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They got up and were escorted to the throne room where King Sebastian and Queen Michelle sat in wait. The four Arcadians entered the throne room and were seated before the king and queen.

“Give me back my hair broach!” Mary-Kate demanded.

Brett shifted his gaze from Mary-Kate to the king. “Give her back the broach.” Brett said.

“And my necklace, too” Ashley added.

“Give my sister back her necklace.” Marc-Andre said.

“Those objects are now property of…” King Sebastian started.

Queen Michelle interrupted him by putting her hand on his. She looked at the two girls sitting before her and stood up. She walked over to Ashley and gave back the necklace she held dear. She then walked to Mary-Kate and returned her broach.

“Why are you suddenly being so nice to us?” Mary-Kate asked. In ten minutes, they went from being prisoners in the dungeon to royal guests.

“I return these items as a sign of good faith.” Queen Michelle answered.

“Something tells me this is more than just an apology.” Marc-Andre commented.

“You’re right.” King Sebastian said.

“First thing’s first.” Brett said. “Where is my sword?”

“We will only give it back if you promise not to attack us.” King Sebastian said.

“I give you my word. I am usually not a violent man, but recent events have had their effects on me.” Brett confessed.

“We understand.” Queen Michelle said. She walked over to a guard and took Brett’s sword. She then returned it to him and sat back down.

“As I was saying,” King Sebastian started, “our apologies for the way you were treated in our kingdom. We have a proposition for you.”

“Not interested.” Marc-Andre said. “What possible reason would we have to make a deal with you after everything that has happened?”

“Because I am going to offer you a way to get your kingdom back.” King Sebastian said with a smile.

This surprised the four Arcadians. They found the answer to their prayers in the most unlikely place. Perhaps this was the first step in claiming back their home.

“What’s in it for you?” Brett asked. “Somehow I have the feeling this comes with a hefty price.”

“Security for my kingdom.” King Sebastian said. “We’ve had reports that the dark armies are planning to attack Hresna. I want to hit them before they hit us.”

“Why do you need us?” Brett said.

“We need you to help us plan a strike against them and to help train our troops. We’ve never had any use for a military organization; we are a kingdom of commerce and exchange.” The King answered.

“Can we have a second to talk this over?” Marc-Andre asked.

“Of course. You may walk around our kingdom as you decide. You have one hour to make your decision.” Queen Michelle answered.

The four walked out of the castle, greeted by a beautiful sunny day. They walked into the castle’s garden on their way out. Mary-Kate and Ashley looked around and saw the resemblance this garden had to the one back in Arcadia.

They remembered the fun activities they had in their garden. The picnics they had with Brett and Marc-Andre, the times they walked around and the nights they spent looking up at the stars.

“We have to get our kingdom back.” Mary-Kate said. “Seeing this garden reminds me of our home and how much I miss it.”

Ashley nodded her head in agreement. She too longed to walk in the garden of her home where she felt secure and her worries were whisked away.

“We have nothing to lose.” Brett said. “It’s their army who will be fighting. Besides, if we win, we get our home back with no strings attached. We aren’t going to get a better deal than this.”

Marc-Andre thought about his options. He looked at each of them and agreed. We might as well use this hour to walk around and take our minds off things. We will meet back here in one hour.

Ashley and Mary-Kate went to the market place to do a little well-deserved shopping. Marc-Andre went to see a few blacksmiths to find out about getting a new sword and Brett went to lie down by a river to do some thinking.

Chapter 12
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