Through the Woods (part 7)

Click here to read the previous parts.

Ivaan sat up straight. This was new. The princess probably sensed his excitement, because she continued – “There is no goddess of bounty either. She sacrifices the Thysia to the Kakopnevma, the negative spirits which give her all her power.” 

There was that word again- Thysia. The princess had used it when first addressing him, and he’d also heard it while the soldiers had been talking with the lion – what was his name – A rose land? “What’s Thysia?” 

“It’s what we call the human child sacrifices. Sacrificing them to the Kakopnevma biennially replenishes her power.” 

“What’d happen if she didn’t do it? Would she die?” 

“Not immediately. But she will before the next Thysymnykhta, the night of sacrifice. You’ll be speared on the altar at 3:33 a.m.” 

“What time is it now?” he asked, trembling. There weren’t any clocks in the room, he noticed. The queen liked her little surprises, it seemed. The princess went towards the window and opened the curtains. She stared for a moment at the night sky, drew the curtains back and turned to him. “Eleven fifteen,” she said. “H-how?” he was surprised. “Is there some sort of gigantic cosmic clock in your world?” 

The girl smiled. “As a matter of fact, it exists in your world too. The difference is, we Vasionese have learned how to read the stars but you Tellurians haven’t.”  

A question suddenly popped into Ivaan’s mind. “Wait – you said your mother would die if she didn’t sacrifice me. Then why are you helping me? How do I trust you?”

Jo sighed. This question was the reason why she’d never helped the Thysia. They wouldn’t trust her. “Well, Thysia –” 

“The name’s Ivaan, your highness,” Ivaan said, taking a mock bow. “The name’s Jo, Ivanovitch,” she shot back. Before he could correct her deliberate mistake, she continued – “My mom’s always been too busy being queen. I’ve been taken care of by nannies and nurses my whole life. To be honest, I don’t really love her, like a usual daughter would. I swear on my sword that I’m not lying.” 

Ivaan wasn’t sure he’d heard her right. “You swear on your what?” 

“On my sword. It’s the ultimate oath in Vasiona. If you lie while swearing on your sword, that will be the weapon that will assassinate you by the end of the next lunar cycle.” 

“How do I know you’re not lying about this as well?”

“What a skeptical idiot you are. Just go outside and ask any of the servants.” Ivaan went outside and came back in a few minutes. “I believe you,” he said, closing the door behind him. 

“Good. Now get ready for an exodus.”

How does the princess plan to save Ivaan’s life? Will he succeed in getting out of the castle or will the Queen catch them and sacrifice them both? Keep your fingers crossed for another fortnight.

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