Chapter Eight: The Plan
Chapter Eight now uploaded.
I woke up screaming.
I was in my bed at King Hendry’s palace and I could clearly see as the morning sun was coming through the window. I had trouble remembering what had happened but the moment I did, I jumped upright. The large pounding inside of my head, however, wanted me to, just for a few seconds, sink back into the bed.
I was wearing silk night robes and I had no idea how the clothes got on me but I didn’t have time to worry about that now. My mind started to clear and the pounding in my head slowly started to retreat, but I was still aware of the fact that it was there.
“Katherine!” I remembered. I rushed outside the door still in my nightclothes, the pain in my head making its way back.
I ran to their room, occasionally holding my hands to my temples. My knee didn’t hurt anymore and it felt completely healed. I didn’t know how or why, but it didn’t matter to me. I just couldn’t stop thinking about Katherine. I didn’t know what Bevora could’ve done to her and I didn’t like to think about it.
There was no one inside their palace room. I wondered where Violet was, but I figured she would be all right and I needed to know was where Katherine was. I even stressed about Orchid, hoping that she was all right as well, seeing as she was sunk into the ground too. I ran down the hall and stairs making my way to the throne room. Every move I made echoed through the palace. I somehow felt irritated about it because it didn’t help with my headache.
I slammed the throne room doors open. Orchid was standing in front of the throne facing the king. They were busy talking about something as the king glanced towards me. I noticed that she wore a white silk nightgown; the king however was already dressed in a blue suit and white cape, with the same glass crown that he seemed to be wearing a lot.
“Where’s Katherine!?” I yelled.
Orchid turned and looked at me. I was glad to see she was fine but I suddenly felt anger stirring inside me as the king stared at me blankly.
“What happened?” I thought out loud and then I realised something. “It’s your fault,” I bellowed at the king. “If you just hadn’t insisted that we go.”
“Leo,” Orchid warned. But I wasn’t going to stop.
“No!” I told her and looked back to the king. “Why did you do that? Who sends his own son to do something like that?” I continued towards the king. “It’s like the entire council is playing this sick game between each other. Who are you helping, because to me it seems like you’re all only helping yourselves? You don’t care about anyone else.”
I stopped for a moment and I just stared at him. He didn’t do anything. He just stared back, his eyes meeting mine and I think he knew what I was going to say next.
“And why didn’t anybody tell me about all this?”
The king frowned because he knew that wasn’t the question. I didn’t want to say anything but without me knowing I was angry about this.
“Why did you let me and mom go? How could you let her die?!”
I realised that I had more anger towards the king than I thought. I wasn’t just upset about Katherine but everything this man ever did to my life. Or didn’t do. He should never have interfered. Or at least he should have interfered in the war. Maybe he could’ve stopped this madness.
“My boy,” the king said calmly.
“Don’t call me that!” I yelled more. “You weren’t there to raise me so you have the last right to call me your boy.”
I couldn’t believe I just said that. I could see the hurt in his eyes and the water gathering in them. I suddenly felt horrible as I imagined the empty halls again and as my footsteps echoed through them. I could see myself crying in them as I longed for a family as every scream only echoed with no one to comfort me, no one to be there for me because the only people I loved weren’t with me. I pitied the king and I didn’t want to. But knowing that your family would be safer away from you and letting them go was probably better than having them and fearing each day they were near you. Then you meet your son again and you find out your love is dead and that your son hates you? I didn’t know how I would feel if I was in his shoes, but I knew that I felt terrible as I stood before him. I didn’t feel bad about the things I said to him. It was probably wrong and selfish of me but no matter how bad this time might have been for him, he should have done something about it.
My eyes were filled with tears so everything turned blurry and it was hard to decide what he was thinking. He just stared at me with a tear trailing down his face. It wasn’t like the tear when he found out my mom was dead. It was different, and somehow, worse. He seemed more hurt. His eyes reminded me of the dam that had a weak spot I saw in Katherine’s eyes before. It was the hardest to see someone hurt in this way.
“What’s wrong?” a voice said from the side door coming from the garden. It was Katherine.
“I thought the queen killed you,” I hugged her so quickly I surprised myself. She hugged me back and I relaxed all at ones. I was so relieved to see those fierce blue eyes of hers.
