Antonya heard the carriage door close and felt that she was not alone. Alarmed, she sat up slowly and looked around. They had stopped for the night, and no one had woken her. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she noticed someone sitting in the corner. She searched silently for some way to lighten the compartment without wakening the unknown person in the corner. She slowly pulled at the curtains hoping the light from the torches outside would be enough. Just as the light began to enter, the person growled. ‘Antonya, close the curtains. They cannot see you in here.’ Recognising the voice instantly, she sighed and slowly re-closed the curtain.
‘Uncle, why are you in here? Why are we not inside? You should have woken me up’ she whispered. ‘It is not safe inside the tavern where they are staying Antonya. I have been in and walked the rooms, Cristian stays with Alexandre on the third floor, I stay next to the Tsar and his wife on the second level, and you are all alone on the first level. Not even Sara stays with you. There are numerous drunken men roaming the halls of the first and second floors. I told them you felt unwell, and that you and I would wait here until the passing of illness, when I would call for Cristian’s assistance and we would escort you to your room safely.’
Antonya was unsure of what to think. Surely for their plan to work, she had to be officially wed to Alexandre before they could take over the throne of Serbia. She rubbed her head, and pulled the blankets closer around her. ‘So I am to stay here the night uncle, is that what you think is the best thing to do?’ she yawned. ‘Yes Antonya. I will stay with you and keep you warm.’
Almost as soon as she laid her head back down Marco heard the soft sounds of his niece asleep. He sighed, drawing the curtains fully closed. Just as his eyes began to close, a soft tapping was to be heard on the door of the carriage. Cautiously, Marco peered through the curtains to see who was there. Cristian held Sara in his arms, her night gown torn and dirty. Instantly Marco shook Antonya to wake up, and opened the carriage door. Carefully lifting Sara inside, Cristian whispered a quick set of tasks to Marco and ran to fetch some water, food and bandages for Sara, and a guard to keep watch on the carriage. Antonya wrapped her blankets around Sara and held her tight, singing to her while wiping the tears from her cheeks. Sara sobbed silently, frozen in pain and shock.
Cristian returned within a few minutes, with a guard in tow. As he entered the carriage, he handed the guard a large bag of coins and ordered him to stay at the door to the carriage, allowing no one entry. He pulled out the items he had found after securing the carriage door, and lit a torch. Carefully, he dabbed at her cuts and bruises, cleaning them, and applying a soothing lotion to them. He bound up her left thigh and her left arm in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Antonya watched him, and noticed that his arm also had a large gash in it. Laying Sara’s head down gently on one of her pillows, she reached out for Cristian’s arm and had it cleaned and bound in no time. He sat up on the opposite couch, and Antonya threw him one of the spare blankets. He began to speak, but she stopped him. ‘Not now cousin, rest up. We have all day tomorrow to talk.’ She left Sara to the care of Marco, and sat next to her cousin, who fell asleep on her shoulder.
When they awoke, the convoy had already begun the days travels, and the sun was almost at noon. Sara changed into a new set of clothes, but Antonya refused to let her resume her duties. Sara looked to Marco, but he too nodded in agreement. ‘Sara, it is not right to talk in here yet about what happened, but you are not safe here, it seems to me, and we will not allow you to resume your normal ways until we see it is fit. I can have a short-temper with my staff occasionally, but that does not mean I am not merciful and compassionate. Stay with us.’
Lunch was distributed not long later, and the smell of food was what woke Cristian. As he began to rise, he winced in pain. Antonya and Marco gently sat him up. Tears began to fall from his eyes as he looked at Sara. Marco nodded to Antonya, and they swapped places. They began talking in Serbian in hushed voices, and Antonya tended to Sara. ‘It’s funny’ Sara said softly, ‘I would never ever have imagined that someone would have to tend to me. I am sorry Your Highness, please forgive me.’ Antonya stroked her forehead gently as she dipped a piece of bread into the soup to feed to Sara. ‘Sara, you are a friend to me, not a maid. All these things I gladly do to a friend. You saved my life once, now I shall repay the favour.’ She smiled warmly at Sara and resumed to feed her.
The girls’ warm spirits brightened Cristian’s sour mood, but the events of the night before still frightened him. ‘At least Marco knows what to look for now,’ he thought to himself, as he reached for an apple. He opened the curtains as far as they would go, and sighed. Cristian looked at Antonya, and then motioned for the convoy to stop. Taking Antonya’s hand, he led his cousin to the spare carriage that was supposed to be for him and Marco. From the window of his carriage Alexandre saw them leave and begged his parents to join them. ‘Fine, be gone’ the Tsarina grumbled.
Running after them, he reached the last carriage just before they closed the door. They all sat in silence while Antonya reached for the carriage’s blankets and handed them out. As she sat, Cristian motioned for the convoy to take off again, and he tied back the curtains by his window. Antonya pressed herself against the window and sighed. Sara and Cristian’s injuries; they surely had something to do with her. Every time something went wrong, the entire time she’d been here, it seemed to be connected to her. She felt like the root of all the problems, and as her breath fogged up the glass of the carriage window she began to draw sad faces on it. Her eyes began to water up, so she turned herself even further away from the others. She put her hands in the pockets of her coat and pulled it tighter around her, fingering the locket that she had kept with her since she had found it.
‘Antonya, YOUR HIGHNESS, I’m trying to talk to you’ Cristian waved his hands in front of her face. Antonya had no idea anyone had been talking to her. She mumbled in return. Alexandre grabbed Antonya’s arm and pulled her close to him. She hadn’t realised just how much she was shivering. Sitting in the Tsarevich’s arms, she leaned her head against his chest and began to fall asleep again. Cristian sighed, realising there was going to be no way to break the news to her calmly.
“Sara was raped last night,” his voice sounded like death in her ears.
“Cristian… are you being serious?”
“She lied and said that she was you, to protect you. Those men were really after you.”


