So many arrows flying towards Blackie. I genuinely think my heart may have stopped beating for a while. Blackie was going to die, and it was all my fault, and that was the immediate end for the prophecy, and why didn’t she just fly away, come on dragon, just fly away. She just stayed perched atop the highest tower of the castle. In those few seconds, I saw our whole plan tumble. I saw Kitty and me fleeing, to run away from responsibility and hide at the statue. I’d still have to rescue Patat. But the prophecy would be laughed at. It was the end. The arrows closed in on Blackie, and *silence*
[Music in background]
This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
[Music louder and solo]
Episode 43: Opposition
As the arrows flew closer to Blackie, Nadec must’ve sent a panicked message. She hadn’t been aware of it until the dragon spoke with a soothing tone: ‘Worry not, fine is.’
Many of the arrows began tumbling back down, not even reaching within 2 metres of their target. The rare ones who did come closer, never touched Blackie before also falling. Nadec let out a long breath. Even if an arrow could cover the distance, it would probably have lost most of its strength. Blackie was safe. Nadec turned back to Ayba.
‘Oh, so you do remember I am still here.’ Ayba laughed. ‘Not to worry, I am only joking, I saw what happened with the dragon, but she appears to be safe on that tower.’ She lowered her voice. ‘That is a good start for our prophecy. How do things look for the brown gold? And have you been able to speak to the you-know-who again, did he agree with the plan? Can he hold out for another few days?’
They moved aside to get out of the way of a pair of guards passing by.
‘Let’s walk away from here,’ Nadec said.
As they crossed the Square towards one of the streets, they caught snippets of conversations. Every single one talked about the dragon and the prophecy. One stall had so many people standing around it, Nadec couldn’t see the owner. She did hear a woman shouting: ‘Prophecy, get your prophecy here. Only one quarter-squarton. The full edition with our analysis of the days to come for a mere one squarton. Prophecy, get your prophecy here!’
Nadec and Ayba shared a look and a nod. Nadec moved to push through the people for a copy of her own prophecy, but Ayba stopped her with a hand on her shoulder.
Her eyes were locked on a young man coming out of the waiting people, holding a parchment. She stepped up to him. He frowned as he saw her and when he spoke he made elaborate gestures. His voice, from the start loud enough so Nadec could almost understand what he said, gained in volume as he almost yelled: ‘That’s her? You should not meet with her.’
He pointed towards Nadec, uttered a few more—unintelligible—words and stormed off. Ayba’s lips still pressed together as she re-joined Nadec.
‘My brother,’ she replied to Nadec’s silent question as they strode away from the crowd. ‘Come now, we should truly get away from here. What he said was right, I should not be seen with you. Not for me, but for your sake. The Order is looking for you, which is no surprise, and we are true fools to be moving in the open like this, especially you. No insult meant.’
‘None taken, I know I’m a fool.’
Ayba stopped, abrupt enough for Nadec to take a few more steps.
‘My queen,’ she said, emphasising the word but speaking it silently enough to not be overheard,’ I apologise for saying you are a fool. You are not, and you should never let anyone tell you so, especially yourself. It is not becoming of your future status. You have to be confident at all times’—they began walking again—‘with a straight back and a straight face. Even if you are not certain of something, you have to pretend. Use words to guide people away from your ignorance. Were you never taught these tricks? I remember you said your parents never told you about Paralelo, which is why you did not know the rules, but surely they must have in the least raised you to act like a noble?’
Nadec didn’t reply. She hailed a quin instead.
‘They didn’t teach you… any specifics? They preferred you to be a fighter over a princess, did they not? It makes sense, in a way, I suppose. But it is still strange.’
‘You meant to say my parents didn’t teach me any manners, didn’t you?’
At Ayba’s guilty face, Nadec wanted to chuckle. She couldn’t. Having her shortcomings flung at her did sting, even if it was all true and mostly her parents’ fault. ‘They let me be free in what I wanted to do, and when I showed interest in fighting sports, they cheered me on. It eventually turned into my career.’ She lowered her voice to avoid the strongman overhearing her next words. ‘But I never knew about Paralelo or the Other Realm, as I call this world, until 3 years ago, after they died.’
