Chapter 2: New Friends
Five years ago
‘Rivola Lumnisca.’ A voice said. She could recognize it easily. The same resonance and grandness. She opened her eyes and was greeted by the high ceiling decorated with paper lamps casting a fine glow in the room.
Beside her sat the man. He was the same man to be sure. Long hair, tall figure and kind eyes. Except he was not wearing a cloak. He was wearing a normal white shirt and black trousers. But over his shirt, he wore a long black unbuttoned coat reaching his ankles bordered with thick gold threads. He closed the book he was holding and looked at her.
‘How do you feel?’ he asked softly.
‘Very well sir.’ Rivola answered. ‘But I am still hungry.’ The man laughed. He said softly,
‘You’ll eat you breakfast soon. Come with me. And you’ll tell me your story later, I suppose.’ He took her hand and led her down the corridors. The walls were hung with huge framed pictures of people dressed in cloaks and wigs and various strange things.
A woman was standing at a door. The man stopped and said,
‘She’s up Lily. Is breakfast ready?’
‘Yes, master.’ The woman said opening the door for them to enter. The door led them into a huge hall decorated with crystal chandeliers and huge door-length windows allowing a flood of sunshine gush in. And the table! Rivola had never in her life seen such a long table with almost a hundred seats laden with dishes fit for the king. She said in almost a whisper,
‘What is this place?’
‘This is the common dining room. Sit down Rivola. You too may sit Lily. Yes, call in your brother too and light the fire. I think Rivola is very cold.’ He said.
‘Yes, sir.’ Lily said and rushed in to fetch her brother. She bent at the fire grate and simply touched it with her hand. The firewood burst into merry golden flames. Rivola’s jaw dropped. She blinked her eyes and asked,
’Did she light the fire with her hands?’
‘Yes, so can you, I suppose.’ He said.
‘No, I can’t!’ Rivola said.
‘Well, you’ll learn it in time. Sit down Lily.’ He said taking the head seat. Rivola climbed to his left and Lily and her little brother took the right. Rivola asked solemnly,
‘I am new here. You all know that my name is Rivola Lumnisca. What is your name and where am I?’
‘I am Laywin Starenskier. This is my housekeeper Lily Shallai. And this is her younger brother, Lex Shallai, who looks after my horse.’ He said.
‘What is this place then?’ Rivola asked.
‘This house,’ he said spreading his hands, ‘is the ancient house of the Starenskiers passed on from generations to generations. It is called, Crestville.’ He said. Rivola said softly,
‘What is the name of your city? I remember walking towards Sheryville.’
Mr. Starenskier looked at Lily. Lily said softly,
‘Rivola dear, do you know in which world, Sheryville belongs?’
‘Why earth of course.’ Rivola frowned and asked, ‘we are on earth are we not?’ Lily smiled at it. She had such a beautiful smile. She turned to Mr. Starenskier and said,
‘It will take some time to explain to her sir.’
‘Fine then. Have your breakfast Rivola. Aren’t you hungry?’ Mr. Starenskier said.
‘I sure am hungry Mr. Starenskier.’ Rivola said munching on the toast which was layered with cream.
‘No, Rivola. You are not to call me Mr. Starenskier.’ He said with a slight distress in his voice, ‘You can call me, Uncle Laywin.’
‘But you aren’t my uncle.’ Rivola said.
‘We can pretend we are.’ He said.
‘As you wish Uncle Laywin.’ She said.
‘Eat your breakfast and Lily will take you to the library. Do you like books Rivola?’
‘I like books that have pictures.’ Rivola said.
‘Lily will show them to you. If you any questions she will answer them for you.’ Uncle Laywin said. He stood up and buttoned down his coat. ‘I need to go for work.’ He said and walked out leaving her in Lily’s care.
Few weeks ago
He recognized the woman before him instantly. Her light brown had grey streaks and was wild. Her damp green eyes were flowing with tears. Her face was marked and cuts bleeding profusely. She looked at him painfully.
‘Siva…’ she whimpered and fresh tears fell down her cheeks, ‘I’m so sorry, my son…so sorry. I have to leave. My judgment waits.’ He reached out a hand to touch her but he couldn’t reach her. She looked at him again and her features stilled into coldness and anger,
‘All I have to ask of you is a favor Siva. My death, remember was not accidental. I was poisoned by the most dangerous of poisons. A sinner has no right to live. The King is responsible for countless number of sins. He imprisoned me for no cause at all merely because I questioned his decisions. What sort of justice is this?’
Siva had no answer. She continued blazing in anger,
‘You my son have a long journey ahead of you. Avenge my death and the death of many innocent civilians. You have to make the change. Be the change you want to be yourself.’
