What lies in Hearts

There was once a land for witches and warlocks that was destroyed by an unforeseen violent flood. Those who survived left the unsalvageable land; they journeyed until they reached land that was inhabited by humans’. Yet, after settling in the humans’ land, the witches and warlocks were killed for practicing magic; and after many years spent living amongst one another, only a small group of witches–that secretly practiced magic–remained alive. And so, the remaining witches and warlocks, fearing for the future of their kind, left the human’s land, and traveled a very long journey to find a place where they could openly practice magic without persecution. They found a small plot of land far away that hadn’t been civilized, and  settled on this land.

The strongest witches became the leaders, and as they were older and wiser, they were called Elders. Though they lived far from humans, the elders still felt threatened; with hatred they began practicing black magic, vowing to become so strong that they would one day get revenge. The elders became evil, and were feared in the village. Any witch that tried to go against them were brutally killed.

The elders raised a handful of young witches and warlocks, teaching them that humans were evil beings that would kill them all, unless they were killed first. They raised the young ones to be powerful, to be crafty, and to know the dark arts. And once they grew of age, the elders tested them to see which amongst the group was the strongest and smartest. Only two young witches, Ariya, and Raye were powerful, strong, and smart; and together they proved they were capable of defeating humans. The two were also best friends.

Raye was the beauty of the two, and Ariya was the mastermind. Together, they would use their greatest strengths to carry out the Elders plan: first they were to go to the largest human village that they could find. Then, in this village, Raye was to attract the attention of a man with great power, and when this man fell for her beauty, Ariya, in her cleverness, would develop a spell to prey on the man’s weaknesses. Once this man was reduced to nearly nothing, the two women would take control of his leadership, hurting the humans he ruled over, and the Elders would come and finish the job, killing every human being in the most brutal way possible.

Yet, very soon after arriving at the largest village in the land, Ariya fell in love with a human man and left Raye to carry out the plan without her. Raye attracted the attention of the Prince, and with a simple spell she was able to consume the Prince’s heart, body, mind and soul. He then asked her to marry him. But Raye was not the mastermind, even in her new position of power, and she was unable to develop a spell powerful enough to manipulate the Prince and destroy the entire kingdom. When the Prince became King and Raye became the Queen, she found herself with child. The baby growing in her belly warmed her cold wicked heart and she discarded the Elders’ plan. As her daughter grew older, the Queen adjusted to her new life, and eventually lost interest in witchcraft. She then denounced her former life as a witch. When the Elders did not come for her, she believed that they had forgotten she existed.

Six years after the Queen had her daughter, Ariya came to the Kingdom’s doorstep with a young boy in tow. This boy, she said, was her son. Ariya’s husband had been killed by a group of rowdy young men, months before, and Ariya was desperate for revenge. She now wanted to carry out the plan the Elders devised when they were younger. Though she married and loved a human, Ariya hadn’t forgotten that she was a witch. She had always practiced her craft, even when her husband was alive, but in her grief she had become quite skilled and now had even greater power than before. Witnessing, for herself, the evil within humans that drives them to kill, she was now more certain than ever that killing humans was only right. She hoped the Queen was proud to be a witch–despite her new position of power—and just as willing to carry out the original plan to kill the humans, as she. Yet, when she asked the Queen to help her, the Queen told her that she was no longer a witch. The Queen made it clear; she would not avenge Ariya’s husband’s death, nor would she be a participant in the Elders original plan to kill the humans.

Ariya was furious! She knew she might be killed for her previous betrayal, but she went back to their old village and begged the Elders for their forgiveness. The Elders hadn’t forgotten about Queen and Ariya, and had already had a plan in stake to destroy them both in due time, but when Ariya begged for their forgiveness, they were merciful enough to allow her one last chance to make things right. The Elders devised a plan—one that Ariya would carry out by herself—that would bring down the Queen, avenge her husband, and destroy the humans in the village. Ariya, with her son still in tow, went back to the Queen’s home to carry out the plan.

