Through Yggdrasil we bring life, through Yggdrasil we bring death, through Yggdrasil we are reborn.
A throbbing pain overcame my body causing my breath to hitch as I finally awoke. With blurred vision I tried to get a good look around at my surroundings. Crowns Inn? I think to myself seeing the familiar dim lamps placed in every room. The scent of ale and fresh baked bread filled my senses confirming my whereabouts. Taking in a deep breath I cause the sharp pain to return to my side wincing and gritting my teeth in reaction.
“Wait… how the hell did I get here?” Mumbling to myself as I struggle to sit up in this stiff bed. My cloak and leather arm braces were set neatly on a table across the room, boots placed nearby, along with my satchel. A small smile found its way to my face thinking of Danny. Instinctively I reached for my thigh pocket taking the small box out to see the locket still inside. A sigh of relief escapes my lips causing a sharp pain once again.
The creak of the room door opening made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end waiting for the intruder to reveal themselves. “Oh, thank the gods you’re awake!” Danny burst in rushing to my bedside. “How are ya feelin? What the hell happened in there? And who’s that lady that brought ya in?” His words fumbled out way too fast for me to keep up but hearing about a woman caught my attention.
“What woman?” I tried to ask my voice weak and harsh from not using it, “how long have I been out?”
“Three nights. And she was a beautiful young blondie. I’ve never seen her before, but when you didn’t show up at the Rats Den, I came lookin for ya… I know, you said not too but come on! Anyway, she was tryin to carry you on her own when I ran into her. I was only glad she was the one who found ya. Haven’t seen her since though.” Pausing for a moment to stare at me clearly seeing the confusion on my face. “You don’t remember a thing?”
I wasn’t sure what to say. The last thing I remember was being impaled by ice… That was way too close to death for my comfort. “Oh? Why didn’t you take this?” I spoke up showing Danny the small ash box that held our future inside. “I’m surprised Gragus hasn’t come to find me himself.”
“About that… he doesn’t think you made it out. That girl. She paid a lot of coin to keep things that way. I don’t know who she is, but she’s helped us a ton. This room is paid for another few nights too. No one knows you’re here but me and Mr. Janson.” Danny had taken a seat on the edge of the bed scratching his head through his messy hair.
So, I’m just supposed to believe some random girl has helped a thief like me without anything in return? No way, that’s not how things work around here. If this stranger is the one who saved me… what was she doing so close to the wall? Perhaps she was another thief looking for a way in? Nothing was making any sense. A throbbing pain filled my head making me feel sick to my stomach.
“We need to find Gragus, I don’t want this locket in my possession any longer than I have to. Damn thing almost got me killed.” The soreness in my throat was making it hard to speak. Opening the ornate jewelry box to reveal the locket, a warm yet foreboding aura filled the room giving me chills. Danny appeared unfazed popping open an ale and downing half the bottle. I stared at the intricate branches of metal wrapping themselves behind the heart completely mesmerized. “Through Yggdrasil we are reborn…” The words tumbled from my mouth barely a whisper.
“Hmm? Ya say something? Oh, that’s the locket huh? Doesn’t look like its worth much. What’s that weird design on it? A tree or somethin?” Asking another jumble of questions before I could even answer one, he leaned closer placing his ale on the lopsided nightstand and looked at the locket with a raised brow. “wait, isn’t that same thing all over the castle?”
“Yggdrasil, the world tree. I remember reading a bit about it in one of the dairies I found. Apparently, the elves believe it’s the source of- Damn it!” Cut off from attempting to touch the cold metal locket, a surge of pain shooting through my hand. The box hit the wooden floor causing the locket to slide across the small room. Danny got up reaching for the heart, I was about to yell for him to back away but, he held it with no problem placing the strange object back in its box. “It didn’t zap you?”
“What? No… is that what just happened? I think ya need more sleep there. I’ll go grab us some chow, ya keep restin now.” My friends familiar smile brought me back to reality. He set the tiny treasure box down next to his half empty ale before taking his leave.
Now left alone to my thoughts I couldn’t help trying to get out of bed. My joints felt stiff as a tree as I slowly adjusted myself, feet now touching the cold wood floor. I was a bit scared to stand with the fear of falling but it was risk I needed to take, can’t stay in bed forever, even if it sounds nice. Putting more pressure onto my sore legs I stood up using the bed to steady myself, a slight pain returning to my side. “Guess I won’t be robbing anyone any time soon…” I click my tongue taking a few wobbly steps over to the small table across the room where my discarded clothes lay. Picking up my cloak revealed a note hidden underneath it. There were no words written just a rough drawing of the world tree, the same design as the locket and the royal’s tower. What is going on here?
It didn’t take long for Danny to return with a bowl of cabbage and potato soup for each of us along with some cups of water. He gave me a good lecture about being up, forcing me back into bed. I couldn’t tell him about the drawing, clearly this woman didn’t want it to be found by anyone but me. The image of her blue eyes clouded my mind while I ate in silence. A nagging feeling kept creeping up on me, don’t give it away. The thought repeated over and over in my head like an echo ringing in my ears.
“Hey, ya hear me?”
Dannys’ voice brought me out of my trance. His big brown eyes staring at me with concern. He’s always worrying about me.
“Sorry. I just… I can’t help but think something wasn’t right about that job. It was so easy up until the end. And I mean way too easy. If I didn’t know better, I’d say someone had been going in and out of the castle long before I showed up.” Speaking between slurps of soup trying to get my thoughts in order. “I need to go back.” I blurted out unexpectedly causing Danny to almost choke on a piece of potato.
“Are ya crazy? Going back there would surely mean your death this time. Why go back anyway? We got the locket, what more do we need?” Danny asked full of confusion setting his empty bowl onto the table where the drawing had been. I had placed it inside the diary in my satchel to ensure he wouldn’t go snooping around for it.
“I’m not saying I need to get back into the castle. I meant the place I fell. Things just aren’t adding up right. How was it so easy, and then to get stabbed in the end? It’s like they were waiting for someone to be on that part of the wall.” My voice trailing off once again lost in thought. Whoever saved me had to be heading to that spot in order to get into the castle… maybe there’s rock steps on that side of the wall as well. “I won’t go today, not until my strength returns. And yes, I’m going alone.” I flash a quick smirk in Danny’s direction making him smile and shake his head.
“If ya say so. Still think it’s crazy.”
“Yeah, you’re tellin me.”