Twenty Three

509 23 12
                                    

Arden
•••

I know how long I've been up reading, but it must've been awhile. All I know for sure, is that I can hear Will's voice coming from the walkie-talkie I've placed near my bed.

"Arden?" I hear him say for the second time.

"It's late Will." I smirk into the device, teasing him.

"I know, I was just checking..." He stops himself from finishing his sentence. He doesn't need to say the rest for me to know what he thought. He was checking to see if I had ran.

"Are you trying to have late night rendezvous with me prince William? That's highly inappropriate."

"Oh, yes. You've figured it out." I can practically hear his eye roll.

"I knew it."

He lets out a low laugh, "Goodnight Arden."

"Goodnight your highness." I put down the device after not hearing a reply back. I put down my book and turn to dim the lantern.

There no chance I'm turning it fully off. Call me paranoid or whatever, but I'm not going to sleep in some unknown tent in the middle of nowhere, by myself, in the complete dark.

Only a few minutes have gone by, and I've already concluded that I'm not going to fall asleep. From being scared, and from thinking I hear my name. It's like the the wind is whispering it. Arden, Arden. "Arden."

I shoot up from my bed. Nope, I definitely heard it for real that time. I look around nervously, and then down to the walkie-talkie. Maybe it's just William. "Arden." Just kidding, it does not sound like him. "Arden."

"Dad?" I whisper, now getting out of bed. I slip on my shoes, and make my way over to the entrance of the tent. I open the tent slowly. "Dad." I whisper again, shocked, when I see him him.

His hand quickly covers my mouth. And he places a finger against his lips, signaling for me to be quiet. He quietly leads me away from the tents, into the woods.

He leads me to a cliff, not far from my tent. But far enough, that it's safe to talk. I look down at the water below. He sighs and begins to talk. "Arden."

"Dad." I say happily. Had he come to save me? Not that I needed it, anymore. But I would never tell him that. I'm just happy to know he actually cares. And that they were wrong, he did love me.

"I need your help." My smile instantly drops at that.

"My help?"

"Yes, I need you to get something for me." I try not to show the hurt I'm currently feel.

   So he hadn't come to save me. He's only now coming because he needs something from me. Would I have gone with him anyways, even if he did come to take me home?

"So, you aren't here to take me back?" I ask, going against my better judgment. I know the answer, I just like to confirm the little heartbreak.

"Take you back?" He asks confused.

"You know, save me." I ask getting angry. "You left me. They said they offered you a deal, one that meant they would release me. Is that true?" I ask, silently hoping it wasn't.

"Yes, but I knew them. They wouldn't hurt you. And it worked out perfectly for my plan." Plan, I was just part of his plan.

"But you didn't." I blink away the tears threatening to come out. "You didn't know that they wouldn't hurt me."

"Oh my god Arden, you are being sensitive. You need to listen, we don't have much time."

I scoff, "And why should I listen to you."

"Because, I'm your father." He says getting mad. I wince, I always do when I can hear him raising his voice. "I need you to get me something. It's a gem, at the palace. They have no idea I want it. I've confused them by taking something else. It won't be guarded, especially during the ball. So I need to go get it for me and once you have it, you can come home."

"And how do I get to the palace?" I ask.

"Well, Arden you aren't dense. The young prince of course." My heart drops at the mention of William.

"What?"

"The prince's birthday is coming up. They won't miss his annual ball, even for the war. So flirt with him, become his girlfriend, maybe even make him fall in love with you. Even better, if he joins our side. Whatever you want, just become close with him. And get an invite to the palace."

   So my father didn't know of my relationship with William already?  He didn't know we were friends, so he must not have any spies at the school. But he knew I was here...

   "How did you now I was here?" I ask him.

   He sighs, "Arden, does that really matter?"

   "Humor me."

   "One of my spies told me there was word of the prince coming to see his father, and that you would be coming along with him." Did he know why? "I have to go Arden. But find the gem, you'll know it when you see it. It's vibrant green, draws anyone to it, no bigger than the stones you used to collect. It should be in the room with all the castle jewels."

   "And why should I help you?"

   He groans again, "Goodness child, you are just stubborn as your mother."

   "Don't bring her into this."

   "And why not? This is all about her."

   "What?" I ask shocked. "How is this about her?"

   "I don't have much time. But the stone, we can use it to help get your mother back." My heart drops at that.

   "That's not possible." I say in shock.

   He smiles greatly and grabs both sides of my shoulders. "But it is my daughter. We can bring her back, you just have to trust me." Trust, a thing I have problem doing. "Tell me you'll help me, for her."

   How could I say no to that? How could I deny or even refuse the chance of bringing my mother back? I gently touch the necklace around my neck. "Did you know?" I ask him. "About the black moonstone she made into a necklace and trapped around my neck."

   His eyes quickly dark to my neck. He lets out a low laugh, "That tricky woman." He whispers. "Always afraid that you would grow to your full potential. No, I didn't know. If it did, I would of had that thing off of you the second I knew of it."

   "Can you take it off?" I ask hopefully.

   He thinks for a second, "I can't. Only the person who put it on can take it off. I heard at the school, there is a person able to weaken others powers. Is that true?" I nod slowly, unsure if I should tell him. He nods, "They might be able to do it. Have them weaken the power of the stone. I believe that might will work." I nod, why didn't we think of that? Could they have, and chose not to tell me?

   "Arden?" I hear someone call out from a far. I connect that voice to Will's.

   My dad looks at me again. "I have to go. Will you get me the stone? Can I trust you? Make that boy trust you, love you, only then will you be able to follow the plan" It only take a slight nod for my dad to turn and disappear.

   "Arden?" I hear Will's voice, this time closer.

•••

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