Author's Note:
I wrote this when I was 16 years old. At the time I was highly impressed with my work and many people read it and enjoyed it. I decided to post it bit by bit on fictionpress although it is a complete story. Obviously my work has matured over the years but this is still one of my favourites. (Maybe I'll even post the alternate ending when this is all done if people like it.)
Every chapter is written from a different person's perspective, and they vary in length.

- blah blah blah - shows words that are not spoken aloud.
With all of that said, enjoy, my first novel.

:::Emma:::

Father reaches for my hand. It's dark, too dark to see anything. I trust he'll lead me safely.

"Hold onto my hand Emma," he whispers. I hold tight. It's dangerous to be out now. We could be killed. I know, I'd seen the bodies earlier, the ones that didn't make it.

Father is scared now, he is looking around cautiously, he wants me to be safe, but I want him to be safe too, I do not want him to be like this. I just want to be at home, with Mother sitting by the fire telling stories.

I hear footsteps and we freeze. Someone's close, too close. I can hear Fathers heartbeat going faster, faster. I feel as if mine is fair fit to burst!

The footsteps are getting closer. We wait in the open, there is nothing to hide behind; we are totally defenceless. I am scared.

"Who's there?" A gruff voice calls.

We do not answer, I know he can see us, the Moon comes out from behind its cloud and suddenly everything is visible. We are exposed, totally vulnerable, time freezes and the man stares at us. His lips curl upwards in an evil grin and he pulls the knife from his belt.

"Your Majesty," he bows.

"Hold my hand Emma," Father whispers, "Don't let go Emma, never let go."

The man steps forward he yells and plunges the knife into Father's chest.

I blink, once, twice, this cannot be.

Father falls to his knees and the Man stabs him again. He's wearing a green shirt and black pants, and his boots are covered in mud.

Father falls and his hand slips from mine. I scream and reach to grab it again.

There is blood all on the ground, Fathers blood is splashed on the mans face, on my clothes, my arms, and my face. The man looks at me hungrily. I am scared. I know what these men do to young girls. I look into his eyes, and they are cold, almost evil. The hair on the back of my neck stands up on end.

"You there," a voice calls. I look up.

A young man stands with his sword drawn, he walks forward, and seeing my Father's body asks the man, "Who is this?"

"His majesty the KING," the man laughs and kicks my Father.

The newer man steps forward and in a flash the blade of his sword is at the evil man's throat. "My name is Temil," he says calmly. "Stop."

The man stops, he is scared now, scared that Temil might do to him what he did to Father.

"Come here," Temil reaches for me. I can't move, I'm still afraid. "It's all right," Temil says softly, "I won't hurt you, come here."

He reaches for me, I step forward and he pulls me close.

"Now go," he says to the man, the man does not move. "GO!" Temil shouts, he cuts the man's cheek and the man runs away.

I stare at my Fathers body. Temil doesn't let go of me. I start to cry.

"I let go, I didn't hold his hand, I let go, I let go."

"I let go, let go, I LET GO!"

"Emma, Emma wake up!" I shot up, wide-awake. Temil had his hands on my shoulders and was watching me with concern.

"Again?" He asked simply.

I nodded, "bad, really bad," answering just as simply.

It had been nearly a year since I had lost my Father. Something just wouldn't let me forget him, giving me no peace. We'd tried running from it, but my mind wouldn't let me forget, would never let me forget.

Temil stood and helped me to my feet. He looked so tired, I felt sorry for him. We were close to the mountains, I didn't know why. I just needed to be in the mountains, it's something I can't explain.

He was two years older than I was. Although he seemed much older than that, and sometimes much younger. His hair was dark brown, almost black. His skin was dark, but his eyes were bright blue. He'd grown out of his shoes and clothes since we met a year ago, but there were no markets near us. We couldn't trade anything for clothes if there were any anyway.

He never said much, except at night. He used to talk me to sleep when I couldn't; he'd wake me from my nightmares. He felt it was his duty to the princess, he was the last solider left of the king's army.

If there were a king anymore, how could I be a princess if I did not own any land?

However, that was not right, I was princess of all of Galone. I hadn't seen the castle in a year; I'd been running from everything. I was still running, to the mountains.

"Emma?" Temil had started walking, he was following Wren.

Wren is a mystery to me, he was a hawk that seemed to stay with us through the day, and disappeared at night. He would go back and forth as if wanting us to follow him to the mountains, we followed him.

