Aravena

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Chapter 4

Nathaniel

The moment I had walked through that large golden door, I had known this place was something that words couldn’t do justice. The seven-story high building with more than thirty wings, the grand structure of golden domes and brown brick stood proudly in the heart of Liverling, the capital of Ravendale.

My eyes couldn’t have enough of the luxury of viewing this beautiful beast of a palace. Now, that I had walked through the long entryway with guards standing on both sides, I knew why the palace of Ravendale was considered one of the best castles in the entire realm.

I felt proud of our kingdom, at that moment, even though, as a citizen of Ravendale, I never had the chance to look at the palace this close. Well, I didn’t even think that an ordinary, common, wrestler like me could ever get a glimpse of this secretive place let alone get an exclusive entry.

All of this was so high, so far fetching, so royal, it was screaming the huge difference between us commoners and high royals. And, the fact alone boiled my blood.

No matter how posh perfect this place was, it was my prison from now on. I would be one of the puppets of our mighty Queen Aravena. Curse the day she became our queen! That mysterious self-centered woman literally separated us from all the political and official matters of Ravendale. Not that I had any interest in any of those things, but still, it would have been better if we had a chance to express our opinions on such matters. But, apparently, she didn’t think that way.

It was because of her, we struggled day to night to bring food on our tables. It was because of her cursed laws that basically outcasted us commoners and her ranked bastards took every advantage of the situation they could. They tortured us on a daily basis, ordering around like they were the law. And, that’s why I wanted to kill that Rafael. That bastard son of the wretched lord Caravan!

All this was happening because of the Queen. Hell! Even after causing us all these sufferings, that great royal didn’t even have the nerve to show her face in the public. She seemed so busy fanning herself, she never made an unworthy public appearance since forever. And, those one or two times in a year didn’t count at all. Our Queen was that much of a spoiled royal.

And, I was inside her territory now, alone. That filthy Merchant who accompanied me here was taken away from me the moment I stepped into the premises of the palace. Queen’s order as they said. To hell with everything!

It was almost evening and I was wandering around like a lost soul in the grand hallways. I didn’t know where to go, what to do. This feeling of entrapment was killing me like a slow poison and the agitation I felt didn’t help either.

The moment I turned the corner, I felt the sharp edge of something poking the side of my abdomen. I saw a silver tray wobble.

“Watch where you are going!” Some maid grumbled.

Geez! Look at the temper.

I didn’t pay any attention to the woman and apologized as best as I could considering my mood. I didn’t stay to hear her spill curse at me. I walked further down the way like I knew this place like the back of my hand. But, in reality, I was just worn out. The day wasn’t one of my best days and certainly, I didn’t enjoy wandering here like a ghost. I needed somewhere to crash. And, at this point, I’d even consider a closet as the best option. Tulip would have helped me to find one, I was sure.

Ah, my poor Tulip! My heart clenched as my beautiful sister’s face flashed before my eyes. I wonder what was she doing now? Helping aunt Berla at home, I believe. A small smile made its way to my face as I remembered aunt Berta, Mamma’s sister.

That sweet lady did all she could to take care of us after Mamma and Papa’s death sixteen years ago. They both were killed while traveling to the north. They were going to visit uncle Hanlek when bandits attacked their carriage. They killed everyone and looted their belongings.

But they didn’t know or perhaps, didn’t care that they have also looted our happiness, our family that day. Ever since their death, aunt Berta never married only to raise us alone. I had been a kid of seven at that time and Tulip was three. Aunt Berta was no less of a mother than Mamma to us.

I sighed. Only the superior strength knew when I’d be able to see them again. Perhaps, never, if I ended up selected as a warrior or worse one of those spineless guards. I cringed at the thought. There was no way I could ever live if I would have to tolerate their scowls and the cruel queen all day long.

What kind of shit did I get myself into?

“Hey!”

I turned around to find a young woman calling me. She must have been no older than sixteen, I suppose. Her attire made me assume she was a maid. What was with me and maids today?

