The room held minimal furnishings, a small table and chair, a bunk bed, and a cabinet. Its sole luxury was the private bathroom and it belonged to the Liyanna. The perks of her position included having Mindy as her roommate once the girl stopped moping in the dorms. There were five hours left before they traveled to the third dimension.
The smells of the forest seeped through the doorway. Pellinor slipped inside and left the door ajar. He examined her from head to toe and commented, “You look very human.”
She wore a black shirt, jeans, and sneakers. The outfit would allow her to blend in crowded areas and disappear in the dark.
“How much did you tell him?”
“Enough to change his mind.” She pulled her hair into a loose bun. It would have been the best disguise if its color didn’t stand out too much. There was also the chance that those who had been after her would link her to the person she looked like.
“What did you tell the Commander?”
“I told him about my bond with Arturion.” From her mirror, she could see Pellinor shake his head. “Can you think of another way to have him agree to your plans?”
“Yes, if you didn’t interrupt our discussion.”
“You were taking so long to convince him I had to step in.”
“I was trying to—” He closed the door. “His office is designed to compel people to speak truths. There is a way to bend it without its caster knowing, which is what I was trying to do when you decided to “step in.” Your bond with that Halfling must not become common knowledge to my people and theirs.”
She turned from the mirror as realization hit her. “You knew.”
“The Prince knows, too. He has always been a strong supporter of the first Liyanna and a key player in her rise to power.” He paused. “I, on the other hand, was a less eager pawn in the Prince’s plans for her. Thus, I was left much in ignorance until it was too late.” Liyanna felt real emotion emitting from Pellinor before he snatched it back behind the cold exterior he persisted in showing toward her.
Suddenly, the door swung wide hitting the Captain at the back. Mindy offered a quick apology and pulled Liyanna outside.
“Mindy, where are we going?” She couldn’t make sense of the jumbled thoughts her friend was broadcasting in the ether.
They were two floors down when Mindy responded, “They’re going to take Fred.” She continued to drag Liyanna along.
You can hear us. Liyanna stopped walking, forcing Mindy to look at her.
“Please don’t tell anyone.” Mindy tugged at her hand. “You have to stop them. He said that Alfred knows. If Fred is really part of this, Uncle might be walking into a trap.”
“Arty. He left a message with your necklace. Uncle Reno thinks Fred knows where Arty’s being held. Uncle’s planning to lead you away from the action. He says he’ll secure Arty himself. He doesn’t want the both of you getting hurt any further than this.”
Mindy rapped at the door and pulled Liyanna inside. S7 sat up from the bed. His shirt lay on the floor haphazardly, giving the women full view of the bruises on his neck, stomach, and arm.
“What do you want?” he said in a bored tone.
“You know where Fred is,” Mindy said.
“So what if I know where he is?” S7 lay on his back and stared at the ceiling. “Your uncle knows. Bother him.”
“Where is he, S7?”
“Go ahead, throw a tantrum. You can even ask warrior princess there to thrash me. The hell I care.”
“Just tell me.” Mindy stomped her foot.
“Leave me alone.”
While she fumed in frustration, Liyanna saw S7’s mental projection of a lake and the vivid sounds of nature in morning. “Mindy, why don’t you leave us for a few minutes, I’ll talk to him.”
Liyanna studied S7 as she followed Mindy’s progress outside. When no one was within earshot and mental range, she said: “You’ve changed.”
“Must be the fresh air.” Mindy’s face popped in his head which he quickly replaced with the vision of the lake.
“How long has she been coming here?”
He didn’t answer.
“She’s the first person to befriend you. And,” she paused, “you know her secret.”
“Everybody knows her secret.”
“Not like we do.”
S7 stared at her. Finally, he said: “You don’t know what you’re up against. Let the “adults” handle it. This isn’t a war you can win, princess. Their leaders are older than your lot. Much, much older.”
“If you’re so sure they’ll win, why are you here?”
“I was taken.”
“You’re helping us.”
“In exchange for my freedom. They can’t take me back if they can’t enter this dimension. Besides, I never really liked Them.” The imagery in his mind did not waver. “And I’m not keen on giving my ex-bosses free tickets to this place by giving you ideas.”
“I’m not going to get caught and I have people protecting me.”
He looked her in the eye and considered. “Fred probably knows what happened in Arturion’s house by now. His next move would either be to go into hiding or to act as if nothing’s changed. If the latter, he’ll be attending the midnight conference with Peter’s father.”
“Where do you think he’ll go?”
