Chapter 9: Annabeth and the Prophecy
I stood in front of the large mahogany doors once again, but I didn’t move to open them and neither did Jake. For a moment we just stood there. I don’t really know why Jake had paused, but I was trying to feel out the vibe, the same as Lexy, who was just a few feet behind me.
The air seemed heavy and I wasn’t really sure how I was going to handle this. I turned my head slightly to look at Lexy. She had a straight face, and for the first time since we got here, I realized that her eyes had dark circles and her face was paler than normal, but she stood there next to Seth, looking ready to fight.
When she realized I was staring at her, she gave me a small smile and nodded encouragingly. I could feel that she was also scared of what was lying behind these walls. She was listening to everything around us, that much was obvious, but what she was hearing, I had no idea. I just hoped it was nothing too bad.
Regardless of any of that, I still had to go through that door. So, I took a deep breath and moved to do it.
But before I could Jake gently pushed back my slightly raised hand.
“Let me,” He said quietly.
I shrugged and lowered my hand, and he took a deep breath before opening it, which made me realize it wasn’t just Lex and I feeling whatever we felt, the boys could feel it too.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Princess Annabeth and Lady Alexandra,” Jake projected into a room that was much brighter than the hallway, making it hard to see into at first.
Then as I moved in, I saw a long rectangular table, full of people and at one head, was a large red velvet chair in which my mother sat at and at the other there was a large green velvet chair in which a man with dark brown hair sprinkled with grey, glasses and a beard sat. I felt my nerves taking over when I realized that he was probably my father.
I gave a curtsy, and the room lit up in applause. I stood up, feeling taken aback, but then I remembered what Lexy had said about being confident. So, despite wanting to shrink back through the door, I smiled and gave a wave.
I don’t know what I necessarily thought would happen, but I didn’t expect the people who had been sitting to get out of their chairs so abruptly and practically throw themselves at me.
I shot Lexy a panicked look, and she immediately stepped in front of me, and surprisingly so did Jake.
This didn’t really stop anyone from trying to touch me though. It felt like an eternity before my mother clapped her hands, and exclaimed, “Enough! Let her breathe!”
The people immediately backed up and returned to their seats. They had acted like wild animals yet they seemed to be part of my mother and father’s royal counsel, and I couldn’t get over the strangeness of it all.
“Please, sit Annabeth.” My mother directed, motioning to the chair next to her.
I nodded, doing my best to not show my nerves, but for the first time this all seemed real.
I wanted so badly to look back at Lexy. I wanted her to give me another encouraging smile. I wanted my best friend to tell me I was doing good. But I knew I couldn’t. I was young, but I wasn’t stupid. I knew I needed to at the very least appear capable even though I knew full well that I wasn’t.
I moved to sit down as gracefully as I could. I was well aware that they were all watching my every move. I could tell by the sound of footsteps behind me that Lexy and the guys were following me, but there was only one seat, for me.
When I reached the chair, Jake moved swiftly in front of me and moved the chair out for me.
“Princess,” He gestured.
It was weird. He was being polite. I know it was because he had to be on his best behavior in front of my parents, but it weirded me out. I wanted his snarky comments back, and the way he said Princess in a demeaning tone. This all felt fake.
I sat despite the fact that I didn’t feel as though I belonged. Lexy stood behind me, just to the right of me, as if to be a buffer between my mother and me.
“Let’s get started,” My mother stated. “Does anyone have any questions for my daughter, Princess Annabeth?”
I felt my gut clench. I had no idea what they could possibly ask me, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be as simple as what my favorite color was. I mean, none of them knew me. I only found out about this other world yesterday. I felt very poorly equipped.
“So what’s your plan to defeat Vivian?” The lady sitting directly across from me asked.
“Um what?” I stuttered.
“The prophecy says you will defeat Vivian. What is your plan?”
“I’m sorry, what prophe-“ I started, but Lexy cut me off.
“That is not for anyone else’s knowledge but the Princess’s and whom she specifically wants in on it. If we give away her plan, it will get back to Vivian and nothing will come to fruition.”
I turned and looked at Lexy, feeling extremely grateful to have her by my side in all this. I literally had no idea what the prophecy was, and I really didn’t think Lexy did either. But she was Lexy, and she was brilliant. And even more importantly, I was super proud of her because she didn’t stutter or stumble over her words once.
But then I looked around the table and I saw everyone sitting with their mouth’s open.
“You do not get to cut off the Princess, you swine!” The woman across the table shouted as she stood up in front of her chair.
“She is right,” My mother stated in a flat voice. “You are not to talk over my daughter.”
I felt Lexy tense behind me, but her face was blank, except for a pink hue, tainting her cheeks.
“Lexy has a point though,” I defended nervously, “If I give away our plans, then we would be in more danger. She did nothing wrong.”
“She is from a family of traitors!” My mother bellowed.
“She is one of the most genuine kind people that I have ever met!” I shouted back. And I had never shouted at anyone in my life. “You do not get to decide that she is worthless.”
“Actually, I do,” My mother grinned. “Part of this meeting is to decide what we do with her.”