“Well I’m pretty much alive, I can assure you.”
She was also wearing a white silk nightgown like Orchid. I somehow let her go out of my grip. She looked around and saw all of our expressions. She seemed to be in an awkward position.
“I’m so sorry,” I said to the king.
“No, I understand completely,” he stated. “You thought you lost your friend.”
He only said it to ease the argument over but I know that it was all long from over. He looked at Orchid and I felt strange all of a sudden. I forgot that she was witnessing everything. She even looked teary-eyed herself.
“Now Orchid, we must look into this prophecy you told me about but I am afraid that the prophecy might not be about this war.”
There was a knock on the throne room’s door.
“Enter,” the king said as calmly as any person who was just shouted at for ruining someone’s life.
Daucus walked in. “The training course is ready for you my king.”
“Very well, maybe all of you should go change and meet me outside in the garden,” the king said.
I was the first to walk away. I couldn’t be in this room anymore. I didn’t want to talk to him alone. I couldn’t, so it seemed the natural thing to do. It felt like I might not be able to breathe if I stayed a second longer.
All of us walked out the throne room leaving the king. Maybe he could realise that everything he did was wrong. He needed time alone, time to think. We both needed time. And training? Honestly? He wanted to see us for training and not talk about everything that was going on.
“What did he say about the prophecy?” Daucus asked.
“Not much. It seems he knows as little as we do,” Orchid told him the news quickly and cut him off. He seemed mad at her for doing that, but he controlled his anger.
We left Daucus and walked up the stairs. Orchid then left me and Katherine and headed to her room without any words said.
“I thought the queen kept you.”
“Oh no, she let the earth suck me in, the same as you,” she said laughing although I didn’t join in. I had to say I missed her smile. She stopped laughing when she saw I wasn’t going to join in.
“Where is Violet?” I wondered.
I was a bad brother I realised. I didn’t care about her that much on this trip. She might as well be lying dead somewhere. I managed to assign that blame on the king too. If anything happened to her it would be his fault.
“The king said she wanted to go back to the village to see if everything was still alright, so he let her go with a couple of guards, but I am sure my mom will look after her.”
“Oh, alright.” I wasn’t hands-on with the idea but she probably will be fine if she was with Katherine’s mom, a lot safer too.
“Leo, what just happened?” she asked putting her hand on my arm. I moved my arm away and looked away.
“I’m glad you’re safe,” I said. I could see her looking at me in a hurtful way but I didn’t want to talk about what happened just yet.
“I’m glad I’m safe too. You were just in time too; there was only an hour left.”
I completely forgot about the twelve hours we had to save her, but it didn’t seem like we were in there for eleven hours. That means that it was now four days away from my birthday. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to a lot of things these days. I looked ahead of me.
“Alright, meet you outside?” Katherine asked before entering her room.
I went to my room trying not to think at all, I only looked at the white tiled floors. I demanded myself not to think of anything as I entered my room.
There was a human-sized mannequin wearing a white breastplate, arm pads and a helmet, it felt like it was made out of silver or bronze.
I quickly got dressed and looked around for my sword. It was on the bedroom cupboard. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw that there were little trail ways were tears must have run down my cheeks. I realised then how upset this all made me. I wiped it off my face as quickly as possible. Nothing could have ever prepared me for all of this. I started thinking about the entire concept from the king’s point of view next, although I already had and I demanded myself not to think about it.
Having to let his wife and children go, to protect them. Finding out years later that his wife was dead. I just couldn’t see why he would think the day we might have come back everything would have been fine and things would just have gone back to the way they were. I mean my mom had fallen in love with another man then and had a child.
I then quickly went outside because all of this thinking made my head hurt and just made me upset. Now I felt bad about being mean to the king because I thought about it. Still, I believed the anger inside me was going to grow if I didn’t deal with it.
I didn’t have a good look at the gardens before but it was beyond words beautiful. There were trails connected with each other through the flowers and bushes. Where four of the trails met there were fountains with white marble statues on them. But one amazing thing was that all the flowers were incrusted in ice; except you could still see each individual flower. It was like there were little snowflakes, which were pressed tightly together, encircling everything. The garden stretched out to the river but there was a big half-moon next to the river that was like an open field but instead of grass there was snow.
