Chapter IV: Meeting of the Draíochta [14]Mature

She pointed behind him where the interior of the castle was laid out below. He noticed a large courtyard with a sparkling fountain, a grass quadrant and glistening white buildings with their own collections of sharp towers and turrets.

          ‘This is mad,’ said Will. He was suddenly aware of how high up they were, where the air seemed thinner and the wind was stronger, pressing him up against the railing. He turned to Tayna, who seemed so at home on the rooftop, and wondered if she could see his heart beating through his chest.

          ‘I think it’s quite something,’ she said. The wind rose under her and blew her hair back from her face. She closed her eyes serenely and leant back on the railing at a dangerous angle. Will looked out towards the sea horizon, and she noticed the stillness of awe in him. ‘They say you can drop off the edge of the world, you know. You’d fall for miles through nothing before you landed in Irkalla,’

          ‘What’s Irkalla?’ he asked,

          ‘The Monstrous Sea…’ she said in a dramatic, eery voice. ‘Where the monsters from your nightmares go when you’re awake…’

Will said nothing, he only gazed out at the landscape, feeling the embroidered cuffs of his tunic between his fingers, looking at the paleness of his skin; none of it was familiar.

          ‘There’s something different about you, Will,’ said Tayna, and his head snapped up worriedly.

          ‘I – I’m not,’ he objected. She can’t know the truth. Nobody can.

          ‘It’s a good thing,’ she said quickly. ‘I mean, so many people around here are the same. The brownnosers, the starers, they get so predictable sometimes. And now you show up, it feels like a welcome relief.’

She turned and hopped onto the railing, her back to open air, eyes closed as she let the wind brush against her. Will tensed, moving closer, prepared to grab her if she lost her balance. ‘To tell you the truth,’ she continued, ‘the other royals are the only ones that surprise me nowadays. And Andrel, he’s a bag of tricks,’

          ‘Are they…nice?’ Will asked nervously, and Tayna opened her eyes to look at him considerately.

The End

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