Hi all! We're back again with chapter six! I hope you enjoy it!
"Kendra, he'll be fine." Bracken murmured. He took her hand, squeezing it for a moment.
Kendra tried to smile, "I know. I just worry." Bracken squeezed her hand again and she took a deep breath, trying to expel some of the anxiety building in her chest. Ever since she could remember, Kendra had always been nervous, but ever since Zzyxx, she had found it got harder and harder to just simply exist without anxiety, especially about her brother. Seth was incredibly capable, but he had a tendency to be reckless, even after Zzyxx and all too often, it was Kendra who he listened to mostly.
For a few moments, Kendra and Bracken walked in quiet, amiable silence and Kendra decided to speak up.
"So you said the Queen has a message for me?"
Bracken nodded, looking up at her. "Yes. She also wanted to make good on her promise to bring you to the realm."
Kendra hummed in agreement, Bracken`s excitement beginning to catch. Though the thought of the disappearances lingered at the back of her mind, she tried to push it back for his sake. He was excited, and she wasn't going to ruin this for him, no matter what.
"I can't wait for you to see what we`ve been working on." Bracken turned back to her, blue eyes twinkling brilliantly. Over the past year, since the world ending catastrophe at Zzyxx, whenever Bracken had visited he had brought with him stories of the restoration of the fairy realm, lighting up whenever he spoke of it. Kendra knew that giving up the old realm had been incredibly hard for everyone, especially Bracken who hadn't seen it in hundreds of years, but it seemed that all of the fairy-folk were working hard on making Zzyxx a new, better, home for them.
Kendra smiled at him. "Me neither." Soon, they reached the fairy shrine`s meadow and a row boat was already waiting for them, tied to the end of the small dock. Kendra felt her shoulders relax as she took in the sight. Practically bouncing with excitement now, Bracken hurried over to the boat, putting her bag into it and reaching back for her.
"So what exactly will we do there?" Kendra asked as Bracken held out a hand to help her into the row boat. Bracken`s strong hands helped her keep her balance, stepping into the little boat. After giving the boat a shove, Bracken joined her, taking up the oars and with smooth, strong strokes, began to guide them to the shrine.
"We're going to see some of the realm and then head to the castle where you'll speak with the Queen and then tonight, the dryads are hosting a dance in honor of the change in seasons which we will be attending! You`ll meet everyone, my family, my friends!" Bracken sounded thrilled at the prospect and Kendra tried her best to hide her anxiety with a smile.
"But will-?" Kendra was cut off by the boat bumping against the shore of the shrine. She had never realized that without the interference of the naiads, the boat ride was really very short. Bracken grabbed Kendra`s bag, leaping over the side of the boat onto the shore, Kendra following behind. Bracken reached back to steady her and when they had both successfully gotten off the boat, Bracken squeezed her hands.
"Don't be nervous. I'll be with you the entire time, I promise." Bracken`s words were comforting, but were slightly embarrassing as it was most likely that Bracken had felt her emotions through his contact with her hands, something she had been trying to learn to control.
Either way, Kendra nodded, and allowed Bracken to pull her farther into the little island and it wasn't long until the tiny fairy statue Kendra knew all too well came into view. A feeling of familiarity took over her, a subconscious urge leading Kendra to pull her hand from Bracken`s, to drop to her knees in front of the statue, reaching out to touch it. The statue was newer, less worn than the one she had always known but the feelings that rushed through her body were the same.
Hello Kendra. As always, the words of the Fairy Queen were not spoken aloud, but rather in her mind, though they were just as real, as if the Queen was right in front of her rather than a world away. The Fairy Queen`s words were accompanied with a warm, happy feeling, calming her turbulent emotions. Bracken came to kneel beside her as Kendra focused on a coherent response.
Hello your majesty. It's nice to hear from you again. Kendra knew she didn't need to speak aloud, but whispering the words made her feel as though she wasn't so far away from the Fairy Queen.
Thank you Kendra. I have missed you, as has Bracken. From beside her, Bracken huffed, sounding displeased, and from the amusement she felt through the Queen, Kendra didn't have to turn to deduce Bracken had gone bright red at his mother`s words.
