Weaving Moonlight

The first in the Tales of Terrahgonia series.
Lux Robertson has a destiny.
Prince Stefan wishes to shape his own.
Jamie Cooper just wants to belong.
What do these three teens have in common? They all have a legacy to uphold. But to do this means braving a war against the tyrannical false queen of Terrahgoina, a mystical land long ago forgotten by mortals. But with hidden secrets and traitors in their midst, they may not survive to save the kingdom.

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16. Pepperoni Pizza with a Secret Topping

Author's Note: Published- Tuesday 22nd April 2014

Lux stood outside her school, waiting for her friend, Camilla, with a bag full of her sleepover kit slung over her shoulder. After a while, Cammie’s uncle drove by, nodding at her before stepping out of the car. She carefully crossed the street to greet him.

“Good afternoon,” he greeted, his voice smooth and well meaning. His ebony eyes briefly scanned her face before looking around, presumably for Cammie.

“Hey!” Cammie finally exited the school gates, with Evanie and Kat.

“It’s just a dance. Quit teasing me!” Cammie exclaimed.

“You lurv him!” Evanie sang.

“You want to kiss him!” Cammie rolled her amber eyes.

“Excuse my annoying friends.” She prodded Kat at the waist with her fingers. This in turn made Kat jump up, yelping. It was what they called being ‘buzzed’.

“I hope you don’t mind, Quinlan. My friends need a ride to get to our house.” That was the first time Cammie had dropped the ‘uncle’.

“Sure. Hop in, ladies.”

Cammie’s house was rather big for two occupants. Stepping inside, they all walked through the hallways and turned a right to enter the living room. There was leather sofas which made Kat cringe because she was a vegetarian. She insisted she would go vegan if she did not like food so much. Still, she deigned to sit on it to be polite, facing the widescreen television. Quinlan’s mobile phone rang and he picked it up.

“Hello? What... where? I’ll be there.” Everyone stared at him. Lux noticed that something in his face looked feral. He seemed to notice the stares and so he quickly checked himself, giving a half-hearted smile. “Marcellus called,” He said to Cammie. “There is an emergency at work and I am needed. Can I trust you ladies for an hour?”

“Sure,” Cammie replied. “The question is: can we trust Lux?” A wide smile appeared on her face and Lux blushed. Lux knew it was not too noticeable. At least her face did not redden. At their last sleepover, a couple of weeks ago at Kat’s house, Lux had gotten carried away with prank calls.

“Well, keep an eye on her.” Then he was gone.

“Ooh, we’re at Cammie’s without adult supervision!” Lux exclaimed.

 Kat and Evanie giggled whilst Cammie leaned back on the sofa in an almost exhausted manner.

“Are you okay, hun?” Kat asked. A strand of her plum-dyed hair fell over her face.

“Yeah, I’m good. Who wants to dance on the Wii?”

 It was not long until their other friends, Laura, Andy and Ellie appeared, and then it was a full house. Soon Kat and Lux were having a dance battle whilst Laura and Andy did a makeover on Evanie whilst the hostess was getting snacks. An hour and a half passed and Quinlan still had not returned.

“I guess the numbers are crunching him for a change” Cammie muttered. It might have been a joke but there was no smile on her face, or a humorous tone. This evidently worried Lux. Cammie was usually excitable and fun to be with. She did not know who this dull, depressed imposter was.

“Who are you and what have you done to our friend?” Laura asked, voicing Lux’s own thoughts. Cammie did not have to answer because Quinlan walked in at that moment. He seemed to have changed his clothes, and he had a manic grin on his face. Cammie quickly introduced him to her other friends.

“Hello, ladies. Feel free to call me Quinlan.” Smiles and ‘ok’s’ were passed around. He momentarily stared at the current Wii game being played; a cycling game Kat, Evanie and Andy were playing. The rest of them were slumped on the sofa, recovering from an epic dance battle.

 

Six o’clock came around too soon for Lux and their parents picked everyone else up, one by one.

