The Amazing Tales of Princess Amelia – Chapter 1

Twice upon a time, in a land far far away, beyond the big Pirate and Mermaid Seas, across the Shining Light Desert with its humpy-backed donkeys and dragons-teeth mountains, and in a magical valley full of beautiful green hills and bubbling streams, lay a particularly special little village, which surrounded a rather magnificent castle with two tall towers.

The village was called Apple and the little paved and cobbled streets started from the outer farms, wound lazily through the stone and wood houses with their pretty flower gardens, up a gentle slope past very noisy children’s play areas full of shrieking and laughter, and finally across a strong wooden drawbridge, which led across the moat to a large stone archway.

Through this beautiful arched gateway to the Castle, with its royal blue and gold tiles, one could glimpse the busy streets beyond, with the many inns and colourful shops, tinkers, tailors, cobblers, candle makers, fruit and flower sellers, merchants and bustling townsfolk. Folk and children of all ages gathered around street performers and entertainers of every type, with the sounds of music, singing, laughter, poetry and loud voiced sellers trying to get attention to their wares.

Looking further in, one could see the large inner courtyards and gardens beyond, and the radiating glow from the warm golden sandstone walls of the most beautiful Castle Keep in the world. It was sometimes called Jewels Castle, because within its walls were the most gloriously decorated rooms with sparkling metal, shining wood and reflective tile surfaces in glowing harmony with rough walls, floors and large warm hanging tapestries. It is rumoured even by the most distant travellers that the mystical village of Apple has the wisest rulers and is possibly the happiest place to live in all the kingdoms.

When the beloved King Jaygon and Queen Emeralda, decided to hold a special fifth birthday celebration for their firstborn, the Prince Bastion Grey Joshua, there was great joy and singing in the streets and all the village folk were invited into the castle grounds for the feasts and entertainment. There were performances by singing groups, gymnasts, clowns, trapeze artists, magicians and many others, throughout each day and late into the evenings. All this joy drew special magical energies into Apple and the fruits of such love and happiness were sown.

Nine months later the King and Queen declared to Apple and their Kingdom that they had borne another child, a most beautiful and radiant daughter, whom they named Amelia. Great celebrations were held and word of the birth of Amelia spread across to all the kingdoms. Many wondrous gifts were brought to castle Jewel, but in the eyes of the King and Queen, no gift could compare to the miracle and beauty of their Amelia.

But sometimes good things attract bad things!! Some distance from the castle, standing motionless on a craggy rock outcrop, directly under a strange swirling black cloud, an enormous dark creature stared fixedly out of deep jet-black eyes, down at the village of Apple, making some strange ominous clicking sounds.

Six years later…

“Poppy, what are you making” Amelia gasped breathlessly, after climbing all 54 steps up to her grandfather Anthon’s workroom in his tower. He always seemed to be making something crazy to fly, or to pull water up from the moat, or to show if plants were happy, and even swords that could cut through rock;- she was never allowed to tell anyone about that invention, except mummy and daddy in secret, in case the bad people came.

“This will be for you when it’s finished, miss nosy, now you can watch but don’t touch and don’t interrupt ok?”

“Ok, I promise Grumpy.. I mean Gramps” she said with a cheeky grin. She noticed that he was putting something glittering and gold into a tiny hexagonal locket. But it was glowing on and off and suddenly shot up with a screaming noise toward the ceiling, knocking Anthon off his chair and scattering bits of paper all over the room. Amelia felt a blast of warm air blow her hair back and she almost fell over.

“Poppy are you ok?” she yelled in panic and rushed over to him.

“Yes, yes thank you angel” he replied scrambling to his feet. He rushed over to west wall worktop and grabbed a grapple pole with a strange metallic dome on the end of it. The glittering gold object was spinning and bumping up against the ceiling still making a loud shrieking noise and pulsing a blue light on and off.

“Amelia, you must listen; go out and close the door, ok? This could be dangerous. I’ll call you as soon as I’ve captured it. Quick now. I can’t risk it with you standing there” he almost shouted.

