The rain came down in thick curtains as Richard trudged back to the mountain his clothes soaked through, his feet were heavy as the night drew on. Dark clouds rolled through the sky as the storm rumbled above. Clutching to his neck were two small arms as they held onto him for dear life as the child spoke in her sleep.
Richard was rather curious about how the child had ended up out in the middle of the city. Surely her parents were watching her, and yet they were nowhere to be found. Would they be looking for her? Does she even have parents?
Richard continued thinking over the matter as he made his way back to the mountain, the crunch of dry hay under his feet was the only thing that broke him out of his wild thoughts when he entered the stables. Looking around Richard searched for a good place to put the child for the night. He cringed though when a harsh icy wind picked up. It would be too cold, and what if she tries to run, she has no idea where she is and she could get lost, or worse. Shuffling her weight in his arms he went to the stable door, walking into the mountain having no more options left. It was dark so Richard could only presume Ryan was asleep. Letting out a relieved sigh Richard made his way to his room glad he wouldn’t have to explain to Ryan the situation he is now putting them into. He didn’t understand why things like this kept happening to him, it wasn’t like he went looking for trouble…kind of.
Pushing his grumbling aside Richard kicked his door open with his foot making his way over to the bed, faint beams of moonlight lit up the darkroom with their soft luminescent glow. Laying the child down, he covered her with the covers. Standing, he looked over her for a while, he could see the pained expression on her face as she mumbled tossing her head back and forth. What else had she gone through in her life to not have anyone look out for her?
Removing his cloak and pouches he moved over to the desk at the far end of the room, removing the glass-like Gem from inside his pouch, another flash of orange raced through it at Richard’s touch only this time darker than before. Humming to himself Richard looked over his shoulder at the bed happy to see the girl still asleep.
Walking over to the door Richard closed it behind him with a soft click. Letting out a low sigh to release the tension of the day. He made his way to the mountain’s library, he had to find out more about the Gem, something just wasn’t sitting right with him. He didn’t understand why the King would go to such lengths to get his hands on it. Walking into the large dusty room he headed over to one of the torches, removing it from its place on the wall, he lifted the Gem to the fire so he could get a better look. Again orange sparks ran through it only this time red lighting like lines swirled in the center.
“Interesting?” Richard mumbled, as he watched it for a second more, curiosity itching on his face. Maybe what he had heard about was true, maybe this was one of the Gems. If so, how do you harness its power, if it even has any?
Still holding the torch he walked over to the long wooden table in the middle of the room, piles of read and unread books covering its large surface. The dust covering the table’s exterior lifted to the air in a large brown cloud when Richard blew it away.
Coughing, he placed the torch in its mettle stand, the golden glow of the fire allowing enough light over the table for him to work. He guessed he had a few hours before Ryan would be up looking for him in yet another fiery rage.
Placing the Gem down on the table before him he took another long look at it. Where should he start? He had read through all the books they had and nothing he ever read was anything like this Jewel, in fact he couldn’t remember where he had heard of the stories about them. Maybe he should look through the books again, he could have missed something?
Removing one of the books from the many piles on the table Richard began to flip through its pages, nothing of any interest or remotely like the Gem before him showed up, so he moved onto the next book. He continued this for a good few hours, sifting through one book after the other, he had gone through every book he could think of that would be linked to the Gem, the Kingdom’s history, even looked upon the past Kings that ruled over Yhadna, still nothing.
Sitting back in his seat he watched as the last of the fire's embers burned out in a soft red glow, welcoming the warm touch of dawn to creep through the window, lighting the room with its soft embrace. Picking up the Gem he placed it in the pouch he had kept attached to his pant, at aloes. He also didn’t need Ryan seeing it when he comes in here once he finds Grace in his room instead of him. Richard grimaced, he wasn’t doing a very good job at keeping on Ryan’s good side at the moment.
Tapping his chin Richard thought over the reasons why the King would want to get hold of the Gem, maybe he had also heard about the myths, that these Gems hold great power, did he know how to harness it? Would he send men out to look for it? How did he even know where to find it?
Standing he picked up one of the many books he had been reading, placing it back in its place on the shelf, he didn’t need Ryan coming in there and asking questions, he just didn’t need that right now, anyway he would already be in enough trouble as it is, he didn’t need Ryan coming in asking what his looking for. Richard whirled around his heard pounding in his chest when he heard a shuffling noise behind him, His eyes searched the room for the source of the noise, but he couldn’t see anything. Frowning he walked past the table to the other end of the room, his footsteps quiet as he approached the other row of bookshelves. When a slight creek traveled through the room.
Jumping Richard called out “Is someone there?”
Another shuffle and the sound of a soft squeak drew Richard’s attention to the door of the room. Making his way over, he could see a small figure hiding behind it. Amused, Richard moved the door away from the wall. Curled in a small ball was the girl he had saved the night before, her hands clutching the fabric of her dress.
Kneeling, Richard spoke gently. “Hey, there’s no need to be afraid. The King’s men won’t find you here.” He looked the girl over, he could see the confusion and fear in her eyes as she looks up at him.
The girl quickly shook her head. “They always find me.”
Richard just stared at her. What did she mean? Did they drag her out of her own home? So many questions flooded Richard’s mind at once, but he held back from asking, not wanting to bombard the girl. “What’s your name?” he instead asked a simple question hoping to calm her down.
“Grace.” She whispered out, pulling her knees closer to her chest as her long brown hair fell over her shoulders in small curls.
“Do you have any parents, Grace?” Richard inquired again, remaining patient, now wasn’t the time to be over baring like he normally was.
“No,” Grace mumbled, tears welling up in her large brown eyes. “They died when I was a baby.”
Richard nodded. “Guardians? Anyone, I can take you to that will look after you?” He sat down facing her, his legs crossed.
Again she shook her head, her eyes firmly shut. “No! You can’t take me back!”
The outburst made Richard stand up in surprise a look of alarm covering his face, he shook her hands at her to signal her to keep quiet. ‘Sshhh, will you keep quiet.’ He thought hoping her outburst didn’t wake Ryan. Keeping his voice steady he enquired. “Why not?” Now he knew something wasn’t right, what was the king up too?
“Because the King wants me dead!” She wailed, standing up her hands still holding her dress in tight clumps. “You can’t take me back! Please!”
“Okay, okay, I won’t.” Richard quickly said knelling to her height, hoping this would keep her quiet. With a look of apprehension, he took her small hands in his. “You have to tell me why the King is after you, it’s important. Is it something you did?”
Grace shook her head. “I…I don’t know why…” Sniffing she wiped her face with the back of her hand. “I…I…” She broke down in tears, the drops rolling down her face.
“If the King is after you…” Richard paused, he was going to pay for this later, but what else could he do? He can’t take her back to a kingdom that wants her dead for no apparent reason, he’ll never forgive himself if she gets hurt. “You can stay here with me.”