So, there I was, surrounded by mostly empty chests around me, my own tiny secret Skipping lair. Or whatever you want to call it? With Melia, Meralda and Farenk selling chocolates on the Square Market, while proclaiming the chocolate production as the first official royal Ichau supplier, a stack of chests shouldn’t be too suspicious, right? Anyways, from my hiding spot, I had a perfect view on the platform where those nozbexrapers would gut Patat. I only had to wait a little bit, when *trumpets*
[Music in background]
This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
[Music louder and solo]
Ch 53: Save one, endanger the other
In the middle of the Square Market, the large wooden structure towered over the crowd. At each corner, the triangle shaped platform had a post with a thick cord pointing towards the five other posts in the middle. From where she stood, Nadec could see something different to those middle ones, but she stood too far away to distinguish what it was.
She stroked her moustache, welcoming the same disguise she’d worn only a few days before. It had already been too risky to walk around as herself, and it would become more than dangerous once Patat was freed. She almost regretted the line of the prophecy saying she’d be walking amongst the people two days before Coronation, three days from now.
‘This is perfect, I’m going in now. I think they’ll come out with Patat soon.’ Nadec touched one of the chests they—Nadec, Melia, Meralda and Farenk—had stacked in a precise way, behind a table with chocolates on display. Three wooden planks hung against the construction of chests, with words painted on for passersby to read:
‘The first official Royal Supplier to the true Ichau family. Buy your special coronation chocolates now.’
Farenk had decided to fully embrace the danger of being exposed to working with her. It was genius. By being in the open of his ties to Nadec, it diminished the chances of an accident happening to the chocolate production. Even more, it strengthened his position. By putting up a stall on the Square Market, he announced to everyone passing by, he supported the real heir. He may have been the first one to openly admit to it, and that in turn gave many people the confidence to come up to the stall and admit their excitement of what was to come.
Not in the least, it provided Nadec with the opportunity to have a sheltered area to perform her Skipping movements without drawing attention. She nodded to her companions, and slipped in the tiny, open-ceilinged chamber made out of chests. The opening she’d crawled through was quickly shut by Melia pushing a chest in it. The chests weren’t stacked high, they barely came above her head, and although it wasn’t narrow, they’d measured it out precisely so she could have enough space to bend through her knees and open them. At that eye level, a slitted opening had been kept in the chests, giving her a clear view of the platform.
Despite that, she felt blind. She couldn’t see anything beyond the middle of the platform. She counted on the others to tell her of anything important. They occasionally moved in front of her view, but they clearly knew to avoid standing there. Nadec straightened, giving her legs a rest. The exertion from the days before had left her with a painful and almost impossible to get out of bed soreness. She’d stretched all morning and had tried to walk it out somewhat. It had worked, but she still dreaded what was to come.
She felt grateful for the trousers she could wear as part of her disguise. Doing the Skipping in a dress, as she’d done the days before, added to getting more exhausted. She heard her companions talking to the people interested in the chocolates.
Somehow Farenk had been able to make a completely new design since the day before. When Nadec remarked on the impossibility of it, Farenk admitted it to have been a design Kridec and Stetem had wanted to implement a while ago, but eventually decided against it. They’d wanted the chocolates in the form of a crown, to secretly honour their own connection to the crown, while pretending to celebrate Wyny. They’d gotten far enough in the process to have the moulds ready, and even made a bunch of test batches. In the end, they abandoned the idea because it irked them too much to be seen to support the false ruler.
‘Oh dear, would you look at this?’ a women’s voice spoke. ‘Have you even seen something so cute? Do you mind if I have a closer look?’ A mumbled reply came from what Nadec thought was Melia. ‘Oh, I can have a free taste? How brilliant. This truly looks like the wooden water crown.’
A moment of silence was followed by the same voice, disformed by an obvious chocolate mouth. ‘Superb, truly superb. True Ichau Family Royal suppliers? Well, well, does this mean we can finally come in the open again? Oh, hush, dear, I am not proclaiming it out loud quite yet.’ Nadec couldn’t understand anything of what the man—possibly the woman’s husband—replied. The woman lowered her voice. Nadec strained to hear what she said. ‘I presume you know princess Nadec personally then? I have met her myself a couple of days ago, at a…. never mind where it was. I had expected to meet her again since then, but she seemed to have sent no word.’
Nadec’s heart thudded a few sharp beats. This woman obviously belonged to the Truth Companions. Is Melia going to…? Before Nadec could finish her thought, Melia spoke louder and more clear than before, making sure Nadec could hear her.
‘Are you from the Truth Companions? Ah yes, mistress Ichau expected—hoped—this stall would attract at least one of the members. I have a message. Mistress Ichau wants you to know she has not forgotten about you. She compliments you all on the excellent distribution of the prophecy, and she apologises for seeming to have forgotten about you. She has not. However, she has had reason not to get in touch. You will have to trust her. She knows how to contact the lady O’Elope, and she will when it is needed. So for now, continue with all that has been discussed previously. Little as it actually was, it does make a difference. Mistress Ichau is very pleased and happy with you all.’
‘Oh,’ the woman exclaimed. ‘This was more than I hoped to receive. Thank you. How much is it for a small box of these? I will take it, thank you.’
Nadec stopped listening. A change in the overall ambiance of the crowd perked her up. Trumpets shouted out all of a sudden, and the whole Market appeared to fall silent while the brass echoes faded away.
‘Patat coming.’ Blackie singsonged in her mind. She probably perched on top of her favourite spot, the highest tower.
