Fairytale for the lonely heart, chapter 100

Helen gripped Castor’s shoulder, “are you alright? You seem upset.” Helen held the horses reins as she lead the party to the edge of Pyropolis. It was still dark when they left that morning but they had walked slowly and now the sun was high in the sky. A beautiful sunny like today would be a blessing to most countries but most countries were not mostly desert and hot air.

“I am fine,” muttered Castor, “it is just that… I guess I failed right? I couldn’t bring a flower back. I was so close.. but then Pollux got in the way.”

“You don’t really think THAT is what he intended?”

“What else am I suppose to think?” grumbled Castor. He kicked a stone on the ground which rolled a foot away. Anneli held Castor’s hand tighter than usual.

“It could be worse,” replied Helen.

“It can always be worse, it doesn’t make me feel any better udade.”

“Have faith,” replied Helen and slapped Castor on the back. It stung more than she intended. Castor’s wounds besides his cracked rib had already healed but he was still sore. “Wait for me here,” instructed Helen, “I’ll see about getting some camels.”

Castor leaned against a tall fence which enclosed around a group of horses and llamas. Helen entered a small stone building, with a wooden sign above the door proclaiming ‘CAMELS AND HORSES FOR TRADE, SALE AND RENTING’ in three languages. The air was dense with the musty pungent smell of wet sweaty fur and animal refuse. Disgruntled horses neighed and kicked in their overcrowded and overheated lodgings. A camel in the fenced plot in front of Castor stared at him for an extended minute silently judging him while it chew cud.

Advertisements

Fairytale for the lonely heart, chapter 99

Anneli followed Castor and the others deep into the streets of Pyropolis. His cape was taken away and he was given a pale yellow cloak of thin paper fabric. Everyone’s clothes were clothes were changed to make it easier to blend in. Helen was not happy about her black coat being confiscated but she changed as well. Anneli watched the people, the markets and buildings. Everything was new and strange. The streets were bustling and crowded despite the heavy humid air and the blistering sun. Many people passed, bumping into him as they did but they did not pay him any attention. Anneli’s cloak lacked a hood but he got no more than a passing glance from the people around him. The market was filled with a myriad of colours. The fruits and vegetables shined like cut gems, the silk fabrics were hung in rows or folded in toppling towers. The people like their stalls were different shades from black to sepia  to pale golden while in his own country the people were various pale shade of pink. Castor held Anneli’s hand firmly but was pulled out of the crowds by an overzealous merchant.

“Sir, would you care to look at some of my products. They come all the way from the yellow continent.”

The tented table had various items in no particular order. Silk necklaces, rings, embroidered bed spreads and wooden boxes with painted enamel lids. The merchant looked wealthy. Unlike most, he wore vibrant red shirt and several golden rings on his thick fingers.

“Sorry sir, I am not interested,” replied Castor, pulling up the collar of his shirt to cover his face.

“What about a collar for your demon?” asked the man, picking up a silk beaded necklace.

“No, sorry,” muttered Castor and returned to the river of people.   When Castor and Anneli reached the hotel Pollux and Helen were waiting impatiently. Pollux pushed them inside and lead them to their room.

“I’m going back to the palace, you best leave by tomorrow morning before the guards do their rounds.”

“The horse in the stables, it was a rental.”

“Hmm..” grunted Pollux, “I’ll have it brought in the morning. If you return to the palace father will get suspicious.”

Fairytale for the lonely heart, chapter 98

“So what? We should do nothing?” growled Helen. She stood up and paced up and down the five feet of the cell. “We can break out of here. These old rusted cages will be easy to shatter.”

“No. If we break out and run away they will hunt us down. They will continue to chase us for god knows how long. And even when they finally give up we will still be looking over our shoulders. Right now, we wait for them to make the first move.”

“But Pollux-”

“Pollux won’t dare hurt us!” snarled Castor. “He is too soft. Unlike father he is too soft to hurt us.”

