Chapter XXI: The Nightmare Man (1/13)Mature

WILL HAD EVENTUALLY SLEPT LATER THAT NIGHT, AND WOKE REVITALISED TO THE AROMA OF TOAST AND ROASTED MEAT.

He rolled lazily out of his hammock onto the ground with a loud thump and rummaged in his overnight bag for his spare clothes. He pulled back the velvet drapes and found his friends sitting on the bean bags eating sandwiches of toast and bison.

'You're not one to sleep in, Will,' Tayna noted, crunching on her crusts,

'Uh, busy night yesterday, I guess I was more exhausted than I thought,'

'Well, make sure you're active enough to partay tonight - I have a feeling that Paradam might do a tipsy dance,'

'And I have a feeling you'll join in,' said Tayna. Andrel smiled mischievously and Will realised with relief that they didn't seem to know anything about Vincula. Sayara noticed his glance and gestured locking her lips shut and throwing away the key.

Out in the open campsite, Sanctuary students and members of the Raido clan were gathered around the newly-lit fire breaking fast, roasting bread and meat on long poles. Will and his friends gathered on a blanket, and Tayna looked concerned when she saw Elena glaring at her from across the camp. She sat on one of the log benches which seated adults and older students, although she was in the middle of a conversation with one of her clan, her gaze never left the Elementals. Eventually, she walked off with who she conversed with, seeming to purposely ignore the children when they looked back.

'Do you think she's suspicious of who were are?' Sayara asked,

'I don't think so,' said Tayna, shaking her head, 'and we should hope not. The Raido clan are a powerful ally, they preach about the strength of the monarchy to other magi, it would be disastrous if they found out that we weren't planning a revolution or were remaining neutral.'

All of Saturday was spent relaxing, building to the evening's festivities when the Aurora was due to leave the hillside for another three thousand years. Tayna had brought along books to read, which Andrel mocked her about initially but ended up becoming entranced by a book on Maegard war stratagems.

Will settled down on a bean bag with a book he never expected to read, entitled 'The Chronicles of Maegard', with complete information on his world that appeared to have several revised editions. Some of what he read he knew, or had at least heard in rumour - he remembered Hel - the high security prison on the island of Helheim, where convicts too dangerous for Vincula were taken. He learnt about Charlaton, a famed land of the Eastern Ridge, though to be a backwards civilisation that wouldn't adapt to modern technology, though it was all to protect the secret that the creatures of the Sanctuary knew; seventy percent of the population were vampyres.

After such a relaxing day, everybody was excited when evening crept in and set-up began for the celebrations. Magi conjured up tables to hold food and drink, the Raido clan wove together decorations from dyed grass and cloth, connecting them around each tent apex in a trail of colours matching the Aurora. They then began making paper lanterns to set off as a bid goodbye to the Aurora past midnight. The sky soon turned dark and the Aurora was visible once more, at this point, the party began.

The End

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