Chapter Six - Locating Spell
He was still upset by the fact that the Earth king wanted Lyla dead. Therefore he must find her first to save her life. In order to do that, he needed the aid of a witch.
His eyes went up to the dusty sign on the door of the small, dilapidated building. The words 'the magical pastry' were embossed in crimson on the sign. Ranos opened the bakery door and noticed few people sitting around rectangular wooden tables waiting for their orders.
The atmosphere was calm and peaceful and Ranus realized the war hadn't reached this town yet, even though it was near the Astradian palace.
At the store counter stood an old woman with a kind smile and many wrinkles. Her straight hair was already completely white, but her mischievous gaze made her look young. Across the counter was a beautiful girl with crimsom curls and shining hazel eyes.
The girl was occupied with baking numerous breads and seemed to not noticing Ranus' entrance.
He approached the counter and the old woman immediately noticed his presence.
"Nadia, your handsome suitor is here," she grinned and winked to her granddaughter, Nadia.
Nadia's gaze was shot toward the counter and a wide smile spread over her lips when she noticed Ranus.
She left the breads, removed the fabric gloves off her hands and rushed towards him.
She grasped his hand and dragged him to the room behind the counter. Before he could say a word or even scrutinize his surrounding, Nadia's lips were on his. She stood on her toes and pulled him closer to her.
"I missed you, lord Ranus".
Ranus intended to reply but she caught his lips in hers again.
Even though it was hard, Ranus struggled to not compare the kiss to all the times he kissed Lyla in the past.
He used to lay his palms on Lyla's face while she was wrapping her arms around his neck and gazing at him with a look full of love.
Her soft lips were gentlly fluttering over his and her sweet taste only drew him closer to her.
He shook off his thoughts and stepped away from Nadia.
"I am not here for that, Nadia," he muttered and her grin died out. "I need your help".
He told her that he must locate Lyla and can not do that without her assistance.
The people in Alkadar, their continent, were divided to three kinds: Elementors with elemental magic, witches and elementless people who had no kind of magic.
The Elementors were the dominant ones on the continent while the witches and wizarda were often persecuted due to the hatred for them. They were scattered all over the four kingdoms and had no special place just for them. In a number of places there were wizarding communities where the younger generation was taught how to use their powers.
Nadia was part of the witches community and she was powerful. Ranus had already witnessed her perform many complicated spells so he knew it would pay off for him to keep her around.
He never really liked witches and it will never change as well, but as his father used to say - it is always wise to keep a witch around. One may never know when he would need to use a spell, or in Ranus' case, a locating spell.
Nadia immediately went to work and brought a number of objects. She sat down on the couch next to Ranus and spreaded out the map of the Alkadar continent on the table. Next to the map, she placed her grandmother's magic book with an antique, dusty leather cover.
"For this to work, I need something which belongs to Lady Leila," Nadia turned to look at Ranus.
His hand was reached to his coat pocket and he handed her Lyla's amethyst pendant, a silver pendant with an amethyst stone attached to it.
"She used to wear it all the time," explained Ranus.
Nadia took the pendant and studied it with confusion.
"Seriously?" She raised her eyebrow. "She is royalty, couldn't she pick a jewel full of diamonds or anything else which is nicer than this boring pendant? That girl has no taste".
Ranos was surprised by her blunt reaction and did not understand why she reacted that way.
He knew how important this pendant was to Lyla. The amethyst pendants of Lyla and her sister, Amber, have been passed down in their family for generations and the Astridians believed that these pendants were capable of saving from death.
Ranus regretted that the pendant was not in Lyla's possession now to protect her from the assassin sent by the Earth's king.
If the pendant does not protect her then Ranus will be. He must find her first and get rid of the assassin.
"Wow, you really dislike her, don't you?" Ranus told Nadia.
"Of course not," she glanced at him while laying the pendant on the edge of the map. "She was in your arms, many times. Why would I like her?".
Ranus raised his eyebrow in amazement.
"I do not have time for your teen drama. Do as I said!".
He rolled his eyes and tried to keep the thought of Lyla on his arms out of his mind.
"You are not nice today," she sounds offendend.
Nadia was one of the very few people who knew about Ranus' plot this whole time. She knew he was pretending to be Lyla's fighting skills master in an attempt to gain her trust and conquer her kingdom.
Lyla was the niece of the water king which allowed Ranus to accompany her at the palace and to look for ways to invade the palace for months.
Nadia started mumbling words in a strange language. She glanced at Ranus and held out her hand.
"It requires your blood".
Ranus hesitated before obeying and rolling up his sleeve.
"Why do all the spells require blood and other creepy stuff?".
Nadia ignored his question and cut his hand with a small knife.
"Drop your blood at the center of the map".
He did as she said and she shut her eyes while muttering again.
Ranus wrapped a bandange around his hand.
A few moments later the map and pendant started glowing and the blood drop drifted toward some place over the map.
Nadia opened her eyes and peered at the map.
"She is near Melice!" She declared and pointed at the place at the map.
"Thank you Nadia," he took the map in his hands. "How long will the spell lasts?".
"Less than a week".
Ranus studied the map while the blood kept drifting throughout the lands of Arkadia.
He had only few days to get to Lyla and make sure she is safe.
"Remind me again why you wanted me to do it?" Asked Nadia.
"King John sent an assassin after lady Lyla".
"So? This is his job now, not yours".
She approached him and wrapped her arms around him.
"Your mission is done, so just stay here with me," she gazed deep into his emerald eyes. "You are no longer responsible of this spoilt noble".
"Why don't you grow up, Nadia? I am sure you have got much more important matters than Lyla".
Ranus pushed her off him and turned to leave.
"Oh! Please do not tell me you fell for her." She laughed.
