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Kartiel's Curse [Chapter 17.1]

by Magestorrow


Author's Note: I feel like I mentioned this to someone already, but Cass intends on becoming a librarian. It's why she geeked out so much about the castle library back when Orpheus showed it to her last chapter, and why she cares a lot about books in general. Other than that, I don't have anything else major to comment on! This chapter did take a surprise turn for even me, but I think it's something that you'll appreciate as the story progresses.

Enjoy the chapter~

Words: 1,633

Last Line(s): He gave a small nod. “You'll figure it out, eventually. You just might need to...think outside of the box. And if you notice anything odd, no matter how large or how small, don't ignore it. Remember it. It'll make sense eventually—I promise. I can't say anything else with sacrificing my integrity as a council member, but hopefully that gives you a good head start.” 

And with that and a wave, he disappeared back into his shop.

Chapter 17

For a moment, Cass was overwhelmed by the desire to follow Dari into the building. She even got to her feet and started heading towards the door. She couldn’t just wait for answers to come to her. Maybe it was Kartiel’s confidence taking root, or maybe it was her frustration with how much she had been restricted ever since she had ended up on this world—whatever it was, she wanted something other than a cryptic promise.

But just as she was about to push open the blacksmith’s door, the ringing of the apothecary’s bell cut through the clamor of the street. Cass knew the moment that door opened that she could never follow through with her plan. Orpheus would come inside with her. If it was just her and Dari, he might have told her more. But with Orpheus there, he wouldn’t address their previous conversation. He didn’t want to do anything that could put his role as a council member in jeopardy.

Her shoulders slumped, and she turned back to face Orpheus.

His arms were laden with a variety of unfamiliar herbs. After a brief glance out into the surrounding street, he managed to free one hand and pull down his hood to further conceal his features. It was an innocent gesture, and one that made sense, but Cass suddenly found herself wondering he could enter the city with Kartiel’s permission but not go into the wilderness. Wouldn’t a place with no people be safer than one that had people, especially when the city was in the castle’s shadow? Orpheus being a fallen would have destroyed Kartiel’s hold on the kingdom.

An uneasy feeling settled in her chest.

xXx

The rest of the afternoon should have flown by, but everything dragged. She couldn’t stop fidgeting as the tailor took her measurement during their last stop in town, and didn’t feel excited when the woman promised her clothes would be delivered to the castle early tomorrow morning. Orpheus seemed to have noticed her change in mood; once they set foot in the castle’s library after, he disappeared into its shelves.

She didn’t try to find him. She needed time to think, and a small part of her knew that he was part of the reason she felt so uncomfortable. She wandered aimlessly through the library aisles as the stars above continued their journey from one side of the room to the other. There was something she wasn’t supposed to know. Orpheus had to know it; it was why he had been so secretive. Kartiel obviously knew it. And Dari had to, too, if he was able to tell her about its existence. But he hadn’t been able to talk to do more than vaguely hint at it—he would have gotten in trouble with the council.

Did that mean the council knew as well-

She stopped right before a break in the shelves.

It was a secret that impacted all of Telorum.

It was the only answer she could think of. Kartiel was the king. Orpheus was the next in line for the throne. And the council must have run some parts of the kingdom, even though she didn’t know what. The uneasy feeling in her chest mutated into something more sinister. She was supposed to be the king’s contracted. Didn’t that mean she had some sort of standing in the kingdom? If they didn’t want to tell her the secret, it had to be something big.

She needed someone to tell. But Aspen was miles away in Rey, and she hadn’t even told her about Aldonius being Kartiel. She couldn’t trust Orpheus, or Dari, and certainly not Kartiel.

This was her secret, and her secret alone.

She faced the nearest shelf and began to scan the words on the spines. She had no idea what the layout of the library was like, but it had to hold some of the answers. She could learn about Telorum by reading through the plethora of books, and then she could figure out why everything felt so off.

Her eye suddenly caught the glint of metal in the light of the floating lanterns. 

She turned to see a book on the shelf above the one she was looking at. It was just a little too high up for her to reach when standing, but it wasn’t hard to get it once she jumped up and grabbed onto its spine. She pulled it down to reveal a rather unassuming book, save for the bronze, heart-shaped lock on the dark brown cover. She held the book gingerly in her hands; it seemed to be quite old if the musty smell was anything to go off of. The entire thing seemed to be homemade; its pages looked like they were cut and sewn in, and the cover was made of leather. She should have tried finding another book—maybe something a little newer.

But she couldn’t help but feel drawn to this book, whatever its pages might have contained. She held it close to her chest and turned it over in her hands. There had to be a key nearby, or something-

She stared at the lock.

And then she slowly glanced down at the locket dangling over her chest.

After a moment passed, she hesitantly held the locket up to the hole. The shape and size were identical. Even the bronze of the lock matched the gold of the locket. She pushed the locket into the lock. There was a brief burst of warmth, and the locket glowed like it had back when she was brought to this world. But she wasn’t magically transported this time; all that happened was the lock opening with a soft click.