Helen glared at Castor and tapped her foot against the ground. Anneli felt a breeze as the stale air began to swirl around her.

“Helen stop making a fuss, we will get out eventually.”

“But when Castor? WHEN?”

chink 

The sound of clinking metal rung through the hollow dungeons. Heavy steps, clinking metal and softly crackling fire grew closer. A orange glow in the darkness approached their cell, a hooded figure holding a ring of thirty keys. The figure hung their lamp on a hook by the cell and then systematically checked each key in the ring with the lock on the iron bar door. Castor glanced at Helen who was creating a whirl of wind around her fingers.

“Excuse me, but who are you?” asked Anneli.

“Oh sorry,” chirped the figure, who then removed their hood and let their half braided hair tumble out.

“ARALIYA?” exclaimed Helen.

“Shhhh! Be quiet!” whispered Araliya. “There are still guards upstairs, they might hear.”

The lock cracked open at the twelfth key. The door creaked as it was slowly pushed open. “Follow me,” whispered Araliya as she took her lamp off the hook. They followed her along the dark narrow passages deeper and deeper into the dungeon bowels. The air got more humid and the ground got wetter as they walked. After what felt like hours they arrived at a decrepit door. Thin slivers of light passed through cracks and holes in the wood. It took Araliya a few tries until she finally shoved the door open.

Their eyes stung as they were bathed in the Pyropolis sunlight. The sound of gulls, waves and chatter surrounded them.

Castor looked around in absolute disbelief. “How… how did we get to port?”

“The dungeons have passages that lead all over the city,” said a familiar voice.

Castor froze as his brother embraced him. Pollux had barely looked at him these past years and Castor could never imagine his brother would touch him. When he let go all Castor do nothing but laughed.

“What’s going on?” demanded Helen, stamped her foot and clenched her hands.

“We are helping you escape,” replied Pollux.

“You are the one who arrested us in the first place!”

“That’s because you’re the dumb ass who stomped into the palace after leaving and returning with an unregistered razor ship. Everyone already found out about it and I can’t let them know that I helped you. I told you to be subtle and you are everything but that!” retorted Pollux and for once Helen was quiet.

“Castor…” began Pollux, “I’m sorry for all that I have done all these years. I was wrong I realize that now. Everything is going to change now.”

“What are you planning on doing?”  asked Castor.

“First of all, I will handle everything and get you two…three out of the city as quietly and quickly as possible. Don’t worry about your arrest, they were my guards and the ministers already know what father did. And secondly, father’s behavior is unacceptable we won’t let him get away with it.”

Fairytale for the lonely heart, chapter 97

“What? What happened?!” exclaimed Castor.

“Well, I went to the palace to find Pollux but he was not in his quarters. I found Araliya and she told me he was in the library. So I went to the library and found Pollux with the ministers…. because apparently Pollux is currently the acting king.”

“How? What about father?”

“I’ll get to that!” hissed Helen. “Apparently he has been bedridden for days so Pollux is acting king. So when I walked in to the library during their meeting, everyone stopped talking and kind of stared at me for a good five minutes. So then Pollux just had me arrested and thrown here. And then soon after you two arrived here. I’m assuming he figured out that I brought you here because I came back a lot earlier than planned… and he probably realized where you were because that room was where was hiding before, and had the keys to…”

“Pollux sounds really smart,” chirped Anneli.

“Not helping Anneli!” snapped Castor.

“So what do you want to do?” asked Helen, laying back against the cold stone walls.

“Nothing.”

“Castor you can’t be serious! We need to get out of here!”

“Why? What can they do now? Nothing! They can’t hurt us! Do you really think they can punish me or you without everything coming out? The ministers and the court will find out about father trying to have me killed, about you and Pollux trying to save me and they will question why. They will lose faith in the king, they will question his moral and his priorities. If Habi or Hawia attack Apophis will have neither an army or a trusted leader to rally against.”

