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 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 81 complicated

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?”

“It’s complicated.”

“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.”

 

Chapter 80 Fluttering

Castor spent the next three hours walking up and down the docks asking various captains and sailors if they were going to the red continent or Pyropolis. They all gave similar answers, they do not go to Pyropolis, they do not trade in foreign lands, they do not take passenger, to fuck off, or they do not have room. The sun was now setting in the horizon and Castor could see the darkness rising in the east.

“Sorry son, we don’t go to the red continent, you will have better luck going to Stratus and asking there. This part of the country has no need to fancy foreign imports.”

“Thank you,” replied Castor and turned to leave. His feet were tired, his chest was heavy and he felt like he could fall asleep at any moment.

“Hey boy!” shouted the sailor as Castor was walking away, “I just remembered, I heard a ship from the red continent arrived at port this afternoon. But it is not a cargo or passenger ship. It is on the other side of the docks but you can ask them if they can take you.” The sailor pointed to the other end of the docks were the private ships usually were.

Castor shouted his thanks and galloped towards the other side of the docks. For the first time today he was feeling elated and optimistic.  When he saw the ship from the distance and his heart began to beat. The smooth curved design of Pyropolis ships were different from the large bulky Saxon ships that dominated the port. The dark wood color and the red sails were meant to be daunting but made Castor feel nostalgic, yet when he got close enough to see the finer details his blood ran cold. The ship was very large, much larger than the ship Castor came in. He recognized it as one of the royal army’s razor ships, which was know for its speed. Castor recognized the eagle carving on the side of the ship, it was his father’s symbol, this was his father’s ship. His father must have sent more people to find him after he got away.

Without thinking Castor turned and ran away towards the directions of town, to the inn, to Anneli. In his panic he did not care to be polite or try to avoid passes-by on the busy streets. Tripping on one of the cobble stones Castor slammed into someone.

“Sorry,” said Castor on reflex.

The man was tall and strangely muscular. Something is not right. The man turned and he saw the fearsome face and glaring eyes of a Pyropolis solider. Not any solider but one of his father’s person guards.  One of the solider that he had come with Castor to this country. One of solider that was sent to kill him the first time. Castor’s his mouth gaped and was paralyzed. The solider was equally shocked to see him as well. The solider looked as if the golden fleece had fallen from the sky and landed right in front of him.

“P-prince Castor?”

The solider’s words triggered a flood of a red hot adrenaline through Castor’s body. Castor kicked the solider between the legs. He ran away immediately and did not see the solider collapse on the ground. Castor zigzagged through the crowds and all over town loose anyone following him. The sun was low in the horizon and the lamps were being lit when Castor arrived at the inn. The slamming door woke Anneli up. Castor collapsed against the bed in the suffocating little room. He took off his coat and climbed onto the bed. His lungs were on fire, his throat was dry, his muscles were aching and he could barely catch his breath.

“Castor, what’s wrong?”

Castor hugged Anneli. Anneli could hear Castor’s loud racing heart and feel his radiating heat. He was panting, sweating and in pain. Anneli did not say anything more, he hugged Castor and patiently waited for Castor calmed down.

Anneli felt as if time itself stood still as they lay in bed. Castor had hugged him before but never this tightly and never this long. Anneli felt a fluttering in his chest. The same fluttering he had ignored when they had first met but now it was overwhelming and all-consuming. Anneli had pretended not to know what this feeling was. He had repressed it and convinced himself that it was not real. The guilt and knowing that nothing good would ever come from this feeling made him want to cry.

Chapter 79 Shabby

“Anneli…”

“Yeah?”

“There might be a problem.”

“What might the problem be?”

Castor did not reply immediately. He looked into the distance and then looked at Anneli. How far away was Pyropolis? How far away was the red continent? Did he even want to go home?

Anneli looked at Castor’s hand that was still holding his. “What’s wrong? Are we not able to go to the desert.”

Castor sighed looking at Anneli’s disappointed expression. “Let’s go back,” said Castor and lead Anneli back to the beach.

