Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Alright, here is installment two. I'm having fun with this. I'm at just over 2250 words for the project already, and did just under 1100 today.
Ree crept into the dimly lit room. Looking around, she saw that the torches already had their hardened leather caps on; she could smell the residue of the quick charring that happened when her father’s servants extinguished the torches every morning. The sun had peaked over the mountains to the east only moments before and it was now gently illuminating the king’s throne room with a pale, cold light.
Looking around, her heart in her throat, Ree moved deeper into the room, pulling the animal skin-backed wooden door closed behind her and hooking the handle over the rod set in the stone wall surrounding the door. The leather hinges squeaked slightly as the door shut. She had to move fast; anyone looking closely at the door from the outside would quickly see that the handle was in the wrong position.
She asked herself again why she was doing this. She knew she wouldn’t be beaten or hurt in any way, but she also knew her father would be furious with her. He expected absolute obedience from his people and he always told her that she had to remember that she was seen as an example. Ree knew all of this, but she had to see what the raiding party had brought back. Shule’s raiding party seemed like it was always the one bringing back the greatest treasures, and when Shule himself had strode into the throne room, a heavy-looking, cloth-wrapped bundle in his arms, Ree’s curiosity had threatened to once again get her in trouble.
So here she was. She peered through the slowly brightening light, her gaze flitting over shadows that she could quickly identify. Where was it? The guards would be back from their short patrol of this wing of her father’s palace and she had to be out of the throne room before they did so. They would know she had no good reason to be in here. She knew she should leave now. But she had to see what it was. When Shule had placed the bundle at King Lemal’s feet, the cloth wrapped around it had slipped and Ree was sure she had seen something glowing with a splendor she had never seen before. And it had seemed so heavy!
She scampered across the granite stones of the floor toward the throne, her ears tuned to the hallway outside. Hurrying around to the back of the throne, she saw the heavy stone box that her father used to store his most precious treasures in. She bent low to get a better look at the clasp that was still hidden by the shadows of the early morning.
It was locked.
Ree slumped in defeat. She had no way of unlocking the complicated mechanism her father’s engineers had created to lock the treasure box. The mechanism looked like a small box itself, with a metal rod that slid through two holes: one in the lid of the stone treasure box and one in the box itself. The locking mechanism had several moving parts, each of which had to be moved in a certain direction and left in a certain position—all in a specific order. All of this had to be done perfectly for the lock to release.
And Ree had no idea what the sequence and positions were. She also had no time to try to puzzle the mechanism out.
She would make time another day.
For now, Ree hurried toward the door of the throne room. She paused for a moment to run her hand over the jewels encrusting the left arm rest of the throne. In the pale light of the autumn morning, the reds, blues and greens of the gems seemed to glow with a cold fire. She had to mentally tear herself away, knowing that she could get caught at any moment.
Ree listened at the door, peering through the crack between the door and the wall. She saw no guards and heard no footsteps. Holding her breath, she slipped the handle off its rod, opened the door just enough for her to squeeze out, and hooked the handle in the rod in the hallway wall.
The loud voice made her jump. Her heart stopped, then fluttered somewhere deep in her stomach. She turned.
“Princess Ree. Your father has told you not to enter his throne room without his permission. We are commanded to tell him if we see you disobeying.” The two guards lengthened their stride, coming to a halt only a few feet in front of Ree.
Ree prayed her voice wouldn’t give her thumping heart away. “Oh I know.” She kept her voice casual. “Isn’t he in there already? I just wanted to ask him if I could take Titan out this morning after breakfast.” She thanked her First Fathers that she had taken a moment to come up with a story before she started this caper.
The guards looked at each other, then back at here, their eyes narrowed and suspicious. Ree thought they looked like they could be twins. Each wore the decorative sash of brown bear skin, her father’s house animal. They also both had shaved heads with dark tattoos on them—the tattoos starting at the very top of the head and moving out in a spiral from there. Both guards wore a simple loincloth with a dark leather belt that held an obsidian-bladed dagger and in their right hands they held spears with obsidian tips.
Ree kept her eyes on the guards’ faces, knowing she had to show no sign of worry or concern.
The guards exchanged another look.
“No, the king is not in there. He has not finished his breakfast yet,” the guard on the left said.
“Oh,” said Ree. “I’ll go find him!” She tried to make her voice sound excited, but it came out as almost a squeak. Before the guards could make a decision about whether to believe her, Ree turned around and walked away. She strode as confidently as she could, turning right at the next hallway.
Soon, she thought. Soon I’ll be fifteen and they’ll have to be nicer to me. They won’t be able to order me around. She continued walking down the shadowed hallways, making her way toward her father’s quarters. They’ll tell him about what I said, she thought. Now I really do have to ask him if I can take Titan out today.
And that's it for the day. More to come tomorrow. Find out what happened to Lakhoni! (I can't wait to find out myself!)