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Emperor's Heir - Chapter 25

by shieldmaiden


Chapter 25

Hastily, I turned around, an excuse poised on my lips. But the words died straight away. There, floating beside me, hanging upon the air as if perched on a shelf, was a candle. Nobody was holding it. The wind seemed not to touch it, for it continued to burn steadily though my own flame flickered when a light breeze passed.

I stared at the candle transfixed. Then I slapped my face with my free hand. Hard. Yet the candle was still there when I opened my eyes. It started moving backwards, continuing down the path out of the garden. It bobbed ever so slightly, as a candle does whenever someone takes a step.

Someone was holding the candle.

This realization sent a chill straight through me. Yet, I did not hesitate to follow. A strong curiosity thrilled me to the core. Nalda would call it foolishness that gave me a sense of security; that I would trust an invisible guide to lead me, most likely, into a trap was madness.

Yet, there I was walking out of the safety of my garden and down the empty paths and corridors of the Palace. The candle led me past looming, dark houses, windows barred from the outside world and their owners sound asleep inside. The flame never hesitated or showed any confusion about where to go. Its owner knew these walls with strong familiarity, taking shortcuts that I never even knew existed.

Utterly lost and now completely dependent upon my ghost of a guide, I was just beginning to worry about how I would find my way back home, when the candle stopped. I followed its example, and taking a careful look around, realized where we were. We had crossed through the Emperor’s garden from a wall in its side hidden by vines and were now standing in front of the mountain’s entrance.

The candle continued to wait. I frowned, confused. Then a thought came to me.

Do you want me to speak the password?” I asked in a hoarse whisper.

The candle bopped up and down as if its owner was making it mimic a nod.

But I don’t know it.” I threw my hands up helplessly.

The candle continued to wait.

Fine,” I huffed, “I’ll try.” I closed my eyes and tried to probe my mind to bring back the password. A password my younger self knew. A password given to me by my mother.

My mother. My mind veered off the search for the code that would open up the wall and instead brought back every word written by the most precious woman who brought me into this world.

Avacë.

Why had she called me that? Was it her special nickname for me? And she had called herself Ÿĩşŧƍƞ. I shook my head, trying to focus back on the task at hand, the candle never wavering. Yet, I couldn’t draw my attention away from those names. A thought crossed my mind.

I breathed in deeply, my knees trembling, knocking together.

Avacë y Ÿĩşŧƍƞ!

The mountain groaned loudly, the door cracking open slowly to reveal its dark, engulfing mouth. A mysterious, cold wind whistled through the mountain’s teeth, snuffing out my flame. My guide’s floating candle continued to burn brightly as it calmly crossed through the door’s threshold, leaving a trail of light for me to follow. Not too eager to be left behind, alone and out in the cold, I stepped through, keeping my feet out of the shadows and within the glow that fell from my guide’s candle.

The mountain’s walls immediately closed behind me, sealing me in darkness. I swallowed nervously and wished I had brought some matches. Though I wished to be back among the moon and stars in my garden, I forced myself to face the heart of the cave … or what I assumed was its heart.

It was so black that my eyes could not see my own hand when I held it in front of my face. A musty, earthy smell filled my nostrils and my mind couldn’t help picturing white bones lying sprawled out in abandoned corners, waiting for my clumsy step to crush their skulls. A shiver coursed through my veins and I wrapped my arms tight about me.

Then a light shone, approaching from about the corner of the cave’s passage. At first, I thought it was my guide returning for me. But as I ran towards the light, I saw that it was not so.

The candles that had lined along the walls of the cave when I came earlier that day, were each being lit, one by one. Flickering flames mysteriously appeared upon wicks, burning brightly and filling the cave with warmth. Each candle cast its own dancing shadow across the rough, jagged walls of stone. Though slightly eerie, I was cheered by their savage dance as each candle worked to keep the dark’s cold fingers at bay.

Slowly, I walked down the passage. It was the same tunnel that I had gone down with my family earlier that very day. Only now, I was alone. Though I was only taking small, tiny steps, my breathing was shallow, coming out in short puffs. Finally, the tunnel ended and opened up onto the pool.

And I entered a dream.

