Before the Storm

I'm in this really stupid situation. Stuck in a jail cell and I will be forced to marry the last prince in the portals that no one wanted. He was the last Prince, and my mother arranged it. You can see how I think of her now. I successfully avoided Ben for two whole years, two years I was free to be myself and do whatever and then I got caught. again. This time, however; I am in a jail cell as we await the 'almighty priest'. I turned onto my side, knowing I had to get some sleep. I was no good being a pain if I was tired. I would be out of here soon, tonight or tomorrow night at most. I had finally found a way out, but unfortunately, it included a cold hearted prince and a wishful little me. I wished. that I could kick him from here to Jupiter. I sighed. I need to receive some sleep.

*DREAM*
*Here I go, off to get married now. Magnum says he is happy for me he rejoices that his day is finally come when he doesn't need to protect me anymore. I know better. I don't want to leave him, but my mother and father demand an arranged marriage to a man I don't know. But who am I really loyal to, my family, or my heart and friends? Which one? I don't want to leave Magnum. I don't know who I am marrying anymore. I need to keep up the family.
"Katrina, let's go!" A voice calls. Am I really ready? Do I want this? No, but do I really have a choice? I begin to walk out, immediately sensing danger. I tell Magnum, he says not to worry. I whisper to Runner to be on guard, I might try to run. Runner and I are best friends, but he is a horse. I don't know what to do. Cold, Ice, Danger, those three words run through my mind. I began to walk to the back, where I will be given away by my father. Why couldn't Magnum have given me away? I wanted him here, next to me. For the first time in my life, I was afraid. A tear slipped down my cheek. I didn't want this. What were my choices? I looked ahead as my father took my arm. I saw Ben in the front, he didn't seem happy to be here. Why didn't he speak up? Was I really the only princess left, and he the only prince? Magnum said he was happy for me. I couldn't leave him. I arrived at the front, and then I barely watched as Ben took my hands into his, roughly and I barely listened to the priest as he began to speak. Ben would be mean, I knew he would. Why must I get married at sixteen? Cold, Ice, Danger, his eyes spoke of deep suffering. What if this marriage made it go away, if I put my love into it to change his heart? No, I couldn't do it. What if I didn't get any love back at all? I didn't trust him, didn't want him, didn't need him. I glanced around, I saw Magnum in the front, he looked even sadder. I wouldn't be allowed to see him again most likely, because Ben would keep me in his castle. Cold, Ice, Danger, why hadn't Magnum given me away? He was more of a father to me than the one I had!! This didn't feel right. Even if we must marry, couldn't we date first? I didn't want this, but my parents did. Please, say something Ben, refuse me! I don't want my friends to leave me! No, he said nothing, he would say nothing. Cold, Ice, Danger, how would the rest of my life be? Distant and lost? What would become of me? What would I be able to do to help my people anymore? I would loose all the little I had. Ben would take it away. Cold, Ice, Danger, I felt my head spin. I only heard the words, "I do." Were we that far already? Cold, Ice, Danger, I saw it in his eyes, no compassion or love: he wouldn't even care if Brackuss went after me. Magnum wouldn't be allowed to protect me, Ben would cut my training off short, I would never be able to learn and develop my powers. Cold, Ice, Danger, the church was looking at me? What did they expect me to do? Say yes, and betray my heart and body to this man I don't know? Say no and my parents might hate me enough to send me away to learn discipline? I couldn't change this man's heart, not unless he realized who I was. Stubborn, Beautiful, and Smart, and so I had to fight this. I wasn't ready.
"No. please." I begged under my breath. The church was still waiting.
"What?" Ben asked softly, dangerously. I looked up, and there was anger in his eyes now, hatred, for me! I usually was well liked, how come he was so mean? Cold, Ice, Danger, I had to get away. Cold, Ice, Danger, I couldn't remain here and think clearly, I didn't have time. Time? I knew how to get more time. Hide in the forest, and be at peace for some time. Would it do any good? Cold, Ice, Danger, that's all he was, cold and icy and dangerous. I couldn't. Ben tightened his grip on my hand, not about to let go.
"Answer." He said soundly.
"No, I. I can't. I won't loose Magnum or my friends, I won't betray my heart!" I cried, running down the steps to the back, where Runner had come and stood. I turned back and say Ben draw his sword, and Magnum drew his. Magnum caught my eye and nodded. His eyes said that Ben would not be allowed to follow.
"I won't Ben. I won't marry a man I don't know." I said, jumping onto Runner and kicking him to a canter. We sped out of there, into the woods I used to play in, the woods I knew so well. It would feel like home for a while, and Magnum knew where I would be. I could survive out here, no matter what anyone thought. And to not be forced into anything, I could live out here forever. ***
*END DREAM*

I awoke, and turned my face towards the ceiling. Goodness, I was smart and naïve. I should have stayed away longer. I should have trusted my instincts. I should not have let my guard down. Now I had to make a deal with Queen Megan to get out of here. I had to get out of here. Oh look, here come the guards; well let me get this over with. I would not be so stupid again.

