Hey! I'm going to go into the Main now! It'll be fun to explain. I realized that the link to my other story didn't show up, so here it is again- if you have some extra time on your hands, feel free to check it out! /books/259758-Behind-Bars Anyway, enjoy this chapter, and thank you to everyone who reviewed! As always, please read, review, and enjoy!
The first impression I got was that it was huge. Arching ceilings, trailing vines, and massive doors greeted me as I stepped into the cool interior. My second impression was that it was unlike any hotel I had ever seen. It had several dark passageways branching off into every direction, some with stairs leading into inky blackness. The lights were all dimmed, and I could hear what sounded like a choir seeping through the walls. I shuddered- the Church must be nearby. The Princesses led us through winding corridors, up majestic staircases, and past ornate doors. The lighting got brighter as we climbed. Finally, we stopped in front of a beautifully carved oak door.
"Here we are," Princess Liliana said brightly. Abrahm and I exchanged a glance as Machai accepted the key from her and entered it into the keyhole. With a sharp click, the door opened.
I gasped. Long, trailing vines blooming with purple flowers covered all walls except for the one opposite us. That one was a full window looking out onto the City. Lights flickered in all directions until they reached the ring of blackness I realized was the slums. Flashing fireworks and brightly colored lights sparkled in the suburbs. Tearing my gaze away from the sight, I saw that there were three majestic beds all separated by thin bamboo sheets that one could pull up like blinds. A sofa and two chairs gathered around a coffee table, a fire spitting beside them. The carpet was lush and a soft green. Abrahm let out a whoop and set down his bag on the nearest bed. "This is amazing!" the Apprentice cried, flopping down next to it. I grinned, then looked over to where Machai and Princess Regina seemed to be involved in a stiff conversation. Princess Liliana caught my eye and smiled at me.
"Do you like it?" she asked. I nodded.
"I don't see how one couldn't. It's beautiful." Although I spoke in complete honesty, I couldn't help but feel like a peasant given permission to sit on the throne. I was humbled by the girls' generosity and by the room's riches.
"Good, I'm glad." The Princess titled her head at me. "It must be difficult for you, living with only men," she observed. I shook my head quickly.
"No! No, it's not- they're all I've ever known in terms of family," I said quickly. Then I realized I had just corrected a royal. "Beg pardon, Princess."
"Don't beg pardon," she laughed. "I've renounced my title as princess a while ago. Regina and I both did. We're switching our names, too- we don't want to sound so snobby. We're probably going to be lower class than you, once we get on our feet." She grinned and winked at me. "Doesn't mean that we don't still have some royal privileges for a while though, and we intend to use them to help you out."
I bit my lip. "Why- why are you doing this?" I asked carefully.
"I don't know about you, but living in luxury when every day one can look out their window and see poverty is not something I enjoy," Liliana sighed. "I felt bad, and so did Regina. We decided that we want to work for our living like everyone else does."
I felt my eyes widen. "Wow."
Liliana laughed again and opened her mouth to reply, but at that moment Regina called to her. "Lily, we should go." Liliana nodded and smiled at me.
"Till later, then," she said solemnly. I nodded and she flitted over to her more sober companion, who was curtseying to a stiff Machai. I did a double take when Liliana blew a kiss to Abrahm, who pretended to catch it- and then they were gone in a whirlwind of sweet smelling perfume and vibrantly colored skirts.
Abrahm waited for the door to close before crowing, "Am I amazing or am I amazing?" He sat up and smirked at Machai. "Looked like you hit it off fairly well with Regina."
"She is rather intelligent for a highborn girl," the illusionist allowed. "She was also quite interested in illusion." I felt a pang in my stomach and, surprised, I turned away.
"This place is amazing," I said, quickly changing the subject from the princesses. Abrahm was having none of that, however- he knew me too well.
"Yes it is, but what did you think of the princesses?" He winked at me. "You and Liliana seemed to get along well."
I didn't want to admit how uncomfortable I was around people of my own gender and age. "She was nice enough, but she laughed so much. What could have been so funny?"
This caused Abrahm himself to break out in hilarity. "You're so serious," he chuckled. "I think it will be good for you to spend some time around these girls. It'll loosen you up a bit."
"This is not a trip for socializing," Machai said quietly. "Nessa is fine the way she is- I doubt either of those girls would last a minute with illusion. We leave for the Otherworld tomorrow."
Abrahm shook his head. "Fine. What time tomorrow?"
Abrahm shook his head. "Well. I for one am going to explore. Anyone for coming with me?" When neither of us responded, Abrahm let out an annoyed huff and grabbed the key from the side table, slamming the door behind him.
I shook my head and went to the middle bed, grabbing my bag and putting it on the soft mattress. Out came my trousers, blouse, nightgown, and toiletries. Then, not quite knowing what to do, I went over to the wall-window. The fireworks in the suburbs had ceased, leaving everything in tranquil silence. I could see the docks all the way to my left, the moon sparkling darkly on its pitch black surface. "I had no idea we were this high up," I remarked quietly.
"This place plays with your brain," Machai said, the loathing in his voice thinly veiled. "You never truly know where you are."
I nodded and turned away from the window. The illusionist was sitting with his head in his hands, his cloak draped across the back of his chair. "Hey," I hedged. "Are you alright?"
Machai didn't respond, just got up and faced me. His dark eyes bored into mine. After a tense moment, he spoke. "If we get into any trouble where it looks like Abrahm or you will get hurt, I want you to run. Do you understand me? Take Abrahm with you and run as fast as you can out of the Otherworld. Don't mind the consequences. The Board will be fine- they won't persecute you if-" He cut his sentence off. In the following pause, I realized what he was saying.
"No!" I cried. "I'm not going to leave you behind in the Otherworld. We got into this together; we'll come out of it together. We're all going to come out of there."
Machai just shook his head and reached forward, tucking a piece of hair behind my ear. I shuddered a bit. "Machai-"
"We're waking up early tomorrow," he sad abruptly, turning away from me. "You should get some rest."
I reluctantly grabbed my nightgown and toiletries, carrying them with me into the bathroom. He was right.
Although I had no idea how I was going to sleep with tomorrow looming over me, threatening to swallow me whole and trap me in nightmares.
And… What did you think? Please review! What did you think of Regina and Liliana? Now that you know Machai a bit better, what do you think of him? Thank you sosososo much for taking the time to read my stuff!