Luminescent moon beams fell softly through the roof, shining radiantly upon the hundreds of dewdrops cast from the rushing waterfall, sparkling like blue fairy-dust. The pond itself was filled with open lilies, their delicate, white petals dancing and surfing on their circular green pads along the waves of the rippling water. Ivy crawled out from their cracks in the pebbles, their long, leafy vines stretching out their arms up to the moon. The night air felt vibrant and alive.

Then the waters of the fall parted, like drapes being pulled back from a window. I could smell the woodsy burnt scent of pine sap. A spark flew through the gap between the falls. A fire seemed to be burning on the other side.

I looked back over my shoulder. The tunnel was still lit by rows of candlelight, yet the pull that convinced me to follow the invisible guide, began to tug at the strings of my heart with a new sense of urgency. I suddenly had a haunting premonition that not much time was left. That if I didn’t rush through that waterfall right now, I might not get another chance.

Hastily, I ran over to where the water was parted. Looking through the crack between the marble slabs of wall, I could see a fire being stirred by an invisible hand. Smoke rose to the ceiling as the flames of the roaring fire waved and danced. It looked warm and welcoming. Hesitating no longer I stepped through.

I walked into the room, watching the flames lick at the wood fervently, sending yellow and red sparks up into the air with wafts of smoke. Shadows danced merrily across the floor, leaping and chasing after each other.

But the cave was empty.

Hello?”

Not a soul answered. Only the sound of my own echo, the breeze rustling the leaves of the trees outside, and the crackling of the fire at my feet pierced the silence.

Would my guide please be kind enough to reveal yourself?” I asked pleasantly, but rather nervously.

A heavy, cool sigh answered in reply.

Hello?”

I’m sorry, child.”

The voice came across the fire from where I stood. It sounded sad. Nevertheless, I took a couple of steps back.

Wh … what for?” I stammered, clenching my teeth to keep them from chattering.

Do not worry, dear. I shan’t hurt you.”

I raised my chin and nodded, trying to appear brave. “Who are you?”

A friend.”

Of my mother’s?” I asked eagerly.

There was a chuckle. It was warm.

In a way, yes. But I was more your friend.”

Why can’t I see you?”

Because you can not remember.”

Remember what?” I echoed.

Everything. Sweet child – your memory has been tampered with. Blocked by magic. Thus, you can not see me or remember who killed your mother.”

My hands shook. “Do you know who killed her?”

No. But you do.”

I do?!” I gasped.

Yes. You saw your mother be taken from you before your very eyes.”

I collapsed on my knees, tears streaking down my face. I clenched my hands. “What must I do to break the spell?”

There are some powerful herbs in Quonxi. Mixed together with water from the midnight flower will break the cords that have been binding your mind all these years.”

I nodded. “Take me to this land and I will find them.”

You must search for these herbs on your own. I can not help you.”

But how shall I find Quonxi?” I threw up my hands helplessly.

There was another chuckle.

You are in it.”

What?!”

The waterfall in the mountain – that is the portal into Quonxi. You are now in an abandoned cave at the south of the kingdom.

My brows flew up and I ran outside to look over the cliff’s edge. It looked even bigger than before. The landscape, full of trees and mountains seemed to go on forever and ever.

It’s so big,” I breathed quietly, “How am I ever going to find what I need?”

I shall leave you careful guidelines. And you shall have some help.”

From who?”

There was no answer. I turned back around, though that proved useless since my mysterious guide was invisible.

Are you there?” I asked.

Still no answer.

My shoulders fell, and I felt rather lonely. A wind blew through my clothes, causing a shiver to course through my body. Wrapping my arms around me for warmth, I went back into the cave. Picking up a stick, I stirred the fire till it burned ever brighter. Rubbing my hands together, I looked around aimlessly.

That’s when I saw it – written on the cave wall.

Laughing Grass from a widow’s meadow. Weeping Willow Tears in the lonely forest. A Kelpie’s salty fins of truth.


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193 Reviews


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Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:01 pm
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Horisun wrote a review...



So, I have a feeling all my predictions from last chapter are wrong... XD Ah well, you win some, you lose some, and I like the direction the story is taking.
Now, one other thing I want to point out is the same thing I pointed out last chapter, and that's that the bold doesn't really fit in the story, except maybe the last line.
Other than that, looking good! Please tag me when the next chapter comes out!
Keep on writing!




