“—Airen!” Someone whispered-shout into my right ear.
“Wake up, are you okay? Damn, this is so much fun. The illusions look so terrifyingly real. What more did Jarth and Karol tell you about? Oh, and by the way, we’re on the verge of getting slaughtered—”
“Which of you impertinent Mongrels dare to chatter in front of His Majesty, King Lufog. All of you must be tired of your lives!” A voice boomed throughout the whole throne room which immediately brought me back to my consciousness.
With a wave of his hand, King Lufog’s assistant immediately shut his mouth. The king laughed at our current predicament with a teasing smirk on his face.
“State our hired assassins’ mission so that I may pardon them.”
I started watching the surroundings. There are three other examiners besides me and Brithan and unfortunately, all of us are cuffed, gathered above a red carpet. Just a step away from my right side, a commoner man and his wife could be seen kneeling with their heads hanging lowly.
Looking at his garments and boastful demeanor, this lad sprawled in front of me is an obnoxious Royalty whose brain can’t process the danger of our current predicament. Unlike the eyesore, his guard—a woman hidden in tight-fitting black clothes, bear more of the respectful attitude.
“Your Majesty, these traitors are not worthy of your mercy—”
“Are you going against my word Ashol?” He bellowed, magnifying his authority.
“N-No Your Majesty.” He bowed in apology and walked to a golden table in the sidelines. There he drew a certain document and stood next to the throne before speaking its contents.
“These traitors are guilty of—”
“Do I look like I care? Behead them.”
The king ordered in a bored tone, interrupting the start of his assistant’s speech. He smirked at both the man and our stupefied faces whilst adding a catch, “Cut their necks cleanly. I’d like to see the crimson fountain.”
Forget my hopes. This king is more of a lunatic than I thought.
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Ashol bowed as he slowly unsheathed his sword, nearing the cocky Royal in front of me. The lad taunted, “This frail man dares to behead me? My guard could single-handedly beat this weakling’s ass.”
Goodbye, pretty boy. An angel descended from heaven waved her hands farewell at this guy’s stupidity.
Without hesitation, the provoked man rushed to slash his head but the woman beside him quickly uncuffed her hands and blocked the attack with her Ferdil-laden hands.
The stationed warriors of the king tried to intervene with the fight but His Majesty stopped them at their tracks, placing them by his side as they watched the battle like it was pure entertainment.
I stole a glance at the couple and it looks like they are trying to open the cuffs using a pin the wife has on her head. They gestured for us to come closer, but we’d be dead before we can even secure the distance. I need to find another distraction. The fight in front isn’t enough.
Seeing my distressed face, the guard dropped a small knife secretly at her back and pushed it by the heel of her shoes in a fluid motion towards my direction as she continues to fight Ashol using a sponsored blade.
I immediately hid it by my kneecaps and winked at Brithan. I helped her hide the small knife by her pocket and she acted out the rest of our half-baked plan. “Oh my! Miss, please help!” She wailed to the maid who passed by her. She bit her lip as beads of sweat started to trail down from her face.
“My short’s about to get soaked. I really need to use the bathroom!” She spoke while squeezing her legs to the point where it’s quivering a bit. The maid gasped, not knowing what to do. She walked to the warrior, farthest from the throne, and relayed the situation.
He then marched towards the king and bowed as he notified him about the problem. His Majesty beamed with a menacing smile etched on his face.
“Tell that maid to bring me the woman uncuffed. And you, take a small cup and a large cucumber from the kitchen. I’d like to see her urinate in front of everyone.
As for the cucumber business, I’ll leave that matter to you.”
With a lift of his hand, the fight immediately ceased with the Royalty’s guard under Ashol’s tight grip. Ashol tried to speak out, “Your Majesty, taking off that traitor’s restraints—”
“Do you think she can run or fight at her current state? She’s as helpless as a crippled beggar.”
I overheard their conversation and it was nowhere near to the answers that I expected. He’s a lunatic, indeed. Nonetheless, it is still a better outcome than having her sit still, as she can perform the next step.
