Being capable of flight had allowed our heroes to arrive back at the castle within hours where they had all received a hero’s welcome. The helicopter flew over the Vailstone castle walls and landed perfectly in the castle courtyard. The royal family stood off to the side and watched its copters passengers exit. Guards of the castle hurried over to assist the swordsman and others. Christian left the helicopter quickly, he was happy to have finally gone off on an epic adventure of his own, but was more excited to return home to his loving family and escape the life threatening dangers.
The queen watched her son leave a boy and return a man. Her eyes watered up as her child happily ran over to them. Natalia was compelled towards her child and met him half way through the courtyard, both running excitedly to the other. The boy hugged his mother lovingly as she returned the affection.
“Momma!” he said smiling.
“My baby, you have no idea how worried I’ve been for you.” she exclaimed.
“I love you momma.”
“I love you to baby.”
King Dorian walked over with his hand on his wife’s back, “Ah come on, he’s a man now.” he smiled.
The king was surprised by a hug from his son, “I love you too dad.”
The king smiled and hugged his son back, “Hey?!” he laughed, “I love you to.”
“I have so many stories I can tell YOU now.” he informed happily.
“Oh yeah?” he replied ruffling up Christian’s hair with his right hand.
“Welcome back.” Alisha said almost sarcastically while standing behind her parents with her arms crossed.
“Thanks.” Christian thanked poorly.
“Come on now, I want to see a hug.” Natalia scolded in a light manner.
“Awwe.” the prince and princess both protested looking at their mother.
The queen glared at them with a warning stare and they knew they had better hug each other lest suffer her wrath. Christian slowly walked over to Alisha and the two lazily hugged each other with limp arms for no more than two seconds. Both siblings rolled their eyes during their embrace.
“So where are these seven chosen and armor?” Dorian asked Christian.
“Only six of the chosen came back with us.”
“Oh? One of them didn’t make it through, huh?”
“Na, one was a serial killer so we left him behind.” the prince informed.
“A KILLER?!” the queen gasped.
“He wasn’t a killer. He was an assassin.” Raziel informed walking up to the royal family.
“An assassin?! That’s the same thing!” Natalia snapped back.
“Yeah, but killer just sounds so much worse.” the grand duke explained while scratching the back of his head. Mentioning to the queen that a skilled murder had accompanied them on their quest was a detail the grand duke would have preferred to omit.
King Dorian was excited to see the legendary armor more than anyone else. “Amazing, this has got to be it!” he asked touching the shiny golden armor, “The armor of Kamisama?”
“The one and only.” Raziel replied happily.
“Then let’s see what you brought me.” Dorian said taking a step back and tilting his head while looking at the incredible armor.
Raziel stood with his arms extended outward while the king, queen, and princess all walked around the grand duke inspecting the armor of many legendary tales. The queen felt of the cape behind the grand duke, but was incapable of moving it back.
“Is this a shield? I thought it was a cape.” she admitted.
Raziel was confused, “What, a shield?” he replied looking under his arm and behind himself as best he could. “This?” he asked holding the cape which wrinkled in his grip, “No, it’s a cape.” he stated.
The queen was a bit confused herself, she tried moving the cloth back, but it was like trying to push back a stone wall and didn’t budge at all. Yet when the grand duke came into contact with the material it simply folded in his grasp as a cape should, which she found perplexing.
“We have a big dinner prepared for you and everyone else.” Alisha happily told Raziel.
He was certainly happy to hear that, the grand duke enjoyed the delicious pallet of the royal family chefs.
“That’s great! Those traveling instant meals are the worst.” Raziel joked to Alisha causing her to chuckle.
King Dorian pat the grand duke on the back and smiled, “I wouldn’t get too comfortable in that armor though, once we found out that you were on your way back with the armor, I called ambassador Yotameshii. We’re already flying him in and we’ll have a huge ceremony held tomorrow. We discussed it and decided that we’ll invite the media to come in and broadcast our success and the unveiling of the armor. This way we can include the entire world in on this historic event. We’ll even invite the anthropomorph people back, you know, that way we can start recovering relations with them.” Dorian smiled.
Raziel thought about it for a moment, “Sounds fine I suppose, but should I wait until the middle of the celebrations to show off the armor or would you rather I just wear from the start?” he asked innocently.
The king laughed and looked the grand duke in the face, “Don’t you think it’d prove a bit difficult to give me the armor if you’re wearing it?”
“Give you the armor?” Raziel questioned.
“Well of course, that way the whole continent, the WORLD can see our glory.” Dorian emphasized while talking with his hands. “Good thing there’s not a helmet, that way I’ll still be able to wear the crown.” he joked with his oldest friend.
“Yeah.” Raziel replied dispiritedly while lost in thought, realizing that his time with the legendary armor was short lived.
