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The Company of the Rose
Prudence lives a normal life until a brutal attack catapults her into a new reality – one where she's the most important refugee of the Council of the Five Kingdoms.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/JCQsm 273 views
|Fantasy Young Adult|
|9 publishers interested|
Prudence Clark lives a seemingly normal life in Cambridge with her best friend’s family. But a series of strange events compounded by a wave of kidnappings is about to turn everything she believed about her existence upside down.
A brutal attack catapults her into a new reality – one that makes her the most important refugee of the Council of the Five Kingdoms. Now, she’s charged with the task of finding the King’s runes to stop Alanel, the most malicious and ruthless being, following his escape from prison.
Alanel has declared war on the king of Arkana. Now, even more shocking truths come forth, exposing long-held secrets about Prudence’s past and her destiny. Her newfound knowledge will prompt her to embark on a treacherous journey to face dangerous beasts in the most inhospitable of places. But her journey will not be alone, she’ll be joined by the Company of the Rose, brave warriors that will fight by her side, and hopefully, lead to the retrieval of the runes before it’s too late.
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Prudence Clarke lives a completely normal life in Cambridge with her best friend’s family. Maddie, Doreen, Bram and Carter had taken her as part of their family. But strange events start to occur all over the country and seventeen year old kids are mysteriously vanishing.
On her way home, the night of Maddie’s birthday, Prudence buys a gift for her, a precious embellished pendant. She gets assaulted and she is attacked by two strange individuals as she pasts out.
Prudence wakes up in a very different world, a world where she is the most important refugee of the Council of the Five Kingdoms. She starts to discover this new world and soon she realizes how little she knows about who she really is.
Prudence is taken to witness a conclave where she meets the authorities of the Council of the Five Kingdoms. Also in this chapter she meets the members of the Company of the Rose. Finally, her true identity is revealed to her. She is the daughter of King Tareos, the Elvenking.
Prudence gets back to the human world, and visits her grandparents in search for answers. A letter from her mother is handed to her. Back in Borghild, she begins her training in order to embark on a dangerous journey.
Prudence gets her powers tested under the Oracle at a little village called Fort Are, and it is revealed that she is an Astor, the kind of elf capable of manipulating the four elements of nature, as well as light. But her powers have been buried in the depths of her being, using ancient elven magic and will be very difficult to get them back. A sudden attack of the dark legions falls over Fort Are before her powers can be released.
In order to decipher her mother's letter, Prudence embarks on a journey joined by the Company of the Rose to the Atarum Edges to find an interpreter of an ancient dead language in which the letter is written. The letter contains indications of where to find the first rune.
After being attacked by a group of nymphs in the swamps of the White Forest, the Company of the Rose arrives at Penrith, the first great city in their route.
Once in Penrith, they discover the presence of dark magic in the woods and in the waters of the Mothingale River. They meet Lord Besyyd, who rules the city. He fears for the safety of Penrith and offers them his help to reach the Atarum Edges safely.
Lord Besyyd not only lends them a flock of mighty warring birds called Mithlons. In addition, he perceives the great power latent within Prudence and proposes to help her to free it. For that, he takes her before the presence of a boggart, which through fear, causes deep horrors and fears to emerge from the depths of Prudence being. It also manages to awaken her power of light.
The Company arrives at the Atarum Edges and meets Killian Vardran, the interpreter who reads Prudence's letter, and reveals the location of the first rune. To find it, they must embark on a journey to the dwarven kingdom of Azmarath, by the sea. On their way, they will spend the night at the village of Linmehl and Prudence begins to suspect that there is a traitor within the group.
They sail towards the Gaalean Sea until arriving at the shores of Azmarath. Their ship is confiscated by the guards of King Gurdan and are brought before him. Prudence asks him to explain the meaning of a symbol she remembers seeing on the map. The rune is in a sea cavern, guarded by a gigantic creature they must face.
They head to the cave that is located in The Shallows, east of Azmarath. There they face a gigantic creature and Prudence passes through its custody to recover the rune, not before her companions suffer a powerful attack. There was something else besides the rune, a map with the location of the second rune.
On their way back to Linmhel and with the rune in their hands, they are ambushed by an enemy ship. The Azarias have found them because their location has been betrayed. A raw battle breaks out on board of the ship and they end up being taken prisoners.
Prudence tries to escape with Genuss, but Alanel, the Dark Lord, and his army of Azarias are ready to invade Arkana. She is taken by Alanel in front of the Elvenking, her father, and he is brutally murdered by Alanel, in front of Prudence and all of his people.
