Okay, so, here it is: the last chapter. I am currently in the process of writing a sequal, so I hope you all stick around for it. I have planned in my head what I want to happen, and I have (in my opinion) the most important scenes written, but now I have to connect them. Wish me luck!


Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow.

-Dorothy Thompson:

I woke up disoriented and confused. It took me a while to remember what had happened, and when I finally did, I shied away from the pain of it. I tried to get my dazed mind to focus on something else. Well, for starters, where was I?

I was in a bed- that much was obvious, though it wasn't like the beds I was used to. It was clearly straw, and not nearly the most comfortable bed ever made. That led me to believe that I was in the city. Would Roscoe really bring me back to the city? I couldn't really be sure of anything anymore.

The room I was in was small. It was barely large enough to hold the bed, but a small chest was tucked neatly into a corner, and an oil lamp burned gently on top of it. To the left of the chest was a door. There was also a small window to my right. I tried to make my way to the window, but my muscles were fairly unresponsive. It took a lot of effort to hoist myself off of the bed. I also had to use only my left hand. My bandaged right hand screamed in pain when I put the slightest amount of pressure on it. I did manage to sit myself up, and my legs were dangling off the side of the bed. I had to stop there for a while, due to the blood rushing from my head.

The window was only a few feet away, but my legs refused to carry my weight. My left hand gripped the window sill for support, but my right hand hung uselessly at my side. I opened the window carefully, making sure that no one could see me. I could now clearly see that we were back in Maybine. I could also tell that I was on the second story of the house. Other homes lined the small dirt road, some of their animals tied in front of the house, despite the snow on the ground. So we were in the capital, but we were not in Sophronia's house. I couldn't think of any other place we'd be, so I tried to figure out what time it was. I could tell from the position of the moon that it was very early morning.

I turned around, and tried to make my way back into bed, but my weary legs wouldn't do what I wanted them to. I collapsed to the right, and my head collided with the heavy wooden trunk with a loud thud. I also managed to catch my right hand underneath my body, and stabbing pain resulted. I tried to lift myself off of my hand, but my body made no response to my efforts.

The noise from the trunk must have been loud enough to wake the others, because they were upon me now, Sophronia leading the procession. She knelt down beside me, and quickly examined my head.

"Anything hurt, dear?" She asked me, unusually kind. It took a while to find my voice.

"Hand." I choked out through barred teeth. She tried to lift me off of my hand, but my weight was too much for her own slight figure.

"Roscoe?" She asked, her voice barely over a whisper. She moved out of the way so Roscoe could get by her in the small space. He lifted me with seemingly no effort, using mainly his right arm. I was reminded of the injury inflicted on him. He set me down carefully on the bed. Then Sophronia continued to fuse over me. Roscoe sat down on the floor in the small space between the right side of my bed and the wall. Rena sat on the trunk, and Lady Catherine sat at her feet. It was a lot of people for a room that was so small. It was also the perfect time for me to ask my questions.

"How long have I been sleeping?"

"Well," Sophronia answer hesitantly. I braced myself for the worst. "it has been almost a month." She finished in a hurry, rushing through the last words.

"A month?" I questioned, my voice going flat. This whole incident sounded very familiar. Everyone in the room avoided my eyes.

"You weren't asleep the whole time." Sophronia tried to amend it. Her words through me off.

"What do you mean?" I asked warily. She had obviously been hoping that my questions wouldn't be so thorough.

"Well," She began, "There were some complications with your hand." She explained. I remembered the mangled mess that my hand was and cringed.

"Clearly."

Sophronia winced at my voice. She seemed to be embarrassed that she wasn't able to heal it. "You shattered most of the bones in your hand, and I knew it would be painful. The original plan was to knock you out for a week." She paused to clear her throat. So this was where things went wrong. "There was a lot of pressure building up under the skin when you hurt your hand. I had to cut it to relieve some of the pressure."

"And you cut too deep." I said, guessing her mistake. She shook her head.

"I forgot to heat the knife." She told me sheepishly. I looked toward Rena for an explanation.

"If you heat the knife, it prevents the cut from becoming irritated, or infected." She clarified.

"So my hand became infected?" I guessed. Rena nodded. Sophronia continued with her story.

"It was a bad infection. When you weren't sleeping, or moaning from the pain, you were delirious. The fever just broke yesterday." Moaning? How humiliating.

"Where are we?" I asked, directing my question at no one in particular. My voice didn't sound right. There was an off note in it somehow. Roscoe answered me.

"We are at my house." He said. I had not expected that. Roscoe's tone also surprised me. It wasn't heated like it always was. I could detect a sadness in it that sounded familiar. The sadness that comes with losing someone. I would not be pulled down by it again. I had promised myself that much. I am stronger then I had been then. I am harder. I-

"Ouch!" I whimpered as Sophronia started to unwrap my hand. She grimaced.