When she arrived back to the kingdom begging the Queen for a home, the Queen welcomed her warmly. So that her husband not question her past with Ariya, she pretended that Ariya was looking for a job, and gave her a position as her personal servant. Though the Queen had completely denounced witchcraft, she still allowed Ariya to practice the craft in her home. Ariya was tasked with the role of developing medicines and cures to ail the sick, and with developing poison to punish those who defied the Queen. Over time, the anger Ariya had for the Queen dissipated. She could no longer carry out the Elders’ new plan. She feared that an Elder would come after her, but it did not happen. With each passing year Ariya felt more assured that they would not harm her or her son. Soon the Queen and Ariya were best friends again, and though Ariya was a servant, the Queen did her best to make sure that Ariya and her son were comfortable in her home despite their low station.

Servants resided in the basement of the castle, and though it was a privilege that their families were allowed to reside in the castle with them, their kin were not allowed access to the King and Queen, nor could they access the Queen’s daughter. Though Ariya and the Queen were best friends, since she was a servant, her son was not allowed in the kingdom’s main living corridors. In fact, her son had never interacted with any member of the family—including the Queen. Since the Queen maintained her position of royalty, and its customs, she also did not allow her daughter to interact with anyone that was of a low station, beyond the servants. And, even still, her daughter’s interactions with the servants were very limited; her daughter was not allowed to go to the servant’s living quarters and she was to only be cordial with them.

These rules weren’t a problem until the daughter turned sixteen. While she had always been bullheaded and unruly, at sixteen she was constantly defiant, and the one true source of the Queen’s distress. As Princess, she was spoiled and used to getting her way, even when she rebelled against her mother and father.

One day, the Princess felt so suffocated from being cooped up in the main corridor that she decided to run away. She had never ventured outside of the kingdom without guards or her parents; they had never let her out of their sight. She knew that the only way she could run away is if she did it at night.
She waited until it was pitch-black outside before she crept out of her room. She told the Guards posted outside of her room that she was feeling sick and that she was going down to the basement to get medicine from Ariya. The Guards knew the Princess was not allowed in that part of the castle, but they did not want to wake her parents up in the late hour. They agreed to walk with her to the servants’ living quarters.

When the girl arrived to the basement, she looked for an exit door that would lead her away from the kingdom. She spotted a door that was down the hall in the opposite direction of the room where Ariya slept. The Guards led her through the dirty servant quarters, right to Ariya’s cot, and all the while the girl thought about how she could manipulate the situation so she could get her way and run away.

Ariya was in a deep sleep. Since the Guards were watching her, the Princess had to continue her charade. She gently tapped Ariya’s back many times, but Ariya would not wake up.

“Why are you waking my mother?” a male voice called out.

The girl looked up, and when she saw the young man sitting up, on the cot right next to his mother’s, her heart nearly stopped. He was the most handsome boy that she had ever seen. The two searched each other’s eyes and they both felt a strong sense of familiarity. She could not answer the boy; she was at a loss for words. In those moments the two felt as though they were in their own their world.

“The princess is unwell and she needs medicine,” one Guard said, breaking the trance.

“Wake your mother up for the Princess, and have your mother bring the medicine up to her room. She cannot be down here any longer,” said the other Guard, to the boy.

The Guards took the Princess by the arm, and led her out of the room. She thought of making a dash for the exit door, but she was in strange spirits after seeing the young man. She allowed the Guards to lead her into the main corridor so she could go back to her room. She was only in the room for a few moments before she heard a knock at her door. When she opened it, she was quite surprised to see the young man standing next to one of the Guards.

“My mother is still asleep,” the young man said with eyes as shimmery as the sun’s cast on the sea. “Even I could not wake her up. But,I have something that will rid you of your sickness.”

“Come in,” the Princess said, opening her door to allow the man to come in.

The young man came into the room carrying a tray, and the Guard followed him.

“You may stand outside,” the Princess said to the Guard.

“This young man cannot be in your room unchaperoned,” the Guard said.

“He has the medicine I need. He will only be in this room for a few moments. If you think to tell my mother or father about this, I will be forced to tell them that you allowed me to go into the quarters,” she said.

The Guard had no choice. When he left the room, the Princess shut the door and turned to the handsome boy. She stared at the boy, and when their eyes met again, her heart inflated like a balloon in her chest, and feathers stroked the pit of her, leaving her dizzy and breathless.

