“It’s getting colder” Nathan said.
“Thank you for pointing out the obvious” I joked.
I’ve been here a few days now. Haven’t seen starlight and it’s making me depressed. They let us use the bathroom which is located at the other side of the dungeon but I can only shower once or twice a week. I’m still wearing the same clothes, I wash them whatever chance I get.
“How can I get out of here?” I thought out loud. Nathan and I have been talking for days and turns out he’s a really nice person but he hasn’t told me why he’s locked up.
Nathan didn’t answer, he looked depressed and weak. They feed us once a day and the fish was sometimes raw and the water was rusty, the food made me choke. It smelled like chemicals and isolation, Lyra would have gagged to death if she was kept here for even one minute.
“I should have ran away when I had the chance” I said. My breath turning into mist.
“What were you running away from?” Nathan asked.
“The mess I made” I told.
“It’s not your fault you got betrothed to....him” Nathan doesn’t say his name but I know who he’s talking about.
“I don’t know what to do” I worried.
“You’ve said that a million times in the past few days you’ve been here” Nathan pointed out.
“It’s true” I confess.
“Someone’s coming” I said looking at the end of the dungeon. The door was open and a tall figure was approaching my cell.
“Are you sure about this?” someone asks.
“I can handle a girl” answers a familiar voice. “Leave” he adds.
He walks slowly for effect and soon he’s standing in front of my cell.
“What are you doing here?” I said through gritted teeth.
“Visiting my future wife” Alec smirks.
“Just stop” I demanded.
“Don’t you want to know how you family is?” he asked.
“What family?” I questioned.
“Your Dad left for Virgus a few hours ago and your grandmother....” Alec told “She’s living right here at the palace. She has her own space and she’s happy”
“Happy” I repeated “So you gave her what she always wanted”
“Are you going to take Virgo?” I asked. “And Ophiuchus?” I added quickly.
No answer, instead he stood there awkwardly and shivered. I narrowed my eyes at him. He looked sorry for me. I did not need anyone’s pity and especially not from him.
Nathan cleared his throat. Alec spins to Nathan, “I see you’ve made a friend, Annabelle”
“You’ll never get away with this” Nathan said to Alec. His fists clenched.
“What are you going to do to stop me?” Alec teased, “Call your Crimson Keeper friends and throw rocks at me?” he added.
“What are you two talking about?”
“Nothing” they chorus.
Alec turned back to me and opened his mouth but I spoke first.
“You don’t want to do this, do you?” I choked.
The prince played with his fingers and sighed. “Annabelle,” he started “If there was any other way I could help the kingdom I would. Trust me”
I couldn’t hold my anger anymore. “Exactly how is stealing my constellations helpful?” I raged.
“You don’t understand” he said through gritted teeth. “I have to do this and I can assure you that nothing bad will happen”
“How can you just lie to my face?” my voice echoed. “Taking Virgo or Ophiuchus is life threatening for me and my family”
“No it is not!” he insisted. “I don’t plan to kill you people. You’ll live” he promised. He said the last words with as much good there was in him. There was something about his tone that made me believe him a bit.
“Why did you bring me here?” I said softly.
“That was not my idea!” he defended. “It was father’s”
“I didn’t break off the engagement” I told “I requested that you delay the wedding so I could have my freedom for a bit longer”
“I’m sorry” he said in a low voice. “But it’s not up to me. I have to do what’s best for my people and I’ll try to be nice to you and give you as much freedom as possible” he promised.
“Go away” I demanded. I was disgusted by him and his lies. He’s the future king. How can he rule a kingdom if he can’t even speak up for himself?
“Which one is stronger?” Nathan asked, breaking the silence between us. “Virgo or Ophiuchus?”
“I don’t know” I said.
“Well, Virgo is part of the Twelve Major and some people say that Ophiuchus....” He sounds like Amara when she starts blurting out facts and makes us look dumb.
I cut him off. “What are you talking about?” I interrupted. “What’s the Twelve Major?”
Nathan cursed under his breath.
“What were you talking about?” I asked.
“You’ll find out” he smirks.
“You remind me of my nerdy friend” I tell him.
“You mean Amara Aries?” Nathan asked. I shake my head to say yes.
“Aries are smart and so are Pisces. Most intelligent constellations” I quoted. Amara had once told me that.
“Tell me something about yourself” I asked.
“I’m tired and hungry” he said.
“I’m half Cetus” Nathan told. He rolled up his torn sleeve and showed me his Signs.
He had Pisces, one horizontal line intersecting two vertical semicircles. Cetus, which represented a whale.
“Wanna see mine?” I asked. He nodded. I showed him Virgo and Ophiuchus.
“Nice” he said.
“Sometimes they burn” I told.
Nathan sighed and I copied him. There was nothing much to do I closed my eyes and fell onto the bed.
“Nathan” I called.
“Yes, Annabelle?” he replied.
“You can call me Belle” I said.
“Okay” Nathan smiled. “Belle”
“In what part of Stellaregno did you live?” I questioned.
“The north side” Nathan said.
“Really?” I asked, amazed.
“Yeah,” Nathan confirmed “I live in this place called......” he stopped.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
Nathan looked at the cell next to him, standing at the bars. Two guards were inside the cell and they each had a stone in their hands, star stones.