During the rest of the quin ride, they both stayed silent, lost in their own thoughts. Ayba broke the silence.
‘I did not ask him for the parchment. My brother. The idiotic way he acted made me forget all about the prophecy analysis that vendor was selling.’
Nadec uttered an annoyed sound. She’d forgotten about it as well, with her self-criticism and Ayba’s reaction to it.
Ayba added in a musing voice: ‘We merely call our world, World. Is that not what you call the world you grew up in? And should this not be The Other World then instead of The Other Realm. Or do you call your world Realm? If so, what a silly name.’
‘Earth is what it’s called,’ Nadec smiled. ‘I suppose I could’ve called this one The Other Earth. It would’ve made more sense, you’ve got a point.’
They arrived at the Circle and walked the rest of the way to the stockhouse, mindful of possible followers. No one stalked them, as far as they could see.
Safe in the stockhouse, they could finally speak freely—the odds of the quin strongman having overheard them were slim, with their quiet voices and all the noise surrounding him.
‘Tell me more about your brother,’ Nadec asked Ayba.
‘Did I not tell you about him yesterday?’ Ayba walked around the large space of the dimly lit stockhouse. Her voice sounded forced caused by looking up. ‘This is a large space, is it not. High ceiling indeed. You said they planned to make this into—’
‘Aybahberry.’ Nadec’s no-nonsense tone made the other woman snap her head towards her. ‘Your brother. I may be wrong, because my memory isn’t that trustworthy, but I’m pretty sure you haven’t told me about him.’ She sat down on a crate against the wall, urging Ayba to sit next to her.
‘Your memory must be wrong.’ Ayba lowered herself on the crate, her face showing the uncertainty she felt at the unconventional seat. She sighed as she saw Nadec’s raised eyebrows. ‘Apologies, my Queen.’
Nadec softened her features, purposely relaxing her forehead, banishing the strict face but not allowing the inner feelings of discomfort to come to the surface. Once again, she stopped herself from telling Ayba not to address her as ‘my Queen’. She knew she’d have to get used to it. She had to accept people treating her this way, and expecting her to act like a queen.
‘I do not believe I told you about him.’ Ayba sighed. ‘He and I do not see along the same line. We hardly speak to each other. Therbo is only my half brother. My mother died when I was thirteen. It only took my father two years after her death to remarry and get his new wife, Crilla, pregnant too. My father is a good man, he truly is, but unfortunately he did also love her. She twisted his mind into joining the order of the end. I’ve already told you this part. He is a complete believer now, has been for years. My brother as well. He got even worse after his mother died.’
‘Died? Too? Oh no, so your father had two dead wives?’ Nadec flinched at her own question. It wasn’t very subtle. Ayba stroked Nadec’s cheek.
‘Do not worry, you did not insult. I do not mourn my mother anymore, it has been a long time. As for Crilla, my father and her had stopped loving each other well before her death. They… it does not matter. This was about my brother. It is the classic story. I believe he may blame my father for his mother’s death, even though he had nothing to do with it. Despite that, they still remained in the Order together. It appears their belief in The End supersedes their despise for each other. Well, I mean to say, I do not believe my father despises Therbo, he is his only son after all. It does not matter either. What does matter is that Therbo is not to be trusted, and I am quite certain he has already told someone about seeing us together. I do not know if I will be able to meet with you again. They may be keeping an extra eye on me from now on. So I will not be able to accompany you tonight. We may not see each other again, not until you receive the Crown.’
‘Tonight?’ Nadec blinked. Had she missed something? Had she fallen asleep while still being awake? Had Ayba said anything else, but because of her babbling way of speaking, Nadec’s mind hadn’t grasped it? Ayba laughed.
‘Oh, you look cute when you are confused. But still queenly, of course.’ She touched Nadec’s knee, her smile wide.
‘You did not believe there was not an organisation opposing the Order, did you? Of course there is.’
You have been listening to Nadec, chapter 43 opposition
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]