calm sea during golden hour



Sorry if this is a bit rushed! Things have been a bit hectic with weddings and schoolmates, and it has taken a toll on my concentration skills. I promise, I'll improve. Also, thank you so much to my readers for following my ramblings as I try to sort my incoherent, scrambled thoughts into a readable book. xoxo Dihaan.



9/27/20234 min read

Elliot was deemed the winner once he had bought seven hotels and then they all gave up once their money began running out faster than water from a running tap.

“Truth or dare!” Lysistrata yelled.

None of them really felt up to anything more after the charged exchange between Elliot and Dimitri, most of all Vienna, whose mind was still racing from insane plans, but Lysistrata, as always, whined until they all gave in. Vienna was really started to get annoyed with her. Maybe it was the fact that she was 13 and generally teenagery but the sugar-sweet childish aura really wasn’t helping, neither was the pastel core. Hardened cynics preferred darker palettes.

“I don’t really feel like playing truth or dare. It’s a bit childish.” Eleanora said.

“Too bad, we’ll play it anyway!” Lysistrata said.

Vienna raised her eyebrows. Was this kid on a sugar rush or was she always this annoying? A glance passed between her and Dimitri as they both stifled disbelieved snickers. At least on that term they were similar, in their sarcastic cores. Vienna related more to Dimitri, whom she had just met, than any other citizen here. Even Eleanora, who was calm but also slightly vexing.

“Truth or dare?” Elliot asked Dimitri, who seemed shell-shocked by the turn of events and muttered, “Truth.”

“Have you always been a wuss or did you just recently turn into one?” Elliot asked, smirking. Cocky undertone as usual, but Dimitri wasn’t shooketh.

“I believe since you dismissed me, I’ve turned into quite the irreparable wuss.” Dimitri replied, insouciantly.

Elliot flushed angrily, the others stifling laughs. Elliot was acting up so much it was hard to keep face. Vienna took the opportunity to leap into the flames.

“Eleanora, I dare you to tell me everything you know about the Test.”

It was Eleanora’s turn to flush. Elliot glanced from his sister to Vienna and crossed his arms almost comically.

“You told Vienna about it?” he asked, raising his brows. “You know we’re not supposed to. The contestants aren’t supposed to have time to prepare, Nora.”

Eleanora’s cheeks turned red in embarrassment. “I know, it slipped out.”

“But it’s unfair!” Elliot said, his temper rising again. “I swear, you’re becoming softer by the day. Is it being cooped up here that’s loosening your tongue? Because it doesn’t seem like you’re on my side much anymore.”

“Let’s all calm down and think about it,” Lysistrata jumped in, with what she thought was a soothing tone.

“You don’t know anything about it, Lysistrata! You think you’re on my cause but you’re a kid, that’s all you are!” Elliot said, his voice rising two octaves, and he stood up in a fit of anger. “You’re not thinking, Eleanora, use your brain. Don’t you want some payback? On her?”

Eleanora’s face contorted, torn between emotions. She shook her head, and Dimitri, Lysistrata, and Vienna watched on silently.

Elliot stared at them in disbelief and then stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him, almost driving it off his hinges.

All this boy ever does is slam doors and storm out, thought Vienna wearily. And what a surprise to think that only an hour ago she had been serene in her room, sketching and listening to tunes.

“I’m a bit tired; think I’ll head home now.” Dimitri said, looking around the room warily.

“I’ll head down too.” Vienna piped up. She was feeling the effects of delayed jet lag now, and her stress levels just shot up once Elliot entered the room.

“You two go on, I have to pack up my special edition Flores and Aurum Niflpolium board.” Lysistrata said self-importantly.

Eleanora shot Vienna a cautious look, but didn’t say anything. In that look was all the words Nora had intended to say, the embarrassment she felt when her brother acted up, the thankfulness she felt towards Vienna remaining silent and deescalating the situation, the patience that was everlasting in Eleanora’s strange heretochromic eyes.

“Good night, then.” Dimitri says lightly and nods at Vienna, who muttered the same and followed him out of there, across the almost deserted hallways, traipsing down the stairs.

“That was quite something.” Dimitri said, chuckling. “I guess I was right about Elliot being a classical menace.”

Vienna laughed. “I guess you were.”

“The royals are quite something. The only one who seems acceptable is probably Eleanora. To me, at least.” Dimitri said, lowering his voice as they walked along the corridors.

“Looks like you and I have the same opinion, Blue Badge.” Vienna said, imitating Elliot’s polished, slightly transatlantic accent.

Dimitri allowed himself to smile before his expression darkened.

“I know you want to know about the test. It’s not allowed, but we’re friends, and I hate following orders anyway, so I’ll tell you all about it.”

Vienna raised her eyebrows in concentration. Looked like there would be no manipulation needed, Dimitri had taken the bait of his own accord.

“It’s designed to attack your weaknesses.” Dimitri started, leaning against the wall beside her. “I overhear a lot of things, don’t ask me how. Anyway, it takes place in a room in the castle, don’t know which one, though. Er, it has some bits about literature, probably. Maybe something about your hobbies. Your family, too.” Dimitri tugged at his sleeve, looking uncomfortable with the last few words. Vienna didn’t understood why, until she remembered the fact that he practically had no family except his sister and his mother, who was way back in the real world.

“That’s…it?” Vienna asked. “A bunch of questions and you’re either cleared or transformed into a Siren?”

Wow. The very thought had her terrified. How long did she even have before she was cast into a land of the cloaked? More like how long before she became one of the cloaked? Trust her to freak out more over something that might or might not happen rather than being kidnapped and trapped in another dimension. How long had it even been? One week? More like three days, probably. It felt like an eternity.

“Woah, calm down.” Dimitri said, looking alarmed. Vienna swiped her hand across her face, trying to wipe off the expression of terror.

“How long before this Test of Horror occurs?” Vienna asked, trying to keep all indicators of anything suspicious from her voice.

“Maybe five days, give or take.” Dimitri said insouciantly. “They usually give you a week to settle in, before dropping the bomb.”

This time, there was no mistaking the way her eyes widened and her brain went on red alert. Bidding good night to Dimitri, she stumbled into her room and screamed into a pillow until her vocal cords died out.

“I’m not dying. Not here, not soon.” She muttered, trying to convince herself to stay grounded. But somehow, she didn’t even believe herself.

I’m dead. Oh God, I’m so dead.