“What does that mean?” I questioned feeling incredibly heated. I had never been one to anger quickly, however this was my best friend they were talking about as if she was garbage.
“It means we decide if she and her siblings are banished or not.”
Before I could even respond, Lexy’s voice sent chills down my spine, “I don’t think you want me as an enemy, Your majesty.”
“Is that a threat?” My mother demanded.
“No.” Lexy answered. “It’s a truth. I can help. I have been Annabeth’s best friend for years. But if you banish me, you lose more than your risking keeping me.”
“How?” It was my Father who asked. The very first thing I had ever heard him say.
And for the first time I felt Lexy was panicked, the way she got during presentations at school, so I spoke instead.
“She is brilliant. You lose her, you lose her brain, which you would severely miss. She sees the angles. She’s a mind-reader. He gift in itself is useful. She can feel things others can’t. She takes care of people without a second thought. She could have left me in a house full of strangers, but she didn’t. She could have left her sisters behind, assuming their parents were taking care of them, but she didn’t. She already attempted to trade places with me to trick Vivian to save me. And it gave me more time than I would have had otherwise to try and escape. She may not be royal, but she’s got a good heart and a good mind.” I paused taking a deep breath before continuing. “If you banish her, Vivian will find her. And Vivian would probably force her to turn on us. She would never hurt me, but the rest of you? I don’t know about that. Especially if she doesn’t agree with your choices. I wouldn’t wanna be on her bad side, you’ve never seen what she’s capable of.”
I held my breath once I finished. I could feel the tension in the room, and it felt like I was being suffocated.
Finally, a lady down the table spoke, “We will confer, and let you know. Until then, she can leave while we discuss.”
I felt the heavy resign Lexy was feeling as she and Seth made their way around the table and back to the door.
“Wherever she goes, I go,” I stated firmly like she had earlier as I stood up to follow her out.
“You are making a mistake, Annabeth,” My mother tried. “She is from traitors. She will only betray you.”
“Maybe,” I replied. “But I trust her more than I trust anyone else in the whole world. And if she gets banished, then I do too. If she walks out, I do too. My best friend deserves respect. And I won’t stand for anything else. Decide what you want about her. But know if you lose her, you lose me. Come on Jacob.”
For the first time I felt the confidence that Lexy had told me to. I was being bold for the first time in my whole life. Something I didn’t really know how to be. I was used to sinking into the background, but suddenly everything was on me.
Jake looked hesitant, but he followed me out of the room, nonetheless.
“What did you just do?” He hissed at me when the giant mahogany doors shut.
I wasn’t really listening though. Instead I walked right up to Lexy and wrapped her up in a hug.
“Are you okay?” I questioned, pulling away and looking at her closely.
She was tired, that much was obvious. But there was more than that wrong. I could feel it in my soul.
But she gave me a smile and changed the subject.
“So what now?” She asked.
“We go wait, I guess.” I responded.
But suddenly Jake was pushing me up against the wall by my shoulders, which I was quite certain was highly illegal.
“Do you have any idea about what you just did?” He demanded angrily.
“Clearly, whatever it is, I don’t care,” I answered, full well knowing it came out more than just a little snarky. “I won’t be used for someone else’s problems. I won’t let my best friend be banished for something she didn’t do or have any control over. I also don’t want to be a part of something so judgey and awful.”
“You could be killed if continue to speak up like that!” He exclaimed.
“Oh, so you do care?” I baited.
“I –“ He stuttered, a pink hue sinking into his cheeks as he backed off.
“They can’t kill her,” Lexy finally spoke up. Her eyebrows were furrowed as she was either thinking or listening to something. In fact, I’m not even sure she had noticed Jake had shoved me into a wall a few moments ago. “Not if she’s the one they think is the one the prophecy is about. It was a bold move, that’s for sure, but it also sets the tone for everything. They won’t try to undermine her again. Not like that anyway.”
The far away look in her eyes disappeared, and I looked to see both Jake and Seth looking at her in disbelief.
“What?’ She asked, looking confused about what we were all staring at.
“You sure about that?” I asked.
She shrugged. “About 90%,” She responded.
“Well okay then. Let’s go home.”
“We don’t have permission to go back to the base.” Jake stated uneasily.
“Do I look like I care about permissions?” I answered, feeling more sassy than I had ever felt in my life.
“You look like someone who is being an idiot,” Jake grumbled.
“Maybe,” I answered, walking toward the stairs to go back to the room they had given me to change. “But at least I’m not a pushed around idiot.”
I then linked arms with Lexy, and the two of us just chatted like nothing here really mattered. It was like we were walking home from school. And nothing had ever happened.
We we’re almost to our rooms when a man from the meeting called out my name. He seemed out of breath. As if he had ran all the way from the meeting room to here.
“Yes?” I questioned trying to sound confident still.
“The Queen requested you to take this with you to your room. She knows you must be nervous, so it’s a tonic for the nerves.”
Suddenly, Lexy swatted it a way, knocking the glass to the floor just as I went to reach for it. She gave me a deathly stare and said in a low voice, “Don’t take drinks from strangers,” Before demanding, “What was that? What are you trying to influence her for?”
