FILLING IN A GAP: HIS TRUE IDENTITY
'Marilen, would you step forward please,' Jarred asked the young lady next to him.
She nodded, and taking a deep breath, she went and stood at the front of the room. Zeean picked up the Belt of Deltora and began to walk towards the young Toran. Her eyes were filled with tears of joy… and sorrow. Once before Marilen, she carefully placed the Belt around the Heir's waist and waited. Nothing happened. The Belt did not recognise Marilen as the rightful Heir.
'How can this be,' Zeean muttered. 'Marilen is the only Heir after Lief. The only reason it would not glow would be if Lief was still alive, which he is not.'
'Maybe he is,' Jasmine said quietly.
Everyone turned to look at her, but she ignored them. Her eyes were on one person and one person only; Morio.
'I think there is a reason why you look like Lief, Morio,' Jasmine told him quietly. 'I think you are Prince Lief.'
Morio just stared at her before he burst out laughing.
'Yeah, nice one, Jasmine,' he laughed.
'I'm being serious.'
Morio abruptly stopped laughing.
'I'm not him,' he said firmly. 'Do I look and sound like a Prince to you? My education is next to nothing. I am more at home is a forest than a building, and you know, I might have lost my early memories, but I think I would remember the little detail of being a Prince!'
'But how do you know that?' Jasmine argued.
In the background, Marilen placed the Belt of Deltora back on the table. Filli, jumped off Morio's shoulder to have a look at it.
Morio did not reply.
'Think about it, please! Prince Lief was thrown out a window and the last thing you remember is falling from the sky. What if, by some miracle, you were somehow taken to the Forests of Silence –'
'Jasmine, stop it,' Morio interrupted. 'Do you even hear what you are saying?'
'She has a point, Morio,' Jarred said pointedly.
'Look, I'm not Lief!' Morio snapped, finally losing his temper. 'And you know what else? I don't want to be a Prince or King! In saying that, I am returning back to the Forests of Silence.'
'What? Why?' Jasmine could not believe what she was hearing.
'You knew that this day was going to come,' said Morio, his voice softening ever so slightly. 'I have helped you find the seven gems as the Elder Tree said I should, but now it is time for me to return home where I belong. Before I go, I will give you this one piece of advice; you should give up now while you still can. Deltora does not need another pathetic King or Queen. Come on, Filli.' He held out his arm for the small creature who immediately ran to him. He then picked up his bag and left the building.
He never looked back as he exited Withick Mere, not once. No, he kept his head held high and headed straight for home. Did he want to leave? No, not really. He loved Jarred and Jasmine's company, but they already had lives to return to. They had a family. What did he have? Nothing. His only family was Kree and Filli. He thought that when he joined them that he would be able to find his family, but all it did was made him grow attached to people and for them to start calling him Lief. He did not want to be mistaken for someone he wasn't for the rest of his life, and the only place he could go to avoid it was the Forests of Silence.
One thing he found that when he travelled by himself, with Kree and Filli, he was able to get to places quicker. He did, however, find it a little lonely. On several occasions he went to comment on something to Jasmine and Jarred only to realise that they weren't with him anymore and he was never going to see them again. He would never be able to go to Jarred for advice or have him as his fatherly figure, and he would never be able to talk to Jasmine again and argue with her.
When he returned to the Forests of Silence, the trees and animals all welcomed him back.
'Welcome back, Morio,' said the elder tree that had sent him out on the quest, 'though I have to admit that I am surprised to see you back here.'
'Why should you be surprised?' Morio asked. 'This is my home. You are my only family.'
'Do you really believe that to be true, little one? Are you really willing to spend your life here with only the trees and animals for company? You are human, and should be amongst them. What are you running away from?'
'I'm not running away from anything!' Morio snapped.
'Are you sure about that?'
Was Morio sure? No, he wasn't. True, one might say that he was running away so he would never be called Lief again, but was that the only reason.
'You should rest, dear Morio,' the tree continued. 'You must be tired after your long journey.'
'You're right, as usual,' Morio muttered, heading for his home way above the forest's floor.
Once inside, he lay down on the floor and stared absently at the ceiling. This worried Kree and Filli.
'Did I do the right thing?' he asked them. 'Should I have stayed and then tried to find out who my family truly was? After all, Jarred did promise me that he would help me find them, and he is not a man to break his word. Argh! I feel so lost at the moment!' he suddenly screamed, scaring Kree and Filli.
'Sorry, you two,' he apologised, sitting up and smiling down at them.
It was then that he noticed that Filli was carrying something that looked a lot like the Topaz.
'Filli, is that the Topaz?' he asked her.
She squeaked at him.
'What are you doing with it?' he demanded. 'How did you even get it?'
She answered him.
'Well, there's nothing else for it,' he sighed. 'Hand it over and we'll go and pay Jasmine a little visit.'
Filli did as he asked.
The moment the gem touched Morio's hand, his house abruptly dimmed while a thick, billowing mist began to form. Kree screeched and Filli chattered nervously. Morio, however, froze. Out of the white mist, two wavering white figures appeared. One was a man with long, blonde hair and beard, looking similar to Morio, while the other was a kind-faced woman who looked like a younger version of Zeean. Both of them were smiling lovingly at Morio and both of them looked very familiar to him, but he didn't know why, though that nagging feeling at the back of his mind was telling him that he should.