“You know about Habi and the sunken city?”

“Of course I do. I spent a year in Iqhwa and six months in Hawai and Habi each. And they all hate father with a burning passion. The only reason they do not attack us is because they fear how suicidaly loyal the citizens are to father. The also fear the Hellas army which ally with us.”

“But Hellas is at war with Ferrum.”

“Hellas is at war with Ferrum and cannot give us troops or resources. If we are attacked  now with Pollux in charge, who is not charismatic enough to get the citizens to volunteer for the army and without the support of Hellas we will lose the oasis, most of our desert land and maybe even the control of the Pyropolis port. So right now, the top priority to continue the facade that the king is well and that our country in united.”

Fairytale for the lonely heart, chapter 96

Castor put his arms underneath Anneli, carrying him as he stood up. He stepped to the bed with Anneli in his arms and pushed the sword onto the ground. Castor placed Anneli on the bed and climbed onto the old bed. It creaked and the mattress was so thin the bed frame could be felt through it. Anneli looked at Castor on top of him, not sure what to do or to say. His heat thumped in his chest and echoed in his ears. Shadows obscured Castor’s features, Anneli felt anxious at not being able to see Castor’s eyes. Castor grabbed the fabric of Anneli’s cape.

“What are you doing Castor?”

Castor chuckled. Anneli could hear the painful surrender in Castor’s voice as a part of him stopped caring about the world he lived in.

“I don’t know,” whined Castor, burying his face in Anneli’s chest. There was a sudden bang at the door. Castor and Anneli stared at the door for a moment.

BANG!

“Is that Helen?” whispered Anneli.

BANG!

“I don’t -”

BANG! The rickety door was broken open and Pyropolis soldiers flooded in. Castor dived for his knife but was rammed by a soldier and thrown onto the floor.

“It would be best if you come quietly Prince Castor,” said the soldier holding the bladed end of a spear to Castor’s throat. Castor looked at Anneli who had already been caught. Castor allowed his hands to be tied, his face covered and dragged to god knows where. When the bag was removed from his head Castor found himself in the dark, leaky dungeon cell underneath the royal palace. In the small cramped cell was Helen, Anneli and himself.

“What in the world happened?!” cried Castor, tugging at his bound limbs.

Helen glared at him, “Pollux happened.”

Fairytale for the lonely heart, chapter 95 Rami

“So Rami-” began Castor, “Rami was a demon like you. Several years ago, demons were more common here than they are now. Well the thing about Rami was that he was only half demon so he was more human than most demons. But having children with demons is one of the most heinous crimes beside murder and assault. His father was not known and his mother was arrested soon after he was born. He was taken in as a servant in the palace when he was a child and he was probably only a year or so older than me at the time. We spent a lot of time together, we grew up together and we were really close. But… as I got older… I don’t…I don’t know if it was puberty or what but my feelings towards him changed. I was young and stupid and I know i shouldn’t have but… one day when were in the garden… I… in the spur of the moment… I… kissed him.

“And I don’t know who… but…maybe it was a maid or someone but… someone saw and soon everyone in the palace knew. My father was furious and everyone else was disgusted. Rami was immediately sent away and I don’t know where his is or if he is still okay but… I don’t know. Father stopped it from spreading beyond the palace wall but inside the palace everyone knows. Um… I got labeled as a pervert and abnormal and just…. and just a giant mistake, just the biggest disgrace. Because even though I shouldn’t have, I let myself love a demon.”

Tears fell from Castor’s eyes. Anneli hugged the arms that were wrapped around him. He could feel Castor’s trembling body and the beating of his heart. He did not know what to tell Castor to make him feel better. He could feel a wetness on the back of his neck from Castor’s tears and he waited until Castor had calmed down and his tears had dried. Castor hugged him tightly but did not say a word.

“What is going to happen to me?” asked Anneli.

