“Tell me what this is,” Jaco demanded, holding the key out upon his flat palm. “I can’t...I can’t…” I struggled against the force of my body. I felt my body beginning to grow faint, and if I refused much longer, I’d die. I fell to my knees in defeat and looked up with tears in my eyes. “It’s the key to my heart.”


32. Chapter 32

After my connection with the Walona Traka, the jewel-incrusted door reappeared and I said good-bye to my forest friends. Virie was the saddest, but Aerito kept reminding all of us that when the time was right, I would return and make my wish. After one last look at the magical forest-y world, I stepped through the door. As I closed it behind me, a gem fell off the door and into my hands. I gasped and looked up at the space where it was before it fell. It didn’t even look as though a gem was ever there.


The gem was a mix between red and pink, quite pretty actually, and small enough to hang on a necklace. I stuck it into my pocket and began my trek back to the library, which was much easier without a hurt ankle and crutches.


I emerged from the hallway into the large library and my happy mood soured. Standing in front of me was Jaco holding Raliki and Hanile holding Iolis, both pointing sharp-looking daggers at their throats. Raliki looked more annoyed than scared, but Iolis was shaking even though she sent me a small smile, her tiny body a few inches off the ground. Their shadows were elongated from the sunlight streaming in from the skylight up above. Jaco was looking at me sadly, but there was no trace of remorse in Hanile’s face which contained a mix between a smirk and a scowl.


“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the girl who comes back from the dead,” Hanile stepped forward, Iolis swinging slightly in his hands, the dagger swinging with her.


“Raliki, do something!” I said sharply and he rolled his eyes, the fear finally peeking through.


“Don’t you think I would’ve done something by now if I could?” He raised his hand and pointed at the dagger. This time Jaco spoke up.


“The dagger contains a jewel that renders any magic useless,” Jaco tightened his grip on the dagger and Raliki sent me a look saying if you can get the dagger away, I can get us all out of this, hopefully.


Hopefully wasn’t something I was going to cost.


“What are you here for?” I directed my question to Hanile even though the idea of speaking to him churned my breakfast in my stomach.


He smiled wickedly, “What do you think, princess, we’re here for you.” When the nickname is sweet with Calimo it made my heart drop to hear him call me that. He might’ve ruined the name for me.


“Okay,” I said with my arms held open, “Let’s go.”


Raliki lurched forward, but Jaco had to strong of a hold on him, “Amberlin, no.”


I nodded my head at him, “Don’t try anything, I’m doing this for everyone’s own good.” I try and look defeated, which apparently I succeed at because Iolis is shoved to the side and Hanile pointed the dagger at me, rendering my magic useless. He laughed scornfully and grabbed my arm, gesturing Jaco over. Jaco sent Raliki flying into a wall, where the 1327 year old man hit his head and slumps over unconscious. I jumped forward to tend him but Hanile pulled me back and Jaco clamped onto my other arm.


“Just…let…me…tend to him!” I struggled but they held firm.


Orfili nidad!” They yell together and a whirl of color surrounded us and I squeezed my eyes shut. Finally the whirling noise ceased, and I opened one eye and then the other. We stood in a nice-sized bedroom in what looked like a very large house. The two men let go of my arms and I rubbed where they had been clenching me. I rolled up my sleeve and saw handprint bruises already beginning to form.


“Ouch,” I said quietly and sat on the corner of the bed staring at Hanile. “So, now what?” There’s a knock at the door and he pointed, indicating that was what he was waiting for. He grandly opened the door, bowing, and before I have time to prepare myself in walks Reanski. She smiled at me like she had just received a new pet, and as I thought about it, I very well might be the new pet.


“Hello, darling,” she swept into the room and over to me, patting my head.


Yep, I’m the new “pet”.


“How are you?” she cooed and it took everything I had to not cower and run away.


“Goo…good,” I stuttered and I mentally slapped myself for sounding so terrified. I took in her appearance, a long black dress with a shawl, a small veil decorating her head, looking as though she was headed to a funeral. I quickly stood up, not wanting to look up at her and leveled at her eye.


“Hand it to me.” It was a demand, and when I refused, pain began to sear through my system, the pain bringing tears to my eyes as I doubled over, falling to my knees.


