Her eyes flew open at the sound of glass breaking.
Oh, no. She cringed inwardly at the sight of her surroundings. She was neither in Merleina nor in Kelor-dan’s palace.
Liyanna had been practicing the lessons she had with the Rituvan in her spare time. A week ago, he had begun teaching her new breathing patterns for initiating Merkaba. She was surprised that the technique came easily to her and made her first trip in two days. Those who watched her training, including Kelor-dan, did not comment on the pace of her progress. On the days the Prince was present, she would sense Pellinor nearby. They obviously did not trust the Rituvan, even if he had bound himself to her service. Still, everyone encouraged her to learn what she can by allowing her to use Merkaba within the realm. Her few short trips were not perfect; yet, it had never thrown her this far from her chosen destination.
Footsteps ran up the stairs. One pair, light and quick; the other, heavier and slower.
The crunch of glass made her look down. She was sitting on broken glass. Another crunch. She looked up. Reno bent over her worriedly and glanced past her.
“Is she okay?” Liyanna jerked at the familiar voice. Pain seared her hand. The sudden movement had caused a glass shard to pierce her hand.
“Yes,” Reno replied. To Liyanna, he said: Can you heal it?
She shook her head.
A shadow crossed his features. Instinctively, she expanded her awareness. The place was teeming with people. Mindy and Reno; a stranger downstairs; the Black Guards. Each Guard was fighting two mindless beings. The Black Guard Commander was torn between family and duty.
“Go,” Liyanna said.
Reno’s head snapped towards her, he had been mentally communicating with his men. The stranger downstairs was moving and Reno was still staring at her. Before he could react, she twisted towards Mindy and flung the glass that had hurt her. It hit the person that had sneaked up behind her friend. The man lost his balance and fell down the stairs.
“I can’t leave you both,” Reno said in Merleinan.
She fisted her hands to hide its shaking, but Reno was quicker and noticed it.
“Liyanna. You’re my priority.”
“Not anymore,” a voice boomed in their minds, making them flinch. A man in a pin-striped suit came out of Arturion’s room.
“Haron,” Reno said in a deceptively calm voice. He moved between her and his spy. A hand nudged hers. I’ll deal with him. Take it and go.
She took the objects from him and retreated to Mindy’s side. Before she could touch her friend, the spy vanished and reappeared in front of her.
No one’s going anywhere. He smirked at her, his hand grabbing her arm tightly.
A quick peek at the Commander and she knew she was on her own. Reno was already fighting three men. One of the stones he had given her was smooth and faceted ending in a sharp point at its tip. Adjusting the object in her palm, she slashed it across the man’s face. A jagged gash formed, some of the blood spattering on her. His hold tightened even more. Anger flared in his eyes.
Then, there was a blur of movement. The spy screamed, cupping his face with both hands. Liyanna looked beside her. Mindy’s hand was raised, gripping a can of pepper spray. Quickly, she embraced her best friend and said: “Close your eyes.”
Light engulfed them both.
She was back in her bedroom with Kelor-dan and a distressed Theona standing in the middle of it, probably discussing her disappearance. At the end of the room, the tapestry draping the doorframe was moved aside and Pellinor entered.
Liyanna cleared her throat. They all turned to the sound and saw her and Mindy. They were definitely not expecting Liyanna to be bringing a human into their realm.
“I got lost,” she said.
“Well, it seems Liyanna has managed to find her way back. If my services are no longer required here, Kelor-dan…” Pellinor trailed off.
A nod from the Prince and the Captain left.
Theona returned into her tree. Kelor-dan took her bloodied hand and examined the wound. “This is not your blood,” he said. How much does she know?
Mindy stood frozen in place with a dreamy quality in her eyes. Kelor-dan had cast his Glamour on her.
I don’t know, Liyanna said helplessly and recounted the events starting from her accidental trip to the third dimension.
The Prince released her hand. The pain had gone, momentarily itching but that receded, too. Her palm was flawless once more. “You will have to decide what to do with your friend. Remember that you shall always have my support.”
The willow’s drooping leaves parted for Kelor-dan. He would come back when she had decided. Liyanna returned to her friend’s side. The Prince tolerated Mindy’s presence for her sake but he would not have a mortal human see him.
“Mindy.” The effect was instant. Mindy snapped back to reality. Her head whipped from side to side, taking in her surroundings. She tripped on her own feet and her backside landed against the carpeted floor.
“Where are we?” she breathed. Mindy turned to the person who had brought her to an unfamiliar location in mere seconds. “Where’s Uncle Reno? What is this place? How did we get here? And what are you?” she asked, her voice rising after each question.
Hurt stabbed Liyanna with the last one even if it was understandable in a human’s perspective. It’s not often you meet a person who travels faster than the speed of light. She noticed how Mindy’s gaze shifted from her face to her blood-stained hands. Liyanna’s hand twitched. It took all her willpower not to hide them behind her.
“Mindy, it’s me. Kristina,” she spoke in Filipino, the words feeling foreign in her mouth. Still, Mindy looked at her blankly. “Remember when you had a terrible migraine back in college?” No response. “I healed you using energy and your headache disappeared completely.”
Mindy searched her face for the old Kristina. The shape of her face, her nose and eyes were all too familiar. “Tina?”
“It’s really you.” Mindy scrambled to her feet and hugged her best friend.
Liyanna awkwardly returned the embrace, taking care not to further ruining her friend’s muddy clothes. “We thought you died in the fire. There was a body and— what happened to you? You look so different.”
“I might have or worse.”
Mindy took a step back to look at her in confusion.