Daucus was standing by some wooden square contraption in the snow just outside the garden, in the half-moon, with an axe in his hand. The river was flowing about ten meters behind him at incredible speed. I heard someone call me from behind. Katherine and Orchid were making their way to me but they didn’t seem to talk to one another. They also wore white breastplates the same as mine. We walked to Daucus.
“Welcome to training,” he said smiling while wielding his axe.
“Wait. Why and what training do we need?” Katherine said stealing the words I was about to say.
Daucus started saying something when Orchid interrupted him.
“You might have to fight in the war and we have to be ready when the time comes.”
Like I was planning to be a part of all of this. I just wanted my father then I would leave.
“Exactly,” Daucus said pointing his axe at Orchid. His crooked tooth looking at us.
He pointed in the distance, “Over there are some bows and arrows. Over there,” he pointed to his left, “is training dummies made out of ice for practice with weapons. And when you’re ready you will be in real combat with the palace soldiers on this contraption.” He showed to the contraption out of wood. I still didn’t know how to describe what it was. It was a wooden box with holes in some spaces and poles sticking out from other spaces. Dummies of wood and different obstacles and stairs could be seen inside, on and all around it. Some were even scattered a few meters away from it.
I didn’t know what to do? Orchid walked to the bows and arrows along with Katherine who I knew had great shooting skills so I joined them although I wasn’t a good shot. Daucus also went with to give us ‘instructions’.
Katherine looked over the bows as I only picked up a random one. Orchid picked up a bow and arrows without second-guessing herself. It wasn’t completely random, like my choice, she knew what she was doing. She distanced herself from us, looked at the dummies, got a stance and shot a volley of them at any target that was there, all from standing in one single spot. We all stood there in amazement.
“I am the daughter of the king above all mortals, so naturally I can use any weapon made by man,” she told us.
“That’s amazing,” Katherine said pulling her arrow backwards in the bow letting it fly into a target. Hitting it straight in the middle. “Oh, well I guess it isn’t that amazing.”
Orchid pursed her lips. There seemed to be somewhat tension between them, for what apparent reason, I didn’t know. I placed my bow down quickly on the table again because I wasn’t going to get into a fight with someone again. That and my ego wouldn’t hold up if I wouldn’t be able to shoot like them.
I walked away from the shooting range towards dummies stacked near the river for practice with my sword. It didn’t take long for me to realise that Orchid joined me.
“What’s up with your friend?” she said once we were out of earshot.
“I don’t know? She’s been through a hard time,” I answered her. I truly also didn’t know what was wrong but I knew when to give her some distance and now was that time. The least I could do was to keep Orchid away from her. She looked at me, her eyes twirling as she narrowed them. “I see.”
I decided to change the subject.
“Did the king mention anything about what the council decided to do?”
Orchid seemed just as surprised about the question as I was.
“No, he didn’t mention anything to me. He just said that they found a solution for the Cave of Mystery and that we didn’t have to worry about that anymore?” she said. “Why is this so important to you and Katherine?”
I know I told her the story before with the king but she might not have grasped the concept right.
“Well our fathers, or stepfathers now I guess, have been taken by the army and we want to find them. I mean we knew them all our lives and they cared for us even though we weren’t there real children.”
“Oh...” she looked like she was analysing something. I imagined that’s the way she must’ve looked in the dark when we were in the Cave of Mystery. “That’s a good thing to do,” she pursed her lips.
I saw Daucus giving Katherine some lessons in shooting. He held her hand, to show her how to hit the target every time. I just looked away.
“So since you are the son of water, you have the power to summon water,” Orchid said seeing my mind wandering away. I reminded myself to talk to her next time she got her thinking expression.
I guess I didn’t think about it before but it must be true that since I was the king’s son, I might be able to summon and control water. The only problem was I had no idea how?
“How can I do it?”
“Try calling the water to you from the river with your mind.”
I looked at her for a moment. She smiled and decided to give it a try. What was the worst that could happen? I placed Pride at my side and faced the river, my hand stretched towards it.
I concentrated, thinking: Water come to me? Splash Daucus in the face so he could leave Katherine alone? Freeze? But nothing.
