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Pen Your Pride

Epilogue

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The king was furious. By the time the camp woke the water had spread much farther. It was still a very thin sheet, but it was enough to alarm the king when it came to his plans of invasion. Immediately, he sent out a group of soldiers to find the source.

The first thing that they found was the empress, lying precariously on the cliff between the rocks, drenched in the spray from the waterfall she had created. When they returned to camp with her, the king became even more furious to know that she had done it. While the physician treated her, he followed the soldiers back to the source of the water.

When he arrived, King Spyre studied the situation carefully before ordering the soldiers to shut the doors again. Before the first soldier reached even one of the doors, he nearly drowned. Every other attempt ended the same way, with the soldiers almost drowning in the forceful flow of the water from the chamber.

The king returned to the camp and demanded to see the empress, but the physician cautioned him that she had been injured in the head by her fall and had been unconscious. She had woken up, but was still extremely tired and in pain. He advised sending her back to the palace in Jrell to recover fully. By then, he added, he was sure the king would find a way to go through with the invasion.

After much deliberation, the king reluctantly agreed, and Eada was immediately on her way to Jrell in the back of a cart brought by the army. Kurah and Vye did all in their power to make her comfortable, but she was delirious for most of the journey; overcome by the heat and the pain of her injury.

The journey lasted even longer than before because the wagon travelled slowly. It took her weeks to recover when they finally arrived; the journey having done her more harm than good. By the time she was well the king was on his way back to Jrell. Every way they had tried to stop the flow of water had been useless. Attempting to shut the doors had failed, and after all their attempts, one of them, the hinges having eroded over time, broke from the rock wall and fell over the cliff with the water.

The king had finally given up after that and begun his trip back to Jrell, leaving the Vasdin and his army there. They were ordered to stop the water at all costs. It spread too rapidly for them to do anything about it, though. The king knew on his return that it would take years for them to finally be prepared for invasion again, if ever.

He was fuming during the whole journey. His thoughts were focused on how to punish the empress for her insolence. The empress herself was enjoying what she assumed were her last days of peace. Once she recovered, she spent her time wandering through the gardens.

She tried not to think of what the king would do with her when he returned, but that was all that she could think about. Would he still marry her? Or would he change his mind about the wedding? But those questions only led to more. If he did call off the wedding, he had no use for her, and she had just eliminated the option of returning home. There was nowhere to go; she felt as if she was caught in a trap. And in a way she was.

Kurah and Vye did their best to distract her and keep her cheerful. Eada was grateful for it too because she was sure some of the blame would overshadow them as well. They had not noticed that she had gone missing from the tent. Eada had piled a few of her dresses on the bedroll at the back of the tent and blown out the only lamp. It was only natural for the two Vasdans to assume it was her lying there. The king, though, was not a very accepting man.

Gersha was also very worried once Eada confided in her what she had done. She tried her best to help Eada from fearing any punishment, but she feared it more than the empress did.

The only thing that was good in the situation was the fact that now the king had a larger problem and wouldn't worry about Leis and Bryli, who still hadn't been found. The man who was in charge of the palace was nervous about it, but Eada knew that it wouldn't matter. No one but those few that had returned to Jrell knew of what had happened at the border. The empress assumed it would stay that way until people saw the lake for themselves.

King Spyre would not enjoy telling others about the embarrassing incident, Eada was sure. Those that questioned why she had returned without him were told that she had fallen, injured her head, and the physician had seen it best for her to return to the palace for care. Since they did not know that it was only half of the truth, they accepted it as the whole.

When the king finally did return weeks later, the first thing he did was summon the empress into his presence. By that time Eada had decided on her course of action. Her pride was not worth her life. Tria was no longer in danger, and her actions no longer protected or represented her country. It would be useless to sacrifice her life when no one would gain by it, but the only thing lost by her surrender would be her pride.

The king's glower was fierce when she entered his throne room. With each step she took, it grew fiercer. Two soldiers walked on either side of her, and she had to wonder with a small amount of amusement if the king now thought she was dangerous.

Upon arriving at the steps of the throne, King Spyre rose to his feet and appeared to be ready to speak. Before he could open his mouth, the empress lowered herself to her knees.

Bowing her head in submission, she greeted him. "My king."

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