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 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 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 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.

Fairytale for the Lonely heart, Chapter 90

Anneli was in awe of the gigantic ship that they climbed on. The long sable body glistened in the sunshine and sea spray and the bright red sails were curled up in the mast.

“This is the ship you got?” smirked Castor, “how discrete, it’s only father’s razor ship is only the shinny star of the armada.”

“Shut up Castor,” hissed Helen as she placed Anneli on the ground. “I have itching urge to throw you off the deck and let the sharks eat you.”

Castor rolled his eyes, “Well-” Anneli tugged on his sleeve and abruptly cut him off.

“Don’t Castor,” whispered Anneli, “you will only rile each other up more.” Castor looked at Anneli, and felt the clouds lift from his mind.

“Alright,” muttered Castor. He put his arm around Anneli’s shoulder and pulled him closer. He sighed again, “Hey Helen, I’m sorry for being a jerk.”

Helen turned and a giant smirk spread across his face. “What? Castor apologizing for being a smart-ass? It might rain today.”

They followed Helen inside the ship. The interior of the ship was dimly lit by yellow lamps periodically placed along narrow hallways made of crafted dark wood.

“Where are we going?” asked Castor, getting lost in the maze of hallways.

“I am taking you to your room, after that I am going to talk to the captain and tell him to take us back. He is probably going to be really suspicious since I said that we will be here for a month.”

“What are you going to say?” asked Castor.

“I am not sure. I can say, ‘something went wrong,’ or ‘there is an emergency back home’ but he will definitely be very suspicious. That is why you need to hide in your room at least until we leave port. We don’t need the sailors protesting.”

“That,” remarked Helen pointing at a nondescript door, “that is your room. It is the only one that locks from the inside for some reason. Unfortunately there is only one bed.”

“That won’t be a problem.”

“Alright but-” Helen looked at Castor, then Anneli, then back at Castor and then grimaced. “One second-” Helen grabbed Castor by the collar of his shirt, pulled him away from Anneli and then threw Castor against the wall.

“YOU BETTER NOT BE UP TO ANYTHING!” whispered Helen, with hiss of a venomous viper.

“What are you talking-”

“I SWEAR TO FIDIM IF YOU IN ANYWAY INAPPROPRIATE WITH INNOCENT ANNELI I WILL CUT OUT YOUR NIPPLES.”

“What?”

“I WILL CUT YOU-” Helen whispered then shoved Castor again in his wounded shoulder and trudged down the hallway.

“Are you alright?” asked Anneli.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Let’s go wait in the room.”

 

 

 

Fairytale for the lonely heart, Chapter 89 a seed

Anneli hurried behind Castor and Helen through the market towards the port.

“How did you get a ship? Father must have found out.”

“It was fine, Pollux helped and-”

Castor almost choked on the scoff that Helen’s statement summoned to his mouth.

“What? Did Pollux suddenly materialize a conscious or did Araliya browbeat it into him.”

“Step off Castor, Pollux was really upset when he heard about what happened to you.”

“Well it is a bit late now. It would have been great if he cared enough when the court snubbed me or when he was clearly aware that father was out to get me. I have no gratitude for someone who only helped after the fact to only sooth their own guilt.”

“He is our brother he-”

“We don’t choose our siblings Helen. He did not help you when you left for the desert, he did not help Clytemnestra when she wanted to be a priestess, it was only mother and I who helped you. Pollux did nothing but chastise us and silently follow father despite he himself almost starting a war when he eloped.”

Unable to effectively and sharply rebuke Castor, Helen scoffed. The air around them was thick and heavy. Anneli feared any stray spark could be catastrophic.

“You,” growled Helen, turning to Anneli.

“Y-y-yes?”

“What is you name?”

“Anneli.” Helen scooped up Anneli in her arms. Strangely embarrassed Anneli curled into a ball, trying to make himself smaller.

“What are you doing?” snapped Castor. Helen shot him a dirty look and turned away.

“So Anneli, don’t you think Castor is kind of a jerk? ”

“I don’t think so,” replied Anneli, meekly glancing at Castor. Castor ignored them, trying to give Helen the satisfaction of a reaction.

“Really? I think he is really selfish and rather hypocritical and manipulative. Even though he promises to help you he often does not keep his word and even when he makes good on his promises he always has ulterior motives. He is always smiling and charming but he is actually cunning and will use any means necessary to get what he wants.”

Anneli looked at Castor who did not meet his eye, instead choosing to look forward with a scowl across his face and anger in his eyes. With that a seed of doubt was planted firmly in Anneli’s mind. For the first time he was questioning his blind faith in Castor.

