by A.C. Aurora
Fenten reads the note his father left him and then uncovers a secret passageway
|“But how could he...?” Will asked.
“I’m not sure.”
Will sighed, “can we look at the letter?”
Fenten nodded and strode over to the tall oak dresser beside the collection of chairs. Above the dresser hung a beautifully detailed landscape painting; it showed a cave in a forest King Lucio had called the Dark Forest. Fenten opened the drawer, which contained the piece of parchment, as Will stood behind him watching. Within the drawer, there was a faulty back that led to a hidden safe. Inside that secret compartment was where Fenten had deemed the safest place to keep the letter.
As he reached inside, his fingers brushed the frail piece of parchment and it crinkled in his hand as he grasped it. He withdrew the letter and walked over to stand beside his best friend, who looked very anxious.
“Go ahead, open it.” Will tapped his foot impatiently as Fenten took a deep breathe and slowly unfolded the parchment, almost afraid of seeing his father’s handwriting now that he was gone.
In the foyer just outside his bedroom, he could hear his mother, Queen Rose, weeping as the servants comforted her. He wished he could go out there now and hold her, so they could grieve together, but there were things that needed to be done. He tuned out the voices and looked back at the letter. Bewildered at what he saw there, he turned his head and his eyes met Will’s. The letter was not at all what they had expected, barely four sentences in length.
“These few words are meant to contain all the dark secrets my father kept?” Fenten directed his attention to his friend, who took the piece of paper from him. Will ignored Fenten’s question and instead studied the parchment with an intense fascination.
“Before you say anymore,” Will said shrewdly, looking up from the note, “you might want to actually read this.” He handed the letter back to Fenten, who read it curiously:
Within the library there is the entrance to a secret room behind shelf fifteen. To enter it, pull out the book entitled The Secrets of Caves. Behind it there is only one stone; tap it three times and the wall will open to reveal everything you must know.
“Well, what are we waiting for?” Will asked when Fenten finished and looked up at him in astonishment. Fenten, incapable of a response, walked wordlessly across the room with his mouth still hanging open. He sat down on his green-quilted bed and let out something of a moan.
“A secret room? I never knew the castle contained such things.” Fenten finally spoke, though the sound was muffled. The room grew darker as a drifting cloud covered the sun and a breeze blew in from the open window.
Will opened his mouth to speak, but then Fenten sighed and said, “Let’s go to the library.”
Will nodded and took the parchment. He led the way to the bedroom door and opened it. They strode across the foyer, which was now empty, and then through the dark hallway which led out onto the loft landing. As they walked across the landing they sighted the entrance to a circular stone hallway, which was the inside of a turret. Instead of entering, they walked into a wide hallway where the doors leading to the library were located. They passed beautiful statues given to King Lucio by famous sculptures and walked on a carpet colored deep green. This hallway was decorated mostly with gold and had a cavernous arched ceiling.
Passing the entrance to the throne room, they finally reached the tall library doors. Will opened them hastily and marched in, unable to restrain his curiosity. Fenten followed uncertainly in his wake, his mind still hazy from the shock of it all.
The library was a magnificent room with high ceilings and shelves of books in columns reaching almost to the top. There were also shelves built sturdily into the stone walls. There were wooden ladders attached to each shelf and a desk and chairs in the center of the huge room where the royal family read and studied. The oak floor was old and creaked with each step they took.
“Shelf fifteen,” Will muttered, from a few feet ahead of Fenten. He looked down at the letter and then around the library, “that should be right...” he counted fifteen starting with the first shelf on the right, “there!”
Will shifted excitedly as he pointed his finger at a shelf far back across the room. With a jump he sprinted towards it, followed momentarily by Fenten. Will was of course not as capable of an athlete as his friend, but fueled by curiosity he was filled with a vigor. So when Fenten caught up with Will he was already scanning shelf fifteen busily and twittering with impatience.
“Oh, you’re here, Fenten; help me search.” Will said, finally noticing the prince. Fenten nodded, and slowly climbed up the ladder attached to the tall shelf, which was up against the wall. Somewhere about halfway to the top he started looking.
An hour later, the library was growing dim. Shadows appeared in corners and around the shelves as the boys frantically searched. As time passed and the sun went down, the tall and mighty bookcases began to look forbidding; they were so wide that it would take days to examine every single book. With the evening nearing, the boys were beginning to lose hope. Fenten gave an exasperated sigh, finally giving up. He started to climb down from the very top of the ladder where he had been busily at work.
“I don’t understand it! The book should be here.” Will’s fingers went through his hair as he shifted and turned, “Could we possibly have the wrong shelf?”
“I’ve found it.” Fenten said abruptly, his voice void of emotion. He pulled his eyes away from the shelf, and looked at Will’s face, partly covered in shadows.
“You have?” Will yelled excitedly and hopped from one foot to the other. The wooden floor creaked ominously under his feet.
“Yes, I think so.”
“Well then take it out!” Will exclaimed.
Fenten hesitated, his hand suspended over a think red volume.
“We need to see what’s inside the passageway.” Will persisted. He was trying his best to be patient, but was finding it extremely difficult.
Fenten pulled out his hand and reached for the book all in one quick motion. The dusty volume came out smoothly, despite it’s enormous width. He strained as he held it with one hand and the placed it on the closest rung. The library grew darker with each moment that passed, but the candles placed on the tables were still not lit. Shadows loomed above them menacingly and threatened to engulf any cheery mood that was still with them.
“There is something written on the stone behind the book. It is too dark to be certain, but I believe it is Latin.” Fenten squinted and moved closer to the bookcase.
Will stood by the bottom of the ladder bouncing excitedly in the darkness, “I will bring you a light.” He walked to the nearest desk and took from it a small wax candle. Quickly, he lit it and went back over to Fenten.
Fenten slowly descended from the ladder and to the ground where he was level with Will, “It should be you to translate. I am hopeless at Latin.”
Will looked about to scold Fenten, considering the many years they had been taught the ancient language by the royal tutor. Instead he just shook his head and went carefully up to where Fenten had found the book. He lifted the candle close to the opening where The Secrets of Caves had been, shaking with excitement.
“Yes, it is Latin engraved upon the stone.” He said and then began to read what was written, “‘Absconditus familia potentia’,” he paused, “and then underneath there is one word: ‘Olcorum’, which I don’t believe is Latin.”
“What does that mean?” Fenten looked at Will, whose face was illuminated by the candlelight.
Will put the candle down on the rung where the book was placed. He appeared to be in deep contemplation, scratching his chin with his thumb and forefinger. He spoke in a quiet, thoughtful voice, “I am not sure if this is a direct translation, but ‘hidden family power’? Or ‘the secret power of the family’?” He paused and picked up the candle to look at the engraving, “And then ‘Olcorum’; I am unsure as to what that means.”
Fenten paced in a small circle below the ladder, “‘Hidden family power’? What could that mean?”
“I am not sure... unless...” A look of understanding came upon Will face, “the ‘secret power of the family’ must be the ‘Olcorum’.”
Fenten stopped pacing to look up at Will through the shadows. The library was covered in darkness except for the small light Will’s candle gave off.
“This ‘Olcorum’ must have been what your father had been protecting all this time. A dark secret and the reason he was murdered.” Will stopped his great revelation for a moment and then began in a fearful voice, “And now, it is your turn...”