As promised, Roxanne's story continues today. I haven't added a poll of today's instalment, because it's so near the end now, I know what needs to happen. So for the next two or so episodes, I'm going to write the ending I've planned all along in my head. Then you get to vote again. :)
They were on a hilltop, overlooking the black city of the Trickster. Roxanne couldn't believe they had come so close at last.
Somewhere down there, her enemy waited.
The party decided to set up camp for the night and made a small fire. Cookie immediately started making something to eat, while the other men started hitching the tents. Rocket and Dusk went looking for some water and Roxanne was left alone with her thoughts.
She was sad that Samir had been forced to give up his life for her, but she hoped once she was done the Chiefs would understand that it was necessary. She hoped they would forgive the man and take him back into his world. Roxanne just wished it didn't have to be this way for him. He was obviously very upset by all that had happened.
Her eyes drifted to Oliver as he worked. That was another thing Roxanne was concerned about. Her feelings for the Prince had grown so much that she doubted she would be able to leave his side. But at the same time, she longed for her own world and her family. Would she be able to stay? Would she be able to go? What would he do?
Roxanne had no idea.
And then there was the biggest problem; how was she going to face the Trickster? Everything had been leading up to this and she still had no idea how she would beat him. She knew she had to use the crystal, but she had no idea how. She sighed. It was all so complicated.
When the other women returned with the water, the tents were up and something was smelling delicious in the cooking pot. Oliver and Roxanne were sitting very close together, not speaking, but lost in thought.
They ate their dinner in companionable silence and everyone congratulated the cook on a meal well done when they were finished. The silence lasted for some time more, before it was finally broken.
"So, what do we do tomorrow?" Dusk asked at last.
For some reason, everyone was looking at Roxanne. She had no idea why they were deferring to her. "I'm not entirely sure." she answered truthfully. "We need to get down there and find the Trickster. But I don't know where to start looking."
"He's in the palace. It's on the other side of the city." Rocket answered. "All the stories say so."
"We may need to circle round to where he is." this was Oliver. "If we try to go through the black city, we'll have to fight through everyone in our way. We should avoid that as far as we can."
Reinhart disagreed. "I doth think not. A few vagabonds under the blade hath never done any harm. It would be invigorating to face them!"
"We want to save them, remember?" Roxanne said gently. "Not slaughter them. Everyone who can be helped should be given a chance. Even the Trickster. Maybe especially him."
The knight didn't seem to understand, but said nothing more.
Rocket spoke next, playing with a strap on one of her belts. "We're going to lose some time again. How long will it take to go around?"
"About four days." Samir answered. "I know a way."
"Then we should take that way tomorrow." Roxanne said.
"And then? After that?" Dusk wanted to know.
"I'm sure it'll come to Roxanne." Cookie said kindly when Roxanne couldn't answer.
She really felt the pressure, because she really didn't know what would happen next. Oliver squeezed her hand encouragingly and that made her feel better.
They had a subdued dinner and went to sleep after that, Reinhart taking the first watch as always. When the morning came, they broke up camp, ate a cold breakfast of leftovers and set out on their journey. Samir lead them silently, his head bowed in sadness.
It went routinely after that. Between camp and travel, nothing happened. It was almost too easy, with none of the Trickster's minions attacking them. It was almost as if he wanted them to reach him. That was a thought that scared Roxanne.
Finally, they found themselves faced with the black gate of the palace. The gate was slightly ajar and Oliver pushed it open with a groan. "Well," he said, "here we are."
And that's it for today. The story continues in two weeks time on the 12th October and should conclude on the 26th.
Have a fantastic weekend!
Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,