Her image rippled into darkness and he woke up.
Sheets of rain crashed against the window panes. Lightning crackled against the sky and thunder boomed.
Back to the present
Roy’s mouth dropped as he stared at the huge ship which would take him to his dreams. It was huge made of wood lined with bronze. The sails were enormous and white, a small triangular red flag with the symbol of a golden bee.
He was checking out the ship’s hull when he froze. His eyes had co-incidentally met a girl’s. The girl looked frozen for a second then instantly bounded towards them.
Who was that? Why did he feel a strange connection when he looked at her face? The girl dashed in and hugged him. Roy felt an electric sensation pass through. His stomach was filled with butterflies.
‘Who are you?’ he managed to ask. The girl squeezed herself at Roy’s chest, her warm head on his shoulder and she muttered,
Instantly she was pulled away from him and hugged by Clare. The girl laughed in happiness and there was hugs and kisses. He looked at Roy’s grandmother in confusion. She rolled her eyes and smiled,
‘Jade Aila Inferna Crimsonelve, the seventh child of Flint and Helen Crimsonelve.’
Roy’s father, Flint held her at an arm’s length, his brilliant hazel eyes shining in pride and he said,
‘You are thirteen years old! Look how grown up you are!’
‘Dad!’ Aila said hugging him. Roy’s five brothers fought amongst themselves like little kids for talking to Aila. She had after all been estranged from the family since the moment she was born.
Roy happened to look around at the direction Aila had bounded from. A tall woman with an elegant beauty walked towards them. She had silky auburn hair falling in waves. Though she was not young anymore, her face had lost no charm. Her shimmering green eyes moistened as she walked. She glanced at Roy and her features stilled into icy coldness. But she looked away instantly at the man sought for.
‘Flint!’ she cried embracing her husband.
Roy’s father gently ran his fingers through her hair and smiled, ‘Helen, you’re back…’
‘I missed you Flint…I’m so sorry. It was a hasty decision.’ The woman said. Roy moved closer to his Grandmother. His grandmother was watching the scene quite calmly.
‘What do you suppose made her come back?’ Roy asked.
‘It’s not easy bringing up a child all alone. She needed help. She couldn’t lift the burden all alone. Helen had always been weak.’ Grandmother said.
‘I think,’ Roy mused, ‘she came back because I would be going. She really hates doesn’t she? I saw it in her eyes.’ Roy said.
‘I think so. I don’t know why she would hate you. I find you charming Roy.’ Grandmother said ruffling his hair.
‘The others find me a nuisance.’ Roy muttered.
‘There is no such thing.’ Grandmother said. But as Roy looked at Aila surrounded by his brothers he wondered what was different in them. After all he and Aila were twins. But they treated her like a pot of honey and him as if he was…dirt? Garbage? No something nastier than that.
‘All aboard.’ Grandmother said as she pushed Roy to the entrance. His father helped load all the trunks and soon he was at the deck waving at his Grandmother, Father and Haze.
His last image before the Ship left was the woman leaning against his father’s shoulder, tears streaming from her eyes.
Aila looked at her so-called twin brother. To be honest she didn’t even know his name. She studied silently his face and looks and stature.
He was about a whole inch taller than her. His black hair hung about his head like a rat’s nest. His complexion was pale and he had a slender build and sturdy shoulders. He had sharp and shrewd eyes in a brilliant vibrant blue. Royal blue. His nose was a classic straight nose and his features were classic and handsome. But the air around him seemed strangely sad and melancholy. Aila looked at him and offered him his hand,
’Well, it is very pleasant to meet you brother. Would you share with me your name?’
He looked faintly surprised and irritated but he took her hand. His fingers were so cold but he said,
‘You don’t know the name of your twin brother?’
‘Mom never mentioned you. I figured that she hated you.’ Aila said. Roy shrugged his shoulders and said quite coldly,
‘Rakhio Inferno Crimsonelve. They call me Roy.’
‘Hey, our names sound familiar. I am Aila Inferna Crimsonelve. Inferna. Inferno. Nice isn’t it?’ Aila said smiling as she pointed it out. Roy cringed at the similarities and said,
‘I don’t care. I’ll see you later.’
He immediately vanished into the crowd of bustling people. Aila felt a wee bit disappointed. She thought all her brothers would instantly accept her and love her. But Roy did not. He seemed like he wanted to avoid her. She had heard somewhere that the ‘forbidden fruit’ was the sweetest. She would definitely earn Roy’s respect and his acceptance. She turned to the shore once more. The infinite blue ocean stood calm like the lull before the storm. She went in search of Roy.