How to Avoid Assassination

STOP! This story won’t make much sense unless you’ve read How to Kill a King. It might not make sense after that either. But then, do any of my stories make sense?

Other stories referenced, but not essential to your understanding:

Scott the CEO

Elves vs Elves

Now where was I? Para Sympan, Middle Ages, Southeastern Europe, the totally legit, historically accurate, not made-up kingdom of Kalathea… Ah yes, I was about to tell you Alexander’s story.


Apparently, Alexander was no longer the king. This didn’t upset him since he hadn’t wanted to be king in the first place. The thing that did upset him was finding his elder brother murdered, his sister telling the entire palace that he did it, the senate taking his crown and giving it to her, and the new queen sentencing him to death for said murder.

He paced back and forth across his tiny prison cell, rebuking himself for not being more vigilant.  His father tried to warn him that something like this might happen. In the weeks leading up to his death, the king would say things like:

“Be careful who you trust, son,” and “even those closest to you could turn on you, son,” and “Fausta is definitely going to try to murder you and take over the kingdom, son.”

Alexander paid little heed to this warning. He couldn’t imagine Fausta doing something like that and, without his father, who else could he turn to for advice?

Certainly not Justin. Justin was rarely home, and when he was, Alexander made a point to avoid him. He learned long ago, that encounters with Justin usually ended with a kick in the stomach or a bleeding lip.

Growing up, it was Fausta who defended him from Justin’s cruelty and it was Fausta who came up with clever and subtle ways to enact vengeance on their brother. When Alexander was very little, he’d trail after Fausta all day with wide eyes full of admiration. Even when they had grown, he still looked at her like that from time to time. She always knew what needed to be said, and could find a clever way out of any situation, no matter how difficult.

When his father named him heir, he begged him consider giving the honor to Fausta. His father refused.

“Why?” Alexander asked. “Is it because she’s a woman?”

“No,” his father replied. “It’s because she’s heartless.”  

“She’s never been anything but kind to me,” Alexander insisted.

“You’ve never been a threat to her,” his father replied.

Alexander hugged himself with his arms. The prison was cold and he’d been stripped of his long kingly tunica and dressed in a worn linen garment. It was sleeveless and only came to his knees.

It occurred to Alexander that he’d be seeing his father again in the morning. He’d probably have to spend the first few hours of eternity listening to a long lecture about how he should have been more vigilant.

Though he resented Fausta for her betrayal, he realized she couldn’t have done what she did, unless the people hated him too. When his sister accused him of Justin’s murder, they leapt to tear him apart. It was almost like they’d been waiting for an excuse to kill him. Somehow, he must have failed them miserably.

Alexander wanted nothing more than to honor his father by being the best king he could be. Unfortunately, there was more to being a good king than what he could learn from books. Kings always knew what to say. Alexander never knew what to say. Kings knew how to build relationships. Alexander was terrified of people. Kings were eloquent. Alexander’s every sentence was punctuated by “ums” and “uhs”. He could understand but not express his understanding. When he spoke, he made a fool of himself.

His father originally planned to send him off to a monastery when he came of age. He did not understand why his father changed his mind. Alexander longed for what could have been. A life of quiet contemplation and icon painting. What did it matter now? In the morning, he’d go to his father a failure, and that bothered him more than anything.

His head throbbed. There was a nasty gash just above his eyebrow. He assumed he got it when he was attacked by the murderous rabble, though the evening was such a blur, he couldn’t be sure. Instinctively, he tried to rub the cut, but winced when his fingers brushed it.

He lay down on the stone floor and curled himself into a tight ball. He struggled to keep his eyes open. Sleeping would only bring the dawn faster. Even if they were miserable, he wanted to experience the last few hours of his life. His weariness soon overcame him and neither pain, nor cold, nor a fretful mind could keep him from falling asleep.

He was startled awake by the sound of footsteps and the warm glow of lamplight. Assuming it was the guard coming to get him, he rose to his knees, folded his hands and prayed that God would forgive him for being a terrible king, and a terrible son, and a terrible person in general.

