In the Capital
Konnor stopped at the end of the hall before going back onto the main deck. He thought he’d prepared himself for Dax to push him away, but that was just worse than he expected. He had still hoped that Dax would return his feelings. He wiped the remaining tears from his eyes, he didn’t want to go back out there and have Timothy ask why he was crying. The worst part of it was Dax insisting that he’d broken Konnor. Konnor didn’t feel broken. Not anymore so than he had before meeting Dax.
He did his best to push it out of his mind, he didn’t want to dwell on it and end up making himself cry again. He walked back onto the main deck. His guard seemed to have been waiting for him and let out a breath of relief to see Konnor return. Konnor ignored him and went back to where he’d left Timothy sitting on the deck. Timothy was awake now. He could feel Timothy’s ice blue eyes on him and he honestly wished that Timothy would stop staring. Konnor didn’t say anything as he got closer, he just sat down next to Timothy.
“Konnor...” Timothy stared up at Konnor, “Are you okay? Where did you go?”
He shrugged, now that he’d already cried about it, he didn’t feel quite as bad. He certainly wasn’t suicidal again, he didn’t need Timothy to keep worrying about him. “I’m fine. I just talked to Daxton.”
“Why, Konnor?” Timothy’s pitch faltered and Konnor chose to interpret that as concern.
Konnor laughed to himself a little, refusing to look at Timothy, “I wanted him to know how I felt.”
Timothy was quiet for a moment before saying, “What did he say?”
“He pushed me away,” Konnor forced a smile onto his face, it felt like the best way to keep him from getting seriously teary-eyed again.
Konnor almost didn’t believe that he heard Timothy right. He waited a moment to see if Timothy would say anything else, but he stayed quiet. Konnor looked down at him, “What?”
“I’m sorry, Konnor,” Timothy looked right back into Konnor’s eyes, “He hasn’t done enough to earn your love.”
“Do you not want him to love me back?” Konnor honestly wasn’t sure what Timothy was getting at. He really had just hoped that Timothy would be here to support him like he always did.
“It’s not that,” Timothy let out a short breath and looked back at the deck floor, “I just think it’s too soon. If he said he loved you right after he let you free... how would you know he really meant it?”
Konnor couldn’t respond to that. He hadn’t thought of it like that. He had just believed that he was the one who needed to prove himself. He was ready to believe that Dax loved him with the few things Dax had done already. But both Timothy and Dax himself seemed to want him to wait to bear his heart. Maybe there was something to it. But it didn’t change the fact that Konnor still felt slightly empty because of Dax’s refusal.
It wasn’t long before the Tekoland capital that had been distant in the sky was now right in front of them. Konnor wasn’t ready to get off the ship and leave Dax behind, possibly forever. He and Timothy were about to be stranded in this foreign city. What would they do to survive? Even if it wasn’t how Konnor wanted things, he’d never worked a day in his life.
The ship docked at the below land level airship dock. There were plenty of large passenger ships and grand, luxury type ships already docked. This place was far different from the small Floating Town he and Timothy had stopped in. Like that smaller town, this large city seemed to have some kind of motor underneath the landmass that powered it and kept the land beneath it in perpetual rainfall. This place was far nicer though, there were enclosed walking areas by the dock. Konnor wouldn’t get drenched again like that first night.
Even as the crew finished docking, Konnor made no move to stand up from his spot on the deck. He felt afraid of this big city with all its crowds and ships. Of the people that he’d seen so far, so many of them were carrying some kind of revolver or pistol. This place seemed so much more dangerous than the places he’d been back home.
All of a sudden, he was being hoisted up by his shoulder and forced onto his feet. He looked over, seeing that the strong hand on his shoulder belonged to Dax. He swallowed. Dax had made it clear that he wasn’t accepting Konnor’s feelings, so what did he want now? Konnor didn’t ask, he just kept looking at Dax.
Dax was quiet for a moment longer before saying, “I’m sending you and Timothy home from here.”
“How?” Konnor couldn’t stop himself from objecting. “We no longer have a means of travel and we have no money.”
Dax looked at Konnor for a moment, his jaw clenching slightly. He kept his hand on Konnor’s shoulder as he brought him to the gangplank and started to walk off the ship. “I’ll work it out.”
Konnor didn’t say anything else. He didn’t want Dax to work it out, he just wanted Dax to take them with him. There was a patter of feet behind him and he glanced back to see Timothy walking behind them. Moments later, Saria scampered up to walk next to Timothy. She linked her arm with Timothy’s and Konnor couldn’t help smiling. At least Timothy had an admirer who wasn’t afraid to show it.
They walked up to the ground level of the capital and Konnor took a breath of the fresh air as it hit his face. He hadn’t realized how stale the air was in the underground workings of the floating city. But Dax’s grip on his shoulder stopped. Konnor turned his gaze to Dax, furrowing his brow.
