Akarnae, p.34Part #1 of The Medoran Chronicles series by Lynette Noni
“Aven Dalmarta is the Rebel Prince,” D.C. said, “so it’s not really his city anymore.”
“Prince?” Alex spluttered. “What’s with everyone suddenly becoming royal?”
“I’m not suddenly anything, thank you very much. I’ve had my title since birth,” D.C. said. “As for Aven, he lost his royal status when he was banished.”
“So he needs the doorway because…?” Alex asked, still confused.
“Because he’s banished,” D.C. repeated. “The city disappeared after his rebellion and he has no way of finding it again. Not without your help.”
“The city vanished thousands of years ago,” Alex said, doubtful. “I think you have your story wrong.”
“Aven is Meyarin, Alex,” D.C. said. “He’s immortal, ageless. He might look young, but he’s been around for millennia. And he’s been searching for a way back to Meya since its disappearance.”
Immortal. Ageless. Alex’s head hurt just thinking about the two words, let alone everything they implied.
“If he’s banished, what does he stand to gain by going back?” Alex asked, pushing aside the idea of living forever.
“I’d say he plans to try his hand at rebellion again,” D.C. said. “And if he succeeds, the consequences will be deadly for us all.”
Alex heard D.C. sigh in the darkness, no doubt irritated by her lack of understanding.
“Medoran History 101,” D.C. said. “In a nutshell, Meyarins are a peaceful race, which is fortunate since they’re also very powerful. Back when Meya was still accessible, they had strict rules about their interactions with humans. There was always a divide between the two races, even if there was no animosity. We humans knew better than to arouse their anger, and the Meyarins were careful to keep their power from becoming corrupted. It was a peaceful alliance between our two races, even if it was clear that we benefited from trading more than they did. I imagine they saw us as little children to be humoured rather than an actual threat to their society. And they were right, we weren’t the threat. Their threat came from within.
“Aven was the second son born to King Astophe and Queen Niida. His brother Roka was the golden child—always faster, stronger, better. Aven sought to be worthy of the attention his brother received, but he was never quite good enough.
“It’s said that one day a delegation of humans entered Meya for trade purposes. Aven had never been around humans before since they rarely ventured into Meya and he’d never left the city or its surrounding forests. But that day he happened to witness their arrival and his curiosity led him to meet them.
“When he saw how primitive their trade products were he became outraged. For years Meya had provided technology and medicine to humans, helping to advance our society. In Aven’s mind, his own race had received nothing of worth in return. He stormed back to the palace and demanded that his father end the alliance since the Meyarins were earning nothing and losing everything. But his father dismissed him, saying that one day he would understand.
“Now, Aven was very young then, for a Meyarin. Young, but convinced that he was right. It was a dangerous combination. He started to meet with other Meyarins in secret, forming an anti-human society of sorts that later became known as the Rebels.”
D.C. paused and Alex could imagine the other girl scrunching up her nose at the unoriginal name.
“At first they were only a small group of young Meyarins intent on changing the laws, but when no one would listen to them they decided to take action. The next time a human trading delegation entered the city, they killed them. All of them.”
Alex gasped. “No!”
“Right in front of the palace,” D.C. confirmed. “Witnesses were so shocked by the violence that they didn’t act fast enough to capture the Rebels, but the king knew his youngest son had to have been involved. He demanded Aven explain his actions. Aven again told his father to change the trade agreement and end the alliance with humans. He said we were just a waste of space and resources, completely beneath them as a race.
“King Astophe refused, of course,” D.C continued, “but Aven was still a royal prince, and short of imprisoning him for the rest of his very long life, there was nothing the king could really do. Eventually Aven apologised, claiming he’d seen the error of his ways. The king fell for it, and he ended up with a knife in his back.”
Alex jerked in shock.
