A pair of dark red velvet drapes hung closed; they were hanging from the top of a very large wooden stage. The lights in the auditorium grew dim, the curtains parted and out stepped a young red haired woman. She was dressed in a bright red silk gown with a high waist. She looked like someone that had just stepped out of a Medieval Fair. Her long red hair was loose, there were ringlet curls all over her head, she smiled.

"Good Evening, my name is Gillian MacGyver and I wish to welcome you all to the show. This evening my friends and I are going to present to you a story. It has all the essentials ingredients every good story must have and a few that may surprise you." She stopped and smiled once more. "I must tell you a few things. The story begins in a place that no longer exists, few wondered if it ever did. The country is called Grenich, the year is 1265. But before I take my leave of you, I would like to introduce you all to the players. First off, we have the King, his name is Phineas. He is played by my dear friend Pete Thornton. The part of his daughter, Princess Genevieve is played by myself. My lady-in-waiting Mirra is also played by a good friend, Min Gage. The part of the squire is played by Jack Dalton, his name is Jasper but he has the unfortunate nickname of Jinx. Malachais, the knight he serves is played by my husband, MacGyver. The part of Sir Miles is played by another friend, Mark Holt. There are two knights in this tale that are going to be played by two friends. The roles of two good and true loyal knights, Sirs Jorin and Rivalin are played by Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto." Gillian clapped her hands together.

"Well, I do believe that covers everyone, so it back and enjoy the show, the players and I are ready to begin. Thank you for your attention."

Gillian smiled and turned her back, the curtains parted once more and she stepped through them. After several seconds, the thick heavy drapes began to slowly rise in the air…

"Genevieve, it is good to see you once again my daughter."

King Phineas was sitting on his red velvet covered throne, he saw his daughter come into the room and he got to his feet and held out his arms. He had not seen his daughter in 4 months.  Genevieve smiled widely; she ran across the room and hugged her father.

"It is good to see you as well Father." She put her head down against his red tunic, she was very glad to be back in Grenich.

"Let me look at you." The King let go of his daughter and smiled.

Genevieve was very beautiful, her red silk dress was long and it showed off the young woman's lovely figure. She was the spitting image of her mother with the exception of her red hair. This made the stout man with the balding head and goatee sigh, his face grew sad. "You remind me of Anoria, your mother."

Genevieve's mother had died a month earlier; she had come down with a sickness that had taken her life slowly. The young woman had to watch the life slip from her mother; it had not been an easy thing to see. Genevieve was very close to her mother, she had taken her death very hard. "Yes I know, she once told me."

Phineas took his daughter's hands and held them. "It has been too long since you have been here."

Genevieve smiled. "Yes Father but now I am here to stay, we will never be parted again."

The King nodded and held his daughter to his chest once more. "That is true; you are home for good now."

Phineas sighed; his daughter's arrival did much to improve his aching spirit. Things had not been going well for him or his kingdom in the one third of a year that she had been away. Many things had changed and he had much to tell his daughter. It was not going to be an easy thing to do, especially with the looming presence of Malachais casting a grim shadow over everything and everyone.

Malachais was sitting on his throne; he had his fingers pinching the bridge of his nose. The blond man with the dark eyes had woken up in an even worse mood then usual. He was dressed from head to toe in black velvet. He was sitting on his throne, his legs flung over the side. His thick heavy leather boots thumping against the side of the wooden chair. The room he was in was rather empty, it was made of grey stone, there were banners from every country strung all over it. He sighed; he had stolen the castle from a nobleman and had run him off of his land. He took a dagger out of the waistband of his belt and started flipping it in his hands.

"Fool!" He had his head turned and was yelling in the direction of the door. His deep voice echoing throughout the empty room, making his shout all the louder.

A stout man with dark hair and a thick mustache came running in; he was dressed in dark blue velvet. He stood in front of the throne and bowed.

"You called Oh Moody One?"

Malachais scowled at him. "What did you call me?"

Jasper cleared his throat. "Oh I mean, my most Merciful and Forgiving Master."

"Ahhh, that is what I thought you said." He showed the stout man his silver dagger. "I would hate to use you for target practice." He drew his arm back and flung the dagger; it flipped over once and stuck in the direct center of the other wooden chair was across the room. The beaten and battered throne had dagger marks in it.

Jasper swallowed hard. "Yes I'm quite sure you would hate to Sire, how may I be of service to you."

His Lord sighed. "The Princess? Is all in readiness for her arrival?"

The squire gave his master another bow. "Oh yes Sire, her room is just as you told me." He moved closer to the throne. "Sire I just have one question."

Malachais swung around in his chair. "You do? What is it that is so troubling to you Pea Brain? The plan is very simple."

Jasper cowered a little. "It is but I was wondering, how do I get into the castle?"

Malachais sighed and ran his hands over his face. "Of all the squires in this kingdom why did I get stuck with you?"

"Because I work hard and am loyal to you Sire."

"But you have the brain of a turnip!" He got out of his chair and grabbed Jack by the shirt and hauled him up, the two men were nose to nose. "Fool, it's very simple, allow me to make it clear." Malachais' dark eyes were cold and dangerous. "I… want…you….to…bring… me… the….Princess." He was twisting his squire's shirt, cutting off the man's air. "Understand?"

Jasper's face was turning red. "Yes Sire, I understand."

Malachais nodded and gave him a sinister smile. "Good." He let go of his servant's shirt and the stout man started to cough. "I'm glad we had this talk, now go before I get really angry."

"Yes Sire, as you command." Jack was out of breath as he started to leave the room.

Malachais got out of his chair and walked across the room, he pulled his silver dagger out of his practice chair. "Fool?"

The out of breath servant slowly turned around. "Sire?"

The blond man was glaring at him. "You best not live up to your nickname, Jasper Jinx or your fat behind will make an excellent rug to place before my fireplace, understand?"

Jinx gave his master a bow. "Yes my Lord, I understand I will not fail you."

Malachais sat back down in his chair. "Good, now go and do as you are told."

The stout servant practically ran out of the room, he had his master's orders to follow.

Malachais had left his throne room and walked down the long stone hallway. He stopped in front of a massive wooden door and pulled back on a large black metal handle. The door opened and he walked into the room, it was his bed chamber. The only things in the room were a large wooden bed with a black velvet covering and a large wooden truck at the foot of it. He laid face down on the bed; he turned his head to the side and closed his eyes.

Genevieve opened the wooden door to her bed chamber and walked in, it was just as she had left it. A large canopy bed was against the right wall, it had a bright multicolored covering on it that matched the curtains that hung from the frame. At the foot of the big bed was a dark wooden hope chest. There was a light oak wardrobe at the far end of the room, against the other wall. To the right of the wardrobe was a dark wooden dressing table with a round mirror. The young woman sat down on the bed and sighed, it was good to be back home but there was a sadness to the homecoming. The death of her mother still weighed heavily on her mind, the pain and grief still clung to her like a wet shawl. There was a knock at the door, breaking the young woman's chain of thought. She turned towards the door.

"Come in."

The door opened and in walked a dark haired woman; she had long hair that was braided down her back. The young woman with the dark eyes and the light blue silk dress approached the bed. She gave the Princess a curtsey. "My Lady."

Genevieve sighed and shook her head. "Enough with the reverence Mirra, you know I do not feel the need for it."

Mirra straightened up and looked at her Lady. "I cannot help it Highness, I was taught at a very young age to always show the proper respect."

"To those that are deserving of it Mirra and surely I am not among those that deserve such royal gestures."

"You are the Princess, whether you like it or not Genevieve, it is who you are."

Genevieve got down from her bed and stood face to face with her Lady-in-waiting. The two women embraced. "It is good to see you Mirra, I have missed you."

"I missed you as well Genevieve. You're homecoming has made all of us very happy, we are all in need of such joy as of late."

"Yes I have noticed that everyone seems rather quiet, that is not like this place at all. Tell me what has happened to give this castle a melancholy air to it."

The two women let go of each other and Mirra took the Princess by the hand as they both sat back down on her large bed. "Has your father not told you what happened to Sir Malachais?"

Genevieve shook her head. "No, he has said nothing."

Mirra sighed and squeezed her hand, she closed her eyes briefly. "I'm afraid to tell you this Lady, but something dreadful has happened to your betrothed."

Malachais opened his eyes; the first thing he saw was the grinning face of his squire. This startled him and he drew his dagger, he rolled onto his back and stuck his blade under the stout man's chin.

"What have I told you about doing that? Do you not know what could happen to you if you sneak up on a knight?"

The tip of the dagger was pressing into the skin under Jinx's chin. "But Sire, you are no longer a knight."

This reminder of his disgrace only angered Malachais, his dark eyes grew cold. A sneer appeared on his lips, he poked his dagger into the skin of his servant. A small trickle of blood ran down the squire's neck. "What have I told you about speaking of that?"

Jinx squeezed his eyes shut, the area under his chin was now burning. "You told me not to my Lord."

"Exactly, and what are you doing?"

He gulped audibly, feeling his own warm blood roll down his neck. "Speaking of it."

Malachais nodded, increasing the pressure on the dagger a tiny bit. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't run this blade through that thick skull of yours?"

Jinx reached down and gently put his hand on top of his master's and tried to pry the dagger out from under his chin. "Because, who else would you get to serve you?"

The blond man sighed and let Jinx move his hand away. "You may live, for now." He tucked his knife back into his belt. "What do you want Fool?"

Jinx touched under his chin, he wiped the blood away with his fingers. "More reports have come in from Jorin and Rivalin."

"And?"

"Your knightly spies have reported that the Princess has indeed arrived at the palace."

"Excellent, this news pleases me." He sat up and leaned back against his headboard.

Jinx cleared his throat; for once his master actually looked happy. He decided to take advantage of this rare moment. "Sire, I still do not know how to get into Phineas' castle, surely everyone will know who I am."

Malachais narrowed his eyes at his servant, but then he realized that the squire was right. He would be easily recognizable. "You make a good point Fool; the knights especially will know your face."

Jinx smiled. "I make a point my Lord?" The stout man was smiling.

His master looked at him sideways. "Do not let this one shining moment get to your head Fool."

"But my Lord, I am never right, I must be proud of this moment."

