calm sea during golden hour






2/1/20242 min read

Vienna barely had moment to comprehend before she tripped and caught herself on a lamp post.

Bless those wretched iron-wrought lamp posts from the 1800’s.

“You’re a stupid girl, that’s you.” She muttered under her breath, straightening herself again as she looked down the corridor again, her heart racing as she caught a glimpse of blonde hair. The figure exited a door, and even without seeing their face Vienna knew it was Elliot. She could recognize his signature navy tuxedo any day. The figure stilled, stopped, and looked around. For a second their eyes almost met, and Vienna could see all the hauntedness of the world in his charcoal grey eyes. Then he whipped around and left, the air disturbed.

He didn’t see me…did he?

Vienna went back to the door. Don’t bother chasing down a killer when the castle’s on fire. Wasn’t that some ancient Niflheim proverb?

Whatever. She turned the doorknob, knowing it would be stupid to try…and was amazed when the door swung open by itself.

So much for thinking yourself a prodigy.

She looked around the room from her position in the door. Nobody and nothing except for the salmon pink walls and the pink cow-print bedding.

She’d better get back to Evelyn before the girl started worrying...

Her footsteps thudded in the carpet as she jogged down the twists and turns, praying that she wouldn’t run into Elliot or anybody else. The dark sky outside was still as luminescent and mystifying as ever, but she didn’t dare look outside a window in fear that she would see sky troops with huge cannons ready to blow a hole through the castle and potentially kill her.

She finally made it past the Crimson Badges now on every hallway and corridor down to the main hall where Evelyn was standing against one of the flower-vases; her arms crossed as she listened to her older sister drill something that was evidently important. Vienna could tell by the way Evelyn was frowning that she didn’t like it…at all.

“Vienna Alcestis, thank Hel you’re here.” Elswyth said as Vienna walked up to them, grabbing Vienna by the shoulders gently. “I’m going to need you to go with Evelyn and a few Crimson Badges to the grounds. I’ll be handling everything inside. Please don’t put yourself in risk.”

“But what about Elliot? And Lyss?” Evelyn demanded. “We are not going to leave them behind!”

“We are not. I’ll strike a deal with the Lunae Regnum, I’ll get them to hand over Elliot and Lyss and give them the…the Nifl-gem.”

“The Nifl-gem?” Evelyn’s face turned two shades paler. “But…”

“We’d have no other choice.” Elswyth sighed, her eyes dim. She rubbed her temples, turning away. “It’s the only thing they’d deem precious enough to let go of two…traitors.”

“But it’s been here for centuries.” Evelyn whispered. “Hundreds of years before we were even here.”

Vienna felt like she shouldn’t be hearing the things that were being talked about, but she still couldn’t help dawdling and listening in. It was one of the traits she’d like to have gotten rid of.

“As I said, no other choice.” Elswyth turned to her again. “Vienna Alcestis, go. Dimitri and Decima Ivanov will meet you at the stables across the far end of the grounds. Do not deter from your path.”

Vienna nodded tersely, her hands clutched into fists. Where had Elliot gone? Shouldn’t she have told Elswyth about the mutiny in the first place? Or had Evelyn told her already?

“Your Highness, Doyenne, I should have told you earlier.” Vienna blurted out just as Elswyth turned to leave. “I knew about Elliot before you knew. I shouldn’t have kept it a secret.”

“Don’t worry about it, Vienna. Evelyn told me. We’re all going to be alright.”

Vienna watched as Elswyth left, and wondered just if they were all going to survive tonight.