10 – The Foreshadowing
Overall Prince Gemini was satisfied with the reconstruction of the Shadow Realm castle. Thanks to the work of the finest workers and builders in the realm the process ran very smoothly. The structure of the castle itself was still standing, but a good bit of the interior had been damaged. Gemini passed through the throne room as he wandered around the castle halls overseeing the work. Picking up any items lying around on the ash-strewn floor was the zombie Phan.
“Did any of the workers do anything up here?” Phan asked as he followed Gemini up the main staircase to the castle’s upper floors.
“No,” Gemini answered. “The rooms below this area still need some work, unfortunately. Right now I’m going to my tower to inspect it.” His room was one of the tallest turrets in the castle -the third tallest to be precise. A tower called The Dark Tower was the tallest, then Queen Elodie’s tower.
When Gemini entered his room he was relieved to discover that the tower had not suffered as much damage as he had expected. Although the contents of his room were scattered there was minimal destruction from the fire. Bits of the carpet were scorched and most of the items on the floor had at least some sort of damage done to them. Gemini examined his writing desk and found that most of his papers and items remained where he had last placed them.
“Is your room alright?” Phan asked. “Shall I send up a few servants?”
“Oh, no,” Gemini answered. “They are needed downstairs.”
“Anyways, I am going to inspect the rest of the castle’s upstairs.” Gemini left his room and descended tower’s spiral staircase as Phan trailed behind.
“This hall past the conservatory was barely burnt,” Phan noted as they wandered down one of the back hallways. “Is there some sort of spell in it? And this isn’t the main entrance to these rooms, is it?” The experience was interesting to him. He had lived in the castle for quite some time yet he was still unfamiliar with a lot of the castle’s halls.
“The whole castle had a protective spell,” answered Gemini. “But apparently it was not as strong as I had thought. Either that or the shadow-shapes are advanced enough to corrupt it. This spell -and no doubt others.” He glanced at the ruby amulet in his pocket and frowned. Noticing Phan staring at this he asked, “Have you seen my mother around?”
“No,” Phan answered.
“If she is not occupied with anything of importance I would like to speak with her. I will be down the hall in the library,” Gemini instructed.
“Yes.” Phan left Gemini in the hall to go looking for the queen.
Phan found Queen Elodie seated on her throne in the throne room, acting as nothing had happened while the builders and servants worked on restoring the room around her. Elodie’s throne was in perfect condition. Whether or not it survived the fire on its own or was just Elodie’s first priority for the room’s repair was undefined. Immediately Phan caught Phan’s attention and he stepped up to relay Gemini’s message. He was then interrupted before he had the chance to speak when Jenesis entered the room.
“Phan!” she called suddenly. “I would like a tea tray sent to my room, please.” Phan glanced back at her.
“The servants have other things to do,” Phan stated.
“I had intended for you to fetch it,” Jenesis answered with a smile. “But nevertheless, go get it. My mother is meeting with an old friend and I am sure they would like a tray of tea to talk over.”
“A tea tray sounds lovely,” said Elodie, who was listening in on the conversation. “Thank you, Jenesis, for your kind offer. And perhaps send one up to Prince Gemini, too, while you are at it. Don’t forget your mother’s tray.” She smiled as Jenesis started to frown. “Phan is not a servant,” she added. Disgusted, Jenesis left the room.
Elodie directed her attention back to Phan. “Finally, someone worth talking to!”
“Your majesty,” Phan addressed, glad to finally have a chance to speak to the queen.
“Gemini would like to speak to you if time allows. He is in the library on the upper floor.”
“Alright. Thank you, Phan. You are dismissed.” Elodie rose from her throne and exited the room. Phan, free until Gemini was unoccupied, was faced with the task of finding something to do. For him, it was unusual lately to have a large amount of free time on his hands. Realizing he had not inspected his own room since the fire, he left and returned to the castle upstairs.
