The Eastern Prince, The Western Knight
Earth 53: Prince Snart/Knight Lance
Part IV: Allies Conviene
The trip between Star and Starling takes two days and one night. By supper on the second day, they are riding through the front gates of the city, drawing attention as they ride through crowds of people who have heard word of Sara’s return. They chant her name and cheer for her accomplishments and she ignores the concerned glances from her company when she looks less than enthusiastic about it.
“Mother and father want to see you before anything else.” Oliver tells her as they make it to the stables. She simply nods and Oliver turns to the stable hands. “Call for the porters. Have them take all of Lady Sara’s gear and equipment to her chamber.”
With that, the group moves out of the stables, taking the back halls through the castle and into the study where King Robert and Queen Moira are waiting.
“Sara, welcome home.” Moira tells her, pulling her into a hug. Sara happily sinks into the embrace, allowing the comfort she’s been keeping at arm's length since this all began.
“Thank you, your majesty.” Sara replies.
“Now dear, there’s no need for that.” she tells her. “How was your journey back? Did you run into any trouble?” Robert questions as he too, greets her.
“I suppose that would depend on your definition of trouble.” Sara replies, glancing over her shoulder at the newest additions to her traveling party.
“So Malcolm told you everything then?” Robert asks.
Sara nods. “Yes Sire.”
“There is more to it my lord.” Malcolm speaks up, drawing their attention.
Malcolm looks to Sara to explain. “I know where Leonard is, and he needs help.”
Relief swept over the King and Queen.
“Where is he? Is he injured? We can have a contingent sent to him immediately.” Robert tells her.
“That won’t be necessary, Robert.” Malcolm adds. “He’s here.”
All at once the traveling companions turn to find the snow leopard, sitting aside and listening with rapt attention. When the King and Queen turn to him as well, he bows, earning a startled gasp from Moira and curse from Robert.
“What happened?” Robert questions.
“All we know for sure is that someone took advantage of their knowledge of his magical ability and trapped him in this form.” Oliver explains.
“We were hoping Harrison Wells would be here already for the Solstice Feast, he helped Leonard tame his magic and he trusts him.” Sara continues. “We don’t want anyone to know that Leonard has made contact with us, not so long as whoever did this is still out there and could come after him again.”
“A wise decision.” Moira agrees.
Robert turns to Oliver. “In the spirit of secrecy then, Oliver, Lord Wells and his apprentice are in the temple, preparing for the feast. Bring them back here.”
Oliver bows. “Yes father.”
When he’s gone, Moira turns to Leonard who has come to sit at Sara’s feet. “Don’t fret dear, we’ll have you back to normal in no time.”
“Once he can tell us what happened, we can work up a strategy to root out the rogue faction that infiltrated the empires. Have you received word back from the North?” Malcolm directs at Robert.
“Just this morning.” Robert confirms. “Queen Snow has confided in us that she has suspected disodents in her kingdom for quite some time now. Since well before the last summit gathering. She and her closest allies have been working to discover the truth, but now that she knows the other kingdoms are an active part of the plot, she’s willing to lend aid and support for the same in return.” He continues. “I’ve confirmed that we will lend aid and to look into Council members that have been there the longest or who have come to power through tragedy.”
At Sara’s feet, Leonard growls, gaining their attention. He shakes his head in disagreement, but before anyone can question him, Harrison Wells bursts through the throne room doors.
“Where is he?” Harrison asks, his eyes darting around the room. They finally settle on Sara and the Leopard beside her. He sighs, relief flooding through him. “My lord, you are a sight for sore eyes.” Harrison tells him as he approaches. He reaches out, laying a hand on Leonard’s crown only to pull his hand away quickly as if he has been burned. “Cursed,” he says. “That would explain your disappearance.”
“Can you break it?” Sara asks.
He looks to her and nods. “I can, but there are things I will need and it will most likely take until morning to retrieve them.”
“Then we shall retire for the evening and reconvene in the morning. Lord Wells, we shall acquire anything you need. Merely say the word.”
“My apprentice Bartholomew will know what I need. I can send him into the sorcerer’s district.” Wells explains.
“He shouldn’t go alone.” Oliver adds. He turns to Tommy who simply nods in agreement. “Tommy and I will accompany him. The people are aware that we are friends, it won’t seem strange and if anyone questions what we’re doing we can tell them that Sara needed treatment.”
“Excellent. Barry should be on his way to his chambers, if we hurry we can catch him before he begins his meditations.” Wells replies, leading the men out of the throne room.
“In the meantime, have any of you eaten supper yet?” Moira questions in a tone that brokers no false responses.
