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Monday, September 26, 2016

Taking a Break.

I will be taking a break this week due to illness. I will have a new installment up next Monday to christen in the new month. In this new installment we learn of "The Heart of Cameria". Are you wondering what that may be? Tune in October 3rd and you will learn a little bit about it.

Until then I hope you have a great week.

Monday, September 19, 2016


As the initial shock began to wear off, Neko headed for the door of the house. “I think I need to go check on her, she looked a bit upset. I’ll be back in a few” he spoke as he turned to towards the men. Turning back around, his swishing tail was the last thing they saw as he disappeared.

Bo gave Az a look to tell him to follow him, and they started back out to the street. “Whoa! Where do you think you’re going? We want to know what’s up with this guy calling Miss CeCe, Your Highness. He has some explaining to do.” Dom growled as he blocked the two men from leaving the veranda.

Bo took Dom by the arm and turned him away from the entrance. “Let me get the story and then I’ll let you know. It may be something best not spoken around too many ears. Especially after seeing how CeCe reacted to being called such a title. I promise, I’ll fill you in when I get back.”

Dom appeared to want to argue Bo’s decision, but then he looked toward the door that CeCe had so recently ran through. “Ok, but remember you promised to tell us everything. We want the whole story, your Lordship.” This last was said as sarcastically as Bo had ever heard Dom speak.

“I promise, brother.” Bo then turned and he and Azereus soon were swallowed by the crowd.
Upstairs, Neko was doing something he hadn’t done since he was a kit. Not sure of his acceptance into her presence, he was down on his hands and knees crawling towards where she sat on the window seat. When he was close enough to reach out and touch her, he first bowed his head showing her his neck. He then rolled over and presented his stomach to her. The sign of true subservience in their society. In this way he was showing CeCe that she had his trust and loyalty.

CeCe had been staring out the window until the door had opened and she had watched her brother who stood over six foot four, crawl towards her. She couldn’t help the small smile from forming on her lips as he did as he had when he was little and had done something wrong.  Her heart felt a bit lighter knowing that that at least he didn’t think differently about her.

“Oh, stop. You, silly boy.” She reached down to draw him up beside her on the bench. “You haven’t done that in years and you don’t have to do it now. I’m fine, just a bit shaken. I thought that if I stayed away from the palace no one would have a chance to recognize me. I never imagined that a royal guard would escort you back.” She reached up and rubbed the back of her hand against Neko’s cheek, causing him to tilt his head towards her hand. 

Neko enjoyed his sister’s ministrations for a moment or two before lifting his head. “Why did he call you highness? Or would you rather not say? I am curious but I don’t want to upset you.” He looked down at his sister, just now noticing how small and dainty she really was. He never thought of her that way because she had such an air of command about her and now he knew there might be a reason for that.

CeCe return her stare out to the marketplace, watching as Bo and Azereus disappeared. She knew soon they would all know anyway, if the two men were at present discussing her and her identity. “I thought I could leave it all behind. I never wanted to be born who I was. When fate caused an escape I took it and never looked back. I swore never to come to the royal city but with all that has happened I knew I had to chance it.” Neko watched as she seemed to struggle for what to say.

“Hey, it’s just me remember. Just start at the beginning, the rest will follow. I’m not going anywhere.” To show her what he meant he leaned back against the window jam and settled in like he did as a kit ready for a good story.

CeCe smiled at the goofy Felis she had adopted as her brother. She knew one day she would have to tell him his story but for now it was time for hers. “I was born the Princess of Mithral. My mother was Queen Viari. I never wanted to be the next Queen, and when my betrothal was arranged I balked. I planned on running away, but I didn’t have to worry. My home was destroyed and all that was left to rule was rubble. Our people betrayed by inner forces.”  She took a breath as she slipped into the past and the days leading up to the end.

Not far away Bo and Azereus had found a spot far away from gossiping ears. Along the way they had grabbed a couple jugs of ale and now they sat in a copse of trees, by a sluggishly moving stream. Bo tossed one of the jugs to Az before dropping to lean against a tall bahaj tree. He sneezed as some of the pollen from the large blue flowers dropped upon him.  Stupid trees.

His head snapped up as he heard a chuckle, giving his old friend a universal hand sign, he popped the cork on his jug and took a drink. He watched as Azereus found his own perch before asking the question looming in his mind. “Who is she?” He watched as Az took his time taking a drink from his own jug before answering him.

“She’s the missing Princess of Mithral. Everyone thought her dead with the rest of her family but the body was never recovered. I know why now. Which makes me wonder if she was part of the plot to destroy that ancient kingdom.” He picked up a rocked and tossed it into the stream. The kerplop of the rock hitting the water somehow echoing in the glade.

Bo sat racking his brain trying to remember all he could about Mithral. It was indeed one of the oldest cities, some said maybe the oldest city in Cameria. The royal line went all the way back to the first Queens. He just couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that he had been in the presence of royalty these last years and not recognized her.

“Why didn’t I know her? I don’t ever remember the Mithralian Princess ever being presented to the court. Why was she kept away?” he questioned his old mentor.

Az looked over at Bo with a quizzical look on his face before he finally answered. “I don’t know. The Mithralian’s have always been a secretive people. I only know if she is journeying with you, I think I may join your party on this quest. The queen will be in good hands with my second in command. I think before all is said and done your party may need another fighter.”

Bo had a feeling his friend just might be right. The two men sat in silence each lost in their own thoughts while they finished their ale.

As promised when Bo returned to the boarding house, he gathered Dom and Donny into his room, and in hushed tones told them all that Azereus had told him. He also informed them of the addition to their party. After meeting with Neko, and making arrangements to leave for Cat’s Eye the next day, he went and knocked on CeCe’s door.

He heard her call for him to come in and he stopped just inside the portal, not sure on how to proceed. CeCe looked at him and with an exasperated sigh, said “will you just get in here and sit down. I’m still the same person I was yesterday, and the day before. If it helps, please feel free to forget you ever heard those dreadful words.”

Bo couldn’t help it, he chuckled as he came into the room and took a seat beside her. He heard her laughed as well and was glad to hear it. “Consider it forgotten, I just wanted to stop in, and let you know what we discovered at court. It seems we will be returning to Cat’s Eye for the first part of our quest, and the monastery. Well, actually the catacombs beneath it. We found a map that may lead us to that for which we seek. All copies of the prophesy that were within the palace archives have been destroyed. Someone doesn’t want anyone to know what is coming.”

