Hello everyone, the winner of Ashlee Willis's The Word Changers is....
Gloria Newton!! We will get you your book as soon as we can!
Princess Joslyn stood up and stretched. What a beautiful morning, she thought. Light was flooding through her large window. She stood up on a chair to look out of it. She did every morning. She loved seeing the blue mountains in the distance, the huge pine trees and fir trees and the many cottages that made up the kingdom of Eroven. She was sure she had never seen a more beautiful day. Of course, that could have been partially because she had been given a holiday for a week. No lessons at all. How lovely.
She lay back, thinking about what she would do today. She decided to go to an open field and play with her puppy. She was the only girl in her family and had two older brothers. Sometimes the children of the court officials played with her, but they couldn't today.
"Princess Joslyn," a voice startled her back to reality. Joslyn turned around. Her maid, Lindsey, was standing there.
"Oh, Lindsey, I do wish you would call me Joss."
The servant smiled. "If you say so, your highness"
"I am going to go out to the Denes field, today. Would you lay out a dress that won't be ruined easily?"
"Yes, Princess Joslyn. Princess Joss, that is." They both laughed.
After breakfast, she went to the cook and asked her to pack a lunch for her. The cook happily obliged. Joslyn skipped out to the field with her puppy behind her and a little lunch pack in her hand. As she walked down paths she received many a smile and cheery "good morning your highness." She knew she was being followed by at least two guards who were assigned to protect her. She went to her favorite spot where there were most flowers and picked some. The grass could be quite tall in patches and she had heard things rustling around in them, so she carefully avoided them. She had a quite vivid imagination and had scared herself more than once thinking of what might be in there. After she was finished playing with her puppy, she lay back on the thick green grass and looked at the sky and the huge fluffy clouds.
She suddenly heard the sound of footsteps behind her. She sat up and looked around. There were three guards there. She stood up.
"Your highness, you disappeared behind the grass we needed to see if you were all right."
"Oh, I am, thank you."
"Very good, princess." Two turned around and began walking away, but the third still stood there. Joslyn looked at him curiously. Suddenly he spun around and pulled out his sword and fought his two companions. They both fell to the ground. Joslyn spun around and ran towards the street. The third soldier had dropped his sword and was running after her. She was a fast runner, but the soldier caught up to her in little time because of his size.
She was almost too frightened and out of breath to yell for help. She felt a cloth pressed over her mouth. What was happening? She started to feel dizzy and saw nothing but dancing circles and blurry shapes in front of her eyes.
Joss opened her eyes, but she couldn't see anything because it was dark. She felt confused for a minute before she remembered what had happened. It was that soldier. That beastly soldier. I am going to arrest him when I get back home. She thought. But where was home? She slowly sat up. She could feel that she was on a couch. She was cold, too. She decided to stand up and see if she could get out of wherever she was. But she found that that would prove to be harder than it sounded. It was so dark she couldn't see anything so she kept bumping into things. She tried to locate a door. After sometime, she found one but she felt it was bolted shut from the outside. Suddenly, she heard someone walking towards the door. She felt her way back to the couch and sat down. She thought of what she should do. Attack whoever came through the door? She decided to find out where she was first, if she could. It wouldn't do any good to get out of the room if she had no idea where the room was. The bolt was sliding open now. The door swung open and the lights in the hall illuminated the shape of a person. Joss though it looked too small for a man. She heard the sound of footsteps approaching. Suddenly the person lit a torch. Joss gasped. The person was none other than Lindsey.
"What are you doing here?"
"I hope you weren't hurt when they brought you here."
"Did they capture you too?" Joslyn asked, confused.
Realization dawned on her. "You knew?"
A slight smirk played around Lindseys' lips.
“Well, I never saw that coming.”
This story is copyrighted Gloria Newton 2014.
Second place goes to... Ruth! Thank you Ruth!
“Avery, I want you to meet Gabriel Maclean.”
I was interested to see that Drew’s friend, Gabriel was not exactly what I had expected him to be. Drew hadn’t talked about him much, but I already held him in quite high regard. A few years before, Drew had trained under him for about 9 months. What exactly he had taught Drew wasn’t something I was quite clear on. But I do know that after those 9 months, my brother hadn’t changed much. The differences were subtle, you would almost miss them if you weren’t looking for them.
“I’ve wanted to meet you for a long time, Mr. Maclean. I can’t say I’ve heard much about you.”
