The Hidden Room

Fiction By Sara Libeth // 5/3/2011

I was exploring my uncle's house the day this thing happened to me. But I had better explain. My parents were on a trip to Europe for a few weeks and I was left behind. They asked me if I wouldn't mind staying with Uncle Robert for two weeks while they went to London for a visit to my mother's friend and her husband. I said I wouldn't mind and off they went. Now, Uncle Robert's house is as creepy as the day is long, and big enough to house the whole city of Little Rock, Arkansas. But Uncle Robert was nice enough, and didn't mind my snooping. He was a laid-back sort of man with a clouded past. My father said that his wife had died when they were very young and he hadn't quite gotten over it. Anyway, I was exploring the North-West wing of the house that day. I had a candlabra in my hand, and a knapsack over my back. I had read too many stories of children who were exploring houses and the roof had caved in or something, and had starved because they weren't prepared. I had packed everything I thought I needed. Some food, a change of clothes, a book to read and a box of waterproof matches. Also packed were a few extra candles, in case I ran out. I was walking down a particularly dark passage when I noticed a gleam on my right. I held my candles up and looked closely. Now, I had been exploring this wing for days, and I knew this passage well, for I always liked the room at the end of the hall for it's beautiful bed and matching vanity and the ornate wardrobe and the curtains and basically how old-fashioned it was. I had almost opened the wardrobe to crawl in and see if I could find another world, but I had seen a rat and ran off. Now, as I was saying, I knew this passage, but I had not noticed this particular door that I saw now before me. I knew better than to go poking my nose into a mystery like this, but my curiousity got the better of me. I put my hand on the handle and pulled. It creaked slowly open and I stepped into a dimly lit room. In the center was a pedestal with something on top, but with the bad light, I couldn't tell what it was. Something tingled inside me, and I stepped forth and raised my candlabra high. I looked on the pedestal and saw... an old jar. I was disappointed, but I picked it up and looked at it anyway. It was obviously very old, and actually a little nice-looking. It was a dark, earthy green colour, and looked like a shrunken version of the huge clay urns the early people used to carry water. I peered inside and saw a scrap of old yellowed parchment. I fished it out and put the jar back. I rolled out the parchment and read in an old script:

Be ye known that the finder of this parchment is hereby commanded to set out on a journey. The finder of this letter must be female and of noble blood. None other is capable of finding this. You will be equipped with all you need. Set forth, young maid of pure heart and surpassing beauty. Yours will be the greatest destiny of all.

I, of course, was confused, but I was thrilled at the same time. A real adventure! Not just some made up story that I was playing while exploring. A real adventure! i was really going on an adventure. Now, as an eighteen-year-old girl, I was expected to get married soon. The suitors I had seen, though, were of the most revolting nature. Of course I didn't mind if my husband wouldn't be handsome, but these men were very good-looking, and very mean-spirited. They were cruel and I never found the one I was looking for. I walked into the long corridor behind the pedestal and found, lying on the ground, a pack with clothes, food, rope, a knife and (wouldn't you know it) candles. I took the waterproof matches from my other pack and packed them in my new one. I left everything else, because the food in this new pack looked good, and the clothes looked nothing like mine. I was about to discard my own clothes, but they morphed into ones just like the ones in my pack, so I left them on. I went off down the passageway until i came to a huge iron door. It was so big, I didn't think I could open it, but a word popped into my mind that I couldn't explain. I shouted it at the door,

"Eshaka!"

And it opened. I walked out into sunlight. Ahead of me was a beautiful city. I was dressed like any other traveler, so I was let in without any trouble.As I wandered through the market, I heard whispers and rumors. At the butcher's shop, he was chatting with a customer,

"Did you hear? The prince 'as disappeared! I hear 'e was out riding when it happened. Ask the baker, 'e heard it too!"

At the produce stall, two men were talking in low tones.

"The prince is gone."

"They say a dragon took him."

Two ladies were drawing water at the well in the center of the town square.

"Did you know the prince is gone?"

"Yes! It's all over town! The news spread like wildfire!"

"You know, my sister's mistresses cousin says that it was that evil woman who the king turned down, you know?"

"Yes! Tell me about it!"

"Well, as I said, the cousin said that in revenge, she kidnapped his son! She works at the palace, you know. She would know!"

"I think that if that man turned down a lady as beeyootiful as that woman, he deserves to be punished!"

"Watch the way you talk. That's treason!"

"Oh, you know me. Can't control my tongue!"

I kept walking, listening to the outrageous rumors. Gossip floated freely about this town. I was just passing the gates to the palace, when an old blind peddler stopped me.

"I don't want anything," I said. He laughed at me.

"I ain't 'ere to sell ye nothin' pretty lady. I'm here to tell ye the truth! The king's old enemy, the witch, was angry at the king for turnin' down her offer. He'd let her control the kingdom, and she'd make sure we were never conquered. The king saw through her sceme, though, rotten ol' hag that she is. Last night she broke in and kidnapped the prince. She's keepin' 'im captive in an underground lair. You're the one I've been waitin' fer, so I'll take ye. Come on!"

I knew better than to question old blind informants, so i followed quietly. He showed me a tunnel outside of town. Leaving me there, he tapped his way off. I silently slipped down the tunnel and found myself in an underground lab. A beautiful woman stood in front of what looked like a mannequin on a board. But it was a very lifelike mannequin. She was saying to it,

"When your father finds you gone, if he hasn't already, he will worry. And that little token I left in your room should let him know who he's dealing with. I will make my appearance and tell him that if he does not give me the reigns to the kingdom, you will suffer. And suffer you will, unless he gives me my kingdom."

Then to my astonishment, the mannequin, which was actually a live boy, spoke!

"He will never give you the kingdom. Why don't you kill me now and be done with it?"

I then realized that he was chained to the board, and helpless to the wrath of this cruel woman. She lifted her hands and bolts of blue lightning shot from her fingers. The boy cried out in pain, then the light died away and he was left gasping for breath.

"Foolish boy! Kill you and lose my bargaining tool? Hah! Never! But I will give you more of what you just had if you keep this attitude. Watch your temper, boy."

"I'm not the only one who'd better watch their temper," he growled at her. Again the lightning shot out. She laughed at his pain and swept towards me. I shrank back into the shadows as she walked by, out into the sunlight. After she disappeared, I crept down the tunnel and into the room. I wound my way around torture devices of all kinds. It was a terrifying place. I snuck forward to the boy and pulled out my knife. As it clanked in my bag, the boy looked up.

"Who're  you?" he asked. I winced as the sound echoed around the chamber.

"Shh! I've come to rescue you."

"You're a girl!"

"Your point is?"

"My father usually sends warriors and knights on rescue parties."

"Your father knows nothing about me."

"What?"

"Yes, now please be quiet and let me get on with my work."

I slid my knife into the lock on his chains and twisted. A click sounded and the lock broke open. I lifted him away from the board and told him to follow me. I asked him what we could do to stop the witch.

"She's afraid of fire, but she douses it before it gets too close."

I nodded and we escaped. Outside the cave, though, new troubles arose.

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