The Book of Fawla

Book 1

Chapter 3

Kate followed him in silence.  Kreelan's feet seemed to hardly touch the ground as they danced through the mat of leaves and small branches covering the dirt. Kate always felt somewhat graceful but lumbered in comparison to him. She worried about the goblins. Were they in the forest? Kreelan was nearly silent but she imagined that anyone for miles could hear her. 

After walking for an hour, the wood opened up to a plain. Small fields dotted the landscape surrounding village of low buildings with thatch roofs. 

"Welcome to Zanor, my lady," Kreelan said with a sweep of his arm. "We will go directly to Regkor's home." 

She nodded. He turned again towards the path. Gone were his careful footfalls. He didn’t seem to be moving faster, but now she had trouble keeping up. Trippy bounded in front of them and would wait for Kate to catch up before leaping ahead again. 

Inside the village, Kreelan led them to a home near the town’s edge. Open shutters framed glassless windows. The day was warm but smoke drifted form the chimney. Kreelan knocked on the door. 

A middle-aged elf answered. Unlike Kreelan, he wore glasses. A quill stuck out of his disheveled brown hair behind his ear. “What do you want Kreelan?” he asked. “I was in the middle of translating a very promising scroll. Oh, and who is your odd looking companion?” 

“Odd,” Kate said. “Me?” She pointed at herself. “You’re…” 

“Regkor,” Kreelan interrupted. “This is Kate, our long lost princess of Fawla.” 

“Oh dear me.” Regkor looked down. “I’m sorry, your majesty. I didn’t know. Please don’t kill me.” He bowed down until his head touched the ground. 

“Kill you? Why would you think that?” Kate asked. Trippy stepped forward and sniffed at his head. “Trippy, stop that.” 

“Maybe this would be a better conversation for inside,” Kreelan said. 

“Oh, yes, yes.” Regkor stood up. “Please, come in. I know it must not be equal to the lifestyle you are used to, but please make use of my humble abode.” 

He led them into his study. Scrolls were piled up on every surface save for a single overstuffed chair. He quickly uncovered two more chairs. He directed Kate to the main chair and then rushed off. 

“What was all that about me killing him? I’ve never killed anything, let alone a person.” Kate looked around the room. A nearby scroll caught her eye. She picked it up. It had the same lettering as her book back home. 

“I do not know, milady. Regkor knows more about your previous visit. You must have been different then,” Kreelan said. 

Regkor returned with a large platter with a kettle and cups. It shook in his hands. He looked around for a place to set it. Kreelan came to his rescue by offering his wooden seat. “I prefer sitting on the ground anyway.” 

Regkor set the platter on the chair and picked up a glass. It rattled in its saucer. “Please, allow me,” Kate said. 

“Oh, no, your majesty. That would not be proper,” he protested. 

“I insist. And please, none of this your majesty stuff. I’m just an ordinary woman, or at least I was before I came here. Call me Kate.” She rose from her chair and gently nudged him away from the tea set before he could break something. 

As she poured the tea and handed it out, she continued. “That’s why we are here. I know nothing of this prophecy or my powers. A couple of hours ago, I was an ordinary woman in an ordinary world, settling in to try to read a strange book I’d found. I was sucked into it. Literally. Moments later, Kreelan found me.” 

“Hmm, maybe you were bewitched into believing a false life.” Regkor scratched his chin. His earlier nerves seemed forgotten with a puzzle to sort out. 

“Kreelan suggested that. I don’t think so,” Kate said. She sat back in her chair. “What makes more sense? I’m thousands of years of old and don’t remember it or that I’m not really the person you think I am?” 

“It would have to have been very powerful magic,” Regkor admitted. “And you certainly don’t act like how you are described in the scrolls.” 

“But she has the power,” Kreelan protested. He started getting up. 

“Kreelan, sit down,” she admonished. 

“Yes, my lady.” He crumbled to the ground in a resigned heap. 

“Regkor, do your books – err, scrolls describe what your princess looked like? Was she an elf like you? I’m human.” 

“Human?” Regkor gasped, backing away. “A human in my house. Kreelan, why did you bring a dirty human into my home?” 

Kate opened her mouth but Kreelan interrupted her. “She has the power,” he shouted, rising to his feet. “She is the princess.” 

“There is no way she can be the princess,” Regkor argued. “Humans aren’t smart enough to wield magic.” 

“Hey, guys.” Kate waved her hands. “I’m right here.” 

“I’m sorry, my lady.” Kreelan turned to her. “I didn’t expect Regkor to hold such prejudice. He’s never actually met a human before and apparently believes the fairy tales he was told as a child.” He spat the last part. 

Regkor crossed his arms. “Oh, and I suppose you have.” 

“There is one right in front of us. Kate is obviously not the dumb brute we were told about.” 

“I… I need some time to think about this. I need to consult my scrolls. Are you really a human?” 

She lifted her hair that had fallen over her ear. “Look, see. No pointed ears.” 

Kreelan placed his hand on her elbow and guided her towards the door. “Come, my lady. Let us find accommodations that are less prejudiced.” 

As he led her away, Kate heard Regkor. “Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.” 

She turned to respond, but Kreelan tugged at her arm. “He will come around and find the answers you seek. He just needs time.” 

They reached the door in time to hear a loud knocking. Kreelan looked through the spyhole. “Goblins,” he muttered. He turned to Kate. “Cover your ears. If they find out who you are, they will kill you.” 

She did as he instructed and he opened the door. Three men wearing dirty uniforms stood at the doorway. Stringy hair framed their greyish faces. They were short. The tallest only reached Kate’s chin. She realized with a start that they were the goblins. 

The tall one spoke. His voice was raspy and hissed. There were no plants nearby to translate for her. "Probably for the best," she thought. "Kreelan warned me against doing anything that would let them know who I was." 

Kreelan frowned. “What do you mean taxes are due? The agreement was once per moon. It hasn’t even been a sevenday.” 

The one on the right waved a torch in Kreelan’s face. He batted it away. The tall one hissed out a response. 

“Never,” Kreelan shouted. The goblin on the left drew his sword and knocked him down. The leader said something else. The torch bearer grinned and threw the torch on the thatched roof. 

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