So, the day after meeting Ayba again, telling Melia what had happened, and setting things in motion, we had much more work to get to. Melia had a listen into the common room while fetching my breakfast, and what she heard there was a good sign. We went to a dressmaker, where Melia nearly straight away shooed me out. I went into the nearest alleyway, prepared to Skip to Blackie, when voice caught my attention. It turned out to be a bunch of men—presumable beggars. One of them I’d met before. I didn’t intrude in their talk, so after listening for a bit, I Skipped to the statue. Blackie wasn’t around, so I waited. *sound of fingers sliding over stone and moss*
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This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
[Music louder and solo]
Episode 41: rumours
‘It appears that Ayba-woman has done a proper job of spreading rumours about the prophecy.’
Melia handed Nadec the bowl of breakfast. Slow-roasted—dark purple—tomatoes and mushrooms, potatoes, beans in a yellow tomato sauce, steamed greens, sausages, probably made from a mixture of beans and flour-wash. It looked delicious. Nadec dug in while Melia continued talking.
‘I briefly went into the common room where I heard many whispers of it being talked about at every table. People wonder what will happen today. They are perplexed about what the coloured void is. Are you certain the dragon can display colour? When I saw him—her, I mean—she was black as night. No, blacker. As if she sucked in the night, so black she was.’
‘I confirmed with her yesterday,’ Nadec said. ‘She is able to control her iridescence. But if she isn’t actively trying, and she’s in distress, then it disappears. That’s what you’ve seen so far, only her pure black form.’
Nadec stuffed a potato in her mouth, thinking about the gambles they’d taken while writing the prophecy. She hadn’t known for sure if Blackie could control her iridescence, but she had been certain it could change.
Nadec ignored her inner voice talking about the silliness of this whole idea and how everything was doomed to fail. She forced herself to repeat in her head things would work out.
Worst case scenario she’d receive the Crown without the people’s support. The main thing she had to do was stay alive. Which probably would’ve been easier while hiding, instead of throwing up all this fuss. She took a deep breath.
‘You’re certain Farenk will be able to produce all the chocolate we need?’ It was the third time she asked this, but she found it difficult to trust people she’d never met before. While she’d been away talking to Blackie, Melia had gone to the chocolate production building to talk to Farenk.
‘He said he will, so he will. He is to be trusted, mistress.’ Melia’s voice changed in that last sentence, as if a deeper meaning hid in her words. ‘Even if they are unable to produce all new chocolates, there are enough chocolates from previous days. The normal shape of them is close enough to resemble coins. Enough for our purpose.’
‘I hope so. It’s a short time, and I wasn’t sure how much time it takes to make the chocolates.’ Another thing she had to guess. ‘Good thing I—we—didn’t plan anything for tomorrow, prophecy-wise. Except for Blackie making her appearance again, like today. If everything goes to plan. The free day gives me the chance to visit the chocolate production, in the late afternoon when I’m back from returning Blackie to the statue.’
‘Oh mistress, you shouldn’t waste your time for that, everything will be fine.’
Nadec looked up from her almost empty plate to frown at Melia.
‘Why are you getting all weird? Is there a reason why I shouldn’t go? I’ll have to go there in two days anyway, to Skip the chocolate to the statue. Or wait, how are we going to do it? Balls, I didn’t think about the practical side of things. If we let Blackie carry bags of the chocolate to spread the coins, it wouldn’t look very magical, would it?’
It was supposed to be a rhetorical question, but Melia’s face and posture indicated her struggle to come up with a reply. Nadec ignored her, her own mind spinning with solutions.
‘Okay, okay, I think I found a way. Although, it’s elaborate. I’ll need to practice Skipping, a lot.’
She needed to do that anyway, for the other parts of the plan. She was still not sure of what the final miracle on the Square would be. She had an idea, dismissed it as impossible, but it kept lingering in her mind. The more she thought about it, the more she liked it. And the more it terrified her.
‘Right, let’s go out. You wanted to go past a dressmaker first? We can. I don’t know a thing about dresses, so I’ll leave it to you to make all the decisions.’
Melia had a smirk on her face from the moment Nadec mentioned the dressmaker. ‘Of course, mistress.’
Melia took complete control at the dressmaker’s. After letting the seamstress take her measurements and allowing Nadec to point towards fabrics she liked, Melia all but shooed her out. Nadec glared towards the closed door. She thought about going back in, if only to annoy Melia. Instead, she turned away from the shop and looked for the closest empty alleyway.
When she was satisfied no one on the street could see her, she began the process of Skipping. Voices stopped her. They came from the corner behind her, where another alleyway crossed hers.
‘I’m telling you, the prophecy is real. I’ve seen her, I have seen her. It was dark and somehow she was naked—a fine piece of arse that was, I’m telling you—but she disappeared right in front of my eyes. I swear to the Squares and Triangles, it happened.’
‘Aah, come on, you expect us to believe you saw a naked woman and didn’t try to jump her?’
An odd disharmony of laughter broke out. Nadec clenched her fist and gritted her teeth, barely containing herself to go knock the teeth out of their rude mouths.