"I owe you this much, Velibor, for your honesty with me, and guiding myself and these young ones to the safe and loving arms of a man I've known long enough to call Father. The story is long, I must warn you. But I will trust you with the truth, as I have trusted you with my life."

Maria took a deep breath. Thank goodness the children were sleeping, she prayed silently that they were comfortable and warm, for she knew there was no way she would be allowed to check on them until she had been honest with this man.

"You are very close to the Serbian Royal Family, I have come to understand. So if I do not explain places and names to you, will you understand?"
"I will ask what I want to know when I want to know it. Hurry up and tell me your story, my patience is wearing thin." Velibor said in a cold, menacing voice.
Maria understood now that she had hurt him. She wanted to reach over and touch his shoulder, but she knew that would be out of line. "Well, I shall begin" she said slowly, "from the very beginning."

"Queen Ivana had fallen pregnant with a child before her and King Vladan were to be wed. Should the child have been found out, they would have been portrayed as a child of evil, a bad omen on the country, and a bad omen for the King and Queen themselves. The wedding was delayed, and Queen Ivana was sent to the Spring palace under the pretense that 'she needed time to be sure of her decision in marrying King Vladan'. For two years she stayed here, Marius served as her butler, and only a few trusted servants around to keep her company and help her care for herself and the child. Vladan visited often, spoiling his child, which turned out to be a beautiful, strong, healthy girl. She had his eyes. In between his visits, Ivana would grow sad and lonely, and she began to sow the tapestry you saw, among others, to help decorate the court. People of the court began to grow weary of her and the Spring palace, which was once a very popular destination for nobility to travel to; renowned for the magestic waterfall, and vibrant forestry beyond that. After six months of her being alone, King Vladan bought with him on his next trip a maid called Carol. I'm sure you may have met her in the city while we were at Marius' house. Together, Carol and Ivana managed to decorate this entire hall with beautiful tapestries, and many of the other key rooms also. Queen Ivana began to feel so at home here, that the palace became known as Ann's palace. The child was now a year old, and as visitors began to visit the castle, Ivana would tell them that Carol was her distant cousin, and the child was Carol's daughter. Her husband had passed away, and she couldn't leave them to fend alone. The story caught on quickly to the courts, and all seemingly believed it.

