Eighth Circle (Chapter 9, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 9

The sea mist rolled in. Liala pulled her hood over her head and fastened the clasps on her padded coat. They had left the village and were driving over the vast expanse of soggy moorland that stretched away to the south. She was dressed in clothes that Bryn's mother had put together for her. Bryn sat beside her. Balduur sat behind with the sergeant. No one believed that the little man came from another realm and everyone was deeply suspicious of him.

They were in a truck driven by Bryn's Uncle Allain. It was open at the back and normally carried fish. Plaid Koerno used it for other purposes. Right now it was taking them to see a doctor. They would rendezvous with him out on the moor and he would remove the tracking chips that were implanted in their bodies.

Liala's chip was in her shoulder and had been put there by a surgeon who worked in a clinic in the palace. Bryn's was in a part of his body that he didn't like to talk about and had been put there by paramedics who toured the villages in mobile clinics and implanted the chips in babies. It was a serious offence to remove a chip. Even the guardians had them.

Everything was proceeding smoothly. Liala had no idea that the villagers were already organised to fight the guardians. The TV programs presented a totally different view. She had arrived thinking she was going to lead a revolt. The commander had other ideas.

He was sitting beside her with one hand on the side of the truck and the other on his gun. The vehicle was bouncing around over the rough terrain but that didn't stop him talking. He told her about Plaid Koerno and the role he expected her to play. To Liala's annoyance, he insisted on calling her Princess and treated her more like a mascot than a fellow resistance fighter.

'You should keep your green hair, Princess.'

'I want to dye it back to its natural colour.'

'No, Princess. The people expect to see you with green hair.'

'If you insist, Commander.'

'And we must find you some decent clothes.'

'I like the clothes I'm wearing, Commander.'

'You must dress like you do in the official photographs, Princess.'

'I look awful in those photographs.'

'The people expect to see you dressed like a princess, Princess.'

Liala's blood boiled. She'd had more than enough.

'You are treating me like the guardians treat my mother. They are always telling her what to do. Can't you understand ... I can fight? You should have seen what I did to those orcas with my gun.'

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