The sun shone, ricocheting off the pale stone bricks of Elysium Asylum. It’s a warm day Quinn thought as she sat in the vast gardens behind the mansion, plucking daisies from the ground. She was fashioning a daisy chain, that was already 7 meters long. However, she wanted it to be long enough to drape around the entire common room, at the very least. Next to her sat Isabella Midnight, a tall, dark, mysterious woman. Most people would have questioned why she was sat with such a small girl or why she had her hands outstretched towards the daisy chain, gently moving her hands. The more knowledgable spectator would know that she didn’t simply have her hands outstretched, but she was removing the moisture from all the daisies, to prevent them decaying. Having said that, very few would realise exactly why she was doing this. Some might assume that Isabella was in charge of caring for Quinn, or that she simply enjoyed playing with the child. However, the most observant viewer would have known that this was most certainly not the case. Perhaps it was the lack of warmth and love radiating from Isabella, or possibly the fact that her mouth was in a constant look of distaste, as if this were some torturous task that should only be done by slaves and mongrels, but the intrigued viewer would know that Isabella was not enjoying this.
“I’m hungry,” Quinn said, looking at Isabella expectantly.
Isabella forced a smile, “Well, what do you want? I’ve got… muffins, and cakes…”
“NO. I want a lollipop.”
Isabella sighed. A lollipop, of all the things that she had, she didn’t have a lollipop. “I’m sorry, Quinn, but… I don’t have a lollipop.”
“No lollipops?” Quinn looked at the ground sulkily. “Fine,” she stood up, picking up the daisy chain, “I’m going inside.”
“No! Quinn, come back!”
Quinn turned around, and looked at Isabella with her wide brown eyes, that were set out on her pale skin. “Why, Isabella? Bryony has some lollipops. Bryony always has lollipops!”
Bryony. Isabella despised that name. Bryony was a 16 year old bounty hunter, employed by the Sanctuary. Ridiculous ideas the Sanctuary had these days, thought Isabella. And she was British. A Brit! It was worse than when they’d hired that American woman, Davina Marr (which had ended in disaster, as expected- you’d have thought they’d have learned not to trust foreigners). Ridiculous. Isabella was certain that this was some ploy set up by the British sanctuary to come and take over once and for all.
“Quinnera Elviana! Come back here at once!” Isabella was beginning to lose her temper.
Quinn spun back on her heels and stood in front of Isabella. “Yes, Miss Midnight?”
“Quinn. We’ve had fun the past couple of days, haven’t we? We’ve played lots of games, we went to the beach, we’ve sung some songs…”
“What do you want, Isabella? My lollipop is waiting for me.”
“Quinn- I know you’re one of the most powerful sensitives around these parts.” This was true, despite her age, Quinn was an incredibly strong sensitive. She was natural born, but had also be trained by the likes of Finbar Wong and Cassandra Pharos, amongst many other Sensitives who had stayed at the Asylum. “Can you tell me anything about Tristessa Murano?”
“Well. She’s a woman right? Brown curly hair, italian… I think she stopped by here once…”
Isabella’s voice lowered, “I know what she looks like. I need to know what will be going on with her life in the next year.”
“But why would you want to know that, Isabella?”
“My motives are irrelevant.”
“They are perfectly relevant.”
Isabella looked at Quinn. She was going to be tough to get to. “Please Quinn. You’re my only hope.”
“NO ISABELLA! NO, NO AND NO!” Isabella was stunned by Quinn’s sudden outburst. “I WON’T DO IT. I WON’T. AND THAT’S FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO KNOW ANYTHING. I DO NOT PROVIDE A KNOWLEDGE OF THE FUTURE FOR ALL. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS. NO NO NO NO NO!”
“Please Quinn,” Isabella said, gently resting a hand on the girl’s shoulder.
“NO!” She slammed her foot onto the ground. Whilst Quinn continued with her ten-year-old fit of rage, Isabella was completely confused. She had no idea how to find out what she wanted to know without upsetting Quinn. And she wouldn’t know where else to find out. It was impossible to control such a little girl.
Isabella nearly cried with relief when she saw Octaboona Ambrosius walk out of the double doors of the mansion. 10 minutes of screaming from a ten year old was enough and Isabella was wondering where they got all the energy from. Octaboona took a glance at the situation outdoors, then said something through the double doors, before walking calmly towards Isabella and Quinn, his long white hair glinting in the sun. Quinn was too absorbed in yelling at Isabella to notice when the old man walked up to her. “Octa!” She cried, beaming with delight, her mood completely changing, much to Isabella’s annoyance.
“Quinnera, my dear,” he replied with a warm hug, “Now. What are you doing causing such a racket?”
“She… she… “
“Now, what did the bad lady do this time?” Bryony said smiling as she placed a hand on Quinn’s pale blue sundress. Isabella’s faced dropped.
“I think it’s the usual,” Octaboona said gravely.
“Is that right?” Quinn nodded in reply. “Well then, you two go inside… I have something to settle with Miss Midnight, out here.”
