Chapter Nine: A Frightening Realisation
"Are you sure that you're okay?"
Copper eyed her pale friend for the third time, a look of concern in her brown eyes. "You gave us a scare - are you sure you're fit to play?"
"I'm fine, it was just a little blow to the head." Sylva nodded, getting gingerly to her feet. She had come around in the seclusion of the theatre's main dressing room, to find herself surrounded by anxious band-mates and an irate Phyllis. The executive had become even more irate once she had heard what had sent her charge plunging off the edge of the dais and she had since left to harangue security guards, taking Nancy and Sadie with her. Copper had remained to take care of her friend, who had at first seemed very disorientated and confused, but now colour had begun to return to the pale cheeks, and she had voiced her intention to return to the stage.
"Well, you could be concussed." Copper pointed out. "And if you're not fit to play, well, then you're not."
"I will be fine." Sylva assured her. "Besides, I can't stay here." She shivered. "Copper, it was so creepy. I don't know who it was who grabbed me, or why, but I'm officially creeped out now. I think I'm starting to agree with Sadie - that there is something more sinister behind what happened in our room, after all."
"Maybe it was just someone lost in the dark." Copper suggested, but Sylva shook her head.
"No, whoever it was knew what he was doing." She responded.
"I'm sure it was a guy. He grunted when I kicked him." Sylva nodded. "But he didn't say anything, so I couldn't tell you anything else." She pulled a face. "Otherwise I'd suspect it of being Jesta."
"Well, whatever it was, they didn't succeed." Copper said gently. "And we'll be on our guard now. Noone's gonna take a second shot at you, Syl. Don't worry. And anyhow, maybe they got the wrong person."
"No, it was my side of the room that got ransacked." Sylva bit her lip. "And Phyllis...did you see her face when she went after those guards? It was like she knew something like this might happen. I'm starting to not like Morvania very much at all."
"While you were out cold, Phyllis let slip something." Copper admitted. "Whoever it is who's messing with us is interested in you because you're Stormer's daughter, which means whatever it is, it has to be connected with what happened in Morvania in 1986. I don't know how, but that's all I can think of."
"Phyllis was here then, why not go for her too?" Sylva protested. "I wasn't even born, Copper, what did I do? And I don't care what it was Mom and the others got wound up in - noone got hurt, and Adreana considers the Misfits heroines for saving her life. What possible reason could anyone have to hate us?"
Copper was silent for a moment, then,
"Perhaps that exact thing." She said at length, as they slowly made their way back to the main theatre. "Perhaps Phyllis is right about the politics of this place. Maybe Morvania is unstable, after all."
"You know, Nat did say something about that." Sylva remembered. "About Morvania loving their Queen, but some people being unsettled about how the country was being run."
"Nat?" Copper looked surprised. "What, you had long enough at the soda machine to discuss world politics with the guy?"
"Er...no." Sylva blushed, glancing down. "I kinda snuck out of the hotel with him last night."
"You did what?" Copper stared, then, "If Phyllis finds out you did that, you'll be for it!"
"I realise that, but I didn't think I was in any danger till just now!" Sylva defended herself. "Besides, Sadie knew I was going and she waited up for me. And I was with Nat. He's sweet, Copper...and he knows Morvania. He wouldn't hurt me, and noone would take us both on."
"Well, don't do it again." Copper reproached her. "We don't know what we're dealing with, or who. Noone wants you hurt."
"Okay, okay." Sylva rolled her eyes. "I hadn't planned on it, anyway, so don't tell Phyllis, huh?" She cast her friend an imploring glance.
"By the way, do I look like I've a bruise the size of Montana on my head?"
"No, actually, you look pretty much all right." Copper admitted. "But once we've run through our set, I think you should take some time out and lie down. We want you fit and well for tomorrow - especially if the stakes are so high."
"Don't worry, I'll be fine." Sylva assured her. "Jewel are going to win...and then we're gonna high-tail it outta here!"
"What, without saying goodbye?"
A fresh voice made them jump and both girls turned, Sylva casting the speaker a smile.
"Nat, quit sneaking up on me!" She scolded playfully. "And of course not without saying goodbye!"
"I saw you fall." Nat's expression became sombre. "Are you all right?"
"Well, my head is killing me, but I'll live." Sylva responded. "It's sweet of you to worry, but I'll be just fine." She winked. "I'm a pro, after all."
"So I believe." Nat grinned back at her. "I came in hope of seeing you girls play, you know."
"Well, we're about to." Sylva said with a shrug. "So you didn't miss anything."
"I'm glad of that." Nat's eyes twinkled with amusement. "From how your manager was acting, I was afraid that Jewel would be whisked away from the set and back to the hotel. It was a horrible accident to happen - they must not have made the stages safe enough."
"Well, it would have helped if someone didn't grab at me and scare me in the dark." Sylva said ruefully, before Copper could stop her. "But I guess it was kinda clumsy of me also. What happened with the power?"
"I am as confused by that as you. Maybe a power cut as they checked the lights?" Nat shrugged. "But did you say someone grabbed you?"
