We have traveled dozens of miles towards the inner city of Duke's Kingdom. She never told me why she wanted to go there but-having read the story- I knew that she came here because it was the only way out of the Kingdom to the road that leads to a new and hopefully much more pleasant one.
I had not expected the Kingdom to be so beautiful; Ye olde pubs and cottages and manors far off into the forest. The flowers: Roses, Lilacs, Tulips, Lilies. No Daisies. It unsettled me to see just about every species of flowers except the Daisy.
I ask Salem why there were no Daisies.
"The kind demanded that all Daisies be burned if spotted. He says they are the witches tool." she explains. "The same goes for Ginger and Tomatoes."
What an odd Kingdom.
There were, however, very many things in the city that compensate for the lack of Ginger and Daisies and Tomatoes. The smell may be one of the most obvious things; the stench is magnificent and I swear that sinuses cleared up completely. My head ache did not receive the same treatment, though. It had only gotten worse and I soon started to beg for Ginger. The spiciness of it would have definitely helped. I wonder if the King is a sadist. Feels content with the idea that pain shall not be treated if inflicted with it. I wonder what he himself is prescribed if he is taken ill.
I suddenly did not like this king very much and am not surprised that Salem is trying to escape. But why is no one else fleeing? Fear perhaps?
Fear of change? Or fear of getting caught?
An uneasy feeling washes over me- Deja Vu.
Salem takes my wrist and drags me into a nearby pub.
It is so noisy and full of drunken men laughing and sputter and flinging sweat and beer with every turn of the head. The smell is unbearable and I have to fight to keep from vomiting. I swear some one or several has been pissing in the corner.
Why was dragged into the this story?
Why couldn't it have been The Immortal Instruments!
Salem continues to drag me to a back room and trips over and young mans foot in the process.
"Whoa! My lady you must take caution with your steps!" he laugh.
"Yes! I am sorry. I am in a bit of a hurry!" They have to yell at the top of their lungs to hear each other. The young man seems to be nice, and clean. His hair is dark and his eyes are an interesting Emerald with flecks of gold.
My breathe catches when I realize who this man is.
Salem continues to stare at him, smiling up at him with a somewhat goofy grin and googly eyes.
"Salem? Are you alright?" I shout. I try not to laugh at the silly girl. I do not want to ruin what they will soon develop. Hopefully develop.
I make her release me wrist and she doesn't even notice. They stare at each other in very odd yet deeply romantic way and I wonder if they have known each other before.
What is that?
My ears are ringing deafening my hearing. I can't hear anything except the screaming voice. She is screaming in my head; an impossibly high pitch voice just screaming my name as if she is trying to catch my attention. I cover my ears my hands but it is pointless I can still hear her. I don't know who she is but she is making my ears bleed.
I run out of the pub because I don't want Salem to see the blood. But a large man stops me.
He says something to me but I cannot hear him.
He removes my hands from my ears and sees the blood.
He shouts something that is mute to me and flings me over his shoulder.
I see Salem run out of the pub with Demetris behind her and she looks scared and mad at the same time.
From looking at her mouth she seems to be screaming my name, she tries to run after me but Demetris holds her back and covers her mouth. He looks disgusted but he isn't looking at me he's looking at the man that is carrying me.
He whispers something in Salem's ear and she calms down and lets him take her away.
I pang hits my chest and I suddenly feel like she has been persuaded into abandoning me.
My vision starts to darken- I start to feel very tired. Faint.
I can still hear the screaming but it is not so bad now.
I don't care though.
I'm stuck in a book and the main character has just abandoned me. Numbness is slowly eating its way through me.
I want to go home- be with my mother. Live a life outside of the imaginary worlds others have created. I want to make friends get a job. Fall in love.
The pang hits me again and I feel wetness gliding down my cheeks. I think I am crying but I can't see. The darkness washed over me, blinding me.
I think I have passed out, I cannot move nor hear or speak. I don't know where the man is taking me it is all a dreamy haze.
I just want to go home and see my Mommy.
I want to tell her that I'm ready.
My eyes shoot open and I am nearly blinded once again, this time by the natural light of the sun.
I shift my eyes left and right.
I in a bed. In my own room!
I am home!
I jump out of my bed.
"I'm up Mommy!" I answer.
"I'm up already!" I shout.
I start for my door and yank it open. There is nothing but a gray cement room with hay sprinkled on the floor. My bedroom starts to melt away and soon I am just standing in a large cylinder room- no a prison. There are bars on the square hole in the wall and there's a stone bench under it. I turn around and I am in front of the chamber door; it is large and made of thick black wood. There are several locks on the door that can only be undone from the outside.
