The Writer - Chapter 28

The Writer - Chapter 28

A Chapter by A.L.

The Reader


Cold. Like the winter wind had turned liquid and was seeping into Emmeline’s skin

That was the only thing she could think of as her eyes fluttered open. Besides the pain, of course. But she had lived with it under her skin her whole life. Surely it would be tolerable. 

No, heartache was the worst pain she’d ever experienced. 

Chains made of what felt like pure ice were wrapped around her wrists and secured to the floor. She tugged at them, but every movement felt like a knife stabbing through her skin. 

A few feet away, Newt was lying on the floor. Similar shackles were attached to his shivering form, and his lips were tinged blue. Immediately, Emmeline’s heart begged her to help him, but the cold manacles on her wrists told her otherwise. 

The entire room was small - definitely a cell. On the right wall was a tiny window, several feet off the ground. On the opposite side was a wooden door, bolted shut. Everything was covered in a thin layer of frost - even Emmeline. Her clothing was stiff and frozen, and even her eyelashes had bits of ice in them. 

Why was she awake and not Newt? Emmeline thought for a moment before it struck her that she had the goddesses’ gifts on her side. Both Wylia and Farosha were probably attempting to help her, since both of their gifts were weather related. 

Baelle wanted to punish Emmeline, which meant that she probably knew that Emmeline would survive when Newt wouldn’t. The goddess still wanted Emmeline to be on her side, and if torturing the pair of them worked, Baelle would do it. Emmeline hated Baelle even more for exploiting her weaknesses. 

What if you helped Newt, a tiny part of her whispered. Give up one of your gifts to him. 

It was unfortunately the best shot Emmeline had at helping him survive. She didn’t want Newt to die for her, but there were other reasons for her to fight for his life now too. For one, he was extremely powerful and his magic was still mostly undiscovered. 

Emmeline bit her lip as she forced herself to crawl on weakened hands and knees towards him. Her shackles limited a lot of her movement, but they were chained to the same spot in the center of the room as Newt’s. Her limbs threatened to give out multiple times, but she bit back the pain and forced herself to keep going. 

Finally, she reached his side and let herself rest for a moment. His skin was cold, just as she expected. 

She laid a palm across his forehead, ignoring his shallow breathing. Focusing on the weird “switch” technique, she brought forth her gift from Farosha and sent it through her fingers and into Newt. 

It almost felt like her power was harnessed like a kite. She could feel it taking root in Newt, but she still could control it. Her own life force was sustaining it. 

The transfer of magic brought the cold even closer to her, biting at her bare palms and cheeks. Giving her power partially to Newt meant that either she would drain herself saving him or he would die without her help. 

Either way, Newt died unless someone came to rescue them. And with Clara still in Elyviel with the army and Coral and Forrest across the kingdoms in Dinrali, it was unlikely that rescue would come. 

What about Beckett? 

Emmeline shut the thought away. As much as she didn’t want to blame Beckett for the decision, her emotions wanted her to hate him. After all, he’d betrayed them after all they’d been through. She couldn’t help but hate him for that - especially considering he didn’t sound like he regretted it at all. 

Unless he was a really good actor, but Emmeline doubted it. 

With Beckett on Baelle’s side, that left Emmeline as the sole hero of the rebellion. She was the only one with the power to kill Baelle. 

That was if she didn’t die in this icy prison first. 

She wondered if maybe praying would help, but she knew it was a long shot. The goddesses were already lending her their gifts. Emmeline was on her own. 

All of the sudden, Newt stirred beside her, starling her out of her thoughts. 

He was still shivering, but his lips were slowly returning to their normal color. He looked tired still, his eyelids fluttering as he fought sleep. 


“I’m here,” she whispered, wrapping her arms around his shoulders in a tight hug. He held her too, and they sat like that, slumped against the wall with only each other for warmth. 

A thousand words flowed through Emmeline’s mind, but none of them could explain how happy she was that Newt was awake. Even if they couldn’t escape, they had each other. And they would be together until the end, if it came to that. 

“I missed you,” Newt whispered in her ear, his hands running through her hair. “Every minute I spent in my own head, I wanted to be free so I could see you.” 

The thought was touching, and Emmeline couldn’t find the words to respond with. 

“I’m glad you're back,” she told him, her voice soft. “I was scared I was going to lose you after everything.” 


“We grew up together, and I guess I never really appreciated how you were always there for me.” The words were spilling out now, and just to fill the empty space of the room. 