CeCe listened to what Bo told her and had vague recollections of hearing of a similar prophecy as a child. “Do you think other kingdoms might have copies of the prophecy? Surely Mandu isn’t the only one? I have no idea what is left of my home, but if there were any way to find out we could journey to Mithral and explore it also.” Bo noticed the slight tremble in her voice when she mentioned her birthplace.

“We’ll keep it in consideration. For now, get some rest we leave at first light for Cat’s Eye.” He stood and patted her on the knee. “We will find out why the secrecy, and hopefully find out how to fix whatever may happen.” CeCe nodded her head as he turned to walk out the door.

The next morning found everyone leading their horses toward the road back to Cat’ Eye. Just as they were mounting up, they heard the sound of advancing hoof beats. Almost as one they turned to watch Azereus ride towards them. “Didn’t think you were going to get away that easy did you? He asked as he joined the group.

CeCe cocked her head at Bo. Who had the good sense to look sheepishly away. “Why ever would you want to join us Azereus? Shouldn’t you be here protecting your Queen?” she asked in a not too polite way. “We have no need for a royal guard, so you can go back now.” This was said as she kicked her horse forward.

Bo looked at CeCe’s retreating back and then at Azereus. “Dude, have you two met? Because she definitely doesn’t seem to care for you. How could you have met, since she was never presented at court? What’s going on? And why were you so insistent on joining us? Bo bombarded these questions at Az, who sat grinning at the back of the irate female.

When Bo stopped for a moment to take a breath, Az held up his hand. “Enough, shut up long enough for me to answer. First, I have no idea why she is so pissed at me. Second, no she was never presented to the court, but you aren’t the only young lord sent to train in the royal guards. I am myself of noble birth, and the woman we should all be really trying to catch up to is in fact, my cousin.”

With that statement left hanging in the wind, Azereus kicked his own mount to try and catch up with the beautiful woman leaving them all behind.

The group had stopped to camp not far from Cat’s Eye, when Dom and Neko came back into camp toting wood for a fire. They had all decided to keep their return quiet, so none would know of their visit to the monastery. This early in their quest they preferred to keep few knowing what they were doing.

CeCe was sitting off to the side, mending a tear on one of Neko’s shirts, the others were all settling down to go to sleep. She felt a shadow block her light from the campfire and looked up to see Azereus looking down at her. She stopped what she was doing and looked at him waiting to hear what he had to say.

“Can we talk? It has been a really long time, and I missed you. I thought you were dead. What happened? Why did you never let anyone know you survived?” He asked these questions all in a lowered voice as not to awaken or disturb the others. CeCe finally gestured for him to sit beside her. Once he was out of her light, she went back to her mending.

“I didn’t trust anyone, when the dust cleared and I saw the destruction, the death. I didn’t know who to trust, so I trusted no one. I couldn’t let you know, you had already sworn your loyalty to the new Queen, and she was one of the ones I didn’t trust. I mean, who knew maybe she was trying to eliminate any who could claim title to Queen of Cameria. The throne of Mithral has right of claim also to the title. I felt you had forsaken me. So I chose to be thought dead and disappear.” She stopped and took a shuddering breath as she remembered the feelings she had felt seeing her family lying slain all around her.

Az reached over and took the mending from her hand, he then took both her hands within his own. “Silly girl, my loyalty has been and will always be to the true Queen. And she sits here beside me. I was sent to spy on Queen Kaetha and in turn LiLith. My loyalty as ever is to Mithral. When I heard of the destruction, my heart broke at the thought of your loss. I had just met the man to whom your mother had betrothed you to and was looking forward to introducing the two of you.”  Azereus kept his voice down for only CeCe’s ears. He did not wish to explain himself to any of the others in their group.

“I swear now my fealty to you. And will be ever your servant. Please can you forgive me cousin?” He waited to see what CeCe would say. He didn’t realize he was squeezing her hands so tightly, until she grimaced and tried to remove her hands. “Forgive me.”

As she tried to work the feeling back into her fingers, CeCe studied the face that had been so dear to her as a child. It had broken her heart when he had been sent away to the Queen’s court in Mandu. He had been one of the few in the palace who had understood her wish to spread her wings and fly free from the restraints placed upon her as a royal princess. She knew she couldn’t stay mad at him.

“I forgive you, cousin. And I have missed you terribly. I really do wish I could have joined you when I left Mithral. Even now I feel I am not safe, so that is why I wish to remain unknown to the Queen. I also was able to rescue another of royal blood, though he knows it not. I think it best we leave it at that for now.” CeCe’s eyes had wandered to the dark sleeping form of her brother as she spoke. Azereus’s gaze had followed hers. He made to ask who, but she placed a finger to his lips for silence. “Now is not the time.”

Az nodded he understood and then he thought to ask, “Did you save the jewel? Is it safe?” CeCe gave him a look and just said “of course. It is after all my birthright. I have it hidden in a safe place. It along with other crown jewels are all safe.” Az grabbed her in a quick hug, before asking her leave and finding his own rest.

CeCe finished her mending and sat staring into the fire for a bit before getting up and disappearing from camp. She had an errand to run that she needed to do alone. The men slept on totally unaware of her departure.

The next morning found the men all a bit surly with each other when they had noticed CeCe was nowhere to be found. Neko was trying to hold his quick temper in but it wasn’t easy. “Where could she have gone; I think we might have noticed someone coming in to take her. Besides all her stuff is still here. The only thing missing is her.” He bent to pick up his mended shirt from the top of his pack. “Perhaps she woke up early to search for herbs or something?”

Donny was studying the ground close to where she had been sitting the night before. “I see no signs of a struggle, and we all know she is a scrapper. There would have been some sounds, I’m in agreement with Neko, I think she left on her own.” He stood and stretched before walking over to rekindle the fire from the night before. “I, for one could use some coffee, anyone else?”

Just as Bo was about to reiterate. CeCe came walking into camp. She looked at each of the men before saying “What?” and walking over to the fire with Don.

Instead of saying anything the others went about breaking camp. They figured she was safe. It was better not to ask her a bunch of questions. Especially since she seemed in a good mood.

Later the same day they all found themselves at the entrance of the catacombs. They had decided to see how far they could get from this entrance which had been unknown to both Dominic and Neko before they had found the map. They all figured if those two hadn’t found it, no one else had either.

