A Trip to Lynan
This scene came about from an Instagram fantasy writers' challenge, where we were prompted to visit our own imaginary world. The post was much shorter than the below passage as it had to fit Instagram's 2200 word frame, but newsletter subcribers at the time got this full version before I added it to my site for everyone to read.
While there are no major spoilers, you may prefer to read The Dawning first, if for nothing else than to appreciate the fun!
For more Coveted Power extras, check out the Letters to and from Lynan page.
A Trip to Lynan
Inspired by an Instagram fantasy writers' challenge, prompting authors to visit their own imaginary world.
I’m not sure how it happened. One moment I was furiously writing, words flying across the screen, plots being plotted and all going fine and dandy, when everything around me suddenly blurred. I blinked, the room spun, and before I knew it, I was flung through the portal linking our world (the First Realm) to the land in The Dawning (the Second Realm). . .
I land on the floor of the Gatekeeper’s cottage in a tangle of limbs, followed by a loud expletive as a suitcase tumbles in after me, clocking me soundly on the head.
“What the hell have you done, Embleton?” I mutter. I’m alone in the cottage, and Lynan, too, it appears, as once I leave the forest and trek my way to the village, I realise there isn’t a soul to be seen. With the suitcase still in my possession, I pop it open in the solitude of the village square. The letter I’ve written to myself explaining my current predicament clears up some of the confusion. But the whiskey stain on the corner of the envelope doesn’t bode well. If I was drunk enough to send myself into my own book, chances are I didn’t pack accordingly.
“Muppet,” I scold myself, rooting out clothes. Okay, so, maybe not the worst start with my drunk packing. The Second Realm hasn’t progressed much since medieval times, so suitable attire is paramount. With no electricity and my characters living in an enormous draughty castle, layers are important, and thankfully, I’ve packed plenty. With an outfit in hand, I duck behind the fountain to change, and happy I now blend in should anyone appear, return to the suitcase. Inside I find a digital camera with extra memory cards and batteries. A note is stuck to the camera. ‘Document Solomon’s books!’ It commands, ‘As many as you can!’
“Absolutely!” I agree.
Solomon’s library is stuffed to the rafters with books on witchcraft, demons, sorcery and everything in between (including how to get home). If there’s only one task for this realm, it’s to spend a few hours in his chambers, nosing through his stuff. I’ll even dare to sit in his fireside chair and sip on a cup of his infamous brew.
Drunk me hasn’t done too badly so far; clothes and a camera were an inspired choice. There’s only one thing left in the suitcase now; a small parcel wrapped in brown paper. ‘For Elaria.’ It says. My moss-green dress has pockets, so I slip it inside and head out of the village. Transportation in the Second Realm is by foot or by horse, and just as I reach the village outskirts, I come across a fine mare, saddled and waiting outside a tavern. “In for a penny, in for a pound!” I declare, and swing myself into the saddle. Now, I can ride, but I don’t do it very often, so by the time I reach Lynan Castle, my butt hurts. Drunk me should have packed a cushion. Once again, there’s no-one around. I would say it’s odd, but considering I’ve somehow gotten myself into the land of my books, I decide there are stranger things afoot.
The interior of the castle is bigger than I thought. It’s not cold either. I never realised how much heat candles can generate, and as every wall is generously fitted with sconce upon sconce, I find myself throwing off my warm cloak as I wander the corridors. Elaria sure does live in a nice place. Candlelight casts a soft glow on the smooth stone walls and antique furniture. Colourful tapestries catch my eye as I walk, and every time I pass one of the many arched windows set deep into the walls, the view of rolling countryside slows my steps.
