Previously: The masterplan set in motion, Nadec had herself arrested so she could sneak around at night in an attempt to find Patat and free him. The dungeons are large and she can’t find him. So she sneaks out, into the castle proper, where she eventually finds him by following voices, Patat’s and someone elses. The other voice confirms her supicion about her uncle Jodec’s whereabouts.
Read all the previous chapters here.
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‘I grounding wanted to smack your head, that’s why I burning flew over here to find you.’
‘Hah. You should not have done that.’ Jodec’s voice sounded calm and uncaring, but Nadec could still hear a tension in it. ‘I didn’t give you that safe zone and went through what I went through just so you could eventually fly into your own death. Squares, ‘Tat! What were you thinking? You couldn’t even have been certain I was here, hah. Tell me how you got here in the first place. Who released you? I believe I have a suspicion, hah.’
‘I’m not burning telling you anything. What has grounding happened? First I grounding hear you’re dead, only to discover suspicions of you still being burning alive.’
A sound at the end of the hallway from where Nadec listened in startled her. It wouldn’t do for some guards to discover her. She eased the door open a bit more, enough to slip through, into the throne room. Neither Patat or Jodec saw her sneak towards the closest column. While telling herself she was being stupid, she slipped from column to column until she was as close to the cage as she could go without being seen.
By then, Jodec had also heard the sounds coming from the hallway. He cursed, uttering surprise at the time. He did something with his feet. Nadec blinked. Was he dancing? He stretched out his right foot to the side twice, repeating it with the left, followed by his right foot stretching forward, also twice. This was again repeated by the left. His face looked pained and shone with sweat. He kept repeating those same movements, as if dancing to an unheard melody. At the same time the doors opened, he changed. Taller, with dark, curly hair to his shoulders, a royal bearing, ridiculous outfit. Nadec’s uncle had transformed into Wyny.
The four guards entering the hall stopped beyond the doorway, confusion littering their faces.
‘Sire.’ One of them ultimately found his tongue. They all bowed. ‘This is unexpected. It is the change of the guards. Where are the others?’
Wyny’s face lifted his eyebrows, looking as arrogant as ever.
‘I apologise for questioning you sire.’ A small bow again. ‘You sent them away to be alone with the creature?’
The imposter gave a slight nod while keeping his chin up high, managing an annoyed and haughty expression.
‘And you want us to leave you alone as well. We will return in a half hour, sire.’
The fake Wyny turned his backs to the guards, claiming satisfaction at their words. Nadec was impressed at the way the guard had been able to guess his supposed king’s wishes. She thought Jodec’s reluctance to speak odd. Why didn’t he say anything? How had he known the guards would pick up on his intentions? Or had it been a gamble? The guards left.
‘I dripping expected you to be an expert at your Lines by now. You were already a burning master when I saw you last, despite your grounding young age. What has burning happened to you?’
Jodec, still wearing Wyny’s body, began pacing in front of the cage again. When he spoke, his voice was still his own.
‘Let’s just be glad the guards guessed what their ruler wanted, hah. It is not easy to properly work the lines with body parts missing and others not working as they should.’ He slapped his left leg. ‘I learned to walk without a limp, but the lack of a full set of toes makes certain things more difficult. Hah.’
‘What grounding happened to you? Third time’s a burning charm. Can you burning answer me?’
Jodec stopped pacing. His appearance turned back to himself.
‘They caught me ‘Tat. They said they knew where you were. They threatened to kill you if I didn’t abandon everything and worke alongside them. They made me do the renounce ritual. Hah.’ His voice turned silent. ‘They broke me. They utterly and completely broke me. I needed to keep you safe. I did everything I could to keep you safe. It’s been so long,’ he trailed off, massaging his forehead. ‘I actively helped the Order to try and kill my own niece. She outsmarted us all, hah, for which I’m grateful.
‘But they know she is in the city. She should’ve kept hidden. What was she thinking, going out in public like that? At least I managed to keep my sister safe, hah. She won’t be bothered while on vacation, I made certain of that.’ His head perked up, and he stared at Patat.
‘Hah! I should have seen it before. It was my niece who’d released the Deception on your safe zone and brought you here, wasn’t it? Of course it was. I cannot let her have the throne, ‘Tat. She will never do what we want. She could ruin everything we’ve worked for the past decades.’ Nadec frowned at the sudden change of demeanor and tone of voice. He sounded harder, more determined, less emotional.
‘They will gut you in four days, on the midpoint of the coronation festivities. They will read your guts and they will confirm what the Order of the End has known for more than 50 years. This Realm will come to an end soon. The apocalypse is near. It has been predicted.’ His wide, open eyes added a craziness to his face, fitting with the insane words.
