"The majestic queen of the O.Z., had two lovely daughters, she.
One to darkness, she be drawn, and one to light, she be shown.
Double eclipse, it is foreseen. Light meets dark, and the stone is between,
But only one and one alone shall hold the emerald and take the throne."
It was one verse in a longer song – prophecies of the O.Z. that Ambrose had only half-believed. When the Queen had recited it upon her return from Fanaqua and insisted that the emerald of the poem was his own Emerald of the Eclipse, as he called that small but vital piece of his future Sun Seeder, he'd barely concealed his skepticism. Oh, he'd handed it over, but he hadn't believed. Not even when he realized that something had indeed changed with Princess Azkadellia.
Now, as she recited the verse again in the dead of night, looking twenty years older, her hair turned unnaturally gray, Ambrose felt himself nodding. Beside him, Ahamo did the same. The two of them, the Queen's closest confidants, leaned forward as she continued to whisper.
"I hid the Emerald, you'll remember, but I wouldn't tell you where. Memories aren't safe, not from the Sorceress."
"You mean Azkadellia?"
"That's not Azkadellia. I'm sure of it. Something is inside her, and I suspect the great Sorceress rumored to be trapped in Fanaqua."
"Inside of her? Then Azkadellia is still here. You just need to get the Sorceress out."
The Queen shook her head slowly. "Maybe under the right circumstances, but not now." She blinked, her face hardened, and she returned to the subject at hand. "The best thing to do is keep the Emerald hidden from her." She handed a small wooden box to her husband. "This is the key to finding it. You have to take it far from here. Leave your name behind and protect only this. There's a secret you'd need, too, and I told it to D.G. Her memories, I locked away so that no one can get to them, and now I plan to send her to a safe place."
"When you woke me up, you said Azkadellia killed her," Abrose said. He'd been burning to ask, but hadn't wanted to interrupt the Queen. This seemed like an appropriate segue, however.
"You said that you brought her back to life." At what cost, he could only imagine. The Queen nodded, and Ambrose asked, "Is it because of that poem?"
"Yes, Ambrose. Whether you believe it or not, whether it's true or not, is immaterial. She believes it, and that's all that matters. If she knew that D.G. still lived, she would kill her in an instant, and permanently. Tonight, I'm taking her to safety, and Ahamo will disappear with the key."
Ahamo shook his head. "Won't she suspect something? She knows I would never leave your side. If I suddenly went into hiding…"
"You're right, of course." She stood from her graceful, high-backed chair and paced her bedroom. She knelt by her deep-sleeping daughter and stroked one round cheek. "I think I know what to do," she said hesitantly. "I have to accuse you of some crime and then banish you, you and your name. In time, you will be forgotten. Anyone who does come looking for you by name, well, they'll be someone to look out for."
"What do you mean, 'In time'? How long will I have to stay away from you?" The Queen only smiled sadly, but of course, Ahamo acquiesced to her request. He joined her beside their little girl, kissed both of them soundly, and then dragged himself to his feet. "Then I'd better get going, before I change my mind." He fled from the room, bare feet slapping against the hard tiles as he stumbled from the room in blind anguish.
"And now for D.G.," the Queen said, blinking back tears. "I'm going to send her to the Other Side, Ambrose, but I don't know who I can send to guard her." Before Ambrose could volunteer, she cut him off. "I fear the sorceress will be watching the two of us quite closely now. Toto, too," she added, referring to the only other person she might normally trust with her daughter's life. "I can't think of another person in the O.Z. who could be trusted."
Something clicked in Ambrose's head when she spoke, and he asked, "Does it have to be a person?"
"Not necessarily, but remember, whoever we select must be able to blend in on the Other Side."
"Well, I think I have the perfect non-person in mind."
"Then it's time to say goodbye."
"Not until after the funeral."
"Funeral?" The Queen blinked, confused, and stared up at him blankly, no doubt a product of her recent trauma.
"If this is going to work," Ambrose replied, "Azkadellia has to believe that not only is D.G. merely dead, but that she's really most sincerely dead."
The Queen sighed, fully aware of the hard task ahead. Her shoulders sagged in exhaustion. In fact, her whole body slumped forward into the bed. Finally, she told her advisor, "Make the arrangements."