By now I’ve figured out I have the entire place to myself, so I start to snoop in the many rooms along the corridors. I find the Tapestry Room, where Elaria’s dedication ceremony took place, and the Summer Room, where she and her parents share breakfast. The decor is stunning, and I can't fault the queen's taste. I find Rhyan’s chambers, and am surprised by how tidy he is. Although I know Elaria’s rooms are on the floor above his, I carry on to find the Great Hall instead. The vastness of its space amazes me—along with the massive windows, the ceiling painted to appear like the sky, and a stunning willow tree in a ridiculously large planter. All I can do is make sounds of wonder as I gape. I note where Elaria sat on her inauguration day, and even step out onto the balcony, resting my palms on the balcony ledge. The gardens are empty, but I can hear the faint echoes of Lynan’s people cheering for Elaria.
When I push open the heavy wooden door to Solomon’s room, I have to stand and drink in the moment. The room is cosy and warm. Candelight dances over every surface, and despite the volume of scrolls, books, journals, and more, there is order. The air is rich with woodsmoke, leather, candle wax and scents only Solomon could name. When I lower myself into the chair by his fire, I look over to where Elaria would sit with him. This exact spot is where Rhyan learned the truth of Elaria’s gifts. And this is where many more conversations, arguments, worries, and laughter will be shared.
I finally remember the camera, and guessing my time here is directly linked to my drunken state at home, I get busy. There’s so much to see and record, my head is spinning by the time I decide to leave. I want to find the library before I go, the stables, the orchard, and of course, deliver Elaria’s present. I move faster through the castle. In the library, I hurry up the spiral staircase to the Crow’s Nest where Elaria likes to hide out and read. The courtyard is far below when I peer out the window, and I smile at the recollection of how this is where she first laid eyes on Rhyan as he practised with his fellow Royal Guards.
Glory is not in the stables when I find my way down the countless stairwells. The kitchen is empty too, but passing through, the scent of food makes my stomach grumble and I grab an apple from the bowl on the gnarled kitchen table. Time is suspended while I wander through my world. Megan’s ovens are full with bread and roasting chickens. A huge pile of peeled potatoes sits by the sink, and beside it, six pie dishes waiting for sliced apples to fill their crusts. If drunk me doesn’t manage to haul me back to the First Realm, I think I’ll do alright here for a while.
I return inside after a stroll through the orchard. Elaria’s rooms are still and silent. In the day room, I find a copy of Wuthering Heights. Face down on the window ledge, a mug of tea with its curling steam frozen in time sits by its side. There are scrolls on the breakfast table, and when I take a peek, I can see she’s midway through another letter for Charlie.
When the room tips ever so slightly, I know my time is running out, so I return to her bedroom. Before I set her present on the bedside table, I take a quick look in the bathroom. Indeed, the water in her bath does run hot. I’d be a whiny mare within a few days of having no electricity, but at least there’s hot water. My last urge is to shove up her bathroom window and lean out. The wooden trellis is long gone, and I can see where Thomas has replaced it with twine. Elaria doesn’t sneak in and out of this window any more, but I wonder how often she stands in this same spot, wishing she could, just for kicks.
I can’t decipher what my gift to Elaria is, despite giving its odd shape a good squeeze. I’m very tempted to pick at one edge of the paper and steal a peek, but once I get home, drunk me should have an answer. With the final task complete, I leave her rooms, closing the door behind me. I’m only halfway down the corridor when a familiar sense of disorientation takes over. Before I can reach out for support of the wall, I wake on my couch with a jolt.
The cursor blinks in wait on my laptop screen. My two cats snooze undisturbed in front of the stove, and my glass of whiskey is in fact, untouched. But beside my laptop, there now lies a scroll. I sit up, rubbing blurry eyes and wincing against saddle ache as I swing my feet to the floor. The scroll is sealed with golden wax, bearing the stamp of the Winterbourne coat of arms.
Good evening, Julie.
Although I tried, I could not arrange to have us all present when you visited, but I hope you enjoyed a wander through the world you have created.
Elaria thanks you most sincerely for her gift, and asks me to convey that it’s just what she needs, and how did you know?
I am sorry we could not meet face-to-face, but may I be so bold as to ask a favour of you? Please write us a happy ending!
Until we meet again. May the gods be with you.