Wrath of the Falcon, Book 4
The hinges groaned slightly as the fourteen-year-old
princess opened the old mahogany box with clandestine
stealth. She carefully lifted several bundles out of the
box until the flicker of candlelight fell on a note written
in a different hand.
“This one,” Princess Katrina whispered as she pulled
the note out of the box.
Marisa stared intently as the light danced in her dark
eyes. “Read it,” Marisa urged in a whisper.
Katrina began, “It's addressed to Zeto. He's our great-
great-grandfather. It's from his mother.”
“Just read it,” Marisa practically begged her cousin.
Dear Son, It is with deep sorrow that I
recognize this place in which our people have
chosen to gather. For though fifty years have
passed since that dreadful day, I can still see it
as if it was today. Our ancestors inhabited this
valley for many generations. When I was a
youth, a war raged through, and the citadel,
of which my father was the last guardian
steward, became a refuge for dozens of our
villagers. When the battle came too near the
citadel, my father rang the sacred bell. I can
still hear its voice mingled with the weeping of
mothers crouched with their children.
The promised reply from the neighboring
king never came. In retrospect, I suspect he
had already fallen.
The raiders partially broke the massive door
enough to crawl in, and I cannot bring myself
to record the horrors that took place. There
was a secret passageway that led to the river,
and I took as many of the children as I could
hasten into the passageway before the raiders
overran the refuge. The last glimpse I had of
my father was of a sword crashing down upon
I cannot stay in this place, so please rejoin
me in PenNel after the Jamboree. Do not
share this with anyone else, lest it deflate their
“What do you think of that?” Katrina whispered.
“I've heard the riddle of the bell before, but never this
part of the story,” Marisa whispered back.
“That's because it was a deep secret. But with this,
now we're going to find the citadel!” Katrina exclaimed.
“We don't even know if it's real,” Marisa retorted
skeptically, trying not to get swept along in her cousin's
“It's real, all right. This note was from one of my
ancestors,” Katrina explained, as if that made it all make
Marisa looked blank. “Mine too.”
“Right. Our grandfather's grandfather found it. We're
going to find it. Then we'll be famous, and maybe we'll
even find treasure. Then we'll be rich too!” Katrina
Marisa gave Katrina a funny look. “You're already rich.
In case you forgot, you're the princess.”
“Oh, don't do that! You're going to ruin the
adventure,” Katrina bemoaned.
“I don't see how you're going to have any adventure
with your father's royal guard marching circles around
you every minute of the day,” Marisa challenged as she
made a march pantomime with her fingers.
Katrina pulled herself close to Marisa and, after a
theatrical look around to verify they were alone,
whispered, “I've got it all planned out. When the boys go
hunting, we'll slip past the guards in boys' clothing.”
“Which boys are going hunting?” Marisa asked
“Samuel is taking my brother and your brother early
the first morning,” was Katrina's reply.
“My brother? Levi?” Marisa smirked.
“Yes, of course,” Katrina replied tersely. “He's not so
much the buffoon as everyone makes out!”
A light tap on the door as it swung open alerted the
girls. They dove under their bedcovers, forgetting to put
out the candles.
The maid smiled as she attempted to scold, “My
Grace, you girls need your rest for the journey
The woman, whom the girls viewed as ancient, put out
the candles as Katrina protested, “But, Miss Gretta, we
can sleep in the carriage. The travel is insufferably
“No carriage this time, M' Lady,” the maid replied.
“His Majesty's ordered horses for the two of you. You're
to ride the whole way. He says it's too pretentious to
show up to a Gypsy Jamboree in a royal coach.”