Gemini was ecstatic upon realizing the library contained no sign whatsoever of damage pertaining to the flames. Fearing the Shadow Realm’s records were lost in the flames he was thankful that the library was spared. As he examined the room in detail, however, he could not cease wondering the precise reason why. He knew without a doubt the shadow-shapes were searching for something inside, probably relevant to the immortality spell. Papers and books were left scattered around the shelves and floors. Others were left lying on the tables, probably briefly scanned for any crucial pieces of information. None of the librarians were present, nor was there any sign of the room being entered after the incident…or was there? As Gemini looked over a pile of books and papers left on a table he discovered quite a few traces of a black ash, peculiar since nothing seemed to have been incinerated. When held up to a light it was revealed to have a shiny, sparkling luster to it -like a sort of black gold dust. Curious, Gemini tossed it around in his hand.
“Gemini!” called Queen Elodie from the doorway. “Are you here?”
Quickly tossing the substance aside, Gemini stepped out into the open. “Hello, mother.”
“You wanted to speak with me?”
“I have a few questions,” Gemini answered, although the phrase ’a few questions’ was an understatement.
“Oh, there you are!” Her mood was positive and content, not prepared at all for what Gemini was about to ask her. “Now, what would you like to discuss? I am very pleased to see the library is in good condition.”
“I would like to ask you something,” Gemini said. He sat down at the table, Elodie seating herself beside him.
“Yes?” Elodie wanted her son to just state whatever he was trying to tell her so she could return to the throne room, but remained patient. She could not remember the last time she sat down to have a normal conversation with her son.
“Why did you not ever tell me about my amulet?”
Well,” Elodie paused before continuing, “Your father and I worked very hard to achieve the Shadow Realm’s immortality powers. We wanted to be assured that if would not fall into unworthy hands -that is, until your father made the mistake of passing the amulet on to you in the form of a ruby amulet.” She sighed.
“But the power did not exist solely in the amulet, am I correct? Surely it was secured by another method in the event something would go wrong.
“Let me continue!” the queen suddenly hissed. She cleared her throat. “I told him -your father- that giving the amulet to you would raise some interest about the rare ruby. But it seems that it did more than that. I suppose I could say King Theo started this entire conflict.” She sighed. Elodie seated herself at the table next to Gemini and smoothed her expensive gown. “He thought keeping it someplace where he would see it everyday was a bright idea. Unfortunately, this also meant others could see it, too. Although their only interest for stealing the ruby would be gaining a valuable and priceless gem, we would lose our immortality power. The important question is, did you keep he amulet safe with you at all times?”
“Yes,” Gemini responded. “Except for the time I handed it to Phan on the night of the fire. But I trust Phan and wanted to ensure that it would not be lost in the blaze.”
Elodie stood up and slapped her son on the shoulder. “Shut up! I don’t want to hear your nonsense! You fool! Whenever you hand someone else the amulet who is not a member of the royal family they have the ability to tamper with or alter the amulet if they choose to do so. It is like handing someone the key to the entire royal treasury! If the person is trustworthy, the treasure will remain. But if they are not, it will be stolen. Never give the amulet to anyone. That is, unless you recite a certain spell first! Then it will lock the amulet’s powers while it is in your possession. But you know nothing about that, I am sure.”
Startled, Gemini could not respond to his agitated mother. He admitted passing the amulet to Phan was an unwise idea but he was not aware of the amulet’s powers or rules. More than anything he wanted to bolt out of the room. However, he would have to wait for his exit because he had something to say first. But before he could say a word Elodie continued speaking again.
“I’m sorry, Gemini,” she apologized. “It really wasn’t your fault. As a matter of fact, your father had nothing to do with this either. If you want to blame somebody you may blame me. Just don’t let the any word of this get out to anyone else in the castle. We do not need castle gossip on top of our realm’s current mess.
