Chapter Eleven

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Nestled inside of a thicket of trees, was the kingdom of Avalon. I had thought Camelot was magical, but Avalon was something else altogether. The town square was filled with people—upon closer inspection, I discovered these "people" weren't people at all. Some were trolls and some had odd lights that seemed to emanate from their skin.

Aengus rode his horse beside Aurea, keeping firmly to my side. Thom was on my other side, not even batting an eyelash at our surroundings. Thom always seemed so normal, I always forgot that he came from a world where magic and trolls existed. Arthur rode ahead of us, Merlin at his side. Arthur's knights followed in a lose formation, two were behind Aengus and I and the other two followed behind Arthur.

The beings stopped their shopping and stopped to stare. In horror, I realized they were staring at me, their eyes wide and their mouths agape. Almost immediately, they all fell to one knee, bowing their head and only lifting it once I passed.

Leaning over to Aengus, I whispered, "What the hell are they doing?"

Aengus laughed. "Showing you respect, m'lady. You're their soon to be queen and the savior of Avalon and Camelot. They're honored you've returned after so many years."

I didn't really know how to respond to that. I was apparently a big deal. Bigger than I was comfortable with.

We were making our way to the castle in the distance. Even though it was pretty far ahead of us, you could still make out its shape. It took up a lot of the distance. From here, I could tell it was huge.

Only once we were away from the town square could I breathe. All those eyes on me and all that bowing had made me uncomfortable.

The younger knight—the one around my age—pulled his horse up next to Aurea, his deep blue eyes looking at me curiously.

"You don't like that much, do you?"

"Like what?"

"Attention."

"If I'm being honest, I hate it," I admitted. "All my life, I was kept away from people. For my Mom, everyone was a threat. But, I learned it was best to keep my distance. And now, so many people are relying on me...it's..."

The boy cocked his head to the side, his expression intense.

My skin warmed under his gaze.

"What?" I asked.

"Nothing. It's just..." He paused, struggling to come up with the right words. "In the prophecies, they make you sound like some old maid who's sure of herself and her power. And here you appear, this beautiful goddess-like creature with powers I cannot even begin to fathom, and yet, you are as unsure of yourself as I am of myself."

I almost fell off of Aurea when he called me a "goddess-like creature" but forced myself to hold on. How embarrassing would it be if I actually fell?

"You're unsure of yourself, too?"

He nodded and smiled. "All the time. King Arthur is my father, so I'm expected to be as great as he is. To rule Camelot as justly as he—before Morgana took it from him. I'm expected to be as brave a man, as noble a man and as good a fighter, too."

"I guess we both have kingdoms resting on our shoulders," I murmured, looking forward and losing myself in my thoughts.

"That's right. The prophecy does say you will come to rule Avalon." He smiled kindly at me, his blue eyes sparkling. "I hope you and I will come to be good friends, Lucinda. I hope our kingdoms will be great allies."

I laughed. "I don't even know how to run a kingdom on Clash of Queens, I doubt I'd be any good at running a real life kingdom."

The boy tilted his head to one side, looking puzzled. "What is this 'Clash of Queens'? It sounds, in no way, respectable to have ladies clashing."

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