[fun stuff!]

Linna

[ part 1 ]
[ part 2 ]
[ part 3 ]
[ part 4
+ epilogue
]

 

Linna
By: Sforzie

Part Three

Half an hour before the palace woke for morning prayer, the halls were dark. But not empty.

A young demon with a long green ponytail was making his way down the hall. Hunter trailed a few feet behind, holding the man's coat.

"I hope you don't mind me showing up so early," he whispered.

"Oh, not at all, Lord Aveva. I know there's a time difference between here and the Eastern district."

"But I came, as you requested." Aveva paused, looking over his shoulder at Hunter. "You said something was wrong with Linna?"

"Mm, she's been in a funk lately, ever since Mugendie started attacking the temples."

He smiled, touching a small scar below his left eye. "That sounds like my Linna."

"Ha~! Well, you haven't visited in such a long time, so I thought maybe having you around would give her something else to attack."

"You make me sound like nothing more than target practice!" Aveva covered his mouth when he realize he was talking too loudly. "I know Linna isn't a fan of arranged marriages, but that doesn't mean she has to be so violent."

"To her it does."

"Ha ha."

Hunter shifted the visitor's coat to her other arm. "Will you be going to morning prayer?"

"Why, yes, of course--" Aveva stopped as a strange wail echoed down the hall. "What was that?"

Hunter frowned. "That sounded like--"

"Linna??"

"--like Lord Kisle."

They rushed down the hall to Kisle's room, but the door was open and the room was empty. Another wail sounded, closer than before.

"Check Linna's room!"

They went in the direction of Linna's room, but didn't get that far before finding Kisle. He came running at them, dressed only in his sleeping pants and dressing robe. Hunter intercepted the prince, wrapping a tentacle around his waist to hold him in place. He struggled violently.

"Let me go, I have to go find Linna!"

"What? You mean she isn't in her room?"

"No!" Kisle squirmed, ignoring Aveva as he ran off toward Linna's room. "I went to go wake her up for morning prayer, you know, 'cause she's always waking me up? I wanted to surprise her!" A tear strayed down his left cheek. "But she's not there! And the computer says she's not on palace grounds either!"

"Kisle, the guards would have seen her if she'd left the palace grounds."

He shook his head. "No...not if she went to the temple..."

"Your parents posted extra guards along the route to temple expressly to keep Linna from going there unobserved!"

Kisle's face scrunched up. "No, no, no, something's wrong..."

"Kisle, if Linna went to the temple, then she's perfectly fine."

"No!" Kisle's eyes widened. "She hasn't come back yet! I know something's wrong!"

"Kisle, please--"

"She must've gone the other way!" Kisle struggled in Hunter's grip again.

"Other way?"

"Let me go!" Closing his eyes tight, Kisle managed to shock Hunter with a burst of orange colored magic. He loosened his grip in surprise, and Kisle managed to slip free. The prince ran off down the hall as Aveva returned from the opposite direction.

"That stung..." Hunter looked at Aveva as he approached. He shook his head.

"She's not in there."

Hunter turned without hesitating and followed Kisle.

"Where are you going?" Aveva picked his coat up off the floor and ran after him.

"I have to make sure that Kisle wasn't right!"

 

Kisle held the edge of his robe against his chest as he plunged through the shadowy forest of Le Sangre Park. He hadn't stopped running since he left the castle, and it felt like his lungs were going to burst if he didn't stop. But he had to keep going--he was nearly to the temple--she had to be here, somewhere--

"Oh!" Kisle half-skidded to a stop as he reached a small clearing in the trees. His toes contacted something soft and slick on the ground, and he looked down. Faint red glimmered in the early morning moonlight. "Blood....?"

Kisle's eyes followed the thin trail of red into the clearing. It took a moment for the source of the blood to register in the prince's brain. He realized, in a sudden spasm of thought, that he'd found what he was looking for.