Christian and the rest of his family walked into the castle together, Carmon stood by her father outside.
“That hardly seems fair.” Carmon stated looking at her father with concern and noticed a void in his eyes.
“It’s fine.” he said in a monotone voice, “He is king after all. Come on, let’s get something to eat.” he requested and proceeded into the castle.
Carmon followed after and left the courtyard with her dad.
The remaining swordsmen had been left in the courtyard with the soldiers as they emptied supplies from the helicopters. Rufus received another text once out of the copter and immediately replied back telling his friends where he was and about the awesome adventure he had recently embarked upon.
Seth had noticed the king before the helicopter had landed and a flood of memories, pain, and rage all came rushing back to him. His heart pumped faster from his restrained anger. The former detective glared wickedly at the king when he talked with the grand duke and prince in the courtyard. Seth had always wanted a moment to exact revenge on the king and had known for some time now that accompanying the grand duke and prince on this little venture was his one shot.
“Hey!” Wade said raising his voice and pushing Seth’s arm. “Snap out of it bro.” he smiled.
Seth blinked his eyes quickly and shook his head.
“You didn’t hear a word I said or what?” he asked smiling. “Everybody’s go’n inside, you alright?” Wade asked.
“I will be.” Seth assured and walked with the group into the castle.
Wade rubbed the back of his neck, “Dude’s always too serious.”
While everyone was getting prepared for the feast in the dinner hall Raziel was slowly removing parts of the armor. Since the armor had conformed to his body the instant he completed putting it on it proved to be difficult to take off. Raziel struggled to remove the first gauntlet. It was the first time he had noticed any form of opposition since placing on the armor. It was almost as if the armor was fighting to stay with Raziel somehow. Eventually, he managed to remove the gauntlet and placed it beside him, he sat down and looked at the gauntlet resting on the countertop. He looked at his naked hand and forearm then glanced at his other arm with the armor. His eyes peered at the amazing armor as his mind was flooded full of thoughts. He recalled memories of fighting against the creature from the forest of darkness. He remembered the complete protection the armor provided him, even from drowning while underwater that entire time.
Protected from the damp feel of water, wind through his hair, even the warmth of his daughter’s hug. The radiant armor of Kamisama was truly amazing. The grand duke paused a moment before unfastening his chest plate. Unknowingly to Raziel, the armor had realized his determination to remove it and willingly allowed its current owner to do as he wished. The armor stopped resisting as Raziel slowly undressed himself.
In the dinner hall Christian rushed over to his new friends happily, “You guys’re gonna love this! Tha chefs making her special steaks tonight, they’re really really good.” he informed with a huge smile.
“Must be nice to have steak on a regular basis.” Vincent replied detesting the prince’s luxurious lifestyle.
“Even has his own chef.” Wraith added to Vincent’s compliant.
Christian’s smile began to suffer since he didn’t quite understand what the problem was.
“Hav’n steak tonight at the castle!” Rufus bragged to his friends in a text message.
The large dinner hall was a massive room with extravagant Greek art painted on the ceiling. Above everyone’s head was the most illuminous and massive chandelier, it had to weight nearly a ton. The only object in the room that rivaled the massive size of the chandelier was the dinner table, which stretched clear across the room. What appeared to be gold fixtures rest upon the wall and supported lively greenery with many intricate designs painted underneath which ran across each wall. Candles were set out and lit on the table with huge floral center pieces set every ten feet apart.
The ambassador for the kingdom of Vailstone walked through the thirty-foot high doors that led into the room. He was dressed very presentably in expensive and clean clothing. The ambassador had a long cane with a big orb at the top, despite the fact that he was completely capable of walking around without the usage of a cane.
A magical pet cheshire cat rest upon the shoulders of the ambassador. It had huge yellow eyes and was striped all over. The cat’s tail was incredibly long and had a massive set of unusual flat teeth for a cat.
“Who’s the clown with the eye liner?” Wraith questioned.
“Huh?” Christian wondered, “Hikaru!” he called out pleasantly.
The prince gained the attention of the ambassador who then walked over to meet and greet their new company and the prince.
“Christian, how are you? I was in Bellease kingdom when I heard you were going on some crazy adventure like your father used to.” Hikaru informed, “I heard everything went well?” he asked, talking to the prince like he was a small child.
“Yeah, we found the armor of Kamisama and some magic swords!” the prince informed excitedly.
“I think you meant to say, magical swords.” Hikaru happily corrected.
“Yeah, everything went well, except that a lot of soldiers were killed in the process.” Wraith negatively reminded.
“Oh dear, I sure hope Raziel will prepare a speech on their behalf.” Hikaru stated recalling necessary procedures to upkeep the kingdom’s image.