Dom stood in the entrance of the tunnel as they each lit a torch from the one Bo had started with. “So are we ready to begin this quest? Let’s find us a prophecy!” He said excitedly before heading into the darkness ahead.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Queen

All the inhabitants of the house seemed excited over the news of the audience with the Queen save for one. The others barely noticed as CeCe left the gathering and entered the house. Her heart was racing, when she had agreed to travel to the city, she thought they were coming to be here for the public declaration that the Queen was scheduled to make. Never did it cross her mind that they would be entering the actual palace or meeting with anyone official. 

She could not go to this meeting. She thought about it and decided she would feign illness, let the men go without her. She had no wish for anyone to learn, her true identity, it would serve none of them any good purpose. She decided to turn in, to help in the convincing of illness for the morning. As she crossed the room and started up the stairs she chanced to glance out the window toward the palace in the distance.

Bo had finally got the younger men calmed down so he could instruct them in how they were to act in an audience with her majesty.  He looked to see what CeCe thought of their bows, and it was then he noticed that she wasn’t around. He turned toward Neko; smiling at how awkward he looked trying to bow when he was all arms and long legs. “Neko, have you seen your sister?” Bo asked as he went to try and guide him how best to bow gracefully.

Neko cocked his head first to the left and then to the right, before standing up. “No, where did she go? I haven’t really noticed her since the messenger arrived. You have to admit our attention has been on other things since.” He muttered as he went into another deep bow before Silia, who giggled at his comical face.

“Maybe she went to find something pretty to wear for the Queen. You know how girls are. She’ll want to look her best before someone as beautiful as the Queen.” This was volunteered by Dominic has he took his turn bowing to Silia.

“By the way, how did you get us a private audience. I thought we came for the public declaration, she will be making in a couple weeks. I thought we came early, so you could do research at the archives.” Dominic asked Bo, looking at the older Felis with a puzzled look on his face. “Who do you know that is connected enough for this kind of audience?”

Bo knew sooner or later either Dom or Neko would begin to ask questions, they were just too curious not to. He wasn’t quite sure what to say to them.  As he looked from one quizzical face to the next, he knew he would have to tell them part of the truth. It wasn’t like he was going to be able to keep it unknown come tomorrow.  They would know who he really was as soon as he was announced to the Queen.

“The Captain of the Queen’s guard is an old friend. I called in a favor for him to get us an audience.” Bo told the group before him. “I was once trained at the palace myself, that is where I learned much of my fighting skills. My friend, Azereus was my mentor. I knew if anyone could get us in to see her majesty, it would be him.”

Neko studied Bo for a few seconds, and then circled him slowly. He kept making small sounds of agreement to himself, he stopped once more before Bo looking him from head to toe and finally let everybody know what he was thinking.

“Never saw it before, but it has been there the whole time. The solemn countenance, the overbearing nature, the superb fighting skills. We should have figured it all out, but CeCe always said she found you half dead in an alley, so I just always thought, well it doesn’t matter what I thought. Now that I know, I can tell you were highly born. To be sent to train with the Captain of the Queen’s guard, could only mean you are high ranking as well. So tell us, are you a prince, a baron, what was engraved upon your silver spoon?” Neko went and flopped down and grabbed a flagon and took a long drink. Everybody just stared at him as he wiped the foam off his lips with his arm. “What?” was all he had to say before taking another drink.

Dominic turned and look at the man who he had always called brother. Bo had adopted both Donny and himself, when they were just months old. Their mother had been too weak from the birth to survive. There had been a triplet named Danny but he had passed days later. Bo had been more father than brother to him, and he couldn’t believe he had never mentioned any of this to either him or Donny. “Is what Neko saying the truth? Are you a highborn lord? Why would you adopt two poor alley cats like Donny and I? Did you pity us? Were we a charity case for you? I’m not sure I want to know the truth, but please tell us anyway.”

Bo looked into the grass green eyes rimmed with black, he had always thought Dominic looked like he wore eyeliner. Now those eyes held sorrow and pain. He watched as a tear escaped unnoticed by Dom. “No, I never thought of you as anything but my family. I adopted you because you were all alone, as was I. I am an outcast, with a price on my head. One, that by just entering this city may cause me to lose. You have never been anything other than my brothers whom I love and no, I don’t pity you. There is nothing to pity.” As Bo said this he pulled Dom in for a hug, he then grabbed Donny and the three stood held in a tight embrace.

Soon the three brothers broke from their moment and each took a step back to offer the other a moment of time to gather themselves. “You will know all you need to know of my title tomorrow. I suggest we turn in for the night, so we can look refreshed for the Queen. Neko, do you mind checking on your sister? Bo asked as everyone began to gather their stuff to go to bed.

Neko came over and gave Bo a punch on the arm. “I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to upset anyone. I was just being my stupid, old nosey self.” Bo rubbed his arm, acting like Neko had managed to hurt him. Then grabbed Neko and pulled him into a giant bear hug.

“No worries, I shouldn’t have kept it from them. Hell, not from you or CeCe either. You guys are my only family. My birth family is all but gone, and the ones still around want me dead. Let’s just get this taken care of and be out of town before any of them realized I stepped foot in Mandu or for that matter survived the last attack.” Bo finished and pushed Neko up the stairs ahead of him and watched as he entered the room CeCe was staying in. He then went on to his own room and to the bed, that he doubted he would get any sleep in.

The next day dawned sunny and bright and found Neko and the twins doing their best to look good in what clothes they had brought with them. Bo finally came down and watched the three joke and kid around before asking Neko where CeCe was. Neko stopped long enough to point towards the stairs before resuming his primping in front of a small mirror in the corner.

Bo left the young fools and made his way back up the stairs to CeCe’s room. He knocked softly on the door and waited for her to let him in. She opened the door before returning to sit on the cushioned window seat. Bo watched her has she stared out the window, not attempting to get ready to leave. He came over and took a seat beside her.

“It is getting close to the time our escort will be arriving. Why haven’t you dressed? Are you worried about not having anything suitable to wear?” He took one of her hands in his own and noticed that it was cold as ice. “Is something wrong? You know you can tell me anything, right?”

CeCe looked down at where her hand fit into Bo’s much larger one.  She hated to lie, but she just couldn’t bring herself to enter the palace. “Unfortunately, I won’t be joining you at the palace. I’m not feeling well today. I feel it better I stay here rather than risk bringing something contagious to the Queen.” She said this as she placed her other hand upon his arm. “I will be fine here and you will have the boys to act as witness to all you hear. You have no need of me there.”

