Chapter 17: Unraveling the Thread
"You will uphold your part of the bargain, won't you?" a woman with a raspy voice said.
"Yes, I'll do anything. Now just give me your part." The woman chuckled.
"Eager aren't we? Remember that I expect full funding from you," the woman held out a large flask to the man, who was cloaked in multiple layers of clothing and hats. The disguise was not as well put together as this man must have believed. "Remember that this is only temporary. That is until you finish your task. Then I will hand you a more permanent one." The cloaked man eagerly snatched the flask from the woman and took a swig of the liquid.
"But what if I fail?"
"You die," the raspy voice snarled. "There is no question of failing, you do or you die." She pushed past the cloaked figure and stared to walk away. She turned around, as if a sudden thought struck her, and dipped into a low curtsy. "Have a good day," sarcasm laced her words and mockery filled her eyes as she looked up, "Your Majesty."
"Oh man, my head hurts," I whined as I clutched my head. An unfamiliar weight dragged my right wrist down. "I don't remember this." An iron shackle encircled my wrist. After a few attempts to dislodge the shackle, I gave up and surveyed my surroundings. Lush, green trees were shooting up from the ground. The trees, arranged in perfect parallel lines, winded up towards the sky rapidly. The leaves on the trees changed their colors in a cycle continuously. Green to red, red to orange, orange to brown, and finally brown to green. The colors began to give me a headache so I looked away. Time seemed to be moving at an incredibly fast pace and I was the only thing that seemed to remain at normal speed. The time was not consistent here. There was no past or future; only a constant present.
"Do you remember?" a voiced echoed through the sky.
"No," I replied. I had no idea where I was or why I was here. "Am I dead?"
"In a way," the voice rang out. "You are neither dead nor alive. A part of you has faded into nonexistence, without it you can not live."
"But can I die?"
"Yes. That is precisely the reason why you are here."
"To die?" I exclaimed.
"You have until the sun and moon are one." I glanced up at the sky and saw the sun rising in the East and the moon rising in the West.
"How do I get out of this place alive?"
"By completing tasks, the first is to remember."
"Two become one; one can not be in existence without the other." I let out a gasp of pain as my body's nerves were suddenly set afire and pain rippled throughout my body. The moon and sun had made a drastic change and were suddenly closer together than before. "Subconscious becomes conscious."
"I don't understand," I grimaced with pain.
"Few ever do."
Baden stared in amazement at a wilted flower that he had recently plucked from the ground. He was not amazed at the flower or how flowers could be wilted so early in spring, but at the sight of it. He could see, not very clearly, the edges of the flower and the petals. He almost cried out in joy, but he thought it better not to arouse suspicion. He had to send word to his father, the king. He crushed the flower in his grasp; a sly grin stretched across his face. He was Prince Baden once again.
Duke Dael of the Northern Region of Entrolith followed the King's mad dash towards the opposite side of the castle. An emergency meeting had been called by Baden; the message had said that it was of the utmost importance. The entire council had been called. Dael hoped that this was not just one of Baden's desperate attempts to regain his title. Baden had been "relieved" of his position as prince on the condition that he was found unfit to fill the title; although the real reason was soon known by all. The council members had been talking it over one afternoon in supposed secrecy, but a passing maid had heard the situation and soon relayed the information to a friend. A knight had overheard the two maids discussing it while washing laundry and so the news continued to spread around the castle.
The Duke and the King entered the throne room and Baden was lounging in the King's throne. A flagrant grin was plastered on his features; he appeared to have something up his sleeve.
I sat against a tree, wondering,
"Unconscious must become conscious…" I muttered to myself. I thought back to everything and anything that I could remember. Hazy images of two mischievous grins came to my mind and the image of a pair of legs suspended in the air horrified me for some reason. The last thing that I could recall was a pair of grey eyes. None of these images provided much help to me. Something shiny flashed in my mind. "Oh yeah, the sword," I muttered. A name fumbled on my lips. I couldn't recall it but it was on the tip of my tongue. I bit my lip in concentration. "Leonarde…"
"Good, you're half way there," said the ominous voice that returned out suddenly. "Now listen to your mind. What does it tell you to do?"
"To call for him."
"Then do so." In my head I called out the name of the sword that I had recently remembered.
"You can open your eyes now," Leo said as he cracked his knuckles. My eyes fluttered open and I spotted the man. He looked a lot like Lere, with his tan skin clashing with his pale blonde hair and a pair of gold cat eyes stared me down. His voice had a snobby tone and greatly annoyed me.
"Obviously so." Oh yeah, I definitely will have a problem with him. "Do you remember it? What the voice told you?"