"I am sorry." She apologized as my hand was revealed. I shut my mouth and swallowed my vomit. My hand was badly bruised, and along my knuckles, the bruises were a disturbing yellow. It was also swollen and bloated to almost double its true size. I looked away as Sophronia applied an ointment and carefully bandaged it.

"Your turn Rosc-" Sophronia began, but she was interrupted by a loud banging on the door.

Roscoe rose from his place on the floor, and headed to the front door. Rena stood up with the lantern and followed after. Soon I was all alone. The banging continued, and echoed in the dead silence.

I couldn't help myself; I swung my legs over the end of the bed. I walked to the door on wobbly legs. It was easier to walk now then it had been before, but I still leaned on the door frame. I could see them from here. The glow from Rena's lantern almost touched me when I stood on the edge of the steps, but not quite. Roscoe was the closest to the door, and when he turned his head slightly in my direction, I knew that he could tell I was there. He chose to ignore me and he reached a steady hand out and opened the door.

A single solitary man stood in the entrance. He had his own light, and I could see his face, but I didn't recognize it. He was tiny, and I would have bet money I could beat him in a sparing match. He carried no weapons, only a single envelope. What set us all on edge were his clothes; he dressed like a noble.

"Is Princess Elizabeth Delphina Lynette Annalise Galahad present?" He asked in a quavering voice. I smiled a little at the name. I hadn't gone by my full name in so long, and it felt right. I was reassured that this was what I was supposed to be doing. Roscoe reacted immediately.

"Who wants to know?" He asked menacingly as he spun the man around to face us and pushed his knife against his throat. The man swallowed audibly.

"I- M- My name- I am Tu- Tupac of Solteiro" He stuttered. He held his hand up openly to show that he was unarmed. "I am Prince Andrew's personal messenger." Roscoe led the man forward hesitantly, and Rena quickly shut the door.

"Is that so?" Roscoe asked suspiciously. He did not move the knife an inch.

"I take it then, Sir," The man, Tupac, continued, "that you would be Roscoe Cardonell of Tamen." Roscoe grinned suddenly, and released the man. I was shocked at his confidence. I was not convinced, for I noticed a problem with his story.

"Wait, Roscoe!" I commanded him, stepping forward into the light. The man gasped as he saw my face, and Roscoe and the others looked a bit disgruntled that I had gotten out of bed, but I paid them no heed.

"My letter burnt with the manor." I informed them all. "I was never able to send it." They weren't surprised like I expected them to be. Why wasn't Roscoe continuing to threaten Tupac?

"We know you weren't able to send it." Rena explained as she came to my side to help me down the steps. "But it didn't burn in the manor." She informed me. If I hadn't known her for as long as I had, I wouldn't have been able to detect the slight smugness in her voice.

"It didn't?" I questioned. She shook her head.

"I noticed it, and I had it with me before I was even able to wake you up." She promised.

"Oh," I said, a little bewildered. "Who delivered it?"

"The best rider in the country." She laughed. I didn't understand her at first. It was only when I looked around the room and realized Jorn was missing that I comprehended what she said. When I finally did, I joined in her laughter.

"With that," Tupac said hesitantly. He stepped closer to me, but his eyes were on Roscoe, assessing his reaction. Roscoe made no attempt to stop him, so he continued as he let out the breath he had been holding. "I believe Your Majesty has a letter to open." He finished as he handed me the parchment that he had been holding this whole time.

I was a little reluctant to take it. It was only then that I realized that my fate, and the fate of my country rested on what one spoiled Prince had written to me.

I took the letter with shaking hands, and I found it very difficult to break the wax seal that bore the Crest of Solteiro. I could feel everyone's eyes on me. I took a deep breath and read the words in his elaborate penmanship slowly and carefully.

Princess Elizabeth Delphina Lynette Annalise Galahad,

I feel honored to inform one such as yourself that on behalf of the Kingdom of Solteiro and on behalf of my father, King Naresh, I would be glad to help you rid your wonderful country of an unjust, and unworthy king. I…….

The letter went on, but I read no further. The letter fell to the ground as I reached out and threw my hands around Rena with tears in my eyes. She was a little apprehensive. I guess my tears hadn't really made things very clear.

"He's agreed!" I managed to explain. They all breathed a sigh of relief, and their faces relaxed. Rena's own tears began to fall, and Roscoe let go of his pride and allowed his reassured mother to embrace him.

Nothing was better. Nothing was going to get better for a long time. So after all of the tragedy I had faced, and with so much more misfortune inevitable, why were we celebrating?

Because now we had something that we didn't before. We had a weapon that even Roscoe, with his three swords, hadn't had before. We had something that the over-confident Ezell would never understand the power of. What was it?

We had hope.