SEVEN CROWNS | The Black Stone

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Chapter II

Nate couldn’t sleep during the entire night. The girls cleaned up the mess after dinner and left to their places. Nate didn’t move from the couch, his eyes were hypnotized by the strange beauty of the book cover.

“Diamond, Ruby.” these are the words he kept repeating for hours. Ashley is perhaps related to diamonds judging from her confusing reaction in front of the jewellery shop window. Their friend Rebecca must surely have to do something with rubies. It’s fascinating how she insisted on her close friends to call her Ruby. She says it’s because of the color of her hair, but now it seems like there is more to know about it.

But what’s bothering Nate is that he doesn’t know what is he related to. He doesn’t even understand what’s going on. It seems like a dream, like something that happens only in movies. But it’s all true, a dream cannot be that long.

It’s early in the morning and he’s still hesitating to open the book again. The volume is innocently resting on the table but its content is scarier than its look. The glitter is still flying around the purple leather cover, highlighting the silver letter carved on the middle.

Nate lifts his head and looks at the hour, it’s time for him to get dressed and head to the faculty. His mind is screaming for him to get up but his body is crying for him to open the book.

Nate has a lot of unanswered questions in his mind and it has been this way since the accident. Losing his memory was like losing his entire life, he woke up in a room not even remembering his own name. Thankfully the nurses found his ID card in his belongings. He asked them if anyone came to visit him but the young women only shook their heads sadly. Nate spent numerous days in the hospital until he finished his treatment and was able to walk properly. He wished day and night that someone will show up and take him in their arms, but it was only a hopeless thought.

The things have changed since he accidentally bumped into someone in the reception hall. He met Ashley for the first time when she started volunteering to read novels to the children admitted at the hospital. The first thing he remembered after waking up from the coma is his love for books and it was all thanks to her. It was easy for them to be friends, he waited for her every afternoon to show up in the reception hall after her classes and followed her to the Pediatric Section to sit behind the group of children and listen to her read the story.

It was a big change for him, Ashley was maybe not his family but the feeling of having someone to talk to beside the nurses and the doctors brought him happiness.

But now after finding the book, it seems like their encounter was not just a mere coincidence, but fate.

It’s the only thing that can answer his questions about his family. He saw them the first time he opened it but it wasn’t exactly what he wished for. He saw them die.

His hands shake as he leans closer to the book. He places it above his legs and closes his eyes for a moment to take a breath. No matter how scared he is, his curiosity is beating his fear.

He finally opens his eyes after a moment and opens the book. A wave of icy wind reigns around his body, his eyes widen as his head gets pulled back and his heart beats increase more and more. This time the images he sees are more detailed. Tall men dressed in black armours suddenly appear, they’re holding large axes to kill every knight who tries to fight them and long whips to burn everything on their way.

He sees them again, his parents. They’re groaning with pain as they’re trying to fight their enemies with a strong grey light. Before Nate could see the source of their power, he has been brought back to his couch. The book closed by itself, leaving a breathless young man looking at it with surprise. He’s having a hard time to breath, his whole body is trembling. Who were the black knights?

Ashley notices her friend’s absence. He usually waits for her until she finishes her shift but today he hasn’t show up. She finds it strange on her birthday because he usually is the first one to wish her a happy birthday with a hug. She asks some of his classmates and they tell her that he didn’t go to any class.

Ashley sighs and looks at the watch, she still has fifteen minutes before leaving her part time job. Her worries for Nate as he’s the one who’s most affected by the mysterious book. She saw how he’s been struggling because of his memory loss. Not being able to remember his past life and his family has been a torture for her best friend.

When she finally leaves the library, the first thing she does is calling Nate. He answers her right away with his usual lazy voice. She asks him why he hasn’t gone to his classes and presses her lips when he says that he hasn’t slept during the entire night. They planned to meet in the nearest shopping mall later to talk about it. After that she dialed Ruby’s number but the young girl tells her that she’s having lunch with her mother and Sara. Her friend seems to have forgotten to her birthday too, which makes her annoyed.

Later she finds her friend waiting for her in front of the shopping mall. He’s wearing a simple grey t-shirt and a pair of denim shorts. She chuckles when she sees the dark circles under his eyes. “You look like a zombie.”

“A handsome one I guess.” he smirks.

“You still act like an idiot even when you’re tired.” she rolls her eyes and enters the mall. Nate smiles and follows her with slow steps. He receives a text from Ruby, she’s asking him to keep Ashley busy because they’re preparing a surprise birthday dinner for her. Keeping his friend distracted is a childgame to him because he knows exactly what she loves.

“So, what kept you awake last night?” she stops walking and looks at him with worried eyes.

“You know what kept me busy, Ash. I’m sure you’ve been thinking about it too.” he runs his fingers in his dark hair and looks at her. “I saw them again.”

“Your parents?” Ashley frowns. “What happened to them?”

Nate walks silently for a moment, his eyes are looking at the shops windows but his mind is elsewhere. Ashley keeps staring at him, waiting for him to answer. “They were attacked by some strange knights.”

Ashley raises an eyebrow, “Knights?”

Nate nods, “I know it’s crazy, but they were real knights like the ones we read about. And there was something else that caught my attention, my parents’ outfits. No pants, no shirts but long robes and crowns on their heads.” he shakes his head and laughs silently. “I must be going insane.”

Ashley doesn’t say anything for a moment, she keeps walking, her thoughts filling her mind. “Was there any gemstone?” she asks.

