No one really cared.
No one ever did.
Not even if a whole island was called a ‘village’, not even if people went missing regularly when they went into the forest, and not even if he went into the forest when it was getting dark. The most dangerous time for whoever enters the forest.
The village was considered strange by others. It was hidden, not too far from Europe, but pretty far to be considered far from Europe. The strange thing was that no European officials knew about the island—and they still don’t. It’s not recorded anywhere, so the question is;
How is it considered part of Europe?
The island considers itself part of Europe and so does the people inhabit it.
An island that has no connections to the outside since medieval times. It’s surprising that most people on the island wear late 19th-century clothing.
What’s stranger is that the North and South side are inhabited by different types of people. The North side is where nobles and royalty live. The South is where the commoners, middle class, all the way down to the lowest status, dwell.
Strangely, no one found it strange that the thick forest seemed to cut right in the middle of the North and South sides. It was near impossible for the two sides to mingle.
No, they didn’t hate it. They loved it.
They love the fact that they didn’t need to see each other regularly or ever. The South didn’t want to see pompous high nosed people sneering down at them, and the North didn’t want to see filthy people with their so-called ‘high-class eyes’. It was kind of a mutual feeling. Perhaps the only mutual thing the two sides would ever feel.
Not everyone thought the same way though. Some North people didn’t mind, and some South people don’t mind either. It’s just the majority that thinks the same way. Some pretend to act that way so that they aren’t looked upon. The North call it ‘proper etiquette’ when you look down upon the South. The South call it loyalty when you hate the North, though one boy didn’t think and didn’t care about whatever side.
The young boy in question, now, wandered aimlessly down the halls of a strange castle in the forest. The castle was a hilltop castle and was very tall— magnificent. Yet, no one seemed to know about it, no, he knew the reason too. From the outside, he saw nothing. Just a forest, yet, when he went in, he saw the magnificent castle that seemed to be on the verge of crumbling.
He walked down the dreary hallways that were covered in cobwebs, ignoring the dust on the portraits and the bugs that crawled around drawers that were put here and there. Sadly, all the doors he came by were locked. He came here to have an adventure of some kind but ended up just walking through with nothing much to explore. Nonetheless, it was still fun to go into the castle that no one seemed to see.
The boy heard the sound and stopped walking. He jerked his head back and saw one of the doors open. That wasn’t open before… he distinguishably remembered walking past that door, and he knew that it was locked. He had tried to open it after all.
Slowly, the young boy peeked into the room and gasped softly. The room was strange because they were either on the very bottom floor or the dungeons. It looked like a church or a temple with chairs around with an altar in the middle with a single book on it. The walls were mostly covered in vines— well there weren’t any walls anyways. There were bookshelves though, most of them filled to the brim. He looked at them eagerly, hoping to be able to read one of them. He is a bookworm.
He fingered the vines and looked at the stained-glass window that let some light seep through. It was hard, with all the vines on the wall. He looked up. If this looked like a church, then there was bound to have something on the ceiling. He remembered his relatives dragging him to church. There were paintings on the ceiling, and it looked like a mural that told a long story. He was correct. The ceiling was covered in paintings. One was a painting of a human interacting with each other, then it was a lone painting of a black animal. The next one was eerie and even creepy. It was a painting of people surrounding a person— two people that were being chained… no, it wasn’t a person. It had wings, so it couldn’t be. He looked at the stained-glass window and saw that the stained-glass window had a picture of two angels together. They seemed to be chained too.
He let his eyes wander over to the wall and saw a young boy— girl? Boy. He looked to be about a year or two younger than him and was covered in vines. The young boy bet that whoever was inside could barely see outside.
“Hello?” the young boy hesitantly said. His voice echoed through the room.
The boy on the wall stirred, then opened his eyes. They were dull, lifeless looking, yet it was light colored and bright. It looked like the exact opposite of his eye. The boy’s was light green, while his was dark red, a maroon color.
The young boy didn’t react.
He tried to start a conversation with, “What are you doing here?”
Silence. Aggravated, he started a different one.
“Do you want to play?”
Finally, the boy replied, albeit silently. The boy nodded slowly.
“Er… what do you want to play?” He asked. “I know a game, a really good one… though I’ve never played it before.”
“...game?” Although his voice was raspy, unused, his voice was soft and angelic, though completely dead and monotone at the same time, just like his eyes. He truly was an enigma.
The young boy nodded. “It’s a game… I don’t exactly know what it’s called. Someone hides and the other counts. When the person who counts is finished, they look for the person who’s hiding. When that person finds the hiding person, the game ends and if the person hiding now looks for the person who was looking for the person hiding… I don’t really make sense, do I?”
The boy raised the corner of his lips in a poor attempt at a smile. He probably didn’t smile much. Like him. He looked at the window and saw the light going through the stained-glass window was red looking.
“...What’s your name?” He asked urgently. “I need to go home— I’m sorry, really sorry, my Aunt will get angry—”
“Go. Come back next time… to play,”
The young boy suddenly smiled and nodded. “I’ll come back tomorrow, I promise!”
