Enchanted Stories: Adventure in Brightvale - Part Three
A quick examination of Princess Emily's books in her room revealed that the book we were looking for was not there. We left the room and found the Kacheek nervously pacing the hall. He jumped when we came out and I really thought for a moment he was going to faint. I put a hand on his shoulder to steady him.
"Did you find anything?" he asked hopefully.
"Perhaps, it's too soon to say. Take us to the library," Chloe said.
"Of course, follow me."
He led us to the palace library and opened the door. The place was massive, the bookcases reached floor to ceiling. Finding a book without help would be a daunting task in a place like this. Elise turned to the Kacheek and said, "Please tell me these are organized by category."
"Of course they are," he said somewhat contemptuously. "What do you Meridellians take us for, barbarians?"
"I beg your pardon, good sir. You wouldn't believe the number of libraries we've been in that seemed to have been arranged by four year-olds. Would you please summon the librarian to help us?" Elise apologized.
He nodded and left; a moment later he returned with a Purple Lenny.
"Why are they always Lennies? Have you ever been in a library not run by a Lenny?" Anita whispered in my ear.
"Yeah, Meridell. Lisha is the head librarian there," I whispered back.
Elise explained that we were looking for a book of maps. The librarian led us to shelf in the middle of the room.
"I don't suppose you would remember if Princess Emily borrowed a book of maps before her disappearance?" Chloe asked.
"The princess was always reading, I cannot say what she read last, I just put them away when she was done with them. However, if the princess could not reach a book she would call me to get it down for her. She never went up the ladders herself; she had a fear of heights. I do not recall ever getting her a book from this row. The princess is not very tall; she cannot reach past the fourth shelf. All books have an exact place here; it would have gone back in its place. So, if she took a book from this area, it must be on one of those shelves. I beg of you to please replace all the books in their exact place. It is such a nuisance when people take books down and return them to the wrong places. I spend so many hours rearranging these shelves because people cannot be bothered."
"We understand, we will be careful," Princess promised.
The librarian walked off and we each took a spot and started to look through the books in that area for one that was missing page 106. About twenty minutes later Bluejay cried out that he had found it. We all rushed over and looked. The book was simply titled 'Brightvale Geography for Beginners.' The page was indeed missing and unfortunately so was the page that explained where it was a map of.
"Let's go see if the librarian has a copy of this book," Princess said.
We hurried back to the front where the librarian was talking with the Kacheek, who was looking as nervous as ever.
"Well?" the Kacheek asked.
"Do you have a copy of this book?" Bluejay asked, holding it out.
The librarian took it and looked it over, then handed it back to Bluejay. He turned to the Kacheek and said, "Take them to the pages' headmaster; I'm certain they must a few copies to teach the young ones from. Geography is an important subject for them."
The Kacheek jumped up and scurried off at top speed again, with us in tow hurrying to keep up with him. A few minutes later we were again in an office. The Speckled Hissi headmaster was listening to our request. When we finished, he rose and excused himself. When he returned he was carrying a book.
"Here you are, milady. I don't know how this will help you find the princess, but I wish you luck," he said as he handed me the book.
I nodded and thanked him and we left. In the hall, I started to open the book to page 106, then quickly shut it. I was certain that someone had caused the princess to disappear; we had to be careful not to tip off this person. We had to find her first.
"We need to report back to the king," I said to the Kacheek.
On the way back I dropped back to Chloe and Princess.
"Elise, Anita, and I will go in. Watch the little ones, but above all, keep Yanli silent," I whispered.
They nodded and I moved back to the front of the group. I put both books in my bag and prayed that I could trust the Kacheek, the librarian, and the headmaster not to tell anyone the title of the book we had needed. We arrived at the king's office, and the three of us entered with the Kacheek. The king looked up eagerly and waited.
"We did find a clue in your daughter's room. We are leaving now to follow it up," I said.
"Are you positive it is a good lead?" Hagan asked.
"I am, I believe that we will find her there," I reassured him.
He rose. "I will assign knights to accompany you."
"No, sir, I do not believe that that would be wise at this time. Everyone knows your daughter is missing. People will know that knights are on the move, they will easily find out where, and if any rogue got there first, we might never get her back. No, we must not endanger the princess further. My party has the necessary manpower to bring her back safely, but we can also do it completely discreetly. Trust me, your majesty; I will bring your daughter back unharmed," I protested.
He sat back down but looked uncertain. "There is wisdom in your words. I suppose I should trust you, you have already gotten further than I did. I have your word?"
"You do. I swear on my honor as a Meridellian," I replied.
"You have our entire company's, your majesty." Elise spoke up.
"Will you tell me where you think she is?" Hagan asked.
I hesitated a moment, then said in a low voice, "Meridell. I shouldn't say any more than that. Just to be safe. I have found that you never know who is listening, even when you think that you're alone."
Hagan nodded. He rose and wished us luck and a safe journey, we bowed left. We left the palace and the city, heading in the direction of Meridell. We arrived at the next town after sundown and booked a room at the inn. Once in there I pulled the book out and opened it back to page 106. The map had a large area on it with three villages and the surrounding countryside.
I turned to Anita. "You're the one who knows the most about the world from your travels, Anita. If you were hiding from someone, which village would you pick?"
Anita looked at it and said, "She's in Elsmet, it's on a trade-route. People from out of the village probably pass through there on a daily basis. They wouldn't think anything of someone new coming and going. The other two are probably too isolated; she would attract unwanted attention there."
"All right, to Elsmet we go. How do we get there from here?" I asked.
Chloe pulled out a map and we charted the path. We then planned every detail of our journey.
"Okay, we leave in three hours, get as much sleep as you can."
Three hours later, under the cover of night, we slipped out of the inn and headed north to Elsmet. It was tough going because we couldn't stop at any towns, so we had to camp out every night. That really didn't agree with Inna, but we managed it, and a week later Elsmet came into sight. With renewed energy we entered the village, ready to find Emily.
We quickly checked into the inn. Leaving Bluejay in charge of Yanli and Inna, we went into the city to discreetly search for clues. We broke into teams, Anita and Celine, Princess and Chloe, and Elise and I. We met back at the inn hours later, all empty-handed. No one had spotted anyone who could possibly the princess.
"It's all right," I reassured them. "We just got here. We'll find her soon. It's been a long two weeks. We'll get a good night's sleep and try again tomorrow."
Brave words; I didn't sleep a wink for worrying that someone had beaten us here and captured the princess. We need to find her and bring her back to the king for this story to end. I suddenly realized that I had forgotten that was only a story, I had almost begun to believe that this was real. That scared me a little, the idea of forgetting and being trapped in the story forever.
To be continued...