Alex,” came a harsh whisper.

“Fausta?” he replied, opening his eyes. Sure enough, it was his sister who stood before him with a lamp in one hand and the guard’s key ring in the other. She was glancing around nervously.

He felt a rage bubbling up inside him. There were so many things he wanted to say but he couldn’t find the words to express them. So instead, he turned his back to her and stood with his arms crossed glaring at the floor.

“Alex you need to come quickly,” Fausta ordered. “If you aren’t out of here by dawn, they’ll kill you.”

Alexander looked over his shoulder at her with one eyebrow raised. “Wasn’t that the idea?”

“Oh Alex,” she replied. “You didn’t think I was actually going to have you killed, did you?”

Alexander was too confused to think anything. All he could do in that moment was feel a strange combination of rage, anxiety, and suddenly, a tiny glimmer of hope.

“I’d never kill you, little brother,” Fausta assured. “Not if I could avoid it.”

Alexander had no idea how to reply. He just stared at her with an expression of disbelief and then obediently followed her to the city gate. There she gave him her necklace and instructed him to sell it in the next village.

“You should get enough to last you until you’re safely across the border,” she explained. “Find yourself a monastery somewhere. It’s what you’ve always wanted, isn’t it?”

“Good bye, sister,” was all he said in the moment. However, several hours later, as he followed the road away from the capital city, he formulated a better response in his mind.

I shouldn’t have doubted you, sister! How could I think you were going to kill me? All you did was have me framed for murder, beaten, overthrown, and publicly humiliated!

He sighed. Why did he always think of the right response in the wrong moment?

He thought of several more, each he liked better than the last. He kicked himself for not thinking of them sooner.

He walked adjacent to the road at a distance to avoid being seen by other travelers. He doubted anyone would recognize him in his current state, but didn’t want to take the chance. Somehow Fausta’s rescue infuriated him. If she had him killed, he could have assumed that she hated him pure and simple. Her rescue proved that she did care for him, just not as much as ruling Kalathea. She made it very clear that if he was caught before he crossed the border, she couldn’t do anything to protect him. He supposed mercy would ruin her image.

Maybe someday he’d return with an army of loyal followers, take back his kingdom, and see how she liked listening to an angry mob call for her head. He sighed. Who was he kidding? He wasn’t going to take back his kingdom. He was going to do exactly what his sister told him to do. Leave Kalathea and become a monk. It sickened him to think that he was giving her what she wanted, but what else was he supposed to do? No one wanted him to be king, not even him.

He felt his stomach grumble and stopped brooding for a moment so he could think about food. Luckily, he saw the silhouettes of buildings rising ahead of him against the brightening horizon. Where there was a village, there was something to eat. He approached cautiously, avoiding the road and instead slipped between the houses and shops that made up the town.

The warm and lovely smell of fresh baked bread caught his attention. He followed the scent through the winding streets until he came to a bakery. It looked like the baker was just preparing to open for the day. The folding door that covered the storefront was closed except for two panels.

The rest of the shops along the street were closed completely, and Alexander couldn’t see or hear anyone. He crept across the cobblestone street and cautiously peered through the opening in the door. The place was empty but it wouldn’t be for long. There was a fire in the oven, and sitting out on one of the countertops was a basket of freshly baked loaves.

It occurred to Alexander that he was about to steal from a villager. It gave him an awful feeling. Perhaps his situation was dire enough to justify stealing, even so, some poor slave would probably get blamed for it and take a beating on his account. He couldn’t live with that.

He thought of trading Fausta’s necklace somewhere, and coming back later to buy the bread, but that would mean being seen and potentially recognized. At last he decided to take a loaf, and leave the chain from the necklace in payment. So he removed and pocketed the pendant, crept into the shop, and withdrew the smallest of the loaves. As he went to leave the chain on the table, a firm hand snatched his wrist.

“The sun’s barely up and I’ve already caught a thief. This is going to be a long day.”

