CHAPTER 23 - Of a Royal Visit

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I knew I had started getting distant from Serena. She tried to convince me to accompany her to the Winter Gala, or to visit the hills that best showcased the meteor showers, but I found myself rejecting every offer that she made. My life was full of mysteries and the horrors of my past kept jumping out at me, at every nook and corner. Her being friends with a Luesha would not end well for her. It'd be better for Serena to avoid being seen with me, now that the High Lady of House of Virgo, had her doubts.

Violette had pointed out at dinner, the other night, that I had turned thinner in recent weeks, and had forcefully made me eat one extra chicken leg. Looking around the table then, I knew what had to be done.

No one other than me, should be dragged into the pit hole of abomination that my life had become.

I repeatedly failed to muster up the courage to write a letter to Amelia. So, instead I wrote one to Uncle Barak, requesting him to always take care of Amelia. I had to make sure that she would be well looked after, just in case I never made it out of the Winter Realm. That possibility was fast turning into a recurring nightmare.

How would Amelia react to all these new happenings? What would she say when she'd find out that I am not a Vacuusha? Never was.

How would I ever tell her that I am part Earth Elemental and part something else? I knew for sure that it wasn't Air power that did my bidding, which she commanded naturally. Amelia was an Air Elemental, with a Luesha as a sister. Maybe, not even sister, I shuddered at the possibility. She was in danger.

Memories of my childhood hit me, my home, my chickens, my beautiful garden, my stupid sister. Why did I have to come to the Conquest? None of this mess would have happened if I had refused the offer of coming to the Winter Realm as a calligrapher. I cursed that fateful day in a string of colorful language.

Jaded by my thoughts, I groaned loudly. There was nothing to do, other than wait for fate to make a decision for me. I looked at the rod of my golden sundial and touched it gently. Sitting in the window, watching the dim golden haze of sunset, I sighed.

In the silence of the chamber, I let a silent tear tumble down my left cheek, the sobs stuck in my chest, afraid to be unleashed.

Taking one long shuddering breath, I mentally patted myself on the back. At least my emotions were in my control, if not my powers. I was still clumsy at the training with Una -sometimes, a sapling would shoot up and sometimes it won't. At times, I managed to disintegrate a huge boulder into a heap of tiny stones, but couldn't manage to assemble it again. My Earth power was irregular, and that fact bothered me. What if - I gulped at the thought that had arisen- What if I mistakenly unleash my other secret power?

I raised my hands and peered inside me. Would my father's blood that covertly flew in my veins, give me any answers if I asked?

I turned my gaze to the empty fireplace, situated at a far corner from my window. It didn't need to be kindled, since we had heating spinners. I decided to try my luck, with it. Focusing stiffly on the logs of wood placed neatly in the hearth, I imagined how it'd look when the fire would ignite. My head thumped loudly with pain, but nothing happened. No fire came.

Waiting for the pain to soothe, I looked around the room again, spotting a glass of water, placed on my nightstand. In a heartbeat I focused on the drops of water, trying to call them to me. My fingers trembled as I tugged on my knuckles. Nothing happened. No water came.

Suddenly I froze, as my Mark pulsed on my feet. I sat motionless for a while, waiting for it to stop hurting. Had I triggered something?

But, a soft knock on the door, jolted me out of the strangeness of my situation.

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