Speculations of the unannounced visitor made Ruby linger in the hallway a moment too long. She was sure that Jace had come back to follow up on his threat. And if that were the case what could she do?
She turned on her heel intending to return to her bedchamber when she heard a lulling song echo in the sparse foyer.
The words were pretty but foreign. A soft feminine soprano voice seperated the distance between Ruby and her awaiting guest.
The singer's voice was entrancing. It reminded Ruby of Snow White when she had lured the birds and deer to the dwarfs cabin with her own song. Ruby felt her feet move and her worries silenced in her mind. Without realizing she was being baited out, she stepped into the foyer. What greeted her was a vaguely familiar female face. Wings fluttered in rhthym to the young Fae's song until her voice became a whisper and her song stopped all together.
Penelope. Her mouth formed the name but no sound came out. She tried again, though the effort was futile. She gritted teeth in frustration.
The petite fairy tilted her head to the side with curiosity.
Ruby motioned to her mouth frantically with her hands, hoping Penelope would catch on.
The Fairy's eyes widened as she comprehended the situation. She closed the distance between them and placed her hand on Ruby's neck.
Ruby panicked. Suddenly more alert, and afraid that she was here on behalf of her brother's threat, Ruby pushed the fairy away.
Penelope's wings shot out like a parachute, preventing her from falling to the ground. Once she was flat on her feet again her wings retreated, folding conveniently to the curve of her spine. " Ah, perhaps it's better this way right now, that way you cannot interrupt me."
Or scream for my life
"First thing is first. I know you have the tome I can sense it's presence. I understand the fears and doubts racing through your mind. I'm not here to hurt you for it, in fact I planted that book for the Starborn King to find. "
Confusion etched itself into the features on Ruby's face as she waited for the Fairy to elaborate. "We've been searching for the throne's rightful heir for what seemed like eons before a well reputed source announced he had found our King and he wasn't in good shape. He was weak, reckless irresponsible, in fact the only thing seeming to piece him together was you. A normal, powerless human girl. "
Ruby suddenly felt small.
"The starborn king's chances of survival were little to none without you. We pulled you both in to Avelen. For Cole the setting seemed to be destined as it was, but you rebel against this land. You don't feel like you belong here, you don't understand your role yet."
Ruby's eyes narrowed at the Fairy, eager for her to make her point.
The Fairy stepped closer to Ruby and placed her warm palm against her throat. " Do you?"
Ruby found her voice intact once more. " Perhaps if I could even read the tome or speak with the person who wrote it it would clarify my role." Ruby said while trying to keep the frustration and impatience out of her voice and failing miserably.
A grin accidentally formed on Penelope's face. She quickly turned on her heel giving Ruby her back.
" What aren't you telling me?" Ruby demanded.
" You know who wrote the tome. Just say so."
Penelope spun back around to face the human girl. " You are being absurd.Thats a well guarded secret. Only a select few of my kind are privy to that information."
"And you're one of them." Ruby concluded.
Penelope remained silent in fear that she had already revealed too much.
" Penelope, without your help I can't decode the tome, I can't help Cole defeat the Dragon King!"
Penelope closed her eyes and her breath came out unevenly. Her slender fingers twitched nervously. "They say you should always look in the place least expected to find something you've lost, the same could be said about secrets."
" No riddles. Please just tell me who wrote the text!"
"Sycamore tree." Penelope said in a small voice.
Ruby shook her head in confusion.
Penelope leaned against a large pillar that was staked through the castle's interior. "Hundreds of years ago we had our first new settlers discover Avelen. Upon the discovery of the land they discovered our kind and our powers. They viewed us as wild creatures, intent on causing them harm.
"Days after our arrival they plotted their first attack. Little did we know that they were studying us; our spells, our charms. They were kidnapping our young so they could bleed them of their magic and use it against us. Half of us hid, half of us died.
"Somehow the magic and secrets of our warriors, our deceased became tangled within the roots of a sycamore tree that was located at the burial sight.
" Years later my Great Grandfather dreamt of a tome. A voice called to him, telling him to cut the tree down. This went on for weeks before he crumbled.
It's against our ways to harm nature like that. He was nearly hung for his actions, even after he presented the council with the tome proving he had not gone in sane. Luckily for him there was still enough magic in the tree for it to heal itself."
Ruby blinked hard. "You're telling me a tree wrote the book?"
"Keep your voice down. The tree is the essence of our most vital source. Like I said, only few of my kind are even trusted with the knowledge I just gave you. Jace doesn't even know, and for his protection he shouldn't!"
Ruby held her hands up defensively. " Okay, okay. So why are you telling me this then?"
Penelope bit her lip before releasing another breath. "It's important that only you and the Starborn King go to the tree. Once it trusts you, the text should become clear for you to read. I'm telling you this Ruby because without the powers of the tome Avelen will fall into the hands of the Dragon King once more."
Ruby nodded slowly. "So you want us to talk to a tree?"
Penelope searched Ruby's face for any signs of mistrust."No, I want you to listen to it. I'll be back before sunset tomorrow with prompt instructions. Do not tell my brother I was here."
"Wouldn't dream of it," came Ruby's reply.