Malachais raised an eyebrow. "The moment is over. I want you to find some material and make a dress."

"A dress? For the Princess?"

"No, for you."

Jinx creased his brow. "But Sire I do not wear dresses!"

The blond man looked at his servant. "To bring me my Princess, you will."

Genevieve was listening to the story her Lady-in-waiting was telling her about Sir Malachais. The young woman shook her head and stood up. "No, I do not believe that. Malachais and my father were the best of friends, more like brothers. He would not steal from him!"

Mirra also got on her feet. "But Princess he was found guilty by the knights. The only reason he lives still is because of your father. He said he did not have the heart to kill someone that he once called a friend."

Genevieve still did not believe her servant. "Why did my father not tell me of this himself?"

"I do not know Lady, perhaps that is something you should ask of him."

The Princess nodded. "Yes Mirra, I intend to, right now." She turned around and stormed out of her bed chamber.

Phineas and his knights were gathered in the dining room. The long dark oak table was covered with many maps of the surrounding area. Phineas' face was pensive as he and his armored knights plotted an attack of Malachais' castle.

"We must come at him from the head on, it must be a surprise." Phineas was bent over the table, he was pointing out something to a tall man with strawberry blond hair and bright blue eyes. This knight was Sir Miles; he had been the King's new favorite now that Malachais was gone. He had also promised the new champion the hand of his daughter in marriage.

It took Genevieve a long time to find her father, the castle was large with many rooms and she searched every one until she found him. She stepped into the room just as Sir Miles was giving the King his opinion.

"Sire we must attack at sunset, Malachais will not be expecting that."

The young woman froze in her tracks at the mention of her friend's name. "What? Why would you attack Malachais?"

Every man in the room looked up from their planning and faced the young woman. They all gave her a deep bow. Genevieve did not even acknowledge them; she stormed up to her father.

"What we are planning against Malachais is none of your affair Daughter." Phineas was scowling; his daughter had interrupted him and his knights.

Genevieve shook her head. "It is not enough that you banished him from this kingdom and now you cannot even leave him in peace?"

Phineas narrowed his eyes at his only child. "You know nothing of what Malachais has done while you have been away. He is no longer the man you thought you knew; he is no longer your betrothed." He was standing next to Sir Miles; he put his arm across his shoulders in a fatherly gesture. "Sir Miles is now the one I have chosen to be your husband."

Genevieve was angry, her dark eyes blazing with a fire that matched her hair. She looked at the man her father had chosen to be her husband, she shook her head. "With all due respect to you Sir Miles, I do not intend to honor the bargain my father has made with you."

Phineas' face turned red, his lips were so tightly pressed together that they disappeared. He lifted his head and looked at all the gathered men. "Leave us please; allow me some time alone to speak to my daughter. We will have plenty of time to finish with our plans for Malachais."

The knights all looked at each other and gathered up their maps. They each gave him a slight bow of reverence as they exited the room. Sir Miles went with them, he glanced back at the Princess, but the young woman simply looked away from him.

The door was closed and the King scowled at his daughter. "Genevieve you know better than to interrupt me and my knights when we are preparing for battle."

Genevieve was also frowning. "Why father, why did you not tell me what had befallen Malachais? I had to hear it from my Lady-in-waiting instead of from the lips of my own father."

Phineas' anger was quickly gone; he could see the hurt that he had caused his daughter. He sighed and put both hands on her shoulders. "Forgive me for that child, I wanted to tell you but I could not. It still hurts me to think of Malachais."

"I do not understand what happened; he was like your son. He would not do the things he was accused of."

"Did you think I wanted to believe it? The evidence was great against him." Phineas let go of his daughter and turned his back to her. "It pained me deeply; I could not take his life. I did the only thing I could do; banish him from this kingdom, never to return."

Genevieve put her arms around her father and hugged him. "If it pains you then why are you and the knights plotting against him?"

Phineas patted the hands that were around his waist. "His heart has turned black since his banishment Genevieve. He has done many things to hurt this kingdom. Until now I have left him in peace, but now I must attack him."

"But why?"

Phineas opened her hands and turned around to face her. "The King of Hergamore sent me many treasures as a token of his loyalty and friendship. The things arrived by ship, I sent the knights to go retrieve them and bring them back. The journey was uneventful until they got to Green Echoberry Woods. The caravan was going through the woods when they were attacked by Malachais and a dozen men. Many of the knights, including Sir Miles were injured. Malachais took everything and set the wagons on fire. The knights were barely able to escape with their lives."

Genevieve closed her eyes briefly. "And now you and the knights will try and get everything back."

Phineas nodded. "If I wish to keep an alliance with Hergamore, I have to."

For the next seven sunrises and sunsets, Phineas and his men laid out their battle plan. When the next sunset occurred, the knights led by Sir Miles would attack Malachais' castle. The dark grey castle was a full day's ride. The knights were going to leave come the dawn, and attack him at sunset the next day. Phineas had ordered that only the treasures from Hergamore were to be retrieved and that no blood be shed. Many of the knights, especially Sir Miles, were opposed to this. In his opinion, Malachais should die. The knight wished very much to bring back the former knight's head. Phineas would hear nothing of it and commanded Malachais be left in peace.

During this time, Genevieve kept mostly to herself. She would have nothing to do with what her father was planning. The only person she would really speak to was Mirra. The Lady-in-waiting was concerned over her Lady's melancholy. The Princess had even become the subject of many rumors, but mostly it was concern over her mother's death.

Mirra closed the door behind her; she was carrying a wooden tray that contained the remains of Genevieve's dinner. Much to the Lady-in-waiting's surprise, she came face to face with her King. She put one hand on her yellow silk dress; she took a hold of part of it she curtsied as best she could with full hands. "Good evening, Sire."

Phineas smiled at the young woman, she was a very faithful and devoted friend to his daughter. "How is she?"

"As well as can be expected, my Lord. I fear the death of her mother has darkened her."

The King sighed. "It is that and it is other things as well."

Mirra nodded. "Do you wish to speak to her?"

"Yes, why don't you leave us alone?"

The Lady-in-waiting gave her king a quick bow. "As you wish, Sire, I will return later."

She disappeared down the hall and Phineas walked up to the door and knocked.

Genevieve was sitting on her bed; she was playing with the threads on her purple silk dress. She heard the knock. "Who goes there?"

"It is I."

The Princess sighed, it was her father. "You may enter."

Phineas opened the door and walked in. He saw his daughter sitting on her bed; he cleared his throat and folded his hands in front of him, over his deep blue tunic. "I have not seen you in many days. Why do you hide here?"

The young woman turned and looked at her father. "There are many reasons, but mostly because I do not approve of what you are doing." Her dark eyes were steady on him. "Or what you have done."

The King knew that she was not only speaking about her mother's death, but his battle plans, and her betrothment to Sir Miles. "I know your heart is heavy because of your mother, but the other things are none of your concern."

Genevieve got off of her bed and stood before her father. "They are my concerns; Malachais is still my friend no matter what has happened between you. And I will not accept Sir Miles as my betrothed, you promised my hand to another."

Phineas scowled at his daughter. "Malachais is no longer your friend; he has betrayed us by what he has done." He took a step closer to her. "I am your father; it is up to me who will be your husband."

Genevieve was angry now, she clenched her jaw and her hands became fists. "Yes you are my father, but it is up to me whom I will marry no matter what you say."

"You will marry Miles; I have spoken of it and will speak no more." Phineas had said his peace and turned around to leave the room. Before he got to the door, he turned around to face his daughter once more. "We attack Malachais when the sun goes down tomorrow. There is nothing you can do to stop it." The King's eyes were very angry; he glared at his daughter and left her bedchamber.

Malachais was in his laboratory, dressed in dark blue velvet. He was working on something. The large room was filled with the sounds of experimenting. The long table in the center of the room was covered with glass jars that contained colorful looking powders. There was a small fire in the center of the table. Malachais had a glass jar sitting on top of the fire; he was watching the liquid start to boil. Jinx opened the door and poked his head into the room.

"Sire?"

Malachais put on a pair of thick leather gloves and lifted the jar from the fire and held it up to the light. He was studying the clear liquid carefully.

"What is it Fool?"

Jinx walked into the room and stood beside his master. "What are you doing My Lord?"

"Preparing for the arrival of Phineas' knights."  He brought the jar down and set it on the table.

Jinx's eyes widened. "The knights are coming here? Why?"

Malachais sighed and looked at his servant. "The gold, the furs, silks, jewels, horses. Did you not think that Phineas would come for his treasure?"

The squire blinked at his master a few times. "I did not think he would Sire."

The blond man shook his head. "That is why I am the master and you are not." He walked around his servant and went over to a large shelf. He started rummaging through various glass jars with lids. "Fool, where is my vitriol?"

Jinx went over to the shelf and started trying to help his master, he knocked over a glass jar and a small fireball flashed as it hit the stone floor. Malachais grabbed his servant by his brown velvet shirt and pulled him forward. "Careful Dunce! The things in those jars can easily take your life or blow you into many little pieces!" Malachais' dark eyes were fiery and he was breathing hard. He let go of his servant's shirt. "Now, go find my vitriol and my acqua regia."

Jinx pulled down his shirt, fixing it. "What will you do with those Sire?"

He had finally calmed down, he picked up a jar. "I told you, the knights are coming. I must prepare a proper greeting for them." He took the jar back to the table and carefully dumped a little of the dark red rust colored powder into the clear jar. The two chemicals started bubbling, Malachais smiled. "Ahhh, excellent." He picked up the jar and looked at it. "This will surely be a very good welcome to the knights."

Malachais set the jar down and bent down; he picked up a burlap sack and tossed it as his servant. "Come, we have many things to do before they get here."

"Like what Sire? What is in this bag?"

The blond man sighed. "Besides what you see in this jar, there are other surprises I have planned for the knights." He bent down and picked up two shovels. "Come Fool, there is much work to be done."

The two men left the room and headed outside the castle walls.

