I spent the days gazing at the view outside of my bedroom window, thinking and pondering about all of the events that had happened. Even Calla had grown impatient with my contemplation, and so I allowed her to do as she wished. I didn’t have time to babysit another.
          No matter how long I had thought, I always seemed to return to one notion. This was the Oracle’s last words before her death. She had spoken of my dreams, and of a book, the Book of Winds. Was this book related to what she said about the truth? Was this then my next step? I wrapped my arms around my knees, considering what should be done. I was so deep in thought that I hadn’t heard a knock and even the sound of the door opening.
          “You are still distraught?”
          I slowly glanced at Beau. I had learned to recognize the two of them by the slight difference in the pitch of their voices. “You should not be here,” I mumbled for I knew Cael would not approve of Beau visiting me. Cael had already warned me to distance myself from Beau, and no one could ever defy Cael without suffering from some form of punishment.
          He took a few steps forward, stating, “You were not even present at Theo and Verrill’s visitation parties.”
           In Urcis, there were two ceremonies prior to marriage: the engagement and the visitation. They had already hosted an engagement party shortly after my birth, and now they had stayed at each of their families’ homes. The visitation period was where a partner would reside at the other’s living quarters for a week while hosting an elaborate dance for the guests. Then, the situation would reverse. This was supposed to allow the couple to know each other at a more intimate level. Of course, they would sleep in separate rooms, but at least, they had the chance to be with each other. I was sure though that Theo and Verrill were disgusted with each other. They were childhood friends, along with Trenton. The three were practically inseparable unless Theo wanted to update her wardrobe or attend parties just for the sake of flirting with other males.     
          “I just need some time by myself,” I sighed and hopped off my seat. “I just need some time to think.”
          I was about to pass him, yet he grabbed my wrist. “Stop thinking. Just do what you want.”
          Hearing that word, I flung my arm away from him. “Do not speak nonsense,” I harked.
          “I just . . . want you to be happy.” His tone was rather sombre.                    
          I persisted to exit the room, but still responded, “I am content with my life, and I do not need you to worry about me. I would prefer that you think about your own happiness rather than mine.”
          Even when the door closed, I still heard his hushed murmur, “Your happiness is mine.”
          Closing my eyes and breathing in deeply, I sensed remorse painting my heart with blackness. Better to hurt him earlier than to hurt him later, I thought as I walked past the ceaseless corridors. I continued to walk and walk until my feet grew sore and my hands had reached forward to stabilize my body. Who knew that what I had touched was a door’s handle? Accidentally leaning too much of my weight, I pushed the door open and found myself ambushed by cases and cases of books.
          This was the library that the Queen had taken me before. How long had it been since I visited this place? I was again amazed by the beautiful architecture; I felt my shoulders lighten and my headache subside. Like an energetic child, I walked ever so quickly, almost in a skipping manner, around the large room. I followed the rows and rows of bookcases, not knowing where I would stop until I tripped over something, or rather someone.
          “Careful there.”
          I recognized that the distance from the ground to my nose could be measured by millimetres and that I was suspended on someone’s knees. I angled my head to match a face to the voice. To my surprise, it was Verrill.
          “Should you not be . . . at Theo’s?”
          From what I remembered, his visitation period had not ended. With his steady hands, he assisted me to sit beside him on the ground. It was too unlikely for him to be on the ground. He was behaving too unusually for a man who guided his life by rules.
        “I prefer reading,” he explained and flipped back to the right page of his novel. “She prefers unruly behaviour.”
          Reading. Yes, that was what Verrill did best . . . which would be practical for me in this case. “Say, Verrill,” I noted. “Do you know anything about the Book of Winds?”
          Suddenly, he snapped his book shut and adjusted his glasses with his index finger before pressing his hand over my mouth. “Hush, you mustn’t speak of such a book,” he warned.
          I furrowed my eyebrows, questioning, “And why mustn’t I?”
          “It is forbidden in all of the kingdoms,” he now whispered. “It is said to be . . . cursed.”
          “Cursed?”
