Chapter XV: Searching for Secrets (8/12)Mature

Anala's room was a staple of wealth, each item unique and opulent. The room was already large for a single occupant, and to add to its scale, there were two adjoining rooms. One was a bathroom complete with a large clawfoot tub and a sink for ablutions, which led into the second room, a walk-in wardrobe filled with rows and racks of clothes and shoes. The walls were painted vine green, the carpet thick and white, and all of the furniture was made from fine, dark wood. The centerpiece of the room was a canopy bed with posts that became the branches of four trees, merging together in the middle, hung with crystal beads and twined with glittering fabric. At either side were two chests of drawers and a vanity, all crammed with jewellery racks, china-faced dolls and shapely perfume bottles that glittered in the sun. She had her own fireplace and a long chair facing it on the west wall. Opposite on the east wall was a pair of wooden doors, glass windows stained the same colours as the butterfly knocker, leading onto an expansive stone balcony that viewed the ocean.

'I heard about Laguna,' Anala said, just then closing the door, as if she had been entranced by something. Will expected nothing more from her, being the ward of the principal had its advantages, examples of such he could see all around him. 'If that's what you're worried about, don't worry, Uncle has it covered.' Will stood still, wondering when was the right time to discuss what he had come there for.

'Then again,' she added, striding into the room and leaning against the end of her bed, 'whether it's my Shifter senses or just my immaculate intuition,' she flicked her hair from her shoulder playfully, 'I get the sense that's not what you're here to talk about. So,' she took a pause to pull herself onto the footboard, 'spill it.'

Will thought for a moment about whether he considered Anala a 'friend'. She seemed to be two separate people, one was kind and charming, the other vain, self-indulgent and annoyingly cavalier. Still, in this moment, he needed her, and she seemed too pleased to see him to act up.

'I wanted to talk to you about the kidnappings. I think - I'm sure there's a link between everybody, but I can't figure out what the link is. So I thought about who might be the next to be kidnapped and -,'

'You thought of me,' she said, sounding both inquisitive and acrimonious. She scoffed, 'I guess that means Uncle's overbearing behaviour hasn't gone unnoticed. Just great.' She threw herself back, landing on her back on the mattress, her legs bent still bent over the footboard and her arms reaching lazily behind her head.

'Does that mean that somebody's tried to kidnap you?' Will asked,

She shook her head calmly. 'No, but it's only a matter of time. You don't need to be a genius to work it out.' She held up a hand, lifting a finger as she listed points, 'I'm the beloved ward of a noble lord with a lot of inheritance, and to top it off, he happens to be protecting going on seven hundred magi and mystics.' 

'So you're saying that if they wanted control of the Sanctuary, you'd be the way to get it?'

'Ding ding ding,' she said acquiescingly. With a thrust, she flipped her legs over her head, rolling so that she sat up on her knees, the silk sheets making her curls fly with static. 'Face it, Will, I'm a walking, talking target.'

'So...how are they protecting you?' he asked, standing at the end of the bed.

She looked at him mockingly, her face written with the words "you're an idiot". 'Does the name Cargil Bosrold mean much to you?' she said, sounding his name with disdain.

Will recalled Duelling class, the memory still made him quiver. 'What is he for you officially?'

'A pain in the ass,' she retorted, 'and, if you're going to make labels, Uncle likes to call him my bodyguard. Still, I'm not convinced that when it comes down to it, he'd take a shot for me, more like he'd drive it home.' Her eyes flickered with a sadness that she quickly suppressed, her chest tightening with seriousness. 'But there's no way that I'm waiting around to get child-snatched. What happened with Laguna...it - it only helped me to make up my mind.'

'About what?'

She sighed, sounding resigned. 'I'm leaving.' With that announcement, she slid off of her bed and pulled something from under it, a suitcase, one that she seemed to have been attending to before Will had arrived, and she'd quickly pushed it under. She breezed past him to her wardrobe, fetching an armful of clothes and returning to cram them inside. Meanwhile, Will stood shocked and lost for what to do or say.

The End

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