“I guess it’s just the two of us,” Lux smiled. She and Cammie had just about managed to force Quinlan to dance to Beyoncé, and it was interesting experience for them all. Somehow he had won, with Cammie coming in last place.

“Now that was a sight to behold!” Cammie laughed.

“Well, do you two want another lesson in dance or can we order pizza yet?”

“Pizza sounds good, thanks.” Lux said. He now seemed to be less intimidating. She was not sure if it was the warm smile, the teasing, or having seen him shake his thing.

“I’m glad to finally see you smiling, Cammie.” Lux said. “Most of the time you’ve either been on edge, or plain miserable.”

“Are you okay?” Quinlan asked. He seemed genuinely concerned and even held one of her hands.

“I’m fine.” She gave him a smile.

“Don’t be upset that I thrashed you at your own game.”

“I deserve a rematch!” Cammie punched him playfully.

“Sure, but not now. I’m all danced out”

“You only danced to one song” Lux insisted.

“And that was one more dance than I wanted.” Lux rolled her eyes. Men! How typical, she thought.

 She looked around at their family pictures. They seemed to be really happy together. There were a couple of pictures that she presumed were of Quinlan and his friends. It seemed that he liked travelling because there even some pictures of him with Cammie on beaches too sunny and sandy to be in England, one with the Eiffel tower in the background, and yet another of them in Washington D.C. with the four fathers behind them. Lux wanted to ask her friend about her parents, noticing there were no pictures of them, but did not want to cause her unnecessary pain.

They watched a bit up television until the pizza arrived. Having gone to the bathroom to wash her hands, Lux was back in the living room before all the side meal chicken wings were taken. Cammie brought out the plates and everyone immediately began to dig in to their meals. Pizza slices had already been picked out for Lux and she did not think much of it as she took the first bite. Although it is not always good to eat too quickly, dizziness is not a common symptom of doing so[WM1] . Lux could not concentrate on one particular part of the room, and her stomach seemed to heave as if she had lost all sense of gravity.

“Cammie? Why is the room spinning?” Lux was becoming hot and panicky. Few things are as frightening as having no control over oneself. 

“I’m so sorry, Lux. I had too.” Cammie sobbed. Of course by this time, Lux could barely understand anything to process what her friend was saying.

“My pizza… Food…” It was the last thing Lux said before she passed out. The remnants of her brain hoped she would not dive head first into her plate.

***

Lux woke up feeling groggy and hungry. She was in a bed so comfortable that she felt as though she was floating on air. Lux looked around, realising that she was in a luxurious bedroom. It had elegant wooden cabinets, a marble floor and exquisitely designed rugs in bold colour. The walls of stone might have given the room a cold atmosphere, but a warm fire was stirring in the hearth.

 The vibrancy of the flames was comforting to Lux, as she lay in the bed with her hand throbbing. Upon inspecting it she saw that it was bandaged. After unwrapping it, she saw a long diagonal cut, deeper than she cared to admit. After re-wrapping the wound, she got out of her bed and tried to steady herself as she wobbled a little bit.

Lux was determined to find out whom she was dealing with. Whatever had been in that pizza was obviously still affecting her. She attempted to open the door, but it was locked. Similarly, the windows were blackened and barred. She fell on her knees, defeated. She had no idea where she was. She did not know who had kidnapped her or what they wanted. For the meantime she would be utterly at their mercy.

Someone unlocked and opened the door. Cammie looked down at Lux, with a sad expression on her face.

“You didn’t eat the leftover pizza slices did you?”

“What pizza?

“Never mind. It was faery food.”

 “Quinlan is a faery?” Lux asked, shocked.

“Not just any. He’s the king of the Unseelie court.”

“Are you a faery?”

“Nope. I’m definitely human. Barely.” Lux didn’t know how to respond to that.

“What is going on? Please be honest with me.” Cammie looked at the floor, in self-contempt.

“Quinlan is my master. He made me poison your food and then he got a sample of your blood.”

