Diamond stopped a few feet away from the city limits. It was quite a sight to behold with so many buildings, shops and houses. It was bigger than Altheia or Grai could ever imagine. Wow! breathed the young magess. I didnt think the city was THIS big. Grai smiled at her. It is quite impressive, isnt it?
They dismounted and proceeded to enter the city. They walked through the marketplace looking at all the wares for sale. Anything you can imagine to buy was for sale from clothing to weaponry to fruits and vegetables. Altheia stopped at a table selling musical instruments. She picked up a silver flute and examined it. Excuse me sir, may I try this flute out. she said to the merchant.
Certainly, young lady. She put the piece to her lips and blew. The music came out beautifully. She played a familiar tune she heard as a child. Soon people flocked around her and clapped to the beat. When she was done, the crowd applauded.
That was beautiful. How long have you been playing young lady.
She blushed. Actually, I never played before this.
You are very talented. I will tell ya what. I will sell that flute to you for 10 silver. That is the best offer you will get. The young maiden fished in her pouch for the required sum. You have a deal. With the exchange made they moved on to the next table.
They spent the whole afternoon in the marketplace looking at this item and that. Pretty soon Grai noticed some guards watching them. Dont look now, he whispered to Altheia. She was looking at a blue cloth dress. I think we have trouble. Altheia looked out of the corner of her eye at the guards. They were dressed in a dark brown tunic with silver belts and silver helms. On their right arms, they wore a round shield with the Avalon crest of a gold crown and a candle in the center of it. The guards stood a few feet away from the suspects. Altheia purchased the dress and they stepped away from the stall. The guards swooped in and made their move. Halt! You are under arrest for treason to the crown.
Altheia looked bewildered. Grai turned white and looked like he was going to faint. Sir, I am not a traitor. I only arrived here today with my girlfriend.
Sure you have Moonspinner. You are charged with smuggling the treasury jewels.
Smuggling?! cried Altheia. Sir, you must be mistaken.
Dont interfere! yelled the guard as he pushed her down.
Hey! Grai tried to get to his girl but the guards restrained him and put him in chains. Tell it to the magistrate.
The golden-skinned girl stood up and cleared her head. Her guy just arrested for something she was sure he didnt do. Even if she knew where the city jail was, she doubt very much they would believe her. Diamond came up to her. -Are you OK?-
-I am fine.- She assured him. There was nothing she could do. -I will never forget you Grai.-
The girl decided to go on to the castle by herself. The only problem was how to get in. She looked around for the right opportunity and found it. Some guards were marching back to the castle. She quickly caught up with the guards and tapped on of them on the shoulder. He turned around and she hit him in the head with her quarterstaff, knocking him unconscious. The others guards had not noticed and marched on. She dragged the guard to an abandoned alley and stripped him of his uniform. She put on the attire. It was a bit big but it would do. Then she scurried off to catch up with the guards. She snuck in before the gate closed. Hey! Why are you late? yelled the lieutenant. She panicked then an excused came to her. In a deep voice she answered. I had some trouble I had to attend to. The lieutenant seemed to accept this answer. Well dont let it happen again. Now get to your post!
Sir! Yes sir! she saluted and ran off. Not to her post but towards the castle.
The other guards didnt question her since they thought she was one of them.
Once inside, she abandoned her borrowed uniform. Diamond materialized in front of her. Where have you been?
-I have been invisible so as not to attract attention.-
Oh. Well that is a good idea. Have any ideas where I can find the queen?
-Did you try the throne room?- She felt stupid. So off to find the throne room they went. The castle was large than she thought with all its statues and tapestries. She tried every door she came too but they were either locked or empty. She finally came to the last door. She opened it slowly. This room was lavishly decorated with a red carpet and even more extravagant tapestries. There in the middle of the room was a throne and sitting on it was the queen.
Altheia couldnt believe her luck. She opened the door a little wider and quietly walked through. She looked around and noticed no one was in the room but herself and the queen. She sat on his throne with pen and table nearby. She looked like she was writing something but Altheia couldnt tell what. Altheia walked along the red carpet up to the throne. the queen was so engrossed in her writing that she didnt notice she had a visitor.
Altheia kneeled and spoke, Excuse me, my queen. I like to speak to you if I may. Constance was startled to see her there. How did you get in here?
I beg your pardon, your majesty. I needed to speak to you about getting into the mage school.
Constance smiled Why would they take you? Are you a mage or a bard?
It is open to bards now? The queen nodded. Well, I am a mage. I need training though. The best place to learn is at this school.
I see. replied the queen. At this time, Diamond thought it safe to reappear and stood by his mistresss side. Shocked the brown haired, green eyed ruler spoke, You have a unicorn?
Yes, I do.
Can you speak to him?
Yes, very well. Why?
My dear, you are a Chosen One.
I am a what?
A Chosen One , my dear. They are mages who have unicorns as pets and can communicate with them. They are very rare because unicorns are a very rare breed. I am a Chosen One too.
Yes, tell me dear, Where did you find your unicorn?
I found him in the woods on the way here. We freed him from a trap. My boyfriend and I did but my boyfriend got arrested. I have no idea what for but they took him away. At this point Altheia began to cry.
There, there dear. It will be all right. What is your boyfriends name?
Grai Star, she replied between sniffles.
I will try to help if I can. Now. what is your name?
Altheia Summers of Blue Mountain Valley.
My, you have traveled far. How did you hear about the school? Where are your parents?
