Oraca

Katherine Ravencry is the changeling child of a sixteenth century king and a beautiful queen of a powerful immortal race. Despite the powerful blood that runs through her veins, Katherine is not important. Until her father is murdered and the civil war breaks out. Katherine discovers that she does, in fact, have a purpose in life that is more than being betrothed to a powerful nobleman. She must fulfill her destiny. Else everyone that she loves will be in danger.

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7. The Key

 

I stood before three full-length mirrors, positioned so that I could see every angle of myself. I fiddled with the assorted purple flowers that had been woven into my hair, which had been left loose. I wore a purple silk dress (not the kind that the faeries wore) and the matching cape. Rouge had been applied to both my lips and cheeks.

I found it peculiar that the faeries would bother with taking care to dress me like this when they would all be soon watching my heart being extracted from my chest. This beautiful dress would be ruined with my blood.

“Ah, Darling,” my mother swept into the tent and placed her hands on my shoulders. “You look beautiful.”

I forced a smile. “Thank you.”

“No, no,” she shook her head. “You need not thank me, oh perhaps you should because, after all, I am beautiful and also your mother.”

She laughed and I kept the strained smile upon my face.

“Come on,” my mother said, taking me by the hand. “Let's enjoy the party before we settle down to eat.”

I shuddered.

“Oh, are you cold?” My mother pulled my cape around me. “Now let's go!”

Once we left the tent, my mother danced away from me. The clearing, although vast, was quite crowded so I had to stand on my tip-toes and crane my neck to try and find Caius. I did not see him. I blended in with the dancing faeries, who were so hypnotised by the mysterious music to notice me, and began looking for Caius. I needed him to help me to escape.

Elegant bodies slowly moved around me, like the waves in the ocean. I had scarcely enough time to move forward before another body blocked my path and another accidentally swept me back to my original spot. It was hopeless. I was never going to find Caius. I tried to make my way back to the royal tent, but I was trapped between the twirling bodies. I was trapped in such a bright and dazzling rainbow that I felt dizzy and nauseous.

Somebody grabbed my hand, but when I tried to pull away, their grip on me tightened. I was about to apologise to whoever it was that I did not have time to dance, but then I saw who it was.

“Caius!” I exclaimed, but then I toned down the excitement in my voice. “I have been looking around for you, I-”

“Come on,” he tugged at my hand. “We don't have much time.”

He pushed through the wall of colourfully dressed bodies and pulled me along with him. When we reached the outskirts of the clearing, Caius placed something in my hand and then folded my fingers over it. I opened my mouth, but Caius placed his hand over it.

“We don't have time,” he repeated. “You must listen and do everything that I say, do you understand?”

I nodded, my confusion probably very evident upon my face. He carried on speaking, although he did not remove his hand from over my mouth.

“Go somewhere quiet and hold the key above your head. You must then close your eyes and think of home. Say it out loud, if you must, but in a low voice. When your hand starts to tingle, open your eyes and push the key in the lock and turn it clockwise. Then you must walk through the Veil.”

Without another word, Caius turned and walked away.

“Wait!” I shouted, which brought Caius over to me straight away.

“Be quiet!” He hissed, panic rising in his eyes. “You must go now before the freaks come looking for you.”

“But aren't you going to come with me?” I asked. “You will prefer Oraca to this evil place.”

Slowly, he shook his head.

“The Veil only permits one person per key.”

“But when my mother opened the Veil both of us got through.”

Caius grimaced. “She is a freak so she knows how to control the Veil whilst you don't.”

I nodded. “You must find a way to escape, you must.”

“I am not at risk here, not really,” he wound his arms around me and placed his chin on the top of my head, taking me completely by surprise. “Good luck.”

He broke away from me and jogged back to the party. I opened my mouth to call out a thank you, but Caius interrupted me. I heard his voice in my head.

~ Yes, I am a mind reader. I am, after all, the Changeling child of a faerie – not just the Queen's children get abilities, you know. Caius smiled. Now go before they come looking for you!

With that command, I ran into the forest. I ran until I could no longer hear the music and laughter. As soon as I came to a halt, I held my fist above my head and thought of Oraca. Under my breath, I wished to return to Oraca. I wished to go home.

I did not feel a tingling sensation in my hand, but I did not give up. I spoke a little louder and intensified the urgency to be taken back to Oraca. I kept my eyes firmly closed.

~ Katherine

My name. The Queen's mournful voice drifted with the light breeze. My blood ran cold.

~ Katherine, come to me

I kept my eyes closed and thought of Oraca, thought of home. I needed to go home. I needed to go home.

~ You have two choices: either come back to the party and be rewarded with a painless death, or allow me to kill you right here whilst you are awake

I began to shake. My heart thudded painfully against my ribs. Still, I thought of home.

~ You have three seconds to decide

“Oraca, Oraca, Oraca,” I felt tears welling up but I did not make a move to brush them away. “Take me back home, I am begging you.”

~ One

My right hand began to tingle. I opened my eyes and gasped at the shimmering Veil.

~ Two

I snapped out of the trance and shoved the key into the lock.

~Three

I turned it clockwise and the Veil grew taller. It was shaped like a door.

~ Ready or not, here I come!

Malicious laughter echoed around the forest and the wind stepped up a notch. I pushed one hand through the Veil. The wind howled around me and I lost my footing. I cursed under my breath and crawled over to the Veil. Then, as if the Veil was a magnet, I was pulled through entirely.

I heard my mother's inhuman screams as millions of crystals encased me.

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