Heather Josephine Pue

Cam tells the story of a battle between the powers of good and evil, fought between a king and his twelve-year-old heir within the palace of the Kingdom of Millows.

     Aiden had left early that morning and, by the time the children had their meeting, he had already spent a couple of hours wandering around the nearby village of Twindolin, asking after Paul. He hadn’t had much luck, but eventually he came across someone who gave him an intriguing piece of information.
     “I don’t know where the man you’re lookin’ for is, your highness,” a young farmer said when Aiden stopped to question him in a peasant’s market, “but if there’s anyone who knows, it’d be Old Lady Shalmon. She lives in a little hut on the edge of the village, ‘bout a twenty minute’s walk that way,” the man said, motioning north east with his arm. “She’s particular about who she meets with and I’ve never had the pleasure, but supposedly she’s the best fortune teller in all the kingdom. I say it’s dark magic and best to keep clear, but if anyone can help you, it’d be her.”
     Aiden smiled to himself. A fortune teller. Perhaps she could do more than just help him find Paul, perhaps she could tell him what Paul had failed to.
     “Thank you,” Aiden responded, lips curving up at the edges. “If you don’t mind, I’d like you to show me the way.”
“Y-yes, your majesty,” the man said, looking at his basket with regret. His family was in need of groceries and it was no short walk to the market from their property in the country, but he couldn’t refuse the king and the man reluctantly turned to lead the way.
     As the man had predicated, it was about a twenty minute’s walk - up hill - and he was feeling a little worn and thirsty by the time they reached the hut. The man motioned towards it. “Right here, your majesty.”
     “Thank you,” the king said, smiling down at the man below him. “Now, you will accompany me inside, will you not?”
     The man reluctantly nodded his head. The sun was well in the sky by now and he would lose the better part of the day, but he could not refuse the king. Little did he know that King Aiden had no intention of letting him return to his family that evening. The king had made the mistake of letting Paul out of his sight and he wouldn’t repeat it.
     Aiden dismounted from his horse and he and the farmer approached the hut’s door, leaving the horse and the king’s guards outside.
     The king raised his fist to pound on the door and the sound echoed around them. A small, frail voice answered from within.
     “Come in.”
     The king turned the knob and gave the door a forceful push open. It hit the wall and bounced back, so that the king had to push it open, more gently, a second time, before entering the hut. The farmer stepped in behind him.
     “Hello,” a voice said and it took the king’s eyes a moment to adjust before he could make out the speaker, a lady worn with age, sitting in a far back corner of the one room hut. “What brings you to my hut?”
     Aiden could feel the farmer beside him shiver and he, too, felt a shiver run up his spine, for the lady had addressed him several times now without any signs of respect. Had she failed to realize his identity in the darkness or did she feel herself superior?
     “I, King Aiden of Millows, have come to ask you a few questions. This young man here,” Aiden said, motioning to the shaking farmer, “has told me that you can tell fortunes. Is that the case?”
     “It is,” Lady Shalmon responded.
     Aiden hesitated before going on. He was caught off guard by the Lady’s lack of formalities. It had been a long time since he’d been addressed without the term “your highness” or “your majesty” at the end of every sentence.
     “Tell me, then,” Aiden ordered, “where has my servant, Paul, gone and what is it he is hiding from me?”
     The lady smiled, showing the holes between her teeth, and reached forward to unveil an orb that sat before her and had been hidden in the darkness. As the cloth covering it slid off, the light of the orb illuminated the room, causing both the king and the farmer to cover their eyes for a brief moment, but Lady Shalmon was used to the light and didn’t blink.
     The orb was white in colour and sat in an elaborately carved golden stand.
     The lady put her hands over the orb and muttered a phrase that neither the king nor the farmer could understand, then the white in the orb swirled, revealing an image within. The king saw Paul’s face appear on the orb, then some mountains, then a series of other images in so quick a succession that he could not decipher one from the next. Finally, the orb returned to its original white state and the Lady turned to face the king.
     “Your servant has fled, fearing for his life. Do not chase him; he can do you no harm. As for what it is he is hiding from you, I am afraid I cannot tell you. You will figure it out when the time is right.”
     The king seethed with anger. Who was this lady to give him orders and refuse him the information he demanded? “I shall pursue him if I want to and you shall tell me what I came here to ask. That’s an order,” the king said, withdrawing his sword and pointing it at the lady.
     “I shall tell you no more than I already have,” the lady said, calm, despite the sword at her throat. “You can kill me if you’d like; the orb will not work in your hands and the information will be lost to the world forever.”
     The king sheathed his sword. “Very well then, come with me; I will get the information out of you one way or another.”
     “Very well, then,” the lady said, struggling to stand, then bending over to pick up the orb. But as she stood up again, the orb slipped between her fingers and the glass shattered against the ground.
     Lady Shalmon smiled as the white within it shot into the air in a beam of light and whipped around the room, finding its way out the door before the king even knew what was happening.
     The beam raced down the streets of Twindolin, ricocheting off of walls and somersaulting through the air as it searched for a new container to hold it. The orb had been shattered, but the power of good it contained could not be destroyed so easily. It raced through the village, passing many people whose eyes could not make it out at the speed it traveled, before it found what it was looking for.
     At the far end of the village there were four children, so young and innocent that the power of evil had not yet worked its way into their veins. Pinpointing them from a block away, the power of good picked up speed and raced towards them, splitting into four beams of light and penetrating the children’s skin, settling into their hearts.