Malachais was in his bed chamber, he was stretched out on his bed. All of the preparations had been made, when the knights came at sunset the next day, he would be ready for them. He and Jinx had booby-trapped the surrounding area outside of the castle. There were many unpleasant things awaiting the invaders. Malachais wondered if Phineas would be there. He thought of his former friend and sighed. He wished very much that things could have been different between them. His pensive face bloomed into an angry one, he thought back to the last time he saw him. Phineas had been sitting on his throne in a deep purple tunic, his crown shining brightly. The stout man stood up and with a face reflecting both anger and hurt, he pointed down at the knight.

"You are to leave this kingdom, Malachais, and never return." His deep voice echoing throughout the large room. "I will never look upon you again as God is my judge. Be gone from my sight and be thankful my heart has shown you mercy in not taking your life."

Malachais was in his armor, he stood up. "Your Majesty, I beseech you. I am innocent of these charges."

The King turned his back to him. "Go, do not speak just go."

The knight closed his eyes briefly; he looked behind him and saw Jasper Jinx. The squire stepped forward. "We must go now, my Lord."

Malachais nodded, his heart aching. He looked around the room at all of his fellow knights. One by one, the men turned their backs to him. This only pained Malachais further; he reached down and took out his sword. He held it up and studied it carefully; it had been a gift from Phineas. The now banished knight looked once more at his friend and King, all he could see was his back. A deep scowl bloomed on his face. He sighed and let the sword fall to the floor with a loud clang. The blond man and his squire quietly left the room.

Malachais wiped his hand across his eyes, that had been the worst day of his life. The anger and hurt were still fresh in his mind and heart. Despite how bad things were between him and Phineas now, he wished to return to Grenich. But the reason was not because of his former King, there was another. Malachais touched his hand to his velvet shirt. He pulled the collar back and stuck his hand inside. He pulled out a long piece of leather that was attached to a small bag. He was holding it in the palm of his hand, he pulled the tie open. The little bag opened up, inside of it was a white linen square. It was a folded handkerchief; the bottom left corner had a small embroidered rose. He picked it up and lightly sniffed it; there was a hint of lavender on the cloth. The handkerchief had been a gift from Genevieve. The young woman had given it to him when she was returning to France to be with her mother. It was a token of their friendship, but Malachais had kept it close to his heart.  He had left the door open and a dark head popped into the doorway.

"Sire?"

Malachais clutched the handkerchief in his hand and put it behind his back. "Fool do you not know how to knock."

Jinx stepped into the room; he had a knapsack across his chest. He turned around and looked at the open door. "The door was open Sire."

Malachais still had his hand behind his back. "What do you want?"

"I came to tell you that all is ready, I leave now for Grenich."

The blond man nodded. "Your dress is made?"

"Yes My Lord."

"Show me."

Jinx sighed and reluctantly opened his knapsack; he pulled out part of a pink silk dress. "Here it is."

Malachais saw the bright color, he got an image of his servant in the garment and he pressed his lips together. He was trying very hard not to laugh, he cleared his throat. "Excellent." He motioned to the trunk at the foot of his bed. "Look there, inside you will find a vial with the juice of the Echoberry."

Jinx walked over to the bed and lifted the trunk lid; he picked up a corked vial with a light green liquid inside of it. "And what shall I do with this?"

His master sighed and wiped his hand down his face. "Use it on a cloth, put it against the Princess' face, it will lull her to sleep."

The squire nodded. "Very well Sire, as you wish."

Jinx tucked the vial inside his knapsack; he started to leave the room when he stopped. "You love her, don't you Sire?" He turned back around and faced his master; he knew exactly what was being kept hidden from him.

Malachais looked at his servant; he brought his hand back and showed him the handkerchief.  The blond man's face went from angered to sad. "It matters not Jinx, she will never return it."

The stout man's hazel eyes were fixed on his master. "There is always hope Sire." There was nothing comical or misleading about his statement, he simply stated a fact. "I will take my leave of you now Sire, I shall return in two sunsets with the Princess."

Malachais gave his servant a nod. "Good, be on your way then."

Jinx smiled and slightly bowed. "As you wish."

The squire turned around and left the room.

The sky was a bright burnt orange, the sun resembled a flaming torch and it slowly sank beneath the horizon. Malachais was standing on the ledge that went across his drawbridge. He was not alone, his two loyal spies had returned from Grenich to assist their master. Sirs Jorin and Rivalin were in their full armor, they were on each side of their Lord. Jorin flipped up the metal visor on his helmet and turned towards his master.

"The knights should be here at any moment Sire."

Malachais nodded. "I know Jorin." He smiled wickedly. "So typical of Phineas to think that an evening attack would fool me."

Rivalin turned towards the blond man and removed his helmet. "Do we attack them Master? My sword is ready to serve you."

Malachais shook his head. "No, we let them come to us."

"But they will outnumber us My Lord."

"Yes that is true Rivalin, but there are booby traps waiting for them and I have a few more surprises." He looked down at his feet and there was a wooden crate filled with glass jars, there were pieces of cloth sticking out of the lids.

Jorin looked down at the crate. "What are those Sire?"

"Acqua regia and vitriol, simply light the cloths and toss them, they will explode."

Jorin reached down and picked up one of the jars. "At the knights?"

Malachais took the jar from him and returned it to the crate. "No, around them."

The sky was now the dark blue shade of dusk; the three men were keeping a sharp eye out. There was a line of torches approaching the castle. Jorin spotted them and pointed.

"My Lord I see the knights coming."

Rivalin and Malachais both turned and saw the same line; he counted at least 8 torches. "I see them; there are at least a dozen of the knights."

Rivalin took his sword out of its sheath. "Is Phineas with them?"

Malachais smiled. "I have no doubt; he always accompanies the knights into battle."

Jorin narrowed his eyes, he too unsheathed his sword. "May I take his head Sire?"

"No."

"But why?" Jorin was holding his sword tightly in his hands; he was looking at his master.

The blond man scowled at his knight. "Do you dare question me?"

The knight lifted his head in defiance. "Yes My Lord I do, I feel your heart has gone soft and we both know the reason why."

Malachais grabbed the end of Jorin's sword; he moved it aside and brought the fleshy part of his palm under the man's chin. The blow knocked the dark haired knight flat onto his back. Malachais took his dagger out of his waistband and pressed it to the knight's neck. He crouched down and pulled his helmet off of him. He stuck the dagger against his jugular vein.

"Remember this; never forget this, I no longer serve Phineas but that does not mean I cannot take your life in the blink of an eye. You will do as I say or I will cover this dagger with your warm blood." The former knight's face was serious; he meant the words he spoke.

Jorin looked over Malachais' shoulder at his counterpart. Rivalin swallowed hard; he did not know what to do. Malachais was right, despite his humiliation he was still the best knight in all of the land. Malachais looked behind him partially.

"Rivalin, back away or you will end up on your back just as your friend is."

Rivalin took a few steps back; he put his sword back in its sheath. "Let him be Sire, he did not mean it."

Malachais turned back and looked down at the helpless man at his mercy. "Is this true Jorin, did you mean to question me?"

Jorin swallowed hard, the cold metal tip of the dagger was against his neck. "No My Lord, I did not mean it. If you wish for Phineas to be unharmed, we will honor your wishes."

"Good." Malachais stood up and handed the knight his helmet.

Phineas was at the front of the line, he was on a white horse, riding beside Sir Miles. He had on a purple tunic with a thick metal breastplate over it. He had armor on his forearms and his helmet with a thin gold crown on top of it. There were 12 knights with him; the dark grey castle was just up ahead. The sky was darkening but despite the lack of light, he saw three figures standing on top of the drawbridge.

Malachais had two torches in his hands, he handed one to each of his knights. He took a small flint stone out of his boot. He pulled his silver dagger out of his waistband. He scraped the blade against the rock and lit the two torches with it. The knights tucked the torches into two slots on top of the ledge. Malachais smiled as he saw his dear old friend coming closer to the drawbridge.

"Phineas…good of you to come."

The King pulled on his reigns, his horse stopped at her put his hand up, the line of knights came to a halt. His face was serious as he looked up at the grey castle and his former best friend. "You gave me little choice Malachais; you know why I am here."

The blond man nodded. "Yes I know, the treasure you got from that buffoon King Ramius."

"He is not a buffoon Malachais; he is a friend to this kingdom. The things you and your band stole were tokens of friendship that he gifted to me."

Malachais waved his hand at him. "Spare me the politics Phineas, if you want your treasure by all means try and take it. However I must warn you, the area you and your knights are in has been prepared for your arrival. I am giving all of you a fair chance to go while you still can." He looked out over the assembled party; he had once called all of the men friends, now they were his enemies.

Phineas sighed. "You know I have no choice but to try Malachais, for the sake of the peace between Grenich and Hergamore." He drew his sword and the men all split up and formed a horizontal line.

Malachais picked up a jar out of the wooden crate at his feet, he shook his head. "You are a fool Phineas, I tried to warn you. Now I am the one left with no choice but to defend this castle." He touched the rag fuse to the torch, it started to burn. He drew his arm back and tossed the jar in front of the human line, it exploded and the knights scattered.

A rather stout woman with a bright pink dress on was walking around the halls of the castle. She had a veil that covered her hair and only showed her eyes. Jinx was trying to find the Princess' room. He lifted his veil for a second and fanned his face; he was extremely warm in his silk dress. He was in the west wing of the castle, stalking around the light grey stone hallways. A few of the knights walked down the hall and he quickly ducked into a room at the far end of the hall. When he heard the sound of footsteps get fainter, he cracked open the door and saw the coast was clear. He was breathing hard as he lifted his veil and wiped the sweat off of his face. He quietly snuck out of the room and headed down yet another hall. The squire had forgotten how large Phineas' castle was. He was trying to remember where the Princess' bed chamber was.

"Begging the Lady's pardon?" Jinx heard a sweet voice speak to him from behind his back. His hazel eyes grew wide and he slowly turned around. It was a young dark haired woman in a white silk dress, it was Mirra.

"Yes? How may I be of service to you?" Jinx was trying to make his voice as feminine as possible.

Mirra only smiled at him. "I humbly beg your forgiveness Lady but I am Genevieve's Lady-in-waiting. The Princess has gone to bed and I wish to know if you can take something to the kitchen for me."

Jinx gave her a bow. "I would be happy too."