“Before Aven could finish his father off, his brother Roka discovered him, and the two fought. Roka easily overpowered Aven and forced him to the floor, but Aven managed to stab his blade into Roka’s leg, piercing his artery. The guards appeared then, and Aven was forced to flee. An edict went out banishing him from ever returning to Meya, and the city vanished to avoid being further corrupted by his taint.”
Alex just sat there after D.C. finished her story, absorbing the words and collecting her thoughts.
“It’s funny.” D.C. breathed out a humourless laugh. “Even though he was banished, the Rebels still won. The trade agreement ended when Meya disappeared. He still got what he wanted, or at least part of it.”
“But now he wants more,” Alex guessed.
“Yes,” D.C. confirmed. “Years of being forced to live amongst humans has left a bitterness in him so strong that he won’t stop until he has his revenge.”
Alex had a feeling she knew exactly what that meant, but she still forced herself to ask, “What will he do?”
“He’ll kill what’s left of his family and take the throne, and with it the leadership of the Meyarin people,” D.C. said, confirming Alex’s fears. “And then he’ll destroy the race responsible for his misfortune.”
“Do you mean…?”
“Humankind,” D.C. said. “He’ll kill us all—or at least those of us who he can’t use.”
“Use?” Alex repeated.
“His associates,” D.C. said, using the same term Aven had used to describe Gerald. “The humans he collects. The gifted ones who are willing to join his cause.”
Alex shuddered at the thought. “How do you know all this? I was under the impression that information about Meya is pretty scarce.”
“I’ve had access to privileged information all my life,” D.C. answered quietly, prompting Alex to remember the book the other girl had been reading before Kaldoras, the one about Meya. It made more sense now.
With neither of them knowing what to say next, silence surrounded them again—gaping silence, filled with uncertainty.
“I wanted to tell you,” D.C. finally said. “About me, I mean.”
Alex snorted. “No you didn’t.”
“I did,” D.C. stated firmly. “But in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not exactly close to many people. Any people. It comes with being who I am.”
“Then why are you so talkative all of a sudden?” Alex asked.
“Because I’ve realised that we’re probably going to die when Aven is finished with us, so I’m officially dubbing you my first and last ever friend. Best friend, in fact, since you’re the only one I have. Enjoy it. You just might get a whole hour holding that title before we’re dead.”
“Not fair,” Alex argued, choosing to ignore the presumption about their impending death. “I had to hold the most hated enemy title for months. Now I get an hour in recompense? How is that a fair ruling, Your Highness?”
Alex’s tone was mocking, but she knew the banter was helping to distract them both from their circumstances.
“I’ll tell you what,” D.C. said. “If by some miracle we make it out of this alive, you can keep the title indefinitely.”
“What if I don’t want just the title?” Alex asked quietly.
“A title has responsibilities,” D.C. answered, just as quietly. “Yours would be no different.”
Alex smiled, understanding the other girl’s implication. “So, friends?”
“Friends,” D.C. agreed. “But for the record, I don’t think you quite realise what you’re getting yourself into. I’ve been t
Alex laughed. “I think I can handle that.”
A few moments of contemplative silence passed until Alex observed, “You know, I think this is the longest conversation we’ve ever had.”
“Desperate times,” D.C. said, but Alex could hear the humour in her voice. “You’re not as annoying as I thought you were.”
“Gee, thanks,” Alex muttered. “What high praise that is, coming from a princess no less.”
“Princess might be my title,” D.C. said, sounding irritated, “but it’s not who I am.”
“Sorry. I’m still trying to get my head around it.”
“It’s okay,” D.C. said. “I’m just not used to people knowing my real identity.”
“Does anyone at the academy know?”
“Not many people,” D.C. admitted. “The headmaster, Jarvis and most of the teaching staff are aware for security reasons. And there are a handful of students who grew up around the palace and have known me since I was a child. But that’s it. Very few people have seen me out of the palace for years, and I’ve grown up a lot in that time which is why no one else would recognise me. But everyone who does know is sworn to secrecy.”