“Tell us how to get there” one of them asks. Then I realize their talking to the old man who’s locked in the cell. He doesn’t talk, he’s weak and Nathan kept saying he was going to die soon.
“I can’t. I’m sorry” he wheezed.
“You should be” the guard says. The star stone floats out of his hand and flies towards the old man. It pierces his chest and sticks into his rib cage. His skin tightens around his bones, he screams and shouts but soon his voice is gone and I can imagine the tattoos on his wrists fading away as his ability his taken from him. When they carry him out I glance at the dead man, his body is skeletal. His skin is white and his eyes are open but the pupils are gone. When a star stone hits you your pupils shrink to the point where you can’t see them and you loose all your body fat and look like a skeleton. It’s the first time I’ve seen a dead body. The tears wet my cheeks and I have to cover my mouth to hide the sound of my sobbing. Nathan banged his head on the bars of his cell.
“Your next Pisces” one of the guards warned before leaving.
“What did they want from him?” I thought out loud.
“Answers” Nathan breathes.
“About what?” I sobbed.
Nathan doesn’t answer me. I get the feeling that it’s not because he doesn’t know but because he doesn’t want to tell me. I hate when people do that. It makes me curious, Amara’s voice echoed in my head. I smile at that, I miss her. I miss everyone I left, everyone who’s leaving for college. Who probably already left.
“We have to get out of here” Nathan said, his voice is wobbly. “They’re going to do the same thing with me”
“Why?” I hear myself ask.
“Because that’s what they do to people like me” Nathan chokes.
“What are you talking about?” I pleaded. “I’ve known you for a few days now and I know that your a nice person so why.....” I stopped when I looked at him. Nathan’s nostrils flared.
“I’m not a nice person to them” he said. I stayed silent and Nathan did the same. Despite my curiosity I didn’t beg for answers. I kept quiet and lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. I badly wished I could see the stars. The last time I saw them was in my dream.
My chest felt heavy, the last time I saw Ophiuchus was when I was asleep and it was brighter than all the other Constellations. It felt as if.....I can’t really describe it. But....it just doesn’t feel right.
For the first time I hoped that I would have dreams tonight, they would take me to the Stars and I could feel their presence. Someone brought my meal and I ate. It was cold and dry, I had to take a sip of the rusty water which tasted like it had been tampered with. I pushed the plate and glass away, the steel scratched the floor and broke up the silence in the dungeon. I covered myself with my black coat which had dust and lint on it and tried to sleep. My eyes were dropping and I was fatigued but I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about Tristan. My best friend. I missed him. I hoped he was thinking about me just like I was about him.
I’m sitting at the kitchen table and everything seems weird and sad. I’m dressed in grey and my hair is covering my face. Tristan sits across from me, he’s also dressed in grey and he’s smirking.
“Stop doing that” I say to him.
“Doing what?” he grins.
“That thing that your doing” I point out.
“I’m just looking at you”
“Well......stop” I tell him.
He stares at the table, his cheeks are red because he’s blushing. Soon I turn scarlet too. I try to hide it but he sees through my blush.
I slowly lift off the chair I was sitting on and avoided Tristan’s dark eyes.
“Stay” he begged.
I turn spin around flipping my hair at the same time, “I’m right here” I say.
“No your not” he insists.
He approaches me, he strokes my hair and his hand finds mine. He laces his fingers with mine. I find the gesture soothing.
“Don’t leave” he says to me.
“I’m right here” I promised. I embraced him and he returns the gesture. I was calm and felt a tingle of happiness, I knew it wouldn’t last. Tristan faded and I was left alone.
I wake with his name in my mouth, Tristan Capricorn.
“Finally your awake” Nathan sighed. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine” I said.
“You were restless last night” he told.
“I don’t think so” I recalled the peaceful dream I had last night. My face feels hot and I hope I’m not blushing as much as I think.
“You were saying a name” Nathan told. “A boy’s name”
My mouth feels dry and that feeling spreads to my throat, it makes my stomach churn.
“Who’s Tristan?” Nathan wondered.
I swallowed. “He’s my friend” I muttered.
“Oh,” Nathan said “What constellation was he from?”
“Capricorn” I answer before he can finish. “He only inherited one” I added. I always found that fascinating. How some people only inherit one constellation because it’s stronger than the other one.
“That’s rare” Nathan said. I nod in agreement. He realizes that I’m sad and says, “You’ll see him again”
“Thanks” I smiled.
They brought our breakfast, salmon with chowder. Nathan ate the chowder or I should say drank it and gave the fish to me.
“Your just going to starve yourself?” I asked him. Nathan grinned and I did the same. After eating there was nothing to do except drown in your sorrows. Nathan was banging the iron bars with his steel plate, a guard came and snatched it from him.
“Do you think....” I started.
Nathan cut me off, “All the time. I’m a great thinker you know”
“That’s not what I meant. Do you think that......”
“Yep” Nathan interrupted.
“Will you quit doing that? I’m trying to ask you something” I demanded, annoyed by his undenying urge to irritate me.
“Ask away Miss Virgo” he said.
“Thank you” I straightened up.
I inhaled, trying to remember what I was going to ask. “Oh, now you made me forget” I said. Nathan laughed and I was so annoyed that I didn’t even smile.
“We’re gonna get out of here” Nathan hoped. “We have to” I never thought I’d here him say that.
“Pray to the Stars that we do” I replied.