Prudence runs aimlessly into the palace, and she is found by Dedric and Genuss, who have escaped. Together they try to leave Arkana but the kingdom is under siege. The elves find them and take them before the King's Assembly. There, a very great responsibility will be entrusted to Prudence, the heiress of the throne.
Alanel and his army have broken through the walls of Arkana. A terrible battle is unleashed. The elves defend the palace before the enemy invasion, and soon comes the help of the giants, who surround the Azarias and manage to corner them. Prudence and her companions go out to fight alongside the Elvish army, but in a second she stands helpless in the middle of the chaos and becomes the perfect target.
Prudence is rescued just in time by Lord Kotal, who appears suddenly and wearing his appearing cloak, takes her in a heartbeat back to the distant and safe prairies of Borghild. Prudence gets angry because she did not want to leave her friends. She feels that she has let them down. At that moment a piece of paper falls out of her pocket. The map containing the location of the second rune. She must return to Cambridge to get it, and there, the reunion with Maddie, her best friend, will add a new member to the Company. The journey is not over, and neither is the war.
Those who have read books like Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, or the Hobbit, know what it is to enjoy a cozy reading. As in these stories, The Elven Tales has a lot of world development, not only in terms of places, but also in terms of fantasy creatures, potions and magic tricks, own terminology, and more.
The Elven Tales will grab your attention from the very early sentences, since it is simple and easy to read for all-ages and for non-native English speakers.
Just to mention an age range: 13 and up young adult readers who like magic and adventure. It can also be enjoyed by adults fantasy readers in general. Fantasy readers who love elves, dwarves, wizards, giants and fairies are specially targeted.
It is a book that you could buy for your young children or teenagers, and you will end up enjoying it yourself with a cup of hot coffee in your reading corner.
Fabi Ghittoni is an Argentina-based attorney and writer. Since childhood she experienced love for literature and fiction (Greek mythology being her first catch). She is also an avid reader and bookstagrammer. She graduated from law school at the very young age of twenty two. After obtaining her degree she decided to pursue a writing career. The Elven Tales is her debut novel, and the first of a five book series for kids, young adults and fantasy readers.
The Elven Tales promotion will be done by combining presence in social networks like Instagram and Youtube, through online tours and features in multiple blogs. In addition, email marketing will be used through lists collected throughout the process of developing the book. I have my own website (www.fabighittoni.com) where readers can subscribe to a newsletter to receive news about upcoming releases and special discounts.
I have an active and growing Instagram account (@fghittoni) where I interact with 2k+ followers.
Does novels about magic, friendship, and adventure sound good to you? The Elven Tales could be your next magical read among others like:
The Harry Potter Series, by J.K Rowling
The Lord of the Rings Series, J.R.R Tolkien
The Hobbit, J.R.R Tolkien
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S Lewis
Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy), Leigh Bardugo
Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Michael Scott
The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles), Patrick Rothfuss
The Sword of Shannara Trilogy, Terry Brooks
Why you should read The Elven Tales: The story begins in Cambridge, in the real wolrd, with a normal family and ordinary people. But Prudence Clarke is not like them all. She just needs to find it out. Unexpected events will prompt her to a new world she is destined to rule. But why? Long held secrets will be unveiled along a very dangerous journey. The Elven Tales does not lack of friendship, elven battles, action packed scenes, magic on its full expression, and of course tons of mysteries and armies of bloodthirsty creatures that serves a Dark Lord that must be defeated at all costs.
It was the first day of winter when it happened. It may have been a perfectly typical morning for the normal people out there, but it certainly wasn’t for those who were far from ordinary. Nervous people could be seen everywhere in the streets of England, whispering, gasping in disbelief, and hurriedly searching for someone to deny the undeniable. Could it be true? Or was it just some ridiculous rumor being spread by even more ridiculous mouths? How could it be possible? Morgadot was known as the safest prison of the Five Kingdoms, the kind of place prisoners could only dream of escaping. Even then, Alanel was above them all — he was the most guarded prisoner in history. He was also the most dangerous and evil. Nobody wanted to believe that he had escaped from confinement. Not only was it nearly impossible, but if true, his escape would mean a catastrophic event for everyone. That, of course, was only acknowledged by unusual people. And they were the only ones worried about it, until three days later, the horror began.
It even appeared in the news. Thirteen children had suddenly disappeared. Franklin, Debra, and Spencer were only a few names on a list that seemed to grow larger each passing hour. It was heartbreaking to hear the desperate parents on the news who knew nothing of the whereabouts of their children. “What was happening?” was the question in every mouth in the country. What had those children done? Why them? All those questions were left unanswered. Among many doubts, there was a fact: All of them were seventeen years old.
