I know you all had been anticipating part 4 for a long time, and I realise it was cruel of me not to write yesterday, but you know the problem- time is a resource we all lack. But that’s no excuse for you to skip blogging- everyone’s busy, you’d say. And I agree. So as a kind of reparation, part 4 is going to be as long as two parts combined. There, now you have one lesser week to wait in exchange for waiting an extra day. As always, here’s a link for the previous parts. Let’s get right into it now.
They walked even when Ivaan’s legs started aching. It was too dark to see much once they got off the road and were out of the field of the high-hanging lanterns’ light, but he noticed some things nevertheless. There were strange umbrella-shaped trees with a canopy of colourful red, blue and yellow leaves, lining the dirt track they were going through. He also spotted a few trees bent over like an arch, with a trunk with diamond-shaped holes in it, like a wicker basket. The trees came as a surprise to Ivaan because the houses he’d seen while on the road had seemed quite normal to him.
Presently they reached a large glass-domed building with a peach-brown facade. An amber glow spilt out from beneath the door. The soldiers with him talked in the same incomprehensible language with the guards standing on both sides of it. After around half a minute, they opened the door for them. The door was so low that Ivaan had to duck low. The soldiers had to double over to pass through.
The inside of the building seemed even larger than the outside. Ivaan found himself in a circular hall as large as his school quadrangle, with strange people sitting in two rows on either side of him. Directly ahead, at the far end of the hall was a tall lady sitting at an exquisite purple velvet- lined throne. She looked both old and young at the same time. Her face did not display the usual signs of age, yet Ivaan could see the age in her eyes even though he was standing at the opposite end. She did not look beautiful- but extremely powerful. The way she sat straight as a pole with her chin high and her right leg on her left, the authority with which she placed her long-fingered hand on her silver sceptre, the unspoken respect everyone had for her in their eyes- none left a doubt that she was some kind of a queen, even though she did not wear a crown. Even her dress was a simple long sleeveless white gown, which was in subtle contrast with her sandy skin, with a black sash around her waist. The accessories she wore comprised of a long locket with a crescent-moon pendant, blue crystal earrings and a black pearl-studded bracelet.
“We’ve been expecting you, Ivaan,” she said in her loud clear voice, surprisingly in English. “I hope Oroszlan gave you a comfortable ride?” She looked towards the lion. Ivaan was still too bewildered to answer, so the lion replied in the same language- “Best I could give, ma’am.” “Now I know you have a lot of questions, so why don’t you offer him your seat, Lord Harog, and tell the cook to get him some food, Delmas,” she said, motioning in turn to a monocled stubby man and one of the soldiers who’d brought him. Lord Harog grudgingly got up from his seat and stood in a corner, beckoning Ivaan to come. The soldier bowed and left. Ivaan sank down into a soft comfortable couch.
“I know what you’re going to ask, so let us not waste time in waiting for you to begin. First of all, do not be afraid of us. We are your friends. You have been saved from those supposed forest rangers by Oroszlan here.”
“How?” he croaked.
“Those men were the slaves of an evil witch by the name of Kellemetlen. Every five years, she sacrifices a pure human child to the goddess of bounty to ensure the prosperity of her wicked land. They were taking you to her as her sacrifice.”
From the window of her bedroom, Princess Jo watched her mother speak that half-truth she’d been telling such innocent human children for years. Jo had grown used to it by now, and she usually didn’t bother, but there was something about this boy that made her pity him. She couldn’t see his eyes from up here, but somehow she was sure they matched his golden-brown skin. His triangular nose was in stark contrast to his round face. He wore a black hoodie, the colour of his windswept hair and blue jeans- unripped, Jo noticed with pleasure. Last time a girl in ripped blue denim blowing bubble gum had come here, looking like a douchebag. He wasn’t fat, but he wasn’t exactly thin either. He was one of those in-between people.
She had never helped one of these Thysia, as the human child sacrifices were called. Her mother would never change. But today, Jo decided, she was going to be a heroine.
Why is the queen speaking the half-truth and what is the full truth? How is Jo going to help Ivaan? What secrets will be uncovered? Come back next Sunday to find out.