“What do you mean?” Castor sniffled as he spoke.

“What will happen if we go to the palace or where ever together. Since I am a demon and all.”

“Oh… you don’t need to worry about that. The thing with him was different-”

“Because you loved him.”

“…yes. But just in case we should probably not stay too close.”

Anneli’s heart tightened and throbbed. It hurt him to hear that Castor did not love him. It hurt to hear that he had loved someone else before. It hurt to hear that they could no longer be close. Anneli turned to looked at Castor, whose eyes were red and swollen. Anneli kissed Castor on the forehead and hugged him. From then he would ignore the tightening in his chest and his growing feelings toward Castor. Castor did not love him. His love was waiting for him in the desert.

Fairytale for the lonely heart, chapter 94

Under the cover of darkness Helen lead Castor and Anneli to a small room in the back of a old shack.

“You and Anneli need to wait here. I’ll go back to the palace and tell Pollux we arrived. Then we need to be strategics and plan our next move. I’ll be back in a couple hours” said Helen and closed the door behind here. Castor and Anneli watched as the door was locked behind her.

“So I guess we wait,” said Castor trying to fill the silence that followed.

Anneli did not reply or really react at all. He walked to the bed and removed the sheets. “There is something in the bed,” muttered Anneli.

“Oh… a sword? That’s…odd. It must be Helen’s. Not that she needs it. You know whenever we fought she would always win. Even though I’m stronger and a better fighter she would use her magic to suck all the air from my lungs. She would basically choke me until I give up. She is such a sore loser.”

“Is that so-” whispered Anneli, seemingly uninterested. He sat on the ground, tucking his knees under his chin.

“What is wrong Anneli? You’ve been acting strange for awhile.”

“Nothing is wrong.”

Castor sat in front of Anneli. “We both know that is not true. Tell me what’s wrong. Did Helen say something to you?”

“No- it isn’t Helen. I mean… it isn’t just Helen.”

“Then what is it? I can’t stand you avoiding me and ignoring me. You won’t let me touch you or be near you.”

Anneli frowned and refused to meet Castor’s eyes. He did not know what he was feeling. Eddies of negative emotions tumbled inside his heart.

“Did I do something?”

“No,” snapped Anneli “it is not you. You didn’t do anything, I just feel angry.”

“You’re angry with me?”

“No…yes…. I don’t know. I am not angry at you but I am angry about you. I don’t like that there are things about you that I don’t know. I don’t like when you pay attention to other people and then I get angry at myself for being angry at you.”

“It sounds like you are jealous,” chuckled Castor.

“I don’t know… maybe.”

“Alright… well you said you wanted to know more about me! As away, I will tell you anything. I won’t lie or avoid it.”

Anneli looked at Castor’s eyes for the first time in days. “Who is Rami?”

“Oh-” blurted Castor. “um… well… he is…”

“Are you not going to tell me?”

“I will- I will. It’s just that everything with him ended terribly. It’s a part of my past I don’t like to think about.”

“Are you not going to tell me?”

Castor grinned, “I’ll tell you, if you sit on my lap.” Anneli sat on his lap, to Castor’s surprise. Castor wrapped his arms around Anneli and hugged him close. Anneli nuzzled Castor’s neck. They had not hugged in several days and Anneli could no longer remember why he was avoiding it. He felt safe in Castor arms. It felt warm, comforting and euphorious. Yet when he was upset and uncertain he could not recall this feeling, even though now it felt so natural and right.

“So Rami-” began Castor.

Fairytale for the lonely heart, chapter 93

Ten days after leaving Cumulus the imperial razor ship reached Pyropolis veiled in the darkness of early morning. Soon after the ship docked Helen entered Castor’s room. Castor sat on the bed, a orb of crackling electricity hovering above his hand.

“I didn’t know you could do that without your knife,” said Helen.

“Well it is not quite useful yet,” chuckled Castor as the lightning ball evaporated.