“And you say that’s for me? Ha! Ok I’m going, I’m going. Be careful ok?” Amelia yelled, running out and slamming shut the outside door of the tower. She stood there shivering a little. “please be careful” she whispered to herself and then heard clamouring footsteps and yelling coming up the tower stairs. “oh no!” she thought. She knew that there would be big trouble if Mummy and Daddy thought that she was exposed to any danger. She opened the door again and rushed inside, closing it quickly behind her. At that moment the sound from the pulsing object stopped, as Anthon trapped it inside the dome and lowered it down to his workbench. A few seconds later there was a loud knock, the door crashed open and two guards stood in the doorway looking stern but dumbfounded. Shortly afterwards King Jaygon pushed his way past them and asked what on earth that noise was?

“I was just testing some annoying noises son” his father Anthon said cheekily but Amelia could see that he was nervous, having exposed her to potential danger.

“ Daddy, it made such a loud annoying noise when I picked it up” she stammered, looking quickly at her grandfather, “that I’m afraid I dropped it out the window into the moat. So sorry again Poppy!” she cried apologetically, running over and giving him a dramatic hug.

“Sorry son, I didn’t know it would make such a racket. I’ll let you know next time I do a similar experiment” explained Anthon with an inner sigh of relief and wonder at Amelia’s quick thinking.

“Ok, fine Pops. Come on little one, time for dinner. Special treat for pudding” Jaygon said bending down and picking up his daughter. He would discuss this ‘experiment’ issue a little later. “You coming Pops?”

“In a few minutes son! Bye angel!” Anthon said with relief, closing the door behind them. That was close! He should never have risked inserting it with Amelia in the room. If only her older brother Grey were here to help. He was so skilled with devices, but he was still away on that secretive mission with Merklin.

This time Anthon concentrated carefully and inserted the ancient glowing crystal into the specially designed locket he made for his granddaughter, as her protection charm. He sealed it fully and fed through the delicate golden chain, each link imbued with special properties, unbreakable and frequency-linked to the charm.

He was rather worried about the journey Amelia was about to undertake with her father to the Outerlands, to visit his brother, Prince Eltor of Oz. Rumours were again circulating of the dreaded Fire Bees, some thirty years after the last creature was thought to have been destroyed. Even with the added protection of the fifty or so Royal Guards, known for their legendary fighting skills on horseback, they would be passing through the Mountain Pass of Folly and the Dark Forest. Anthon decided to send a message via his eagle Beady Eye, to his other son Prince Mathem, the Marshall of Star Lake. He worried that there may be something perhaps more sinister lurking in those woods than even the Fire Bees. Perhaps he would accompany them on the journey after all.

Having abdicated his throne some twenty years ago to his eldest son Jaygon, Duke Anthon Joshua (better known as ‘Grandpa’, Anthon or Poppy) knew that his calling was in the sciences, both natural and arcane and a driven yearning for new discoveries. He had a special friendship with one rather strange philosopher, sage and genius, Merklin, and together some years ago, they had discovered an absolute treasure trove of ancient artifacts in some remote caves, deep in a mountain side. Inscriptions in an unknown language, carved on the inside of a strange pivoting rock ‘doorway’ that they found at the rear wall of the first cave, which had led directly into the first wondrous room of artifacts, had a large heading that read like the word Caleebra. This became the name they referenced when discussing that cave group.

Anthon and his sons, with input from Merklin and a select few, had spent many a day and night discussing and developing new ‘seemingly magical’ devices. The most famous was the ‘inner corkscrew’ tube to lift fresh water from the moat into a large pool on the roof, which then fed back down through clay pipes into the bathing pools, kitchen basins and to flush through the toileting boxes. They also developed new methods to create stronger shiny colourful metal cutlery, pots and pans which showed no signs of rust or wear, and bright silvery swords that were light, strong and stayed sharp far longer than the bronze swords known before.

However, only a handful of people knew of the very latest new swords they made, which were so sharp that the cutting edge glowed. Merklin and Grandpa Anthon had discovered a strange, powerful high-energy material in those special caves, and experimentally added tiny bits of it to the forging process. After many dangerous exploding mishaps they perfected the recipe for the swords. Amelia’s pendant was the result of the discovery of new abilities in the material .

