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Chapter 3 - Tales in the Attic

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Chapter 3

IT DIDN'T surprise Vivienne that the first thing the Orlins made her do at the meeting point at the train station was to surrender her cellphone. They told her that it wouldn't work in Manna City anyway.

Manna City was across the Anthias Sea, after all. There were two other Orlins who had been picked earlier in the month and were only summoned to the Lewisville Train Station now. One was a boy of sixteen, and the other was a skinny girl of fifteen. Both were dressed formally like they were on their way to a dinner party. The boy wore a dark-grey plaid suit that was frayed at the edges. The girl wore a bright-blue dress which seemed to be composed entirely of ruffles. She was overly tall and slender, like a blue grasshopper. Sallen was the shortest of the lot, but she made up for it with giant platform heels. She was wearing a pink dress that reminded Vivienne of her Aunt Sully's party dress.

Vivienne had decided on a pair of black jeans and a clean blouse. She felt underdressed at first, but when the Orlin guides appeared they were only wearing plain black cloaks are well. Their attire was just decorated by a thin gold chain around their wrists, and a white rose embroidered into their sleeves. The white rose was the symbol of the Princess. She was the leader of the Orlins and only she was allowed to wear a white cloak with a generous hood that concealed her face from the papers. No one had seen her face before. There were plenty of rumors that the princess was deformed.

That much — Vivienne knew from the newspapers, but she suspected she wasn't nearly as aware of the latest Orlin gossip as her peers.

There was a stretch limo there to bring them to the dock. There were two Orlins to escort them, one male and one female. The man, who introduced himself as Simon, sat in front. The female, Madame Jyger, sat with them in the back. Her hair was done in an austere grey bun at the top of her head. Across her forehead was a thick crater of a scar and her eyebrows were burned clean away. Like the others, Vivienne found herself trying not to stare.

Madame Jyger had an empty seat beside her, and since everyone else shrank away, Vivienne found herself sitting beside Madame Jyger. Sallen looked guilty at the prospect and immediately took the seat opposite to the two of them. The two others huddled together at the back of the limousine.

Vivienne had chosen to sit beside Madame Jyger because she wanted to ask why the Auguard had chosen her when she was already just about eighteen. It was unheard of for a girl to be chosen this late. Madame Jyger seemed to eye Vivienne from head to toe - sizing her up. As Vivienne opened her mouth to ask her question — Jyger reached over and gave her hand a gentle, knowing squeeze.

"Isn't it a beautiful melody?"

"What?" Vivienne asked, wondering if the old woman was nuts. "I don't hear anything."

As the car pulled out of the Station, Vivienne realized her opportunity to ask her questions had passed. Madame Jyger got down to business immediately.

"As soon as you enter the city you will be taken to the Pearl Tower and given the Orlin's Oath. You will be shown to your temporary rooms in the Pearl Tower where you will be instructed on the choosing of an Ansura. The events of the week will culminate in the Midnight Masquerade." Madame Jyger made eye contact with each of the inductees as the car picked up speed. "Any questions?"

There was silence throughout the car. Vivienne wondered if asking whether she could go home was an option.

"Many inductees often ask what exactly is an Ansura," Madame Jyger finally suggested with an air of exasperation. "An Ansura is vital to the survival of an Orlin. There is a saying among the Orlins that will soon become familiar to you — two souls one grave. Your Ansura will become the most important person in your life, even more so than your future husband or wife."

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