There are fates worse than death…
Welcome to the serialisation of Accidental Immortal. Chapters will be published four times a week so the serialisation will be completed at (roughly) the same time as on Wattpad, if not a little sooner!
If you would like to start from the beginning, please head over to chapter one. There is also a contents list at the bottom of each post.
Chapter 13 – Banquet
The chill night air slipped through the open carriage windows and wrapped around them like an icy cloak. It also brought with it a delicate floral fragrance that Lynsey barely noticed as she shivered on the plush seat. Rubbing the goose bumps breeding on her upper arms didn’t help either. Hadn’t they heard of suspension on this world? She looked out into the darkness, it felt like she was grumpy all the time now. There was nothing to distract her from the cold and the sheer boredom of the journey. No one was talking. Never mind comfy seats, the art of good conversation had taken a holiday, died and buried itself somewhere. She really regretted not bringing a fur wrap but Luna was in such a hurry that it had been forgotten. It turns out Luna wasn’t as calm and collected as she made out to be.
“We need to depart now.” She’d said.
“Just a moment, we need to check we have everything.” The room had looked like a tornado had hit it and Lynsey was busy bundling some clothes together from the settee.
“Put those down. We have maids to do that sort of thing.” Luna’s voice rose to a squeak.
It was funny now, but at the time, she seemed really agitated.
“Are you okay, Luna?”
“The feast is at the Green Palace in half an hour, it is an hour’s drive at the minimum. We are already fashionably late, anymore and we could get into trouble.” There was a tremor of fear in her voice that made Lynsey take notice. She paused, still holding the dresses.
“Okay, okay. Keep your shirt on.”
“What are you talking about? I am not wearing a shirt. I have no intention of taking anything off even if I was.”
“I didn’t mean your actual shirt. Look,” Lynsey took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. We’ll go now.” She dropped the clothes and held her hands out.
Lynsey smiled at the memory. It was good to know that Luna wasn’t perfect.
On the opposite seat, Arkan was looking out of the other window. He could probably see the terrain as well as a cat she mused. His dark curls were tied back by a short black thong. His gaze was unwavering, its intensity unnerving. What was he looking for?
Luna, of course, was naturally sitting next to him. Her arm hooked around his. Why hadn’t he taken his own carriage, or ridden Night Shade? Was he involved with Luna? Lynsey touched the hard metal of the hidden bracelet on her wrist. All he wanted from her was this. It wasn’t even if it would work for him, or would it? Was there another Pico stored in there?
“May I answer that?” Pico’s thought was cautious, swirling in yellow.
“I was hoping you would. What happens if someone else wears the bracelet?”
“Nothing. I am the only interface possible. Once the piconites have entered the body there is no way to get them back into the band and therefore no way to ‘talk’ to the bracelet. It would still work of course but anyone without piconites wouldn’t be able to communicate with it. It is technically possible for you to wear and use another band but not for someone who doesn’t have a companion to use a band.”
“You are calling yourself a companion now?”
“We were always called that Lynsey. You just weren’t ready to hear it.”
She ignored the gentle reproof. “So it would be pointless to kill someone for their bracelet?”
Lynsey pondered that for a moment. The priests would have been outnumbered by the slaves. They would have had to come up with a contingency for when someone had the bright idea to take one of the bands.
The coach stopped to shouting overhead and the gravel crunched beneath them.
“We should get out here.” Arkan said, bringing his head back through the window. “There is a queue of carriages all the way to the palace. Come on.”
He opened the door and jumped down offering his hand to Luna who joined him. Lynsey was the last to step out, careful to pull her skirt up from her silk slippers on the steep descent. There were only three steps but she didn’t want to fall flat on her face in front of any watchers.
The aroma of burning wood surrounded her as the wind changed direction, bringing childhood memories of nights in front of a cherry-wood fire. Thick posts lined the driveway, their tops alight with fire, beckoning them down the drive to the entrance. She noticed dozens of carriages ahead blocking the road and more were joining the queue behind them. The road was filling with men and women, all dressed in elegant attire. Several threw occasional curious glances their way but most were going towards the entrance. There was nothing for it but to walk the rest of the way.
“This is where I have to leave you for a while.”
Lynsey turned to find Arkan in the shadows. She could barely see him but she saw him take Luna’s head and kiss her knuckles. He winked at Lynsey over Luna’s shoulder. “Enjoy yourselves girls.”
He was going to leave them? Lynsey felt a cold shiver run through her. Sure, Luna would look after her but she expected Arkan to be there too.