The speaker was a woman.  Everything about her was orderly. Her brown hair was neatly pinned up beneath a veil. Though the surrounding surfaces were dusted with flour, there wasn’t a speck on her clothing. Her presence was commanding and Alexander wished he would drop dead rather than continue to endure her formidable gaze.

Avoiding Assassination Featured

He tried to jerk his wrist out of her grip, but her hand remained unmoved. She was unusually strong for a woman. He jerked his wrist again. She was unusually strong for a human being. He got the impression she could snap his wrist with a flick of her own.

Since he could not retreat, he had no choice but defend himself.

“I am not a thief,” he blurted and immediately realized that, under the circumstances, it was the stupidest thing he’d ever said.

“Really?” the woman replied, a glimmer of amusement in her eye. “Just popped in to make sure everything was in order?”

He had no idea what to say. Every excuse that came to mind was ridiculous, so he settled on the truth. He looked at his feet, prayed silently for a moment, then said: “I came in to take the bread, but I am no thief. I was going to leave this in payment.” He nodded to the chain in his hand.

The woman released him, took the chain, and held it up for inspection.

“Do you have a name, kid?” she asked.

“Pri— Kin— just, um, Alexander,” he stuttered and immediately decided he surpassed the stupidity threshold he set a moment earlier.

“Well, Alexander,” the woman replied. “My name is Eda. I am no thief either, but that is exactly what I would be if I only gave you a bit of bread in exchange for this.”

She took a few coins from her pocket and placed them in his hand.

“Fair enough?” She asked.

Alexander remained petrified like a rabbit in the shadow of a hawk. For some reason, he was feeling distrustful lately, and couldn’t convince himself that she was actually letting him go.

“Alright, fine!” She grumbled and placed another coin in his hand. “But you strike a hard bargain, my friend!”

“Why…” he began, but he wasn’t sure what he was asking. Why was she letting him go? Why was she showing him kindness? Why did she believe him?

“You know, I’m not sure,” she replied as though reading his mind. “I suppose it’s because I’ve decided I like you, Alexander. And that’s a high compliment, because I don’t like many people. Now I’m sure you have somewhere to be, off you go!”

Alexander scurried away feeling slightly less discouraged but no less confused.

As Alexander left the village, he noticed a beggar woman sitting by the road. He took one of the coins he had in his pocket, placed it in her hand, and continued on his way.

After a few hours of walking, his steps became more difficult, and it took a conscious effort to keep his eyes open. It occurred to him that he’d hardly slept at all the night before.

When he could no longer force himself to press on, he found a clump of boulders and lay down behind it, hoping he would be concealed from view.

He woke to a kick in the ribs.

“On your feet, kid!”

The speaker was a Kalathean guardsman. He was one of two, who stood over Alexander with weapons drawn.

Alexander froze in an attempt to blend in with his surroundings.

“We can do this two ways, kid.” The first guardsman continued. “You can resist, in which case we’ll kill you, or you can surrender peacefully and we will take you back to the capital so they can kill you properly.”

Alexander stood slowly, choosing the latter option.

“You know if we drag him all the way back to the capital, we’re going to be stuck there until tomorrow,” the fellow guardsman complained.

“Ug, you’re right,” answered the first. “Do you think we’d get in trouble if we just killed him now and sent his head back?”

“Why would we? The outcome will be the same, won’t it?”

The first considered this.

“If anyone asks,” whispered the second. “He went into a rage and almost killed us.”

“It was us or him,” agreed the first.

Luckily, as the first guard raised his blade, he was struck with that unexplainable paralysis that comes over people who try to kill the hero of an incomplete story, and in that very same moment, someone spoke.

“That’s an innocent man you’re about to kill.”

The speaker was the beggar woman from the village gate. She looked different somehow. She was standing tall and confident, holding Alexander’s captors at bay with her gaze.

“Madam,” the first guard replied, with a respect that seemed uncanny for a guard to give a beggar. “This boy is a dangerous criminal.”

