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“So Alba is my niece,” Daryn exclaimed after reading the letter left to Alba. He hugged her tightly, tears forming in his eyes. “I am so glad to have met you. Alas, it was not I who left the letter. Though I do know who did. Follow me.”
They all followed him.
At the top of the tower, he led them through a small passage and abruptly stopped. They heard him yanked a lever that creaked loudly before the ceiling slowly split in half as sunlight poured in and briefly blinded them. Once their eyes adjusted, they could see a large telescope in front of them.
“Take a look into the telescope,” Daryn pointed.
“But it’s daytime,” Alba responded. “I can’t see any stars now,”
“Oh, it’s not pointed at the star. Take a look and see where it’s pointed.”
Alba cautiously peered into the eyehole, making sure not to move the placement of the telescope. Her looking eye blinked as it tried to make sense of what she was seeing. The view was white—much whiter than the sky. Alba half feared a monster would suddenly jump into view but instead a lady appeared.
The lady was tall and beautiful with dark skin like Alba, but with long swan-like neck and a high forehead with hair cropped short to reveal a shapely head atop sloping thin shoulders—strong and fragile at the same time. Her white dress fell over her like water cascading down a mountainside, pooling at her feet like a misty clouds.
Her elegance and power exuded out of her body causing Alba to tremble. Suddenly the woman looked directly at Alba, surprising her and causing her to jump away from the telescope.
“Who is she?” Alba asked, her heart fearing she’d been caught spying. “It was as if she saw me looking at her. Her eyes were so sad and angry.”
Daryn looked into the telescope first and sighed before allowing Nonno and Kai to each look. “She is your aunt. She is called Evelina.”
Daryn strolled away, walking toward the ramparts that surrounded the room and Alba followed, giving her a breathtaking panoramic view of the Warlock Woodlands. One often forgets how small one is until you are faced with the knowledge that your surrounding is endless—beyond your own imagination.
“Your aunt was the one who left you in the fisherman’s town. Her brother married my sister and they had you. But they died here, the night before they were preparing to leave for the Dragonback Mountain. A sickness came over them. It happened so fast. Neither Evelina nor I knew what to do. I locked myself away to work when I should have been there for her. I broke her heart. And she left me, cursing me”
“It isn’t a real curse, is it?” Alba asked.
Daryn looked at her with pity. “I do envy your innocence. You and your aunt may be the last of your kind. Ones from the Dragonback Mountain—descendants of dragon, they say. In that mountain, there’s a power only you can harness. Evelina used that power to place me in this prison of a tower until I found a cure for her broken heart.”
“Why did you let her go then?”
He had a pained and far away look. “Hurt makes you do things you regret. And my biggest regret was taking Evelina for granted. When her heart broke, it was as if the world shattered. My world shattered. And I’ve spent my life alone, trying to find a cure for her broken heart. All I can do is watch her through the telescope, unable to talk to her, touch, listen, or share my life with her.
“I’ve wasted so much time because of my own pain. Alba, don’t ever be like me. When you find someone you love, don’t take them for granted. Show them. Tell them. Give them your best and your all because you never know when it’ll be all over.”
Alba could see the same sadness in her uncle’s eyes similar to her aunt’s. She put her arms around him, to warm the cold and emptiness for two people who loved each other but allowed one moment to cause a lifetime of hurt.
“Did you ever find a cure?” Alba asked as she pulled away.
“I did but I am too scared to leave. My prison has been home for so long that the thought of leaving frightens me.”
Alba held his hand. “Don’t be afraid, uncle. Nonno, Kai, and I are here now. We’ll help you leave this place to find Aunt Evelina.”
When I was a kid, I was part of a summer science day camp where they took us to various science museums. One of my favorite visits was a trip to see an old telescope. Antique! I remember that they said it was one of the last style of telescopes. I wish I had paid more attention back then because I don’t remember where we went or what the telescope was except that it was in the middle of the woods and it was incredibly large and contained inside a white room.