***

"Sir, the Princess is here to see you again." the soldier said and then shoved me into the room. One kiss, that's all I need, and then I am out of here.
"It is so nice to see you again, Princess. Are you going to punch me or tell me again and again you won't marry a man you don't know?" Ben asked.
My name is Princess Katrina and I was mad. If I didn't have to kiss him to get out of here before the priest came back from break, I would kick him. And he would be down. But instead, I walked up to him and kissed him firmly on the mouth. He seemed surprised by this, but then he wrapped his arms around me and kissed back. Wow, he was a good kisser. The two guards left, probably thinking I had finally given in. I wished I could elbow him and beat him to a pulp, but I held my resolve and stayed planted on the ground. If he moved, I would do something. I wouldn't trust a guy like that, he was cold-hearted and such. I could see why only his mother really cared for him, but even then, it was a stretch. His kiss moved down to my neck, and then he went still. He gave me a surprised hug and then shoved me away in frustration. I had to work to keep my balance. I looked into his eyes, my eyes remaining serious and stony.
"Wha. what was that? You put my guard down." he said.
"It's a message for you to figure out," I said. I kept my eyes level on his, which was difficult because of the fact he was just taller than me. He called his guards and they took me back to my cell, where I had been for the entire week as we waited for the priest to return from his vacation. Well, I wasn't waiting, I wanted out. The next night, Queen Megan, Ben's mother, helped me escape, as she promised to do if I kissed Ben once.
"I think you made him think about his decision about forcing you to marry him when you aren't ready. That was why I needed you to kiss him," she said after I told her what happened. She began to lead me through dozens of secret passageways and past guards that ignored us without a second glance. "What is going on, why are they just ignoring us?" I asked.
"They are ignoring you. I weaved a wind spell to protect you from their sight. I am a master of the illusionary crafts. I always am out late at night, I have reason to be, because I am a magician. I practice some magic and can only collect certain herbs and flowers in the moonlight. I have so much I could teach you, but now is not the time. Ah, here is my door. I put it in special years ago. It can only be opened through magic. I used it with my husband to get away from meetings it leads right to the gardens. After that, it should be easy to return home. Come along." she said. I followed along meekly behind, as soon as we arrived at the door, I actually smiled.
"Well, he is a good kisser, you can tell him that," I said softly, hoping she wouldn't hear.
As soon as I got home, I snuck back to my room, my parents not expecting me to be home for quite some time now, and then saw Magnum, my protector, waiting for me. I wasn't the least bit surprised, Magnum always seemed to know where I was and when I was gone and where I would be going and at what time I would arrive there and he always met me there, which got annoying after a while, but it saved my life once or twice. It is because of the fact it saved me a few times I let Magnum get away with it. And then he had his off days also.
"So are you married to him yet?" he asked, letting a grin escape. Our marriage was arranged when I was sixteen, but then I ran away from the altar, saying, "I won't marry a man I don't know." Magnum helped me avoid Ben and his seemingly relentless pursuit for two whole years. Then I got a bit careless and was captured by him, unfortunately this time, he locked me in a dungeon cell so I couldn't escape until the priest got back from break, and then married Ben and me. Ha, right. I hated him and I knew I would have escaped, with or without Queen Megan's help. I only chided myself that I was foolish enough to let my guard down a little while back when doing some special training under the Crystal of Courage. I wouldn't be so stupid again.
"No, I am not married to him. But I am very tired, so go away, I want to sleep," I said and Magnum just laughed.
"Anything you ask your highness. I'm sure you will need all your strength to tell Ben off tomorrow," he said, and then walked out of the room with a big grin on his face. I sighed. It was never that easy. I fell to sleep without changing. Was there love in that kiss? Or was it just me? I pondered as I drifted to sleep.