Now, Kendra, I assume Bracken has informed you of your impending visit. The Queen`s words turned more businesslike and the anxiety Kendra had been feeling returned.
He has your majesty. I am thankful for the opportunity to visit your home. Kendra replied nervously. Bracken`s hand found hers, squeezing, sending her a reassuring smile.
Please do not be nervous Kendra, we are all thrilled to receive you.
Thank you, your majesty. Kendra tried to take a deep breath and dispel some of the dread in her stomach, not wanting to appear as if she wasn't excited or grateful to her or Bracken.
Thank you for your consideration Kendra, however, it is unnecessary. You have nothing to be apologetic for. Kendra blushed slightly, she had forgotten that at the Fairy Queen`s shrines she didn't really need to speak to communicate with the Queen.
"Are you ready?" Bracken spoke aloud and directly to her. Kendra nodded, knowing that if she spoke, she would lose her resolve. Bracken smiled, the excitement returning to his eyes once more and he pulled her to her feet.
"Hold onto me, and reach out to the Queen. She will help you." Kendra nodded, wrapping her arm around Bracken`s neck and holding on to him tightly, focusing.
Kendra felt the Queen`s emotions, her amusement, happiness and that strange underlying sadness that always lingered and focused on them, and whatever she was doing seemed to be working, something was pulling on her, trying to pull her away from Bracken, but she held on, feeling the Queen`s emotions as if they were her own, and a new one, one of surprise. Why was the Queen surprised?
But before Kendra could ponder that any further, the Queen's presence was gone, and she and Bracken were left standing in a field of lavender. The sun was shining and all the colors here seemed brighter, as if the saturation had been turned up. As Kendra let go of Bracken she turned in a circle, she wished she had about eight more eyes. The field they stood in was surrounded by tall cliffs, a shining ocean crashing against them. On the other side of the field, Kendra could see a series of foot bridges that led down to the river and then, most shockingly, on the other side of the river, a city surrounding a beautiful castle. It was almost too much to take in, and just for a chance to look at something familiar, she turned back to Bracken who looked happier than she had ever seen him to be.
"Bracken… this is…" She couldn't find any words to express what she was feeling. "Indescribable." She finished.
"In a good way or a bad way?" Bracken asked, a breathtakingly beautiful grin taking over his face.
"In the best way." Bracken opened his mouth to respond, but before he could, a male voice called from across the field. Kendra and Bracken both turned to see a light blonde unicorn and a light pink unicorn walking towards them. Kendra had to fight the squeal of glee that built in her throat. Even though she knew Bracken was technically a unicorn, she hadn't seen one in horse form since Zzyxx. It was difficult to appreciate a unicorn`s beauty at the end of the world.
"These are friends of mine here to take us down to the city." Bracken pointed down to the city below the field, before strolling across the field to meet the two unicorns. Kendra followed closely, trying to suppress the pure, childlike glee bubbling in her throat.
"Are you excited now?" Bracken sounded like her was trying not to laugh as he turned to her.
"They're real unicorns!" Kendra whispered excitedly, allowing the childlike glee overcome her for a moment. Bracken laughed then, shaking his head.
"You know, I`m a real unicorn too." Bracken pouted playfully and Kendra, feeling braver than she normally did, stepped forward, taking Bracken`s hand.
"Oh really? Because I seem to only count two legs, not four." Bracken rolled his eyes, lowering his face to hers mischievously.
"But I have a horn, so it counts anyway." Bracken`s warm breath hit her face and Kendra pushed him back lightheartedly.
"Technically you have two, so I guess that makes you some sort of strange deer-like creature, not a unicorn." Bracken laughed as the two unicorns arrived in front of them, stepping forward to greet them.
"Zephyr, Gwyn, thank you for coming." The unicorns bobbed their heads at Bracken, so Kendra stepped forward as well, not wanting to be rude.
"This is Kendra Sorenson, she's our honored guest today."
"The handmaiden." The pink unicorn spoke, her voice a smooth alto, and very humanlike.
"Yes. It's nice to meet you."
