Burning unbearable pain. I cried out lashing out at everything around me. People shouted my name and hands tried to restrain me.
“Jade, Jade dear calm down,” My mother's soothing voice broke through the pain. I stopped struggling tears pouring down my face. I blinked back the red clouding my vision her face coming into view.
“M..Mother,” I whimpered. Tears spilled from her eyes as she sat down by me pulling me into her arms. I buried my face into her as she stroked my hair.
“It'll be okay sweetheart,” She whispered. “We're searching for a cure.”
I hiccuped, “What's wrong with me?”
“Y-you've been poisoned,” My mother sniffed. I shook as the red took my vision over again the pain flaring up. I screamed clawing at my skin that felt like it had caught on fire. This had been going on for days now. I knew I wouldn't be able to handle it for much longer. I don't know how long it was before the pain subsided again. A girl about my age stood by the bed a variety of vials set out on a small table beside her.
“w-who are you?” I questioned my whole body tensing.
“Be calm young empress,” The girl stated putting a bit of a vial into a small bowl. “I'm here to help you.”
“You?” I scoffed wincing a bit. “You can't be any older than I.”
“Precisely,” She replied keeping her attention on the bowl. “I think that should do it.” She held the bowl out to me.
“What is that?” I scowled.
“Drink,” She stated. “Or I'll force it down your throat.” I sighed taking the bowl from her hand downing the bitter substance. A violent cough over took me causing me to grip stomach. The girl grabbed a bigger bowl close by as a dark substance came out of my mouth. The pain immediately left my body leaving me shaking.
“There,” She smiled handing me a glass of water.
I downed the water my eyes locked on her, “what's your name?”
“Lisabeth Vermillion,” She replied.
“I owe you my life Lisabeth,” I whispered as Guards rushed in followed by my parents. I watched as Lisabeth moved past them all disappearing out of the room.
* * * * *
“She's gone again!” A guard shouted.
“Her Highness will have our heads!”Another shouted, “Find her!” I chuckled softly keeping the hood close over my face making sure the half mask was securely in place. It wasn't the first time I had slipped out of the palace. My parents had become very strict since I was young. They didn't want any harm coming to their only child. I would some day inherit the throne. That day was not today though. I turned my attention to the bustling streets that held the variety of vehicles each unique with their own design and function. I gazed above at the zeppelin and airships that dotted the blue sky. The sky that also held our kingdom. I took a deep breath merging in with the crowds that clogged the streets. I followed the path I had come to know too well taking the less crowded streets to the small shop that rested snuggling in the middle of the city. I glanced around before slipping inside. A small chime sounded as I entered the shop causing the girl behind the counter to jump.
“You need to quite doing that,” She mumbled not looking up from the mechanism in her hands.
“You should take the bell off the door than,” I replied leaning against the counter watching her work. Her hands moved quickly as they attached wires and gears together. I smiled patting her shoulder slipping behind her into the back room. It wasn't really a back room to say. The area was the size of a airship hanger giving it plenty of room for various projects. I threw off my hood and mask setting them on a near by table. I made my way through the room coming to the zeppelin.
“Hey beautiful,” I called out patting the side of it. The zeppelin didn't look like the usual ones that clouded the skies. The main base was similar but beside that It had it's own unique look to it.
“It's almost done Jade,” A voice called out. I turned around seeing the girl striding towards me.
“It's amazing Jack,” I stated running my hand along the smooth metal.
“What'll you use it for?” Jack asked.
I smiled, “I haven't the slightest idea.”
* * * * *
I walked down the road making my way back to the palace. The sky had become dark with night revealing the thousands of stars above. The lights on the street hadn't come on yet making it difficult to see. I frowned as I came to the edge of the city. In the darkness I must have made a wrong turn, I thought looking back. A small light came from down the road illuminating the figure standing a few feet away. I cursed looking around finding myself trapped.
“It's not smart for the young Empress to be out alone,” A voice came from the figure.
I laughed, “I believe you've mistaken me.”
The figure grinned, “I don't forget that hair.” Before I could move the figure lunged sending me over the edge. I cried out reaching out as my hand barely caught the edge of the kingdom. I breathed hard starring down at the darkness below me.