‘Burning, grounding drips. You of all grounding people should know it isn’t burning true, the gorwak’s guts can’t burning tell the future. Someone couldn’t handle the burning truth we threw at them and grounding started that rumour. You burning know that. You grounding, dripping know that, which is why you dripping kept me safe.’
‘Hah, is it, is it truly? Is it truly merely a rumour? I am not as certain anymore. But do not worry, my friend,’ the crazy light in his eyes dimmed, ‘I will not let them kill you. I do not need confirmation of the prediction. I will free you before it happens, even though I can not do it now. It will not matter much, you will perish when this world comes to an end. Perhaps I can find a way to take you with me to Earth.’
‘Burning Earth?’ Patat interrupted him. ‘Isn’t that where Nadec comes from?’
‘Yes, indeed, that is where she was raised. It was I who guided my sister to find her way there. She never knew, of course.’ He laughed, sudden and barking. ‘In a way, my niece owes her life to me. Hah. Either way, burning Earth is an appropriate way of saying it. Because when the time comes for us to Skip there to establish ourselves, it will burn.’ He laughed again.
‘I will return tomorrow. Stay strong my friend.’
Jodec wobbly Skipped, and disappeared. Nadec waited a moment longer to make sure he didn’t come back. She walked up to the cage. Patat had slumped down into a miserable pile of slimy looking, rainbow reflecting, capuchin long-limbed heap, his five-ways split tail curled around himself. His four wings appeared less iridescent.
‘He’s mentally not all there, is he?’ Her voice startled Patat enough to jump. ‘He’s probably as confused as some of his words are.’
‘What are you grounding doing here?’
‘Oh? I thought you’d be happy to see me, after the predicament you put yourself in. What were you thinking, coming here? But if you don’t want me, I’ll just leave you then.’ She bent through her knees. Patat stretched out his arms.
‘No, don’t burning leave. I am grounding glad to see you. But it’s burning too dangerous.’ He furrowed his forehead. ‘How much did you just hear?’ When Nadec told him she heard about everything, he burst out in a wide grin. It looked scary. ‘Good, I won’t have to burning repeat it all. Jodec certainly changed since the last time I grounding saw him. They dripping messed up his head. He doesn’t grounding know which side to be on. I can’t burning accept he is stupid enough to believe a prediction made from gorwak guts, after all he’s done to grounding protect me. Even more than I grounding knew before.’
Patat stared ahead of him, no doubt thinking about Jodec’s missing eye, fingers, and apparently toes as well. Nadec didn’t know what to say. It has been more than fifty years since the gorwak and Nadec’s uncle saw each other last, of course people change during such a time. Although Jodec’s change may not have been for the best.
‘Ready to go? I’ll Skip you to my room. I should be back there tomorrow around noon.’
‘What? You’re not dripping coming along with me? I doubt there is anything else you can burning do here.’
‘There is,’ Nadec said slowly. She hasn’t thought of it before, but now an idea popped in her head. ‘I already planned to stay the night here so I could go to the law induction tomorrow, bu—’
‘Law induction? What in the burning grounds is that? It doesn’t sound very burning safe to expose yourself like that either.’
‘I let myself be arrested to get here—under disguise of course—and the guards who arrested me told me I had to go to an induction about the laws and rules of Paralelo. I think it would be a good introduction to what’s soon to be my kingdom, wouldn’t you think?’ She grinned at Patat, who carried a look of utter perplexity.
‘You had yourself arrested on burning purpose? That’s burning brilliant.’
Nadec blinked. That was not what she’d expected him to say.
‘While I’m here, perhaps there is something else I can do. My parents’ notes said there is a room in the palace, full of books and notes on the full power of the Squares, Triangles and Lines. Only accessible by someone who can Skip, as a precaution to safeguard all the information in there. I’ll try and find it.’
‘Don’t be burning stupid, it’s too risky. Aah, I recognise that grounding stubborn look. Fine, listen, dripping Jodec returns here tomorrow, I can dripping try to tease the location out of him. If he hasn’t dripping emptied it already and given all the books to his burning Order.’
A familiar sound came from the hallway.
‘Guts, the guards are back. What’s that look for?’ She trailed off. ‘Sorry, wrong choice of curse word. I can’t leave you here, Patat.’
‘Kid, I’ll be burning fine. Come back for me tomorrow, now that you’ve grounding been in this hall, you should be able to Skip back here. Go, go!’
Nadec hesitated, but the gorwak looked determined. She growled softly and Skipped, back to her cell.