Petra's introduction to the castle and who Skylar and Rose are.
|Half an hour later, Skylar, Rose and Petra left the cafe and walked up the gently rising hill. When they came to the gates of the castle, a guard stepped out of the guardhouse and saluted Skylar before bowing to Rose.
‘I think I’ll see what the men are up to, why don't you show Petra around.’
For a little time she looked at her brother. ‘I will put Petra in the room next to mine. See you for supper?’
‘As always.’ He hurried away.
Rose turned to Petra and found her looking up at the castle with a strange look on her face. ‘Come on, we still have time before the other ladies descend and we won’t be able to talk at all.’
Petra looked at Rose with a look of surprise. ‘Why?’
‘They love to dominate the conversation.’
As they walked, Petra let Rose talk, telling her about everything she thought she should know about being a companion. Everyone they passed gave way to them and bowed or curtsied as they passed. She stopped as realisation hit her.
‘I’m sorry Rose, you must think me very dim witted indeed.’
‘Forgive me; I just thought they might be things you didn't know about.’ Colour rose deeply on her cheeks.
‘What?’ She realised they were not talking about the same thing. ‘Rose I’m sorry, it’s not that, but I find I do know about what a companion does, my people called it ladies in waiting and the head one held the title of best. That would make you Princess Rose?’
‘You really had no idea.’
‘Like I said, I have been travelling.’ She stepped back and gave Rose a curtsy of such grace and beauty Rose could only watch in wonder until she was back upright.
‘You have to show me how you do that.’
‘But as a princess you bow to no one.’
‘Except to my brother, you know . . . the King.’
‘King Skylar? You’re saying the king goes into town without a swarm of guards.’
‘He hates that, a few years ago he told the whole lot of them if he saw even one of them following, he would have to stand guard all night . . . in winter.’ She laughed.
‘So much like home.’ Petra said so softly that Rose almost didn't hear it.
‘Your king also went down to his town without a guard?’
‘We had no guards at all.’
‘No guards at all?’ She couldn’t hide her surprise.
‘They were not needed.’
‘Where do you come from?’
‘A place far from here . . . it no longer needs me.’ Her eyes went to the cliffs then quickly returned to Rose.
‘Come with me and we will get you settled.’ Rose decided not to push her for details, it would be best to wait. ‘This will be your suite, I hope you like it.’ Rose opened the double doors and showed off a beautifully furnished suite of rooms. ‘Through there is the bedroom and off that is the washroom.’ Rose nodded to a door.
‘Are you sure these are the rooms.’
‘Yes, I have been keeping them empty and have never known why, now I realise I was waiting for you to arrive.’ Rose said with a smile as she took Petra's hand pulling her to the sofa. ‘We just need to talk about something before the others arrive at my rooms.’
‘First . . . I recognise you.’
‘But I’ve never been here before.’ Her heart leapt.
‘Not you as a person, but something about you.’ Rose said only to find herself observed by Petra. ‘I know that sounds a little odd.’
‘No, where I came from, that is a very common ability; it’s just a little . . . surprising to find it in this land.’
‘Secondly, I know you have magic.’
‘Yes, does it bother you?’
‘No, there is no law about any kind of magic, just not to harm anyone with it. Skylar and I both have magic.’
‘When did you know I had the ability?’ Petra asked interested, she had not met anyone in this land that could tell just by looking.
‘Just before you produced the apple for the girl.’
‘And I thought the apple would look like slight of hand to anyone who might be watching.’
‘To everyone else it did, even Skylar. Does that bother you?’
‘No, so much of this city reminds me of home.’
‘A good kind of remembering I hope.’
‘Yes. The layout of the city . . . where did it come from?’
‘It’s said that a man designed it. He gave the first queen a hand drawn map and said that it would inspire harmony.’
‘We have our troubles, but nothing like other countries.’
‘Where did the man come from?’ Petra’s curiosity grew.
‘He is said to have came out of the forest generations ago and spoke to the first queen of this land; it is written that the castle is visited every generation by the same man. Over the last few years I have been thinking that it might not be just a myth.’