“Your master… blood sample? Why?” Lux just didn’t understand.

“Quinlan is not my uncle. He is my master and I am his slave. He wants your blood” “I want a word with this so called king.”

“What?” She spat.

“Lead the way”

“No…”

“Well you can’t help me escape, can you?” Cammie looked at the ground again. “I didn’t think so.”

Despite her reluctance, Cammie showed Lux down a maze of hallways. Lux was not entirely sure what she was doing and a mixture of anger and nervousness boiled down inside of her.

Every step brought her closer to the king. But she convinced herself that she was above him, being the princess over all of Terrahgonia. They arrived at a pair of wooden doors.

 In front of them stood a tall man. Surprising, he wore a smart grey suit. It was the stained colour of red on his hands that creeped Lux out. Something told her that was not paint. He had been slightly slouched but when they came to stand in front of him, he stood at attention as if they may be a threat. Well, Lux knew that she was.

 His face was chiselled and hard set. His colourless eyes narrowed as he glared at us. As they walked towards him, there seemed to be another face behind it. It was human, but slightly inhuman[WM2] . It had sharper angles and his eyes had the sort of gleam in them found in predators. His body seemed gangly and soft but Lux immediately decided not to underestimate him.

“Halt,” he ordered.

“We need to talk to the king.” Cammie explained.

“He does not wish to be disturbed.”

“Frankly, I don’t care what he wishes!” Lux snapped. She got a deadly glare from the faery, but returned one back, defiantly. “Move or I will move you myself.”

 Lux could take no more of the frustration and anger bubbling inside of her. She had been dragged and brought to Terrahgonia against her will, and now she had been refused entry to see her kidnapper. She was confident that she was going to cause someone harm in minute.

The guard took a defensive stance and licked his lips.

“I dare you,” he said.

 Before Lux took him up on that offer, the doors behind him opened.

 Oh my gosh, it’s a man in a dress. Then Lux realised it was a toga in blue and gold. As soon as he laid eyes on Lux, his face broke into a broad smile, which was only outshone by his bright red hair.

“I take it you are our surprise guest,” he stated.

“I…”

“She seems to want a bloody end,” The guard growled, his face a twisted smile.

            Seeing the other face superimposed on what Lux knew was his real one was both distracting and disconcerting, but she knew that this is what the faeries called glamours. The other man- for Lux did not know his species- simply rolled his eyes.

“You think that of everyone who asks to enter. The king has asked that I bring them inside.” Lux could clearly see the disappointment in the bloodthirsty faery, but he moved aside with no quarrels.

Cammie and Lux walked into the throne room side by side, just behind the man. When at last they reached the dais, Cammie kneeled in submission to the Unseelie king. Lux was aware that faeries often wore glamours to pass themselves as human.

Seeing Quinlan in front of her, his true form was not very different from his glamoured one. His skin was paler, his brooding eyes somehow darker, and the planes of his face were shaper. His face had a serene beauty to it that was tainted by his cruel smile. His [WM3] casual wear seemed to be at odds with the grandness of the room. He quirked an eyebrow upwards and then looked at the man who had led them to the throne.

“The king would prefer if you would curtsy.” Toga Faery explained. Lux looked at him with a quizzical expression, and then directed it at the king.

“Just do it,” Cammie hissed, still kneeling. Reluctantly, Lux did so. The king responded with a bow of his own, but Lux noticed that the other man had not shown such an act of respect.

“You may arise, Camilla.” Cammie stood up. “It is an honour to have the Guardian of Light here as a guest.”

“I believe you mean prisoner,” Lux corrected. “I was taken against my will.” The king tried a kind smile. It seemed somehow fractured with both his glamour and true face vying for her attention.

“Yes, well, I do apologise for any unpleasantness. I imagine you may have a headache.”

“A common side effect from the herbs,” the redhead stated, leaving Lux wondering what kind of things they planted. “I do advise that you get some rest.”

 Quinlan went back to sit on his throne, with his leg crossed.

