Part 12

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[Author’s Note: Apparently, at some point, Airik suggested Cricket should knit to pass the time while in captivity. If that exchange was in an earlier version, I’m not sure where it’s gone. But I love this first scene, because it makes no sense at all. My favorite editorial comment to myself here is: “How convenient. FIX THIS.”]

Cricket paced back and forth, trying to figure out a way to escape being held prisoner in her own room. In the last hour she had fixed her hair twice, changed her clothes, thrown her yarn across the room and kicked the door several hundred times.

Just like a book, she thought. Being held prisoner in a castle, and now I don’t want to be.

It wasn’t fair that Airik and the men had left earlier that morning without her. Torshak had been pacing beside her for the past few minutes and he now sat down beside the bed. “How long is this to go on?”

He growled. “I’m getting dizzy.”

“Me too.” Cricket sat on the bed and thought about Bwor sitting outside the door. “If only we could find a way out. Then we could go search for Silver.”

Cricket leaned against the wall and thought. Finally, she came up with a plan. “I’ve got it. You run out the door with this stupid ball of yarn, and I’ll chase you as if I was mad at you. Of course, I won’t be.”

She took the needles and ball of yarn and gave them to Torshak.

He took them in his mouth and then spat them out. “Those taste horrible!”

Cricket picked them up again. “It’s our only choice.”

The wolf reluctantly put the scratchy ball in his mouth.

“Okay, go!” she cried. Cricket opened the door, and he ran out. The burly man turned as Cricket ran out the door screaming, “Torshak, you mangy thing, give me back my stupid ball of yarn!”

Bwor grabbed her. “No, you don’t! The High Lord told me to be suspicious of your tricks. Now go inside like a good girl and keep on knitting.”

Cricket looked at Bwor with a sad face. “But now I haven’t any yarn.”

The man felt sorry for her. “Not to worry. I’ll go get you some.”

Cricket smiled as he put down his rope and dagger and went away. In a way, she felt sorry for him, for being so stupid. She also wondered what Airik would do to him when he got back. Hopefully, she could persuade him not to be so harsh.

Cricket grabbed the dagger and made her way down the halls and to the woods.

*

“Ouch!” Evan wiped the drop of burning wax  off his hand.

“Be a little more careful,” Silver warned.

“That sounds funny, scoming from you,” he said, rubbing the burned spot on his arm.

“When are we going to get to this room?”

“We’re there.” He leaned all his weight on the stone next to him. Pulleys could be heard shuffling  like unseen animals in the walls. Like a door, the wall slowly slid back.

The sight was overwhelming. Silver took in a breath as she took in the room. A golden glint ike sunshine lit up her muddy features and set golden sparkles in her eyes.

“The treasure room.”

The girl stood in awe at the wonder she saw. Never in her life had she ever imagined that anyone could own actual mountains of gold. Evan ran a small stack through his fingers. He leaned back against a large chest full of diamonds and smiled. “Don’t you wish you could have all this?”

Silver put on a long emerald necklace and admired herself in a long mirror. “Well, it’s nice to look at…”

Evan picked up a tiara off the pile and placed it on Silver’s head. “But?”

She took off the necklace and ran her fingers over it. “But I wouldn’t want it.”

Evan frowned. “You wouldn’t want to be a queen? Queen of all this?”

Silver smiled at him. “I’m sure being queen would be just grand, but not of all this.” She put the crown neatly back on the pile.

“Why?”

She turned to him. “Tell me, would you truly be happy if you have everything you ever wanted?”

“Sure.”

“Well, I wouldn’t. There would be nothing left to reach for—no cause for adventure. I don’t guess anyone in that state is very happy at all. They must be bored out of their skulls.”

“I suppose you’re right,” he said, looking over the gold now. “Here. Take this as a token of the treasure you’ll hopefully never have to take care of.” He handed her a small ring.

“Oh, I couldn’t. It would be stealing.”

Evan motioned to the gold. “Do you really think it will be missed?”

She smiled and let him put it on her finger. It was a white-gold braid with a ruby in the middle. “I guess not. It does shine strangely, though, doesn’t it?”

“Good. I’m glad you like it. We should be getting back now. The Strifes might come back for you and there’s no doubt Avelin herself will want to check you out.”

Silver nodded and followed Evan back to her room. “Promise me you’ll come tomorrow,” she said.

“I swear.”

“Promise.”

“I promise.”

She fingered the ring and watched her friend disappear into the floor.

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