The Amulet Saga
Volume Two: The Defector
What Came Before:
“We’ve found her!”
Ada looked up from her mug of tea at the soldier who had burst into the common room.
“A woman in the market gave this to me.” The soldier handed a small scrap of parchment to the prince.
The prince took it and read aloud. “I know who you’re looking for. I have a plan to get her away from where she is being held. We will meet you in the alley behind The Thorn and Pony Inn at sunset. Signed, a friend.”
The prince took a deep breath. “I hope this is not another beggar, hoping for money.”
The amulet throbbed against Ada’s chest. Something wasn’t right. Not just another dead-end, but something more sinister.
She’d tried seeing, but some sort of magic blocked her.
The soldiers scurried around, making preparations to meet the letter writer. Ada clutched the amulet, trying to connect to it, to hear what it wanted to tell her, but a vague impression of danger was the most she felt.
The lamps that lined city streets did not extend to the alley behind the inn, leaving the space shadowed and dim. Ada stepped carefully to avoid the refuse that littered the cobbled path. She stood near a wall, ignored by the prince and his soldiers, as she had been most of the journey. They trusted in their swords and their wits to win the day, giving no thought to Ada or what she tried to tell them.
Shortly after dusk, two figures, cloaked in robes, came around the corner into the alley.
The prince drew his sword. “Who goes there?”
One of them threw back her hood. “Amberte, it’s me.”
The woman wore Her Majesty, Anarosia’s face, but it was not Anarosia. Ada knew as much even before the amulet flared.
The prince sheathed his sword and started toward the woman.
“Stop!” Ada shouted. “It is not the queen. She is an imposter.”
“Nonsense,” Amberte said. “Do you think I don’t know my own sister?” He embraced the woman.
The woman returned the embrace. She looked around Amberte’s shoulder, staring directly at Ada with a sinister smile.
Ada knew her, but she couldn’t quite place her. She wore Anarosia’s face, but it was prettier, somehow. Her features more symmetrical, her eyes larger and framed by darker lashes, her skin smoother and unfreckled.
The woman pulled back and put a hand to Amberte’s face. “Who would have thought a year could make such a difference in my little brother? Where is the boy who used to chase me around the castle with jars of spiders?”
Amberte laughed. “You squealed so delightfully.”
The imposter had intimate details of Anarosia’s life. How could she know such things, unless…
“Myrta,” Ada said aloud.
The imposter jumped.
“What’s that?” the prince asked.
“Sadly, Myrta is no longer with us,” Myrta said. “My dearest friend died trying to save me from my kidnappers.”
“Kidnappers? We thought you ran away,” Amberte said.
Myrta nodded. “That’s what they wanted you to think. It was an elaborate plot, to hold me hostage until the kingdom was desperate, and then ransom me.” She held out a hand to her companion, who came forward and lowered her hood.
“This is my one true friend, Jyn. She is a merchant who had dealings with my kidnappers. She befriended me and promised to help me escape when she could, so when she heard you were looking for me, she made a plan to get me out and bring me to you. She shall be my chief advisor when I am crowned queen.”
Ada tried to protest, but no one wanted to listen to an old woman. Myrta’s performance as Anarosia was flawless. No one else doubted her identity.
“We must make all haste to return home. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that father has passed away. Andro is ruling in your absence, but the country needs its queen.”
“Yes, let’s get away as soon as possible. I don’t want to spend another day here.” Myrta shuddered, as though she really meant it.
“We must also send a contingent to bring your kidnappers to justice.”
Myrta glanced at Jyn, whose jaw hardened, then placed a hand on Amberte’s arm. “No, please, brother. They cannot harm me any longer. I just want to go home.”
“Very well,” the prince said. “We will discuss it further when we get home.” He bustled Myrta and her friend Jyn back to the inn where they’d been staying, a much nicer affair than The Thorn and Pony.”
Once Myrta and Jyn were tucked into a room at the inn and guards were placed at their door, Ada approached the prince.
“My lord, I know Her Majesty desires to forgive and move forward with her life, and I support her, but such devious plotting must not be allowed to go unpunished. The queen has been missing for over a year, and such a thing is not to be taken lightly. Nor do we have time to wait to discuss it until we return home. We must find these kidnappers before they have a chance to go into hiding. Please, leave me with a small contingent of soldiers. We can track down the kidnappers while you get Her Majesty to safety.”
The prince rubbed his chin. “It is a wise plan. Very well. We’ll leave at first light, and I’ll leave you to deal with the kidnappers.”
The next morning, Ada stood outside the inn as the prince prepared to leave. When Myrta came out, Ada stopped her. “Enjoy it while you can, because very soon, the true queen will be back on the throne.”
Myrta smiled, that sly, devious smile. “Even if you find her, which you won’t, you won’t bring her back. She doesn’t want to come. This way, everyone is happy.”
“We shall see,” Ada said.
Ada turned away. “I am the queen now, and there is nothing you can do.”
What is to come:
Alas, dear reader, this is where I leave you. To finish The Amulet Saga, Volume Two: The Defector, click here!