Previously: After returning from leaving Blackie at the piece of the Originals’ statue, Nadec lets a bath drawn up, in de middle of the night. During her soak, she realises Patat hadn’t been in the room. Among the papers scattered on the desk—papers from the box Nadec’s parents had left for her—there is one different. It is written in a hurry. Nadec’s uncle, Jodec, might still be alive.
Read all the previous chapters here.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Horns, bells, music, and shouting woke Nadec. The window still stood ajar. She yawned, blinking her eyes. That had been a perfect sleep, it had been too long since she’d slept in a bed. Kitty mimicked her movements. There was no sign of Patat having returned. She’d trusted in him finding the way. Worry painted her face. She looked through the window. Wherever the noise came from, it wasn’t on her street. She squinted towards the alleyway across from the inn.
When Melia threw open the door, Nadec jumped and cursed.
‘Good morning mistress. Oh, did I startle you? I apologise. I brought your breakfeast up because I assumed you wouldn’t want to eat it in the common room.’
‘Breakfast, you mean. And yes, you were right.’
‘No, no , mistress, breakfeast. During the coronation festivities, it is named that. Mistress? I left a shift out for you to wear during the night?’
Nadec had forgotten that she was naked. ‘That’s the way I always sleep,’ she muttered, and put the shift on to help against the draft while eating. Kitty jumped on her lap as she sat down. She asked Melia to tell her about the festivities. The woman didn’t know much. While fetching the breakfeast, she’d overheard that the parade would go through the whole city during the morning. It would stop around noon on the Square Market, in front of the Triangle Gate.
‘How far is the market square?’
‘The Square Market, apologies mistress. Not far at all. We are already in the square section of the city, not f—’
‘Nadec, me hear?’ Blackie’s voice cut through what Melia was saying.
‘Yeh, I hear you. You alright?’
‘Hungry. Thirsty. Release need. Urgent.’
‘Balls. Hold on. Melia, how fa—’
‘Not can hold. Now need release. Now.’
Somehow, Blackie managed to send a string of feelings towards Nadec to emphasize her meaning. Nadec’s eyes opened wide with the urgency for a bathroom visit.
‘Got it, coming!’
‘No time to explain. We have to go to Blackie, as quick as possible. Can you choose the dress which takes the least amount of time to put on? And then help me put it on in even less time? It’s urgent, very urgent.’
A surprisingly short time afterwards, they walked down the stairs. Nadec was relieved there had been a simpler dress. Although it didn’t look simple, this design had less parts and instead of a skirt with many layers, it used a hoop made out of wood. While Melia had been tugging at Nadec’s corset and took care of the other parts of the dress, Nadec had fixed her hair. She couldn’t do her regular hairstyle with the three fench braids and knot because that signified royalty. Instead, she let the bottom half flow free while braiding the top in an intricate pattern of 2 braids crossing each other. That was the style accepted for the noblewoman she was portraying.
Crossing the common room was awkward, although she pretended not to feel so. Conversations stopped and, although many didn’t look her straight on, many stared at her.
‘Lady White,’ the inn-keeper began, ‘I trust you enjoyed your night bath time and you had a wonderful sleep. Is there anything at all I can assist you with?’
‘Yes. If I can use a quin and your fastest strongman, I would appreciate it immensely.’
‘Of course my Lady, of course, Lazyhorse is our best. I will urge him to get ready. Please have a seat, he will be here in twenty minutes.’
‘Lazyhorse? He doesn’t sound very swift. In any case, twenty minutes is too long. I need it now.’ She twirled a coin in front of him.
‘Yes, my lady,’ he snatched the coin out of the air when she tossed it. ‘He claims his name is the name of an animal, yellow with black dots. It’s not the quickest of them all, but faster than us humans. That’s what he says, my lady.’
He ducked his head and walked off. Nadec watched him go while saying to Melia: ‘It’s a good thing he’s fat, or I wouldn’t have trusted him.’ When Melia looked confused, she added: ‘Never trust a skinny innkeeper. It’s a wisdom I learned from reading many books.’
Only a few minutes later, the quin stopped in front of the door. Nadec and Melia rushed in—dignified, of course. Nadec opened the front curtain.
‘The Circle, as quick as possible. Don’t worry about bumps.’ She tossed him a coin as well. Despite being strapped in to quin, he plucked it from the air with ease.
‘Yes ma’am. Better tighten yourself in.’
He nodded towards the sides and middle of the seat. Before Nadec could knot the two ends of the ropes together, the quin moved. The acceleration threw her back. Melia reached to shut the curtains, but Nadec stopped her and opened up her side curtain as well. She wanted to see the city. She wanted to see her city.
Streets and buildings rushed by. They hadn’t been lying about the man’s speed. He shouted for people to get out his way. They did. Melia squealed more than once when it was a close call. Nadec couldn’t stop laughing. The people—her people—looked gorgeous in their variety. This was obviously a richer area. The women’s dresses shone luscious and the skirts were wide. The hairstyles had complicated braids but never with all their hair. There wasn’t a black piece of clothing in sight, everything had colour.
