The podium floats down to the ground, Dean Dovey gives me a supportive pat on the back before turning around to talk to Prof. Anemone. I release a long overdue sigh and try to clear all my mind of thought. Overall, it works except for one lingering thought, Kareem. Where has Kareem gone? I look around the field searching for anyone I recognize, I spot Callin talking angrily to a neverboy across the podium. As much as I hate what I’m about to do, I have to find Kareem and if there’s anyone who’ll know where Kareem is, it’s his best friend. I walk past a group of nevergirls, most of whom gave me filthy looks.
“No! Absolutely not! Listen up, Hoit. We won, fair and square. Just get a hold of-” Callin shouts at the tiny neverboy,
“Hey! Prettyboy! Over here, now!” I scream, waving my hand at Callin.
Callin gives the neverboy one final rude look and then makes his way up to me.
“Whaddya want?” He asks,
“Where’s Kareem?” I ask, trying to be as straightforward as possible.
“Chill, girl. No need to be so tight, you won the Trial by Tale. Just chill.”
I roll my eyes so hard they could easily have rolled out of their sockets. What does Norah see in him anyway? Sure he’s attractive, but he’s a pig, an absolute pig.
“Callin, I’ve got zero time for games. Where. Is. Kareem?”
“You’re no fun. He was taken to the infirmary after he came out of the forest. Watcha do to him? Try to kill him?”
“Ha. Very funny. Do you know where the infirmary is?”
“Haven’t I told you enough?”
“Callin. Tell me, NOW.”
“Walk down the main entrance hall, then turn to your right…no left…no right. Yeah, turn to your right once you’re down the hall.”
I nod my head and start walking to the Good Tower.
“Name.” The Security Gargoyle asks,
“Audrey of Alinburg.”
The gargoyle statue shifts to the left and the huge sparkling glass doors open. I walk inside, my eyes are immediately drawn to the Gallery of Good. I peel my eyes from the display and keep walking down the hall. I follow Callin’s instructions and turn to the right, there the huge sparkling blue doors open right in front of me, I walk in.
“Are you visiting someone?” The nymph nurse, not Edralynne, asks.
“Uh…yeah. Yeah, I am.”
The nymph nurse smiles, “Well, who is it?”
“Oh yeah,” I look around the room, “Umm… Kareem of…um…Kareem of Shazabah.”
The edges of the nymph nurse’s mouth curl up into a slight smile.
“Oh, okay. You don’t seem like a girl who would visit him…but alas.”
The nymph signals at me to follow her and she leads me across the infirmary, I spot the novapolitan girl lying down, unconscious, on her bed. She leads me to a bed surrounded by evergirls in glittering pink dresses. Great, Kareem’s entourage is here to visit him. The nurse gives me one more smile and then hurries along to another bed.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” A high-pitch voice asks, “If you need anything, I’m here.”
“Was it hard in there?” An even higher-pitched voice chimes in,
I walk around the crowd of girls and sit at the foot of Kareem’s bed. Nobody seems to notice. Kareem whispers something in a girls ear and she starts giggling hysterically. I need to get Kareem’s attention somehow, I need to talk to him without all these giggling, babbling girls around. I grab one of Kareem’s feet and start digging my nails into it as hard as I can. Kareem releases a loud yelp and loos around the bed. He holds me in his glance for a good twenty seconds before turning back to his entourage.
“Uh, can you guys give me like, ten minutes just to change my bandages on my hand. I, uh, feel it bleeding out again.”
Most of the girls nod their heads eagerly and start walking to the entrance. A few girls stay behind.
“Do you need help with that, Kareem?” A pink-faced girl with golden ringlets and a freckled nose asks,
“I’m fine, Ambrosia, thanks.”
The girl gives Kareem an obviously forced smile and then makes her way out of the infirmary, several girls trailing behind her.
“Who was she?” I ask,
“Ambrosia of Frost Plains, you know, granddaughter of Princess Anastasia of Frost Plains.”
”The one who got buried alive?”
“That’s the one.”
“What did you whisper in her ear?”
“You whispered something.”
“I thought you said we weren’t in a relationship.”
‘”Okay, it’s settled then.”
“Yeah, it is!'”
There’s an awkward silence that lingers in the air for several minutes.
“Why are you here, Audrey?”
“To ask you if you’re okay.”
“I’m fine, thanks.”
I stand up, this conversation has escalated into extreme levels of awkwardness.
“You’re leaving?” Kareem asks,
“Yes, it’s boring in here.”
Kareem looks disappointed but not shocked.
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