These new secret swords they called exCaleebra swords, after the Caleebra caves, which could slice through other sword blades with ease, and even the toughest rock, and yet they remained impossibly sharp, as though the cutting edge was self-healing. They made a high singing noise when moving through the air and had to be carefully sheathed in special scabbards. A few daggers and pikes had been made in the same manner, but the King feared that if word got out about this creation, some other rulers, pirates or scoundrels would do anything to steal it for themselves, and that could place the whole kingdom in danger.

Six months ago, under some rather persistent requests by Duke Anthon, Merklin, who enjoyed his contemplative solitude, had reluctantly agreed to take on Amelia’s older brother Grey, as an apprentice of sorts, to learn various special arts and further explorations of the artifacts. Anthon knew that as future monarch, he would need the best teachers in all aspects of rule. None could better Merklin in deep knowledge of the way of things.

Queen Emeralda felt great pride in her men and adventurous daughter, as she sat alongside them at the grand meeting table. They were holding last-minute discussions about the trip her daughter and husband were to embark on that very next morning.

Lord Paulus, beloved uncle and close advisor to the King, laid out the large map, and immediately princess Amelia stood up in her chair to get a better look.

“That’s really pretty” she said pointing at the village, castle and other icons on the colourful map. After a few minutes of some light and general discussion, Emeralda decided that it was time to take her six-year-old daughter to bed. Tomorrow was to be an early start, and she didn’t want her to overhear some of the discussion at the table, which she was informed may be disturbing. Everyone stood to say goodnight to the princess as her mummy carried her to her room. After kissing Amelia goodnight and asking Nanny Mishe to keep the bedtime story short, Emeralda returned to the meeting.

The rumours of the Fire bees were now being discussed. Everyone knew that they couldn’t be true, as many a visitor had passed through the Pass of Folly and the Dark Forest without incident, so why was there any discussion on the subject, she asked. After a moment’s silence her father-in-law Anthon explained that with the many rumours persisting from the outer kingdoms, it would be prudent to be prepared.

The Fire bees weren’t the common flying bees, but were named after the deadly hot stingers, shot from the mouth of large lizard- like creatures, which made a buzzing sound moving through the air, and would poison a person into paralysis, if hit. Unless treated within about an hour, that person would likely die. The treatment medicines would be taken along, just in case such a creature was found. Amelia would be kept safe within one of the supply wagons, which were all covered in a material that the King and Duke Anthon claimed would be totally resistant to any such attack. The fact that they were discussing any such rumour unsettled the Queen.

“Should we really be letting our daughter go on this trip?”

King Jaygon smiled warmly and squeezed her hand.

“She is so looking forward to seeing her cousins and I’m sure that she will be totally safe under our protection. We have 48 well-armed men and we would easily dispose of any such creature, as did our forefathers back in the day. I couldn’t say no to her now; she would make our lives a misery. In any case it is most likely an ill-founded rumour, started by the over-active imagination of someone wanting attention. Keep in mind that we’ve sent three previous expeditions over the last few years to investigate such rumours, and yet found no sign that such a creature still existed.”

Emeralda felt a little more relieved with her husband’s reassuring tone and they continued discussion about the two-day journey. They would likely be away for eight to ten days in total.

After the meeting Jaygon and Anthon sat alone in the small study having a drink of grape liquor. “A fine wife you have there son, and the kids are so mature for their ages. Much like Grey, Amelia is one of the brightest seven-year-olds I’ve ever known. I’ve decided to join you on this trip tomorrow if that’s ok. I’ll ride on the wagon with Amelia.”

“That’s great Pop, I’d hoped you would change your mind. Eltor hasn’t seen you for over a year so he’ll be thrilled, as will Breese and Harold. Amelia’s six by the way” he chuckled.

“Ah yes! Well, I’m going to bring along four exCaleebra swords and daggers;- one for each of us, one for Eltor and the other I will keep aside, in case Mathem gets to join us. I’ve also completed the special pendant and necklace for Amelia which I will give her, with your blessing.”

“ Hmmm… ok! I’m not sure how likely it is that such a device could work in the way you describe, but so happy you’re coming along. It’ll be a blast catching up with Eltor and his clan. I guess we’d better be heading off for our beauty sleep. You need it! Haha!”