Mirra returned the bow. "I will get it."

Jinx watched as the young woman walked down the end of the hall, the only door down there was where she went into. The squire smiled widely underneath his veil. Mirra came back out with a wooden tray and handed it to him. "You have my thanks Lady."

"It is my pleasure." Jinx took the tray. "Where are you off to now?"

"To my room n the east tower, now that the Princess is asleep I am released of my duties to her until first light." She sighed and started to walk away.

"Good Night." Jinx called out to her as she disappeared. The squire started laughing, he opened the first door he saw and put the tray inside. He walked down the hall to the last door and quietly opened it. He heard the sound of peaceful breathing. A single candle on top of her a wooden dressing table gave off the only light in the room. Jinx closed the door behind him; he reached into his pocket and took out the vial of Echoberry juice and a handkerchief. He wet the cloth and tucked the bottle back into his pocket. He quietly walked over to the bed and saw Genevieve lying on her side. The redheaded woman was in a white night gown, the covers pulled up to her waist. He carefully climbed onto the bed and gently pressed the handkerchief to her face. The young woman did not even stir; the Echoberry juice caused her to fall only deeper into slumber. Jinx tucked the handkerchief into his pocket; he pulled back the covers and touched Genevieve on the shoulder. He rolled her onto her back and tucked one hand under her neck and the other under her knees. The squire lifted her up, grunting and straining as he carried her in his arms. The young woman was not heavy, however to the squire she was. It gave Jinx a chance to think that he should perhaps cut back on his daily intake of custard tarts. He opened the bedroom door and looked around. The hallway was empty, the squire smiled widely as he held the young woman close to him. His master was going to be very pleased. 

Phineas was a top his horse, he was looking around at the carnage that Malachais had inflicted on his knights. There were men hanging from trees, a rope around their waist. Some of the knights were hanging upside down by their ankles. Their cries for help were loud, their friends and squires had swords and daggers and were trying to render them aid. In the center of it all was a group of squires and pages standing around a deep hole. Sir Miles had the unfortunate luck of finding a large pit that Malachais had dug and covered with leaves.  There was thick black stinging smoke that was heavy in the air from the bombs that Malachais and his two knights had thrown at them.

The blond man had his arms folded across his chest. A small smile of satisfaction on his face, he was watching the scene. Phineas was the only one that had not had found any of his special surprises.

"Do you yield Phineas?"

The shouts and cries for help died down in an instant, all eyes turned to look at the King. The stout man was scowling deeply, his face a mixture of anger and wounded pride. "I will never yield to you Malachais."

Malachais nodded. "I see, that is your choice then, but tell me, whom will you send out to fight me? Your champion? Correct me if I am mistaken but is he not in the bottom of my dragon pit?" He leaned over the edge and looked down at the ground.

The King lifted his head proudly. "We will leave Malachais, but mark my words, we shall return at another time to take back what is mine."

"You know where I am, but now you mark what I have to say. The next time you and your knights return, I will not be as hospitable as I have been today." Malachais turned and looked at both of his spies. "Watch them, make sure they leave."

Jorin and Rivalin both nodded. "Yes Sire."

Malachais took one more look out at the knights and his former King; he turned and went back inside.

Genevieve stirred and slowly opened her eyes. Her head felt as though she had been hit or perhaps had too much wine. She put her hand to her forehead.

"A Good Morrow to you Princess."
The young woman's eyes grew wide, she recognized the voice. She lifted her head and realized that she was not in her bed chamber. She rolled over and her heart started pounding when she saw her friend sitting on the window ledge. He was dressed in dark green velvet, his legs drawn up to his chest.

"Malachais?"

The blond man gave her a nod as he climbed out of his stone box and sat down on the edge of the big bed. He noticed the astonishment on her face and her dark eyes were round.

"Surprised to see me?"

"I am." She looked around the room she was in, it was very large. It had the same furniture her own bed chamber had but the walls were covered with fancy tapestries.  She slowly sat up, covering her nightgown with the blanket that was over her.

" How…"

"How did I spirit you away from your father?"

The Princess nodded, she couldn't believe she was in Malachais' castle. She was not afraid of her friend but she could not believe he had taken her right out from under the noses of a dozen knights. "Yes."

Malachais turned towards the door. "Jinx!"

The door opened and in walked the stout man; he smiled when he saw she was awake. "Hello Genevieve."

She smiled at her long time friend, she and Jasper Jinx had been close friends since they were children. "Jinx."

He walked over to the bed and touched the young woman on the hand. "It is good to see you again."

Her smile quickly faded. "It was you that took me from the castle, wasn't it?"

The squire nodded his head slowly. "Forgive me Princess; I only did as I was told."

The young woman reached out and touched his face. "It is all right Jinx; there is no need for forgiveness."  She turned her head and looked at Malachais. "You were only following your master's orders."

Malachais was looking at the young woman that was now his capture. She was even more beautiful then the last time he saw her. "Jinx, leave us."

"Yes Sire." Jinx gave a little bow to his master and left the room.

Malachais walked around the front of the bed, he stood before her. "Your father and his knights are gone, they left empty handed. About now your father has returned to Grenich only to discover that you are not in your bed chamber."

The young woman swallowed hard. "What do you intend to do with me? Am I your prisoner now? Or did you take me simply to anger my father?"

Malachais touched his hand to his chest, feeling the lump of the little bag with the handkerchief she gave him in it. "You are here because of a promise your father made to me. He said you would be my wife."

Genevieve licked her lips and pressed them together. "He has gone back on his agreement with you, he has pledged my hand to Sir Miles." She frowned, she was not happy that her father could easily pledge her hand to anyone he pleased.

"I knew he would break his agreement with me, that is why I sent Jinx for you." He walked over to a large dark wooden wardrobe and opened the two doors. There were dresses of every color inside the tall cabinet. "Dress yourself, Jinx has made food for us in the dining room. You must be hungry." He started to walk out of the room, Genevieve called out to him and he turned around.

"You did not answer me, am I your prisoner?"

Malachais' dark eyes were looking into hers. "You are my guest, but for how long is up to you."

He turned back around and left her bed chamber.

Genevieve had chosen a light green silk dress; it had a high waist and short sleeves.  She had taken her long hair and had put it in a braid that went down to the small of her back. She had left her bed chamber and had started walking down the long hallway hoping to find the dining room.

Malachais was sitting at the head of the small table; Jinx served him a gold plate of wild blueberry tarts and a gold goblet of milk. "Think she will come join us Sire?"

"That I do not know Jinx, wait and see." The table he was sitting at was not very long, he was watching the doorway, anxious to see if his Princess was going to join them.

"Shall I bring her?"

"No." Malachais picked up his goblet and drank from it. "She must choose to come, I will not force her."

The answer to the squire's question came shortly, the Princess stepped through the door, she looked stunning in her pale green dress. She walked over to the table, Jinx pulled the chair out for her and she sat down.

"Do you still enjoy the taste of blueberry tarts Lady?" Jinx went to the kitchen and returned with a plate containing two tarts; he set it down in front of her.

Genevieve looked down at the tarts, they resembled tiny pies. "You know I have always enjoyed your tarts Jinx." She reached down and picked one up, she took a bite of it.

Malachais was very happy to see she had come out of her room, but he tried not to let his joy show. He simply sat in his chair, his face pensive. "I learned of the death of your mother Princess, I am truly sorry."

The young woman's face went from passive to sad. "You have my thanks for your sympathy Malachais; her death has wounded me deeply. It will take time for me to get over the pain."

Jinx had snagged a couple of tarts from the kitchen. "I too am sorry Genevieve, I only knew your mother briefly. She was always very kind to me."

Genevieve finished her tarts and was drinking her milk. She only raised her eyes a couple of times to look across the small table at her friend. She wished to ask him many things but at the same time she could not. "When my father discovers I am gone, he will return here."

Malachais was working on his second tart; he waited until he was no longer chewing to answer her. "He already has reason to return, I have simply given him another."

This time the Princess did look him in the face. "Do you wish to end his life Malachais?"

The blond man saw her eyes were upon him. "No."

"Then why do you do these things to rile his anger?"

Malachais became angry; his dark eyes were blazing like torches. He put his hands under the table and flipped it over, knocking their plates and goblets onto the floor. He got out of his chair fast. "Why? Why do I do these things? I want him to suffer! The way he made me suffer! He turned his back on me and forced me to leave the only place I have ever called home! What I have done to him is nothing compared to the pain he has caused me! I will not stop until he has paid and paid well!"

Malachais stormed out of the room, the two people left in the dining room heard the heavy thudding of his boots as he walked down the hall. They heard his bed chamber door slamming hard. Genevieve was breathing hard out of fright, she looked down at the over turned table. Jinx crouched down and started picking up the mess his master had created.

The young woman sighed as she got up. "Jinx, forgive me, I did not mean to anger him." She crouched down and started helping her friend.

The stout man merely shrugged. "He is quick to anger these days Lady, it was not your doing."

Genevieve picked up a few pieces of the broken gold dishes. "May I ask you a question old friend?"

The two people stood up and Jinx nodded as he took the broken pieces from her. "Of course."

The Princess cleared her throat. "Tell me of the day he was banished Jinx, answer me truly.  Was he guilty or innocent? I myself have heard that he was guilty and of the evidence that was found. I do not believe he stole my father's gold, am I right?"

Jinx was looking at her, his hazel eyes were gazing into her brown eyes. "My master is innocent Lady; he never stole one piece of your father's gold."

Malachais was in his bed chamber, he was still pretty angry. He was in a chair over by the door, his long legs stretched out before him.

"Fool!"

The door opened and Jinx came in. "You bellowed for me Sire?"

Malachais snapped his fingers and pointed down to the ground. "My footstool."

The squire was standing before his master; he got down on all fours. Malachais lifted his legs and brought his feet down on top of his servant's blue velvet shirt. "Better."

Jinx grunted a little, his master's heavy boots were in the center of his back. "It pleases me you are so comfortable My Lord."

"Where is the Princess?"

"She helped me clean up the dining room, the last time I saw her she was going to her bed chamber."

Malachais pressed his boots deeper into Jinx's back. "And you did not see for yourself if she was there or not?"