***

I woke up in a cage. Was this Ben's idea of a joke?
"Oh, princess, how nice to see you," a voice said, "I was worried you'd sleep much longer."
"Who's there? Ben, if it is you, let me out of here right now, this instant. You no good." I trailed off.
"My name is not Ben. It is Brackuss and I will be your tormentor for as long as I see fit," he said, interrupting me. He stepped out from behind the shadows. I gasped. I knew exactly who he was. I backed up against the back of the cage, and I felt a prick in my back. I fell limply to the floor. ***BEN
"Where is the Princess, she was here just last night!!" Magnum shouted.
"Katrina must have been kidnapped. I just can't believe my mother let her go," I said.
"This really isn't the time. She has a mind of her own and she would have gotten out one way or another," Magnum said.
"And if she just married me in the first place." I began.
"She would have loathed you and never talked to you and made your life a living hell!!" Magnum exclaimed.
"She is a living hell, and her not talking is a good thing!" I yelled back, "But that is beside the point, she must marry me whether she likes it or not, it matters not to me. The only thing keeping me in this is the need to marry and she is the last princess here. Mother says if I don't have children, our family line has ended."
"Is it so hard to get to know a girl before you marry her? She really is a sweet girl, with her own mind and an imagination and she knows her heart. Maybe if you tried, even a little, to be nice to her, instead of treating her like property, both you and she might change your minds on things," Magnum said harshly. He reminded me of my tutor, stern and unmovable.
"I'm not making any promises. I don't have to," I said, pausing. An imagination? The only one I knew who had an imagination was my mother and how she got it was clueless to me. Katrina was different, almost like she had abilities, powers.
"She's a psychic and a magician of sorts, in training." Magnum said, reading my thoughts, "She developed them a little and then went to train under the crystal of courage to develop them further. She was also hoping Queen Megan could teach her some newer, more powerful spells than what she holds."
"I know where she is!" I exclaimed suddenly. I had read somewhere that Brackuss was like a typical evil in some ways, and loved castles, old and rusty, but sturdy, and also I had heard he resided in a place called Boke Castle.
"Where?" he asked, glaring, "Or better yet, what took you so long?"
"It must have been Brackuss, the evil of your portals, it's the only explanation. If I go, he can't harm me, he isn't allowed because I am not of your portals. That just might give me an advantage." I said.
"Good for you. I unfortunately cannot go, I am needed to escort our Queen, and she knows not of our present predicament. I will tell it to her gently. I only am upset that I am called upon to do other duties than rescue Katrina at present. I do not even think by telling the Queen she will let me change my plan. If I find out this was all a set up or you harm her in any way, you will not live to see tomorrow. You bring her back here. If I don't see her here by tonight." Magnum let his voice trail off and I nodded quickly, "Other than that, good luck." I ever so quickly headed out, taking his threat seriously. Protectors assigned to protect Princesses often made very real threats and actually fulfilled them. I was focusing on Katrina as I headed to Boke Castle where Brackuss might be. I heard it in a rumor once. There were quite a few guards there and I could hear screams. They were really loud and sounded like Princess Katrina!! I had to hurry, I needed to protect her. (In that, I really couldn't remember anyway I had of protecting her at all.) I heard her scream again, so I started to rush. My carelessness got me caught.

***KATRINA

I couldn't think clearly and my mind was reeling. I knew I was bloody and broken. My whole body felt numb. When they threw me into the cage, I expected to fall against the wall. Instead, strong arms were there to catch me. Amazingly strong, was Magnum here? I looked up weakly. It looked like Ben!
"Huh? Prince, is. is. that. you?" I asked.
"Hush, Princess. I just couldn't let Brackuss hurt my girlfriend," he said. Did he just call me his girlfriend? Was it real? Or was it just a hopeful dream? Nope, just a hopeful dream. Did he really want to get to know me? I didn't know how to reply to that comment. He began to pick me up, to try and get me out of here.
"But. your powers. aren't they. worthless?" I asked.
"Not all of them. Magnum sort of had conditions before he would even consider trusting me. I had to get a rainbow star name and powers, so I could protect you." he said, turning slightly red. He quickly changed into his star form, which turned out to be the form Black Star. I had a sarcastic comment to add, but decided against it for now. He broke the door down and ran as fast as he could. We were able to escape, but Ben had to take down a few guards to get out. The weird thing was that I actually relaxed into his arms and fell asleep.