          “It is said to bring misfortune to those that read it,” he furthered his explanation. “More importantly, there is no means of reading it.”
           “Why is that?”
          “It was supposed to be burned, but when the guard proceeded to burn it, its pages flew along with the wind and are said to be dispersed throughout the four kingdoms.” He again pushed his glasses upwards. “Though . . . there has been speculation that the Kuyaza have been secretly hunting for these pages.”
          This was becoming more and more baffling. Why would the Kuyaza be interested in this book? Why would anyone be interested in a cursed book? So, I voiced my concerns, “Because?”
          “Because . . .” I almost couldn’t hear Verrill’s voice, “Because . . . it holds the secrets of life and specifically, the method of awakening the Kamikaze.”
          The Kamikaze . . .
          Desiderium had mentioned this term and so had that suspicious man. I even remembered receiving that name from him. Maybe, I was getting closer, and closer to my answers. Without hesitating, I stated, “I thought it was the Kitsune that needed to be awakened by the Kamikaze?”  
          “You clearly have not read the legend carefully,” he huffed. “The Kamikaze has to be found and awakened first before it can awaken the Kitsune.”
          “Has the Kamikaze ever been found then?” I speculated.
          Verrill shook his head. “No, at least not that I know of. I am most positive that it has not been discovered for a while now and hence, there is peace among the nations. I did inquire the Sorcerer and Memoriam about this circumstance, but I still do not understand how all of the rulers ban this one book.”
          “And what did they speak of?”
          “They did not speak much.” He sounded disappointed. “Only that the Kamikaze was a present from Shintanobe to Kitsune.”
          “A present? What sort of present?”
          “The only present you will be receiving from me is a chiding!” Theo had appeared with her arms glued to her waist and her head jutting out. “Do you know how much of a fool I seemed by myself? I swear you purposely shame me!” Before Verrill could even begin to reason with Theo, she had rambled, “You too Gigi! Where in the heavens’ name were you? I was atrociously yawning throughout the party.”
          For some reason, Theo had taken a liking to calling me by a pet name, Gigi. She thought Ghislaine was particularly old-fashioned and grimy, and I wouldn’t have said it better.
          “I felt . . . a bit ill.” I could only manage to lie.
          “Ill?” Theo now bent down to our level and examined me from every angle. “You look . . . fatigued. That is what I will tell you and I . . . have the perfect remedy for fatigue.”
          She had already dragged me along to her expedition and managed to convince Verrill to follow swiftly with a glower. I was sure Verrill understood how frightening Theo could be when she became enraged. That would not have been a pretty sight.
          Because Theo was so excited with her idea, she did not even ask for a coach. Instead, we dashed forward; I could not have remembered all of the shortcuts she had taken, but Verrill certainly knew where to go. He even reminded Theo occasionally of the correct turn or direction to head and at that point in time, Theo would turn around to give a horrendous grimace. I had never seen her face turn so sour. I always thought she didn’t care about what others thought about her; I supposed that indifference could not have been sustained forever. People were bound to care at some point. Perhaps, it just depended on who said what, and who did what.
          Now, we had reached large, fenced walls, which bordered Theo’s castle. Her castle had not been destroyed due to some blood lineage that she had to the throne. It was rather distant, but still useful in this case. I had never closely examined Theo’s castle before for the last time, I was too ill to recall my surroundings. This time, I noticed that it was rather high up, standing not at the edge of a slope, but at a safe area to survey the area below for enemies. There were Douglas fir trees shooting up to the sky, almost disguising the stone walls that protected the fortress. As I hiked up the slope, I realized that all of the trees were arranged in a way that mirrored a circular shield and that they even followed the curvature of defensive walls.
          “Exquisite, are they not?” Verrill had noticed my peeving eyes. “Unfortunately, Theo does not appreciate such ingenuity. She, instead, claims that they block the picturesque views.”
        Theo immediately turned back to snarl. “You just have poor judgement in beauty. Do you not believe so, Gigi?”