Wraith looked at the ambassador within his wealthy status and callus reaction to the death of many soldiers. Hikaru noticed the former convict’s disapproval and glared back in return.
“And who might this chipper fellow be?” Hikaru asked.
“This is Wraith, he was one of the seven chosen. He helped us get tha armor from the forest of darkness.” Christian stated.
“Oh? So, this little gentleman you’ve befriended must have one of these magical swords you mentioned.” the ambassador recalled in a belittling tone.
The ambassador’s cheshire cat leaped on the shoulders of the prince and purred. The fur against Christian’s neck tickled him and caused him to laugh a bit. The cat grazed its tail along the prince’s cheek.
“Hee, hee. Yeah.” he answered hiking his shoulders up in reaction to the tickling, “Wraith has one of’em.”
Vincent looked at Christian with disgust for acting so childish while playing with the ambassador’s cat.
“Let’s have a look at that sword of yours.” Hikaru request of Wraith.
Wraith smirked his lip and was less than enthusiastic about showing off his new weapon to the snooty ambassador. He reached to the sheath that was placed on his side and grabbed the handle of his blade. The purple haired troublemaker twitched the handle to the side of the sheath and showed the ambassador the bladeless hand guard. Hikaru looked at it with amazement and curiosity.
“Isn’t that cool? He can somehow sheath his sword like it has a blade, but it really doesn’t. Weird huh?” the prince chimed in while still being tickled by the cat’s tail.
Hikaru chuckled, “What’s funny?” Wraith asked rudely.
“A sword without a blade. Sounds pretty useless to me.” the ambassador replied.
The comment annoyed Wraith and angered him a bit. The purple haired youth found the ambassador’s reaction and words to be disrespectful. Hikaru then looked over at Vincent and saw that he had two sword handles in a double sheath.
“Well look at that, let’s have a gander at yours.” Hikaru said requesting to look at Vincent’s blade.
“Let’s not, I think you’ve had enough to giggle about already.” Vincent replied and walked over to the dinner table while staff members placed plates and silverware out.
Hikaru’s smile quickly vanished from being around the rude teenagers. He clapped his hands and called for his cheshire cat to come back to him.
“Come’er baby, come to daddy.” he said while pouting up his lips and reaching out for the cat.
The cat altered its weight and floated up from the prince’s shoulders and drifted into the arms of the pampering ambassador. He nestled the cat in his arms and scratched it behind the ears.
“Come on Syrius, let’s go talk with nice people.” he spoke to the cat as if it understood him.
The ambassador walked away and sat at the dinner table in his usual spot.
“That guy’s an ass.” Wraith stated and sheathed his sword back then walked over to have a seat.
Christian looked at Wraith wondering what his problem was, how could anyone not like the ambassador? He’s always so nice and such a likeable and relatable person. The prince just shrugged off the tattooed teen’s bad attitude and took a seat at the table as well.
Kaz was already seated at the table when Seth walked over, “Where we supposed to sit?” Seth asked.
“Here.” Kaz said looking back at Seth.
“How do you know?” Seth wondered.
“Cause these gay little name cards.” Kaz stated.
Seth looked at Kaz displeased, “That sort of language could upset somebody, ya know.” he stated adjusting his coat and sitting beside Kaz after noticing his name card.
“I thought that chatty little prince said you were a detective.” Kaz asked.
Seth looked down and then away, “Yeah.” he coughed. “I used to be.” he admitted.
“Must’a not been a very good one if you couldn’t even notice your name on these little gay cards.” Kaz mocked.
Seth looked at Kaz with a temper, “You sure know how to rub people the wrong way, don’t you.” Seth huffed and just stared at Kaz while shaking his head, “You’re going to offend somebody talking like that.”
“What?” Kaz asked.
“Calling crap gay. That could offend a gay person.” Seth brought to Kaz’s attention.
“You gay?” Kaz asked.
“No! I have a daughter.” Seth informed.
“That don’t mean noth’n.” Kaz said.
“I’m not gay.” Seth told Kaz.
“Then why you get’n your panties in a bunch?” Kaz ridiculed.
“Cause…” Seth looked about and saw the ambassador sitting on the far end of the table, “…look at the guy with the cat down there, you could offend him.” Seth stated.
Kaz squinted, “He’s gay?” he asked.
Seth adjusted a napkin in his lap, “Well yeah, he could be, I mean, look at him. He’s wearing eyeliner and his hair’s doing that whole ‘swoosh’ thing. Ya never know.” he explained while motioning with his hands.
Kaz stared at the ambassador down the table while Wade showed up and sat next to Seth.
“Hey! Wha’d I miss?” Wade asked slapping the former detective on the back before sitting.
“We’re talk’n about that guy down there with the cat.” Kaz said.