Bo watched CeCe’s face as she spoke and felt as if she kept something from him, but who was he to say anything about secrets. He gently squeezed her hand before saying “It is of no consequence, it is as you said, fine for just the boys and I to go. I just felt you might enjoy meeting the Queen and seeing the palace. You get some rest while we are gone and we will tell you everything upon our return.” Bo placed her hand back into her lap, and reached up to stroke her cheek.

CeCe smiled and turned her head so she could kiss his hand before he withdrew it.  Bo pulled his hand back and slightly shook it, as if it had shocked him. She laughed before glancing out the window. “I think your escort approaches, it is time. Be careful and return soon.” She watched as Bo jumped up and looked out the window before heading for the door. She didn’t know how to tell him she already had met the Queen and seen more than enough of the palace in her life.

Azereus and a few of his most trusted guards came to escort Bo and the boys to the Queen. Bo was somewhat surprised when they did not head for the palace but were taken to an old abandoned church just outside the palace walls. He did not get a chance to question Azereus as they were led down some ancient stone steps that descended into what felt like the depths of hell. They had only the torches the guards carried for light so their progress was slow.

It felt like they had been walking forever when they stop in an open chamber which was lit all around with candles and some torches along the walls. Azereus told them to take a rest while he went to check to see if the queen was available. Bo looked all around trying to figure out why the Queen would wish to meet him here. Did she not want him seen at the palace? In the amount of time they had walked he ascertained they could be well underneath the palace as it was. All he could do was wait and see. His senses on high alert, he signaled the boys to be as well.

Azereus returned a short time later and told them to follow. They left the chamber and went down a short hall until they stopped before double doors with the Queen’s Crest upon them. Az turned and gave them a look over and then gave the order for the doors to be opened. As the doors swung open, the interior of the room was revealed. It looked nothing like the spaces they had just traipsed through. Azereus led with Bo behind him and the boys falling in line behind him.  As they entered a voice announced the name of those that entered.

Bo looked around at the room truly decorated for a Queen. The walls were lined with gold and silver, while interspersed throughout the area was tapestries woven in rich jeweled tones. He watched as the light flickered off some and realized that they even had the actual gemstones woven into them also. Heavy gold candelabra stood all around casting a soft glow upon the proceedings. So intent on his surroundings and unused to hearing his given name he failed to respond when his name was called.

The herald cleared his throat and called again, “The esteemed Count Borjaeis, son of Suswen.” Bo quickly stepped toward the dais and knelt into a deep bow before his Queen. He continued to bow awaiting her assent for him to rise. He knew he would be lucky if she didn’t leave him in the position for a while. Just to see him sweat. She could be vindictive like that.

When he heard he finally tell him to rise, he couldn’t believe how even after all these years, her voice still played tricks with his heart. He arose and looked upon the face of his first love, Queen LiLith, they had been childhood friends and had had their first touch from Eros’s arrow together. He motioned the boys forward and introduced them, watching her face as she watched them bow.

When he had known her she had just been Lil, neither of them really understanding what their roles would be in the future. His mother Suswen had been the confidant and friend of Lil’s mother, Queen Kaetha.  Bo came back to the present as LiLith gave the boys permission to rise.

 “So you return only to ask for privilege you no longer deserve. You are lucky that I wanted to make certain that it was indeed truly you Borjaeis. Now what is it that brings you within my presence once more?” the queen asked.

Neko stood with the twins watching the interchange between the Queen of all Cameria and Bo. He still couldn’t believe that he was standing in the presence of one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Her fur was purest white and she had the bluest eyes he had ever seen. The jewels around her neck and on the crown she wore were baubles in comparison to her beauty. She wore a diaphanous gold sari with dark gold satin pants under it. She even had a jeweled cuff wrapped around the tip of her tail.

“Why should I let you be privy to the information about my quest before all others? Do you somehow think our past relationship garner’s special license? Oh, my poor misguided Bo. Whatever am I to do with you?” Queen LiLith asked of no one in particular. She glanced at the young men that had traveled here with Bo and wondered at his life away from the intrigues of the palace. She wished she could be so lucky. “I will tell you what I know but it isn’t much. That is the whole reason for this quest, to find out more before it is too late.”

They had all moved to a table on which was spread several scrolls and maps.  Bo sat reading over one of the pieces of parchment, confusion marking his brow. “What do you mean the prophecy is gone? How can something that has been archived in the royal library for centuries be gone? Are there no copies to be found elsewhere, in the other kingdoms perhaps?” He placed what he had been reading back on the pile and reached for another. “I remember my old tutor showing me the damn thing when I was just a kit.”

LiLith looked over at the grumpy Felis and felt like slapping him, he was just as big a pain now as he had been when they were young. “As I’ve told you several time now, I have no idea. When the stars aligned it reminded the scholars of the prophecy much the way it did you. When we came to get it, it was nowhere to be found. What is worse, is that everyone who even had knowledge of it, has been turning up dead. Someone doesn’t want us to know what is written in the prophecy. So I have decided to send out several teams on a search for anything that can be unearthed about the prophecy and what it foretold. I figure the more teams sent out, the harder it will be for whoever is trying to kill the knowledge.”

Bo stood and went over to where a small table had been set with an impromptu meal, he stood thinking about what had been shared while he poured himself a glass of wine. “So we shall be one of your teams, think of it this way. I still can gain entry into some of the noble houses of Cameria, even outcast as I am. That will give us an advantage where some of your other teams will not.” He took a drink and then filled a glass and brought it over to the table to where the Queen sat deep in thought.

Dominic was going through a trunk that had been brought in and he made an exclamation as he rose to bring it over to the table. “You have to see what I found! This is an old map of the old Cat’s Eye tunnels; they were used by smugglers back in the day before they started collapsing. I never realized that they ran all the way up under the old monastery, maybe there is a clue or a part of the prophecy there?” He handed Bo the map, while watching as Neko start looking through the chest he had just left.

Bo studied the map and then handed it to the queen. “I think it is worth checking out. I know back in the day, they used to leave rare or important stuff with the priest for safe keeping. Maybe something has been left there. It’s a place to start.” LiLith handed him back the map, before standing.