The short man gulped and proceeded to tell the maid about the king’s plan, making her pale at the stomach-churning notion. She hoisted Brithan up while shaking a little, uncuffed her hands as they ambled towards the throne.
Half-way through the walk, Brithan stopped her act and drew out the knife from her pocket, impaling it deep into the poor maid’s eyeball. She screamed in utter horror, her body slowly pulverizing into powder as she falls into the ground.
Brithan took the key inside her clothes and threw it my way then ran to the sides. The woman underneath Ashol’s clutch managed to escape due to the divided attention. She got the idea Brithan is trying to portray and so imitated her action.
She ran to the spot where the chandelier’s rope is being held, and at the same time, they both sliced off the support of each side, letting the massive crystal decoration plummet near the throne. I ran to the couple and helped them take cover against the sharp debris flitted across the whole room.
After a few seconds, the father looked up from our spot and surveyed the surroundings. With a subtle nod, we stepped out and padded to the lad who is being hugged by his protector.
“Get off me, You wretch!” He yelped, pushing the bloodied woman back with all his might. My face frowned, deciding to interject,
“Look at her state—her back full of pierced glass shards, are you not the least bit grateful?”
His brows rose up as he scanned my stature from head to toe. “What gives you the right—a lower person, to talk to me like that? Are you seeking a death wish? My parents are...”
As he continued to ramble, his guard apologized discreetly on his behalf and shook her head. “Rather than worrying about me, it’d be better if you look for your friend. I heard a shriek right after the incident, it might’ve been her.”
“Everyone, come here quick!” The father shouted with a hint of relief in his voice. We scurried to his side, taking a glance at the long intricate rod with five glyphorites on its top, each filled with a core inside its crystalline body.
“The king and his subordinates managed to escape the mess but lucky for us, the glyphorites had already shown themselves before anyone could die...“He coughed after speaking the last word, scratching his head bashfully.
I turned around and looked at the whole place again but not a single clue did I meet. Anxiety slowly creeping up on my skin as I think about the harsh disappointment in Brino’s face.
“Don’t drag everyone in your problem, little girl. That friend of yours has already died. She might be waiting back at Ryola Square.” He grabbed the glyphorite with a triangular core at the center that is being lifted up by a large base, making it taller than the rest of its peers.
At that instant, the inside of his palm glowed a dark light as his body suddenly vanished into the thin air. Before I could even react in shock, his guard also bid farewell and followed next to her master, vanishing without a single trace.
I looked at the couple and reassured them as they were still reluctant about leaving me alone. I told them that I could manage, and to top that, anytime by now the king’s warriors might come back so they better hurry.
They slowly nodded in defeat, clutching their own fated pieces as they teleport back to the square.
All Glyphorites have the same form. Colorless. A perfect diamond shape with a core in its center. Common glyphorites tend to have a round core while rare ones display more corners and curves. Legendary glyphorites have detailed and complex cores, making people wonder about how does the Forest of Illusions creates them.
Glyphorites—no matter the amount—becomes visible once it finds you worthy, but as the fated master, you’ll only feel a special connection to one of them. You can confirm that it’s yours if it glimmers the color of your eyes the moment that you hold it.
My heart started racing out of nowhere. Out of the two glyphorites left, the one on the right side of the rod caught my attention. I was so tempted to reach for it when my necklace glimmered for a brief second, erasing all of my desire.
Wow, is this the power of—
“Shut up! You pathetic snide!” A loud yell reverberated throughout the throne room followed by a shrill feminine laugh as if it was purposely mocking the displeased person.
Only one person I know can pull off that annoying stunt. I ran to the wall behind the throne and started touching the surface. The sound came from a place beyond this barrier, which also means that there must be a hidden entrance.
After a random push, the wall suddenly rotated, dragging me inside an elaborate chamber. My mouth left ajar at the sight laid before my eyes. Seven warriors standing behind the king, who is sitting on a smaller throne, clutching the last remnant of Brithan’s jet black hair before it finally turned into powder.
Brithan just died. Everyone was right. What hope did I cling on to? Instead of thinking rationally, I let Brino’s words hinder my thinking. Now, I just dug myself a deeper grave.