Jinx could not hold himself up much longer. "Sire, your boots are heavier than usual."

The blond man lifted his legs and brought them down on top of his servant's back. Jinx's arms collapsed and he ended up belly down on top of the floor. Malachais touched his boot under his squire's shoulder and rolled him onto his back. He put his boot across the stout man's neck. "If she is not in her bed chamber Jinx, I will string you up by your thumbs and use you for target practice."

Jinx tried to lift off the boot that was on top of his neck. "She is there Sire, I am sure of it."

Malachais bent down. "For your sake Fool, she better be." He took his boot off of his servant's neck. "Get on your feet and go see where she is."

Phineas was sitting on his throne; his knights were searching the entire castle for any sign of his daughter. The King was very upset, he and his men had returned from a terrible battle only to find the castle in an uproar. Mirra was beside herself, the young woman was extremely upset and blaming herself for the lost Princess. Phineas had put his arms around her and held her; he had reassured her that she not to blame for Genevieve's disappearance. The knights all came into the throne room, Mirra was with them, she had her head down. Phineas rose to his feet slowly, his eyes scanned all of his men.

"There is no trace of her, is there?" His eyes came to rest on Mirra. The young woman could feel his eyes boring into her, she lifted her head.

"No Highness, there is none."

The King sat back down on his throne and wiped his hand across his eyes. "I do not understand how she could simply disappear?" He looked at all of his men. "Search everywhere for her, the village and the woods as well."

The knights all clasped their hand to their hearts and bowed deeply. "It shall be done Sire."

"Go now and leave no stone unturned." Phineas watches as his men filed out of the room one by one. His thoughts drifted to the last time he spoke to his daughter. There were many angry words between them and now the upset father wished he could take them all back.

Mirra approached the throne and bowed deeply. "Fear not Sire, the knights will find her."

The stout man nodded, he reached his hands out to her and the young woman took them. "You have my thanks Mirra, I know you to fear for her. I pray to God she will be back with us soon."

Phineas gave the young woman's hands a squeeze.

Genevieve was in her bed chamber; she had a book in her hand and was reading on her bed. There was a knock on the door and she lifted her head.

"Enter."

Jinx poked his head in and saw she was there; he breathed a sigh of relief. "I only came to see if you were in need of anything."

The young woman shook her head. "No, I am well."

Jinx nodded. "Very well Highness, I shall be back when it is time for lunch."

"Thank you Jinx."

"My pleasure Lady." He smiled at her and closed the door.

Malachais was stretched out on his bed, his arms tucked behind his head. He was waiting to hear from his servant as to whether or not his Princess was still his guest. He sat up when he saw his servant walk into his bed chamber.

"Well?"

"She is reading my Lord, in her bed chamber."

"Excellent." He sighed and laid back down on his bed.

"I have my duties to tend to Sire; I will take my leave of you now." Jinx started to leave the room when his master called out to him. The stout man turned around.

"Jinx, you have known Genevieve for many years. The two of you grew up together did you not?"

"Yes Sire." He walked over to the bed, his master motioned to him to sit down. Jinx sat down on the edge of his master's bed. "My family has been servants to the Royal Family for generations. I am the only one left, or at least I was before we had to leave."

Malachais sat up; he folded his legs under him. "Answer me a question then."

"Of course My Lord."

His master licked his lips and pressed them together. "Why is it that her mother lived in France but her father was in Grenich? Why were they not raising her together?"

Jinx folded his hands on his lap. "That is an interesting story; Anoria was the name of Genevieve's mother. She and Phineas were married when they were very young; it took them many years to bring an heir into this world. From the moment Genevieve was born, Anoria and Phineas had different ideas as to how their daughter should be raised. Phineas wished her to be raised as every Princess should be with etiquette, manners and very little to say."

Malachais nodded. "And Anoria didn't want that?"

"No, Anoria wanted her daughter to have those things as well with the exception of the little to say part. She wanted her daughter to use her mind, not her beauty and to have a say in her life. She wanted Genevieve to speak freely and never be afraid of the consequences that may arise from doing so. When the two parents could not agree, Anoria took her daughter to France and raised her there."

"How old was she when this happened?"

"Genevieve was 5. Her mother would send her back here a few times a year to visit her father but she never stayed, until now."

Malachais cleared his throat. "Genevieve has never been silent; I myself have seen her speak her mind to her father."

Jinx laughed, his master was right, the Princess had on several occasions let her opinion be known. "Much to his displeasure I imagine." The squire got up. "I must get back to my work Sire."

Malachais nodded and his servant left the room.

Genevieve and Malachais had taken their lunch in their bed chambers. The meal consisted of roasted fowl with wild mushrooms. The mid afternoon sun was high in the sky and Jinx informed them both that dinner was going to be in a few hours; he was off to go hunting. Genevieve had finished with her book; she set it down on her bed and got up. She had been thinking about what had happened at breakfast. Despite what Jinx had told, she knew that Malachais' display of temper had been her fault. She wished very much to speak to her friend.

Malachais had fallen asleep; he had changed out of his dark green velvet shirt and had slipped into a loose fitting white linen shirt. He was on his side, his back to the door. Genevieve knocked on the door, she heard no reply. She opened the door and saw his white back; she walked quietly into the room.

The young woman reached out and put her hand on his right shoulder. "Malachais?"

The knight rolled over fast and grabbed her wrist. This caused Genevieve to gasp. "It is I." She saw he had his dagger in his hand. Malachais saw who it was and released her wrist.

"It is unwise to sneak up on a sleeping knight Lady."

Genevieve swallowed hard, she nodded slowly. "Forgive me for disturbing you, I only wished to talk to you."

Malachais sat up and tucked his dagger back into his waistband. "You wish to talk, about what?" He was eyeing her suspiciously. The young woman was rubbing her wrist a little, he had surprised her. The way he was gazing at her caused her to fumble for words.

"I just wanted you to know that I know you didn't steal my father's gold." She cleared her throat. "That is all I wanted to tell you."

She turned and started to leave, she had said her peace. She was silently kicking herself for not having the courage to tell him what else was on her mind.

Malachais was sitting on his bed, he could not believe what she had said, finally someone other than Jinx believed in his innocence.

"Genevieve?"

The Princess stopped and turned back around. "Yes?"

Malachais lowered his head briefly, he looked at her. "You have my thanks Lady, your trust in me means a great deal."

Genevieve walked back over to the bed and sat down on the edge of it, her courage was high. "That is not all I wanted to say." She reached out and gently touched one of his hands. "What my father did to you was wrong. He should have trusted your word over those of strangers." Her fingers curled around his hand. "I do not blame you for being angry; I would be as well if my most trusted friend had done that to me."

Malachais closed his eyes briefly and gently squeezed her hand. "You speak the truth Lady."

He gently put his hand to his chest and felt the little leather bag, he took it out of his shirt and showed it to her.

Genevieve saw the little bag, she creased her brow. "What is that?"

Malachais untied the bag and opened it; the Princess saw her white handkerchief. She smiled a little and felt her face flush. "You kept that?"

The blond man nodded. "Yes, I keep it with me."

Genevieve looked at her friend, the anger and hurt that was so clear in his eyes was gone, something else was in its place. The young woman could feel her heart start to beat hard; she was still grasping his hand. Malachais let go of her hand and placed them both gently to her face. "Your promise has been close to my heart since the day I last saw you."

Genevieve nodded her head slowly; she was lost in his dark eyes. "As is yours Malachais."

They both closed their eyes and gently pressed their lips together briefly. They both looked at each other and kissed once more, a deeper kiss. Malachais' hands went from her face to her neck; he pulled her closer to him. Genevieve's hands went around his neck, her fingers in his blond hair.

They kiss ended and Genevieve slowly got up from the bed, her knees were shaking. "I must go back to my chamber now."

Malachais was also feeling the effects of that kiss, his heart was racing. He wiped his hand down his mouth and cleared his throat. "I will see you at dinner Lady."

Genevieve could tell her face was red, she started to leave the room, before she made it to the door she looked back at him. "Malachais?"

"You have my attention Lady."

The Princess lifted her head high. "My father has pledged my hand to another because of what he did to you but he has no power over me. The decision as to whom I marry is mine and mine alone." The young woman looked at the former knight seriously. "I gave my word to God, my father and you that one day I would be your wife, I intend to honor that promise."

The knight had searched the kingdom, which consisted of the village and the forest. The Princess was nowhere to be found but it was now obvious where she was. Sir Miles walked into the throne room; he was in a dark brown tunic and matching pants. He bowed deeply. "Sire?"

Phineas had his head in his hands, he raised it. His eyes were pleading with knight for good news. Miles looked away; he had none to give to his King. "What have you come to tell me Miles?"

The knight cleared his throat.  "I believe she is with Malachais Sire, I would stake my life on it."

Phineas shook his head. "But how? How could he possibly have come into this castle and simply take her?"

Miles was frowning, how dare the former knight take his betrothed. "Malachais has always been clever Sire; you know this better than anyone."

The King nodded his head, Miles was right. He slowly stood back up. "Assemble the knights; we must make plans to get my daughter back." Phineas was scowling. "And this time, I want Malachais' head."

Genevieve sat straight up in her bed, she was breathing hard. She looked around her bed chamber, the soft glow of a single candle casting grim shadows on the wall. The young woman was shaking, she flung back her covers and went over to her dressing table and picked the candle up. She opened her bed chamber door and walked out of it.

The young woman opened the door to Malachais' bed chamber, the room was also dimly lit but even in the candlelight she could see a form in the bed. She walked over to the bed and saw that he was on his back, the soft light from her candle made his bare chest appear to glow. The Princess leaned over close to his face.

"Malachais."

Genevieve had only said his name once but that was enough, the former knight sat straight up, he turned and saw her standing there.

"Genevieve?"

"Yes, it is I."

He flung back the covers and got up from his bed; he went over to the wall and picked up a torch. He reached out and took her candle from her and lit the torch. The dimly lit room suddenly brightened as the torch caught fire. Malachais blew out her candle; he put the torch back up on the wall. The young woman was in a white night gown. He could see how frightened and shaken up she was.

"What troubles you Lady?"