“What is wrong Castor?”

Castor let go of Anneli’s hand and picked up his shoes in one hand and the rose plant in the other. “Come on Anneli climb up.” Castor indicated the ladder leading to the docks with a nod of the head.

“Are you upset with me Castor?”

“I’m not, but we need to talk about something.”

Anneli climbed the ladder. Castor winced as he stretched to give Anneli the plant, a sharp pain along his body. Castor climbed the ladder after, slowly and carefully trying not to fall and trying to hold onto his shoes. He sat on the docks and let he feet dangle over the edge.

As he wiped the sand of his feet he spoke in an apathetic tone, “when I went to the ticketing office, they said there are no passenger ships from here to Pyropolis. We can ask if we can stowaway on a cargo ship to Pyropolis but that seems unlikely as well. We can go to main port first and then to Pyropolis but that will cost all the money I have now to buy the ticket for that and even then it might not still be enough.”

“Alright,” said Anneli.

“Alright? How is that alright?” snapped Castor.

“It will be fine. We will never know if we do not ask. We can try asking the cargo ships and if not we can figure it out on the way.”

Castor glared at Anneli, his insides were bubbling like a kettle close to boiling. Yet he retained himself. Anneli was right, it was too soon to give up.

“Okay,” replied Castor softly. He wore his shoes and stood up, “let’s go find a room.”

“What about the tickets?”

Castor chuckled, “we need somewhere to sleep tonight. We can think about the tickets tomorrow.”

Anneli and Castor got a small room in a shabby looking inn. The room barely fit a small bed and a small side table with a bowl and pitcher of water meant to be a make-shift sink.

“Should I sleep on the floor?” asked Anneli, staring at the bed that was half-a-foot between each wall. The bed could fit only Castor at best.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” replied Castor. “You can sleep on the bed.”

“I lived in the forest until just recently- I can sleep outside if I have to.”

“You will get arrested if you sleep on the streets you know. There is a communal bath downstairs, let’s go tonight when I get back.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going back to the docks and ask if there are any cargo ships that will let us stow-away on their ship.”

Anneli pouted and frowned at Castor. “Alright,” he mumbled and sat on the bed waiting for him to leave.

“I’ll be back soon,” said Castor and closed the door behind him.

Anneli watched the closed door for awhile as if simply wishing for it will bring Castor back faster. He quickly became bored. Anneli took off his cape, carefully folded it and placed it on the table. He climbed on the bed and opened the single small window on the wall. It only opened part way. The air felt heavy and suffocating but Anneli tried to ignore this feeling. Lying in the bed he noticed that the sheets were thinner and rougher than those in the last few inns.

“I’ve become spoiled,” whispered Anneli to himself with a smile and closed his eyes.

 

Chapter 77 one more problem

“Sorry, there are no ships going to Pyropolis. We only sell tickets to passenger ships and no passenger ship goes straight from here to Pyropolis, Cumulus just isn’t that commercial.”

“There must be something? What about cargo ships or a shiping vessel?”

“Shipping vessels only stay within our own territories. If you want to go on a cargo ship you will need to personally ask the the captain of the ship and even then they will be reluctant.”

“Ah.. that’s too bad. Are there any alternatives?”

“There are private vessels but those yatchs are too small for a journey to the red continent. It will be possible to for you to buy a ticket from here to the main port in Stratus and then go to pyropolis but it will be very expensive and take three weeks.”

Castor felt heavy and a knot formed in his stomach.

“How much will it cost?”

“Well from here to Stratus it will be three crowns and from Stratus to Pyropolis it will be atleast twenty ot twenty five crown per person.”

Castor felt his purse which was now much lighter than it was when he first started. He had never fathomed that it would be so expensive. He tried to convert the cost into his own currency and the price seemed even more exorbitant. Castor considered how much money he had left, he could easily go if it was just him but with Anneli it would leave only two gold coins and a few coppers to sustains them for three weeks.

