calm sea during golden hour



Chapter Four of my book, Siren Song.



7/17/20238 min read

Chapter Four

The Cousin

The Parcae teleported away just after the blue badged guard and Vienna exited the Throne Room, but not before handing Vienna a delicate glass oil-lamp locket. It had four sections, pink, blue, and purple, the fourth was black.

“If you ever need us, use this. I’m purple, Morta’s blue, Nona’s pink.” Decima said, pressing the locket into Vienna’s hands. “We’ll be here soon.”

“It’s charming, I will, thank you.” Vienna said, relented, and said, “Will I see you soon?”

“You will, sweetheart.” Morta and Nona replied, looking similarly sympathetic, almost like sisters. They nodded once, smiled that horrible smile and disappeared.

Now, Vienna and the Blue Badged guard were walking up a large marble staircase lined with carpet. Silence had conquered the air.

“So, you’re Vienna, right?” the guard asked casually.

“Vienna Alcestis.” Vienna said, looking at her out of the corner of her eye to catch her profile, but the cloak hid it all. “Human, right?” she said, smirking.

“Smart.” The Guard said, grinning, sweeping off her cloak. She was pretty. She had a dark tan complexion, light freckles over her pert nose, and shoulder length creamy blonde hair. Her eyes were a warm green-gold. Average height, she was shorter than Vienna, presumably the same age, give or take a few months.

“Lysistrata Silverlake,” the girl said, beaming, yanking off a white glove and extending her hand. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Vienna shook her hand.

“Likewise,” Vienna replies, pleased with her correct guess. They reach a wide hallway with abstract paintings of gorgeous women obscured by clouds and rain, and keep walking. “Before I met you, I had no assumptions that guards could be humans.”

“They’re not, they actually can’t be.” Lysistrata said, again slipping on the glove. The Prussian cloak hid most of her, but she seemed to be wearing a white and pink striped crop sweatshirt with baggy white slacks underneath. She paused a minute, pulling her hair into a short ponytail.

“I’m the only exception,” she continued. “You see, I’m actually the Queen and the Prince’s cousin.”

“Really?” Vienna asked. It was pretty strange, she thought to herself.

“Yep. Initially, I was supposed to be a Duchess or something, but I thought that seemed boring and way too pretentious for me, so I asked to be a Blue Badge. They protect the Royals.”

“That’s fascinating.” Vienna said. “How old are you again, Lysistrata, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Call me Lyss, Vienna, and I’m almost 14,” replied Lyss.

“That’s a bit young, innit?”

“Yes, but I do practically nothing. I don’t even get a weapon...” Lyss said regrettably. “It’s a tad bit fun, though.”

They stop in front of a dark oak door with a gold plate on it, labeled with glossy embossed letters: Vienna Alcestis Hawthorne [Semi Mortal]

That label again.

“That’s your room, Vienna.” Lyss said, smiling. “Everything you need is here. Either me or Rose Emerson will be on guard outside. Sometimes both of us.”

“Oh! There’s no need for-” Vienna was surprised by the extreme hospitality. “I really don’t want to burden you!”

“Oh, no biggie. It’s what we’re for, besides, Rose is quite a good conversation partner. She knows a lot about Terra…oh, your key.”

Lyss held out a key. It was a bone white moonstone key with an intricate pattern mazed into the top. She examined it. It felt pearly cold.

“And some cumin soda.” Lysistrata said, producing a bottle from her cloak, grinning, “Something for you specially.”

Vienna smiled. “Thanks a million, Lyss.”

Lyss cocked her head and smiled, raised a hand and left, curvetting down the hallway.

Vienna sighed without a reason, looked from the now empty hallway, then to the key.

It’d be nice to have a lay down after this drama, she thought, maybe I’ll wake up and discover this is all a dream…perhaps I’ll be home.

She twisted the key and went in.