***

I woke up in my bed, back in the castle. Someone held my hands, and this person was asleep. I looked over and saw Ben there. I squeezed his hand. His eyes opened and he sat up.
"Oh, good, you have awakened, Princess," he said. Almost giggling, I looked into his eyes, his gaze was still steady, but there was a hint of kindness in his eyes, no humility yet. He had at least lessened up on harshness and being rude, or so it seemed.
"I'm fine," I said, before he could ask if I was okay.
"You do have a psychic ability," he said, awed.
"I couldn't have some of my friends as friends if I didn't," I said smugly.
"You uh, dropped this as we were leaving," he said, handing me a pewter figurine of a wolf.
"Sorry, Ben, but this isn't mine," I said, "All I had on me was my necklace, I don't carry much with me."
"Well, keep it anyways. I don't have any use for a figurine and it sort of matches the tint in your eyes," he said. He kissed my forehead, then left. I just had to smile; maybe Magnum really got through to him in a way.
"You're beginning to like him, aren't you?' Magnum asked, coming in the way Ben left.
"He just isn't as rude as a few. hours ago. What did you say to him?" I asked. "I mean, now he's trying to be romantic, so I give him credit, but what's the catch?"
"I didn't do anything but tell him to change or else. I better get going too; I have a meeting with Red Star. Oh, and Ben asked if you wanted to go to a picnic dinner underneath the stars at the lake. I will be near, should you decide to go tonight. I think he still is working things out in his head."
"I'd love to. He can pick me up. Go on your date. It isn't exactly as if your feelings are well hidden," I said, raising an eyebrow. He turned red and left in a hurry. I then turned my attention to the wolf in my hand. Where did Ben pick this up? It was pretty and I really couldn't believe he found it on the ground. I focused my psychic powers on it to lift it from my hand. It began to glow and seemed to shake. There was a burst of light and I saw a wolf on my bed, a gray wolf. But I learned that wolves were supposed to be really rare in my portals and hardly wanted to be seen by humans.
"Hello, Lady. You are Princess Katrina, are you not?" he asked, his voice deep and mysterious. His mouth barely moved, but each word was totally and completely understandable.
"Who. what are you?" I asked. "Don't hurt me."
"I will not, Lady Katrina. I am your guardian, a special one, as rare as wolves are today. Of course, there are others, but I am yours and yours alone. I will not hurt you," he reassured me.
"Okay. I kind of understand this, so you are like my guardian angel?" I asked.
"Something to that effect," he said, laughing slightly. He jumped across the bed and landed by my side. He opened up his teeth and into my hand went a cartridge-like cylinder, full of water.
"Put it in your necklace," he instructed. Oh, that necklace, the one I received when I was like, 5. I didn't wear it as often as I should, but I was wearing it as Brackuss tormented me. I took off my necklace and put it in, where it fit perfectly. It began to glow immensely.
"There, your star power has been awakened. When you use it, yell out Blue Star power in order to activate your newfound powers. No one knows of your identity unless you choose to tell them or they see you transform. It is your choice to tell them or not. Goodbye and good luck," he said and still laughing, disappeared. The necklace stopped glowing. I put the pewter wolf in my jewelry box, which was next to empty because I didn't exactly favor jewelry. Well, time to get ready for my date with Ben. I had to be on my guard though, he could be scheming something. I had to know if he was sincere or not.

***

I headed out to where Magnum told me to go. I felt safer, knowing he was nearby. If Ben tried anything and Magnum didn't come, then Ben would be in worse trouble when I was through with him. There was a blanket laid out with two candles and a picnic basket.
"Well. um, guess you learn pretty quickly," I said as he grabbed my arm and led me to the spot. I sat down on the blanket and he followed suit. We ate quietly for a while. He scooted closer to me after we finished eating.
"Did you cook that?" I asked, trying to make some conversation.
"No, Chef did. Listen, I've been thinking, you know, about us getting to know each other. Couldn't we do that once we are married?" he asked; his voice soft. I sensed a little danger. I began to feel a bit sleepy.
"Yes, but I'd prefer not to," I said. "I really have to know someone before making rational decisions such as that." He scooted a little closer to me, shrugging off my comments and leaned closer to kiss me. I felt my necklace warm, protecting me from whatever spell he put me under or tried to put me under. He must have been using his Crystal of Deception on me!! I shoved him away without a second thought. I then took a moment to pry his mind and I didn't like what I saw.
"Quit using that crystal on me. You really don't want to get to know me; you just want to trick me into marrying you. What, your charms not good enough so you have to use cheap magic to get your way?" I asked, throwing a barb. He growled at me.
"All right, I'll get to know you." he said.
"Nope, I don't believe you," I replied, I sensed a bloody fight ensuing and Magnum chose that moment to jump out of a nearby bush to stand between Ben and me. Ben moved away, horrified.
"What? You dare Magnum? I have a right to try what I will," he said.
"Not if it hurts the princess," Magnum said solidly.
"I wasn't going to hurt her," Ben protested weakly.
"Yes, you were. Come on, Katrina, we'll all talk about this in the morning." Magnum replied coldly and began to lead me from there. I stuck my tongue out at Ben. He could learn the hard way or the easy way, it was his choice.

