“Dear Evan Hansen” Book Review

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This YA novel written by Val Emmich with the help from Steven Levenson, Ben J. Pasek, and Justin Paul is based off the award-winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen. It tells the story of a high-schooler, Evan Hansen, who struggles with social anxiety and is practically invisible at school and everywhere.

But on the first day of school, his life turns around. After already being shoved by the loner drug-addict Connor Murphy in front of his crush, Connor’s sister Zoe, he just so happens to run into Connor again. Right as he’s printing a letter to himself for his therapy sessions.

After Connor sees that Evan wrote about Zoe in the letter, Connor storms off with the letter, thinking Evan printed it on purpose in front of him to tick him off. Evan spends the next few days worrying about what Connor will do with the letter, only to realize that Connor and his sister haven’t shown up to school for days.

But when Zoe does show up to school, she’s all alone. Later Evan Hansen is called to the principal’s office to meet with Connor’s parents, to find to his surprise that Connor committed suicide and left a suicide note addressed to his “best friend”, Evan.

When Evan realizes it’s his letter to himself, he tries to explain to Connor’s parents that Connor didn’t write it and they never knew each other. But he can’t seem to find the words to tell them.

So, he continues meeting with the Murphy family, feeding them lies and fake email exchanges with the help of a family friend, Jared. As he digs deeper into his web of lies, he’s suddenly no longer invisible and practically taken in by the Murphy family. His anxiety begins to disappear and he finally has confidence in himself. After all, if he’s helping this grieving family, then invading their broken lives will be worth it? Right?

Overall, I’d rate this book a 9/10 for the beautifully crafted characters and how their flaws manage to tie all of them together. The book covers many deep messages, especially suicide and anxiety, very nicely and brings forth the universal message that no one deserves to feel alone or deserves to disappear.

I am Annalia: Part Twelve

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“Thank God I wore sneakers today,” I huffed to myself, trying to focus on the beating of my footsteps rather than the mob chasing me down. I could feel myself kicking up dust behind me as I entered the opposite side of the castle, which was much, much different than the luscious lavender forests I had arrived in.

I spun to the side at the last minute, my body skimming a scrawny tree that was leafless and had green skin and thorns instead. I dove my head forward and kept running, squinting my eyes at the ground. I can do this, I can do this, I thought to myself. I just need to outsmart them.

When I meant outsmart them, I did not mean trip over my shoelaces and have them catch me and rip me to pieces. No one would ever think of doing that, right?

So my feet decided to do that instead.

I got a face full of the rough, dusty ground, powdering my dark skin. I groaned as I looked down in disgust at my right shoe, gloriously untied before my eyes. Trying to get rid of my fear, I shook out my shoulders and took off, wiping off my glasses as I ran through the wind.

I glanced back over my shoulder, a mob of guards and unimaginable creatures emerging from the dust. Okay, I thought. I need a plan. I tried looking around at my surroundings, but all I could see before me was dust, dust, dust, sand, and more dust. And another tree cactus up ahead.

I wriggled my jaw, feeling the crisp breeze sting my raw skin that was opened from my fall. “Dang it,” I tried to mutter, only for it to come out as a sharp breath.

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw a flash of blue zip by me. I adjusted my glasses mid-run and whipped my head back at the mob. Nothing seemed to have changed.

That is, until I looked in front of me. Towering before me was a midnight black wolf, snarling at me as its blue lightning strikes on its sides gleamed at me, tinting the ground below.

I yelped out in surprise and stopped dead in my tracks. The wolf lunged at me with its mouth, shooting drool on my face. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” The wolf lunged at me once more, throwing its entire body in my direction.

“Gah!” I dove to the side at the last minute, sending myself tumbling into the side. I scrambled myself to my feet and glanced back, the mob getting closer.

The wolf started strolling up to me, practically smirking. I tightened my lips and balled my fists. “Oh boy,” I muttered. “This is going to be fun.” Once the wolf took another step, I decided it was my turn to attack.

