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.

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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.

Fairytale for the Lonely Heart, Chapter 84 Caged

The Saxon soldiers roughly grabbed Castor but the arm and dragged him to a crumbling stone building along with the other three Pyropolis soldiers. Thankfully they were placed in separate cells however all his possessions, including his knife and all his money was confiscated. The cell his was placed in was a small room with a iron door and a tiny window with iron bars. It was dark, damp and over all very unpleasant. He sat on the lone bench in the room and let himself wallow in self-pity. He ignored the pain of his injuries and let them bleed and wondered if bleeding to death would be simpler. After being left alone for what felt like an hour a Saxon soldier unlocked the heavy door and entered the room followed by a short old man. The old man opened his large bag full all kinds of bandages and bottles.

“Take of you shirt,” instructed the man.

Castor who had this point had pretty much given up on everything slowly took of his shirt unfazed by his bleeding wounds or fractured ribs. He felt numb, everything felt numb. He had lost everything, he felt hopeless. Anneli was gone now, taking the rose with him. His money and knife was taken away and Castor had very little expectation of getting it back. After Castor disrobed the old man cleaned his wounds with water and alcohol and stitched up the stab wound in his abdomen. The stab wound in his back was not as deep so the old man simply dressed it with iodide and a gauze after cleaning it.

“This bruise?” asked the old man.

“That is from before, I cracked a rib.”

“Do you get into fight often?” chuckled the old man.

“Admittedly, far more than I liked.”

“You speak Saxon very well.”

“Thank you.”

The soldier standing at the edge of the room coughed, suggesting the old man be faster and to stop chatting.

“Sorry, I must go treat the others.” The old man nodded his head and repacked his bag.

“Thank you,” said Castor politely. The soldier and the old man left the cell, locking the door behind him. Castor re-wore his torn and blood soaked shirt but did not bother to button it up. Before a he could once again sink into sadness a small voice came from the window.

“Castor,” said a soft whispering voice. Castor turned and saw Anneli’s face pressed against the bars of the window.

“Anneli!” Castor’s heart tried to leap out of his chest, his chest filled with butterflies and he could once again see in color.

“Anneli! What are you doing here?”

“I followed you here. Are you alright?”

“More or less.How are you doing Anneli?”

“I’m fine. The rose plant id also fine. I did not let go of it!” said Anneli proudly but Castor could not care less about the plant right now. “What are you going to do now Castor?”

“I don’t know, but I will figure it out. You should just focus on staying safe until then.”

“What about your knife?”

“They took it away but I don’t think I can fight my way out of this situation. It will just make things worse. I will try and talk to them and hope they listen to me.”

“Will that work?”

“Hopefully.”

“What about the other men who attacked you?”

“Some of them got caught as well and some get away. They are probably going to tell the Saxon soldiers that I am a criminal and try to get me executed. Oh- don’t make that face Anneli.”

Castor’s heart ached seeing Anneli’s sad eyes. “I’ll be fine Anneli.” Castor stroked Anneli through the iron bars.

“What should I do?” asked Anneli. Castor had no words, he could neither think nor speak words at this moment. A part of him wanted to cry but that would upset Anneli. A part of him wanted to use his lightning and turn the whole building to ash but would not solve anything. A part of him want to shout and punch and make a fuss but he knew he should not. He looked at Anneli who was as desperate to save Castor as he had tried so long ago the last time he had gotten caught. Castor knew if he misspoke Anneli might try and break him out even if in reality could do nothing.

“I will be fine Anneli, just try to stay safe.”

The sound of the iron door unlocking echoed through the small room.

“Go now Anneli!” whispered Castor.

“But Castor-”

“Go now!”

The door swung open. “Who are you talking to?” demanded the Saxon soldier in a loud booming voice.

“No one, I was just talking to myself.”

Writing an outline

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Everyone has a different approach to writing stories, some just get down to writing and other make a detailed plan before even tying a letter. Personally, my approach falls somewhere in between.

