Richard sat across from Grace as she happily ate the bread he had given her. Letting out a long sigh he closed the scroll he had been reading, picking up another from the stack he had collected. There was something about Grace that just didn’t sit right with him.
Looking up his eyes landed on her right shoulder, a faint red pattern covering her shoulder in a soft wind like pattern. He had asked about it, but Grace didn’t answer not knowing where it came from herself. So here he was looking through the ancient scrolls in search of a clue.
Looking down at the scroll he had just picked up his eyes widened at the seal on the paper, it was just like the pattern on Grace’s shoulder, why hadn’t he picked that up before? Humming to himself he picked up one of the other scrolls from the pile, looking over its seal, this one was also different, the pattern on the old wax was two swords joined together. Richard had never noticed this before, he knew this was the scroll to the history of Kingdom Melites, and it was the King's seal for generations, but he hadn’t paid any mind to it before.
Turning back to the scroll from before he looked at the seal then to Grace’s shoulder again as if to make sure they were the same. He knew this seal belonged to the past King, King Arthur of Yahadna. But he thought the royal family had been killed off by King Damien years ago. No wonder Damien wanted Grace dead.
Clenching his fists Richard looked down at the scroll in his hands, this changes everything, they had a member of the royal family alive and safe, too young to claim the throne, but maybe just maybe there was a chance for her to take the throne back. Though they would have to do something about Damien, he wasn’t just going to hand it over.
Running his thumb over the rough paper Richard frowned in thought. He and Ryan weren’t enough to take him down alone, heck the rebellion his parents had put together when he was a boy hadn’t even worked, and half the village was willing to take him down at that point. There wasn’t even a slight chance they would agree to another, King Damien had made it clear where they stood the first time.
Richard let out a low sigh, the only problem was to get Ryan on board. He knew it could take some convincing. Though if they were lucky Ryan would agree to keep her safe until they had a plan to remove the current king. Though there was no telling how long that would take.
Richard tapped his chin in thought, Grace happy to just watch him with a hint of curiosity. When the first rebellion happened it was six years after Damien took the throne from King Arthur, so at that point, the villagers weren’t happy with how things played out, and he was sure it was still that way, but King Damien’s forces are stronger than they were before. Being he demands a son from every family to join his army when they are of age. So with that in mind, his army could be three times larger than the first time.
Richard rubbed his eyes from lack of sleep and the building irritation of the situation. Maybe they could get help from other kingdoms, though there was a small change they would agree, and Ryan would have to let him leave. Though if he left who would look out for Grace? Ryan wouldn’t, being he would like to stay undercover from Damien as long as he could.
“What you thinking about?” Came Grace’s small voice as she scooted over to him, looking down at the scroll he was holding.
Looking down at her he thought it would be best to keep her heritage to himself for now, there was no telling what would happen if she found out and someone found her, she is too young to even understand, and defend herself if ever again in trouble. Putting the scroll down, he patted her small head. “It’s an old scroll about the past kings that ruled over Yahadna.” Though it is best he didn’t tell her the entire truth, but best not to lie.
“What does that mean?” She asks pointing at the red wax seal on the scroll, the soft pattern embedded on its surface.
“It’s a seal,” Richard explained. “It’s to keep the scroll closed.”
Grace shook her head firmly. “No, that.” She pointed at the wind like imprint.
Richard inwardly grimaced, he was hoping that wasn’t what she meant but continued to explain. “Well, it’s a signature. It’s so if the scroll travels to other Kingdoms like to Sophulis it’s so the people there know who wrote it, or who it belongs to. Every family has its own kind of signature. It’s how people know who belongs to who.”
“Oh!” Grace picked up the scroll with a hint of wonder in her eyes as she ran one of her hands over the small seal. “So do you have one?” She looked up at him her brown eyes looking into his.
“Yes,” Richard answered, standing he gently taking the scroll from her then collecting the others, placing them in their respected places. “I have my father’s seal.”