He tilted his head at Lynsey’s expression and leaned forward to take her hand. He turned it over to stroke her palm. “I can’t be seen with you tonight. It is better to not draw attention to you more than we need to. It is enough with your blond hair and mystery without adding me to the mix. I also have some unfinished business to attend to before I am seen”.
Lynsey slouched her shoulders. She was almost sad to see him go. Then she checked herself. What did she want from him? Did she really want to find a man and settle down in this strange place? That’s just silly, she berated herself. It was impossible, she wanted to get home.
“Why do you want to go home so badly?” asked Pico.
“I think anyone would if they found themselves in such an alien place. You are not human so you wouldn’t understand.”
“I understand more than you think. Home is where you are happy. Couldn’t you be happy here? You like Arkan. I can tell from your hormone levels. You react differently to him than anyone else you have met. He obviously has skills or he wouldn’t have been able to rescue you. Do you know what he does here?”
“I thought he was just a noble. He hasn’t actually said anything…”
“I think you need to find out more about him. You saw him first at the Temple of the Dragon Brotherhood but he’s definitely not a priest and he is well connected in this society as well as being able to rescue you at a drop of a hat.”
“Drop of a hat?”
“Sorry, I liked that expression from your vocabulary.”
“Fair enough.” Lynsey felt the muscles on her face lift into a smile. A man passing stopped and smiled back before carrying on.
“I do have to be careful talking to you!” She said suppressing a giggle. “You are right though. I know next to nothing about him.” She cast about for the most ridiculous thing she could think of. “He could be an assassin for all I know.”
“He’s probably some sort of soldier, but you won’t know for sure until you ask him or Luna. I’m surprised she hasn’t told you.”
“Maybe she assumes I know?”
“You need to ask, Lynsey.”
Just then they reached the entrance of the palace. The archway was tall and the same type of torches that had lit the driveway, led the way further into the building. They could hear the distant strains of music and Lynsey’s mood began to lift. This was a party! She was hanging out with nobles and royalty. She never thought that would happen in a million years back home.
At the entrance to the hall, a man dressed in a royal blue cloak, tapped a rod to the ground, jolting her out of a reverie.
“Your names, ma’am?” he asked Illyara who was standing nearest.
“Illyara Ackaclun and Lynsey Walker.” She replied.
“Lady Lynsey Walker and her companion Illyara Ackaclun!” Came a loud call from the door.
“We’re on.” whispered Illyara from beside her. “Come on.”
“She has to be announced on her own because she’s so important.” Illyara rolled her eyes which got Lynsey giggling.
She was still smiling when she entered the main hall. The room was massive. Lights shaped like flames illuminated the large space dominated by a square dance floor in the middle. Beyond this, Lynsey’s eyes were drawn to some tables laden with food on the far wall. She noticed in passing, the rainbow colours of the other dresses from people mingling below them.
“Shall we?” Lynsey asked Illyara and they descended the stairs.
“Pico, why isn’t everything more Egyptian?”
“What do you mean?”
“I am not sure but I expected the fashions to be like, you know, the paintings on an Egyptian temple on Earth.”
“Those were from centuries ago. You didn’t wear the clothes of a Celtic Druid or a Greek toga on Earth.”
“Well there was a few toga parties at university…” She was distracted for a moment while she skirted a dancing couple.
“Seriously though,” she continued “I get that, but surely the buildings would be more Egyptian?”
“Maybe you should ask Illyara? I wasn’t conscious until you woke me. Unless you start reading a lot of history books I am in the dark as much as you are.”
“Illyara, wait a second.” She was like a woman on a mission. Illyara was charging ahead, the food table firmly in her sight. Lynsey grabbed Illyara wrist to slow her down. She must be one hungry nomad.
“I was just wondering why everything wasn’t more Egyptian.”
“Well it wouldn’t be. After the rebellion, people tried to forget them. Most of the buildings that the priests built were torn down. The pyramids you arrived in should be the only ones left as a reminder of what they were. My people kept the memories alive. Can we eat now?”
“Are you mad at me Illyara?”
Illyara paused and turned to look at her. “Why would I be angry at you?”
“You’ve just been a little strange since this afternoon. I’m sorry I thought you abandoned me but I can’t help how I feel-felt.”
“It’s not that. It is just that I have been thinking about my family since the kidnap. This is the longest I have been away from them.”
Lynsey looked up at the frieze on the ceiling and blew out gently before taking Illyara’s hands in hers. “That’s a relief. You are my only friend and I really don’t want to lose you.”
“That will not happen.” She smiled back, linking their arms
“And now for some food!”
As they continued to walk through the crowd, conversations were stopping around them as people turned to stare. Still others tapped their companions arms and pointed at the strangers in their midst.