[Author’s Note: This takes places during Chapter 97, A Prince for A Princess, in Phoenix Triumphant as well, but in a different part of the castle. We go to Ryan and his Gods’ Nectar delivery duties. This sets up how Lady Miriam becomes drugged again and how Sarah gets her Nectar to shove down Chester’s throat. Two things from the draft I just had to keep in... Somehow!]
The Gods had called him from his chores, and despite his mother’s call of annoyance, Ryan scrambled up the Willow tree. His little eyes closed as the flash of white surrounded him and he slide down the trunk into the Gods Grove.
“This is for Sarah,” the Great-Grand Moyther told him.
“Sarah?” His voice trembled. “She’s not going to die is she?” After all it had seemed to him that every woman he had delivered Gods’ Nectar too had been very hurt or dying when he’d given it to them.
“No,” the Great-Grand Moyther shook her head, “that is not the plan, but she may use it to dull the pain of anything she feels.” The kindly woman knelt down before Ryan. “Have faith in her little one, for she shall be our salvation and rid us of the bad man.”
Ryan nodded solemnly. He remembered when Sarah had fought the Nigiri when they had gone herbing. She hadn’t been afraid of the man like everyone else. He doubted she would be afraid of the bad man either.
“Go on,” the Great-Grand Moyther kissed his forehead, “there is no time to lose.”
Ryan spun away from her and scrambled up the Willow that glowed slightly. This time when the white light came he landed with a soft thump in the snow. He shivered as the wind whipped about him. Curling in low, he made his way to the left walkway. Near the end of it, he pressed himself against the wall. His eyes darted about and when he was sure no one was looking he turned and pressed hard on one stone.
The secret door swung open. Ryan ducked inside as soon as the gap was wide enough to let him. He closed the door and for a while he stood in the dark, listening. Someone was softly crying. It couldn’t be Sarah. She didn’t cry.
Cautiously, he ducked from under the tapestry to hide under the chair. The room looked empty. The curtain was open so he could see the whole room. Ryan moved to under the armoire to get a better view. He couldn’t see anyone.
“Hello?” he called softly.
Someone gasped and Ryan looked to the bed. There was no one on it. Then movement caught his eyes and he lowered his gaze. A check of the room told him the coast was clear, so he crawled across to under the bed. Bad men didn’t hide under beds. They strode around thinking they were Gods.
Ryan turned to the right to find himself face to face with the girl he’d given Gods Nectar to the last time. She looked better now, though her gaze frightened him.
“Do you have more?” she asked, crawling towards him. “I need more.” Her voice quivered, fraught with distress. “Please say you have more.”
Ryan baked away. The girl was scaring him. “It’s for Sarah,” he told her.
“She doesn’t need it, I do!” the woman lunged for him. “The dreams,” she was hysterical, crying as she spoke. “The memories, I need them gone!”
Ryan struggled to get away, but he was just a little kid and she a grown woman. He wanted to cry out for help but he couldn’t.
“Where’s Sarah?” he whispered as he finally got away.
“She left me, just like my father, just like my cousin...”
She lunged for him once more, ignoring the pounding on the door.
“Give me the nectar!”
She grabbed the bottle from him as the door splintered open. Ryan scrambled to his hiding spot under the armoire.
“Hello Miriam,” the Nigiri rasped. “Time to go back to the dungeon, Wholawski has something special in mind for tonight.”
Ryan watched as the woman gulped down the Gods Nectar that should have been Sarah’s. She dropped the vial and laughed.
“Chop ti sco nan pa coke tap!” Miriam told him.
“What!” the Nigiri stepped in and looked about. Ryan scrambled behind the tapestry when he was looking the other way. A slap resounded in the room.
“Rap que pah han an sus nock,” the girl spoke again.
Ryan heard the Nigiri growl. “Never mind that you’re drugged. We can use you anyway.”
“Pa co tux na po ent moke!” Miriam’s voice called out as she was dragged away.
Ryan slipped out of the secret door as soon as he could. He had find Sarah. More importantly he had to get another vial of nectar.