Linna was staring into the trees, only she wasn't. Her head was tilted back, mouth half open, her eyes staring out with a paralyzed look of anger.

To say that the rest of her had been mutilated would be softening the truth. Kisle recognized the shining blade of the albureque sword. It was stabbed through Linna's middle, keeping her nailed to the ground.

"Linna!" Kisle took a step forward before his knees gave way beneath him. As he collapsed, he was caught from behind by the newly arrived Hunter. The prince's head lolled against Hunter's arm. Hunter stared over him, his eyes quickly noting the light reflecting off the albureque.

Aveva was only a few paces behind. "Hunter, what's happened to Lord Kisle?"

"....fainted...." Hunter managed, staring into the clearing. Aveva's eyes followed, and he gasped softly.

"Messeine... Linna?" Aveva covered his mouth. "What happened?"

"I don't know," Hunter said, his voice barely more than a whisper. "It looks like she was on the losing end of a fight."

"Messeine..."

For a long moment both were silent. Then Hunter shifted Kisle in his arms. "Call the temple. It's nearly time for morning prayer, everyone should be there."

 

"She's not dead, is she?"

"No, of course not," the high priest of the temple said. "Not yet, at least." He looked in the direction of the Requiem chamber, where a few priestesses were tending to Linna. "But it doesn't look good. I'm afraid there may have been too much damage for her to repair. It...looks like the work of Mugendie."

"I know." Malakyte looked around the main chamber of the temple. Cerise was near the main altar. The crowness' long red-white body was posed for prayer, but she was still sobbing softly. Kisle was seated on the ground not far away, his head in his hands. He hadn't moved since sitting down a few hours previous. Aveva was seated on one of the benches that faced the altar, his face tilted up. He seemed to be staring at the ceiling.

Malakyte frowned. "Where's Hunter?"

"He asked for the rest of the day off," the priest said. "The crowness allowed it."

"Make sure someone keeps an eye on Kisle."

"Of course, m'lord."

 

They had a hard time getting Kisle to leave the temple, and a harder time getting him to go to bed. Aveva had been forced to seek out Hunter in his private corner of the castle, and make him put the anguished prince to rest. That had been nearly as difficult a task as getting Kisle out of the temple.

But he eventually did sleep, however fitfully, and when he did, he dreamed...

He was in the library. The only one in the castle with a piano in it. The one closest to his chambers.

Kisle looked around, perplexed. The library was dark, except for a few glowstones resting on the piano. It was colder too, colder than usual. A chill crept down his neck--he wasn't alone. Something passed behind him, between the piano and the old couch that he was seated on. A faint shadow passed over him.

And then he saw her. Linna. Looking as perfect and pristine as ever.

She moved past him, long red hair unbound and dragging across the tiled floor. He couldn't hear her footsteps. She was clad in the same dark blue dressing gown that she usually wore when waking him up for morning prayer. Linna stopped in front of him, staring down at him with a sad strange expression. He didn't understand why she looked so sad.

"I'm sorry..."

"Linna? What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, Kisle." She shook her head. He was briefly transfixed by the rippling blood red waves. "I just wanted to be sure, that's all... I didn't mean for this..."

"Linna, I don't understand," Kisle said, trying to stand, to get closer, but he couldn't move. "What's wrong?"

"Please...please remember..."

"I don't...I 'm sorry..."

Linna frowned. It was a familiar expression, but it still made his stomach twinge. She was so beautiful, even in the darkness of the library. He hated to see her unhappy, but couldn't remember what she looked like smiling..

"Then please remember this for me, Kisle. I need to you to do something for me."

"Anything."

She turned, picking up a book off a nearby table. Turning back, she held out the tome. It was rather large and heavy as she rested it in his hands. The cover was dark green, covered with standard-scripted words in the dragon tongue that he couldn't read. "This book, Kisle. It's important."

"What should I do with it?"

"I need to you to go to the library and find this book. There's a page marked in it. Someone marked it a long time ago, but who or when doesn't matter anymore, because they're gone."

