The Book of the Throne

Submitted into Contest #176 in response to: Set your story in a magical bookshop.... view prompt

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Fantasy Romance Friendship

“What did you say we were looking for?” I grumbled.

           Thorin and I were in the oldest, most worn down looking bookshop I had ever seen. Dust covered just about every square inch, and books were packed in and piled precariously everywhere. I could barely walk through the aisles without knocking a stack over.

           “Well, that’s the thing,” Thorin said, catching a small pile of books as it began to topple after he bumped into it. “I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that what we need is here. There’s something my great grandfather put here that’s supposed to stop witches, I don’t know what it is or how it stops them, but it’s here somewhere.”

           I stared at him until he turned and looked at me. “You have no clue what it is, and it could be anywhere in here? We’re never going to find it in here, this place is packed!”

           “Yeah, I’ll admit, it’s a long shot, but what other hope do we have to defeat Viessa? She’s nowhere to be found, we can’t turn to the palace for help, and we’re currently out of options. Until someone comes up with a better plan, this is the only chance we’ve got.” I picked up a random book from the top of a stack and flipped to a random page, then closed it and set back on the pile, which immediately collapsed to the floor. Thorin sighed and began picking them up.

           Reaching down to help him, I caught a glance at the jagged gash on his arm; the mark left from us fleeing the palace guards after we broke him free from the dungeon. It was only because of Morghan that we were able to escape, she drew the life out of all of them. The fight should have been easy for us, as we outnumbered them four to three, but we were caught by surprise, and Thorin was still distracted from his time in the dungeon, Bastian’s leg was giving him trouble, and Morghan and I weren’t good in combat.

           Looking up, I caught him watching me and my face flushed red, though I had no reason to be embarrassed. “I’m sorry we didn’t get you out safely,” I mumbled, dropping my eyes back to the books, continuing to pick them up.

           “Are you kidding? We were lucky we all made it out alive. We should have been killed, but you guys saved me. I’m forever in your debt that you even came to get me.”

           I snorted, unable to keep the noise inside. “In my debt? Are you kidding? You’ve saved my life so many times by now that me rescuing you was the least I could do. Besides, we need you. As you keep reminding us, you’re the leader.”

           Now it was Thorin’s turn to laugh. “Oh, please. I’m just saying that. You’ve been the leader since day one, the way you’ve been investigating and leading us beyond the mountains to find Viessa the first time.” As he mentioned Viessa, his face grew stony and he grew silent.

           “She can’t have done it, Thorin. Morghan says necromancers don’t have that kind of power.”

           “She’s also a lot younger than Viessa, she hasn’t had as much time to hone her powers. Or she could be protecting her mother, have you considered that? I know she wants what’s best for the kingdom, but Viessa is still her mother, and she does likely still hold a sense of loyalty toward her.”

           I gaped at him. He couldn’t even maintain eye contact with me when he said that Morghan wanted the best for the kingdom. “Morghan is as loyal as it gets! Her loyalty is not wavering toward her mother!” Even as I said it, I didn’t entirely believe it, and I knew Thorin could tell. I knew I could trust her with my life, but I also could understand the complicated feelings she may have towards her family, especially her mother.

           “Listen, let’s just find what we need and get out of here, I don’t want to fight with you,” Thorin muttered, turning away. He made his way toward the back of the shop, and suddenly he vanished from view.

           “Thorin? Thorin!” I yelled, running after him, only to smack dab into some kind of invisible wall. “Thorin, where are you?”

           “I’m right here! Can’t you see me?” A hand latched onto my arm and dragged me through the invisible wall. “It must have some kind of enchantment on it to only let royalty in, unless we bring someone else in.”

           I looked around. We were still in the bookstore, and everything looked the same, except that the area immediately around us had a shimmery quality to the air. We must have been just inside the invisible bubble. In the center of the tiny bubble sat a pedestal, on which there was a book. It was a huge book, and it was old and worn at the edges, with a plain leather cover. With a shaky hand, Thorin reached out to grab it.

           “Wait! What if it’s a trap?” I asked, pulling his arm back just before he grabbed it. He looked at me, holding my stare for a moment too long, before suddenly drawing a knife and stabbing at the edge of the bubble. The knife bounced off harmlessly.

           Turning back to me, Thorin leaned slightly closer to me and whispered, “I will never let any harm come to you for as long as I am alive.”

           I gaped at him in shock. What kind of promise was that, he hated me! Before my brain could make enough sense of what he said to formulate a response, he shoved me out of the bubble. I immediately lost sight of him as I stumbled backwards, knocking over several piles of books.

           “Thorin!” I yelled, lunging toward the bubble and searching for a weak spot in it. “Thorin, no! Thorin!” I kept grasping at the bubble, desperate to find a way in, a way to protect him. Minutes dragged by, still with no sign of Thorin. After about ten minutes, I slumped to the ground and leaned my forehead against the bubble, certain that he was laying dead in there.

           “Well, I have good news and bad news,” his voice came suddenly from above me. I snapped my head up, and there he was, shaky looking and pale as a ghost, but there and alive nonetheless.

           “Thorin, why did you stay in there for so long?” I demanded, scrambling to my feet.

           “I knew that whatever was in this book might upset you, and I didn’t want you to be affected by it.” He kept his eyes on the ground, as though refusing to acknowledge what he had said before shoving me out of the barrier.

           “You said there was good news and bad news. What is it?” I asked, choosing to give him the opportunity to ignore what he had said, for now. I didn’t know what he meant by it, but if he didn’t want to talk about it, I wasn’t going to make him.

           “The good news is this book has a lot of helpful information. The bad news is-” He paused, breathing deeply. “The bad news is that it only has one way to stop Viessa. And that is a failsafe that kills all the witches.”

December 17, 2022 04:50

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3 comments

Hatt Genette
06:22 Dec 17, 2022

Hiya, nice story. The tension of the situation is well communicated and the nuance of the relationships between characters had me intrigued. However, for the sake of feedback, there are just some things I might mention. Mainly, the dialogue is very exposition heavy. This is understandable given the constraints in word count and the world you have constructed here seems quite intricate, but it did bog down the pacing. Maybe practice making the dialogue briefer? Keep what's most essential to the present situation and characterisation. Overal...

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Bella Fox
19:39 Dec 17, 2022

I definitely felt like my dialogue was a bit heavy as I was writing it, I should have trusted my gut on that, I guess! I'll definitely end up reworking it at some point; this was partially just me trying to get my thoughts out and get the words on the page. I do tend to use this website as a bit of a way to get feedback, as all the parts with Emihly and Thorin in them are part of a fantasy series I'm writing, this part was from book two.

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C.B. Chribby
01:12 Feb 15, 2023

I can tell I'm picking up on a continued series here, but for just one short story, it was really fun to read. I like that the reader can gleam a lot from the dialogue, even if it is a little heavy-handed. I'm a big fan of magic in short stories and unexpected acts of selflessness (especially when they come from a place of buried emotions) so that was a joy to read. Hope all is going well and you're still writing!

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