“Soon Cytania will no longer have an heir,” The figure called out from above. I glanced up meeting the figures masked face.
“Please,” I shouted. “If you want me gone I'll just leave!”
“No,” The figure replied. “You must go away forever.” The figure lifted their foot smashing hard on my hand. I cried out trying to keep my grip as my hand throbbed.
“Hey ugly,” A familiar voice exclaimed followed by something connecting hard with the figure. I starred as the figure grunted tumbling over the edge disappearing. I shook as a hand grabbed my wrist lifting me up. I got to my feet facing the all too familiar face.
“Aerabella!” I gasped hugging her tightly. She gave a small smile hugging me back.
“I saw you leave Jack's shop,” She stated. “That guy was right behind you and I knew it meant trouble.”
“Glad you had my back,” I said.
“I'll always have your back Jade,” she replied.
* * * * *
“Ouch!” I gasped pulling away from the girl's hands.
“Sorry,” She replied taking the bottom of my trouser's in her hands again.
“It's okay Amylia,” I sighed glancing at myself in the mirror. The new outfit I wore defined my figure but showed well my personality.
“There all done,” Amylia stated tying off the thread finishing off the hemming.
“You've out done yourself again Amylia,” I beamed hugging her. She giggled hugging me back.
“I should go see how my mother is doing,” She said.
“Is she feeling alright?” I asked.
She nodded, “I'll be back and we can go run around the palace or something.”
I smiled, “I'd enjoy that.” She gave a small smile before leaving my room. I turned back to the mirror adjusting my vest. I nodded to myself before stepping down from the chair. Sudden shouts and screams came from down the hall causing the hairs on my neck to stand on end. I quickly retrieved my cane the sat propped up against the wall my hand resting on the silver wolf head. The door flew open, and Amylia stood in the door way her face paled.
“Amylia?” I questioned rushing over to her. “What's wrong?” She shook her head quickly shutting the door throwing the lock into place.
“We have to go,” She insisted rushing over to the section of wall by the window.
“Why?” I asked, “Amylia what's going on!?” She stopped turning to me as banging came on the door.
“Amylia!” The voice of her mother shouted, “You will not get in the way of my plans!” Amylia grabbed my wrist pressing on the wall causing it to open. She pulled me inside closing the wall quickly.
“Amylia....” I exclaimed.
“Quiet, we have to hurry,” She replied as she hurried down the passage way. I shook my head following after her. The passage way spiraled down coming to a stop at a small door. Amylia opened the door peering out before stepping out into a side street by the palace. I followed looking around. Shouts from guards came from inside the palace, and I looked at it a dark feeling overcoming me.
“Jade,” Amylia whispered causing me to look at her. Her head hung down tears spilling down her face. “I'm sorry. My mother killed your parents.”
“What...,” I gasped looking back at the palace in disbelief.
“We have to go though,” She stated. “She'll be after us soon.” I shook my eyes still on the palace. Amylia grabbed my arm tightly leading me deep into the city.
* * * * *
“You're what?!” Jack shouted as I secured several parts of the Zeppelin. Amylia loaded gear inside occasionally looking over to make sure I was still here.
“You heard me the first time Jack,” I sighed turning towards her.
“Well than I'm going with you,” She stated. “You'll need help taking car of the ship and...” she trailed off looking at Amylia
“I know,” I sighed. “Fine. You can tag along with us.” She smiled running off to collect her gear. I ran a hand through my long hair taking a shaky breath. The small door to the area opened, and Lisabeth stepped in.
“Hey I got your message,” she stated. “You're don't have to run.”
I frowned, “What do you mean?” She reached into her belt pulling out a small sheet of paper handing it to me. I opened it up reading over the elegant hand writing that contained a variety of ingredients.
“That's a recipe for a potion of invincibility,” Lisabeth explained.
“How is this suppose to help me?” I asked waving it at her my anger boiling.
“If we get all the ingredients and I make the potion you can take on Amylia's mom and reclaim your throne,” She stated. I inhaled sharply glancing back down at the potion than at her.