Nate simply shakes his head. His chest tightens every time he thinks about his parents, so he tries to forget for a moment by looking for something interesting to buy for his best friend’s birthday. He can’t get her clothes because Ashley is known for her difficult taste and also because he can’t seem to understand women’s fashion.

He thinks about getting her a book but that’s what he’s been buying her since they knew each other. It’s time to change now.

The two friends walk past a small jewellery shop in the middle of the hall. The old woman is selling silver necklaces, rings and bracelets. Nate stops in front of it and keeps looking at the jewels with wide eyes. He’s never been interested in accessories before, but something about the silver ones caught his attention. He raises an eyebrow, wondering if it’s just the lightning that’s causing the jewels to shine bright.

The woman looks at him strangely and asks him if he’d like to buy something for his girlfriend. He clears his throat and simply smiles to her before following Ashley.

“What’s wrong?” she frowns when she takes a look at his face, “You look pale.”

Nate looks around and for the first time he notices the silver jewels worn by people. Chains, rings and bracelets are the first thing he sees when someone walks past him. “Why… why do I keep seeing things?” he asks calmly.

Ashley chuckles and crosses her arms, “Because you have two healthy eyes, Nate.” she furrows.

Nate sends her a death glare, “I’m serious, Ash. There’s something about silver jewels that attracts me.”

The young girl looks at him confusingly for a moment, then it hit her. She widens her eyes and places her dark locks behind her ears. “Do you feel a certain connection to silver? I feel the same way for diamonds, Nate. I think you’re related to it!” she exclaims.

“But.” the tall guy runs his fingers in his black hair. “Silver isn’t a gemstone.” he frowns.

Ashley shakes her head and presses her lips. She remembers the book and looks at her friend again. “But it’s an element.”

Nate’s blue eyes suddenly shine with excitement, “The Four Gems and The Two Elements.” he grins.

“Exactly.” Ashley smiles and continues walking. They take the moving escalator to head to the restaurants floor. “We are three now.” she adds and rubs her chin, “Who do you think are the rest?”

“That’ll be our mission for now.” says the blue eyed.

They finish their lunch and Ashley wants to go to the bookshop to look for a new volume that’s supposed to have been released a week ago. Nate would gladly accompany her because they share the same reading passion but this time he has something else in mind. He tells her that he’ll join later because he needs to go to the bathroom. She suggests to wait for him but he insists calmly that she leaves first.

After making sure she leaves to the second floor, he takes the elevator and heads to the first one. His feet guide him back to the small jewellery shop. He walks slowly and feel the nervousness grow inside. There are a few customers trying on rings and bracelets, they don’t seem to notice the same brightness he sees. And again, he’s too busy looking at the jewels that he doesn’t feel the hooded woman following him.

Her steps are smooth and careful, she walks behind the tall man, waiting for him to approach the shop. The seller smiles widely to him and she hears her tell him that she knew he was going to come back.

She smiles because she thought the same as her, but not for the same reason. The hooded woman knew Nate was a curious young man, he’d do anything just to ease his thoughts. Finding out about the silver is already one big step for him.

“She’s my best friend.” he tells the seller with a smile, “It’s her birthday and I don’t know what to get her.” he rubs the back of his neck nervously.

“She’s one lucky friend.” the lady smirks and opens the window under her hands. She shows him a few necklaces and notices how his eyes widened while looking at them. She chuckles and tells him that most girls love it when a guy offers them a necklace. Nate looks at her and rolls his eyes, “I thought I just told you that she’s not my girlfriend.”

“Nevermind what you say.” she shrugs and places a tray full of different rings. The black haired shakes his head and turns his attention to the round jewels. There are simple rings, others decorated with flowers or the ones similar to engagement ones. But there is only one of them that caught his attention, he can’t take his eyes off an arrow-shaped ring. Its point and fletches are full of tiny sparkling stones, it’s not too extravagant, it’s simple but looks very majestic.

“You like the arrow one.” the woman interrupts his thoughts. She smiles, gets it out of the transparent box and hands it to him. But when the jewel gets in contact with Nate’s skin, it sends the same icy wave around his body, freezing his actions for a moment. He hears people screaming and sees the red flames destroying houses.

“Save us.”

He wakes up again and this time he has tears falling from his eyes. The seller stares at him confusingly, “Are you alright young man?” she asks.

Nate looks around, looking for the voices that just whispered in his ears but everyone seems to be busy with their own things. His eyes look back at the arrow-shaped ring and he gulps. He asks the woman if he can take a look at other jewels but when he touches them nothing happens this time. It seems to him that there is something special about the arrow ring. He looks at the lady and nods signalling her that he’ll take this one.

He thanks the seller and when he turns around he caught a familiar woman looking at him. The brown haired hurries to look away and presses her lips when she knows he noticed her presence. She looks back at him and gives him a smile.

“Mary?” Nate walks closer to Ruby’s mother and greets her with a kiss on the cheek. “What are you doing here? I thought you were preparing the birthday.”

“Rebecca and Sara already took care of the restaurant reservation. Now they must be with Lydia and Charles to buy her cake. As for me, I’m in charge of buying her gifts.” she smiles.

“I see.” Nate smiles back, “But be careful because she’s here with me, she must be in the book shop now.”

“Don’t worry about it, Nate. I can be very discreet.” she winks. Nate keeps looking at her when she enters a shop, he sees the bags she’s holding and smiles because they’re all from Ashley’s favorite shops. But before he turns around to head to the library, he notices the hoodie the brown haired woman is holding in her free hand and raises an eyebrow, wondering why she brought it when it’s too hot outside.

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