I scream to the top of my lungs.
Why am I still here?
"Help me!" I scream, "Somebody!"
A man opens a small sliding door that is the perfect size for two eyes to peer through.
I hear heavy footsteps strut away leaving me in an eerie silence alone in the cold concrete, cylinder prison.
"Help..." I yell halfheartedly. I want to badly to go home and cuddle up to me mommy. Tell her I love her more than anything in the world and that I'd do anything to prove I'm worth something.
She never treated me like I was nothing but I could see clear apprehensive in her eyes and they way she tensed when I insisted on staying indoors with my books instead of going out, living.
"You have every right to worry, mommy," I mutter to no one, "I'd be worried too."
I sigh and seat myself on the cinder block bench against the wall, under the window.
I let the tear slip from my lower lid and down my cheek. I wonder what is going to happen to me. Why did this dream play such a cruel trick on me with my bedroom and my mother's voice?
Did I really deserve that?
Do I deserve this?
"Oh- do not pout little Mayla." says a rich familiar voice.
I lift my head slow, not quite surprised to hear the lovely voice of the eldermaid. But she was different. Blurry around the edges and a little bright.
And her tail is gone... she was fairly translucent. Ghostlike.
"I think... I have every reason to "pout"." I say quietly, gesticulating the quotation marks with my fingers.
She looks at me with amuse and maybe a hint of pity. "How is the young lady, Salem?" she ask dreamily.
I glare at her- hoping that my gaze burns her like fire and nearly shout my response, "if you haven't noticed; I'm in a prison, Aquariana! Are you blind? Do you not see see the cement that traps me in this ridiculous story!"
Her gaze is unwavering, which burns me up more. I want to hit her, to be honest, but she is an elder Goddess and that would probably get me killed.
"Darling, these walls are not what is keeping you here." she says. "You are what is keeping you here. There is more for you here to learn than you could possibly imagine. And we both know you would never try to learn these things in your world. Your world frightens you, dreadful outcome for such a beautiful girl. You need this, Miss Mayla. You need to fight. You need to fight for you life, take it in your hands and keep it for yourself and only for yourself. You have friends here who will have no choice but to help you- allies who will side with you in your quest for freedom. You will draw blood if necessary, persuade some in ways you may not ever have thought you would have to do. But you must learn to play the game, my dear. There are lives at stake-the game is serious. You have no choice but to win. Save your life; save the others life... sacrifice a few lives." She looks at me seriously- unwavering still, and scarily calm.
Her words are echoing in my head: "save your life; save the others life...sacrifice a few lives".
I think I'm going to vomit.
She smiles at me- curiously with her head cocked to the side
"Have I said something?" she says with a laugh.
I'm sure my face is green and my eyes are wide because she starts howling with laughter, making angrier and sicker by the second.
"Stop it!" I shout. Jumping to my feet and striding over to what I now assume is her holographic vision of her. Telepathic travel, maybe. "I am scared out my mind and you stand there-laughing at me!- cackling as if this is some sort of humorous sport for you! I don't know what I need to do! Save a life? Save who's life? Will I even leave if I do these things you're telling me I need to do?"
Her eyes grow dark, like she is seeming another place.
"You will leave when you learn your lesson."
Heavy steps stomp through the concrete halls loudly with a glomp glomp glomp sound.
"She's in ere, Sir." says a stuffy English voice, muffled by the thick walls. "I ere'd her screamin'."
I'm still glaring at Aquariana and she is still staring off into another world.
Then she speaks, "I must go...", she says.
"Wait!" I hiss but she has already faded out.
I hear the chains and rusted locks screech and scratch one another as the guard unlocks to door, releasing me from the prison.
Two men in silver armor come at me with large rusted shackles. They lock them onto my wrist and yank me out of the chamber by a leash, like a dog.
They yank me along the corridors of the dungeon, through dimly lit hallways and filthy prison chambers only walled by a dozen bars stand erect and implanted into the stone floors and ceiling. There were men in these cells, crying and cursing and... relieving themselves. It smells horrible- sickening. The smell is too pungent to live in. I have to force myself to vomit nearly the whole time we were traveling.
The guard in the front reaches a tall heavy oak door and pushes it open with a low grunt. The sunlight nearly blinds me as we ascend a stone staircase up into the world known as The Kingdom.