'Oh my dearest son,' the woman exclaimed stepping forward and embracing Morio.
Morio looked at her quickly. Did she just call him son? Was this his mother?
'M-Mum?' he questioned hesitantly.
She smiled and nodded.
Morio turned to the man. If this woman was his mother, than that must mean…
The man smiled and nodded.
'We are so proud of you, Lief,' he said.
The boy tensed.
'What did you call me?' he asked, dry mouthed.
'I called you Lief, as is the name you were given at birth.'
Morio stared at him.
'You have done very well since the Shadow Lord invaded and denied you the life you going to live,' Sharn said quietly, 'but now you must do more. You must return to Jarred and claim what is rightfully yours. You are the only one who can drive the Shadow Lord from this land.'
'I can't,' said Morio, stepping away from his parents. 'I can't be a king. I can't rule anyone.'
'You can, and you will,' Endon said, walking forward and placing his hand gently on his teenaged son's shoulder. 'You will make a faboulous king, just like Adin. You have walked among the people –'
'But I do not understand anything of politics!'
'That is why you have your grandmother and Jarred. They will not abandon you.'
'How do I even know this is real? How do I even know you are my parents?'
'We will help you remember. Tonight is a full moon, which means the Topaz will be at its strongest. Allow it to clear your mind and focus. Allow the memories to come flooding back…'
Morio hesitantly did as Endon instructed, and as the old King was talking about different activities they did together, the memories began to return once more.
-THE PRINCE OF DELTORA-
It took a few hours for Morio, otherwise known as Lief, to regain his important memories, but when he did, he was crying, something he could not recall ever doing. He cried for the death of his parents and cried for not remembering his grandmother, Zeean, after all the hours they had spent together.
'You know what you have to do?' Sharn asked her son, once he had stopped crying.
'I do,' he replied confidently.
'Then travel to Del,' said Endon. 'That is where your friends are headed.'
Lief nodded his understanding.
'We must leave you now,' Sharn sighed, 'but know that we will always be watching over you, as we always have, my son. And know that we will always love you and we are so proud of you and sorry for what we have done.'
'You mean what I did,' Endon said bitterly.
Sharn looked at him sternly.
'I am as much to blame as you,' she said firmly. 'Not once did I tell you to wear the Belt or go down into the city.'
'Don't but me, Endon!'
Lief chuckled slightly at his mum scolding his dad.
'I love you,' he whispered, embracing them. 'I promise you that I will attempt to be a good king.'
'You already are,' said Endon. 'And Lief? Please thank Jarred for all he has done. I don't know what I ever did to deserve him as a friend.'
The mist then slowly disappeared and Lief turned to Filli and Kree.
'You heard my parents, we're going to Del,' he said.
-THE PRINCE OF DELTORA-
When Lief arrived in Del, he remained hidden at the city's gates, watching everyone enter. He sat there watching for his friends. However, after hours of watching, he figured that he had missed them so he entered the city to have a look around.
He weaved in and out of unfamiliar faces, hoping that no one would recognise him. He was fortunate enough that only a few people did a double take on him, but he was usually gone before they could have a closer look.
He searched high and low for his friends but he could not find them. He even went to Jarred's forge to see if they were there, but he wasn't in luck.
I hope nothing has happened to them, he thought as he perched in a tree, hidden in the leaves, looking down at the crowd below.
It was then that he saw a familiar face walking onto the stage below the tree he was in. A face that he would have gladly watched been burnt. It was Prandine, the traitor who had murdered his parents and had attempted to murder him, and he had two Grey Guards and a youth with a sack on his head with him.
Lief was debating whether or not he should just jump down there and get his revenge when Prandine began to address the nervous crowd.
'People of Deltora,' he began in his silken voice. 'It has come to our Lord's attention that you have been trying to find the next Heir of Deltora. Some of you, I know have no idea what I am talking about, but needn't you worry for I am addressing the small group who, a few days ago, participated in a ceremony to find the next Heir. In particular, I speak to you, Jarred of Del and Zeean of Tora, for you will hand over the Belt of Deltora or else.'
'Or else what, Prandine?' Jarred yelled out angrily at him. Lief's attention went straight to his father's best friend. He would not lose sight of him. 'Nothing you say or do will make us hand over the last hope of Deltora.'
'I thought you would say that.'
Prandine clicked his fingers and two Grey Guards appeared with a struggling, anorexic teenager, dressed in rags with a bag over his head. He was then forced to his knees next to Prandine.
'I have a surprise for you, Lady Zeean. A surprise that I think will make you change your mind!' Prandine ripped the back off the teenagers head. The boy's blue eyes immediately glared up at Prandine, while his blonde hair framed his starved face. He then looked nervously out at the crowd, but his eyes widened when he saw Zeean.
'Grandma,' he whispered.
Zeean's hands went straight to her mouth as she began to cry as she thought she was looking at her grandson. The true Lief, however, was outraged. Not only was Prandine stooping low enough to break his grandmother's heart, but he looked nothing like that boy. Okay, there were similarities, but he was still insulted that he thought that Lief would look like that.
