TEN

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“The diary is real?”

“Not the diary. I’ve read it cover to cover several times. The diary’s about solving the whereabouts of the Rule Book.

“The Rule Book is the mythical book you’re looking for? And it’s real?”

“That’s what my grandfather believed. But I can’t make sense of his notes. I’m hoping my friend Bertie at the Keep will figure it out. He’s a historian like my grandfather but he’s also into mythology. You should tell him about your exploding emerald bracelet. He might’ve heard of it.” Mehrak paused. “Well, you know your way round Eggie –”

“Eggie?”

“Short for Golden Egg Cottage,” he said. “Why don’t you take a nap? You look tired.”

Sammy had temporarily forgotten how shattered she was. And now that Mehrak had reminded her, the weight of it dragged her down. She rubbed her eyes and followed him back into the bedroom.

“Get some sleep,” he said, leading her to the bed. “I’ll wake you when the food is ready.”

______

The girl was asleep the moment her head touched the pillow. Mehrak pulled the sheets up over her and tucked them in around her slender neck. With a finger he dragged a couple of errant strands of hair back behind her ear. Her eyes darted back and forth under her eyelids as she dreamed, yet her face was peaceful. He watched her sleep a moment, then turned and went downstairs.

Why had he told her about his grandfather and the diary? He supposed it was because she was vulnerable. And pretty. He shook his head. She was still in her teens and he shouldn’t be noticing things like that; he was married. His chest tightened with guilt as he thought about Gisouie. How he missed her.

He fetched a roan shrub root from a cabinet and placed it on the work surface. With a knife he sliced down through its orange flesh and then stopped. He’d only ever told Gisouie about the diary. Now he’d given away their secret, and it upset him. It shouldn’t do; it shouldn’t matter in the slightest. The Rule Book was a myth. They’d only followed his grandfather’s diary to see where it led them, for the adventure of it. They’d been forced to leave town so why not go in search of the book? And now he felt like he’d lost a part of her by sharing their secret. Why had he even brought it up? He didn’t really believe in it. He’d just met this girl and he was already telling her his secrets.

He’d been alone too long. That’s all it was. He’d picked up a vulnerable young girl and he’d wanted to reassure her, tell her something about himself to make her feel at ease. But the Rule Book? She’d think he was a fool chasing fairytales, like those religious types that blindly followed scripture written a thousand years ago. She’d come out with an equally ridiculous story though. The Mother World? He scoffed. But she had been so sincere; he almost wanted to believe her.

 

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