Shortcut to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten | Part Eleven
"Why do you return empty-handed?" demanded The Woman In The Pretty Dress.
"They was too quicks for me," said the midget.
"I follows thems, Miss."
"Go on, Collins."
"I finds their hideouts, Miss."
"And you weren't seen?"
"No, Miss. Scouts' honours, Miss," grinned Collins. "I dones good works, Miss. Asks Collins anythings, Miss, that's what they says. Cans I have cake, Miss?"
"Alright," said The Woman In The Pretty Dress, "but a dry one. You can have one with icing when I have seen this hideout for myself."
"Chosen?" said Zena. She gazed around but she could not see for a light sone bright in her face.
"Yes," said Mr Bonathon. "Chosen."
"Because it is meant to be."
"Oh. Where am I?"
"Oh. How did I get here?"
"You were chosen."
"Who chose me?"
"Well, no one chose you."
"But you said they did."
"Well, yes, but - well, not exactly. It is meant to be."
"I don't understand."
"Few people do. You have been laden with this burden, charged with a quest for which you did not ask, and -"
"I've been what?"
"You've been lade with this burden. And charged with this, erm -"
"I don't understand."
"You have been chosen by fate."
"What's fate?" Zena repeated. She really didn't know. She had never heard of fate before, or being a 'chosen one'. It was hardly surprising. She was only six, after all, and her parents had never taken much interest in her, so her general knowledge was pretty poor, even for a six year old.
"Oh really!" exclaimed Mr Bonathon, dimming the lights so that Zena could see. "You really DO know how to ruin a sense of occasion, don't you? Go on, Anunciada, you explain it to her."
"Erm," said a girl stood next to Zena. She had olive skin and dark hair, and Zena recognised her voice immediately. It was the girl who had led her out of the dark.
"It's those things that are supposed to happen," said Anunciada after a little thought. "No matter what you do, it is destined to happen. It will happen."
"Okay, right," said Zena absent-mindedly. She wasn't listening. She was distracted by the extraordinary room in which she now found herself. She'd never seen anything so tacky.
Large cardboard cutouts of golden pillars were stuck at intervals on the uneven, grubby walls. Purple and green drapes were hound between the tops of the pillars. A large pendulum clock made out of old egg cartons and pipe-cleaners hung high above Mr Bonathon's golden papier maché throne. Tucked away in the far corner was a framed picture of Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen, hanging over a tea trolley laden with candles.
"Well, I can see you're tired," said Mr Bonathon. "So Anunciada will show you where you can lay your head."
Zena realised that actually, she did feel rather tired. Her eyelids suddenly felt very heavy, and even as Anunciada took her hand, she was barely keeping them open and started to drift away. The next thing she knew, she was awake.
To be continued...
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