The first thing she noticed was the queer shape of the room. A huge rectangle. The walls were wallpapered a smooth, thick cream white, light beige carpet and a cool breeze without any AC or thermostat flowed. Along the base moldings, golden fairy lights glowed, and along the ceiling as well. LED strip lights or something similar were attached below the double king bed and along the ceiling. The bed itself was a fluffy affair, topped with about a million pillows and the cutest plushies ever. It was situated in the middle of the room, its headboard against the wall. A huge bookshelf was lined with rainbow ordered books and a huge desk leaned against it. It had the perfect art set, Posca markers, paint, pencils, everything she’d ever wanted. On the semi-circle side, there was a huge window, almost the length of the wall from floor to ceiling, looking out over the entirety of the Niflheim. A cosy table with two chairs was perfect for coffee, beanbags and a couch was perfect for viewing. An easel with canvases, a set of cameras, everything. All of her hobbies.

Suddenly she was overwhelmed. Wasn’t it exactly like The Other World in Coraline? So very similar, all she wanted was here. She felt a wave of sleepiness come over her. Weary, she staggered to the bed, and promptly fell asleep.

She dreamt of home.


Vienna woke up to the tell-tale pitter patter and tinkle of a cloudburst outside the window. In her hand, a locket. Beside her head, a plush. In her head, torrential rainclouds, a British sunburst.

Glancing around the room, it seemed like no time had passed. Here in Niflheim, she learned later, sleeping caused no change of time. You slept, for however long you wanted, and you woke up at that exact moment you slept. When Elliot and Lyss explained it to her later, she failed to grasp the technical terms, and spent most of her time in Niflheim being innocuously oblivious of time.

It was still raining outside. Translucent, full droplets of something. Vienna was about to settle down in a chair to relax her stressed muscles or something like that, when it occurred to her to change into something comfortable.

If indeed, the room had a closet, which it didn’t seem to.

She walked around the room, examining the wallpaper. Ah, bingo!

There was a tiny circular pinpoint where the paper didn’t quite seem normal. A slight interruption in the fairy lighting, a circular diameter. She knelt down and pressed it, feeling a tiny bump under her smooth fingers and the very short nails, expecting something.

The walls around that area slid open. The secret closet was somehow comforting. How did they know that she adored tiny mysteries like this, Lilliputians of enigmas?

Well, they did say they had followed her for months. Now that she thought about it more, it did make her feel slightly uncomfortable. A dead-set introvert who was never at ease with anyone other than her family and very close friends, being watched for months without noticing was surely a step in the wrong direction.

Her attention was diverted by the closet doors. It opened into a square room, about 14 by 16 feet, containing birch closets on three walls, and the door on the other. The main room led into another smaller room, containing vanity mirrors, velveteen plush parlor chairs, pulsing with rose gold light. Multifarious makeup products were arranged neatly on the mirror desks, she didn’t care much for those, she had never been one for makeup, except on special occasions, and even then just face powder, highlighter, mascara and eyeliner. Ring boxes and jewellery, she liked the look of those. Vienna loved silver jewellery.

She drew closer to a vanity mirror. If she wasn’t wrong, there was something small, blue and folded fixated on the top of a mirror.

She plucks it and unfolds it. It is, to be precise, scented lavender letter paper, the words in blue ink.

From Lyss,

Dear Vienna,

This is a mobile room tour, if you’re wondering why I wouldn’t give you a personal tour, we are not allowed into your room. Sorry, girl! Anyways..

When you first enter, you shall find an automated walkway, covered over with violet carpet. Your favourite color, I assume!

It was!

To your left is a built in cupboard, containing a safe, if you want to keep anything secret from the room service, this place is the way to go. It also contains dried food, tissues, maps, and towels.

Vienna riffled through the cupboard. Eerily similar to Lysistrata’s words, everything seemed to be there.

To your right, paneled mirrors, largely amplified to see your (gorgeous) reflection. You are literally so pretty. I wouldn’t blame you for staring into the mirrors all day.

Vienna grinned.

A little bit further, you’ll find a double king bed, topped with pillows, bolsters, and plushies.

