Chasing the Horizon

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Taking to the Sky

Konnor headed straight for the city’s air dock. He knew it would be the fastest way out of not just the capital but all of Seslin. He couldn’t take one of his family’s airships, everyone would notice that one was missing and immediately start looking for Konnor. And he did not want to be found. He wanted to disappear and just be like everyone else. He didn’t even have to ascend the stairs to the main platform, he could already see the shape of all the boats docked and even the smallest one looked to be a keel boat. It was probably better that he didn’t take a dinghy style ship, he wouldn’t get very far in that kind of boat. But this also meant that he couldn’t make his escape by himself. He would need help, even in just sailing the ship.

He had an idea of who he wanted to ask, so he took a detour to the nicer part of town. The loud and lively streets by the public airship dock quickly got quieter as he got to the residential streets. The homes closest the dock were small and packed close together with clockwork gears attached to blocks of houses constantly whirring just to provide enough energy. The streets got quieter still as Konnor got to the nicer residences, farther from the dock and closer to the castle. These houses had the latest technology that silenced the whirring of the gears.

Finally, Konnor got to the Lords’ Manors. This was the part of the city where most of the members of King Tendarian’s Court lived. It might be dangerous going up to these mansions, the risk of being spotted was far too great. But the only friend he could think of that he trusted implicitly was the son of Lord Kendrick, one of the members of the court. He knew Timothy wouldn’t turn him in, and with any luck, Timothy would want to run away with him.

Konnor went up to the Kendrick Manor. There weren’t exactly signs labeling who’s was who’s but he was fairly sure this one belonged to the Kendrick family from the way Timothy described it. He gulped, hesitating before he knocked. He didn’t want to have the wrong place and get turned over to his family. Even if this manor was for the Kendrick family, surely Timothy wouldn’t be the one to open the door. What was he thinking? There were too many flaws with this plan. He couldn’t keep standing in front of the door though, surely he’d be noticed there too.

He went around back, maybe if he used the servants’ entrance, he could get inside without anyone really noticing him. He didn’t even know where Timothy would be, if he was even inside. Konnor had never been let beyond the castle grounds, he’d never seen the place where Timothy lived. He’d only heard Timothy talk about it.

He saw the back door open and someone walk through it. They left something outside and turned to go back in. Konnor dashed forward and caught the door right before it closed, following the person inside. He stuck to the shadows, there were a good number of servants down here. He did his best to walk casually but quickly and made it to a set of stairs leading up. With any luck, this would take him to the main floor. He was right, he came across a door that led to the main hall. But from here, he had no idea of where to go. He hung back with the door open ajar, looking at the people walking by. A flash of familiar ice blonde hair made him open the door a little wider. He called out quietly, “Timothy.”

The short boy with sky blue eyes turned and looked back in the direction of the voice. Konnor stayed mostly hidden, he didn’t want anyone else to see him and wonder why he was lurking in Timothy’s home. He leaned out a little more, calling again and gesturing for Timothy to come closer.

Timothy noticed him this time and walked up to the redhead, looking up at him, “Prince Tendarian, what are you doing here?”

He pulled Timothy into the little alcove by the doorway so that other people wouldn’t see Timothy standing there talking to him. “Look, I need to get away and I was hoping that you could help.”

“But Prince Tendarian,” he furrowed his brow a little bit, looking up at his friend.

Konnor cut him off before he could say anything else, “Look, please stop calling me prince right now. Will you help me?”

Timothy kept looking at him for a long moment. Konnor could tell he wasn’t sure what he should do. Konnor was his best friend, they’d practically grown up together. But Konnor was being too vague, why was he even leaving and being so secretive. He wanted answers but Konnor definitely did not seem to be in the sharing mood, so he nodded, “I’ll go with you.”

The redhead stared down at him for a moment, he almost expecting Timothy would turn him down. He smiled, “Alright. Then meet me by the back entrance when you’re ready, I’ll wait for you.”

Without saying anything else, he disappeared down the hall, back the way he came, leaving Timothy looking after him. He knew that he could always count on Timothy and he was truly grateful for that. He would do whatever it took to make sure Timothy didn’t get into trouble for helping him with any of this.

He didn’t know how long he ended up waiting, it just seemed to be a long time before Timothy walked through the backdoor. Konnor stepped out of the shadows, smiling at him. “Are you sure you’re okay with this? We might not be able to come back, at least not for some time,” he had to be sure, he wanted Timothy to know what he was getting into, at least a little.

