Morgan and Tia’s eyes widened. “Whoa,” Morgan breathed.
“Wow,” Sam breathed. Her stunned expression slowly morphed into a huge smile. “That’s awesome!”
Mr. Lambros held up both hands. “Now, before you get all excited, there’s a lot more to all this. We still haven’t told you why we left,” he said seriously.
Sam’s expression fell a bit. “Oh, right, sorry.”
Mr. Lambros’ smile was understanding. “It’s okay, honey.” He let out a deep breath. “Not everyone was happy with the idea of living on the same piece of land as non-psionics. They thought it would only lead to us being hunted again. They also felt that non-psionics were lower forms of life and that we should be hunting them down instead. They left to find a new island and our people didn’t hear from them for thousands of years.
When the pilgrims came to America there were a few scouts from the other Atlantian colony on one of the ships. They found our country—Nakria—and tried to convince the Emperor to move our people to their island. They said Nakria was a threat to their security and that if our people wouldn’t move then they would move them by force. Obviously, that didn’t go over well and they were kicked out.
Since then we’ve been at war. The other colonists named their country Illuminata. And they called themselves the Illuminati.”
“Wait wait,” Sam interrupted, “The Illuminati. Are you serious?”
“A lot of legends have a basis in fact, sweetie,” Mrs. Lambros said.
“They’ve made occasional attacks on Nakria ever since but they’ve never been very successful because of our security measures. The worst one they pulled off was sixteen years ago. They sent an invasion force of about two hundred soldiers. They killed some of our people but we managed to take a lot of them out. The rest ran off.” Mr. Lambros’ eyes suddenly had a far off look to them. “We were so proud that we’d won the fight. But we didn’t know it wasn’t over,” he said, his voice quiet by the end.
Sam’s expression became concerned when she noticed her father’s eyes had misted over. “Dad?”
Mr. Lambros drew in an unsteady breath and let it out slowly as he closed his eyes. “This is just, hard. I’m okay.”
Mrs. Lambros’ voice sounded a bit constricted. “The entire attack was meant as a distraction.”
“A distraction from what?” Sam said.
Mr. and Mrs. Lambros shared a look. “Before we tell you that you need to know something else,” Mrs. Lambros said. “Your Dad and I are the Emperor and Empress of Nakria.”
Sam was stunned for a moment before her eyes fluttered rapidly. “I’m sorry...what?” she said, her voice full of disbelief.
Mrs. Lambros sighed. “We’re the Emperor and Empress, and you’re the princess.”
Sam’s expression became an open-mouthed frown as she absorbed this news. “Then what the heck are we doing here?!” she demanded, her tone of voice completely rejecting the idea that this was the sane choice.
“We came here to hide you. On the night of the attack, Dad and I were listening to reports on the fight when the head of the palace guard came to us and said there was an emergency. She said your three-year-old cousin, Alexander, was missing. He’d been spending the night in your room so we were terrified.
When we got to the palace your aunt Callee was in a total panic, but she said you were fine. We looked for Alex for hours, but we never found him.” Mrs. Lambros’ eyes filled with tears. “We found out later that, while our soldiers were fighting, the Illuminati sent a smaller group to the palace to kidnap you. Alex was sleeping in your bed and because it was dark they didn’t realize they’d grabbed the wrong kid until it was too late.”
Mr. Lambros continued. “We felt that if they could get through our security once, they could do it again, so we decided to leave. We handed control of the country over to aunt Callee and told her we would be back when you turned twenty. We figured that would give us enough time to have you trained to fight in case something happened when we got back.”
Mrs. Lambros looked at her husband and then back at her daughter. “Now that you’re old enough to take care of yourself your dad and I are going back to Nakria. We’ve already packed everything. You can come with us, or you can stay here. It’s up to you, but I would like you to at least go there for a week or two so you can meet the rest of our family.”
Sam swallowed and tried to absorb everything she’d just been told. Her mind was spinning with possibilities. If she moved to Nakria she obviously would never have to worry about money again. She was freaking royalty for crying out loud, but she really didn’t want to leave her sisters or her sensei. She met her mother’s eyes. “I feel like my head’s gonna explode. I need some time ta think.”
“Completely understandable,” Mrs. Lambros answered. “There’re a few more minor details to tell you. Our last name isn’t Lambros, it’s Harris. My name isn’t Dawn, it’s Diana and your dad’s name is actually Matthias, not Mathew.”