The Writer - Chapter 33

The Writer - Chapter 33

A Chapter by A.L.

The Reader


“Be quiet and let me steal your magic, you pathetic boy,” Baelle spat through her teeth. Her words only made Newt scream louder. 

Part of Emmeline was glad for Newt’s resistance, even if his cries tore into her soul. It gave her more time to think of an escape and more time to send glares at a Beckett with a blank expression. 

Not that an escape would happen anyway. 

Emmeline still couldn’t wrap her mind around how much Baelle trusted Beckett either. She’d given the prince a silver knife to hold to Ernest’s throat, and Beckett was the only one actually allowed into the room. 

Although Beckett had been nice enough to get Emmeline a chair so she could watch Newt be drained of all of his magic, it didn’t make Emmeline like him any more. 

“Y’know, Newt,” Emmeline said, trying to muster up as much sarcasm as possible. “I think our second date should be somewhere nicer. Do you know if Nelith is nice at this time of year?” 

Baelle glowered at her as Newt broke out in a fit of laughter, making it even harder for the goddess to hook him up to the scary looking machines. “Your second date will take place in the afterlife if you two don’t shut up.” 

Emmeline ignored the threat. “Meh, I’ve heard that the afterlife isn’t good for people who are the life of the party.” 

Newt snorted. Baelle’s look became even more murderous. 

“Beckett, gag the girl before she says something she’s going to regret,” Baelle ordered, disgust and annoyance layered in her voice. 

Beckett snapped once and silver ropes sprang from Ernest’s chair, binding him down. The prince then got up and formed an emerald rope from thin air, tying it gently around Emmeline’s head. 

She tried to spit it out, but everytime she moved, the gag sent a tiny pulse that numbed her brain. 

Seriously? Did Beckett have to make it even harder to escape? 

With Emmeline silent, Newt was left to fend for himself as Baelle attempted to prod him with a needle. 

“No,” he said, shying away from the point. 

“What now?” Baelle sighed, exasperated. “I swear, if one more thing happens-” 

“First of all, you shouldn’t swear.” Newt smirked and Emmeline thought the goddess was going to stab the needle through his head. “And second, I don’t need that nasty thing near me. When was the last time your needle was cleaned?” 

Baelle looked down at it and frowned. “Stop stalling and-” 

“This isn’t sanitary. I’m afraid that I need to report this to the National Don’t-Infect-Children-with-Unclean-Needles Association.” 

“I swear to the goddesses-” 

“What did I just say?!” 

Their voices were rising quickly and one of the guards standing watch outside the door knocked on the wood. “Is everything okay in there, Your Highness?” 

“Yes,” Baelle answered through gritted teeth. “But tell Francis to go grab some more of that slaver dust and thorns. I could really use it just about now.” 

Footsteps sounded, signaling Baelle’s order was being obeyed. 

Emmeline’s heart leapt into her throat. The word slaver sent shivers down her spine, dropping her back into another memory. 

She could feel the dust burning her lungs and skin as she writhed on the ground. She smelled the bitter scent of the thorns as they were jabbed into her skin. The sound of her breath, labored as all of her friends forgot about what had happened to her. The idea of herself being helpless. 

Newt seemed to sense that she was uncomfortable with anything “slaver” related. 

He tensed. “Listen, ma’m, I won’t fight anymore. The slaver stuff really won’t be necessary.” 

That just made Baelle’s smile grow. “Ah, so she is afraid of the slavers. I wondered, given everything prejudiced about Readers.” The goddess turned to Emmeline, her head cocked to the side. “So you’d prefer if I give all of the dust to Newt to spare you?” 

Emmeline’s pulse thrummed in her ears. 

Baelle knew her way too well. Baelle knew that Emmeline didn’t wish any of her past on anyone. 

“All you have to do is promise to behave and let me drain you,” Baelle offered. “You die no matter what - the only change would be how painful I can make it. So, do you want to behave and I’ll spare you from the dust?” 

Emmeline didn’t want the dust and she didn’t want to obey Baelle either. 

The only thing she could hope for was a rescue, and that was most likely not happening. But in the very, very surprising case that one would occur, wouldn’t it be better for the rescuer to have Newt awake? He was a better fighter, plus he was way stronger than Emmeline. Even without his unknown power, he was a force to be reckoned with. 

The gag loosened in her mouth the tiniest bit, probably an invitation for Emmeline to answer yes

Instead she said, “I’ll go first.” 

Baelle blinked before giving a small chuckle, and Newt’s panicked eyes met hers. Emmeline repeated herself. “I’ll go first.” 

