Katya Lynneth didn't know what else to do. She was Raya's best friend- but even so, she couldn't help her like how Therin did. And with him gone, she was worried.
She ambled through the marble corridors, eyes flickering between the orbs that lined the way. They sent shadows flitting lightly across the stone and across the large glass windows and out into the night.
Kate paused as she reached where the corridor branched off. The right was the direct way to the official, royal study with more books than she could count. The left, however, took a detour. A detour past the training bay.
She fiddling with the hem of her long, pale blue shirt, wringing her hands as she turned to the left. Kate slowed as she approached the tall set of double doors. Ever so subtly, she reached out with her mind, biting her lip to keep from smiling as she felt the same wave she had when she had first met a certain guard.
"What are you doing here, Lady Katya?" Luka asked, a small smile visible under his hood as he took a step forward. He pointed to the right. "The library's over there, if that's where you're going."
"I... I know." she stuttered. "I just... felt like taking a walk?"
"Should I accompany you?" He asked with a smirk, though the expression faded after a moment. "It isn't safe with the attacks on the surrounding cities to be wandering around the palace alone." His voice turned to a mumble. "Even though it is really safe here. And... probably the most secured palace in all of the Five Kingdoms."
"I'd be happy for the company." Kate replied, her face flushing the slightest red. "But what about your post?"
He shrugged as if brushing her sentence away. "There are others. This- I mean, making sure you'll be fine is more important. You are a member of the High Nobility, after all."
Luka gestured to the corridor leading to the library with a small bow, and Kate started down the hall. They walked in silence, the sound of their footsteps echoing loudly. The marble hallway soon turned became etched with swirls inlaid within the stone, as if branching out from the intricate set of ceiling-high double doors, both made of gleaming wood.
A smile spread across her face as Luka held the door open for her and as she took a few steps inside.
The entire room was massive, as large as both the ballroom and throne room combined. A chandelier hung from the domed ceiling, thousands of small, twinkling crystals hanging from it. The glowing white crystals magnified the moonlight that cascaded in from the wide, circular skylight, illuminating the three stories of shelves and the bound books and scrolls lying upon them.
Luka looked over at Kate. He couldn't help but notice how radiant her face looked as she looked out at the shelves; her lips spread into a soft smile, eyes flickering around the room.
She glanced back at him, and Luka gave a small dip of his head as he lowered his hood, stationing himself in front of the doors. Her face freckled with a blush as their eyes met.
Tell me about yourself.
Kate's voice echoed through his head. It was softer than when she spoke out loud, slightly blurred around the edges from being sent Telepathically.
She walked towards one of the shelves, and a faint, glowing blue rectangle flickered to life under her feet, the same color light scanning her body once before lifting her up to a shelf on the second story. Kate brushed her fingers along the spines of the books as they fled from under her fingertips, gripping the white wood of the shelf as her rise stopped. Her eyes flickered to the ground, then back up to the books. Anything.
Luka smirked. Scared of heights, huh?
It's worth it afterwards.
I guess. He paused. Well, I was known as the Fyjun of our neighborhood. The kid who would always pull pranks and somehow get away with them. We used to set up traps for each other- siblings, friends, whoever. It was great. Especially the ones involving magic.
You'd get along with my sister, then. She's...a master of trickery.
There's always someone in the family who is.
Kate nodded, a soft chuckle passing through her lips. The platform started it's descent, and Kate hugged the new book she had taken, eyes refusing to look to the ground. She exhaled a sigh of relief as it slowed and touched the floor. "Do you have any siblings?"
Luka opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. He didn't know what to say. A version of the truth, maybe. But far enough off that Kate wouldn't suspect who he really was.
"Sorry- I shouldn't have asked."
"No, it's okay." He said quickly, shaking his head and tossing his hair back. "I... had a cousin, I guess you could have called her. She was like an older sister to me until her want for more magic than she had consumed her. She wasn't satisfied with what we had."
He gestured to the shelves upon shelves around them. "The nobles and royals got to live in fancy palaces and mansions while we were trapped in our average life. We weren't poor, but certainly not as rich as other families. She was disowned, and... now she's gone."
Kate was silent as she stepped off of the glowing platform and it faded back into the floor.
The short story of his past reminded her of how Raya had lost her older sister. The deaths made her mind drift to how overpopulated and malnourished the majority of the kingdom was. Maybe Sinistra taking over Forane and Riverdeen wouldn't be so bad- the families could be safe and children fed in they had the space and resources.
She was one of the nobles and royals living in a fancy mansion.
"Kate?" Luka's clear voice pushed all thoughts of their kingdom away.
She nodded in acknowledgement, hugging the fabric bound book to her chest. "I'm sorry."
He shrugged, offering a smile. "It's better this way. My family gets compensation for me being here, and... I met you."
A version of the truth, if money was information.
Her face flushed red again, and she lowered her head the slightest so a curtain of hair fell over her face. Why- and how- was this guard so charming? He couldn't say or do anything without causing her to blush.
Luka smirked at her reaction, eyes drifting from her reddened face to what she held.
"What book is that?" He asked.
Kate turned it over and flashed him a look at the silver and gold inlaid cover. "Mythology and folklore." She quickly flipped through, and inked images of Spirits and battles stared up at her. "Again."
"You've heard of Adoree, then? And what she did?"
Kate nodded. "It's like what's happening now with the uprising. My parents say it'll end like it has all the other years, but this time's... different. It's real, not just a few people speaking up against something and being shut down after a few days."
She walked over to one of the windows, trailing a hand across the curved marble column before looking out at the night sky.
Screams. More and more of them every day. She knew that's what the people along the borders to Forane and Riverdeen heard every night. Now, they grew closer to the palace and surrounding lands.
Kate turned back to him. "The world's changing, Luka, and I don't know if it's for better or for worse. War is coming."