“Em, what exactly did you see when you Read me?” 

Emmeline’s mind flashed back to what she had Read and her eyes widened as she recalled the last scene. 

Newt had been cold, hadn’t he? The life draining out of him? 

Some parts of the vision didn’t necessarily line up. Newt was conscious now, and they hadn’t lost any friends - at least that Emmeline knew of. But that didn’t mean it couldn’t happen in the near future. 

“Em?” he repeated. 

“I saw, well,” Emmeline stuttered. Finally, she admitted to what she had seen. She explained how she had seen his mother - Nell - being practically disowned by Zoro. She told him about how his mother had reacted when he’d referred to Emmeline as ‘The Reader’. She told him about his choice to stay with her, and him waking up in the Temple of Purity. Then, reluctantly, she summarized the freezing vision. 

Newt was quiet for a moment. “That boy … that was Ernest wasn’t it?” 

Emmeline thought back to the ghostly figure from the scene and realized Newt was right. Ernest hadn’t been Newt’s guardian angel after all. The boy was only trying to protect his sister, and saw Newt as the best way to do so from the dead. 

“What about your death scene, doesn’t that scare you?” she asked. 

Newt thought for a minute. “No, it doesn’t. Didn’t you say the scenes cut off abruptly? You said I took a final breath before something. Sure, that thing could be dying - but it could be escaping as well. We just have to be hopeful.” 

Leave it to Newt to be oddly optimistic in the absence of Beckett. 

Emmeline tried her hardest to believe him - that he wouldn’t die soon. Even if she wasn’t buying it, she was still glad he was trying. 

“We’re going to make it through this,” Newt said, his voice strong and determined. “I pr-” 

“Don’t promise anything, especially something you might not be able to keep,” Emmeline interrupted, her mind shifting to Coral’s foolish swear. Newt fell silent, and Emmeline sighed. “We are going to get out of here, it just might not be in the way we think.” 

Although she was implying death, Newt nodded. “Yes, I bet we’ll be rescued by all of the goddesses on chariots.” 

“You think so?” 

“No, but sometimes it’s fun to imagine. Just imagine what Beckett’s doing right now with his new mistress.” Newt’s voice held a hint of bitterness, but the sentence sparked an idea in Emmeline. 

“We should scry Beckett!” she exclaimed, scrambling away from Newt. 

“Scry?” he asked, sounding confused but joining her. Emmeline grabbed the sleeve of her shirt and began scrubbing the floor with it. 

“Polish the ice for me,” Emmeline ordered, and Newt copied her actions. 

This had to work. Emmeline needed to see for herself who Beckett was siding with - even if it meant having her trust broken. 

Alright, Ibenily, I’m relying on you, she prayed. Show me Beckett and the pureness of his heart. 

Emmeline’s fingers prickled with energy, and she realized it was Ibenily’s gift pleading for attention. As the goddess of knowledge, Ibenily would be able to help Emmeline see into Beckett’s life by scrying. 

“What’s scrying?” Newt asked as he continued to scrub the ice. 

“It’s like seeing into the past or the future - like a Reading - but into the present. You need a clear surface and a gift from the goddess of knowledge herself,” Emmeline explained, letting the energy gather in her fingertips. “The pictures will appear on the ice, so watch carefully.” 

Emmeline focused her power, picturing Beckett’s face clearly in her mind. She really hoped that this scrying thing worked, she had never done it before. But since Beckett was probably close - at least, somewhere in the castle where Emmeline assumed she was - it would most likely work. 

She flicked her fingers towards the cleared ice and colors began to take shape. Emmeline held onto the connection tightly as the pictures began to take a sharp, bright form. 

In the scene, Beckett was wearing a tunic embroidered with many gold embellishments. He was seated at a large, darkly colored table with Baelle across from him. In front of them was a large map, covered in markings and lines. 

“... right here,” Beckett said, pointing to something in the center of the map. 

“Interesting, but logical,” Baelle noted, inking the spot with a deep purple ink. It bled through the parchment outwards in a way that made Emmeline shiver. 

“Are they talking about the mansion?” Newt whispered from beside her. 

Emmeline pressed a finger to her lips as the connection wavered. Newt sighed and turned back to the scene. 

“Anything else?” Baelle asked, wiping off the nib of her pen with a cloth. 

“I don’t think so,” Beckett frowned. “Then again, the Generals didn’t really tell us much of anything.” 