Timothy just nodded, walking alongside Konnor away from his family’s mansion. He looked up at the tall prince, now that he was officially involved in Konnor’s escape, he had to ask, “What is this all about?”

“Can I tell you after we get in the air?” He laughed nervously, he didn’t want to tell Timothy and then have Timothy turn around and make Konnor go back to his father. He just kept walking towards the airship dock, he needed to get as far away from here as possible.

“In the air?” Konnor could hear the concern in Timothy’s voice, “Where are we going, Prince Tendarian?”

“How about for the foreseeable future, you stop calling me Prince?” He glanced down at Timothy, he didn’t want anyone to hear Timothy and recognize him. He was noticeable enough with his fiery appearance.

“As long as you tell me what’s going on,” Timothy was always so persistent.

“I will.” As he and Timothy reached the airship dock, he started to ascend the stairs, looking back down at his friend, “I promise. We just need to get out of here first.”

Timothy seemed to stop questioning him after that and just followed him to the top of the docks. The dock was relatively quiet at this time of day, just past evening so most of the merchants and sightseers had already gone home. There were a good number of ships left, mostly cargo ships with a few smaller ones. The deserted keelboat that Konnor had seen earlier, was luckily still docked. That was the only one he knew he could manage. He never really flew airships very much, as a prince, it wasn’t something he was expected to do. Someone always flew the ships for the royal family. On the few occasions that Konnor had been let out of the castle for some event or another, he was always able to get their chauffeur to show him the different kinds of levitation mechanisms and how to steer different sized vessels.

When Konnor started to undock the keelboat, Timothy kept looking at him. Konnor knew he wasn’t exactly right, just taking the boat. The way Timothy kept stepping back, he could tell that he was uneasy with it. He watched his friend take another step back. “Prince Tendarian, are you sure you should be taking someone’s boat like that?”

“Timothy!” Konnor hissed, looking around the dock. Luckily, they were alone, so there was no one to hear Timothy’s slip up. “I’ll give it back, I swear,” he wanted to reassure his friend, but at the same time, Konnor wasn’t sure how he would ever be able to give the boat back. If he left and didn’t come back, how would the boat come back? That was only a minor detail to be figured out later. For now he continued to get the boat ready. He had everything set and ready to raise the sails. He stood up, looking Timothy straight in the eye, “Look, commandeering a ship is considered piracy, so if you want to turn back now, you can.” Although he seriously hoped that Timothy wouldn’t, he could use all the help he could get to fly the boat.

Timothy shook his head, stepping towards Konnor and the boat. “No, I’ll follow you, Captain.”

Konnor smiled, he liked the sound of Captain. He stepped into the boat, taking the helm and activating the levitation motor. He raised the sails, the mainsail was already catching a strong wind. He looked to Timothy, “Then push the bow off and get in.”

Timothy nodded, he quickly pushed the front of the boat away from the dock and hopped in before it got too far away. He sat there for a moment, not really sure what he should be doing. He’d only been in an airship once and that was a large passenger ship, nothing nearly as small as this. Luckily, Konnor had learned enough from the chauffeur to tell Timothy to grab the port jib sheet and pull in the sail. In no time at all, they were off, scuttling across the darkening sky.

It was a bit rocky to start, the boat mostly stayed upright but would often tilt one way or the other depending on the way the wind was blowing. Konnor had never really flown something before and he was really going off what he’d been told. Somehow he was able to manage it, but it was still a scary ride. Konnor didn’t think they’d be out long, he just wanted to get into international skies, somewhere his father couldn’t find him.

When it seemed like Konnor had the boat flying steadily enough, he just kept going in one direction, making sure that the boat stayed upright. Timothy had been diligently following his commands to switch from side to side and pull the sail one way or another. Now it seemed like he could finally relax a little, he looked back at Konnor, he really looked quite handsome with the light of the fading sun brightening the reds of his hair and reds of his eyes. He looked at him quietly for a moment, so long that Konnor could feel his gaze and looked back at him. Timothy finally said, “What is this all about?”

Konnor had almost been hoping that Timothy had gotten caught up enough in the adventure to forget that Konnor hadn’t even hinted at a reason. He let out a sigh, looking at Timothy and back at the horizon. They were officially over international skies, surely Timothy wouldn’t make him turn around now. “My father wants me to get married.”