Dax didn’t acknowledge him though. He just turned to Saria, saying, “I’ll be back.” Without saying anything else, Dax turned around and started walking down the crowded city street.
Saria kept her grip on Timothy’s arm. She smiled up at Konnor, “Daxi will find us later. Let’s go get something to eat.”
Konnor couldn’t deny being hungry, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to accept her charity. That was, assuming she was actually offering to get him and Timothy food. Saria didn’t wait for him to respond, she started walking, pulling Timothy along with her. Konnor had no choice but to follow them.
Saria brought them down a couple of the crowded cobblestone streets to a little storefront. Konnor could see small tables, most of them were filled with smiling, laughing people. So many of the people inside were from Seslin. Konnor could tell because they all looked like Timothy; pale, fair-haired, blue eyes. Was this what normal people did? Vacation to exciting places like Tekoland, the hub of the five nations?
Saria went into the cafe, Timothy and Konnor following close behind. As soon as Konnor walked in, almost all of the heads in the room swiveled in his direction. Konnor tried to ignore it, but so many eyes were boring into him. He stole a glance at the room and everyone that was from Seslin was looking right at him. Did they know he was the prince? Was he found out already? He didn’t say anything and tried to keep his head down, hoping that they would go back to ignoring him.
Saria and Timothy didn’t seem to notice or didn’t seem to care. Konnow wasn’t sure which. They were both happily chatting to each other as a waitor showed them to a table by the window. This was the most Konnor had ever seen Timothy smile. He felt bad that it was his mistake that would pull Timothy away from Saria too.
Konnor sat down opposite Timothy and Saria, and honestly, he wished that he was alone. Saria wouldn’t stop hanging on Timothy and chatting in his ear. He could tell she didn’t want to say goodbye to Timothy and the last thing they needed was Konnor as a third wheel. But Konnor had nowhere else to go. It shouldn’t bother him that Timothy was happy. He just felt jealous. While Saria was here with Timothy, the only person he wanted was making preparations for him to leave.
He pushed his chair back, trying to look everywhere but at his friend. Konnor looked back at the other Seslin people in the cafe. Most of them had gone back to their own conversations, Konnor was glad of that. He looked closer and could see that they were all wearing coordinating outfits with the same logo on the backs of each shirt. At first, Konnor thought they were some kind of tour group. He squinted a little to be to read the words on the logo better. Church of the Rising Sun.
Konnor had heard of a faction of Seslin citizens believing in the ancient religion of Rizə Sǔn. Generations ago, people believed that the sun was a deity that actually rose from the mountains in the east of Seslin and became one with the earth in the western Seslin mountains. As society developed, science proved what the sun was and why it rose and set everyday, but there were still factions of Seslin that believed in Rizə Sǔn. Usually these groups believed that prophets existed among the Seslin populus and that these prophets harnessed the essence of fire.
This was a viewpoint that Konnor did not agree with. People in the Church of the Rising Sun thought he harnessed the essence of fire because he had red hair and red eyes. Konnor knew he was no prophet and he certainly didn’t have any special powers, but still the people believed. Of course, his father had used this to his advantage and made Konnor appear at select Church of the Rising Sun events. His father was just using Konnor’s role in their beliefs to keep the people loyal to the crown.
The Seslin tour group eventually left cafe and Konnor was once again alone with Saria and Timothy. They hadn’t seemed to pay much attention to the rest of the patrons of the cafe. They’d only kept drinking the tea and eating the sandwiches that had been served to their table. Konnor hadn’t touched any of the food in front of him. He hadn’t meant to get so distracted, he really was hungry.
He let out a heavy sigh as he picked up one of the tea sandwiches and took a bite. This got Timothy’s attention, Konnor could feel his friend’s gaze boring into him. “What is it, Konnor?”
Konnor shrugged, there was nothing new to tell him. “Did you see the Rising Sun group here?”
“Rising Sun?” Saria tilted her head to the side, looking at Konnor.
“It’s a Seslin school of thought,” Konnor clarified, he guessed that the religion wasn’t known outside of Seslin. “Kind of a small religion, really.”
“Is that what all those people here were from?” She smiled, “I thought they all looked almost exactly the same.”
Konnor clenched his jaw for a moment. Timothy looked like most of the people in that group and yet Saria liked him. Timothy looked like he wasn’t dwelling on the comment, so he moved on too. “The group here seemed to be more devout that most people.”
Konnor was going to say more, but through the window he could see everyone on the street stop and look in a direction towards the way they’d come. The people all started walking in the same direction. Voices started to grow, but Konnor couldn’t tell what they were saying. Konnor pushed his chair back, trying to see better. “What’s going on out there?”
Konnor stood up, about to walk away from the table, but Timothy caught his arm. “I don’t think you should go out there, Konnor.”
He shook his head, pulling his arm from Timothy’s grip. “I’ll be fine.” He knew he could make no such guarantee, but that didn’t keep him from walking out of the cafe and onto the emptying street.