***BEN
I will break her in. If only that danged protector hadn't been there, I would have won. She would have been obedient, even if it took all my crystal's power. If only I were allowed to take Magnum out of the picture, then I should have no problem.

***MAGNUM
I slept soundly in a chair next to the princess's bed. I soundly tucked the Princess in and then decided to stay in a chair by her side, incase someone tried to pull something. Namely, of course, Ben. I mean, I was glad I was there. I don't know how badly Ben would have gotten it if I hadn't shown up when I did. I sighed in my sleep. He probably thought he was going to win, but he didn't know Katrina like I did, which is why I think he considers me a danger. Danger!!! I sat up, fully awake.
"Why, hello, Magnum." a voice said, "This is old, but I have returned." I drew my sword, I almost never took my armor or weaponry off and so I was always prepared. I had strong suspicions that this was Brackuss, and I wasn't about to let him take Katrina again.
"Leave, Brackuss," I said. "Unless you want to find out what happens when you don't." Brackuss stepped from the shadows, a smile on his face.
"Oh, boy, I really should be scared now. But you see, I am not after her. Ben made this little wish under his breath and I feel inclined to grant it in full. All he wants is you out of the picture and being as I am, I am only too happy to oblige." Brackuss laughed, sending a ball of enormous energy towards me, striking through my sword and into my chest. I fell silent. Katrina..

***KATRINA

I awoke with a start. I couldn't see Magnum anywhere around me. Where is he? Had Ben done something? It was three in the morning. I wasn't in the mood for this, but ah well. Wait, I watched Ben head home. Did. did Brackuss take him? My psychic ability sent major signals to my senses. Ben, he must have had something to do with this. I got up and got dressed, and headed to Ben's castle to get Queen Megan's help. I just couldn't let Magnum die, not by the hand of the Evil's game. He was like a father to me the only one who ever really was there for me. The ways in which he helped me I will never forget. I had to help him. I loved him like a father. I really was going to make Queen Megan mad at this time of night, but punishments would have to wait. My protector needed me now. It was strange though, him needing me. I had best be on my guard. I highly suspected Ben and Brackuss would both try something vile. I would change Ben's heart and rescue Magnum, even if it killed me.