“You think maybe Newt can rescue you if you go first?” Baelle laughed. 

Emmeline was quiet. 

Baelle finally became quiet. “Fine, I will let you go first, little Reader.” She made her way to Emmeline’s chair, taking care to lean down into the girl’s face. “Do you want to know why?” She leaned in closer until Emmeline could feel Baelle’s breath on her ear. “Because I’m going to show you that your clever little plan isn’t going to work.” 

Emmeline bit her lip as Baelle and Beckett quickly performed the switch. 

Newt was unhooked by Baelle as Beckett untied Emmeline’s arms. The prince gave her a tiny push, sending her careening into Newt. The two toppled to the floor before Baelle grabbed Emmeline’s ear and yanked her to her feet. 

Pain shot through Emmeline’s head but she bit back a comment. 

Baelle forced her into the chair and immediately ropes sprang out and wrapped around the Reader, confining her. 

This is it, Emmeline thought. This was the end. She was giving herself up in the dim hopes that maybe Newt could escape. Yeah, what a great idea that was turning out to be. What had she been thinking? 

The ropes tightened a bit more, not tight enough to cut off circulation but just tight enough to be more than uncomfortable. 

Newt was trying to catch her eye, but Emmeline avoided his gaze. She didn’t want to see his worried expression or pitying face. And she especially didn’t want to see that horrible child standing beside him. 

Baelle’s patience was obviously running out. She was jabbing Emmeline with the needles way harder than necessary. 

“Stop flinching!” Baelle demanded. Emmeline tried, but the ropes were digging at her skin and rubbing it raw. Something clattered to the floor behind her, and Baelle let loose a string of curses. 

Just on time, there was another knock at the door. 

“Your highness, we have the slaver stuff,” a guard - probably Francis - called through the wood. 

“Bring it in,” Baelle answered, flicking her wrists so that the door flew open. 

Francis took one look at the three people strapped to chairs, a tiny kid holding a knife, and Baelle with medical equipment. He apparently decided he wanted no part of whatever was happening, dropped the box, and ran. 

Baelle gave another sigh, slamming the door shut and bringing the box closer. 

Emmeline could smell it from the whole way across the room and the scent made her skin itch. She could feel the phantom hands on her skin, the bottle of sedative on her lips as they told her to drink. 

And she’d been one of the lucky ones. 

“Hmm,” Baelle said, startling Emmeline out of the memories. “I wonder … Beckett, do you think the dust would have an affect on Newt?” 

Beckett gave an indifferent shrug, but Emmeline felt a wave of panic roll through her. 

“It’s worth a shot,” Beckett responded as if he sensed Emmeline’s thoughts. “Would you like me to try it?” 

Baelle must’ve shrugged too, but she was behind the chair and so Emmeline couldn’t be sure. “If you’d like too. But make sure that the ghost boy is secure first. I don’t want any escapees.” 

Beckett nodded and began checking Ernest’s bonds. 

Baelle, on the other hand, turned back to Emmeline. “We’re almost set up,” she exclaimed, unable to keep the gleeful tone from her voice. 

The goddess began the final preparations at last, securing metal bands around Emmeline’s wrists, which she hooked to small strands of rope. There were tiny bottles attached to various parts of the chair as well, and Emmeline already knew what they were for. 

“Please, Baelle, you don’t have to do this,” Emmeline pleaded. The panic was starting to set in now. She felt trapped, like a rabbit. 

The goddess ignored her. 

“Baelle, you don’t have to drain our power,” Emmeline continued. “Maybe we could just be bait or something. Or…” her voice trailed off when she saw Beckett lifting the lid to the box. 

Immediately, her eyes found Newt’s. He seemed to be trying to convey a message with just his face, and Emmeline had never been good at reading expressions. Just stall them a bit longer. 

“Wait,” Emmeline interrupted, bracing herself as Baelle raised a hand. 

Wait, a voice in Emmeline’s head echoed. A crazy idea began to form in her head. It would be terrible for her and possibly Newt - especially if no one did come to rescue them. 

“Um, I just wanted to say goodbye,” Emmeline said. “But it’s fine.” 

Baelle didn’t seem satisfied, but she didn’t do anything about it either. She just got back to work finishing preparations. 

I’m sorry, Emmeline tried to say with her eyes. 

Newt nodded once, acknowledging the decision Emmeline had made. His muscles tensed as Beckett tore the lid off the box. 

He released a cloud of dust. Slavers have to hand package their dust in the pouches, Emmeline recalled. Meaning that the dust in the box would be plain dust, and when opened, would probably go everywhere. 