Octaboona gave Bryony a warning look, but nonetheless started to steer Quinnera indoors. “Come on, Quinn. I think Bryony left you some lollipops inside…”
“Miss Midnight,” Bryony said, tipping her top hat eloquently, “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of introducing myself. My name is Bryony Rose.”
“I’ve heard enough about you.”
“Well. I’ll be blunt with this- I’d appreciate it if you back off from Quinnera.”
“I need her help.”
“Try someone else. You’re a grown woman. You don’t need the help of a vunerable ten year old girl.”
“She didn’t seem very vulnerable to me.”
“Nonetheless.” Bryony smiled a charming smile. “I think you should leave her alone. And if you don’t… You’ll have me to deal with.”
Isabella glared at Bryony as the red haired girl turned on her heels and walked away.
“Idiot…” Isabella muttered under her breath. Suddenly a stone came flying at her, rebounding off her head and landing onto the ground. “Who?” Isabella paused. “Bryony. Bryony and her goddamn telekinesis!”
The common room was rather empty, with only Octaboona sat on a particularly comfortable armchair in front of the fire. There wasn’t any reason that they had the fire during the day in the summer, apart from the fact that it looked homely. However, the flames were cold and the room was a comfortable temperature. Quinn loved the smell of the books that were piled everywhere around the room- on tables, chairs, the mantlepiece, hanging off the chandelier- but most certainly not on a bookshelf. Bookshelves were too enclosed, and didn’t let you see the beautiful yellow pages, or the entirety of the hand bound leather covers. Quinn had read all of the books here at least twice, having lived in the Asylum for around 8 years. There was very little company of her own age, so Quinn had spent the majority of her time in the common room or the library- leafing through whichever book took her fancy. She’d begun on books such as Tobias and the Super Spooky Ghost Book and A Home For Mr Tipps. But she quickly outgrew these and moved onto other books, like the stories of Skulduggery Pleasant. She admired Mr Pleasant and Miss Cain, and she hoped to meet them some day. However, having read these dozens of times, she then went on to devour every other book that she could find.
Quinn sat on Octa’s lap, happily sucking a lollipop whilst reading over his shoulder. She was finding the mysteries of the Empire Quetzal Acratoon very fascinating (for the fifth time) and she hoped to visit there sometime in the future. She dreamed of being quite the traveller. She supposed that she could find out whatever she was going to be in the future, being a sensitive. But surprisingly, she actually had very little interest in the future. Quinn thought that knowing the future could flatten dreams, and if there was anything she loved more, it was dreaming. The old man closed the old book and turned to face Quinn. “Quinnera…”
“Yes, Octa?” Quinn looked at him wide-eyed.
“Is it necessary to create such a fuss when you are asked about the future? People are only requesting, they do not realise that you don’t like to give away such amounts of knowledge. Wouldn’t a simple ‘no’ suffice?”
“But Octa… People don’t listen to me if I say no. They keep asking.”
Octaboona sighed. On top of hot tempered, she was also very stubborn. “Just try, Quinnera.”
Quinn rested her head on Octa’s purple robes, “Whatever you say, Octa.”
Soon enough, Quinn drifted off to sleep, so Octaboona continued with his book, leaving the resting child on his shoulder.
Quinn had a terrible nightmare. It began on a beach, at midnight. The sand was pale and reflected the white light of the moon overhead. The ocean was a deep, dark blue, pushing and pulling, in and out of the shore. There was a figure sat at the convergence between the sand and the sea, her face covered in a cloak; she was looking out to the ocean watching the fireflies play above the misty blue depths, her face stained with tears. Her soft brown hair curtained her face, and she was sitting with her arms wrapped around her legs. Everything was quiet, except from the gentle roar of the ocean. Behind her was a small stone building, a little library. And as Quinn looked back at the woman, she noticed that by her was a small book, purple, leather bound, with words embossed on it in a gold, flowery print. ‘The Sound of Silence.’ Everything was incredibly vivid, more vivid than Quinn would’ve liked. She could smell the saltiness of the air, and the faint scent of the woman’s perfume.
“I know you’re there,” the woman said suddenly, “You don’t need to hide from me.” A boy stepped out from behind the library, his electric blue eyes piercing the twilight. “Gepard Valk,” she spat, “What are you doing here?” She shot up, reaching under her cloak.
“Tristessa Murano,” he smiled awkwardly, “What exactly were you waiting for?”
“Not a little boy. That’s for certain,” she smiled, “This is going to be easier than I thought.” She stepped forward, pushing him towards the building until his black hair was touching the limestone bricks. An extreme sense of fear passed through his young looking face.
“Who sent you here?” her amethyst eyes bore into his.
“Who sent you here?”
“Nobody,” He suddenly felt a sharp pain in his head. “What are you doing?” He cried out in agony.
“I want to know who sent you here,” She was touching the hem of her cloak, which had intricate symbols embroidered on the edges. He winced in pain, but kept his mouth firmly shut. “Fine,” she reached beneath her cloak, and pulled out her only weapon, a small golden dagger. “Tell me,” she said, pressing the blade against his neck. The boy kept his mouth closed. “If I move this even a millimetre further into the neck, I’ll cut the carotid artery, and you’ll be dead within minutes,” she hissed into his ear, “so tell me.”