The Arcadian Press

Up From the Shadows

A dark room with a lamp in it.

Up From the Shadows

By JA Smith


My breath comes in raspy gasps, my side aching from running so long. That’s what I do. What I’ve done my whole life. Run.

I’m the prey; the one that’s always hunted. Ghosts of my past haunt my every move. Her screaming always fills the void of my mind. If you were to look into my eyes, you would see all the pain inside me. All the lies. All the memories.

I run into a dark alleyway, pressing myself into a small crevice while hoping my hunters won’t think to come in this direction. Dark shadows run past, and I wait a few moments before exhaling, sinking to the dirt. My side throbs and my clothes stick to the wound caked with blood and dirt.

I rest for a few more moments before creeping down the alley, my head swiveling. If those men find me, all would be lost. I would be dead, and that can’t happen. I can’t die. Not yet.

As I walk past a doorway, a hand reaches out and grabs me, pulling me inside. I struggle against the firm grip until I recognize the voice trying to calm me. I still, letting my eyes become adjusted to the dark. A candle is lit, and a small stone room surrounds me.

“Jadon, I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” A young girl in a brown dress with dark chestnut eyes stares at me, her face pinched.

“Nora! I thought it was…” My voice fades away. No need to tell her, since she already knows. I look around the room. A small bed is nestled in the corner, the tight space packed with essential goods such as blankets, food, and water. This is a hideout bunker. There are hundreds of them scattered all over the city for The Sub-Terra Republic. The rebellious organization fights for freedom and peace from our tyrant ruler.

Nora hands me a canteen of water, and I chug it. Guiding me to the bed, she then grabs a hard piece of survival bread. My friend examines me next, touching various cuts and bruises I’ve gathered over the past few days. She winces at my torn shirt and all the blood, looking closer at the painful wound.

“Jadon, your side! It looks awful!” She peels back the wet fabric and I suck in a deep breath. She digs around in her satchel, pulling out some medical supplies. Luckily, Nora knows how to treat wounds. She gives me a piece of wood to bite on, then puts some cleaning ointment on a rag. Wiping away the blood and dirt reveals the gash on my side.

Letting out a sympathetic hiss at the oozing cut, her gaze meets mine. “Jadon, when did this happen?” She cleans the wound, making me howl in pain. Nora tosses me a glare, but a look of sympathy pushes through.

I grit my teeth. “About two days ago. I cleaned it in a stream and wrapped it, but the bandages came off. Since then, it’s only gotten worse.” I howl again, and this time she shoves the piece of wood in my mouth.

“Hush or you’ll draw every vagabond, hunter, and thief to us! You need to rest. It’s bad, Jadon.” She finishes, then applies a soothing ointment before wrapping it. She sighs. I shake my head as she hands me a fresh shirt. She busies herself with packing a bag for me while I change. When I’m finished, she comes over and puts it in the corner.

“You know I can’t afford to waste days resting.” She bites her lip, nodding at my words. I stand, grabbing the pack. “Thank you for everything, Nora.” I head toward the door, and she smiles sadly.

“Don’t die. I couldn’t bear it if you died.” I turn around, her words stinging me. Smiling through the pain, I wink.

“I’ll try not to.” Opening the door, I step out into the night, walking into danger and shadow.


I walk into the apothecary, the bell jingling above the door. A young man looks up from behind the counter, his curly hair wild. He pushes it out of his face, grinning. “Hello, Nora! Lovely to see you here today!” I give a small smile, nodding. “Anything I can help you with?” He walks around the counter, coming to stand beside me.

I purse my lips. “Actually, yes you can, Melvin. Could you tell me where Dr. Jordan is?”

He looks toward the back room, pointing. “He should be back there working. Happy I could help!” He beams and returns to his place at the counter. I walk into the back, peering around the doorway. Dr. Jordan is mumbling to himself as he boils various things in a large pot. I knock on the door frame, and he grumpily answers, with a wave of his hand.

“Melvin, for the last time…” He looks over his shoulder, his face smoothing into a smile. “Nora, dear. I apologize. I thought you were that pesky Melvin.” I walk over, grinning.

