Creative Reading Prize: Trickster's Queen
Entered by: Esther (14) from Melbourne
Book: Trickster's Choice, Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce
Format: First chapter of a book
The door creaked. Aly woke up. She carefully slid her hand under the pillow to retrieve her knife. The dark figure stopped moving as if he had heard something. Aly stopped as well. Silence filled the room. Slowly and more warily the stranger stepped inside. He walked towards the bed where Aly was sleeping. He was walking like he had all the time in the world. Moving closer to Aly he slowly let out his hand. He was about to strangle her. A little bit closer, just a little bit closer. Aly thought to herself. She was about to lash out her knife and injure the person to interrogate him later. Suddenly, the stranger’s hand stopped moving and he walked back out of the room leaving the glass door to the veranda wide open. Who was that? Aly stood up frowning and walked towards the veranda cautiously.
“At least close the door when you’re exiting,” Aly mumbled.
“Sorry, but I thought you would do that yourself,” a voice said.
Aly’s heart skipped a beat, the dark figure who tried to assassinate her stood on the veranda leaning on the rails. He was wearing a mask that covered his whole face. The mask he wore sent shivers up Aly’s spine. It had almond shapes where the eyes were and it was white with rough red stripes; blood. Aly frowned in confusion, she would have felt his presence but she felt nothing. As she exhaled she suddenly felt a strong presence in front of her. Are my senses failing me? She asked herself. Aly smiled, she was determined not to show this person any sign that she was surprised.
“Oh, I think I’ve become lazy these days. Looking after a child let alone a whole kingdom is not an easy job”
“I think so too. You’re doing a great job by the way,” the figure said as he turned to look at the sun that was peeking out of the horizon.
Is he concerned about the time? Aly raised an eyebrow, “Thank you? Though I don’t know why you’re praising me.”
The figure turned his head back to Aly and he shrugged, “Not easy being a luarin spymaster in a raka country isn’t it?”
He knew that Aly was a spymaster, “You have your references,” she said slightly amused. The stranger shrugged.
“Well nice meeting you. I’ll be going now,” the figure said. Aly noticed that the sun was starting to show. He is concern about the time.
Just as he was about to jump off the veranda Aly called after him, “I didn’t catch your name.” But the stranger was already gone.
The next morning Aly was disturbed. She ate but had no idea what she was eating. The stranger from the night before knew that she was the spymaster, but she knew nothing about him. It was highly possible that he would have researched Aly’s background and everything about her, yet she could not do anything about it. It frustrated her. If the stranger was a traitor in the Balitang house, Aly needed to find him fast before he plotted anything.
“You don’t seem to be concentrating on your food,” said Dovasary, the raka queen.
“You don’t need to concern yourself with me, milady, and why do you order me to eat with you? I am just a lowly person compared to your royal highness,” Aly replied calmly.
The queen frowned in annoyance and snapped, “I told you not to call me that, and it’s obvious that you’d eat with me, you’re my friend.”
“As well as your personal maid and spymaster, your majesty,” Aly answered.
Dovasary snorted and continued to eat. Don’t annoy her sweetie; she’s not in a good mood right now. Kyprioth the Tricker God said in Aly’s mind. Aly ignored Kyprioth and glanced over at Dove; she noticed that Dove’s face was all crinkled with concern.
“Is everything alright your majesty?” Aly asked.
“Yes, well no, not really.” Dove massaged her temples, “Lately there have been some unwanted people breaking into homes at midnight, including the palace.”
“The palace? Did these unwanted visitors steal any of your possessions milady?” Aly asked in mock shock.
“Please Aly, I know you’re not interested in what items they stole, and if that were the case I would not be discussing about this matter with you,” Dove sighed, “They stole some items from the homes of the rich, although they were nothing overly expensive it worries me. I’m not really sure what they stole from the palace though. It seemed like nothing was missing, everything was in the right place. But who knows? For all I know they might have looked into important documents and then placed everything back as it used to be.”
As usual, she looks into every possibility. Aly thought proudly.
She’s a great queen; I don’t know what I would have done without you Aly. Aly ignored Kyprioth and asked Dove, “The items that were stolen; did they have anything in common?”
“I don’t know, I have asked Taybur to do the research. I can’t figure out what their intention is. Aly, do you think there might be a rebellion?”
Aly chuckled, “No, I don’t think so. You are a great queen, you are justified and fair. Everyone looks up to you, even little children on the streets. There’s also Kyprioth. He won’t let anything happen to you.” I hope.
Dovasary sighed and picked at her breakfast. What Aly said was true about Dove being a great queen and she couldn’t think of anyone trying to plan a rebellion against the majesty. However, if Aly ever found out that there was, she would crush them before they even reached Dove’s ears.
After breakfast Aly sparred with Junai. She got slack after giving birth to her beautiful son, Ardve. She was going to start sparring again a few days after Ardve’s birth, but Nawat did not allow Aly to continue working let alone spar until he was convinced that Aly fully regained her strength. I even gained a little weight. Aly thought to herself. Once Junai and Aly were sweating and huffing for air they stopped.
“You have improved,” said Junai.
