"So, if I'm so powerful then why would you kidnap me? Doesn't seem like a smart thing to do. Upsetting the Balance," Amalia pointed out.

"Any power that you could possibly obtain I am immune to, due to the fact that I am the benefactor of the power you are to receive," the man explained.

"So what do you want from me? And, why did you have to bring my friends here if it's me and my brother that you want?"

"I did not plan on bringing them. It was an inconvenience to say the least, but they were affected by my power surge and I couldn't leave them or they would die. And while the lives of two mortals matter little to me, your anger on the subject would hinder any progress in getting you to agree. Consider it a good will gesture."

"Not kidnapping any of us would have been a better idea. Asking would have been the ideal approach," Amalia argued.

"And you would have come with me if I had asked?" the man asked, amusement in his voice.

"If you would have told me what is going on I might have. I'm so tired of people keeping secrets from me when they are ABOUT me. I want answers."

"You know who I am, do you not?" the man asked, turning to Trent.

"I think I do," Trent answered, looking to be in awe.

"Who then?"

"If you are who I think you are then you have no name. You are the being that came before everything, creating all that humans know, including all Gods and immortals. And, being that you were the first, eventually you will be the last," Trent recited. "Is that right?"

"As far as you can understand, yes."

"So, you're like the king and all of the Gods are your nobles?" Amalia interjected.

"If you need an oversimplification, it is somewhat comparable to that situation."

"So, what are you doing messing with the lives of humans? Not even the lesser Gods do that, usually," Amalia pointed out.

"No, the other Gods shouldn't do that. Lately, they have been though. Things have steadily been worsening."

"Like what?" Amalia inquired.

"First the Goddess, with the Lady Knight. Then the Hag with Carthak. The immortals have returned to the human realm, where they no longer belong. All of the gods have become too 'uppity' for my liking. And, as a king would do if his nobles were rising against him, I am arranging the necessary tools to fight them if the time comes.

"You expect ME to fight the gods?"

"Well, actually both of you," He corrected Amalia.

"How am I supposed to do this?" she asked, incredulous.

"All in good time. See, with the God's interference the Balance has been shifting uncontrollably rather than remaining constant as it should."

"So, why shouldn't I take advantage of this supposed power and shift it to good?"

"And how do you propose that? Punish any land insubordinate to Tortall? In the minds of these 'insubordinates' wouldn't your shift push toward evil? Isn't most judgement on good and evil in the mind of the judge?"

Amalia thought this over. "I suppose you are right. So, how do I balance something that is relative such as good and evil?"

"You don't. I do."

"So, basically, you're interfering like the other Gods by using a human to do your work?"

"Yes, but I'm do it to help humans be free. By giving humans the power I have given you and your brother the other Gods will think twice before taking power that is not theirs."

"It seems a little hypocritical to me, but hey, whatever. You're the 'king'. So what do you want me to do?"

"First you and your brother shall be taught your powers. Then you will wait until I have need of you."

"And if we refuse?" Trent questioned quietly.

"Then all of you shall return back at the exact moment that I took you. You will remember everything and your punishment will be self inflicted when you see the human realm ripped apart by the gods pursuing their own interests, uninhibited by any power to stop them. For, I refuse to help a race that will not help themselves. I dislike direct interference more than indirect and refuse to do it."

"And how do we know we can trust you?" Trent inquired in the same, even, quiet tone.

"Ask Amalia. She knows I speak the truth."

After a moment of staring at the being, for there was no other name for the cloaked figure, she nodded in agreement. "I do believe he speaks the truth."

"Why?" Trent interrogated.

"I just know. But just because you're telling the truth doesn't mean I agree. I admit I don't have any plans for my life but becoming a God's play toy was never a consideration. Besides, I'm not even sure I do what you want of me. I'm no warrior. You should have gotten Alanna or Kel even."

"You are the only one, and if you try you most likely will succeed. Still, it remains your choice. I shall give you some time to consider it."

With that, He walked toward the wall he had come through.

Amalia stopped him saying, "Wait, you're going to live us like this?"

"Like what?"

"This," she repeated, gesturing to the uninhabitable conditions they resided in. "It's cold, wet and musty. Not to mention our friends still haven't woken."

Amalia watched His cloaked head glance around. "Forgive me, I forgot how weak mortals can be. I, myself, have not come in contact with them since their creation."

He waved his hand indifferently and the room was transformed. It was now well lit and decorated with beds and a fireplace. A table of food stood invitingly in the middle of the room. Kel and Neal had been moved to beds and were already looking better than they had seconds ago.

"Thank you," Amalia stated, though doubted it would matter little.

His cloaked head inclined slightly before he departed.

Amalia stared at the wall blankly for awhile before turning to Trent. "Now what?" she asked, sighing.

"I don't know what you have in mind but now I eat."