Suddenly, everyone was in a panic. From the north to the south of England, horrified parents were glued in front of the TV, desperate to know where the last disappearance had occurred. They relied on the alerts to tell them whether to further strengthen the security of their homes. The truth is that children were evaporating as if the night had swallowed them, as it does with the frozen breath of night walkers.
No one seemed to go for evening walks in those days, as the authorities had recommended not to. Each house was sealed by sundown, as though in preparation for a real battle. The windows were covered to prevent anyone who might have been looking in from outside.
Families slept together in one room to protect each other in case something strange happened, or they took turns keeping vigil. The scene was repeated in every home, and that of the Percivals was no exception.
“What are you reading?” Maddie asked, taking Prudence by surprise as she took the book away.
"Give it back!" Prudence demanded, her slender and delicate figure jumping to try to snatch the book back. Her forest green gaze was fixed on the book, and her hair the same color as almonds glowed under the light of her reading lamp. There were few things that bothered Prudence, and one of them was touching her books. Obviously, anyone who loved books so much as she did would hate their prized possessions being manipulated by hands able to hurt them.
"This is not funny, Madeleine," said Prudence. She only used Maddie’s full name when she was angry with her.
"Of course it is. Brunhild used her magical skills to control the swords of their enemies," Maddie read in a loud, mocking voice, which made Prudence angrier.
"Better use your magic powers to move your feet down the stairs and to the dining room. Dinner is ready," she said finally.
The aromas of a delicious dinner wafted up the stairs.
Sitting around the table were Bram and Doreen Percival, with their two children, Maddie and Carter, who were seventeen- and ten-years-old respectively.
The Percivals were a typical family of Cambridge. Bram was an employee of Cambridge Alliance Bank, and Doreen had used to be a renowned local artist. Her paintings had sold well, until osteoarthritis seized her hands and she couldn’t paint anymore, due to the sudden tremors and constant pain in her joints. Lately, she spent her time as a mother, wife, and homemaker.
The Percivals occupied a three-story house with four rooms on Chesterton Road. It had belonged to the family for the past eighty years.
Prudence Clarke stayed with them. She and Maddie had become best friends during a summer vacation that the Percivals had spent at Cotswolds, where Prudence lived with her grandparents. Since then, they had maintained their friendship over the years by sending letters and emails, talking on the phone, and having visits during the summers. They had planned to attend the University of Cambridge together, but this time, their plan was thwarted. Maddie had received her acceptance letter to Cambridge, and this was a source of pride for her parents. Sadly, Prudence was not so lucky.
Anyway, the Percivals offered to host Prudence in their home, so she had the opportunity to prepare better and try again the next year. Bram and Doreen were not rich, but they had much affection for Prudence, and they welcomed her with open arms as if she were a daughter. In the meantime, Prudence had gotten a job as a librarian at the Jerwood Library, where she spent hours devouring all the books that passed by in front of her.
“How’s the moving going?” Doreen asked Prudence as she served a plate of baked chicken with potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and roasted endive. Doreen was a great cook, and wasn’t modest about showing off her fantastic skills at every opportunity that presented itself.
“I still haven’t unpacked everything. But it goes well, luckily.”
"We should buy another closet. What do you say, Bram? To make the girls more comfortable,” Doreen asked her husband.
"We could go look for one Saturday morning," Bram answered.
“Oh, you don’t need to do that. The space Maddie left me in hers is more than enough. I don’t own many clothes,” Prudence objected.
"We’ll be fine, don’t worry,” Maddie added.
“This dinner is delicious, Doreen,” said Prudence.
“Oh, thank you, but you’ve seen nothing yet. Wait until tomorrow night. I’m preparing something really good for Maddie’s birthday.”
“I can’t wait to wear my new dress. It is so beautiful!” Maddie exclaimed, then some upsetting thought crossed her mind. Her expression darkened.
A brief silence ensued. Everyone at the table seemed to try to avoid the subject, but it was inevitable. It was Maddie who initiated the discussion.
"Have you heard the latest news?"
"No, I haven’t heard, if you’re talking about the kidnappings," said Doreen, looking a bit nervous. "And I don’t want to. I have not one, but two seventeen-year-old girls in this house. Don’t you think I’m terrified enough? Talking about this will ruin the family meal with bad news, and I don’t want it to ruin your birthday party as well.”
"But..." Maddie protested.
"I want to hear the latest news," said Carter.
"Enough! Carter, if you do, you'll have nightmares later," said his mother.
"When I came back home today, I heard that the last disappearance has been on this same street."
All were silent. Bram struggled to swallow the morsel in his mouth. Carter's eyes were like two spheres about to roll out of their sockets. Doreen covered her mouth with both her hands, and Prudence stopped breathing altogether.
"Are you sure about that?" Bram asked.
