Truth Discovered

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Princess Atamar might not have heard the whole conversation, but as soon as she saw Prince Crenip again, she knew that she had indeed been the "her."

She could tell by how he looked at her. When it was time for their 30 minutes, Prince Crenip chose reading again. However, he didn't read.

He didn't turn a single page for 10 minutes.

Several times he glanced her way with such a sad expression on his face. Finally, she decided to ask, "Why do you look at me that way today, Prince Crenip?"

He didn't try to pretend not to know what she was talking about. He simply shook his head sadly. "Please do not ask Princess. I am honor-bound to keep silent, and if you continue to ask, I will have to leave or break my word."

Atamar sighed and turned back to her book, but for the remainder of the time, she didn't turn any pages either. At dinner, the teens noticed Prince Crenip's changed manner as well. He didn't laugh. He didn't say much, and for the first time, he often glanced towards the princess.

They wondered at it and asked him what was wrong. He merely shook his head. He ate little. After dinner, everyone who had sat near Prince Crenip went to the maze. They knew something was up.

As they waited for Atamar, they tried to guess what it was. "Do you think he likes the Princess after all and proposed, but she turned him down?" "Maybe she told him about Prince Relos." "Maybe they got in a fight about something today."

When Princess Atamar arrived, they stopped guessing. They could see that something was seriously wrong. She told them about what she had heard, and she told them her fears. "I know that Prince Crenip was talking about me.

I wish I knew what else he was talking about. I fear very much that it might have something to do with my family. If Ffej had not been there, maybe I could have learned something important.

I have to find out if my parents are truly okay. How can I make sure?"

The teens thought silently for a few minutes before Nesaly asked, "Before your parents left, did they say anything to you in private that Uncle Ulap wouldn't know?"

Atamar nodded. "Yes, they told me to use the princes' visits to try to find out about the attacks and to create allies. They told me they would be back by my birthday at the latest.

They also told me that they would work on plans for the scarf race while they were gone."
"Well," Nesaly considered, "Couldn't we use something in that to trick Uncle Ulap into revealing the truth about your parents without him knowing it?"

She paused trying to think of the right question. After a few minutes of brainstorming together, the teens came up with the perfect approach.

Later that evening, Atamar approached Uncle Ulap smiling sweetly. "Uncle Ulap, my birthday will be here in about 6 months.

Usually my parents start preparing for the scarf race around this time. Before they left, they told me that if they couldn't be back in time for my birthday, that they would let me plan the race.

Did they say anything about the race in their letters to you? I don't want to wait until the last minute to make plans. After all, it is going to be my 18th birthday."

Uncle Ulap paused startled, but his expression quickly turned to one of relief. After a moment he smiled and said, "I'm sorry Atamar, I've had so many things on my mind that I did forget to give you all of your message.

I am really sorry. Your parents said that they hoped to be back in time for your birthday, but that you could go ahead and plan the scarf race as they had said."

It was very hard to keep her expression bright and her voice light as she thanked him and walked away. There was no doubt about it.

Her parents had not sent any letters, and the only reason Uncle Ulap would have for not telling her was to keep her from finding out they were missing.

Now that she knew the truth, the next step was deciding what to do about it. Atamar didn't know what she was going to do, but she did know one thing. She wasn't going to sit around doing nothing.

As she went into breakfast the next morning, she passed Eticia and Nesaly.

Pausing beside them, Atamar said, "Will you kindly let the others know that my parents said I get to plan the scarf race this year?" The two girls paled, but managed to keep their voices steady as they said, "Yes, Princess."

Atamar knew that everyone would be in the maze that night; for she knew that the two girls would faithfully pass along the whole message, not just the one she had spoken.

Atamar also knew something else. She knew that she needed to escape the palace and find her parents. How she would do it, she didn't know, but she was confident that she and her friends would come up with a plan...

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