“It’s alright. I got the herbs you’ve been wanting, and I thought I would stop by.” I look around, making sure Melvin isn’t spying, before pulling out a bottle of herbs, along with a small note. He scans the piece of paper, nods, and slips it in his pocket. 

“Thank you. These will be very useful.” He winks, pulling out a different piece of parchment and slipping it to me. I tuck it in my satchel, nodding.

“Of course. Happy to help.” I smile, exiting the shop through the backdoor. I enter a dark alleyway, my footsteps sounding loud on the quiet side street.

I pass a stack of crates, and someone jumps out, putting a hand around my mouth to muffle my screams. “Don’t move. We’ve been looking for you.” My captor ties my hands and sets me down on the ground behind the crates. He’s a tall man, with a muscular build. His black hair is tied back in a ponytail, his gleaming eyes boring into me. “The king has been wanting to meet you, Nora Rensin.” My blood chills. He smirks at my fear. “We know you’ve been helping Jadon. Now you will pay.”


Voices slither through the street; people are out on the hunt. Doors are thrown open, and screaming comes from within. Nasty brutes. They’ll do anything to find me. I clench my fists in anger, hating to be the cause of others’ pain.

“He’s not here! Search the next house! He couldn’t have gotten far.” I peer through the sewer grate, my arm covering my nose. The stench still hits me, strong and savage. I need to get out of here. I creep out, keeping to the shadows.

A cat screeches, running past me. Several voices come closer, and I duck behind a tall stack of crates. “The boss wouldn’t notice if we left. I need a good night’s rest, and the inn is only a few streets up.” The pair of men walk past me, and I grin. No one would ever guess that I went to an inn. It’s the perfect spot to blend in.

I slink out of my hiding place, following my hunters from a distance. I grab the knife from my boot, tucking it in my sleeve. Just in case. You never know what could happen.


“Here is your key. Have a good night.” The innkeeper plops the room key in my hand, and I nod in thanks. Heading up the stairs, I look every which way, careful to keep my hood up. Voices come around the corner and I scurry to find my room, ducking inside and closing the door. The voices go past. I let out a relieved sigh, looking around the dark room.

A candle sits on the side table, and I light it with a match. Shadows dance across the wall like silent, dark ghosts.

I run a hand down my face. A long, pale scar goes down my jawline. Flashes of the memory come back to me.

Flames. My mother held me close before the men seized her, silencing her screams. A long sword cut my cheek; my father defended me. My older brother stood by and watched, his face showing nothing but pride. Pride at being the one to cut our family apart; pride at being the one in charge. I will always remember what I told him before I ran. “You will pay for what you’ve done! One day I will find you and destroy you, like you destroyed our family!” He just stared at me with a cold glare. He never apologized. Just stared and let me escape. Now he has his men hunt me. They serve their tyrant king with great diligence.

I clench my fists. My brother is that king.


I’m in the city before dawn even breaks, running across the housetops. Leaping across the gaps, I take care not to miss my footing. I have a secret that only a handful of people know: I’m part Griffin. I’m one of the last griffins alive. By looking at me, you would never guess. I don’t have any markings or obvious traits of one. I have the speed, agility, and patience of one; as well as the recognizable golden hair. I run for a little while longer, just until the sun rises. Then I take shelter in a republic bunker, getting my fill of water and food. I take a quick nap, then rest for a while, staring up at the ceiling. Memories from my past constantly haunt me in my dreams. I can’t erase the terrors from my mind. Ever. I’ve tried before.

One memory stands out among the rest. My brother fixing me with that icy look. I will never forget it.


I stand with my head bowed, wishing all the eyes in the room weren’t fixed on me. Especially one in particular. King Atticus rises from the throne, a triumphant look on his cold face. A gold crown is nestled among his blond curls, the metallic gleam like the one in his icy blue eyes.

“Well done, Maxon. You will be highly rewarded.” He glances at the man who captured me before returning his stare to me. “Now, girl, I hear you know where the…griffin boy is.” He walks closer until his face is inches from mine. His voice drops to a whisper. “You will tell me where he is, or I will kill you. Then, I will kill him. However, if you share his location, I will kindly let you live.” The look in his eyes betrays his words. I gulp.