Doreen and Carter hugged. Both of them almost fell from their chairs.
"Oh my God, this is bad. This is very bad. Bram, what do we do now? How are we going to celebrate Maddie’s birthday with such danger surrounding us?"
"Relax," Bram said in an attempt to restore peace to the table. "Everyone will sleep in their rooms, just like every night. I'll stay awake watching. Nothing is going to happen. We will have a nice celebration tomorrow. Everything stays as it always has been." Bram ended the conversation by taking a bite of food. Doreen nodded enthusiastically.
The subject was left behind. Everyone tried hard to change the mood of the conversation. The rest of the dinner was spent swapping childhood stories of Maddie and Prudence during their endless summers in Cotswolds, when they camped in the countryside or made long night rides or stayed outside and enjoyed their picnics on the banks of the stream.
After dinner, Maddie and Prudence helped Doreen with the dishes. After they had retired, Doreen and her husband shared a glass of brandy in the kitchen.
"I don’t want anything bad to happen, Bram. I dread to think that something could happen to the girls. I'm so happy to have Prudence with us. She’s a wonderful girl," said Doreen.
Prudence heard the murmurs from the room on the second floor where she continued reading her book, curled up in an armchair under the light of a candle.
"I always felt a little bad for her," Doreen continued as she left her empty glass in the sink.
"Surely it must be very hard growing up without her parents there," Bram contributed.
"That's what I mean. My heart breaks just imagining how bad it must have felt not to receive the admission letter. After so many years of planning it, Prudence and Maddie really wanted to do this together."
A few minutes later, each of the members of the family retired to Bram’s room. Doreen Carter slept in the main room, which was located next to the reading room on the second floor of the house. On the ground floor, there was a visitor’s room and also a game room.
On the first floor was the kitchen, the living room and a small bathroom. The girls shared a room on the third floor, next to little Carter’s room. Maddie had not allowed Prudence to occupy the guest room, because they never considered her as a visitor, but rather as part of their family.
Prudence slept on the bed that was by the window that faced the street. She had accommodated some of her most prized possessions on the windowsill, among which was a small chest of leather and cherry wood, which her father had made for her. She kept a jewel inside, which she removed from her neck every night before going to bed. The jewel was truly beautiful. It had a blue-green gem in the middle and each end was crimped by an elaborate wrought ramification of a shiny metal.
Maddie slept in the bed that was on one of the side walls. Apparently, her rest was placid and deep. The same could not be said for Prudence; usually she had very strange dreams, nightmares from which she found it difficult to wake up. That night, her dream was so vivid and real that she never truly knew whether it had happened or if it was only figments of her imagination.
Prudence stood with her back to the window, because somehow it made her feel more secure. Her blanket covered her shoulders and part of her face. Her toes began to tingle, and then her hands. She turned, to feel a knock on the window. It was an insect, something like a beetle. The insect was black, and its shell shone from the moonlight reflecting off it. A second later, there was another blow on the glass. It was another insect, which was followed by a third and a fourth. The noise stopped for a moment.
Suddenly, an explosion was heard. It seemed that the window was being bombarded by hundreds of insects that crashed, disoriented, against it. Prudence stood, clutching one end of the blanket with her fist, while the rest hung out of the bed.
She felt something walking on her feet. When she looked down at the floor, there were more insects. Prudence shook them off and jumped on the bed, while a hundred insects were crashing against the window. The noise from their impacts continued and was getting stronger and stronger. Prudence began to feel deafened by their tireless fluttering. The buzz came over her ears.
Suddenly, the glass exploded into a thousand pieces. Prudence turned, covering her face with her hands to avoid being hit. After that, there was only silence; the only sound in the room was her intense breathing. She took her hands off of her face and turned to see the rest of the place. Everything seemed calm. The window was intact. There was nothing on the floor but a small crocheted circular rug that Maddie’s mother had insisted for weeks that they buy. There wasn’t a trace of any kind of insect.
Prudence looked out the window onto the street. The neighborhood was plunged in complete peace of the night. She leaned back in the bed that the Percivals had placed especially for her stay in their home. She turned, and returned to the position in which she had previously slept. She closed her eyes, certain that everything was normal again. However, it was impossible to sleep. A cup of hot milk would be a logical solution, so she went down to the kitchen.
When Prudence was about to take her cup of hot milk that she had added a touch of cinnamon to, Bram descended the stairs.
“Prudence, have you come down to replace me?" he joked.
"I had nightmares, I couldn’t go back to sleep.”
Bram poured some of the mixture Prudence had prepared. "I know it might seem scary, but you have nothing to worry about,” he said apologetically. “Your grandfather called today, he was concerned about these awful events. I told him I won’t let anything bad happen to any of you.”