***QUEEN MEGAN

Katrina arrived at my home late in the night with a desperate situation. Obviously, she needed my help. Katrina was in such a state as I led her out to where I worked and practiced my magic, so that I could listen fully as I was helping her. She told me what she remembered about the night, starting with the date with Ben and how Ben tried to deceive her and I knew that was my Ben. She then continued to say Magnum took her home and helped her get to sleep, sitting in a chair next to her humming a lullaby, I knew she enjoyed it by the way she said it in an awe of reverence for his singing voice, and then she was asleep. The next time she awoke, she sensed danger, and that Magnum was in trouble. She told me how she thought the evil of her portal, Brackuss, took him, but she had no idea why, because normally he tried to capture her. Then she suggested Ben might have had something to do with it, but I didn't know.
"Katrina, why do you think Ben would hate Magnum so much as to try and lure an evil into going after him with a very evil wish?" I asked.
"I really don't know, but I could hear how much he hated Magnum, through his voice, through his words, actions, in his heart. I also have an instinct about that sort of thing," she replied in one breath. I handed her a glass of water, she needed to calm down. As much as Magnum meant to her, it would do her no good to panic and cause more harm than good.
"Calm down, Princess. Magnum is strong. Do not rush, lest you create greater danger for both you and him. I will help, but I need to find the correct potion. In the meantime, calm down. You will not do any good to Magnum just being all panicky, nor will it help that you are over worrying. Ah, here it is, a potion of protection, keep it tucked in your outfit until you arrive at the place where Magnum is being held. You don't need a spell for battle, I should hope, because of all the other training. Just try to get out of there with Magnum, try to avoid confrontation with the evil if it is at all possible. If not, kick his butt from here to the next dimension. Good luck," I said, handing her the small vial.
"Mother, are you awake in there?" a voice asked, the person knocking.
"Drat it all, it's Ben. Katrina, I will deal with this, just get out of here as soon as I get Ben from the door," I instructed Katrina. She nodded. She sat down calmly, near the door, head down and her long hair in front of her face. I could tell she hoped Ben would ignore her. I answered the door with my usual graceful ease and Ben greeted me with a small bow.
"So, Mother, you are awake. Is everything all right?" he asked.
"Yes, my son, everything is fine. Why?" I asked.
"Because I saw you leading a person out here, it looked liked a girl. Is Katrina with you? If she is you better let me see her," he said, almost threatening.
"Ah, my son, how little you realize. Come in, if you want to talk at this late of an hour. No one was with me and why you are up this late is a clear mystery to me. I, of course, am a Magician, so I must come when the inspiration strikes or when something needs to be done late at night, so you know my reason for being out here." I said.
"I accept those reasons, Mother, you know I do. I just am trying to see you safe," he said.
"Safe, my son? I am safer than you, for my magic resides in the water and the wind, where illusion, deception, and protection reside. I am also of fire, which is your element, my son, which protects you and binds you to all water elements, to protect them. But you need not worry, my fire also protects me and I for one know a great deal more than you do about that," I explained, wishing with my heart now he would move out of the doorway.
"Wha. then. could it. do you know, by any chance, what are Katrina's elements?" he asked, now a cautious glint in his eye.
"My son, come in, please, if you really want to know," I said, weaving a spell of illusion as I spoke, so that Katrina would not be seen as she left. Ben sat and Katrina was allowed off. I sent her a silent prayer that the element protectors watched over her.
"So what is Katrina's element?" he asked.
"My son, you need not worry about her either; she is of ice and water and the forest protects those close to it, of which she also has a powerful connection. In time and with a little training underneath my guidance, I could teach her many things that would help protect and to heal. I do not like the destroying arts, as you well know. I could teach her so many things, my son, but alas, you keep pushing her farther from us. She longs for love, but her abilities thus far tell her you have none in your heart. She needs love, but you need to learn your lessons first. Do not ignore me, my son. I know of these things better than you do, for I am older and much wiser, not having learned life's most important lessons from magic. You have lived a sheltered life, my son, and since your father's death, I feared there would be no hope for you to return to the loving, fun way you were before that day occurred. Watching the death affected you greatly, your father was foolish not to ask for my help before he went into battle, to see how he would at least live to see us again, but alas, he forgot. He loved you so dearly and he wished you to be just as loving to whomever you were destined to be with. You hardened your heart instead that day, the battle lost, and I feared I would lose you also. Do you not know it was one of Katrina's loyal friends who took your unconscious body from the viewing area that day? Katrina knew you back then, but if you do not remember that, it does not matter, for she is here now and all she wants is for you to try and be the way you were, kind and caring and playful. She wants to help you find your heart, as different as her motives sound, but it is true, my son." I took a breath, waiting to see his reaction. I was not finished trying to reach him, not finished yet, for Katrina wanted his love, I saw it on her face and in her eyes, but she knew not how to bring him back to the light.
"Every day, you grow closer to the darkness. That is what Katrina fears, she senses it and shuns it, but you see it and you do not care. You are only cold of heart because you do not yet see the way I do. Wisdom comes with time, as does trust and love. You say it is unnecessary, but you do not realize that many battles small and large are won on truth, love, and hope. I tell you this now because that was Katrina with me tonight. She wished to go save Magnum, who was taken by the evil Brackuss. She went out of love for him and that is why I know she will succeed. Do not follow her, son, for it will only disrupt her purpose. Listen to me, to me now even if you never pause to listen to any of my words again. You say you love me, but I have naught proof. Show me that proof now, give Katrina a chance at her way, you never know what may happen, you might just find each other's heart. I know of what she wants because of the nights I spent with her in those wretched cells of yours. Show me you can try, at least try, my son. If you do not and you force this girl of love and hope, you will become an agent of the darkness, and your heart will be hardened forever more. Your father had the same problem with your grandfather, his father. Suffering runs in this family, but do not let it consume you. With Katrina, you are given your strongest chance to learn what it is and rid our family of it for good. Magic is not always allowed to tread where the heart goes and no spell within my power can change a person's heart. Not even the Master Rune Mage is that powerful, and that is saying something. The heart can only be changed by the people who love you the most and those that love you the most will keep the darkness from returning to you once it is gone. If my words are confusing, just don't think about it, it will come to you when it is time, and soon, maybe very soon, you will begin to see as I did when I was about your age," I said and stood, taking a long sip of water.
"My grandfather? He was evil?" Ben asked.
"No, he was not loved as he should have been and your father swore to not let it happen to you, as did I. If you take the wrong path, then we have both failed you," I said softly.
"Failed me? Never in my life have I heard something so ridiculous. You have never failed me, Mother." he said. Then he seemed to recall about Katrina.
"Yes?" I asked gently, walking over to where my water basin was, to see if Katrina returned. Not yet, but it appeared she was on her way. I saw a few bruises of a battle, but she stood, firm and tall, leading her horse Runner who held Magnum on his back. I gripped the sides of the basin. He did not look real well. Had any more time passed and he surely would not have made it.
"Katrina? She. went to rescue Magnum? How could she? He is just her protector; I am the one that should be protecting her now, if only she married me." Ben said. I sighed; he still didn't seem to understand.
"Magnum is like a father to her. He is both of dark, light and every element resides in his blood, as is necessary of a protector. Nothing you say or do will change Katrina's feelings of love for her protector," I said. Ah, they arrived back at the castle, good. Guards were helping her with Magnum. He would be all right. But Katrina? Ben needed to try again, to see if my words had gone into his head, or if they seeped out the other end. I needed to see Ben try again. He was struggling against the darkness of his father and grandfather and Katrina, I feared, with her will and determination, was the only one to reach that cold heart and bring it back to the light. He would change, I knew it by my own intuition, and Katrina was the one for him. Their love would help many, or so I would hope.
"Go, my son, go to see her. See if you can try to reach your heart. And by all that is holy, don't screw this up. And also, she is the last princess who is free for marriage, so if you don't change, you will find yourself beaten up and in a living hell. Otherwise, good luck. Take this, give it to her; I believe it might be a little helpful in her seeing why you are like you are," I said, smiling and placing a locket in his palm. He opened it curiously; in it was a picture of both Ben and Katrina, pictures I had our local photographer, fashion designer, etc take and place in this locket. On the back, it was engraved, with the simple word, Love. I hoped with all my heart that Ben could change. No, I knew that he would, he was, after all, the son of a magician.
"I'll. I will try. I can't and won't make any promises, not yet," he said, and stood.
"Fine, Ben, and one more thing, you must apologize to Magnum for your dark thoughts. They came true, you know," I said, seeing if it was true.
"Yes, Mother, I will apologize. Geeze, you talk too much. No wonder people avoid you and it is a mystery why they respect you so much anyways," Ben said.
"Get going before I decide otherwise against turning you into a dog for the week, Benjamin. I am serious," I said.
"I'm going, Mother, but do not forget who rules this castle and these portals. You know you really have no power over me," he said, turning to leave.
"I don't, do I? I also know for a fact as punishment that Katrina will be kicking you very hard, and even though you are my son, I am getting that same urge to kick you right now," I said. He hurriedly left. My son, soon you will learn, it is the women who rule the world at times when men can't.