“I…I don’t know where he is. The last I saw him was two days ago. He moves everywhere, so I wouldn’t have the faintest clue where he is.” I hold my head high, making sure Atticus can see the truth in my eyes.

He scowls, turning and walking back to the throne. He signals to one of his men, who grabs my arms. “Take her to the dungeon. Her fate is sealed. She will remain there until she comes out with the truth, or until the griffin boy is found.” He takes a seat on his throne, his eyes piercing mine.

I fight against the man’s grip, my voice high and shrill. “You will never find your brother! Never!” My captor punches me hard in the stomach, making me double over with pain as I scream. I stare at the tyrant king through my tears as I’m dragged away. His face twists with rage, but underneath it all is one emotion I never thought I would see. Fear.

Have courage, Nora, I remind myself. The Creator will look after you. He will look after Jadon.


I open my eyes, the darkness pushing in on all sides. Everything is foggy, like my brain is wading through mist. I sit up, groaning. Everything hurts. As my eyes adjust, I look around the dark cell. Except for a chamber pot in the corner, and a small pile of straw I’m lying on, the small space is bare.

I walk over to the bars, staring down the hallway. A guard sits at the end, snoring beside a small lantern. I huff and shake the door. It rattles, the lock creaking. The man stays asleep, and I grin at the thin metal. These cells are old. Maybe they should have replaced the locks. The metal is so thin, that Jadon could break it with ease. It’s possible that I can too.

I continue to shake the door, keeping a careful eye on the guard. When he stirs, I stop, but he’s a hard sleeper. Finally, the metal bends enough, and the lock falls to the dirty floor. A smile spreads across my lips, and I swing the door open. I quietly creep past the guard and jog up the winding staircase, hoping I can slip out without being seen.


The world seems to freeze. All I can do is scream. The agony and pain are too much to bear. I stare at the bloodied sword as I fall to my knees, clutching my stomach. Someone speaks, but I can’t decipher it. A face comes into view, scarred and grinning.

I take a deep breath, summoning all my extra strength. “You…you will never get rid of me.” I clench my teeth, and my hunter laughs.

“Ha! You can barely stand. We have won; you have lost.” I shake my head, refusing to surrender. A figure creeps up behind the man, and a smirk spreads across my face.

“You’re wrong. I have won this time.” The man’s eyes go wide as a sword pierces his middle, and he falls to the ground, dead. I breathe a sigh of relief, then collapse, my energy spent.

“We’ll get you help. Hold on.” The world goes black as arms wrap around me, sending a jolt of pain through my body.


“Jadon, wake up, please!” A familiar voice draws me out of my fever-filled sleep. A pair of beautiful brown eyes meet mine. She smothers me in a hug, her tears wetting my cheeks. “I thought you were going to die! I…” Her words drown in her sobs as she kisses my cheek, blushing as she draws back. My face heats as I take her hand.

“Nora…I’m so sorry for worrying you. I’m all right now.” I smile, then lie back down on the pillow, looking around. We’re in a small hideout under the apothecary. Makes sense. I suck in a breath as I shift on the bed, sending a jolt of pain through my body. Nora places a hand on my arm, calming me.

“Jadon, the wound is terrible. You have to rest. There’s no choice this time. If you don’t, you’ll…die.” Her lips tremble, and a tear slides down her face. She quickly wipes it away, and I bite my lip, wishing I dared to tell her I won’t die. However, even I can’t promise that.


“Jadon, you can’t! It’s impossible!” Nora runs a hand down her face, her eyebrows pinched together.

I shake my head. “You know there’s no other way. I have to confront him. It’s the only way to stop him. You barely made it out of there alive. Besides…he’s…my brother, and I know him better.” She places her hand in mine. I look up into dark brown eyes, which are filled with tears.

“I’m so sorry, Jadon. For everything you’ve gone through.” The corners of her mouth tilt up, then her face hardens as she pulls away. “However, you cannot go! You’re still very weak, even though you’ve healed quickly. You won’t be able to confront him without…without getting hurt, or worse.” Her lip trembles and she bites it. “You simply cannot go.” She turns to leave the room, but I stop her.