“You’re mistaken,” she asserted. “I know him quite well. He’s a friend of mine.”

“Not that well, he killed a man!”

The guard had lowered his weapon in a motion that seemed involuntary and stood unusually still.

“Really?” The woman answered. “How do you know it was him?”

“Well he matches the description,” the man explained. “Right down to the slash above his eye.”

“What slash?” The woman asked.

The guard stumbled forward as though he’d suddenly pulled himself free of snare. He grabbed a fistful of Alexander’s hair and brushed his bangs aside with the tip of his blade. He stared at Alexander’s forehead for an uncomfortably long moment before releasing him.

“I suppose he doesn’t,” was the guard’s dazed reply. He looked toward his fellow, who shrugged.

“Do me a favor?” The woman asked. “Next time you go to decapitate someone, please double check and make sure you have the right person.”

“Of course, madam,” the guard agreed. The two continued on their way in silence, occasionally glancing at each other and then back toward Alexander with baffled expressions.

Alexander slowly raised his hand to his forehead. Where he expected to feel the cruel wound, he touched healthy skin. Perhaps it was the shock of his inexplicable healing, or maybe it was the slow realization that he’d just escaped death for the second time that day, but he was suddenly feeling very light headed.

“Sit down! Sit down!” The woman urged. She ran to him and taking him by the arm, helped him sink down so he was sitting with his back against one of the boulders.

“Who are you?” He asked.

“My name is Alika,” she replied. “I’m your godmother.”

“My…” Alexander started, then his eyes started to close and he almost fell face forward into her arms.

She shoved him back against the rocks. “Keep your eyes open,” she ordered. “Swooning isn’t princely!”

“I’m not…” Alexander began and started to fall forward again.

“Oh for heaven’s sake,” Alika sighed shoving him back against the boulder. “What am I doing? Surely I can fix a little fatigue!”

Alexander’s head suddenly cleared and his energy returned and he leapt up and stumbled backward away from Alika with eyes wide as saucers.

“My godmother?” He exclaimed. He had so many questions. Where had she been all his life? Why was she a beggar now? What kind of a trick was this? Instead of asking any of them, he stood staring at her with his mouth hanging slightly open.

“We’ll explain everything soon enough, Your Majesty,” Alika replied. “For now, I want you to continue on your way until reach the monastery on Cedar Hill. You’ll be safe there.”

Alexander’s expression did not change.

“Don’t be afraid. We’re looking after you, understand?”

Alexander slowly shook his head.

“Excellent! See you soon!” Alika answered and disappeared.

It was dusk when Alexander arrived at the monastery. He was nearly asleep on his feet. He knocked on the door and asked the brother who answered if they had a place for a weary traveler.

The brother let him in and asked him to wait a moment in the courtyard. He leaned against one of the pillars that surrounded the tranquil place and might have fallen asleep right there, if he hadn’t heard a shuffling. He looked up to see a bent old monk crossing the courtyard with a crate full of books. He was thin and frail and Alexander marveled that he was able to lift the box at all.

Alexander forgot his weariness for a moment and approached the man.

“Let me take that for you,” he offered.

The old man smiled warmly. “Thank you, son!”

He tossed the box into his arms. Alexander almost stumbled over backward when he caught it. Did books really weigh so much or was the old monk hiding an anvil in there somewhere?

“This way! This way!” The old man beckoned as he trotted along ahead. Alexander boosted the crate higher in his arms and struggled after him. The monk held a door open and waited for Alexander to catch up.

As Alexander passed him into the room, the old man said: “To what do I owe this honor, My King?”

Alexander turned white and dropped the crate. Its contents scattered in all directions.

“Be careful, Your Majesty,” the monk rebuked. “These manuscripts are priceless.”

“Um… you’re mistaken,” Alexander answered as he scrambled to collect the books. “Not about the books, I mean about me.”

The monk chuckled. “Certainly not, I never forget a face.”