The men’s clothes were the best. They wore tightly fitting breeches which stopped at their knees. Below that, white, thin tights with thin, square-pointed shoes. The upper parts of their outfits was even better. Nadec suspected it was one of the many reasons why she couldn’t stop laughing. She couldn’t decide whether the large puffy sleeves were the funniest, or the pieces of fabric in front of their manhood, many of them shaped as if the men were happy to see the women.
Right at the time they drove through gates—one of the minor gates in the square wall—Blackie contacted Nadec again, in full blown panic. Nadec tried her best to distract her, assuring her they were almost there. She didn’t know if they were even close, but then Lazyhore stopped his quin. Nadec all but jumped out, thanking him for his haste and hurried away. She was several steps further when she realised she didn’t know where to go.
The Circle was a round, open space, surrounded by larger buildings. Melia tugged at Nadec’s sleeve, directing her towards one of the streets radiating out from the open, circle-shaped space. A moment later she opened up a door from the large building. Nadec felt as if Blackie could almost cry from happiness. It was an utterly strange picture to imagine for a dragon. Blackie whimpered as they entered. Nadec didn’t waste any time and immediately started gathering the energy. They Skipped.
Before Nadec could take a breath, Blackie jumped out and spread her wings. She tilted to the side and tumbled in a head spin back to the ground. She used the momentum of getting out of the roll to run out towards the trees around the clearing. She wobbled, and misstepped, hitting the first tree she came across. It shook. Several branches tumbled down but Blackie was already disappearing from sight.
‘Me see?’ Blackie’s thought was riddled with panic.
‘No, you’re gone, can’t see you.’
There was no reply. Instead, a massive roar sounded from Blackie’s direction. The relief it exuded was palpable. Nadec looked around the clearing as she chuckled. The clearing made by the presence of the piece of statue dropped there, ages ago. She clicked her tongue in annoyance for not having read all the pages left by her parents. Perhaps they’d mentioned the statue. It would make sense since her bloodline came from the Originals, whom the full statue was supposed to be.
She walked over to a bundle laying on the ground, and squatted down next to it. Wyny’s bundle. Of course he left it, what was he to do with some handed down scruffy clothes. He probably had tons of fancy garments in his castle. My castle, Nadec thought, with a possessiveness which surprised her. It was eerie how fast she’d accepted her role as a princess and saviour of Earth. Both were interconnected. If she’d take up her right as a Ruler, Earth should be safe.
Easy as that. She snorted. Easy, yeah, taking up the responsibility of a Queen and heir to some legendary couple.
Blackie returned, landing in front of her. She said she found a good source of water and food—Nadec did not need to know the water was a popular drinking spot which meant there was plenty of poo around. She wanted to have more grass to avoid getting hungry until tonight. Nadec sighed. It would be better for Blackie to stay here. Nadec wouldn’t be able to hurry through the city every time Blackie needed a toilet break. Staying here would be better for the dragon. Nadec told her so.
Blackie resisted, of course. She didn’t want to be separated from Nadec, whose heart filled when Blackie said she wanted to be there in case Nadec needed protection. After some back and forth, Blackie gave in. She admitted it wasn’t fun to be locked up in a dark building, and being out here would be better. Neither of them knew if their connection would work from such a distance—neither of them knew how much of a distance it really was.
Before Skipping back to Hexago, Nadec picked up Wyny’s bundle. Perhaps she could fetch a few coins with the fancy fabric of some of the clothes. And if not, in the least she might be able to hand it to people who need it. As she picked it up, she felt something strange inside. Curiosity winning, she opened the bundle and gasped. There was wood inside. It was rectangular. Nadec understood straight away it could be folded open. It formed into an open box.
A memory of the time they’d spend walking in between fleeing the cave and finding the statue, came back to her. They’d been talking about getting in to a town or city, and how awkward it might be for Kitty. She’d explained about litter boxes after he asked how it went when she lived in the tower—he’d meant her apartment. The conversation moved along from there.
She turned the box around. Wyny had made a litter box for Kitty. She didn’t understand why he’d done that, knowing he was only springing a trap. Why had he pretended to care?
Back in the building, Melia didn’t give Nadec any time to settle from Skipping.
‘Mistress, I went outside to listen to the street gossip because I knew I had time before you came back. And, it’s… Oh, perhaps it’s nothing, perhaps it’s another creature.’ Nadec’s heart skipped a beat. ‘Mistress, they say Lord Pagewyn has been gifted a magical creature who will help him predict his future. They will show it off at the coronation festivities’ official opening, the one at noon on the Square Market.’
‘Patat. It has to be Patat.’
The gorwak seemed to have gotten himself in some real good trouble. Nadec could only hope they didn’t mean ‘opening his guts’, when saying they’ll be showing him off.