I thrust out my hand at it half-blindly as I tried shielding my face from it. I tightened my chest as my stiff hand landed down on something cold and wet, bringing whatever I hit down with me.

I heard a sharp whimper from in front of me. I opened my eyes fully and saw the wolf cowering back. I knew in that moment I needed to take my chances.

I launched myself forward, slapping the wolf in the eye as I went by. Oh gosh, please don’t come after me yet. I had collectively decided at that point that I was no longer going to look back, since every time I did, it only made things much worse.

A few minutes went by, more like an eternity for me, and my strength was beginning to run low. So much for doing cross-country all those years. The sweat beads dripping down my face refusing to blow away in the weakening wind that ran behind me as I began to decelerate. I tried to press on harder, my legs turning to lead, but they refused to move any faster. But, my feet could manage to step on my loose shoelaces every five seconds.

And if things already didn’t seem bad enough, I could hear paws and feet thudding on the ground behind me.

They won’t kill me, I thought. They can’t. This must be some sick game of Viallanne’s. She didn’t even tell me why I was to be chased by everyone! She just sent me out here to die.

I glanced up hopelessly at the bright blue sky, wishing Tessa – no – Liku or someone would just appear next to me and at least lend me a hand. As I squinted up at the sky, I noticed something shooting across it, like a jet leaving a trail of smoke or fluff behind it.

But it wasn’t exactly like that. Something was off about it. I don’t know whether if it was because I was running, if I was hallucinating, or maybe the fact that I was in an alternate dimension. All I knew was that it wasn’t fading into the sky. It was coming towards me. Fast.

But that was the least of my problems, considering the ground below me then vanished into thin air.


I am Annalia: Part Eleven

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(credit to @SirQuantum from DeviantArt for image)

I was stunned. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one. Instead of the members shouting in shock, they went dead silent, making it harder for me to object. “But…” I began, practically whispering. “Tessa-”

“I’m sorry,” she quickly whispered.

“Tessa,” Viallanne boomed, raising her eyebrow. “Explain your reasoning for this.”

“Well,” Tessa thought about it for a moment. “You see, Liku is a leader of an element and it would be pointless for him to give his element to someone this early when he’s already so experienced. Since Liku cares about Annalia so much and the rest of you want R.J., getting rid of Annalia would prevent our secret being exposed, punish Liku in some sort of way, and we can choose R.J. instead. Besides, you know the pixies hate doing memory wipes. It nearly kills them, and there’s only a couple left.”

“Pixies?” I asked.

“Hush,” Viallanne hissed.

Tessa looked around awkwardly. “So…yeah.”

The Queen nodded slowly, seeming impressed. “I see your point.”

“Your Majesty, can’t we just bring R.J. as well and they can fight together? And then we can memory wipe them at the end?” Liku objected.

“That’s too risky,” Tessa countered. “One earthling is bad enough, but two? We’ll be exposed within minutes.”

“But…Tessa,” I began again. “We’ve been friends for a couple years now! A-And I already killed one Normwhaug, that means I can kill more, right?”

“The way you did it took a lot of energy. I mean, look what happened to you! You nearly died!” Tessa said.

“But she didn’t,” Viallanne grumbled.

“You’re right,” I quickly said, directed towards the Queen. If I was going to stay – more like stay alive – I needed to act like I deserved to stay. Viallanne widened her eyes at me. “A normal human wouldn’t be able to stand a Normwhaug, right? And survive?” I waited for an answer.

“I don’t suppose so,” she eventually replied, rubbing her chin. “But you’re the only human we’ve had that faced one, so that is just a guess,” she said, pointing at me.

“O-Okay. But what about back on earth? If you kill me, people are going to notice I’ll be gone, and they’ll be even more suspicious about everyone being frozen and my whereabouts. Not to mention my dad will be really mad at you if he finds out.”

Viallanne raised an eyebrow at me. “Your father is going to be mad? That’s a valid reason?”

“I-I guess. Anyway, I don’t care what you think, I’m not going to be killed, or memory wiped by, pixies, or whatever. I’m staying, and that’s that.”