“There’s probably a lot of reasons for that, Avery.”
“Ones I won’t elaborate on at the moment.” He smiled.
“When did you get in?”
“A couple hours ago. Drew took his own sweet time picking me up.”
“It didn’t help that you took your own sweet time telling me you were coming.” Drew turned to me. “He told me he was coming this morning.”
I laughed. “Do you have family here, Mr. Maclean?”
“I don’t actually. My aunt used to live here though.”
Gabriel Maclean didn’t talk that much, but he didn’t seem uncomfortable with silence. He wasn’t that old, probably just under 35. His clothes were actually quite stylish, but not in a showy way. He had a certain air about him that displayed cool confidence.
“I think I should go to my hotel now, Drew. It was nice meeting you, Avery.”
“I hope the pleasure wasn’t all mine.” He looked at me curiously.
“Because then you wouldn’t be glad you met her.” Drew explained. “She does that to new people sometimes. I guess she likes the look on their face as they try to figure out why she said that. One of her many quirks.”
“Well, I must say Avery that you have some very interesting quirks. Hopefully I’ll see you a little later.” Drew got in the car and they drove off towards the city. I waited outside for a few minutes before going in the house.
Suddenly I stopped, and listened carefully. I could hear voices from outside the back door. I peeked through the sheer curtain. Looking into the trees I saw Dakota. She hadn’t told me she was coming today. And with her was the last person I expected to see, Gabriel Maclean.
They only spoke to each other for about 30 seconds. Gabriel seemed agitated, but after Dakota said something that calmed him down. They both walked back into the woods. A few hours later, I received a call from Dakota.
“Avery, can I ask a favor of you?”
“Anything you need.”
Dakota laughed. “Well, that’s very generous of you. My niece, Ariel, is staying with me for a few days, and I have to go out of town. Could I drop her off to spend the weekend with your family?”
“I don’t think that should be a problem.”
“ She shouldn’t be. She’s a quiet girl.”
“I’m sure we’ll get along fine.”
“Thank you Avery. I’ll drop her off tonight, around 7:00 p.m. then?”
“That’ll be fine. I’ll see you tonight.”
When Dakota arrived that night, I realized that I hadn’t asked how old her niece was. She seemed very shy, but that’s not uncommon for 7 year olds. She had ginger colored hair that was similar to the highlights in Dakota’s wavy brown hair. Dakota acted perfectly normal. She thanked Tiry and me profusely, and apologized for the short notice. I offered to walk her out.
Outside, the wind whipped around us, blowing my hair into my face. I decided not to mention what I had seen earlier. Sometimes you learn more by keeping your cards hidden.
“I’ll see you in a few days, Dakota.”
“Thank you again, Avery. I’ll let you know when my exact timing when I get there.”
I wondered if she would think it was strange that I didn’t ask what exactly she was doing that weekend.
I heard Drew calling me. “Come on, Avery.”
Inside, I took off my jacket and hung it by the door.
“I like your shirt.” Ariel said looking up at me.
I was wearing a dark blue shirt that had a glittery sheen to it. I smiled at her. Her face showed a kind of shyness that people have when they meet someone that they want to be friends with. She was squeezing her fingers together; something I used to do a lot when I was talking to someone I had just met or speaking in front of a crowd.
“Is this your first time away from your parents?”
She nodded. “But I’m not nervous. Aunt Dakota said yours is the nicest family she’s ever met.”
“Well, I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun together.”
The next afternoon, Mi took all of us to a restaurant in the city. Ariel and I entertained Sean during the drive.
“I wish I had a little brother or sister.” Ariel said watching Sean’s tiny fingers wrap around hers.
“Family is exciting. After a while you learn to just expect the unexpected.”
Ariel leaned back and stared at the ceiling. “Aunt Dakota says that-
Tiry screamed as a motorcycle slammed into the back of our car. The impact slammed me against Sean’s car seat. I instinctively reached out and pushed Ariel’s head down. In front of me, Drew was shouting for Mi to pull the car forward.
“I have to admit, I never saw that coming.”
Third place goes to.... Lois!
Addar sidled up below a window and listened.
“What is the meaning of this?” an angry man practically shouted.
“Lower your voice.” someone hissed back. “You tell me what your meaning was in employing one of my own generals as a spy in my courtroom without my knowledge or consent.”