In the corner of Konnor’s eyes, he could see a smile spread onto Timothy’s face, “But Prince Tendarian, that’s a good-”

“He’s already chosen the person I’m supposed to marry.” Konnor cut him off before he could finish that sentence. To him, it was not a good thing. He didn’t like the way everyone told him that it had to be. He just wanted to live and love for himself, but that thought never crossed his father’s mind. “He’s trying to arrange to marry me to some alpha prince in Toeaux.”

He could feel Timothy’s gaze boring into him, but he refused to look back at Timothy. There was a brief pause before Timothy said, “An alpha? But Prince Tendarian, I thought you-”

“Yeah, well, I’m not,” he kept looking straight ahead, wanting to disappear into the horizon, “My father thought I would be an alpha, he wanted everyone to think that I was one too. He didn’t want to admit that he had an anomaly for a son.” Konnor was indeed unlike most males. Of the three types, males were most commonly the strong, determined, leader type alphas or the quiet, follower type betas. Typically only females were omegas, because omegas were the only type that could bear children. There were always exceptions, most commonly women as betas and in some cases, alphas. Males being omegas was far less common. Especially since Konnor was a prince, everyone expected him to be an alpha, the perfect type for being a strong leader. It wasn’t his fault that his type didn’t match his gender. The type of a person was just a part of their biology, nothing Konnor or his father could do about it. Konnor finally looked back at Timothy, “I guess now that it’s obvious that my type won’t change, he’s decided to marry me off to some other kingdom where it doesn’t matter what people think of me.”

“Prince Tendarian...” Timothy reached out a hand to rest comfortingly on Konnor’s shoulder, “I’m sure it’s not like that.”

“Really?” Konnor shook his head slightly, “You know my father. All he cares about is a good image and having the most prosperous kingdom. At the end of the day, he hoards all the wealth for himself. I’ve never even had a proper life or proper education, and I’ve barely been beyond the castle walls.”

“He’s always gotten you the best tutors,” Timothy kept trying to point out the good things.

Konnor scoffed, “Oh please, those tutors were overpaid quacks. All they cared about was prestige, which is exactly why my father chose them in the first place. I learned more from the chauffeur.”

Timothy really didn’t know what to say, he didn’t want his friend to feel bad like this, but it just felt wrong to speak against the king. “Prince Tendarian...”

He looked down and back at Timothy, “This is the first time I’ve ever been outside of Seslin. Even seeing you in your house today, I’ve never been there or the docks. I was just kept inside, away from everything to live as a piece in my dad’s life.”

Timothy was about to say something, but Konnor spoke again, “Look, it’s really starting to get dark, I don’t want to be out here at night.”

Timothy took a breath and actually looked at the scenery around him, piecing together exactly where they were. He could see the capital of Seslin shrinking in the distance. On their other side, he could see the edges of Toeaux. Timothy couldn’t quite make out the ship on the horizon, but it looked to be a passenger ship coming from Toeaux, he found it a little odd given the late hour. Most large airships sailed from sunrise to sunset, but not after. Even for long voyages, the large airships would dock at the next port for the night, it was deemed unsafe to be out after the sun had set. The skies, especially Tekoland skies, were infested by the Furhan Wasteland pirates, using the cover of night to board ships and take everything. So why was that ship still drifting through the sky? Timothy didn’t have an answer.

He looked in the direction their own ship was heading. He knew Konnor was right, they couldn’t stay out much longer, it would certainly be conspicuous, especially on such a small boat with no privacy. They would be no match if anyone decided to raid their vessel. He scanned the horizon, if he remembered correctly, they were heading in the direction of Tekoland. He looked back at Konnor, “I’ve heard that Tekoland has a few floating towns, we could dock at one of those. I’ve even heard that the security on floating towns is a little lax due to the amount of ships passing through. I doubt anyone there will care who we are or where we’re from.”

Konnor looked at Timothy for a moment and smiled. He was definitely glad that he got Timothy to join him on this adventure. There seemed to be a lot that he didn’t know about the world and Timothy was there to fill in the gaps. He nodded, “I hope we come across one soon.”

The wind kept pushing them in the direction of Tekoland and even though it was slow going, Konnor could see something coming into view that was definitely above the vanishing point of the horizon. It had to be one of the floating towns Timothy heard about. He changed the point of sail to head for the place on the horizon. Sure enough as they got closer, it was a floating town. And floating town was the most accurate way to describe it. Konnor had never seen something like it before. A small group of buildings on a midsize circular landmass seemed to be completely hovering midair. The land base of the town looked like it was steaming, part of it was clear and he could see an aqueduct sending water to the town but also to a special engine that seemed to be vaporizing the water. The engine was the only thing powering the town, it seemed to be enough to keep the place afloat with energy left over to power the electric lights in the buildings and streets.