Vladan never let on, but the story hurt him. He wanted to tell people the truth, and introduce his beautiful young daughter to the world, once his wife and he were to be married. He planned to marry Ivana, and then not long later have Carol killed, so that they could seemingly adopt their daughter back into their family, without any scandal. Ivana refused, but Vladan was persistent. She urged Carol to take her daughter away into safety, while she returned to the courts and married Vladan. The story she told was that Carol had taken her daughter on a vacation, and they would return in time. Vladan and Ivana had a beautiful wedding, it was told. They returned to the Spring palace for a month after their wedding with many members of the court following. Vladan's sole intention for returning was to find his daughter. Marius was sentenced to never leave the walls of the Spring palace, to keep a constant eye out for his daughter. On the last day, Carol returned to the castle in tears, claiming that something had happened to the child. Vladan was furious, and ordered the entire castle to be evacuated except for his wife, Carol and Marius. As everyone returned to the main city, he locked them all in a room, and ordered his general to attack the palace, but make it look as though the castle had been in mourning for a week, when rumours reached the castle that Queen Ivana had walked from the Spring castle with the help of a maid. Vladan, excited to hear that the woman he loved was alive, searched the town looking for her. She was found, along with his daughter and Carol, staying at a small house out in the country, owned by a gentleman named Lukas. You would know Lukas now as the castle's gardener.

Ivana begged Vladan to give Carol a second chance. She suggested that they all come to the castle together. He refused, but Lukas and Carol threatened to reveal the truth of the child to the people if he didn't agree. The young girl was introduced to the castle as an orphan, to be trained as a maid when she came of age. Carol became a nurse, taking care of the orphans and young children of the castle. Lukas was appointed castle gardener. The King grew further and further into depression, until one day, Queen Ivana announced she was pregnant with a child. There was great celebration in the castle. The Spring castle had long been forgotten, it had been ten years since it was destroyed. Carol and the first child had long been forgotten. Queen Ivana would sometimes send her small gifts, but could never bring herself to visit the child. King Vladan sent a small token on her birthday only. She was old enough to know now who she was, and why she was the only child receiving these gifts. She grew more and more beautiful as each year passed. Carol struggled to hide her resemblance to the Queen; cutting her hair short, making sure she was always thin, and that her skin was dark from the sun. A year after the birth of Princess Antonya, the King decreed that the first daughter was to leave the castle and return only if her life was in danger. She was given a job just outside the town, as a maid for a noble family. Struggling with her new life, the girl wrote often to Marius and Carol looking for support and affection.

Everyone inside the castle and out had heard of Princess Antonya's rebellious attitude, and the knight who was rumoured to not be going to war purely because he was her lover. The girl hated hearing it, how Antonya could be loved by her parents, how she was turned away because her parents made a mistake, not her. The war grew closer and closer to the residence she was staying at. The girl feared what she should do, should the war come too close to the house. Neither the Lord nor the Lady of the house were home to ask, and they didn't reply to her letters. She received a letter to Lukas, telling her that Carol was unable to write due to preparations at the castle being made: the Princess was leaving to Russia with her Uncle Marco. It was two days ride from where she was to Lukas' house, and his son would be there waiting for her."

Maria took a breath. That was the whole story, as best she could tell it. Although they were ten years apart, Princess Antonya was her younger sister. She was nervous. If Velibor didn't believe her, she would be without help in trying to protect these children.

"You... expect me... to believe..." he said slowly, thinking through his words, "that whole... story?"
"I, it's a lot.."
"You have no idea. The conspiracy that you are? How could you tell me this knowing what and who I am to the Princess? You make it sound as though she is your sworn enemy, and if you say so, that makes you MY sworn enemy!" He yelled, absolutely furious. He had no idea what to believe. He was cold, tired and hungry; heartbroken and had just had his trust betrayed; his head was a mess.

