Selkin's Secret

*Second instalment of the Elevea trilogy* It's fifteen years since the fall of the Vanus and the land of Elevea has started to believe in peace. But a force is gathering in the land of Nith, spies are everywhere, and after the death of the young Prince, it is clear that Nith wants Elevea back. But something else is changing in the magic powers deep beneath the public eye and hidden in a frightened girl. No one is safe and very soon, someone will have to start fighting for what they believe to be theirs.

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5. Five

HAVING EATEN BREAKFAST in the little kitchen on the side of the main hall, Ilidh decided it would be best if she stayed put. The cook was with her, who was the mother of one of Ilidh’s close friends, and no one else had so far ventured out of their private rooms. Ilidh wandered whether Tidhlan would appear, or even her parents, but the cook, Mustella, was making sure Ilidh was sitting in the shade of the increasingly hot day and had given her a stack of carrots to peel to keep her occupied.

About midmorning, Renisella ambled into the kitchen from a back door and rushed over to Ilidh, asking how she was. Ilidh shrugged, and Renisella asked how Moss was. Ilidh also shrugged at this. Renisella asked if Tidhlan had come down at all, but Ilidh gave the negative.

“Have you seen anyone today?” asked Renisella, exasperated.

“Sorry,” shrugged Ilidh.

“Stop shrugging!” laughed Renisella. “Mother always told me it would give me shoulder problems.”

Renisella’s mother looked over at this and smiled.

“How are those carrots, Ilidh dear?”

Ilidh refrained from shrugging and got out of her chair to take over an armful of peeling carrots.

“You can take Moss the peeling’s later,” said Mustella, “but first there are plenty of potatoes, if you want.”

Ilidh started to shrug but caught Renisella’s eye.

“Only if Wren helps me,” she said cheekily, looking up to the older girl. Renisella, or Wren as was her adopted nickname, smiled back.

“Sure.”

And the two girls sat back down, one bright blonde and almost waist length hair, and the other, a dark head which was almost hidden by the back of the chair. Ilidh was not tall enough to touch her feet to the ground on such a tall chair, something which her brothers would regularly laugh at her about. Renisella was a fairly tall and bedraggled thing, but her cheeks were constantly flushed with colour, much the same as Ilidh’s freckled ones. Renisella had the bright blue eyes to match her light hair, and Ilidh had almost black, like her father’s, to match her hair. Together, they looked opposites, but at times Ilidh would simply call Wren her sister, and despite the difference in social class, they were so close it could almost be true.

About midday, Korani called into the kitchen to inquire on Ilidh’s whereabouts. Mustella assured her that Ilidh was being well looked after and that no one need worry. Korani also asked if Tidhlan had been in there that morning. Mustella gave the negative. Korani looked slightly worried and hurried away.

Shortly after, Korani reappeared to fetch Ilidh, saying that her parents wished to see her. Ilidh looked in dismay at Renisella and then to Korani, showing immediate apprehension. So far she’d been able to pretty much hide from everything going on that day.

To her surprise, she was shown into her parents’ private chamber, where they were both sat in armchairs by the open windows. Tidhlan was nowhere to be seen. Korani gave her a gentle push and smile, and Ilidh sidled over to her mother, perching on her knee. She found a warm pair of arms around her.

“I’m sorry about last night, Ilidh,” said her mother, “and from now on we’re not going to leave you to do anything alone. You must be confused.”

Ilidh looked in bewilderment at her mother.

“What is there to be confused about? I understand the situation perfectly. Where’s Tidhlan, shouldn’t you be talking to him?”

“Ilidh,” began her father in a firm tone, “listen.” He looked across to Marda who sighed and continued.

“We’re not going to do anything until we’ve all had time to come to terms with this. We all loved your brother dearly and obviously this accident was such a shock and should never have happened, but accidents do happen. It is in no way your fault or anyone else’s.”

“What do you mean, do anything?” Ilidh was trying hard to ignore the second part of her mother’s speech.

Marda shifted uncomfortably, a great strain showing in her face.

“Give him a funeral and burial, sweetie. You know, when we say goodbye.”

Ilidh spun round to face her mother, placing her arms around her neck like a toddler would, her eyes suddenly glistening.

“But mother, I don’t want to say goodbye!”

And the next minute she was buried in her mother’s chest, sobbing her heart out. Marda had rested her head on her child’s and was trying to take the scene of her crying girl in, a stream of tears now emitting from her eyes.

Korani suddenly burst back through the door.

“Sir,” she said, spotting Marda and Ilidh and addressing Falnon in an urgent tone, “we’ve found Tidhlan.”

Ilidh peered up, wiping away her tears and frowning across the room. So no one really had known where Tidhlan was. He had been hiding, much like Ilidh that morning, although Ilidh had decided she wouldn’t be able to keep it up forever. Thinking of that morning, Ilidh suddenly put a hand down to feel around in her skirt pocket, her small hands grasping around the now slightly warm metal of Jovhulan’s pin.

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