“It’s not working,” I said letting my hand go.
“That’s because you have to be adaptable like the water before it will happen. You have to be the water,” Daucus said from behind me, “Like this.”
He closed his eyes and after a moment stretched one hand out to the river. An oddly big drop of water came flying out of the stream, circled me and Orchid, and flew towards him. He let the drop move between his hands, the water creating a little silver shine as the sunlight hit it through the clouds. The drop circled his hands a few more times, as he moved them before it fell onto the snow and froze into it.
“Now that’s amazing,” Katherine said suddenly out of nowhere.
I rolled my eyes but the fact was that it was amazing. I felt somehow annoyed that the king gave Daucus his ability too. The king just couldn’t do anything right according to me.
“You can summon fire,” Daucus said to Katherine.
“How?” she said. I couldn’t decide if she was excited or scared about it. Her face seemed unaltered.
King Hendry said something from behind us, “The same way as water, you just call to it and it will come.”
I didn’t even know he was here. But I had to fight the urge to jump him. The only thing that held me back was the fact that I would lose.
“Leo and Katherine, can I speak to you alone?” he asked.
I didn’t want to but Daucus and Orchid already stepped aside, so we followed the king along the river.
“I think I owe both of you an apology,” he started as my mouth almost fell to the floor.
“I should have taken more time to explain to you the nature of the world you were not aware of. But my own ignorance and emotions kept me from making good judgement, which is not a good place for a king to be mentally.”
I could understand what he was saying. For him, nothing was out of the ordinary, except seeing his son after all this time and celebrating his arrival.
“If I may, I would like to explain some things to you?” he said. “Especially about our duties?”
The way he said ’our duties’ I didn’t like, but how could I refuse an actual explanation about something. Especially after his apology, so I nodded along with Katherine.
“You are both still young to carry your powers, but you have to be able to understand and use them, for I fear the enemy we face outnumbers our years of experience. As Daucus explained, water is the element of change, so you have to be able to change with it. It can be flowing at a constant space, like a river,” the king pointed to the river. “Or move swiftly with fears strikes.”
He lifted his arms to his chest and extended them in a synchronised movement. It allowed two streaks of water from the river to slice two branches off a pine tree on the opposite side of the river.
“It can even freeze,” he lifted a piece of snow from the ground allowing it to become water and then turned it into a round frozen ball with his hands.
I was amazed in more ways than I could explain. This was nothing like Daucus’ trick of the moving bubble of water.
“But along with change, its essence moves along with emotion and life. Change can be scary. It can make you angry or sad. So, the problem with controlling water is to centre your emotion to help guide the water. You have to allow yourself to be guided by the water, in order to allow yourself to manipulate it as an experience of your own will.”
I felt a pain in my core, realising that I wouldn’t be able to use my gift until I stable myself. Change seemed like something that my life was accompanied too, but I didn’t deal as great with it as I suspected at this moment.
The king had a good stare at me and finished talking, “But, it is important to know where water is, is life. Change, emotion and life are somewhat a trinity that must always work together to create a perfect flow.”
He twirled his right hand in a circle allowing a streak of water to come from the river and circle around is enclosed fingertips. The water swirled in a continuous loop around his hand until he allowed it to move back to the river. It was mesmerizing in an unimaginable way. I had this desire to truly wish that I could be able to do what he had just done. On the other hand, I didn’t want anything to do with any of this. This wasn’t something I was used to at all. I wanted normal things… Or I wanted to know this my entire life? If this could’ve been my normal, it might not be so infuriating to see, but also might not have been so amazing. This wasn’t worth losing my entire life for something I just discovered. But if I could save that life by doing this? It would be great.
“Katherine, fire is the element of power, because it can be capable of both destruction and survival. I cannot teach you how to use it, but I have to let you know that control is its greatest companion. Water and fire are very similar to control. Though they are the complete opposite of each other, they are still similar.”
“King Hendry,” Daucus and Orchid interrupted with the same advisor we met on the first day we went into the throne room.
“A letter from King Adam,” the advisor said.
King Hendry took the letter and read it as I studied his face. It didn’t seem to give much of his emotion away. Being in power most likely allowed you not to let everyone know how you are feeling. A trait that I didn’t like and might have been the reason why he was chosen to be water’s guardian.