“I will leave you to study what we have here for a bit longer, but then Azereus will guide you back to your dwelling. Here let me give you a royal decree to state that you are one of my royal investigative teams. That should help get you in some doors. Be careful, Borjaeis. As mad as I am at you for leaving, I wish no ill harm upon you. Safe journey, old friend.” She then went to the table and wrote something before asking for some wax to attached her seal. Bo and the boys watched as they became the first official seekers in the Queen’s Quest.

A short time later Azereus came to guide them back to their rooms. CeCe was waiting out on the veranda watching for them when they arrived.  She had no clue that one of the royal guards would be escorting them back and so she was taken aback when she saw who came with Bo and the others.

Bo and Az had been talking about what the next move should be after the monastery, when Az happened to look up when CeCe rose to meet the men. His draw dropped and he looked closer before dropping to one knee before her. “Your highness, we thought you dead.”  CeCe paled as all eyes were trained on her. “Stand up, Azereus, I do not ask for your subservience.  Tell no one I am here.” Was all she said as she ran into the house.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


The capitol city of Mandu was the hub of the empire. All trade routes centered here and then branched out like the spokes on a wheel. It was on one of these routes the gang had traveled and then entered the city by. Usually busy with all kinds of people coming and going, the declaration and celestial sighting had many more people seeking entry into the city. The winding streets spun out like a spider’s web, and all were heavily congested.

Bo hated the fact that he would have to use a resource from his past to find them a place to stay while in the city. Just as he was getting ready to tell the others to take a break at a clearing not far from the market, CeCe asked Neko to escort her to an old friend’s. “This is not my first time within the walls of Mandu, my friend will be able to gain us accommodations for our stay here” she told the men gathered around her. “We shall return shortly” was her parting words as she led Neko away.

“What’s wrong big brother?” Dominic asked Bo as he headed for a food vendor not far from where they had stopped. Bo shook his head, as he watched the two forms get swallowed by the crowd. It was only then he realized Dominic had spoken.

As he waited for Dom to return, he took a long drink from his water canteen. Once again CeCe saved him from having to awaken his long buried past. He knew that the day was coming though when he would have to let his presence be known and the fact that he was alive would reach ears he would wish never to hear it of it. Dom came back with a cloth bag full of meat pastries. He passed one to Donny, before coming to stand beside his taciturn brother.

“What has you in such a mood? The closer we have ridden to the city, the more you have been in a weird mood. Not that you’re ever in a great mood, but you’ve been sharp with everybody and real jumpy. So what is it about the great golden city that has you so itchy?” Dominic asked as he handed a pastry to Bo.

Bo stared off into the distance, before answering. “This city holds bits of my past. Bits that I prefer not to think about but feel like somehow that old life is going to soon find its way to creep into this one and I don’t want that to happen. The times I spent here were not pleasant. I prefer to find what we need and make a hasty retreat if at all possible.”

Dominic watched his brother; Bo had taken his pastry and canteen and went to have a seat next to Donny.  He hoped that CeCe and Neko returned soon, he didn’t like being out in the open if his brother had enemies within the walls of the city. He didn’t have to wait long CeCe and Neko returned with a pretty girl named Silia, who led them to her mother’s boarding house.

They had been in the city two days, when Bo said he had some business to attend to and then left. Neko looked over at Dom, who just happened to be flirting with the pretty girl Silia. He had been smitten by the girl with the calico colored fur and spent most of his time chasing after her as she went about her duties. He managed to grab Dom as he was following Silia carrying a basket of bed linens. “Dude, let her get some work done without you under her feet, you don’t want her mama getting mad at her do you?” Neko asked him when he protested.

Dom watched as the girl went through the door and turning to Neko admitted “Nah, I already got her yelled at earlier. Her mother would kick us out if it wasn’t for her friendship with your sister.” He went over a flopped down on one of the cushioned benches littering the common room. “I hope we hear something soon, I hate this waiting. I thought there would be an announcement by now about this quest the Queen is wanting people for but all we do is sit and wait.” Neko had to shake his head in agreement with his friend on the loitering around sentiment.

Apparently Bo had been feeling the same because at that same moment he was entering the barracks to the royal guards. He was stopped and when he made mention of a name he was lead back to an austere office set away from the main comings and goings of the guard. The escort entered and told Bo to wait, he would get the man requested. Bo gave his agreement and watched the man go.

He walked to a window that looked out on one of the practice yards, memories flashing through his mind of his youth and time spent in practice within these very walls. So immersed in his thoughts, he didn’t hear the entrance of the man until he heard a grizzled voice speak. “I never thought to see you here again my boy, I never saw you as one with a death wish.  Why come back here now? Do you think your enemies dead and gone?”

Bo turned and gazed upon a face he thought never to see again. Azereus had been the man chosen to train him. Even back as a youth, Bo remembered Az had been the biggest guard in the royal guards. He had felt so scrawny next to the man. Know here they stood, Bo in his prime and Azereus weathered and gray. A black eye patch over his left eye. He at one time had charcoal gray fur but now it was more the color of fog on an early fall morning. A white beard covered his lower face. And just past the eye patch you could see the scar of the wound that had cost the old man his eye.

“I didn’t want to come but circumstances drew me here. I need your help, old friend. I need you to get me an audience with her. Hopefully without certain factions made aware of my presence. I need to know what she knows of the prophecy and what it is we are seeking. I know I am asking a lot, but if anyone can get me in it will be you as Captain of her guard. Please can you help me and my friends get in?”  Bo stood with his hands out in an open appeal to his mentor and friend.

Azereus stood looking at the boy grown to man. Where once a scrawny, weak youth had stood now stood a confident warrior. A man that he had fought side to side with and had have cover his back in more battles than he cared to remember. Bo’s tortoiseshell coloring mixed with the white goatee and blaze on his chest made him a handsome Felis, but his grass green eyes held wisdom earned through adversity. He knew he would do anything to help the man who had saved his life on more than one occasion.

“How many are we talking? I can’t let a whole bunch of un-sanctioned people traipse through the palace. I need specifics. And this is also if I can get her to give permission. She may not wish to see you; you have been away a long time. Tell me where you are staying and I will send word around when I have news.” Az watched as Bo actually expelled the breath he had been holding. He knew it took a lot for the prodigal son to return, so to speak. Looking at his timepiece he noticed that the guards would be heading for chow, so he headed for the door. “Hurry, while the men head to chow time, you can make your escape.”