He stormed out of the hall, back towards the waterfall. The sun had begun to rise, soft rays shining through the trees onto the water. The birds were singing softly. Slow, heavy footsteps could be heard from the other end of the corridor.
     "Velibor" his voice sounded, warm and soothing. "It is a lot, I understand. Walk with me, may I show you more of the castle that is not ruined?" Marius stood only a few paces away from him now, his arm outstretched. "You must understand, although it is hard for you, it is also hard for Maria, who is not allowed to be who she truly is; burdened with an identity she can never reveal to any one. This is also her first time back to Ivana's Palace. I am yet to show her what I wish to show you."
He accepted, not knowing what else to do. Maybe there would be a fact or two he could see, that would help him understand what was the truth. As they walked through various passages, some of them seeming untouched by time, others with walls collapsed, or holes in the floor, Marius told him of the history of each room and pathway. He had been in this castle since he was born, and had always tried to take care of the remaining rooms as much he could while he was still able to move. He admitted to not having been down here in a few months now, the weather had begun to hurt his old body.
They walked passed a kitchen, an old gallery with some of the paintings still intact. On the wall he noticed a large portrait of King Vladan and Queen Ivana on what looked like their wedding day. There was a painting of a cute little girl not far down with a very young woman, he assumed this was Carol, as Marius was in the background in his unmistakable uniform of a Royal house steward.
     "Baby Maria, that is the little girl here in the picture. When she was born, she was named Ana, after her mother. We had to change her name as she started to grow older, for she looked exactly like the Queen, except that she had Vladan's eyes."
     "Antonya looks more like her father" Velibor thought out loud.
     "I am yet to see the Younger Princess except for the paintings that have been in the markets. I have, of course, added a painting of her to the gallery here. I believe, that you are the young knight she chose to pose with for her coming-of-age ceremony."
Velibor turned and saw the newer painting up on the wall. It was indeed Antonya and he, two years ago. She was so beautiful. Instinctively, he reached out to touch her face, but caught himself before Marius noticed; thankfully he was pre-occupied staring at the painting of Carol.
     "Forgive me for asking..." Velibor paused trying to find a polite way to ask. "Ah... Carol was a... very close companion of yours?"
     "Did I love her? I think that is what you are trying to ask young man. And yes, I do believe so. She was so polite. I'd never seen Ivana so happy. Carol and her Highness seemed to fit together perfectly. The entire palace brightened up, she woke up each morning with purpose, and Carol had the most beautiful smile. Alas, the stewards' life is a lonely one, boy. But I do not regret a single moment of my life, except that I allowed myself to grow old!" he laughed at the last comment, his eyes still on the painting of Carol.


The journey was lonely, long and arduous. Everything had been packed. Antonya had had appointments with Luis the dressmaker all week and consequently a new wardrobe was accompanying her to Gatchina. Despite the pain that she knew must come, her heart was on fire. She loved to travel. She was travelling alone in her carriage, Marco likewise, whereas the Tsarevitch and Cristian were together. The Tsar and Tsarina had ridden ahead into the night to make sure everything was ready at the palace. It was Serbian royalty coming to visit them after all.
They stopped shortly for lunch, the maids quickly bringing food for them. They ate in silence, and quickly too, for the weather was freezing. She was the first to finish eating, being bored of the silence, she retired quickly to her carriage craving warmth and needing to be alone in her own thoughts. It felt like forever that she sat there, staring out of the window, opened book in one hand, face leaning in the other. She faced away from the door, for fear of catching Cristian’s eye(or anyone else’s for that matter). She saw Cristian return to his carriage, and heard Marco noisily running into his. The snow had begun to fall softly again. But she had heard or seen no sign of Alexandre returning, and in the reflection of her windows she could see their carriage perfectly. The maids were running around picking up last minute things, and the head Coach’s whistle sounded. Suddenly the door of her carriage opened and slammed shut. She didn’t need to turn around. She could tell the breathing anywhere.