“What ingredients do you need?” I asked.
“The only ingredient I don't have is salt and the only place to get that is-”
“The Great Salt Lake,” a voice finished from the door. I glanced around Lisabeth spotting Aerabella.
“How did you know that?” Lisabeth questioned scowling at Aerabella.
Aerabella smiled, “I know a few things. If you're going to Salt Lake I want to come with you.”
“Well You're not coming with us,” Lisabeth stated.
“I think we could use her,” I said smiling a bit at Aerabella.
“You can't be serious!” Lisabeth shouted.
“I am serious,” I snapped. “I've know Aerabella for a little less than I've known you. She's coming.”
“Fine,” Lisabeth grumbled.
I nodded, “Jack!”
“Yes Empress!” She replied from the zeppelin.
“One, don't call me that,” I stated, “two are we ready to go?”
“We've been ready to fly this baby since we finished it a month ago!” She shouted. I smiled climbing aboard.
* * * * *
It was hard as I starred down below watching as we floated away from Cytania. My kingdom I had come to know and love so much. I would be back though. That was a promise. I paced the deck unable to sit still my mind clouded with thoughts.
“Jade,” Amylia said softly standing in front of me forcing me to stop. “You should get some rest. We'll be in Salt lake soon.”
“No,” I stated, “I can't sleep. Not now.” She nodded sadly patting my shoulder. I could see that what had happened didn't just affect me but her also.
“I'm sorry,” she whispered before walking away. I sighed looking around the small deck. Jack stood at the helm checking over everything making sure it was all working properly. She seemed to be perfectly at home there. Lisabeth had taken refuge below deck working at the first part of the the potion. Aerabella stood at the rail of the deck gazing at the area below us. I made my way over standing beside her.
“Can I ask you something?” I asked.
“Of course,” She replied.
“Why did you join us?” I asked. “I know it's not for me.”
She sighed, “I knew I couldn't avoid that question for long.” She reached into her coat handing me a piece of paper. I took it opening it up.
“That letter is from the man I've been staying with,” She explained.
“The one that taught you how to fight and Hat making,” I replied remember her telling me about him.
She nodded, “The letter is about my parents. They never left me. They were taken from me.” She clenched her hands into fists causing them to turn white.
“What does this have to do with joining us?” I asked.
“My parents are in Salt Lake,” She replied. “I have to find them.” I put my hand on her shoulder causing her to look at me.
“We'll help you,” I stated
“You will?” She said.
I smiled, “You said you'll always have my back. I figure I should be there for you too.” She smiled back looking out over the clouds hope filling her eyes.
* * * * *
“Jade, Jade wake up!” A voice shouted followed by someone shaking my arm. I mumbled trying to wave them away. The person grumbled and I felt my bed tip and I tumbled out.
“HEY!” I shouted scowling up at Lisabeth.
“We're in Salt lake,” She stated. I got up quickly getting dressed grabbing my cane following her up to the deck where the others stood waiting. Jack already stood on the dock having secured the zeppelin to it.
“So what's the plan?” Amylia questioned.
“You'll go with Lisabeth to the Great Salt Lake to retrieve the salt we need for the potion. I'm going with Aerabella to check the area out,” I stated.
“What about me?” Jack asked pouting.
“Stay here to make sure no one takes the ship,” I replied.
She sighed, “Fine.”
“Let's get going,” I said. I jumped off the deck landing on the dock. Aerabella followed my lead, and we headed into the city.
“Where exactly does one look for kidnapped parents?” I questioned as we started down what seemed to be the main road.
“Good question,” Aerabella replied looking around at the different buildings and people. “I've never been to a city like this.”
“It is different from Cytania isn't it,” I noted. We came to a large open area filled with different vendors.
“Jade look over there,” she whispered motioning to a stand in the far corner. I frowned looking over the variety of people lined up by the tent all of them holding a small sign.
“Slaves,” I hissed.
“You don't think...” She trailed off looking away. I patted her shoulder striding over to the tent. The man looked up from a small leather down plastering a smile onto his face.
“Welcome ladies,” His voice was rough and low as he spoke. “How may I help you today?”
