It dawned on Melissa. “Does this mean the black guys on the beach are his Dark Warriors? Do you believe that they will attack us because of a stone?” Skeptically, she looked at Korosadja. Its gentle, inner light pulsated and threw lines on her palm. “It is a slightly strange but lovely amber, nothing more.”
“It is the most powerful magical stone in all the worlds.” Lysande’s voice sounded outraged.
Melissa smiled at her. She was pleased that Lysande had overcome her discouragement. “If it is as powerful as you say, it could save us, right? Do you know how to use it?”
“Only High Priestess Durimeh knew Korosadja’s secrets, and she’s been dead for a while.”
The servant interrupted the conversation. “Milady, his Majesty doesn’t like to wait.”
“We’re coming.” Melissa took Lysande’s arm. “Does your brother know the magic stone?”
“Everybody in this world knows it.”
“Well, what are we waiting for?” Arm in arm, Melissa and Lysande followed the servant through endless corridors to the dining hall. The servant opened the high doors and announced Melissa before he let her enter. He held back Lysande.
King Gregor hurried toward her with his hands extended. “Welcome in my castle, Milady. I hope you feel at home.”
“Yes, very much. Thanks.” Melissa signaled Lysande to come. The witch followed her hesitantly.
King Gregor frowned when he saw her. “What does this mean? Why is this person here? Guards!”
Prince Victor put a restraining hand on his father’s arm. “Please, father, let us hear what she has to say first. Thanks to Melissa, I know that one can only discover the truth by talking.”
King Gregor clenched his fists. However, he waved the guards aside who had grabbed Lysande upon his call.
Victor nodded contentedly and took his aunt’s arm. “Let’s eat. I am hungry like a dragon.”
“A vegetarian dragon?” Melissa giggled.
Victor laughed and led Lysande through the hall to a place at the head of a gigantic oaken table. King Gregor’s lips twitched too when he offered his arm to Melissa and led her to a seat.
Melissa marveled at the artistic carvings of dark wood that adorned the otherwise bland room. They stood out from the whitewashed walls. The chairs were also richly ornamented, and on top, the King’s chair was gilded and set with precious stones. Melissa was surprised how comfortable the wooden chairs were despite the missing upholstery.
While the meal was served, Victor told the story of his rescue from the dragon in great detail. When he described how Melissa had found out that the dragon was vegetarian, king Gregor and Lysande laughed heartily.
The king put his hand on Melissa’s and looked into her eyes. “Milady. I do not know how to thank you. I would be honored to give you the hand of my son in marriage and half the kingdom with it.”
Melissa lifted her hands. “Hey, I am only sixteen. I don’t want to get married yet, and I don’t need a kingdom either.”
“But tradition requires this.” King Gregor was so surprised that he knocked over his wine-glass. When the mishap had been resolved by the attentive servants, he had composed himself. “Well then, demand something else from me. Whatever it is, I will give it to you.”
Melissa winked at Lysande. She knew exactly, what she wanted, and she did not hesitate to tell the king. “Lend us your army, your Majesty. And please call me Melissa.”
“My army, my army. Everybody wants my army. I wonder why? We have lived in peace with all our neighbors for many years.”
Melissa pulled Korosadja from her pocket and held it out to the king. “A unit of Dark Warriors is coming for this stone, and they don’t know mercy. They will destroy your kingdom and the whole world, if they don’t get it. That’s what Lysande saw in her visions.”
“Why haven’t you told me, Sibyl?”
King Gregor frowned. “Why not Sibyl any more?”
“Names have power. I had to change it to two names, one public and one secret, to prevent other witches to enchant me.”
“I see.” King Gregor nodded. “Very well, I’ll call you Lysande then. Now, why didn’t you tell me?”
Lysande stared at her hands that lay idly on the table. “It isn’t easy to understand a vision. Often, I only understand it when the event it predicts has already happened.”
“Why did you have to come in disguise? I felt like a dumbass.”
Lysande reached for Gregor. “Please, excuse me. I thought you’d laugh at me. You have never taken my visions seriously.”
Gregor took his sisters hand and squeezed it. “Oh Sibyl, I mean Lysande. Aren’t we two old idiots?”
“Cuty cute,” Prince Victor said and pulled a grimace. Melissa grinned. King Gregor blushed and cleared his throat, but he did not let go of his sister’s hand.