“Have we met before?” she asked him.

He shook his head. “This is my first time up here.”

The two remained in a trance— unanchored in the seas of the other’s eyes—and before long they were standing so close to each other that their lips were nearly touching. The girl had never felt so strongly about anyone before, and though she had secretly liked some of the men her father entertained, she had yet to meet a man who had captivated her heart so suddenly. The Princess was engaged to a Prince from a faraway village, but she had not seen this boy yet, and from her mother’s description he did not sound like a man she would truly like. Ariya’s son, however, intrigued her—and since she had always gotten what she wanted; she decided right then that she wanted him and that she would have him.

Ariya’s son had seen many pretty faces amongst the women living in the quarters—servants, maids, and cooks—and while he had liked a few of these women, he had never felt his heart beat as wildly as when he saw the princess. There was something about her that took his breath away!

He leaned in closer.

“Drink the herbal tea, and eat the three leaves on the tray, and tomorrow morning your sickness will be gone.” He whispered in her ear.

The Princess closed her eyes, thinking he might kiss her, but after many moments he still had not. She opened her eyes and saw that he was headed for the door.

“Wait.” She called to him. “How do you know this will cure my sickness, when you do not know what my sickness is?”

The boy smiled. “My tea can cure any sickness—even yours, Princess.”

Then he left the room.

She drank his tea and the liquid staggered her insides like fresh lemon squeezed on the buds of the tongue. When the tea and the leaves settled into her belly she felt elated, and the initial urge she had to run away was now gone. Yet, that entire night she tossed and turned, consumed with thoughts of him.
When she woke the next morning, she could only think of how she could see him again. Her mother and father did notice her absentmindedness, but they were pleased that she was being so agreeable, since in the days before she was anything but kind to them. The Guards from the night before did not tell her mother or father about the unchaperoned boy in her room, or her trip to the servants’ quarter. The boy did not tell Ariya about his trip to the Princess’s bedroom either. No one but the boy, the girl, and the two Guards were privy to what went on the night before.

Since, each night different Guards watched over her room, the Princess decided that she would repeat her antics from the night before so she could see the boy again. She waited until it was pitch-black outside and everyone was sleeping before she crept out of her room and told the two news Guards she felt unwell. The Guards, like the Guards from the night before, did not want to wake her parents, and so they took her to the quarter. She got to the quarter, saw Ariya sleeping, and gently tapped her back several times, hoping that she would not wake up. The boy was lying next to his mother, and he woke up. When he saw the girl again, his heart beat very fast—and when he looked into her eyes again, he found himself adrift in a sleep that was so deep that if not for the guards coughing he’d not have woken up.

He knew that she was only back to see him, and he was eager to see her too. He did not want his mother to wake, and so he hushed her and the Guards and told them to go ahead and take her up to her room—he’d wake his mom himself. The Guards took the Princess from the quarter, and back up to the room, and there she waited for him.
She heard a knock on the door, and when she opened it, she saw him standing next to a Guard.

“My mother is still asleep—even I could not wake her up. But, I have something that can heal your sickness,” he said.

“Come in,” the Princess said.

The young man came into the room with the Guard following behind him.

“You may stand outside,” the Princess said to the Guard.

“This young man cannot be in your room unchaperoned,” the Guard said quickly.

“He has the medicine I need. He will only be in this room for a few moments. If you think to tell my mother or father of this I will be forced to tell them that you allowed me to go into the quarters,” she said.

The Guard had no choice but to agree to allow the boy to stay in the girl’s room unchaperoned. When the Guard left the room, the Princess shut the door and turned to the boy.

“I’m not sick. I came to you because I wanted to thank you. Your tea cured me of my sickness.”

The young man grinned at her, “I told you it would. But you must stop coming to our quarters or you’ll get us all in trouble.”

“How else will I see you?” she asked.

He shook his head. “We are not allowed to see each other. I am the son of a servant, and you are a Princess. We cannot be. You more than anyone should know this.”

“I only know what I feel each time I see you. How cruel God must be, that he would allow my heart to ache the way it does when you are near if we cannot be together!”