          I was sandwiched between two opposing figures with one being a hedonist and the other being a rationalist. One answer could offend the other. Nothing was right or appropriate. I just laughed. “I thought we were here for amusement, not for argument.”
          “Ah yes, Verrill almost caused me to digress.” Theo’s voice turned resentful again. “But, never mind him. Just follow me and we shall be entering what I believe is utopia.”
          She had sprinted too fiercely that I almost lost sight of her. I felt embedded in a sea of green as I struggled to pursue her; her bold, red hair contrasted the tranquillity of nature. No, it was her presence that could never rest. She was an implosive orb of light, about to strike the earth and disturb all that nature had to offer. Before I could regain my breath, she had a smile plastered on her face.
          “Behold, the mighty entrance,” Theo announced.
          She was standing in front of what appeared like an ordinary wall. With her fist, she knocked a brick. I would have expected the wall to disintegrate or to slide open. Instead, nothing happened.
          With a sigh, Verrill covered his forehead with a hand, and tapped the stone above the one she had touched. “You always forget,” he reminded.
          “No.” Her cheeks were just as rouge as her hair. “I-I-I was just examining your capability, and I would have made a grand entrance if you were not there to—“ Her voice was growing louder and louder, and suddenly her sentence had broken off once Verrill walked past her to the now opened entry with a knowing smirk. “Argh! You are always . . . so . . .” she grumbled while stomping after him.
          This was probably one of the fewest times that Verrill had smiled. He was always so emotionless, though not lifeless, just fairly distant. Perhaps, distance too varied for each person. His distance to her, his distance to me, and his distance to them . . . they were certainly difficult to quantify, yet they were certainly significant. Theo, too, was behaving oddly. It had never been so easy to silence her. She didn’t speak again until Verrill halted in front of a voluminous hot spring encircled by grey, angular boulders. Everlasting steam was forming from the surface of the water, and almost blinding me.
          “Now this . . . this is a work of art!” Theo hollered as she skipped, not even caring if her barren calves were revealed. Then, she dived into the water while still being clothed.
          “Are you—“
          “She is . . . illogical, incomprehensible, and imprudent,” Verrill listed a set of terms and strolled by the rocky barriers. However, it wasn’t long before Theo grasped one of his legs and as he fought to maintain his balance, she used her other hand to tug him into the pool of water. In with a deafening splash, he lunged. Even with water choking his every breath, he screamed, “Are you . . . ill?”
          Theo just kept treading water while giggling at his inane position. This was Verrill, stripped from glory, politeness, and appropriateness. This was Verill, doused in wetness with his glasses hanging crookedly to a side and his hair rambling in all directions. I also couldn’t withstand a chuckle and before I could put forward another laugh, I was already forced into the water. The two of them had somehow reached a mutual agreement to throw me into this mess. Who knew that arguers could still comprehend each other’s intentions?
          “What is the meaning of this?” I pouted my lips and folded my arms in discontent.
          Theo immediately swam to my direction and then muttered, “We, we thought it would be—“
          I splashed a hefty amount of water at her, who was completely shocked. “Now, this . . . this is a work of art.”
          Basking in my brilliance, I had forgotten about Verrill’s presence. He had snuck from behind and then splattered me. “Not anymore, is it not?”
          I didn’t know how long we had spent trying to avenge each other for indescribable crimes. It was not until Verrill had noticed the darkened sky did he remind us of our duties. Theo summoned her maids to bring us some proper costumes and some towels to dry ourselves. I was next to Verrill and to the edge of the pool with my legs still adjusting to the warmth of the water.
          “So, what story shall we use to our benefit?” Theo jutted, “Tell them . . . we found utopia.”
          “Utopia?” I wondered. How could this be utopia? Three adolescents playing with water?
          Theo now sat beside me. “Where everything was perfect. We didn’t need to think. We could do whatever pleased us, where . . . we could be free.”
          I felt two palms on my back and I believed I heard Verrill’s voice, “Here’s to freedom.”
          Yes, I yelped upon crashing deeply into the pool. My yelp was out of fear, a fear of falling in too deeply.
 
Chapter 33                                                                            Chapter 35
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