“I told you she was stubborn,” Tessa muttered under her breath.

“Oh, don’t even Tessa,” I snapped at her.

“Me?” Tessa shot back.

“Yes! You! You’re the one that wants to kill me!

“It’s not you, it’s our world! I’m trying to do what’s best for the majority! So what if one life is lost, it’s better than thousands!”

“Why can’t you just believe in me? I was your second pick.”

“It’s more than just who was picked, it’s about character and bravery. Sure, you’re nice and daring sometimes, but for the sake of an entire dimension? We can’t be taking any risks, Annalia.”

“I can stay and fight, and if it doesn’t work I’ll fix-”

“You don’t get it, do you?” Tessa yelled. “You’re a mistake, Annalia. We chose R.J. for a reason and not you! It’s the only way! Someone is going to have to take the fall in the end, and I can’t let that be Liku! Sure, this will hurt Liku emotionally, but if you really want to help us, then…” Tessa stared down at the ground, trying to find what to say. “Then just die!” She yelled. Tessa released her fists, breathing hard. I wanted to flinch, but Tessa had practically sucked the life out of me.

I couldn’t seem to swallow down the second heart that was beating in my throat. No. I thought. I darted my eyes across the room. They were all either disgusted, shocked, or looking to Viallanne for her wisdom. Not Tessa. She…she wouldn’t. Something isn’t right, she- 

Someone grabbed my shoulder. I swiveled my head to see that it was Tessa, her gaze fixed firmly on Viallanne, as if trying to avoid any eye contact. “Well, your majesty?” She sputtered. Tessa looked back at Liku. She grabbed my shoulder harder. “If this is what it must come down to, then what’s your verdict?”

Rage fired up inside of me, outweighing the utter confusion of Tessa moving on so quickly. There’s no way that I can go down like this. I brushed Tessa’s hand off my shoulder and gave her the fiercest glare I could manage. “Tessa.” She examined me, like a dog not obeying its master. If you can change, then so can I.

Disgusted, I took a step away from her. I took in a shaky breath. I adjusted my yellow glasses and pushed them up my nose, trying to think of how I could express the complete and utter chaos my mind was in the state of in audible words.

So, I came up with what needed to be said. What I needed to hear. “I am not a mistake,” I calmly said. “I am Annalia.”

I took a careful step forward, hoping my glasses would make my glassy eyes look brave and not recovering from despair. “Viallanne,” I said. She raised an eyebrow at me before furrowing them.

“It’s ‘your majesty’ to you-”

“No, it’s not.” The room filled with an awkward mixture of silent tension and breaths of shock.

“Annalia! Please! Stop!” I heard someone whisper-scream from far back. Assuming it was Liku, I didn’t bother to turn my head.

“Viallanne,” I repeated. “I’m a human and I’m not even from here. That doesn’t grant you any power over me.”


“You know what?” I interrupted Viallanne. “It doesn’t matter where I’m from or I am! I’m not going to allow someone as prissy and bossy as you simply kill me because I didn’t meet up to your standards!” I took another step, confidence bouncing underneath my feet. “I don’t care if you like it or not, but I have a purpose here. Whether it’s good or bad, just let it be! If you’re such a good ruler, then fix this problem without showing yourself as a killer!”

Viallanne shot up from her throne. “I refuse to take orders from a mistake!

“I am Annalia!” I screamed back. “I don’t care what you think or what anyone else thinks! You will not kill me. You will not send me back home with no memory or having done nothing. You will not harm Liku for believing in the greater good. You will not punish me or try to stop me! Because I am Annalia!” I walked up the stairs of her throne and stood on my toes to get up in her face.

“Your words are nothing compared to my power,” she hissed in my face.

“Please, my dog speaks more eloquently than thee,” I replied instinctively with a smirk. Viallanne’s face reddened so much you could mistake her for a tomato. I was beginning to grow satisfied. “So what if I’m clumsy? So what if I’m stubborn?” I looked back at Liku. His face was shaking side to side in his hands. Tessa looked like she was going to murder me if I took one step closer to the Queen.

