Chapter Seven

And the Feat Goes On

Alexander squinted at the yellowed, faded text in front of him, trying to make sense of it. On the desk he sat at was a small, intricate contraption that he had fashioned out of a variety of materials, enlisting help from several local artisans to obtain some of the parts. It was mostly strips of various metals arranged in a radially symmetrical shape, with several spider-like legs holding it steady. A variety of carved crystals and lenses were set in the apparatus at various angles, creating a jumble of colors and refracted images. The contraption was far from done, but it was coming along well.

Even so, Alexander felt that he wasn't working fast enough. Ever since his discovery of a book in the library that actually contained several instructions for various magic spells much more complex and powerful than any he had dabbled in before, he had frantically blazed through the book's ancient pages until he found a spell that he was certain would both help bring Cassima home and aid in stopping Shadrack. Then began the construction of the device the book described at an even more frantic pace. Caliphim and Allaria were afraid that he was going to collapse from exhaustion, but Alexander never did.

Now he had hit a rut. He had everything he needed to construct all the parts of the apparatus except for one last piece – the crucial element that would power the device. The problem was, the book was not entirely clear what that last element was. Alexander reread the final instructions for the thirteenth time:

"'To travel to the place that you seek, for your other you must speak.
Time is fragile, it can tear, from a present here to a long gone there.
From your love, take what you hold, and watch the layers of time unfold.'"

Alexander stared at the instructions, feeling helpless because of his inability to understand them.

"What does that mean?" he asked himself.

As if in reply, there was a pleasant, yet melancholy trill from the window behind him. He turned to see Cassima's pet nightingale, Sing Sing, perched on the windowsill. The little gray bird appeared almost mournful in its mistress's absence. Alexander looked over his shoulder at her and sighed.

"Sing Sing…do you know what it means?"

Sing Sing only warbled sadly in response.

Graham and Valanice were seated on their thrones in Castle Daventry. There wasn't much point in doing so, since there was hardly any official business that day and very few people wishing to speak with the king and queen. Still, it was their duty to remain where they were, should anyone suddenly wish to have an audience with them.

Rosella was seated between the thrones like a child, anxiously hugging her knees. So much was plaguing her mind – the vague memory of the dream she had had the previous night, confusion over how she really felt about Edgar, apprehension over whether Shadrack could be stopped in time or not…she couldn't recall the last time she had been this worried.

Valanice sympathetically turned to her. She was still trying to comfort Rosella, despite the fact that it was doing little good.

"How is Alexander progressing with the task of finding Cassima and Edgar?" she asked her daughter.

"It's not something just to find them," Rosella said, "It's something that will also take us back in time to stop Shadrack from doing that awful thing I told you about."

"But you hope to find those two somewhere along the way?" Graham asked. The news that Shadrack was piecing together a plan that could eliminate his wife and children had shaken him somewhat, but he refused to let his fear show. If he did, he felt that his family would also become fearful and consequently lose hope of ever winning this strange battle.

"I hope," Rosella said quietly.

Choose your path: