Previously: After Nadec managed to skip them away from their pursuers, they end up in the house of her employers, the order of the red knight. Except, it was all a lie. The order doesn’t exist. They are Nadec’s aunt and uncle. They explain that the Wooden Water Crown would appear on the one it belongs to when they turn twenty eight. The one who gets the Crown, also gets acces to the full powers of the Squares, Triangles and Lines.
Read all the previous chapters here.
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The solution seemed easy. Although Nadec doubted things would not be more complicated. She uttered her thoughts anyway.
‘So, correct me if I’m wrong, but I suppose I’m the most rightful heir at this moment? So all I have to do is stay hidden until my birthday, make sure I stay here, in The Other Realm, and in twelve days the Crown will be mine. It would just appear on my head?’
That concept sounded strange, but nothing here was ever the way she expected. A sinking feeling settled inside of her, and she almost faltered when she mentioned the Crown being hers. She definitely hadn’t had enough time to come to terms with all of this.
Despite her internal turmoil—and the other smouldering emotion in the background—she didn’t miss the look between her aunt and uncle.
Kridec nodded towards her husband, letting him do the talking. Stetem still shot awkward glances at Patat, his eyes blinking and swallowing roughly whenever he did. Patat was aware of it but didn’t let on. For once he didn’t utter any rude words, but pretended to be absorbed in petting Kitty. Nadec was certain he’d been following the whole conversation closely, she’d seen his shock at hearing of her uncle passing away, the one who’d locked him up.
‘We’re very happy to see you alive, Nadec, and you can clean up and stay the night.’
He paused, looking over at Patat again before glancing towards Kridec. His wide eyes eventually rested on the table. ‘But it wouldn’t be a good idea to stay here. This is not a good shelter. They—we don’t know how—obviously have figured out something about you and the Red Knight rouse. They might know of us, and, I mean, this is our house. You understand? We’ve been living here in relative peace for a long time. We’ve always promised your parents to take care of you and followed their instructions meticulously. But we can’t put more at stake. We’ll give you the box they left us to give to you, and much of what you need to know is in there.’
‘Surely you understand, Nady?’
Oh, that nickname. It slapped her right in the face. It’s what her mom always used to call her. How dared her aunt do that to her? How dared they do this to her? They’d just abandon her?
‘Coming, Nadec. You helping will I.’
Blackie’s voice boomed in her head. Before she knew what it meant, a thunderous sound came from above and outside. The grumble and clatter of bricks on the ground was overwhelming. People screamed. A whoosh of wind preceded the head of Blackie barging through the open kitchen window, splintering the frame and managing to break the glass. A few bricks came loose, tumbling along the kitchen bench to the floor, almost in slow motion. Dust pelted the air. Pots clanked as they fell down.
Stetem fell back and clattered to the ground, chair included. Kridec ducked down, moving to take shelter beneath the table before Blackie’s head was through the window. Kitty dug in his claws, and Patat yelped. Nadec blinked and waved her hand in front of her face, trying to dispel the dust.
She quirked an eyebrow at Blackie, who managed to look sheepish now that she saw Nadec wasn’t in any trouble. How did she do it, conveying so much emotion in her reptilian face? She plonked her head down on the table. It creaked in distress, but managed to hold on. Stetem knelt behind his toppled chair, peeking out from behind.
‘What happened, Blackie?’
Nadec asked it out loud, to make it clear to the others that she could talk to the dragon, and that—despite destroying part of their house—the dragon was friendly.
‘Heat felt I. From you. Pulsed did it. Never felt before, you in trouble I thought.’ The sending hesitated. ‘Not real heat, was it?’ She slightly cocked her head—still on the table. Kitty detached herself from Patat’s lap, gave Blackie’s snout a couple of head buts, climbed on top and formed into a fluffy cat ball between the horns. The whole display—short though it was—gave Nadec time to think.