“No majesty, we pushed on through the day.” Felicity tells her.
“Them come along. You need to keep your strength up.” she turns to Malcolm and Robert. “That means both of you as well.”
“Yes ma’am.” Malcolm replies as Robert says;
Leonard curls up on Sara’s bed while he waits for her to come back from the baths. With the weight of his concern off his shoulders he finds his mind wandering to darker places. He hasn’t had time to mourn his family, but with the silence surrounding him, the knowledge that he’s safe here in his allies home, he can’t stop the immense sorrow that wells up inside him. He can smell his mother’s perfume, he can hear his father’s laugh. It’s not their smiles he sees in his mind though.
Before he can fall too deeply into those thoughts, the door to Sara’s chamber opens and he looks up to find her there. She’s wearing a long blue linen dressing gown, his favorite shade on her, and soft blue slippers. In one hand she carries a platter of pastries and tea. Around her waist, her sword. He wishes he could speak to her, to tell her how beautiful she looks. The perfect juxtaposition between a high bred woman and a warrior.
Sara sets the platter on the bed and Leonard peeks up with interest. The scent of his favorite pastry cake catching him off guard.
“Lord Wells says that since you're human, you can eat human foods that real Leopards can’t.” Sara explains, unbelting her sword and setting it beside her bed. She climbs up beside him and sets one of the cakes in front of him, which he does not wait to dig into. She smiles as she watches him, sipping her tea. “Feeling better?” He purrs, leaning into her hand as she scratches between his ears. “I think I might miss being able to reduce you to a purring ball of fluff so easily.” she teases him.
He can’t believe she thinks he needs to be a cat for her to be capable of that. Surely she hasn’t forgotten their last night together so quickly. When the cake is gone, he crawls over to her and lays his head on her thigh, letting her run her fingers through his fur.
“It won’t be much longer, Len, I promise, we’re going to figure this out.” she says to him, her voice as soft as the light from the candle on the bedside table. He purrs in response, letting her words wash over him, her gentle touches lulling him to sleep.
He wakes hours later to the images of his parents lying in their bed, the stark white sheets soaked in blood, their eyes, staring lifeless at the ceiling and Druce, standing over them, the bloody knife in his hand.
The candle is still burning on the end table, bathing the room in the same warm glow. His head was still pillowed on Sara’s thigh, the young warrior lying out on top of the quilt of her bed. She looks so peaceful lying there, relaxed for the first time in as long as he can remember.
Carefully, Leonard shifted off the bed, padding across the floor. Sara had hung a strip of fabric around the door handle allowing him to pull the door open and slip out. Beyond her chambers is a long dark hallway lit by torches every few feet. He follows the hall to the right, weaving through corridors unseen, listening to the sounds of the castle. Before long he finds himself in the garden, prowling between bushes that have started to brown with the early fall. It’s here that he finds the King and his first advisor.
“I don’t like this Malcolm. I don’t like it one bit.” Robert says, pacing the walking path in short steps. Malcolm is standing along the edge, his eyes focused on a persistent rose bud that refuses to succumb to the frost. “Too many lives are at stake to make educated guesses.”
“I appreciate that Robert, truly I do, but the princess is locked away out of reach, I have confirmed that it was the king who sent her out of the city before his assasination, so it stands to reason that he knew there was a coup coming, or at least assumed it was a coup.” Malcolm explains. “In the absence of all other evidence we must assume that she is safe and focus our attention on returning the Prince to himself and rooting out the disodents in this plot.”
“That is the problem I am having trouble wrapping my mind around. None of this makes sense.” the king tells his oldest friend. “If this is a larger plot than why did Darhk attack Starling? Surely if they intended to overthrow the monarchs of every empire they would have been better suited to wait until all of the thrones were usurped thus ensuring there would be no retaliation for the masacre.”
“It does seem odd.” Malcolm concedes. “It would seem Darhk’s actions have made the rest of this plot more difficult. The people are now weary of dissonance, and any attempt to overtly take over will be met with riots and unrest, but then why would Darhk have made his move on the throne before the other monarchs were overthrown then.”
“Unless he saw opportunity in the upheaval and took his chance.” Robert replies.
“Or, frighteningly enough, he may not have been part of the plot at all. Perhaps he came to power outside of the plan and he was left there while the conspirators wove their plan around him to compensate.”
“You’re right, that is a terrifying thought. It would make their next moves unpredictable.” Robert sighs. “It puts us right back to square one.”
“Not necessarily. We have the prince and you know as well as I do that that boy is far too intelligent to have not seen this coming or worked out at least something that could be useful. We can only hope now that Wells can release him and there’s no lasting damage.”