A completely different tune sounded, this time not only trumpets, but what sounded like a complete orchestra. The song they played struck a chord in Nadec’s soul, carrying a sad and haunted melody across the Market. Coincidentally, it had been one of the things she’d discussed with Rieatta O’Elope. Someone in the Truth Companions was a big influence into the royal musicians, and Nadec had loved the suggestion of affecting everyone’s emotions with music. They’d hoped it would make people sad about what was about to happen. She hadn’t thought of the effect it would have on herself.
Her hand swiped across her eyes as she bent down to look through her slit. Nothing to see on the platform yet. She straightened again, with a muted groan. At least her ankle didn’t hurt any longer. The music changed to even more ominous, which she felt in the deepest of her being.
She looked through the slit again, and saw people on the platform. Someone dragging chains behind him appeared in Nadec’s view, followed closely by another one carrying Patat above his head, on some kind of metal shape. Patat’s long arms stretched out in front of him by the first man. A third man walked behind, stretching pata’s legs out, also by manacles attached to chains. They walked around on the platform, giving everyone a good view of the gorwak. The view of her friend, humiliated and obviously in pain, combined with the sad music, gave Nadec’s tears more free rein. A fourth person, a woman, held a bunch of chains. Those were attached to the five tips of Patat’s tail. Nadec didn’t understand how they didn’t slide off.
The procession moved to the center of the platform. The tail chains were attached to the five middle posts, the two leg chains to one of the corner posts, and the chains connecting to the manacles on his arms each went to the other two pole chains, spreading his arms out. The woman cranked a pulley, which made the tail chains lift up in the air. It lifted Patat up, face down. They kept lifting him until he hung about chest high. It, unfortunately, gave Nadec a better view of the metal shape used by the second man to carry Patat. Oval shaped, it perfectly circled Patat’s tummy. It had been clenched tight against his skin by straps around his back. Nadec gritted her teeth.
‘Get ready,’ she sent to Blackie.
Nadec didn’t need to hear Blackie’s reply. She could feel Blackie moving. She’d added a Tracker to Blackie’s back. As Jodec’s journal had scribed, eventually she’d be able to find the target everywhere, and be able to know their presence and place in time and space all over, as long as the target is locked. Thank balls for the journal, she thought, not for the first time.
Nadec put her hands on her knees, moved her knees outwards, and brought them back in. They slapped back outward, but her hands hadn’t crossed to follow the opposite knees they’d held before, as she should’ve. She faltered at the sight of Wyny suddenly holding Patat’s head. Nadec frowned, confused as to what was going on. Was he supporting Patat’s head while he hung there, a small mercy before gutting him? Nadec cursed. He had to let go. As long as he held Patat, Nadec wouldn’t be able to Skip only Patat. Despite the progress she’d just complimented herself on, when people touched they felt like one.
Jodec had given his own explanation in his journal. He thought it had to do with the same reason why Skipping someone along at first needed to happen by touching them. Nadec shook her head. No time to dwell on that. A large, thick man, dressed in all black, held out a wickedly sharp-looking knife. He held it up for all to see, walking around the platform. From somewhere else, a female voice sounded. Nadec couldn’t see the owner of the voice.
‘Welcome, everyone.’ Nadec had heard that voice before, in a way. The special breath pattern. She’d heard the voice through Blackie. Jodec’s companion in the cave. ‘How wonderful to have you all here to witness the last Gorwak gutting. The final prediction of the gut will be a special one, and we are pleased you could be here to see it. Lord Pagewyn holds the gorwak’s head, so the guts will project the truth about his future foremost. And we all know, Lord Pagewyn’s future is Parellello’s future.’ She’d let her tone grow louder and more excited, and waited expectedly for cheers and shouts which never came. A warmth spread in Nadec’s chest, and she dared hope she was the reason for the silence. The woman continued, sounding slightly petulant. ‘Well, let’s do some predicting.’
Wyny wasn’t letting go of Patat. Nadec’s breath came quicker and sweat formed on her forehead. If she Skipped Patat, Wyny would Skip along, and most likely appear next to Blackie’s back.
‘Blackie,’ Nadec sent, ‘I’m… I’m doing it, but… please. Wyny. He might… Please don’t let him die.’
Blackie didn’t understand what she meant, but confirmed anyway.
The huge black-clad man approached Patat. Nadec performed the knees and hands manoeuvre perfectly, her thumbs pointing towards each other. The man held out the knife underneath Patat’s belly, waited a dramatic moment, and stabbed. He stabbed at air. The metal oval smashed the knife out of his hand as it tumbled down the wooden floor of the platform.
A chorus of gasps rose from the Square.
‘What’s happening?’ Nadec begged loudly, shoving the chest to open up her exit. Meralda replied: ‘The gorwak is safely on the dragon, but Lord Pagewyn is falling through the air. Oh no, he’s going to—Auw.’
‘Where is she?’ A male voice demanded. Nadec stopped pushing the chest as she heard a clanging of weapons, and an obvious skirmish. ‘Don’t resist, we know you have had dealings with the person claiming to be the true heir. You are stupid enough to proclaim it out loud. By degree of Lord Pagewyn O’Elope d’Onnosely, ruler of Paralelo, master of the Squares, defender of the Triangles, chief of all Lines, bearer of the Wooden Water Crown, we hereby arrest you on treason.’
Other voices yelled, voices Nadec didn’t recognise. Protesting shouts all around her.
Nadec didn’t hesitate to follow Melia’s advice. The chest she’d been pushing, disappeared outwards, pulled out by someone.
You have been listening to Nadec, chapter 53 save one, endanger the other
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]