He reached out and pulled her into his arms, and with his lips now close to her ears he whispered, “Our hearts will get us both in trouble.”

He then gave her a long kiss, and when it was over and they looked deeply into each other’s eyes, it felt like it was fate that they had met and fallen for each other in such a short period of time.

Though they both were aware of the consequences in seeing each other if they were to get caught, each night they continued their charade with the Guards. The passion and love the two felt for each other grew stronger with each passing day, and soon they could not imagine being apart from one another.

The Queen took notice of her daughter’s change and one morning, as Ariya brushed her long black hair, she told her:

“My daughter has been acting quite strange as of late. She has not tried to run away, nor has she tried to manipulate her father. She’s been very kind to me and rather docile. Though you may think this all good, I know my daughter! Surely something has brought about this drastic change.”

“She has always been impossible and stubborn. Why can’t you enjoy the change?” Ariya asked.

“Not all change is good, my dear Ariya. She is very secretive now and this worries me,” said the Queen.

“How may I help you, my Queen?”

“I need you to come up with a potion that will compel my daughter to reveal the source that has caused this change in her behavior.”

“Very well, my Queen.”

Ariya developed a liquid potion that very night, and she put the potion into the daughter’s tea the next morning. After the daughter drank the tea, Ariya took the cup, and placed a lock of the daughter’s hair and a lock of the Queen’s hair inside. She held the cup and recited her spell over and over again until she was satisfied that the spell was complete. She then poured new liquid potion into the cup with the two locks of hair, and that night gave the cup to the Queen to drink. The Queen drank the tea and Ariya assured her that she would have a dream that night that would reveal the source of her daughter’s new behavior.

That night the Queen had a lucid dream. In her dream she saw her daughter lie to two Guards and tell them she was sick. The two Guards guided her daughter to the servant’s quarter where Ariya lived, and there she watched as her daughter shared the look of love with a handsome young man who she recognized to be Ariya’s son. Later, the boy came to her room, and the two engaged in a passionate kiss and declared their love to each other.

The Queen woke up the next morning in fright. Her daughter was already promised
to a Prince in a village far away, and when she turned seventeen the two would be married. Though the Queen loved Ariya, she could never allow her daughter to marry Ariya’s son—he was a servant after all! If the King discovered that his daughter was sneaking around to see Ariya’s son, he would have Ariya’s son killed. The Queen shuddered at the thought. She knew she would have to prevent this disaster; she would have to stop the two from seeing each other.
Later that morning when she saw Ariya, she could not look her in her eyes.

“Did my potion work for you, my Queen?” Ariya asked.

The Queen nodded. “It did. However, it appears that I was upset about nothing! In my dream the source revealed that she was simply happy. That’s it. I was overreacting, of course.”

Ariya smiled. “Did I not tell you that this was the case?”

“You were right. Tell me, Ariya how is your son? He is my daughter’s age now isn’t he?”

“Yes he and the Princess are close in age. And, he too has been very happy lately, my Queen. Rather preoccupied as of late though. Still, he has always been a good boy.”

The Queen nodded her head and excused herself from Ariya. The Queen feared what was to come if she carried out her plan—Ariya may not understand. Yet, there was not a choice in the matter. She had to do what was necessary to protect her daughter.

Since the Queen now knew that her clever daughter was engaging in this disastrous affair at night when she thought that she and the King were asleep, she remained awake that night. She warned the Guards of her daughter’s plans before she retired to her room. She fully expected her daughter to have a fit when they refused to take her to the basement. The Queen waited and waited, until she heard commotion outside of her daughter’s room. She then quietly tiptoed out of the room so that she would not wake her husband, and went to her daughter’s room. When she neared her daughter’s room, she saw her daughter in a fit of tears, demanding that the Guards take her to get medicine for her sickness.

“What is going on?” the Queen asked.

Her daughter was startled. “Mother? Why are you up so late?”

“The commotion out here woke me. What is the problem?” the Queen asked, looking between the Guards and her daughter.

“My Queen, the Princess says that she is sick and that she needs to go to the servant’s quarter to get medicine. Are we allowed to do this?”