Wade looked at Hikaru making it obvious they were talking about him, “Oh yeah? Wha’d he do?” Wade asked bluntly.
“We’re wonder’n if he’s gay or not.” Kaz explained.
Seth rolled his eyes and faced his palms upward, “We’re not talking about if he’s gay or not, I was just using him as an example.” Seth insisted, “I was merely trying to make a point.”
Wade looked at Hikaru for no more than two seconds, “Oh yeah, he’s gay.” he decided nonchalantly.
“What?!” Seth spouted looking at Wade with astonishment, “You can’t just look at somebody like that and tell if he’s gay or not.” Seth protested.
“Sure I can.” Wade disagreed and turned his head back to look again and saw Hikaru playing with his cat, then looked back at Seth, “Yeah, he’s gay.” Wade nodded.
Seth looked at Wade with disbelief, “And how are you so sure?” Seth questioned.
“Well, for one, tha cat’s a dead giveaway.” Wade stated as if making a legitimate observation.
Kaz nodded his head and felt Wade’s reasoning made perfect sense, “Yeah, you’re right.” he agreed then looked at Seth, “And you was supposed to be a detective.” Kaz added scolding Seth.
Seth put his hands to his face and wiped them down, he was getting a headache from the stupidity around him.
One of the maids placed some napkins across the table from Kaz, Seth, and Wade and giggled at Wade. Wade smiled and watched her walk away. Seth noticed the occurrence and watched her walk off as well.
“She seems like a nice girl. You don’t have to be a detective to see that she likes you.” Seth said while placing a napkin in his lap.
“Must be why you could tell.” Kaz mocked.
Seth turned and looked at Kaz quickly with murderous eyes. The testosterone loaded man was burning a short fuse of Seth’s.
“Oh, she’s a VERY nice girl.” Wade replied, indicating that he had known more than what he was letting on.
Seth turned his vision back to Wade, “Huh? Why you say’n it like that?” Seth wondered.
“Well, we got to know each other a little better in one of the guest rooms.” Wade confessed happily.
“What?!” Seth asked shocked.
“Oh, yeah?” Kaz asked smiling.
Vincent walked over and sat down beside Wade at the table.
“Oh yeah.” Wade replied grinning ear to ear and leaning back in his chair, “I have details if anyone’s interested.” he boasted.
“Details?” Vincent asked.
Kaz leaned over on the table and looked at Vincent, “Wade slept with one’a tha maids.” he informed.
The silvery haired teen rolled his eyes and was instantly annoyed and bored by their company. He stood up and walked away after being seating for no longer than twenty seconds.
“Alright, so when we were walking into the castle one of the maids recognized me from one of my movies.” Wade explained to Kaz.
Wade carried on about his inappropriate behavior while visiting the castle with Kaz, Seth had his arms on the table and hid his face. He had been embarrassed the moment he sat down.
Vincent walked around the table and looked for a spot to sit where he could prevent getting annoyed by the royal family and other swordsmen. He stopped by a seat near Wraith and looked around.
“If you’re trying to find a good spot away from all the losers then it’s gonna be over here.” he informed.
Vincent huffed as he realized Wraith was right. Vincent started to sit down, but stopped and looked at the door, the beautiful blonde princess walked through the doorway in her elegant sparkling dress. Her skin was so pure, her lips full and moist. Her crystal eyes appeared more valuable than life itself. Her curly hair that hung by the sides of her face bounced with each graceful step. Her perky tempting forbidden body fit perfectly in her tight dress.
Vincent and Wraith’s eyes widened as she walked inside to sit at the table. As Alisha approached the dinner table she noticed the two teens staring at her. Alisha brushed a strand of hair behind her ear and smiled at the two boys. Her perfectly white teeth glistened in the chandelier light. Vincent and Wraith gasped slightly once her eyes looked upon them.
Alisha sat down blushing, smiling, and giving them small glances from the corner of her eye. Vincent sat down next to Wraith slowly, but remained speechless and unaware the world contained such beauty. Wraith and Vincent reached outward and picked up a glass of water and both took a drink simultaneously. Then both placed their drinks back on the table at the same time, the two teens were love struck.
Rufus took his seat between the empty chairs where Wraith and Vincent should have been sitting, across the table from Seth, Kaz, and Wade.
“I can’t wait ta eat some’a this food.” he announced excitedly to his comrades.
The orange haired teen’s cell phone went off yet again to inform him that another of his friends had sent him another text message.
A servant of the castle entered the room and requested that everyone stand before the arrival of the king and queen. Everyone in the room stood and looked towards the door, Seth however, had looked to his sides to see if Kaz and Wade were standing before he slowly stood up. Through the massive doors the king and queen walked inside walking a bit slowly with the king’s left arm around the queen’s right arm.
