Empress of the Sleeping Sun – Excerpt

Elthene had lived in the Ourolem estate all her life, and soon her last day there would arrive. She had many memories attached to this place. Times spent curled near her mother in the library with a good book, or sliding down the halls in her socks with Jade. She missed those times more than anything. Everything seemed so simple then. No demands, and her father didn’t hate them so much. Elthene walked quietly down the halls in the barely used north wing of the estate. Her father claimed the drafts bothered him. Sometimes as a little girl, Elthene would hide here just to escape her father’s terrible moods.

As she walked down the halls, she saw different paintings. At the end of the hall a large portrait hung from the wall. There were two girls. One wore a white suit and the other wore a frilly lace covered white dress. Both of them had their long red hair done in ringlet curls. Their skin was brown, a slight shade darker than her own. They both had golden amber colored eyes. Elthene curled a lock of her own red hair around her finger as she stared at the portrait. She remembered the stories of Prisca and Norah as told to her by her mother. Ourolem started with them, and they were known as the Crimson Twins. Elthene learned all these things from her mother. Vinel’s knowledge amazed Elthene. She wondered how her mother knew so much about Ourolem.

“Why doesn’t Papa know all of this?” Elthene had asked her mother on a chilly afternoon.

“Your father didn’t think knowing family history meant anything.” Vinel explained. Elthene snapped out of the thought and touched the portrait.

‘I remember being told they were close, just like me and Jade.’ Elthene and her baby sister Jade were insepreable when Jade began to walk and talk. The two girls spent plenty of time together. Their father seemed to grow more distant over the years. Jade didn’t like him and Elthene often found herself caught in an argument with her father.

‘I be they weren’t forced to get married.’ Elthene thought as she trailed her hand over the portrait’s frame, drawing a line in the dust. She turned left at the portrait and continued down the hall. Sunlight filtered through the windows and Elthene sneezed. She wiped her nose on the handkerchief she took out of her pocket. Her eyes watered.

‘Someone needs to clean up this dust.’ Elthene thought as she wandered to the first door off the hall. Elthene fumbled with the knob and pushed the door open. Everything inside lay covered in a thin layer of dust. Elthene looked around. There happened to be a large wardrobe, a desk and chair, and a huge four poster bed in with a canopy in the left corner of the room. So many things in the room were decorated with white and gold. There sat a window seat below three big windows facing outside. Elthene walked toward the windows, kneeling on the window seat. She could see her mother tending to the lilies in the guarden. The light of the sun glinted off the golden watering can in her mother’s hand.

The estate’s climate control kept the place warm even with snow blanketing the grounds. Elthene got back on her feet, moving toward the wardrobe in the room. She flung it open, greeted with clothes so fine she stared in surprise. Black boots, white boots and even golden heeled shoes met her gaze. Sleek red dresses and more white suits of different styles were arranged neatly, barely touched by time. She closed the wardrobe before moving toward the desk. The first thing on the desk that caught her attention happened to be a picture with a golden frame. She picked it up and looked at it. There was a woman with red hair and golden eyes wearing a white suit. She had her arms around two boys. She turned the frame over and saw ‘Prisca, Marcus and Maxwell Ourolem’ etched in the metal.

Elthene wondered why her father never talked about their other family members. Their mother had taken the task herself to teach them about their families. Farath hardly ever talked to them about anything. Elthene looked over Prisca’s desk once she sat down. There lay an open journal with the pen nestled inside the pages.

She glanced through he pages, stopping on the most recent entry.

My hard work has paid off.

I successfully created Haidolten, the planet shield out of my own sheer will, faith in Michael the Protector, and my study of Tekna based shield and ship technology. Creating and giving my family the means to protect themselves has always been my goal.

The future will need the fruit of my labor- it has been a struggle. With my sons and my nephew constantly bickering with each other over control of the family, I am not sure how to handle this situation. It seems Talim will be a strong leader. Norah says she will continue to watch over him, even though he tries to say he is no longer part of Ourolem. Silly boy, you can’t erase your blood like that.

Viharleus has made a terrible mistake. I do not think his choice to marry that commoner, Zafina is a good idea. She’s bad news.

Elthene stopped reading there. She had always felt odd around her father’s mother, and she had never known the woman happened to be a commoner. It wasn’t easy to marry into the noble families, and you needed some type of wealthy background to even try. Now she knew why Zafina seemed so controlling and irritating. Her father didn’t even like his mother. She didn’t know what the real issue could be. Elthene took a moment to sit there and think. ‘Haidolten…’ She thought, pushing the chair back to carefully look around Prisca’s desk. On the side of the drawers she spotted a button shaped like a lily. Nervously, she pressed it. The bottom drawer unlocked and slid open.

Elthene saw a bundle of black cloth nestled in the drawer, and she reached for it. She picked it up and set it on her lap, and the cloth fell open to reveal a black cube covered with red, gold and silver gears. Inside the cloth she also saw a card with a hasty note scrawled on it.

Push the button.

Offer a blood drop.

Haidolten will come.

Elthene wrapped it all back up in the black cloth and stood up. She reached into the deep pocket of her petticoat and put the wrapped up cube and card inside it. She smoothed down her skirts and spun around, noticing a full length floor mirror across from her. It showed her reflection through a thin layer of dust. She could see no indication of the cube being in her pocket. She headed out of the room and back to the west wing she shared with her sister.

As she walked down the hall, Jade peeked out of her room. She came running over, grabbing Elthene’s hands.

“Elthene, it’s Mama! She fainted in the garden. I went to get her, and brought her to my room. She woke up and told me to get you.”

“I’ll be there in a moment Jade. I have to put something away. I’ll tell you about it when we leave for Silica.” Elthene said. Jade frowned.

“You know it won’t take me long. Tell Mama I’ll be right there.”

“Okay.” Jade said, going back to her room.

Elthene hurried to her own bedroom, which was a door down from Jade’s room. She rushed to her closet, where she had a few trunks packed with her clothing. She moved two of them off the stack and sat them down. She opened the in the middle of the stack and pulled the wrapped cube and card out of her pocket. Elthene moved her clothing around and put the cube in a nest of her clothes before piling clothes on top of it. She closed it, and locked it. After that, she stacked the other trunks back on top and hurried out of her room to see her mother.

‘I hope Mama isn’t sick again.’ Elthene thought.

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