Malachais opened his wardrobe and took a dark linen shirt out of it; he slipped it over his head. Genevieve sat down on his bed. "I dreamed of my father, he and the knights will be coming soon."

"I know." He walked back over his bed and sat down beside her. Genevieve turned towards him, folding her legs under her. "He will take me away and force me to marry Sir Miles despite how much I do not wish to."

Malachais nodded. "He will not listen to you; he will do what he wishes not what you wish."

"Yes, that is the truth." She looked down at the bed briefly, then slowly lifted her eyes to meet his. "That is why I have decided something."

"What?"

Genevieve reached out and touched his hand. "Let us be wed, now, this night before my father and his knights come."

Malachais' dark eyes widened, he could tell she was speaking the truth. "Surely not now Lady, we have had no time for proper courtship."

"I do not care for proper courtship." She let go of his hand and gently touched it to his cheek. "All I do care about is you. I do not wish to marry Miles, I…" She stopped talking and looked away from him for a moment.

Malachais touched his fingers to her chin and turned her face back towards him. "You do not love him Lady?"

"No, I do not." She swallowed hard. "I gave my heart to you Malachais."

The blond man smiled. "And you have mine as well." He leaned forward and kissed her gently, touching his forehead to hers. "Let us do it then, before your father comes. Return to your chamber and get dressed, I shall awaken Jinx."

The room of Jasper Jinx was down at the other end of the hall, just off of the kitchen. Malachais was only halfway down it but he could hear the sound of loud snoring. He shook his head as he opened the dark wooden door. He was carrying a torch and touched it to the one on the wall, causing the little room to light up. Malachais put his torch in the other side of the door and looked at his servant. The squire was in a small bed, he was sprawled out across it. He was on his back, his brown velvet shirt and pants were rumpled. The stout man was snoring loudly; it made Malachais wrinkle his nose at how loud it was.  He walked over to the bed and put his hand on his squire's shoulder and shook it. "Jinx?"

The squire groaned softly, his bear-like snoring only stopping temporarily. Malachais sighed and shook him harder. "Jasper Jinx!"

The stout man opened his eyes and saw who was standing over him. "Master?"

"Yes, arise Jinx I need your help."

This got the servant's attention; he rolled onto his side and sat up. "You need my help Sire?"

Malachais nodded. "Yes I do."

"You have but to ask Sire."

The blond man cleared his throat. "Genevieve and I wish to marry this night, but we are in need of someone to do it, do you know of anyone?"

Jinx thought about it for a moment. "There is Elgin; his cottage is not too far from here."

Malachais creased his brow. "Elgin? That name is not known to me."

"Elgin was a sorcerer; he served under Phineas' father in his youth. When Phineas took the throne Elgin decided he was not needed anymore. He serves no one but there are few that do not know his name."

Malachais sighed. "He will have to do." He shook his head, this was not how he imagined marrying Genevieve but they had little choice.

Jinx was his master's face. "This is all in haste Sire but do not look downfallen, she will still be your bride no matter how it is done."

"I know but I do not even have a ring to give her."

Jinx smiled widely. "We shall see." He got off of his little bed and over to his wardrobe. He opened the cabinet and bent down, he was rummaging around for something in it. He pulled out a small wooden box and showed it to his master. "This belonged to my father." He walked back over to his bed and sat down on it. He opened the little box and took two gold rings out of it. He showed them to Malachais.

"Take these."

Malachais put his hands out and shook his head. "No Jinx, they belong to your family. I cannot take them from you."

Jinx was looking at his master seriously. "My father would understand and he would approve. He fashioned them himself from two gold coins. He always said they had brought him and my mother a lot of luck." He stretched out his hand to his master. "All that is happening now Master, you will be needing the luck these rings carry. Please take them, it would honor my family."

Malachais took the two rings from his servant and looked at them. They were two simple gold bands; he closed his hand around them. "You would do this for me; after all I have done to you."

The blond man hung his head, he suddenly felt very ashamed for how he had been treating his squire since his banishment. He slowly sunk down to his knees. "Forgive me Jasper; I have been terrible to you since we left Grenich."

Jinx stood up. "Master, get up, you will dirty your wedding clothes." He put his hand on his master's shoulder. "Sire you have been suffering since your banishment. You have had much anger and pain in you since that day. I knew that you did not mean to be that way to me, I have never taken any of it to heart." He patted his shoulder. "You have always been very good to me Sire. When we were in Grenich I was the envy of all the other squires. The others were often beaten and punished for their lapses in duty but you never raised your hand to me no matter how much I would foul up; I never forgot that. How can I not forgive you Sire when you forgave me countless times?"

Malachais slowly lifted his head and looked at his servant.

The stout man smiled. "You have always been my friend Malachais, and friends are allowed to treat each other cruelly once in a while."

The former knight smiled. "I will never treat you cruelly again Jinx, you have my word."

Jinx put his other hand on his master's shoulder and stood him up. "Give me a few moments to change Sire, then we will go see Elgin."

The three people on two white horses left the castle and rode off into the night. Genevieve was in a white silk dress, her red hair hung loosely to the small of her back. She was sitting side saddle behind Malachais, her arms around his waist. Malachais had put on his black velvet pants and a light blue velvet shirt, he was following his squire. Jinx led his master down a path that cut through the Green Echoberry Woods. The forest was dark and dense. There were the sounds of many animals about; this made Genevieve only hold Malachais tighter.

Malachais reached down and touched the hands that were around him. "Fear not Lady, no harm will come to you."

They rode for what seemed like forever, cutting through the damp dark woods until finally Jinx pulled on his reigns, stopping his horse. Malachais also stopped his horse. "Are we there?"

"Yes Sire, look." Jinx pointed up ahead; in the bright moonlight a small white cottage with a thatch roof and vine covered chimney came into view.  "That is Elgin's cottage."  He got down from his horse and tied it to a nearby tree.

Malachais climbed down his horse and touched Genevieve around the waist. He lifted her and set her down on the ground.  "He will take gold for his services?"

"As far as I know Sire." Jinx took the reigns and tied his master's horse beside his own. "Come, let us go."

Genevieve took Malachais' hand as the threesome walked up the stone path that led to the door of the small cottage. Jinx made it to the door first and started knocking on it.

"He will no doubt be in a foul mood." Malachais was standing beside his servant.

Jinx knocked harder again, then looked at his master. "I have grown accustomed to foul moods." He gave his master a wide grin.

Malachais could feel his face grown warm; he shook his head at his servant. Jinx always was a terrible tease. "Yes you have."

The windows of the tiny cottage lit up and the door opened a crack. "Who goes there?"

"Jasper Jinx, we seek the services of Elgin the Sorcerer."

The door opened wider and an older man with long silver hair stuck his head out. "Do you not know how late the hour is? Do you not see that it is nighttime? My door is closed."

Malachais took a large bag off of his belt and shook it at the older man. "I know the hour is late but I will pay handsomely for your help Elgin."

The sorcerer sighed and stepped back. "Enter my house."

Malachais, Genevieve and Jinx all stepped inside the house. The cottage had a dirt floor; there was a set of carved wooden furniture in front of a fire. There was a large dining table with 4 chairs. There were other rooms to the little cottage but what was in them was unknown to the three people. Elgin the Sorcerer was tall and very thin, he looked as though a strong wind could break him in two. He had on a wine colored robe. "Now, what can I do for you Malachais?"

The blond man looked surprised. "You know who I am?"

"Of course, your feud with King Phineas is known to everyone."

"Then you know who this is." Malachais tugged on Genevieve's hand and the Princess stood before the older man. He widened his eyes and bowed deeply. "My Lady."

Genevieve smiled. "It is an honor to meet you Elgin. I have heard of the great Sorcerer many times."

"You have my thanks for your kind words, how may I be of service to you both?"

The Princess squeezed Malachais' hand. "We wish to be wed Elgin, can you help us?"

The older man gave her a nod. "It'd be my honor Lady." He looked around the room. "Come, stand over by the fireplace."

Malachais and Genevieve walked over and stood where they were told. Elgin stood between the couple and the fireplace. "Turn and face one another." He raised his hands over them and began to speak in Latin. After several moments he looked at Malachais. "Do you have a token of your love for this young woman?"

Malachais took the leather bag out of his shirt and opened it. He shook the little big and two gold rings fell out of it onto the palm of his hand.

"Show them to me Malachais."

The blond man moved his hand close to the sorcerer. The older man brought his hands down and held them both over the rings. He closed his eyes and spoke more in Latin. The rings began to glow like they were being consumed by fire. Genevieve gasped, the rings glowed until the light became blinding, she shielded her eyes from it. Malachais too was amazed by what he was seeing. "Why do they glow?"

Elgin opened his eyes. "Because your love is true and pure, the rings tell me that you both speak the truth about your desire to be wed." He clapped his hands and the glow was gone. "Now, take her ring and put it on her finger."

Malachais picked up both rings; he curled his own in his hand as he gently lifted her left hand and slipped the ring on her finger.

"Now you Genevieve, give him his ring."

Malachais opened his palm and the Princess picked up the ring and took his hand in hers. She slipped the ring down his finger. She lifted her eyes and looked at him, they both smiled at each other.

Elgin turned to the Princess. "Lady do you vow to be his wife?"

Genevieve smiled. "I do."

The older man turned to Malachais. "Malachais, do you vow to be her husband?"

Malachais lifted his head proudly. "I do."

Elgin was smiling. "Excellent." He turned to Malachais. "You may now seal your vows with a kiss."

The couple took each other hands and leaned forward, closing their eyes and pressing their lips together.

Malachais had his bag of gold on his belt, when their lips parted he took it from his belt and handed it to the sorcerer. "You have my thanks; take this as a token of our appreciation."

The sorcerer took the bag and opened it; he took out one gold coin and handed the bag back to the groom. "This is all I will take from you Malachais. I wish you both much happiness."

Genevieve let go of her husband's hands, she turned and hugged the sorcerer. "I will never forget what you have done."

Elgin hugged the young woman. "Think on it no more Lady." He pulled back from her and looked at the three people in his house. "Now, off with you, return to your castle." He closed his eyes and raised his hands. Malachais, Genevieve, and Jinx vanished from his cottage.