Temporary memory lost. Unconsciousness. The dust would knock Beckett and Baelle out, and probably make them forget the hour or so. 

But for Readers… 

Pain seared through Emmeline’s blood and a strangled cry escaped her lips. She wasn’t sure if Newt was experiencing symptoms of the Readers or of anyone else - same with Ernest. 

She couldn’t hear either of the boys shouting, but then again, she couldn’t hear much of anything beyond her own screaming. Everything was itchy. The amount of dust in the box was way more than anyone had been exposed to before. And since her vision was going dark, it probably was mixed with sedatives as well. 

There’s a chance I won’t wake up again, Emmeline realized as the darkness started to seep in. If it is, then I guess this is a goodbye. 

She slumped against her bonds as the pain disappeared, leaving room for only sleep. 

Emmeline had always wondered if maybe she had a guardian watching over her. Before Newt (and even after she met him), Emmeline fantasized about someone who existed just to preserve her and her safety. Part of her always wondered if those guardians would be her parents - or even Readers of the past. 

As it turned out, the latter was more correct. 

Although there were no guardians designated to protecting Emmeline, many faces met her as the darkness swam through her mind. She didn’t even have to ask who they were, she just knew. 

The Readers were a diverse looking group, and Emmeline never would’ve guessed that they all shared such a prominent talent. Although most were female, there were many men and boys scattered through the group. She saw people of every color, every age, and probably every corner of the kingdoms. 

Among them, Emmeline recognized Wiley’s mischievous smile and dreadlocks that hung past his ears. As a ghost, he hadn’t had much color, but now he gleamed with life. 

Emmeline saw her parents, their expressions worried and yet also relieved. Beside them was Ernest - and just like Wiley, he was more vibrantly colored than the duller color of his ghost form. A smile was cracked on his lips. 

And behind them all was the woman with the sandy hairs and the eyes the same shade as Emmeline’s, her skin like porcelain. 

“Welcome home.” The voice was strange and unfamiliar even though the source seemed to be her mother. “Oh, Emmeline, we’re so proud of you. Look at how grown up you are,” her mother cooed, rushing towards her. 

Emmeline unintentionally took a step back and a frown began to form on her mother’s face. “Honey, are you okay?” 

“You’re… you’re dead,” Emmeline managed to stutter. 

“Yeah, and? Is that a problem?” Ernest asked her, arms across his chest. He didn’t look mad though, a smirk taking shape on his face.

“Well, yeah, cause I’m not.” Or was she? “Am I?” 

Ernest didn’t answer, and neither did her mother, at least, not at first. Emmeline’s father came to join the circle. 

“You’re not dead … yet,” her mother said cautiously. “More of … in between.” 

Emmeline forced down the panic rising in her stomach. The way her mother said it was so ominous, as if Emmeline was actually dead. 

“Your mind is preparing to transition to the land of the dead,” Ernest explained. 

“This didn’t happen the last time I almost died,” Emmeline pointed out, recalling how she had seen Dixral and Elyviella arguing over if she should live. 

Wiley drifted closer too, and he smelled like parchment and ink even from a few feet away. “That’s because last time your ‘death’ - for lack of a better word - was quick. Your body had no time to adjust.” 

“Oh,” Emmeline managed. “So I’m as good as dead?” She tried to keep the emotion from her voice, but it cracked anyway. 

Ernest wrapped an arm comfortingly around her shoulder. “Not necessarily. I mean, if someone opens the door to the room there’s a chance you’ll live. Or if Baelle wakes up sooner than later.” 

“Right.” Emmeline had completely forgotten about the stupid slaver dust. “Wait, so it didn’t affect you at all?” 

“Only lumenite can affect a ghost,” Emmeline’s father explained. “The metal is harvested from the bottom of the river bordering Rackelofft and Dinrali. It’s dangerous to get some, so lumenite is pretty hard to find. So yes, your brother was spared the effects of the dust.” 

“And Newt?”

“We’ve been keeping an eye on the two of you for a long time now,” Emmeline’s mother said, a hint of a threat in her voice. Emmeline ignored it. “But yes, his symptoms were much less dramatic than yours. The young prince and the goddess are still unconscious, but the goddess is stirring slightly.” 

Emmeline nodded. “I have to go back.

Her mother and father seemed shocked by this. “You just got here,” her mother murmured, a frown forming on her face. 

“I know,” Emmeline replied, feeling a bit uncomfortable. “But my friends need me.” 

“Um, can we have a moment,” Ernest interjected before her parents could speak. “Alone.” 

“Sure,” Wiley answered, once again before her parents could make a sound. The Reader gently pushed them away, leaving Ernest and Emmeline in relatively loneliness. 

