Update 9 June 2017

No updates in my story today. I have spent all day writing and re-writing my outline and summary for the second arc for my story. I changed the a lot of things about the beginning of the second arc so I need to change my plan for the end of the second arc so the next few chapters will be later than planned. I also want to start sending my story to beta-readers soon so I am currently editing/re-writing from the beginning. If you are interested in beta-reading let me know.

 

Thank you.

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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.

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 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 73.5 Dreamers are selfish

Castor found himself in the palace of Pyropolis. In the place where he grew up him. The wide corridors and high ceilings. The walls and floors were covered in colorful tiles in geometric mosaic patterns. He placed his hand on the walls and touched the cool tiles as he walked sown the corridor. The pattern and color of the tile slowly changed from an ordered hexagonal pattern of reds and browns to a chaotic pattern of pale yellow triangles. Before he realized he had walked to the end of the corridor which opened up to the beach and the warm equatorial sea. He walked across the grainy sand and into the gentle water that lapped the shore. Castor wades further and further into the sea and until the water was up his waist. He felt the hard shells below his feet and the seaweed tangle around his legs. He looked over the sea into the distance and in the azure ocean was a small deserted island on which grew only one defiant palm tree. As he watched the waves roll in the ocean he realized he was now flying. Flying in the sky above ocean far and fast with clouds of white wisps. The clouds cleared and Castor saw not an ocean but a bare rocky mountain peaked with snow. From the base of the mountain he watched the white peak. The mountain and himself was surrounded by only hard red ground. White smoke began to billow from the head of the mountain. The heavy smoke sank down from the mountain and covered the ground with a thick white fog.

Castor felt something behind him. He felt something which was old, large and had only sinister intent. He looked around him but the fog was too thick that he could not see it. He took a step forward even though he could not see what was before him. He walked into the unknown.

Chapter 73 bitter medicine

Castor woke up to his brain painfully pulsating against his skull and blinding burning morning sun flooding into the room. He winced and tried to cover his face with his hand. A sharp pain soared from his chest, along his arm and to his fingertips.

“Fuck!” Castor put his hand down. He remembered the cracked rib and the accompanying pain. “Fuck,” he murmured again to himself. Castor tried to open his eyes again. The light! “Fuck,” Castor closed his eyes again. He tried to move his face away from the window, a searing pain stopped him again.

“Are you alright?” asked Anneli.

“C-can you close the curtains,” whined Castor feeling quite sorry for himself. Anneli jumped from the bed and closed the curtains. Castor suddenly felt some relief. “Can I have some water as well please?” Anneli jumped from the bed and hopped to the table at the corner of the room. He poured a glass of water from the jug placed on the table next to a book about local birds. Castor gulped down the whole glass of water ignoring the pain he felt. “Another please,” said Castor giving the glass back to Anneli.

“Do you want to take the medicine now as well?”
“Yeah,”

Castor slowly took the bitter pills.

“The caravans are leaving at noon. Do you want to eat before we leave.”

“Maybe, we should wait a few day until the next group of caravans comes through here. I’m not in any hurry to get to Cumulus.”

“But then you will have to pay the fees again.”

“It’s fine. I have enough, I can probably still afford to get us to Pyropolis even if we spend a bit more money. Besides I am still in a lot of pain so travelling will be difficult”

Anneli could tell from his voice and the guilt in his eyes that that was not the real reason. Anneli climbed on the bed and lay his head on Castor’s lap.

“Is it because of Dominic?”

Castor smiled nervously, “of course not,”

“But you got upset when you two argued.”

“I was not upset!”

“You got drunk almost immediately,”

“Well, I was a little upset.”

“Why don’t you just apologize.”

“I am not going to apologize! He is the one who said terrible things!”

“What did he say?” asked Anneli.

Castor looked guilty and upset, Anneli saw that he did not want Anneli to know. This irritated Anneli. Everything that had to do with Dominic and Castor was out of Anneli’s reach.

“Nothing, it doesn’t matter what he said. We just had an argument it is not a big deal.”

After half an hour the medicine numbed Castor pain enough that he could move with some effort. It was already half eleven so Anneli and Castor gather their few belongings and walked to where the caravans had been placed outside the village.

“Castor!”

Dominic approached Castor and Anneli, slowly and cautiously.

“I’m going to wait by the caravan,” said Anneli to Castor as Dominic reached him. Anneli unhappily walked away.

“About last night-”

“It’s alright Dominic, I over reacted as well.”

“I’m so relieved, I thought you would never forgive me.”

Castor had not forgiven him.

“It’s fine,” replied Castor, “I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

“But I really am sorry, I shouldn’t have accused you of that.”

“Accused me of what?” asked Castor crossing his arms. Dominic laughed nervously.

“You know, I just got really upset and said you and Anneli were too close but-”

“I think you’re exact words were ‘it is disgusting how you let that thing hang off you like that. It makes it seem like you are having an inappropriate relationship’ or did I paraphrase?”

