The hotel was four stories high and very big for a building in this country. Its walls and ceiling were flooded with colored carvings and designs of red, gold, brown, and black as my group and I stepped through the colored glass doors we were in what in America we would call the lobby. But as my eyes swept the overwhelming room, I thought it was more of a luxury room. The colors filled every space my eye could see. This was a very expensive Hotel. Supposedly the best in the city. It had its own entertainment, and from rumors, anyone under the age of twenty, would have a special room. What was so special about it? No clue. But being seventeen, I thought I would find out soon enough.
There was life like statues with colorful and detailed masks standing in poses against the wall. Each mask was completely different, though in the same style. As we came up, we were immediately approached by an elderly man. His head was bald and he wore a dark green robe with gold lining. A few bold rings sat upon every other finger… showing wealth no doubt. His skin was dark and showed lines of age, but a kind smile spread across his face as he made a slight bow to his customers. John, the head of our group, checked us in. The old man waved his hand, and suddenly the statues came alive. The group jumped. I did not. The statues, or men, came around and picked up our bags, and walked off down the hall. I watched them go… perfectly balanced with suitcases and bags on their shoulders. That would have taken practice.
As I waited I heard the old man ask the ages of the group members. John quickly listed the ages… seventeen coming last. There were six of us in a group all together. I was the youngest. Not like I cared. Just because I was young, didn't mean I got pushed around. A few had tried… even fewer had seceded. John waved at me, and the man's smile got bigger when his eyes met mine. I kept my gaze steady, and did not smile back. Everywhere I had been in this country… I had a gut feeling. One that started off just as an annoyance. But then I began to recognize it as fear… or caution. And so far… it was still there. From years of misfortue, i wasn't about to push that feeling away. It's what kept me alive. Someone, or something bad was going to happen. And the more I thought about it, and the longer i had the feeling, the more i realized SOMEONE was spying on me. why? I could only guess. I didn't trust anybody. So when the old man smiled at me, I let the man know I was a tough crowd. He was going to have to do a lot to put a smile on my face. I looked away hotly, and found some of the statues had not moved. A chill went down my spine. When I first looked at them… they were statues… but now as I saw their unblinking eyes, they rock solid stances, and it gave me the creeps. They weren't fake. They were REAL. Those eyes were really looking at us behind the masks. Watching.
I turned my back on them, fingering my necklace. It jingled with the different charms from friends and family. Some were rings; others were stuff off of other necklaces or bracelets that I had taken off. But the two charms I fingered now… were given to me by the same person. Given to me right before he died. And that person had no blood relation to me… scratch that… no relation to me whatsoever. I didn't even know the guy… barley even saw him once before he passed on. Yet those two charms meant more to me then any other. One was a small emerald leaf. Gold dust sparks dotted the entire design, and it shone like it had its own glow. The silver veins in it were delicate and hand made carefully… just for me. It represented nature. The second one was just a brown rock, about the size of my pinky nail. It two glowed with its own special light. It was finely polished and crafted, wrapped in a pure gold wire, caging it securely to its hook. It represended rock... or stone. I smiled as i realized this hotel was made of stone for a more authentic look.
The old man John was talking to, waved his hands again. This gesture made me curious, because both the man and John were talking about me when he did it. And it was a different wave. Made with two fingers, one of them bent down. Instantly one of the shorter masked men stepped up… to ME. I looked at him, then at the old man, then at John. The masked person in front of me was no man. In fact, he was a young man, a boy maybe my age. He wore the traditional red pants that hung loosely around his legs and a tan sash around his entire waist. As the rest of them, he wore no shirt, showing his dark skin and muscles. A black ring curled halfway down his arm, and a gold chain around his neck, ending in a small amulet I couldn't make out. John waved at me to follow the young boy.
'He'll show you your room. Apparently you get something special." John said, his eyes dark. I planted my feet and crossed my arms, saying nothing. That I usually did. I had many secrets, and talking to much might let it slip. And my secrets were nothing to be taken lightly. "Trisha, please?" he said. I grinded my teeth, and clenched my fists. Just because i was part of John's group didn't mean i trusted him. It just meant i had to temporarily follow his orders.