“Where is Anneli?” asked Helen glancing around the room.

“Not here. He is still avoiding me. Do you know why that is?”

” Why would I know?”

Static crackled around Castor like whispy spider webs. “Well you were speaking poorly of me to him.”

Helen scoffed, “I doubt that made a difference. Your behavior was warrant enough for Anneli to doubt you.”

“What did I do?”

“I don’t know maybe it is because you barely tell him anything. You even promised to take him to the desert.”

“I AM going to take him to the desert.”

“Really? Where he is supposedly going to find ‘love’ you of all people don’t want him to do that. I’m not stupid, I can see the way he look at him and how you two cling to each other. You can’t do that any more. The moment anyone suspects you two are a bit too friendly Anneli is the one who is going to get into trouble. They are going to take him away like Rami-”

“Don’t talk about Rami Helen!” growled Castor. “It is over. I am over it. There is nothing- nothing I can do about him.”

“Castor…” Helen sighed. She was stubborn and confrontational but she did not want to upset Castor further. “You are not using Anneli to replace are you?”

“I am not,” barked Castor.

“Who is Rami?” Anneli appeared from behind Helen. He could feel the tension in the air. Castor turned away from them.

“We are getting down soon, gather your things. We need to discuss what we are going to do from her on,” said Helen. She left the room and closed the door behind her.

“Are you alright Castor?”

“Yeah. I’m fine.” Castor still did not look at Anneli.

Fairytale for the lonely heart, chapter 92 waves

Eventually Anneli grew accustom to the constant rocking of the boat and the overwhelming salty scent of the sea which permeated every crevice of the boat. Anneli stood on the deck leaning against the rails staring into the sea. The deep blue waves flowed far into the horizon yet still beat against the body of the ship.

“Hey”

Anneli turned and saw Helen walk up to him. She stood beside him and looked in to the ocean together.

“Have you been avoiding Castor?”

“No, why?”

“Because Castor said you were. Did something happen yesterday?”

“No, nothing,” replied Anneli with a sigh. The eastern wind blew over them bringing the scent of a distant land.

“So,” began Helen, “why are you traveling with my brother.”

Anneli smirked,”am I in trouble?”

“Depends, did you do something?”

Anneli turned to Helen and looked into the eyes that were so similar to Castor’s. “No I didn’t. Castor promised to take me to the desert if I helped him find a rose.”

“Why do you want to go to the desert?”

“Because two magic fish told me if I go the desert I will find love.”

Helen choked stifling her laughter. “What? Really? You believed them.”

“Well yes. Besides the only reason Castor even went to find a rose is because some fortune teller said he should be king.”

“Fair enough,” said Helen with a smile and shrug of the shoulders. “But you have to admit your fortune was rather vague.”

“Yes but there was nothing much for me back home, so any hope of a better life is a good reason to leave.”

“Mn…” Helen looked at the blue infinity and the swirling uncertain sky. “He told you about that stuff did he? I mean about becoming the king and about father and Pollux.”

“Yeah. He spoke about you as well. He said he was jealous of you.”

“Really? He’s jealous?”

Anneli nodded. “Castor said he wished he was brave enough to run away himself, but he cared too much about what other people thought and wanted to prove himself.”

“He must really trust you to tell you all those things.”

“I don’t know if he trusts me,” replied Anneli. “He did not tell me anything about himself until just recently. Even then it was because he was in a really bad state.”

“Still, he never opens up to anyone, not even me.”

Anneli was silent of a moment, hesitating whether to tell Helen what he wanted to. “Helen, Castor said he does not want to be king.”

“I figured, especially after what our father tried to do and considering how Castor was treated in the past.”

“But his behavior doesn’t make any sense- why would he risk his life to get the rose and go back to your country if he did not want to become king? He could have run away to anywhere else.”

“Well… no one but Castor really knows what’s going on his head. He can be manipulative and two-face…you should be careful as well.”

