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Two long hours passed. Mary-Kate had never taken her eyes away from the window. She saw a figure come out of the shadows of the night. It came to the door of the Inn and walked in. She could hear footsteps slowly coming down the hallway and stopping in front of her door. She could hear her heartbeat in the eerie silence. The door opened up and she screamed.

“Mary-Kate!” A voice called. “Mary-Kate, it’s ok. It’s me, Brett!”

Mary-Kate stopped screaming and looked up at her boyfriend. She was shaking and jumped into his arms. Brett was surprised by the sudden move and they both fell on the floor.

“It’s ok. I’m here.” He said as he killed her on the cheek and held her close to him. “I’m sorry I scared you.”

Mary-Kate looked at him and said, “That’s alright Brett, I...” she stopped. “What happened?” she asked. After getting a better look at him, she noticed that Brett had a cut on his forehead and a bloody lip.

“I was walking near the eastern part of the kingdom when I heard someone screaming. Thinking it was Ashley, I ran to see what was going on. A person in a cloak and hood was trying to kidnap her, or so it looked like. I called for them to stop and the person charged at me with their sword. We fought around a bit and I wounded him. He ran off into the night.” Brett told her.

“I’m so glad you’re safe.” Mary-Kate said as she kissed him.

Marc-Andre came in while they were kissing. “Am I interrupting?”

Brett gave him a look saying ‘great timing’. “Has anyone found Ashley?”

Marc-Andre shook his head, looking at the floor. “What I do know is that others have reported people missing as well. King Sebastian has ordered us to go to the castle. We will be staying there until we can figure out what is going on.”

The three Arcadians quickly made their way to the castle. Security had been stepped up all over as they could see guards at every corner and four person patrols.

“I’m scared.” Mary-Kate said as she held on to Brett’s hand tightly.

The winds were picking up not and the sound of the shaking leaves in the trees grew louder. The soft glow on the trees mixed with the shaking of the leaves made for a terrifying ballet.

They finally reached the throne room where King Sebastian stood at a table with his generals arguing over what was going on. Queen Michelle and Princess Annick were sitting together on their thrones. When Annick saw Marc-Andre come back in, she ran to him and kissed him.

“I was so worried about you.” She said as she hugged him tightly.

“Mary-Kate, go join Queen Michelle and the princess. Marc-Andre and I have work to do.” Brett said.

Mary-Kate nodded and kissed him. She ran to join the queen. Princess Annick soon followed.

“What do you mean you don’t know how they are getting in?!” King Sebastian roared at his generals. “You are in charge of security in this kingdom and you aren’t doing a very good job!”

“Sire, we...” a general said.

“I don’t want to hear it!” King Sebastian boomed.

Brett and Marc-Andre joined the king at the table. They could both see the king was red in the face and furious at the lack of security.

“Sire, if we could suggest a course of action to find out exactly how they are getting in.” Marc-Andre suggested.

“Please do. At least some people are thinking around here.” He said as he glared at his generals.

“I suggest you dispatch your most trusted soldiers to find and check on all tunnels leading to the castle including sewers, escape tunnels and any water tunnels coming into the kingdom. Check every lake, river, stream or any body of water in the kingdom.” Marc-Andre said.

Brett also gave a suggestion. “Send other soldiers to walk around the wall and report any lose bricks or any freshly dug up dirt near the walls. Investigate the areas where the people were reported missing, taking note of any, and I mean any way they could have gotten in. All trees near the walls should be cut down.”

The king looked at his generals. “You heard them! GET TO IT!”

The generals ran out of the throne room to get their assigned tasks done. King Sebastian went and sat down on his throne. “Brett, do you still wish to return to Arcadia despite this threat?”

Brett didn’t know how to answer. He went over to the window and looked out. What was he to do? He wanted to stay here and protect Mary-Kate, but he also wanted to go and see how Arcadia was doing and alert the citizens to a possible retaking of the kingdom. There was also the matter of finding Ashley. There were so many problems, so many choices and so little time to choose.

Chapter 20
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