The mountains loomed over us huge and powerful. I strained my head back to see the top; the ground had gotten dusty and rocky. Scraggly trees grew on either side of the path we followed. Temil walked in front of me and he looked behind to make sure I was following. I tried to twist my face into what I hoped was a smile. He smiled back and slowed until I could catch up with him.

The road curved upwards around a bend in front of us.

"I wish we had some bread, and water," I complained.

"Mm," Temil agreed with me.

We rounded the bend to find two rather large travelers sitting at the side of the road. I stopped and stared. I hadn't seen another human being for nearly a year; Temil had been all I'd known. The smaller one had short blond hair and sun burnt skin. The larger had long brown hair and tanned skin. They both wore capes that were fairly tattered and worn out. Their shoes were pointed and their pants had holes in the knees.

Temil stopped too. He looked shocked.

"Good day!" One called in a loud but welcoming voice.

"Care for some bread and water? We're just out for a walk and decided to have a picnic!" the other called to us. "We've got grapes and carrots too if you'd like!"

Temil stepped in front of me, "I thank you, by his majesty the King I thank you."

"The King is dead young'n," the smaller said as he laughed.

I felt fresh tears spring into my eyes. Temil looked back and saw the hurt on my face before I could hide it. He reached back and took my hand.

"Come, come! Tell us of your travels!" The larger waved us closer.

"Yes!" The smaller bounced excitedly. "We love stories!"

Temil brought me slowly forward. He bowed to the two men.

"Thank you, I am Temil," he pulled me closer, "and this is Emma."

They made room for us to sit and offered a flask of fresh water, loaves of bread, grapes and carrots to us. I had nearly forgotten how kind a stranger could be. I was almost bewildered.

"Where comes you?" The smaller asked.

"We're from Galone," Temil answered.

"Galone? Oh my, we traveled through there weeks ago. Those Taikens have completely changed everything. We left that horrid place in a hurry. Vire is an awful leader, I heard some of his troops are planning a mutiny!"

I listened intently; this was the first news of home I had heard in so long.

Temil took a drink from the flask and bit into a small loaf of bread. I just sat staring at the ground, lost in my own world picturing my room in the castle. The picture of Father sitting in his throne beside me was turned violently into the face of Vire staring down at me as he banished my Father and me from the castle.

"Please, please my wife," Father had almost begged. Vire refused. My Mother was still inside the castle for all I knew of her.

I could picture her soft white face and bright red hair, almost as if she were in front of me right now. I could almost hear her laugh, and call me "Emmie dear . . . "

"Emma?" Temil's voice jerked me out of my daydream. He held some bread out toward me; I took it and nibbled thoughtfully.

"Let's hear of your travels," they suggested, "how did you come here?"

"On our feet," Temil laughed at his own wit.

I smiled. Sometimes he could act so childish.

"Come, come! Tell us!" they urged.

"I should start from the beginning," Temil started. He told his stories of starting in the King's royal army. How Colone, captain of the guard had handpicked Temil from the street to join, how he had fought Taikens. I knew the stories almost off by heart.

"And what of the girl?" they asked. Temil stopped and looked at me.

"We crossed paths and travelled together for security," Temil tried to be as truthful as possible.

"Surely you know who she is?" One of the two asked shrewdly. The other grinned and they both stared at me.

"What do you mean?"

"You were part of the royal guard weren't you? And you didn't recognize Emma, princess of all Galone?" The other asked Temil, shocked.

Temil started to say something then silenced himself.

"Surely you must be mistaken," I mumbled.

"Oh no dear Emmie," the smaller smiled.

I felt faint. Only my mother and her maids called me Emmie.

"Who are you?" Temils hand moved for his sword.

"I am Peter and my friend is Paul," the shorter introduced.

I stared for only a minute then flung my arms around them. "Peter! Paul! Oh I've missed you both!"

They had been minstrels and storytellers in my father court before Vire attack, and they had both changed so much I barely recognized them. I felt tears rush to my eyes. It had been so long so very long since I had seen anyone familiar; I missed my home so much!

"Emmie! Your little highness! It is so good to see you well, all of Galone believes you are dead!" Paul looked at Temil. "You've kept her safe this whole time?"

"Yes sir," Temil nodded and said no more.

"The crown owes you a great debt," Peter reached to shake Temils hand.

"I only do what I feel is best. I did no great deed for the crown," Temil answered and left Peter's hand in the air.

