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A figure stepped silently down a lonely stone corridor. She passed by spotless tapestries and expensive knickknacks on display, barely making a sound as she breezed past. She came to a stop at a pair of great wooden doors, and firmly knocked on them, despite her slightly shaking hands.
“You may enter,” echoed a voice from beyond the doorway.
The doors slowly swung open, being dragged by two guards from the inside. The hall beyond was large and exquisitely furnished, and on the opposite side from the silent visitor, on a raised dais, was a golden throne, with the king upon it.
“Your Majesty,” said the mysterious figure, bowing low to the king, her red hair slipping slightly loose from her braid.
“Greetings, Rebel,” said the king, nodding slightly in acknowledgment. “I see you have received my letter.”
Rebel straightened, smoothing her jacket nervously.
“Yes, Your Majesty. You wanted to discuss the triple moon tomorrow?” she asked, a touch of anxiety slipping into her voice.
One of the guards flinched slightly at that, but quickly regained their composure.
“That is correct,” replied the king, “And I wish to speak to you in private.”
He flicked a finger at the guards, who promptly bowed low and swept out of the room, struggling to close the huge doors behind them.
The king started speaking without delay. “Rebel, as you know, the costs of my son’s studies abroad have… not come lightly. We are not the richest kingdom-“
That’s an understatement. Rebel thought. The so-called ‘kingdom’ was barely a town, a few farms, and a castle with walls surrounding them.
“…And so I was forced to raise taxes,” he went on, “and offer to take some of my subjects to a neighboring kingdom to sell their goods. But I am afraid that some of them are not exactly thrilled with the new taxes, and I’ve been questioning the loyalty of the royal guard.”
Rebel flinched, and tried to cover by sweeping her crimson hair back. She was currently one of the most promising guards, at least according to the king when he came by to check on their progress. But most of them had families to care for, and if he raised taxes…
The king droned on, either not noticing or ignoring her involuntary gesture. “So, I have decided to make a new king’s guard, with only Moontouched within its ranks, and for all of them to be paid well. I doubt anyone will wish to leave the king’s guard then. I am calling them The Chosen, and they will be handpicked by me. No one but them will be allowed to gain powers from now on. And with the triple moon drawing near, I needed to find someone to help lead them. And I have chosen…you.”
Rebel was aghast. The king wanted her to lead his new guard? Rebel was about to say that he was wrong, and that it would only make everyone angrier to forbid them from gaining powers, but she held her tongue. Even she had more sense than to argue with the king. But there was a single question burning on her mind that she had to know the answer to.
“But- why me?”
The king seemed to be expecting that answer.
“Because I’ve seen you. You are intelligent, focused, ambitious, and like to challenge yourself, not to mention you pursue perfection. You are good at planning, and hold fast to your beliefs.” He answered calmly.
He had, of course, left out her constant arguing and the fact that she never stuck to her plans.
Rebel still wanted to disagree with his decision, but it was such an opportunity… plus it wouldn’t be smart to argue with the king of all people.
“Fine. When do we start?”
The king hesitated before reluctantly answering, “We will make the announcement before the triple moon celebration starts. You and the other Chosen will make sure no one leaves their homes, and we will be the only triple Moontouched in the kingdom. I have been waiting for the triple moon my whole life…”
The king gazed at the wall as if he see through it, and beyond, into the starry sky.
“Very well. It’s settled then. You will begin training them the day after the triple moon.” He sized her up before adding, “And make sure to train hard yourself. It won’t do to have the head of The Chosen look weaker than The Chosen themselves!”
Rebel laughed nervously, looking down at her slightly thin frame.
The king nodded solemnly, though the twinkle in his eye ruined the effect. “Go on then, you have a lot of training sessions to plan.”
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