The Prophesy Tower. Chapter 72. Write a Novel Challenge.
Neina pulled the sword out of the ground and felt a rush of energy flow through her. But this was not her sword. She knew that. She passed the sword to Isla, watching as Isla’s tears streamed down her face. Isla clutched the argyle scarf in her hands as if her life depended on it – perhaps it’s softness gave her comfort, Neina thought. Isla seemed oblivious to the sword as Neina passed it to her, her thoughts engrossed in a desperate search to find Janus. Isla’s need for Janus, for the hope he promised, was transparent and heartbreaking.
Will he reveal himself to us now, when we need him the most?
He never did.
Neina looked across at the others, trying to understand, make sense of, what had just happened.
Where could Janus be? How can… will the…. the sword help us in the end?
Neina sighed as she sat down next to Isla trying to think of what to do next. Her obvious lack of purpose had an effect she had not anticipated, galvanising the others in a decision to return to the Mors. If there was any chance of finding Janus, it would be there. Neina’s fear was swiftly overtaken by a sense of confidence in their decision as the argyle scarf leapt from Isla’s grip to wrap itself around Neina, as if preparing her for the journey they must all now undertake. The others looked astonished, but Neina now realised, this was not simply a scarf, but a compass left by Janus to guide them.
Neina realised something else too, and she struggled with how to say it. “This will be our last trip to the Mors.”
As she stumbled through the words, Isla went pale. This trip would make, or break, the world – and everyone in it.
As they stepped through the portal, the once chaotic hell-like environment was unnaturally peaceful. Neina felt deeply uneasy. Abandoned buildings spread out across an open field where this place had once bustled with life. Once crowded and noisy, now the Mors had become dormant and silent. Neina knew that the uneasy calm terrified all of them.
Something isn’t right. Or is this just what happens on the Day of the End of Worlds?
“This definitely didn’t look this peaceful when I last came here,” Charlotte winced as she remembered her last visit to the Mors. All Neina could do was nod, as she looked around for Janus.
Why can’t he be here where he always was? Janus where are you?
The others followed closely behind Neina, looking everywhere.
Neina glanced at the scarf – perhaps it would show her the way. But it remained still.
Maybe this is not only about Janus…..
Nina ran ahead, across the field, seeking out what she was sure now would lie behind the now abandoned buildings knowing that she could not rely on Isla. Isla, she knew, wasn’t focused on finding Janus, but was now lost in and struggling under the weight of her responsibilities to come. Neina knew that when Isla looked around the Mors, she saw a future in which she would have to lead a world she’d have to live in for the rest of her life. There would be no returning from this place for Isla. And this was a world characterised now by an ominous sky, riven by infinitesimally distinct and alien hues of scarlet and purple, and tall, fluorescent, seemingly irradiated, blades of yellow grass that threatened to slice you in half as you ran across them. Little wonder that Isla’s expression looked like thunder.
A scream pierced the tranquil setting, it’s force catapulting even Isla to alertness. Neina found herself following Isla’s line of vision as she froze and snapped her head towards the direction of the scream. They both started running through the grass, immune to the pain of the cuts of the blades, their hearts’ racing and breathing heavily. As the scream abruptly stopped, Neina, in the distance, could just make out two figures running towards them, feeling something …. someone…
Frankie and Charlotte. Can it be?
“What happened?? Are you two okay?” Neina asked panting heavily, looking extremely worried.
“There a-are people, lots of them!” Frankie said shakily.
“There’s a reason this place is abandoned. The people, they are at the tower Neina” Charlotte continued, catching her breath.
“What? You mean they’re just huddled up there?”
“Yes, around the tower trying to get into it for some reason…” Frankie paused as he saw Isla’s face was now as pale as snow.
“The Queen’s death. They are around the tower because the Queen is gone. No one is controlling the Mors World.” Isla said, not meeting anyone’s eyes. Neina found herself confronting the full force of Isla’s words. She knew she should say something but Isla cut her off.
“We need to find Janus NOW. These people will find a way in and who knows what they’ll do!”
“But where do we find him? We’ve searched everywhere.” Charlotte implored her.
Neina knew the answer as the scarf pulled itself forward violently towards the sky. “That way. Above where the clouds merge together and the sound of thunder shakes the ground. The place where no one will find him,” Neina said, pointing south, where the sky was becoming an intense shade of iridescent blue. “Hurry!” Neina surprised even herself as her voice found a gravitas that conveyed starkly the urgency of the journey that they must immediately all embark on.
They ran across the fields towards the very edge of the sky, of the Mors world itself, where the sky fell of the horizon like a reef edge and its colours blended to the darkest impenetrable blue. Neina watched as the dark purple blanket of clouds above them turned through almost every shade of blue, from navy to cyan. She felt the wind grow calmer. All the while she struggled as the scarf became increasingly aggressive, urgently pulling her forward across the pages of its own invisible maps. .She knew she could not let go, despite its now brutal force and strength of purpose. How she wished she could just let it slip from her grip. Her muscles ached, her sinews strained and it felt as if her arms would be ripped from their sockets as she fought to keep up with its drive to the seeming edge of the world.