Vienna walked through the room, reliving everything with Lysistrata, with the Royals’ cousin, who had refused royalty but somehow enjoyed being a mere guard, was filled with enthusiasm, but was sort of strange. She found a few more devices, such as the integrated microphone into which she needed to speak anything at all, and it would appear. There was also a trapdoor behind one of the mirrors which had a tiny music room. It only made her miss her drummer and keyboardist.

Vienna flung the note on her bed and went to change into a violet hoodie and black slacks, the rain had chilled the air. She ordered a million brownies, a milk chocolate mocha, and sat beside the window in a chair, with To Kill A Mockingbird in hand, a classic.

She had only finished the last brownie and taken the last sip of the (really quite delicious) mocha when there was a knock. She folded the page she was on and ran to the door, then opened it a peek.

Lysistrata stands, hands clasped, her cloak hood fastened.

“I had some news to confer, Vienna.” She said.

“Come in and sit down.” Vienna said.

“No, I’m not allowed, Vienna.” Lysistrata said hesitantly.

“Just get in, girl.” Vienna said. Lyss sat down on a beanbag and clasped and unclasped her hands.

“I got hold of something for you. Actually, Elliot cleared it for me.” She said excitably.

“Yes?” Vienna asked, curious, she sat down in her chair again and stared intently at Lyss and tried to gauge what she was saying.

She holds a mother of pearl object in her hands, Vienna realizes it is the same type of pearl Morta clutched while teleporting, shot through with bluish sheen, pulsing.

“It’s a TP Token, or Teleportation Token, you hold it and think of the place in Niflheim you want to teleport to, and bang, you’re there. The Sirens can naturally teleport, but you need specifically one of these to teleport in and out of the castle. They’re really, really difficult to get, but Prince Elliot cleared this one. Anyway, just inside Niflheim, yeah?” Lysistrata gushed.

“Why would Prince Elliot clear it?” Vienna asked. The fact itself was unnerving- why had one of the Royals cleared an apparently valuable object for her? The last thing she needed was one of the Royals to take an interest in her and possibly kill her. Or something along those lines…

“I don’t know! But it’s dreadfully exciting, Vy. Anyway, let’s try it out.”

Vienna watched in apprehension from the other corner of the room as Lysistrata tinkered with the small token ball.

“I think there’s a button here somewhere.” She muttered. All of a sudden there was nothing, plain air where Lysistrata had been.

“Dang, that’s impressive!” Vienna smiled slightly. She clasped her fingers in her lap and sat there silently until Lysistrata reappeared, looking bewildered.

“I don’t know why I thought of the stables- one of the equus nearly ate me, damn!” Lysistrata said, her hair was ruffled and her cloak was untidy, but she looked pleased, all the same.

“I suppose, Vienna, you just have to think of where you want to go, and then you hold this real tight. Then you teleport. It doesn’t hurt at all, just sort of…tickles.”

Vienna nodded. “Should I try it out, or…”

“Yes, of course!” Lysistrata said and almost tottered out of the beanbag she had plopped down in, handing Vienna the token.

Vienna gripped it, thinking of someplace she had already been in the castle. Perhaps in the room she had first appeared in. Or maybe the…

Boom! One moment she was in the comfortable chair beside the rain-glazed window, the other she felt an exciting, whirlwind feeling of being propelled, and she was inside the Castle Room. Gosh! Such a horrible decision. There was no one in, but darkness- of course, there were no lights, the shades were drawn, and the only lustre in the room was a dim sort of glow from the glowberry vines intertwined with the walls and the gorgeous, gleaming chandelier. Then she gripped it again and was back in her room, Lysistrata looking thrilled and trepiditive.

“Well, where did you go?” Lyss cried raptly.

Vienna grinned broadly. “I thought of the Castle Room, but it was all dark and dim. It was quite something, though.”

“Right?” Lyss laughed. “Anyway, it’s quite time for dinner.”

“What time is it, actually?” Vienna said.

“Dinner time.” Said Lysistrata, and laughed again.