Thanks for the non-existent reviews, guys. My writing will speed up if I get more.
I managed to travel, walking and running intermittently, for about four hours before I was utterly exhausted and could manage no further. I found myself a place to lie down under a tree, and fell asleep almost immediately.
My dreams were clouded and troubled, haunted by images of Char's face, then Hattie's and Olives and Father's and Mother's and Mandy's and Mum Olga's until I woke, every part of me aching, wishing no more than to never move from this spot again. I lay back and stared at the pink morning sky, my back resting against the tree. Everything around me, including myself was soaked in dew. I got up and stretched, but just as soon wished I hadn't. My arms were throbbing, as was the rest of me. I sighed and, after looking around carefully, changed into a dry and more practical dress. I stood up, and took the first few steps. Oh, my god, it was like walking on nails! I gritted my teeth, and headed on, ignoring the pain my legs were causing me.
After about ten minutes of agonisingly short progress, I stopped to sit down. An idea struck me.
I got out my magic book, and flipped straight to a picture of Mandy. She was arguing with someone that looked remarkably like Char, but from the back. The look on her face was sympathetic, but firm and slightly annoyed. They were in the kitchen. I soaked up every last detail of the picture. Mandy's fingers were white with flour, and I could see a half-kneaded lump of bread dough on the surface behind her. One of Char's hands was running through his hair, and his shoulders were slumped. Mandy's eyes were ringed in grey, like she had barely slept.
Well, I thought dryly, if that was what she looked like, what kind of a monster would I look? Something caught my eye from the corner of the picture, in Char's hand. It was a pair of glass slippers. I snapped the book shut, but regretting it in the same moment. I opened it again, hoping to see the same picture, but instead seeing a lot of neat, rounded writing. Char's journal!
I hesitated, my finger on the first line of text. Although I had read Char's diary before, it felt somehow wrong now. As though I had no right to see what was in it any more. But however immoral the idea seemed to me, it was simply irresistible. I wanted – needed – to see what he felt. To see whether he hated me yet. Whether he was trying to find me, or whether he would do the right thing for himself and Kyrria, and let me go. I banished all of these thoughts, and read the entry.
I don't understand! It turns out that Lela, the only friend I had at the ball, was actually Ella in a mask. Why? I was dancing with her, and everything was perfect, but then her idiotic (harsh, maybe) step sister snatched off her mask. And she ran. Why did she run? I could see that she wasn't married – she had no ring, and her dress, although fine, was hardly expensive looking, which wouldn't correspond to being married to a wealthy man.
When she ran, I thought at first it was to get out of earshot of Hattie, so I tried to run after her, but Hattie tried to stop me! I am truly ashamed to say that I saw red. I called her a rather un-prince- like name and broke free. But Ella never stopped running. She was running from me. I caught her. I asked her why she was at the ball, and she said she'd wanted to see me. But it still posed the same question. Why would she run? Then she said she'd never gotten my letter. That shocked me – whose hands had it fallen into? That could explain everything. If my letter had fallen into jealous hands (naming no names, Hattie) that could explain the note I had received.
As I was silent and thinking, she ran again. I wasn't expecting it. I lost her. She was hiding. I could have found her, but I didn't try. She didn't want to be found. I regret it now. I need answers, and she can give them to me. I am outside her room at the moment, waiting for her to return. I mustn't fall asleep. But even if I did, she couldn't get in without waking me up, as I am leaning against the door.
The entry ended there. I shut the book again. Maybe Mandy would write to me, later. I imagined that she would be very busy, what with my disappearing and whatnot. I wondered what the argument was about.
I got up again, and groaned, once more reminded of the pain in my legs. I had not done anything this demanding before. Ignoring it, I walked on again, this time not stopping where I would have stopped before. My legs were soon killing me, yet I continued on my way, eventually losing track of where I was, losing track of time, losing track of everything aside from the flaring in my legs every time I took a step. Yet I kept taking them. I walked on, and on, and on. I knew I was going to pass out, but it was as if someone had ordered me to continue.
I had to continue, I thought desperately. My vision was blackening, there was nothing I could do but stagger onwards. I heard a voice. Maybe it was in my head. Oh, wonderful, I thought. I was now delusional. The rough twig strewn ground swirled up to meet me, and the last thing I was conscious of were hands grabbing my lapels and pulling me forward.
Yes! Second chapter finished. Seriously, please review, it would be nice to know that someone is reading this.