Anger. Blackie had been feeling Nadec’s rising anger. That was another new development. She wondered if Blackie would be able to feel emotions from everyone if she wanted to, or if they had a special bond. Would that—
‘Burning grounds! What did she do that grounding for?’
Patat jumped in the air, and vibrated his whole body while flying to rid himself of the dust. He lowered back down on the chair. Stetem was still hiding behind his toppled chair, much good that would do, and Kridec slowly crawled from under the table. She appeared to have managed a modicum of control again. Nadec could see it was merely a facade, though.
‘You,’ she swallowed, purposely keeping her eyes on Nadec, ‘you can communicate with the dragon?’ Nadec nodded. ‘Unbelievable,’ the other woman whispered. ‘The Ichau blood must be very strong in you.’
Stetem’s voice came from behind the chair. ‘What does that mean? Surely this is nothing but a dream we’re all in? None of this can be real. Truly. First a gorwak, then a dragon? Nice try trying to pretend to talk to that gorwak too, I don’t believe at all that those harsh sounds mean anything.’ He sounded overwhelmed and on the brink of hysteria.
‘Not a dream,’ Nadec mumbled, at the same time that Patat said: ‘burning right they can understand me when I speak gorish.’ He then rolled his eyes. When he spoke next, Nadec could hear something was different, but couldn’t place a finger on what exactly.
‘I forgot most humans don’t burning speak our dripping language. That’s what bloody happens when you get isolated for so grounding long. I should’ve burning realised that’s what’s burning different about you.’ He glanced at Nadec. ‘Perhaps that’s how I guessed you were from the same dripping blood as Jodec.’
Jodec. She assumed that was her uncle’s name. Or had been.
‘So, languages are easy for us?’ She addressed Kridec again, who’d carefully righted her chair and sat down, a good distance from the table.
‘Yes. Yes, Ichaus naturally have the ability to understand and speak all, or many, of the languages. But that’s not important right now. Why is there a live dragon’s head on my table?’
With that, her calm mask broke a little. Her voice almost sounded more hysterical than Stetem’s. She uttered a nervous giggle. ‘Seeing Patat was a surprise, a big surprise, but I could still accept that. I knew he was real before. But this. Dragon’s aren’t supposed to be real! Certainly, it’s always been said that one our family’s Lines was talking to dragons, just like you have the Skipping Line, and I have the Need Line.’ She was talking really fast now, as if that could make up for the situation she was in.
‘Everyone of us has one, two or three Lines, like a little trinket of the Squares, Triangles and Lines, all but the one who gets the Wooden Water Crown, we already said they get it all. So I suppose you have the Skipping and the—what was it called again—I don’t remember the name of the Line, but it means you can talk to Dragons. Although they were supposed to be a myth. Not real. Not able to break my house!’ Her tone of voice gradually rose at the last sentences, with the last word sounding more like a shriek.
‘Dragons and gorwaks.’ Stetem stood up. He was no longer hysterical, awe had replaced it. ‘It’s real, all real. Can I touch him?’ He reached out a shaking hand, but pulled it back when Blackie’s eyes focused on him.
‘She’s a her, not him.’ Nadec checked with Blackie. ‘She says she never had this request before, and she’s amused, but she accepts. Don’t overdo it though.’
She couldn’t keep some venom out of her voice. These people were going to kick her out. Family she’d never known, the only family she still had, were going to abandon her, just like that. Blackie sniffed, stirring up a cloud of dust, causing Stetem to cough and step back in fear.
‘Again feel it, heat. Why?’
‘I’m angry,’ Nadec said in her mind. She continued out loud.
‘They’re the ones who put me through everything I’ve been through these past years. Couldn’t they have just told me the truth? Why make me—‘ she gasped as realisation for the core of her anger dawned on her. A guilt she’d been carrying slumping her shoulders, like a weight pressing down. She whispered.
‘Why make me kill all those people and creatures for a false cause?’