“Nora, he’ll find me anyway.” She stiffens, turning around. Her eyes are wide.

“What do you mean?” Her voice is pitched higher than normal, and her body trembles.

I sigh, wishing I didn’t have to tell her. “He has spies everywhere. One already knows I’m here. You know him, Nora. He’s right outside that door.”

 She shakes her head. “You don’t mean…he would never! Sure, he’s always been kind of nosy, but…” I nod, and she gasps, tears filling her eyes.

“It’s Melvin, Nora. Melvin is the spy. He knows we’re here, and he’s probably already told my brother.” A sob escapes her lips, and she walks over to the hidden door, shaking. I close my eyes, wishing she wasn’t caught up in all of this.

Footsteps come from inside the apothecary, then shattering glass. I jolt from the bed, hurrying over to the door, my sword in hand. Nora stands at the stairs, peeking through the cracked door, tears running down her face. I stand beside her, breathing deeply; my fists clenched. Melvin stands over the fallen figure of Dr. Jordan, a sword in hand.


I press a hand over my mouth, horror filling my body. Blood pools around my old friend, his life gone. Tears continue to gather in my eyes and run down my face. Melvin looks up, meeting my gaze. I stumble back, and Jadon catches me. I didn’t realize he was standing there. He closes the door, bolting it, then leads me into the room. “We have to get out of here, Nora.” He shakes my shoulders and I nod, sliding aside a stack of crates.

I push on the wall and it swings inward, revealing a secret passage. Jadon pushes me in, dragging the crates back in place. Melvin pounds and kicks at the door, screaming threats. I stare at the creaking wood, eyes wide. Jadon closes the secret door, locking it. Luckily it can bolt from the inside.

I drag Jadon deeper into the passage, away from the splintering sound of the door, Melvin’s yells, and the danger on the other side of the wall. Eventually we both sink to the floor, exhausted. I lay my head on his shoulder, sniffling. “I can’t believe Dr. Jordan’s gone. He was such a dear friend.” Jadon nods at my words, then shifts under my weight.

“Nora, I need to tell you something.” My heartbeat speeds up, and my cheeks warm. “I know you don’t want to hear this, but…I need to confront my brother. Before more lives are lost.” My pulse returns to normal, and my heart deflates. Then a new emotion arises. Anger.

“But Jadon! You’re wounded and–” I stop, taking a deep breath. “You can’t face him…right now. You’ll die.” My voice lowers to a whisper as a tear drips onto his shoulder. “I can’t lose you. You mean too much to me.” A sob closes off my throat. “You’ve always been there when I needed you most. If you die…you won’t be there.” He pulls me in tighter, letting me cry against his shoulder.

“I will always be here for you, Nora. No matter what.”


Opening my eyes, I feel around, only touching the empty air beside me. I bolt up, searching around for Jadon. I hiss his name into the darkness. Nothing. I slam a fist down. “No, please, no.” I already know what he’s done, and I can’t stop it. He’s gone to confront his brother.


I walk up the palace stairs, sword drawn. Several sentries rush towards me, but I take them down with ease. I stalk through the great hall, the lack of servants and guards suspicious. Something nags at me, but I brush it off.

I throw open the door to the throne room, my voice rising. “King Atticus, your tyrant rule is over! Surrender now!”

My brother looks up from talking to a knight, a wicked smile on his face. “Ah! Finally, the griffin boy has arrived. What took you so long?” He rises, and my stomach turns at seeing my brother again. “You will kneel before your king.” His ice-blue eyes penetrate me like they’re gazing into my soul.

I clench my teeth. “Never. I will never bow to a king who kills innocent people, breaks families apart, and murders his parents. I will never choose to kneel before a cruel ruler. That would be giving in to the darkness, and I will never give in. I’ll be killed before I surrender to the shadows.” I stand taller, pointing my sword toward him.

