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Crest of Thorns

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Chapter 3: Sara

Just like that, they take her away. She leaves me behind. Again. I probably should have been able to predict it, given how much time Vicky had spent away from Kel. From me. If Vicky had never considered practicing magic, she wouldn’t have changed and become what she is now.

           I stand in front of my shack, Pixie weaving between my legs. Everything happened so fast.

           I take a careful step forward, senses mangled, and a crunching sound fills my ears. I risk taking a glance down. I choke. The imploded helmet of a Silver Knight breaks easily underfoot, probably due to Vicky’s magic. I stumble backwards and fall in the mud, my elbows deep in the filth. The villagers’ cheers ring in my head, but the sound barely affects me anymore. I haven’t heard cheers of happiness in years, and yet I still am out of sorts. I pull a hand out of the mud and study my family bracelet. The dark and light browns of the crystals are hard to see, but the family name Nida is blatant on each stone.

           The remaining knights dash out of Kel, back to the Outer Cities, no doubt. Realization strikes me, and I scream.

           “Mother! Father!” I shriek, scrambling through the clay after the horses. It’s useless. The Silver Knights have them on their horses, and all I can do is collapse in the rain puddles, sobbing.

           I slump down deeper in the mud, my shoulders shaking. Pixie trots over to me and curls up in my lap, meowing pitifully.

           “Vicky promised she’d save them. She promised.” I snarl at Pixie. Pixie licks my hand, and I believe it’s a gesture of comfort. Her fur is full of clumps and filth. I feel like Pixie. Dirty, abandoned, useless, and tired. My own hair is knotted and drenched. My spectacles are wet, and I have nothing dry to wipe them with. I weep even harder. Even if Vicky has broken her promise, the pain of her leaving me runs deep, like a knife through my stomach.

           First I lose my parents, and now Vicky’s gone again.

           How easily the most simple life can go downhill.

           As I wallow in my misery, I don’t hear Pixie let out a warning hiss.

           A squelch of hooves sounds through the mud, and I snap my head up just in time. A hooded person with the Valian Crest embedded in their cloak rides towards me. I stare up in a daze as the person scoops Pixie and I up, hauling us onto the horse. I’m so tired I don’t protest as we ride away. The last I remember of the Village Kel is my shack and life, rotting and lost in the pouring rain.


           I see colours. Blue, green, red, yellow, violet. I see all the colours of the rainbow, and maybe more.

           Beyond these colours, I can make out a memory I have forgotten. A memory I had decided to forget. One that shouldn’t have turned up at all.

           I’m back in the Village of Kel, but the sun is shining. I bask in the sun’s warmth, standing in a grassy field full of peasant crops. The wind brushes through my neatly trimmed hair and whips my white robes and gray cloak behind me. My hair is brown and has no silver streaks yet. It’s the summer season, and the warmth is incredible. I open up my arms, emitting a cry of glee.

           The world is wonderful, I think, and I want to explore every inch of it someday.

           “I will explore all of Edinsmore and beyond the Border Mountains!” I shout out to the sky. A series of cackles ruins the moment.

           “If you want to explore Edinsmore, you’d have to be a noble. Peasants like us don’t earn anything except hard work.”

           I turn to the sound of the voice. Standing a few feet away from me is a girl my age, probably eight or nine years old. She has spiky black hair and dark amber eyes. She looks like any normal young girl would, with the exception of the mark of a crescent moon on her right cheek. A chill runs down my spine. It’s the girl my parents have told me to stay away from. The girl who took down the strongest boy in town, Hildren.

           “Are you of the Elda family?” I ask politely, sticking to my manners. The girl gives me a smirk.

           “Of course. My name is Vickelda, but people call me Vicky. And lemme guess-you’re Saranida of the Nida family?”

           My jaw drops. “How do you know who I am?”

           Vicky starts towards me, her walk more of an overly confident strut. I step back nervously.

           “What do you want?” My voice trembles.

           “I want to know why you are afraid of me. Tell me why.” Vicky orders, now hardly a foot away from me.

           My lip quivers. “I…I don’t know,” I cry, standing still now. A look of surprise crosses Vicky’s face. Her confidence fails her for the smallest of seconds. We don’t say anything.