The guards even started to approach me, but stopped. I looked back forward and saw Viallanne holding out a finger to them. I took in a deep breath before sealing my most likely terrible deal. “It doesn’t matter if you like me here or not,” I whispered. “I’m a human. I can either restore your world, or completely shatter it with a few simple steps, some words, and anyone ready to listen. Do I make myself clear?”

Viallanne stared at me for a good while. I started to replay everything I had just said and began to regret it more and more with every word. I was dead meat.

Eventually, Viallanne nudged me down the stairs and sat down in her throne. She tapped her fingers, seemingly in a villainous way, on the armrests of her throne, occasionally glancing at the torches next to her throne.

“Wow,” she eventually laughed. “You weren’t kidding when you said you were stubborn.” I remained silent. “Well, if this is what you wish for-” she pointed her finger firmly at me. “-then you may stay.”

I blinked. Is…is she kidding me? I literally defied all of her power and even used fandom references against her. I looked back at Tessa. She was dumb-founded. I made a mental note of adding her to my imaginary list of enemies. Liku looked like he was going to drop dead right there.

“She’s going to be okay?” Liku gasped.

“Hmm…” she tapped her finger on her chin. “No.”

“Huh?” I responded.

“What?” Liku said.

“You’re right, Annalia,” Viallanne began. “You are a human. But what humans don’t realize is how different Azudacluke is from your…earth,” she spat. She stood up and stared at the guards.

“Guards!” She barked. They stood up even straighter than before, if that was possible. “Open the doors and lead her way to the exit.” The guards opened the doors, and waited for me to come down and follow.

But I couldn’t. Not with her malicious smirk hovering over me, and her cold eyes sending shivers up my spine. “I’m being nice,” she hissed. I gulped. “After all, I am giving you a head start.”



Hideously beautiful,

a light who hides in the dark.

Yearning for a quest,

that none shall never embark.

Brown eyes glimmering brilliantly,

like a mud puddle after an abhorrent storm.

Wanting to be accepted and praised,

yet refusing to conform.

Examining the strokes of each letter’s body,

still never absorbing the tale.

Craving to demolish my “perfect” label,

yet losing sleep each time I fail.

Head in the heavens,

feet fastened to the ground.

Wondering what lurks within each soul,

though unable to cross that unearthly bound.

I’m trying to be normal,

it’s just you don’t understand.

It seems like no one does.

Oh well,

at least you can make this life less bland.









Bullet: Part Ten


Mug with Rain Cloud

I blinked open my eyes, blinded by a light shining above me. “Bullet! Come here!” A familiar voice echoed in the distance. Am I dead? I wondered.

“Hey,” The same voice said. I heard someone walk towards me. I blinked my eyes again and saw a male figure hovering over me.

“Huh?” I muttered.

“You’re alright!” I blinked my eyes again, Okay…uh, red hair… I thought, trying to figure who he was. I blinked again. Dark eyes, pale skin…

“Rob?” I whispered.

“Yeah, it’s me, your coworker, Rob,”

“Coworker?” I could clearly see his face now. It was him alright. “You got me fired,” I murmured.

“What? No! I would never do that!”


“You know who I am, right?”

“Yeah, you’re Rob Maerring. Also, where am I?” Rob hesitated to answer.

“You…you do remember what happened, right?” I had no idea what he was talking about.

“I don’t know…what I remember is you got into a car crash on your way to an emergency meeting, we were enemies because you got me fired, I used this magic bullet thing that can grant you one wish if you shoot someone living in the heart, and that’s how I saved you,”

“Wait, what?”

“But at first you kinda died and I was driven away in the police car for murdering you, but then you were alive, and we were all happy, I came back, and then…and then I heard your voice, booming about-” My dog, Bullet, suddenly jumped onto my bed, and started licking my face. I laughed as his kisses tickled my skin. “-about Bullet,” But then, I winced in pain as Bullet licked a cut on my face, and Rob set Bullet on the ground worriedly.