"It is not it".
He clenched his jaw with rage.
"Oh wow," she was amused. "You are actually in love with her".
Amber was at the dark cell again. She was all alone but she did not care. She need3d the loneliness so she could process everything which had happened in the last day.
Her mother is gone, murdered.
Amber was trying to get some sleep and wake up from this nightmare but did not manage.
The picture of her bleeding mother lying on the floor of the throne hall would not let her rest.
Every time she shut her eyes she faced the hollow gaze of her mother.
The door of her cell was opened and a young guy marched in. He wore the green uniform of Scandia.
"My lady," he bowed. "I was ordered to get you out of the cell".
Amber kept staring at the wall and do nothing.
The guard sighed while approaching her and bending toward her.
"Look, I know you do not know me," he whispered so only she could hear him. "But I know your cousin".
Finally, she glanced at him with surprised.
"I am here to help you," he held out his hand. "So please, do as I say".
She hesitated for a brief moment before taking his hand. Her grief made it hard for her and she had to use all of her strength in order to get up on her feet.
The guard ushered her to the throne hall where she found King John and prince Kase.
Rage and hatred filled her and she intended to storm towards them but a hand grasped hers and held her in her place.
"Control yourself, lady Amber!" The guard whispered. "Furious attitude will not get us anywhere".
Amber wondered what how was that guard planing on helping her.
"Lady Amber!" Called the king. "It is about time we decide what to do with you".
Amber bit her lip and tried to restrain herself as the guard told her.
"I will consider it soon," he continued. "Meanwhile you will be liberated. Well, partial liberated. A guard will be watching you day and night, but you can walk around the palace as much as you wish".
Finally, she will not be forced to return to the dark creepy. It was not freedom, what the king offered her, but it was better than what she had had so far.
"Consider it as my way to show you mercy and compassion".
She lowered her head so he will not witness her rage.
Mercy? The Scandian king was described by many things, cruel, cold, selfish... but definitely not merciful.
In the one month he had been in her kingdom, he caused the death of hundreds of inhabitants who opposed his monarchy.
He took parents from their children, husbands from their wives, and he enjoyed every second of it.
He was pleased to see destruction and had no mercies. Not even toward his own son - a young boy who he forced into killing Amber's mother and becoming a murderer before he is even eighteen.
"You are far from being merciful," Amber muttered to herself.
"What was it? I did not catch that." He teased her.
She intended to give him a piece of her mind but felt the gaze of her guard laying on her.
"Nothing." She clenched her jaws.
A pleased smile appeared on the king's face and Amber clenched her fists on both sides of her body in aversion.
"You may leave now... oh and please, do not try to escape, my guards are scattered all over the palace".
She clenched her jaws again and allowed her guard to usher her outside.
When they were already at a safe distance from prying ears, Amber intended to ask the guard what his plan was.
"Lady Amber!" Called a voice behind her.
She turned around to see prince Kase running towards her.
She raised an eyebrow, she did not expect that person to commune with her. He stopped in front of her and regulated his breathing.
"I am so sorry about what happened," his voice was shaking. "I did not mean...".
A confusion came over her for a brief moment but she composed herself fastly.
"No! You just followed your father's orders," she was indifferent to him.
"So do you think you could forgive me?" He sounded hopeful.
She glanced up at him and recalled the look at his face at the last day. His terrified look when he stabbed her mother. This boy took her mother away from her, leaving her orphan. She would never forgive him.
"No!" She raised her voice. "You are a coward! You were not even able to defy your father's malicious order".
He frowned. "I can not rise against my father, lady Amber".
"So you just chose to stand there and kill my mother?!"
He ran his hand over his neck and uncomfortablly fluctuated from one leg to another.
"I apologize... I can not disobey him, I wish I could. I...." his voice was shaking again. "I have never killed anyone before".
If that boy had not killed her mother, she might have felt sorry for him.
Fortunately for her, Amber had never killed anyone and she hoped she will never have to. But she witnessed her sister's agony when she first shed blood and took life.
It happened many years ago, when Amber and Lyla were taking a walk at the forest near the palace. A stranger tried to rob them and hurt them, but before he could lay a hand on Amber, Lyla threw him to a tree with a powerful water element.
The man's temple was hit with a strong blow and he lost his life.
Amber would never forget the terrified look on her sister's face that day. She took another person's life, took him from his family and loved ones just to protect her little sister.
Now the same look Lyla had that day, appeared on prince Kase's face. Amber knew that his father is the one to blame, but she could not take off her mind the picture of him stabbing her mother.
"You let your father turn you into a murderer and a monster," she replied coldly. "Exactly like him".
The prince widened his eyes and a disappointment appeared on his face. He walked away and looked like a dog whose owners scolded him.
Her guard came standing in front of her with an admonishing gaze.
"What are you doing?".
"What are you talking about?" She frowned.
"The prince," he sighed. "Clearly, he likes you".
"So?" She was confused. "He is a Scandian who killed half of my family".
She struggled to figure out what he was trying to say.
"I know, and I despise him as well. But we can use his affection for you to our own advantage".
She glared at the prince's back and the guard sighed with impatient.
"It is going to be challenging to assist you".
"Something tells me you are not so satisfied that you are supposed to watch me".
"To say the least," he strided and she followed him. "I did not join the Astridian army to babysit on a lost girl".
Amber crossed her arms and was offended. Ever since this war began, Amber had waited for a change and for someone to rescue them from this horrible situation. And now that the guard gave her hope of help, it seemed that he did not even want to do his job. She did not want any favors so she considered declieng the offer.
"If that is the case, you are dismissed, I do not need your assistance," She replied grimly.
She walked away from him and despite her last words, she knew that except him, none would offer her help.