Disclaimer: I do not own Inkheart or any of its characters, they belong to Cornelia Funke. I own Antonia, Olivia, and Volpe (Fox).
(A/N: Hi everyone here is the next chapter. :) If you go to "Links mentioned in stories" I've posted two links to drawings of Antonia and Princess Olivia DimensionalTraveller made for me. They are uploaded to my Pinterest, hopefully they should load okay.)
"Now...seeing your face...
Brings out...all the memories...
That I don't want to remember
I...I didn't know...
Know just how the story…
Just how the story goes…."
-"Story" by Nishi Rajan-
The day's events still had my mind spinning and Meggie's hurt expression was ripping my heart in two. I had seen Dustfinger sitting on the table, looking everywhere but at Meggie, Elinor, and myself. He had seemed so focused on not paying us any attention that he almost toppled off the table.
"Meggie," I said softly, "What happened?"
Meggie glared at me, "You helped Dustfinger," she accused.
Basta looked back at me, "What are you telling her, Antonia?" He prodded Elinor with the barrel of his shotgun, causing her to curse at him again.
"I'm only asking her if she's alright." I took Meggie's hand before Basta could grab hold of her again. I might not be able to keep myself safe, but I was going to damned well keep my friends and adopted little sister safe. The sudden protective urge that had been missing most of the day and the previous night now coursed through me and gave me the courage I needed.
"She's walking, she's talking, and she's not having to be carried. She's fine, move it old woman!" He snapped at Elinor and recruited a younger black jacket to help him keep watch over Elinor as he walked over to the fourth door, the room Mo was in.
"Meggie, please," I knelt down while Basta's back was turned towards us to unlock and unbolt the door. "I didn't betray you or Elinor or Mo. I swear."
Meggie scanned my face, "Capricorn told Dustfinger to bring him 'the girl and the book'. He tricked us. I…I saw you both talking before he started fire dancing and then Basta took you and I thought…."
"You thought I helped Dustfinger…."
"The fork tongue match stick eater!" Elinor fumed from in front of us, "It was a mistake for any of us to trust him from the start. And how do we know you weren't in on this too? You're one of Capricorn's henchmen now! For all we know everything we say will go straight back to him!"
"I wasn't, will not be, and never was," I replied as I pulled Meggie into a hug. "I didn't even know Dustfinger was the reason they came to your house, took us, and brought you and Meggie here. I thought Dustfinger was strange and I was an idiot for trusting him. Why would I betray Mo and Meggie when they're family to me? I love Mo like an uncle and Meggie like a sister, and Meggie has become a sister to me ever since she was little. I would never do anything to hurt them or end their friendship with me."
As I spoke, Meggie began wiggling away from me and she kept staring downwards. I followed her gaze and froze. The black pearl around my neck had a strange silver glow to it; the angrier that I became at Elinor and Meggie thinking I betrayed them, the brighter the pearl would become. It's never done THAT before, ever. Not for my mother, grandmother, or any other of my ancestors!
Basta turned around and grabbed Elinor's arm and pushed her so roughly in that I thought she had fallen. He turned back to grab Meggie and froze at the sight of the pearl. I quickly placed my hand over it and squeezed the small gem but even then its light escaped through the spaces between my fingers. The younger black jacket was so amazed that he forgot to guard Meggie; I took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
"I'll put her in the room," I said, forcing my voice to keep calm even though I was freaked out. "Meggie, there is a light switch," I said softly, "I saw it this morning, it's in the corner of the room near the door. When you walk in reach to your left, about to where your head would be, and it's there. Okay?"
She gave me a frightened nod and unlike Basta I didn't push her into the room but waited until she had stepped inside before I stepped back. I swallowed and hated the look of fear on Meggie's face as she frantically searched for the switch. Basta slammed the door shut and said something to the younger black jacket about Elinor, the two laughed and Basta turned back towards me.
"Take your hand off the pearl, Antonia."
I swallowed and slowly removed it. The pearl's light had dimmed but it was still bright, enough to illuminate my face. Strangely, it reminded me of the light of the moon.
Basta placed his fingers under the pearl and tugged it. "Why won't the chain come off?"
"It was welded shut. It's a family tradition. On the eldest girl's 16th birthday she's taken to a jeweler and her mom has the chain removed from around her neck and it's put around her daughter's neck and the chain's melted back together again."
He nodded, "Good, since you're the only one who can use it anyway." Basta kept his hand around the pearl and I noticed its glow brightened a little. A small smile pierced Basta's face and the look in his eyes almost made me want to stop fearing him. "Olivia," he whispered. He looked back up at me, the look in his eyes had dulled a little.