An hour after sunrise the next day, the men were all saddled up and ready to go. The three supply wagons were positioned in the middle section of the cavalry and the King led the procession out through the village to the cheers of the village folk, standing either side of the cobbled streets and lanes. Once in the farmlands, Jaygon moved back through the line of royal guards, to check on his little princess and father in the front wagon. Anthon was sitting with Amelia and the driver on the cushion-covered platform seat at the front of the wagon, enjoying the view and both waving to the workers in the fields.

“Enjoying the ride Amelia?” her father asked, moving his beautiful white steed up alongside the wagon.

“Poppy says I may have to move inside when we get to the hill but I want to stay out here. It’s so pretty with all the flowers. Please can I?”

“You must listen to Poppy darling. He knows best and will only make you move inside when he thinks it’s important, ok? I will keep coming back to say hi too. Are you ok pop? In three hours we should hit the pass. I’ll rely on your judgement with Amelia’s safety but can’t imagine there’ll be any problems. Our men will ensure the road’s kept clear up ahead. I’m moving back through the lines now to check on my men. Be good Amelia. Love you, listen to Poppy!”

“Cheers son. She’ll be fine.” Anthon replied. “Look angel, see that eagle in the sky? That’s Beady Eye returning from her flight to uncle Mathem. Let’s see if she has a message for me.”

Anthon slipped on a thick leather arm sleeve and held up his arm. The bird swooped in and landed on his arm with a shriek, much to the alarm of the driver but to the whooping joy of Amelia. “Ok sweetheart, take out the scroll from the canister on his leg as I’ve shown you before. That’s it; now close the lid again. Good girl. Okay Beady, off you go.” The eagle swept gracefully back into the air and headed back to the castle. Anthon unravelled the scroll and privately perused the message.

It was mixed news. Prince Mathem mentioned that the rumours of Fire bees had been given some credence by local doctor Quin, who claimed to have seen three fatally stung people brought to him on an open pan wagon three weeks earlier from the village of Kitten; that was just thirty miles north of the Dark Forest. Mathem would be sending twenty knights to meet us at our first night’s base camp, between the Pass and the Dark Forest. They would bring their own supplies and accompany us through the forest to Oz. They would then return to scour through the forest and the village of Kitten to get to the bottom of this rumour. He wished us good fortune and best wishes for our family gathering. He hoped to join us three days from now at Eltor’s castle.

Anthon was thrilled to hear that Mathem would be joining them. When the King passed by again he handed him the scroll to read. Jaygon was shocked by the doctor’s claim, but pleased that he would see his brother again so soon. He felt relief that they had brought the medicines, just in case.

‘So the rumours may true be after all!’ he thought, ‘however the Fire Bee lizards are not too difficult to kill.’

The trip eastwards through the Pass of Folly was stunning to the eye. The forests of Liquid Amber trees hung their autumn leaves of gold, brown and red. The steep mountain-faces, on both sides of this wide valley, rose high up into the sky, touching the clouds, the northern face glowing golden rose in the sunlight. Thankfully the valley ran due west to east so the sun stayed with them right through to the other side, where the plains of golden grass, waving in the wind, swept out openly on all sides as far as the eye could see.

As their wagon rode the rough curved dirt road, Anthon looked back towards the Pass and caught a glimpse of what looked like the dark silhouette of a giant man-like creature standing in the road, but then it suddenly seemingly leaped at a great height toward the northern ridge. He felt a distinct chill travel up his spine. It couldn’t be! The setting sun behind the shape must have distorted his vision and was surely playing tricks on his mind? The wagon trail now ran north towards the Dark Forest and Anthon felt relief that they would be stopping soon to set up camp, and only travel that forest during the daylight hours tomorrow.

King Jaygon had just reached the rear of the cavalcade and was pleased with his men and horses. All looked in order and the rear-guard looked superb in their red and silver armour and the horses wore colourful leather chest and flank guards. Most had their manes braided with colourful ribbon and beads. Each knight, often with the help of their families, had the freedom to add decorative items to the basic leather protective gear of the horse, resulting in a most stunning display. It also reminded each knight, guard and soldier, of their family and village they fought to protect. The King missed not having his wife accompany him on this journey but there were just too many pressing issues for her to resolve with the coming of harvest.