“I know that, Bram. I can’t thank you enough for everything you do for me.”
Bram smiled. “Now be calm, go upstairs and try to get some rest. Besides, tomorrow is Maddie’s birthday. We’ll get together with the rest of the family and some friends. The house will be full of people. What could go wrong?”
Prudence woke up thirty minutes before the alarm rang, happy that the night was over and the sun was finally out. She was exhausted from spending the entire night reliving her nightmare again and again. She got up and dressed reluctantly, taking care not to wake Maddie up on her birthday morning.
As soon as she got downstairs, she had a bite of a sandwich that Doreen had already placed on the dining table with a cup of coffee.
Doreen was staring out of the window with a cup of tea in her hands. She had a preoccupied expression on her face.
“Doreen,” said Prudence, but she got no response.
“Doreen,” she tried again. This time Doreen reacted as if she had been pulled out of a reverie.
“Do you feel alright?” Prudence asked, concerned.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with Lobo.”
Lobo was the Percivals pet. He was a two year-old black mini schnauzer.
“What about him?”
“He’s been looking fixedly at the bushes in the backyard. He hasn’t moved an inch since I got up.”
“Maybe there’s a cat trapped behind the bushes.”
“I don’t think so. He gets along well with cats, but I’ve never seen him so upset.”
Carter appeared, still wearing his pajamas and rubbing his face. Just then, Lobo started barking furiously.
“What’s wrong with Lobo?” Carter asked, opening the door to get outside.
“Carter, get back in here! Prudence, please go check," Doreen pleaded while grabbing Carter by the arm.
Lobo quickly disappeared among the plants. The bushes began to move violently, and Lobo’s barking became grunts. He seemed to be chasing something.
After a few seconds, there was a groan. Lobo emerged from the plants, running scared into the house. He ran so quickly by Prudence that she couldn’t see if he was hurt. She followed him back inside the house.
Carter kneeled next to his scared dog to calm him down. “It’s ok. It’s fine. Don’t be scared, little boy.”
“I don’t like this,” Doreen said, and went upstairs to wake Bram up. A couple of minutes later both of them came back downstairs and they were arguing.
“You’re being paranoid!”
“I’m not being paranoid. This is seriously worrying me — there are kids in this house! What if we’re being watched?”
“What are you talking about? This is a safe neighborhood. We have security patrolling our streets. Everything will be fine!”
“Then fine! Don’t listen to me, and if something happens, you are not going to tell me I didn’t warn you.”
"Okay, if something happens, which it will not, I won’t say you that you didn’t warn me."
While Doreen and Bram ended their discussion, Prudence crept out of the house.
As she biked to the Jerwood Library, thoughts of all the strange events filled her head. What if Doreen was right? What if someone was watching the Percivals’ house?
After rearranging endless piles of returned books back onto their shelves, Prudence went to pick up something for lunch. As she was getting her hands on a tuna sandwich, she thought she saw a girl standing in one of the hallways she had believed to be empty. She stopped and stepped back to take a second look, but no one was there. Prudence glanced around the room and caught a shadow heading to the door. She hurried to follow it but didn’t reach the entrance in time and the doors closed just before she got there. She peeked outside the library, but once again, there was no one in sight. That strange feeling of being watched stood with her for the rest of the day. More than once, she found herself unable to resist the urge to look over her shoulder.
That evening, when she was coming back from work, Prudence stopped by a tiny, grubby looking shop. She looked at it up and down; she was truly surprised she had never noticed the shop before. Perhaps she had just walked straight by it hundreds of times. A jewel hanging in the window caught her attention, and made her remember she still had to get a gift for Maddie. The shop was very dark and shabby, and Prudence wasn’t sure whether to enter or not. But the jewel was beautiful, and she was running out of time. She didn’t want to be late for the party and it was getting cold and dark. The national news had recommended to keep safe, and not to walk alone at night as a result of the sudden and frightening occurrences in the society. So she opened the door, and heard the sound of a little bell. Right after walking into the shop she got the feeling that the place was a little peculiar. It was full of antiques, with some even hanging from the ceiling. Prudence was so amazed by the strange look of the shop she didn’t notice an old little man sitting in the corner behind one of the counters.
“Good afternoon,” the old man said with a soft voice.
“Hello,” Prudence replied nervously.
“How can I help you?”
“I would like to buy the jewel displayed in the window, please.”
“Oh, I see,” the seller said. “Great choice, young lady.”
The old man turned to the window and came back with Prudence’s request in his hand. He placed the jewel on top of a dark green cushion so she could get a better look at it. She stared and admired it for a couple of seconds, but suddenly the gem started to shine in a very strange way. It was like a flicker. Prudence blinked in confusion as she wasn’t sure gems could even do that. She looked up and the man was looking right at her eyes, as if he was studying her in some sort of way.