"It's never done that before."
"That's because no one else in your family was its rightful owner." Basta said, the tenderness in his voice had left. The gentler man I had seen moments before had vanished into the hard henchman once again. Basta took hold of my arm and I walked quickly to keep up with him, I kept glancing back at door number 4 hoping that Meggie had found the light switch. She was with Mo in there….She'd be safe with him.
The village looked frightening, old, and dilapidated in the daylight but at night time it was even worse. I had been terrified when Basta and the others had dragged Mo and I into the village the previous night and I hadn't been paying too much attention to the buildings. Now, each building looked like it was either growling or crying, especially the ones with candle light shining through the windows and doorways. We passed Fulvio as he entered his house, I wondered if Maria wanted her dress back. Basta gave me a slight tug when I slowed down.
"Enjoying the scenery?" He rasped.
"Best learn to like it, you're going to be here for the rest of your life."
The hairs on my neck rose and shivers traveled up and down my spine after Basta said that. I glanced over at his face and the cold smirk plastered upon it had my stomach flipping. Was he going to forget the promise he had made to me earlier? My heart raced and I dreaded returning to his – our – house. As we passed Capricorn's church, I found myself hoping one of the huge blood red doors with eyes painted onto them would open and a black jacket would call for Basta. The doors remained closed and the night was silent except for a few black jackets calling out to each other, fireflies buzzing through the night, and moths fluttering past my face.
I glanced up at the night, the blanket of darkness was sprinkled with stars and the full seemed to be closer tonight than it ever had before….It seemed to have a strange glow to it. Brighter than usual….As if the pearl's light had called to it….My gaze was so fixated on the moon that I hadn't noticed Basta was pulling me into the house.
Basta finally let go of me and glanced back at me, "You're trembling. I swore to you I wouldn't hurt you. I may not keep many good promises, but that's one I intend to keep." He turned his back on me and locked the front door, "If you try to get out the men will find you and bring you back here, understand."
I nodded, "I won't try to escape."
"Fine. Sit." He motioned to the kitchen table and the two rickety chairs around them. I didn't like the fact he was ordering me around as he would a dog. I thought about telling him to shove it and then thought about Mo, Meggie, Elinor, and my parents. I walked over to the table and pulled a chair out. Basta watched my every move and when I had finally seated myself, he sat down in the other chair.
"I think it's unlucky to tell you this. But I have my orders." He shifted, "Do you know where I'm from, Antonia?"
A planet far, far away from here? "No."
"I'm from a world within a book. You think I'm nuts, you'll see tomorrow I'm telling you the truth." He smirked and frowned again as he began tracing shapes onto his tabletop with his knife. "Back in my world, I worked for Capricorn as I do now; I've been with him since I was a small boy, younger than Silvertongue's daughter. I saw Capricorn's men fall in love and marry a woman; I even battled with Dirty Fingers over a beauty named Roxanne. When I realized she had fallen in love with that fire eater I carved a few decorations into his face," he gave a cruel smile.
"Then, a year later, I was returning from burning down someone's house, he had crossed Capricorn one too many times. I heard…someone singing, she had the most beautiful voice I had ever heard…." Basta paused. He looked as if he were somewhere far away. Finally, he blinked and continued with his story.
"I walked through the woods and saw her in the meadow…in a beam of moonlight…dancing….She was surrounded by fairies and sprites…night creatures like herself. Princess Olivia, the only daughter of King Marama, the Moon King. He cast light every night to help keep…dark creatures away. His daughter spent the days living with him on the moon and spent her nights dancing upon the planet….She loved everything it had to offer, the trees, the flowers, the animals and birds, the fairies and magical creatures, hell she even liked the bugs."
He smiled again at the fond memory of the Moon Princess everyone kept telling me about. "When I walked into the meadow she didn't stop dancing, she didn't gasp in fear at the sight of me, and she didn't seem to know who I was. It was rare for anyone not to recognize me back then. Everyone knew me and Capricorn, they didn't always recognize the other men, but they knew me well." A cold and twisted smile crossed Basta's face, "Let's just say….People would have some unpleasant decorations or experiences when they crossed me."
I silently thanked God for helping me keep my thoughts to myself; I didn't want to wind up like one of the people who had crossed Basta. Yet, I did want to get away. Sooner or later I was going to have to find my backbone.
"She invited me to dance with her. I still remember her exact words, 'You watch me as if you have never danced before…why would a handsome man not enjoy dancing? Do you not have someone special in your life? Come dance with me….' So I did. I did every night for months. Then, we'd only spend a few minutes dancing and the rest of the night we'd take long walks, we'd talk, and we'd do everything I thought was sappy. I loved being with her."