I take a big greedy gulp of not-so-clean air but better-than-the-air- in- the- dungeon type of air. The guard yanks on my shackles motioning me to keep moving and I feel like I will have bruises the color of plums when these are taken off.
Will they be taken off?
We start towards a large- very large palace. No- actually, this is a true to be castle. There were window all over it and doors that seemed to just lead to the open air. There were navy flags with a crimson crown them ( I guess the king's crest) floating in the air by golden pillars and poles implanted vertically upon the walls.
We walk through the gates of the castles, old dirty men are glaring at me and cringing away from the guards as we pass. I get a whiff of something foul but it does not seem to bother anyone other than myself.
I am ushered into the castle and into a spectacular ballroom. The floors are a tanish marble spotted with a little black and gold here and there and the king's crest hangs from magnificent tapestries hanging by gold bars from the ceiling.
There is a royal blue rug leading up to the king's throne and there sits the king and his cohorts on either side of him.
As we stride up to the king it finally dawns on me that we are in the throne room not the ballroom.
The guards kneel before their amazing (not) king and bow their heads.
"My Lord, we have brought the girl just as you requested." says the burly guard, his head still lowered.
"What is your name, girl?" says Duke, the King of Duke's Kingdom.
"Mayla." I say simply.
He raises his eyebrows as if waiting for more but I say nothing and he grows impatient.
"Well!- From which kingdom do you come from?" he bellows.
"Neither." I try to hide the smile that was threatening to form on my face as I answer the king's questions with little respect or patience of my own.
Duke grows red with malice that hardly disturbed me but frightened the others in the room except two: a cloaked observer and the prince Demetrius.
He is alive! But why is he still here? And who is the cloaked percipient, though?
"You! Are trying my patience, maid! Answer me! From where do you come from?" spittle flings from his mouth as he shouts his commands.
I sigh and shrug. Demetrius is eying me worriedly and standing a little too close to the cloaked one.
"I am from Oregon." I say flatly.
The king stares at me in disbelief and nearly jumps out of his throne to rush at me.
"Off with this little demon's head!" he shrieks and I giggle a little too audibly thinking of the red queen from Alice in Wonderland.
"No!" shouts Demetrius. " I would like to punish this one myself, father. Please. I have a special idea in mind for her." He doesn't look worried anymore, more like,cocky. He is smirking and glaring at me with disgust. It chilled my blood and made me think about how badly this could turn out. Would he save me or is he really happy to see me die- thrown in a pit with the lions and the snakes.
I start to shake and my skin beads with perspiration.
Then I feel the vibration in my head. The ringing slowly volumes and becomes louder and louder. The pitch becomes high and I can feel blood leaking from my ears. I don't move. I don't want to be accused of anything more than disrespecting the king.
My breathing becomes heavy and shallow and I try my hardest to keep quiet while the kind thinks.
"Fine. You may deal with it." he says with a wave of his hand. His gowns waving with his arm as it raised and flicked at the wrist. It was a feminine gesture to me, but of course I couldn't tell him that.
Demetrius grabbed the chain out of the guards hand yanked me along behind him.
His cloaked companion following right on his toes.
Who is that?
The guards did not bother to follow us a but Demetrius led us down to another dungeon ( a cleaner one) where there seemed to be nothing in it except dust and another door leading to some unknown land, at least unknown to me.
When the door was closed and the coast seemingly clear the cloaked figure removed their hood.
"Miss Mayla!" she gasp. Grabbing me into a tight sisterly hug. "Miss Mayla, I am terribly sorry! We could- there was nothing for me to do save you. I - I hope you will forgive me, Miss Mayla." Her head is bowed and her eyes are glistening. She looks distraught.
I hug her to me tighter. "I forgive you, Salem." I say. Stroking her long blonde hair. She seems so fragile now; her character was not this fragile, she was strong.
Are you still strong, Salem?
"We mustn't stay here any longer." says Demetrius.
I jump, startled. This is the first time I hear him speak. His voice is so smooth and mildly deep. Like Prince's voice should be. I see now why Salem falls in love with him. He is beautiful. Dark hair, shoulder length, curls at the ends. His eyes, that wondrous Emerald green flecked with the richness of gold shift between Salem and me. A cold shiver runs down my spine but I ignore it, still observing him. He is downed in a soft looking white puffy shirt and black trousers tucked into dark boots.
I sigh and Salem stares at me, wonderingly.
"Miss Mayla, we must go," she says, snapping me out of my reverie. "Demetrius can only cover for so long."
