Chapter 24 - Raines
Cold. It is cold without him by my side when I wake up. In more ways than one. Nemia’s prepared breakfast has grown cold as I’ve slept. My tunic is twisted with the sheets, the same one I’ve worn since leaving Helen and Talia’s house.
Knocks rattle my door. They’ve come for me. They’re going to torture me for information, they -
“Raines?” I recognize Nemia’s tone, full of restless energy. “Raines.”
I trip to the door, dragging the bedclothes half across the floor behind me. When I reach the knob, Nemia’s already started to open it.
“Morning!” I strain with a smile. “Listen, Raines. After everything that’s happened, this might help.” She holds out an envelope. “It was delivered just a moment ago, though I don’t know how it found you.”
I look down. It takes a moment to recognize the scrawled lettering across the front. Persie.
Snatching it, I tear open the top. “Thank you!” My hand has already slammed the door shut. “Persie, Persie, Persie!” I mumble, eyes filling to blur the lines of ink. My hands are already shaking badly. Deep breath.
I’ve only guessed at where you could possibly be, but I have more information than most. I am safe in Ordovicia and I’ve taken up a position with the Ordovicia’s Script. Censoring a paper, I hear things, Raines. Without disclosing too much - I’d hate to put you in further danger - I am gathering people allied with the pacifistic cause and we are ‘editing’ the Script before it reaches consumers. But it’s already liberal. So we’ve been spreading, recruiting supporters involved behind other papers. We’re going to turn the tide of this war from the inside out. A naive populous blindly supports - and just now they’ve chosen the wrong side.
It is my dearest wish that you are safe. It has been some days since I have been able to pin down any information about Calix, but I do hope he is recovering well from the attack.
Hang on just a while longer. The war is turning. All my love,
The Ordovician Script
My eyes are damp. The cling to vestiges of smudged ink her slender fingers have left on the edges of the paper. Below her swooping name is a fancy stamp, listing her job and position in neat, inked letters.
Persie is safe. Safe! An unexpected rush of happiness jolts through my limbs, causing me to stand and thump my feet on the floor a few times. And then, suddenly, I am grinning, and my lips are spreading across my face, giggles burbling up my throat.
She’s fighting back! Persie is gathering a resistance, hidden directly in the public eye. No longer will we be scared civilians shuffled around by naïve, panicked governments. We will be a force empowered by knowledge that war is wrong and we will be fueled by our own voices.
Persie has started a pacifistic mafia.
And we’re going to be alright.
The funny thing about war - one of many, in fact - is that joy is squandered almost instantaneously in its midst. Tonight, my happiness is lost to a special evening edition of the paper announcing that rebels have turned Calix Mandalia over to Trinovan authorities. He is in jail here on Volcin temporarily until he can be transported to the mainland prison in Ordovicia for his Trial of Treason.
I feel my stomach roll over, denying what’s real. Warm soup Nemia served a short while ago gurgles wetly at the base of my throat and I gag.
They’re going to kill him.
Trays of food periodically vanish and reappear throughout the day, all uneaten. I never notice anyone exchanging them, so deep is my depression. It has driven me slowly from manic motivation, rolling plot after unrealistic plot around the roiling plains of my brain, to uselessness, my body rendered listless across a crumpled blanket on the bed.
I manage to pen a letter to Helen and Talia, begging them to remain inconspicuous and explaining what happened to Cal so they know the version unfiltered by press jargon. I briefly explain about Persie’s work attempting to infiltrate the papers. I do not know how long it took her letter to make its way to me…. When can we expect to see the fruits of her labor. The liberal words of the Ordovician Script aren’t likely to betray much of a difference. But once her allies reach Minta’s Record, say, it will be difficult to disguise her efforts. She must measure her words carefully.
I depart my room only once that day - the world feeling fuzzy and gray - to send the letter.
“Raines!” Nemia catches my sleeve in the doorway.
“What?” It comes out a snarl. “I’m sorry. What’s wrong?”
“I imagine it will be best if I deliver your letter to the post master. Keep a low profile and keep your head down here.” Gently, she removes the letter from my cold hands.
“Thank you,” I say.
Returning to my room, I begin the most difficult task I’ve yet encountered in war: to wait.
To agonizingly wait.