The royal couple sat at the very end of the table closest to Christian, Alisha, and Hikaru. Once they were seated the servant announced that all may now be seated.
Dorian leaned over to Natalia and asked in a whisper, “Where’s Raziel?”
Natalia continued smiling in front of all of their guests, “I’m not sure.” She quietly replied.
“Look at that crap.” Seth said hatefully.
Wade looked to his side at Seth, “Huh? What?” he asked.
Seth sat back in his seat with his hands quivering from hate and rubbed the sides of his temple, “Nothing.” he exhaled.
“You okay Seth?” Wade asked noticing something was definitely wrong with the older swordsman.
“No, yeah. I’m fine. I’m fine.” Seth answered with a quivering voice.
Wade became concerned and couldn’t help but notice the detective’s hands slightly shaking.
The grand duke had buttoned the last button of his coat and looked over his shoulder. He looked upon the radiant armor after hanging it on a display stand. Raziel locked the display case and placed the key into his pocket. He looked through the glass one last time before turning and walking out of the room. He activated the security code which activated three interlocking steel doors. He then locked the regular door behind him were four guards stood present to protect the room.
Carmon waited for her father outside the chamber were the four guards stood, “You ready?” she asked.
Raziel nodded in response to her question, “Let’s eat.” he replied.
The father and daughter walked through the castle halls to the dinner hall alone together. The brunette looked at her father and could see his depression. It was a cruel tease to experience such an imposable armor just to have it taken away from you the next day, never again to feel so invincible.
“You don’t wanna lose that armor do ya?” Carmon asked.
“Hm? Nah.” Raziel brushed off the question shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders.
“Then what’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong.” he denied.
Carmon huffed, “Well that’s a lie. I can tell when you’re upset.” she admitted.
Raziel ignored the fishing for answers from his daughter and continued walking. Carmon stopped and folded her arms while looking at her stubborn father. Once Raziel noticed she was no longer beside him he stopped and turned around. He saw her from eight feet away looking at him with her ‘argue face’.
“Look, we can talk about this later, but everybody’s waiting for us right now so come on.” he motioned with his arms.
“Why is it that you always want me to open up to you, but you never wanna open up to me?” Carmon inquired.
Raziel sighed as his eyes drifted off to the side, the grand duke was a fierce warrior and didn’t mind combat, however, he couldn’t stand a war of words. Especially when it was about expressing his feelings or explaining things that bothered him, he found these to be very ‘girly’ and not appropriate behavior of a warrior.
“I had a bad day. I fought a big monster and almost drown, being killed makes me sad. Now can we go eat?” he asked grinning.
“Bull crap. Why can’t ya just be honest with me?” Carmon complained.
Raziel rubbed his face and sighed, he walked over closer to his daughter, “Look.” he stopped for a moment, “Yeah, okay. I want that armor. Who wouldn’t? It’s freak’n great, but I’m not the king. I work for the king, I knew this going in. Things like this happen all the time and I’ve learned to accept it. Sometimes it’s harder than others, that’s all.” he confessed.
“Yeah, but you always accept it. How come you never get ta keep ANYTHING?! I thought you two were supposed ta be friends.” she voiced.
“We are friends.” Raziel stated.
“Then why does he always change all your stories and make it sound like your tha weakling or you were scared?”
“It’s not all of them.” Raziel denied shaking his head slowly.
“Or why is it that every time you go out risking your life on some stupid, adventure, that he never lets you use any of the stuff you bring back for him? There’s a ton of enchanted weapons in tha royal vault you could have used that would have made getting that armor so much easier.” she explained very emotionally. “You wouldn’t have been burned, or almost exploded, or almost…,” Carmon stopped for a much calmer breath. She discovered that she was incapable of finishing the remainder of that sentence.
The young girl looked down to the floor and away from her father before her. She rubbed the side of her arm nervously. Raziel walked up to Carmon and hugged her against his chest tightly.
“Hey, hey, hey come on now.” he said softly, “Is that what this is about?” he asked while holding her head against his chest.
Carmon sniffled and looked at her dad, “He’s, just not as good a friend as you think he is.”
Carmon was never this emotional around anyone else but Raziel. He noticed her eyes were watery when she looked at him, she now placed her head against his chest with her eyes closed and arms tucked in front of her. The grand duke stood in the middle of the large hallway holding his daughter closely. He didn’t realize she had felt this way about the king’s behavior or so strongly about Raziel’s mortality.
“I’ll talk to him.” he softly stated and rubbed the top of her back, “I’ll talk to him.”
Eventually Raziel and Carmon entered the massive dinner hall where everyone waited. The grand duke and his daughter sat down on Alisha and Hikaru’s side of the table.