Fairytale for the lonely heart, Chapter 87 The rescue

The shouting voices became louder and louder. A young soldier ran back to the room, looking disheartened and stressed. “S-sir, we have a problem,” he stuttered.

“What’s going on?” whispered one of the soldiers to another. The middle aged soldier, with medals pined to the breast of his uniform stood up from his chair and shut his book with a clap.

“What is the commotion?” asked the older soldier.

“Well, you see there is this person. They are making a fuss and we can’t seem to calm them down.”

The older man sighed, “really now.”

The thundering sound of heavy boots reverberated through the building as the mysterious person came closer. Castor on the other hand was thoroughly amused and if the soldiers had been nicer to him he may have attempted not two show his pleasure at that distress. A figure in a long dark coat appeared in the door way, with a large hood obscuring their face.

“By Fidim Castor! Why did you go and get yourself arrested?” proclaimed the figure in a booming voice.

“HELEN?”

The figure removed their hood and standing in the doorway was the most beautiful woman any of the soldiers had ever seen. Many of them gasped only now realizing that the loud and violent person was in fact a woman.

“Helen, what are you doing here? HOW did you get here?”

All the soldiers stared at Helen as if she were manna from heaven and they were starving in the desert. They were entranced by her deep dark eyes and glistening umber skin…..

“Castor, that is not important. What did you do to get arrested? And HOW did you get all these injuries?”

……until she spoke and they were swiftly snapped back to reality. They remembered that she had forcefully entered a military building. They remembered that she was loud, violent and rude but those eyes were a snare they did not want to escape.

“What did he do to get arrested?” asked Helen turning to the soldier who was still holding Castor by the shoulder.

“What- I um… uh-”

“What’s wrong are you having a fit?”

“No Helen. You seem to have forgotten that the sight of you knocks Muktaba out of the heads of lesser men.”

“What?” said the soldier furiously glaring at Castor and tightening his grip.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” replied Castor to his captor, “Muktaba is a god of wisdom and learning. One says ‘Muktaba has been knocked out of ones head’ if one is acting like a complete dumb ass.”

“Castor please stop angering the local military, we don’t want this to escalate into a international conflict. Though these men probably have as much influence in international politics as a termite in a chess game.”

“He was fighting in public,” said a voice in the room.

“Who was what now?” asked Helen who was only half-paying attention.

“That was why he was arrested,” said the older soldier and punctuating his sentence with a cough for good measure.

“Oh,” remarked Helen. “How much is his fine? I can pay it now.”

“It is not that simple,” said the soldier, “this is the second time he got arrested so he needs to have a judge look over his case.”

“Alright, what did he do the first time?” asked Helen nearing the end of her patience.

“He was in possession of a large amount of money and a magic jeweled knife. Items thought to have been stolen by him,” replied the soldier.

Helen sighed loudly exasperated and rolled her eyes, “Castor- how did you get arrested for stealing your own things?”

“I don’t Helen! The people here are mad and they won’t listen to a word I say!”

Helen turned to the older soldier and pointed to Castor, “you know he is a prince right? I don’t know if you WANT to be the people arrested the future king of Apophis. You know the Fidiom are known to be vengeful and bloodthirsty. Do you really want to insight the wrath of the people blessed by the gods?”

“He wasn’t lying about being a Prince?” sputtered the older soldier.

“Your gods gave you ears and brains. Why not use them?”

“Let him go,” said the older soldier.

“But what if she is lying as well? They might be accomplices,” argued the soldier not letting go of Castor’s shoulder.

“Well,” said Helen reaching into the pocket of her coat, “I, unlike my brother, actually brought proof of my identity.” From within her pocket Helen too out a gold disk with a delicate geometric emblem etched on it. “This is my emblem. You see the lion, that means I am part of the royal family of Pyropolis.”

The soldiers came closer and stared at the golden disk.

“I can’t believe they let you take that out of the palace,” said Castor just as shocked to see Helen’s seal.

“Well, I would not say they ‘let’ me take it. But I needed some proof of who I was and they won’t mind me borrowing it.”

The older soldier sighed, “let him go,” he repeated. This time the soldier quickly withdrew his hand and stepped back.

“Where are my things?” demanded Castor and a soldier scurried away to get Castor’s belongings. Castor walked over to Helen with a goofy smile. “Thank you for saving me udade.”

“I’m just glad you are alright,” replied Helen, gripping Castor’s forearm affectionately.