Method 1 

  1. Write a list of key events, characters, foreshadowing, plot points etc…

Is that all you need? Then you are done.

Method 2

  1. Write Character profiles
  2. Write a key events and plot points
  3. Order events and separate into chapters and arcs
  4. Fill in the details, backstories, subplots and connecting events
  5. Order everything again
  6. Write a timeline of events and figure out how long they take and how they overlap
  7. Write a summary with a lot of detail

Method 3

  1. Write summary. Start from the beginning and write to the end in order. Write what feels natural and flows best.
  2. Read what you have written
  3. Re-write the summary
  4. Repeat step 2 and 3 until you are satisfied

Did you get stuck? Write something to get to the next event even if it is silly or contrived and come back to it later and change it in the re-write.

Method 4

  1. Start writing

Yeah, sometimes just writing works too. Did you get stuck? Write something, anything and come back to it during editing. Hey, if you wanted to be organized you would have chosen a different method and started with a game plan.

Method 5

Do whatever you want. It is your story do what works for you!

 

I use method 3 because I think it creates some organisation but is very dynamic and the least stressful. I also end up adding the most random stuff to the story which end up being my favorite parts. I have recently been writing the outline for a new story which ends with an abrupt alien invasion. I do not know where it came from but it just fit.

Why make an outline for your story?

When writing a story, first piece of advice most people will give is to first write an outline for you story. This can be very useful method and it will be as complicated as you make it.

Disadvantages

  • It takes forever to do!

Depending on how complicated and detailed your outline is it can take hours or even a few days if you run into plot holes or get stuck at certain plot points.

  • You need to already have created a character profile

This is very important because sometimes when writing you come to a point and think, ‘this won’t work. My character won’t do that!’ This can mess up your story because you can either follow your initial plan and make the character inconsistent or change the story which creates other messes. Evolution of a character happens before and while you are writing them, so when you are writing your outline you need to think what will my character do here? Why would he do it? How does this make them feel?

Personally I try to think of a backstory or just have an idea of the environment they grew up in. For example with my character Castor, he grew up in a palace where there is a lot of dishonesty, politics and betray so he does not trust anyone. He does not for a long time talk to anyone about himself and is always nice to people even disingenuously. He is also very naive and tends to make rash and frankly stupid decisions because he is grew up sheltered and is inexperienced.

  • You might hate your story

This is both an advantages and a disadvantage. Sometime your ideas are just not good or just do not make sense. Often you cannot tell if the idea is good or not until you write it down. This can be upsetting but in the long run it will save you from wasting time on a story you will not end up finishing or end up hating. Plus the sooner you realize the problems the sooner you can fix them.

Advantages

  • Always know what to write

Outlines act as a guide so you always know what to write next and are always clear of what you are writing. It is lot easier to create set-up when you know why and how it is important to the climax. Knowing what is going to happen and what part of the story you are writing helps with the pacing, foreshadowing and help avoid plot holes.

  • Works out the kinks

Usually if there is a part in your story that you get stuck at or just does not make sense you can catch it in the outlining stage. Fixing it sooner will make writing the story a lot easier. It will also be possible to eliminate tangents and loose threads, since once you write an outline you can find incomplete arcs and inconsistent plots.

  • Know what kind of story

Until I finish my outline I often do not realize or see what kind of story I am writing. This is beyond the actual plot or genre, for example tone, message and subtext. The tone I think is the attitude and feeling a story conveys. This can impact the pacing and style you choose to use. The message is basically what you want to tell your reader through your story, what impact do you want your story to have on them? In my current story is a fantasy/adventure/romance but the overall message is that it is okay to be selfish and to do what you want without feeling guilty. Subtext is saying something without actually saying it using very suggestive descriptions but not actually describing what you mean.

  • Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is great and outlines help you know what are the plot points you are foreshadowing. As well as figuring out the optimal place to put the foreshadowing.

 

An outline can be very useful (I even wrote one to write this blog) but it is not necessary, you should write how and what makes you happy.

Thank you.

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 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.