She carefully opened the front cover.

A date was neatly printed in the upper right hand corner of the page, but that wasn’t what her eyes lingered on. What she stared at was the diary entry written below the date, printed in a scrawling handwriting. The black ink had stained some of the edges and corners, but all of it was legible.

And if the way it was opened was any indication, this diary had belonged to someone incredibly important.

Cass found the nearest armchair. Once she was comfortable, she rested the book in her lap and began to read. There was nothing to say that she would find her answers in here, but there was something irresistible about the diary that she couldn’t ignore no matter how hard she tried.

Dear diary,

It’s taken some time, but I finally managed to put this book together. It involved a lot of sneaking out, but Mom and Dad aren’t any wiser—they never check on me these days. All I had to say was that I wanted to study in my room for a bit, and I had plenty of unsupervised time to myself. The guards don’t care, either, so it was incredibly easier to prop open my window and slip out into the town. The hair and eyes are a bit of a dead giveaway, but they’re both easy enough to hide.

But I digress. All that matters is that I’ve finally gotten something that’s entirely mine. I can write whatever I want here—do whatever I want here—and they can’t stop me. And when I do manage to sneak out and do something especially noteworthy, I can brag about it here.

Speaking of which, I'm already planning my first great escape attempt. I'm going to make it all the way to Inden. It's on the other side of the kingdom, but it'll be worth it. And I'm not going for the diplomatic stuff, either. I'm going to explore. Mom used to be so into exploring, back before...well, you know, and Dad's never been the type for adventure. He used to say it was because “the kingdom comes first” but I'm definitely going to let the king travel via royal decree when I take the throne someday.

Telorum's just so boring when you know everyone and their neighbor. I need an adventure. Who knows? Maybe I'll even meet my future co-ruler during my escapades–rescuing royalty from dragons may not be the usual first date these days, but it's definitely still in style in my book.

Well, it sounds like someone's coming. Hopefully it's not Rius again. He almost caught me when I was in the middle of making this, and I'm pretty sure he would have told Dad and Mom if he figured out what I was up to.

See you tomorrow, diary of mine.

-Prince Kartiel II

She stared at the book as the name registered.

Then she immediately rushed to her feet, clutching the diary close to her chest as she peered down the nearby aisles for Orpheus. This diary had to be a national treasure; it shouldn't have been resting unprotected in the shelves of the library. It needed to be preserved, despite being in an incredibly good condition for a book that had to at least be a few hundred years old.

But Orpheus was nowhere to be found.

She glanced down at the diary.

The future librarian in her wanted to preserve the book, but the reader in her knew the importance of the written word. She couldn't explain why, but she felt like she needed this book. Maybe a small part of her—or a small part of Kartiel—knew that this book was tied to the secret of Telorum. Maybe it would explain Kartiel's curse, if that really did exist. Or maybe it was just a book written by the boy she had seen in the family portrait just that morning.

When she finally did find Orpheus, the diary was safely tucked among a stack of books that he gladly let her take back to her room.


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Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:11 pm
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Panikos wrote a review...



Hi Mage! Back again to review. I don't really have any small comments for this chapter, just general stuff, so I'm not going to follow my usual format. Before I delve into the body of the review, though, let me just say something about this:

For a moment, Cass was overwhelmed by the desire to follow Dari into the building. She even got to her feet and started heading towards the door. She couldn’t just wait for answers to come to her. Maybe it was Kartiel’s confidence taking root, or maybe it was her frustration with how much she had been restricted ever since she had ended up on this world—whatever it was, she wanted something other than a cryptic promise.

But just as she was about to push open the blacksmith’s door, the ringing of the apothecary’s bell cut through the clamor of the street. Cass knew the moment that door opened that she could never follow through with her plan. Orpheus would come inside with her. If it was just her and Dari, he might have told her more. But with Orpheus there, he wouldn’t address their previous conversation. He didn’t want to do anything that could put his role as a council member in jeopardy.

Her shoulders slumped, and she turned back to face Orpheus.

His arms were laden with a variety of unfamiliar herbs. After a brief glance out into the surrounding street, he managed to free one hand and pull down his hood to further conceal his features. It was an innocent gesture, and one that made sense, but Cass suddenly found herself wondering he could enter the city with Kartiel’s permission but not go into the wilderness. Wouldn’t a place with no people be safer than one that had people, especially when the city was in the castle’s shadow? Orpheus being a fallen would have destroyed Kartiel’s hold on the kingdom.

An uneasy feeling settled in her chest.


I think this whole opening section can go. Remember what I said in the last chapter, about not lingering too long in a scene? That's what's happening here. There aren't really any story beats - all that happens is Cass considers going after Dari, then doesn't. It doesn't add anything. There's a reason you cut the last chapter where you did - follow that instinct.

