what if the words in a book could take you to another place - literally?
Chapter Seventeen ~ Leylina
In the dead of night, Leylina began to hear voices.
Her first, instinctive trail of thought lead to the conclusion that this was simply another clue pointing in the direction of madness, as so many events that had occurred lately had been. But then another trail of thought, one that lead her legs over to the large, oak door of her bedroom and pressed her just-slightly-pointed-at-the-tip ear against the wood, came to mind.
The voices were not in her head.
In fact, they belonged to two female characters - one that was distinctively her mother, and the other she could not put her finger on.
The voices became louder and more audible, but not every word of their conversation could be heard through the old wood of the door. However, Leylina could catch two words that were mentioned in their conversation: my daughter.
She heard their voices float down the hallway, and Leylina slowly and carefully turned the doorknob and creaked the door open. She peeked her head around the door, just in time to see two shadows disappear around the corner.
She knew it was wrong to eavesdrop, especially on her own mother, but Leylina knew a lot of things - including the fact that the “wrong” thing to do was often immensely more preferable than the “right” thing.
She crept around the corner, and watched as the two women stopped in front of an arched, wooden door. Her mother brought out a key and slotted it in the keyhole. After doing so, she carefully placed the key in a small, satin bag and hung it around her neck so that it was hidden from anyone who glanced at her, but didn’t think to look underneath the collar of her dress.
The queen then pushed open the door, revealing a large room inside. Leylina gasped. The maids of the palace, and even her mother herself, had always told Leylina that the room behind that door was nothing but a tiny storage compartment that hadn’t been in use for years!
The two women walked inside, but Leylina knew better than to follow them. After the door shut behind them, she pressed her eye against the keyhole, and looked in.
There was a fire blazing in the fire place, and the queen and her companion were sitting on two cushioned chairs in front of the fire. The light from the flames lit up the other woman’s face, and Leylina could finally see her features. She had short, greying but dark hair, and a slightly hooked nose. Her eyes gleamed in the darkness, and her lips seemed to be permanently pursed together in a sort of painful smile.
“I would like to thank you, once again, for coming at such a late hour,” the queen said to the other woman. “I would have invited you sometime during the day, but...”
“I understand that, given the circumstances, it would have been too much of a risk to discuss such matters with so many people around, Fayone.” The woman replied.
There was a silence as they both gazed into the flames.
“What you wanted to see...before - it’s here. In this room. I can’t...I can’t risk anything with it. It’s too...precious...” Leylina had never seen her mother so uneasy.
“It doesn’t seem very heavily guarded for something so...something that you hold as a prized possession.” The woman said.
“Oh, it’s much more than that. Much more than just a possession that I highly regard. It...created a beginning, for me. And an end, I guess.” The queen explained. “But this room is guarded with a certain protection that...most eyes cannot see at a first glance.”
“May I see it?” The other woman raised an eyebrow. “The...object?”
The queen raised from her seat with a nod of her head and went over to a glass cabinet at the back of the room. She lifted the lid, and brought out a brass box, small enough that she could carry it with one hand. It was intricately decorated with patterns and strange symbols that Leylina couldn’t recognise. Her mother showed it to the woman.
“You know...he gave this to me. I gave him one, too.” The queen’s eyes became glassy. “We both decorated each other’s boxes. It took hours. But it was so worth it. Every minute with him.”
Leylina breathed in sharply. Was she referring to her father?
Her mother opened the box, and inside was a single book. Leylina couldn’t see the title, or much detail, but she could see that the spine was crimson red.
“So this is it...” The other woman carefully picked it up and studied the book, inside and out. “Fascinating.”
Once the book was placed back in the box and in the glass cabinet, the queen sat back down and they began to talk again.
“When to you think, she’ll discover her abilities, Kinari?” the queen placed her head in her hands. Leylina’s heart was beating so hard and fast that she almost couldn’t hear what she was saying. It didn’t help that her mother’s voice had dropped to a hushed tone “...she will have to learn to control it...won’t let anyone I love slip away...because of something like this again...”
“Remind me again,” the woman, Kinari, requested. “Why haven’t you told her about her father’s disappearance? About the truth?”
“Oh, Kinari...Leylina, since she was a little girl, has constantly been in situations where either she has gone looking for trouble, or trouble has found her. If she found out what I had been keeping from her...” Her voice trailed off. “Besides - you and I both know that there is a...bigger threat than my daughter’s ignorance of the truth.”
“Of course, your highness,” Kinari nodded. “I am well aware of the issue. And that is what we must focus on. Should we warn - ”
“Shh!” The queen said, waving her hand. “Please, keep your voice down, Kinari.”
“My lady, with all due respect - nobody is here to hear our discussion.”
“You never know, Kinari,” she shook her head. “There could be someone will their ear to the door this very second.”
Leylina could feel her breathing quicken. She instinctively ducked down from the keyhole.
“Your majesty,” Kinari said in a quieter tone. “When should we send out a warning?”
“No time in the near future,” the queen replied. “Panic and fear spreads like the plague in this kingdom. We don’t want to wreak havoc.”
“But won’t people ask questions if...?”
“Not if we don’t give away any unnecessary clues. Now, I’m afraid that I must bid you goodbye, Lady Kinari. People will be awakening soon.”
“Of course, Fayone. I wish you all the best.”
“And may you be safe on the travels that await you,” the queen smiled.
It took about three seconds for Leylina to realise what was happening. As she heard a hand clasp the door handle, the princess sprang up from the spot on the floor and hid in the shadows of the corridor, just as the two women exited the room. Kinari headed in the direction of the west stairwell, and after locking the room back up, her mother went in the opposite direction, leaving Leylina alone in the darkness.
She let go of a breath she didn’t even know she was holding.

Keep Reading

Chapter 18

Chapter Eighteen ~ Tasmin

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