The crowd, however, was silent. No one made a sound. The citizens just stared at their assumed to be Prince. He was alive.
'How – how is this possible?' Glock managed to say eventually. 'Jarred saw the boy thrown out the window.'
'Indeed he was, but what Jarred did not see was an Ak-Baba catch the spoilt little brat,' Prandine replied.
That is scarily true, Lief thought.
'So, Jarred… Zeean, my Master is willing to do a trade,' Prandine continued. 'You hand over that cursed Belt, and the Prince is free to go and live with you in Tora, like you have always wanted.'
'And if we don't?' Gla-Thon asked.
'You watch as I slit his throat right before your eyes.'
Please don't hand over the Belt, Lief silently pleaded.
'We chose neither,' Steven growled, before gasping as Neverts appeared.
His brother immediately went and protected the Lief imposter, who was probably an Ol. He threw Prandine off the platform before killing the two Grey Guards. With the enemies gone, he threw the young Prince over his shoulder, jumped down and grabbed Steven, before running off with them. Jasmine, the other representatives, Jarred, Nanion, Barda and Dain ran off after him.
The real Lief followed them unnoticeably to a secret passage Jasmine had found when she was a little girl. Remaining in the shadows, Lief watched everything that happened. With every passing minute, his facial expression became darker and darker.
'Grandma!' the Ol exclaimed, hurrying and embracing Zeean tightly the moment its hands were free of its bounds. 'I thought you were dead!'
'I thought you were dead too, precious,' Zeean said with a sob.
'I feel as though I'm looking at Morio,' Jasmine muttered. The Ol surprisingly tensed up at the name.
'You have met, Morio?' it asked them.
'Yes, you know him?' Jasmine replied shocked.
'Indeed I do. He is one of the Shadow Lord's servants. He was designed to make people believe that he was me, if the need arose,' the Ol explained. 'He was sent to the Forests of Silence to protect one of the Belt gems in case anyone tried to fix the Belt and find an Heir. From what I learnt from Prandine, his task was to discourage who ever sort the gems, and if he didn't succeed he was to kill them.'
Lief growled and drew his daggers.
'That makes sense,' Dain said thoughtfully. 'Remember, before we left, that he told us to give up on the quest.'
'That is true,' Jasmine said, now feeling hurt and betrayed. 'There were also times during the quest when he wanted to give up or change our minds about something. When we were going to the Lake of Tears he tried to urge us against it, but at the time, we thought it was for Kree's safety. Then there was the time at the City of the Rats, he was asking us why we were even bothering to restore the Belt.'
'It was like Dain said on the River Queen,' Jarred said quietly. 'The Shadow Lord knows our weakness is to find Adin's Heir so he made an Ol to slowly manipulate us into thinking something. He played us well.'
No, he's playing you well now, Lief thought, waiting for the right moment to reveal himself.
'Well it doesn't matter now,' Glock growled. 'He is long gone and we still have the Belt.'
'You have the Belt of Deltora?' The Ol's face lit up. 'I thought that it had been destroyed!'
'Jarred was able to fix it, and then he and his daughter found the gems,' Zeean informed it.
'Then you have my eternal thanks.' The Ol gave Jarred and Jasmine a small bow.
Jasmine took off the Belt and handed it to the Ol.
Lief smirked. Now they would all see that it was an Ol. After all, an Ol could not touch the Belt safely, right?
The Ol was about to take Lief's heirloom, when it suddenly stopped and its eyes widened.
Go on, take it, Lief urged silently.
'Where is the Topaz?' it asked.
Lief silently cursed a word he had heard Jarred say on many occasions.
Everyone looked at the Belt.
'But, it was there during the ceremony!' Jasmine gasped.
'Morio,' Nanion said quietly. 'He must have taken it.'
'But how could he?' Manus asked. 'He was nowhere near the Belt.'
'And an Ol would not be able to touch the Belt,' said Dain. 'No servant of the Shadow Lord can.'
'That's not true,' Jarred said quickly. 'Prandine and all the advisors before him could.'
'Be that as it may, he was still nowhere near the Belt,' said Barda.
'No, but Filli was,' Steven said, eyes wide. 'I saw her looking at it. She must have somehow removed the gem when none of us were looking!'
'Then we must find Morio and get it back!' Jasmine exclaimed.
'But we don't know where he is,' Gla-Thon said glumly, 'and even if we do find him, we don't know that he still has it.'
'Oh, I still have it,' Lief said, walking out of the shadows ready to slaughter that Ol impersonating him. He would not have it.
The group turned and looked at him.
'What are you doing here?' Glock growled.
'I'm here to kill that worthless thing you call Prince,' Lief growled, his eyes on the Ol who gulped and moved backwards.
Azaelia Silmarwen facebook page: link on profile
Written: 5 December 2012
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT CLAIM OWNERSHIP OVER THE ORIGINAL COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL IN THIS STORY. THIS IS A NON-PROFIT FANDUB CREATED BY FANS, FOR FANS. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED, FAIR USE ONLY.