The Unfortunate Betrothal

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Chapter 15: Broken

Ignatius was driven mad by the memory of his past. He couldn’t take the chance of being around me any moment longer as he disappeared in a hurry from the room. He left me to ponder about what he had just told me.

Every ounce of me wanted to say that Ignatius was in reality a good person. If the plague infected his kingdom it could have spread farther wiping out more than he killed. I could understand how hurt he was, but not in the full potential of how he was actually hurting.

It was hard to believe that the gods would actually punish him for this. Unless, there was a way to save his people and he chose the easier route of executing them all.

My mind was surging with perplexity with all of this. These beings I have come across who have faced and been cursed by the gods were uncanny. Ignatius’s young features couldn’t be close to what a couple centuries would do to him. They must be immortals, living the same age as they did when they were cursed.

A soft knock on Ignatius’s door intruded my thoughts. It creaked open slowly revealing a Peacekeeper who I remember was named Eco. His bright green eyes lit up like he just witnessed the most amazing thing he’s ever seen.

“And here I thought you would be burnt to a crisp with the way Ignatius stormed out!” Eco laughs as he enters the room. “I suppose your the one to blame for making him angry?”

After what Ignatius just told me, I already knew this man in front of me was one of the seven greatest criminals. He strode in like he owned the place taking in the room like it was his first time seeing it.

“What are you here for?” My voice is firm as I watch him cautiously. He looks at me, his mouth curling up amused.

“I have been keeping an eye on you and Ignatius, for my own personal reasons.” His smile turns wicked and his light green eyes lit up with mischief.

Perfect. If I had gone and met Clyde last night he would have known.

“He has always had such bad taste,” He comments at the plain room. The room was very large for its circular shape. There was only a few chairs accompany it, along with a desk and bed.

“Kind of hard to have an exquisite taste when he can accidentally burn anything in here,” I say truthfully as Eco looks up at me surprised.

“Like you dear,” He says while still striding around the room with a graceful greatness. His aura was as bright as his blonde shoulder length hair. His height was nonetheless tall and skinny like Cloud.

Eco seemed to hold less authority than Cloud, but his energetic personality appeared to be dangerous. There was no telling what he would do next. It was honestly frightening.

“Actually, both times were on purpose.” I gave him a smile before he raised an eyebrow at me.

“Peculiar,” Eco says, his head turning quick enough that the blue jewel hanging from his earlobe dangled around. “You don’t seem human to me.”

His words caught me off guard. “What do you mean?”

“Meaning that you do not even in the slightest seem phased by what we are for someone who has been locked up in her room all her life.” Eco says while delicately running his finger along the mantle of the fireplace looking for dust.

“I am afraid I don’t understand what you are insinuating,” I cross my arms waiting for him to explain his theory of me not being human. It was preposterous.

He ventures around the room once again, his black boots scraping the stone floor with each step. He pulls his long white coat that was hanging from his shoulders over his arms.

He tilts his head down, his golden strands of hair falling as he does. He takes in the ragged ripped up dress that I have changed out of and he chuckles.

“You know about Ignatius already, which leaves me to assume you know about myself as well,” Eco lifts his face up again to look at me. His features were like a young man’s as if he were under the age of twenty. “A cold blooded murderer who will end anyone if they so much as look at my lovely Poise.” His energetic attitude went as dark as night. As mere seconds went by his mood changed back to his original state. I gulped, scared of what this man was capable of.

“It’s possible that Ignatius’s suffering is far worse than our own. Ever since we became Peacekeepers Ignatius has been looking for a way out. He’s killed himself numerous times by attempting to behead himself, bleed to death, and he even paid a human to cut him from limb to limb and keep the body parts separated.” Eco begins a story that didn’t seem close to being relevant to what he said about me. However, I waited patiently for him to get to the point.

“Ignatius had this crazy idea that we could only die by each other’s hands. Everyone refused to try it,” Eco’s voice lowers to almost a whisper, “So he did the unthinkable.”

He pauses for a moment, reliving the memory of what Ignatius had done. His light green eyes soften from the pure rage that filled them. His eyes fell in deep sorrow as his face held desolation.

“I was born in the same kingdom as Ignatius, in fact, he is my first cousin. My father and his were brothers. Ignatius is older than I am, so as we were growing up I would look up to him in admiration.” He says with a half smile. “So, you could understand how deeply it hurt me when I caught that bastard sleeping with the love of my life.”