The couple was suddenly back in Malachais' bed chamber, they looked around amazed.

"How did we get back here?"

"Elgin must have used his magic." Malachais sat down on his bed and pulled his boots off, he set them down beside his bed.  Genevieve was watching him, she swallowed hard. Malachais got up and stood before her, he lifted her chin. He could see the fear and uncertainty in her lovely face. "I will not make you do anything you do not wish to Lady."

Genevieve nodded. "I know you would not." She put her hands on his shoulders and moved them a little down his chest. "I wish to truly be your wife this night."

Malachais smiled and kissed her gently. "And so you shall be." He reached down and took her hand; he climbed up on his bed. He was on his knees as he tugged at her hand. 

Genevieve took off her shoes; she picked up her skirt a little and joined him on the bed. The couple put their arms around each other and hugged briefly. Their lips met in a deep kiss as Malachais gently pressed his weight against his wife, leaning her back against the bed.

The bright light of mid morning was streaming through the windows of the bed chamber. Malachais was lying on his back, a small smile of contentment on his face. Genevieve was in her nightgown lying with her head on her husband's bare chest. She had her arm across his waist. Malachais had one hand in her fiery hair; the other was across her shoulders. The couple looked very comfortable and happy.

The door to their bed chamber burst open and Phineas and a dozen of his knights stormed into the room. They had Jinx with them; they had a good hold of him.

The couple was started awake; Phineas saw his daughter and his eyes widened.

"Get her!"

Miles and another knight grabbed her off of the bed by her arms and pulled her. "Malachais!"

Malachais sat up, he did not like the idea the knights had taken his wife. "Let go of her!"

Phineas drew his sword and stuck it against Malachais' neck. "You dare lay your hands on my daughter!" His eyes were fixed on Malachais. "Seize him!"

Two big knights grabbed him by his arms and pulled him off the bed. They forced the blond man to his knees.

Genevieve was in the arms of Sir Miles, she was struggling greatly against his grip. "No Father! Leave him alone!"

Phineas had his sword in his hand, he drew his arm back. Genevieve was shaking her head, she could see that her father was about to plant his sword in her husband's chest. She swallowed hard. "Father, please, do not harm him!"

The King was not listening to his child, all his attention was focused on his enemy.

The Princess could see he was not hearing her. She was breathing hard, she had to stop him. "He is my husband!"

Phineas heard her that time; he lowered his sword and turned to face his daughter. "Husband? You lie!"

"I do not lie!" She extended her left hand and showed him her ring. "We are man and wife. The ceremony was performed by Elgin the Sorcerer yesternight."

The King turned back around and looked at Malachais. He looked at his left hand and also saw a ring. "She is telling you the truth Phineas."

Phineas' face turned absolutely red with anger, he marched over to his daughter. "You would do this to me? You would marry my enemy to spite me?"

Genevieve shook her head. "No Father, I married him because I love him!"

Sir Miles was also surprised; his face too was red with anger and humiliation. The Princess was supposed to be his wife. He gripped the young woman by her upper arms. "You were betrothed to me!"

Malachais struggled against the two men that were holding him. "Release her Miles! She is my wife!"

Phineas shook his head, he refused to believe it. "She is not Malachais! She is lying so I will not take your life!"

Genevieve turned and looked at her father. "I am telling you the truth Father."

Phineas put his sword back into his sheath. "We shall see." He looked at the crowd of men. "Fetch me Mirra."

Two knights bowed to him and went to fetch the Lady-in-waiting. They returned with the dark haired woman, she was in a dark blue dress. She saw the Princess and smiled. "Genevieve!"

"Release her Miles."

The knight reluctantly did as his King instructed. He let go of her and the two women hugged. "I am unharmed Mirra."

Phineas was glaring at his daughter. "Mirra, my daughter claims that she and Malachais are now man and wife." He motioned to the bed. "Go to the bed and tell me if there is proof of her claim."

Mirra could see the extreme anger in her King's eyes, she curtsied. "Yes My Lord." She walked over to the bed and started fixing the sheets. She pulled back on them and saw something; she turned and looked at the King. "Yes my Lord, she speaks the truth."

Phineas shook his head. "I do not believe you!" He stormed over to the bed and looked at where the Lady-in-waiting was standing; he leaned over and saw the same thing she did. He closed his eyes briefly and turned away from it. "The Princess speaks the truth, she is his wife." He walked over to his daughter, his eyes sad. "You have broken my heart by marrying this thief."

Genevieve shook her head. "Father, he is innocent, he did not steal the gold from you."

Phineas looked at the two knights that held his son-in-law captive. "Release him."

The two knights got Malachais to his feet and let go of his arms.

Sir Miles was furious; he grabbed Genevieve by her wrist and spun her around to face him. "Wanton wench! You did this to dishonor me!" He shook her hard.

"Release her Miles; she is no longer your concern!" Malachais walked over to him. "If you disagree with our marriage speak to me about it, not my wife."

Miles let go of Genevieve and pushed her into the arms of her father.

Phineas held his daughter and backed away, it was obvious what was about to happen. 

Miles drew his sword and walked around the blond man. "So, I should speak to you? Is that what you have said?"

Malachais turned and watched the man circle him. "Have you not ears?"

The strawberry blond haired knight smiled wickedly. "Get a blade; let us see if you truly mean the words you have spoken."

Malachais looked around the room; no one was offering him their sword.

Genevieve saw this, he needed a weapon. She looked down and saw her father's hanging from his belt. She pulled it from its sheath. "Malachais."

He turned around and she tossed it to him, he caught it in his right hand and held it out in front of him. "As you wish."

Everyone moved far back, the two men looked rather strange. Sir Miles was in his full armor; his long sword was ready to go. Malachais was without a shirt or shoes; he only had on pair of baggy white linen pants.

The two men stared each other down and began their fight. The loud clanging of two swords clashing against each other echoed throughout the room. The two men were swinging their swords narrowly avoiding each other's heads. The two swords slammed against each other, the two men were pressing against their blades with all their strength. The swords scraped along each other, bringing the two men almost nose to nose.

"Phineas should not have shown your mercy! I wanted so badly for him to cut off your head!" He was turning red. "Genevieve belonged to me."

Malachais shoved the knight back hard. The fight stopped temporarily, he was glaring at the knight. "It was you! You were the one that took the gold and put it in my bed chamber!"

Genevieve was watching the fight; Mirra took a dark cloak out of Malachais' wardrobe and put it around her Lady.

Sir Miles sneered at Malachais. "Yes it was I, I took the gold. I wanted you to die so I could have Genevieve for myself. You were supposed to die, but Phineas showed your mercy. Be assured that I will not!"

The two men started fighting again; Miles was throwing everything he had into his sword as he swung it at Malachais. The blond man was defending himself very well; he lifted his sword and blocked a strong blow that was coming at him from above. The tip of the blade barely missing his face, he turned and swung his sword at Miles' stomach. The knight moved back and blocked the blow, his sword clanging against Malachais'.

Miles stepped back and raised his sword high; he had both hands on it. Malachais gripped the handle of his sword with both hands and brought it up at the same time Miles brought his down. Malachais was swinging his much harder. When the two swords met the force of it knocked the sword out of Miles hand, he fell flat on his back. The blond man stood over the knight and touched his blade to the downed man's neck. He was breathing hard as he stared down at Miles.

"Tell them, tell them all the truth."

Miles was scowling, he felt the blade sink deeper into his skin and he swallowed hard. "All right." He turned his head and looked around at everyone. "Malachais did not steal the gold from the King's treasury, it was I. I planted the gold in his bed chamber so he would be disgraced and I would get the hand of the Princess."

The room broke out into murmurs and awed expressions; Genevieve exhaled loudly and covered her eyes briefly with her hands. She was relieved that now the truth had finally come out about her husband's innocence.

Phineas too was stunned; he turned his daughter to face him. He felt so ashamed for all the terrible things he had said to her. "Genevieve…" He lowered his head. "Forgive me Daughter."

Genevieve was looking into her father's face, she shook her head slowly. "Father, there is nothing to forgive, you simply did not know the truth."

The father and the daughter hugged each other.

Malachais saw this and he smiled, he took the blade away from Miles' neck. Phineas looked over his shoulder at his knights. "Seize the traitor."

A group of knights surrounded Miles and hauled him to his feet. Phineas let go of his daughter and walked over to where Malachais stood. The two men were face to face, Malachais handed the King back his sword.

Phineas put it back in his sheath.

"Malachais…"

He did not know what to say, he simply hung his head, he could not even look his old friend in the eyes. "I should have listened to you in the first place but I did not. My anger got the better of my judgment and I did something unforgivable to you. I banished you from my kingdom and my heart. I was wrong, you were innocent. Please, find it in your heart to forgive a foolish old man." He lifted his head and looked at the man he had banished.

Malachais shook his head. "I too did wrong Sire, I stole your treasures and worse, I stole your daughter away from you. I did these things to punish you for the hurt I was feeling. But I swear to you, I love her, our marriage is one of love not of revenge." He knelt down before his King and lowered his head.

Phineas sighed and looked down at the kneeling man. "Our forgiveness is mutual then?" He reached down and put his hand on his son-in-law's head. "I missed you my dear friend, arise."

Malachais lifted his head and saw the smiling face of his King and friend. "Yes Your Majesty it is." He slowly stood up.

Genevieve was smiling, she was standing with Mirra. She went over to her husband and hugged him. Phineas could see how his daughter felt about Malachais; he put his hands on both of their shoulders. "Will you return to Grenich?"

The couple looked at each other. "Shall we do as my father has asked of us?"

Malachais shrugged his shoulders. "I suppose, he is the King after all, it is difficult to refuse him."

Phineas laughed and patted both of their shoulders. "Very well, we will take your things back with us." He walked over to where the knights had Jinx and Sir Miles.

"Release the squire."

Jinx was still in the clothes he had worn for the wedding, deep red velvet pants and a shirt. He was freed and he rubbed his arms as he looked at the knights. "You all perhaps need lessons in etiquette and manners. You come into another man's home with not even one custard tart!"

Phineas walked up to the strawberry blond man with the blue eyes. "Your treachery almost cost me my daughter as well as a good friend, now you are the one that is banished from my kingdom."