“Why are mom and dad here?” Emmeline whispered. “Are they Readers?” 

Ernest shook his head. “No. But since they’re your parents, they get to stay. But that’s not the point - we need to get you back to the real world.” 

Emmeline breathed a sigh of relief. “So you’re not going to stop me?” 

“No, I will help you,” Ernest promised. “I’ll always be by your side, and when the time does come when your life is over, I’ll be waiting.” 

“Thanks?” Emmeline mumbled, unsure if that was a compliment or a threat. “So how do I leave?” 

“That’s the problem. Until your body isn’t in danger of dying, your mind is going to stay here. Since Baelle is stirring, there’s a chance that she’ll bring you back from the brink. But until then, you just have to wait. Try to avoid mom and dad, and I’ll try to distract them.” 

“Is this just like a big banquet or something then?” 

“In a way, I suppose. All of the Readers ever are here to see you, but if you want conversation, I’d suggest talking to Estella over there. She’s the blonde one with the same color eyes as us.” 

“The one that Newt summoned for me?” 

“Yeah, that one. Everyone hates her ‘because she was the first Reader and they blame her for them being Readers too. I talk to her sometimes, but other than that I’m watching you most of the time.” 

Emmeline felt a blush rising to her cheeks. Although it was good to have him looking out for her, it was a bit weird to picture her brother there in every moment of her life. The Readings. The embarrassing mistakes she made. Her moments with Newt. “I’ll go talk to her,” Emmeline decided, grateful for the moment to get a way. 

Ernest hurried off to distract her parents, so Emmeline made her way towards Estella, who was hiding in the back. A few Readers stopped her, trying to talk about either battles or Readings, but she pushed past them politely. 

The crowd soon realized Emmeline wasn’t there to be a celebrity and began to disperse. 

Estella looked up as Emmeline approached, pursing her lips and narrowing her eyes. “Come to tell me you hate me?” 

“No, actually. Ernest suggested I talk to you?” 

“Ernest,” Estella sighed. “He’s a nice boy, isn’t he?” She seemed lost in her thoughts for a moment. “He probably wanted to ‘socialize’ me - like I’m an animal. ‘Come on, Estella, you can’t just always hide in the corner’. ‘Go talk to someone’. ‘I can’t be your only friend.’ Gimme a break.” 

“Um, are you good?” Emmeline questioned - both Estella and her own choices. 

“Nope, thanks for asking,” Estella replied curtly, turning away so Emmeline couldn’t see her face. 

The two were silent for a while, Emmeline trying to figure out what to say. Estella didn’t exactly seem like the sharing type and the last thing Emmeline wanted to do was intrude on someone’s privacy. In a way, it was just like a Reading. 

“So, uh, do you, I dunno, know anything that might be helpful to me? Like, secret Reader powers or something?” Emmeline was internally swearing at her incompetence with social interactions. Estella looked up, bothered. 

“There aren’t any other Readers here you could ask?” She gestured towards the others gathered around in the empty space. 

Emmeline gave a small sigh, caught in the lie. 

More silence followed. When Estella finally spoke again, her voice was really soft. “They say you’re the last.” 

“The last what?” Emmeline asked, but she already knew the answer. “The last Reader?” 

Estella nodded. “They say that after you, there will be no more Readers. You’re the last one.” 

“What about Newt and the others? I thought Baelle was making more Readers.” 

“They can’t be true Readers,” Estella whispered. “Not without all of the goddesses’ permissions. And they don’t want anymore.” 

The thought was a bit reassuring because it meant Emmeline didn’t have to worry about other Readers working for Baelle. But it also made her feel guilty, like it was her fault that the goddesses didn’t want any more Readers - like she was the one who had failed. 

Suddenly, the world shook a little bit. Emmeline stumbled, almost falling over into Estella. 

“You have to go,” Estella said, as if having a change of heart. She helped Emmeline to her feet. “Remember what I said though.” 

“I will,” Emmeline promised. “Are you sure you’ll be okay? Everyone here seems to …” 

“Hate me. Yeah, I know,” Estella replied with a sniff. “But I’ll be fine. Just go, and don’t let us down.” 

Then the world broke and the darkness consumed her once again.

© 2021 A.L.

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Added on January 22, 2021
Last Updated on January 22, 2021
Tags: adventure, fantasy, blessed, cursed, fiction, mythology, death, love, friendship, kingdom, prince, princess, queen, king, youngadult, ya, goddess, sword



I'm a teen, I'm just looking for advice on how to improve my stories. Any advice is appreciated. I hope to publish one of my stories for real in the near future. more..