attention!”
The light was moving even faster now, as if drawn to them. It went from being barely visible to touching the window in the time it took Marlena to draw breath and yell, “Get down!”
The light shot through the window without shattering the glass. King Vedlien looked down just in time to see the light pass through his torso. He threw himself to the floor and began babbling prayers. Randor and Marlena grabbed hands at the same time, each trying to pull the other down. They were not quick enough. The light hit them both at the same time. It passed through Randor but surrounded Marlena. Randor yelled her name and tried to look at her, but the light was so bright that his eyes automatically closed. He clutched her hands with enough force to break bones, yet her fingers slipped from his as easily as if he’d been trying to hold air. It was at that point that Randor forced his eyes open. The blinding light was gone. So was Marlena.
Duncan gritted his teeth and tried not to yell as Orko floated around the lab, fingers dancing over various inventions. One of Duncan’s new goals was to chide Orko in a calm, gentle manner. He always felt bad, both mentally and physically, after losing his temper with the curious alien. After all, his vocal cords could only take so much!
“Orko.” Duncan turned and forced himself to smile pleasantly. “I would really like it if you didn’t touch anything. Okay?”
Orko blinked in confusion. “Uh, sure, Man-At-Arms. Whatever you say.”
“Good. Now, why don’t you come over here so that I can see what you’re doing?”
“Sure.” Orko floated uncertainly toward him, careful not to get too close to the abnormally calm man. He actually backed away when Duncan flashed that eerie smile again, and bumped gently into a large piece of machinery. Alarms went off at the same time. Orko quickly floated out of striking distance and yelped, “I didn’t mean to do it!”
“That’s not the machine.” Duncan threw down his tools and ran to the door. “That’s the emergency alarm!”
He opened the door and found himself facing a wave of shimmering light. It passed through him and into the lab. Orko squeaked in terror and began zipping around the large room. The light bounced off the wall and raced after Orko, hitting him in the back just as Duncan was reaching for him. It formed a bubble around Orko and disappeared, taking the alien magician with it.