“This is a very special piece. Must be for someone very special as well.”
“It is indeed. I’ll take it,” she said, and rushed to pay for it. She grabbed the jewel and put it on her neck. She had the perfect package for it at home.
As she was leaving, the elderly seller followed her outside and stood at the doorway, watching her disappear into the darkness. Once Prudence got out of his sight, he headed back into the shop and locked the door. He picked the speaker of a very old telephone and dialed a number.
“Hurry up,” were the words he said to the person at the other end of the line.
As Prudence strolled closer to the Percivals’ house, she felt someone was trailing her. She turned and looked around but couldn’t see anything. The place remained completely silent for a minute. Then she heard steps. She looked back and saw not one, but two individuals approaching her. Amid the darkness, Prudence failed to distinguish where they came from, but their steps were strong and heavy on the pavement.
They were very tall, pale-skinned like ice, and had dark hair. Their appearance was a clear portrait of an evil being. Those strange men approached in silence with their eyes fixed on her. Prudence tried to step back and run, but suddenly something stopped her and she couldn’t move.
Some kind of invisible force held her firmly. It was painful, very painful. The energy went through her body, penetrating each of her muscles.
Suddenly, the force that held her let go, and Prudence crashed into the sidewalk.
"Please stop!" she muttered with the little strength she had left in her body. Despite her sobs, the pain did not stop; it actually made it worse. Once again, the force seized her, throwing her into the air and twisting her back violently. She felt like her spine was about to break.
Inside the house, Maddie and Carter were ready. Doreen settled her husband’s collar and Maddie was looking elegant.
"Prudence should be here," Maddie said, just as the lights throughout the house began to shake.
"What about energy?" asked Doreen. "I don’t want to spend the night in candlelight," she continued.
"The street is dark. I'll see if she’s coming," Bram said, looking out the window.
He left the house with a flashlight in hand to look for Prudence.
Meanwhile, one of the men ran his hand through Prudence’s hair, and pulled it tightly. His hands were strong and cold, as if he had nothing left within him. He positioned the eyes of the young girl against his. The man looked so deep into her eyes that he touched her soul.
After this, he raised his head and flashed a wicked smile. "It's her," he said.
"Then kill her," the other one replied.
Tears started to fall down Prudence’s face; she had never felt such an intense pain in her entire life. The force hung her in the air. Her body was being consumed with every second. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could endure the pain. Suddenly, something interrupted them from killing her.
Bram went out in search of Prudence, and he noticed from afar that some people were fighting in a dark corner down the street. One of the men grabbed Prudence from behind her neck. She pulled his arm tightly to prevent him from choking her, and then she saw that Bram was coming down the street. Prudence tried to warn him to flee, but instead Bram stopped aghast.
Get out of here. Please go, Prudence thought while she struggled for a drop of oxygen.
Bram moved closer to the scene and realized that it was Prudence who had fallen victim to these two unknown strangers. What Bram found was a horrific scene in which Prudence was being terribly attacked.
"Hey! Leave her alone!" Bram shouted. He took off running to defend her, never imagining that after the first step he would be hit by a beam of light that made his whole body collapse. His muscles were paralyzed one by one until they no longer responded. Bram had no choice but to stay laying on the ground.
Prudence screamed in horror, just as the man who was grabbing her was struck by light and fell on the floor next to her. Three people appeared out of nowhere. One of them was a handsome young man with silver hair. There was also a young woman, who looked fierce and brave. The third was a man the same age as the others, but was a little shorter.
The shorter man moved very quickly, and in less than a second he jumped over one of the aggressors. They got curled in an intense fight in which both of them got hit. The woman ran over to help Prudence as the taller man slowly walked towards the injured aggressor, who was severely harmed and almost unconscious.
As Prudence stood on her feet with the help of the woman, the gem on her neck began to shine. It was like it had been turned on. Something burned inside it, and it was powerful. Suddenly, her whole being was overrun with unusual force — not only her muscles, but each of her nerve endings and bones. An unprecedented power grew hard inside of her and was brutally freed.
A sudden explosion ran through the place like a shock wave. The silence became absolute. Three waves of a strong white light beat everyone around it. The light halo was so intense it bleached the entire place white. When the light was consumed and sound was restored, Prudence fell to the ground, exhausted.
Everything went black.
"Good morning, Miss Clarke. The sun is shining and there is much to be done. It is time to get up," said a pleasant and optimistic voice, after Prudence’s first attempt to open her eyes. Standing at the side of the bed was a young-looking lady.
