Of Falsehood Wrought
—The Castle Carviliet—
Fiona MacInnes sat by the hearth in her bedchamber, staring absently into the smoldering remains of a fire. She knew it was late, but she couldn’t sleep. Not tonight. Not on the eve of the promised escape.
Though it would take place many miles away, and regardless of the fact that it would still be days before she could see her brother, she was nervous. There was just so much risk. So many hundreds of things could go wrong. Perhaps she would feel better about it if she knew what the plan was, but she didn’t and probably never would. Such things were seldom shared with young women.
Anyway, she was unaccustomed to sleeping in the drafty, spacious castle rooms. She felt exposed with the ceiling so high above, and in having no one within easy shouting distance. Their house in Iliathor was big, but Carviliet was simply enormous. The castle was like a small city in itself. It had thousands of rooms, spread between five buildings, interconnected with hundreds of corridors, tunnels and passages, many of which she would never find or know of. It made her uncomfortable.
She had arrived in Carviliet three days before, travelling with her mother and youngest brother. They had told Father that they were going to visit Uncle Alasdair, and since Tormod MacInnes did not much care for his brother-in-law, he had opted to remain behind in Iliathor. This, of course, had been the plan. There was no need for Father to know the real reason they had traveled to the Carvil Valley. No need for him to know about Seoc.
Fiona prodded at the dying embers with a poker. They sparked and smoked, but that was all.
It was no use.
Abruptly, she stood up, fastened her cloak over her nightgown, and left.
Her bare feet were nearly silent on the cold flagstone floor of the corridor, and her shadow, doubled and trebled in the flickering torch-light, slipped stealthily along beside her. She descended a spiraling staircase, padded softly along a narrow passageway, and slid soundlessly through the doorway and into the library.
It was a high, circular room, its walls lined in books from floor to ceiling. A narrow, spiraling wooden stairway wound its way up to the top, allowing easy access to any volume on the shelves. The floor, made of marble, was covered in patternless lines and markings, save for at the very center, which was marked with a single, eight-pointed obsidian star the size of Fiona’s hand.
Quickly, she crossed the room and began to study the contents of the fourth shelf up from the floor, running her fingers along the the spines of the thick, worn tomes. For a moment, she thought it was gone—but there it was, right in front of her. She removed it gently and dusted it off. Its golden lettering glinted back at her: Mythſ &Legendſ of Ancient Timeſ. Seoc liked this book. Perhaps she could read to him once he arrived, just like she’d done when he was little.
But a small, painful part of her heart knew that things would be different now. Seoc would have changed in that awful place. She did not know—or want to know—what horrible things might have happened to him, but she suspected that her poor, quiet little brother would be damaged forever.
Her eyes stung.
Tucking the book under her arm, she began to make her way back to her chambers.