“No! That is preposterous! She is not allowed into the servant’s quarters!” the Queen said to the Guards.

The Princess looked down at her feet.

“My dear if you are sick, I can have the Guards fetch the medicine from Ariya. You are not to go down there!”

“Why can’t I go down there myself, just to retrieve the medicine?”

“It is not allowed! You know this.” The Queen turned to the Guards. “Please make it known that my daughter is not to go down to the servant’s quarter for any reason. I will tell this to every single Guard tomorrow, to clear up the confusion. One of you go fetch the medicine for her. I am retiring back to bed.”
The Queen walked away then, sure that her charade worked and that this would stop the relationship. Sure enough for several days, her daughter walked around sulking in deep despair, because no matter her antics and lies, none of the Guards would take her to the servant’s quarter at night anymore. Ariya’s son had also become upset when time had passed and the Princess had not been down to see him. He had no idea why she stopped coming! Had she fallen out of love with him? What had he done that would cause her to not want to see him?

The more he thought about her refusal to see him, the more his doubt grew into anger, until he became seething mad. Though he was not as skilled as his mother was in the matters of witchcraft, over the years she had taught him much of what she knew. He decided that he would come up with a spell that would allow him to see her, so that she would forced to explain herself to him!

That night, he waited until his mother was sleeping and made two cups of potent herbal tea. He then went upstairs to where the Guards were, with the two cups of tea, and told the Guards that his mother was unable to sleep that night and had decided to make a soothing tea for everyone. The Guards took the tea from the boy, and told him to go back to his quarters or else they would be forced to arrest him for trespassing. He went back down to his quarters. He waited for an hour, before he tiptoed up the stairs, to check back on the guards. The two Guards were now in a deep sleep outside of the Princess’s bedroom. He knocked on the Princess’s door and waited for her to answer.

When the Princess opened the door and saw him, she was in shock! She immediately reached out for him and the two shared a passionate kiss. After the kiss, he asked her to explain why she stopped coming to see him. The Princess told him what happened, and then declared her love for him. After her declaration, he found the courage to reveal his love for her, as well. He spent all night in her room with her, since the Guards were still in deep slumber, and at dawn he crept outside of her room and snuck the cups away from the two sleeping Guards. Then he went to his bedroom right before his mother and everyone else woke up. Soon after he made his way back to the quarters, the two Guards woke up, quite confused about how they had fallen asleep. Then Ariya woke, and the King and Queen woke too. No one but Ariya’s son and the Princess knew what went on the night before.

That day, he and the Princess were both in jovial moods. He decided that he would try his trick again, since there would be two new Guards posted outside of her bedroom. If he succeeded, he would be able to spend the night with her once more. That night, he waited until his mother was sleep and made the two cups of potent herbal tea. He then went upstairs to where the new Guards were and reenacted the same charade he did the night before. When it was done, he was able to sneak pass the sleeping Guards and go inside the Princess’s room. The two spent all night wrapped up in each others arms.

He was in happy spirits and so was the princess over the next several days, as they had now developed a new ritual that allowed them to see each other and spend each and every night together. After many more weeks passed, the Queen finally began to take more notice of her daughter’s change in mood. Her daughter was acting the same as she once was when she was sneaking into the quarter to see Ariya’s son! The Queen did not believe it was possible that they were still seeing each other, so she brushed away such thoughts. Yet, deep inside of her was a lingering feeling that her daughter had managed to evade the obstacle she had set and was still in fact seeing the boy. As much she tried to ignore these thoughts, she could not. Though she could not see how they had managed to still see each other, she vowed that she would stay up that night to find out!

Ariya had started to take notice of her son’s strange behavior too. The last few months she had watched his moods fluctuate—he went from being happy, to sad, to angry, to happy again. She also noticed that the Queen was very secretive lately, and would not tell her what was going on, not like she used to. Though the Queen claimed that her daughter was fine, Ariya had observed the Princess’ frequent change in moods—from happy to sad, to happy again. Even more, Ariya noticed that all three of their moods and new behaviors coincided together. Her instincts told her that this was not all a coincidence—and that her son, the Queen, and the Queen’s daughter were all connected. She was now determined to find out the truth.