He breathes in deeply trying to calm himself as I listen in shock. “He knew my past with Poise and how I would react to anyone touching her. When none of us would agree to killing him he pulled that stunt with me by tricking Poise. He ran to make it believable for me, but all he wanted me to do was end his life and I granted it.”

“Let me guess, it didn’t work? What’s your point here?” I was starting to get quite impatient with him. He gave me another smile with his perfect white teeth.

“My point is little Artemis, is that Ignatius will do everything and anything to die,” He snarls as he stalks towards me. “Meaning that he’s found some kind of interest in you because he believes you are his way out of his own personal hell.” His face is inches from mine now.

“I will not allow him to figure it out! He will suffer for what he has done as I suffer! As we all suffer!” Eco shouts in rage as he grabs my shoulders.

His hands were trembling.

There was something wrong with him. He suddenly looked physically weary like the life from his eyes had completely drained. His breathing became rather heavy as his shoulders heaved up and down. His well-being took a rapid turn of events like someone running for their life.

He took a sharp inhale as he gasps for air while clinging to my body. Eco’s unexpected state had me worried and concerned. Sweat trickled down his pale cheeks as his eyes filled with tears. The whites of his eyes turned red like he had not slept in days. His bottom lip quivered as he mumble out. “He’s coming for me.”

He shivered under my touch when I grabbed his face to look in his terror stricken eyes. This stranger I had just met looked at me with fear consuming him. Eco gripped my arms hard as he searched for something on my face.

What the hell is wrong with him?

“Eco? What is happening to you?” The concern I had for him was written all over my face. I couldn’t believe my own actions in wanting to help him. Am I really that naive like Ignatius said I was?

Even though I knew Eco was evil and a murder just like he said, but I couldn’t help myself from thinking there was goodness in his heart.

“He’s going to kill me!” He pants out. I gulp audibly and drag in a shaky breath, trying to calm my thundering heartbeat. It doesn’t help when Eco starts having an anxiety attack.

This man was terrified to his core as he clawed his way closer to me like he was using me as some kind of support. He slammed his green eyes shut like he could blink away all the fear. Once he opened them again they widened even more than before. He was staring off into space, his eyes focusing on the center of the room.

“No, no, no, please.” He shakes his head defeatedly. “Just leaves us alone, I will give you anything you desire!” He pleads to no one as he forcefully cradles my head in a protective embrace.

The door swings open with a brute force slamming against the stone walls breaking at the hinges. Between the shaking hands of Eco’s, I spotted that deceiver Loki storming in with a sword in hand. His dark brown eyes glazed with a fierce hunger that craved his prey.

With no delay or any explanation he lifted the sword and swung it over the top of my head. A gurgling noise sounded from Eco as my frightened self watched in horror as thick red substance splattered over Loki’s face. He had sliced Eco’s throat open.

Eco’s body became slump, his entire weight crashing down on me. The feeling of his warm blood oozing out over the top of my head made my stomach uneasy and mostly disturbed. My feet scrambled to find their footing as Eco’s now lifeless body tumbles to the ground.

Through the strands of my red stained hair, I glanced at Loki who was now squatting next to Eco. His lips were pursed and his hand rubbed the tip of his chin. He looked as if this was all nonchalant to him while I was panicking.

“Hm, well that is unfortunate,” He tells himself as his hand rummages under his coat. He pulls out a piece of paper, unfolding it very carefully. “Arthur Phillip Young, age twenty-five, found dead after his organs removed while still alive,” Loki listed out loud. He glanced out the window before looking back at Eco. He clears his throat then pulls out a feather and ink. “Date and time precisely on schedule as always,” He notes while he scribbles on the paper.

He quickly folds the paper up, sticking it back in his coat. “My apologies for the mess, Princess. Eco experiences the death anniversaries of every person he has killed in the past. From the moment the person realizes Eco was hunting them up to the final stages of their death.”

He stands lifting Eco along with him. “It is my duty this year to put him out of his misery before he goes through the torture.”

“You stop it before he gets tortured by himself?” My shaky voice asks him. If that was possible, could the same thing go for Ignatius?

“Yes, Eco is forced to go through the memory of each murder like he were the victim. For us, we only see his reactions and the wounds that appear,” Loki explains. “You are quite lucky I found him in time or all his guts would have been scattered all over the floor.”