“We're looking for some people,” I stated.
“Both have dark hair. The woman is a bit smaller than the man about my height,” Aerabella explained. “Have you sold any slaves fitting that description?”
“Hmm....” The man turned to his book flipping through some pages than stopped. “May their last name be Maree?” Aerabella inhaled sharply, and I quickly shoved the man out of view of the other vendors. I twisted the top of my cane revealing the small blade inside.
“You're going to tell us where they are,” I hissed.
The man shook, “I sold them to t-the count of the c-city. He w-won't give them up easily.” I nodded stepping away grabbing Aerabella by the elbow leading her away from the vendors.
“What now?” Aerabella asked shaking slightly.
“We're going to go have a talk with the count,” I stated.
* * * * *
We stood in front of the large iron gate that protected the large brass building beyond. I ran my hand over the vines on the gate that had been crafted from metal. A guard stepped up to the gate scowling hard at me.
“What is your business here?” He questioned.
“We've come to meet with the count,” I stated leaning on my cane.
“The count is not taking visitors today,” He replied.
“Too bad. Seems the young empress from Cytania just flew here for nothing,” I smirked.
The guard gaped looking me over, “I-I'm so sorry. I d-didn't recognize you. I'll inform the count at once.” He rushed off disappearing into the building.
“Hate how you can do that,” Aerabella scoffed.
“It comes in hand at times,” I stated as the guard came back opening the gate. We stepped through going inside the building. The entry way seemed to go on forever holding thousands of machines.
“Now what gives me the great pleasure of meeting the young empress?” A man stood at the top of a grand stair case smiling down at us.
“I was in the area and decided to pay a visit,” I replied. The man walked down the stairs standing before us. He stood at least a head taller than me and his authority seemed to come off him in waves.
He held out his hand, “Count Nicholas Herman.”
I took his hand shaking it, “Young Empress Jade Jackson.”
“Please let's go into the library where we can talk more privately,” He stated motioning down the hall. We followed him down the hall coming to a large set of doors opening up into the round room filled with book shelves. I ran my hand along a shelf of books spotting a few names I knew.
“We've come to ask you about some slaves you purchased,” I explained facing him.
“Yes I know,” He smiled. “The parents of your friend there.”
Aerabella paled scowling at him, “H-how did you know?”
“News travels quickly to me girls,” He said. “Especially news about the bounty on your head young empress.” I tenses my hand grasping my cane tightly.
“I assume it was set by the woman who killed my parents,” I said.
He nodded, “I'm afraid I'll have to hold you here till she come to retrieve you.”
“I'm sorry to hear that,” I replied pulling the blade from my cane pointing it at him. “Aerabella go find your parents.”
“But Jade..” Aerabella started.
“I said go!” I shouted causing her to jump. She looked at me sadly before leaving the room.
“Just you and I is it?” The count smiled. “It seems unfair. For you.” He lifted a small pistol from under his desk sparks lighting up in the barrel. I dove behind one of the couches as he fired where I had been standing. Sparks exploded into a book shelf causing it to tumble to the ground.
“It won't hurt Jade,” He called out, “You'll only be paralyzed for a short while.”
“And why would I allow that to happen?” I questioned as he shot at the couch. I moved away as the couch sparked. I moved around the couch coming face to face with the count. He smashed his hand hard into my wrist causing me to drop my blade.
“I'm sorry we had to meet this way,” He stated forcing me against a book shelf.
“We didn't have to,” I growled trying to find a way around him. He pressed the pistol to my chest sending a shiver through my body.
“I've already sent word to Lady Adams. She'll be here shortly,” He smiled firing the pistol.
* * * * *
I kept my head down the feeling in my limps slowly returning. My arms, legs and torso were bound to the chair I sat in making it impossible to move. The count had moved me into a small vacant room making sure the door was locked when he left. I pulled on the restraints wincing as they bit into my skin. I closed my eyes hoping Aerabella had found her parents and gotten away. The sound of locks clicking caused my eyes to open falling on the door. The door slowly opened revealing Aerabella.
“What are you doing here?” I hissed as she rushed over undoing the restraints.