He laughs, looking around. “I honestly would expect nothing less from such a rebel. You’ve always been one.” He steps down from his throne, his smile fading. “Your request to die shall be granted, and I will be glad.” I take a step back, horrified that my brother would say such a thing. Then my blood boils and I smirk.

“Wow. Who did you learn that one from?” I applaud, but no one else in the room joins me. Glaring at the king as he walks closer, I make sure he hears my next words. “I never expected you would say that to your brother. That’s just wrong.” I shake my head, taking a step back, and avoiding the swing of my brother’s blade. I meet it with my own, and the clash of metal echoes through the throne room.

“You will be cut down and defeated. Just like I did to Mother and Father. Just like I did to our sister.” Atticus smirks and his wickedness turns my gut. How could he be so cruel?

The point of his weapon meets my shoulder and I grit my teeth through the pain. I see my chance and stab him in the arm. He screams, his face turning red.

He holds the bleeding wound, his eyes boring into me. “If you’re going to kill me, you might as well get it over with.” He glares, and I shake my head.

“No. I’m not like you, Atticus. I don’t just kill people. I will never be like you.” Throwing my sword down, I stare at him. “Please, you can change. You can become someone good. Come with me.” I hold out my hand, and something shifts in his expression.

Then as quickly as it came, it’s gone, replaced by a scowl. “I will never give up my power. Never. You’ve made a mistake, brother. You’re defenseless.” He snaps his fingers, and a host of knights pours into the room. Two take my arms, pulling them behind me. I fight against them, but their grip is too strong. They drag me away while I’m kicking and fighting. I never go down without a fight.


I stare at the one candle outside my cell. My arms are chained up above me on the wall, making them weak. I suppose that’s the point. My gaze lingers on the flame before shifting over to the burly guard sitting beside it. He stares back, scowling.

I lean forward as far as the chains will allow, trying to get his attention. “Hey!” The guard scowls, walking over to the bars. “I don’t suppose you could help me?”

He shakes his head, growling. “The only thing I will help with is your execution. I’ll be happy to shut your pretty mouth.”

I grin. “Oh, so you think I’m pretty?” He shakes his head, muttering to himself at my words. I drop back to the floor, sighing. I close my eyes, pretending to be asleep. After a while, I hear the guard’s snores, and I open my eyes, grinning.

With great difficulty, I wrench my arms from the chains, then walk over to the bars, rubbing my aching wrists. The guard continues sleeping, obviously a deep sleeper. I look at the lock, putting my hands on my hips. These bars are way too narrow to slip through, and I have nothing to pick a lock with.

I lean my head on the cell wall, wishing I was anywhere else. Somewhere the shadows aren’t pressing around me. Looking up, I realize that I have something useful. I go over to the manacles, sliding the locking pin out. Grinning in the darkness, I feel hope surging within me.


I push through the sizable crowd, my heart pounding. I pull my coat tighter, the chill in the air pressing in like the people around me. The din quiets when a man walks up onto a platform in the town square. I move closer, pain stirring within me. He raises his arms, but it’s unnecessary because everyone is already silent.

“Friends! We gather here today for the execution of those filthy rebels amongst us. The Sub-Terra Republic will be destroyed. We will hunt the members down and extinguish the last of them!” A few people in the crowd let out half-hearted cheers, but most of them stayed silent. The man turns to someone and nods. A cage is wheeled to the platform, and a quiet gasp escapes my lips. Jadon and another person I don’t recognize are the prisoners. The other boy shivers and looks around with wild, frightened eyes. Jadon sits straight, a smirk on his face like usual. Anger and fear surge within me. How could he be so unafraid? Doesn’t he realize he’s about to die?

They escort the prisoners up to the platform where two chopping blocks await. Each prisoner is bent over, their necks exposed. My gut lurches. I won’t be able to watch this. I can’t; not when my best friend is going to be killed before my very eyes.

The speaker turns toward the crowd as an executioner takes his place behind Jadon and the other prisoner. “I assume there are rebels in this crowd, so let this be a lesson to you! We will hunt you down and kill you like these traitors here.” He motions with his hand, and the executioner steps forward, wielding a sword.

