Epilogue

"Look, how many times do I have to say I'm not going to the execution? I don't care if I'm the damn leader of the damn rebellion, I'm staying here. Now would you please, kindly, leave me alone?"

Germaine slammed the door to her room in the inn and sighed, leaning her aching head against it. She hadn't had any sleep for two days straight now and her body was complaining.

She collapsed on the bed, vaguely hoping that burying her face in cloth would stop her migraine.

It didn't.

A little 'thump' reached her ears. Looking up, Germaine saw the only thing she had brought from home land on the bed next to her. Slowly, she reached out her hand and lifted it to her face.

A tall man smiled at the camera, both of his large hands on the heads of the two kids in front of him. A girl of about ten years old grinned widely, her arms around the small, disgruntled-looking boy in front of her, her chin resting on his shoulder.

Allen.

Her thoughts drifted to him. It tended to do that now, whenever she wasn't preoccupied. Before, she would shove the thoughts away and find something to do. Now she was too tired to even resist.

She didn't hate him. She couldn't. She tried to, of course. He had killed her father after all, betrayed him, the man who had saved his life, raised him, and even helped him ease his way into the palace. But whenever she tried to feel that cold, dark hate she felt for Rillianne and shift it to him, it disappeared.

All she could feel was hollow, painful disappointment.

Where is he? Germaine wondered. What is he doing?She had expected him to be in the castle, ready to fight and defend his beloved princess. But he wasn't there.

"Damn." She cursed and sat up. Now was not the time to think about this! She glanced at the clock on the bedside table. Ten minutes to three. Her mind drifted to the princess. By now they should be opening the door to her cell, dragging her to the cart to be brought to the plaza.

She remembered running through the castle, meeting no resistance. She had been the one who had burst open the throne room's doors, who had walked up to the child and aimed her sword at her throat.

She remembered looking into the cold, blue eyes of her enemy. The girl hadn't even been tall enough to reach her chin, and yet she had met Germaine's gaze fearlessly.

Her eyes wandered to the frame in her hand.

She'd seen those eyes before.

"Miss Germaine?" A maid knocked nervously on the door. "Miss Germaine, the master is asking if you would like tea brought to your room… Miss Germaine?"

She pressed her hand to the door, which swung open at her touch. Her eyes widened. She screamed.

The window was open.

"Big Sis, give it baaack! You're so mean!"

"Germaine! Don't tell me you drank yourself to sleep again!"

"Look, look! I did it, Germaine, I did it! I'm going to the palace!"

Memories washed over her in waves. They slammed against her, assaulting her senses, stabbing her heart again and again. Terror chased at her heels, snapping and biting, not letting her slow in her hopeless race against time.

She leapt over a fence, taking a shortcut between a row of houses. The streets were empty. Everyone was at the square, waiting to see the evil tyrant's head roll as so many others did before it.

I should have known sooner. It was too easy, too suspicious! I should have realized it, I could have stopped him, I could have…

It was hard to tell where the sobbing started and the panting ended. Her foot snagged on a crack in the pavement. She went down sprawling.

Of all the times for her clumsiness to act up! Doggedly she rose to her feet, rubbed her eyes free of dust and tears, and ran faster.

"There are two things you need to remember about being a knight."A voice resounded in her head. "One: A sword is a double edged blade. As you cut people down and end their lives, it cuts off a bit of your soul as well, slowly turning you into an empty killing machine. This is why you must never use it until there is no other choice. And two…

You cannot save everyone."

There! The square! She slammed into a wall of people, knocking down three and earning a dozen swear words from the others. She ignored them and squeezed through.

"Watch it!"

"Hey!"

"Move it!"she yelled.

DING

.

.

.

DONG

Her head snapped up. She saw the platform, the judge reading the charges, the executioner by the guillotine.

She saw him.

And, as his cold blue eyes landed on her, she knew he saw her too.

DING

.

.

.

DONG

"ALLEN!" she screamed. Something in his eyes flickered. Hope made a sudden leap to her throat.

Then he turned his head and looked away, his face a scornful mask, looking at something in the crowd only he seemed to see.

DING

.

.

.

The judge nodded at the executioner.

"NO! STOP!"

She drew her sword. The crowd parted faster.

.

.

.

DONG

"Oh my. It's snack time."

SHHCK!

Her scream of agony was drowned out in the triumph of the crowd.