The boy left happily, somehow getting out of the maze-like-castle and returning home before curfew. Meanwhile, the boy in the castle looked at the books, mumbling something incoherent, looking happier than ever. His eyes were a bit lighter and held something new in his eyes. Hope. He wondered when tomorrow would come because then, he would be able to play. He closed his eyes, hoping for time to pass.
The young boy never did return.
“Are you sure?”
A hand reached out towards the voice and in a few seconds, there was a smack that left the victim kneeling on the ground, clutching its head.
“Ow! What’d you do that for?” Lucivar yelled. He stood up and towered over the sitting young man angrily. “I was just asking!”
Talis retracted his arm and shoved one into his pockets. He glared at Lucivar.
“Well your asking is annoying me!” he snapped. He straightened the papers and stacked them neatly onto the left side of his desk. “And I am positive—not absolute value that there is some movement near the forest!”
Lucivar pulled his hands up in a defensive pose. “You don’t have to yell,” he mumbled beneath his breath, although froze when he noticed Talis glaring at him. There was an awkward pause before Lucivar asked, “So we’re going to the infamous haunted forest?”
Talis snorted and crossed his arms. He pulled his chair out, then stood up. “Are you complaining?” he smirked as Lucivar desperately shook his head.
“No!” Lucivar denied. “I would go there anytime!” he boasted. He stretched his arms wide. “There is nothing to be afraid of!”
“Except for whatever the strange spell power is,” Talis said. “But it’s okay, because I’m going to tell Anhei that you just said that,”
Lucivar froze and suddenly paled. He shook his head and sighed in a resigned way. “Fine,” he said. “I’ll go with you,”
Lucivar was young and handsome, only being about twenty-one years old. He had silver-grey hair that shimmered in the lights abnormally that was cut neatly to his neck. The silver hair framed his pale aristocratic face that almost everyone on the North side had. Prominent features, such as a sharp, angled face, high cheekbones, and an air of cleanness and wealth surrounded him, just like everyone else. Of course, living in the North side also meant that he was spoiled, meaning that often, he acted like a five-year-old, rather than an adult lord. He also was a bit taller than Talis too. He stood just a few centimeters over 6 feet and often used it to tower over Talis. His surname, just like everyone else in Talis’ group was unknown. What clothing he wore also made him a definite noble. White retro royal clothes that were made of expensive silk colors that matched his eyes was what he often wore, and just to be clear, his eyes were whitish-gold.
Talis on the other hand never wore anything out of expensive silk. He wore a simple white collared shirt, along with a ribbon tied at the collar, wine red sweater, and an oversized dark red jacket whose sleeves were trimmed neatly so that they fit. His face though was a different matter altogether and made up for the bland clothing he wore. Talis’ face was a pure noble, probably the purest noble face you would ever see. He had flawless pale skin—except for the two claw marks on his cheek, an even more sharp face than Lucivar, which was saying something. His hair was a black color that shined red in the light that was messy and had hair sticking out in a few angles as if he never brushed it. To top it off, he had maroon eyes that sometimes unnerved whoever was being stared by Talis, add to the fact that he was the leader of the Knights of Arbrenature, or just the Knights, which made him one of the most feared leaders in the village, althought there was one strange thing.
He had amnesia. The first memory he had, was of waking up near the edge of the forest with Lucivar and his father hovering over him with concern.
“Tell me what?”
Lucivar froze at the angelic voice at the doorway. Mechanically, he turned around and smiled weakly.
“We...” he gulped. His voice was an octave higher than usual. “We were talking about the infa—forest with the suspicious spell power,” his voice oozed nervousness. Suddenly, Lucivar changed his tone into a more enthusiastic tone as he walked towards the doorway and spread an arm. “I, of course, was talking about protecting you from the dangers that lurk!”
Talis looked at Lucivar unbelievingly. “Anhei, be sure to come with us so that Lucivar doesn’t chicken out,”
Anhei nodded and proceeded to clutch her white umbrella tighter with her gloved hand. Lucivar gulped and he subtly backed away from the two.
Anhei was a young woman, only nineteen and was going to marry Lucivar in a few months. She had a heart-shaped face, a cupid-bow lip, and eyes that looked to be closed from constantly smiling, but if her eyes were open, you would see a dark magenta color. She also had long blond hair, and not just any blond hair, but blond hair that turned baby-blue by the time her hair reached past her waist. Her hair was often lightly tied with a violet ribbon, given to her by Lucivar a few years ago, but don’t judge her by her looks. She may look like a serene lady, but she was often scary, according to Lucivar, and it was a miracle that she was able to fight in her white long dress.
“I’m glad Anhei’s coming,” Talis said.
“Agree,” a voice said.
Talis turned around and looked at Rial.
Rial, whose parentage was unknown had Black hair, pale eyes, and wore a Victorian frock coat with many buttons. He was the shortest out of them all and was often left out because of his age. He was sixteen, and his birthday was in a few months.
Lucivar glared at Rial. He turned to everyone else and scratched his cheek. “So... next week?” No one replied to his question and the day went on, without anyone answering.
Later that day, Rial came into Talis’ office, carrying stacks of paper that seemed to be too heavy for his frail arms.