“I was lucky Arturion came.”
“Arty’s real name. He rescued me from Them. I had to make everyone believe that I died to keep all of you safe.”
“Who’s Them? Is this a disguise or—?” Mindy touched several strands of blond hair. “Whoa. This feels real,” she said, her eyes wide. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” She wasn’t lying. Her feelings and thoughts matched her words. Mindy was just so glad to see her best friend alive that everything that had happened lost its importance.
Liyanna had never been more grateful to her friend. She had felt marooned in a strange land with no one to trust, not even her memories. Everybody was in awe of her presence and innate abilities; the braver ones were friendly to her but she could see that behind their smiles hid an ulterior motive; those she could trust wanted to protect her from just about everything; the rest were complete strangers to her. She and Mindy, however, have been friends even before she recognized her psychic abilities. Here was someone Liyanna could trust with her life and who has the strength to accept anything despite the impossibility of the situation.
“No. It’s alright. You deserve to know.”
Mindy had not interrupted her when she carefully explained the situation between the Zertans and Merleina, the Forest Folk, ascension, and Liyanna. Seconds ticked by and Liyanna grew fidgety at the ensuing silence that followed. Her friend’s thoughts and emotions were in tumult. She partially wished she had better control of her abilities to block it out. Doubts began to form. Was it too much to expect? Has she divulged more than necessary? The sway of the willow’s leaves announced a visitor. She reluctantly pushed away her misgivings. Leaves were drawn to the side, held by the Rituvan. Behind him was Reno, supported by a slighter man, the Black Guards, and— Arturion? No. It’s not him.
Almost everyone had acquired minor injuries, except the stranger with Arturion’s face. His hair was caked with blood and the aura around his head was muddy in color.
“Uncle.” Mindy ran to Reno’s side.
Meanwhile, Sentries materialized, surrounding Reno’s group. Their very presence was a warning. There was no need to display weapons when they have direct access to the magic within their realm.
“You take too many liberties from your connection with Liyanna, Commander,” Pellinor’s voice rang in the vicinity.
Not a single person moved except for the Rituvan. He stepped forward and raised a fist over his heart in greeting. “Liyanna.”
“Captain. Call off your men, please,” Liyanna said. Kelor-dan suddenly appeared beside her, a more efficient way to signal the Sentries to be at ease. They melded back into the shadows as silent as they had come. Their consciousness remained within the palace grounds. It was the most Liyanna and her company would enjoy for privacy within the forest.
Forgive them, Liyanna. My people are not used to having so many humans in our home, Kelor-dan said.
They’re just doing their job. I’m the one causing more trouble for you.
The Prince gazed at the unexpected gathering. A faerie appeared on his shoulder.
“Bring our guests to the chambers at the west wing. See to it that they are provided with medical assistance, refreshments, food, fresh clothes and a bath,” he instructed his tiny subject. To the Guards, he said: “Greetings, Halflings. May peace continue to reign between our peoples. Prosperity and good fortune shine upon you.”
“As do yours, Your Majesty,” Reno said.
“It is almost midnight. I suggest that everyone retire. My little friend here will show you to your rooms.”
“Forgive my forwardness, Majesty but I would like to speak with Liyanna first.”
“You may have an audience with Liyanna by morning; unless your message is urgent, Commander?”
Reno acquiesced. He urged the man assisting him to follow the faerie ahead of them. As they turned to a corner, his gaze met Liyanna’s and dropped to the necklace around her neck. Absently, her hand clasped the crystals he had given to her earlier.
The cut of the stone in her hand felt familiar. A memory tugged in her mind of a day in the family archives. She realized then to whom it belonged to. Arturion would never have parted with it…
Kelor-dan steered her inside. A thumb brushed a tear from her cheek. Numb with shock, a part of her wondered why her eyes felt so heavy. The world spun and then she was falling.
Arms caught her and lifted her.
“Forgive me, Liyanna.” The Prince sounded very far away. She struggled to stay awake but the pull of sleep was too strong. Finally, she succumbed to oblivion.
He still did not trust the Rituvan and neither did Kelor-dan. Time had not dimmed the memories of the past – of Alena. Their lives have been intertwined ever since she was hailed as the first Liyanna. In fact, Pellinor remembered more as the days went by. Having the new Liyanna in the forest would have been welcoming if her new appearance was not a constant reminder of her ancestress. He was torn between regret and longing for what was lost and what could have been and anger against the Rituvan.
His respect towards Kelor-dan rose a notch. The Prince showed better self-control than him.
Pellinor watched him carry a defenseless Liyanna to her bedroom and tuck her in bed. Her face was too serene as she slept. It was normally the case for people who have been induced to sleep.
“You can’t stop her,” he said after making sure they were alone.
“She needed the rest. All this excitement will bring nothing good for her nor for any of us.”
“Then, you will not stop her.” Pellinor frowned, puzzled.
“Truth is drawn to Liyannas. We have known this fact for eons. We can only prepare her for what is to happen.”
“Kelor-dan, when she finds out your deception—”
“Under different circumstances, I prefer to shield her from the harsh realities she has to face as Liyanna. Be ready for my summons.” Kelor-dan handed the Captain the scroll bearing the Prince’s seal, an eagle holding a sword in its talons.
“Kelor-dan, I don’t think I like this plan of yours.”
“You have days to master your emotions and to remind yourself that Liyanna is not her. Alena is long dead and the memories she left behind will soon fade,” he said, not unkindly. “Good night, Pellinor.”
“Good night.” Reluctantly, Pellinor slipped the paper into his sleeve.
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.