“I can’t afford that, thank you for everything,” said Castor and left the ticket office. Castor for the first time in a long time felt that the future was bleak. The anxiety made him feel fuzzy in the head and nauseous. He had waited for an hour in the ticketing office which was nothing more than a poorly contructed wood hut with a desk. He had patiently waited his turn but all he had to show  for his effort was dissapointment and worry.

Anneli was sitting outside the office holding the plant in his hands, long since finished eating his pastry. Seeing Castor exit the office Anneli jumped to his feet.

“How did it go? When are we going?”

Castor sighed, “we are not going yet, I did not get a ticket.”

“Why?”

Castor did not want to reply to Anneli. Castor instead listened to the gulls and the lapping of the sea waves just beyond the walls. He inhaled the oh too familiar salty air. Castor felt slightly nostalgic about home for the first time since he left. Even if his family did not want him to return he liked to think the sea, the sands and palm trees would not share that same opinion.

“Castor,” said Anneli softly, unsure of why he was being ignored.

“Shall we go to the beach Anneli?” asked Castor and patted him on the head.

Chapter 76 Cumulus

On the fourth day after leaving the village the caravans arrived at Cumulus. Cumulus was a sprawling port city, bordered on three sides by tall brick walls and the sea on the other. It was lively, loud and busy with traders, travelers and fishermen. The salty smell of the sea and the sound of gulls were ever present. The sea was calm and the clouds parted to let slivers of golden sunlight fall upon the city. Heavy gates built into the wall were wide open welcoming everyone that happened to pass through.

Castor and Anneli dismounted the caravan with their meager belongings: Castor’s bag and the rose plant that Anneli held firmly in his hands. They thanked the driver of the caravan and walked through the giant gates into the walled city. The first thing Castor thought was how the city looked very distinctly Saxon. White and yellow houses with triangular prism tiled roofs and covered in windows with visible dark brown wood work. He was not sure why he was surprised since he was in a Saxon country and all the buildings he had seen so far had subtle hints of this architecture but the houses in Cumulus were very traditionally Saxon.

“What are we going to do now?” asked Anneli.

“Um… let’s go to port and see if we can find a ship that will take us to Pyropolis. Even a cargo ship would be fine. There should probably be an office or something at the port with more information.”

They walked along the cobbled streets towards the port and inadvertently through a market. Anneli looked around mesmerized by the busy stalls overflowing with colorful fabrics, trinkets, fruits, vegetables and sweets. Entranced by the smell of sweet baked goods Anneli tugged on Castor’s cuff.

“Can we get something to eat?”

Castor looked at Anneli’s dark eager eyes and could not say no.

Chapter 75 Sulking

During the next few days the journey by caravan, Castor spent most of is time in the caravan with Anneli. Even though Castor did not intend to he was in a foul mood and a considerable amount of pain so would occasionally snap at Anneli.

“Get off Anneli!”

Anneli frowned and moved to the other side of the caravan. He curled himself into a ball under his blanket and pouted for a few hours. Castor barely moved during the day preferring to dwell in his pain and self pity. He did not move as much as he should have or talk nearly as much as he usually did. He slept most of the first day and. Now bored and alone as Anneli had gotten sick of his attitude and only spoke to him to remind him to eat and take medicine. On the third day since leaving the village Castor had lost track of the time and was submerged in his own thoughts. Anneli, not yet having forgiven Castor tugged on the fabric of his clothing.

Castor looked up at Anneli blankly. “Will you finish reading this to me?” asked Anneli holding the book of fairy tales in his hand. Castor did not especially want to but knew he had been treating Anneli unfairly took the book and opened to the last page they were reading.

“The wizard stroked his chin in deep thought. ‘Take this,’ said the wizard and took a small bottle of dark glass from his shelf full of glass vessels. ‘The forest is cursed so that no man may enter. If you drink this you will be able to enter the forest but at night you will turn into a beast. You must be careful as at night all manner of horrifying ghouls and monsters trudge through the forest but you must be brave, it  will be only at night you will find your way. During the day when you are a man the forest itself will play tricks on your mind and make you hopelessly lost and paranoid but you must remember not to believe your senses in the forest. Only trust your heart.’