Wren flew down and perched on a branch nearby. He watched us intently as if to say "Hurry up!" Temil motioned toward him and began walking further up the path. I let him go and turned back to my friends.

"Would you like to come with us?" I asked them, knowing there was no need to ask.

"Of course!" Paul hurried after Temil with Peter right behind him. I passed by Wren and stopped to watch him.

-Hello Emma-

I jumped back from the hawk. What? Had it just spoken to me? No, that was impossible! Animals do not speak.

-Follow me Emma. Into the mountains follow me-

Wren exploded from the branch and into the sky in a fury of russet feathers and was soon far above my head, leaving me alone with my thoughts.

I ran to catch up with Temil, Peter and Paul. I nearly pushed Temil down in my hurry to get away from that tree.

"Emma!" He exclaimed after I ran into his back, he pushed me away and studied my face. "What happened?"

"Nothing, I um, I am simply happy!" I smiled at him and walked ahead of him. I could feel his eyes following me and when I looked back the suspicion on his face was so obvious I felt my heart skip a beat and my face turn red. Did he suspect that I had just spoke with Wren?

No of course not, that was absurd.

I sat on a log as Temil fed the fire that kept us all warm. Peter and Paul sang us songs and told stories about different things that had occurred. I watched Temil with increasing worry. He seemed different; I could not tell what was wrong.

"They say that Taikens have magical powers," Paul started another story.

"Yes some say that the Taikens can command fire and lightning. They can command the water and air to do as they wish," Peter continued.

Temil spoke for the first time in awhile. "Yes, they do. They send great fires after entire armies and drown villages with their floods. They strike people down with lightning and destroy with the whirlwinds," he looked directly at me, "anything they want or need comes to them the moment they speak it. They speak with animals and control them. They never cry because they cannot, feelings of pain never reach them because of their evil."

I felt a shiver run down my spine. Temil looked away and concentrated on the fire. Peter and Paul were silent for a moment and they began talking amongst themselves.

I heard a rustling in the trees behind us. Temil looked up and went directly to see to it. He walked into the forest and came out soon after with Wren perched on his arm.

"Wren!" I exclaimed. I had never seen the hawk at night.

-Emma- he spoke to me again

I stayed silent and watched Temil sit down, his focus was on Wren.

-Come Emma, come further into the mountains, come- it was almost as if Wren was begging me to come. The need to be in the mountains grew stronger than before. Temil must has sensed it too, his gaze turned away from Wren and up the path we were following.

"Lets get some sleep shall we?" Paul startled me I had almost forgotten they were with us.

Peter yawned, "Good night Emma," he looked wearily at Temil. "Good night young warrior." Temil nodded and continued staring into the night, deep in thought.

"Good night Peter, good night Paul, Sleep well Temil," I laid down and slowly drifted off to sleep, knowing that all too soon I would see my Father again just as any other night.

My face was hot; I opened my eyes and felt the sun shining down on me. Temil was kneeling beside me watching me sleep.

"You had no dreams this night," he stated simply.

I felt a smile crawl across my face. Yes that was true I had not dreamed of Father or anything for that matter. Perhaps my mind would stop tormenting me now.

"No dreams," I almost shouted. I sat up and threw my arms around Temil. "No dreams!"

I let go of him and stood up slowly. Temil stood and began putting out the remnants of last night's fire. I looked around for Peter and Paul but did not see them anywhere.

"They left to find you something to eat," Temil told me, almost as if he could read my mind.

I smiled, "wasn't that kind of them?"

Temil shrugged "I suppose. I would have done the same but they insisted they find it." Everything was ready to go. But we couldn't leave until Paul and Peter came back. I watched Temil as he searched the bushes for them. He could act so strange at times, did he suspect what was going on with me? I doubted that I didn't know what was happening with me how could he even guess? Perhaps it was because of Peter and Paul, maybe he preferred travelling alone. I didn't think he trusted anyone beside himself, I wasn't sure if he trusted me.

"Emma!" Paul crashed out of the bushes and Peter came just behind him.

"Good morning! Are you both hungry? Ha ha! We have something for the both of you!" Peter held out two hands full of berries, his face had juice stains from them and Paul's face was a mirror image of Peters.

"My goodness!" I cheered for them, "all those berries in just this short a time! You are both wonderful friends"

I took the berries from them gratefully and offered some to Temil, he took a couple from my hands and ate no more after that. He didn't even thank Peter and Paul for them.

Soon there were no berries left to be eaten and Temil insisted we start on our way. I followed him and watched the sky for Wren.