***BEN
I fled towards Katrina's castle. I had to see how resolute she was under pressure like the torment of Magnum. I needed to see her. Why did I feel so strange now? I realized in a way I was becoming like my grandfather. Did I believe my mother? I didn't have to; I was lord of the castle and the reining Ruler of our portals. As I headed over, I kept seeing her face in my mind the day of what was supposed to be our wedding. She was sad, depressed, struggling within her to try and find something she thought wasn't there. Was that at all like me? Was I really lost like she is? What exactly did my mother mean by how she sees the darkness in me and shuns it? Does that. no, is that how my mother thinks of me? That I accept the darkness and depression and welcome it into my body? Was I going to turn out like my grandfather, when mother told me that my father worked to not let it happen to me? I was so confused. Ever since Magnum talked to me and my own mother read me the riot act, Katrina was to me, being seen in a whole new light. I headed toward the castle, to take my mother's advice to try and find my heart.

***

I arrived at the castle, and the guards only let me in after a few moments of hesitation. I highly suspected Katrina had told them her suspicions about me, and so they are wary that I might wish Katrina gone. I'd tell them what for later. I thought back to the botched wedding as I walked around, trying to find Katrina. She was really messed up about something and she wasn't able to say it aloud. I wondered what it was, considering it might be she thought she would never see Magnum or any of her friends here at the castle. Well, that was true, but man, to run away just because of that, it seemed a bit ridiculous. Then again, I was going to just use her to get an heir or two, paying her no regard. She did something witchy to my blood. What was it, what was the effect she had on me? I heard talking coming from one of the rooms as I was walking down the second stairs hallway, which Katrina' room was along. Magnum's room must be along this way also. It made sense, seeing as how he was her protector. I shook my head, Katrina must be a witch in her own castle, I wasn't thinking like I was supposed to. I arrived at the door where the sounds were coming from. Well. time to see her in this situation. I knocked.