Fairytale for the lonely heart, Chapter 86 The interrogation

Castor was lead to a dimly to a room filled with soldiers and instructed to sit on an uncomfortable stool. A middle aged solider holding a book and pen sat on a chair in front of him and slowly opened up his book. Castor noticed the other soldiers glancing at him from the side of their eyes. The older soldier had several medals pinned on the breast of his uniform. Castor was unfamiliar with ranks in the Saxon army but suspected he must be a Colonel or have some other equivalent rank. The soldier cleared his throat to get Castors attention.

“So-”

“So?” replied Castor.

“What is your name?”

“Castor.”

“Full name.”

“Oh right…. Castor Atsu Al-Malik,”

“That’s quite a name.”

“Yes- they are all from different countries.”

“Where are you from?”

“Pyropolis, Apophis.”

“Sorry- what?”

“Er…Pyropolis is the city and Apophis is the country.”

“You’re far from home is see.”

“Yes.”

“What are you doing here? In this country?”

“Traveling.”

“For what reason are you traveling?”

“Can’t one just travel for traveling sake and to see the world?” replied Castor with an awkward laugh.

“One can, but I feel like that is not your reason for traveling.”

“Um… well I don’t know if you will believe me even if I tell you the truth.”

“Does this truth have anything to do with the brawl you got into earlier.”

“Yes…actually-”

“Then the truth.”

“Well… I am a prince,”

“Is that so?” remarked the soldier making notes in his book. Castor was agitated with the hint of sarcasm the soldier spoke with.

“Yes. So the fortune teller claimed that I should be the next king and not my older brother. This was very upsetting to my father so he sent me on a “quest” to get a rose in bloom from his country. However..er… that was a ruse to… uh… have me killed to get me out of the way. So right before we reached the land I jumped out of the boat and swam to land. Then we walked through an obviously haunted swamp, climbed a mountain and got a rose branch. Rode with a group of caravan for over a week during which the caravans where attacked by bandits who I fought. I stopped them but they left with a broken rib. Then we arrived here to get a boat to take us back Pyropolis but them got ambushed by Pyropolis soldier who, I assume were ordered by my father to kill me.”

“Who is we?”

“Sorry?”

“You said ‘we’, who is your travel companion.”

“I…er… don’t have one. I just misspoke.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes…?”

“The other men had your brawl with, who stabbed you- we let them go.”

“Why?”

“Well, for fighting in public it is only a four crown fine and they paid their fine and left.”

“If I pay the fine will you let me go as well?”

“Under normal circumstances I would but-”

“But?”

“Unlike them this is not the first time you got in trouble. A few weeks ago we received a report from a village not to far from here about a foreigner with a magic knife who threatened to attack them, resisted arrest. This man was your approximate height and approximate skin tone.”

“Oh no.”

“Oh yes. Once is an accident twice is criminal offence.”

“But that time I did not even do anything. They just assumed that I was a thief and a smuggler because I am a foreigner.”

“Well it was suspicious. You were traveling with a lot of money and very expensive decadent knife. A well-to-do man, like you claim to be would not be traveling alone. You had neither guards or entourage.”

“I did have guards but they were conspiring to kill me.”

“So you claim…”

“I claim nothing! It’s the truth!” cried Castor in frustration. Silence followed his outburst and all the soldiers in the room stared at Castor.

“Yes. Well, we unfortunately cannot simply take your word for it.”

“How am I supposed to prove myself?”

“Um.. yes. Do you want to know what I think?”

“What do you think?”

“I think you are lying.”

“Lying about what?”

“Everything. You story about being a condemned prince is fine and all for a fairytale but things like that don’t really happen. I think that you are a thief. I think you were traveling with you rich master who you killed and robbed. The money you carry and the knife you wield were both stolen from him. I think the men who attack you, are your old masters guards trying to catch their master’s killer.”

“Why? What in the wide world makes you think that is more logical than what I said.”

“Well, that is what the Apophis soldiers said and unlike you they have their identification and paper in order. So, Castor- what is the truth?”

“What I said is the truth! I am the prince! They were trying to kill me!”

The old soldier sighed, “Son, I cannot help you if you do not tell the truth.”

“I am telling the truth.”

The old soldier turned and called a younger soldier to take Castor back to his cell.

“Wait!” shouted Castor as he was being pulled up from the stool. “What is going to happen to me now?”

“Since you have two incidents you will be presented before  judge who will decide what to do with you. The Apophis soldiers wanted you to be given to their custody and I would recommend that the judge when you see them.

“If you do that they are going to kill me!” shouted Castor as he was being pulled out of the room.

