Previously: Separated from Kitty and Blackie, Nadec enters Hexago, the main city of Paralelo. She recognises Melia, the servant who came along with her, as someone Nadec had saved recently. As they enter through the gates, the guard announces the coronation festivities would start the day after, a day earlier than tradition.
Read all the previous chapters here.
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Blackie’s voice in Nadec’s head loosened up a knot between Nadec’s shoulder blades. She glanced around the corner of the alleyway she was in, towards the city’s main gate. The lanterns around it gave enough light to see the two guards standing around the guard post at the bottom. A third and fourth one sat atop the tower on each side of the gate.
‘Says Kridec, ready get!’
The two guards on the ground turned their heads the same direction, almost as synchronised as if it was rehearsed. They walked away from their post, oblivious of anything else but the Need to investigate. Before the top guards noticed the absence of their fellows, both of them slumped down.
Nadec ran towards the gate. She turned the wheel connected to the chain to lift the two heavy beams. Once they were released from their supports and floating in front of the gate, she tugged the tow chain—a short length of chain attached to the bottom beam. The beams moved out of the way. She unbolted the five heavy locks.
When she could finally swing open the gates, a welcome meow was the first thing she heard, followed by Kitty jumping on her shoulder. A serious-looking Kridec nodded at her.
‘Well done. Come, let’s get this done. My Need can only do so much. I’m stretching it thin already. Blackie, make them wake up in an hour. That should be enough to get into the building and sneak back out.’
A vague outline of a shadow moved in the lantern light. A thin squeak of escaping air filled the otherwise silent night.
‘How did you know she could change her wake-up farts?’ Nadec mumbled, partly to herself, partly to Kridec.
‘I didn’t. It was a good guess.’
‘How did you cloak her? Are we hidden too?’
‘No, only her. If anyone were to look out and see us walking about, it wouldn’t raise that much suspicion. A dragon is a completely different thing. I enveloped her in a cloud of Need. It makes anyone looking in her direction feel the Need to see a shadow instead of a dragon. It’s one of the more complex uses of this Line. This way.’
‘Mind manipulation. Huh.’ Nadec followed her aunt into the city, baffled by the options of the Line. She could only assume all the Lines had such a broad array of uses. If everything would go to plan, she’d have access to all of those different Lines soon. She’d really be all powerful. Once she managed to learn about them all. And if she were to fail… The people who were controlling Wyny were up to no good. She remembered what the zlurp had said. They want to conquer Earth. With all that power, there’s a good chance they’d be able to destroy it completely.
‘This is one of our stock houses.’
Kridec’s voice flustered Nadec. She didn’t know how long they’d been walking, so caught up in her thoughts she’d been. She stopped next to her aunt, in front of a large building. There was a double door, which Kridec was opening up.
‘Blackie might have to squeeze a little bit, but once through the doors, she should have plenty of space to stretch out. The stock house is empty right now because we’ve been wanting to rebuild the interior. We have a big plan, providing indoor rooms for several different shops. People would be able to come here on bad weather days and do all their shopping in a controlled environment, without getting wet or cold.’
It was pitch dark inside. The streets didn’t have lanterns or any other lighting. The two moons—the smallest one full, the other half full—gave enough light to see by on the streets, but didn’t reach inside of the building. The sound of flint and steel was followed by a small bright flash, and the steady flame of an oil lamp. Kridec must have dropped her Need around Blackie because she appeared like a black dragon-shaped void. The void filled the doorway, trying to push in.
Blackie spoke to Nadec, making her gasp.
‘What about food and water? And, even more important, poo and pee? I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before.’ She rubbed her forehead in annoyance.
‘Don’t worry, I did. One of the best features of this building, is that it’s built around a well. See?’ She walked towards the middle of the open space. There was indeed a pool of water. ‘We want to make this into a key feature in the middle of the shop house. Integrate it with sculptures and the like… But that’s not important now. The well is neverending, so there’s your dragon’s water. I’ll have one of my city servants bring food daily. And carry off the poo.’
Nadec gaped at her. This plan felt foolish. She felt foolish She didn’t want Blackie to be locked up like this, even if it was only for a long week. She turned to face Blackie. She hadn’t noticed the creaking of wood before. Turned towards it, the sound reverberated in the otherwise silent night.
‘Shhhhh, Blackie, hush.’
Blackie stopped wriggling.
‘Fit not.’ Her voice was petulant and slightly panicked in Nadec’s head. Kitty yawned, jumped off Nadec’s shoulder, and head butted Blackie’s chin. He swooned down and rolled on his back, playfully touching the chin with all his toe beans.
‘Balls. Kridec, the doorway’s too small. We’ll have to hide her outside after all. I don’t believe it would’ve worked to keep her in here anyway.’ She imagined someone bringing a load of food—and removing massives piles of dung every day—would be too conspicuous.
Kridec shook her head before Nadec finished the sentence.
‘I told you before, not an option. Our home will get invaded soon, and once word gets out—which it probably already has—every area of the forest will be searched.’ She frowned at Nadec. ‘Just skip her inside. What a fool I am, we could’ve done this all along.’
‘I can do that?’
‘How else did you skip to our home? Of course you can do that.’ She grabbed Nadec by the shoulders, but released immediately ‘I don’t have time to explain everything so I’ll try to make it quick. Whenever I had someone slap you, I reached beyond Realms to grab the closest person near you. It’s complicated, but let’s say it’s all to do with fine tuning my Need. I transferred the Need of the task I had for you, to you, right at the time I made the person slap you. That’s how you could feel where to go and what to do.’
‘You injected me with the Need of the task?’ Nadec was incredulous. It all sounded too complicated, there should’ve been an easier way.
‘Something like that, yes. It doesn’t matter. Point of it all is, with the task ahead of you, you knew where to skip. We made you believe that’s the only way you could skip, from Earth to here and back. But your options are endless. I won’t get into it now. I’m sure the box your parents left has more answers than I could ever give you. Have you opened it yet?’
‘No. Patat is having a look at it right now. He asked and I said it was alright. He might be able to order everything in rank of what’s most important to know.’ Nadec’s mind spun. She could skip everywhere? The image of Patat being released from the chest which brought him into the city and inn as part of her baggage, softened the overwhelming feeling. That had been funny.
‘How did I skip to your home? I had Patat slap me because I thought that’s how I’d know where to skip to, and it worked. But it doesn’t feel like that should have worked, with what you just told me.’
‘I can’t be certain. Perhaps you knew all along and it gave you the confidence you needed. You’d skipped many times to that same place, so it is ingrained in you. Now, enough talking, let’s get this beast inside. Let her touch you—you’re able to transport others without touching and even without skipping yourself, but it’s not a good idea to try it now—activate you Skip, and keep the middle of the building form in your mind.’
Blackie looked miserable. Her head, neck and shoulders were inside. The rest seemed really stuck. Nadec lifted Kitty up, pecked him on the head, and moved him away. There was no need for him to skip along. No need to take the risk. Kitty sauntered over to a pile off sand in a corner and started digging. Nadec chuckled and got in position. She touched her foot against Blackie’s snout, and almost jumped away when something wet touched her leg.
‘Really?’ She sent to the dragon.
‘Sure be. Want not you lose me.’ Blackie held her tongue firmly in place.
Hands on knees, Nadec began the process. Slamming her bent knees together while crossing her hands, she felt the energy build up. She focused on the spot in front of her, the center of the building, next to the pool.