“Sorry we’re late.” Raziel apologized, “That uh, armor was hard to take off.” he claimed trying to create a reasonable excuse for their tardiness.
“That’s good to know.” Dorian joked while drinking some of his wine.
Raziel faked a smile while Carmon just avoided eye contact with anyone, especially the king. Christian looked at Carmon for an opening for communication, but he could tell something was wrong with her since she refused to even lift her head.
King Dorian cleared his throat and raised his voice, gathering everyone’s attention. All eyes were on him as he declared his announcement.
“Alright, I’d like to finally start off the evening by welcoming everyone. We have a very special feast prepared for tonight followed by one of our pastry chef’s signature desserts. We’ve arranged room and board for everyone here tonight in light of tomorrow evening’s events. In case you’re unaware, this quest that has just concluded was Vailstone’s most historic yet. Not only did we retrieve the armor of Kamisama, but more importantly, my son left this castle a boy and returned a man. This was Christian’s first adventure and I couldn’t be more proud.” he said looking at Christian and patting his shoulder.
Christian smiled and his eyes teared up from his father’s approval. Vincent looked away and took another drink of his cold ice water. Moments of family togetherness such as this were wasted upon him. It was always a constant reminder of the void in his past and always felt like it was being flaunted in his face.
The king smiled and took a gulp of his fine wine then looked over to ambassador Yotameshii, “Hikaru, why don’t you enlighten us on tomorrow evenings ceremony.”
“Certainly.” Hikaru agreed and stood at the table, he had always enjoyed the attention of others.
The maids and butlers brought out steamy extravagant meals to the royalty and their company while Hikaru explained the immediately assembled guest list. Rufus’ eyes gazed upon all the food presented to them, he couldn’t wait to start eating. Vincent and Wraith looked at all of the luxuries given to the royal family which they felt were took for granted.
Christian, however, was more than eager to quench his appetite with the delicious steak glistening with warm juices that teased his eyes. To the side were buttery mashed potatoes with asparagus and fried okra and two separate dishes, one with brown gravy and the other with cranberry sauce.
Hikaru’s cheshire cat rest on the floor while he continued on, “…and so there our honorable king and queen will stay seated on their thrones with our prince and princess by their sides. After the announcements walks in the grand duke with the armor being pulled from behind.” Hikaru then looked at Raziel, “A few grins, a few waves and then you hand over the armor of Kamisama to the king, metaphorically of course.”
Raziel poorly smiled at Hikaru and nodded in agreement.
“A small speech by Raziel. An orchestra will sound as the king returns in the armor, they’ll be playing the kingdom’s anthem obviously. At which point our six heroic swordsmen will be accompanied by our brave prince here in front of everyone and before the thrones of the king and queen.”
Alisha rolled her eyes still finding her brother’s participation in the entire affair pointless. Despite the ambassador’s lengthy explanation Rufus had begun eating.
“We’ll arrange an order if necessary.” Hikaru thought, “After the ceremony everyone’s contractual agreements will be met with the grand duke, but, during the ceremony each of you will be presented with high honor medallions of bravery and heroism. King Dorian will personally pin them on each one of you after a smile, bow, and handshake to finish it all off. Once that’s said and done…” Hikaru quickly continued before being interrupted by an outburst by Seth.
“Ta hell with that shit!” the detective yelled jumping out of his seat, unable to contain his anger anymore.
Everyone except Raziel was caught off guard and startled by the sudden explosion of anger. All eyes were on Seth as he carried on.
“Do you seriously believe I can look this, this man in tha face and put on a fake smile and kneel before HIM?! No! No. I can’t do that. I lost everything, and what did you do? Did you help me, NO. Instead you took more and left me with absolutely nothing.” Seth took a deep confident breath and reached inside his jacket, “Well,…” he nodded, but was reawaken from his rage after feeling that his jacket pocket was empty.
Raziel sat up and slowly stood from his seat knowing full well what Seth was reaching for. Seth made eye contact with Raziel for a split second and remembered his one mistake. Hikaru by this point had already slowly lowered himself back into his chair unaware and nervous of where this rant may lead. Alisha sat in full attention with her mouth open, she has never witnessed such animosity towards her father first hand before. She found the sudden rage from Seth to be frightening. Rufus watched on the other side of the table and ate his food at a slower pace.
Seth had realized after all he’s been through that he still wouldn’t be given that chance to exact his revenge upon the king who help deepen his scars. The former detective’s hands were still shaking from all the emotion surging through his body. He slowly reached for his glass of water and picked it up and brought it to his lips for a drink, but instead dropped the glass letting in shatter on the floor. The detective appeared as if he had just seen a ghost. He focused his vision on nothing particular in the room, his eyes had a dark emptiness inside them. He backed away from the table as if lost and in a new area.
