After a quarter of an hour, Selunia, together with the general, was on her way to the Aridens’ Palace. She was outside the stronghold in a huge car, with black metallic shell and smoky windows—which boldly contrasted with the surroundings’ primitivism and naturalness.

This contrasting aspect was one characteristic of the Arid Kingdom. Because of the long war, military technology had evolved greatly in comparison to the people’s living conditions. Therefore, inside the palace could be found military transportation cars, video cameras, computers, laser guns, and all sorts of advanced technology devices, while the commoners were still using carts and horses as transport, and had barely seen a camera.

The wheels rolled silently on the well-worn country road. From the inside, Selunia looked curiously through the window. It wasn’t quite the first time she’d ridden in such a car, but she hadn’t left the stronghold for a very long time. The forest outside the magical barrier, which extended on both sides of the road, seemed to her rarer and taller than what she had known. She had a vague memory of the path to the Aridens’ Palace.

You're reading chapter 2 from The Arid Kingdom series - Book #1

General Waltario, at a certain moment, broke the silence. “Selunia, you should know that I take you to our place at your mother’s insistence. I became indebted to your parents a long time ago and, as compensation, I promised to help them with whatever they wanted. And this is all they wanted from me.”

“But what exactly led to this debt?” she asked curiously.

“They’ll tell you when the time is right.”

Selunia sank in her large costume, disappointed. The general continued, “Most important now is that I take you there somewhat secretly; that’s why I gave you this soldier costume. I don’t know yet if the royal family will agree to this.”

Selunia looked confused at him. Why wouldn’t they?

“To ensure there won’t be any trouble with your accommodation at the palace, I’ll present you as my adopted daughter. Some will probably think it has to do with my past marriage.”

“So…” she tried to say, taken by surprise by the general’s proposal.

“So, from now on, your name is Selunia Waltario.”

“Aaand… I’ll have to call you father, right?”

“Yes, whenever it’s necessary. This way, you’ll be respected and safe in the palace for sure, and the royal family won’t be able to oppose you too much.” He continued in a low voice, “The queen hardly allows young women into the palace.”

The general cleared his throat, unwilling to detail the reason for her disguise as his own daughter. He added, “That’s because your parents aren’t around. They can’t understand why I hesitated to bring you to us.”

“Pff, I haven’t seen them for almost two years.”

Reading chapter 2 from book one of The Arid Kingdom series - palace details

Selunia couldn’t believe she’d have to play this adopted daughter scene. She found this absurd; she had her own parents. Still, on the other hand, she thought it would be fun to go to the palace under another name. The stealthy infiltration intrigued her. It was as if her life had become more interesting, more important. She broke free from the repetitive days at the White Castle, where she had had to keep believing and keep struggling to awaken her inner force, before the scoffs and distrustful sights of the others.

The general resumed, “You’ll have to be very careful there. I can’t say decisively that the war is over.”

“War?!” she exclaimed. “Are you saying you’ve gone through a war recently?! I didn’t know anything about that.”

“We’ve been at war for more than five years. We had a number of attacks to fight.”

Silence fell. The general sank into memories, while Selunia sat there gaping at him. She couldn’t accept she hadn’t known something so important, for so long. Did Mom and Dad know about this? Ryan probably knew… Why didn’t anybody tell me anything?

Awakened from her shock, she asked, terrified, “And Soris, I mean, Prince Soris, what’s he doing? Is he all right?”

The general nodded. “The prince is one of the luckiest men on the battlefield. He’s escaped from so many fiery military battles without deadly injuries or fractures, although he pretty much exposed himself. He pushed himself through all sorts of difficult areas. Such a stubborn boy. Well, no one denies that his actions rushed the ending of the war. He wanted more than anyone to put an end to the state of terror.”

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Selunia listened to him carefully. It warmed her heart to hear such words about her good old childhood friend. Still, she felt remorse that she hadn’t been by his side to help him.

She put on a dignified face and told the general, “You should’ve brought me here earlier. From now on, I ask you to let me take part in the battles! With my abilities, I can help you a lot. You know, with the crystal-gloves, I can create all kinds of—”

“Don’t even dream about that, Selunia!” said the general. “I’m conscious that those from the Castle have taught you a lot, but the Arid Kingdom doesn’t know about magical weapons. In our place, everything that holds on to magic, aside from circus performances, is considered to be evil-natured. I think we’ll have to get approval from the Central Palace first. We ought not to disturb the order of the kingdom. Anyway, I ask you not to act before talking to me, understood?”

“Yes, understood,” she answered with a resigned sigh, and folded her arms. Then what am I to do there? Stand like a statue? Worried, she peered back at the stronghold, which couldn’t be seen anymore because of the magical barrier. Will it be worse than at the Castle?

End of Chapter 2, The Arid Kingdom series - Book #1

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