Between the Pages

In a magical world, Between the Pages, lives Sebastian and his twin Edmond. That is, until Edmond decides to work against the Queen and disappears to join the Queens brother, and setting a curse over the country. Concerned for his brother (and the world), Sebastian sets of to search after him. But he needs help.

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19. XII

The hall was, as one would expect, enormous. Like in a fairy tale, two thrones were at the far end of the hall and columns held the ceiling. Lina had never quite understood why the throne room was placed just by the front door, but the huge doors opposite the thrones did give it that extra drama. Walls lined up on the walls, presumably leading deeper into the castla. At the throne to the right, under the canopy, the Queen was sitting.

Queen Cordelia had blonde hair, the tips in soft, natural curls. She was wearing a beautiful taupe dress, also with golden threads. Lina had expected her to look like the typical portrayed Queen, with ball gown, her hair up and a crown full of diamonds. Yet almost none of her expectations were met.

Cordelia was much younger than she anticipated, probably in her twenties. She had a slight tan and almost invisible freckles surrounding her nose. Sebastian took a few steps forward, awaiting her welcome.

The Queens deep blue eyes looked slightly amused as she saw the two of them. Sebastian bowed.

“Thank you, Your Majesty, for welcoming us.”

Lina quickly followed up and curtsied, holding up her skirt. She felt ridiculous, as if she were to imitate one of the Disney princesses.

A smile played around Cordelia’s lips and she nodded approvingly.

“Who is you friend?” she then asked Sebastian, who had gone back to standing as tall and confident as Lina hoped she appeared.

“Her name is Lina.”

Cordelia tilted her head slightly and looked at her. “You must excuse me for not remembering you, but I do not recall to have seen you around.”

Lina slipped a nervous smile and reminded herself what Sebastian had told her. She wasn’t actually allowed being there.

Lina’s entire body got tense. She felt lost, and as if Cordelia would see through her every moment. She lacked that certain air all the people around her had, the slight accent everyone had. Just keep your mouth shut and it will be all right.

She had been so consumed in her thoughts that she was startled when Cordelia spoke and she saw how her attention had shifted back to Sebastian.

“I heard your proposal. You wish to go out looking for whoever has cast this curse.”

Sebastian nodded. “Yes, Your Highness.” He held her gaze firmly, his eyes determined at reaching his goal. Lina turned her head to look at him. The Queen leaned back in her throne.

“And I have also heard your theory.”

Sebastian’s jaw clenched and Lina wished to curl up in a ball, or at least stand behind the columns and watch this, instead of being in the middle of it.

“My brother has done his share of mistakes, and I do believe it to be plausible that he is behind this.” Her eyes didn’t leave the two, but she wasn’t smiling anymore..

“I expect you have gotten my note. I have long ago set the best soldiers looking, and they have found out nothing.”

“Have you been looking behind the mountains too?” Sebastian dared to ask.

Cordelia smiled with her eyes still full of regret. “I cannot risk the lives of any further of my citizens. Unless,” she eyed the boy in front of her. “You have any reason to be so certain in your theory?”

Lina’s eyes slipped to Sebastian again. His unclenched his jaw and took a calming breath, not to be seen unless you were standing right beside him.

When he spoke his voice was surprisingly calm. “None that can be provided. I just know that-“

Cordelia held up her hand and stopped him in his tracks. She furrowed her eyebrows and nodded. “I see.” She took a deep breath.

“Then you must understand that I have to decline.”

Lina took a deep breath, not daring to exhale too loudly. She avoided the Queens perpetual gaze by looking at the floor. She did not dare to see Sebastian’s reaction and had to keep her thoughts away. Instead, she tried to concentrate on the swirling pattern the tiles made. Everything else was better to think off then yelling about Edmond and revealing everything; Even cherishing the tiles in the Throne Hall.

“Why?”

Lina felt like kicking him for even trying to change the mind of the Queen. She had read her share of fairy tales about angry queens, and they usually ended in beheadings or dungeons. Please don’t say anything foolish, she prayed. If it weren’t because her knees felt incredibly week and standing up straight seemed a challenge, she would have bolted right out of the hall. 

 “Let us just say that you were to survive the trips of the mountains.”

Thanks for the confidence boost. Lina felt a lump in her throat and gulped.

“My brother is very stubborn and, I am afraid so, quite the fighter. Now, as far as my knowledge serves, school does not offer you the over ten years of sword fighting my dear sibling and I have received.”

She spoke the words sibling and brother like others spoke death and the Plague. In that moment Lina was very thankful that she was free of any siblings that could potentially plan world domination.

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