Fact or Fiction

I was out in the water for about half an hour until Ken found me and dragged me out. No, he didn't drag me out…he picked me up and carried me out, like how when the prince rescues the princess. There was a difference, though: I wasn't a princess, and if anyone said I was, then I didn't really want to be rescued. I just wanted to stay there crying.

Ken carried me to a near-by tree and put me down. It was still raining, but I didn't care. And neither did he, by the way he acted. He sat down with a huff, probably form carrying me. I didn't care; I just kept crying. Ken probably felt the need to comfort me, so he wrapped his arms around me and began stroking my hair and just kept shushing me, but in the nice way.

I'm still not sure what came over me. I don't know if it was me being thankful to have company or if all the tears just decided to restart or if I finally admitted to myself that I'm a girl and girls still have the right to cry, but I turned my body just enough so my face was buried in Ken's shoulder. His shirt soaked up most of the tears, but some of them fell off occasionally.

Ken didn't say anything, just sat there and held me and let me ruin his shirt with salt-water tears. Eventually, they finished, and then he started talking to me, whispering.

"What is going on, RiyLee?" Ok, did everyone remember my real name? I shook my head in response. "RiyLee, tell me." Again, I shook my head. "Why?"

I found my voice, though it came out in a broken whisper. "Because you won't believe me.

"Try me." Ken sounded like he was sincere and serious…and like he actually cared about me, something that hasn't happened in a really long time.

Again, I don't know what came over me. I just broke down and told Ken everything. From Darksol dragging me out of bed in the middle of the night outside in winter to me and Kane spending so much time together. I went from the very beginning all the way to why I was crying right now.

"…I mean, I guess I just never expected Kane to do that to me. That Kane would let Darksol win over him like that. And it really doesn't help that Kane and I are actual brother and sister and Darksol was just adopted. That just made me and Kane a little friendlier towards each other than to Darksol. But the adopted thing made Darksol hate us even more." I took a deep breath before speaking again. "And now you think that I'm some crazy nut-job with too many family problems and—"

"You're not s crazy nut-job." Ken cut me off. "Although, I admit you're dead-on about all the family problems." He added with a small laugh.

"It's not funny, Ken!"

He sighed. "So, let's see if I have this straight. Your dad is Dark Dragon; your Mom was killed by Darksol, your adopted older brother who was modified by your grandparents, The Ancients, to become the 'brain' of Dark Dragon. And you're crying because you just found out your twin brother, Kane, is being possessed by Darksol." Ken amazingly said it all in one breath, so he took a deep one. "Is that all, or did I miss something?"

I shook my head. "No, you got it all." Ken sighed in relief.

"Yeah, a lot of family problems." We sat in silence for a few minutes, until Ken said, "Wow. You've been out of the water for probably an hour and a half, but you're still pale white and freezing." I looked at my hands. He was right. They were so white, I could see my veins, and they weren't very live-like.

With a gasp, I stood up quickly. Too quickly. As the blood started to reticulate, I fell over. Ken barely caught me.

"Ok, not all the blood has circulated yet." I said as Ken righted me.

"No." He agreed. "Here, let me help." And once again, he picked me up and carried me like the princess. It had stopped raining, but we were soaked. We eventually made it back into town, and people were staring at us. A lot of people.

"RiyLee!" Tao called from somewhere. "RiyLee, are you okay?"

Ken put me down. "I'm fine… I think."

"Come on! Nova wants to talk to you at headquarters."

"Great."

The three of us walked through town, Ken and I soaking wet, Tao completely dry. When we arrived at headquarters, everyone was there: Lowe, Hans, Mae. Everyone.

"Ah, RiyLee," Nova said. "Welcome back."

"Ok. How many of you remember my real name?" I asked, slightly irritated.

Every hand went up.

"Great. Just great."

"Why did you lie to us?" Lowe asked, looking hurt,

"Look, it's a long, complicated story that I'm really not supposed to tell you," I explained.

"But you can trust us," Luke insisted.

I sighed. "OK, look. The basics of it are," I hesitated, "I'm actually one-thousand and sixteen years old." Everyone's jaw dropped. "Remember when I washed up on the shore one year ago? Well, just a day before that, I had woken up from a thousand-year sleep. I was sent here with… someone… to stop Dark Dragon from being resurrected. Right before I fell asleep, though, I promised my mother that if I ever got into any serious trouble, I wouldn't give my real name."

"How are we 'serious trouble'?" Gort asked.

"Lowe, I washed onto shore with a pouch, right?" He nodded. "And remember how I said that the sword in that pouch was very important to me and that I needed it back?" Another nod. "Now, who remembers the sword Kane left with?"

"You mean that white one?" Mae asked.

"That was the sword I was talking about!" Finally! I thought. A breakthrough! "The Light Saber. That was the sword in my pouch! That sword belonged to me, but you were all too stubborn to see it. 'It's not proper for a girl of your age to carry a sword such as that.' So you made me wait and entire year before I finally got to see it. And when I did, Kane takes it away. Now Runefaust has both swords. If Darksol gets hold of that book, then we're all doomed!"

Once again, never had my nerve.

"Now, RiyLee, I'm sure you're just imagining these things," Nova said.

"Tell me, Nova, how do you imagine a king's death? How do you imagine a fire coming out of nowhere and taking a life with it when it leaves?" Mae cringed. "I am one-thousand and sixteen years old. I know what I'm talking about."

"What book?" Tao asked.

"The Book of Secrets. I don't know where it is, but I know what it can do."

"Well, even if that is true—"

"It's fact, Nova, not fiction." I snapped.

"Well, it doesn't matter. We still need to get to Alterone. There is news that Kane has been seen there."

"Kane?" I asked.

"Why do you keep doing that?" Hans asked. "Every time someone mentions Kane, you freak out."

"It's the painful part of the long and complicated story. Now let's go!"

"First," Lowe said, "you need food." On cue, my stomach growled. Lowe touched my forearm, then pulled away from the coldness. "And a fire."

"Fine."

Ten minutes, there was a heavy blanket around my shoulders, a fire going on, and a mug of hot chocolate in front of me. Everyone had scattered, talking in small groups, or just sitting by themselves. Ken was next to me, trying to get me to talk. Mae walked over and sat down across from me.

"RiyLee?"

"Yes?"

"When we were in the castle, before you ran out, you said that you not only knew the secret, but that you're a part of it. What did you mean?"

"I know the secret because I was there when it happened, and I'm a part of it because I was sent here to stop it from happening."

"Oh." She was quiet for a moment. Then asked, "Well, if you know it, then why don't we just go straight to the problem and stop it there?"

"Because none of us are ready to face Darksol. I thought I was once, but I was wrong."

"What happened?"

I sighed. "He killed my companion. The one who was sent here with me. I tried fighting Darksol, but wasn't strong enough. My friend told me to run, that he would take care of it. I haven't seen either of them since that day."

"What day was that?"

"It was the day before I got washed ashore here."

"I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"Losing him. It must've been hard."

"It is." We sat in silence after that. After a few minutes Lowe came to check on me.

"I'm ready." I insisted. "Trust me, I'm fine."

"Alright. Let's go." Nova said.