           Finally Vicky breaks the silence.

           “Everyone is scared of me. They say I’m evil, because of this.” Vicky points at the mark on her face. “They say that the moon goddess Aylin has cursed me to be a Necroca. That she has cursed my soul.”

           I have no idea what a Necroca is, but I do know who Aylin is. Aylin is one of the Three deities. She is the goddess of the moon and the Witch Queen.

           I don’t know whether to speak or comfort Vicky. I don’t know what to do.

           “Sara, everyone I see runs away from me, as fast as they can. You didn’t run as fast as you can. You stayed.” Vicky sighs at my stillness. “But you stay quiet. Maybe that is what you do instead of running away.”

           Vicky turns away from me, but I reach out to touch her arm. She freezes.

           “Vicky of the Elda family,” I mumble. “I don’t run away because I’m not scared.”

           Vicky glances over her shoulder, but now her eyes glitter with hostility. For some reason, her eyes look even more bright amber than before.

           “I know when people lie,” she growls, throwing my hand off her shoulder. I back away, heart thudding rapidly in my chest.

           Vicky prowls towards me. “You are scared, and I know it. I will make sure you will never be scared of me again, okay?”

           Amber light curls around Vicky’s hands, and I can’t help it. I start crying like I’ve never cried before.

           “Stop crying. I’ll make you not scared!” Vicky growls. The light crackles now, and I wail even louder.

           That’s when the worst part happens. The magic snaps towards me, giving a blow to the chest. I fly backwards, heartbeat slowing.

           When I hit the ground, I can’t feel my hands. I can’t move at all. I stare up at the clear blue sky, my emotions jumbled. The sky grows darker and darker as I look up, until it grows as dark as the night sky. My breathing slows.

           I blink awake from my dream.


           The humidity in the air is daunting. My breaths are low and ragged, and my eyelids are heavy. I yawn, but a sharp pain in my throat cuts me off. I cough, my saliva spattering over a stone floor. When I lift my head, I can see a stone roof. When I look down, the floor. Looking ahead, I find silver prison bars.

           Prison bars? I yawn again, the pain beginning to subside. I go to jerk my hands forward, but something stops them. I turn to peek behind me, and my jaw drops. My hands are tied up in silver chains, and I’m lying on the floor. Luckily, my legs aren’t tied, but…

           “Mother? Father?” I croak. The words travel up my throat, leaving a painful fire in their path. I cough again, but this time someone answers me.

           “Sara? I’m…I’m not feeling so good.”

           “Vicky,” I gasp, fighting off the pain and turning myself around. Rats chatter around me, and I resist the urge to hurl.

           Once I’m laying so I can face Vicky, I start talking.

           “Vicky, what happened? Have we—”

           “Shh,” Vicky’s battered figure quiets me. I can barely make her out in the dim light, but I guess the light only shines from the prison bars. I squint harder, my mouth curving down into a deeper frown. Are those tears I see on Vicky’s face?


           “Quiet,” Vicky growls, more impatiently this time.

           I bite my lip, frustrated. There are chains around Vicky’s hands and legs, and her witch’s staff is chained to a wall across from her. Whoever took us down here was trying hard to mock my friend.

           “What happened?” I whisper to myself, recalling the events from before. When nothing comes to mind, I sigh, then glance at Vicky. I’m not surprised when she tells me something.

           “We’re in one of Valian’s prison cells, that’s what,” she grumbles.

           My eyes widen. “How did we…”


           My parents aren’t safe. They weren’t saved by Valian.

           They were captured.

           And I, Sara of the Nida family, did nothing to help them.

           “Mother…” I choke, my nails digging in the muddy ground. An image of father with blood dripping down his mouth flashes through my head. I sob, my muddy hands wiping wildly against my face.

           “Quiet Sara! Stop being such a blubbering idiot,” Vicky snaps, amber eyes burning brighter.

           I rub away dirt and salty tears with my shoulder. “No, you be quiet. I don’t need a murderer talking to me right now.” I pause, sniffling. “I need a friend.”

           Vicky opens her mouth to retort, but not before someone interrupts our conversation.

           “So you, Saranida of Village Kel, agree that this Necroca is a murderer?”