“King Adam is readying his army. He has sealed off his kingdom and invited Aqualon to attack it. The winner will have control over the other, and Aqualon accepted.”
“What?” Orchid asked.
“At the council meeting, Adam was going on about how his army’s power will no longer be kept at bay as Aqualon laid waste to his kingdom continuously. He wanted to march on him, but The Lord of the Forest advised against family violence in his own experience, so we agreed to think of another plan.”
Nobody said anything.
“So what’s your plan?” I asked.
“Plan?” the king looked confused. “There is no plan?”
“There has to be a plan. You just can’t let all those people die. What if King Aqualon sends the people from the villages to fight on his behalf? King Adam will kill innocent people!”
I don’t think my dad would fight with Aqualon after what he did to our home, but you never know what could happen or how persuasive Aqualon could be.
“What if King Aqualon just sends them in as decoys to get slaughtered?”
The entire day I spent yelling at the king, suddenly flashed before my eyes. I just kept demanding and yelling at him. But on the one side, it didn’t matter, he left me and my mom for almost sixteen years. He sent me and my friend up to a madwoman who held us prisoner. Perhaps I wasn’t that mad at the king but Bevora as well. Saying that helped take some weight of my new dad’s shoulders but still. He could use some demanding around and realise the world doesn’t revolve around him. Even one apology couldn’t be enough for that.
“I will see if I can find out more,” he said turning to walk toward the castle, his advisor following him with big eyes.
“King Adam has the most powerful military force. He might be able to end the war?” Daucus said, and I couldn’t believe it.
“What about our fathers?” Katherine asked silently.
“King Aqualon’s head is a small price to pay for peace,” he continued.
I couldn’t believe he said that either. I wanted to smack his head into the pavement, but before I could, Orchid started yelling.
“Not King Aqualon, you idiot! The people who raised Katherine and Leo! What if it was your family on the frontline of Aqualon’s army Daucus?”
Daucus seemed to grasp the idea but didn’t apologize. Instead, he shifted his eyes between the three of us. Taking in our every feature, to determine his move. He locked eyes with Orchid who turned away quickly.
“This sucks,” Orchid said and she threw a knife at a training dummy. Where she got the knife? I didn’t know and I made a mental note not to get on her bad side.
“I’m sorry. I will go talk to the king and see what he wants to do,” Daucus decided and he ran to the palace.
Although his observational comment was horrible, he didn’t seem to be that bad. His sincerity in changing his mind seemed to be a good quality not many people, myself included, had. He was caring in his own way and if he was a person who could get into King Hendry’s head for the right reason… he was someone worth trusting. So now, I ended up liking people I shouldn’t. The king’s fault once more. I sliced a training dummy in the middle with my sword. I was just so angry.
“So what are we just supposed to do, sit here and wait?” Katherine said.
She looked even madder then I was. Her hands shot two orange flames onto the ground and it melted the ice towards a white tile floor. I took a step back at the radiation and shock of the sudden heat.
“How did you just do that?” I asked.
It didn’t look like she knew what just happened.
“I don’t know?”
My mind was numb as I stared at her hand, as she did herself. She just made fire with her bare hands? Like the people who attacked the town and the ball. It was terrifying and so cool at the same time.
“I have an idea,” Orchid said unexpectedly. “Follow me.”
We walked across the half-moon training area, passing the wooden obstacle-coarse-thing, over to a wooden shed that was under a large tree and had a lot of snow on it. In the shed there were a lot of weapons on wooden shelves, on the floor, in chests and all around. There was only one window in the room and it looked like it wasn’t washed in decades, so hardly any light came through.
Orchid searched on one of the shelves, she pursed her lips, stared across the room and then opened one of the chests near the window. She searched further, hurling weapons out of the chest.
“Are we allowed to be in here?” Katherine asked.
Orchid just ignored her and kept throwing stuff out of the chests. Weapons, artefacts and papers flew everywhere.
“Ah, here it is,” she said holding up two long black whips.
“Why do you need that?” Katherine asked.
“Oh I don’t need it, but you are going to need it when we escape tonight and fly to king Aqualon’s castle,” Orchid said handing the whips to Katherine.