That night, she made a special herbal tea and swapped it for the cups of tea that her son, the Queen and the Princess usually drank at night. She waited until each of them drank their cups of tea, then she took all three cups and began her spell. She took locks of hair that she had for each one of them and placed the locks of hair into each cup. She chanted her spell over all three cups. When she was satisfied that the spell would work she drank herbal tea from each cup and went to bed full of tea. That night while she slept, she had a lucid dream that revealed everything that had happened. She saw her son and the Princess engaged in a passionate kiss, and she saw the Queen telling the Guards not to allow her daughter into the basement to prevent the Princess from seeing her son.

While Ariya was in a deep sleep, the Queen remained awake in her room. She waited until she was sure that everyone was in their room and asleep before she crept out of her room and tiptoed down the hallway until she was near her daughter’s room. She hid in the corner, next to the hallway, and watched as Ariya’s son brought two cups of tea to the two Guards standing outside of the Princess’s room. The Guards were stern with the boy and sent him away, but they kept the tea he gave them. The two Guards drank all the tea, and soon after, they dropped into a slumber. The Queen was frozen in place with shock at what she’d just seen; she did not leave just yet though. Finally, after some time, she saw Ariya’s son quietly creeping up the stairs. He then went and knocked on her daughter’s door and was let into her room. The Queen remained in her hiding spot the rest of the night, waiting for Ariya’s son to leave. At dawn, the boy finally came out of the room. He snuck the two empty tea cups out of the Guards’ hands, then quietly retreated back into the basement. The Queen could not believe the scandal she had witnessed—the two had spent the entire night alone together!

The Queen was furious they had figured out a way to see each other again. She knew it had to be Ariya that helped the two see each other—only she could create an herbal tea that could put the Guards to sleep. This made her blood boil. She was sure now that the only solution was that on that very evening she would have to take her daughter away.

The Queen then hurried back to her room, right before the Guards woke up. She went to sleep, now assured that she would put an end to it, once and for all. When the Queen woke up at noon, she decided that it would be best that she avoid Ariya, to ensure that Ariya would not try any witchcraft on her or the princess that would prevent their escape.

That very same day, Ariya found herself quite angry, each time she thought about the dream she had the night before. She couldn’t believe that the Queen had been plotting and scheming this entire time—thwarting the love that their children developed. She wanted her son to be happy, and regardless of his station, she thought he deserved to be with the Queen’s daughter. They both were the children of witches after all! How dare the Queen turn her back on their kind because of her title as Queen! It had to be fate that the two children of witches found each other and had fallen in love. Ariya felt compelled to help the two be together, if they could not be, she knew her son’s happiness was at stake. She also understood, that the Queen—consumed in her title–would do everything she could to keep the two apart, because they were of different stations. The only way the two could ever truly be together is if they were away from the kingdom and the Queen!

Ariya then decided that she would make a potent herbal tea to give to the Queen and all the Guards that evening that would put them all in a deep slumber. Then, while they were sleeping she would take the Queen’s daughter, and her son, as far away as possible, to a place where the two could be together.

With anger and suspicion, both Ariya and the Queen avoided one another. Ariya pretended to be sick several times throughout the day just to avoid being in the same room as the Queen. The Queen had her other servants serve her meals and tea, to prevent Ariya from putting potion or herbal concoctions in her food or tea. The Queen’s daughter paid no attention to her mother’s strange behavior, she was in quite happy spirits because she had spent all night with her love and he told her that he would risk it all to be with her. The two planned to run far away from the kingdom, at the end of the week, so that they could finally be together as husband and wife, even without the support of their mothers!

Ariya’s son was confident that he could make a batch of potent herbal tea that was large enough to put everyone in the kingdom to sleep, which would allow them time to run away without being caught. He only needed the time and the supplies to prepare it. He spent the afternoon searching for the supplies for his herbal tea. He looked all around his mother’s things but the needed supplies, that were normally there, were not there. He went to his mother to inquire about the supplies and saw that she was carefully preparing her own very large batch of tea. She was in a strange mood; she was also secretive about her intention for such a large batch of tea. He did not want to be angry with his mother for using the rest of the supplies to make tea, but he was. Because of her, he was going to have to postpone his plans to run away with the Princess. Now he would have to wait to go to the local market to get more supplies, which meant they wouldn’t be able to run away as quickly as he had hoped!