The man had dark, almost black hair, and his eyes were green and mischievous. He cocked his head staring at Lexy who stood in front of me protectively trying to figure her out. She was a wild card, and she was what gave me an upper hand in everything. She was my best friend, and she was brilliant. I never doubted her loyalty to our friendship for a second, ever. Sure, we had fights, but that’s what made her different. She cared about me, no matter what. And here she was saving my ass from whatever poison was in that glass I had almost been dumb enough to drink.
“You think you’re so clever,” He sneered. “But you are just a child. And the palace is no place for children to determine our fate!”
Lexy, being the person that she was, rolled her eyes! She literally rolled her eyes. Like you have got to be kidding me. This girl had a flair for dramatics, but you know, this guy was a heck of a lot bigger than her, and she was practically taunting him when he was already threatening us.
I had a bad feeling about what was about to happen. I started backing up, pulling on Lexy’s dress just slightly by her hip to get her to follow, which she did. Funnily enough though, she didn’t seem scared to me. In fact, I hardly recognized the girl in front of me. She was someone with a heck of a lot more guts than the girl I had ever known.
Suddenly, the guy pulled a sword from his belt, and held it just inches from her throat. I stifled a gasp and began to pull on her again, but this time she didn’t move.
“Do it,” She stated calmly, but it sent chills down my spine. “I dare you.”
I then felt myself backing up, moving slowly as Jake guided me away. But I wanted to scream. I think Jake knew I wanted to too because he slipped his hand over my mouth.
I watched Seth move standing just off of Lexy’s shoulder. He was trying to reason with the man, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. And Lexy just didn’t move. If she was scared, she didn’t show it.
“Come on,” Jake muttered in my ear, opening a door, just as I saw Lexy reach to take his sword.
What happened, I wasn’t sure, because Jake was pulling me into a corridor that hadn’t existed a moment ago. It was barely big enough to fit one person’s width, and I felt immediately claustrophobic.
“Wait!” I exclaimed, “What about Lexy?!”
“She can hold her own,” Jake said through gritted teeth, just pulling me along.
“We can’t just leave her there!” I stopped.
“She’ll be fine,” Jake repeated, doing his best to turn toward me in the small amount of space.
“You don’t know that!”
“I do. Because she’s one of the greats. It’s in her blood. She’ll be fine.”
“That literally explained nothing.” I reproached.
“Her family was once very prestigious. And they turned their back on the Royal family. They were the best warriors in the world for hundreds of years. It’s in her blood to be great.” Jake explained.
“You know science doesn’t work like that.” I said after a moment.
Jake just shrugged and kept pulling me along. It felt as though we had been walking forever. And I had touched more spiderwebs than I ever cared to admit. And I suddenly it dawned on me, a question I hadn’t even thought to ask.
“Where are we going?” I asked after a stepped on a board that seemed highly unstable.
“This is the castles secret tunnels. They run all over the land of Calina. No one knows they exist except for a handful of people.”
“Then how do you know they exist then?” I questioned.
Jake let out a chuckle. “You don’t believe I’m one of the handfuls of people who are supposed to know?”
“Well you’d be right. I grew up in the castle. I heard a lot of rumors about them and I found a lot of passageways, solely by being incredibly observant which is also how I go this job.”
“By breaking into places you weren’t supposed to be?”
“No.” He chuckled. It was the first time I’d truly seen him crack a smile, let alone laugh. “By being incredibly observant.”
“Makes sense I guess,” I responded, as we began to climb down some rickety steps.
“Believe it or not, I know a lot about you Princess, I’ve been working near you in secret for years.”
“Really?” I couldn’t keep the surprise out of my voice. “What exactly do you think you know about me?”
“Well, for one, I know that you would do almost anything for Lexy. She’s been your best friend since you moved. You spent nearly every day at her house, having dinner with the enemy for the better part of the last 3 years.”
I felt my gut clench at the realization.
“Do you think they knew who I was the whole time?”
Jake gave me a weird sideways look.
“I’m honestly not sure.” He surprised me again, “They never hinted that you were an enemy. Potentially, they could have been doing it to get close to you. It’s like common enemy 101 class, right? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. But they never showed any of that. I wouldn’t have even put Eric in league with his sister. I mean they had disappeared off the map when she began gaining power. The fact that you were ever able to find them is beyond me.”
“I don’t know. It’s kinda weird. Lex just gets me. And I get her. It’s like we were supposed to find each other. Maybe it was fate.”
Jake looked surprised. “You believe in fate?”
It was my turn to shrug.
“I believe there are forces out there that are bigger than me. Everything happens for a reason. And Lexy and her family, I knew or know them for a reason. I don’t know how I would survive anything with out Lex.”
Jake nodded, finally coming to a stop.
“This is where we exit.” He stated.
“Okay?” Another wave of confusion hit me, “Where exactly are we?”
“You’ll see. But you have to change.” He gave a mischievous grin and grabbed a bag that I hadn’t noticed sitting by the door. “I think you’ll find this a little more comfortable. I’ll turn around.”
“No peaking!” I exclaimed ripping off the beautiful red dress that was almost certainly ruined already. And I wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into. And would I be able to get myself out?