The crowd gasps when he swings for Jadon. I squeeze my eyes shut, tears slipping down my cheeks as the crowd gasps again. It’s done. He’s gone. At a shout from the crowd I open my eyes, my voice joining the others. Jadon stands over the dead body of the executioner, sword in hand. He frees the young boy, who sprints away, and then Jadon slashes at the speaker. He yelps, diving behind a stack of crates.

Jadon grins as the crowd cheers, then watches as the man runs away. He raises his arm, and the crowd cheers even more loudly than before.

“People of Capitalias! I stand before you as a friend, not an enemy. The Sub-Terra Republic’s goal is to help this city rise from the shadows and into the light. My name is Jadon Theox, leader of the republic. This organization will bring you not only light but freedom. Together, we will rebuild the city of Capitalias into something beautiful and welcoming.” The crowd cheers again at his words, and I push closer to the platform. Jadon meets my eyes, and he smiles, his blue eyes sparkling.

He helps me up, then embraces me. I cry happy tears, thankful that he’s alive. “Jadon, I thought I lost you. Please stop almost dying.” I speak so only he can hear, and he leans back, smirking.

“You know that it’s hard for me to do that.”

I shake my head, grinning. “I know.”

He turns back to the crowd as I stand beside him, beaming. “To those in this crowd, I welcome you and ask you to join our rebellion. Will you join to help this city come up from the shadows, to save those who have been lost to darkness?” A roar of voices grows, the sound full of hope. Tears slide down Jadon’s face, as well as mine. Hope is stirring; light is growing.


I stand at the head of the crowd, staring up at the palace spires. This is it. Either we win or lose; we survive or die. Climbing up onto a nearby roof, I pull my sword out of its sheath. I vault over the housetops, my eyes constantly fixed on the palace. When I make the last leap, I jump down on a guard, silencing him with my blade. I blend into the shadows as I make my way deeper into the castle, keeping a wary eye. I spot an official-looking noble walking by me, and I pull him into my hiding place, keeping my blade at his throat.

“Where’s the king?”     


I stalk into the throne room, announcing my presence in a loud voice. “King Atticus Theox, your reign is over. Surrender, or be taken captive.” I point my sword at my brother, the shock on his face lasting only a moment before turning to pure evil.

Sentries rush toward me, surrounding my every exit. “You think that I will surrender to you?” He laughs coldly, standing. He draws his sword, and the sound echoes through the room.

He charges forward, and I easily deflect him, making him off-balance. I cut his right shoulder and he grimaces in pain, before injuring my leg.

I spot a black figure outside the window, and I lock eyes with him, signaling that I’m ready. I stand opposite my brother, slowly inching away. “I’m sorry I have to do this, Atticus. Please, turn from the shadows. You have a chance to return to the light. Please.” Tears spill down my cheeks as I hold out a hand. He stares at it for a moment, his own eyes glassy.

He raises his head, that gleam returning in his eyes. “The shadows are mine. I’m more powerful because of them. I will never join you!” I nod my head sadly.

“Then I’m so sorry. I wish I didn’t have to do this.” Taking a last step from the throne room, I slam the doors shut. I bar them with the emergency lock, then dive to the opposite end of the hall as the ground shakes with a massive explosion below the throne room.

Cracks run toward me as the floor caves in. Although it’s only a few feet, I could still get hurt–or worse–die like the poor king and his sentries. After the dust settles, I realize the throne room door is gone. I stand on shaky legs, looking down into the small crater.

They’re all dead. Seeing it makes my gut turn, and I look away. I realize seconds later that I’m crying. My brother is dead; the only person left in my family is gone. I didn’t think I would mourn him, but although he did so many awful things, he was still my brother.

The Sub-Terra Rebels start pouring in, cheering, and patting me on the back. Nora comes over, twining her fingers through mine. She smiles sadly. “We won. I’m sorry about your brother, Jadon. I know how hard it is.” The corner of my mouth turns up slightly.

“Thank you for everything, Nora. I…never realized how much I needed you. I trust you more than anything.” Tears run down her face as she grins. I embrace her, and we stand there for a while before parting.