Alexander turned red. He had no idea who the old monk was. He frequently forgot faces and names, and when he did remember them, he’d put the wrong name to the wrong face and embarrassed himself.

“My name is Brother Joseph. I came with the abbot to visit your father a few years ago, though I am sure you don’t remember, we only met briefly.”

“Oh,” Alexander replied, glancing back across the courtyard to the main gate. “So… um… the abbot knows me too?”

“Certainly!” Joseph replied. “He’s a close friend of your father’s. He told us you were going to join us when you were old enough.”

“Ah… right…” Alexander answered crawling under a bench to retrieve a book. “But, um, father got sick, and asked me to wait a year.” He set the book back in the crate. “And then he named me heir, and then he…” Alexander was horrified when he felt a tear on his cheek. “…And then I became king.” He wiped his eye with his wrist and picked up the crate. “Where do you want this?”

The old monk motioned through the door. “Just put them anywhere,” he said.

The door opened onto a little dining room. Alexander dropped the crate on the table and turned toward the door. “Well, brother, if that’s all, I think I’d better get back to…um… running the kingdom.”

“I am not going to hand you over, if that’s what you’re worried about,” Joseph answered.

Alexander paused. News traveled fast.

“How do I know that?” Alexander asked, his cheeks flushing red.

“You don’t,” Joseph answered. “If you’d rather not take the chance, the gate is right over there.” He motioned to the other side of the courtyard.

Alexander was too confused and exhausted to know what to do. He sank down in one of the chairs and buried his head in his hands.

“Why wouldn’t you turn me over? You’ve nothing to gain by protecting me.”

“Because you didn’t kill Justin,” Joseph answered.

“No, I didn’t. But all the other awful things you’ve heard about me are true. I was a terrible king.”

“You readopted the religion of our ancestors and started sacrificing peasants to Dythis?”

“Um, no?”

“You entertained your dinner guests by drowning kittens?”

“Um, what have you heard about me?”

“Lots of things, but since none of them seem to be true, tell me yourself what you did that was so terrible?”

“I was incompetent,” Alexander continued. “When the senate proposed a law, I was paralyzed with indecision. How could I possibly sign something when I didn’t understand its effects? The senate hated me, the people hated me, and rightly so. I failed them.”

“You read everything you signed?” Joseph marveled.

“I haven’t signed anything,” Alexander answered. “I am still working through the first one. It’s twelve hundred pages long.”

“You’re an awful politician,” Joseph smiled. “But I think one day you’ll make an excellent king.”

Alexander lay his head down on the table and closed his eyes.

“Would it be alright if I slept a bit while we are waiting for the guards to come collect me?”  

Joseph chuckled. “Let me go see if they’ve found a bed for you.”

Alexander left early the next morning. He wanted to bid Brother Joseph goodbye, but couldn’t find him anywhere. None of his fellow monks seemed to know where he was, so Alexander left a message with them and departed.

He’d hardly started on his way, when he saw the old man standing in the shade of a cedar. He was accompanied by two others. The first was the woman from the bakery. She was holding a scale. He saw a pile of gold coins on one side, but couldn’t see what was on the other. Whatever it was, must have been very heavy because that side was hanging lower.

The second person, he didn’t recognize… or maybe he did. He stared at her for several long moments before realizing that she was the beggar woman who’d saved him from the Kalathean guards.

She was completely transformed, her old rags replaced with a long white tunica. She was crowned with a golden diadem and clutching a sword in her left hand. Her weary, weather-worn face was now bright and beautiful. She reminded Alexander of one of the ancient goddesses.Alika Lady Justice

The intimidation he felt in her presence the day before was nothing compared to what he felt now.

“Eda, may I please have my scale back?” She was saying.

“No, Alika,” Eda replied scrutinizing the coins. “I’m not finished with it.”

“He’ll be here any moment,” Alika protested.

“You know if you keep this up, the council will expect you to be the justice fairy forever,” Eda warned.

“I like being the justice fairy.”