When they got closer, Konnor could see that the dock was actually set a little below the level of the town. He pulled up to it and misjudged the distance and crashed the bow into the edge of the dock. He cursed under his breath and motioned to Timothy, “Quick hop out and grab the line on the front of the boat.” Timothy followed the orders as quickly as he could, grabbing the rope tied to the front of the boat. “Let’s just dock this at the very end.”

Konnor kept steering the boat so it didn’t keep crashing into the dock too much, as Timothy guided the boat to the end of the dock and tied the line to the clamp on the dock. Before getting out, Konnor started taking down the sails. With the sails out of the way, he could feel a light spray on his face. He hadn’t noticed it raining before, he looked out and it didn’t seem to be raining now either. He looked around to figure out where the water was coming from and that’s when he noticed that water seemed to be dripping from under the engine of the floating town, making it perpetually raining. Konnor started to work faster, he wanted to get out of the spray as soon as he could. He hopped off the boat and tied the back of the boat to the dock too. He glanced at Timothy and back at the boat, he wasn’t actually sure if he did everything to derig the boat. The last step seemed to be to deactivate the levitation motor but this dock was different than the one in Seslin. In Seslin, there had been a lower platform off the side of the walking dock so that smaller boats like this keelboat could rest on it while they weren’t in use. But this dock had no such platform, the only thing keeping the boat in the air was the levitation motor. He shrugged and powered off the levitation motor and the boat immediately fell out of the air only to be caught by the ropes he and Timothy had used to tie it to the dock. Konnor and Timothy both looked over the edge of the dock, seeing the boat swinging side to side beneath them. It seemed like it would be fine, so Konnor stepped back and walked towards the stairs leading to the actual town part of the floating town. Unfortunately, the stairs were even closer to the rain, making Konnor’s upper half get completely soaked just to walk up to the town.

He stopped at the top of the stairs and turned back to wait for Timothy. As Timothy emerged at the top of the stairs, he noticed that there barely seemed to be any water on his short friend. He narrowed his eyes at him, “How did you stay dry and I get soaked through?”

Timothy looked at him, shrugging, “I guess you’re too tall Prince Tendarian.”

He rolled his eyes and started to walk towards the town. “Timothy, please, you should call me Konnor, just in case anyone recognizes my family name.” He looked back to see Timothy nod and that was it about that.

The town was small, there really wasn’t much to the floating landmass. There was still enough space for a few streets, there were a couple restaurants, all of which were currently closed. The biggest thing in the town seemed to be the inn. It was by far the tallest building and seemed to be the best kept. Konnor wondered if he and Timothy should just go there for the night and figure out what they were doing and where they were going. But Konnor hadn’t really brought much in the way of money with him. He wasn’t sure he could actually afford to sleep in a hotel. He kept walking through the town and saw that there was a tavern that looked to be open. Konnor looked back at Timothy, “Let’s go in there.”

“Are you sure, Prince Tendarian?” Konnor narrowed his eyes at Timothy. “Sorry, Konnor.”

Konnor smiled, “It’ll be fun, I’ve never been to an actual tavern before. Plus, we, well I, need somewhere to sit and dry off for a while.” Konnor reasoned, he could see the hesitance in Timothy’s actions, but he was excited. He wanted to see everything and experience things, he’d heard so much of the outside world and now he was actually here, he couldn’t not be excited about it.

He dragged Timothy inside the tavern and to an empty table. The place was decently crowded, not too many people but also not too few. Everyone seemed to be in their own conversations and their own worlds. Konnor shrugged, looking back at Timothy, “We should get some drinks.”

Timothy nodded, “I’ll get them, Konnor.” He stood up and headed for the bar.

Konnor decided to make himself comfortable, taking off the jacket that he’d taken with him and leaning back against the chair. He let out a sigh, closing his eyes for a moment as he waited for Timothy. But the door slamming open, caused Konnor to open his eyes again. There was a large group just walking through the door. The person at the front was the most handsome person Konnor had ever seen. With his dark hair, olive-tan skin and intense gaze, not to mention the bulging muscles under his clothes. Konnor just couldn’t help but stare.

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