Kara’s home was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was like a small community that ran like a well-oiled machine. Everyone seemed happy, nothing was weighing down on their shoulders. They acted like there was no one trying to hunt them down. It was rather refreshing. And the forest that kept them hidden was just as amazing. The green of the trees, plants and grass, allowed the wildflowers to shine brightly. Reds, pinks, and purples. All of them made me miss home, and the spring flowers that would cover the hills surrounding our farm. It made me miss Gean, and how we would roll down the hill, and send pollen flying. But seeing all of this just showed me how important helping Kara was. If I hadn’t left with her, and had selfishly stayed at home with my family, then these kind people and their familiars would be at risk of losing even more.
I walked through a small patch of flowers and bent down to pick some for Olivia. She had asked me to help her make flower crowns later that day, and I couldn’t refuse her. I think bringing some fresh flowers for our crowns would be the best thing to do. I made sure to collect a wide variety of colours; I even found some blue flowers hiding beneath a bush.
I turned to walk back and was surprised to see Kara watching me.
She frowned. “What are you doing?”
“I promised Olivia that we would make flower crowns later today. I thought fresh flowers would be best.”
“Where have you been?” I asked. She hadn’t joined us at the small bonfire, or been a breakfast. It made me wonder if now that we were back in her home was her part in all of this finished?
She walked closer to me and sat down. “Our bond.”
I sat beside her. “Is there something wrong with it?” Had I missed something up?
“Nothing is wrong with it. It’s just that…” She looked conflicted. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. “I’m worried that because it is underdeveloped, due to us being separated for so long, that we won’t have an advantage over the queen when it comes time to defeat her.”
“I didn’t realise you could improve a bond.”
“You can. The stronger the bond, then the stronger the human, and the stronger the familiar. I have heard that some bonds become so strong that they can communicate completely through thought.”
I frowned. “But don’t I already hear your thoughts.”
“Not really. I am actually speaking, it just doesn’t look like my mouth moves like yours.”
“Okay.” If she said so.
“Bart said that we should talk to some others would have a bond. They can help us learn more about it and how we can strength it.”
I nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”
We made our way back to the main camp. There were more people about, and Kara introduced me to many of them. The number of names I had heard in the last twelve hours was beginning to give me a headache. I would never remember them all; who would?
Olivia appeared and grabbed my arm. She smiled at the flowers. “You brought flowers!”
I returned her smile. “I did.”
“Yay! We can make so many with all those flowers.”
“We can make as many as you like.”
She clapped her hands. “Let’s go sit with Mummy while she does her chores.”
I agreed and followed her. Kara stayed with us. She trailed along behind me with a relaxed look on her face. From the moment I met her, her eyes had been focused and alert. It was good to see her calm, and happy.
Mariah greeted us with warm smiles, and offered me a bowl of warm soup. She was trying a new recipe, and she needed someone to test it on. I wasn’t going to say no, so I took a bowl. She even gave a bowl to Kara, who lapped it up.
Olivia showed me step by step how to make a flower crown. It surprised me how difficult it was, and it surprised me even more how quickly she could make them. I struggled to complete my first one, but she flew through three of them. She laughed as she placed one on Mariah’s head, my head, and Kara’s head. “You all look so pretty.”
I couldn’t help but smile at her.
We continued to make flower crowns and talk, until Mariah finished her chores. Kara just lay beside me quietly.
“Mariah, what is your bond with Patch like?”
She looked at me surprised. “What do you mean?”
Kara lifted her head. “Well, Kara explained to me that overtime bonds can be developed. I was just wondering if you and Patch can do anything special.”
“I wouldn’t call it anything special, but, Patch has been the one thing that has kept me from falling apart. He just knows when I need him. He knows when I need cheering up, or knows when I just need a friend. It isn’t unique, or amazing; but it helps the both of us.”
“They are so in tuned with one another that when one of them feels something, the other feels it too.”
She nodded. “Exactly.”
“How long has that been happening?”
“I don’t know. It seems like a long time.” She looked to Kara, and then back at me. “But, nothing like that will just happen overnight for you and Kara.”
I sighed. “Kara’s worried that our lack of bond will hurt the plan to stop the queen.”
She reached over and took my hand. “I understand, but every bond is unique. You and Kara need to spend time getting to know one another. Overtime you both will learn to work together, and you will learn to trust each other as well.”
I nodded. Trust didn’t seem to be a problem between us. I had trusted her with my life as Pa and I followed her into the forest and across the mountains. She had trusted me enough to save her from that poacher cage. And she had saved Pa and I from the queen’s guards. Had we not built trust between us? Was it not enough?
Kara and I left Mariah and Olivia, and went to find Pa. He and Jasper had promised to explain everything to me after we were rested. We found the sitting beside a small pond. Jasper and Theo each had sticks in their hands, Pa was leaning against a tree watching them.