The happiness left Basta's face. "Then, Capricorn wondered where I was going at night, he was angry I would vanish. One night, he needed me to help him burn down one of the Laughing Prince's strongholds. When I wasn't there he became suspicious and sent Volpe, Flatnose, and Cockerell to follow me….They found me in a grove I had took Olivia too, it was a place where all of Capricorn's men proposed to the woman they loved. I was about to ask for her hand in marriage when Flatnose, Cockerell, and Volpe came charging through the woods at us." To my surprise, Basta's hand grabbed hold of mine as if he were afraid I'd vanish into thin air; his voice began to tremble and his eyes began to glaze again.
"I pushed Olivia behind me, I didn't want her hurt. 'What do you think you idiots are doing?!' I screamed. 'We're here to bring her to Capricorn, like you should have done ages ago, Basta!' Cockerell told me. 'Capricorn will meet her when we wed,' I recall saying and when the others tried to charge past me to catch her, I told Olivia to run. Run as fast as she could."
"I was so busy trying to fight Flatnose and Cockerell off that I didn't realize Volpe had gone after her." Basta's fingers dug into my hand. "I heard her bloodcurdling scream….she was so scared…so damned terrified. Flatnose and Cockerell fell back, realizing something was wrong, they followed me to Olivia…and…and I found her just as the moon's light began to glow so bright I thought it was day and the ground began to shake under our feet. King Marama was telling us he was pissed to hell and he never forgave the others for what they did….Never."
Basta paused for a long minute and blinked rapidly again then continued. "I found Olivia lying in middle of the woods; her silk white gown was soaked with red blood. Volpe's sword was still in the side of her belly…My poor Olivia…she was dying and she knew it. She put her hand to the side of my face, I begged her to stay with me, I-I'd find help. She told me there was no help for her, no saving her. She swore to me she'd one day return, and she cursed the others: She bestowed them with 'gifts' that would show their true ugliness for what it was. Olivia was fading so quickly, but she told us, 'One day a maiden with a pure heart will appear in your lives and if you are not willing to turn away from the darkness she will end your wickedness once for and all.'"
Basta cleared his throat and continued. "Then on her last breath she whispered to me, 'When I return you will know me by the final tear I cried.' A tear fell out of her eye just as she gave her last breath; it turned into a perfect, beautiful black pearl…the most beautiful of its kind. Just before it vanished it began to glow bright silver, the light of the moon's power was trapped within it. Flatnose and Cockerell helped me to find a good place to bury Olivia…It was far from our stronghold, I didn't want her anywhere near Capricorn's darkness. As for Olivia's curse, no one believed in it and I was beginning to wonder if she had cast it at all….Then we came into this world and a silvertongue named Darius read the others out of the book…Cockerell's ankle was twisted making him limp, Flatnose's face was crushed in, Volpe was so ugly and frightening that even Capricorn couldn't stand the sight of him and I killed him."
He looked up at me, "When I saw you in the hallway of that old fat woman's house I thought you were a pretty woman. Then when I saw the pearl this morning….The perfect black pearl….I realized you had kept your promise and you returned to me. When your pearl began to glow I knew you kept your promise. But I only wonder why you can't remember?" A single tear trailed its way slowly down Basta's cheek. He stared at me, "Maybe because you have to be the maiden who will carry out the Moon Princess's curse before you can truly return to me?"
I swallowed, "I don't know….I've never heard about the Moon Princess until today, I swear."
Basta stared at me and looked at the pearl, "I know you're Olivia, because only Olivia has control over the magic of the moon. Didn't you see how the moon was close to our village tonight, as if celebrating the fact you were here?"
"I noticed it and I thought it was beautiful and odd."
"It's not odd," Basta leaned forward and pushed a strand of my hair behind my ear, "It's your father."
Crickets chirped as fireflies and fairies circled around me. I laughed as I opened my palm and allowed a tree fairy to land upon it. "Hello, Artemis," I greeted, "How are you tonight?" I listened to the chiming of his voice and smiled, "I see, well I hope you and the Princess do wed. You sound as if you love her very, very much. Speaking of love…."
I stood up off the rock I had been perched upon and beamed as Basta walked into the meadow, a strange smile on his face.
"I see you are happy this evening, 'tis a good change from how you were feeling last night," I smoothed the ruffles out of my white gown and picked up the hem and walked towards him. My heart raced as love filled it, "I have missed you."
"I missed you too," Basta rasped as he wrapped one of his arms around my waist and the other took my free hand and slipped something onto it.