The pink unicorn seemed to smile a bit. "I`m Gwyn, and this is Zephyr."
The blond unicorn examined her critically, "We've met before." His voice was relaxed and warm, putting Kendra at ease.
Kendra cocked her head slightly, "We have?"
Zephyr nodded. "Yes. I believe I attempted to heal your brother." Kendra then remembered the handsome unicorn that had stabilized Seth after returning from his fight with Gorgrog.
"Yes. I remember. Thank you for saving him." Kendra replied humbly.
Zephyr`s golden eyes twinkled at that and bobbed his head again. "No thanks necessary. You and your brother saved us all."
Kendra wasn't sure what to say to that, so she simply smiled brightly.
Gwyn nudged Bracken with her head. "Should we go, Your Majesty? I believe your sisters are more than ready to finally meet the famed Kendra Sorenson."
Bracken nodded, "Yes of course. Kendra would you like-"
Zephyr interrupted Bracken smoothly, "Forgive me, Prince Bracken, but I can take Kendra."
Bracken looked at Kendra questioningly and Kendra tried to smile. "Sure." She walked over to Zephyr, Bracken following her and as he knelt to help her onto Zephyr`s back, Kendra was suddenly grateful for the horseback riding lessons Dale had given her. It wasn't exactly the same, but it was the same principles and with Bracken`s help, she got up onto Zephyr`s back without too much trouble. Bracken, of course, gracefully swung himself onto Gwyn`s back on his own, and then they were off.
You can hold onto my mane Kendra, you won't hurt me. Zephyr`s smooth voice spoke in her mind and Kendra did her best to follow through, threading her fingers into Zephyr`s golden mane. As the unicorns picked up speed, Zephyr took the lead, nimbly making his way down from the field Bracken and Kendra had landed in. The other side of the field turned into a steep slope, lavender turning into golden wheat. At the bottom of the hill was a path lined with beautiful trees, and as they left the wheat and lavender behind, they became surrounded by a forest that seemed to hum with life. As they broke the tree-line, Gwen drew level with Zephyr and Bracken spoke to Kendra.
"Soon you`ll be able to see the first places we were able to transform. As soon as we got here we began working on a first settlement and the Queen's castle. It isn't perfect yet, but it is on its way there."
"It's already perfect." Kendra replied.
As the unicorns continued onward, Kendra could see more and more signs of life in the form of fairies, tall women in the trees and others, and other hard to identify creatures increasing in numbers as they got closer to the shining city. Now that she was closer, the castle was even more breathtaking then it had been from the field.
The castle shone with a light that seemed to come from within. She counted five pointed towers reaching up so high, it was like they were level with the clouds. It was also huge, sprawling across the rolling hills of the landscape and elaborate gardens filled in the ground floors that were exposed. At the very top, a massive spire established the center of the castle, a large terrace built into the front of the middle tower, ivy curling around the railing, and huge glass doors that were wide open.
"It`s…" Kendra truly didn't know what to say. It seemed that every time she blinked, she saw something new. It was like everything out of the stories she had loved to read had come true. They were on a gentle hill that overlooked the town at the foot of the castle. There were five streets extending outward from a central square and she could see fairies, unicorns, and even more creatures moving amongst the streets.
"I believe this is where we leave you." Zephyr spoke up, startling Kendra. She put her other leg over his back, sliding off and to the ground. A second later, Bracken landed beside her, her bag over his shoulder.
"Prince Bracken, Handmaiden, it was a pleasure." Gwen and Zephyr bobbed their heads to them, and Kendra nodded back, unsure of the proper protocol.
"Thank you. We'll be seeing you later I'm sure." Kendra echoed Bracken`s thanks and watched the unicorns loping off down the hill
"So, what do you think?" Bracken spoke quietly beside her and Kendra directed her attention back to him.
"Bracken, this… this is amazing." Kendra couldn't keep the smile off her face as she looked back to the castle.
"I mean, it's more than amazing, it… it's like nothing I've seen before. I love it." Bracken beamed at her then, his smile almost knocking her to her knees. He really was so handsome…
"Wait until you see the inside. Come on." With that, Bracken turned and ran down the hill, laughing. Kendra followed, catching up to him, breathless. Her hair was a mess, she was sure and she was out of breath, but here, in this place, it was like no worries could reach her.
