Race Day

2 3 0

          As Atamar descended the palace steps for the morning meal, she looked ahead at a gloomy future.  Hamori must have noticed her dejected attitude because he asked, "Princess, what is wrong?" 

Atamar hesitated.  Finally she asked, "How do you know when you are making the right choice, Hamori?  When making the wrong choice can do so much harm, how do you choose rightly?" 

    Atamar looked up at her guard as she asked the question, wondering what he would say.  He thought for only a moment before he said with the most serious look she had ever seen on his face, "You know you are choosing well when you follow your HEART not your FEAR. 

Fear is a terrible master.  It has its place.  However, if your heart and mind agree on a choice, don't let fear hold you back.  For what it's worth, I have no doubts that you will make the right choice.  You have my trust." 

    Atamar felt more cheerful as she headed into the Great Hall for breakfast.  It was Prince Crenip's turn to sit beside her.  He said little as always, letting the others hog the conversation. 

However, as they rose from the table he spoke softly, barely loud enough for her to hear.  "I wish you well Princess.  Stay safe and don't let them find you." 

She wondered if he was talking about the teens or if he had somehow discovered their plans.  However, she had no opportunity to ask him. 
When it was time to hide in the maze, Atamar went to the spot she had previously chosen with her guards. 

As she watched them leave, she was nervous.  She was glad that a light had been left at the entrance to each cavern so that they weren't pitch black.  However, it was very dark. 

The time she spent waiting for the others to arrive was hard to endure, but after what seemed like hours, the teens arrived.  Then they headed to the spot where the old back entrance used to be. 

Everyone worked quickly to uncover the opening the rest of the way so that Atamar could crawl through.  Before she did, they filled two backpacks that they had previously deposited in the cave with all of the perishable food items they had brought with them that day. 

Pushing the bags through first, Atamar crawled through the opening into the passage where Nelia was waiting. 

She had heard much about this ogre, but it was hard to meet her for the first time alone.  Was she all that Nehat and the others claimed? 

Was it wise for Atamar to trust herself to an ogre she had never met?  They were going to be alone together for a few days if all went according to plan. 

After Princess Atamar disappeared through the escape tunnel, the palace teens worked together to replace everything and thus hide her escape route.  As they worked, they talked. 

While Atamar was with them, they had kept quiet about their fears.  Now, they discussed possible culprits for kidnapping the royal family as well as how it might have been accomplished, and where the royal family might be imprisoned. 

They also voiced their fears that the royal family might have been killed instead of imprisoned.   

The teens had many fears for the future.  Would Nelia be able to hide & protect Atamar alone until the rest of the questors escaped the palace? 

Would their escape plans succeed? 

Would they be found? 

Would they find the royal family? 

Would Atamar be safe? 

After concealing the exit, they divided into groups and searched the caverns for the scarves.  Then they waited for people to come looking for them.

It was hard not to become overwhelmed by fear as they had nothing to do but sit and wait.  They tried playing the new game Prince Crenip had taught them.  However, none of them could focus.

Noj Vidad was on guard duty several hours later when Hamori and the other guards entered the caves.  He quickly ran back and alerted the others who scattered and began searching diligently for the princess. 

When the guards discovered that Atamar was no longer in her hiding place, there was an uproar.  Suddenly the caverns filled with soldiers and the teens were bustled out. 

The teens had done a great job of erasing all signs of their labors, so the soldiers did not find the hidden exit that day.  While some people searched, others questioned the teens. 

All of them had the same story they talked for a while before they went to find the scarves and the princess.  They decided to work in groups because some of them were nervous about being alone.  They found the scarves, but the princess was nowhere to be seen. 

That night, another calamity was discovered.  Trewa was missing.  Dragons could sense when their bond was in trouble. 

The adults realized Trewa must have flown off to help.  However, she had not returned which meant that she had not been able to rescue the princess...

Unsettling EventsRead this story for FREE!