Shortly after my parents were married, my mother had a vision of having three daughters, and so when the architects were adding a new wing onto the palace for Gwen, my mother told them to go ahead and make all three chambers for all of the future princesses, and so all of our rooms are in the same corridor. Derek remains a step behind me when I stop at the top of the corridor. There’s something here I hadn’t noticed the first time I was back here today. The loneliness and emptiness that aches through the gemstone and stone walls. This used to be one of the happiest parts of the palace, back when my sisters and I would play together here. But now with one princess a statue, one missing, and one just returning, the corridor feels empty and cold.
Slowly and trancelike, I start walking down the plush red carpet, vaguely aware of Derek a few steps behind me. I pass by my door, still slightly ajar. Further down the wall on the opposite side is Nirvana’s door. The closer I get to her door, the more I can feel something sinister lurking in her room. I stop walking, and Derek bumps into me, not paying attention. He starts to apologize, but I hold up a hand to keep him quiet. I’m starting to hear something.
Sure enough, in the silence of the corridor, whispers and echoes slither down the hallway, bouncing off of every surface until the sound is magnified enough to be heard. Alyessia. My name. The sinister feeling seeping from Nirvana’s room is getting stronger as my name is repeated, along with words in a language I can’t understand.
“This is why some are scared at your return, Alyessia,” Derek whispers behind me.
I nod. I can understand why, especially if there are tales circulating about the feeling of evil coming from my sister’s room. “I need to see what’s inside.”
Derek shakes his head. “That’s not a good idea, Alyessia.”
I shrug his hand off my shoulder and keep walking down toward the door. The closer I get to the ornately carved door, the harder it is to move, as if the air is thicker and weighted down with hate.
Finally, I reach the door. The elegant handle turns by itself and the door swings open with a loud creak. I peer around the door into Nirvana’s old room. It looks exactly as she left it. But suddenly, a flash of power and blue light hits me, and I’m blown back against the opposite wall. Just before I black out, I see what Nirvana must have seen when she made a deal with whatever’s in her room.