Jenesis, mortified with having to bring a tray of tea to the queen and the prince, sulked all the way up the stairs. Honestly, she was not sure which was worse: her degrading task or having to ask the zombie she had just insulted for Gemini’s location and then directions to the library. Ugh! Her mother had praised her for her lovely behavior upon delivering her the tea tray, but this comment did not brighten her sour mood at all.
She stormed down the library hall, scowling around at her surroundings. From across the hall she caught sight of Phan, who was occupied with the task of guiding a group of the builders down the hall to a ash-streaked wall in need of cleaning and repair. After he passed by she glared at him, as if giving him cruel stares could somehow repay for the humiliation she was facing.
“Thank you, King-Oink,ooh,” Queen Hearthina said as she displayed a quite suspicious smile. “Would you like to sit down? We can discuss this further over some tea.”
“That would be delightful! Why, thank you very much.” King-Oink,ohh seated himself at the queen’s tea table located in Hearthina’s private study.
“I chose this study as our meeting room for a purpose,” Hearthina stated. “It is very private –hence it being my private study, after all. She glanced up to see Tchalick enter the study, carrying a tea tray. “And only my most trusted servents are permitted to enter.” She smiled at Tchalick who in return smiled with pride.
“Your majesties, here is your tea. I apologize for the wait. I was not instructed to deliver this tray until only a minute ago. I would have sent DA, but alas I cannot find her anywhere lately. Do you believe she left the castle?” Tchalick placed the tray on the table and lifted the teapot to pour the tea.
Queen Hearthina took the tea from his hand. “You are dismissed, Tchalick. We will need nothing more until we are finished. I will alert you when the meeting is past.”
“Yes, my queen.” After nodding his head in understanding Tchalick left the room.
“As I was saying,” continued Hearthina, “I only allow my most trusted servants and guests into this room. All the contents of this room are priceless. The room itself is guarded by complex fairy spells. I do belive it is secure enough to contain the Shadow Realm’s precious amulet.”
“That I do not doubt,” the king answered. “But sadly I do not have it! The amulet was only almost in my clutches. The bratty Shadow Realm prince was sitting at the table in my great dining hall! Yet, nothing to show for it!”
“Really, now!” Hearthina took a sip of her tea from her teacup then placed it delicately down on its saucer. “Oh, my! And yet still, you were not able to steal the amulet? Or… did he TELL you its location and his MOTHER has it! Then all you must do is to track it down, which should not be too difficult.”
“No, the spoiled idiot claimed to have NEVER heard of the amulet’s powers! He stated that he did not have it in his possession. In all, he presented himself as a failure and ended up leaving my kingdom with all of my Shadow realm prisoners. I had been holding them in my dungeons in hopes that the amulet’s location would be revealed after intense interrogation.”
“Did your scheme work?”
“NO!” King-Oink,ooh frowned. “It was a complete waste of my time and resources.”
“Oh, how awful!” Hearthina slammed her spoon back down on her saucer in frustration. “I will be sure not to underestimate the Shadow Realm in my present and future plans. Anyways, thank you for the valuable information. I had a hunch that my plans would encounter a few setbacks. Your information may possibly save me a great deal of trouble. Knowing the prince does not have the amulet is an important fact to me. I trust that nevertheless, your soldiers will have him eliminated in a short amount of time.”
King-Onk,ooh liked what he was hearing at the meeting up until this point. He had been hoping to lift focus from Prince Gemini and onto the Queen Elodie herself. “But…your majesty,” King-Oink,ooh protested, “Isn’t the purpose of the amulet altogether…Immortality?” He hoped Elodie would start to explain, but she was silent. Finally he continued, “How, exactly, do you kill an immortal?”
“Oh, that!” Hearthina chuckled as she leaned back in her chair. She was aware of the amulet before she became queen of the fairies. After all, she was born the sister of Queen Elodie. “There is nothing for you to worry over. Simply concentrate on your assigned task and your problems will be solved.”
“What, exactly, is my assigned task now?”