“Wow…that…that was quite a dream you had,”

What?” I couldn’t believe my ears. “A dream?” Rob nodded “So…so you’re telling me none of that happened?” Rob nodded again, solemnly.

“Yeah…you were the one in the car accident on the highway. Some truck rammed right into your car, flipping it completely upside down. I was on that highway, a few cars behind you since we were on our way to a work meeting. I rushed to see what happened. It-It was bad. Really bad.” Rob looked down at my right leg, which I now noticed had a big and bulky cast on it. “You were clinically dead for about almost a minute. You shouldn’t have survived.” I was stunned and slowly sank lower into my bed.

“Wow…oh, wow…” I muttered.

“Y-Your parents are down in the cafeteria. In case you were wondering,”

“Oh, uh, th-thanks,” I looked across the room at the wooden door with a small window on it. Bullet was sitting, whimpering softly at the door. He quickly swiveled his head around and grinned at me, his tongue flapping out of his mouth.

For the first time in those few minutes of an unknown horror being made clear to me, I managed a small smile. “Was Bullet in the car with me?” I asked.

“No. Thank God, no. Your parents ran by your house and brought him here on their way here, since he apparently means so much to you.” I kept staring at Bullet, wondering how the sparkle of joy in his beady brown eyes never seemed to fade away with everything that had happened. What I thought happened and what really happened.

Although it was a bit painful, I patted my hand on the bed, and Bullet raced towards me. He pounced onto the bed, nearly slipping off. I lunged to grab him, but was immediately struck by pain. Luckily, Rob beat me to him before Bullet plunged to a sad collision with the tile floor that reeked of hand sanitizer.

Bullet was placed on my bed and immediately curled up into a ball at my side. “So…you shot me with a magic bullet to save me?” Rob laughed as I petted Bullet’s fur lightly and slowly.

“Apparently,” I replied.

“That’s odd. Wouldn’t that kill me?”

“It was magic. I don’t know, it was just a dream, what do you expect?”

“I dunno, just thought there’d be more logic,”

“Logic?” Bullet rested his chin on my leg. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“Not really.” Then, Rob looked down at his beige trench coat pocket. He smoothly pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and checked a message on it, narrowing his eyes a bit as he read it over.

But I wasn’t too concerned about that. Because when he pulled out his phone, I noticed something fall out of his pocket and quietly roll under my bed. I couldn’t get a good look at it, but it seemed to glisten as it slid across the floor and into the darkness beneath me.

“Did you drop something?” I asked. Rob glanced up from his phone. He patted his pocket and raised an eyebrow.

“Huh, guess I did.” Rob leaned over and looked at the ground.

“What was it?” Rob got down on the ground and reached his arm under my bed. When he sat back up in his seat, his fist was clenched tight.

“Nothing important,” he responded as he slipped it back into his pocket along with his phone. “Just some, uh, loose change.” He crossed his arms and slumped a bit into his seat, which was odd for his usual intimidating, “go-getter”, manipulative stance.

I heard Rob’s phone ding again, and he pulled it out once more. “Hey, it’s a message from our boss,” he said, getting up from his seat. He walked over to my bedside and pulled up an image. It was my cubicle at work, but it wasn’t. It was decorated with cheap “Get Well Soon!” balloons, a new coffee mug with a rain cloud on it, and a poster taped to my computer that had all of my fellow employees’ signatures on it with smiley face stickers.

“Aww! That’s so sweet of them,” I said, discovering more and more hidden details the closer I looked.

“Yeah,” Rob stuck his phone and hands into his pockets. “We’re all glad that you’re okay,” I looked down at his hands and noticed that his fingers were fidgeting with something in his pocket. Something…small. “Now, things can go back to normal soon,” Rob looked into my eyes, and his hands stopped moving. “Well, almost normal…Rainey.”

Bullet: Part Nine

Image result for please...I thought the gunshot would be followed by screams of terror and shock and panic erupting. But it was the total opposite. The whole world seemed to fall silent and still, not even a whimper from Bullet, who was watching next to one of the police officers. It could have been because the gunshot was so loud that it deafened me. But my gut said otherwise. My mind said I sealed his death. My heart remained silent with everyone else.

