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The Pillar of Dominance

Chapter 24
Return of the Twin Princes
As Warren’s horse plodded along, bobbing its head and leaving U-
shaped impressions in the dirt, Warren could not shake the feeling that he
had left something behind. He felt a strange mix of feelings that kept him
looking back over his shoulder. So many times he had looked back, in fact,
that Salvador had asked if he thought they were being followed. Even now
Warren felt the urge to glance behind, but he resisted, not wanting to explain
to his brother the complex feelings that overwhelmed him.
“…and I’ll say to him, Dad, who’s unqualified to rule now, huh?” said
Salvador, his chin jutting forward with over-expression, “and he’ll want to
take it all back, but nooooo! It will be too late! And everyone will see he was
wrong about me, you know?”
Warren grunted an indeterminate response, worn out by Salvador’s
ceaseless chatter.
“Yeah, I showed em’ all what Salvador was made of. It’s ridiculous,
there’s just no denying I have proven myself ten times over what’s required
of a hero—” Salvador broke off suddenly. “Warren, we made it! We’re
home!” he cried.
It was true. Warren looked up to find that they had left the last of the
forest trees behind them and had entered a large field. Up ahead, in the
center of the vast green valley, the sandstone towers of the Sapphire
Kingdom reached into the open sky. The protective dome had dissolved
without a trace. Warren felt his heart stop in his chest. He looked over at
Salvador and mirrored the grin outstretched across his twin’s face. Nothing
felt as good as seeing his home transformed into this lush, prosperous land.
The joy of the moment overriding his worries, Warren flew forward beside
his brother toward the castle. Up ahead, an old man pushing a loaded
vegetable cart along the overgrown road caught sight of them. “They’re
back!” he shouted at the top of his lungs. His cart tipped over, its contents
spilling across the ancient cobbles. The old man didn’t stop to right it.
Running toward the gates, he pulled his cap from his head, and waved to the
guards pacing atop the castle walls. One of the pacing guards put his hand to
his forehead, shielding the sunlight to see better into the distance. His knees
buckled. He quickly rushed over to his neighbor and pointed into the
distance. The second man pulled out a spyglass, and put it to his eye. In a
burst of movement, the other soldiers ran and scampering to spread the
word. A bell was rung, and was soon followed by several others. Before