He sat by the edge of the door, not wanting to move too close to her. She looked very Russian in her new winter clothes. Luis had done a marvellous job. She stared dejectedly out the opposite window, her hazel eyes drinking the snow-white fields and perfectly-iced trees. Her lips seemed a purple tinge of red, must be the cold. In thinking of that, he shivered, only just realising how cold he was. Antonya turned around. “Cold, your Highness?” she almost murmured. He nodded, hugging himself. She pulled a large mink rug from the other chair, and he sat next to her. “No, come on the other side Alexandre, so that if I may fall asleep you can be my pillow” she said, not really listening to the words she was speaking. He laughed, and looked at her earnestly. “Antonya, there would be no greater honour in this world.” He winked, and she looked away, not sure what to do. Alexandre moved by the window, Antonya sat very close next to him, and he covered them both with the rug. He pulled it up to his shoulders, almost burying Antonya. She punched him, and pulled it back down again. “I didn’t realise you were there, Antonya” he teased. “Oh really” she rolled her eyes “would you like me to prove to you that I am here?” Alexandre couldn’t help it. She was so beautiful when she was angry. His hand reached up to her chin, stroking her cheek gently, and he moved forward, eager for the taste of her soft, cold lips. He held her tight, and she sighed, resting her head on his chest. She knew this moment would come. There was no way she could avoid it. They sat like that for a long time, just staring out to the changing landscape beyond.
Burying her hands in the blanket, she found her book, and decided for lack of anything better; she may as well read it. Her mother had chosen it for her as a departing gift: a memory of her homeland; so if she may ever feel alone, all she needed to do was read and remember. Smiling at the thought, she re-opened to the first page. “Shall I read it to you, Antonya? I would love to, if you like.” He said earnestly. “You can read Serbian, Alex?” shocked, Antonya sat up. “Do you doubt me? Of course I can!” he winked, taking the book from her hands. Holding her hand in one, and the book in the other, Alexandre cleared his throat.
“Once upon a time, there was a handsome young man called Alexandre, who fell in love with a stupid Princess called Antonya of Serbia. She was helpless, and he was hopeless. Together, they found help and hope, and everything was as it should be once more. The end.” he finished matter-of-factly, closing the book and hugging her tight. She moved away, taking the book from him, smiling mischievously. “Alexandre.” She stated “You. Can’t. Read. Serbian! I thought it was too good to be true!” He hung his head in shame, laughing harder still. “Of course I can’t read it! I’m a pure Russian, not Serbian, Antonya! Oh I love you!” “Well, that’s a shame to you, for I have perfect Russian AND perfect Serbian, and am a pure blood Serbian, what say you to that Alexandre? I think I win!”
Upon the last word, the carriages came to a halt. Rubbing the window to see outside, the night was fast approaching, as was another town. Marco and Cristian jumped into Antonya’s carriage too, to make room for more of the maids to ride inside, out of the cold. They would be leaving the carriages for the night soon anyway. So it was of no great deal. Alexandre went to stand as they came in. As they were seated, he sat towards the edge of the chair.
She smiled, waiting for him to sit back down comfortably again. Leaning back on him, Antonya opened the book at the first page, for what must have been the fiftieth time that day. In a sweet, bed-time story voice, she began to read. “Shall I translate for you?” Cristian laughed, noticing the look on Alexandre’s face. They all laughed, and Marco took the book, translating it into Russian as he read.
Darkness began its conquest of the sky, succeeding just as the convoy reached the town. Sara opened the carriage door to escort Antonya to her room, only to find her asleep. ‘Don’t worry about it Sara. I’ll bring her in’ Marco called from somewhere inside the dark carriage. ‘Are you sure, my Lord? The Tsarevich asked me to ensure that her highness reached her room safely and had a good night’s rest.’ ‘Yes I understand. I will make sure of this myself.’ To reassure her, he moved more into the light. Sara saw that it was really Marco, so she apologised and closed the carriage door.