I reluctantly began to open my eyes slowly. I took in a trembling breath and nearly gasped when I could see Rob. He hadn’t changed at all except for the sizzling hole in his shirt. I let out a choked breath, fighting back tears. I killed him. The gun slipped from my hands, the thud of it landing on the ground being the first thing I heard.

I could’ve wished for anything. World peace, infinite wealth, immortality, and other things that could change the world. But no. I chose to spend it trying to save the man that ruined my career. But now that I stared at his cold body, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. It would’ve just let me with another casualty in this world.

I felt someone’s hand grasp my firmly on the shoulder. I didn’t even jump. I was so in shock I could barely even feel the officer grab my hands and put them together behind my back. The click of the handcuffs rattled in my ears. But all I could do was stare at him. He hadn’t even ever done anything good for me. But it still felt like I failed him. “Come on Rob,” I whispered. The officer started leading me away. I turned my head back to look at him one last time. “Please,” I desperately pleaded.

I turned my head back around, being hurried off to the police car. I was praying in my head that there’d be a sudden miracle and he’d be alright. But all of that hope went away when he pushed me into the backseat and slammed the car door. This is it. I thought. What are my parents going to think of this? 

The police officer got in the front seat, and another police woman got into the passenger seat. A tear escaped from my eye as I looked out the window, the woman giving him CPR looking over him. I looked down at my lap in sorrow quickly after that and heard the clicking of the officers’ seat belts. He started the car and pressed down on the gas pedal, but my tears sadly didn’t leave me in the dust. I looked out the window and sorrowfully watched the crime scene wane from my vision. I laid my head back on the head rest and shut my eyes. Can’t this just be a really bad dream? I pinched myself just to be sure. An image of a hospital room popped into my mind and quickly disappeared. But I was still in the cop car, driving me to my doom.

Suddenly, a bunch of static came from the front seat. The driver picked up his walkie-talkie and started speaking codes into it, mentioning me in the process. “Officer Hager, Janice has just reported victim has a faint pulse. No blood escaping from bullet wound. Some small wounds already healing,” The cop slowed down the car. I was speechless. Stunned. “The girl saved her. Bring her back.” Hager made a U-turn, his co-officer looking back at me in shock.

I couldn’t help but smile a bit. We’re okay. We’re going to be okay. “Not to mention,” The walkie-talkie buzzed. “You left her dog here. Nice going Karl,” I admit, I laughed a bit at that, and so did the co-officer, since she slapped his shoulder playfully.

“Whatever, we’ll be back shortly. Ten-four, over and out,” he grumbled. He slammed down on the gas pedal, racing back to the scene.

Once we arrived, they let me out of the car and made me turn around. The rattling sound of them handcuffing me earlier escaped the depths of my soul as soon as they took off my handcuffs and freed me. Bullet jumped out of the arms of a nearby police man and ran over to me. I ran to him and scooped him up in my arms. He immediately started licking my face, tickling my soft skin.

I hurried with him over to Rob, faint sirens coming in from the distance. I nudged past some officers  that were surrounding him and made it to the center. I set Bullet down and knelt next to Rob. He was still pretty beat up, but looked better. The hole in him still haunted me, but at least it’d heal soon. I let out a sigh, and placed my hand on his limp one. “Thanks, Rob,” Eventually, I grabbed his hand and held it in mine. “Thank you.”

I felt Bullet lick my face again. I blinked my eyes twice. I looked to my left and saw Bullet running between the legs of the officers. But I still felt him licking my face. I gripped Rob’s hand harder and felt my face. It felt wet and gross, freshly licked. I looked for Bullet again. He had just ran back to me, and I noticed a few of the police officers were frozen, some of them moving slowly, and others perfectly fine. I grabbed Rob’s hand even harder. I removed my hand from my face. Fresh drool dripped off my hand and onto the road.