My mother is a mage. Her name was Mara Summers. She and my father died when our home was burnt down.
Oh, poor thing. Well since you are a Chosen One and you have had no schooling, we should get you in right away. How old are you Altheia?
I am 160 years old.
Well that is a little young to start but it should be OK if you dont mind starting with the beginners.
I want to learn. I know a few things but I need more training.
Well it is getting late. I will talk to the headmaster of the school. In the meantime you can stay in one of the guest bedrooms.
Oh thank you! Altheia bowed to the queen.
I will have a page show you to your quarters.
By the way, your majesty, Arent there are supposed to be a court in here with people in all.?
Constance smiled. I wanted to talk to you alone. I was expecting you.
Expecting me? How?
Diamond told me someone was coming to the castle and that the person was a Chosen One.
Diamond told you? The queen nodded. Now lets get you to your quarters. You have a big day tomorrow.
The next morning, Altheia woke up in a nice, warm comfortable bed. For a minute she was confused on how she got there. Then she remembered the conversation with the queen and it all came back to her. This wasnt a dream and she was going to study at the mage and bard school. Today she was going to meet the headmaster. There was a knock at the door. One moment please. She found clothing in the closet of a pale blue top and pants.
She dressed quickly not wanting to keep her visitor waiting. There came another knock at the door. Coming! she called. She rushed to the door and opened it. There stood the page that escorted her to the quarters the night before. Excuse me, the queen has requested your attendance in the throne room.
OK, I am on my way,
She found herself back in the throne room with the queen. The latter had given her a note to give to the headmaster. This note should explain it all. Give it to him when you speak to him. Altheia put it in her backpack. She was again escorted by another page to the office of the headmaster. She knocked on the door. Come in, said a voice from the inside. She opened the door and inside sat short, pleasantly plump man with graying hair. He looked close to 500 but his smile was warm. Come in dear. I dont bite.
Are you Headmaster Mikeal?
Yes I am.
I have been told to hand this to you. He took the note from her and read it. A Chosen One? Where is your pet?
He is waiting outside.
Altheia Summers, Summers, that name sounds familiar. I knew a Summers once a Mara Summers.
She was my mother. She unfortunately died in a fire.
You are little Allie?????? My dear you were so small when you came to us with your mother. Gods, you are the spitting image of your mother. Gods, you have grown. He impulsively hugged her.
I have been here before?
Yes when you were just 30 years old. Now you have the special talent. How did you know to come here?
I didnt. I just needed some training.
Well we will get you set up right away and get you settled in.
Settled in? What of my other things?
No need. A page has sent your things over to your school quarters.
I will get a student to escort you to the girls dormitories. He opened the door to see Stephanie Winterdawn walking down the hall. Ah Stephanie, may I ask a favor of you.
Stephanie this is Altheia Summers, a new student. I like you to show her where the girls dormitories are and show her around.
Certainly, hello, please to meet you. Stephanie offered her arm.
She was an elf with long blond hair and blue eyes with a slim build. She was a little shorter than Altheia. The nino oro greeted the girl and took the girls hand. She saw flashes of this girls life before her. It was a strange feeling and she staggered. Are you all right? asked the girl.
Yes I am fine. Just got a little dizzy is all.
Maybe we should take you to your room so you can lie down.
Before you go girls, here is your schedule Altheia. She took the schedule from the headmaster and put it in her pack.
The two girls walked along the school grounds. Diamond followed behind. So you are a Chosen One. How exciting! Stephanie was telling Altheia. You are so lucky. I wish I could have a unicorn.
I only found out today. It sounds pretty rare.
Pretty rare! There are only 100 Chosen Ones in Avalon.
Then a voice behind them said, Hello Step on me. Who is your friend?
Stephanie sighed. Derrick Woodtree why dont you mind your own business.
Who is he? asked Altheia
No one special, just the school bully and a bard.
Well you know what they say about bards Stephanie. They are jerk of all trades and masters of none. Stephanie burst into giggles. Bards are so uninteresting and they are such snobs. At least the ones I seen. I bet they call the bardom wing, the boredom wing. This just made Stephanie laugh harder. Derrick turned different shades of red. Take that back.
Make me! she said determinedly. Instead he took another approach. You know Nino Oros are not even a real race. The only thing they are good for is slave labor. Altheia got as red as her hair. She slammed him to the ground without even touching him.
Have anything else to say about me...Derrick?
Yeah, you arent even a real Chosen One. They hasnt been anyone showing powers in 100 years. You could have just painted that broken down windbag you call a horse. Diamond snorted. A broken down windbag am I! He lifted the bully up and kicked him with his back hooves. The bully flew through the air and landed on the ground..hard. Then the young redheaded magess concentrated and Derrick rose in the air then started spinning around faster and faster. Then she saw a sword lying in the practice yard and picked it up with her mind and threw it at Derrick. It stopped short in front of him pointed at his throat. Now do you have anything else to say about me or my people. Derrick shook his head vigorously. Good. Now get out of here.
Derrick ran off out of sight muttering I will get you, both of you!
Wow! Stephanie exclaimed. I never knew you could do THAT!
I didnt know either. admitted Altheia.
Are you really a nino oro? Altheia nodded. I thought so but I didnt want to say anything.
I appreciate that. She did too, Everywhere she went she got asked or had to explain herself. Remind me never to get on your bad side Altheia. Stephanie replied. Altheia smiled. Maybe this school wouldnt be so bad after all.
Avalon Publication(April 2001)