The Tale of Edgar and Essa
Kara and Yasmine are annoyed.
They are standing outside the door of Dovey’s office, listening to the teachers and fourth years talk, and they are very, very annoyed.
“We need to attack Camelot soon.” Agatha tells them.
“We don’t have enough people.”
“Then we involve the students.” Kara and Yasmine exchange an excited look, but it turns to a frown as they hear the next few words.
“Not a possibility. The students are under my protection,” Dovey says.
“Has anyone seen Essa?”
“Has anyone seen Tedros?”
Alison shrugs. “I saw him at the top of Valor tower. He hasn’t come down yet.”
Kara shoves Yasmine aside as Nina comes up the stairs. What are you doing? she mouths as she knocks on the door.
Nina walks in. “There’s a letter that just arrived by pigeon. Do you want to read it?”
“Okay.” Dovey sends Nina out, but she joins Kara and Yasmine listening at the door. “ ‘Dear Rebels’,” she reads. All the girls laugh. “ ‘Rhian is planning to marry Sophie in three weeks and have his coronation. You must stop him before this.’”
Agatha takes over. “ ‘He has a bodyguard named Edgar.’ Essa’s fake brother. ‘We plan to poison him so he cannot help Rhian. Don’t do anything for a few days. Come in four days. From Rowan.’”
Kara and Yasmine look at each other. “Who’s Rowan?”
Nina frowns, then her face clears. “Rafaela’s brother.”
“How do you -”
“Irrelevant. The point is, we don’t know if he can be trusted. We don’t even know if this is him.”
“So what do we do?”
Nina leads them into the Clearing. “We attack.”
That evening is bright and clear, and it feels like a mockery of what’s about to happen.
Rhian is due to make a speech to the people of Camelot at seven o’clock, and it is the perfect time for an attack. But for Rowan, it’s too early. Edgar is still there and Ruby is still trapped.
“Dear citizens of Camelot,” he begins. “I would like to announce that my coronation will be in three weeks and my marriage -”
He is cut off as a huge cloud descends from the sky. “The Snake!” some people screech. “A monster!” others say. As they get closer, Rowan realises that it is in fact a mass of stymphs. He curses – in the letter, he had told them to wait a few days. But then he realises that it is only students.
The stymphs shift, revealing four girls in the middle. One of them urges her stymph forward, and Rowan sees that she is small, with dark hair and green eyes, and holding onto her stymph for dear life. “Rhian!” she shouts. “Give up your throne in the next week or we will take it from you!” The other three pull her back, looking confused.
“What are you doing, Nina?” the blonde one asks. “Why are you doing this?”
“Citizens of Camelot! If you want to leave Camelot, then come to the top of Arthur Hill in fifteen minutes.” They swoop away, and Rhian is left reeling with shock. “Close the gates. They can’t be able to get to the hill.”
“It’s impossible. There are too many ways onto it.” Edgar swears as the realisation sinks in. They cannot stop any citizens of Camelot from leaving the city.
“They think that it is the Snake,” Rowan tells him. “They’re terrified of the Snake. I don’t think they’d do anything.”
His fingers are crossed behind his back.
Melanie and Avonne are one of the few students who stayed behind.
Dovey storms into the Clearing, annoyed at not having any students turn up to her lesson. “Where is everyone?”
Echo strolls in behind her, her eyebrows raised. “They were listening at the door, weren’t they? Emma and Kara?”
“And Nina,” Melanie admits.
“What have they done?”
“They attacked Camelot. Nina… she was leading them. She didn’t seem like herself.”
Dovey starts pacing. “What’s she going to do? Kill him?”
“No!” Avonne scowls. “Nina’s not like that. She… doesn’t have it in her.”
“******!” Echo shouts.
“She can’t go and not kill him.”
“ ‘If you are to harm a man, it should be so greatly that his vengeance should not be feared.’ ”
They stare at her. “Who said that?”
“Me. Just then. And Niccolo Machiavelli.”
“Who knows what he’ll do if he’s left alive?”
Just then, Sebastian walks out of the Tunnel of Trees. “They’re coming back. Stymphs are headed this way.”
Avonne looks up and sees a huge mass of stymphs coming towards them. “There are more people. Two, maybe three people per stymph.”
Melanie squints – she has terrible eyesight, although she hates to admit it. “Are there?”
“They rescued people!”
As they get closer, Avonne can see that each student has at least two people on their stymph. But Nina is nowhere to be seen.
As the stymphs land, she sees Alison appear from nowhere and run up to David’s stymph. “Lyra! Helene!” She hugs them, and Avonne can see her looking around. “Where’s Sapphire? Jade? Julia?”
“They stayed back.” Lyra shrugs, but Avonne can see the sadness in her eyes.
Her eyes go to another stymph – the annoying blonde Never who is always with Kara. She is with two people – both blond, both with blue eyes, but completely different features. She gasps as she recognises both of them.
She doesn’t know where to look.
At Chaddick, who is supposed to be dead, as he swings his perfectly alive-looking legs over the stymph and walks towards Dovey.
At the other man, who is slower, but still very much alive.
Or at Tedros, whose mouth drops open as he sees the man and whispers “Dad?”
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