Velvety purple streaked with furious scarlet and hints of orange painted the twilight sky as dark-haired Prince Drake Runeguard entered the Village of Split Suns with his best friend, Valtim Clash. If his aging father, King Roan Runeguard, could see him now, walking with the cook’s son, his head would probably explode. Someone had spared the king that awful fate, however, by turning the prince and his friend invisible three full moons ago.
“Do you think we’ll find him?” Valtim asked. “It’s said he can’t be found unless he wants to be.”
“If the Grey Sorcerer lives here, we will find him,” Prince Drake replied. “I cannot afford to fail in this quest. I must tell the kingdom I am alive, or the Kingdom of Runeguard will eventually become the Kingdom of Grumblepucker.”
They’d dubbed the kingdom’s regent Grumblepucker, because, when Krolar wasn’t grumbling, he was currying favour with the king.
Drake looked longingly at the toffeesmith as they passed it. After surviving on wild fruit for three moons, a toffee rock would be welcome. They stopped at a sparkling fountain in the quiet village square. After drinking, Drake studied his reflection in the water, wishing it wasn’t the only way he could be seen. Desperate eyes stared back at him through tangled black hair. A glance at Valtim’s reflection revealed that he, too, looked ragged, though his shorter blond hair was more presentable.
A banshee-like wail shattered the peacefulness, followed by a pause, then a piercing shriek that stole Drake’s breath. An elf girl’s panicked face reflected next to his in the fountain, her lavender eyes wide and dainty face framed by long amber hair.
Villagers shook their heads in apparent pity, then continued about their business; it seemed the screaming elf was deemed normal.
“There, there,” a silken voice said. A slender, brown-haired woman dressed in black trousers and a flowing white shirt placed an arm around the elf’s shoulders.
The woman locked eyes with Drake. Hope flooded the prince – she could see him!
She sent the elf home, then frowned at Drake. “So you aren’t dead, after all. Your funeral’s today, you know… and what in all of Runeguard have you done to yourself?” The hint of a smile twitched her lips.
Drake said, “Neither of us did this.”
“Is that what you think?”
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