As she reached the meadow, far from the dangers of the dark clouds behind them, Neina turned to her right. Where the edge of the world had been, there was now a dock, its moorings partially obscuring a lake that seemed to stretch for eternity. Memories flooded Neina’s mind. The lake resembled the one that had so cruelly rubbed her Mother of her life. Neina had to stop. This world, she now knew, threw up its answers at its most cruel. She inhaled, catching her breath, and approached the lake. The scarf had now given up its battle, confirming that they were at the end of their race.
She was now certain Janus was somewhere around here.
“Neina? I think he may be in here!” Frankie exclaimed, pointing to an old shed. Neina nodded. Slowly opening the door she found Janus sitting on an old fishing bucket.
Words tumbled from Neina.
“Janus! Why are you hiding in here? Why did I find your scarf on the sword. What does it mean? Where …..” Janus held his hand up to silence her.
“Took you long enough to find me Neina. I thought you were more intelligent than to spend hours looking for me near The Tower or in the desert,” he said calmly. Neina’s brows furrowed together as she stared at him disbelievingly. This was no time for he said, she said.
“Never mind that! We have run out of time Janus. We need to close the connection to the Mors world. We have less than a day left. If Orla was right, the next opening is soon. We cannot get this wrong. Cannot. You know that Janus ….”
“Yes.” Janus softened. “Remember how Orla told you about the Prophecy Tower and how it’s the key to the connection. It is because of this building that the connection exists. The point is Neina, is that it is because The Tower is still standing that the connection exists.”
Neina thought for a moment. “So you’re saying that all I need to do is to stop building the tower for the connection to stop?” Neina asked.
“No. Not stop building it. Destroy it. You must destroy the base of the tower, where the key to the portals are. Destroy the connection. Get rid of it.” Janus demanded firmly.
Isla’s face was pale as paper.
“But won’t it take months to take apart the tower, it’s so far along now ….” Charlotte questioned.
Janus shook his head.
“Taking it apart will take far too long. You need to stop the connection and destroy the portal a different way. A way that it can never be rebuilt again. A way to completely get rid of its existence.”
“Do you know what you are asking of us Janus? It’s impossible. There must be another way. If we don’t stop the connection soon, we won’t be able to do it in another-”
“Thousand years. I know Neina. But there is no other option. We need to make sure Mors World is secure. This is what is important. If the world breaks into chaos, the prophesy is irrelevant anyway. We need a new queen.”
“Why do we have to have a queen?” Isla shot back knowing that they expected her to stay trapped in the Mors World and to take Orla’s place.
“You know why Isla.” Janus retorted. “The Queen makes sure that the world is in check. She controls it. Without a queen, there’s no one with the power to stop riots and prevent people from getting into the Prophecy Tower and crashing into worlds in which they do not belong. Without a queen, time itself will break.”
“Why is everyone trying to get into the tower?” Frankie asked puzzled.
“It seems like everyone wants to leave the Mors World. They are afraid and traumatised. So they are trying to find their way into the portals.” Janus said blandly.
“Why shouldn’t they leave? It’s terrible here!” Frankie exclaimed. Charlotte answered before Janus could,
“Because they have the ability to create portals. They can travel between worlds at any time and once they leave, they don’t need the tower to do it.”
“Exactly. Everything will break. Time, history, meaning. We cannot let them go.” Janus said. Neina saw he was both alarmed and frightened as if taken aback that these sorts of banal childish questions could even be asked.
“But what about the sword? How does that link to all of this? Does it have something to do with the portals?” Isla asked.
Janus opened his mouth and closed it again.
“Ah the sword. There’s a reason Lola handed it to you, why Orla was so possessive over it. It’s the key to all answers. But this is not the time. We must leave now because if we are too late, it won’t even matter.”
“So what are we waiting for? Once Isla is queen, we can leave and fix this before it’s too late….” Neina looked across at Isla as she spoke, knowing that the decsion and their fates rested with her.
Isla stared back blankly. She did not move.
“Isla?” Charlotte asked, scanning her face.
Neina saw that Isla was looking at each of them individually now, slowly taking in each of their faces in turn. She realised the gravity of what was being asked not only of Isla, but also each of them. If they did this, there would be no going back. It would be their last trip together.
Isla gulped, her voice shaky, “I don’t want to be queen of the Mors. This is the place I was brought to after I was kidnapped. The place where my mother was forced to give her power. Where I was brainwashed to work on Orla’s side. She took Lola away from me. My mother is gone because she wanted me to be free to lead a normal and free life. Not to stay here. I can’t do it. Don’t ask this of me. I will not follow the same path as Orla. I can’t, won’t, be queen.”
Silence filled the room as Isla held her head high to confirm her decision.
It was Janus that eventually responded. There was compassion in his voice and a sense that he too was fighting his own demons. “I understand how you feel Isla, but without a queen, the connection cannot be closed. You need to be queen Isla. There is no other way.”
Isla’s face fell. She dropped to the floor sobbing.
Neina looked around to Charlotte and Frankie, a sense of shame that this was happening to someone else.
Then Neina remembered,
The flame from the beginning. The candlelight. Freya.
Neina remembered asking Freya if she was real. Her reply, “Do you want me to be?” had always seemed incongruous. She repeated that sentence in her head.
Could it be possible? If I want something enough, can I make it happen? If I want Freya to be real, could she return?
Neina pulled Isla towards her and comforted her.
“There is another way. Isla doesn’t have to be queen. We need Freya.”
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The Prophesy Tower – A Novel.
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