"Gone?"

"Just like I will be."

Kisle blinked. The scene seemed to shift, and he was left alone with the book. Linna had disappeared from the library.

"Linna?!"

"Don't worry, my brother." He felt a chill breath against his cheek. "I need to you to take the book to the temple. Please remember this, Kisle..."

 

"Linna! Linna!" Kisle sat up. He blinked, confused, at the darkness. His bedroom. The prince trembled, holding back a sob. "Linna..."

"Shh, Kisle, please don't cry..." A soft voice, hoarser than he remembered it, from the doorway.

"Hunter..."

The royal keeper slid closer. "Are you alright, m'lord?"

"I...I..." he shook his head. "Was just having a bad dream, I think."

"You were calling out your sister's name."

"I..." Kisle rubbed his crown, frowning. "Is she..?"

"Yes, m'lord. Still at the temple. She won't be going anywhere anytime soon." Hunter sounded like he was having a hard time forming the words.

There was a pause as Kisle collected his thoughts. "I thought you were given the rest of the day off, Hunter. I know Aveva got you for me, but... why..."

Hunter's voice cracked as he spoke. "She said I was to look after you."

"Hunter..." Kisle shook his head slowly. "Please, go back to your own business. You don't need to be here right now, I'll be okay."

"...If you insist, my lord."

"Yes, please..."

"Then I will see you in the morning." Hunter turned to the door. "Sleep well."

 

Kisle slept the rest of the night without dreaming again. When he woke in the morning, before Hunter arrived, he wondered if the conversation with the catemeransk had been real or just another dream. He remained under the covers, staring up at the ceiling. The clock out in the hall chimed. Morning prayer would be in an hour.

Normally, Linna would be knocking on the door soon. But no more.

"Linna..." His eyes watered, and he rubbed at them with his sleeve. Something pricked at his mind.

He'd had a dream. A dream, with a book.

The book.

"Oh!" Kisle sat up quickly. "The book! She wanted the book! I need to get it for her!"

Kisle rolled out of bed, nearly falling to his knees as his legs twitched unsteadily. He had strained himself yesterday, yes. No matter how fast he could or couldn't run, he would never have been able to get there sooner.

And even if he had...

"Book...book..." Kisle staggered toward the door, stopping to pull on his dressing robe and find his cane. He flung his bedroom door open and moved out into the hall.

He didn't get very far before a voice called out behind him.

"Lord Kisle! Kisle! Where are you going?"

Kisle didn't stop to wait for Aveva, the younger demon would catch up easily enough anyway. "To the library."

"What? At this hour? You need to--"

"There's a book," he said. "She told me to get it."

"A book? But Kisle, there are thousands of books in the library!"

"But she said to get it for her." They reached the closest library, and he pushed the doors open.

"She? She who?"

Kisle took a few steps inside, looking around. "Linna."

Aveva was silent as Kisle looked around the library, gazing at it as if he had never been in there before.

"I had a dream, and she said I needed to bring the book to the temple," he said, as if this explained everything.

"Alright..." Aveva bit his lip, pushing the library doors closed after he made his way inside. "What book? What was it called?"

"I'm not sure," Kisle said. "It was a green book."

"There are a lot of green books." Aveva sighed.

Kisle ambled to the closest bookshelf, scanning its contents. "It was a big heavy dark green book...old...it had to be old, there was text on it but I couldn't read it."

"In dragon tongue?"

"Yes..." Kisle ran a thin finger along the dustless covers. "It was written in our standardized script, but...it was saying something in the dragon tongue. But I couldn't read it in my dream."

"Your dragon tongue isn't very good, I've been told."

"Ha..." The prince frowned. "There are so many books..." His cane tapped against the floor as he moved to the next shelf. "But she needs it..."

"Lord Kisle, I'm not sure if there is any--"

"Aveva, please!" Kisle turned to face him quickly, nearly falling over. "You care about her too, right? You want to help her too, don't you? So...please, please help me look for the book."