"You’ve been resting for the last four days," she continued.
"I've seen you before," said Prudence as she sat on the bed. She fixed one eye on the girl while she rubbed the other. An elaborate braid adorned the contour of the girl’s face and the rest of her hair fell in long strands that reached halfway down her back. She was a little shorter than Prudence, but her skin was equally pale. Her lips were cherry red. She wore a dark dress that covered her entire body, revealing only her face, hands and a bit of her neck.
“I saw you at the library the other day. Who are you?" Prudence questioned.
“My name is Skuld."
"Where is Bram? Is he alright?" Prudence asked after getting her thoughts in order.
Prudence’s memory was cloudy and her mind was still shaking from the horror she had experienced only a couple of nights ago. Something very bad had happened and she wanted to know why.
"I am not allowed to provide that kind of information, Miss Clarke," the girl said apologetically.
Prudence got out of the bed and looked around the room in which she had awoken. It was spacious and had high ceilings. The windows that spanned the front of the room were open. Through them came the fresh scent of flowers she had never smelled before.
Her room overlooked a large park. It was so great and of such beauty that it seemed to be a surreal vision from which she could only escape by waking up.
“What is this place?” she asked without taking her eyes off the seemingly infinite garden.
Skuld didn’t answer. It actually seemed that she wanted to avoid any questions. Instead, she said, “I suggest you put on the clothes I have prepared for you, Miss Clarke. You would not want to be seen in your intimates.”
Prudence realized that she was wearing a nightgown made of the softest fabric she had ever worn, rather than the clothes she had been wearing when she was attacked.
“We will meet the president any moment now.”
“The president?” Prudence asked, intrigued.
“Yes. You need to be officially notified. We have a messenger, but the president will do the honors personally, since, well, you are the one to be notified.”
“Notified of what?”
“I can’t provide such information, Miss Clarke. Now, please put on your clothes so we can start with our schedule for today.”
Prudence did as she was told.
When Prudence examined the clothes Skuld had prepared for her, she realized they were very different from those she normally wore.
"These pants are made of leather," she said.
"I wear jeans."
"We do not have those around here."
Prudence put on the dark leather pants, and boots that were a similar tone. The blouse was white and simple. Once ready, she tied her hair in a high ponytail and followed Skuld through the door to what seemed to be a magnificent palace.
It must have been, because of its size and lavishness. Her restless gaze got lost in the many details. Each wall, each room was made of the finest marble. Prudence felt the weight of years of history filling the thick walls around her. The place was historic, as was each object that her gaze rested on. For some reason, she felt comfortable with that air of antiquity. The vaulted ceilings, supported by thousands of columns that hunched towards the top, seemed to be infinitely high. The walls were decorated with shields of gold and other battle elements. Between each column, a large window revealed the splendor of the exterior landscapes. Prudence was overwhelmed with the beauty of the place.
“I’ll give you a little tour. But it has to be quick,” Skuld warned. “Lord Kotal would be very mad at me if I was late in bringing you to the Conclave.”
“Who’s Lord Kotal?” Prudence asked.
Skuld was about to respond—
“Forget it. You can’t provide such information, right?”
Skuld smiled and nodded. “This is a very important night. The Conclave will take place in a few hours.”
Suddenly, the floor started shaking, as if something big and heavy was getting closer. Prudence looked around and her heart gave a horrible jolt.
“What is that?” she asked.
A giant of about three times her height had appeared at the end of the corridor. Prudence gasped in fear as he passed by them. The giant made an educated reverence and smiled at them.
“Hello, Ferthgil,” said Skuld.
“Good afternoon, my dears,” he responded with a voice so low that the little crystals of the chandeliers shook.
“Was that a giant?”
“Yes. The giants are part of one of the member kingdoms. But you will learn everything about that when we get back from our tour.”
With every minute, Prudence was more and more amazed by the place she was discovering.
“I’ve heard you are very fond of books,” Skuld said as they stopped in front of a majestic pair of doors. “This is the library.”
Prudence’s heart started to beat heavily. If they had giants in this place, she couldn’t even imagine the kind of books treasured behind those doors.
“Don’t worry. You will have time to visit it later. Now, there is something far more interesting that I want to show you.”
As they continued to stroll across the corridors, they saw two wizards about to descend a marble staircase that led to a lower level of the palace. One of them was older and shorter and had a very funny beard. The other one was younger and almost a head taller than his companion. They seemed to be very engaged in their discussion, which sounded serious to Prudence. They nodded their heads in greeting and disappeared.
“What is downstairs?” Prudence asked. She hadn’t really expected an answer from Skuld. but this time, she got one.