Horisun says...


Oh, another thing, I'm wondering if Kkachis old friends will be back.



shieldmaiden says...


I keep forgetting about them! Right now they don't fit in the storyline, but they should pop up soon!



Horisun says...


Wooh hoo!



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Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:03 pm
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Dossereana wrote a review...



Hi @shieldmaiden sorry for dropping in on the middle of this story I just thought I would give this a bit of a push out the green room for you. So lets get right into it shell we.
So I really liked how you started this chapter of. At ones there were just images flying into my head. And the images were just coming to life as I started to read on and on deeper into the chapter.

The wind seemed not to touch it, for it continued to burn steadily though my own flame flickered when a light breeze passed.

Okay so I do love this line a lot. It has great description. But at the same time I just have one thing that I'm going to have to be a bit picky about sorry. I just don't think that flickered fits this line. Maybe change it to flickering instead I just think that would go better. But that's up to you. The rest I really like.
The balance with your description and talking is perfect. I really think that your a great writer. Just from reading this I can feel the plot moving forward. I really don't think that there is any down sides to this chapter. I feel like all the words flow well together. As well as that keep listening to FlamingPhoenix. I really liked how you ended this chapter it so pretty cool. The start was as good as the end.

So that is all that I can say. If I was being to harsh or I did something that you did not like, then pleas tell me for I am very sorry for it. So keep up the great work, I loved reading this.

@Dossereana Out In The Sky Of Reviews




shieldmaiden says...


Thanks for the tip Dossereana! I truly appreciate it! Any help is always a good thing to have and your encouragement is an honor! Thanks! :)



Dossereana says...


Your welcome, glade I could help.



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Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:44 am
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FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...



Hello my dear friend it's me again FlamingPhoenix with a review for you on this lovely day, and like always to help get your work out the green room. Sorry this review has taken so long, thing have been rather busy, but I am here now. So let's get to it.

So I just love how you started this chapter out, right from were you left off the last one. When I finished the last chapter I had a feeling you were going to start the next chapter some were else, I ad the feeling you were going to tell us what happens later on in the story, but looks like i was wrong.
Though I didn't expect the out come. It was quite shocking, I thought it was Kkachi's imagination that the other candle was moving. But looks like I was wrong again! XD
I really liked the description of her walking out her garden and to the palace garden. That is wasn't expecting. I new there was something about that garden but I didn't know what, well it looks like I found out after all. And it was beyond shocking! O.O
I wonder though this person is that Kkachi is talking to but can't see. It must be someone we have heard of somewhere in the story. Though I do have a slight suspicion it's Kkachi's mother, but I could be wrong and she is dead. *Shrugs* With your story you never know until you tell us.
But if this person that is helping Kkachi isn't her mother, how do we know she is helping her? I mean she could also be using Kkachi to help the things that have been trapped out. I have know idea and it is driving me insane, and that is the reason why I must keep reading.
Oh and before I forget I thought the description on the cave was wonderful, I like the way you said and she walked into a dream, because the way you described it it might as well been a dream, it was so calming, and peaceful. Just amazing. You have gotten so much better at your writing and it's making me so happy seeing you improve.

So keep up the amazing writing and post the next chapter soon, because I can't wait to see what will happen next, has Kkachi been tricked. or is this other person really helping her? So many questions. So have a great day or night, and post again soon.

Your friend and faithful reader
FlamingPhoenix.
Reviewing with a fiery passion!! ;) *whispers* Your amazing!! :D




shieldmaiden says...


Thanks so much Phoenix!!! I'm glad you liked it. I also find that invisible person rather frustrating. For now, I do know who it is, but you know better than most that characters have a way of revealing themselves. I hope to post soon. I am also working on a short story for a contest. Would you be interested in reading it once it's done
I'd really appreciate your input!!!





Oh I'm sure everything will come together as you write, that's always the best part.
And I would gladly read your short story when it's done, I'm sure it's great.
:D



shieldmaiden says...


Thanks!




If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven - and very, very few persons.
— James Thurber