"Merrily, merrily we go!" Peter started to sing.

"Through the mountains Oh ho!" Paul continued.

"Not rain nor sleet nor snow! Can hinder us when we go!" They continued singing. I joined them.

"Merrily, merrily we go! Through the Mountain oh ho! But this you should know! We travel fast not slow!"

I laughed and continued singing with them. Temil walked ahead of us, it seemed as if he didn't know we were there.

We traveled ever upward, always following Wren. The further went traveled the stronger the calling was to me. I had to be somewhere; I had to keep going, had to follow Wren.

"Once there was a beautiful Princess," Peter started another story. We sat around the fire. Temil was off gathering wood. It had been hard to find a spot to start a fire, the grass was long and dry in this area, and everything would burn if something should happen.

"Oh Peter not ANOTHER story about Emma!" Paul laughed and smiled at me.

"No, no let's hear the story," I insisted.

"She lived with her Mother and Father in a beautiful castle. And she loved to play with her golden ball out in the garden. She would toss it high into the air," he mimicked tossing a ball and catching it. "But one day the ball fell into a deep deep well!"

"OH NO," Peter mimicked a woman's voice, "she cried. She had lost her favorite ball. The princess sat down beside the well and began to weep."

"Aw that is so sad," I remarked.

"But then," he puffed out his cheeks and crossed his eyes, "a frog came up out of the well and asked her why are you crying princess?' she answered him, Because I dropped my favorite golden ball into the well!'" Peter pretended to cry, then put his toad face back on. " Well,' said the frog, I shall go get it for you but you must do me one great favor!' The princess really wanted her ball back and so she told the frog. Just please get my ball and I'll do anything you want!' so the frog went down into the well and brought back the princess' golden ball. Now,' said the frog. Kiss me and I shall turn into a handsome prince. A wicked Taiken maid put this spell on me and it can only be broken with the kiss of a beautiful princess'. The princess leaned over and kissed the frog and he turned into a very handsome prince. They got married and lived happily ever after. The end."

I laughed and clapped my hands, "wonderful story Peter!"

Temil came out of the bushes just then with an armful of wood. Paul jumped up anxious to help.

Temil gave him a small piece and told him to be careful. They dropped the wood on the fire and sparks flew in every direction. The long grass caught fire and soon everything around us was aflame.

I screamed and looked all around us, fire everywhere! The heat of it scorched my face and arms. The smoke made it so difficult to breathe I was almost gasping for air

"Temil!" I shouted, he was behind me almost instantly. He covered my face and tried to find a way out before we were cooked alive.

I was terrified; I shut my eyes and wished there were someway to put the fire out. I felt myself getting light headed and powerful feeling filled my entire body. I moved away from Temil and walked straight into the fire. Suddenly water came and flooded over us, I was nearly knocked off my feet. The fire went out and all that was left was the hissing noise of evaporating water.

Temil stared at me with the same suspicion I had seen earlier, but now it was almost a look of fear.

"How did you do that?" Temil demanded, "Only Taikens can command the water."

"I didn't do anything!" I shouted back, although I did not know if it was true.

"I see, so it was just a coincidence that the moment you are about to die from the flames a flood comes when there are no lakes or rivers near?" He practically shrieked at me.

"I, I don't know!" I cried, why was he doing this? He'd known me for a year now and never had he ever spoken against me.

He stepped forward, "call Wren," he commanded.

"I cannot! It is impossible, no one can call a bird," I felt great fear; though whether it was from Temil or myself I could not tell.

"Call Wren!" He grabbed my hands and held them behind my back, he forced my head to look up at the sky. "Call him, now!"

I looked at the sky, then closed my eyes and concentrated on Wren. Wren please come, please help me.'

Temil waited and watched the sky.

-Emma- Wren appeared and swooped down. He stared at Temil with much more intensity and intelligence than a mere hawk could muster. Temil let me go and stared at me with disgust.

"You are a Taiken," he stepped back from me.

"No I'm not! I'm Princess Emma! Daughter of Herald, King of all Galone!" I felt tears find their way down my cheeks and drip to the ground.

Temils face softened and he watched me with curiosity. He whispered, "Taikens don't cry." He reached for me and wiped my cheeks with his thumbs. "Don't cry, I'm sorry."

I leaned on him like I used to when thoughts of home would not leave me.

"Emma!" Peter and Paul ran out of the forest near us and stopped. Temil quickly let me go and moved away.

