The room was dark even though it was the middle of the day. Dax hadn’t opened the curtains since his father had summoned him to his study. King Austeareus had told his son that the day for the wedding was set and there was no way he was going to get out of it. Dax had tried. He tried to leave the castle again, but every soldier and servant present kept him inside. Dax hadn’t gotten a moment of peace since. Every moment, three soldiers were at Dax’s side. King Austeareus made it clear to Dax that the soldiers would keep him from running away again, from then until the wedding. The soldiers that Dax had taken with him when he ran away were stationed far away, basically banned from anywhere near the castle. Dax had no one to help him.
That was already two weeks ago. It’d been two months less one day since he was separated from Konnor, but today was the day he was supposed to go to Seslin, and tomorrow get married to Prince Tendarian. Dax had been sitting in his dark room for days, the soldiers even took turns sitting in the room with him.
At the moment, Dax was alone. He thought about trying to escape through one of the windows, but his room was 90 feet up with nothing but a straight wall and an unforgiving ground beneath it. He still considered it. He almost rather take his chances with the ground 90 feet below than marry the prince.
A knock on his door brought him out of his thoughts. He didn’t say to come in, but the door opened anyway. Saria poked her head around, squinting to see Dax in the dark. She saw him sitting on his bed with his back to the door. “Daxi...”
“What?” His voice was flat and lacked its usual fire.
She walked in, closing the door behind her. She went up to the bed, setting the dark, navy blue suit she was carrying down on the bed. Saria went over to sit next to Dax. “You can leave the castle today,” she tried to frame it in a positive way.
It didn’t work for Dax, he creased his brow more, looking straight ahead as he said, “I have to leave here to only go to another castle and marry some stranger.”
“But it’ll be Seslin,” Saria tentatively reached out to rest her hand on Dax’s arm. “Maybe you’ll see Konnor there.”
Dax pulled his arm away, standing up abruptly. He turned, looking down at her, “I hardly think I’ll be able to get past the squadron of soldiers watching me.” He turned his back, “I’m being treated like a prisoner, I overheard my father tell the soldiers to watch me as if I were.”
“Daxi...” she sighed, she really wanted to tell him about Konnor, but she couldn’t. She’d been forbidden to go to Seslin to see him or Timothy and was definitely instructed to not talk to Dax about anything. “You can’t stay here, if you don’t leave yourself, the soldiers will come and take you by force.”
“Oh dear, we wouldn’t want that,” he said, sarcasm dripping from his voice. He stepped forward, grabbing onto the curtains. He just wanted to be alone again.
Saria hated seeing her dearest friend as torn up as this, but nothing would get better if he continued to stay here. Her voice was quiet as she said, “Even if you get hurt again, your father will make you go through with the wedding.”
His shoulders sagged, letting his head fall forward. He took a deep breath and turned to face Saria again. He looked past her and saw the suit laid out on the bed. He walked over to the suit and picked it up. He only looked at it as he said, “Do you think any of this has been worth it if I’m just going to end up doing what my father wants?”
“You never know,” Saria went up and rested a hand on Dax’s arm for a moment, “Everything could still turn out okay.” She walked past him to leave his room.
Dax didn’t know how anything would turn out okay. How could Saria even say that it would? He stood there a moment longer before taking a breath and starting to change. He knew he’d have to at least go to Seslin, there would be no getting out of that, but he would get out of the wedding. He didn’t care if it would be the last thing he did, he just didn’t want to get tied to a stranger.
He emerged from his room minutes later, dressed in the suit, gears whirring to make the suit jacket emit a faint blue glow. Saria had been waiting for him and smiled when she saw him, “You really do look handsome.”
Dax’s face remained sullen, “I’d rather die...”
Saria bit her lip, she knew that he was serious. “Don’t say things like that.” She grabbed his arm and started walking with him down the hall. “There’s something I have to tell you about Konnor. He’s not-.”