I stood up, my legs shaking. “What the heck…?” I looked around. Traffic was as still as ever, along with the people in their cars, most of the police officers were frozen, or trying to move. But they all looked calm and normal, as if someone…froze time.

Drool slipped off my face, Bullet still sitting next to me, head cocked, mouth shut. “Ah! Hey!” A booming voice echoed in the sky. “Leave her alone!” The voice was…teasing? Or yelling?”

“Hello?” I asked, my voice slowing down. “What on earth?” My voice started to draw out. I looked down at Rob, he was still too, but that was normal considering the state he was in. I walked over to him and almost collapsed at his side.

“You can greet her in a little bit…bit…bit…” The booming voice echoed again. The voice felt so familiar, yet so frightening.

“Hello?” I yelled, horrified. “What is going on?” I screamed. The only thing I got in return was the eerie echo of my question as a reply. “Rob?” I asked desperately. “Rob, come on, wake up,” I starting shaking his shoulders. Luckily, they moved and weren’t frozen. “Rob, come on. I need your help! I don’t know what’s going on…on…on…” I started shaking his shoulders harder and harder, slapping his face a bit. “Please!

Suddenly, he opened his eyes, taking in a breath of air, and then everything went blank.

I am Annalia: Part Ten

Image result for frozen fireI had never seen Tessa walk so fast. The three of us went down a bunch of corridors, torches with white fire lighting them up like light bulbs. Tessa was carrying the chair, very far ahead of us. I was doing okay, walking at a normal pace, but Liku stayed behind just in case.

The three of us were silent as Tessa quickly rounded the corner. I felt things were getting awkward, and Liku looked mortified. “Uh, Liku?” I asked. He looked down at me, his emerald eyes glazed with tears. “I…thank you. For what you did. Bringing me here. I know, it sounds stupid but…” I wasn’t sure what to say next, and Liku didn’t look any better. “If I do stay, I’ll try my best to live up to what you thought of me.” Liku breathed a quiet sigh through his nose and looked away from me.

After a couple more turns, we saw Tessa standing in the large room the mist had shown me. At the end of the room was Viallanne, sitting coldly on her throne. There were four smaller thrones on each side of her, each corresponding to an element with a human-dragon hybrid on it in their human form. The elements were plants, gems, soil, rocks, water, wind, day, and Liku’s throne: night. All together the thrones formed a U shape.

Liku went to hurry of to his throne, but Tessa stopped him. “Liku,” she said firmly. She was standing in the center, placing down the chair to face Viallanne. The large doors slammed behind us. Liku sighed and stood by the doors.

“Tessa, what is going-” She glanced at me. She had brown eyes like me. But oddly enough, even though her eyes were lighter than mine, her stare was colder. I could feel it in my veins. “Is this…R.J.?”

I opened my mouth to say something, but Tessa luckily cut me off. “No, Your Majesty. That is why we are here. Liku had told me that we were to retrieve Annalia instead of R.J. and bring her here. I trusted that he was right, but I was wrong. Liku has recently told me his story about what happened.”

Everyone was silent, staring at me and Liku except for Tessa. Viallanne returned her gaze to Tessa and went to open her mouth, but Tessa once again was quicker. “Oh! Right! Your Majesty, Annalia, she…” Tessa lowered her voice. “…she destroyed a Normwhaug.” Gasps rose within the crowd. Viallanne looked pleased, yet stunned. And a bit irritated. All eyes turned to me as they whispered anxiously among themselves. I felt myself blush.

Suddenly, the sound of Viallanne banging her scepter on the ground echoed throughout the room, instantly bringing them to silence. As soon as I saw her I could tell how she originally had ice powers. “As important as dealing with Liku is, the fate of our world is more important, along with dealing with her.” All eyes went on me again. Tessa was watching me from behind Liku’s throne, where she normally stood. “Annalia,” She pointed her scepter at the chair Tessa brought in. “Sit.”

I obeyed with fear. All eyes were watching me, examining me as a human. “So, Annalia,” She said my name as if it disgusted her. “What was it like when you were brought here?”