They both hugged me; "We were so worried about you! That fire was horrible! What happened where did the water come from?"

Temil stayed silent and I shrugged, "I really don't know but I'm glad it did."

"Lets just get some sleep," Temil suggested. I nodded in agreement and found a place to lie down. Soon I was fast asleep.

We had been traveling through the mountains for almost four weeks. The stones in the path hurt my feet and we had run out of water many days ago, my throat was parched. Temil stayed around me all the time, almost as if he were guarding me. He seemed to know what I was thinking, and could say what I was going to say before I even opened my mouth. My personal torment was not ceasing. Had I called the water? Had Wren come because I called him? I did not understand it, I wished someone could tell me what was happening to me.

Wren flew into a patch of forest suddenly. He flew out again and back in, as if he wanted us to follow.

Paul smiled, "I suppose we should follow the poor feathered creature before he injures himself." Peter laughed and nodded.

Temil stepped in front of us all and drew his sword. He walked into the forest, following Wren who was flitting from tree to tree, calling us to follow.

Cautiously we made our way through, following Wren all the while. Peter tripped over a tree root and fell, Wren open his wings and left without warning.

"Wren!" Temil yelled after him.

He looked at me, not wanting to say it but pleading with me to call Wren back to us.

-No- Wren answered me

Temils eyes grew wide. Had he heard it too?

I could hear someone breathing, very loudly. I turned around to ask Paul or Peter to shush but they were not the ones breathing so heavily.

"Do you hear that?" I asked them.

"I was hoping I was imagining that," Peter squeaked.

I could hear something moving towards us. Something big.

Temil held his sword ready and looked around the forest, watching everything intently.

I thought I saw the flash of a paw, then a pair of eyes. I gasped and Temil looked in the direction I was staring in.

A hideous animal lunged out of the dense trees and knocked Paul to the ground. It's eagle wings and lion's paws covered Paul, all we could hear were his screams.

"Paul!" Peter shouted.

Temil leapt at the animal and severed its right wing in one slash of his sword. The animal screamed and swiped a paw at Temil, but he missed.

I could see Paul now; he was bleeding and scratched raw. Temil lead the beast away from Paul and shouted to Peter and I "Grab him! Run!"

Peter ran forward and lifted his friend over his shoulder, he made haste into the forest and soon disappeared. I stayed and watched Temil; I couldn't make myself leave him.

"Go Emma, run!" he shouted

I shook my head, "No! I'm not leaving you!"

The animal leapt at Temil and slashed his arm. Temil yelled and swung his sword to connect with the beast's face. The beast roared when Temils sword slashed his eye. He swung his paw and connected with Temils body. Temil was thrown into a tree and he fell limp. I screamed.

"NO!"

The animal stopped and turned to me.

"You leave me alone!" I shouted at it. The beast stood there watching me; he made no move forward. He just watched me.

I took a step toward Temil, still the animal did not move. I walked quickly over to Temil and knelt beside him.

"Temil, Temil get up I'm scared, come on Temil," I shook his shoulder and touched his face. He moaned and shook his head.

"Temil!" He opened his eyes and looked at me, immediately he was on his feet standing between the beast and me. It merely stared at Temil, turned and walked away.

-Goodbye- it said to me. Now not only hawks were talking to me, but strange, wild beasts too!

Temil turned to me and held me close. "Don't ever do that again," he told me. "You could have been killed!" He kissed my forehead and stood with me in silence for a long while.

"We should keep going," I said finally. He started walking and reached for my hand. I took it and followed him through the trees.

"What did you tell it?" He asked me after we had been walking for a few minutes.

"What?" I asked, pretending not to know what he was talking about.

"The beast, what did you tell it to make it stop?" I let go of his hand and watched the ground as I walked. I wanted him to stop asking me how I did these things. I hadn't done anything to deserve this.

Temil stopped, "I'm sorry, I know you did nothing to deserve these things but it's very curious. I'm just as confused as you."

"And how do you do that?" I asked him. "How do you always know what I'm thinking?"

He started walking again. "I just do, I just know."

We continued walking in silence. I missed Peter and Paul, I hoped that they were alright. Before they had came we would walk in silence all of the time. But they had filled the silences with songs and stories. I hoped we would find them soon.

"I wonder where Wren is," I spoke to myself out loud.

"You can call-" suddenly Temil was gone. I looked all around.

"Temil!" I shouted. "Tem-"

Suddenly everything was black.