“I think you’re going to frighten him,” Joseph cautioned.

“Oh I don’t think so,” Alika replied. “Mortals love the theatrics! Look, there he is now!”

She pointed in Alexander’s direction. He turned and tore back toward the monastery.

“Your Majesty! Please wait!” Alika called.

Alexander suddenly found himself frozen mid-stride. He couldn’t move forward, but when he heard her approaching from behind, he found he could turn back toward her.

His face was white and he was trembling from head to foot. He gripped one hand in the other in a futile attempt to stop the shaking, looked Alika in the eye, and said:

“I’ll—I’ll have you know. That I am a Christian, so if it’s worship you want, you’ll have to um… go elsewhere. I am of no use to you so you might as well um,  just let me go, please.”

“He’s adorable,” Eda remarked. “Can we keep him?”

Alika shot her a glare. “We’re not gods, Your Majesty,” she corrected. “We’re fairies.”

Alexander glanced at each of them. “Fairies?”

“Yes, I am Alika the Fairy of Justice.”

“I am Eda, and I like to keep my options open.”

Alika elbowed her in the ribs.

“Fine,” Eda growled. “I am the fairy of…” She twirled her hand in the air, as she tried to decide. “How about prudence?”

“You already know me,” Joseph smiled. “I am the fairy of love.”

Alexander stared at him blankly. He looked exactly the same as he had the evening before: a bent old man, with callused hands, a gentle smile, and a glimmer in his eye.

“You’re the fairy of love?”

Joseph nodded.

Alexander regarded him.

“What were you expecting Aphrodite?” Eda smirked.

“I am so confused,” Alexander complained, then looked back to Alika. “Didn’t you say you were my godmother?”

“Yes, fairies can also be godparents you know,” Alika affirmed. “And that reminds me.”

She sheathed her sword and a wooden box appeared in her hands. She gave it to Alexander. Inside was a candle and a tiny white gown.

“That’s been in my sock drawer for the last sixteen years, it’s time you had it back.”

“Thank you?” Alexander replied.

“And we have a few more gifts for you,” Eda said, holding out the scale so he could see what was outweighing the gold. It was a chain and a single coin.

“Do you recognize them?” Eda asked. “The gold opposite is all the money Fausta offered to the poor in Justin’s name.”

Alexander regarded the items with his brow furrowed.

Br. Joseph Smiling“What does that tell you?” Joseph asked.

“That the chain must be incredibly dense,” Alexander answered, poking it curiously.

“Yes,” Eda sighed.  “Just like a certain king I know.”

“What king?” Alexander asked.

“Why did you give me that chain?” Eda continued, changing the subject.

“I didn’t want to steal, I mean, not when I had something I could give in return,”

“Is that all?”

Alexander shrugged. “I thought someone else might get blamed for taking it.”

“You considered how your actions would affect other people,” Eda asserted. ”And because of that, I am going to give you a swamp.”

“…A swamp?” Alexander asked.

“Yes,” a scroll appeared in Eda’s hand. She gave it to Alexander. “There’s the deed.”

“Thank you,” Alexander replied. In that moment, he decided there wasn’t any point in questioning anything anymore.

“And because you considered my misfortune before your own,” Alika added. “I am going to give you what was taken from you—a good name. From this day forward, you will be known for your wisdom and kindness, not here in Kalathea mind you, but in your new home in Kaltehafen.”

“Kaltehafen?” Alexander mumbled. “Wait a moment, that’s a barbarian kingdom, isn’t it?”

“Don’t worry, Your Majesty. We won’t make you walk there,” Alika smiled.

And just like that, Alexander found himself someplace entirely different. The air was crisp and cold and the sky was blanketed with grey clouds. He was standing in a clearing amidst a forest of towering evergreens. The grass was muddy, and here and there across the clearing and among the trees, he could see frozen pools.