"It was just an accident in the dark." Copper said with a smile, casting Sylva a look which meant 'hold your tongue.' "It's very disorienting, when everything goes black all of a sudden, and you're trying to perform."
"Ah, I see." Nat's expression became one of comprehension. "Well, I am glad it doesn't prevent you from playing. I have much enjoyed all that I have heard already, but..." He faltered, and glancing at him, Sylva saw a frown of consternation cross his brow.
"Nat?" She asked. "Are you all right?"
"I am fine, but I must go." Nat's voice seemed tense and anxious, and he cast her only a brief smile. "Good luck - I see you play tomorrow instead!"
"But..." Sylva's eyes filled with confusion. "Nat, wait!"
"I remembered something important that I must do." Nat shook his head. Gently he kissed her on the cheek. "But I promise to be here tomorrow. I am sorry, Sylva, but I really must go!"
"What was that about?" Copper looked non-plussed, as the young man disappeared across the auditorium. Sylva shrugged.
"Beats me." She responded. "I...oh my God!"
"What?" Copper asked. "Don't you get all odd now - are you feeling ill or something? You've gone white!"
"Nat was limping." Sylva's expression became one of fear and she took a hesitant step backwards. "Look, Copper. He was limping!"
"Yes, I noticed that. So?"
"So whoever grabbed me in the dark must have a hefty bruise on his shin. I kicked him hella hard." Sylva shook her head slowly, her blue eyes widening as she contemplated.
"I think you should calm down and think about this carefully." Copper said gently, leading her friend back up to where the other two Jewels were waiting, instruments at the ready. "You've had a nasty fright, but you can't suspect everyone in Morvania to be after you."
"But it gets worse." Sylva shook her head. "When I was out with him last night, he mentioned Mom - but I know that I didn't tell him anything about her! I thought it was weird at the time, but I just dismissed it! Oh God, Copper, what if...what if Sadie's right and I don't know Nat at all? Maybe he's the weird guy who's been spying on us! He was here in the auditorium - what if it was him that grabbed me in the dark - and what if he's limping because I kicked him?"
"What if I'm right about what?" Sadie asked.
"Syl thinks Nat might have been her mystery attacker." Copper said quietly. "Apparently he's been asking some searching questions about her and her Mom, and he's developed a sudden limp. Syl kicked whoever grabbed her...it does sound kinda possible."
"And you spent last night with him." Sadie paled. "God, Syl, what did I let you do?"
"Well, so Syl's taste in guys has dropped to the level of psycho stalker now?" Nancy rolled her eyes.
"It's not funny, Nancy." Sylva bit her lip, sinking down onto one of the speakers. "What if I'm right? He's been so nice to me, but what if he's just been trying to get information from me? Someone grabbed me in the dark, and it wasn't an accident. God only knows what they would have done to me."
"And Nat did take off rather suddenly." Copper narrowed her eyes thoughtfully. "I wonder why? What could he have seen that scared him away so suddenly?"
"Phyllis?" Sadie suggested acidly. "She's not someone to mess with, especially right at the moment."
Copper frowned, glancing around the room. Then she let out a gasp.
"I bet that's what he saw." She exclaimed, nodding in the direction of the main entrance, where Corvin of the Royal Guard and a gaggle of Royal Escort soldiers were inspecting the security measures for the concert. "Corvin - isn't that his name? If Syl is right, and this is all to do with what happened to Adreana back in 1986, it stands to reason that Nat wouldn't want to be anywhere near Adreana's chief bodyguard."
"I bet you're right." Sadie looked grim. "Should we tell him what happened?"
"It's not his problem, and Aunt Phyl will make sure we're safe enough tomorrow." Nancy shook her head. "In the meantime, Syl, I reckon you'd do better keeping away from this Nat guy."
"I have no intention of going anywhere near him." Sylva assured her. "I just want to play the show and get out of there!"
From the darkening street outside Morvania's main theatre, Nat slipped
carefully down between the rows of houses, pausing once he was sure he
was well out of sight, and wincing as he settled himself on the wall.
"Not a good day to have to hide, with my leg so sore." He mused ruefully, reaching down to rub his aching limb absently. "I hope Sylvina was not too upset by my departure. But if Corvin had seen me there then the game would have been up, and I am not ready to disclose everything yet."
"Maybe I am a fool. After all, once tomorrow night is over, she will know everything, and how she has been deceived. I only hope that everything goes smoothly. Tomorrow is a big night for Morvania, and nobody realises quite how big."
He got to his feet, stretching and making his way gingerly back towards his home.
"I will feel happier when tomorrow night is over." He mused. "And then everything is out in the open, once and for all."
Prologue: Morvania, 1987
Chapter One: Los Angeles, 2014
Chapter Two: At The Airport
Chapter Three: Laviana
Chapter Four: The Competition
Chapter Five: The Queen
Chapter Six: Ransacked!
Chapter Seven: Anatole
Chapter Eight: Nerysa
Chapter Nine: A Frightening Realisation
Chapter Ten: Betrayal
Chapter Eleven: The Truth
Chapter Twelve: Heartfelt
Chapter Thirteen: Home