“My trusted advisor, Marcellus, is quite right, Princess. We should speak in the morning when you are well rested.”

“I’m not going anywhere until you tell me why you brought me here.”

“Princess, you can rant and rave all you like but I will tell you nothing. All you need to know is that I wish you no further harm.”

“You did this, didn’t you?” Lux asked, raising her hand to expose the cut that had been inflicted on her.

“I tire of these questions,” the king sighed. “Please leave peacefully or I shall have you forcibly removed.”

 Lux glared at the Unseelie king. She needed answers but it was clear that she was not going to get any. She wondered what he had to gain by capturing her, and where he stood in this inevitable war. It was clear that Queen Yolanda was the enemy. Quinlan could make for an equally formidable enemy, or a useful ally. With her head held high, she turned around and made hast to leave the room. Cammie might have stayed briefly to bow again, because Lux soon heard her run after her.

“I take it that you want answers, don’t you?” she asked, as if she did not already know. “I can give you those, but I cannot do that here, or in your chambers. Can you make yourself invisible?”

 Lux thought about it for a while. Her dad had taught her but was not as simple as she had hoped it would be. It required a lot of concentration on her part, but she would manage it for a while.

“Maybe for five minutes. Do we have to go far?”

“No. But it won’t be safe. We’ll be going to the snake’s keep, so to speak.”

That imagery did not invoke pleasant thoughts but Lux was not keen to remain Quinlan’s prisoner. And somehow, she also had to ensure that her friend also became freed from his grasp.

Cammie led the way through the various hallways and as they progressed, they saw more guards. None of them gave much thought to Cammie, who seemed to have some sort of all access entrance.

            All the while, Lux was invisible to their gaze. When at last they entered the right room, Cammie made herself comfortable on a sofa, opposite the king sized bed. The room was large, with stonewalls and a porcelain floor. It was lavishly decorated with expensive silks on the bed and hand carved wooden cabinets. Still, the room seemed too tidy to Lux to have been frequently lived in.

“I will tell you all that you wish to know,” Cammie stated. In all the time that Lux had known her, she had never heard her speak like this. There was something about the tone of her voice and the manner of her speech that really hit home to the seriousness of the situation. Lux had seen her sad before, but this did not compare to the other times. In a word, she looked frightened.

“Cammie, you know you’re my best friend and I love you. You don’t have to do anything you will regret.” She smiled faintly at her.

“Thank you but this is bigger than either of us. Quinlan wants to take the blood of the guardians and infuse it with his own to make himself all-powerful.”

“He can do that?”

“Well it seems so. He didn’t tell me about that phase of his plan himself but Id did some snooping around. He already has the other Guardian’s blood. You were the last.” A cold shiver crept up Lux’s spine.

“Why did you have to tell me here? Where are we?”

“I made an oath to tell no one of his plans outside these four wall. This is Quinlan’s room.

“So you found a loophole.” Lux had to smile at her friend’s cunning, but knowing that this was the king’s room freaked her out. “So whose team do you think he will be on? Will he sway towards the Guardians or Yolanda?”

“My bet is on neither. He swears allegiance only to his own court.”

“A court neither within or a part of Terrahgonia,” Lux muttered. Then she heard the door open.

“Quick! Under the bed.” Cammie whispered. Lux did so swiftly. She saw footsteps walk in, shiny shoes and all.

“Camilla!  What a pleasant surprise.” Lux heard a kissing sound and then a plummet as he fell into a chair. “Did you wish to talk?”

“Um, not really”

“Oh, so it’s like that…”

“Quinlan, I—” She was quickly cut off. It did not take a wild imagination to understand what was going on, and it disgusted Lux. She heard Cammie gasp for breath, and her protests at being treated in this manner.

“I can see that you are not in the mood. So why are you here?”

“Master, I have tried my best to serve you well. I came to ask if I may yet have my freedom.”

“That is for me to decide. I do not wish to hear any more of your requests.”

“Yes master.”