Amalia rolled her eyes. "Men," she muttered.

She walked over to Kel's bed, deciding to check on her friends. She nudged Kel slightly.

"Still out cold," she informed Trent.

She preformed the same action to Neal, receiving the same result.

"Same with Neal."

"Maybe He doesn't want them awake here," Trent pointed out, already eating a piece of bread. "Or maybe there is something special about us that we weren't affected the same as they."

"Maybe they're better off," Amalia stated.

"Probably," Trent agreed offering Amalia a piece of bread. "It's delicious."

"Gods, how can you only think about food at a time like this?" Amalia snapped.

"At a time when I'm hungry? Makes sense to me..."


"I'm sorry. I guess I've had more time to accept this since I've known about it for awhile. Let's decide what we're going to do. It's not really a hard choice for me. I'm already a warrior. All I'm learning is to fight better and probably to wield more adequate weapons."

"What exactly are you supposed to fight for if you agree to this?"

"You. You get your very only body guard."

"Don't I feel special," she stated sarcastically. "Well, it sounds like you already have your mind made up."

"It's easy for me," Trent pointed out. "I'm only necessary if you agree."

Amalia scowled. "Great, so the entire human realm's future depends on me. Just what I need"

"Look, it's your decision. You don't have to."

"But, I should. I just, am so confused right now. I don't understand what is going on. I've never really cared either. I was just content with my own small world of balls and the occasional tournament I got to watch if I sneaked by Father."

"Look, you were interested in what you are supposed to be interested in as a normal noble woman at the age of 14. Well, other than the tournaments."

"Exactly, a normal. I'm just a normal, average everyday noble. I've no right tampering in the God's fights."

"Look, I don't know why we were chosen. I can't even begin to imagine, in fact. But I do know that if we were chosen then we must have a fighting chance. And, I know you. I know how God's blessed stubborn and determined you can be. If you decide to do this, I have no doubt that you will succeed in whatever you chose to do. And I also know that you're a good person, no matter who is the judge. You're fair, caring and open minded. If you're not the perfect person for the job then I know no other."

"You really think I can do this?" Amalia inquired.

"I know you can."

"And you think I should?"

"I didn't say that. I just don't want you to think for a second that you can't. If you decide to accept or decline it won't be because you are scared of think yourself incapable."

"Do you think this is right?"

"What He said was true. How can one decide what is right? Isn't that as relative as good and evil?"

"Well, do you think it is right for me?"

"I can't decide that for you, either."

"Is it right for you?"

"I'm a knight. That's what I do and who I am. If someone is in trouble, I save them. If someone needs help, I help them. That is what I'll continue to do, until I eventually die. For me, this is the biggest fight I'll ever encounter. But, when I became a knight I made my peace and knew there was a large possibility that I wouldn't make it to be an old man with many grandchildren. You haven't made that decision for yourself, and now you'll have to."

"It's not a decision, is it? Of course I'd be willing to give up my life to save the human realm. That's not even a consideration."

"Then what's holding you back?" Trent asked, gently.

Amalia stared at the fire for a couple moments. "I suppose I am a bit scared, but you're right. This is what I was born to do and this is what I will do, no matter what."

"Good, I'm glad that's settled. Now, would you like some chicken?"

Amalia rolled her eyes and took the chicken. She swiftly hit Trent over the head with it laughing.

"That's what you get for acting so smart. I'll be glad when I have these powers because I can keep your arrogance to a minimum!"

Trent faked a shocked look. "I am appalled. I nicely sit here and give you guidance while your confused and you hit me over the head with poultry? Who's the one that needs their ego reduced?"

"Well, the only reason you were smarter than me is because you were already told about all of this. Come to think of it, I'm still upset at you about that. Why couldn't anyone tell me about what was happening?"

"Well, to be quite honest the prophecy wasn't very specific so no one really knew what was going on. And while Mother and Father are great parents, visionaries they are not. They would be quite content to have seen you married or at least betrothed by now to a wealthy noble. They don't need any heroes in their family, just sensible, well brought up children that would bring honor to the name."

"That's why? THAT'S WHY? I was shipped away from home, kept in the dark, scared out of my mind all because they wanted me to bring 'honor' to the family?"

Trent nodded. "That's the gist of it, sadly. I never said they were the most intelligent people. Don't be angry with them or me for that matter. They were doing what they thought was best of you. Jonathon agreed to let you come to the castle, because they all agreed you would be safer there. I wish I could see Jonathon's face when its found out we're all missing. It will be quite blow to HIS ego."

Amalia laughed. "Like I told you before, he isn't that bad."

"I'll take your word on that for I would like to stay far enough away from him to never find out for myself."

Amalia hit him. "As a knight you should have more respect for your king."

"No, allegiance he may expect from me. And support. Respect, however, is for one to give as he pleases."