Bo agreed and followed the old man down the hall and out of the barracks. Once away from the palace grounds he glanced back at the majestic palace that loomed over the city.  It had been built into a mountain, with wide sweeping balconies and broad verandas. There were stairways leading up into arched doorways all around and at the very top stood three spires.  Within the middle spire the Queen of Cameria slept.

Bo turned and headed back to the boarding house taking several twist and turns along the way as to lose any who might choose to follow him. He returned just as the occupants of the house were sitting down to the evening meal. He had hoped to get something to eat before being inundated with questions but that wasn’t going to be his fate. As soon as he entered the dining room, Dom stood up and met him at the door. “Where have you been? You’ve been gone all day. We we’re beginning to worry about you”

Bo pushed past his jabbering brother and took a seat at the table. He began to load a plate, while Silia poured him a flagon of ale. “I told you, I had business to take care of. Hopefully we will hear something in the next few days about this quest and then we can be on our way. Now sit down, shut up and eat.” Bo said as he took his first bite of dinner.  Dom looked at him and decided not to push it. He sat back down to his own plate and finished his meal.

A couple days later, they were all sitting out on the veranda enjoying the music from a wandering minstrel when a messenger arrived and asked for Bo. Bo spoke to him and took the rolled missive before handing the messenger some coin for his service. Everyone’s eyes were on him as he unrolled the parchment and read. Neko couldn’t stand the suspense any longer and just had to ask “Who is it from and what is it about? No one knows we’re here, at least no one that would be sending messages. Come on Bo spill it.”

Bo let the parchment roll back up and looked at the group before him. "Our time of waiting is over we have an audience with the Queen tomorrow.” Bo smiled as he watched the jaws of his family and friends drop open in surprise. She had agreed to see him. He placed a hand over his chest, rubbing it. He was going to see her again.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Adventure Begins

Bo seriously had a feeling neither Dom or Neko would sleep that night. They were so excited to be leaving the confines of the town. Donny was excited, but he knew in the weakened state he was in that he needed to rest. He didn’t want to slow the group down any more than he already would.

 “If we are all going, I suppose we should head home and get more supplies and since we have lost daylight today, we’ll leave in the morning. Are you all sure you want to come along?” This was asked even though he already knew the answer by the sheer fact that the boys had run ahead of him, even Donny had perked up for this. Which left CeCe walking beside him.

When he turned to look at her, she had a small smile on her face as she watched the three young ones frolicking up ahead. “You have your answer, but yes I know I am sure. You’re not the only Felis around that has a past, I’m not some shrinking wallflower, I can take care of myself.” CeCe grabbed his arm and after hooking her arm with it gave it a squeeze.

Bo looked down into her eyes, wondering what her life had been like. He never really thought of her living anywhere but Cat’s Eye. He supposed it was because this is where he had met her. He had been struggling to stay alive the day he had entered the town, and it had been CeCe who had found him scrounging through the garbage for scraps to eat. He had no money and was fighting a lingering illness. He still believed if she hadn’t found him and nursed him, that he would have died that cold, bleak winter.

CeCe had brought him into her home and given him food and when she had discovered how ill he was, she had used her healer’s skills to help him fight the infection running virulent through his bloodstream. For the first time in his life, he had felt the touch of hands, not bent on cruelty but on nurturing. From that moment on his heart had been hers.

Not that he had ever let her know, the one time he had told a woman he loved her, she had spat in his face and cast him away. He honestly didn’t think that he would survive if CeCe didn’t share his feelings. So he chose to be friends, it was the safe place. This way he could be in her life and not fear for his heart being broken. He had never thought once of asking her about her life, because he was afraid if he did, then she would ask the same of him. And that was a past that he chose to forget.

CeCe felt the turmoil in Bo through the tension in his body. She had come to the point she could read him so easily, but yet in some ways he was still a total enigma to her. She would sometimes look up to catch him watching her with such a forlorn look on his face, that her heart would break. She wanted him to open up to her but after all these years, he still held back and for that, she held herself back also. She wanted him to completely trust her and she felt that by him not opening up, that he in some ways was being dishonest. What would it take to melt his heart of ice?

They had reached the cottages and the triplets as Bo like to refer to them, had begun pulling together supplies. a good rub down. Tomorrow we will try this again” He mumbled to the horse as he walked that way.

The night passed quickly in Bo’s opinion as he awoke to the sun just peaking over the horizon. The subdued shades of purple blended into pink and even further into a fiery red as the sun began its ascent into the morning sky. Bo sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes and stretched, a warning going off in his brain about red skies in the morning, but that was for sailing, wasn’t it? Not taking the time to dwell on it, he got up and made his way into the kitchen to find Dominic and Neko sitting at the table, a map in between them. The smell of coffee brewing on the fire drew him silently into the room.

“I think we should take the old trading road, it is the best known and there will be places along the way to stop and rest and replenish our supplies,” Neko said as Bo poured the first drops of wake up elixir into his mug.

“But it is a shorter distance to go overland, and it’s only a day and a half ride to the palace,” Dom stated as he turned to refresh his own mug. “Good morning big brother, what do you think, should we go overland or take the trade route?”

Bo came over and looked at the map of Cameria, ordinarily, he would have chosen overland but with CeCe and Donny riding along. He figured the trade route would be easier. He tapped the map with one white claw and spoke.  “We will take the trade route; it is the best route seeing as we have fellow travelers who are not as experienced at riding as we are. I also want to keep an ear out to the gossip along the road about the declaration of the Queen’s.”

Neko had been sitting, studying the map but looked up at Bo when he said that. “Why would you care for the gossip? Do you think there will be a lot of people heading for the palace to become these “seekers” the Queen has called for?” Neko stood from the table and stretched his long, lithe body in a way only a Felis could do, it was as if each muscle group stretched until he was twice as tall as he had begun. As he regained his former size, he went and grabbed a glass of water. “I know we won’t be the only ones, but do you think there will be a lot of groups going?”

Bo took the chair that Neko had vacated and thought for a moment, “I don’t know. All I know is that many people are going to be worried and that means they will begin to flock towards the palace and the safety of the Queen’s army. What I hope to hear is news of the prophecy, that I was going to look into before the declaration. Some of the other traveler’s may have heard of it.”