"What is this?"
"I don't know," Basta purred, "What is it?" His smile grew larger.
"I must see to know." I pulled my hand away and gasped at the sight. A beautiful fire diamond caught the moonlight and tiny flames danced within it. I looked up at Basta, speechless. "Basta….Are…Is this…are you?"
He down upon one knee, "Princess Olivia Marama of the Moon Kingdom, would you do me the honor of wedding a humble man whose only wish in life is to love and serve you with all his heart?"
I was so happy I felt as if I would faint, "YES!" I cried out "yes!" I was about to jump into his arms when I heard rustling from the trees, Basta pushed me behind him, and glanced back at me protectively. He looked forward and drew his sword. Three men – one of whom seemed to be a giant – surged forward out of the foliage, their weapons drawn and their faces twisted with malice. I gasped in terror and began to draw the Moon's power into my body. I had to protect Basta! I could not lose him!
"Basta, move away," a short one with a goatee commanded, "The Princess will be valuable to Capricorn. You should have brought her to him the moment you set eyes on her!"
"He'll meet her when we wed," Basta snapped, "Leave."
"We're not goin' anywhere without her," a man who reminded me of a fox smirked cruelly. His gaze traveled up and down my form. "Perhaps we could have some fun first, eh?"
Basta threw his dagger at the man, he jumped away and snarled and cursed at him. As the giant and the man with the goatee ran forward Basta yelled at me to run. I picked up the hem of my skirt and fled. How cowardly I felt! Running away while the man I loved risked his life to save mine!
I ran through a stream and stopped. No more running. I opened my palm and a bright glow of moonlight created my pearl handed dagger. I raised it as my pursuer came towards me, I began to softly chant, all I intended to do was knock the man away from me. He took out his sword and plunged it downwards, I moved away quick enough for the blade to miss my heart but it pierced my stomach instead. I cried out in pain and quickly fell to the ground. I could barely breathe let alone see. Basta. Basta where was he? I needed him! Basta!
I heard leaves crunching and the sound of men running towards me, "Olivia!" I heard Basta's familiar rasp shriek out at the sight of me. I looked up at him and decided at that moment I needed to find a way to return to him. I had too! I loved him so much and he loved me. I took his hand and created a curse that would bind my killer and all of Capricorn's men besides Basta together. It would show their true ugliness and warn people of who they are.
I swore to Basta I would return, as proof he would know me by the pearl….The Night's Pearl. The last gift given to me by my mother, an oracle. Before my vision left I saw Basta's face, shining with tears.
'I will return one day, my love….'
My eyes opened as I looked at Basta, my mind was fuzzy and I realized I was only hearing bits and pieces of what Basta was saying. His mouth was moving but only a few sounds came out. My hearing aid batteries were beginning to go out.
"I can't hear you," I winced when his face became contorted from agitation. "My hearing aid batteries are dying, you need to speak louder. I have extra batteries in my old shoes if you would tell me what you did with them…." I always carried spare batteries in a small pocket I had sewn into the shoe's interior. I figured I could forget my purse, wallet, or plan on wearing different clothing but I only owned one pair of shoes. Basta grumbled something and walked out of the room. I frowned when I felt the vibrations from the front door slamming shut.
While Basta was out looking for my shoes, I cleaned myself up and brushed my teeth, dressed, and waited for him. I wasn't comfortable walking around the village on my own yet. I figured I'd either get lost, have a black jacket harass me, or lose my temper and forget that one wrong move could mean the end of my family.
I clenched my hands into fists, I hated this so much. I felt like such a coward, obeying Basta and Capricorn, doing what I was told, and not being with Meggie and Mo. It was killing me.
You are doing what you must to survive.
"Huh?" I had heard that voice as clear as day. "Who….Whose there?" I looked around the room, my heart pounding.
I am, Princess Olivia. Do not fear me, Toni. My spirit and your spirit are forever bound together by the magic of your world and mine. I swear I will not harm you, I only wish to protect you and help bring an end to Capricorn and his men….And to be with Basta again….But only if your heart belongs to him one day.
My mouth went dry, "You want to stay with Basta? He's an insane knife wielding maniac!"
Only to those who are strangers. He has shown you kindness, have you forgotten? He has a gentle side to him he does not want his men to see. Work with him, not against him and not for him. You will see how he changes.
"You what?" I heard Basta shout from behind me. I spun around, my head spinning from my conversation with the princess. What did she mean our spirits were bound together forever? I thought each person only could have one soul within them.
Basta handed me the batteries, "Change the batteries and hurry up!"