I panicked inside. I didn’t know what to say, or what the question meant. “Like, what was it like before I got here? What it was like in the portal? Or when I first arrived?” I prayed she wouldn’t whip me or zap me fro supposedly challenging her.

“The first one and last one. Mainly the first.” I gulped. I don’t think I was supposed to be brought into Azudacluke in that much chaos…I could get them in more trouble…But if I lie she might kill me…

“Well, I was in homeroom…my first sort-of class of school, when…when, uh,” I looked at Tessa, her face showed no hints or emotion. Liku on the other hand, was horrified. My heart even broke a bit when he nodded his head grimly to go on. “When my friend Beatrice walked into the hall and got frozen. Everyone was freaking out, Tessa was yelling at us to keep calm, then the next thing I knew the door was on Tessa, I rushed over to help her, Dragon Liku came in, froze the class, and then Tessa made a portal and Liku tossed me into it.” Viallanne’s eyes were wide. She glanced back at Liku and gave him a shocked death glare.

After a few seconds, she returned her gaze to me. “And what happened when you arrived?”

“Uh, I was in a forest full of lavender plants. Everywhere. Then Tessa told me where I was. I screamed, freaked out, she tackled me back to the ground where I was laying, then she stormed off, I ran after her, then she realized she somehow left Liku on earth, she left me, I wandered off, not too far-” I took a breath. “Then Haugliea, a Normwhaug attacked me.” Everyone started whispering anxiously.

“Haugliea, you say?”

“Uh, yeah, is there something special about her?”

“I’m not sure, never heard of her. We’ll just have to remember that when the Normwhaugs ask who you are and I’ll say you killed Haugliea. Maybe I can even mock them with it…anyway, how’d you kill her?”

I explained everything, the pain, each phase, but I decided not to bring up how I met Rohtaan. I already had an army of Normwhaugs who were against me, I didn’t need the ruler of the good people to hate me as well.

Viallanne tapped her fingers on her scepter while thinking silently. “Before we deal with you, Annalia, I’d like to deal with Liku first.” I turned around and saw him lift his head slightly. Gosh, I felt terrible for him. “Annalia, stand with Tessa. Liku, come forth.”

I obeyed and was shaking by the time I reached Tessa. I looked at her for any sympathy, but she was too focused on Liku. Her eyes were cold and squinted.

“Liku, is it true that you gave false information to Tessa and brought Annalia here instead of R.J.?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” he muttered.

“What was that?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” he said louder.

“Why might you do this?” Liku explained what happened the day he came with the reptile crew and how he just knew I was the one. But with every sentence he said, he grew more ashamed and quieter.

The Queen pondered upon this for a minute. “Liku,” she said. Her voice was softer than normal. “Your service up to this point has been well appreciated.” She paused. Everyone held their breath. Tessa grabbed my hand. Tears were welling up in her eyes. She was trying to look tough and formal, but it wasn’t working.

“But,” Viallanne continued. “Going against the my orders, me being the Queen of Azudacluke, is considered treason.” Tessa flinched. A tear rolled down her cheek. Viallanne stood up, now towering over Liku since her throne was raised on a large platform. “You shall be executed at sunrise tomorrow!” Her voice boomed. Everyone burst into noise. Tessa was full blown crying, her hand covering her mouth.

Liku was trembling, his face paler than snow. Her emerald eyes were bulging, staring up at Viallanne. But he didn’t say anything in return to object. I squeezed Tessa’s hand harder.

Tessa uncovered her mouth and looked at me. She actually stared at me for a while, as if she were coming up with a plan. “Guards!” Viallanne yelled. “Take Liku to the dungeons!” Two guards moved forward to grab Liku.

“Wait!” Tessa screamed. I was suddenly dragged by Tessa to the center, and she pulled us in front of Liku. “Your Majesty,” My heart was pounding even before it was about to break.

As a tear streamed down Tessa’s cheek, she looked at me before saying in a softer voice, “Take her instead.”