As he directed his horse around the rear-guard, in order to ride back up the other side of the calvalcade, he caught movement back at the Pass, out of the corner of his eye. He swung around in the saddle to get a better look but it was gone. He felt a little uneasy but told himself that it was probably a goat or some animal although it seemed much larger against the setting sun. He was not a man to take chances, especially with his precious daughter on the trip, and instructed the rear-guard to keep an eye out behind them at regular intervals. He canted up the left flank of the soldiers until reaching his daughter and father, still both sitting up front.

“Is the little monster behaving Pop? he said with a big smile.

“I am not a monster!” Amelia squealed with a mischievous flash of her eyes.

“We should be at camp in about half an hour and then you can stretch your legs. Is everything ok on board? Good. I’ll see you once we’ve settled in at the main fire” he said and moved on up the line. He could sense from his father’s eyes that he had something on his mind to discuss. Meanwhile he must get back up to the front of the line and welcome his brother Mathem’s soldiers who may already be setting up camp.

As they rode over the last hill toward the wide and open camp clearing, Jaygon could see that the large fires had already been lit, creating beautiful bright orange glows against the purple light of the dusk sky. The woodsmoke smell of the burning logs brought back many memories of his early years, and the many stories told by his father and friends around the camp fires. A loud ‘ahoy’ rang across the clearing and Marshall Mathem’s soldiers came forward and bowed to greet the King and his men. Captain One-eye reported that they had arrived two hours earlier to set up camp. He passed on the messages from the Marshall and updated them on recent events at Star Lake.

Soon all had dismounted, fed and watered the travel-weary horses and the soldiers swapped many stories. Amelia and Anthon came over to join the noisy laughing large party of men sitting on logs around the main fire. After drinks and a hot meat and vegetable meal, Amelia finally admitted she was tired, and was carried warmly by her father and tucked into her bed in the wagon. Two guards were on shift duty throughout the night to protect her wagon in particular and another ten kept constant vigil around the camp. It was a clear mild evening with just a sliver of moonlight rising in the eastern sky and the stars were extra bright.

The King and Anthon quietly discussed the sighting of the creature in the Pass and decided not to alarm the others at this point but would speak to the group leaders at first light before moving on. A bright shooting star shot across the heavens. Some wolves howled in the distance. Both men secretly kept an eye on Amelia’s wagon and slept alongside it that night.

Amelia awoke to the sound of laughter and a warm beam of sunlight sparkled merrily through the front opening of the wagon. Daddy climbed aboard and decided to tickle her out of bed. “Come on sleepy head. Time to get up; breakfast is ready. No nanny for you today so I’ll brush your hair. No bath either until we reach your uncle’s home. Now your Poppy has a special gift for you so just sit there a moment. Hey Pop she’s ready” he called out. She felt the wagon move from side to side and Anthon popped his head through the opening, as he climbed aboard.

“Close your eyes” he said “and put out your hands together”. Amelia held shut her eyes tightly and held her hands out. She felt so excited as something cool like sand poured into her hands. “Ok, open your eyes”.

“Wow! That’s pretty! Is that.. What is it?” she asked in wonder. Grandpa explained that it was a magic necklace and charm that she must wear at all times, and that it would protect her from harm. But she should keep it hidden under her top for now. “If Harold tried to hit me or if someone shot an arrow at me would it save me Poppy?” she asked.

“Yes” Anthon replied “but it is a very big secret and only mummy, daddy and Poppy know about it at the moment and you must… ”

“And me!” Amelia interrupted proudly.

“Yes and you know about it too” daddy confirmed “But it’s the same as the special swords; you must not tell anyone else outside our close family darling. If anyone asks, just say it’s a pretty gold necklace that Poppy gave you. Only you know it’s really magic”. Amelia looked up at her grandfather and he gave her a secret wink. She knew that this was the pendant with that spinning thing in it and she still wasn’t going to get him into trouble. She leaped up and gave Poppy and Daddy a big hug and kiss and said thank you at least three times.

After breakfast and before setting off through the Dark Forest, there was discussion with the group leaders about the giant creature that Anthon and some other soldiers had seen, and also glimpsed briefly by the King.

