“Down with oppression!” a young, frizzy-haired protester shouted out into a crowd of like-minded people who applauded her message. “They’re trying to hide the truth from us to fit their propaganda, but we won’t take it any longer! Alexander had a grand vision for our country, and it got taken from him! The further away we got from his original rule, the further away from his dream we got, but that stops now! We’re here to revive his intentions, and we’re not going anywhere until we make it happen!”
The crowd cheered for her, and Emily stepped away from the window in an irate disgust. She turned to the parliament and ranted, “None of that is true! King Alexander didn’t have his dream taken away! He just changed it! And no one is hiding anything! It’s not my fault these people didn’t pay attention in history class!”
A balding man with small glasses and a thin body that emitted an aura of ardent enthusiasm for the academia reassured her, “I know that! We all know that! Most of our country knows that! They represent a fringe minority. Try not to take it personally!”
Emily, who couldn’t help giving the gathered protesters the eye, responded to him, “Thanks, Hugo! I know you’re trying to help, but I have to take this personally! They’re a minority right now, but how long will that last? Just look at their numbers! A few weeks ago, they were a group of about three people, and now look at them! They’re growing rapidly! If this trend continues, it could really divide our country up! I don’t want Amouraq to end up in a civil war!”
“I don’t think it’ll go that far!” a parliament member put in. “People tend to lose interest in new ideas as quickly as the idea appears. This’ll probably be over in a week or so.”
“And what if it doesn’t?” Emily challenged. “Xavier wanted to get to the throne, and he couldn’t do it by force, so this is his way of getting to the crown! He created a message so powerful that it could change the hearts and minds of scores of people, and it’s already starting to work! These are his talking points, this was his doing! We have to stop his plan before it gets too far!”
Another parliament member timidly pointed out, “Um, Xavier Ryder is dead. His message can’t get far without him.”
Emily felt like she got a punch in the gut upon hearing that statement. She had a habit of continuing to deal with Xavier as if he were still alive because, somehow, in her head, he hadn’t died yet. She saw his body before it got buried, and yet something deep inside of her wouldn’t register his death. She couldn’t explain why, but she had the strongest feeling that he’d come back in some way, shape, or form. She would never voice this opinion to her subjects thought. Besides the fact that she didn’t want to scare them, she also didn’t want them to start suspecting her of losing her grip on reality, especially in the face of her opposition right then! Even if he truly had met his end, she knew his influence still presented a problem. “He died, but his message didn’t! He planted a seed before he left, and it has the power to grow faster and stronger than we can handle if we don’t nip it in the bud right now! If we don’t, then our victory over him will have meant nothing!”
The parliament members were swayed by her viewpoint, and they began to contemplate the matter. A different parliament member remarked, “I think the only way to quiet their message without infringing on their rights is with strong branding of our own. We need to find a way to make our side more well known than theirs so that Amouraqians disregard the message of their never-ending protests.”
“That’s a good idea!” Emily complimented the parliament member that suggested that. “I do have some friends at Celebrity Tonight that we could consult with. I just hope we can do this subtly. Things feel weird enough at the moment without adding that!”
“Tell me about it!” the first parliament member chimed in. “In my district, we’ve had several white flags pop in people’s yards. I don’t know what it means.”
The second parliament member who spoke brought up, “In my district, we’ve had several random objects go missing, like vehicle rims, drums, pans, it’s weird!”
The third parliament member that voiced her opinion commented, “I’ve had a lot of apothecaries sell out of rare ingredients. People are panicking, I’m not totally sure why!”
Hugo piped in, “Perhaps people are just upset about Xavier’s death. Some people may not be able to accept it, which is why I think his numbers are continuing to climb despite his demise!”
“That’s probably true!” Emily agreed. “But somehow, I think it’s more than that. The electricity in the air makes it seem like his supporters are planning something big!”
Before anyone could muse as to what that could possibly be, Stephen unexpectedly burst into the room! “Stephen! What’s wrong?” Emily asked.
He answered with trepidation, “Xavier’s grave got broken into, and his body is missing!” The parliament members stared at each other incredulously, and as soon as they let it sink in, they all scrambled to their feet to investigate the situation.
Stephen led Emily and a few parliament members through a secured graveyard feeling slightly agitated from the event. He already had an uneasy feeling about Xavier’s death, and this didn’t help allay his concerns! The other ICI members were already at the grave site waiting for their arrival so that they could examine the scene, and they watched as Emily viewed the scene for herself. The dirt that had covered his coffin had gotten scattered in multiple directions, and his tombstone had been smashed to bits! When she peered inside of the burial ground, she saw that it was completely vacant. Stephen told her, “They made it so you can’t even tell a body ever laid to rest there!”
“Which is exactly what all the conspiracy theorists out there will say!” Emily frowned became more pronounced. “They’re already accusing my reign of lying and covering up certain facts, so this isn’t gonna help!”
“Do you think that’s why they did it?” Allison posed. “To make the government look bad?”
Finnian speculated, “Maybe it was a super fan of Xavier’s, and they’re keeping his body for sentimental reasons.”
Stephen didn’t seem convinced by either theory. “Those are the best case scenarios! They also might have some darker purpose for doing this! I really wish we could have destroyed his body when we had the chance! I know, I know, it was an officer involved shooting and you had to keep it for a certain amount of time in case of any legal demands for an exhumation, but this is exactly the reason why mass murdering bastards shouldn’t get a grave or a burial!”
“Calm down, Stephen!” Alastair advised him. “There’s only so much a person can do with a corpse! Nothing on Earth can bring him back!”
“Then why haven’t you retired?” Stephen pushed back. “You said you wouldn’t feel right doing it until the matter with Xavier was settled. Well, he’s dead, but you stuck around! Why?”
Alastair stammered, “Well, there’s still some loose ends to tie up with this case! Blythe is still missing, and…” Stephen gave him a very disconcerting look, so he relented, “Okay, okay! I get the feeling something isn’t right! I can’t leave until I know for sure that he’s gone!”
Emily suggested, “There’s one way to find out…”
Back in the castle attic, Stephen and Emily brought the ICI agents and parliament members to the magical list. With baited breath, they all scanned down to the bottom where his name situated itself. To their astonishment, it was still there! “That can’t be right!” Alastair gasped.
“The other heirs who were killed got erased,” Allison reminded them all. “Cara’s parents, the Yaretzi brothers, the Connelly’s, they’re all gone, but not him! Why?”
“Maybe the list takes a while to update,” Finnian theorized.
Stephen affirmed, “Well, I’m not officially closing this case until his name is off this list! Something is going on, and we need to find out what!”
In another open field, a young woman with fiery red hair and cold, dark eyes strolled over to find the perfect spot. She wore the same brown robes as everyone else, but everyone there seemed to be following her lead. A feeling of icy numbness swept through her body, so she commanded to the others, “Stop right here!” Everyone halted, and the two men carrying a large trunk set their burden down on the ground. Two others set a cauldron down in front of her, and as she began pouring in some potions, the others encircled her and began chanting a spell in an indistinct language. Blythe closed her eyes and hovered over the pot as the chanting around her grew louder and louder. All of a sudden, her eyelids flew wide open, and she announced, “They’re here!” Everyone watched as a ball of pure light floated down from the starry sky and headed towards them…