Faiza, Ethan and I looked at each other. How could the king be in a prison? Especially after just leaving a meeting with the dwarves.
Unless it wasn’t the king. But someone who looked like him.
I shook my head. The king’s twin brother, Ryker, had been dead for three years.
Unless, he hadn’t died. What if that was just what everyone was told? Maybe he stole King Radon’s gemstone and disappeared, and to keep from the embarrassment of admitting to the whole kingdom that his brother had stolen something so valuable, he simply told everyone that his twin died and went to Hashna to get a new one made.
I looked to Jocov, who was watching us take in this information.
“Do you think that it was Ryker?” I asked. “Do you think he’s alive somewhere?”
“I think the King’s brother is alive, but I don’t think that’s who we saw in that prison cell.”
“Then who—“ It hit me. “King Radon? You think he’s in the cell?”
“It’s the only thing that makes sense,” Jocov said. “Whoever we saw the day the alliance was broken did not act like King Radon. And why wouldn’t he want us to try to look for the stone to see who was wearing it after claiming that it was stolen?”
“He didn’t want you to see his brother—the real king—wearing it,” I said slowly, still finding it hard to believe.
“That’s why he forbid dwarves from coming to Minaria!” Ethan sat up. “He knew you’d try to see the gemstone with magic and find it on King Radon’s neck.”
Jocov nodded. “Ryker must have plotted to take the throne, but the Hashna Stone prevented him from taking his brother’s life. Somehow he was able to throw him into a prison cell though.”
“But King Radon still had the stone, you all saw him,” I said, still working it out in my mind. “And if no one can take it from him, then how did it get in that cave?”
“We don’t know. We periodically checked on the stone and always saw the same thing; King Radon in some dungeon. Then about two months ago, it disappeared. We couldn’t see it at all, which meant that no one was wearing it. We had no idea what happened to it until we saw you with it around your neck.” He looked at me.
“It seemed highly unlikely that you could have taken it from King Radon yourself, so I decided you must have found it. I sent you the dreams hoping that you would come here. I didn’t know if Ryker knew that his brother had the amulet or not. He might be looking for it.”
“So Ryker was the ‘he’ you said would come after it,” I said half to myself.
“That doesn’t make sense,” said Faiza, “Why would the King—the one in prison—get rid of the only thing keeping him alive? Ryker can kill him now that he doesn’t have his amulet.”
“Things that have magic as powerful as the Hashna Stone can sometimes have a mind of their own,” Jocov said. “I don’t think King Radon took the stone off. I think it sent itself to the cave.”
“I’ve never heard of magical objects being able to transport themselves,” said Ethan, a line creasing his forehead.
“Very few can and very few that ever do. They would only do it if something extreme happened. If something very dangerous was trying to take it.”
“Like a grimulin,” I said.
“Then why didn’t it disappear when that grimulin attacked me yesterday?”
“Even a powerful object of magic can only move itself once or maybe twice in a lifetime. Besides, one grimulin probably wouldn’t be enough for it to leave. It must have sensed a tremendous amount of evil. More than what would have come by just one grimulin.”
“Who’s sending them?” asked Ethan.
“We don’t know. We didn’t know they were even in visible form until you told us about the one that attacked you yesterday.”
“But what about my dream?” I reminded him. “Why was there a grimulin?”
“They can be in dreams without being in their visible form, but someone has to send them. After that one appeared, I decided to stop sending dreams. Whoever was sending the grimulin might use them to gather information.”
“So the grimulin can talk to the person who conjured it?” Ethan asked.
“It doesn’t talk, but whoever is controlling it can see what it saw if it is in its spirit form.”
“Now that we’ve caught them up,” said Gilmmold, “Can we get to the matter we came here to discuss? What to do with the stone?”
“The eleven of us have already discussed it,” said Jocov, and at first I thought he’d miscounted, but then I realized he was adding Rachael in. “And we know what we wanted to be done if you did bring the stone here.”
“Why did we have to come in here if you already had your minds made up?” Faiza muttered.
“We called everyone in here,” said Jocov, glancing at Faiza, “so we could hear any information you might have.”
“Sorry we don’t know more,” I told him.
“Your information about the grimulin was useful. Now we know whoever is after it is a powerful sorcerer. This reaffirms our decision that the Hashna Stone can’t stay here. He would find it. It needs to go back to the castle.”
“Given back to the king?” I asked.
“We’re not even sure if the king is alive,” Jocov said. “If his brother knows that he doesn’t have the stone then he would have him killed immediately.”
“Then why take it back to the castle where that scumbag Ryker can get it?” said Faiza.
“My father is there,” Rachael said. “He’s been at the castle for the last three years. He’ll know what’s going on and what to do with the stone.”
“Rachael’s father was the ambassador here,” Jocov explained. “After Ryker called off the alliance, he had to leave, but not before we saw the real king in the prison cell. Tallis, Rachael’s father, went back with the knowledge that Ryker was the one really wearing the crown.” Jocov folded his hands. “Now we just need someone to go to him and tell him what’s going on.”
I raised an eyebrow. “I have a feeling you want us to do it.”
“We were hoping you would. As you probably know, dwarves would draw a lot of attention. We need someone who will blend in, and right now you three are the only humans who know about this, besides Rachael and her father.” He paused, then said, “Will you take it?”
Check out the Hashna Stone Page for previous chapters