***KATRINA
"Come in." Magnum said, "You don't mind, do you Katrina?" I shook my head. He was injured, and if Charlie was knocking and wanted to see him, that was alright by me. The door opened, and I saw Ben. I let out a low groan. Not here, not now! Well, now if he tried anything, Magnum wasn't in any condition to stop me from kicking Ben's butt. He came up to me.
"Princess, we need to talk," He said. I gave a disbelieving grunt.

"Last time we talked I was your prisoner. Go away," I said.
"I will not, we need to talk," He continued.
"Talk? You never want to talk. You just want your way and that is final. Go away. I'm with Magnum right now," I said. He better try harder to get me ticked off, I wanted to hit him. On the other hand, he didn't have any armor on, and so it was like looking at a model. But it didn't matter how pretty he was, it wouldn't work. He and his black ensemble could just leave. He came up to me and stood right in front of me. That wouldn't work. I saw Magnum give both of us a warning glance. I saw it, and if Ben had seen it, he ignored it.
"Are you sure that is your answer? Here I am offering to talk about. whatever it is you need to discuss and you are saying no. You have been asking to talk for the longest time, and now I offer it. Why say no? Is this not what you want?" he asked.
"Yes, it is what I want. Now isn't the time though and it probably won't matter how much I talk, but you won't listen," I said as coldly as I could, moving my narrowed eyes to meet his icy eyes, but they now seemed to be on fire.
"What did you say little girl?" he asked dangerously.
"If I am a little girl and you then must be a little selfish boy who thinks only of what he is suffering and doesn't take time to see how it affects other people," I said.
"That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in my entire life. I'm not selfish, now come on, we are going to go talk," he said, and grabbed my arm. I scowled.
"No, we are not going anywhere Mr. Selfish. Anything you say now can be said in front of Magnum perfectly fine," I said with a grin, tugging away from his hand.
"You dare to defy me that much?" he asked.
"I've done worse and you know it." I replied.
"Do you want to hear what I have to say or not?" he asked.
"Fine!" I shouted, "But I warn you, I still don't like you at all, so don't try anything."
"One year." he trailed, "I'll try this whole dating thing for one year. I won't use anymore tricks. I have no choices left."
"You could always kill me!" I exclaimed.
"And how would that do me any good?" he asked, "Without you, there are no Princesses left."
"No, really? I feel your pain," I said sarcastically, "It's has to be a better deal than that."
"Fine. let's see, you can learn magic from my mother," he said, but I only shook my head.
"What? That's a good deal there!" he exclaimed, "What more do you want?"
"Magnum is allowed to be by my side whenever. You will tolerate his presence, I will not be forced into anything in a year, I have to do it willingly. It cannot end before then, and furthermore, you will not hurt me or Magnum," I said, looking triumphant. Ben looked defeated.
"As you wish, Princess," he muttered through tightened lips.
"I make a tough deal don't I?" I asked, looking at him, directly into his eyes.
"You are something.. You're quite the. never mind, good day," he said, "I shall call later." And that was the end of that. He left, and I sat down, feeling quite satisfied with myself. He'd have to learn times were changing, and I, a mere woman, wasn't as weak as he made me out to be. And adding to that, I also knew I would get stronger, so I can better protect the ones that I love. I would get as strong as ice, as flexible as water. Watch out Prince Ben, I shall change your heart!

A/N: This is my 98 chapter novel (1st chapter at least). I hope to one day get this work published, so honest feedback on how I can improve would be appreciated. And please, no flaming, this is my proudest work that is all my own idea and I would only want to improve upon it and not just toss it away. (Try 9 notebooks of work, over 1,050 pages, 98 chapters so far, and I've been working on it since about the end of 7th grade.) Please give me advice on how to improve and if you want me to continue or not. This is risky for me; I've been really nervous and shy to put this up where people can see it and read it and such.

I NEED TO REPEAT NO FLAMES!! ESPECIALLY WITH SWEAR WORDS IN THEM! THIS STORY IS RATED FOR BLOOD AND I DON'T APPREACEATE SWEARS!!!!

A/N: And how are my characters mediocre?