They ran until they reached the entrance of the town, where a cobblestone path led up the street, where she could see the gates of the castle. The street was bustling with activity, stalls set up on the sides of it in front of small, cozy looking buildings. Most of the signs she could read easily, some were more challenging and she had to squint to make out the letters that looked like English to her. From all around her, fairies, big and small flitted between the shops and stalls, tall, beautiful men and women, talking, laughing and yelling to each other. Kendra could understand most of it, the fairy languages sounding effortlessly like English to her, though if she concentrated, she could tell that it was in fact, a fairy language. As they walked, Bracken slipped his hand into hers, pulling her into the middle of the street where they could walk side by side.
"This is the first permanent town we were able to establish. Several others have been built and even more are in the process of being built. We still have lots of people living together now." Bracken narrated as they walked, the people around them seeming to ignore them for now.
"So are all of these places shops? Or are there houses too?"
"There are five main streets in the town, as you saw. The outer two streets hold mostly housing and behind the castle there are even more houses spread out in the countryside."
Kendra dodged a man who carried a massive basket of bread that smelled wonderful, but not before one of the loaves tumbled out. Kendra was able to catch it, and Bracken was able to catch her before she fell into the street.
"Alexi, you dropped something!" Bracken called out to man, who was tall and burly, and busy setting down the basket on an empty stall that sat in front of a shop, sign reading, Alexi`s Bakerie Goods.
The man, Alexi turned, catching sight of Bracken and Kendra who held the loaf of bread. He didn't seem all too surprised to see Bracken, but when he saw her, his eyes widened.
"My apologies ma`am, Prince Bracken." The man bowed his head to them, his voice smooth and calm.
"No, no, totally my fault. I`m so sorry." Kendra gave an embarrassed smile, holding out the loaf of bread. "Here, this didn't touch the ground."
The man, Alexi, smiled a little, glancing at Bracken who hovered behind her. "Thank you, I appreciate that, uh…"
"Oh, it's Kendra, sorry."
"Kendra as in…?" Alexi glanced at Bracken again who stepped forward.
"Alexi, this is Kendra Sorenson, handmaiden to the Queen." Bracken gestured proudly and Kendra felt her cheeks warm the slightest bit.
"Ah." Alexi focused on her again, something else in his expression now. "A pleasure. The name`s Alexi, as you already know."
Kendra smiled. "Nice to meet you too."
Alexi glanced backwards at his store, where several children were playing on the swinging door and he sighed in exasperation. "Excuse me, it appears my children seem to think they're actually monkeys."
With a nod in their direction, Alexi turned to scold his children, and they continued to walk along the street, leaving Alexi`s bakery behind.
"Alexi has the best baked goods you`ll ever eat. His sweet tarts are delicious." Bracken spoke up, voice warm and nostalgic.
"He seems nice." Kendra noted.
Bracken grinned at her. "He is. He's tough, but he's kind. He was one of my father`s best friends in fact."
"Oh, really." Kendra replied, surprise coloring her voice. It was rare for Bracken to speak so openly of his father, the king of the fairies. For thousands of years, since his capture by the demon king, Gorgrog, his enchanted, undead corpse had been dragged around Zzyxx, the demon prison. He had been freed only a year ago, when Kendra had killed the demon king with Seth`s sword, Vasilis. Kendra couldn't imagine the suffering the king must have endured, but Bracken looked so happy and relaxed, so she decided to keep the mood light.
"Really? What kind of…" Kendra stopped herself, as it caught up to her that it might be offensive to ask what kind of creature a person was. But luckily Bracken seemed to pick up on her question, answering anyway.
"He's a fairy. One that's lost his wings, sure, but a fairy all together. My father as too." Bracken added thoughtfully.
"But I thought fairies were only female?"
"After my father fell, male fairies stopped being born, and most lost their wings. Now that Father`s back, so are the male fairies. There was one just born a few weeks ago actually."