“My parents aren't here,” She whispered pulling the ropes off. “I couldn't just leave you.”
“Amylia's mother is on her way,” I stated.
“We better head back to the zeppelin than,” She replied.
“Aerabella,” I said, “What about your parents?”
She sighed, “They're not here and we need to get you to safety.” I nodded heading out into the hall. Aerabella took the lead heading back into the entry way.
“Leaving so soon?” A familiar voice questioned. I turned around spotting Amylia's mother standing down the hallway.
I growled, “How could you?”
“Be more specific Jade,” She smiled.
“You murdered my parents!” I shouted my temper exploding.
She laughed, “Yes I did. Now if you would so kindly join them.” She reached to her side as Aerabella grabbed my arm pulling me through the doors leading outside. We ran through the gates heading back down the street. Gun shot rang out behind us. Shearing pain exploded in my leg, and I cried out stumbling to the ground.
“Jade!” Aerabella shouted hurrying back helping me up. I winced as weight was put on my leg. I limped as we came to the docks where the zeppelin sat waiting.
“Jack!” I shouted. Her head appeared over the railing her eyes going wide.
“What's going on?” I heard Lisabeth shout appearing by the railing by Jack. She cursed jumping from the deck onto the dock. She rushed over helping Aerabella carry me.
“S-she's right behind us,” I stated my vision blurring from loose of blood.
“Jack! Get Amylia!” Lisabeth shouted, and Jack nodded running across the deck. Lisabeth laid me down pulling her cabinet from her back pulling out her medical supplies. Aerabella faced the way we had come producing a pistol from her belt. I closed my eyes the pain throbbing in my leg.
“You're not aloud to die on me Jade,” Lisabeth whispered tending to the wound.
I smiled a bit, “Says the one tending always tending to the wounds. Bet you've never felt one.” She looked at me worriedly quickly returning to her work. Amylia and Jack emerged from the zeppelin both carrying weapons.
“Here she comes,” Aerabella exclaimed. Jack and Amylia quickly joined her blocking the path to me.
“There,” Lisabeth stated tying off the bandage on the wound. I took a deep breath feeling the pain slowly disappear. I sat up getting carefully to my feet. I glanced through my wall of friends spotting Amylia's mother stop a few feet away.
“It seems the young empress has formed and little group,” She called out. “And my daughter has turned against me.”
“You killed the emperor and empress!” Amylia shouted shaking a bit.
“It had to be done dear,” She replied. “You could have been next in line.”
“Jade,” Lisabeth whispered slipping a small vial into my hand.
I frowned, “What's this?”
“I finished it,” She stated. I kept my face blank facing the other way. I looked down at the small vial holding the strange substance. I quickly undid the top pouring it into my mouth. A tingling sensation swept through my body, and I blinked looking at Lisabeth who smiled a bit. She lifted her hand holding out a pistol to me. I took it from her moving past my friends.
“Alright Lady Adams,” I shouted. “You and me. One on one.”
“Jade you're crazy!” Amylia shouted grabbing my arm.
“I'll be fine,” I replied pulling away from her.
Lady Adams smiled, “This is more like it. Come now Jade. Meet your fate.” She lifted her pistol as I lifted mine. Shots rang out in unison but only one body fell.
* * * * *
I took a deep breath standing before the two high back chairs. Tears welled in my eyes threatening to spill over. I ran my hand over the chairs remembering the people who had once sat in them. I sat down in the smaller one looking out over the large room. The doors to the room opened, and Amylia stepped in.
“Empress Jade,” She stated bowing before me.
“Amylia, you don't have to call me that,” I stated rising from the chair. I walked over taking her arm having her stand up. Her eyes were red, and I pulled her into a hug as she sniffed.
“S-she's alright,” She whispered wiping her eyes. “They just have her in custody.”
“I'm sorry that had to happen,” I replied.
She shook her head, “It was the right thing. How are you feeling?”
My hand went to the small spot close to my heart, “Without that potion I'd be dead.”
“I'm glad you're alright,” She smiled. “Now you will rule in your parents footsteps.”
“I only hope to be as good as they were,” I replied glancing back at the chairs smiling a bit.