“Since Ardve’s birth? Well I guess so. I have to work on my reflexes more, they’ve slackened.” Aly retorted. Aly picked her belongings, “Junai could you perhaps go into town later and find out if there’s any good gossip going around?”
“Is anything the problem?” Junai asked knowing there was something going on.
“Oh nothing, I’ve been a bit bored lately and Nawat won’t let me leave the palace. I need some good gossip that’s going to entertain me for a while,” Aly smiled in such a sweet and innocent way any man would have been deceived, but Junai knew Aly too well. Aly was up to something. Junai nodded and walked away understanding what she needed to do and what Aly wanted.
Aly sighed with satisfaction, “Such a nice bodyguard.” Suddenly Aly’s senses sharpened. Her sight revealed a magic barrier that sound proofed the area she was standing in. As a maid walked past, the barrier strengthened. Aly called out to the maid, but she kept walking as if she had neither heard nor seen anything. Someone doesn’t want me to be seen or heard. Aly mused. Then in the corner of her eyes, she saw someone walking towards her. Aly tensed, but when she realised who it was she relaxed a little.
“You’re not tense at all.”
Aly smiled, “Well I figured that you weren’t going to kill me. You didn’t kill me last night in my room, so why now in broad daylight?”
The person standing in front of her was the stranger with the white mask, “I guess you’re right. I don’t find joy in shedding blood unnecessarily.”
Unnecessarily? Does that mean he sheds blood when it’s necessary? “Why are you here?”
“No, why are you here? As I said before, a luarin girl from Tortall, being Rajmuat’s royal spymaster? It doesn’t make sense. But, since I am a nice and considerable gentleman I won’t push for answers.”
Cocky. “Well, then my nice and considerable gentleman, why is it that you went so far as to create a barrier to seek an audience with me?”
The stranger was silent for a while, as if he was considering if he should trust Aly or not.
“I’m seeking help.”
“It hurts my pride to say it again.” the stranger looked away.
His childishness made Aly chuckle. Well, this person has certainly got my attention, Aly mused. But Aly didn’t know who this stranger was. How old was he exactly? Aly thought. Compared to his mask, the way he talks made him seem much younger and less intimidating.
“You don’t seem to trust me,” the stranger sighed, “Well how about this?” he slowly moved his hand towards his mask and then unexpectedly, took it off. His face revealed to be very handsome. Strong determined blue eyes, with a straight nose and a strong jaw. His facial expression was very sharp, but when he smiled, his eyes would shape themselves into quarter moons. All the girls in town would be drooling over him. Definitely someone Aly would flirt with if she wasn’t with Nawat already.
Suddenly, the barrier that the stranger put up vanished and Aly saw Taybur walk towards them. She noticed that the stranger did not move, let alone hide.
“Ah, Aly, I see that you’re always ahead of people. You’ve already met our Dauniere. He is an excellent swordsman, and he is working under me. He was very excited to see you.”
Aly noticed Duaniere blush and lower his head scratching the side of his face in embarrassment, “A pleasure to meet you Miss Aliane.” And with that he gave Aly a little bow.
This person’s good. Very good. Aly thought in quiet amusement, “No, the pleasure is all mine. You can just call me Aly.” Does Taybur trust this person?
“Duaniere, this might be your first and only time to get to meet to Aly, and don’t waste your time trying to use your charm on her, she already has somebody,” Taybur chuckled, “She won’t fall for you.” So Taybur doesn’t trust Duaniere completely. Interesting. Aly thought.
“By the way Aly, did you send Junai to retrieve more information? Didn’t you already know that that was what I was doing? You don’t trust me?” Taybur said jokingly.
Aly laughed, “I don’t know, you can be non-reliable when you want to, Sir Taybur.”
“Well according to what I’ve found out, there wasn’t any trace of someone barging into the houses by force. The residents opened the door to the stranger themselves, but they don’t seem to remember the person’s face.”
“Mind control. There used to a tribe in an island near Kypriang. Many of those tribe people were able to control the minds of others. It was also said that there were some great mages among them. Anyhow, those native people are thought to be extinct. They’re called the Kyendagres.” Duaniere said.
Aly and Taybur looked at Duaniere, making him blush, “I see why you keep him close,” Aly told Taybur, “He knows his history, or myths.”
“I don’t think what Duaniere’s saying is a myth Miss Aly. The items that were stolen are the artefacts found in the island of the Kyendagres. All of the stolen items have the Kyendagren symbol on it.” Taybur said.
“Huh, interesting isn’t it?” Aly amused.
“Yes, and that means the suspect is most likely a Kyendagren, which means our search for the suspect is narrowed, although I don’t know where to find any Kyendagrens.” Taybur said smiling.
“Then why all the excitement? There’s something you haven’t told me yet, sir.” Aly said.
“You see, one of my men saw the suspect walking out of a home holding an item with the Kyendagren symbol on it. The suspected Kyendagren wears a mask; a white mask with almond-shaped holes for eyes and rough red stripes on it. He said the stripes looked like blood.”
Aly’s heart skipped a beat. Behind Taybur she saw Duaniere’s lips form a sly and satisfied smile.
Aly opened her mouth, “I think, Sir Taybur, that this won’t be the last time I will be meeting with sir Duaniere.”