When I returned to the castle, everyone was still eating breakfast.

“Derek, where’s your father?” Mother asked.

            Her expression changed when she saw the blood on my clothes and the bloodied seal.

“No…” she sobbed.

“James stabbed him from behind with his sword and killed the Pope with an arrow.”

            My mother then burst into tears and collapsed from her chair. My uncle held her as she let out sob after sob. I wiped the tears forming in my eyes with the sleeve of my shirt and went to my father’s study, still hearing the loud sobs of loss from my mother. I opened the secret door in the bookshelf and placed the last seal on the last statue. The gate to the armor released and it was now mine. I took it and hid it in my bedroom.

            Later that day, we recovered my father’s body and set a funeral pyre in the center of town. When the torch was passed to my mother, bur she couldn’t bring herself to light it. Being his son, I took it and lit the hay under the wood. As I did, Valerio let out a tower of fire from his mouth. Rain clouds formed overhead and it started raining. The rain beat down hard and the others left. I stayed until the fires turned to ash and I was soaking wet. I kept telling myself not to cry, but the rain made it impossible to tell if I was crying or not. The only other one there was Valerio. He offered me his wing to cover the rain, but I refused. I was soaked from the rain and my clothes were soaked. Everyone in the family seemed crestfallen from my father’s death. My uncle and Richard were sharing a barrel of mead for their selves, while trying to hold back the tears. I didn’t see my mother anywhere.  I went to her bed room and found her there. She was looking at Father’s armor, knowing he would never wear it again.

“Mother?”

She then turned to me and her face was full of tears. She came to me and pulled me into a hug. She was sobbing loudly and she pulled out a ring. It was a golden ring with a lion’s head on it.

“Whatever you do, never take this ring off.” She told me.

            She then put the ring on my right ring finger. The ring fit perfectly on my finger as if it were made for me. A tiny inscription on the band said. “To my son, Derek. For when he truly learns to be a king.” The ring was then meant for me when I found my bride.

I then went to look for Annika as I didn’t see her at the funeral. I found her in the hall cornered by some of the princess’s brothers.

“She can’t be pure, no woman has this kind of beauty and still have her innocence intact.” One said, as he caressed her hair and face. “So, what’s your name, beautiful?”

“Her name is Annika.” I growled at him.

He turned to me and greeted me in my proper title.

“Ah, Prince Derek. How much is she? I have to have her.”

“She not is not for sale.”

“You cannot be serious. I will pay a fortune for her.”

“She is not for sale.” I repeated.

“She is nothing, but a worthless servant. How much?”

“She is not a servant.” I then shoved him on the opposite wall, causing it to crack. “She is my fiancée.”

            This scared them away and I went to my bedroom. I was changing my clothes when I heard a knock at the door. Annika was there, looking saddened as I was. She came to me and hugged me.

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