Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 7
There was silence for a moment as they all stared at the object in Wilhelmina’s elegant hand. The shard, nestled into steel and silver, throbbed like a small blue heart, the sturdy chain attached dangling like a twinkling artery.
Masha’s gasp broke the silence and seemed to rip through the air like the crack of a whip. Both Leonard and Wilhelmina flinched as if they’d been struck. Leonard had forgotten Masha was there, and by the startled look on Wilhelmina’s face, she had too.
“I can hardly believe it…” Wilhelmina whispered so softly that only Leonard could hear her, her voice swallowed by the nearby waterfall.
“How did you know?” Leonard asked as he turned his astonished gaze from the glowing blue of the amulet, to Wilhelmina’s sparkling eyes.
“It’s as the book said,” she replied, looking at him with renewed appraisal. This time, Leonard found some more than approval blazing in her eyes, but he couldn’t be sure what. All he knew was that this felt like no small deed.
“Dysseus must have sealed the amulet there. Only a Pond could take it, I’d wager. But, how did you know it was there?” Wilhelmina’s awe withered into confusion, already shaking her head at an answer Leonard had yet to give as she searched his eyes.
Leonard looked back at the pool. It was no longer casting the swirling purple and blue light that had captivated him both times he’d seen it.
“Could you really not see the light in the water?” he couldn’t resist being certain on this point.
“What light?” Wilhelmina asked after exchanging a look with Masha, who had joined them on the ground at the edge of the pond nearest the entrance to the tucked away chamber. Leonard described what he’d seen, noting its similarity to his experience with the pond that preceded his entry to Palloria.
“How could he have known?” Wilhelmina whispered to the hand that had made its way to her mouth, as if absentmindedly trying to catch and keep her words to herself.
“Who know what?” Leonard asked, bemused.
“Dysseus, he placed it in a pond. Only you could see where it was. I’d wager that only you, or perhaps any Letterman, it’s hard to say, could have helped a Pond find and secure this,” Wilhelmina explained. “That was ages before the first Letterman. I don’t understand how Dysseus could have known, or even how he managed to hide it in such a way,” she continued to muse as she stared at the amulet.
All three seemed unable or unwilling to move or say more, the silence distorting time as they all stared, mesmerized, at the softly pulsing blue light cupped in Wilhelmina’s palm.
“We shouldn’t waste any more time,” Wilhelmina finally said, shattering the spell as she pushed herself from the ground and regained her feet, closing her fingers protectively around the amulet. Masha and Leonard followed suit, taking up their familiar places in Wilhelmina’s wake as she bustled from the chamber.
The gushing waterfall roared in their ears as they passed, soon becoming a murmur as they left it behind. As they reentered the torch lit hall and the floor evened out, Leonard noted that he could no longer hear the waterfall. He hoped he would have a chance to visit it again, at a more leisurely pace.
When the walls returned to carved stone, Leonard realized he wasn’t sure of their destination. Would they return to the homey kitchen, or the study he had first seen? Wilhelmina’s footsteps slowed down and Leonard wondered if she was having similar uncertainties about their intended direction.
“Masha, I’m sure you could use some rest and refreshment, why don’t you take Leonard back to the kitchen for now? I’ll meet you there shortly,” Wilhelmina said over her shoulder as they neared the entryway; Leonard could see the edge of the elaborate front doors.
“Where are you going?” Leonard asked, on impulse. Wilhelmina halted at the foot of the stairs and turned to him.
“There are a few items I’d like to retrieve from my study,” she answered, her jaw set and her eyes alight with an inner flame. She nodded at Masha then turned and mounted the stairs, lifting her skirts as she went.
“I’ll come with you.” Leonard said, already ascending the stairs behind Wilhelmina. She paused and looked over her shoulder with another appraising look.
“This will only take a moment,” she said, a steely glint in her gaze that halted him mid-step, before she turned and continued on her way.
Leonard turned back to Masha, whose dark eyes were wide and curious, watching him as he descended and stood next to her.
“Lead the way,” he said with a smile, holding his arm out, inviting her to lead on. She smiled, the corners of her dark eyes crinkling, then turned and scurried away. Leonard hurried after until he fell in step with her.
Masha said nothing but continued to look at him on occasion as they walked, quickly turning away each time he tried to catch her eye again. They walked in silence until they reached the welcoming kitchen. Leonard felt like the room was greeting him with a warm hug.
Without a word, Masha busied herself around the stove. Leonard took a seat at the table in the same spot as before. His fingers twitched towards a scone and his ears listened for footsteps.
“So, you’re a Letterman?” Masha asked in awe, her eyes large as she stared at him from the chair across the table. She’d taken a seat after putting down two mugs of the same minty brew from before.
Leonard felt his stomach clench. She said his name like a star-struck fan meeting a celebrity. He smiled weakly and nodded as he reached for his drink, unsure what to say. He contented himself with sipping from his mug, though he could feel Masha’s curious eyes.
“What’s it like? Going through a pond?” her voice was barely above a whisper and she was bent as far over the table as she could, leaning towards Leonard, waiting for him to speak.
Leonard wasn’t sure how to answer, having only traveled through one once. He did his best to describe the lights and the sensation of falling, expecting a splash, but instead being greeted by colors and brightness until finding himself on the floor of Wilhelmina’s study. Masha barely blinked as she listened intently, large eyes glittering, her mouth a small ‘o’ of wonder.
In the quiet that followed, Leonard listened for the rustle of Wilhelmina’s skirts. In this unfamiliar place, she was becoming familiar and he missed her presence, the studious gaze, sharp eyes, and the comfort that came from her capable company.
Leonard didn’t have long to wait. A steady step and a swish of fabric heralded Wilhelmina’s return. Leonard turned in his chair towards the door to see Wilhelmina, cheeks pink with exertion, holding handfuls of books, papers, and writing utensils, her left hand still clutching the amulet.
She entered and proceeded directly towards them, almost bumping Leonard’s shoulder as she unraveled her arms and allowed the materials to rest on the table.
“What’s all this?” Leonard asked, peering at the spines and trying to decipher the script and print on the various pages scattered in front of him.
“Things we’ll need now, or possibly later, in planning for and going to Krosis,” Wilhelmina replied as she started to shift and arrange the various objects in front of her. Leonard saw what looked like maps before they were covered with a book Wilhelmina moved in order to make space for a blank piece of parchment before readying a quill.
Masha’s face became a sickly pale color that was most unnatural to her tanned tones.
Click here for Part 9!