Back when Duke Anthon was a young prince, he had been with his father and over three hundred men, hunting and fighting against the Fire Bee dragon lizards and the giant creature they called the Terraloon, who seemed to have a strange control over the lizards.

When the Terraloon first sighted the King’s army from some distance, it looked at them for about ten seconds, before bounding toward them at an impossible speed. It leaped in amongst the knights and soldiers, with one giant leap from fifty feet away, scattering and killing many with mighty blows, whilst the Fire bees caught up and attacked from all sides.

King Kenneth realised that their only hope of survival was to lead the creature into the traps they had set near the high cliffs and the cavalcade raced away, leaving the slower dragon lizards in pursuit, but the Terraloon was faster than any of them, and just before the cliffs it had bounded high over the heads of the riders landing thirty feet in front of them, facing the King and his Knights including the young fourteen year-old Prince Anthon.

The Terraloon just stood there, towering at twice the height and size of the tallest man, knowing that no sword nor arrow could hurt him. He was just basking in his own power, waiting for the dragon lizards to catch up. He stared challengingly and mockingly at the King.  Arrows swept in from the archers but bounced harmlessly off his tough dark hide. He didn’t even flinch. A brave group of three knights attempted to attack with swords and pikes but he grabbed one and threw him fifty feet right over the cliff into the ravine rapid below. He smashed both other knights aside with great blows of his fists, stepping forward toward the King, who stood his ground, in fear but unflinching.

Suddenly one of the great steel traps was sprung, by the weight of the Terraloon stepping down on it, the pin-sharp pointed teeth biting into the sides of the Terraloon’s calf muscles. The creature roared in discomfort and realised that the trap was also chained to large iron weights, each the size of a large rock. It backed away, dragging the weights with ease, and saw men approaching with similar smaller traps on long chains, held before them on wooden poles.

Before they could reach him, the Terraloon jumped back with a sudden and tremendous leap, snapping off the chains, but to his surprise he landed on a teetering rock, right on the edge of the cliff. Before he could jump away the rock collapsed under his weight and with a terrifying screaming roar, he plunged down the thousand-foot drop into the jagged rock-studded and tumultuous rapids below, battered and cut by sharp protruding rocks on the way down. The army whooped in joy and celebration. King Kenneth ordered his men to fan out, hunt down whatever was left of the creature along the river banks, to ensure it was completely dead, and kill every Fire Bee lizard no matter the cost. These fire spitting dragon lizards had now lost interest in attacking, and were all trying to escape back toward the long grasses and bush scrub. All were destroyed.

Three days later the Terraloon’s left arm was found two and a half miles downstream. Its skin was almost impossible to cut through, even with the most savage attacks with sword or axe. The rest of his body was never found, and there was growing confidence that it could never have survived such a fall onto such jagged rocks and the wild and dangerous rapids below. No reports of sightings were made since that time, of any such Terraloon nor Fire Bee Lizard creatures.

That was over forty years ago! Anthon and King Jaygon had not prepared for such an animal as the deadly Terraloon, if such a creature still existed. There were no steel point traps made and they could not risk going back through the Pass, even if they had wished to head back home. They must move on rapidly through the forest and hope that the silhouette some had witnessed was not the monster they feared.

An hour into the forest there were loud yells from the front of the cavalcade. The ten forward rider scouts and their horses had been found, dead or paralysed on the dirt track. King Jaygon spurred his great white steed forward and rushed to the scene.

As the cavalcade caught up behind him, there was suddenly a loud crashing sound through the thick snapping branches above, and with a loud thump the ground shook as its large dark feet hit the dirt track. There it stood menacingly still and glaring, not twenty feet from the King, the terrible Terraloon. It was far more terrifying than his father had described, and King Jaygon realised the folly of an immediate attack. He ordered his men to hold fire and whispered to his sergeant at arms to inform his father Anthon urgently.

On hearing the news, Anthon realised with horror that Amelia would not be safe, no matter how many soldiers tried to protect her, or even if they attempted to escape into the forest. He decided that the only real option was to take her with him to join the relative safety of the King’s forward cavalcade of knights. He strapped on his exCaleebra sword and dagger and similarly a dagger and sheath on the inner lining of Amelia’s jacket. “Remember what I taught you angel. Don’t pull it out unless you have a clear shot at using it. You will be scared, as all of us are, but stay by my side ok? Quick now!”