Yet, when that evening came, his mother came to him and told him that he must pack as many of his things as necessary, because they were running away that very night!

“Why, mother? Where are we going?” he asked.

“Shhh.” she whispered. “Just do as I say. I am going to help you and your love.”

“You know?” he asked. “Of me and the Princess?”

She nodded her head. “I know all about you and the Princess. I also know of your debacle. I am going to help you both. I’ve spent all day making a batch of tea that is potent enough to put all of the Guards to sleep, and her mother too! But I didn’t have enough time or supplies to make a tea that would put every single person in this castle to sleep for the entire night–my tea will only last for six hours. So it is important that we leave immediately if we hope to get away without being caught. I’m going to bring the tea upstairs now; once I deliver it to everyone, I will sneak into the Princess’s room and help her pack all her things so that we can leave immediately when everyone falls asleep.”

He was surprised that his mother would think of a plan that was so similar to his own; nevertheless, he was happy. He rushed around the room excitedly, packing his things like his mother instructed. Soon he and the princess will be together, and free to love one another, wherever they decide to settle.

Ariya went upstairs with the large batch of tea, and served the tea to each Guard. She then went to the King and Queen’s room. The King answered the door, and Ariya gave him a cup of tea. She looked around the room searching for the Queen, to give her a cup too, but the Queen was not in the room.

“She’s taken the princess for a walk, outside. They just left. They will be back before bedtime, I’m sure,” the King told her.

Ariya had never known the Queen to take evening strolls, especially with her unruly daughter. She found this revelation strange; she went to a Guard who was still drinking his cup of tea and she inquired about the Queen’s whereabouts.

“Did the Queen and her daughter leave for an evening stroll? I’ve made them tea but cannot find them.”

“They did not say where they were going, but they left with many clothes and many items. They refused our help along their journey wherever it may be, said they were going alone. And, they were in a rush so we did not ask them any questions. I don’t know when they will be back.” The Guard said.

If the two left with many clothes and many items, it would not be for a light evening stroll! Ariya left the Guard and hurried down to the basement to her son. Since Ariya was a clever witch, she already knew what to do. She took locks of hair that she saved from the Queen and the Princess, and a compass, and she performed a locator spell. She said the spell over and over again, until the compass came alive and told her:

“Two locks of hair have led us somewhere, deep in the forest, by the river, where a boat is near.”

She went to her son and quickly explained to him what she knew. He grew very upset, fearing that they would not reach the Princess in time, but Ariya—always a few steps ahead—knew of a shortcut! She grabbed her worried son’s hand and they rushed toward the exit door, down the hallway, that would lead them away from the castle to the shortcut. They ran as fast as they could, and using the shortcut, the two traveled deep in the forest until they reached the river. When they arrived to the river, from a distance away, they saw the Queen forcefully pushing the Princess into a boat. The Princess was in a fit of tears.

“Stop!” Ariya’s son shouted loudly.

The Princess turned and saw him, and stopped. Her heart was beating wildly. Earlier, in the afternoon, her mother had come to her and told her to pack some items because they were traveling faraway to a village in a countryside, to a store that had special dresses that were not available anywhere else! The Princess loved dresses, and though she would be away for a few days, she was so excited to have new beautiful dresses. She planned to bring these dresses with her when she ran away with her love, and she knew that he would love the dresses too. Though her mother was rushing her, the princess still made time to write a short note to her love, informing him of her travels. She secured a note in a secret hiding place in her room–that only he would know–right before they left. Before she left with her mother, her mother had seemed distant, and very frantic, which the princess found strange, and then she made it clear to the guards that they did not need their assistance, which the princess also found troubling. Still, she didn’t think much of it, until they were far enough away from the kingdom, traveling in a direction opposite of the path they would need to take to get to the village that had the dresses. It was then, that her mother told her the truth.

