Chapter 20: A Lie, A Truth
"We have to go," I said. "We have to leave everything and go. Right now."
"They saw me, papà. They saw me and that means they'll come back here, soon, for all of us. We have to leave... To Semuru. We can go to Semuru, can't we mamma?"
I turned to her. She looked at me steadily, seemingly calm. My mother knew how to hide her heart. "If it's the Somaer who took her, Yael, then anywhere we go, the danger will follow."
"Then what do you intend to do? Just stay here and hope they won't come?"
"We're not young and swift enough to outrun them," papà said. "But you are."
"Nonsense! You work the vineyard. You labour every day. You're both strong, you can—"
"Yael. I'm nine and forty years this coming winter," papà said. "We were too old as parents. Most men my age have grandchildren to inherit their children. We've weathered many storms. And this one is no different. But you, Yael, cannot be found here when they return to question us."
"Question you? They won't ask questions. It's not questions they want. Whatever they need Marin for, they'll want to erase their tracks, papà."
"You have to leave, Yael," papà said. "You have to live. We'll buy you time, enough to get away safely."
There was no stopping the tears from coming, and wetting my mask. There was no limit to my rage and confusion. "I'm not leaving you," I said.
"What about Marin?" mamma asked. "They took her alive. She could still be saved."
Papà looked at mamma for a moment as if she were mad. How could I possibly save anyone? And from the Lords, no less. But some understanding passed between them, something that back then, in the whirlwind of my emotions, I didn't comprehend.
My father turned to me with firm conviction and pressed a heavy purse into my hands. "If you want to save your sister, you have to live, Yael," he said. "At any cost, you have to live. That means we're not your parents and you're no one's daughter."
They only wanted to give me purpose. I knew this now. They wanted to die knowing that they died for me to live.
And I lived for Marin to be saved, even if they hadn't really meant to give me such an impossible task.
I would save Marin.
At any cost.
My heart drummed in my throat as I stood in his sunny bedroom. It had the same exact layout as mine, except that the water basin was right by the fireplace and the tapestries along the walls showed dizzying patterns of stags in green, red and gold. Lord Waryn poured himself a glass of wine, and offered me none. The label on the bottle had a seagull stamp under the word DIEDER written in bold red letters.
The guards at the door were ordered to move away, the adjacent bedroom where servants would be was completely vacant.
There was no one to hear me scream.
We stood like this in silence, me, with my hands clasped together, standing in the centre of the room and he, with a goblet in hand, leaning against the oak mantlepiece.
I would not offer a word to him. He would be the first one to speak. I had to be careful with my lies.
And finally, he did speak. He said, "I know your name isn't Abetha."
I didn't reply.
"During the execution in Klesei market square of the vinter from Thalmina and his wife, you stood with Lady Afali, Lord Euryis and three other lesser Cervi lords, Panlis, Filar and Modian. Then, just when everyone was distracted, you vanished for approximately six minutes. Where did you go?"
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WATTYS 2018 SHORTLIST "Every person is a book, Yael. You just need to find the right way to read them." In the land of Vynam, all must wear masquerade masks to ward off the deathly touch of the spectres. Eighteen-year-old Yael was a talented mask-m...