A loud crashing sound from outside reverberated. Everyone was quiet, even Castor. Everyone turned to look at the door. Another loud thudding sound was heard. Shouting of loud but unclear voice followed. Two of the soldiers got up and went to find out what the commotion was. More shouting of more voices.

Chapter 83 uncertain dawn

Anneli and Castor did not sleep that night. Castor cautiously watched the door as if the soldiers would be banging on the door any minute. For the first time since they had been travelling Castor opened up to Anneli. As if a sluice gate had been opened and all his feeling and opinions were rushing out.

Castor talked about his brother, who he was jealous of and resented. About his sisters who both ran away from the suffocating palace. Castor hated his father for his judgmental and cruel personality but also himself for always wanting his father’s approval. He talked about the royal court, their condescending attitudes and how shunned him. He disliked how dishonest and ruthless everyone was. How he was either a pawn or player in a vile game for power. How everyone in the palace cared more about appearances than values. He resented how even though he hated it, he was also a part of it and could never truly loose the mind-set that had been ingrained in him.

“I don’t even really want to go back but I hate it if they look down on me for failing. I just want to wipe their smug expressions. I swear some of them have a perpetual smirk on their face and an arrogant air around them. I just want to go back and prove all of them wrong. But that means that I care what they think and I don’t want to care.”

Castor hugged Anneli closer, “I’m sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?”

“Because- because I’ve been ranting about myself for so long.”

“It’s alright, as long as it makes you feel better.”

“Why are you so nice to me?” Castor chuckled and buried his face in the nape of Anneli’s neck.

When the first rays of morning crept from the east Castor and Anneli gathered their things to leave.

“Where are we going now?”

“I don’t know Anneli we will figure it out. Maybe we can try to go to Stratus and see where we will go from there.”

“What you said… about the running away.”

“Yeah, I was just really upset. I don’t want to runaway anymore. I’m going to finish what I started, besides I promised to take you to the desert.”

“I know.”

Anneli’s felt heavy and nauseous. He dragged his feet as they left the small shabby inn. As they left Anneli caught sight of a firefly weakly bobbing in the air.

“A firefly.”

“What is it Anneli?” asked Castor not really hearing what Anneli said.

“Nothing.” It was not nothing. A firefly during the day was a bad omen. He gripped Castor’s coat as they walked towards the city gates. A few stray drunkards, a police and merchants setting up their stalls dotted the streets. As they got closer to the gate there were fewer and fewer people on the street until it was only the two of them on a silent empty street.

Trumpf trumpf trumpf

The sound of loud stomping boots surrounded them. Anneli gripped Castor’s coat tighter as five large men surrounded them. Castor recognized them as Pyropolis soldiers wearing their typical black and red uniform.

“Hello Prince Castor,” greeted one of the men with a sinister smile. Castor had met him yesterday and he had obviously still held a grudge. Castor slowly reached into his bag and touched the hilt of his knife. The soldiers themselves were brandishing various swords and daggers. In their red bloodshot eyes Castor only saw anger and blood lust. The men rushed at him, Castor swung his knife sending stray sparks everywhere. Cracking white lightning was pouring out of the knife. The men stepped back and circled him looking for a way to attack. Anneli made himself small and hid behind Castor instinctively.

One of the soldiers lunged forward and Castor sent a bolt of lightning. The solider barely dodged. They grinned. The soldiers realized that Castor did not want to kill them or hurt them if he could. They however had no intention of leave the Prince alive. Two men swung their blades forward, Castor blocked one but was not fast enough and was stabbed on his side.

“Arg!” cried Castor as the man twisted the blade before tearing it out. Blood began to gush from the wound. Castor was starting to stagger. Castor focused his electricity on the tip of his blade creating a long stream of lightning. He swung it like a whip and slashing two of the soldiers leaving large red and brown burn marks on their arms. Castor continued to whip the soldiers with his lightning, driving them farther away from him. He hit their arms and legs but they still persisted. One solider stepped forward and swung his blade at Anneli. Anneli jumped back and fell down near one of soldiers who grabbed him by the arm and pulled him up.

“Anneli!” Castor swung his whip at the soldier holding Anneli. The whip warped around his elbow and the man cried out as the electricity burned his is arm inside and out. He let go and Anneli was dropped to the floor.

“RUN ANNELI!” shouted Castor and Anneli filled with fear was his own life ran away and left Castor behind. Pain surged down his arm as he was stabbed in the shoulder. The knife fell from his shaking hand.

“OI! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?”

Two men in  Saxon military uniform ran up to them. Two of the Pyropolis soldiers ran away while the other three and Castor were arrested.