I turned back to the boy, who instantly whirled around and started down the hall. I flashed a glare at John, and then followed. The boy was at a jog, but I took my time. If I got lost, it would be my fault. I came to the corner, where the boy had stopped. He looked at me, tilting his head slightly. I looked at his endless brown eyes, gazing back at me. He slowly turned around, and continued… at my pace. My eyes wondered around the hall, still carved and decorated beyond anything I had ever seen. Lights hung in the ceiling all different shaped, casting different shadows and more designs on the wall. Plants sat in big round pots that appeared every once in a while. I crossed my arms tightly, not even looking at them. I knew what kind of plants they were without looking. I didn't need to.
The boy walked on, and suddenly stopped. I just about ran into him, and cursed under my breath. I looked at him, waiting. He didn't say anything. Neither did I. Finally, the boy waved his hand at the wall, and made a bow. I looked. It was just a wall. Nothing special. How that was supposed to be my room? I looked at the wall, everything coming in detail. Further… further… and then, instead of wall… I felt space. Empty space. I FELT air... or raather i FELT no more stone. I mentally pulled myself back, and looked at the boy. From the twinkle in his eye, he knew he had tricked me. But he didn't know who he was messing with. I glared at him, and set my hand on the wall. Without moving my gaze straight on the boy, I pulled on a design on the wall. It slid down easily making no noise. The wall suddenly pulled back and slid away, revealing a very comfortable looking room. They boy's eyes lost their spark, and filled with curiosity and surprise. I said nothing, did nothing, but just walked into my room. My bags where already set neatly on the bed. I heard the door shut, and sighed. This was going to be a long weak.
I walked over to my suitcases, and found a note sitting on top. It was a piece of notebook paper, no doubt from John. Had he already planned something for tonight? I opened it up and read it. Yep. There was a special dinner for the new comers tonight. Entertainment and great food. I rolled my eyes and threw the note into a statue tiger's mouth. The trash. How did I know? Another little secret of mine. I suddenly got that chill up my spine again. That weird feeling in my stomach flared more then ever before. I snapped around… finding no one. But the carvings in the wall…. After those statues coming alive, I didn't exactly trust anything to not have eyes. My eyes scanned the wall. Nothing. The chill ceased and the feeling shrank. I looked at the time. Dinner was in a half hour. What was I suppose to do? Nothing. I had nothing to do. The best entertainment hotel in the city, and I was bored. I scoffed. I flopped down on my bed and closed my eyes. Should I sleep for a half hour? No. I couldn't sleep. In fact. I haven't' slept in the past week, yet I had the energy of the whole group put together. Incredible huh? Why is that you ask? I can't tell. Yet another one of my secrets, I'm sure you will find out soon enough. What's that you say? Too many secrets for you? To mysterious for you? Well, since I'm the bored one, and your dying to know, (I think) then I'll give you a little more detailed to one of my very special secrets. You won't tell will you? Good.
I took a deep breath feeling the mattress's comfort sink underneath me. With my eyes closed my mind scanned the room. The room around me became a mental picture. I knew where everything was. The door was exactly ten steps in front of me. The dresser, the plants, the light switch, the mirror, everything. I knew where it all was without looking. But that was the easy part. I sank deeper, widening my mind vision. As I saw what was behind those walls, what things were hidden inside them, I found why this room was so special. Tunnels… trapdoors, secret compartments… you name it. It was all in this room. I smiled. Now THAT would keep people entertained. I opened my eyes, and sat up. The little tour of the room had only taken a few minutes. Just a little slower then time actually moved. I slid off the bed, and dug in my bag. I pulled out some tough leather boots, I always brought with me. Now, at first glance, they were normal boots. But let me tell you something. Normal boots don't carry knives. Normal boots don't mold to any foot for perfect fit. I pulled them on, glad there were no laces. You didn't need them if they snuggled your foot perfectly. I reached into my bag again, and pulled out black gloves. They were belted around the wrist, and cut off at the knuckles. Then I pulled on a black coat, using the movement to hide the motion of pulling out knives, and laying them inside my clothing. I pulled the coat up tight. I pulled out a flashlight, and looked it over. With a second thought, I tossed it aside.