CeCe tapped on the door as she entered, I figured this is where I would find you, brother, have you packed everything you will need. I don’t want you griping because you forgot something because you were over here instead of getting ready to leave” she said as she walked over to Neko and gave him a gentle shove towards the door. “Now go finish so that we can get on the road.” Neko gave her a dirty look but went out the door.

“I am all ready, my things are out in the yard. Are we almost ready?” CeCe asked as she took the glass Neko had left and rinsed it out and put it on the drain board. “I have no idea why I am anxious to begin this journey, but I am”

Bo watched her go about the kitchen cleaning and organizing it before she then began in the living area just off the kitchen. Donny came stumbling in, casting a sideways glance at the fidgeting female. “Morning, is there any coffee left? I need something to get me woke up. I got all my stuff ready, just waiting on everyone and some go-go juice” Donny was reaching for a mug as Bo brought the pot over to pour him some. “Thanks, I really need this.” He took a big sip and purred his gratitude for the drink. “Why is Miss CeCe, cleaning our house, by the way?” he observed as he took another drink.

As his statement reached her, CeCe stopped and looked at what she was doing, she laughed while telling Donny “I have no idea why I am cleaning your house, Donald, just nervous I guess. It has been years since I have been out of Cat’s Eye and I guess I am more nervous than I thought.” CeCe made the effort to put the sofa pillows down that she had been rearranging. “I think I will go outside and wait, see you guys in a bit.” She walked timidly towards the door before walking out.

A little bit later found the whole gang out in the courtyard of the stable. Their horses were saddled and the supply mules loaded. Bo turned to study the group as they made their final checks on their tack. CeCe stood next to her charcoal-grey mare in blue leather pants with black boots up to her knees. She wore a light colored blue tunic that hung loosely down past her hips. Over the top of the tunic, she sported a matching leather vest the same color as her pants. From her belt, her small knife she used to cut herbs and such hung. She also carried a short sword, and for some reason, he had no doubt she knew how to use it.

His eyes then drifted to the twins, they were so alike yet so different. Both sported grey, black and white fur, the blazes of white found on their chest and faces. Dominic had white on both legs, and one arm, the other arm was the rich grey and black that made up the rest of his coloring. Today he had chosen to dress in tan buckskin and for once Donny wore the same. Each had a dark brown belt that carried their swords as well as their daggers, well the daggers you could see. Dom had chosen a cloak of soft heather blue while Donny’s was a deep crimson color. They had chosen twin sorrel geldings as their horses.

When Bo swept his gaze around he didn’t see Neko right away but then he came from inside his cottage, tucking something in one of the pouches attached to his belt. As usual, Neko wore deep royal blue, so dark it almost looked black and blended with his fur. The only color found on Neko was his eyes and the flash of his sword. He wore a black cape with just a whisper of white trim around the hood. Neko always had weapons hidden all over his body, which made him a formidable guardian. He rode his black stallion, and when the two were together they seemed to blend into one creature.

Bo gave the order to mount up and as he took to his own horse. He took the lead position with Donny riding beside CeCe and Neko and Dominic bringing up the rear.  As he led the gang through the city gates towards the trade road, he knew that this way going to be an interesting adventure, he just hoped that it would be a good adventure.

Note: This should catch up any new readers. Stay tuned. I post each Monday, the next installment. 
Also just want to let everyone know, that the pictures I use on this blog unless otherwise specified do not belong to me. You can find them on Pinterest or Pixabay if any are yours and you can provide proof, I will gladly give you credit or whatever you would like done.

The Royal Declaration

As the bright light faded back to the dark evening sky. Neko watched as some of the citizens turned to return to their homes, while others grouped together talking and pointing up at that sky. Turning to the group beside him, he voiced what they must all be thinking. “What the hell was that! Have you ever seen anything so cool and yet so freaky? And did it give any of you guys the intense heebie-jeebies?  “His eyes were full of gold reflecting what little light was to be picked up in the night.

Donny limped over to a futon covered with pillows in rich vibrant colors of orange, purple, blues, and reds. As he lightly lay down he grumbled “It was interesting, but really do you have to get so excited over a simple conversion of the celestial sky? As for giving me the creeps, I would say no, not really, okay maybe a little.” The last mumbled low as he dropped off into a nap.

Bo in the meantime had been pacing and scratching his grey goatee, as every once in a while, he would glance up towards the sky. You could almost see the gears grinding as he thoughts about whatever had his tail twitching furiously back and forth. Dominic stopped beside Neko, his eyes watching the flicking tail with a devilish gleam in his eyes. When Neko looked over and saw the direction of Dominic’s eyes and figured what his thoughts must be, smiled.

“Bro, do you really want to pounce on his tail right now? Look at him. He would tear you up. He is doing some serious thinking there. Wonder what has him so agitated?” Neko put his paw on Dom’s arm before asking Bo what he was wondering. “Bo, Bo Jangles… hey, come back to us. What has you so worked up? You going to enlighten us or keep us sitting here watching you pace?” He went to block Bo’s pacing and it was only then that Bo seemed to remember he was not alone.

Bo looked at Neko and then his gaze swept the yard stopping on each of his brothers before returning to Neko’s inquisitive face. “Sorry, those stars converging shook loose a memory from my childhood. There was a prophecy spoken of, that spoke of three stars becoming one. And that it would signal the birth of a Triad. Something of great power that could help the world or destroy it. I was trying my mightiest to remember the exact wording but it escapes me. It’s as if the moment I grasp it and start to speak of it; it then disappears like smoke on the wind.”

Neko noted the confusion in Bo’s peridot-colored eyes. “I’ve never heard of this prophecy, where did you hear it?” Bo looked at Neko and cocked his head. “Oh, I see that was from your time before you came to Cat’s Eye. The time you never speak about. Dude, why don’t you ever talk about your life? What did you do, that is so bad that no one can know? We’re all family, you can tell us. Neko gave Bo his best cute kitty faces.

“You can give up, Neeks, it isn’t happening. That life is over and I for one never want to go back to it. Talking about it serves no purpose. What does serve a purpose is finding a written version of the prophecy or finding a scholar who knows of it. Bo had resumed his pacing as his mind began formulating plans. “I think all my answers are held in one place. The Palace. I need to go to the palace and speak with the wise ones there. Perhaps looking through the royal library. I must prepare to leave in soon.” He was still talking as he went back into the cottage. Neko looked at Dom and Dom just shrugged.