“I…” he said rubbing his face with his right hand, “I have ta go.” he stated quietly and slowly turned around and left the large dinner hall with everyone watching him slowly exit.
Rufus looked around at everyone and reached across the table to steal Seth’s food. All that were seated close to Rufus looked at him, “What, it’s not like he’s gonna eat it.” he defended.
“I’m sorry your majesty.” the grand duke apologized for Seth’s behavior and for bringing him along despite knowing their history.
Raziel had then gotten up from the table and left the room after Seth.
“What tha heck was that all about?” Wade asked.
“Let’s not allow one rude incident to ruin our evening. In fact, let’s hear all about this amazing adventure. So, what happened after you had all left the castle, hm?” king Dorian asked Christian so the night could continue on.
Christian smiled back a bit awkwardly as he recalled the first stop of their quest was Seth’s residence.
The dinner struggled to continue while Raziel ran through the halls of the castle looking for the distraught man. The grand duke looked down a long hallway with servants walking around, everything seemed normal so he went the opposite direction. As he hurried through, he felt a cool breeze and slowed down to a walking pace. He looked to his left and noticed the doors to the outside royal garden were open.
The grand duke walked outside, the night sky was sprinkled with stars that illuminated the exotic garden. Queen Natalia would export unusual and exotic plant life to her exclusive garden. A long but narrow pond harbored unusual fish not familiar to the northern part of the continent. A wooden bridge stretched across with lanterns on both sides. In the slightest breeze pink cherry blossom pedals would softly rain across the area and gracefully fall to the ground or pond below.
In the center of that bridge was a wounded man, a man who had never healed from a wound given to him four years ago. Seth leaned over the low bridge and looked at his reflection in the dark water while petals danced by.
“Seth.” Raziel called calmly.
The long black haired man didn’t turn, but only tilted his head, “It’s not fair. Ya know? Well, how could you? You haven’t lost anything.” he softly groaned.
“That’s not true.”
“What have you lost that could possibly compare?” Seth asked with pain in his voice.
“I lost Carmon’s mother the day she was born. There were, complications,…” Raziel paused, “… she bled out.”
Seth stood up from leaning on the side of the bridge and looked at Raziel, “I didn’t know.”
“I don’t like to talk about it.” the grand duke confessed quickly.
“I never did move on ya know? I don’t see how, I mean, I have nothing left. My life has been empty ever since, I have no reason for living on now.” Seth revealed. “Revenge was all I had left, and I didn’t even get that.” he half laughed from dealing with the hurt.
“So, you figured you’d punish the king?” Raziel questioned.
Seth wanted to reply but stopped himself, he struggled to find his reasoning.
“You were reaching for this weren’t you?” Raziel asked holding Seth’s gun that was given to him when they were in the forest of darkness. “Who were you planning to shoot? Him or maybe punish him by shooting Natalia? Or maybe one of their kids, huh? Punish both of’em.”
“No! Nothing like that.” Seth declared.
“Well there’s only one reason for someone to carry a gun Seth.” he stated tossing him the gun.
Seth fumbled the gun as it hit his chest, “Hey! What tha?!”
“It’s empty.” Raziel informed revealing the bullets in his hand and dropping them in his coat pocket. “So, who was it? What was the plan?” he asked.
Seth rubbed his free hand through his hair, dealing with the stress and reality, “Yeah, okay. I wanted to, shot’em. And would have…” he confessed under the starlit night sky.
“What?!” Wade interrupted from behind the grand duke and noticed the gun in Seth’s hands.
“Wade, what’re you doing here?” Raziel asked as the spikey haired man stood beside him.
“You were gonna shoot tha king?” he questioned. “Why? What was all that back there?”
“I was singled out cause I was busting the case wide open, big drug ring. But instead of coming after me, they got my daughter, she was taken from me. And when I got the murdering scum that raped and tortured her…” Seth stopped and struggled to continue, “…Dorian was appalled at what I had done. Said nobody deserves what I had done to those monsters. Did I deserve what I got? Did Lilith deserve what happened to her? No. My wife killed herself because of what happened to Lilith. She couldn’t live with it. It consumed us both from the inside like a cancer. Pictures and internet videos, made us wanna puke. We couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. How could we? Knowing what depraved acts they were doing to our child?” Seth asked as if expecting an answer.
Raziel stood silent in the dancing pedals with a glare in his eyes siding with Seth, knowing deep down in his heart that he would have done the same thing if it was all done to Carmon instead of Lilith.
Wade remained confused, “Why didn’t anyone help you? Why didn’t you have a trial or something to defend yourself?”
