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Previously

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

“Impossible!”


 

Quesios was worried. Scratch that, he was terrified. What had gone wrong? How had the Immersion gone so wrong?

He looked at the confused faces of his nieces as he led them down to his lab. Descending the final set of stairs, he flung the door open, causing Maya to jump violently. Striding purposefully to a cabinet, he began taking out all sorts of equipment.

“Prepare for full Immersion scan”, he said and Maya instantly walked over to one of the odd looking chairs and beckoned Aurora to sit.

Fearfully looking at the Queen, who smiled reassuringly, Aurora climbed into the chair and Maya began fiddling with a ring that was loosely placed around her hair.

Quesios hurried over to the chair as soon as Maya had exclaimed “Done!”

Aurora could now see that he had his palms full of needles and she squirmed instantly, trying to distance herself from them.

Quesios glanced at her confusedly, following her gaze to his palms and his eyes widened in comprehension.

“No no no”, he soothed, “They’re not for inserting into your head. Each of these go into the ring. They’re LASERS, I swear”

Aurora calmed considerably at his words and allowed him to fit the LASER needles into the ring.

“They’ll radiate all 24 colours of light and on the basis of how much your brain has absorbed of the colour, we will know what traits you will show and”, his face darkened slightly before he added a solemn, “And for how long”

Aurora barely moved while he fiddled with the needles before he flipped a switch and stood back.

All the colours she had seen in her dream burst in front of her eyes again. After a minute or so, they disappeared.

She watched Quesios run to the other end of the room and fiddle with another machine till his shoulders slumped.

“What is it? What’s wrong?”, The Queen asked, her voice rising in pitch with every word.

Quesios turned slowly to face the two girls, looking from one to the other before defeatedly asking, “How old are you, Aurora?”

“21”, Aurora answered, wondering what her age could possibly have to do with any of this.

“What did your preliminary scan say, Arederine?”, he turned towards his elder niece as she answered with a soft “23”.

“Temporally 23”, Quesios corrected, running a tired hand down his face. He slowly produced a page and indicated a number that was meant to be her age.

It read 85.

“That’s not possible”, Aurora said instantly. “I remember my 21st birthday quite well. There was a party and there was dancing and..”, Aurora trailed off at the expressions on the faces of the Queen and Quesios.

“What?”, she asked instead

The two shared a look.

“I have a Mother and Father and..”

How could she have forgotten them? They must be looking for her. They would be frantic. She had to get back to them. She raised her eyes to her sister’s to ask her to send her back but Quesios beat her to it.

“How did they look?”

“What?Oh, my  mother was..she was..”, Aurora panicked. Why couldn’t she remember. WHat was happening to her?

She looked at Quesios who nodded sympathetically and knelt down beside her chair. Cradling her hands in his much larger ones, he began to explain softly.

“The light protected you. You were much too young when you were forced into Immersion and my guess is your mind couldn’t handle it. The Light had to undo the damage it had done and to do so it probably decreased your temporal aging. It had to make sure you were intelligent enough to have a personality and able to handle situations. Your parents, the party, the dancing. They were test cases, meant to develop you to face the world. I’m sorry”

Only hours ago she had been grieving for a Mother she would never know. Now she grieved for the Mother she had known and would never remember.

When The Queen heard her wolf howl, she knew it was one of mourning.


Four hours later, Aurora walked out of the Queen’s room to find Amy standing outside the door with a tray of food. Self- consciously rubbing her red rimmed eyes, she stayed silent till Amy finally took her cue to speak.

“Would you like to see your room now?”

Aurora nodded slowly and began to follow Amy down the corridor. At the second turn Amy opened the doors and took a step back, waiting for Aurora to go in first.

The room was beautiful. Muted shades of Orange and Golden were intertwined throughout the room so as to go easy on the eyes.

“You probably need to rest. It’s been a long day” Amy said, nudging Aurora towards the bed and walking towards the cupboard, picking out a nightgown for her to wear. Holding it out to Aurora, she sat down on the bed and waved her to the bathroom.

Aurora dutifully walked into the bathroom to get changed as Amy continued talking.

“The Queen is usually very lonely, all by herself. Quesios is the only family member remaining in his castle. He tries to keep her company,but he usually finds something interesting and gets all excited about random things”

Aurora could practically hear Amy fondly shaking her head as she smiled to herself. That did sound like Quesios, though.

“He’s a scientist”, Amy added

Aurora, who had just stepped out in her nightgown, stopped folding her clothes and looked at Amy questioningly.

“I thought he was a doctor”

Amy nodded, “He is, but he likes to research too. He’s got all manner of things in that lab of his. The Queen would have let him have any room he liked, but he chose the one in dungeon”, Amy sighed dramatically and Aurora giggled.

Amy looked slightly pleased that she had made Aurora giggle.

“Tomorrow, we’ll familiarize you with the castle and once you’re properly settled in, we’ll start your training”

Aurora perked up at that. “I always wanted to be a warrior in the other world”, she said softly

Amy nodded quietly, “I noticed when you tried to reach for a weapon when you first woke up”

Aurora felt slightly embarrased, she’d acted so rashly. Had it really been that long? No,it hadn’t, it just felt like it. Suddenly she realised how weary she was as the day’s activities started catching up to her. Amy also seemed to have realised since she got up to leave. Turning around to see Aurora already nodding off, she slowly whispered a Good Night and shut the door softly.

Amy had already started planning the next few days of learning for Aurora, but unbeknownst to her, Fate was turning towards a certain man who was currently peacefully sleeping in his armchair.

Nick woke up with a jolt as he felt a presence behind him and an eerie voice whispering

It’s time

So you’ll see more of Nick from here onwards. There’s a major twist coming up in the next post. Stay tuned!

©Sonali Mukherjee

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