Traegr lets Celeste go briefly to open the door to his royal chamber, he then drags both of us in – I nearly trip on the magnificent carpet spread across his floor because he is so rough.
I take in the magnificent golden chamber that Celeste was in charge of cleaning. It was more like a living area. It was huge enough to host a party in with a lavish thick wood four poster bed, similar to Sabir’s but bigger. Four people could easily sleep side by side in that bed.
The sand coloured tiled floor only had the mat for softness, otherwise there was a ginormous fireplace by the bed, two huge windows with ledges big enough to sit on; although it wasn’t a bay window.
The ceilings were adorned with crystal gems that gleamed purple and gold especially in the flickering firelight. While the exposed walls were adorned with beautiful paintings of the forest.
Last but not least I feel a pull towards a square tiled mini-pool, full of steaming natural Kiyr water, which was opposite the bed and had its own section of the room.
There is no time for admiring the magnificent chamber which was only fit for a king.
Traegr takes us to the middle of the red and gold mat before his bed and stops. I look up to see Celeste looking down, visibly shaking now.
“On your knees,” he growls at both of us. Celeste briefly meets my eye and we do not hesitate, slowly dropping down onto the soft mat. I find comfort it in and grip the long soft woven material with curled fingers.
Celeste and I watch Traegr walk around us to grab a chair by the fire place. He picks it up and places it before us, sitting down and letting out a long held sigh of frustration.
Or perhaps it was a growl, it was a little bit of both.
“You are looking for answers we do not have,” Celeste says quietly, while staring at his bare feet, refusing to look up, too terrified to meet his eyes. I’m not afraid to meet his gaze, however. I glare at him as he glares at me.
“Lies,” Traegr says the word through gritted teeth, glancing to Celeste I see him clench his fist on the arm rest. My insides tense, my muscles tighten, ready to fight or run or both.
“Tell us,” I say quietly, as calmly as possible, trying to steady my breathing, “What it means to be Star Cursed.”
“I answer that and you’ll answer something for me,” Traegr smiles but there is no warmth held in it. I do not trust him. But I was distracting him from full blown anger and that was the plan for the moment.
I nod, agreeing to the terms.
“We never die,” he explains without hesitation, “Even if someone manages to kill us – we are reborn. If we are not killed, we live forever.”
“Thank you,” I nod again and he suddenly leans forward, intent in his eyes as he suddenly turns to Celeste and grabs her chin – forcing her to look up.
“You can answer this one,” he growls, ”How can she speak our language?"
Celeste jerks from his suddenly cruel tone and I find myself reaching up a hand and grabbing his wrist, glaring at him.
“Let her go,” I snap, desperation settling in. Celeste lets out a whimper as he releases her and then grabs my arm instead, pulling me to my feet as he stands.
“Then you tell me,” he growls out quietly, grabbing my waist in two hands, emphasizing his ridiculous height. He knows I will not break eye contact, “How can you speak our language... Princess Sapphire?"
“The answer to your question is I have no idea. Perhaps remnants of Princess Sapphire’s memory is engrained into me if I am Star Cursed. But you should know we want answers too. I mean... Princess? If you are a King, does that make me your daughter?” I ask seriously.
“It made you my betrothed,” he says this quietly, while subtly glancing at Celeste – who suddenly looks up with wide eyes.
“But Celeste –” I start.
“Just a maid,” Traegr says with a smirk and a shrug, “Who I preferred over an insolent, conniving little sneak like you. Sabir is your eternal punisher.”
I almost pause at this but decide to feign bravery instead.
“But if we are Star Cursed–” Traegr cuts me off by weaving my hair around his fist and pulling my head back sharply.
“What if you aren’t?” He says, “What if you’ve been lying this whole time? I wouldn’t put it below you or her.”
“How could we end up on another planet across the universe? I have no memories of this place besides random feelings and words from a language I swear I’ve never heard before!” I snarl at him. I was tempted to spit in his face, but I was weary he could potentially hurt both of us.
“Celeste, darling,” Traegr abruptly lets me go, grabbing Celeste’s arm he rises her to her feet as well, “You asked me what happened to me on that spaceship, do you really want to know how I got these scars? How about you tell me, I’m sure you remember,” Celeste closes her eyes and shakes her head.
“I don’t,” she whispers, “I don’t have any idea. They are burns, that much is obvious.”
“Yes!” Traegr releases her arm, turns abruptly and paces to the nearest window, hands clasped behind his straight back. Celeste and I automatically come to stand by one another, shoulders and arms brushing, “Oh yes...” he mutters, “That’s correct,” he slowly turns to face us and the moonlight through the window illuminates his scarred body, his damaged but still hauntingly handsome face, “Why don’t you make an intelligent guess at to what happened to me, either of you, have a go. If you stop lying and tell me the truth maybe I won’t decide to hold your escape against you all forever – perhaps we can return to what we all use to have. The old times. Nothing but pleasure, every day, every night and freedom to let instincts rule.”
Celeste and I go silent, considering his words but not sure how to answer. This was news. Interesting news.
“Um...” I start, thinking fast, “If it was an educated guess, well... obviously if you are superior I doubt you tripped head first into your own fireplace,” I begin and I see his cheek twitch in anger so I hurry along, “You were caught in a fire. You say we escaped. If we escaped to Earth, we had to get there on a space ship. You must have seen us go at the last minute, so you chased after us, and the flames from the take off burned you half alive.”
There is a tense silence and I notice Celeste has looked up once more, fresh tears rolling from her eyes.
“And who was in control of the take off?” Traegr asks, monotone. I hold my breath – kicking myself. I had made a simple guess. it was just a possible scenario – but had I just told the truth? Again? First I speak their language on impulse from memories I thought didn’t exist, and now I was guessing the truth.
“It was just a g –” I’m about to blurt out a defence.
But Celeste caves in.
She opens her mouth and she speaks one of the memories she had kept from me – one she sure as hell shouldn’t have just admitted to Traegr himself.
“It was me,” her head falls into her hands as she sobs her admission.
I see something snap in Traegr’s eyes.
I find myself raising my hand before he even takes one threatening step forward. I feel my pull on the Kiyr water intensify until I see streams of it hurtling out of the steaming pool. The water smashes right into Traegr.
The force is hard enough it knock him off his feet and he falls awkwardly near the chair, the back of his head crashes through the arm rest – shattering the wood and he lies, wet, in a puddle on the floor, knocked out cold.
I stare at my hand briefly and I wonder where that power came from but soon admit to myself it was always there in the first place.
I turn to see Celeste gasping for air as she succumbs to a panic attack, I run up to her and quickly rub away her tears before grabbing her face as gently but as firmly as possible in my hands so she has to focus in on me.
“Listen,” I hiss, “Pull yourself together, you’re going to need the breath to run.”
“Where?” she asks.
“You know exactly where,” I run to the window and pull it up and open, looking out at a tree of the forest that grew close to the window, a massive branch as big as a trunk.
I turn to Celeste and I see her nod at me, if a little shakily.
“You first,” I stand back and quickly usher her forward, “hurry,” I hiss as she climbs onto the branch and starts softly making her way along the exotic smooth wood with delicate foot steps.
This would be our first escape attempt since returning to Kiyr.