"Come to think of it, Kel seemed to earn your respect last night. With all that happened, I forgot to tease you about it!"

"And you make fun of me for thinking about food. At least I NEED food to survive. Tell me, little sister, do you require gossip to sustain life?"

"Yes, now I want to hear what was going on. I don't think I've seen you willingly dance in....Well actually I've never seen you willingly dance come to think of it."

"She's a good kid. I felt bad for her more than anything. As for respect, if she did earn it, it was through her appreciation of silence."

"I saw both of you talking once Neal and I left the table."

"Yes, but only of you and Neal. She's quite taken with him, though I don't know why."

Amalia laughed. "Now you seem jealous!"

"You think that I am jealous of Neal?" Trent inquired. "I just don't understand what is so special that he has both you and Kel interested in him."

"I am not interested in Neal. In fact, all Neal and I talked about, after the entire Joren incident, is Kel. Much to his annoyance, I fear. I don't think my plan is going to work out as it should. Though, I've now recognized an alternative."

"No," Trent stated flatly.

"What?" she asked, innocently.

"You forget that I know all your tricks. And I beg of you, don't try and turn them on me or we might have our first REAL fight."

"I still don't know what you're talking about," Amalia insisted.

"Yes you do, and I'll thank you not to lie either. I'm afraid I know you too well."

"Fine, then. I shall try the forthright approach. Do you like her?"

"No. Pity does not equal any kind of romantic interest. First of all, she's too quiet for even me. Second of all, I'm not interested in someone that could be so silly over a boy, especially a boy that wasn't all too nice to her when she was trying to impress him. Third, while you did work your magic at the Ball, she is in general not my type. And, when she is a Lady Knight she will be no one's type most probably."

Amalia bestowed Trent with the iciest glare she could muster. "You, my dear brother, are the most conceited, horrible pig I have ever met. It seems to be a new development, and I hope you are cured of it soon if you expect us to be on speaking terms."

"Come on, now. I know she's a nice girl and that you are friends. She and I could even be friends if she would talk around me, but you must understand how things really are. I would even like to fight with her when she becomes a Lady Knight, which I've no doubt she will be, for I heard she is very promising and perhaps the most determined of the pages. This does not mean that I am at all interested in her."

"You are a jerk. Plain and simple. And I'm glad you don't like her because you don't deserve her. I don't understand how someone I thought I knew could be so closed minded and judgmental. You know what, I don't want you as a bodyguard. I'll just tell Him, whoever He is, that I shall only accept the job if you aren't involved."

Trent laughed. "Now, you're just being silly. Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to seem as snobbish as I did. I just wanted to make sure you wouldn't try any funny business. If I hadn't been harsh you wouldn't have believed me."

Amalia looked him over calculatingly. "So you take all that stuff about her being any mans type back, right? Because Lady Knights, despite your opinion, have little trouble in the romantic department as far as I have hard. Alanna, had not only the King of Thieves after her but King Jonathon himself. Not to mention the Shang Dragon..."

Trent raised his hands. "I take it back. But you know I am serious now about not setting us up, right?"

"Fine," Amalia grumbled. "It was just an idea. You didn't have to be so mean."

"I tried to tell you your games wouldn't work with me. I will always be smarter than you and remember, just because I know all of your tricks doesn't mean you know all of my tricks."

"So you were just saying all of that to make me angry?"

"I didn't say that..."

"You inferred it. Which means you could like her..."

"Gods sakes, I don't even know the poor girl. Though, I wish I could warn her from tangling herself in your plans. The poor girl doesn't have a chance. Neither does Neal. Mother and Father sent you to the Palace for safety, but thought nothing of the safety of those in the Palace already," Trent ranted, exasperated.

Amalia hit him. "I am not that bad!"

"I've reconsidered my position, thinking about all of this. I don't think you should accept any of the power. If you can cause this much frustration without any supernatural powers, God's help us when you have any real power!" Trent continued, trying to hold back a smile.

She hit him harder. "I am NOT that bad! I just know what's best for people."

"Rather fickle though, are you not? First, Neal was best for Kel and now I am."

"I'm not fickle. I'm allowed to change my mind."

"Listen to you, you can change your mind about Kel's future?"

"Well, she started to change her mind too, I'll bet. She didn't seem to mind being held so close on the dance floor. She might not know what the normal distance between a dancing pair is, but I do and that was closer then it had to be if you were just dancing out of pity." Amalia's eyes danced while she teased Trent.

"Enough of these lies. I think that I will get some sleep if there is nothing to do but listen to your made up stories," Trent decided.

Amalia laughed. "Fine you coward. Go ahead and retreat. I know when I have you beat."

"I shall let you will this battle, in my surrender, but you will not win the war," Trent stated, determined, before climbing into bed.

Amalia laughed before climbing into her own bed, and quickly falling asleep.