I went over to the wall by the mirror, and pressed a small round design in the frame. The mirror sank back, and revealed a black tunnel. I chuckled. This was two easy. I started down it. Confused yet? HA! Why do you think I went through the trouble of hiding my knives, and preparing for a fight? Why do you think I instantly went down a deep dark tunnel without a second thought, and without a flashlight? I will tell you. That creepy feeling. Who ever was making me feel like that... was somewhere close. And the closest someone could get without me seeing them, was somewhere in these tunnels or trap doors or whatever. When I found it, I would let instincts take over, and finish it off. Whatever it was. It felt big. Why didn't I bring a flashlight? I didn't exactly need one.
These passages were pure stone.
My boots echoed in the dark tunnel as the light from the room faded. I was in complete darkness now, but I was absolutely fine. I knew there was stairs ahead. Just a few going up. And beyond that, I knew there was a fork. Directly underneath that fork… was a room. Who's room? I kept going. Without slowing down or flinching, I took the steps my eyes couldn't see. I went out. The fork didn't take long to come to. Sixty three steps, from my room. That feeling in my stomach came again. This time… it came to the point where it almost hurt. It crawled up my spine making me shake a little. I clenched my fists. I didn't turn down either way, even though I knew one was a dead end, and the other led outside. I turned on my heel and headed back.
I closed the mirror behind me, just as there was a knock at the door. I threw my black coat under the covers, and opened the door, sticking one hand in my pocket and hiding the other behind the door. It was Chuck. Another member from the group. I starred at him, waiting for him to tell me why he was here. He starred at me, waiting for me to start a conversation. I got annoyed and spoke first.
"What'd I forget something downstairs?" I said. Chuck shrugged. He wore baggy jeans and a big white coat. His brown hair was spiked up, and his deep, dark eyes starred endlessly back at me.
"John says there's a special thing these guys do before dinner. Want's us to see it."
'What, NOW?" I asked. He nodded. 'Alright, let me get ready." Chuck shook his head.
"Like RIGHT now. They already started." Chuck said. I gave an annoyed sigh and stepped out of the room. The knives were still on me. I still wore my gloves and boots. When we got downstairs, Chuck obviously knew where he was going because he led us through the hallways and into a big room. Table's maybe a foot off ground squared around the main floor, with cushions as seats. Most of the group was already there. John sat at the corner, watching the dancers already on the floor. Belly dancers. There hips jingled from the jewelry and charms they were draped in. A few appetizers were already set on the small table.
I took a seat, and sat down cross-legged at the table. I looked at the table. Even their table was designed with different colors. The plates and silverware looked incredibly expensive, not to mention the room itself. Vines and plants curled up the walls, and hung from the ceiling, dotted with big, bright colorful flowers. I tore off a piece of bread, quickly dropping it on my plate. It was hot. Freshly baked no doubt. The music ended, and the dancers left the floor. A couple seconds later the music started up again, and different dancers came on. They were the men in masks. In fact, I recognized one as the boy who showed me my room. It was an incredible dance. More of acrobatics and showing off, but talent none the less. As the dance and music went on, the old man came up to me and took a seat.
"I trust you like your room, hmm?" he asked, his voice heavily accented.
"Filled with lots of bells and whistles." I said. "Although, I might have to switch rooms. I have already found all the twists." The old man chuckled.
"I heard how you found your room on your own." He said. I flashed a look at the boy on stage, just as he made a back flip from the top of a stand up pyramid, and landed graciously on the ground. "It usually takes guests hours to figure it out." The man said, 'Although you may be smart, are you sure you found all of them?" I took a sip of the water. Or I thought it was water. It had a fresh cold mango taste. REALLY good stuff.
"Four tunnels, two trap doors. Six secret compartments each designed with a different season. And supposedly there's a T.V. in the south wall, but it's not working at the moment, so you had that part shut off." The man flashed a look at me.
"Very quick, young one, you are."
"You'll get used to it." I said under my breath.
"A small question, might I ask?" I shrugged and nodded. "Why do you come to a peaceful dinner, with such weapons?" I stopped, my eyes narrowing.
"One cannot expect the best out of a life like mine." I said, frowning, but keeping my eyes straight.
"Well, please relax." The man said, "The people here will protect you if there is ever such a need." He stood up, "They may not all speak English, but they are all highly trained to protect." He gave a deep bow and walked away.
"Yeah, but can they protect me from each other?" I muttered.