“What…what is happening?” I asked, not able to raise my voice above a whisper. She pulled a chain from inside her dress and off it dangled Calimo’s key, my previous one.


She leaned down, smirking at my pain, and said thoughtfully, “I read somewhere that if a Key’d exchanges keys with a non-Key’d, both keys will affect both people. Meaning, if I hold Calimo’s key, I control you both.” She threw back her head in a cackle, her veil flying off into a corner and her shawl dropping to the ground.


Struggling to speak, I ask, “Then, why haven’t you used me yet? And where is Calimo if you hold his key?”


“The power of the key only works short distance, but when I captured Calimo inside the book while he was protecting you,” she paused and chuckled when the information made my eyes tear a little more, “As long as I got you close I could use it. And before you ask why I didn’t use Calimo to do what you’re going to do for me, is because it’s your power I need, not his.” The pain is overwhelming now, and I’m really close to joining the constellations of past Key’d.


“Awe, look at her willing to give her life,” she said to Jaco and Hanile, even though Jaco’s back had turned. “Well, let’s just show her who’s willing to do the same for her.” She flipped a switch on the wall, which turns the light on in an adjoining room I hadn’t noticed. And through all the pain I gasped at what I saw.


Calimo lay slumped on the concrete ground, surrounded by a pool of blood. One hand and one ankle shackled to the wall. His head was rolled to the side, a gash visible across the right side of his head and ending in the middle of his cheek, the left eye puffy, but not quite black.  His shirt was gone, and his chest was covered in cuts and bruises, one large cut straight down across his breastbone seemed to be slightly sewn up, but crusted blood covered the entire wound, and if it continued being open, an infection could’ve made its way in. His jeans had been cut in several places, revealing more bruises and cuts. I heard him moan in his unconscious state, and I knew her holding the key was causing him additional pain.


“What did you do to him?” I whispered and tried to pull myself toward him, but my own pain was too much. I was able to move less than an inch before the excruciating pain overtook again. I blinked and my vision was blurry from the tears I didn’t realize I was crying. “Okay, okay, please just give him his key back, end a little of his pain.”


Reanski tisked, “Give me your key first.”


With a shaky hand I reached into my pocket and handed it to her, relief washed over my body as I followed the command, before it was replaced with a dull pain in my heart that I knew would never go away now that Reanski held my key. She flicked his key to me and with the little strength I had from the earlier draining, I crawled into the torture room and placed the key in Calimo’s outstretched hand. I moved next to him and pulled his head into my lap, arranging him into what I hoped to be a more comfortable position. A small look of relief crossed his face and his hand moved slightly to grasp the key, but he didn’t return to consciousness. I could hear hushed plans being made in the other room, and Jaco poked his head into the room and I sent him a glare that could kill. He looked down at the broken body of his younger brother and I could’ve sworn I saw tears in his eyes, but just as fast as it appeared, it was gone, though the look of sadness never disappeared.


“How is he?” He asked quietly and walked into the room. I growled and he backed to the wall right next to the door and slid to a sit on the floor.


“That’s a stupid question.” I replied and returned my gaze to the head in my lap. I fixed his messy blonde hair almost dyed red from the blood and tried not to touch the large cut on the side of his head, resting my hand on the opposite from the cut. Jaco shifted and I eyed him warily and asked him angrily, “Why did you let them do this to him? Look at him! It’s like they used him as their personal punching bag.” I traced his cheek and winced when he winced. He lets out another moan and worry bubbles up in my throat. “Fix him.”


“How am I supposed to do that?” Jaco cried incredulously. “You can see what they did; I’m not even sure where to start, even if I knew what to do.” He sniffled, but he doesn’t get any pity from me.


“YOU could’ve stopped it, now YOU have to fix it,” I yelled at him and he looked taken aback, but slowly nodded after one good long look at his brother. I smiled a small smile before returning my attention to Calimo and just watching him lie there in my lap. Jaco got up and left, and as soon as his footsteps faded away Calimo opened his eyes and stared right into mine.


“Hey there, Charming,” I said smiling as I brushed some hairs off his forehead.


He got a weird look on his face, “Charming? I’m not Charming, my name is Wentar. Who are you?”

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