"I am coming with you." he says.
We both look at him in shock.
"No." I say."
"Yes." he says with a bit of humor in his tone.
"Absolutely not!" cries Salem.
"I am not leaving you in the hands of this mystery girl as she drags you off in to the wood to Goddess knows where." he says folding his arms defiantly.
I let my gaze shift between the two as they glare at each other.
"Fine." I say, " let him come. We might need him."
Salem's daggerous gaze snaps to me with a palpable hint of worry in her eyes.
"No..." she says quietly lowering her eyes to the ground.
Demetrius strides over to her closing their distance with only inches between and lifts her chin with his index finger.
She looks in his eyes and I see something that pains me to see.
My gut twist ever so slightly but I know it happened. Her eyes water and says something to her that I cannot hear.
The ringing is still in my ears but it slowly starts to fade away into distant screams.
I hear horses neighs and the shouting of orders and gallops. I can smell the burning of... flesh?
Oh! make it stop!
My nose is bleeding and I know my ears are as well.
What is this?
I turn away from the lovers. Not wanting them to see me.
I cover my ears and fall to me knees.
I can't help it. I scream.
I open my eyes and see that a hand is over my mouth.
The flesh is bitter and salty and I wonder why this person is covering my mouth.
Oh.. yes. I was screaming my heart out.
I turn around forcing the hand to move away from my mouth and see the owner of said hand is Demetrius.
I sigh and he holds up a finger to his mouth making a light shh sound. I look around for Salem and see that she is on the opposite side of the dungeon, away from me. She looks scared. I start to get up but Demetrius pulls me back down and blocks my view of Salem with his body in front of me.
He's peering out of the hole in the wall above me head.
I hear distant footsteps and horse trots and some one barking out orders.
Then the noise grows fainter and Demetrius sighs, lowering himself back down and maneuvering himself to my right with his back against the wall.
"I do not suppose you want to tell us what that was about?" he says gently. He is so kind even when he should be upset.
I shake my head and feel my nose to see if I am still bleeding but it comes away clean. I feel my ears and they too come clean.
"Was...was I bleeding?" I ask.
He looks at me, stunned, tensed and shakes his head before glancing at Salem, who is still staring at me.
"What happened, Miss-"
"Please! Please just call me Mayla." I say.
"Mayla, what happened?" she says sternly.
"I don't know." I say pathetically, "I- I just heard this constant ringing and then screaming , so horrible. And then I could smell....burning... flesh." I shake my head. "I heard a horrible things, Salem."
She shakes her head incredulously and strides over to me and Demetrius, hunching her back so she is not seen from outsiders.
"What is this talk about blood?" she says.
"I bleed when it happens to me."
She shakes her head again; her hair waving like blonde silky water. Demetrius couldn't take his eyes off her, despite the current circumstances.
"You were not bleeding!" She hisses.
And it is now my turn to go silent.
She sits in front of us and just...stares at me.
"I don't know what else to tell you." I say quietly.
We sit for long time in silence. The dungeon grows quieter and the air gets colder. The room darkens and I can see a hint of the sunset. The oranging of the skies as it does so.
Demetrius breaks the silence.
"We cannot stay here." he whispers. " I do not know what is wrong with Mayla but I know someone who may help her."
"Please don't say the Eldermaids Goddess." I mutter.
"Who?" he scrunches his face and shakes his head, "No- n- never mind! The point is that I know someone who can help. She is still inside the kingdom; maybe a days walk away...shes a witch.
Salem gasp and covers her mouth.
I look as flat as ever, I'm sure.
"No. We cannot risk such things. No! I am not allowing this!" cries Salem.
Demetrius takes her in his arms and shushes her with his soothing voice.
"We do not have a have a choice." he says quietly, "I do not want us to be stranded out there she should become inflicted with another episode. We must go to the witch."
I nod and Salem sniffles before wiping her nose with her sleeve and pulling away form Demetrius.
"I'm sorry I'm so much trouble, Salem." I say quietly rubbing my arms as they begin to chill from the cool night air.
She looks at me as if she is just noticing me presence. My heart cringes at the thought of being forgotten so easily.
She smiles at me, wearily, and suddenly I feel tired too.
"Tis not your fault, Mayla," she says, "we will figure out what it is that poisons you. I promise."
Demetrius sees the weariness in both of our faces and stares upon us with pity in his eyes.
"I am sorry, truly," he says as Salem and I both look at him, confused "We cannot stay here. At all. " he says. " We need to leave...Now."