“What does it look like?” Grace asked standing up walking behind him watching every move he made with a childlike wonder.
Richard stopped, turning to face her. “A dragon head. It means fire. Though our seal hasn’t been used for years, most would have forgotten it.”
“Why?” Grace inquired taking one of the scrolls from Richard’s arms and randomly placing it in an empty slot on the wall.
Shrugging Richard continuing with what he was doing, swopping out Grace's scroll with another. “Well like you, I also need to stay in hiding.”
“How come?” Grace questioned, her large brown eyes widening. “Are you a rogue?”
“No, he's not a rogue, as far as we are concerned.” Came a very displeased voice from behind them. “Richard, what is the meaning of this?”
Turning to face the owner of the voice Richard’s eyes landed on Ryan’s angry but questioning gaze. “I can explain, just not here.” Richard stole a quick glance towards Grace who was hiding behind him, peeking out from behind his leg at Ryan.
“I see,” Ryan waved his hand at Richard to follow him out the room, his pace brisk.
“You stay here, I’ll be back very soon.” Richard handed Grace a scroll from one of the slots in the stone walls, hoping it would keep her out of trouble. Turning, he quickly ran out of the room to meet up with Ryan.
Leaning against the wall his arms crossed Ryan glared at Richard. “Where did she come from?” He asked getting straight to the point.
Steading his breathing Richard began from the beginning, how he had gone down to the Village to think, just he left out the Gem, and how he had heard Grace screaming for help, and how he had stopped the guard from taking her to the palace. He then explained the pattern he had seen on her shoulder then the one on the scroll.
“I think she may be part of the royal family.” Richard finished, hoping this was enough to convince Ryan to let her stay.
Silence fell over the two as Richard watched waves of emotion run over Ryan’s face, most of them looked hopeful. He could feel his hands become clammy as he began to feel nerves. What if he said no, he had promised Grace she could stay, he couldn’t break that promise.
“Just think, if we do manage to remove King Damien from the throne we have someone with royal blood to take over, and if we reveal this to the Village there could be a small change they will agree to another rebellion,” Richard explained, hope bubbling within him.
“No,” Ryan said sternly, “They won’t agree to another, the first rebellion was a fail, half the village died. Another rebellion is out of the question at the moment.” Ryan looked inside the scroll room his eyes landing on the girl. “If she is the last one, then our job is to protect her until she is of age to take up the throne.”
“So you’re saying she can stay?” Richard asked, looking towards Grace, the girl happily walked around the large room picking up scrolls then putting them back, then moving onto the next lot.
“For the time being.” Ryan folded his arms over his chest. “If what you say is true, the King will be after her, so I will allow it. She can stay here until we find a better place for her, safer, more secure. Until then you will look after her.”
Richard let out the breath he had been holding, relief washing through his body. He knew it would be hard to look after her, but her safety was more important. If they could keep her safe for a few years, just until she can travel to other kingdoms to convince them to join an alliance, and until she is older enough the claim the throne herself it would be worth it.
“Beside the point, you know better than to go to the village!” Ryan hisses hitting Richard over the head, “If you do that again I might have to keep you tight to a tree.” Turning he walked away his footsteps echoing along the hollow corridors.
Richard watched him walk off a small smile coming onto his face as he rubbed the spot Ryan had hit, he may be old and cranky but he would always be the closest thing he has to a father, and for that, he would always be internally grateful.
Turned to look back into the room Richard's eyes landed on Grace who was happily skipping over to the door, a large grin spreading across her features. Grabbing Richard’s hand she asked. “What other things are here?”
Laughing Richard agreed to show her around, He was still confused as to why Ryan had agreed so easily, it wasn’t like him to bring another person into their plans, maybe it was the fact she was of royal blood and that gave them a hand up on Damien. Shaking his head he thought it be best he didn’t think about it, Ryan was a cleaver man it’s the reason they had stayed safe for so many years.
“Here I’ll show you to your room.” Richard took Grace’s hand in his as he led her down the long halls.