“Here,” he said as he slammed the stack onto the desk. Talis groaned in reply.
“Why,” he Talis whined as he leaned in his chair and put his hand over his eyes. “Paperwork is a demon in disguise,” he muttered.
Rial laughed. “If paperwork is a demon in disguise, then what’s a demon that appears in front of you?”
Rial looked at Talis. “That... that doesn’t make any sense, you know that, right?”
Talis shrugged. “Does for me,”
Nobody looked up.
“Hm?” Talis said. He remained looking at the piece of paperwork that had annoyed him for the past hour. Maybe he should burn it or pretend it didn’t exist, but he won’t ... because Anhei is scary when she’s angry and you don’t mess with her.
“I want to decide on dinner today,” Lucivar suddenly said. The minute he finished, he was hit on the head. “Ow!”
Rial clutched the rolled up paperwork that he used to hit Lucivar. “What?” He said, daring Lucivar to repeat what he said. “I’m choosing dinner today! Back off, you choose the day after tomorrow!”
Lucivar rubbed his head. “Nope,” he said. Talis leaned back in his chair, looking like he wanted to be anywhere but near the two. “I am choosing and that is final!”
Rial huffed but sat down in his chair. He glared at Lucivar and made a rude gesture. Thankfully, Anhei was busy eating a pasty.
“I’m choosing the day after tomorrow, stealer,” Rial muttered as he crossed his arms. He flopped down onto his chair and grumbled about grey-haired idiots stealing.
Talis looked at the two. “And, pray tell, why did you want to suddenly choose?” Talis asked. “And don’t say—”
Rial groaned. “Not again!” he shook his head. “It’s Welsh Rarebit for Pete’s sake, or did you suddenly have the urge to eat the egg?”
Lucivar shook his head. “I hate the egg, you know that. No, I just wanted to eat it— and it’s Buck Rarebit.”
Rial slammed his hands on the table. The sound echoed through the room. “It’s effing Welsh! Welsh is the same thing except it’s without the egg! Buck is with the egg you stupid, idiotic, moron!”
Lucivar opened his mouth to argue when Talis interrupted.
He spoke in a commanding voice. “Alright. We’re eating poached salmon—”
“With the cucumber raita—”
“No,” Talis said indifferently, still keeping the same tone. He sniffed quietly and snapped his fingers. The paper in his hands burned immediately without hurting him. “Without.”
"Talis, be nice. We all know you just want to eat poached salmon so you can stop acting like some kind of leader,” Anhei said nicely. She put another spoonful of pasty into her mouth. She chewed, then swallowed. “Or we’re having my favorite, pasty!”
Rial’s demeanor changed. “With goat cheese?” He asked hopefully.
Anhei nodded. “We’ll make sure you have goat cheese on yours. I’ll just go to the chef right now.”
Lucivar and Talis looked helplessly as Anhei went out of the room. Rial smirked.
“If you had just let me choose,” he said before following Anhei out.
Lucivar gaped as the two left. He glanced at Talis.
Talis shrugged. “I’ll ask for some cottage cheese on mine.”
“Seriously? We’re all going with it?” Lucivar asked in a vexed tone. He blinked and looked around. ”Talis! Wait up! I’m going to ask for pickles on mine!”
And that was how dinner was decided on that day. Of course, since Anhei chose dinner that day, it meant that the toppings were strange and possibly disgustingly paired. Lucivar, for example, added pickles as his toppings.
Rial scrunched up his nose. ”Ew! You asked for pickles again? I don’t get how—”
“You can stand goat cheese!” Lucivar interrupted. “It’s freaking salty and it’s crumbling!”
“It’s delicious, unlike your stupid choice! Pickles, yuck!”
Talis spread some cottage cheese onto his pasty with a butter knife. Anhei, the unique person she was, used a knife and fork to eat it.
“Darling,” Anhei purred. She cut a piece of pasty and stabbed it with her fork venomously. “I wouldn’t want you to become this poor, poor pasty, yes?”
Lucivar paled and sat down. He began to take a bite of his pasty.
Anhei nodded. “Yes. Metaphors are brilliant, I must say,”
Talis swallowed his pasty. There was only a quarter of it left on his plate.
"Anhei, I doubt that’s a metaphor,” he said nonchalantly.
“It isn’t?” Anhei asked.
Talis nodded. “Either way— Rial, come sit. Your goat cheese is crumbling.”
Rial scrambled to get to his seat. He moaned when he took a bite of his pasty.
“Simply delicious,” he said a few moments later. “Can we have pasty with venison next time?”
“Rial, dear,” Anhei said. ”Deers are endangered these days. Too much venison used for pasty.”
“But we do have salmon fillings,” Anhei reminded her friend. “Perhaps we can ask for it to be poached? I wonder how that tastes.”
Talis perked up at the word ‘poached.’ “Poached salmon pasty with cottage cheese topping? That’s absolutely great!”
Anhei nodded. She pulled Rial’s cheeks fondly. “And goat cheese for you.”
Lucivar seemed put out that tomorrow’s dinner would be pasty again and he wanted to say something, but one look from Anhei and, no thanks. He valued his life after all. Instead, he picked a piece of a pickle and ate it.