Her Hand Beneath the Otherworld

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Chapter 4

He clasped the black box on the table and untied its red ribbon wrapping. He took out a circular golden foil from the cottony insides and laid it bare above my unsuspecting hand.

“Open the foil, there you will find a necklace with a very pungent smell. Out of all the ancient items that we have discovered, this one had the finest result. That is if you can resist the smell until the exam is over.”

“—Now that I thought about it, til’ this point, I never got the chance to ask how you ended up here or what your name is...”

I strayed off at the last moment, thinking that me—a mere no one, prying so casually about his affairs might have offended him. He stiffened for a moment as if he was conflicted about something, then came off with a nonchalant answer.

“Not that I am allowed to freely state this, but I guess I’ll give you an exception. My name is—”

The door suddenly flew open, interrupting his speech with an ear-piercing bang from the impact.

One of his guards frantically rushed to his side and relayed what seems like a critical message. He clamored in response, “What! How could they track me so fast? What a pain.” He stood up and started gathering his things.

Oh me? I was just rooted to my seat with a dumbfounded expression on.

“I’m truly sorry Ms. Airen, seems like I’ll have to postpone our chat due to some—uncertainties. Rest assured, I will comply with the agreements of the contract and have someone assigned to guard your property. You can keep the artifact as a sign that I will not cheat out of our deal.”

I hear a lot of running outside, followed by a series of yelling and metal clanging to each other. I looked at the stranger with concern and he’s already wearing that large blue robe from last night, ready for departure.

“May I ask, what uncertainties?...” I voiced out, hoping to lighten the uneasiness in my gut. He dismissed my question and without looking back, he continued walking towards the anterior door.

Wait... Just like that?

I tried rushing to his side but I was a step too late. He quickly closed the door with my face almost slamming into its wooden body. How dare he?! I struggled to twist the knob but it won’t even budge.

I don’t even know how does this necklace operates, or what your name is, or what in the world is happening outside! Furthermore, this immovable doorknob keeps on fueling my frustration.

Slowly, the noise outside perished, leaving nothing but an ominous silence at its wake. I ran to the window and checked if something happened to them, but the sight rather appalled me. There was not a single soul within the vicinity.

I opened the window and hopped outside, landing softly on the mushy grass. I looked around the place, finding traces of what should have been a messy fight, but not even their footsteps have been printed on the ground.

It’s as if nothing happened.

My face slowly molding to a frown, their unexplainable disappearance bugged me big-time. But since I have other pressing matters at hand—though it hurts my curious heart, I dropped the worry for another day. Not to mention the chance that there might be intruders left in the area, so even I could not freely investigate.

I walked back to my front door and scrutinized the knob, wanting to know why it refuses to turn. I focused my eyes on the keyhole and there, lays the root of my problem. An enchantment engraved in its silvery insides.

Fortunately, my house’s backyard faces towards the outskirts of the kingdom where a dense grove is located, so if ever I wanted a fresh supply of materials, I could go there to harvest some.

That being said, I ventured inside the trees while being furtive with my actions, I plucked out a bundle of orange grass. After I finished gathering, I quickly went back to my front door and proceeded to roll a large amount of the grass and pressed it to the keyhole.

Orange grass works twice as effective to objects than to humans. So I’m quite confident at the quick demolition of the enchantment. Once I heard the last sound of creaking, I opened the door and happily welcomed myself inside.

I’m quite exhausted from these strenuous occurrences and well, there goes to my a-thousand-Reqious worth outfit. But to be honest, I could not even care less right now. I tended myself on the couch with a cup of tea on my hand. Relaxation flowing to every fiber of my being.

Sad to say, but that bliss was nothing but short-lived. I trudged towards the dinner table and sat down in temper. Above the wooden surface rests an opened box with a gold foil mounting a piece of paper beside it.

It is a manual on how to make the necklace’s blessing activate, with a small reminder on the bottom, ’Meet me in Ryola Square.′

Ryola Square, one of the registration points of the exam and a prevalent store in the whole Sierraglyph. Other than those facts, I could not recall anything. The rest is written within the book that I lost.

You know what? I’ll go shop later, buy myself a new guide book and force my sorry ass to study til’ midnight.

I hastily started to uncover the foil, not caring if it’s made of gold or whatsoever. Halfway through, I started to smell a pleasant fragrance coming out of the wrapper—Like a mix of mild peach and strawberry. Is this supposed to be the pungent smell that he mentioned?

I took off the last of its foil, gently placing the amulet within my palms, studying its intricate design.

It has two beautiful ivory beads that evenly twist with each other. Leading to a lustrous, oval crystal carried by two identical Kings; all three are fully enveloped in a tragic crimson hue. More noticeably, the detailed sinister smiles carved on the latter would surely disturb those with a faint of heart.

Sure, it might seem dark but overall, I am genuinely satisfied. The necklace is polished and free of any dirt. Then why? Why do I keep getting an ominous feeling about this?

I pondered at the thought of continuing this risk or not but alas, curiosity got the best of me. I smiled as beads of sweat trail down from my face. Excitement coursed through my whole body and a shiver ran down my spine. I lifted the manual from the table and obeyed the directions one by one.

I wore the necklace around my neck, then grasped the crystal and uttered the chants as indicated on the paper. I anticipated the resulted effect but much to my dismay, nothing happened. I checked the manual if I made a mistake, but the three simple steps had been executed with perfection.

Did he? Have I been cheated—n-not yet! it is still too early to assume that conclusion. I flipped the paper, hoping there is something on the back but nil. Not even a drop of ink.

I searched the box, I flattened the crumpled foil—I even repeated the same steps twice, but sadly all efforts had been for nothing. That sly thief! Taking advantage of kindness in this small world. Then, is this so-called ‘ancient’ item fake too?

I was about to rip the necklace off when suddenly, it emitted a bright glow. The pleasing scent further escalated, smothering the whole house in its aroma. I covered my eyes without a second thought, as the light became even more blinding.

After a few seconds, the unnatural glow slowly faded, leaving only the aroma all over the place. I withdrew the necklace from my sweaty neck and stared at it in shock. My hands shaking as I placed it on the table, then I rubbed my temples.

Am I going blind? or are my eyes deceiving me?

The fact that I could feel every corner and bump confirms the change, is 100% real. What should’ve been an ivory cord, now coated pitch-black from head to toe. The gem and the two kings carrying it altered from a deep red color into a bewitching golden hue.

My mouth left ajar in amazement of the necklace’s transformation. Even the kings’ creepy smiles have vanished without a trace, leaving their faces with no mouths. Instead, the minuscule gems from the crowns at their heads now glimmered a sky blue color in contrast to its golden surroundings.

I don’t even think that the highest of the Royals are able to afford this necklacemuch less, see its beauty up close. Then, shouldn’t this act be illegal? Nah, I am just one of the luckiest to be its holder.

I took hold of the necklace and wore it happily around my neck. For the self-satisfaction part, I pranced to a nonexistent rhythm with absurd movements to calm my exhilarated soul. After the activation, I wanted to see the effects first-hand so I ran a couple of my own experiments but nothing that could potentially break it.

I started by throwing it into the soft couch with my distance gradually getting farther and farther away to see if it will fly or teleport back to me, but even after dipping it in water, burying it beneath the soil—everything you name it,—not even a single adverse reaction did I get.

There is this one experiment that he wrote on the manual and suggests me to try, seeing how the necklace’s never been worn, up till now. It requires the host to pour a lot of blood into the item, then sees what would happen after that.

Of course, I didn’t believe it, but he proclaimed this method as his greatest discovery. Even going as far as naming it Relinqua—The Blood ritual.

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