‘Well . . . it’s hard to explain.’ She looked into Petra’s eyes and couldn’t help but smile. ‘Every time I try to explain it to Skylar, he gets this faraway look, like he is not even listening to me.’
‘Maybe it’s not that he’s not listening but picturing what you were saying. Would you tell me about it some time?’ She felt the women in the other room, something about them distracted her.
‘I promise to tell you everything but the others will be arriving soon. Through that door is my suite.’ Rose said as they stood up. ‘I think we are going to be great friends Petra.’
‘I think so too.’
Rose stopped and frowned. ‘Was it just luck that brought you here before that man hurt his child?’
‘Yes.’ Petra said, but not truly believing it.
‘Were you worried when no one helped you?’
‘No, I made sure they would stay away.’
‘I thought so.’ She looked at Petra. ‘What about all your belongings, where are they, I can have a carriage sent for them.’
‘Oh, just a moment.’ She moved to the bedroom door and opened it. With a slight wave of her hand, her belongings appeared and put themselves in their proper place. ‘Rose, would you mind if I change the bed.’
‘How would you do that?’
‘I have one that I have not slept in for many years and . . . I feel the need to use it.’ She looked to Rose as she stepped into the bedroom with her.
‘You can change as much as you want to feel at home.’
‘Thank you.’ With a wave of her hand the bed vanished and her own appeared, it was an ornate four poster bed with white curtains pulled up to show the bed.
‘Petra . . . I have never . . .’ Rose walked over and touched it, she could feel the magic humming through it.
‘My mother had it made for me. She placed in it the spells that induce peaceful sleep.’
‘I have never seen anything like it.’
Petra stood at the bedroom doors and looked to the right of the main double doors, a unit appeared, its glossy black wood gleaming. Gold and luminescent stones portrayed a golden castle and a magnificent city surrounding it. Petra walked over, stood in front of it, and ran her fingers over the castle.
‘Wow, what castle is that meant to be?’ She looked at Petra and stopped, the look of pain on her face was so strong that she could almost feel her heartbreak.
‘It is the Castle of the Golden Queen . . . it has long been abandoned by its queen.’
‘She abandoned it . . . why?’
‘She was the last of her people; she needed to leave before it tore her very soul apart.’ Petra gave herself a mental shake and turned to Rose with a half-smile. ‘It is just a pretty thing to look at now.’
‘Are you talking about the Lonely Queen?’
‘The Lonely Queen . . . yes, I have heard her called that.’
‘How much do you know of her?’
‘Much.’ She whispered.
‘Is there anything else you would like to change . . . I really don’t mind.’
‘But what about all this furniture . . .’
‘Don’t worry about them.’ Rose watched as the furniture vanished and magnificent and many unknown pieces of furniture appeared. ‘Oh my.’ She stood there looking around in wonder. Something deep in her memory tried to stir but she was so busy looking around it settled back down.
‘I would love to know how you made them.’
‘I didn't make them; I just . . . called them back.’
‘Called them, from where?’
‘It’s something that allows you to carry everything with you.’
‘Would you show me how to do that some time?’
‘I will show you.’ With the unusual glimmer she has already seen, there was a small chance.
‘I can't wait.’
‘But I can’t promise you will be able to do it.’ She looks at Rose. ‘I place my things in a void and only called them out, first I need to see if you can feel the void.’ She sighed. ‘I have not met anyone else able to do this since I came to this land.’
‘You have no idea how much I have wanted to meet someone that can do magic that I have not heard of.’
‘How long has this feeling been building in you?’
‘Almost a year.’
About the same amount of time she had been moving in this direction. ‘I will teach you as much as you can learn.’
‘But not when the others are around. They were chosen to be my companions by my parents before they died, and I am sorry to say I have not been able to confide in them like I think I am meant to.’
‘Always go with your first impression Rose, I think that is one thing that will never lead you astray.’ She watched the young woman and felt a shift in her, something she has not felt since the last of her people died.
‘But now I have you. So let’s go and you can meet the others for yourself.’
‘It would be my pleasure, and thank you.’
‘For all of it, I have been wandering for such a long time, this is what I need.’