He was grateful to see that his attire had changed to combat frigid weather. Alexander is coldHe had a hat, a warm cloak, a longer tunic and hose. He looked down at himself and realized to his horror that he was dressed like a barbarian. He sighed, at least he was warm. The three fairies remained exactly as they were. How Alika wasn’t freezing to death without sleeves was a mystery to him.

“Welcome home!” Eda smiled gesturing toward a ramshackle house on the edge of the wood. “Inside you’ll find everything you need to get you through the winter. Cozy isn’t it? And it’s only half a day’s walk from the capital city.”

“I am grateful for your help,” Alexander answered, glancing anxiously around the frozen wood.  “But um, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go quite this far from home.”

“This is the safest place for you,” Alika explained.

“Besides, in the spring, you’ll find there’s gold in this swamp,” Eda smiled. She was looking exceptionally pleased with herself.

Suddenly, a third woman appeared beside Alika.

“Ah, there you are, Alika! I have an urgent message for you from the Fairy High Council,” the newcomer stated.

“I am speaking with a mortal right now, can it wait?”

“Afraid not, the King of the High Elves is threatening to commit genocide again and the Council wants you to talk him out of it.”

“Really? Again?” Alika exclaimed. “He’s just being dramatic you know. He’s not actually going to do it.”

“I’m just the messenger,” the newcomer shrugged. “You’re going to have to take it up with the Council.”

Alika rolled her eyes and grumbled something under her breath. “I am so sorry, Your Majesty. I have to go. Everything is going to be alright, trust me.” She looked to Joseph and said: “Aphrodite, don’t forget to warn him about the twins.” She disappeared.

“Twins?” Alexander asked.

“I’ll explain in a moment,” Joseph said. “But first, I haven’t given you my gift yet! Because you forgot your own weariness to help me, I am going to give you something that will help you love, when love seems impossible.”

Joseph withdrew a worn wooden crucifix from his pocket and placed it in Alexander’s hand.

“Now let’s go inside, we have a lot to talk about.”

There was a fire burning in the little house and the three sat on the floor around it. There, Brother Joseph and Eda did something fairies almost never do. They explained everything.

They told Alexander about how each fairy is tasked with bringing the good out of others and how Jace and Acacia abandoned that mission. They told him of their escape and how the plot to overthrow him was simply another one of their sadistic games.

Alexander listened to the entire story white-faced.

“Can’t you recapture them?” Alexander questioned.  

“When I realized they escaped, I informed the Fairy High Council immediately,” Joseph answered. “They told me they received my concern and would handle the situation promptly.”

“So we probably won’t hear from them for a hundred and fifty years,” Eda grumbled.

Alexander wondered if she was exaggerating. She didn’t seem like she was exaggerating.

“Unfortunately, they aren’t the only rogue fairies on the loose,” Joseph continued. “The council has its hands full.”

Alexander went even paler. “How many—I mean, um, what makes them rebel?”

“Imagine spending your each and every day offering people the opportunity to act selflessly knowing that they won’t,” Eda explained.

“How do you know they won’t?” Alexander asked.

“When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you can tell,” Eda answered. “Take Alika’s elf king for example. He’s always been a stubborn, conceited, sanctimonious–”

Eda,” Joseph warned.

Eda gave an irritated little sigh. “A thousand years from now he’ll be exactly the same. Alika knows it and yet when the Council says ‘make him see reason’ she dutifully follows orders every single time.”

“How discouraging,” Alexander mumbled.

“You have no idea,” Eda agreed. “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t come close to giving up.”

“So why don’t you?” Brother Joseph smiled.

“Because for every hundred selfish souls, there is one person who sincerely longs to do the right thing, and just needs a little help figuring out what that right thing is. Those are the people who make it all worthwhile.”

“Well,” Alexander said. “I hope they assign you someone like that soon.”

A smile flickered across her lips. “I am hopeful, Alexander. I really am.”

They did not explain why they put Alexander in a swamp in Kaltehafen. When he inquired about it, they suddenly became much more fairy like and told him he would have to find out for himself.

To be continued…


Published by Katy Campbell

Katy is a little broken in the head.

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