‘I did.’ The man sounded embarrassed. ‘I shouldn’t have, but I did try to jump her. Gorwak guts, I tried to jump our future queen.’ A desperate pleading entered his voice. ‘I’m telling you, it was her, who else could disappear if not someone who can use the Lines?’ He scraped his throat. ‘She managed to fight back before I had a chance to touch her. She threatened I should be gone from that alleyway by the next day. I didn’t leave, of course.’ More laughter, this time probably aimed at the man getting overpowered by a woman. ‘And I thought she wouldn’t come back at all, until she stood in front of me, late in the evening, yesterday. She said she hadn’t forgotten about me. She said she really wanted to hit me senseless. She didn’t. I’m glad she didn’t. I’m telling you, she probably could’ve hurt me a lot. Instead, she told me of the prophecy and I should spread it around. She even gave it to me on a piece of real paper, see?’
‘Give that here, let me see.’
The sound of scuffles and grunting men almost turned Nadec back to Skipping.
‘No, I’m never letting go of this. It’s mine, she gave it to me. I’m telling you, it is her. This prophecy, it’s real. We should go to the Square to await the Myth. It will happen, I’m telling you, it will. None of you have seen her. I have. She looks like Queen Madec. I don’t know how it…’
Nadec stopped listening, again preparing to Skip. She’d heard enough. What were the odds of coming across that same beggar? Her plan with him seemed to have worked, although she really would have preferred to kick his arse. At least that’s another person, besides Melia and Ayba, loyal to me as a future queen, she thought wryly. Shaking her head in an attempt to get her thoughts away from them, she Skipped.
The statue looked the same as the last time she saw it, the day before. Blackie wasn’t around, so Nadec called for her in her mind. She circled the statue as she waited for the dragon, hand touching the rough stone, following the blue and pink striata. Patches of moss occasionally replaced the hard surface under her fingers with soft velvet. When she returned to her starting spot, she stepped back and looked up. Tufts of grass peeked over the edge at the top, and higher up tree branches were visible.
Blackie had sat on top of the statue before, so Nadec was certain of the surface’s accessibility. She squeezed her eyes shut, keeping her destination firmly in mind. Her heart beat intensified. This could go wrong, very wrong. She bent her knees and slapped them together, overlapping her hands in the familiar way. The expected build-up of energy came, sliding over her skin like warm water. She opened her eyes as the energy reached its peak.
She Skipped, reappearing about two metres above the surface of the statue. She landed on her feet, but the unevenness of the terrain caused her to lose her balance. She stumbled sideways. The soft underground and high grasses cushioned her fall. She lay there, laughing at herself for a while.
The laughter threatened to turn into tears. She swallowed and sat upright, pondering why those two opposite emotions often attracted each other. She shook off the heavy feeling, caused by the responsibility of all she was facing.
‘I don’t do stress,’ she muttered, standing up. She allowed satisfaction to flood her as she looked around. She’d Skipped to a spot she hadn’t been before, without killing herself. Now, she only needed to improve about fifty times faster.
If she didn’t know better, she could think she stood on top of a hill. She walked towards the edge. It was high, level to the treetops around her. Such a massive block of stone. Would she be able to do it? Part of her wanted to try it straight away, but the more rational part of her acknowledged it was probably better to practice small first. She had seven more days until the prophesied miracle on the square.
‘Here,’ Blackie sing-songed in her mind.
‘On top,’ Nadec replied.
Blackie landed next to her and asked about the night before. Had Nadec found the chamber of secrets? Nadec grinned at what Blackie called the hidden room, but her grin turned into a grimace as she began talking.
‘No. When I got to Patat, Jodec had been gone for a while, but Patat was still upset about something. It had shook him enough to forget about anything else. So he didn’t try to get information about it from Jodec. I don’t know what had happened. Patat wouldn’t say.
‘I told him about the new plan and the prophecy, but he just shrugged and nodded. Hopefully he’s in better spirit tonight. If not, I may rethink our plan for the fifth day until Coronation. As far as I know, they’re still going to open up his guts that day, and it would be a brilliant performance to rescue him in the nick of time. But I don’t want him feeling miserable, so if that means rescuing him earlier, then that’s what I’ll do. It’s more important than making some false prophecy come true. Rescuing him shouldn’t be too hard. The guards were there this time, but they were at the door. When I Skip straight in the room, they don’t see me. Just need to be quiet.
‘Anyway, that’s for later. Let’s practice for today and the next days. I need to work on my aim. We have a few more hours until the myth is supposed to appear in the sky.’
Blackie perked up. Her scaled skin was already iridescent—being out here must be good for her—but as Nadec watched, the colours deepened, and grew more metallic. Rich blues, purples, reds, pinks, greens, yellows, and more, formed a magnificent display, emphasising the dragon’s every movement.
Blackie’s expression conveyed satisfaction as she spoke in Nadec’s mind: ‘Coloured void’.
You have been listening to Nadec, chapter 41 rumours
Narrated, adventured and lived through by myself, Nadec. Written in a better way than I can tell it, by Astrid Jef.
Don’t go just yet, we’ve got bloopers coming up. [music on background]