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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 18 (v.1) - Chapter Eighteen

Submitted: September 19, 2017

Reads: 41

Comments: 1

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Submitted: September 19, 2017



The floor of the cell was dusty and cold, but Michael barely noticed it. His legs gave out, and he flopped on the ground. He felt calm. Deliriously calm.

He was going to die.

Natalie shut the door to the cell and locked it, but didn’t go away. She gazed at Kat through the bars. Kat faced her but stared at the ground. She shook all over.

“I am sorry,” Natalie said quietly. “I would not have brought you here if I had known what they would do.”

Kat stared at her and did not answer.

“I was angry with you,” Natalie continued. “I was eager to redeem myself. I realized my mistake too late.” She twisted the hem of her tunic around her fingers. “I— I am sorry.”

“Sorry?” Kat spoke in a hoarse whisper. “You’re letting them kill my friends, and you’re sorry?”

“I was trying to save your life.” Natalie began to tremble. “He would have had you killed. I saved your life—”

“Don’t say that!” Without warning, Kat slammed her fist into the cell bars. Natalie jumped backwards. “You’ve never saved my life! All you’ve ever done is ruin it!”


“You let them kill my aunt!” Kat shouted. “You’re letting them kill Michael, and Jonna, and Nathaniel!” She smacked the bars again. “You let them kill my mother! My mother was right about the Daltians! She was right about you!”

Natalie stared at her, her face full of hurt. “You should know,” she said, in a low, shaky voice, “that your mother was not killed by Daltians. She was killed by Catians who felt someone who had married a Daltian could never be a valid queen.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“It is the truth, whether you believe it or not.” Natalie reached tentatively through the bars and put a hand on Kat’s shoulder.

Kat slapped it roughly away. “You still didn’t stop anyone from killing my family,” she hissed. “And you’re not going to stop them from killing my friends. Go away.”


“Leave me alone!” Kat pounded on the bars again. Even as Natalie turned on her heel and ran up the stairs, she kept beating them. The metallic clangs vibrated throughout the cell.

After a minute, Kat dropped to the floor. Her breath came in quick bursts, and tears were rolling down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, looking up at Michael. “This is all my fault.”

Michael still felt too numb to answer. He’d watched them argue with detached disinterest. None of what they said mattered. He pulled his knees into his chest and stared into space. He felt like he was a million miles away from everything that was happening.

Jonna scooted closer to him and tugged on his sleeve. “What’s going on?” she whispered. He pushed her away. “Michael, what’s going on?”

Her voice brought him back, just a little bit. He looked into her frightened eyes. They were pale green, like their father’s, but she had their mother’s wispy red hair. An intense loneliness filled his chest so tightly he thought it might crack.

“Michael!” Jonna let out a whimper. “Michael, what’s happening? I’m scared!”

Michael reached out and stroked her hair. There was no point in worrying her. He didn’t want her last hours to be full of terror.

“We’re going home,” he managed, as bravely as he could. “We’re going home, to see Mom and Dad.”

“Really?” Her face brightened a little. “But how—”

“Magic,” he whispered, straightening up. He squeezed her hand. “We’re in Dalt, aren’t we? Why shouldn’t we go home? We’ll go home, and we’ll sit on the field wrapped in blankets and look at the stars. And Dad will make hot chocolate, and Mom will make cookies, and we’ll sit there for hours, just looking.”

“Mommy won’t see anything,” Jonna giggled. She relaxed and snuggled up to him. “She’ll fake like she does, and she’ll make up constellations, like The Big Head and Puppy Dog—”

“And The Giant Grilled Cheese Sandwich,” Michael finished. He could feel his voice growing stronger. “And when we finish, we’ll race each other back. And I’ll win—”

“No, I will!”

“—and then we’ll go to bed. And in the morning, Dad will make pancakes with butter and hot syrup and sausages, and they’ll taste better than anything we’ve ever eaten.” Michael could almost taste them. “There’ll be strawberries, too, and blackberries—”

“Am I going home, too?” Nathaniel demanded, scrambling over to them.

“You bet.” Michael tried to remember Lily’s description of the Fletcher’s old home. “And your dad and your mom and Isabel will all sit on the balcony with you and stargaze, and Jonna and I, we’ll be looking at the same exact stars in our home.”

“I like that.” Nathaniel smiled. “Mommy used to tell me stories about the stars. She says if two people are looking at the same stars, one person can tell the stars things, and the stars will tell the other person, no matter how far away they are.”

“I wanna do that!” Jonna exclaimed. “I’ll tell a star to tell you hello, and it’ll take my message all the way to Dalt, and you can answer.”

“I’ll tell it our lessons from school,” he said excitedly. “That way, we can learn stuff together. I’ll help you with the math if you help me with the science.”

“Deal!” Jonna grinned up at Michael. “What are you gonna tell the stars?”

The question caught Michael off-guard. He started to say he didn’t know, then stopped because he’d caught sight of Kat. She was still huddled in the corner of the cell. Her curls were matted to her scalp. The mijan had burnt an ugly red mark around her wrist. Her clothes were wrinkled, and hung too loosely around her body. The Daltians’ plan– no, King Wensel’s plan– was already working. It was impossible to imagine Kat as a queen.

Wensel had said Michael, Jonna, and Nathaniel were dying because of Kat. Michael couldn’t help feeling angry with her. If she hadn’t been with them, none of them would be facing death. But deep down inside, Michael knew Wensel was wrong. And Kat needed to know he was wrong.

“I’d send a message to Kat,” he said. Kat’s head snapped up. “Kat doesn’t get to go home. Not yet. So I’d use the stars to tell her that’s okay. That this isn’t her fault. And that no matter what happens, she’s going to be a great queen.”

Kat’s mouth dropped open and she stared. “Thank you,” she whispered finally.

“It’s true,” he said.

He wasn’t actually sure he believed it, but it was what she needed to hear.

© Copyright 2018 KathrynAcacia. All rights reserved.


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