What does one do while net it down, again? One writes on their phone’s note section for later use! Alas, that was me yet again so here is quite a lengthy offering for Grim.
I stood at the end of the Great Hall, as they used to call it. It wasn’t just any hall. It was the Great hall, tucked beneath the massive palace grounds, in the belly of the cavernous caves that lined the coast. They say that in the Golden Era of King Maylord VI, some thousand year ago, the hall used to dazzle with the likes of nobility of all realms. They still say some portals may yet be open to those lost realms. Now, the only realm we knew of were the faeries, the elves, the dwarfs, and of course, the useless selfish hoards of humans. We didn’t much like mixing with the humans. Too many questions, too many breathes wasted and none grew wiser. I wasn’t exactly any of these creatures either. I’ve always been in the mixed realm they called the Limbo. As far as I knew, Limbo had started out as a realm for the outlaws, the criminals, and sometimes the creme of the crops who were banished for fear of how they could influence the public. As of 1200 years ago, the band of outlaws formed their own community, and it was a mix. No beings were discriminated against. That was until Maylord’s descendants were overthrown during a coup by their maternal side of the family during an upheaval.
I looked up at the large domed ceiling and could only see the flickering white flames floating as if in gentle breeze, not that there was a breeze inside. I’d been practicing my flames for the last two months and all I could manage was a spark that lasted few seconds. Pretty embarrassing seeing how I was from the line of Phoenix Guards known for their aptness with the fire element above all else. It was safe to say I would not be getting into the Legion of Guards anytime soon, if at all. Every single member of my family were in the Legion, vowed to protect the Royal Family at all cost, every last one of them. Even my younger brother, Cian was already mastering through all his training and was now on the list for the qualifying trail.
“You are not dancing, Belladonna,” Lord Bradan Lowrie approached me. He wasn’t a man I was very familiar with, but almost all of Limbo was familiar with his reputation. He was not a man I wanted to notice me. “Such a beautiful young lady should not be standing by alone I dare say!”
“I have a twisted ankle, My Lord.”
He eyed the hem of my dress where my ankles should be. “It’s simple magic my dear, to heal sprained ankles.”
I nodded. “But not for someone who is still struggling with her lessons, Sir.”
He turned then, cutting me off from the rest of the hall. His towering self inches from me. He smiled, a smile that churned my stomach. I could only imagine what he was thinking and even that made me feel ill. “Shall I heal it for you, Bell- adonna?” He leaned in. His warm breath falling on the nape of my neck and I did wish then that I hadn’t agreed to put up my hair. I could faintly feel his lips brush against my skin. “Oh how I love a damsel in distress.”
I stepped back, feeling the wall hit my back squarely, and faintly smiled. “I’m fine, Lord Lowrie. But thank you for your offer.” I tried to slip past him as calmly as I could, but soon felt his hand on my arm.
“Not running away from me, are you young miss?”
I could feel the spell ripple my skin where he touched. I tried to say no, but the room whooshed in and out of focus suddenly, and I felt myself swagger. “Please, let me be.”
“And let a lovely thing like you go?” The sinister smile on his face made me panic. Worst yet when I knew I was under his mercy. Blasted spell! If only I knew how to deflect them. Alas, I knew no such thing. The panic welled in me as he looped my arm through his and started leading me across the floor, towards the south exit, to the portal that led to Faerie land. A land not many ventured to. A land I knew next to nothing about.
“Excuse me, Miss Blight?”
A young man stood in our way in strangely colored clothing.
“What do you want, jester?”
The man nodded to Lord Lowrie and then to me. If only I could ask him for help. Instead, I stood emotionless clasped to Lord Lowrie’s arm and feeling sick. “Miss Blight’s mother is looking for her past half hour. They are heading back home and have asked all attendants to help find Miss Blight and bring her to their carriage.”
He nodded to Lord Lowrie and offered his arm to me. “Allow me to escort Miss Blight to her carriage, milord. While you are free to go about enjoying the evening.”
I felt Bradan’s reluctance to let me go. His hand gripped my arm in vice grip before he passed my arm over to the young man, huffed and turned around, disappearing into the dancing crowd.
He led me out the side door, and we happened upon a small ledge overlooking the great sea where I could finally breathe.
“Please,” he pointed at my arm. “May I have a look?”
I nodded, still feeling remnants of the enslaving spell on me. I couldn’t yet move on my own but my mind was my own now. “Thank you, for saving me inside.”
He nodded and reached for my arm gently. He pushed aside the material and there, on my forearm, almost the entire length of my forearm was a black bruise in the shape of manacles. Very large manacles. “Nasty spell this one. Lucky I noticed him casting it when I did otherwise no one would have detected it after it was already cast.”
“What is it?”
“A sort of an enslavement spell. Ancient dark arts. Arts that have been banned for anyone other than royals and the Legion since Maylord Era.”
I nodded, watching him examine the bruise intensely. He seemed to be muttering a spell I vaguely recognized, though the language was foreign. The manacles clamped tighter around my arm and made me wince. “What is your name?”
He held my arm gently, allowing me to clasp his as hard as I could. “You may call me Val, though my name is Valor.” He pulled what looked like a small black obsidian from his pocket the size of a pebble. “Please close your eyes. This is going to hurt.”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. “Val.”
When I opened my eyes again, I found myself back in front of my pub. I had walked hours simply to get back to where I started. I was tired, I was sad, and worst of all, I hadn’t slept in over two days. I let myself in, walked through the deserted floor and up to my apartment. I fell on the bed, pretty much exactly how I had fallen on my bed all those years ago after Val had rescued me. How was I supposed to kill the only man I’d ever loved?
“You promised.” His voice gently echoed in my ear.
“I know,” I whispered back, feeling our realms merge even while sleep swept over me. “Just give me a little more time to dream while I still can.”