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Aurora took the details in, slowly mulling over what she had learned.

“What about our Mother?”

Queen Arderine sighed softly at the tentatively voiced question.

The answer was equally soft.

“She IS the Light.”

Amy bowed her head respectfully as her Queen grieved for her mother. Aurora’s voice seemed to have frozen itself. Her lips formed soundless words as her mind tried to make sense of this new revelation.

“The war was depleting our resources and without the Light to protect us, our people would have perished.” The Queen paused, steadying her voice before continuing, “Apart from the 23 Lakes you saw, there is one more. Visible only to a select few – The Protectors of the Light. There are only 5 at any given time and they are spread over the entire world. Mother was one of them.”

Amy picked up the thread of the tale as she watched her Queen’s emotions escape the tight leash she usually kept them on. “Queen Arderine was 19 years old at the time, you were 2. Lady Protector asked the Queen to fulfill her purpose and protect the wolf. She instructed the Queen to take her to the lakes inspite of you, a mere infant, being too young for immersion. The Queen managed to reach the cave without being followed.”

The Queen, who had composed herself somewhat, continued,”Even as an infant, the lake pulled at your subconscious mind. You led me to the Orange lake and tried to reach for it. The Red sent me images, telepathically asking me to throw you into your lake, asking me to take the proverbial leap of faith. And I did. I stood there with outstretched arms, ready to catch you if you fell back, but you never did.” The Queen said, smothering a sound that was suspiciously like a sob. “Mother promised me you’d return, then she…then..”

Saving her Queen from explaining something that was clearly hurting her, Amy turned to face Aurora, putting her arm around the now openly sobbing Queen.

“The Protectors made a decision, each of them decided to contribute to the fading Light to form a forcefield to keep the shadows out. In the process they gave their own lives to protect those they were sworn to protect. Till the wolf howls again” Amy sighed as the tale ended.

Aurora’s legs gave out from under her and she belatedly realised that she must have stood up at some point in the tale. She felt an odd sense of grief and mourning for the lady Protector she had never and probably would never meet.

A prompt knock on the door made both Aurora and the Queen jump. The Queen instantly composed herself and Aurora wondered if she had had practice over the years.The door opened at the Queen’s crisp “Come in” to reveal a handsome man in his 50s. His features were completely normal save the interlocking words forming a sideways figure 8 across his right cheekbone in Electric Blue.

“Ah! Quesios, this is Aurora.” The Queen introduced.

Quesios smiled warmly at Aurora and she felt herself blushing. “I daresay I’ve heard quite a bit about her in the corridor a moment ago. Neat trick you pulled off there. Pretty powerful telepath.”

“Quesios is our chief medical and scientific advisor. I trust him with my life. Literally, since he’s my physician too”, the Queen joked, calming Aurora down.

“I’m here to check if the Immersion went correctly or not”, Quesios said as he brought up his hand to her face. Aurora expected him to check her temperature or pulse or something and therefore falling off the chair when a wierd contraption sprung from his little finger was completely fine. Till everyone burst into laughter.

Aurora, red in the face again, took the proffered hand and righted herself while Amy hastened to explain the translucent object.

“Remember we told you the armour could form weapons and other instruments when properly controlled?”, Amy asked Aurora, who nodded,understanding.

“This is a scanner. Wont hurt a bit”, Quesios promised.

Aurora was still uncomfortable as he activated the scanner and it began emitting electric blue light. She was still following it with her eyes when he spoke

vos ambitioni pervium me

Aurora’s eyes snapped up to his instantly.

“That’s what my marker says”, he said in the way of explanation. “Not that I know what it means”, he added

“So Electric Blue chose you.” Aurora ventured

Continuing after his affirmative nod she asked , “What does it stand for then?”

The Queen looked amused and Quesios seemed to take a breath before mumbling something under his breath. The Queen’s smile became larger and she teased,”What was that Quesios? I don’t think Aurora could hear you.”

“Eccentric, it stands for eccentric”, Quesios said with some exasperation and he rolled his eyes when both the Queen and her confidante snickered, “I’m sure you find it very amusing.”

Aurora smiled at their interaction and Quesios threw her a wink before studying the results.

The whole castle had been abuzz since everyone had had the vision of the lights and Quesios had already started running tests on his assistant Maya when the Queen had walked into his lab muttering about his choice of location for his lab.

He was about to defend his little (well..huge) dungeon lab when he took in her pale face. He had only seen her this shaken once before and he was in no mood to remember that. Pulling out a chair and gently seating her on it, he took his niece’s hand in his before asking her for any details. This phenomenon seemed to have affected her more than anyone else.

“The wolf is howling”

Quesios’s eyes widened as the Queen went on,”She returned Quesios, she returned”

Both their faces broke out into huge smiles, one of relief and one for joy. Hope smiled at them softly, allowing them this moment of peace.

Arderine could tell the moment Quesios remembered when he suddenly moved out of the part of the dungeon he called his lab and disappeared around the corner.

It must be here,it must be. Quesios came to a stop when the door on his right opened of its own accord. He didn’t remember the door ever being here. He looked up at the ceiling and thought of his sister, still protecting them all and entered the room.

An ornately carved table made of the purest white marble took up the center of the room, various devices placed on slender marble stands adorning the periphery. Tears appeared unbidden into his eyes.

Her tomb. His dearest sister’s tomb. Slowly shaking himself out of his stupor, he moved towards the only coloured stand in the room, glowing orange and picked up the small  unintegrated armour there. Taking one last look around the room and backed out, watching the door disappear before his eyes.

83 years had past since that day. The day one of his nieces had to  shoulder the burden of the whole world and the other had to be sent away for the Antiquons knew how long. Today he would see her again, he thought as he slowly made his way back to his lab.

Pressing the square into Arderine’s hand, he asked her to go to her sister.

“I’ll be along soon”, he said to her.

He hadn’t planned on grieving for an hour, though and he had to hurry to the Queen’s quarters to carry out his tests. He had been silently cataloguing the similarities between his two nieces when Aurora fell out of her chair.

Helping her up and still chuckling he wondered if he’d ever heard Arderine laugh this freely before. Their banter continued till he looked at his scanner.

Looking up at the woman in front of him, he could utter only one word


Next Chapter

What did Quesios find that was so impossible? What happened to the world? What is going to happen to Aurora?

Stay tuned to find out!!

©Sonali Mukherjee