Miles struggled a little against the hold the knights had on him, Phineas turned his back to him and went back over to be with his daughter and her husband.

"You said Elgin performed the ceremony? I am surprised he lives still."

Miles finally broke free from the knights; he drew his dagger and headed for the group of people. He was looking straight at Malachais; he raised the dagger high as he got closer to him.

Jinx was standing beside his master, his back was turned. He heard something and looked at the charging knight.

"Malachais!"

Miles was right on top of him, he brought the dagger down. The blond man turned and saw the dagger coming at him.

Jinx stepped in front of him, the dagger piercing his chest, the blade penetrating his heart. He started to sink and Malachais grabbed him and lowered him to the ground. His red velvet shirt was darkening as the warm blood poured out of the hole in his chest.

Miles' eyes were wide, he had hit the wrong man, he dropped his dagger and was quickly taken prisoner once more by the knights.

Jinx was lying on the floor, his face was chalk white. Genevieve had taken off her cloak and was pressing it to his chest. There were tears streaming down her face. "You're going to be all right Jinx."

The squire shook his head at her; a thin trail of blood was running out of his mouth. "Lying does not become you Lady."

Malachais also had his hand on the cloak. "Don't talk like that, you will be fine." He swallowed hard; his friend had taken the blade for him. He shook his head at him. "Why, why did you do it Jinx?"

Jinx smiled at his master. "I could not let your happiness end now that you finally have it Sire. You have your Lady now and your knighthood is restored. I did what every good servant is supposed to do, look out for his master."

He was starting to breathe strangely; Genevieve and Malachais looked at each other. They knew the end for their friend was drawing near.

Malachais closed his eyes briefly. "Just hang on Jinx, we will tend to your wound and you will heal."

The squire sighed. "Sire, you and I both know there will be no healing, not from this." His gaze locked on the Princess, he gave her a weak smile. "Such a beautiful Lady you are Genevieve, do something for me?"

Genevieve wiped her face. "You have but to ask Jinx."

He reached out and touched her face. "Take care of Malachais for me; watch out for him like I have always done."

The Princess nodded, she picked up his hand from her face and kissed it gently. "I vow it old friend, I give you my word."

Jinx once more looked at his master; the blond man's eyes were shiny. "Do not look sad Sire; you would have done the same for me."

Malachais nodded. "On my honor, I swear to you I would have."

"You are a good knight Sire and one day you will make a fine King." Jinx closed his eyes briefly; he too knew his time was coming. His hazel eyes opened and he looked at both of his friends, his chest hitched a few times. He grew still and the couple heard the air escaping out of his mouth. The stout man was gone. Malachais closed his eyes and lowered his head; he put it against his friend's shoulder.

Phineas shook his head; he reached out and touched Malachais on the shoulder. "I grieve with you Malachais."

Genevieve was crying hard, she gently closed her friend's eyes. "Farewell Jinx." She put her arm across the waist of her husband. Malachais finally lifted his head; there were wet marks down his cheeks. He folded his friend's hands on his chest.

"He did it for me; he took Miles' dagger for me."

Phineas patted his friend's shoulder. "He did a noble thing for his master; it will not be soon forgotten."

Malachais slowly got to his feet; he reached down and offered his hand to his wife. The Princess took it and he pulled her to her feet. They were both looking down at the body of their friend. "Sire, I have a favor to ask."

The King stood up. "Name it."

Malachais turned towards him. "I ask that Jinx be buried in the knights' cemetery. He served me well for many years, it is the least I can do to honor him."

Phineas gave his friend a nod. "It shall be done."

The sky was overcast and gloomy. Everyone was gathered in the knights' cemetery. It was a special field that was out past the castle's gardens. It was a special burying place for only the most loyal and true knights that had given their lives for their King. It seemed only fitting Jinx be laid to rest there, he had given his life for his master.

Every knight that served under Phineas was there in full armor. Phineas was dressed in black; even his cape was black with a white rabbit fur trim. He had his hands folded in front of him. Genevieve was in a black silk dress, a veil over her head. In her hands she held a small bouquet of flowers. She was standing beside her husband, he too was in his full armor, his helmet was in his hands. The couple was standing over a freshly filled grave. There was a small wooden cross with the name JASPER JINX carved into it. Malachais handed his wife his helmet. She exchanged it for his dagger. He crouched down and gently placed the dagger under the cross.

"For target practice."

He whispered as he gently patted the dirt. He stood up and stepped back, taking his helmet back from his wife. Genevieve crouched down and gently laid the little bouquet of flowers on top of the dirt mound. "We will never forget you Jinx."

Malachais and Genevieve had finished, they turned around and started walking away from the grave. The knight took off his metal glove and gently took her hand in his. Genevieve looked over at him and squeezed his hand. They smiled at each other as they walked together, hand in hand.

The thick dark red heavy drapes slowly lowered…

The lights came on and the applause started, the players went behind the stage. The first thing MacGyver did was tug at his armor.

"Okay someone get the can opener! Get me out of this tuna can!"

Gillian removed the black veil from her head. She laughed as she stood behind her husband and started unbuckling the straps to his chest plate. The heavy metal armor breastplate was split into two pieces, a front and a back. They were held together by straps with metal clips that tightened them. Gillian started opening the metal buckles so she could free her husband. "Hold still or else I'll never get these buckles open!"

Mac stopped struggling and stood very still. Gillian pulled the straps open, she walked around him and lifted the front of the breastplate over his head, the back came off with it. Next came the armor plates on his arms. He started unbuckling them and taking them off.

"I feel like a crab stripping out his shell."

Gillian crouched down as carefully as she could in her dress and unbuckled his leg plates, she took them off. "That's what I feel like I'm doing, peeling a boiled egg."

"You got that right, this stuff is hot."

Mac lifted his finally freed legs and pulled off his metal boots, his socks came off with it. At long last he was metal free. "I feel like I've lost about 20 pounds from sweating alone." He had a metal mesh suit under it and he started unzipping it.

"Hey watch it there, we aren't alone remember?" She set his leg pieces down on the hardwood floor and straightened up.

"I don't care if this whole production sees me naked I have got to get out of this thing."

MacGyver unzipped it and shrugged out of it, he had on a pair of black shorts on underneath and that was all. He breathed a huge sigh of relief as he picked the suit off of the floor and draped it over a nearby chair. "Wow that's better."

Gillian shook her head. "Hey I'd rather be wearing metal then this black silk dress, it is hot and uncomfortable."

"Hey you two!" Jack came out from the back; he was still in his red velvet shirt that was stained with fake blood. He had two towels in his hands and handed one to each of the couple.

Gillian smiled at him. "Jack you were fantastic!" She put her arms around him and hugged him.

"Thanks, so were you." He hugged the young woman and patted her on the back.

Mac was wiping his face with the towel. "She's right Jack, you stole the show."

The stout man grinned. "No I don't think so, I think if anyone deserves the bows it's you Mac. You were great! And so mean!" He shook his head at his friend. "You were kicking my butt pretty good."

"Maybe."  MacGyver smiled. "It was a lot of fun to be bad."

Jack elbowed him lightly. "Admit it; you enjoyed beating me up."

The threesome walked around the back of the stage to the wardrobe. MacGyver found his clothes and slipped on a white t-shirt and a pair of flip flops for his bare feet. "Well, maybe a little."

Jack looked at him sideways. "Yeah right a little. I got to be your footstool, don't tell me you didn't have fun with that."

MacGyver said nothing, he simply grinned. "I have no comment."

"There you three are!" Pete walked up to them, he was still in his royal robes, however he had taken off his goatee. "Come on, it's time for our curtain call!"

Mac grinned at his friend. "As you wish Your Majesty."

Pete looked at his friend sideways. "Come on Sir Ham-a-lot; let's go take the bows we so richly deserve."

The foursome walked through the curtain in the back, everyone else was lined up.

"Come on you guys what are you waiting for an engraved invitation?" Min smiled at her three friends. "Get your tails over here!"

"Okay okay we're coming!"

Gillian, MacGyver and Jack stood between Min, Johnny and Mark. Everyone was lined up in a row, the red drapes slowly rose and as soon as the audience saw the actors, the applause and cheering got louder. Gillian stepped forward, as Stage Manager it was her duty to make introductions. "Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen, let us meet the players."

She turned and started with the end of the line. "Roy DeSoto as Rivalin."

Roy was still in his armor; he took a step forward and raised his hand. The audience applauded for him and he stepped back into the line.

"Next to him we have Mark Holt as Miles."

The strawberry blond haired man stepped forward; he smiled at the audience and stepped back.

"Next to him we have Johnny Gage as Jorin."

Johnny smiled widely and took his step forward; he bowed his head a little and stepped back.

Gillian grinned. "Beside him is his lovely wife Min, who played Lady-in-waiting Mirra."

Min could feel her face blush a little as she stepped forward; she grinned and waved a little as she stood beside her husband. She reached down and took his hand.

"Beside him we have the show stealer Mr. Jack Dalton as Jasper Jinx."

Jack stepped forward and the audience clapped even louder, he waved his hand at the audience and gave his most charming grin as he once more took his place.

"Next we have the de-armored Sir Malachais."

MacGyver had his hands behind his back, he stepped forward. The audience clapped for him, he waved and bowed his head a little. He could feel his face grow warm at the attention, he stepped back into line.

Gillian smiled. "Next is myself as Princess Genevieve and I thank you all for your applause."

The audience showed their appreciation for her performance.

"And at last but certainly not least, we have our Monarch, King Phineas played by Pete Thornton."

She stepped aside and Pete took his step forward, he raised his hand to the audience and stepped back.

Gillian faced the audience once more. "On behalf of the players and the Phoenix Foundation I wish to thank all of you for coming tonight. The ticket price you have paid will insure that many city children will have the opportunity we all had tonight to perform. Thank you all for coming, good night."

Gillian took her place in line; everyone joined hands and took one step forward. Everyone bowed at the same time. The people in the audience stood up and clapped for the players.  When the bow was over everyone hugged one another. The performance had been exhausting and difficult but at the same time it had been fun. Everyone had played their parts wonderfully, making the effort worth while. The play was a rousing success…