"Wow." Kendra digested this quietly. It had only been a little less than an hour into her visit and she was already learning so much.
"Bracken!" Looking up, Kendra was surprised to see a group of three children crashing into Bracken, knocking them all to the ground. She couldn't help but laugh as the children crawled all over him, firing questions at him. They were the same kids from the bakery, Alexi`s children. Two of them were boys, one with black hair and the other with brown. The other was a girl, with beautiful braided hair whipping in the wind.
"Okay, okay! I surrender!" Bracken threw up his hands playfully. Kendra`s eyes met his and he grinned, the smile so breathtakingly beautiful it made her blush. He was so happy here, so peaceful.
"Come on, guys, I have to show my friend around!" The kids whipped their heads around to look at Kendra and she tried to smile. Luckily, Kendra had always been good with kids, but she wasn't so sure that the same rules applied with magical children.
"Hi guys, I'm Kendra, Bracken's friend." The kids inspected her for a moment, before the little girl got up and stalked up to Kendra, staring her down. The girl looked like she was about eight, and her lips were set in a pout.
"I`m Elodie, but you can call me Ellie." She held her hand out, though somewhat aggressively and shook Kendra`s.
"Good to know." With that, the two little boys jumped up and Bracken was able to get up. The boy with black hair who looked 5 or 6 at the oldest, also held out his hand.
"I`m Ansel, and this is Jude." The boy gestured to his little brother who held his hand. Kendra knelt down and shook Ansel`s hand, smiling at the boy who hid shyly in his brother`s side.
"It's nice to meet you all. I just met your dad a few minutes ago."
"We know." Ellie interjected. "Are you really a human?"
"Yes I am." Kendra watched their expressions carefully. "Is that strange to you?"
"A human's never come here before." Ansel pointed out.
"No, I guess not." Glancing at Bracken, he smiled before speaking.
"Kendra is my mother`s handmaiden. She's from Fablehaven."
"Fablehaven?" Ellie whipped around to face Kendra again. "Do you live there?"
Kendra grinned. "Yeah. With my grandparents and my cousins and my brother."
"With your mama and dada too?" Little Jude asked, now seeming to warm up to her more.
She tried to ignore the pang in her stomach at those words, she smiling again. "Yeah, them too."
Bracken clapped his hands, startling her a little. "Alright guys, I`ve got to take Kendra to see the castle, and you all have to go help your father!"
All three of the kids groaned and Kendra found herself grinning. Kids were really all the same, no matter what species they were. "But we don't even get to dance!"
"Dance?" Kendra asked blankly. Did she miss something?
"The dryad dance is tonight! You're coming right?" Kendra glanced at Bracken who nodded, so she turned back to the kids.
"Yeah, I'll be there."
"Don`t worry, you can hang out with me if you get bored." Ellie grabbed her sleeve, tugging her down to her level. "My brothers are stupid sometimes."
Kendra laughed. "I know. I have a little brother too. His name is Seth."
"Is he back home?" Ansel questioned.
"Yup, he's back to Fablehaven."
"Elodie, Ansel, Jude, let's go, this cart won`t pack itself!" From down the street, Alexi called for his children, who after yelling goodbyes at them, took off towards their father.
"Well that was fun." Kendra joked and Bracken grinned at her, grabbing her hand and pulling her forward.
"They seemed to like you, and trust me, they aren't easy to impress." Kendra laughed letting Bracken guide her. They continued up the street to the broad gates that enclosed the high fence surrounding the castle. Outside the fence, three astrids stood tall and proud, guarding the gate. As they got closer, Kendra recognized the two men, the dark astrids, the ones who had renounced the Queen.
"Prince Bracken, Lady Kendra." The Astrid holding the sword spoke, both inclining their heads.
"Hello! Kendra, do you remember Peredor?" Bracken replied, gesturing to the man who had spoken. "And Targoron?"
Kendra smiled. "Yes, I do. You two saved my brother's life. Thank you."
"It was our pleasure. You and your brother helped to save this world." Targoron responded gravely, his voice low and quiet.