Amelia almost fainted with fear when she saw the great and monstrous Terraloon. Duke Anthon noticed that the creature’s left arm had almost entirely grown back, but some deep scars remained where it had been ripped off. It was definitely the same one that had fallen over the cliff all those years ago! Her father the King was angry that precious Amelia was brought up so close to the creature, but was about to discover why his own father had made that choice, rather than leaving her in the wagon.

She stood behind them both, peeking through the narrow gap between their legs, at the giant dark-skinned creature, which was standing fearless and making some strange clicking noises with its tongue. Two large Fire bee dragon lizards, twice as long as a man, silently glided out of the bushes and waited completely still, each side of the Terraloon.

The soldiers readied their weapons but again the King instructed them to hold fire. He desperately hoped that this creature would just move on and let them get to safety. What was it waiting for?

“What do you want of us?” he asked loudly, not knowing if it had any understanding of language, but it certainly had frighteningly intelligent looking eyes. The Terraloon stared menacingly at the King and then at Anthon, who wondered if it could possibly remember him as a young man from so long ago. Amelia then saw the monster look at her directly, through the narrow gap between her Poppy and Daddy’s legs and her heart sank. He made another clicking sound, while still staring into her eyes. She froze in fear and desperately wanted to hide, but could not look away.

Suddenly loud screams and pandemonium could be heard all along the calvalcade, as Fire bees attacked the convoy from both sides. The soldiers along the length of the cavalcade fought back bravely refusing to run. However the dragons either side of the Terraloon, and the Terraloon itself, remained totally motionless. The knights and archers at the front, beside and behind the King, awaited the Kings orders to attack. Amelia saw her father and grandfather look at each other and they drew their special swords. The blade edges glowed blue and sang.

With a sudden blood freezing bellow, the monster leapt forward, smashing aside knights as well as her father and grandfather, before they even had time to raise their swords, and grabbed Amelia around her waist in its giant hand, then leapt back to where he had stood before. He made a single loud click, like a snapping bone, and the Fire Bee attacks stopped and the dragon lizards all backed away, into the forest scrub either side of the road. By then, a third of the men were dead or paralysed, and only fifteen of the scores of dragons had been slain or badly wounded.

The King shouted that his men again hold fire, and his orders echoed down the lines of soldiers. Medicine was urgently given to the injured. King Jaygon looked on in fear and horror as the Terraloon held his precious daughter right up close to its face.

“What do you want? Put her down! I’ll give you anything you want” he yelled. Looking directly at the King, the Terraloon slowly licked his lips and bared his teeth, moving Amelia up closer to his mouth. A knight that came up too close to the monster, was kicked into the branches of a tree 20 feet away, and died instantly.

The King again warned his men not to attack, in case his daughter was harmed, even though he was so enraged he felt he would explode. It was just too fast and strong to risk any sudden moves, but if it hurt his little princess he would willingly die trying to save her.

“Amelia, remember your lessons” Anthon yelled. Amelia was not yet hurt by the giant monster’s grip and for some strange reason now felt quite calm as she looked at the creatures revolting tongue, massive mouth and sharp yellow teeth. She certainly did not like its horrible breath. Both her hands were free but she knew she was never going to be able to break free from the Terraloon’s grip. Poppy’s words about remembering her lessons helped her focus on the things she could possibly do and to push aside all fears of what she could not do. She was not yet close enough to use her knife, except on his giant hand and arm, but that was not a good option. She knew his neck or eyes might at least get him to drop her and then her Daddy and Poppy would use their magic swords which could cut through rock, and chop his horrible head off.

The Terraloon was enjoying its power over these humans and decided it would kill them all, and then move on to the villages and castles. It remembered the pain it felt falling onto those rocks, where a jagged section half way down the sheer cliff face, had ripped off his arm, and he watched it tumbling down through the air after him as he fell. He woke up many days later, near the bank of a raging river, tangled in the branches of a tree that had being washed many hundreds of miles downstream. Up-river he could see immensely high waterfalls that he and the tree must have recently plunged over.