They’d barely just turned the corner to walk down to the ground floor when soldiers joined them, surrounding Dax and Saria on all sides. Saria couldn’t finish her statement without risking being taken away from Dax.
Dax bit his tongue, he didn’t want to start anything, however much he wanted to yell at all the soldiers acting as his entourage. He was escorted out of the castle, even his father was outside on the Royal Airship Dock, waiting for his son to arrive. He half expected his father to stay in Toeaux and not even come to the wedding.
Dax was forced onto the airship and ushered to a back room with no windows and only one door. Saria waited there with him as well as three soldiers. He didn’t think this was really necessary, but no one would listen to him object.
He didn’t know how much time had passed, but it felt like he was stuck in the stuffy room for hours. Finally, the door opened from the outside and his entourage of soldiers guided him out of the room. He walked onto the main deck and was met with a warm afternoon sun and the smell of trees floating through the air. He was so glad to be free of that confined space. He could see that the ship had already docked at the Seslin Royal Airship Dock. It would seem that there wouldn’t be any time wasted in getting him to the prince to marry.
His father was standing on the dock, speaking with another middle aged man, who Dax assumed was King Tendarian. They were talking and laughing like old friends. Dax sneered at them, they were old friends that were bonding over how they controlled their sons’ lives. He shook his head, watching as they both walked off the dock and in the direction of the stone castle.
The soldiers had to practically push him off the ship and onto the dock. His feet finally moved and he walked with them, but he just felt so numb and empty. Everything was decorated for the wedding, flowers everywhere, ribbons wrapped around columns. Everything was white and gave off a fluffy and soft atmosphere. If this was how the Seslin prince wanted the wedding, would he and Prince Tendarian even get along?
The more he saw of the castle and the wedding decor, the more he felt claustrophobic. He had to get away, even for just a minute. He turned to Saria walking at his side and whispered in her ear, “Can you keep them from following me? Even for just five minutes.”
Saria looked up at him, her brow creased. She didn’t know if she should go along with Dax or make him stay. She knew she couldn’t make him do anything, so she nodded. She stopped suddenly, causing most of the soldiers around them to stop too, only Dax didn’t. He kept on walking, he could hear Saria talking with the soldiers behind him. She did a good job of keeping them busy, so that no one even noticed Dax leave.
He wandered inside the castle, the wedding decorations were still everywhere even though the actual ceremony would be held in the garden outside. The reception would be inside though and he figured that was why there were still so many servants rushing around and doing last minute fixes. Even though the wedding ceremony was tomorrow, there was still a feast tonight. He got lots of looks as he walked by, but none of them stopped him. He made his way to the stairs leading up, it seemed to be the only place that didn’t have excessive amounts of flowers and ribbons.
Dax walked down the hall and away from the grand entrance. He kept walking until he couldn’t smell the flowers anymore. He found himself on the third floor of the castle, he wasn’t sure where to go from here or if he could find his way back, not that he really wanted to. He kept walking because he saw a light coming from an opening on the left side of the hall. He walked to it, seeing that it opened up into a large terrace overlooking most of the castle grounds, he could even see the capitol city from here.
Dax walked right up to the edge of the terrace, admiring the view. He stood there for a moment before looking down, the ground was quite a ways beneath him. He could even see the soldiers down there, Saria standing with them, her pastel pink hair practically glowing in the sunlight.
A dark thought crossed his mind. This height would definitely be enough to kill him. Then he wouldn’t have to worry about finding his way back or getting married to someone he didn’t know or love. It seemed like such a simple solution.
He put his hands on the railing, swinging his legs up. He stood on the railing, looking straight ahead. The view was truly amazing. He couldn’t stop staring at the city as it glimmered in the distance, he wondered if Konnor was out there somewhere. He knew that if he jumped, he’d never get to see Konnor again, but if he got married, wouldn’t the outcome be the same? He couldn’t find a good enough reason to keep on living.