“I couldn’t.” Seth had responded with watery eyes as he relived the nightmare more in detail. “Dorian said there wasn’t any need. Apparently, my trial would have just been a waste of tax payer’s money.” he laughed pathetically in a sad manner. “So, I didn’t get one. He told me he was gonna ‘do me a favor’ he said, because he ‘felt for me’. So, he took my badge away after serving to enforce his laws for over twenty-one years of my life and ordered me into forced retirement, giving me below the minimum payout required by his own stupid laws. But that’s not the best part, because he knew without a shadow of a doubt… that I would get twenty-five years to life, OR the death penalty! He ordered I only receive two and a half years of prison time.” Seth regrettably recalled with a faint hate in his voice.
Seth continued on sarcastically, “You have no idea what it’s like for a cop in prison. People hold grudges for you in there. Oh, but at least he guaranteed my empty home would still be waiting for me when I got out!”
“That’s so stupid. He screwed you over.” Wade realized.
Several guards appeared at the entrance of the outside garden, “We heard there was a problem, sir?”
Seth looked at the grand duke expecting to be taken into custody for attempted murder against the king.
“No, just see that our friend here gets home safely.” Raziel ordered to Wade and Seth’s surprise.
“Yes sir!” the soldiers replied.
Seth slid his gun in his side coat pocket and walked between Raziel and Wade with a slouched posture.
He stopped beside the grand duke for a moment, almost as if he had wanted to say something, but couldn’t. The detective then walked away with the guards and left the castle.
Raziel walked onto the small wooden bridge and looked into the cold water, thinking of Seth’s tortured soul and never ending pain.
“Ya think he’ll be alright?” Wade asked walking onto the bridge.
Raziel looked forward at the sea of dancing cherry blossoms in the air before honestly answering, “No.”
After being dropped off at his home in the middle of the night the soldiers drove back to the castle. Seth walked up his side walk and looked at his damaged lawn gnome and sighed. The depressed man unlocked his front door and walked inside without shutting it behind him. He thought about placing his keys on the side table beside the front door, but instead gripped them tightly to throw them across the room. He reared his arm back, but stopped for only a moment and dropped them to the ground.
He felt like a walking empty shell of a human being. He walked into the kitchen and sat doing nothing while he microwaved a cup of hot chocolate. After the timer went off Seth sat unresponsive. He remained sitting in a blank empty stare for almost an hour. Later he slowly climbed the staircase with his cup in hand and entered his bedroom. The former detective sipped his favorite drink and removed the gun from his coat and tossed it on the bed. He then took off his coat and unbuttoned his shirt.
Once he tossed both articles of clothing on the bed, he reached to untie his belt when he looked at his newly obtained sword sheathed on the side of his hip. He unclipped the sheath and drew his sword. He looked at his reflection in the black metal of the blade then dropped the exposed sword on the floor. Seth removed his shoes, pants, and underwear and walked into the bathroom nude. He started the hot water for a shower and looked into his own eyes in the mirror above the sink while the water grew hot.
A thick coat of steam blanketed the entire bathroom while Seth slowly washed off. Once he was finished bathing, he just stared at the water flow down the drain. Endless thoughts transpired while the man stood doing nothing. His mind could not rest. Hot water beat upon his back as he leaned forward against the shower wall. The long black haired man turned off the shower and poorly dried off with his towel.
He wrapped the towel around his waist and walked into his bedroom, while still dripping water onto the carpet. Seth reached into his dresser sock drawer looked at a hidden family photo of him with his wife and daughter and began tearing up. Thinking of his loss and their memory. Tears dropped from Seth’s eyes without him fully crying. He removed a small box from under the hidden photo in the drawer.
Seth then walked over to the bed and picked up his gun from when he served on the force. He picked up his drink as well and walked over to sit against the wall. He took one last gulp of his hot chocolate and set the glass down beside him. He then picked up the small box from the dresser and opened it, inside the box were six bullets. Seth loaded only one into the chamber and spun it.
The man tried forgetting of his actions and tried only remembering the lovely memories of his beloved wife and loving daughter. Seth brought the gun up underneath his jaw and pulled the trigger. An empty click was heard. He recalled the hurt and all the pain from losing them and pulled the trigger. An empty click was heard. He relived the hate and callus sympathy from the king and how he was treated and readied the trigger once more then looked at the cold black blade.
Seth dropped the gun and walked over to the sword wearing only his towel. He knelt before it and picked it up. He could see his reflection in the cold steel of the dark sword.
“Maybe this is a more fitting end, for someone like me.” he said looking at its sharp bladed edge. “You won’t click.” he stated pulling the sword away and pointed at his chest.
“Maybe you can fill this hole in my heart.” he sadly stated with tears in his eyes.
Seth thrust the sword towards himself and stabbed the sword through his own chest and fell to the floor face first. There, the body of a once great man lay motionless, lifeless. . . . . . . empty.
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