Chapter 7: Secrets of the Mind
Calder has been working tirelessly through various books and scrolls to find an answer to the mystery of Serena’s mind. He wasn’t expecting the prince to return and tell him what he had. The presence of the mermaid is especially baffling, but he doesn’t have the luxury of further delving into her presence there. First and foremost, he has focused his sole attention on how to awaken Serena and how these memories fixes into that.
His green gaze roams over Serena for, possibly, the twentieth time in the last ten minutes. He’s careful about what spells he uses seeing as the mind is a fragile thing, but these spells have yet to yield any results. Calder’s first spell was a simple revelation type that was supposed to show him everything concealed within one’s mind. However, such spells can fail if the mind is trying particularly hard to bury certain memories. Thus, he was only able to see basic memories of her childhood into her adolescent years. Not that he really expected such a simplistic spell to work. That’d be too easy.
Serena’s bedroom has become nothing short of a warzone of ancient texts, mystic scrolls, and all manner of magical parchments and books. The vanity and the small table nearest the bay window hardly exist anymore due to the mountain of Calder’s belongings. If it weren’t for the fact that none of his truly personal belongings were here, one could assume that he has taken up residence within the room. Not that he hasn’t played with the idea, of course. Though, much to Calder’s own amusement, Prince Oceanus seemed less than enthused with the idea and dismissed it before Calder could even finish speaking of it.
A frown settles over Calder’s lips as he returns his gaze to some ancient text he found buried amidst his belongings. This particular piece of writing was written by a Zivarian philosopher of the royal court some few thousand years or so ago. The Zivarians are well-versed in such magics pertaining to the mind amongst other things.
The frown only continues to deepen as Calder tosses away the text when nothing useful comes up. It’s right then that the door opens. He turns a languid look over to the door and doesn’t bat an eye at Storm’s entry. Vilmaris has graciously seen fit to have Storm remain here and assist them however he can. But so far he’s done little more than observe them and Calder’s certain that the man has been reporting their every move for the entirety of the time he’s been here. All in all, the man is hardly of any assistance at all. And Calder isn’t particularly in the right mood to deal with him right now.
Calder’s lips twist into an annoyed scowl as he sharply says, “I know not why you have come, but if you have no feasible reason for being here then I suggest you make your visit brief.” The word is filled with such venom that one would completely overlook the tired look in the sorcerer’s eyes were they faint of heart.
But Storm isn’t faint of heart. “I have come at the behest of Her Majesty. I was given orders to offer what insight I can into the girl’s situation.”
Calder raises a brow as he returns his gaze to Storm. “Oh? And what might you know exactly?”
Storm smirks. “I have had many a dealing with the Zivarians, and many an ample opportunity to partake of the knowledge they have in regard to the mind.” He crosses his arms over his chest. “Granted it’s not a lot, but I dare say it is more than what you currently have on the matter.”
Calder cups his chin in his hand as he turns it over in his head. He has no idea what Vilmaris is playing at, and no reason to trust anything the man says. But then he’s also exhausted all of his resources and at the rate he’s going, Serena’s liable to remain in this state permanently.
So, with hardly any hidden suspicion, Calder fully turns to Storm with crossed arms. “Let’s hear it then…”
“Is aught amiss, my Prince?” A tone of curiosity tints Florian’s tone as he lowers the papers in his hands to regard Prince Oceanus.
For the last ten minutes, the Prince has been staring into space with an intense gaze. His hands are folded together, resting on his elbows atop the desk. He hasn’t spoken a word and it’s clear that his mind is elsewhere, and Florian has an idea of where it has wandered-despite having been back for only a few days.
“Shall I go see how Calder’s efforts are faring?”
At this, the prince momentarily blinks twice before refocusing his attention upon Florian. His gaze is something of a sharp glare as his lips turn downward into a scowl.
“I am not amused by your antics today.” His tone cuts sharply through the air, but the older merman hardly seems bothered by it.
“Nor are you ever Your Highness, but I’ve little reason to jest today,” he replies lightheartedly. “It is clear that something troubles you and I only sought to ease whatever it may be.”
Prince Oceanus sighs tiredly as he pinches his brow. “I am not troubled.”
Florian subtlety rolls his eyes, but quickly clears his throat when the prince throws a glare at the action.
“Forgive my impertinence,” Florian begins with hardly any sincerity in that statement. “But do you recall anything of the report I have just relayed?”
Prince Oceanus’s hands clasp together just a little tighter as his gaze becomes a tad more intense. He takes a moment to try and rack his brain for the topic of discussion. However, he becomes increasingly frustrated when the only thing that comes to mind is that damned song in his head. It gets louder and louder, clouding all other thoughts which makes it painfully obvious that he hasn’t been paying attention to anything within these four walls.
Florian sighs. “As I thought. Surely, speaking of your troubles may help to settle them?”
But Prince Oceanus detests doing such a thing. Never has he seen fit to confide in another person about the innermost workings of his mind. He sure as hell doesn’t want to start now, but the song persists and he can’t make any sense of it in the least.
At this point, Florian has donned a hopeless expression. Truly his master is a stubborn one and not at all easy to deal with.
“My Prince, would you at least consider confiding in the King, or even the Princess or Queen Electra?” Florian received yet another glare. “We shall be sitting here for hours if your mind cannot remain focused on these matters.”
An irate grumble rises from the prince’s throat. Of course, Florian is right. He’s basically useless as he is now, but it’s hardly a reason to bother his father about it. And gods forbid he confide in his sister! Admittedly, his grandmother does seem the best choice. The woman has lived for thousands of years and has most likely experienced all manner of things over the course of their family’s history. Yet there is no telling where she is at this exact moment. In her freedom from royal duties, the mermaid wanders about like a curious guppy without telling anyone.