He was filled with hate and anger but couldn’t remember why. He tried to move but the pain was too great. After some days he had found a sheltered cave area behind the falls, and was hidden from the outside. He survived on fish initially while his injuries and his body started repairing itself. His thoughts were simple and his memories came back in dreams. The Terraloon was not as intelligent as a human being, but had powerful survival instincts and abilities. His contact com was down, so he couldn’t link with his mistress nor with the others of his kind.

He had no idea of how many years he had survived in the wild, nor where he was. One day a dragon lizard found him and came to him. He remembered his abilities to work with these dragon lizards, and over many years they attacked and killed any people or groups of people they came across, but avoided the larger villages. Through the many years no one had managed to escape to tell others of his approach, nor of his Fire bees.

Somehow the Terraloon had found his way back after some forty years, and Anthon realised that it still looked as young and fit as when he saw him as a young lad. The situation was dire, and perhaps he should have run away with Amelia into the forests, but then his son would not have the critical support of having the two exCaleebra swords to defeat the monster. He had to hurriedly balance all options and this seemed the best of the worst;- well, that was until the Terraloon grabbed his granddaughter princess, and now he feared it was the very worst!

This was probably the last day of life for many, if not for all of them. He could see that the creature was not open to any discussion or options apart from absolute revenge. No one was willing to move against the monster while it held the princess daughter of the king. He hoped frantically that Amelia would know what to do with her dagger when the time came, and that he and his son must be ready to attack the instant she makes a move, if she has the opportunity.

Glaring again at the King the Terraloon bared his pointy teeth in an awful smile, opened his enormous jaws and very slowly lowered little Amelia into his mouth. She screamed and kicked and struck out frantically with her special dagger, at its hand, lips and tongue but it didn’t seem to bother it much, even though the dagger cut deeply. It didn’t yet close its jaws, and seemed to be savouring the moment of upsetting the humans. She heard the loud frantic shouts of the men. Out the corner of her eye she saw her Daddy and Poppy attacking its legs with their glowing swords and that finally did register with the monster. He collapsed down to his knees in surprise and used both arms to smash the attack off him. Amelia was still being gripped in his one hand, and she felt the mad exhileration of flying through the air in its giant fist. She had never moved so fast against gravity. But as the monster started squeezing her, and lowering her back into his mouth, there was a sudden bright blue radiance that covered Amelia’s body, pushing the creature’s fingers apart, and then the same glow moved rapidly across the Terraloon’s body and it froze in position, eyes in shock, and then toppled over onto the ground. Amelia jumped to safety just as the monster’s body turned to sand with a hiss, and the men just looked on in total silence, shock and surprise, for a full ten seconds.

Then the King, Anthon and soldiers all cried out loudly with joy, ran up and hugged Amelia tight. They felt such overwhelming relief that she had survived. The secret protective charm had worked. Holding back tears Anthon was so excited and yelled out “I knew it! I knew it would work! Oh my goodness, thank the Stars, thanks the Stars”.

King Jaygon knew that his father knew no such thing for sure, and must be secretly kicking himself for placing her in such direct danger. However he was also incredibly thankful that Anthon had created such a marvel that saved his precious daughter’s life, and them all. He was so proud of Amelia’s astounding courage and actions in the face of such a terror, but worried about the trauma she may be experience now and into her future.

Many of the soldiers would remember the sight of the swinging exCallebra swords and the loud crystal singing sound of their glowing blue blades, as they cut through the air into the legs of the beast like butter. Most memorable for many though, was the sparkling blue light surrounding the little Princess when she screamed, like little flying stars or fairies, and then seeing that light brightening and exploding out over the monster, turning it to stone, before it crumbled with a slight hissing sound into mounds of what looked like coloured sands.  

King Jaygon ordered half his own men to remain, to hunt down and kill all the remaining and frantically escaping Fire Bee dragons, ten men to remain to bury the dead, and the remainder of the army, with the wounded, to move on to Prince Eltor’s castle in haste. Marshall Mathem’s men insisted that they join the hunt for the Fire bees too, and would join up later at the castle. There would be great celebrations this night and many emotional toasts to honour the brave, especially for princess Amelia, who seemed so relaxed and just couldn’t stop smiling her beautiful smile at everyone.

The End of Chapter 1

Comments are closed.