Previously: Nadec kept herself imprisoned so she could go to the induction of the paralelian laws in the morning. It is given by Ayba, the woman who’d introduced her to the skinny housekeeper who then tried to poisson her. Despite Nadec’s male disguise, she recognises her, and offers to get lunch. After a fruitful meeting which lasts several hours, Nadec knows more about the Order and a new plan is made.
Read all the previous chapters here.
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A hopeless, tense ball of stress. That would have been the proper way of describing Melia when Nadec returned to her room. Upon seeing her, Melia slumped down on the floor from where she was pacing.
‘I probably should’ve let you know what was going on,’ Nadec said while helping her up. ‘Sorry for that.’
‘Mistress, please, don’t apologise to me. I am glad to see you unharmed. Are you unharmed?’ She narrowed her eyes while inspecting Nadec’s whole body.
‘I am more than alright. I met Ayba again—’
‘That treacherous little wench, what did she do now, try to stab you in the back? Again?’
‘That’s a bit uncalled for, isn’t it?’
Melia’s face contorted into a blend of unbelief and anger. ‘Uncalled for? She lured us into a trap and got us poisoned. That’s enough for me to mistrust anyone.’
‘She had nothing to do with that, she didn’t know that housekeeper would do it.’
Nadec tried to calm Melia down by making her sit, but the tall woman didn’t want any of that. She pushed Nadec’s hands away and began pacing the room again.
‘I can not believe you have faith in her. How can you believe her? I can not look kindly upon anyone who tries to harm me, nor should you.’
‘I believe her because she explained things to me about the Order of the End, things which helped me understand it all better. And she improved our plan. Which, if you remember, didn’t go much beyond saving Patat. No, he’s not free yet. Let me speak.’ Melia shut her mouth, pouted her lips and drew down her eyebrows. ‘And in Frank’s name, sit, do you know how annoying it is to follow your nervous back and forth? That’s better. Now, shut up and listen. When I found Patat, my uncle Jodec was talking to him. I listened in and waited. When he was gone, I went up to Patat, but had to decide in a hurry to leave him in captivity for another night.’
Melia shifted, but didn’t say anything.
‘It was his suggestion. I mentioned wanting to find the hidden chamber of information to him. He thinks he might get Jodec to tell him tonight, so I’ll go back tonight. But I won’t be freeing him just yet. If he is fine with it. If he wants to be released, then I will obviously help him.’
‘Why?’ Melia slapped both of her hands over her mouth, eyes wide. ‘Apologies,’ she mumbled through her fingers.
‘Well, if he wants to be free, I can’t possibly leave him stuck in there, can I?’ Melia shot her a nasty look. ‘It’s a joke, I know what you meant. I met Ayba in the morning at the induction course, she was the one teaching it. We went to lunch afterwards, because she’d recognised me. That’s when she told me about the Order, and when we decided to invent a prophecy about me. If all goes well, rumours should already be spreading. So by the end of these Coronation festivities, people will be looking forward to the prophecy coming true. They’ll be looking forward to the return of a true Ichau.’
Nadec gloated, lifting her arms up, making elaborate bows, pretending to respond to cheers by doing small queenly waves. She dropped her arms and shook her head. ‘Even though I wish it didn’t have to be me. You can speak now.’
‘What does that have to do with the gorwak’s imprisonment?’
‘Oh, right. We made him part of the prophecy, together with Blackie.’ Kitty, resting on the bed, lifted his head at the mention of the dragon’s name. ‘Listen to this.’ Nadec scraped her throat and spoke in a clear voice.
‘And it shall come to pass, the Ichau-line shall not be broken. When all hope seems lost, and a betrayer seeks the throne, the Crown will find the true heir. Do not despair, as these signs shall announce their presence.
On the first day of the CorFest, one too soon, the last legend of the truth shall be humiliated for ye all to see.
The third day, this prophecy shall find the way to ye hearts.
On the fourth day of CorFest, a myth shall appear in the sky above, and ye shall all bow in awe for their magnificence. The coloured void shall judge ye all from the highest tower.
On the double sixth day, six days of CorFest and Six days till Coronation, the coloured black myth will drop brown gold, gold which can not be spent.
Five days before Coronation, the myth shall prevent a fake prophecy. The legend shall appear on the myth.
The tenth day of Corfest, two days before the Crown finds their Queen, she shall appear amongst ye, as one of ye, carrying a PowerPooped Weapon as proof.
The eleventh and final day of the Coronation festivities, ye shall all remain away from the centre of the Square, whence a miracle shall reveal.
In the morning after the Corfest ends, the day the Wooden Water Crown returns to the rightful heir, all shall be right, and all shall rejoyce.’
Melia had nothing but a blank stare for Nadec, who dipped her head with a little shake, urging the blonde woman to speak.
‘It’s… uhm… Elaborate? It feels like a lot of work. What does it all mean? The coloured void?’
Nadec smiled, even though she had flutters in her chest from acknowledging the idiocy of all this. She should just lay low. Go to the statue and wait there until the day comes. There was no point in risking it all by staying here. The chances of getting found—and killed because of that—would only get higher by the day.
But, she thought about how it would be. Hide like a coward. Wait until it all falls into place. What then? Come into the city and expect people to accept her. They didn’t know her. They didn’t even know of her. The people liked Wyny, she’d heard that from many sources. They wouldn’t accept someone swooping in and taking the throne, not even if it was the rightful heir. Wyny had somehow crawled into their hearts. Nadec had to convince people she deserved a place there as well. If not in place of Wyny, then at least next to him, on the same level. The idea of making people like her—love her—strengthened the flutters.
‘All I want to do is hide and wait until it’s all over.’ The tremor in Nadec’s voice annoyed her, but there was nothing she could do. ‘But I need to take responsibility. I need to act like the queen I’m apparently destined to be.’ She blew out a long breath, looking up and flapping her hands to her face. ‘I can’t do this alone. I’ve got Ayba, and I want to trust her, but I’m still wary. You on the other hand, you I trust completely. I remember what happened in the muddy marshes, even if we’ve always danced around and ignored it. I know you’ve saved my life, even though you had a chance to get away and set things right in your home. You gave it all up for me. And now you’re here still, and a servant, which makes my debt to you even greater. I’m sorry I’ve got you into this life, Fluetza.’
Melia’s mouth hung half open. It opened more when Nadec went down on one knee and took Melia’s hands in hers.
‘You have proven your fierceness and loyalty. I humbly ask you to extend the loyalty as a true heir to the Wooden Water Crown. When I am Queen, it would be my honour to have you in my… what do they call it? Retinue. My main servant who is also secretly my closest defender. Or, I mean, we can discuss it of course, perhaps you’d prefer something else. Maybe I can help get you back home.’
‘My lady, my Queen, the honour would be all mine.’ She laughed, wiping her eyes on her shoulder. ‘I couldn’t imagine a better position to be in. My home is here now, it has been years since I felt I had a true home. I knew there was more to you when we first met.’
‘Great!’ Nadec released Melia’s hands, who used them to wipe her eyes some more. Nadec dabbed at hers as well. She slapped her hands on her thighs and stood up. ‘Let’s make sure I’ll actually become the Queen then, and not only in name and position, but also in reverence from the people. Here’s what the prophecy means and what we have to do.’