I sat down beside Pa. “What are you all up to?”
Pa smiled. “Jasper is showing off as usual.”
“I am not.” Jasper frowned at Pa. “Theo needs to continue his lessons, so I am testing him.”
They were doing magic. “Can I see?”
Theo smiled. “I’m not very good.”
I shrugged. “You are better than I could ever be.”
He laughed. “I guess you’re right.”
“Go on,” said Jasper. He nudged Theo’s shoulder gently. I didn’t know Jasper very well, and I looked forward to getting to know my uncle, but I could see just how much he cared for Theo in his eyes. He watched with proud eyes as Theo showed me.
Theo brought the stick up to his lips, and gently blew. The end of the stick caught on fire.
I gasped in awe. “That’s amazing.”
“That’s not the best part,” said Pa.
Theo held the stick up in the air as the flame gently burnt down the length. He closed his eyes and said something too low for me to hear. He let go of the stick, but the stick didn’t fall, it stayed floating in the air.
I clapped and smiled. “That’s so cool.”
Theo returned my smile. “Thank you.”
“What else can you do?” I wanted to see more. I had never seen magic, and always had a small doubt in my mind that it didn’t exist. People had claimed to have met warlocks and witches who could incredible things. But those people also claimed to have seen ghosts and demons. But seeing it right before my eyes was unexplainable. It was simply brilliant.
Jasper entertained us all with a few tricks. Theo helping when he could. It was a marvelous little magic show. But when the show was over, it was time to get some answers.
I lay against Pa’s shoulders. Being on the opposite side of the kingdom from the queen didn’t allow us to hear much about what she was up to. Jasper kept an open ear though; he didn’t want to be caught by surprise.
“The queen is growing restless. She knows that there are familiars still living within her lands, and she is desperate to get rid of them all.”
“Killing thousands wasn’t enough for her?” said Kara.
I reached over and scratched behind her ears. She leant into my hand. Hearing how the queen wanted her, and everyone like her dead, would be hard to hear. Even though it wasn’t news to all of us, it still seemed to hit her hard.
“I don’t know how we can stop her though. No one wants to stand against her.”
“We need to turn her nobles against her. If we can manage that, then she will have no army to use against us.”
“That is a good idea. But how do you convince money hungry assholes, who enjoy making people suffer, that the ruler who has given them all the power they desire, that they should turn against her?”
Jasper had a good point, and Pa looked like he was stumped.
“We appeal to the common people,” said Theo.
“What do you mean?” asked Jasper.
“The common people make up the armies of the nobles. Without the common people they have no armies, and with no armies it weakens them. If we turn them against the nobles, the nobles will have no choice but to turn against the queen if they want to survive.” Theo looked so certain.
Pa nodded. “It’s a good plan.”
“That it is.” Jasper patted Theo on the back.
“We will need someone who the people will want to get behind though. Someone with royal blood.” Pa kept his eyes on Jasper.
“I don’t know if the people will follow me. I am a stranger to them,” said Theo.
I frowned. Why would the people follow him? I was the lost princess. Wasn’t that the reason Kara brought me here? To defeat the queen and save my kingdom, and all that stuff. “I’m a little confused,” I said.
Theo frowned. “What do you mean?”
I said, “I thought that the reason Kara came to find me was to stop the queen. I thought that I would have too…”
“You would have to what?” Theo looked annoyed. “I’m the one who has to face the queen and take back my father’s kingdom.”
“Your father’s kingdom?”
“Yes, my father’s kingdom.” He looked at me confused.
He was claiming to be the king’s son, which would make him the prince, and that would make him my brother. My older brother. My mouth fell open and I didn’t know what to say. I looked to Pa and he seemed shocked as well.
“Wait, Jasper. Theo is...” said Pa.
Jasper looked guilty. “Oh, right. I don’t believe I made the introductions.” He laughed and scratched the back of his head.
“What introductions?” said Theo.
Jasper cleared his throat. “Well, um…Theo let me introduce you to your younger sister, Tiara. Tiara, this is your older brother, Theo.”
Theo looked at me, shocked.
I didn’t know what to do. This was my brother sitting in front of me, my real brother. Not that I didn’t love Gean and consider him my brother no matter what, but Theo was my blood relative. The one who I didn’t know existed until a few days ago.
Theo surprised us all by standing up. He seemed to try to say something but couldn’t think of the words. His mouth opened and closed a few times before he turned and walked away.
I wanted to chase after him, and talk to him. But we were strangers to one another. What would I say to him?
Jasper yelled, “Theo, come back.”
But he didn’t. Theo just kept walking.
Kara nudged my hand, and said, “Don’t worry. I’m sure he is just surprised and needs time to think.” She smiled softly. “Just like you did when you found out about everything.”
I just nodded, not trusting my own voice.ns 22.214.171.124da2