Accidental Immortal Chapter 21 – Betrayal (Serialisation)
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 21 – Betrayal
Several courtiers surrounded Illyara in a loose circle. There was plenty of space in the room, why did they have to stand so near? She looked from one to the other. Their bland expressions of feigned boredom on their painted faces was tedious. She stifled a yawn. Where was Lynsey? She may be strange and from another world but she was far from scary and never boring. That was it. The reason she was on edge. If she was being completely honest with herself, these people were a little frightening. It was like they were using that paint to disguise their true selves. Some instinct made her shift her weight onto the balls of her feet. What had seemed friendly when they walked in, was taking on a darker aura. Why was she thinking that? She relaxed her muscles and readjusted her weight as she tried to shake the mood off. She must be imagining it. But, the same ability that helped her become invisible was warning her of something. If only she could read thoughts, these hunches were just too vague to be helpful.
It was too late. She couldn’t stop thinking something was wrong now. She found herself looking for routes of escape in the gaps between people. There were just so many of them, men and women hovered around her like bees to honey. Her instincts warred with her reason. There was no reason to be afraid. They looked vacuous, there was nothing actually threatening in their expressions or even the way they were acting. This was ridiculous, she chided herself. A wave of homesickness for the emptiness of the desert swept over her, leaving her feeling desolate. She needed to leave the city.
“…and the Maree’s heir had to visit Dirik’s!” Mirth erupted around her but as she looked at the lord nearest her and then at the next, she realised that their smiles didn’t quite reach their eyes. She was starting to think they were enjoying her discomfort.
She had barely heard what they said for the last half hour. Nodding seemed to be enough for them for the most part. And Lynsey had still not come back. Where was she? She was only supposed to be going to cool down. But, Illyara reflected, she had looked annoyed. Maybe she should go after her? The man in front had stopped talking and was looking at her as if waiting for an answer. What had he said?
Goddess! Did it matter? These people were so superficial. All the women talked of was the latest fashions, how handsome Lord so and so is. The men, talked about the weather, races and their prowess at war. They were all over-dressed, over opinionated nitwits. Her hands clenched by her sides as she caught sight of the food table beyond the man. She was fuming. Her people were starving, no, not just her people but there were others across the land who were suffering so these idiots could eat stuffed perkot and moan about the rain shower that made their hair ever so slightly frizzy last week.
The more she thought about it, the more definite she was that her father was right. Anger began to replace nebulous fear. She had to see for herself that Ghinarians were corrupt to the core. Even Luna played the game. She had shown them a different side the last couple of days but she obviously had no intention of changing the system. Why should she, her whole lifestyle depended on it?
Lynsey really should be back by now. Illyara smiled sweetly at the lord, she had no idea what he’d said. Inwardly she seethed at the fake pleasantries. That was it, time to go. Dropping into a curtsey, she murmured at the man.
“Please do excuse me sir, I must go and look for my friends.” It was time to find Lynsey. While he turned to talk to someone on his left, she flicked her fan up and walked towards the exit. Her back straightened, she lifted her chin up and she exuded as much confidence as she could muster. Reaching the edge of a table laden with drinks, she glanced back to check that no one was watching. A few faces were, so she picked up a glass and brought it to her lips. She took a few pretend sips until they looked away and then slipped behind a column out of view of the room. She pressed her back against the cool column and closed her eyes. She breathed in deeply and let her frustration leave her as she breathed out. Her hands dropped to her side and she relaxed her mind, ignoring the sounds and smells that assaulted her senses. Her heartbeat slowed and she felt something in her mind shift.
Grabbing on to the change, she visualised every mind in the room as a little candle flame in the darkness. She could clearly ‘see’ how many were around her. The men’s flames were more red and the women had yellower flames. She spread her awareness out further. Walls were no object but she could only get a glimpse of the number of people. Her mind was stretching too far, perhaps too much. She gathered herself together. The last thing she did was imagine darkness surrounding her. Her eyes flipped open. All anyone would see when they looked in her direction was a fuzzy black space. The mind wouldn’t be able to comprehend the absence of everything so they would dismiss her as if she wasn’t there.
