Chapter 4- Chaines and Crowns
Bells were ringing outside as people out on the streets were stringing up decorations all over the region for Redstar's coronation and for the Chaine Ceremony. Everyone was looking forward to the coronation but the princess herself.
I looked out the window and grinned. The town was covered in colourful floating lights and I could smell the sweet scent of something baking from a few houses down. I couldn't remember that last time I had something sweet.
I hurriedly got a shower and got changed into my best clothes. Which was skinny jeans, a black top and a leather jacket.
Running down stairs, I zipped up my jacket and got to the door just as someone began to knock. I pushed the door handle and pulled the door open.
“Princess Blackstar, actually.” she said through gritted teeth and walked inside without needing to be asked. Her raven chaine” followed carefully behind her.
Her appearance was so similar, it was remarkable. But I did not have time to question it, Blackstar was already sitting on the sofa.
“What a dump.” she sighed to herself.
My blood began to boil. Thankfully it wouldn't last long today when I got my chaine. “Excuse me. Is there something you want?”
“Yes,” she said slowly, letting each syllable roll off her tongue. “I want you to watch your tone with the future queen of Region 1 first of all.”
Future queen? She had it wrong, Redstar is to be queen, not her.
“I'm sorry but-”
She held her hand up and waited for me to stop talking. “Redstar is gone.”
Her green eyes glistened as they caught the light. They shone so brightly that I wondered whether they would shine in the dark with the lights of like cat's eyes.
“Yes. And I think you know where to.”
It couldn't be true. Redstar would never leave the Underworld.
“I understand she may have talked to you about it.”
The words swam around in my head, making me dizzy. I was half expecting to wake up from this nightmare and for everything to go back to how it should have been two weeks ago. But now my mother was gone, I was keeping the only part left of her existence hidden underneath a floorboard and the princess of the Underworld had ran away to the surface.
“She did,” my voice was shaking uncontrollably. The stare of the raven chaine didn't help much. It looked like it was about to swallow me whole if I said one thing out of place. “But I never expected her to actually leave.”
“Well she has left,” Blackstar said calmly, stroking the breast of the raven. “And it is your job to get her back.”
My lips parted slightly. I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to scream but my voice failed me.
“To get her back... from the surface?”
Blackstar sighed in frustration. “Maybe this will get through your thick skull instead. Climb the ladder. Find Redstar. Bring her back. Or don't get a chaine at all.”
Or don't get a chaine at all. The words haunted me. I would never fit in with the Voyagers. I would never get over the loss of Swiftstep. I would never be who I wanted to be with the mortal five plague stirring up inside me
“Here is the map for the ladder,” she smacked a crumpled piece of paper on the sofa before getting up. She walked down the corridor and paused at the open door. “And this conversation is to remain unknown to anyone else. No one will notice it is me becoming queen, not Redstar,” unless they know the colour of Redstar's eyes, I thought bitterly. “Be warned that when you are climbing the ladder, I cannot guarantee the guards giving you a safe journey. You're trip shouldn't take long. It's not like there's anyone else up there. Just bring her back. And you'll get a chaine.”
I never agreed or disagreed with her as she saw herself out the door. I was just left alone, looking out the door at the happy crowds of people awaiting the coronation or getting their own chaine.
The pain of loss is only getting prolonged day by day. When would it even stop?
The day I find Redstar on the surface.
The town was busier than I had ever seen it. The whole square looked different. Additional lights of all colours hung over the houses and around a set of gold and silver where Redstar would have had her coronation.
I didn't care what Blackstar said. I needed to tell Ranger. Redstar might have left without saying goodbye, but I couldn't.
The coronation would begin at twelve, the hour I needed to leave. Even three hours before it started, everyone had arrived, surrounding the town square.
I pushed my way through the crowd, scanning everyone's faces till I finally spotted Ranger.
"Ranger!" I yelled but he didn't hear me. "Ranger!"
I kept shouting his name till he turned around. His dark eyes latched onto mine and in a second, he knew something was wrong.
"Drifter," I saw his lips mouth as he began to push through the bodies to get to me. He reached for me and pulled me out the crowd. "What's happened?"
"I'm leaving," I blurted out without another thought. "I need to find Redstar. She's left to the surface."
"Redstar has what?" his fox chaine was running around him in circles, trying to fight his confusion. "Then who's getting crowned today?"
"Blackstar is taking her place without anyone knowing," he looked like he had just been slapped. "I know, I know. It's hard to believe. But I need to find her." I tried to explain to him but it seemed to be making him more worried. He ran his fingers through his wavy dark hair and swallowed hard.
"No." he told me plainly.
"I need to go, Ranger."
"I said no," he repeated. "You're not doing this without me."