“A number of reasons,” D.C. said. “A hostage situation like this is one of them. But the main reason, for me at least, is that I didn’t want to be known as Princess Delucia at Akarnae. I wanted to be treated just like everyone else.” She trailed off before continuing quietly, “But it turned out that I’m too guarded. I haven’t exactly made any friends in my time here. And I was okay with that, until you came along.”
“Me? What did I do?”
“You were just always there,” D.C. said. “When I went to bed, when I woke up, in my classes. Everywhere I went, there you were. You had instant friends, you were good at the subjects without even trying, and you were so obviously happy.”
Alex found it interesting to hear about her life from an outside perspective.
“You’re so wrong,” she said. “For most of the year I’ve been completely out of my element. I was thrown into this world without any idea of what was happening, and I’ve been trying not to drown ever since. You’re right about my friends, but everything else has been nearly impossible to stay on top of.”
D.C. thought about that. “It’s funny, isn’t it? The things we’ve managed to hide?”
“I’m not sure if ‘funny’ is the word I’d use,” Alex said in a dry tone, “but it’s something, all right.”
“You do realise that if we make it out of here, you can’t tell anyone? About me being who I am?” D.C. said, her voice hesitant and uncertain.
“We’re in the same boat,” Alex said. “In fact, you know more about me than I do about you. No one can know that I’m Chosen, or that I’m—what did Aven say? Called?”
“I guess we have to keep each other’s secrets,” D.C. said, sounding pensive.
“That’s what friends do,” Alex said quietly, their closeness still a new concept.
“I like that,” D.C. admitted. “Does anyone else know about you?”
“Jordan and Bear do,” Alex told her. “The headmaster, apparently, along with Jarvis, the librarian and some of the other teachers. Also Darrius, who I mentioned before, and a weird old lady who owns a disappearing bookshop—please, don’t ask. Otherwise, no one else I know of.”
They descended into silence again, but it was more comfortable now, companionable even.
“You know what would be perfect right now?” D.C. asked, trying to wriggle into a more comfortable position. “A white knight riding in on his noble steed to save the day. That’s what happens in all the good fairytales. Why does it never happen in real life?”
Alex froze. “Say that again.”
“Say what again? The part about fairytales? You do have them in Freya, don’t you?”
“Not that, the part about the knight.” But Alex didn’t wait for D.C. to answer. “Sir Camden!”
“Um… Are you feeling all right?” D.C. asked.
“Wait for it,” Alex said, feeling giddy with excitement. Why hadn’t she thought of the knight before?
“Wait for what?” D.C. asked, exasperated.
“How doth thee, fair lady?”
D.C. squealed in shock and pulled against the bonds that tied her to Alex, almost tipping them both over.
Alex couldn’t see the knight since she was facing the wrong way, so she called out to him. “Sir Camden! Over here!”
She beamed with relief when he walked into her line of sight and bowed to her.
“Greetings, Lady Alexandra,” he said. “Why art thou so unceremoniously tethered? Doth the lady require assistance?”
“Yes, please,” Alex said, somewhat urgently. “Can you untie us?”
The knight—or suit of armour, really—pulled his sword out of his scabbard and kneeled near her feet. He slipped the blade carefully through the bonds and started to saw, but nothing happened.
“These here bonds be mighty strong,” he said, pulling his weapon back out. “My sword be not as sharp as it once was.”
“I told you,” D.C. whispered, still startled by the knight’s sudden appearance. “You need something made out of Myrox.”
Alex sighed, realising that D.C. was right. But then she had another idea. “Sir Camden, I need you to go and find someone who can help us, can you do that?”
“A quest?” he asked, sounding just as excited as the last time.
“A noble quest,” she confirmed. “I need you to find Darrius and tell him where we are and that we need help.”
“I hath no knowledge of this Darrius,” Sir Camden told her. “I may only search for one such as thee, one Chosen by this here Library.”
Alex frowned. Darrius was Chosen by the Library. But she didn’t have time to question Sir Camden before D.C. cut in.