“What you were doing a perfectly fine job at all along.” The queen smiled, more because of her own knowledge than to the shadow-shape king.
“First, to engage in warfare with the Shadow Realm. The goal of your war will be to weaken the realm –and poor Queen Elodie along with it. Second, to keep your kingdom wealthy and powerful as a result.” From under the table Elodie took a large wooden box. She opened it and presented its contents to King-Oink,ooh. “Will this be enough money for you?”
King-Oink,ooh could not believe the sum of money he was being presented with. “Yes!” he exclaimed in awe.”
“And this,” Elodie continued as she brought up another box identical to the first, “Should cover the expenses of the war against the Shadow Realm.”
The king accepted both boxes. “Thank you, Queen Hearthina,” he said with excitement.
“Go now,” Hearthina said smiling. “There has much to be done.” The two rulers left the study; One with two boxes of gold, and the other with a greater treasure. But not to be forgotten is one being perched outside on the room near the study window.
The apology from earlier lasted no longer than a tiny soap bubble.
“Mother!” Gemini shouted and smacked the table in frustration.
“Gemini, please! If you will not calm yourself at least mind the furniture!”
“Do not order me around at this time!”
“Why is our immortality gone from the Shadow Realm? It cannot be! How could you do such a thing to me, your son? To the entire Shadow Realm?”
Elodie saddened and let her son shout on for as long as he pleased. Gemini was beyond all reasoning now. “Gemini, you are asking too many questions for me to explain with a single answer. Please be patient.”
“For how long has the Shadow Realm continued survival without the immortality power? What happened to it? Where is it now? I have a right to know!”
“And you do have a right to know.”
“SO TELL ME!”
“Shut up!” Both Gemini and Elodie herself were surprised with her harsh words. She cleared her throat. “Speak softly for you will certainly attract unwanted attention.” Gemini remained silent. “The realm hasn’t lost immortality for long -the night of the shadow-shape attack, maybe a day or so later at the longest.”
Despite his earlier predictions which were far more grim Gemini was still furious. “So I could have been killed during my trip to find YOU?”
Elodie could not help showing a slight smile. “And were you? You survived because you were intelligent and daring enough to continue your journey without giving in. Did you know about the amulet’s powers before you and Phan set off to the shadow-shape lands? What difference does it make now that you are back here in the castle at home?
Gemini said nothing. His mother put up a good argument. Finally he began to speak after realizing Elodie had nothing more to say. “But the Shadow Realm will be entering a war against the King-Oink,ooh and the shadow-shapes! What do you, queen of the Shadow Realm, intend to do about it?”
Elodie stood up. “And what do you Gemini, prince of the Shadow Realm, intend to do about it?” The queen exited the room.
After Elodie left the library Gemini fixated his mind on Elodie’s words from the earlier argument. “Whenever you hand someone else the amulet who is not a member of the royal family they have the ability to tamper with or alter the amulet if they choose to do so,” he repeated.
Suddenly Elodie reentered the room. This time she was not alone. Instead she was accompanied by an unknown girl -the girl he spotted in the shadow-shape lands. “You have a visitor,” Elodie said before leaving the room once again.
“You are Prince Gemini of the Shadow Realm, I hear,” the mysterious girl said.
“This is a piece of information important to you.” She pulled a folded scrap of paper out from her cloak and handed it to Gemini.
“What is this?” Gemini asked as he cautiously accepted the paper. “Who is it from?”
“I can not tell you. But it is for your eyes only.” Then as suddenly as her arrival the girl exited the library without another word.
When Gemini opened the note he found that it contained no more than three words hastily scribbled in pen: “Beware, Prince Gemini.”
Phan entered the library and Gemini quickly refolded the note and slid it into his jacket pocket. “Prince Gemini, I am delighted to report that the castle rebuilding project is faring very well. The castle shall be finished a month sooner than expected, provided there are no unforeseen difficulties.”
“Thank you, Phan.”