The palace wasn’t far, nothing but a day’s ride, so Bo gathered foodstuff and his bedroll before taking them out to the barn where the horses stood silently in their stalls. Neko and Dom followed close on his heels. “Come on, Bro. why can’t we come? We want to go to the palace too. We can help you look for what you’re looking for. Dom pleaded for the umpteenth time. Bo just shook his head and set to saddle his horse.

“I told you both, that I don’t need your help, and we all know that you guys find trouble without even looking. I don’t need that within the palace walls. I won’t be gone for long, besides who would stay here and keep an eye on Donny and CeCe?” Bo looked at both the rambunctious young men. “Until we know what is happening, I prefer someone stay here and watch them.”

“Since when do I need any watching by anyone, Mr. Bo Jangles?” CeCe said sarcastically as she entered the barn. “I’ll have you know I survived long before you or any of the boys came along. And I will survive long after, especially if you keep that attitude up.” She stood glaring at Bo, her green eyes flashing fire. She stomped closer to Bo, so close that their whiskers were touching. “I brought you some of my cheddar and chicken pastries, but I guess I will take them to that cute Romeo down the street. I notice he has been watching me.” CeCe purred this low for only Bo to hear. As his head came up and his eyes flashed, she turned and began sauntering away.

Bo stood rooted to his spot for just a second before running and blocking her from leaving the barn. “Wait, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I didn’t mean to offend you. Of course, you can take care of yourself.” Bo quickly backpedaled from his earlier statement. “But I do worry about you and I just feel better if the boys stay here.  Please, can I have the pastries? You know they are my favorite.” Bo stood with his head down in a slight bow showing subservience towards the queen of his heart.

CeCe watched him before handing him the wrapped goodies, a slight smile on her feline face. She reached up and stroked Bo’s cheek, before standing on her tiptoes and planting a kiss on it. “I suppose I can forgive you this one time, but you better mind yourself and not forget. Have a safe journey and I hope you find what you are searching for.” She gave him a slight hug and then stepped around him and headed out the door.

Bo stood looking at CeCe as she left the barn until he heard chuckling from behind him. He had forgotten that Neko and Dom were standing there and now he was their source of entertainment. “Oh, forgive me, my sweet love. I didn’t mean to act all he-man on you. Don’t go chasing Romeo, sweet Romeo from down the street.” Dominic said in a slightly feminine voice. He came and knelt on his knees in front of Bo. “Please, please my love, don’t take my yummy goodies away.” At this line, Dom put his hands together as if praying. All of a sudden he fell over laughing. “Damn, bro. Will you just admit you love her and get it over with.”

Neko was leaning back against a support beam, his whiskers twitching before he broke out laughing as well. “Dude, if you don’t tell her or make some move, you may have to worry about that cat Romeo. I hear he is a pretty slick guy. If he has his sights set on my sister, you might be in trouble.” Neko had walked over and was pulling Dom up off the floor. “I know she likes you, but she isn’t going to wait forever. You need to make a decision.” That being said the two troublemakers exited the barn, leaving Bo with his thoughts and the horses
It wasn’t long before he came out leading his black mare from the barn. He stood looking at the cottage where his brother and friend were sparring with each other and further down CeCe stood talking to one of the neighbors. Her head thrown back as she laughed at something the old woman said. He was preparing to mount his horse when he heard the sound of many hooves hitting the packed earth. Turning he watched as a group of soldiers rode into town, and leading them was what appeared to be a royal messenger. Bo looked and saw that Neko and Dom were heading towards him, and as he started walking towards the group, the boys joined him.

“What do you think is happening?” Neko asked. As they drew closer to the crown that was forming.

“I don’t know, but I think we are about to find out,” Bo said as they pushed their way towards the front. As they waited for the rest of the citizen’s to gather, Bo felt someone take his hand. He looked down to find CeCe’s hand enveloped by his much bigger one. He squeezed it before casting his attention once more to their royal visitors.

The messenger stood talking to what appeared to be the captain of his guard, every now and again he would look out over the crowd before speaking once again.  It felt like it had been ages but in fact, it had only been a few minutes for the crowd to gather. As the messenger came forward and one of the guards brought a raised platform for him to stand upon. The man stood looking out over the crowd and raised his hands to signal for silence.

The crowd quieted but there were still voices speaking in hushed tones all around. The messenger was a tall, lanky looking fellow with yellow and orange striped fur. He wore a purple hat with a green feather sticking out from it. His raiment was that of a courtier and he wore upon his chest a cloak emblazoned with the royal coat of arms. As all eyes became trained on him he began his speech.

“Hear ye! Hear ye! By declaration of her most royal highness, Queen Seraphina, let it be known far and wide that the Queen calls forth seekers of the truth.  Her royal highness is aware of the celestial happening recently and calls forth teams to come join in the seeking of the Triad. Let it be known that this quest will be long and perilous and not for the weak at heart.” Here the messenger looked out over the crowd again, his eyes lingering upon Bo and his family. “Come to the palace at once to receive further instructions. May the Goddess bless and keep you.” As the messenger finished his announcement many voices were raised with questions.

The messenger ignored them all as he returned to his horse and prepared to ride to the next town. His guards surrounding him, telling Bo the reason for their presence with the man. His news and lack of answers did not make for a safe exit from any town.

Bo stepped away from the crowd pulling CeCe with him. Once they were a safe distance away, he released her hand. The boys had followed and as they stood watching the troop of soldiers with the cargo safely circled make their slow progress out of town as the villagers pressed close yelling their questions at the man as he and his escort rode away.

“I want to come with you, Bo. I think this is important and my instincts are yelling at me to go.” CeCe said to Bo surprising him. He knew she could handle herself but to take her into danger went against everything within him.

“Me too.” Was Neko’s statement as he joined his sister and their friend. “I go where CeCe goes. Plus, I feel this need to go also.” He stood looking at the couple, defiantly.

Before Bo could answer Donny and Dominic had joined them. “When do we leave? I guess we need to pack a lot more supplies huh?” was what came out of Dom’s mouth as he stood with his arm around his twin.

Bo looked over their small group and knew they all had something to offer in this quest, but it didn’t mean he had to like the idea. Did he really want to risk his family and friends on a quest for some unknown object called the Triad? Was the prophecy that he sought in any way connected to this Triad and just what exactly was it? As a feeling of resolve settled in his heart, he only knew one thing.

“It appears as if we are all going to the Palace,” Bo said to the gang.