“What are you two talking about?” announced Castor as he approached them. He leaned against the rails placing his hands on either side of Anneli.

“Were you talking about me?” asked Castor with a grin and then placed his chin on Anneli’s head.

“Our lives don’t revolve around you Castor,” replied Helen her words dripping with sarcasm.

Castor laughed, “does that mean you were?”

“Maybe- so you are jealous of me Castor?” asked Helen. Castor stared at Helen for a second perplexed.

“What did he tell you? What did you tell her?”

Helen laughed. “I was told that you were jealous because you wanted to run away like me.”

“Anneli why would you tell her that? I told you that in confidence,” chuckled Castor.

“How are you feeling?” asked Anneli softly.

“I’m alright. Well….not much better but I was bored in my room all alone,” muttered Castor.

“You should go back and rest, your injuries are still bad,” replied Anneli.

“Are you coming as well?”

“Not just yet.”

“What? Are you saying the sea is more interesting than I am?” whined Castor.

Anneli paused for a moment then said,”yes.”

 

Fairytale for the lonely heart, chapter 91 lulled

Castor sat on the creaking bead and stripped his clothing. The blood from his wounds had already soaked through the bandages. Castor sighed. Every movement, every breath was painful. He wanted to sleep but even lying down would be too uncomfortable. Anneli sat beside him and held Castor’s hand.

“She was quite cruel to you. She knew you were hurt but she was still rough.”

“Yeah,” chuckled Castor, “that’s just how she is.”

“You should sleep Castor,” said Anneli softly. Castor looked at their entangled hands and a warm little light flickered inside him. “Alright,” he whispered and placed his forehead against Anneli’s. Anneli was not sure how to respond but nuzzled Castor back for a while. He placed the pillow against the wall for Castor to lean on.

“Does it hurt?” asked Anneli, fluffing the pillow.

“Yes, but I don’t think it can hurt any less,” remarked Castor with a weak smile.

“Do you want some water Castor?”

“No, it is fine. But come sleep,” Castor outstretched his hand to Anneli who hesitated.

“Helen does not want us to sleep in the same bed,” replied Anneli.

“Just ignore her, there is only one bed.”

“But you are hurt.”

“I doubt you will hurt me more than I already am.”

Anneli did not need a lot of coxing. He had been awake for over a day and the adrenaline had diminished. His body was tired and his eyelids grew heavier. Anneli crawled into the bed and lent against Castor, nestling his head in the crook of Castor’s neck. Castor’s warmth and the sound of his beating heart lulled Anneli to sleep.

BANG BANG BANG

Anneli woke up with a jolt. He had no idea where he was or how long he was asleep.

BANG BANG BANG

The sound again thundered at the door. Half asleep Anneli crawled over Castor and hopped to the door. He slowly unlocked the door. The door flung open and Helen marched into the room. She gave the tray she was holding to Anneli and slammed the door close. Anneli placed the tray on the small table and ate one of the small purple fruits. It was sweet but somehow both fibrous and gelatinous.

Helen stomped up to Castor, “here,” she said, placing three white tablets in Castor’s palm.

“What is it?” asked Castor, drowsily inspecting the pills.

“Hey Anneli, bring some water,” growled Helen. Anneli quickly poured some water, brought the glass to the bed and handed it to Castor.

“These are just painkiller. I’ll come later to re-dress your wounds and apply some more disinfectants.”

“Thank you Helen,” replied Castor weakly and drank the medicine. Helen placed her forehead against Castor’s for a moment. Anneli’s head constricted for a moment watching them. He did not understand this dark feeling but he knew he hated it.

“Sleep a bit longer and eat something. I talked to the captain, he said we can leave tomorrow morning. Lock the door behind me please, Anneli.”

Helen stomped out of the room and Anneli locked the door behind her. Anneli climbed onto the bed but Castor was already asleep so he curled up beside him.