Anneli and Castor lay on the small bed in the closet of a room in a shabby inn. Castor’s heart calmed and his fatigue had caught up with him. He did not want to move and wanted to rest but he knew he could not.
“Anneli we need to leave tomorrow morning.”
“Did you find a boat to take us?”
“No, we can’t go yet. We need to go back for now.”
“Go back where?”
“Anywhere, but not here. The gates of the city are already closed so we need to wait until tomorrow morning.”
“Why?” asked Anneli.
“We just have to leave, it is not safe here anymore.”
“Why? What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“Then what is going on?”
Castor paused. He had told Anneli very little about himself even after several weeks of travelling together. Anneli did not know he was a prince, why the rose plant is important or about Castor’s father. Castor let go of Anneli and sat up in bed. His body ached. All his running must have made his injures worsen.
“There are some people trying to kill me. I ran away from them earlier and I thought I got away but they found me again. I saw them again today, they are probably still looking for me right now. I don’t think we are safe even now.”
Anneli sprang up, “we should leave now.”
“No! The gates out of the city must already be closed and those people are probably outside right now looking for me and waiting for me to try to run away. We will leave as dawn when the gates open, it will be easier in the morning when there are fewer people wandering around the street. In case we end up fighting.”
“Why are they after you?”
“If you never tell me I will never know,” grumbled Anneli placing his head on Castor’s lap. Castor patted Anneli’s head. He hesitated, not wanting to tell Anneli about his family because he will have to reveal why his family hated him in the first place.
“My father,” began Castor, his voice quivered as he spoke, “he sent men to kill me. He sent me here to get the rose but it was just an excuse to sent me far away. He probably wanted to make it seem like an accident.”
Anneli did not respond, he simply quietly waited as Castor stroked his fur.
“Are you not going to ask why? You’ve been prying all this time.”
“I don’t need to know if you don’t want to tell me.”
Castor chuckled, “that did not stop you before.”
“Well you wanted to talk about it before. I could tell that was something in the back of your throat that you wanted say.”
“Yeah, I guess you were right. It has been really stressful keeping all this frustration to myself. I just thought you would not understand.”
“Even if I won’t understand I would still listen.”
“You know, he was a terrible father. He always neglected me and my younger siblings and only payed any attention to my older brother. My step mother was nice to me but I spent most of my life trying to get his approval. In the end he hated me so much that he tried to kill me off in a far away country.” Castor’s vision became blurry as tears gathered in his eyes.
“I don’t even know why I even tried. I should have just run away when I got the chance. I should have just run away to the other side of the country or to a different country entirely. I should just have spent my money and gone somewhere far away and bought some land and started a farm. No one back home wants me to come back anyway.”
Anneli climbed onto Castor’s lap and wiped away the tears that fell down Castor’s face. A small smile broke on Castor’s face feeling embarrassed by his breakdown.
“How does that sound Anneli? Even if we are poor and in the middle of nowhere living be ourselves in a little farm, it doesn’t sound too bad does it?”
Anneli thought about what the fish had told him. He thought about the desert and of the love he was meant to find there. He thought about travelling across the sea and the promise Castor had made the first day they met. Yet now, all of that did not seem important.
“I will do anything if that’s what will make you happy.”