Kasmira was surprised about how small and drab the queen’s bedroom had been decorated. She didn’t appear to be in the room, so Kasmira was prepared to head to the dungeons. However, she stopped dead in her tracks when Mad Queen Mary entered the room. She almost looked like a ghost with her pale skin, long, white hair, and white gown. Her eyes had very little color to them. Kasmira could only tell that she was Orlando’s mother since they had the same lips. At first, Mad Queen Mary didn’t notice Kasmira, too preoccupied going to the table against the wall. Before she reached for the goblet waiting for her but ceased as she caught sight of Kasmira. In a very weak voice, she told Kasmira, “You are not supposed to be here.”
Kasmira countered with, “Technically, I have the right to be here because I married your son, which makes me princess.” The truth of these words surprised the queen and Kasmira as well.
Mad Queen Mary said, “Orlando is a bad son.”
“How could you say that? He is a good man who only wants what’s best for the kingdom!”
“He never accepted King Davidson as a ruler or father. He is in charge. Anyone who doesn’t obey the king is a traitor.”
“Don’t you care about what he’s doing to all of those innocent people? I think part of you does. You wanted to stop him from building another I.W.T.S. I know deep down you want to help. Why not start by helping your son? He needs you right now.”
“My son was a bad boy. He deserves to be punished.”
“You selfish old hag! You have the power to stop all this! But you would rather wallow in your own pity and misery!”
Mad Queen Mary decided to ignore her. She reached for the goblet, which seemed to contain ordinary wine. Kasmira had a strong suspicion of foul play. Mad Queen Mary told her, “I must take my medicine. My husband wants me to do it everyday.”
Comprehension dawned on Kasmira. “You idiot! He has been poisoning your body like he has poisoned the mind of so many people! By doing this, you are letting him control your kingdom! If you keep drinking this wine, you will die!”
“If I don’t, he will find another way to end me. I have accepted my fate.” She downed the entire glass and collapsed onto the floor. Kasmira knelt over to check her vital signs. As she held her hand, Mad Queen Mary breathed, “My son…my son…my daughter.” She died. Kasmira shook her head in disappointment. She noticed a key ring on her belt, snatched it, and ran from the room.
She ran down to the dungeons and saw that Donovan had succeeded in distracting the Blood Warriors who guarded the halls. She heard some activity going on in the room on the far end. She peeked in and beheld Orlando strapped to a table. A couple of Blood Warriors questioned him, and because he remained insolently silent, they used an instrument that caused him to cry out in pain. That was more than Kasmira could bear to see. She summoned her powers to blast the door open. The two Blood Warriors were so shocked that for a few seconds they didn’t know how to respond, which Kasmira took advantage of to unbind Orlando. The pair then fought off the Blood Warriors and ran out of the dungeon.
They didn’t get out the door. They saw that Donovan was surrounded by a gang of Blood Warriors. The largest one said in a menacing tone, “Alright Donovan, there was no one trying to kill the king. Why did you create a diversion?”
Donovan defended himself, “I swear I saw an escapee head up there!”
The Blood Warrior dismissed that claim. “I’ve observed your behavior these past few years. You have grown less and less interested in helping our cause than when you first joined.”
“It’s not my fault, I’ve been growing weaker!” Donovan said piteously.
The Blood Warrior scoffed, “So, whose fault is it? The Blood Warrior you killed?” Donovan said nothing. “You claim you were drunk when you got into a fight with him, but now that seems less likely. I think you only said you would join us to save your own hyde.”
“Haven’t I give you five years of good service?” Donovan probed.
The Blood Warrior answered, “Then what is it you’re hiding from us? Why do you keep yourself alive when clearly you long for death? Tell us the secret you are keeping from the king!”
Donovan spat, “I have nothing to say.”
The Blood Warrior retorted, “Have it your way.”
The Blood Warriors all aimed their bows at him. Orlando covered Kasmira’s mouth to stifle the scream she would have admitted as twelve arrows shot through her father! A Blood Warrior came to inform them that the queen was dead. They left, and Kasmira ran over to Donovan. Donovan was still alive but barely so. He weakly told Kasmira, “It’s around my neck.” He died, and Kasmira couldn’t help but cry. It just didn’t seem fair that she finally learned the truth, and they unfairly killed a good man.
Before Kasmira could get the scepter, they heard the Blood Warriors close by. Orlando grabbed Kasmira and they hid behind the trees just in time. King Davidson was present. He looked at Donovan’s body and lightly kicked his head to see his face. “So,” he said to the Blood Warriors, “Do you think this traitor played a part in the death of my wife?”
“Without a doubt,” one of them replied.
“Pity,” King Davidson said without remorse, “He was a smart man. Not smart enough though. Examine his body for any valuables then burn it. Tomorrow we will gather an army and look for the scoundrels that escaped the I.W.T.S.”
“Yes, your majesty,” the Blood Warrior said robotically. King Davidson went back into the castle while the Blood Warriors carried Donovan’s body into the dungeon. Orlando and Kasmira were still in awe over the whole sad situation. It took them a moment before they turned around and headed back to the Rebel’s headquarters.
They were silent, heavy from emotion, for a while. Eventually Orlando told Kasmira, “I’m sorry about your father.”
“And I’m sorry about your mother.”
“It’s strange, but I think, in a way, they’re glad it happened.”
“Yes. I think it’s the way he wanted to go. He devoted his life to protecting his family and he died doing just that. At least he’s not suffering anymore.”
“Did you see my mother die?”
“Yes. Her last words were, ‘My son, my son, my daughter.’ Did you have a sister?”
“No. She must’ve been talking about you. She never gave a damn about me before, but I guess she regretted that at the last minute.”
Kasmira could no longer deny a truth. “King Davidson has the scepter.”
“I know. And tomorrow we will do battle.”
“Orlando, I hope we get a chance to be man wife for more than a day!”
Orlando stopped and hugged her tight. She hugged him back with tears rolling down her cheek. He told her ruefully, “If you go, I’ll never love another woman! I-”
“Don’t talk like that. We have got to put that fear our of our minds. Forget about the curse. My father was right-any obstacle can be overcome if we work at it. We have a duty to do. We must prepare for war. While we are there, we will take out as many Blood Warriors as we can. We will do what we can to stop King Davidson, but we may be fighting a losing battle. We must tell Mac and the others what we know. For now, let’s just enjoy breathing and feeling while we still can.” They gave each other a sweetly sorrowful kiss, held each other’s hand, and trekked through the woods.