“He’ll be in the conference. The event is heavily guarded by someone’s private army. Not a soul can enter without them knowing.”
Liyanna barely heard him. For some reason, she couldn’t look away from his injuries. Her feet shuffled towards him. Before, Liyanna realized what she was doing she had leaned forward and kissed his forehead.
“What was that for?” S7 grabbed her wrist when she pulled away. He didn’t trust her and anyone else who belonged in this dimension.
The bruises that marked him faded.
“I healed you,” she said, hiding her surprise. She twisted her arm from his hold. Liyanna had not expected that his injuries would heal instantly by such a simple act.
He examined his body and saw what she meant. “In exchange?”
“Come with us.”
“Sorry, princess.” He shook his head to the side. “I have a longstanding appointment with freedom.”
“I’ll give you a better offer. I know why you can still cope in this dimension and what you’re starting to feel. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. And I know just the right person to help you.” S7 gaped at her. “We leave in thirty minutes. I suggest you make your decision quickly.” Calmly, she exited the room and called on Pellinor and the people assigned to protect her.
“Are you certain he’s coming?” Pellinor whispered. He glanced at the Sentries and Guards who were quietly discussing the defense formations they would use in the field.
They had assembled at the border between the Devarian territory and the Guards’ headquarters with the pretense of waiting for additional supplies from Kelor-dan. The Guards were more reserved in the group. They weren’t happy about leaving their Commander in the dark, but they considered her safety as the priority in the mission and were willing to go wherever she went.
Pellinor had been quick to organize their sudden departure. Although he disliked the idea of having Mindy and S7 join them, he relented after hearing out Liyanna’s reasons.
She fidgeted at every sound the forest made. The timeframe she had given was almost up and there was still no sign of S7 and the Sentry who was sent to escort him. Liyanna still wasn’t sure about what she had done earlier. The healing was unexpected and hoped that she was right about S7’s current condition.
The Captain repeated his question.
“We can still track Fred through Mindy, right?”
“With your help, yes.” Pellinor moved closer. “Relax. You are like a horse ready to bolt at any moment.”
“Sorry,” she said automatically.
“No, you are not. Breathe.” She followed his advice and felt her tension ease a little. “What has that Rituvan been teaching you? I shall have a word with him later,” he added lightly.
Sensing he was in a better mood, she ventured: “You don’t like him, do you?”
“No,” he said flatly.
“There they are.” A low growl escaped Pellinor’s mouth, alarming Liyanna that she grabbed his arm to stop him from doing anything rash.
S7 and the Sentry, who had fetched him, looked like they had come straight from a brawl. The former sported a cut on his lip and his right eye was swelling. Soon, it would close to a slit.
“There’s no time. We have to leave now,” S7 spoke.
“I did not ask for your counsel, human.” Pellinor walked past him and briefed the Sentry.
Minutes later, they were moving deep into the forest. They stayed away from sight by leaping from tree branch to tree branch, swiftly and quietly. The two humans with them were carried, Mindy by a Sentry and S7 by a Guard. Liyanna kept a short distance from Pellinor as he led them towards the portal.
“Tired yet, princess?” he asked.
Why does everyone keep calling me that? She was exasperated with the nickname. Cutting back a retort, Liyanna said: “I’m fine.”
He cast a sidelong look towards her. “Well, we’re testy today.”
“Can’t we teleport to where the portal is?”
“The Sorceress doesn’t like strangers teleporting in and out of her land.”
“You seem to know her.”
“Everybody knows her. She’s a law unto herself. You wouldn’t want to be on her bad side. As it is, we’ve crossed her border an hour ago.” Liyanna realized their pace had slowed. “The Dogs wouldn’t dare trespass here.”
“Dogs. Can’t you just call them Guards?”
“You ask too many questions. Not all of them very important.” They dropped to the ground. Pellinor and the Sentries scanned the area carefully.
“What are we looking for?” S7 asked.
The trees creaked ominously. Twigs snapped and leaves rustled. A shout rang, then another. Surprise and confusion ensued. Vines had crept beneath them and pulled at their feet. The Guards, S7, and Mindy hung upside down. It was Pellinor who made sure Liyanna did not suffer the same fate. However, the glint of an object caught her attention.
Liyanna’s eye landed on sharp, cold steel of an arrowhead. It was aimed at her heart.
Wattpad code: 58366003
©MC Babasa 2014
A/N: Feel free to post your feedback as this is the first book. Your comments and suggestions may influence the story as it progresses up to the second book.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.