All my previous posts can be found here

For some reason that I have no idea about, when I posted my last chapter, the last few extremely important lines did not get posted, so I’m going to add those lines in bold right below this line


 

Aurora woke up after a short nap feeling less sore than she had been before. Conjuring the sword really took a lot out of her, she supposed. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to visit Peritia again, just to ask her if the lessons would be changing tomorrow. She imagined they would.

Putting on her simple clothes, she wondered if Nick had enough confidence in her abilities or simply thought she was expendable. She’d really have to visit him today.

Just as she opened her door, a flurry of long limbs seemed to dart by. A little taken aback, she peered out to see Quesios hurrying down the hallway and she followed him just in time to watch him freeze at the sight of Nick coming out of the Library with a few texts in hand.

Aurora watched curiously as they stood still, looking into each other’s eyes, she guessed they were communicating telepathically.

She was probably right, because a second later, both were sprinting towards Quesios’ lab.

She made to follow them before she heard the blast.

Everything happened in slow motion after that. She watched in utter horror as Nick and Quesios were both thrown back by the force and narrowly missed the wall when Nick dug in his Sword to stop their flight through the air.

She still watched as Quesios attempted to get up and rush to the dungeon or what was left of it, shouting Maya’s name repeatedly. He was held back by Nick who seemed rather worse for wear himself. He raised pleading eyes to Aurora and she jumped into action, holding Quesios back as Nick slumped to the ground, his hands bloody from gripping the sword too hard.

Only when the foot soldiers declared the threat over, did Aurora let go. At once, Quesios ran like a man possessed to search for any life in his lab.

“She found something”, Aurora heard Nick rasp from beside her.

And as Aurora watched Quesios slowly shaking his head at the foot soldiers did reality hit her.

Maya hadn’t had the time to make it out alive. As the dungeons crumbled to a heap of stones in front of her, she said a silent prayer to the young girl.


 

Everyone had been slightly dazed after the incident in The dungeon.

Quesios was almost beside himself with grief and guilt warring over his heart and mind and he’d locked himself in his quarters, refusing medical attention.

Nick, who had deep serrations in his palms from gripping his sword, was currently recovering in The Saludom, their word for hospital.

The Jades, the universal colour for doctors, had explained to her that it was the energy he had summoned that posed the problem. In case of injury, the body needed the energy to heal itself and he had managed to divert that and more to stop himself from colliding with the wall. He should have passed out after that little episode. He hadn’t. He had insisted on walking to the Saludom himself, much to the chargrin of the Jade nurses.

That was why he was currently unable to do anything other than sleep.

Aurora nodded as the Jade excused himself to check on his other patients. Thankfully, very few people had been hurt badly. A few stones had hit the soldiers nearby and they only had minor bruises and scrapes.

The only people who were badly injured were Quesios, Nick and… Maya.

Her vision clouded with tears as she remembered the sweet assistant. Her electric blue eyes, softened by her chocolate coloured hair, the petite girl smiled at Quesios’ antics in her mind’s eye. Finally allowing those tears to fall, she was surprised to be pulled into a comforting hug.

She recognised her sisters tatoo on her arm and sank further into the embrace, sobbing her heart out for the young woman who had lost her life. Arderine’s tears joined the mix as she held her little sister outside the Saludom.

Minutes or hours could have passed when Aurora resurfaced from her arms.

Wiping her eyes with her palms, she ventured a question, “Quesios?”

The Queen shook her head, attempting to wipe the tear tracks on her face, ” Maya was like a daughter to him. She was only 5 when she’d wandered into the castle, curious and lonely. Quesios found her in his lab, staring at his equipment and asking questions aloud. He took her in and coached her in his field. She held him together when he was breaking apart on Mother’s death anniversary”

Arderine stopped wiping her face as tears started anew.

“He blames himself”, Aurora said quietly

Nodding, Arderine continued, “He wanted the dungeon in his lab. Even when I offered him another room. He always said that it was lucky, that’s where he’d found Maya”

Her heart broke even further for the man who was lost in his grief in The castle. His daughter ripped from him in such a gruesome manner.

After a few moments of silence, Arderine asked after Nick. Aurora told her what the Jade had said and the Queen simply nodded at the news till on of the guards came up to her.

” The dungeon has been cleared, your highness”, the guard informed the Queen.

The Queen looked at the guard questioningly and Aurora caught a little desperation in her eyes.

“We are about to send the first guard in, Ma’am.”

Arderinr nodded and indicated Aurora to follow her to the dungeons.


 

The site had been cleared marginally and one guard stood poised outside the wall clearing when Arderine and Aurora got there. At the Queen’s nod, the guard stepped in carefully.

The entire group outside the ruins held their breath in hope. A few minutes later, the guard resurfaced, confusion written all over his face.

“What is it?? What did you find?”, a sharp voice asked from behind her.

Turning around, she gasped. She hadn’t seen Quesios come up to stand behind her. His electric blue eyes were slightly manic and his whole posture was tense.

The guard looked up at Quesios and softly said, “Nothing, sir. There is nothing in The dungeon. It is as if there was nothing that was ever there.”

At his words, Quesios looked thunderous. Backing the guard up to the nearest wall, he glared at him menacingly. Almost on a growl, his words were terrifying to the guard, “Where is my Daughter??”

Everybody had been watching the interaction with rapt if somewhat shocked attention when Aurora crept up to the wall and looked in.

Her eyes widened and the breath left her with a whoosh.

Her exhale had alerted Quesios to her position and he turned to her with eyes that held his broken and desperate soul. On a slightly choked voice he let out a single query,

“Aurora?”

But not even his voice could jolt her from the sight she was witnessing. She felt Quesios come up to her and stand behind her. She turned to try and stop him from seeing it when she saw another figure behind him.

Ice blue eyes looked at her from behind Quesios mouthing three words repeatedly, “He Can’t See”

At Aurora’s nod, Fate turned and disappeared. Facing the now frantic Quesios, she prayed to the Antiquons that he would never have to see what she could.

Because through the wall, on the other side, was Maya with a look of terror on her face. A heavy block midway in the air above her.

Frozen in time.

©Sonali Mukherjee

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