“Now be a good slave and be on your way. Perhaps you should spend some time with the Guardian. If Quinlan knew that Lux was under the bed, he did not let on. 

Lux remained under that bed for what felt like hours. The Snake’s Keep, indeed! All the while, the Unseelie king remained on the bed, reading a novel. She could hear him muttering to himself about it as she often did, and all the while, her hunger deepened.

 One slice of pizza had been hardly sufficient. Her head throbbed and her eyes became heave but she refused to sleep. Then when she least expected it, Quinlan’s face emerged.

“Hello, Guardian.”

 Lux screamed, absolutely petrified. “Really, you thought I would not be able to sense an intruder in my own room?”

“I…” Lux could not construct a single sentence.

“Get out from under there.” Lux did so promptly. “You did well to wait for so long and you certainly amused me. Now tell me, why are you here?”

Up until that moment, Lux had assumed that he knew everything. Now it seemed that she had a chance.

“I came to see if I could find any clues that might help to tell me a bit more about you.” He stood up and approached her. Then he held her chin in his hand. The contact unnerved her. [WM4] 

“Look at you” He mocked. “You look like a frightened little puppy.” Something inside Lux snapped and she made a move to slap him. He grabbed her wrist just in time. “I see you have a bit of fire in you after all.” She stared in the dark abyss that was his eyes and he glared back. Then he finally released her. “I advise that you head straight to your room.” Lux’s mouth was so dry that all she could manage was a nod.

By the time she got to her room, she heard faeries all around panicking. The door opened and Cammie dragged her inside.

“I found the vials of blood.” She said, huffing and puffing, out of breath. Lux was shown the glass vials of blood, and they sickened her. Cammie quickly explained an exit route to her. “You must leave promptly.”

“What about you?” Lux asked.

“I would be a liability, and besides, he can track me.” Lux did not want to leave her closest friend but she was being given no choice. She gave Cammie a big hug and fear seeped into her heart. She was Quinlan’s slave and he could do whatever he wanted to her. Lux would be incapable of protecting her.

“I love you. Please be safe.” Lux whispered.

“I will be fine” She replied. “Quinlan will not harm me.” She released her friend and handed Lux the vials[WM5] . “Now go.”

Lux fled the palace, careful to avoid the faeries that were clearly looking for the thief who had dared to steal something from their king. She was confident that she was their prime suspect. When she reached a particular corridor, she was finally spotted. The faeries glowered at her and made chase. Lux speedily turned around, running as fast as her legs could carry her, and bumped into an unexpected person: The man with the fiery hair. He wore a cocky smile and a calm demeanour.

“Hello Princess.”

“Marcellus,” Lux muttered.

“I know a safe passage out,” He told her, before dragging her into a room.

Marcellus quickly covered her mouth, but Lux was not stupid. She knew that if those faeries caught her, she was dead anyway. But she did not trust this man one bit and she stiffened her body in preparation for anything.

“Please relax. I mean you no harm.”

He released her from him grasp and led her to another door. When he opened it, she saw that it led down a winding stone staircase. It was dark and dank; clearly a place that Lux did not wish to be in.

“How do I know that you won’t kill me whilst we’re down here?” she spat at him. She struggled to be free but his grip did not lessen.

“You do not. You must simply trust me.”

“Why should I?”

“Because right now, I am your only hope.” Lux hated that he was right. So she followed him as quickly as possible, underground.

When they reached the bottom, he led her through a series of narrow passageways. The grounds were littered with yellowed skeletons, some not so human looking. Lux squealed when they came across a few rats gnawing at bones that appeared to still have some flesh left over.

They reached a particular door and then Marcellus turned to her with a very serious expression.

“Behind this door is the Forbidden Forest[WM6] .We are just by its edge, and at the other side is the reasonable safety of Terrahgonia.”

“Why are you doing this?” Lux asked.

“Quinlan is a dear friend of mine but I fear of what he might do with a power such as the blood of the Guardians. Ensure you destroy all traces of it.”

