29: The Chest

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7/14/3028

We made our way back to Tor-Kenner's mansion by mid-afternoon, and that left me some time to recuperate from my bizarre day. The meeting with the Elorian Kings would happen later in the evening, so I thought that a quick nap would help me feel sharper and more rested.

I was wrong.

Instead of a rejuvenating slumber, my worries followed me. I dreamed about the chest and the portrait again. The two objects were floating, and the portrait orbited the chest, around and around. After several cycles, the portrait was sucked into the keyhole and the lid of the chest popped open. I couldn't see what was inside though.

A rhythmic, playful knocking woke me from my nap. "Ell?" It was Martin.

"Come in," I said in a groggy voice.

He hastily slipped into my room. "Stanjah told me to leave you alone today but I had to see how you're doing after the parade."

"It's been fine," I said as I craned my neck up to look at him. Martin was dressed in a long blue robe and a tall hat with silver rimmings. I smiled.

"You like my outfit?" He puffed out his chest.

"Not bad," I said. "Why didn't Stanjah want you to see me?"

"She thinks I'll distract you from that important meeting tonight." Martin rolled his eyes. "I know you have to study and be prepared, so I won't stay long. I just wanted to get a chance to see how you're doing before it all goes down."

I sat upright, then waved him over. "Come sit."

Martin sat beside me on the bed, and he noticed the chest right away. "What's that you've got there?"

"I wish I knew."

He tried to open the lid. "Where's the key?"

"No clue. This stuff used to be mine, but I have no idea where the key is."

"Your stuff?" Martin raised an eyebrow skeptically.

"Yes—my stuff. I've chosen to believe." I didn't look Martin in the eye.

"Believe that you're Sye-Liene?"

A smile was all I gave for an answer before changing the subject. "So, I don't have a key for that chest."

"Well," he said with a sigh, taking off his ridiculous hat. "We could try to smash it open."

"Smash it?" I asked.

Before I knew it, he had gotten up from my bed with the chest in his hands and started looking around my room.

"What are you doing?"

"Just a sec..." he said, placing the chest on the desk then hastily darting out of the room.

What's he up to?

Martin returned with a sword and shut the door behind him.

"No!" I cried. "What if something fragile is in there?"

"I'm going to try prying it open."

"Where did you get the sword anyway?"

"Found it displayed in the sitting room. Don't worry, I'll return it when we're done." He sat on the edge of the bed trying to use the sword as a crowbar to pry the box apart.

"I don't think that's going to work," I said.

He ignored me for the next few minutes—his teeth clenched as he concentrated. Then, he lifted the sword high over his head and started chopping at the chest furiously.

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