The Gifted: Part One. Chapter 3
To the doctor’s great surprise, Corree was able to walk the next day, and he began to heal with remarkable progress that astounded all the royal physicians. During this time, the King came to visit him often and they soon became good friends, though they disagreed on many matters. However, no matter how hard the King pushed or prodded, he could not get Corree to talk about his past.
One day, after a visit from the King, Corree was standing by the window in his room looking out over the street when he saw a flash of blue. Not the blue of the sky, but a dark, pure, blue. The color reminded him of something, a childhood friend he had tried to forget. He searched the crowd, trying to catch a glimpse of the face. Beginning to despair, he started to turn away, but caught a glimpse of her face among the crowd.
She was young, and beautiful. She looked to be about seventeen years of age; she had beautiful, bright, black eyes that seemed to jump right out at you. Her hair was a dark black that shimmered with the dark blue that had caught his eye earlier; her features were delicate, as if painted by a master artist.
As he was observing her, the prince entered the room and came to stand beside him.
“The castle is impressive, is it not?” It was a statement, not a question, but Corree answered anyways.
“It is indeed. I was wondering, could you tell me who that young woman is?” He pointed her out to him; she was now laughing with a group of young women. The prince merely glanced at her.
“Her name is Nahtalie. She is my sister.” Corree let out a sigh, though whether from relief or disappointment, he could not tell. “She came to us about nine years ago;” A small gasp came from Corree “She was about eight at the time. She had a large gash on her head and couldn’t remember any more than her name. We didn’t think she would survive the injury but she, like you, miraculously recovered; though she never has recovered her memory. Why Corree, you’ve gone pale!” Corree had indeed gone pale, so pale that if he had been laying down the prince would have thought him dead.
The prince made Corree lay back down and ran to find the doctor. When they returned however, he was quite recovered and announced that he would be leaving the next day. However, the prince was quite determined to keep him from leaving so soon, and succeeded in convincing him to stay three days longer. From then on, whenever the King or prince came to visit him, they found him staring out the window, looking for the girl with the black hair. On the third day, he saw her.
She was shopping with the Queen, and he stared and stared at her until his gaze drew her eyes in his direction. When their eyes met, they stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Then, what he had dreaded happened, her eyes grew wide with recognition, and her face grew very pale; she staggered, and would have fallen to the ground in a faint had the Queen not caught her and taken her into the castle. Corree looked at the door by which they had entered the castle and began to form a plan.
Before he had been caught by the Calsooins, Corree had been exploring the castle, disguised as many different men, and had created a map of all the secret passages that no one knew about. It would be easy to get back in, but it would be hard to convince her to go with him.
That night, Corree could not sleep. He kept thinking of Nahtalie; he heard her scream many times that night, as the evening of her fall played over and over again in his head. Why had he chased her? Why couldn’t he have left her alone? He asked himself these questions over and over again until he finally got up and put his plan into action early.
The night was warm, but he still shivered. Once outside of the castle walls, he started to sprint towards the east. After running about a minute, he stopped and picked up a bundle that was invisible to the untrained eye. He pulled a map out of the bundle and, after studying it fir a moment, turned and ran back to the castle.
Once back at the castle walls, Corree turned left and travelled along the wall ‘till he came upon a large oak tree with an abandoned tree stand in it. He climbed the tree with amazing speed and agility and, near the top, opened a hidden hatch in the tree and dropped in.
At the bottom of the long, vertical tunnel was a flight of stairs that led up and to the right. After sever flights, the stairway split into two paths, one that led left, and one that led right; Corree consulted his map for a moment, then took the passage leading to the right. As he walked down the hall he noticed numerous doors in the wall, all of curious shapes and sizes. He finally stopped at a door that was the shape and size of a large bookshelf.
He pressed his ear to the door, then very slowly opened it, and slipped through. It was a dark room, so he could not see much of what it looked like. Squinting his eyes, he could barely make out the shape of someone sitting on the bed and facing away from him.
He crept closer to her, and gently put his hand on her shoulder. She jumped up and turned around.
“Who are you; and what are you doing here?”
To his great surprise, she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. After a moment, he returned the embrace.
“I remember everything, “she whispered “I didn’t at first; but now I remember everything.”
“You’re not mad at me then?” he whispered back, hopeful that she might have forgiven him.
“What would I be mad at you for?” she asked, sounding slightly bewildered.
“For everything. for getting mad at you; for chasing you; for getting you into this situation; for everything!” His voice was getting steadily louder, until he was almost yelling; Nahtalie clamped her hand over his mouth.
“Be quiet! The King and Queen sleep in the next room over. You should leave before they wake up.”
“I’m not leaving without you.” He said as soon as she removed her hand.
She hesitated for a moment, then nodded and headed towards the door.
“Wait!” he whispered “We can’t go that way, there’s too much of a chance we’ll run into someone; we must go the way I came.” Without waiting for her to reply, he turned and ran right into a dresser that tottered wildly and knocked a mirror to the floor. It landed with a crash; Corree froze, and listened. At first he heard nothing; then he heard someone get up and rush towards the room they were in.
The prince entered with a bang that could have woken up the whole castle, and paused for a moment when he saw Corree; then he rushed him. Corree dogged and grabbed Nahtalie so they could make their escape. As they ran back down the hall, they heard the prince pursuing them and yelling for soldiers as he went. As they neared the stairway, they heard the feet of the soldiers on the Grand staircase on the other side of the wall.
They made it to the bottom of the ladder before the prince caught up with them. He handed her the bundle of cloth with the maps in it and pushed her up the ladder.
“Take these and go! Once you are safely away, unwrap the bundle and put the cloak on. Take the papers and go south; once you get to the desert, rest in the forest until the next morning, then run across it and do not stop until you get to the other side. Once you are in the forest, look up. Give the papers to my father, and don’t wait for me!” Then the prince was upon them and struck out with his sword. Corree didn’t have a sword, but he tried to block the blow as best he could in the narrow tunnel. The sword cut his skin and left a deep gash down his right arm. He dogged the next blow, but hit his head on the ceiling, which left him stunned and disoriented long enough for the prince to knock him unconscious.