“Yes, Miss?” I asked as her tiny feet carried her short frame toward me.

“You must be the new candidate, I suppose. I knew it! You must be wondering how did I know. Oh! I’ve seen you enter through the palace gate before with your other companion... Uh, what was his name?... Anyways, he isn’t even that important. Oh! I forgot to say, I’m Darla and I am here to escort you to your new room. Please follow me.”

And, just like a lightning, she rushed past me to walk ahead. I remained still on my position wondering what just happened.

Right! I was supposed to follow her.

“What are you doing? Hurry up!”

I strode fast to catch up with her, not wanting to rile up this chatterbox more than I did. I smirked as she kept tweeting like a bird all the way to my potential place of sleep.

We crossed several more hallways, climbed up three sets of stairs, turned around here and there while Darla kept going on and on about how was it like to be living in the palace. How they worked, how they feared the queen and obeyed her every command and much more. I just listened to Darla and occasionally gave my input.

Darla was such a happy girl! She was just like Tulip in her younger age. Bubbly, cheerful and full of life. I felt a tug at my heart as Tulip again invaded my mind. Poor thing! Who would protect her now? Who would save her from dangers like Rafael? How was she dealing with that almost rape incident?

It was my fault. I should have known that Rafael would do something like that. He had been eyeing my sister for quite a while now. If I had gone yesterday evening to bring her back from the farm, that bastard wouldn’t have had a chance to pounce on her like the dirty predator he was. But my brave Tulip keeled him and ran away.

I was glad she could save herself but didn’t appreciate it when she told me this morning. And, like the brother I was, I sought after his blood which led to the fight. I knew, all these events had affected Tulip in a great way. I just wished I would have been there with her at the moment.

I knew aunt Berta would help her as much as she could. But Tulip needed the protection of a male, they both did. And, that was the reason I hated my situation all the more. This helplessness of the situation made me feel like a coward. Yes! I was a coward who left his family to suffer all alone. I gritted my teeth at the thought.

“Here,” Darla said in a chirpy voice.

I tried to smile at her. “Thank you, Miss Darla.”

Her cheeks turned red as she lowered her head and nodded.

“If-if you need anything, Mister, you can find me in the kitchen.”

I smiled. “Of course, I will. After all, you were the only nice company to me as of now.”

She looked up and smiled brightly. But, soon her brows furrowed.

“Oh, goody! How are you going to find the way to the kitchen? And, even if you find it, today you won’t be able to get in there. Queen will be so furious! She ordered us not to let anyone enter the kitchen from noon till night. She will punish you if you go to the kitchen and then punish me. And, you must be hungry now. What am I going-"

“Relax! Hey, it’s fine, really. I am not that hungry. I can wait.”

“But-”

“Just go, Miss Darla. I’ll be fine.” I pushed her shoulder lightly.

Her cheeks reddened again and she nodded.

“I’m sorry if I bothered you.”

Oh, no! I didn’t mean it that way.

“No, it’s fine. I’m just really tired. Besides, Resalas is quite far from Liverling. So...”

She nodded and smiled. I sighed inwardly.

“See you...”

“Nathaniel, Miss.”

“See you, Mister Nathaniel.” She smiled and turned away to leave.

I smiled at her retreating back before breathing out loudly and turned toward the dark wooden door ahead of me. I turned the metal knob and pushed the door to step in.

The room that adorned my view was an average one. A medium sized room with gray walls, dark stone slab flooring. Two beds in the corner, a small window to my right and bathroom to my left. A wardrobe was there to accompany the window. Not to mention a ceiling lamp was hanging right over the bed area.

It was turned off because of someone who was already occupying the left bed. I could only make out his big figure under the brown blanket and short blonde hair. He was lying on his stomach and facing away from me. I looked there to find we both had similar beddings for us, brown blanket with dark gray bed sheets. That was all the luxury I was going to get for now. I took a deep breath before standing straight.

“Here we go.”

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