At least they know she’s still within the city since she is most concerned with Serena nowadays. But that hardly helps in finding her exact location as of this moment.
After lengthy consideration, the prince decides against any course of action to assuage his troubles. Much to Florian’s chagrin.
So, Florian bows. “I shall excuse myself, Your Highness. I shall relay my findings at another time.”
Prince Oceanus remains silent as he briefly watches Florian disappear beyond the doors of his office. All is silent save for the beautiful song playing in his head. He knows not the owner of the voice, but all of this started the day after his foray into Serena’s mind.
“Princeling!” The doors suddenly slam open as Prince Oceanus’s gaze snaps to the doors in irritation.
Calder disregards the look and quickly swims up to stand before the prince’s desk, clutching a variety of parchments.
“You had best have a good reason for bursting into my office,” Prince Oceanus growls as he lowers his hands from his face and folds them atop his desk instead.
“Oh hush. I know you are just dying to know if I have found a way to waken our mutual friend.” The prince’s eyes narrow as a scowl forms over his lips.
“Spit it out! I have other matters to attend to than the incessant ramblings of an addlebrained mage.” Not that he was really able to do much before, but that’s not something the prince is willing to divulge to present company.
Calder rolls his eyes with a sigh as he crosses his arms over his chest, gaze fixed upon the parchments now lying on the desk. “The Zivarians specialize in such magics of the mind, manipulating it how they see fit. So, I began to wonder if we could, perhaps, replicate those self-same magics were I to get a hold of their ancient texts on those particular spells.”
Prince Oceanus’s eyes furrow. “You do know they are in the midst of a civil war? We shan’t be obtaining anything from them for the foreseeable future.”
But Calder waves his hand dismissively. “Of course, I’m not suggesting such a thing! However, there is yet another kingdom with more knowledge than I on the subject.”
The prince waits a moment. “And?”
Calder pushes his raven locks from his face with a bit of a troubled look in his eyes. “The kingdom I speak of is Vilmaris, and I would have to bring Serena there.”
The prince abruptly stands, hands flat upon his desk as he glares at Calder. “Know you what you ask?” He asks lowly.
Calder idly shrugs without much of a care in his expression. “It’s not undoable.”
However, Prince Oceanus quickly responds, “We know next to nothing of Vilmaris! No outsider has set foot inside since the Millennium Wars, not to mention the number if disturbances within those waters.” He pauses for a moment and sits back down once more. “And you would suggest taking her right into the midst of that mess?”
Calder’s gaze hardens. “We have no other choice. I have exhausted every resource at my disposal and, as you said, Zivaria is in the midst of a civil war. Vilmaris is her only hope now.”
Prince Oceanus clenches his hands into fists as he regards Calder with a chilling gaze. His tense figures reveals his stubbornness on the matter, and he’s unrelenting to acquiesce to this plan.
“Oceanus…” Both sets of gazes suddenly turn to the entrance of the study. Yet another person has decided to intrude upon his solitude once again. But Prince Oceanus holds his tongue.
Queen Electra swims into the room followed by her two attendants, whom she quickly dismisses before she even reaches the desk. The former queen’s gaze flits to Calder then her grandson with a soft look in her eye.
“Now isn’t the time to be stubborn my sweet child.”
Calder wants to scoff. There is nothing sweet about this thick-headed prince! However, he chooses not to voice these thoughts because Queen Electra isn’t one to be taken lightly.
“If there is truly no other options then we must allow Calder to do whatever is necessary to awaken young Serena. We owe her much and we should exercise every effort to help her.”
Prince Oceanus’s scowl deepens, but he says nothing. Not even he could argue against his grandmother, much as he wants to outright reject the idea.
Queen Electra then looks to Calder. “Will our Vilmarisan friend be joining you?”
Calder smiles. “Naturally. Unlike my missing sister, I hold no standing in Vilmaris and they would sooner turn me away before I even reach the veil.”
Queen Electra nods before addressing the both of them. “Then it is settled. Calder why not go inform Rodion of your plans. I am certain that he would wish to accompany you and I would like to speak with my grandson alone.”
Calder nods his head with a begrudging look on his face as he leaves the room. Rodion has been in something of a foul mood the last couple months since his sister fell into slumber. And Calder hardly has any desire to explain the finer details of this plan to him.
Once the doors shut, Queen Electra turns to her grandson. “Tell me, what troubles you? I ran into Florian on my way here and he had much to say.”
A bitter look briefly crosses Prince Oceanus’s face. Damn him! But now would be the ideal opportunity to see what his grandmother may know in all of her years of living.
Prince Oceanus says nothing for about five minutes as he attempts to will himself to speak. Queen Electra waits patiently as her gaze idly flickers about the bookshelves lining the walls and the view of the garden beyond the window behind the desk.
Another two minutes pass before the prince finally begins to speak. “There is…” He trails off, hesitant but continues, “A song.”
Queen Electra tilts her head. “A song? I am afraid you will have to elaborate dear boy.”
Prince Oceanus sighs. “I have been hearing a peculiar song in my head ever since I emerged from Serena’s subconscious.” Her name feels strange on his tongue, and Queen Electra can certainly tell how little he uses it judging by the small falter in his speech when speaking.
“And you wish to know if I have any knowledge of it?”
He nods. “I thought you might have come across such a phenomenon at some point in your life.”
Queen Electra smiles serenely. “Indeed. Answer me this,” she begins as Prince Oceanus listens attentively. “Have you ever heard Serena sing?”