“They couldn’t because they were really with me,” Baelle confessed, a smirk taking shape on her face. Beckett hid his surprise well, but Newt started cursing from beside Emmeline. “After all, you rebels paid them next to nothing.” 

“I’m not a part of the rebels,” Beckett argued, frowning. 

Baelle concealed her joy well, but Emmeline could see something flash in the goddess’s eyes. 

“What about the boy’s new powers?” Baelle inquired. 

Beckett gave a shrug. “He did something with glowing orbs from your Rogues. Maybe he took their life force or something?” 

“Interesting,” Baelle noted, tapping her long nails on her lips. 

“What is the little brat doing?” Newt hissed. “He’s exposing all of us - he’s going to get us killed.” 

Emmeline pushed the bitterness in her heart back down, focusing on maintaining the scene. It was already dimming, and the pictures were becoming blurry and hard to make out clearly. The voices were muffled. 

“Do you know where the other two teams are? Or anything about them?” came Baelle’s disembodied voice. 

“No, I was hoping you could tell me,” Beckett replied curtly. 

“I sent a … friend out after the water girl and Cursed boy - but a storm blocked them from my view. As for your friend in the army, they’ll be ambushed in the next day or so.” 

Newt swore again and Emmeline smacked him. 

Honestly, Emmeline was just glad she could hear the conversation in the first place. On the very small chance that they managed to escape, the information would be useful. 

There were static noises from Beckett and Baelle, followed by, “someone is watching.” 

Emmeline’s stomach sank and she withdrew her fingers from the ice. The vision shut off at once and she slumped backwards, defeated. 

Great, now it was only a matter of time before Beckett and Baelle came to check on them. 

“I hate him,” Newt was ranting under his breath. “Why did he have to betray us? All of our work, gone down the drain.” 

“He did what he thought was best,” Emmeline whispered. 

“Are you defending him?” Newt snapped, before suddenly softening a bit. “Sorry, I’m just really stressed out right now.” 

Aren’t we all? Emmeline knew he wouldn’t appreciate a comment like that, so she let his anger slide. He had every right to be angry - he didn’t have to be here. It was Emmeline’s fault he was dragged into this. 

“You look exhausted,” Newt noted suddenly. “Em, you should rest.” 

“I’m fine,” she argued, but she could feel sleep begging to wash over her. She was just afraid that if she fell asleep, she wouldn’t wake up again. “Okay, maybe just for a bit. Wake me up soon.” 

She leaned back against the cold wall, trying her best to keep warm. Newt came to her side, and she curled up in a ball, using his lap as a pillow. The words, “I love you,” escaped her lips.

As her eyes fluttered shut, Newt whispered something in her ear. Perhaps he thought she was already asleep, but Emmeline heard it nevertheless. “And I love you too, my everything.” 

For once, it seemed that Newt’s presence chased the nightmares away. All she saw in the darkness of her head was the silvery-blue form of Ernest watching over her. 

She was not alone. 

“Tell me again what you did to the boy!” Baelle hissed, her lips drawn upwards in a vicious snarl. 

Emmeline winced as she prepared herself for another blow by the goddess’s hand. Pain flooded through her body as Baelle’s hands left red prints all over her arms in the shape of palms. 

“I told you,” Emmeline whimpered for the tenth time. “I healed him the night of the full moon. We haven’t done anything since then.” 

“Liar!” Baelle spat. “Which goddess did you ask to help you?” 

“None!” Emmeline shot back. “Please, I already told you.” She bit back another retort, afraid of what other pain Baelle could cause. 

Emmeline had barely gotten an hour of sleep before Baelle had disrupted it, claiming Emmeline was withholding necessary information. The goddess had left Newt chained to the floor in the icy prison - which was good in that she didn’t know about the scrying. However, without Emmeline there to sustain him, Newt could die sooner than later. 

“Answer me or I’ll kill the boy,” Baelle shouted. “Which goddess did you ask to help you?” 

Apparently, Baelle was more worried about what dangerous powers Newt possessed than anything else. She probably just wants to know how to duplicate the powers in her soldiers, Emmeline thought bitterly. 

But she had no idea what she had “done” to Newt to increase his magic. 

“Next I bring out the knife,” Baelle threatened, her expression grim and somewhat excited. 

Emmeline was strapped into one of the plush armchairs that occupied what was most likely the study of the castle. Baelle sat across from her at a table made of stained glass depicting a sunrise over a mountainous scene. And beside Baelle was the person Emmeline wanted to see the least. She couldn’t stand to look at him. 