           I lift my head slowly as more light shines through the silver bars. Four men wearing the Valian crest march towards our cell, their faces cast in shadows. Behind them, three people follow, two men and one woman.

           The first one is the oldest, with graying hair and cloudy eyes. He strokes his beard, eyeing both Vicky and I with some sort of amusement. Vicky bares her teeth at him, while I study his movements. He wears a thing around his neck, and I’ve heard of it before. Only the leaders of Valian keep it, so that must mean this man is a leader of Valian.

           The second person is a redhead with somewhat curly hair. Freckles are scattered all over his face. He has a narrow, long face, and a slightly crooked nose. It doesn’t make him look ugly-no, it makes him seem more…leaderlike. He looks like the hardened type. His gaze is locked ahead while his hands curl around a silver sword.

           The third is a person I’ve seen before, the girl who has started fighting back against the Silver Knights and become famous for her rebellion against the king—Zarridah, third leader of Valian. Her wavy blonde hair hangs loosely at her shoulders, and her piercing blue eyes narrow at me. She doesn’t pay much attention to Vicky.

           “Hello, young Necroca and youthful maiden,” the oldest man bows to us, which I find insulting. We are the ones in the prison, not him.

           “Hey, oaf! Bowing to prisoners is somewhat stupid, don’t you think?” Vicky jeers from the stone floor. Zari’s teeth bare, but the old man holds her back.

           “Quiet, Vicky, don’t be a fool,” I scold. Vicky sticks her tongue out at me.

           “Feisty, isn’t she?” The older man remarks with a slight smile. The redhead snorts. Zari crosses her arms, and I take note of a blade at her side.

           “Yes, extremely,” the redhead says coldly, “but this one was the one who was able to kill both our own warriors and King Henryle’s Silver Knights. I think we should do what we came here to do.” The redhead draws his sword, his knuckles turning white from his grip on the hilt.

           “Hey, hey, hey,” Vicky laughs nervously from the floor. “You’re going to kill me? Even after I killed some Silver Knights, Zari?”

           “We had a Hearing. We voted on your execution,” the redhead snarls, his jade green eyes flashing with anger.  

           I glance frantically from Vicky to the Valian leaders. I can’t lose my friend if I’ve already lost my parents. I spit on the ground, struggling to get up.

           “What is she doing?” The redhead’s coarse voice asks to no one in particular.

           “I…will…” I push up from the floor, meeting the leaders. I fumble with the chains behind my back, hoping that there is a way to get them off.

           When my time grows thin and the leaders grow impatient, I curse inwardly. I can’t get the chains off, so something else will need to be done.

           Here goes, then. For the Nida family.

           “I will volunteer in Vicky’s place as the execution! I will take on her crimes as my own.” I pant, my arms hanging limp behind me. The redhead’s green eyes widen, while Zari laughs.

           “Sounds good. We’ll take it.” She begins to open the silver gate when suddenly the old leader stops her.

           “No,” he shakes his head. “This girl has no reason to be here, but then Rai—” the old man jabs a finger at the redhead “—decided that she was an asset to our war.”

           The redhead loses his cool composure. “I thought she was a warrior!” He argues, while his hand lifts off the sword hilt.

           Zari rolls her eyes. “You just have a soft spot for ugly girls, Rai.”

           Rai’s face goes red in an instant. “You slimy, frog-faced donkey!”

           “Stop it!” I shout, tired and angry of the leader’s antics. “Are you all three-year olds? No wonder Valian has been so cowardly in this war, and you’ve been hiding in the Dawnfall Woods all these years like a cowardly pack of—” I stop myself, my breathing uneven.

           That’s when I break into a series of coughs, and blood splatters throughout the prison cell. My insides feeling shaky, I collapse, tears streaming down my face.

           In the background of the pain, there’s a loud bang and clatter. Someone picks me up off the ground. Voices yell and call out in different languages, and I don’t know whether to reply or stay silent. I sob, my insides burning like Elio’s Ring as the colours cloud my vision again. There’s the reds, the oranges, yellows, greens, and more. My eyes start to close, and the pain begins to fade.

           Then my world turns upside down, because the last thing I see is King Henryle’s face, weathered and insane from his years of ruling.


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