He followed the remaining people to the end of the street and down a larger one. He could see a large crowd gathering in the middle of the street, all looking at something in the center. As Konnor got closer, he could see that many of the Church of the Rising Sun people were here. What was going on?
He got a little closer and luckily, all he had to do was lean up onto his toes to be able to see over enough of the people. In the center of the crowd was a Church of the Rising Sun member, most likely the leader and an alpha. From the look of it, he had his pistol drawn, on who, Konnor couldn’t see. Konnor walked through the crowd to the other side. He looked over the crowd again. This time he saw the other person standing in the center. Dax.
All Dax had done, was walk down the street. Perhaps he was a little more spaced out than usual and that’s why he bumped shoulders with the alpha that was pointing a gun at him now. But all he’d done was accidentally knock into the guy’s shoulder. He didn’t understand what the big deal was.
The guy had just started yelling at him, calling him a thief. Dax had tried his very best to ignore the tall blonde man and keep walking. But then the man called him a heathen and for some reason, Dax just couldn’t let that go.
Dax had walked right back up to the guy, egging him on. And so the guy drew his pistol and pointed it right at Dax’s head. Dax knew he should do something to diffuse the situation, but now he was angry too. He snarled at the guy, “Is that the best you got?”
By now, quite a crowd had gathered, especially the mix of betas and omegas following this guy. They were all dressed the same and had the same appearance. Dax figured they were some kind of cult and mobs of mindless followers were something that Dax could not stand. He pulled his revolver from its place at his waist, ready for a showdown.
The voice was low and pierced through the crowd. Dax knew the voice, it was familiar but also eerily different. It was like the voice was acting defiant like him or this other alpha, but he could tell it wasn’t quite natural.
The crowd of followers behind the alpha parted and someone walked forward. Dax’s eyes widened when he saw the strong frame and fiery hair. Konnor was here and acting like an alpha? And these cult people were actually listening to him?
Konnor spoke again, “Deacon, be calm, my son.”
Dax’s eyes widened as the guy in front of him dropped his pistol from pointing in Dax’s face. He was too shocked by the way Konnor was acting and how the people were reacting. What was going on?
The man turned to look behind him and actually seeing Konnor for the first time. The man immediately holstered his pistol and dropped to one knee in front of Konnor. “Prophet, I did not mean to anger you.”
“I am not angry, my son,” Konnor stepped forward, resting a hand on the man’s shoulder. “If you are truly a man of faith, then you too will let your anger go and forgive this man of any misdeed.”
“Yes, Prophet,” the man dared to look up at Konnor, “All is forgiven.”
“Now stand, my son,” Konnor stepped back, smiling, “Take your flock, continue on your way.”
“Yes, Prophet,” the man stood up and nodded. He walked around Konnor, motioning to the other cult people and they continued to walk down the street.
Dax was still too frozen to move. When all the cult people were gone, Konnor walked up to Dax, smiling at him. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Dax nodded, still looking wide-eyed at Konnor, “If it weren’t for you, my brain would be painting the ground right now.”
“I won’t let that happen,” Konnor smiled. His smile was so infectious, Dax found himself smiling back for no reason. Konnor looked at him seriously, “But you still shouldn’t do something so reckless.”
Dax raised an eyebrow, looking into Konnor’s eyes, “How do you know it was my fault?”
“I don’t,” Konnor shook his head slightly, “But there’s no way you were completely innocent.”
They both stood there for a long moment, looking into each other’s eyes. Dax wanted so badly to pull Konnor into an embrace and kiss him deeply. But he resisted. Even if there was the chance that he was wrong about why Konnor felt for him, Dax wouldn’t give in. Konnor deserved better than him. Though he would still absolutely hate seeing Konnor with anyone but him.
Konnor stepped back, dropping his gaze and swallowing a little. “I should go back to Saria and Timothy...”
Dax didn’t want to let him go. He couldn’t just set them up with a passenger ship and watch them sail away. And after this incident today, it was obvious that Konnor could handle himself in tough situations.
Konnor was already turning to leave when Dax called out to him. “I wasn’t able to get you a ride out of here.” He couldn’t keep himself from lying. He wasn’t ready to admit to Konnor how much he needed him. Dax reached out to touch Konnor’s shoulder, hesitating before actually touching Konnor. He didn’t want to give Konnor the wrong idea, but he had to show Konnor that he cared somehow.
“Daxton?” Konnor stopped, looking back at Dax. He waited for Dax to say something, but for some reasons words wouldn’t come to Dax.
Dax shook his head to clear it and gripped on a little tighter to Konnor’s shoulder. “I have space in my crew for two more, if you want it.” Dax wasn’t actually planning on making Konnor work for him, he just didn’t know how to say that he was wrong.
Konnor nodded, smiling. “Being on an airship is more fun than staying here anyways.”