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Part 1

Fourteen Years Ago

Cara sat alone in her room, pondering her next move. Rumors about her parents never bothered her and she normally brushed them off for what they were, rumors. However, what she had seen, brought fear and anger to her heart. If she hadn’t seen it for herself, Cara never would have believed her parents capable of such a thing.

Her parents were not overly cruel but they had their moments but kind or patient were not words she would use to describe them. Halden was by far the most level-headed out of the two but when his anger emerged, it was not a time to be around the king.

Astrid was far more subtle in her behavior and maintaining her charade. The insults she threw her way were cruel indeed but most would mistake it for compliments, unaware her mother was deliberately pointing out Cara’s flaws and mistakes.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a noise coming from down the hallway. A door slammed shut and she could hear shouting coming from the room. It was her parents.

Cara jumped out of bed and walked over to her door. She carefully undid the latch and slipped into the empty hallway. The stone beneath her feet was cold but she ignored it. Torches lined the walls and she ducked under each as she passed. Two guards at the end of the hall made her freeze, but quickly realized they were asleep. Without a sound, she crept up to the door to her parents' room and listened intently.

“-never find out,” Halden said. Cara caught only the end of his sentence.

“Good,” Astrid said. “We must tighten our circle and eliminate any who would defy us.”

“Now that Armin and Brinna are dead, it opens everything up. He was right all along. This couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.

“Yes, yes. I know all that.” Astrid scolded. “I told you he would get us what we wanted? However, our issues now lie elsewhere. Cara is becoming troublesome and unpredictable.”

“She will do what she is told,” Halden said bluntly. “This marriage is vital for the next phase. She will do anything for Erik, we could use that.”

“Yes. I suppose we can always use him as leverage against her.” Astrid thought aloud to her husband. “She won’t like it.”

“Of course she won’t like it, Astrid!” Halden yelled. “She is as bull-headed and defiant as Jebbin.”

“Speaking of Jebbin.” Astrid paused.

“What about him?”

“We should do something about him.” the queen lowered her voice. “He is becoming a problem we can’t afford to have laying around. Now more than ever I believe he is working for Malik.”

“What would you have me do? Kill him?” Halden hissed. “People would notice. That would raise questions. And questions are what we want to avoid.” he hissed. “He wouldn’t like us exposing ourselves after so much planning.”

“Don’t give me that tone,” Astrid said coldly. “We are in this together now. We both agreed to His terms. Jebbin is a problem we must correct.”

“What do you have-” Halden began to say.

Cara pulled away from the door at the sound of footsteps and turned to see who it was.

Erik stood twenty feet away, waddling in his nightclothes. He was rubbing his eyes and yawning when he noticed her. “Cara?” his voice echoed.

Cara rushed toward him, her feet pattering against the stone floor. “Shhhh,” she told her brother. “Quiet now. You’re going to wake mommy and daddy.”

“I had a nightmare,” Erik said. “Will you stay with me till I fall asleep again?” the young boy asked.

“Of course, dear brother,” Cara said lovingly.

She took his small hand in hers and led him back to his room. Cara opened his door and he walked past her and fell into bed, curling his tiny feet beneath his blanket.

Erik was eleven years old, he was becoming a man but Cara couldn’t help but wish he would stay a boy forever. Ignorant of this cruel world and safe from harm. Cara herself was only fifteen, still a young girl but was forced to grow up fast. She didn’t feel like a girl, the things she had seen and the things she had to do to survive put her ahead of anyone her age.

“Will you sing me the song?” Erik asked, half asleep.

“Just this once and you have to promise me you’ll go to sleep right after, okay?”

“I promise,” Erik said with a smile.

She kissed her brother on the cheek and began to hum a tune to him. Cara had learned it from her mother but she had stopped singing it years ago. Erik had caught her humming it once and he asked her to sing it to him ever since.

Cara loved her brother more than her own life. Her father was right, she would do anything to protect him. Anything.

 

Part 2

Cara returned to her room, the hour was late, she guessed it was nearly three in the morning judging from the position of the moon. She sat down at her desk and started writing a letter on a tiny piece of paper.

“Come to my room quickly. I need you to personally deliver a message.” she wrote swiftly in her note.

Cara picked it up and rolled it neatly and tied it with a string. She walked over to her pet hawk who stood patiently waiting for her. He was not bound, he was a free bird but had been trained to return to her window at night.

She pet it’s beak and brushed his feathers, reassuring him, then fed it a tiny piece of dried meat. It squawked and flapped its wings in thanks, then settled down again. Cara carefully attached the note to his leg and urged him to fly away. The hawk did so and disappeared into the night.

Cara waited patiently on her bed for several minutes before she began to grow anxious. “Where are you,” she whispered.

Another minute passed and a light knock on her door told her he had gotten the message. She quietly slipped out of bed and opened the door a crack.

“You asked for me, my lady?” the man whispered. “What is the message? Is it for Jebbin again?”

Cara drew close to him and pushed herself up next to his ear. “Tell Jebbin I need to speak to him. The usual spot,” she whispered, paranoid that someone might eavesdrop. “And Ulfrick, be careful, tell him… it's urgent.”

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About the author

MorseCode

Bio: Hello, all. I am a new aspiring author and I'm extremely excited to share my stories. I've always loved writing and bringing the ideas in my head to life, though it was only recently that I began to write on a more serious level. I have many many books I wish to write and I hope I can share them with you all in the future. I have a lot to learn but I hope to grow into a more experienced and learned writer.

I don't shy away from gore, which will be present in all my books to come. I hate plot armor, and I do everything I can to make things as real as possible. Real decisions, consequences, logical outcomes, and making a darn good story are my main focus.

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