“But Castor I-”

“It’s fine, it’s fine! Just forget it. Cumulus is only two days away maybe we should just…maybe we should just not talk for the rest of the journey.”

“Castor that-”

“I’m sorry Dominic, I need to cool my head.” Castor turned and walked back to Anneli.

 

Chapter 43 unreasonable 

The older bearded man entered the room where Castor was being held. “What’s going on outside?” asked the red-faced man.

“We need to bring him outside, grab him and let’s go.”

“What? Why? What’s going on?” demanded the red-faced man.

“It is difficult to explain… it will be better to just show you.”

“Come on! Get up,” shouted the red-faced man as he pulled Castor by the arm. Castor stood up and was dragged out of the room as roughly as he was thrown into it. Castor was taken outside and brought into a crowd of agitated men holding various weapons and farming tools. The solider was standing in front of a tree and looking up into its branches.

“Here he is,” said the older man as they reached the tree.

“We seemed to have found your companion,” said the solider to Castor. “It is being very unreasonable.” Castor looked up at the branches of the tree and saw Anneli hiding within them.

“What did you do to him?” demanded Castor.

“Nothing, he ran up a tree before they could catch him.” The solider gestured at the restless mob around them.

“Well obviously he got scared with you trying to attack him. Did he actually do anything or can you people do nothing but over react?” shouted Castor angrily. The solider stared at him and wondered why this foreigner was being unreasonable and making such a fuss. Still being as polite and professional as he was he turned to the crowd and asked, “Did this thing actually attack anyone?”

The mob became quieter. Only a few murmurs of questions between them until one of them finally answered, “We didn’t give him a chance to.” The solider then turned to Castor, “Is it at all harmful.” Castor pulled against the cuffs trying to break the chains even as the rushed metal dug into his wrists.

“Of course he is not! He can’t hurt anyone,” replied Castor.

“Then tell him to come down.”

“He won’t come down when he is so scared, tell them men to go away.”

The solider sighed and wondered why the foreigner was being so unreasonable and demanding. The solider went to the mob and told them all to go away for a while. When the mob dispersed the solider again demanded Castor to get Anneli to come down.

“Anneli,” called Castor trying to sound as calm and soothing as possible, “please come down.”

“Are you Castor alright? Did they hurt you? Are you captured?” asked Anneli rapidly in a panic.

“I’m fine. These men want you to come down.”

“No!” cried Anneli, “What are they going to do to me? They want to catch me and hurt me.”

Castor turned to the solider, “he does have a point. What do you plan do with him once he comes down?”

“Well… of course get him away from the village and-”

Click     

As soon as the chains broke Castor drove towards the red-faced man and grabbed his bag.

“Stand back!” shouted Castor as he took out his knife.

Chapter 37 troubled 

Anneli woke up late the next morning to the sound of a galloping horse. Without hesitation Anneli ran and hid behind a nearby tree and carefully watched what would happen. The fire had burned out through the night and now was just a pile of ash. Two men on horses came up to Castor who was just about waking up. Castor was still only half dressed and his hair was a mess. He would have been embarrassed of the state he was in if he was not so annoyed at being rudely awoken.

“Foreigner!” shouted one of the men on horseback, “What are you doing here?”

Castor glared at them for a moment but did not respond. He ignored the two men and proceeded to pick up his dried clothing and dress slowly.

“Foreigner I am talking! What are you doing here?” shouted the man again. He was furious and red in the face after being ignored.

“What do you want?” asked Castor in a sweet sarcastic tone.

“I want to know what you are doing out in the open near our village!” shouted the man. Castor was beginning to suspect he could only communicate through shouting demands. The other man on horseback was silent. Unlike his younger red faced companion he was older with a large beard and gentle demeanour.

“My companion and I are travelling to the northern mountains,” replied Castor as politely as he could.

“Where is your companion?” asked the red faced man. He seemed suspicious of Castor as most people were of foreigners. Castor looked around; he had not realized Anneli had gone missing.

“He must be around here somewhere,” said Castor. I must look suspicious thought Castor.  “We have been walking through the swamp all day yesterday and we were resting for a while.” Castor thought that if he could explain himself the men would leave his alone.

“The SWAMP?” shouted the red faced man seeming genuinely astonished. “No one goes through the swamp.”
“We managed,” replied Castor growing increasingly annoyed.

“What about the monsters?” asked the older man who had been quiet until then. Castor did not know how to respond to this. Should he admit that he was attacked by ghouls and saw walking corpses in the fog? The red faced man turned to his companion and whispered something while occasionally glancing at Castor. The younger man led his horse closer and the two men surrounded Castor.

“What are you doing?” asked Castor, realizing he was in a dire situation.

“You are going to have to come with us,” said the older man, not really answering Castor.

“Why?” demanded Castor getting more and more upset.

“It would be better if you come quietly.”

Anneli watched from a safe distance. He was scared, confused and unsure of what he should do next.