I turn toward the gathered Rebels, everyone’s faces beaming. “Friends! Today, we have raised this kingdom from the shadows!” A loud cheer sounds through the hall, making me grin. “We have vanquished an evil foe, and brought light to the city and kingdom!” Another cheer, followed by a statement that brings more tears.

“Hail, Jadon Theox, the Light King!” All those in the crowd chant it, and Nora smirks.

“See, I knew you would make an excellent leader!”

I shake my head, laughing. “I couldn’t have done it without you.” I twine my fingers through hers and grin.

She whispers, so only I can hear. “Hail, Jadon Theox, the Light King.” Then she drops to a knee, as do all the rebels. I stare at all the faces. The bringers of peace. The sole reason we have brought light to the kingdom.


I sit outside the palace walls, watching the crowd. Jadon will be king, and I’ll still be a simple peasant. I sigh, sure that a lowly life will be my fate. I’ll die as an old maid, with no one to care for me. Jadon will forget me once he’s crowned king. He’ll have a group of fancy royals as friends instead.

I stand, looking down at the elegant dress I’m wearing. I feel like it’s just a costume. I guess it is. Trumpets ring, and I rush back inside the palace, hoping I’m not late for his crowning.

It’s been three months since we took over the palace, and the repairs to the throne room didn’t take long. I push past the many people in the hall and then enter the throne room. The high chancellor stands on the dais, beside the throne. The crowd parts, letting Jadon pass. Tears come to my eyes as I watch him kneel. A few minutes pass, then the crown is placed upon his golden curls. He turns, smiling. I applaud everyone else, hailing him. Then we drop to one knee, bowing to our king of light.

Fresh tears come to my eyes as I watch him. I’m losing him forever. He doesn’t love me. How did I ever think that he did?

I stand with the others, then leave the room, the pain of seeing him as a royal too much. I enter the city, watching as the sun sets. Life will never be the same.


Smoothing my dress, I stare at the throne room door. It’s been a week since Jadon was crowned king. A messenger came earlier today, saying that the king wished to see me. I wring my sweaty hands, biting my lip. Then I walk through the doors, entering the vast hall.

Jadon sits up on his throne, talking to a sentry. His head turns and his eyes grow wide; his lips turn up in a grin. He whispers something else to the guard before standing. “Thank you for coming, Nora.” He comes down to meet me, offering his arm. I hesitate for a moment, then take it.

He leads me out to the palace gardens, stopping in front of the great fountain. He looks down, his face reddening. “The reason I asked you to come is this: I love you, Nora. I have for a long time, and I needed to tell you.” Water pools in his eyes, as well as my own. He drops to one knee, smiling. “Nora, will you do me the honor of being my wife?” My face stretches in a smile so big, my cheeks hurt.

I nod. “Yes.” He pulls a dainty ring from his pocket, slipping it onto my finger. I throw my arms around him, my heart swelling with joy.

All of my dreams have come true. The kingdom is finally at peace, and I have found true love.

Epilogue: Jadon

I take a deep breath, staring at the balcony doors. I make sure the golden crown is straight on my head, then I walk out. A cheer rises in the courtyard, and I smile down at the great crowd gathered below. I raise my arm for silence.

“Thank you for gathering here today! It means so much to me. As you all know, I am the younger brother of your former king, Atticus Theox. However, unlike him, my goal is to bring light and peace to this kingdom. I hope that we will all profit from this new era in the kingdom.” A cheer sounds again, then I smile as trumpets sound. The announcer shouts for all to hear.

“Announcing her Royal Majesty, Queen Nora!” The crowd applauds as my dear Nora steps out onto the balcony, her brown hair twisted up below her sparkling crown. She grins as she joins me, and I kiss her forehead.

“Hello, dear. I’m glad you could join us.”

She smirks, kissing my cheek. “I’m just glad you could be here.” I laugh, then turn back to the crowd. The announcer shouts again.

“Hail, King Jadon and Queen Nora!” The crowd repeats the words, bowing. I stand beside my wife on the balcony, happiness filling me. The kingdom has risen from the shadows; there is peace and light once more. I have family again, and friends far more wonderful than I could ever imagine. The shadows have been dispelled.

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