“But why save me?” she enquired.

“You are a valuable piece in this game. Now please, be on your way. Just follow the lights.”

“What—” But he pushed her out before she could finish her sentence and closed the door. She stumbled and fell to her knees, half covered in mud. When she turned around, she saw that rom the other side, the door looked like the bark of a tree. Lux was at a loss for words.

She was soon on her feet again when she heard strange noises. The forest was filled with them. Hooting owls, animals scurrying around in the dark, and fierce growling. Some didn’t sound too unlike the wild creatures of Africa she saw on the documentary channel, whilst others were unidentifiable creatures she prayed not to meet.

 

Lux could barely see anything as she stumbled in a random direction. A safe direction, she hoped. Marcellus had told her to follow the light.

 Several minutes later, she noticed twinkling lights in the distance. Her eyes widened as she realised that these hovering, glowing orbs were none other than the infamous will-o’-the-wisps. They were a mischievous fey that enjoyed misleading travellers and Lux was more than a bit edgy about following their directions. Following fey around was against everything she had ever been taught, and yet, she had no choice. They were her only choice. Soon enough, she was intercepted by two hostile faeries.

“Look what we have here!” the male said. “An intruder.”

“We are not hospitable to intruders,” the female warned.

The faeries were pale, with thin elongated limbs that gave them a frailty but Lux had an inclining into their hidden strength. They moved like lithe dancers, swaying to inaudible music. Their narrowed into thin slits and they wetted their lip at Lux, as though she were a prey.

Because I am their prey.

“I’m sorry,” Lux said. “I didn’t mean any trouble. I was just leaving.” Attempting to reason with them was a failure. As they encircled her, it appeared that their minds were already made up. “Please, just let me pass.”

But one did not reason with lions in the middle of a hunt, and they certainly did not reason with the Unseelie. Begging would only give them a further sense of satisfaction.

Lux was struck in the face with what felt like razors and staggered back. When she turned in the attacker’s direction, she saw the female’s tongue flick from her fingers, scarlet liquid at the tip of her tongue. Lux stroked her face to see blood dampen her hand.

“What do you think?” the female fey asked her companion. “Slow and agonising or quick but excruciating?”

“Let us have a bit of fun with her. I want a dance before sunrise.”

Lux was met with a volley of strikes. They pushed her back and forth for a while like a basketball, taking turns to dance with her. Lux’s muscles seemed to rebel against being stretched so much, but she was completely helpless. She tried not to cry, knowing that they would just revel in her sorrow.

I can’t let a couple of fey push me around. I am the Guardian of Light.

She closed her eyes and entered that place of tranquillity where she could be whatever she wanted. When she opened her eyes, a buzz of new energy hit her.

Lux shone rays of light though her hands to temporarily blind them. Then she charged, punching and kicking them with light infused limbs. They staggered back and Lux remembered the advice her dad had told her a long time ago about a faery’s vulnerability.

She took off her steel chain bracelet and grabbed their arms. They were so thin that both their wrists fit within the bracelet without breaking it.

Iron worked best but from the sounds of their pained groans, Lux could tell it would do. They were anchored to that spot, completely unable to move.

Lux fled and she didn’t look back. The will-o’-the-wisp had not purposely led her to them. At least, that was what they whispered to her. So she followed their lights once more and they pushed her further even as her legs threatened to give way underneath her.

They told her she was nearly there. Lux hoped it to be true. Then she passed what felt like a tangible border, perhaps a force field. It was difficult to see in the gloom of the night.

Lux saw a campfire and tents, and people gathered together. When they noticed her, several men with weapons came towards her. Lux heard yelling but there words were not comprehensible to her. A cold sweat immersed her, and her head throbbed. With her shallow breaths filling her ears, she doubted she could take on this many enemies at the same time.

Lux fell to her knees and held up her arms in a show of compliance. She did not want to agitate them any further.

“I… I come in peace,” she said. Unfortunately that did not stop the several spears and blades that were thrust towards her general direction.

 
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