"I believe some of your sisters are waiting in the East Garden for you my prince." Peredor said. Bracken straightened nodding.
"Then will you open the gates for us?"
Moving quickly, the Astrids turned their backs to them, placing the tips of their weapons to the glowing gate.
"The gate only opens to those in goodwill and service to the Queen." Bracken whispered as the side began to swing inward to admit them. A bridge made of white marble and a few steps led to the broad front doors of the castle, the thick oak doors looking like they had been there forever. The gardens were extravagant, every type of plant and flower imaginable, and even a few she didn't recognize. As she and Bracken walked through the gates, she felt a shift in the air, something settling in her that caused her shoulders to relax and for her to take a deep, cleansing when Bracken led around the side of the castle to a pair of young women sitting together on a bench, Kendra almost felt calm. But still, the two girls that stood before them were… stunning. There was no other word for it than that. And they were tall and confident, beautiful and intimidating, everything Kendra wasn't.
"You're late." One of the women spoke. She was the tallest and her hair was platinum blonde, each strand combed carefully back into a high bun on the top of her head. She wore a lovely lilac dress that made Kendra feel slightly uncomfortable about her own clothes. She was wearing her nicest pair of boots, black pants and a green shirt that she rather liked, but was she too underdressed?
"We got held up." Beside her, Bracken responded, stepping forward and hugging the first woman, and then the second. The other woman was different. She wore a dark blue dress that was short and tight, and her chestnut hair cascaded over her shoulders, her skin much tanner, but somehow, looking at the three of them, Kendra could see the similarities between them, the shape of their eyes, the curve of their mouths.
"Kendra, these are two of my sisters, Rayne and Brea," He gestured to each in turn, and Kendra was vaguely reminded of him telling her their names once and the descriptions he gave. Brea had the blonde hair and Rayne was the one with brown hair.
"Hi, it's nice to meet you." Kendra tried to keep her voice even and calm, and reminded herself that in a few minutes, this would be nothing compared to talking to the fairy queen.
"Hm." Rayne took a step forward, holding out her hand to Kendra. She took it, but Rayne kept hold of it, and for a moment the two locked eyes. Kendra realized that she was probably reading her mind and she tried to tamp down the thoughts running through her mind. Rayne smirked a little, releasing her hand, taking a few steps back.
"I see what you mean Bracken, she is an interesting one." Rayne`s lips stretched into a smile, a rather smug one and Kendra was reminded of every girl she had ever known in high school that believed they were better than her, so with that in mind, she straightened up.
"Thank you, I get that a lot." It was an out of character response for her, but for some reason, she wanted to make these girls realize that she wasn't a child who they could boss around.
"I'd bet you do. First mortal fairykind in a thousand years." Brea spoke, her voice a warm alto, not unlike her sister`s and when she held out her hand to Kendra, she simply grasped it briefly, stepping back out of Kendra`s personal space.
Kendra tried to focus on a coherent response. "Apparently so."
"So you killed the demon king?" Rayne`s question came out of nowhere, and before she could even form an answer, Bracken was stepping in.
"Rayne." Bracken scolded, stepping up next to Kendra, his hand touching her shoulder a little. Then he turned to speak to Kendra. "I`m sorry, my sister lacks social graces at times." He glared at Rayne who appeared unmoved.
"Humans are so funny with their social graces, don't you think? So particular, so worried about saying the wrong thing." Rayne`s eyes stayed on Kendra, and she gazed right back. It was a challenge, she knew, and she had to answer.
"There's a time and a place for them. And yes, I killed him myself." She kept her answer simple and short, tone curt.
"Guys! I told you to wait for me!" Suddenly, from around the side of the garden came another girl running towards them. She wore a bright yellow shirt and a blue skirt. Her hair was pastel green and it was tied into two buns on either side of her head.
"You took a very long time." Rayne responded dryly and the new girl rolled her eyes before they settled on Kendra.
"Oh, is this her?" The girl bounded up to Kendra. Her eyes roved up and down Kendra, throwing her arms around her in a hug. "Hi Kendra, I`m Ophelia, Bracken`s sister! It's so nice to meet you!" Kendra stiffened before gently hugging her back, trying not to be rude. Over Ophelia's shoulder, Kendra could see Rayne and Brea smirking a little.