"Two become one? Unconscious becomes conscious?" He shushed me by placing a hand over my eyes. Waves of pressure began to lap against my head and it felt as though my head was about to burst. With each bolt of pain I remembered something new. Memories that I did not recall flooded my mind. Things were coming together and the dots were finally connecting. The pressure was immense. Memories burned the very back of my eyes and I cried out in agony as I felt tears begging to spill. Leo stepped back and removed his hand. The pain had stopped.
"Who are you?" My voice was raspy; I licked my lips before answering,
"My name is…Aly."
"No, I forbid you from going, Baden," snapped King Lindort.
"Father you do not have a choice in the matter. I'm taking the new recruits to the training camp in Spartathens."
"But your condition," whispered the King.
"My condition has faded," Baden waved his hand in the air. "I probably caught something from the filthy peasants, but I'm all better now. May I comment on how your beard is growing a tad too long? It looks as if you are a street beggar rather than a royal king. Do tidy yourself up a bit, won't you father? Also how your main advisor is trying to sneak out the door behind you to pursue unholy actions with one of the maids? Oh what will Margaret say when she hears that her dearly beloved husband is an adulterous fiend," the prince said rather dramatically. "Nice woman. Not so nice temper." Entrolith's Prince gave one of the crowd pleasing smiles, that he had been taught his whole life, to the council before exiting the room. Everyone in the room, including the King and Dael, stared down the King's advisor, who indeed had attempted to sneak away. The poor man's face was flushed and he wore a very guilty expression
"Please don't tell my wife. She'll behead me for sure."
"Baden, what was that? How did you know? That was amazing!" Dael cheered as he ran to catch up to his friend. "You should have seen the King's face when you insulted his beard…"
"I did," Baden interrupted casually. As if it was an every day thing for him to see his father's grotesque beard. Dael's excited face fell and he soon looked bewildered. How could Baden have possibly seen King Lindort? "Do not look so surprised Dael. As I said my condition was only temporary." Dael took a step away from his friend.
"What have you done?"
"Nothing my loyal friend," Baden smirked and met the Dael's eyes. Dael spotted malice in his friend's eyes. His eyes were not longer clouded and they were certainly a different color than they had once been. His eyes seemed to be changing by the second. "I have just made some necessary changes." Baden slipped a hand into his pocket and walked up to his friend and gave another smirk. "Do not worry too much about me Dael, I have not gotten myself into too much trouble; nothing that I can not handle by myself." With that Baden left Dael standing in the hall, very confused.
After a series of strict and harsh test to determine whether Baden's eyesight had returned or not, King Lindort granted Baden the responsibility to lead thirty more slave soldiers to the King's Port settlement. The ride would last four days and a messenger would be sent two days ahead of Baden to alert the settlement of the incoming soldiers. At first King Lindort had requested Duke Dael to rise with the Prince, but Baden immediately refused the order. He stated that one other royal officer was more than enough. The group was scheduled to leave tomorrow and Dael could not be more frantic. He wrung his hands together in worry. He listed any and every possibility in his mind that would explain this mind situation. Baden could not have recovered all of his sight overnight. And what did "into too that much trouble" mean? He consented to watching the birds outside the window to distract himself from worrying.
"Watch out for your descendant, Entrolith"
"Get up," Leo demanded.
"You are not making this easy, you ass," Aly hissed.
"What a foul mouth that is running on such a pretty lass. Aly pushed herself up from the ground and charged at the blonde man. He extended his palm and invisible force blasted her off her feet once more. She let out an angry growl before standing up. "Going to try it again? Well let me save you the embarrassment," He extended his hand once more and a pulse of energy knocked her down. Aly was more reluctant to get up this time.
"Then what's the point?" she asked angrily. "I'm just going to get knocked down again."
"Well you better figure out some way to reach this door because your time is almost up." Aly looked at the sky in despair. The sun and the moon were close to touching each other. "You must reach the door behind me to continue your journey. You must find the maze and get the key in order for two to become one, or else your soul will simply fade away."
"Why did I not just die? Why am I being put through this test?"
"It seems that you left something behind."
"What did I..."
"Tsk! No more questions! STAND NOW!" Aly rose slowly but did not immediately charge at the man.
"Why are you making it so difficult?"
"What part of 'no more questions' do you not understand?"
"But you are a part of me, I think, or you exist somewhere within me. If I let my soul fade away, wouldn't you fade away as well?" A grin formed on the sarcastic fey's face.
"It took you long enough, girl; do you now understand two become one?"
"No, not really," Aly answered honestly. The man let out a huff before moving out the way and pointing at the door.
"Just go and get that key so we can get out of this place. The leaves are giving me a horrible headache."
I have the next chapter written down already, and I'm going to post it sometime this week.
By the way, I've made some changes to the plot and story and I reposted the changes as another story on my page. So look out for it and read it if you want to see the new ideas
oh and if you see any mistakes in this chapter please point them out.