Find Chapter One here and Chapter Two here.


It was a curious fact of life that the longer one lived, the faster time passed.  This fact Queen Laurene had never felt as keenly as when she held her grown daughter, two weeks from the eighteenth anniversary of her birth, in her arms.  The memory of the first time she held Noemi was as fresh in her mind as the memory of yesterday, yet here her daughter was!  It seemed the child had passed into adulthood while Queen Laurene slept, barely changed by the passing years.

“My dearest,” she whispered into her child’s raven hair.  The golden candlelight brought out reddish tints in Noemi’s hair—coloration inherited from her father.

Noemi pulled away from her, comforting the Queen with her hazel eyes.  “Mama, it’ll be okay,” she promised.  “It’s just two weeks.  Then it shall be safe for me to return.”

“We’ll protect her, your Highness,” the son of the Captain of the Guard promised.

“Yes, we shall,” Laurene’s best friend’s son agreed.

Garrin and Verrell.  They were such good boys.  Certainly Garrin was a bit prone to hasty action, and Verrell was too inclined to strict and total adherence to the rules—not that a monarch should disapprove of the latter.  Her husband would sigh if he heard her thoughts, but he had the sweetest tolerance for her oddities.

If things were different—if they ruled a kingdom other than Jarrett, where the good sorceress’s blessing made it impossible to question who one loved best—Queen Laurene would dearly hope Noemi would choose to wed one of the two boys.  Of course, that was impossible.  It was far better to hope that Noemi found her soul mate—and quickly.

The Queen’s heart clenched.  She and the King had done everything in their power to help Noemi find her beloved.  There was nothing left she could do to prevent the dire consequences of the vagrant seer Luc’s prophesy from falling upon her child.

It depended on Noemi now, Queen Laurene thought.  She raised a hand to send off her daughter and her small band of protectors.  At least Noemi would have Garrin, Verrell, and the enraptured Trace and Sir Lamar to protect her until she could return to the castle.

Noemi would have to find the man who would open her eyes to love and a world of color on her own.  Queen Laurene forced herself not to think of the slim odds of Noemi finding him in the lonely wilderlands.

New chapter next Monday :)


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