“What about the headmaster, Sir Knight? Can you locate Professor Marselle?”
“Aye, that I can,” he said, straightening up. “Fear not, fair maidens. Sir Camden shalt lead the cavalry to aid in thy liberation.”
With that, Sir Camden walked straight through the stone wall without looking back.
“Do I even want to know where you met him?” D.C. asked.
“Nope,” Alex said. “But I wish I’d thought of him earlier.”
“You’ve had a bit on your mind,” D.C. said kindly.
Alex nodded in the darkness, appreciating her new friend’s understanding. “I just hope he finds the headmaster in time. Marselle could be anywhere and I don’t know if Sir Camden is restricted to the Library or not.”
“He walked straight out of here just fine,” D.C. said. “He can probably use the doorways just like anyone else.”
“I hope so,” Alex said. “Because Aven’s sure to be back soon.”
D.C. didn’t reply, but her silence was agreement enough. Both girls were becoming more anxious by the minute. Alex tried wiggling her hands again, even if it was no use. She stared at the Moxyreel tied around her feet, glowing despite the lack of light. It was beautiful, even if it was restricting.
As Alex squinted at the metal she thought there was something vaguely familiar about it. “This Myrox stuff,” she said, “can it be made into other things? Weapons? Jewellery?”
“Yes,” D.C. said. “Most of the Meyarin weapons are forged from Myrox, as far as I know. And I guess that they could just as easily make jewellery out of it as well, since it’s so pretty. Why?”
Pictures whirled through Alex’s head. The dagger she’d given Bear’s dad for Kaldoras, the shiny brooch she’d given Dorothy. William had said both were priceless, made from Meyarin metal.
And there was one other gift which she’d forgotten about as the months had passed.
“Your bracelet,” Alex gasped. “Are you wearing it?”
“The one you gave me?” D.C. asked. “I haven’t had the chance to thank you for i
“Never mind that now,” Alex said. “Tell me that you’re wearing it?”
“I never take it off.”
Alex breathed out in a rush. “It’s Meyarin. I didn’t realise.”
“Of course!” D.C. said, understanding immediately. “It was always so pretty but I never even thought that it might be made from Myrox. It’s such a rare metal outside of Meya.”
“Will it work?” Alex asked desperately.
“It should,” D.C. said, excited now. “Can you reach the clasp?”
It was difficult with their hands tied so tightly together, but with some uncoordinated wiggling, Alex managed to grasp the bracelet and turn it until she could undo the clip.
“Got it,” she said as it opened and fell into her hands. She manoeuvred it between their bonds and used the little leverage she had to start sawing through the metal.
It was amazing how quickly the Moxyreel surrendered to the Myrox bracelet; only a few seconds passed before the bonds broke with a resolute snap. Both girls groaned when their hands were free, and Alex massaged out the pain as her circulation returned. Her shoulder throbbed uncomfortably and she had to grit her teeth until the aching eased.
“Hurry,” D.C. urged, prompting Alex to cut the bonds around her ankles and hand the bracelet over so she could do the same.
After they stood unsteadily to their feet, D.C. reclasped the bracelet around her wrist and Alex noticed that it wasn’t damaged in the slightest.
“Remarkable,” she murmured.
“I’ll say,” D.C. agreed. “Now let’s get out of here.”
“A commendable effort, but I’m afraid you’re too late.”
Consumed by their rush to free themselves, neither Alex nor D.C. had noticed Aven and Gerald re-enter the dungeon.
“Both of you put your hands out where we can see them. We don’t want any accidents, now, do we?”
“I’ll give you an accident,” D.C. muttered, too low for him to hear. Or, it should have been too low for him to hear, if he was human. But he wasn’t.
“Now, now, Princess,” Aven tsked. “From one royal to another, surely you can understand the position I’m in.”
Akarnae by Lynette Noni / Fantasy / Young Adult have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes