A Renewed Hope: Part Six
The events that happened afterwards were carved into the walls of the Hall to be remembered forever, like Calladamos.
The beam of Mysti missed the Three. It was an excellent shot, but, being ghosts, they simply evaporated so that the Mysti didn't touch them. Janice remembered something from all the books of Guardians that wouldn't do her any good – Defend your mind. Guardians could appear as the most wonderful things ever, so if your mind was weak (not unintelligent, but unguarded) they could easily take control.
This was what Janice was thinking of when the Three invaded her mind.
She heard their voices, wispy and cruel and heavy with the weight of a thousand destroyed cities.
For a moment, Janice was taken in by the Three's persuasive reasonings. They appealed to her inner self, to the little bit of evil she had inside. Ambition whispered to her about all the kingdoms she could rule with her power; Revenge urged her to get back at all those who had wronged her; Greed mentioned wands of gold and laurels of emerald.
But Janice heard other voices: war cries, wails of pain, hushed whispers of advisors wondering about the rash and horrible decisions of their corrupted rulers. It was these voices, coupled with her conscience, where what broke her of the spell.
"Suraie enéa Trila," she whispered. "Kaladamosa tetra. Lunann soli."
She had never heard that spell in her life. But she knew it.
It was the spell of Calladamos – or, more accurately, its song. Or at least the first few lines. She had spoken it in Calladamien, but now she began again in English:
"This is the city of glowing hearts,
Hidden from the world for reasons unknown
A city where hope hasn't left its marks
Calladamos, where sun has not shone
Most do not know of the Forbidden City
It is a mystery left forever untold
Disremembered, it's a place not merely pretty
But beautiful, rather; this kingdom of old.
This is the city of glowing souls
Hidden from the world, a story to unfold
Hope lifts the citizens; voices resound
Calladamos, the place that was found."
The voices in her mind quieted. She wondered once again what time it was. And realized that her mind belonged to her once again.
Where were the Three?
Janice opened her eyes. Upon the stone wall were carvings of an elaborate battle; Ambition, Revenge and Greed were there as well. They looked almost alive.
Suddenly, Janice felt as if a fog had been lifted and she realized that they were alive.
The spell of Calladamos had imprisoned them in a stone wall.
The coronation hall is a large place, but it is packed with people. Gareth stands on one side of me; Atlanta on the other. Ria is in front of us, giving a speech that I know even she thinks is boring. The crowd is restless, and Gareth stifles a yawn. Atlanta doesn't have as much luck, and yawns a yawn so huge that it makes me feel drowsy. Ria glares at her then finishes the speech – finally – and waves her paws to the left for an invisibility spell, making the wall behind us disappear. On the other side of the wall is the sun. There is a collective gasp from the crowd, then a great silence. It reminds me of how quiet it was when the Three got trapped in the wall – or, it was quiet, until Gareth burst into cheers. Gareth, the serious one. I suppose it just goes to show that happiness can change people greatly.
I hear a round of applause come from the crowd, and I see them staring at me with mixed emotions on their faces: appreciation, happiness, relief, awe, disbelief. Atlanta and Gareth push me lightly ahead, towards Ria, who receives me in an elegant purple dress and a suppressed scowl that tells me that she's missing her scarlet gown terribly. I can't help grinning at her expression, and she smiles too, after a pause. She turns me to face the crowd, with its many glows. The people look as though they are on multi-colored fire. "I give you Janice," she tells them in a voice that carries through the hall. "Your Protector."
The crowd erupts into cheers and whoops and tears. Ria hands me the Rod of Mysti kind of reverently, then places a laurel made of emeralds (like Greed said!) on my head. It matches my spirit glow and catches the light of the sunrise, making it all the prettier.
A royal Zafara with even more elegance than Ria steps out of the crowd. She wears a lovely yellow dress with goes beautifully with her amber eyes that look similar to Atlanta's eyes. From the way she carries herself, I know that she's Ria and Atlanta's mother, remembered once again. She's holding a crown encrusted with diamonds. It's made of an alloy of gold and silver; Ria told me that it represents the sun and the moon. She places it on Ria's head. This is a double coronation: I'm being sworn in to be the Protector, and Ria is becoming an Empress. Her first coronation was when she became a princess, on the last day that she saw the sun, and now she is becoming an Empress and seeing the sun again in all its glory. It makes me smile at the strange irony of it all.
Atlanta, from behind me, laughs at something Gareth's said. Ria and I turn to look at them, and from the confused frown on Gareth's face, he had not intended his words to be taken as funny. Which makes the situation all the funnier. Before we know it, Atlanta and I are laughing so hard that I have to lean on my staff to stay upright. Atlanta's already on the floor, giggling as hard as a Peophin can giggle. Ria, being an Empress now, has to be more reserved, but seems to be having a battle with her features to keep a straight face. Gareth looks at the three of us and shakes his head.
The formal celebration ends, but there is still celebrating in the streets, dancing, singing. The four of us head to the palace in a companionable silence, which is a sharp contrast to the clamor around us.
Once inside, we go to the library. Atlanta turns to me. She glances at Gareth and Ria uncertainly, then looks at me, seeming almost... shy? She takes a deep breath, then says something that catches me completely off guard:
"Are you staying?"
I look at her. "Of course I'm staying," I say. "We haven't even eaten any cake yet."
Atlanta seems impatient now, which is closer to her usual self. "I mean," she says, sounding annoyed, "are you staying in Calladamos? You're our protector now, but... well, do you want to go home? We could, um, maybe call you if we need... protecting. "
She pauses, and it suddenly occurs to me that I haven't seen Mistia or Altador in more than a month. I get a sudden and sharp pang of homesickness which causes me to sit in a chair to arrange my thoughts. I take a deep breath to help slow my suddenly fast heartbeat.
My thoughts ignore my attempt at calming myself down and instead go a mile a minute. Out of my jumbled feelings, I can only identify one: I want to stay.
"I'm staying," I say. Ria, Gareth and Atlanta break into grins. "But I want to go to Altador first; Mistia hasn't seen me in a month, and... oh, gosh! My garden must be dying!"
I smile at this. It won't take me any time to repair any damage that time has done to my garden.
"I also want to bring some things with me. Some books on Calladamos would be nice, as well as some of the paintings in the room with the piano in it. Maybe I'll bring the piano."
My friends roll their eyes, excepting Ria, who merely chuckles. "Anything else, oh great Protector?" Atlanta says teasingly.
"Yep," I say, smiling. "You three. Pack your bags, because you guys are finally going to see the outside world." I pause. "Will we still have our spirit glows when we leave? It may or may not scare some people to see all of us glowing-but-not-painted-Glowing pets."
Ria smiles. "I'm sure they'll be fine."
Gareth and Atlanta nod, and dash to their respective rooms to pack a few things for the trip. "Don't forget sunscreen," I call after them. "Altador will be boiling compared to Calladamos, and you'll want to be prepared!"
Ria stands gazing at the shelves of the library. Then she laughs, a great laugh that fills the room with happiness.
"You know, Janice," she says, her eyes fixated on a book in front of us. "All that you've done in Calladamos has been done for one reason and one reason only."
"To defeat Guardians? To protect the city? To show Calladamos to the world?" I say, curious.
"No," she says, smiling. She picks up the book and shows me the title. "'To Renew Hope.'"
Sunlight shines through the window and fills the room with a warm yellow light. Ria turns and goes to pack, and I sit watching the outside world, alive with wonder and filled with questions.
A flower that grows without sunlight will be small. It will be scrawny, pale, shriveled. And yet, this one flower will be strong, knowing hardship. It will be radiant, knowing darkness.
And it will be memorable, knowing how it feels to be disremembered.