The second speaker was obviously Tura, but her voice was changed. As princess, she always spoke with a calm, controlled tone. Now, though, she was clearly angry.
The man continued. “It was necessary to discover more about your country’s military. He discovered things that will be useful to us when we invade. Things you did not know.”
“I could have given you the information to you had you requested it. Understand that you jeopardized the entire plan by sending him in. One of my guards is already suspicious of him.”
Addar stifled a gasp. Ravi! Ravi had been right all along.
“Oh. Is there anything you can do about it?”
“Of course I can. He said he hadn’t yet disclosed the situation with anyone else. I shall simply accuse him of some crime and have him executed.”
Tura gave a little smirk. “He cares too much about his morals. It will be easy to take care of him.”
Addar slumped against the wall. Ravi had always been committed to doing the “right thing.” Now that he thought about it, Addar wondered how he ever could have accused Ravi of being part of the plot against Vellore. It was simply against Ravi’s nature to do so.
“In fact, I overheard Kesta’s assistant, Addar, I think his name was, telling the captain of the guard that Ravi was behaving suspiciously. That will give our story more credibility.”
Now Addar was furious. He couldn’t tell if he was more angry with himself or with Tura. He had been foolishly blind and Tura was it to her advantage.
The rest of the conversation was a blur. He heard snatches of conversation concerning another contact, but he was too busy trying to figure out how he could continue his surveillance of Tura to discover how she planned to frame Ravi. Try as he might, he could think of no way to discover her plans. His work as assistant to the ambassador rarely allowed him to cross paths with the princess, but he had to stop her from killing Ravi.
They were ending the meeting now. He didn’t even know when she planned to frame him. What if her plans began that very morning? He decided that this was possibly the only chance he would have to stop her.
Tura had opened the door. Addar flattened against the wall as she passed by. She didn’t see him and continued back to the palace. Addar followed from a cautious distance until they were out of sight of the secret meeting place. Taking one look around to make sure they were alone, Addar slipped his dagger out of his belt and strode up to Tura. She must have heard him, for she turned around quickly. Addar shoved her against a nearby tree and lifted the knife to her throat.
“Make one call for help and you’re dead.” he hissed.
“What- what is going on?” Tura was breathing hard.
“A question I could ask you, my lady.”
Tura squinted into the darkness. “Addar?”
Addar inwardly groaned. Why hadn’t he thought to wear a mask? He wasn’t doing this right at all. He needed to get this over with quickly before he made any more mistakes.
“It doesn’t matter. Why are you helping Engedi invade us?”
“I’m not. You don’t understand. I am pretending to aid them to learn their plans.”
Addar bit his lip. He hadn’t thought of that possibility. But he had to stay in control of this conversation.
“Really? You didn’t seem to be making any effort to learn their plans.” he accused.
“I can’t be too inquisitive or they’ll suspect me.”
Tura seemed to be truly afraid. Had she just been wearing a mask of indifference when dealing with the men from Engedi? Or was she faking now to get him to him to lower his guard? He could see fear in her wildly open eyes. Addar loosened his grip on her arm and took a step back. What if his accusations had been premature? Then he remembered her willingness to kill Ravi. He pushed the knife against her throat. She flinched as the cold metal touched her skin. He didn’t care. She cruel enough to use his words to kill his friend.
“So why did you willingly tell them that about Ravi’s suspicions? Why did you offer to kill him?”
“I need to earn their trust to learn more. Please, Addar, think this through!”
Addar shoved her hard against the tree. He wasn’t going to listen to her reasons any more. The more she spoke, the more he doubted himself.
“Just tell me what you’re going to do to Ravi!”
Suddenly someone spun him around. The next thing Addar knew, his nose throbbing and he was on his back on the ground. A tall man was speaking quietly to Tura.
“I’ll take care of him. You should return to the palace.” he was saying.
Tura nodded mutely and hurried toward the city. Addar groggily tried to rise. He had to get that information! The man noticed his feeble efforts and pulled him to his feet.
The man still held him with an iron grip, when he said, “Well, young man, you’ve gotten yourself into quite a mess for just one night’s work.”
Addar shook his head, wondering if he was still dazed from the blow.
“It’s me, Addar.”
The ambassador was the last person he expected to meet here. Putting his hand to his head, Addar closed his eyes and shook his head again. “I never saw that coming.”
He turned to glare at the stern face. “I never thought you would be in league with these traitors.”
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