The horse nickered as it softly cantered into the village, its rider calmly gazing around.
Prince Hayden’s lead knight, Sir Alexander, questioned him, “Are you sure about this, Your Royal Highness?”
“Of course. A part of being a prince is traveling not only your own country but also those of our allies.”
“But no member of the royal family of this country has been seen in years. The rumors are not encouraging.”
“Nonsense. They’re just fantastical rumors created to explain for a royal family vanishing from view. I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical reason.”
But as they approached the village and got their first look at the palace, even Prince Hayden began to question his decision.
The village was clearly abandoned, buildings breaking down, plant life overgrowing manmade structures, cement and asphalt walks fracturing into pieces. The palace was dark and foreboding, thorn covered vines encompassing the black structure. He was pretty sure that the palace wasn’t always black. In fact, the books on Ankanda in the Dijoma royal files show the palace as having been silver with wonderful gardens. The royal village had been thriving with human life as well, rather than covered in a growing jungle and only animals occasionally being heard. No animals had been sighted, just an sound here and there that they hoped was an animal.
The same guard questioned him again. But Prince Hayden refused to be cowed by this. It didn’t look like anyone had lived here in years, even the royal family. He owed it to the past alliance and history of Ankanda to solve the mystery of what happened to the royal family. No doubt something happened and not knowing what to do, the commoners migrated to another country. That would explain the sudden rise in populations in various villages within Dijoma’s borders.
And so, Prince Hayden and his entourage of guards approached the palace despite many guards’ qualms. They were soon stopped by the thorn forest, many feet from the front doors.
“How do we get past this, Your Highness?”
“We all have swords. Start slicing.”
Prince Hayden hopped off of his horse and started doing so. His guards followed, no one missing the fact the horses immediately retreated to the rusted iron walls surrounding the black palace.
When they were only a few more feet closer to the door, but completely surrounded by the vines, a roar echoed through the air, rattling the earth as if a 5.0 earthquake had hit.
Prince Hayden’s guards immediately surrounded him, swords held aloft.
Prince Hayden gazed around, seeing nothing that could have produced a roar of that magnitude.
“Push forward, men.”
Still unsure, his men followed his command.
They made it to the rusted door and Sir Alexander questioned, “How do we broach the door, Your Highness?”
Prince Hayden stepped towards the door and gave it a gentle push, working on a theory.
Sure enough, the door loudly creaked open, rusted lock giving way easily.
Prince Hayden entered, following Sir Alexander and his page, followed by three of his other knights. Before the rest of his entourage could follow, the door slammed shut, lock clanking into place.
“How is that possible, Sir?”
Prince Hayden ignored his question, “Get that door open!”
But no amount of pulling from the inside and pushing from the outside budged the door.
Finally making a decision, “Find another way in, men. We will push forward from in here.”
Prince Hayden, four knights and one page that made it in cautiously made their way through the entrance hall.
His knights remaining outside turned and began investigating the outside courtyard, looking for another weak point in the old castle.
None of the knights knew then that they would not be returning home.
What do you think happen to the knights? Why do they not return home? What happens to Prince Hayden? What is hiding within the castle? Comment below your thoughts and return for more soon!
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