Bato ran down a long corridor, and waited at the end. “Mr Velibor you walk too slow! You will miss supper if you walk like that” he yelled, impatiently. The corridor seemed like a long entrance hallway. The right hand side had embellished archways, leading out to a balcony over the forest. From the great noise he heard he assumed there was a waterfall not too far away. “Like the hidden castle of the greats, the stories mama used to tell me” he whispered in awe. Bato, frustrated, ran up to him and grabbed his hand, and dragged him to the other end. Attempting not to trip, he ran with Bato. They approached an enormous set of doors, the moonlight accentuating the gold detailing on the beautifully carved oak doors. Together, they pushed one door open, and then he helped Bato to lock it with a long heavy beam.
 Turning around, this room was even more beautiful than the one before. Long tapestries hung from the walls, depicting tales of mighty kings, hard battles, love and heroes. In between each tapestry a different coat of arms was presented on shields, with swords behind them mounted to the walls. Four shields in total, Velibor counted. He recognised the third shield as the coat of arms of the second king of Serbia. Walking up to it, he traced the image on the shield. “Antonya, my love, I will come for you” he whispered.
A tug on his coat pulled him back into reality, and as he looked down Bato stared up at him with anger in his eyes. “Be faster mister!” and he ran off, expecting Velibor to follow him. He made a note himself that he would revisit this room again soon, and ran after Bato. At the far end of the great hall were four thrones. To the left of the thrones was a small doorway, and behind that he could see the light of a fire. They ran through the door and were greeted by Maria and Elena.
It was a small room, without windows and only one door. The fire had been lit in the centre of the room, and surrounding it there were blankets laid out. Marius sat tending to the fire, and the other children lay about the room, eating out of small bowls what seemed to be a hot stew. Bato ran straight to join them, and Elena followed after him with his bowl of food. “You did well Bato” she soothed, and kissed his forehead. Velibor sat in one corner of the room, opposite the doorway, and closed his eyes. The rough stone wall behind his head felt coarse, but comforting. It reminded him of the stones of the window ledge in Antonya’s room.
Every night he would climb up to her window to watch her sleep, to be with her, to take care of her. She slept so still, and she seemed so fragile in her sleep. It took all his self-control not to leave the window ledge and wrap her up in his arms. How he longed to sleep beside her, to hold her body to his. Just to be with her.
It was a cold, but clear night the first time he climbed the wall in the courtyard. He had hoped she would still be awake, and had a basket of strawberries in one hand. As he reached the window ledge he realised she was asleep, but could not bring himself to leave. He crept across the room and stood by her bedside. He removed his glove to run his finger along her cheek, but withdrew as she shivered at his touch. His hands must have been too cold, he thought to himself. Putting his glove back on, he left the strawberries on her table and left for the night, not wanting to disturb her any further.
Velibor sighed as he recollected memories. It felt like so long since he had been in a castle. “Papa, papa!” someone tugged his coat, awakening him from his thoughts. “Papa,” he looked down, and saw Sasha, Maria’s youngest daughter “Papa!” Velibor laughed. “Yes, little angel?” he softened, wondering what was wrong. She gave him a hug, and a little flower. He picked her up and held her in his arms. “I love you Papa, don’t go away again!” she cried onto his shoulder, and Velibor comforted her, he was unsure what to do. Maria wandered over, smiling, and took Sasha from him. “Let me put her to sleep, and then I shall explain the situation to you. Marius said he would like your help, if you are willing, he is in the great hall somewhere.”
Sasha leaped out of Maria’s arms and ran to Velibor. “Goodnight Papa!” “Goodnight little angel, sleep well” he soothed. She kissed him on the cheek and ran after Maria to the other side of the room. Velibor smiled to himself, and walked out of the little room to allow Maria some privacy with the children. At the far end of the great hall he saw Marius, and walked towards him. “What have you found, Marius?” he questioned, seeing him poking eagerly at something on the floor. Marius smiled mischievously and beckoned him to come closer. Cautiously, he stood at Marius’ side, unable to see what had caught the elderly man’s attention. Lighting a torch, he saw it. The Serbian Royal Coat of Arms was at the head of an old tapestry which had fallen from its hangings. Wrapping his scarf around his mouth to stop the dust, he motioned for Marius to stand back while he shook the dust off and lay it out. Sewn into the tapestry was the entire history of the Serbian royal family, up until King Vladan’s father. Neither Vladan nor Marco had been added, but at the very bottom had been sewn an image of an angel, foretold as the saviour of Serbia. For some reason, the angel seemed to hold an exact likeness to Antonya.
“Young Velibor,” Marius said, drawing him out from his thoughts “as a child, I bet no doubts that you heard the old tale of the saving angel?” Velibor nodded. That is what he’d just been thinking about. Oh how, especially now in this time of war, did Serbia need their saviour. Tracing the outline of the angel, Velibor slowly began to notice that the angel also could resemble Maria. The more he thought about it, the more he saw similarities between the three: the saviour, Maria and Antonya. He turned to Marius, his suspicions aroused, only to find him replaced by Maria. “Can I get  you anything? Maybe you are getting tired, it has been a long day and it is late into the…” before she could finish, Velibor cut her off. “Maria, are you related to the Royal Family?” “What makes you ask that?” she replied cautiously. Looking away, she began to step back, but Velibor caught her arm and pulled her towards the tapestry. “Who are you exactly, Maria?”
She couldn’t find the right words to say. What could she tell him? Could she trust him? Marius could be heard walking towards them from the other side of the hall. “Maria,” Velibor growled, “Answer me!” “Do not be afraid, my dear” Marius soothed her. “He should know.” “But Father!” Velibor spun around to face her. “Father?!” he yelled “I went out of my way to help you and your children, and yet you had your Father here all along?!” Velibor began to pace up and down the room. Walking up to the top of the room, Velibor sat in the King’s throne. If I hadn’t helped them, he thought to himself, this throne could now be mine; My Queen would be sitting beside me, not with that fowl Tsarevich. Antonya would be mine, this liar doesn’t need me, my princess thinks I am dead. His head was in his hands, and he began to cry. Maria walked up to him, and sat in the Princess’ throne. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, tears rolling down her cheeks. “I didn’t know if I could trust you, and in these times especially someone like me needs to take every precaution they can. I’m sorry I lied to you Velibor. Will you allow me to tell you the truth?”
Velibor avoided looking at her. He was not the least bit tired anymore. He was too angry for sleep. “You have until the sun rises to convince me of your truth. At least make it worth my while.” He stated, coldly. Together they lit a fire, and she began her story.