That aside, this chapter left me quite confused. The main thing that's thrown me off is all this talk of a 'secret'. I'm not really sure how she's come to the conclusion that there is one. All Dari said to her was that Kartiel's memories were going to get confusing, and that - because he was a council member - he couldn't tell her the reason. I get why Cass would be unsettled by that, because it implies that the council is aware of things that they aren't sharing with her.

What I don't get is how that translates into her being certain that (a) there's a single, united secret, (b) that the secret is sinister and (c) that the secret threatens the entirety of Telorum. They're such huge conclusions to jump to based on next to no evidence. From Dari's words, I didn't necessarily think that the council wanted to hide the truth from her indefinitely - how could they, when she shares Kartiel's memories? I just thought they might want her to figure things out for herself. Maybe they think it's crucial for her to understand Kartiel through the contract, not through how other people talk about him. At no point did I think 'yup, the council's keeping a massive secret that could ruin the nation', so I don't get why Cass would come to that conclusion either.

What this says to me is that Dari's dialogue at the end of the previous chapter ought to be altered. He needs to say something that gives Cass a more conclusive reason to feel suspicious of the council. Maybe Dari should come across as more apprehensive himself. Because to me, his words just seemed like a bit of friendly advice, not a hint towards a groundbreaking secret.

I don't fully understand why Orpheus has become so distant, either. You say that he's picked up on Cass's mood change, but I'm not sure why he's acting so standoffish rather than, y'know, actually asking her what's wrong. Does he even know she had a conversation with Dari, or had he already left by the time he came out of the apothecary? It might make more sense if Cass actually told Orpheus about it and asked him what Dari had meant, only for Orpheus to suddenly get really closed off. That would provide a reason for Orpheus to act distant as well as giving Cass a stronger motivation to feel unsettled, because she'd know he was hiding something. It's a possibility, anyway. I leave it with you.

The diary is an interesting development. I'm intrigued to see how it fits in with the curse and what's really going on in Telorum. I does seem to drop out of the sky somewhat, though. It feels too convenient that Cass just happens to stumble across it, mere minutes after she's realised that she needs to uncover a secret. I feel like there should be a reason for her to seek this book out. Could she dream about it, by any chance? If she saw the book in Kartiel's memories, there'd be a more concrete reason for her to seek it out rather than just her 'having a feeling' about it.

All that said, I am immensely tickled to see that she's effectively nicked this book without telling anyone. Rebel Cass is here, finally! Break those rules, gal!

That's all for this one!

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




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Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:09 am
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BlueAfrica wrote a review...



whatever it was, she wanted something other than a cryptic promise.


ME TOO, GURL

Orpheus being a fallen would have destroyed Kartiel’s hold on the kingdom.


This doesn't really follow for me. I know back in Rey the fallen are looked on kind of the way...I guess kind of the way demons or the devil would be here? But in Telorum I didn't expect that at all, in part just because we know Kartiel and Orpheus are related and Kartiel clearly cares about Orpheus. I guess it's just an odd assumption to me on Cassie's part that letting people know about Orpheus would upset them, and a further odd assumption that this upsetness would potentially crumble Kartiel's reign as king. It may again be an issue that I don't know enough; I don't know enough about Telorum and its attitudes toward the fallen, how similar or different it is to Rey.

It was a secret that impacted all of Telorum.


Not gonna lie, I'm not sure what secret we're talking about right now. Reading a little further I think it might be the fact that Orpheus is a fallen? And I guess given the way Kartiel keeps him hidden, it makes sense that it's a secret - but nonetheless, I was very confused at the start of this scene. I know we sort of had to find out for ourselves that Orpheus was a fallen, but even so it's never felt like a big, earth-shattering secret to me, but now it's taken on the importance of one. And I again feel like Cass is making a lot of assumptions that don't necessarily follow.

She held the book gingerly in her hands; it seemed to be quite old if the musty smell was anything to go off of. The entire thing seemed to be homemade; its pages looked like they were cut and sewn in, and the cover was made of leather.


Yes please, 11/10, will take.

Question: why is a diary in a library? But then again, since it's Kartiel II's diary, I guess that makes sense. If it were Kartiel IX or Orpheus', I'd be squinting at it.

She couldn't explain why, but she felt like she needed this book.


This is almost the opposite of what I was saying at the beginning. Here Cass can't explain why she feels like she needs this book, but I'm over here like, "duh," just because of whose it is. That said, I feel like we're finally going to start getting somewhere - especially with the new plotlines you've mentioned in the author's notes - now that we've got this diary.




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Tue Mar 12, 2019 2:36 pm
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FireSpyGirl wrote a review...



This is such a cool chapter! I think this is my favorite so far. A diary that locks! I have to say, I've always, always wanted one of those, every single time I read about them. The closet I could come to was one with a magnet. XD. I can't wait to see what she finds out!
Sorry that there aren't any predictions. I kind of have to rush today.
Keep up the great work, and looking forward to more!





These were autumn mornings, the time of year when kings of old went forth to conquest; and I, never stirring from my little corner in Calcutta, would let my mind wander over the whole world.
— Rabindranath Tagore, The Cabuliwallah