"I..." Aveva hesitated, then nodded. "Alright, as you wish..." He moved to the other side of the library. "A book... a big heavy old dark green book..."

They searched the shelves, row by row. On out in the hall, the clocks chimed again. Kisle paused, looking back at the doorway.

"Half an hour to prayer...that's odd, Hunter should've come to get me by now.."

"Ah.." Aveva didn't turn from his search. "He didn't look too good this morning, so I'm...uh...covering for him."

"Covering."

"Uh huh." His long green ponytail swished as he shook his head. "Don't worry, he said he'd be at morning prayer."

"Alright..." Kisle frowned for a moment before turning back to the books. "Hmm....oh! I found it!"

The dark covered book was on a shelf nearly out of Kisle's reach. Aveva came over and pulled it down.

"Kur, this really is heavy." He dropped it on a nearby table, and the sides fell open, the pages coming to rest where they had been marked by a small black bookmark. "Pyuu, stinks like capleskin, must be really old."

"Yeah.." Kisle leaned over the table, studying the open pages. "Asrele ty.. Damn, this is all in dragon tongue."

"Let me see." Kisle stepped aside, letting Aveva scan the open pages. "Kisle, this is instructions on how to summon the aid of the dragon goddess." He shook his head again. "But this book must be cycles old, would it really even work?"

"I don't know, but Linna seems to have thought so," Kisle said.

"Well, I suppose Linna would know what she was talking about, but Kisle, you were dreaming!"

"I've never seen this book before my dream, Aveva, how else would I know about it?"

"Well...maybe it's a coincidence."

"Aveva-"

"Alright, alright!" He waved his hands. "The book is spelling out this... ceremony...you'll need to get one of the priests at the temple to help."

"After morning prayer, I think that's when we could do it."

"We? No, no, no, Lord Kisle, I'm afraid this sounds a bit dangerous." Aveva pointed at the book. "I don't want to take part in it, I'm sorry."

"Then I will just have to do it myself." Kisle moved to pick up the book, but stopped. "It's rather heavy."

Aveva smothered an inappropriately timed laugh. "Um, why don't you go get changed into something halfway decent, and I'll take the book to the temple. I'll talk to one of the priests there and see if they'll help."

Kisle looked down at his pajamas and gave a small, timid laugh. "Ah...." He looked back up at Aveva. "You don't mind?"

"No...I suppose it's the least I can do."

"Good, I'll go then...my parents should be at the temple by the time I get there."

Aveva frowned as he watched Kisle exit the library. "I wonder if they ever left."

 

"You want to what?" The elder priest lowered his voice. "You dragged me out of morning prayer for-"

"Please, Sierro," Aveva continued into the side chamber and set the green book down. "It's not for me, it's Lord Kisle, he seems quite set on this..."

The priest scratched the base of his horn, sighing. "You know I'm only listening to you 'cause you're my cousin."

"Yes, yes, I know."

"Now, let's see this..." the priest stopped, staring down at the table. "...book. Aveva, where'd you get this?"

"From one of the libraries in the palace, I told you that."

The dragon picked up the book, turning it over in his hands. "This is one of the old temple records. I haven't seen one of these since I visited the Eastern Temple when I became a priest..."

"Temple records?"

"Mm, back a million years ago or so, the temples went about and made records of all the rituals and ceremonies and such that the priests then knew. Things they had been told by the devils.." Sierro set the book down carefully. "I wonder how it got into the palace."

"I don't know, myself. But Kisle knew it was there somehow. He said that Linna told him about it in a dream he had last night." He opened the book to the marked page. "Here. This ceremony. You can read it, right?"

"Of course..."


[ part 4 + epilogue]

 
 

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Demonic Boppu and Evitsu Evitsu are property of Sforzie (Michelle Thompson), 2001-2005. Steal and I sic Mugy on you. ^_^