Later that day, having eaten a breakfast of fried eggs and pancakes with maple syrup and bacon, I was curled up in the library on a large, blue silver trimmed chair reading the second of six books I had picked out from various sections including History, Geography, Gemology, and Architecture, to learn more about the world I was from and had now returned to, which was titled Palaces of Elandrea: Their Date of Construction and Building Materials.
Sensing someone approaching, I cast my eyes upward to see Jaron heading towards me from across the vast library.
‘Your brother said I’d find you here.’ He was grinning as he sat himself down on the window-seat beside me.
‘Reading up on Elandrean architecture?’ he asked, scooting closer to read over my shoulder.
‘Indeed I am. Do you remember asking me yesterday to let you know about the materials used in the building of the palace whenever I found out?’
His eyes sparkling with excitement, Jaron nodded.
‘Well, the chapter I’m reading right now, “Ledoran, Rendor and Idanei”, says that all three palaces were built with crushed but large pieces of Sapphire, Alexandrite and Thraxin within the bricks, though there is more Thraxin in the palace of Ledoran. These precious stones are the reason Síosa Palace sparkles under the sun’s rays’ I told him, pointing at the illustrations pictured below the passage I had just been reading.
‘What’s… Thraxin?’ he asked, puzzled.
‘That was in the first book I read’ I replied, pointing at a brown leather-bound book, with Elandrean Gemology embossed into the cover in black lettering.
‘It’s a precious stone mined from caves beneath the land on which the three Avadorae kingdoms were built.’
‘Wow, you have a brilliant memory.’
I grinned, ‘I have a knack for retaining information, even after a long time.’
He laughed. ‘That must be have come in handy when you went through all those GC…SEs you told me about.’
‘You could say that’ I replied with a chuckle, marking the page I was reading, closing the book and placing it back on the pile on top of the round white table to my right before turning back to him.
‘There’s a reason you came to find me, what is it?’ I asked him gently.
Jaron’s eyes widened, ‘w-well, I um…King Thäro sent me to tell you to go and change so you can begin the training he discussed with you at breakfast.’
I frowned, ‘why did he not send one of the palace staff?’
‘Because I am going to be your archery instructor.’
Less than half an hour later I was wearing a white cotton shirt and black trousers, and brown, knee-high leather boots embossed with an elaborate pattern on either side of each boot; standing in front of a ten-metre target with a bow in my hand as Jaron demonstrated how to hold it properly and then nocked an arrow.
‘Before you let your arrow fly, you need to check that it is firmly nocked in and the arrow head is resting gently at the tip of your forefinger like so, then you pull back the bow string and…’
He let go of the bow string, and the arrow sailed through the air before embedding itself in the first ring from the Bull’s Eye.
‘Now, you try’ he said, stepping back to observe how I’d do.
Nocking an arrow to my bow, I steadied my arm and did as Jaron had shown me: letting the arrow fly and watching as it sailed through towards the target.
In a split second, the arrow-head pierced the Bull’s Eye, leaving me and Jaron blinking in surprise and shock at the target.
‘Whoa, nice shot! Have you ever taken lessons before?’ he exclaimed, gazing at me eagerly.
I shook my head, still staring at the target in shock ‘nope…beginner’s luck I guess.’
He chuckled, ‘gives us something to work with though. Take another shot, and see how many Bull’s Eyes you can hit, we have half an hour until your lesson with Kenton.’
Sword practice was taking considerably longer than archery had done, though I still can’t fathom out how I had managed to hit twenty Bull’s Eyes in the half an hour we had, and was considering several possible reasons – when Kenton pulled me back to the matter at hand with a ‘come on Oraelia, focus!’
‘Kenton, I can’t take anymore! We’ve been going for almost three hours. I’m exhausted’ I told him, beads of sweat coating my forehead and chest as I bent over my knees and panting as I got my breath back, before raising to my full height once more.
‘You’ve worked hard today, so you deserve a break. Let us rest’ he replied, taking me over to a white soft cushioned bench in the shade of a large oak tree, a table laden with a large silver jug of water, and two small goblets, in front of it.
‘Does your father have any more training planned for you today?’ he asked, pouring some water into my goblet.
‘I don’t think so. I asked Jaron before I left to come to you. He informed me I only had Archery and Sword practice today’ I replied, raising the goblet to my lips and sighing with pleasure as the cool water ran down my throat.
‘How about I take you on a horse-back tour around town? Or the forest which spreads out from the back of the palace, before dinner?’ he offered.
‘The forest sounds nice…but I haven’t been given my mount yet’ I answered after taking another, long gulp of water.
He grinned knowingly at me, ‘your parents have been rearing him since he was a colt until he was old, and strong enough, for you to ride.’
‘I have a stallion?’
‘You do, indeed.’ He stood, pulling me up gently by the arm.
‘Come on, there’s only two and a half hours until dinner’ he smiled, leading me back towards the palace and the stables opposite its left wall.
When we got to the stables Kenton went over to the last of four stalls set apart from the rest, which were painted a beautiful light shade of purple, while the others were a deep green. A few moments later, he reappeared leading a tall stallion whose coat was a gorgeous silvery white, shining brilliantly in the afternoon sunlight.
‘Oraelia, meet Perseus Kenton told me as he brought Perseus to a standstill in front of me.
Perseus nickered softly and lowered his head to get a better look at me, his deep brown eyes studying me until he took a step forward; butting his head gently against my chest.
I laughed and stroked him from the forehead down to his softly velvety nose, ‘I like you too, Perseus.’
‘You want me to groom and saddle him for you?’
‘No thank you, I’ve been horse riding every Saturday afternoon since I was eleven. I know what I’m doing’ I replied with a smile, looking sideways at him.
He smiled, pleased to hear it. ‘His grooming kit is in his stall on a shelf to the right when you go in, and the tack is in the large shed, just past the other stables.’ He sounded pleased that I knew what I was doing, before heading to the third green stall after the purple ones, to retrieve his own horse.
‘Are there any forests near your adoptive parents’ house, back in the human world?’ Kenton asked me as we passed through an apple orchard on the forest border, which had been planted at the same time the kingdom was built over a thousand years ago, or so he told me as we passed through the tall trees; I think he was just humouring me.
‘There’s the walk down to Tuddenham and the sheep fields – but that’s just a tree and bush lined path. To get to a forest you’d have to drive about an hour and half, to get to Rendlesham. or Thetford’ I replied after a moment.
‘I see, are they big?’
‘Hmm – they’re not massive, but they aren’t small either.’
He chuckled, ‘I’ve never told anyone this, but I’ve always wanted to visit the forests of the human world after learning about them at school in Geography of the Human World’ he admitted as he and his pure black stallion, Raven, guided me and Perseus into the forest spreading out from Síosa’s “back-door”.
‘Will you take me to see the forests of Rendlesham, and Thetford…when you get the chance to go back and visit your human family?’ he asked hesitantly, the apples of his cheeks taking on a reddish hue as we passed into a particularly dense part of the forest.
‘Maybe’ I smiled, earning a smile from him in return.
Before Kenton could reply, the ring of the palace bell sounded faintly in the near distance; announcing dinner-time.
Kenton grinned, wheeling Raven around to face the palace once more. ‘Come on, race you back.’
Hey my lovelies, hope you enjoyed this last chapter of the week. What do you think will happen next? Leave your predictions in the comments below :).
You have wings. Believe in them and yourself, and you will fly.