"Oh I`m sorry, I'm a hugger!" Ophelia pulled back, still rambling. "You can call me Ophie, or Felia, it doesn't really matter, I have a lot of nicknames." Kendra tried to smile as Ophelia ended her rant. She seemed nice enough, certainly more than Rayne or Brea, but it was a little overwhelming to be confronted with someone so confident and enthusiastic, especially as anxiety began to mount in her stomach at the prospect of meeting the Queen in only a short while.
"Kendra, I want to show you some of the castle before Mother calls for us. Are you ready to get going?" Bracken stepped in, taking her hand, and though he didn't notice, Kendra did, how even Ophelia`s eyes narrowed at their intertwined hands and it made her blush. But Bracken could probably feel her thoughts, so she fought to keep her mind on track.
"We'll catch up you later?" Bracken began to pull her forward and Kendra smiled at the girls as best she could.
"It was really nice meeting you. Thank you for your hospitality." She saw Rayne and Brea nod, and Ophelia waved energetically at her. Bracken led her back around the front of the castle, back to the main door.
"Well that was…" Kendra trailed off, too nervous to be comfortable with the silence.
Bracken flashed her smile, "You did amazing. They loved you."
Kendra laughed a little. "Didn't seem like it." It appeared to Kendra that Ophelia was just being friendly and Rayne and Brea definitely hated her.
Bracken pulled her around to face him, standing still. "Kendra, my sisters can be difficult to read. Trust me, they do like you, they just have trouble with regular social situations." Bracken squeezed her hands, letting go of one, but keeping ahold of the other. "It's like I told you, unicorns are notoriously socially inept."
They began walking again and reached the intricately carved wooden door, that was covered with vines and differently colored flowers, which Bracken pushed open for her, "Believe me, I know. Didn't you call me "shiny" when we first met?"
Bracken`s laughter from behind her almost distracted her enough so she didn't gape too noticeably at the entrance of the grand castle. The castle was simply wonderful, shining opalescent walls formed a large foyer that extended up several floors. A diamond chandelier hung from the light ceiling of the foyer, and as she looked up, she glimpsed several terraces. In front of her, two white and shining staircases extended up to a second floor, where two more went on to the third and so on until the stairs extended back so much she could no longer see them. There were several hallways on the main floor that Bracken moved towards.
"You coming?" Kendra could hear the smile in his voice at her surprise and she fought to look at him.
"Yeah, sure." She followed him down the hallway that was to her most immediate left. The hallway was lined with pastel colored doors
"The castle was the first thing in the kingdom we ever built. It was actually just completed a few weeks ago." Bracken told her as they walked, pointing out several things. "The Queen herself designed it after the original castle. It's not exact, but it's close." Bracken frowned a little. "Or at least I think so. I hadn't been there in such a long time." Kendra reached forward and took his hand, squeezing sympathetically. He smiled at her sadly before taking a deep breath.
"Never mind. Anyway..." Kendra followed him, willing to drop the subject for now. Before long, they reached a grand staircase that they took up to the third floor of the castle. The staircase opened up a pair of wide glass doors. Bracken paused and turned to Kendra.
"The Queen thought you might have wanted to see the library." Kendra looked to the doors.
"She's in there?" Kendra couldn't stop the anxiety leaking into her voice and Bracken smiled at her.
"Don't be nervous Kendra, everything will be fine."
Kendra nodded, facing the doors, preparing herself to meet with the Queen. "Wait," She turned back to Bracken. "When I meet her, should I bow, or curtsy or…" Bracken laughed.
"No, no, of course not. Just be yourself Kendra." Kendra sighed, squaring her shoulders. She could do this, she saved the world! Kendra tried to convince herself, placing her hands on the handles of the door and pushing them open.
And that's it! Thank you to Jesussavedevenme, Yakall, JaylaLovesReading, and so many more for all of the support! Expect another update in 2-3 weeks, where we'll get back to Seth's story.
Thank you all so much, stay safe and well!
Have a great day!