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.

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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 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.

 

 

Chapter 82 kindles hope

Helen sat in the corner of a small dimly lit room. She could clearly hear the sound of the beating waves outside. In her hand she played with a white and black stones. With a flick of her fingers the stones floated into the air and spun drunkenly. The rickety wooden door crackled when pushed open. Pollux looked at his sister and the floating rocks.

“Urim and Thummim?” asked Pollux.

“Yes,” murmured Helen and flicked her finger again, making the stones spin faster and faster.

“Have you ever used them?”

“No, but it was the only thing grandfather left for me.”

“It was more than what he left for me,” chuckled Pollux.

“He left you a kingdom Pollux.” The stones fell back into her palm. She tucked them in her cloak pocket. “Did you manage to get me a ship?”

“Yes, I did!” said Pollux taking a piece of paper from his bag and showing it to Helen. “It is one of the fastest ships of the armada.”

“Did father find out I arrived?”

“We managed to stop the news before it reached him. Thankfully he was not in the palace at the time. Your brazen behavior did not help.”

“I thought Castor was dead at that time.”

“He might still be dead.”

“I still have hope.” Helen glared at Pollux, hiding her fear behind a mask of fury.

“There is still a problem. I happened to be in father’s room-”

“You were snooping.”

“Yes, I was snooping in father’s room,” said Pollux. “There was a coded message sent from a port called Cumulus, twelve days after Castor left. I don’t know what the message sent but father arranged for another ship to go to Cumulus.”

“When did it leave?”

“I don’t know- maybe a few days ago, maybe a over a week ago.”

“Shit.”

“If Castor is still alive, I am sure he will manage to fight his way out of it.”

“Shut up Pollux. I am still going. Even if he is dead, even if he is fine. I am still going to find out for myself.”

“If he is dead-”

“He is not dead!”

“If! If he is dead, I need you here in Pyropolis with me. I know you want to return to your oasis in the desert but I need you here with me.”

“What are you planning on doing?”

Pollux did not say anything, but Helen could see in his dark trembling eyes that he was afraid. Helen felt a pang of sadness in her chest looking at a face so similar to Castor’s. Even if she did not want to admit it she knew that Castor must be long gone by now and she had no intention of losing Pollux as well.

“Are you saying you want to coup? That is crazy!”

“How can you say that? After what he did to Castor.”

“Stop it Pollux! The desert is already on the verge of war any instability will crush us.”

“That is why I need you here with me. If it is the both of us-”

“No Pollux!”

“If we do it soon then-”

“Why now?”

“Father…father collapsed yesterday.”

“So you want do you want to do? Kill him? Make it seem like a sickness or an accident? Pollux you are a good man, you are not someone who will kill his own father out of revenge.”

“If I can’t even do that. Maybe…maybe I am not meant to be king!”

“What are you talking about?”

“I am not meant to be king.” Pollux exhaled deeply as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. ” The fortune teller said that Castor is meant to be king not me. That is why father did all of this.”

Helen for once was at a loss for words. Pollux paced up and down near the door and then final walked to the corned and sat in front of Helen.

“So, what should we do?”

 

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 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 74 seems uneventful

“Should we tell Clytemnestra about Castor as well?” asked princess Araliya as she rubbed oil on her skin before going to bed. Prince Pollux laughed to himself as he drank his tea of ginger, mint and honey. He had been under a lot of stress due to recent evens causing prince Pollux to suffer abdominal pain resulting in fatigue and even more stress. The doctor had told him to stay in bed for a day.

“Are you joking? I haven’t had any contact with her in years. And I doubt she will come even if we do tell her, I am pretty sure priests of her religion aren’t supposed to have any lingering ‘earthly’ attachments. The last time I met her she gave me sermon about everything people do is selfish and the only way to overcome suffering is to give up wanting everything.”

“She has the right to know. Religion or not she should at least be made aware of it.”

Pollux inhaled and exhaled deeply. He tended to be unreasonable and illogical when it came to his family. Something Araliya never failed to point out.

“Alright, if it means so much to you I will send her a letter tomorrow.”

Princess Araliya climbed into bed and curled up next to her husband. Pollux put his arm around her and kissed her on the forehead.

“Sleep well darling,” said Pollux. The princess nuzzled him lovingly.

“Pollux, when shall we have children?”

The princess knew her asking this made him uncomfortable. Every time she had asked he had always changed the subject or given unconvincing excuses.

“It is still too early dear. We are still young, I was still considered a child five years ago.”

“That is not a reason, you always avoid it. Do you not want to have children with me?”

“No dear! It is not that! I love you more than anything in the world but… I know it is hard for you to understand having children young is not common for my family. My father was even king for several years before I was born”

“You are not you father,” she replied dryly. “When I was younger, before I met you, I did not want to have children or get married because in my country once you get married you are trapped and are nothing but a glorified wet nurse. But it is different now, it is different with you. I want to have children with you. Even if you never become king or I get trapped in this country.”

Araliya watched her husband’s quivering eyes and dejected expression. She knew he felt guilty about denying her something she wanted to much.

“I do want to have children. But not now or any time soon. It is just not how it is here.”

“Why?”

“Because the prince had a tendency to to oust the king before his time. My father and my grandfather, every ruler after the blood queen overthrew their predecessor in varying degrees of brutality. Having children late is just postponing the inevitable.”

She turned in bed away from her husband and sulked.

“Our children won’t be like that! You are not like that!” hissed the princess.

“Am I really not? I have considered it, after what he did to Castor and maybe even before that. My father is old and his views are old and no longer match the world we live in.”

“You won’t do that will you?” For the first time since she had met her husband she felt fearful of his actions and intentions.

“I won’t, it is not in me to do such a thing no matter how much I fantasize about it. But I think Castor is capable of it. I think the reason father is so against brother and so intimidated by him is that Castor reminds him too much of himself as a young man.”

The  was thrown open by a disheveled and out of breath maid, “The king had collapsed.”