She remembered her father’s face the first time he taught her the technique. He had been younger then but his eyes appeared older than his years, their core, deep pools of jet black.
“We were changed by those we don’t speak of. We were never meant to exist. If it hadn’t been for our saviour we would not be here today. When our ancestors escaped, we carried the seeds of our master’s destruction. They wanted to be able to speak with their minds but we learned what they did to us meant we could hide in plain sight.” He’d looked out into the sunset as he spoke, his voice had been quieter than normal and she’d strained to hear him.
“We must never forget that we owe a great debt or that our abilities can be misused by others.” He twisted to face her. “I once had to sentence a member of our tribe to death for letting an outsides know about what we can do. Do not let this happen to you, my daughter. Stay safe and stay hidden.” Illyara had always wondered at that farewell but as she learned their history she grew to understand the wisdom of it.
Leaving the memory behind, she strode from the column in the direction that Lynsey had left. Nearing the half-open doorway that led to the stairs. She spotted her friend turning away from the king. Illyara let go of the breath she didn’t realise she was holding. Lynsey looked horrified, but she was clearly unharmed. Like Luna said, what could happen at a ball?
Reaching forward with the closest hand, she pushed the door fully open. Illyara breathed in squeezing past a woman bulging out of a mint-green dress. The woman was shrieking with laughter and her nearest arm flailed out. Illyara had time to see the lord beside her grin at his companion’s reaction before she ducked. The woman’s arm swept over her head. A drop of wine sploshed out and hit her as she hugged the door frame. The woman looked directly at Illyara for a moment. Her eyes narrowed and her mouth started to form a sound. Illyara concentrated on the flame which seemed to superimpose on the woman’s face and her eyes glazed, her expression erasing. The woman turned back to her companion.
“Darling, you are so funny.”
Illyara burst through to the other side of the door to see two guards wearing royal colours separating from the king. If their uniforms hadn’t given them away, then the fact that they were the tallest in the room would have made anyone pause. Their blue and gold uniforms were stretched taught over their chest muscles as they moved with purpose behind Lynsey. Their jaws were set and their eyes steely. Illyara wanted to call out but it would have given her position away. Years of her father’s training held her back, rooted to the spot. She watched in horror as she saw one of them grab Lynsey and the other hold a cloth over her mouth and nose. Illyara gave a strangled cry. She clamped her hands around her mouth as she saw Lynsey collapse. The woman who was now to her side looked in her direction but saw nothing and turned back to the lord. Didn’t she see what was happening to Lynsey? Why wasn’t she helping? Illyara rushed forward but the guards bundled her friend up and dragged her to a side room. Not one person from the corridor or room intervened or even seemed to notice.
Illyara followed and watched them throw Lynsey out of a window then calmly walk back to the king. She was aghast. She ran to the window, a slight breeze brushed a few tendrils that had escaped her hair-pins and tickled her cheeks. She caught and flicked them away as she searched the ground. There! Lynsey was below. Six men in dark clothing carried her unconscious form in the gloom. They were heading for a carriage.
Illyara fought despair. There was no way she could keep up with a carriage. Her arms dropped in surrender then she caught her breath as she recognized the colour of the carriage. It was the blood red of the Dragon Temple.
Illyara raced to the main ballroom and found Luna laughing with the king in a corner. Careful not to touch anyone. She was invisible but she could still be felt and be captured, she crept up to the pair.
“I wish there had been another way.” She heard Luna say.
“There isn’t, that girl could be the answer to our prayers. She hasn’t told you anything has she?”
“No, and I don’t think she would. She was determined to leave. I tried to deter her but you know how young people can be.”
“Indeed. Ghinari thanks you. With the location of the pyramids we will be able to gain enough treasure to raise an army to defeat the Eryl by the Festival of Sekhmet”
“We have nearly pushed them from