Chapter 30: The Game Room
I was shoving my way through the market square of Klesei, the bodies of merchants and buyers alike were pressed in all around me. Brown clothes and grey cotton masks, everyone was dull and dim in my eyes. They all looked alike. My shoes sunk into the mud and filth on the ground, the air was misty with smoke and steam.
I saw her walking before me, weaving easily through the throng while I squeezed and shoved my way forward. She was headed for the mouth of an alley that was between two fish stalls that had on display rows upon rows of frozen codfish.
"Wait," I called.
But she didn't hear me.
I was grounded to my spot, I couldn't move.
I stretched out my hand, as if I could reach her. But she was gone down the dark alley, without me.
"Why did you lie to me?" I screamed to no avail.
I was startled awake and struggled against what held me, until I realised it was Waryn's arms. The room was dark and airy, the stark softness of the silence was dizzying after the chaos of Klesei.
"You were dreaming..." he said.
I could see his face from moonlight that the curtain didn't block. It was still night.
"Did I say anything?" I asked.
"You asked me why I lied to you."
I didn't want to talk about my dream. Something terrible was waiting for him, for me, today.
I sat up, the duvet falling off my naked body. There were moments of pure bliss, where I could almost forget what had happened at the ball.
To be held, safe and warm against him. To taste the sweet softness of his body which I never thought a man could have.
"You have to go before anyone sees you," I said.
"It's still early..."
"If anyone sees you, then I won't be able to work on Mica anymore. I'll lose him as a source. I just hope no one noticed us leaving together from the ball."
In the dim light, Waryn turned his head from me. He knew I was right. If Mica Kiri knew that I had spent a night with the high and mighty Waryn Eloroan, his pride wouldn't let him compete.
Because what woman would ever choose Mica over Waryn? Men didn't like fighting a battle they were sure to lose.
"Even if someone saw us," he says, without looking at me. "It can pass as harmless flirting. It wasn't as if anyone saw us kissing. And we'll find a way to show him that you prefer his company over mine."
His voice was flat, as if he was unwilling to speak.
"This is no time to be jealous, Waryn," I warned him, my heart beating rapidly. The moment he would leave this room, everything could change. If something happened, if Pyren did something, Waryn would know.
And he'd be able to guess that this was my doing, that I was compromised.
The true spider that now controlled me was, indeed, as cruel as Waryn had told me he would be.
Whatever Pyren was planning, I needed Waryn to be strong now to face it. I couldn't have him confused, or too enamoured to act when he needed to act.
I was even willing to accept him as my enemy, as long as he fought to survive.
I suppose that meant I truly did love him.
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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...