“That is wizard territory. They are very reserved. Their deposits are downstairs. We call them The Catacombs. I’m not even sure what kind of things you can find there. Rumors say that it’s not only potions that they keep inside The Catacombs—monsters have been kept down there as well. You should never trespass past their threshold.”
When they reached the end of the corridor, they arrived at the great garden. The main path was located at the center and it ramified to both sides like the veins of a leaf. The garden was full of life. It sat on a green mantle of the fluffiest grass and the most varied vegetation.
The garden was crossed by a water channel, which had an elaborately carved rock bridge. Beyond the channel, located in the center, was a gazebo surrounded by circular arches.
"This is so beautiful," Prudence gasped.
The central paths led straight into a gigantic forest where different tree species combined in magical harmony.
“Where are we going?” Prudence asked as they entered the woods.
“We are heading to The Ring. The wizards just brought a shipment of beasts that were causing trouble in the villages around Borghild. I’ve heard there might be an Oltra or a Hammerhead.”
“You said a hammerhead? Something like a shark?”
“Oh no, my dear, these ones are the size of a boat and are as fierce and strong as the entire ocean.”
Prudence shuddered with the thought of being in the presence of such a big creature. “Are you sure it’s safe to go see it?”
“It’s completely safe. We aren’t going to get too close. Besides, everyone is there. The giants are collaborating with the safety and they are keeping the creature under control.”
On their way to The Ring, they passed a group of people adjusting their weapons and bows. Prudence was paying attention to one young man in particular. His face was familiar. She thought that she might have seen him before, outside the Percivals’ house, but of course she wasn’t sure. She was trying to remember when an arrow flew in front of her face. Prudence froze.
“Watch out!” yelled a red-haired girl with a wary expression.
Skuld took Prudence by the arms and checked her nervously. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Prudence replied, releasing a deep breath. “What’s wrong with her?” she asked as they continued on their route.
“Her? You mean Genuss Godfarr? Nothing. She is just the best at everything, the absolute champion. And she is the front of the House of Godfarr since her father died. She’s kind of a big deal.”
“Well, I don’t know her, but I already dislike her”
“You’re not the only one”
The Ring was a something like a huge arena made entirely of an ancient sandstone. Lots of flags and ensigns hung from the walls. A huge cage was located in the center of the arena, which shook and moved violently. A small group of giants were trying to get the beast to calm down before taking it out. Whatever was inside was twice as tall as the giants. That freaked Prudence out.
“Hold the chains tight, I’m going to open the doors!” warned one of the giants while he walked closer to the cage. A sudden move almost knocked the cage down when he placed his hand over the lock.
“Tighter!” he shouted, but it was too late. The beast was released and it was furious. The hammerhead was ugly enough to cause nightmares. It actually was the size of a boat, with a protuberance stretched across its head like nature had equipped it to destroy and take things down. Its skin was rough and scaly, like a reptile.
“He’s hungry,” Skuld warned.
The hammerhead had an iron collar around its neck. The collar was attached to the floor by four different chains, which seemed to be very strong.
The beast groaned and started moving violently, like it wanted to break free.
“This doesn’t look good,” Prudence said at the exact moment that one of the chains stirred in the air like a whip. It pulled strongly enough that a second chain broke.
Prudence and Skuld gasped in unison.
The hammerhead started groaning and it was out of control. The giants rushed to take it down and hold the remaining chains as firmly as they could, but it didn’t take much for the beast to knock them over.
The hammerhead started to move closer to the crowd. His opened jaws revealed lethal rows of teeth.
“He’s coming over here!” Prudence shouted.
The beast jumped towards the crowd, and an old man with white hair showed up wearing a long, dark cloak.
He held his hands up and enchanted the beast, putting it to sleep. The hammerhead crashed against the floor, and the giants ran to secure the beast again.
When the old white-haired man was done with his task, he turned and walked through the crowd to where Prudence and Skuld were.
"I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t seeing it with my own eyes," he exclaimed with obvious emotion.
Prudence didn’t understand.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Miss Clarke. I’ve heard wonderful things about you. But excuse my manners! Let me introduce myself first. My name is Kotal Cavendish, Lord of Borghild, President of the Council of the Five Kingdoms.” He gave a nod of respect while waving a hand. “Now, up to the official affairs, I have to make an announcement.”
Prudence looked to her side, where Skuld seemed very excited.
“Miss Clarke, I am pleased to welcome you to the Borghild Palace, home of The Council of the Five Kingdoms. The Elves, the Wizards, the Dwarves, the Faeries and the Giants have been entrusted for centuries to the task of bringing peace to our lands. We feel honored to shelter you in our home. From now on, you are the most important refugee we have ever harbored, and you are officially under our solemn protection.”
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