Antonya left Serbia with tears in her eyes. She had not seen Velibor since the day they had returned to that courtyard, and her heart called for him. She searched for him whenever she could find time. Marco noticed and tried to help her move on, but her heart wouldn’t budge. He stood on the roof of the castle, crying uncontrollably, watching her leave. “Fate is fate, and you can’t escape it” exclaimed the unmistakable voice of the general behind him. “What are you doing here?” he stated, feeling emotionless towards the general. “I have my orders, young Velibor, and Queen Ann has demanded that you be on your way to battle, to do your country proud by the end of the week. You have all of, umm…hmm…three days to get ready.” He laughed, and walked away, leaving this to sink in with Velibor.
He sat on the edge of the roof, wondering just what it would feel like to escape the world, what the sensation of falling would be like. “No” he scolded himself. “She promised to return and I have given her my word that I will wait.” He moved off the edge, and sat with his back against it. “I love you Antonya” he whispered into the air, and blew a kiss into it. “For you, until I can hold you again.”
He was glad he had put the present into her pocket. It had cost him a fortune, but he wanted her to remember him forever. But why had Queen Ann done this? He wouldn’t put it past her, as she tended to be more the ruler of Serbia than King Vladan. He always followed through with the ideas she proposed. She was the one who called for the war. “We must show the other empires we are stronger than them!” she urged her husband one night in the library. Antonya and him were on the far side of the library, and heard it all.
He stood, and decided to face the king and queen. Returning to his room to pur fresh clothes on, he met up with a servant who was cleaning up. “Oh, I’m sorry!” she rushed, and quickly moved to another room. Putting fresh clothes on, and washing his face, he walked out of his room and down the corridor towards the throne room. On his way, he passed the corridor towards Antonya’s room, and paused before it. Reminding himself of what he had come to do, and feeling a renewed strength inside him, he walked into the room.
“Velibor, your Highness, seeking your great counsel and advice” boomed the guard who stood before the door. Many noble men and women were in attendance this morning, probably due to that fact that Antonya and Marco had just left. Bowing low in the centre of the room, he stayed like that until King Vladan acknowledged his presence. “Vladan, rise, and speak to me” the king said eventually. Velibor stood, and looked the king and queen in turn straight in the eyes.
“Your Majesties, there is a war going on, and I am one of the only fully trained, capable young men in the country that is left, who has not taken up their duty to fight for our glorious country. Please, allow me to attend the battle as soon as is permissible. I feel I have disgraced myself and you in delaying my duties for so long.” He bowed once more, and stood still waiting for the king’s reasoning to pass. The room was silent. They were expecting something like ‘I’m leaving Serbia’ or ‘I will be travelling to Russia soon’. He felt their shocked eyes on his back as they stared at him. King Vladan came down from his throne, and walked around Velibor, trying to figure out his intent. “Velibor,” he said quietly, so it would be just between them “what has caused this change of heart? For so long you fought against this, and now yo come begging to be sent to the war? I tell you, even the most eager of farm boys that have come to offer their services did not even beg like you just have. One would think you have nothing worthwhile left…” he hinted, trying to get the truth from him.
Velibor looked at the king, and answered him as honestly and respectfully as he could. “Your Highness, I have been out of place for quite a while, not realising where my duties lie. Isn’t it more important that I save my country in an effort to protect the princess that I love with all my heart, than to stand around here basking in her love, only to watch her die at the hands of a foreigner, all because I did not fight? I was bought to this castle to be trained to fight, not to entertain my heart, and she reminded me of this before she left. I love her, know that much please, but this is what’s right. And so I beg you once again your Majesty, please, let me fight.” He bowed once again, and tears swelled up in his eyes. He didn’t want to have to pour out his heart in front of the whole court, but they weren’t going to see him for much longer anyway.
Vladan looked to Ann for advice. The previous night they had discussed sending Velibor to the war in order to separate him further from Antonya, and here he was begging to be sent. Ann was truly infuriated. She had heard the rumours that this boy was using her daughter’s love for him simply to take over the throne. She would no allow a stupid, common, farm boy turned nobleman take the throne. To her he was vermin, a disgrace to the royal family. “Vladan, he is asking for what we were going to give to him anyway! Why do you doubt everything now? Send him!” she ordered him. Vladan looked into his wife’s eyes. He looked at her in disbelief, and then turned to Vladan. He could take back his judgement whenever he wanted, for he was the king right? “Velibor, young man, if this is your wish then I have every intention to let you have your way. I hope you have thought this through wisely, for it is quite a challenge to return upon the path which you are asking to travel on. Do you really want this, Velibor?” He paused, and studied Velibor. Looking on from experience, he sensed that the young man was crushed. Velibor nodded his head and murmured a reply. “then let it be, Velibor. When you are ready” he gestured to the general to come forward “speak to the general about your departure, and I wish you all the best on your way. Antonya sends her love.” With that, the king dismissed him, and he bowed low, exiting the room. Blinded by his tears, he walked out to the corridors, and found himself on his way to her room. He reached it eventually, and found a quick note there by the door. “Velibor - I knew you’d come. I love you. Moscow, Russia – ask for Marco’s residence – Antonya”
As soon as he had left the throne room, King Vladan summoned the general to his side. “Make sure that he fights, but if he dies and my daughter comes home distraught, you will be at her disposal, after having endured my punishments. Understand?” The general looked for even the smallest hint of a joke in his eyes, but the king meant it. “Anything happens, General, and I hold you to fault.”
Two days later, with little of his belongings packed, and the note safely with him, he departed for the battlefield. His heart grew cold, and he fought like no other man there with him. His battlefront came to victory quite often, and upon the last victory, he walked out into the middle of the field, and stood there. “General, general! We can’t find Velibor anywhere. We fear he is dead. He is gone general!”