When she learned that she would never see her love again, she tried to run away from her mother to go back to the kingdom, but her mother was much stronger than she was, and would not let her leave! Her mother forced her all the way through the forest, and now her mother was forcing her into the very boat that would take her far away from the kingdom. Thinking that she must do all she needed to escape this awful fate, she began fighting her mother with as much force as she could muster. It was during this tussle, that she heard her love’s voice.

The Queen was frozen in shock when she gazed across the distance and saw Ariya and her son running toward them. She was in such a state of shock that without thinking she let her daughter’s arm go, and once she did that, the Princess snatched away from her and took off. The Queen knew she was no match without her powers to face off against Ariya. But, when she saw her daughter running toward the boy, she grew so angry that she began chasing after her daughter yelling to Ariya:

“They cannot be together!”

Ariya could not believe that the Queen had the gall to tell her that the two could not be together! How dare she treat her son this way! Ariya grew so angry that she was steaming with fury.

The Princess ignored her mother and ran straight into the arms of Ariya’s son, who held her tight in a long embrace. Once the queen arrived to the spot where her daughter was huddled with Ariya’s son, she knew that her final plan was botched! This made her so angry that she was also steaming with fury.

The two mothers—and former best friends—gave each other looks that were as thick and as dangerous as daggers. Before they could express the hatred they felt for the other, they both noticed a figure in a long black hooded garb walking slowly toward them. They could not make out the face of the figure until it got closer, but once they recognized it, they both shook in fear.

Ariya’s son saw the look of horror on his mother’s face, and called out to her:

“Mother? Why do you look so frightened?”

Ariya could not respond.

The Princess saw that her mother looked just as frightened as Ariya, and so she then asked,

“Mother, please tell us what is wrong with you two?”

The Queen would not respond either.

The Princess and the boy finally noticed the black hooded figure that was now drawing upon them. The Princess then asked:

“Who is that, that frightens you both?”

Neither of the woman would respond to their children.

The hooded figure was now very close.

“I am an Elder.” The figure called out. “And I am here because of your love. The love, you two felt was fate, was actually the work of my craft. The irony, that you two should try to run away, just to discover that past betrayals will prevent you from ever being together, still! If your mothers had only done what they were supposed to do so long ago, I would spare the two of you from this cruel ending. They did not, so I will not spare any lives today. You can all be assured that all that has happened is of your own doing. Each of you played a role. You see, when we first find love, we are happy, yet love, when dependent on another, is a fleeting feeling. Like fools we refuse to accept it; we do all that we can to preserve it and often at the cost of all else. But, make no mistake, when love leaves or betrays us, it’s wrath causes pain so deep, it swallows us whole, killing everything we once were. It is only then, in those final moments of it’s ending–as we’re feeling the deepest pain—that we realize that love isn’t invincible, and in such a revelation we come to know that we are weak, just as you all have come to know now. Know, that the love you fought to protect, so foolishly, was always at the mercy of another.”

The Elder was now very close to them, and all four of them were quaking in fear.

He used his craft and cast a spell that froze all four of them into place to prevent them from running away. He then went to each person, one by one, and plunged a special knife into each of their chests. It slowly tore around their insides, and they felt a thousand scalding hot needles hammering deeply in every part of their chest. They convulsed with pain so great that it felt like electric shocks on every nerve ending. Their insides became bubbling hot and their skin began to crawl. Each one screamed so loudly that their body shook with force, vibrating the ground they were standing frozen upon.

The Elder was now very close to them, and all four of them were quaking in fear.

The Elder used his craft and cast a spell that froze all four of them into place to prevent them from running away. He then went to each person, one by one, and plunged a special knife into each of their chests. It slowly tore around their insides, and they felt a thousand scalding hot needles hammering deeply in every part of their chest. They convulsed with pain so great that it felt like electric shocks on every nerve ending. Their insides became bubbling hot and their skin began to crawl. Each one screamed so loudly that their body shook with force, vibrating the very ground they were standing frozen upon.

The Elder then ripped out each of their hearts with his bare hands. When he was done, he went into the village to destroy the rest of the humans, and finish up the job that was started so long ago.heart-1205291_1920

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