“The knight took vessel, and asked to pay to wizard. ‘I cannot except your payment yet. Once you have completed your quest, I rather not have the copper of a man I may ave lead to death for following my advice.’ The knight thanked the wizard and left. He drank the entire vessel standing before the forest and stepped among the trees with little effort. As he walked through the forest he noted the quietness and remembered the wizards words to not trust his senses. The forest began to grow darker and darker, the sun which had been at its peak set in a matter of minutes. It was strange, sudden and filled the knight with dread. He questioned how long had he been walking. Had it been hours but felt like minutes? How long had he been in the forest? How many hours or days had passed? Was it just the forest playing tricks on him?

“He thought about the wizards words. His heart was beating rapidly, he could feel the pulsation throughout his body. ‘I could not have been traveling for hours I do not feel fatigue, thirst or hunger,’ the knight thought to himself. He closed his and placed his hand on his chest and focuses on calming himself down. He slowly opened his eyes. It was no longer pitch black but day light once again. The forest cannot be trusted. The knight walked through the forest for what felt like hours but he could not be sure. He could not get her baring and everything looked the same. He was convinced that he was simply walking in circles. As the light grew dim and darkness fell the knight began to feel dizzy, ‘is this a trick of the forest?’ he asked himself. He glanced at his hand, it was transparent. His vision became very blurry and then pitch black. He began to panic but within a few minutes his vision returned. He looked around the forest at dusk and saw only endless trees. Yet it was strange, everything was taller than usual. He looked down once again at his hands and saw that they were now hooves. He had turned in to a pig.”

Chapter 67 what did you say?

The door slammed behind Anneli. Dominic and Castor were silent for a moment and stared at the now closed door. “That was strange,” laughed Castor, trying to ease the tension that Anneli had left behind.

“Can you move you hand please?” asked Castor, “I’m still sore every where.” Dominic quickly withdrew his hand. Castor was very aware of how Dominic felt and it made him feel very uncomfortable. The way he looked at Castor, the way he tried to casually touch Castor, the way Dominic’s voice would be slightly higher and sweeter when he talked to him. Castor did not want to acknowledge it or reject him so he continued to pretend to be ignorant. Dominic was a nice person but Castor did not like him that way which made every one of their interactions awkward. The feeling of guilt grew inside Castor each and every time he talked to Dominic. His only solace was that in a few days they will part ways and not see each other again.

“Is Anneli your pet or something? You have monsters as pets where you come from right?”

“Not really a pet. He’s not even from my country, I just met him awhile ago.”

“But you speak to him in your language right? You speak to me and everyone in Saxon but you speak to him in a different language so I assumed he was a pet you brought from your country with you.”

Castor had no reply. He had not realized that he was speaking to Anneli differently. Talking to Anneli was so easy and natural he had not put thought into which language he used since Anneli understood him perfectly well from the beginning.

“If Anneli is not your pet, what is it to you?” asked Dominic fiddling with the cuff of his sleeve.

“A travel companion I guess.”

“You seem a bit to close for travel companions.”

“Well I guess he imprinted on me like a baby duck.”

Dominic chuckled, ” that thing is a baby duck. It looks more like a disfigured bear.”

“Why do you not like Anneli?” Castor had known from the beginning that Dominic did not like Anneli. At first he assumed he was wary of Anneli because people of this country were afraid of monsters. Yet as the days went by Dominic seemed to become more and more hostile and disrespectful towards Anneli.

“It’s not that I do not like Anneli, it is just strange how attached it is to you. That thing-”

Any good impression Castor had of Dominic vanished. He had been tolerant before since they would only travel together a few days and he did not want it to be awkward but he was at the limit of his patience. Dominic may have been just jealous of how kind he was to Anneli but Castor felt that now he was seeing Dominic’s real personality and Castor did not like his real personality.