“I promise you, I swear,” Emmeline pleaded as Baelle withdrew a knife and began polishing it on her shirt. “I used my gifts to heal him, and maybe the doctors back at the mansion did something. Well, then we dipped him in the waters in the Temple of Purity.” 

Baelle glared at her. “You’re still hiding something.” 

The goddess reached across the small table with her knife and grabbed Emmeline’s arm. She drug the knife across Emmeline’s skin, letting a small line of blood trickle free. Emmeline tried to ignore the sharp pricks of pain. 

Emmeline then realized what exactly Baelle didn’t know. She didn’t know about the whole Reading thing. 

“Fine,” Baelle sniffed, feigning disappointment. “You always were one to care more for others than yourself.” She snapped her fingers and suddenly Ernest appeared beside her, his mouth tied with a silver gag. 

Emmeline closed her eyes, trying to calm her now racing heart. Baelle knew way too much about her. There was no way Emmeline wanted to let Ernest suffer for her own good - especially after she’d basically treated him like a servant instead of a brother and he spent his whole ghost hood protecting her. 

There was a silver knife in Baelle’s hands, and then it was pressed against Ernest’s throat. “Tell me what you did to the boy or I kill your brother for a second time - and he won’t be able to come back again.” 

Emmeline bit her lip, scrambling for a way to get all of them out of this alive. 

She could tell the truth, but Baelle would probably make her Read all of the other infected people in an attempt to replicate the results. 

She could refuse to answer, but that put Ernest - and possibly Newt - at risk as well. 

Or she could lie and pray to the goddesses that Baelle didn’t find out. If she was discovered, everything would be disastrous. But if she got away with it … 

“I’ll give you ten more seconds before I start giving him piercings,” Baelle threatened through gritted teeth. Emmeline tried her hardest not to let her panic show, pretending she was troubled over what to say - which wasn’t hard. 

C’mon, just lie. Say that you gave him some random remedy or something

She couldn’t lie and say something she didn’t want to possibly do - like Write people. And she couldn’t make up a story so far fetched that Baelle would never believe it. 

She pretended to finally inhale deeply, making her voice shake as she spoke. “I … I woke him up.” Please, please, please let Baelle believe me. She began weaving together a story in her mind, hoping Beckett wouldn’t speak out against her. 

“How?” Baelle hissed, pressing the knife closer to Ernest’s neck. The poor boy’s eyes were wide, but he seemed strangely calm, his pale form hovering off the floor. 

How was he so calm? Emmeline then remembered that he could turn into a fox. If Baelle tried to attack him, he could simply shift into animal form and run as fast he could or disappear back into the afterlife. He was only staying for Emmeline’s sake. 

“I think it had something to do with words,” Emmeline whispered, trying her best to make her words sound reluctant. “I just told him to wake up … and he did. I was so scared, I thought he would never wake up again and I …” she let her voice trail off, faking sobs. Beckett narrowed his eyes but said nothing, something Emmeline was grateful for. 

“You just … told him to wake up?” Baelle asked, seemingly buying Emmeline’s fabricated tale. “And he did?”

“Thank the goddesses,” Emmeline whispered, nodding. 

Baelle seemed at a loss for words. She was quiet for a moment before her knife clattered to the floor. “It seems Readers are more powerful than I thought.” 

She spun wildly, grabbing onto Ernests’ arms with her own. How Ernest was solid, Emmeline had no idea. But somehow, Baelle was holding him tightly, and although he didn’t look pained, he did seem terrified. 

“Beckett, fetch the project we’ve been working on,” Baelle ordered. “And have one of the guards bring the other boy downstairs.” 

“What are you doing?” Emmeline asked, forgetting she was talking to Baelle. 

The goddess turned to her, smile wide and expression dripping with terrible enthusiasm. “I must have it.” 

That’s when it hit Emmeline. Why Baelle had kept Ernest here instead of just letting a harmless Guide go. Why she was so eager to have Emmeline and Newt in the castle and why she didn’t kill them. 

She was going to drain their magic and keep it for herself.

© 2021 A.L.

Author's Note

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Added on January 6, 2021
Last Updated on January 6, 2021
Tags: adventure, fantasy, blessed, cursed, fiction, mythology, death, love, friendship, kingdom, prince, princess, queen, king, youngadult, ya, goddess, sword



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