I couldn’t believe it. I was really walking back across the moat, headed back for Bottlecreek. Well, actually, I guess I could believe it. I had spent months imagining myself heading back to town triumphant. But I had always imagined Tanith would be with me and the monsters, er, misunderstood creatures, would be vanquished.
Instead, I’m stuck walking back, alone with all those creatures waiting for me to return with the White Sword.
“What did I ever do to deserve this?” I muttered to myself, my armor clanking with every step I took.
I marched down the hill, trying desperately to not think of what I would say to King Adam Well, what would you say to your ruler whose daughter you were supposed to have been saving, which daughter is not with you? It wasn’t something I wanted to think about.
“It’s him!” a voice shouted as I walked into Bottlecreek. “It’s Sir Shane! He’s returned!”
A crowd began to gather around me as I clanked down the cobblestone streets.
“Out of my way,” I growled, snapping down my visor. This was the last thing I wanted to deal with.
The crowd followed me all the way to the castle, all the way inquiring after Princess Tanith. Of course I didn’t answer them. She obviously wasn’t with me, so what more did they want? It was all her fault, anyways, that I was stuck clunking through down surrounded by everyone in Bottlecreek.
Fortunately, I left the crowd behind as I approached the castle. The guards standing at the doors looked at me.
“Sir Shane of Bottlecreek,” I snapped. “I need to talk to the king regarding Princess Tanith.”
The moment I said her name, the doors were pulled open and the guards hustled me inside.
I was standing before King Adam before I knew it.
“You may remove your helmet, Sir Shane,” the king said with a trace of humor in his voice.
I pulled it off and tucked it under my arm.
“You’ve been gone a long time, Sir Shane. We had given up all hope of your return. Where is my daughter?”
“Er, uh.” I cleared my throat. “You Majesty, Princess Tanith is alive and well. Um, unfortunately, I cannot free her from the, uh, creatures without the White Sword.”
“That is their ransom?” the king asked, frowning.
“Uh, yes, Your Majesty.”
“Then by all means you will have the sword. I must have my daughter back safe, do you hear me?”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” I said just as the doors were flung open and several pages tumbled into the room, excitement glowing on their young faces.
The king stood and looked past me at them.
“Well?” King Adam asked expectantly.
“They’re here,” one page said excitedly. “They’re all here.”
“Who is here?” I asked, narrowing my eyes slightly.
The king turned to me. “Why, all the knights of the surrounding lands, of course. All of my cowards, I mean knights, refuse to come out from behind their couches. I had to resort to asking all the other lands for knights to go and bring back my daughter. Needless to say, I’m amassing an army to storm the Black Castle!”
I started in surprise. “Your Majesty, please don’t!” I cried out before I could stop myself.
The king looked at me sternly. “What do you mean?” he asked, his voice ominous.
“I mean, Your Majesty,” I started, thinking furiously, “I can get Princess Tanith back. If you would lend me the White Sword and agree to hold off your army, I will have her back within the next four days.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive, Your Majesty,” I said with a confidence I didn’t feel.
“Very well. Come with me.”