“I will send the maids to run you a bath. In the meantime, consider yourself fortunate. Being the only human knowing this secret of ours, I could kill you,” Loki warns before he leaves me in utter loneliness.

These horrible chain of events were shocking and just out right insane. This elevating primal fear was torture, decreasing any logic to keep me in self control. This world and everything in it unknown to me was beyond what I imagined. Sure, I expected the hardships of war and the creatures of the deep that Clyde’s crew mentioned. Nothing like this though.

These mix of emotions were difficult to keep up with. Yet, it still had made no sense to how I couldn’t explain these feelings piling up in me. It was as if these emotions weren’t my own. The way I was beginning to feel about Ignatius seem highly implausible. Deep down, I wanted to resent them for almost killing me and keeping me caged in. Yet, another part of me desires to learn more about them.

Any normal person would be screaming and running for the hills, but me. I stood there transfixed on the incident that occurred before my eyes. The Peacekeepers were becoming my newly found challenge. The only way out for me was to function properly, to not have this anxiety circling in me to eventually unravel into despair.

My weakened legs give in as I slump to the floor. My heart was hammering and my head was spinning. This was difficult to keep up with and it was all happening so fast. I recall back to what Eco said about me not being human before his traumatic experience. Perhaps he was onto me, because the way the wolves responded to my command. Even I could get away with believing they were being overly obedient. The strange fact of it all was that they were only acting that way towards me.

What if...? A thought occurred to me.

This crazy idea to find out if the wolves would truly follow my every command needed to be tested. This growing suspicion Eco has of me, and I quote, “You don’t seem human”, had reflected on me.

I sprung from the ground dashing to Ignatius’s desk. A bowl of water with a wash cloth sat atop. I cupped my hands scooping the water to splash onto my face. Red droplets of water dripped all over the table and colored the water red.

I washed away Eco’s blood the best that I could before I turned to leave. With a quickened pace, I grabbed a cloak hanging by the entrance of the room and swung it over me.

It was still early in the day, but Ignatius was gone. There was no telling when he would be back or where he was, but I left anyways. I followed the trail of blood left behind from Eco’s corpse. It led me out of the ruin castle into the old unkept courtyard that trailed down to the barracks where the stables were.

From my perspective, it looked to me like it was the training grounds for the Princes. There was a possibility that they could be there now training, but my legs kept moving faster in anticipation.

Ignatius’s large pants dragged at my ankles and tangled between my short legs. The clothing was weighing down me, causing me to run slower. However, I kept moving, nearing the building in a matter of minutes.

My assumption was right when I see the men crowding the arena where the horses were normally rode. Not wanting to receive attention, I lifted the hood of the dark brown cloak to cover my face. The sprint I was in came to a subtle walk as I passed the men unnoticed.

There backs were turned, watching a few men spar in a sword duel. A sigh of relief escaped my lips as I rounded the corner to the back door. Upon my arrival, Klency was wheeling out a barrel of animal droppings from the stables.

He was humming happily until his eyes landed on me. The wheel barrel dropped to the ground as he acted quick to aid me. Klency ran to my side with his hands neatly behind his back by keeping his promise to Ignatius not to touch me.

“Princess, are you okay? Do I need to call for any assistance?! What can I do to tell help? Do you have any injuries?” Klency’s worried brown eyes skimmed over my body looking for wounds. “Damn you My Lord! At a time like this I have become completely useless!”

“Klency, I promise you I am fine. There is something that I need from you though,” I say, and he lifts of one of his eyebrows.

“What is it that I can do?” Klency asks, looking a little bemused.

“I would like you to hand over the keys so I can access the wolves.”

Klency’s eyes widen, “I am sorry Princess Artemis, but I have strict orders to turn down any commands made by any of their royal highnesses.”

Klency, I am sorry, but you leave me no choice. I mentally apologize.

“Would like me to explain to Ignatius that you laid a finger on me or that I just forced you to give me the keys?” I threaten.

He opens his mouth to protest, but I cut him off. “I promise, I do not intend to do anything harmful to anyone with the wolves.”

“Ignatius will have my head,” His brown eyes looked at me in delight. “It has a nice ring to it when I say it, but it would be a rather boring death.”

He contemplates for a moment, scratching the top of his head. Klency was younger than myself and so full of life. If Ignatius believes he went against him, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill him.

“How about if I let you scratch my back, I will scratch yours.” He says with a huge smile on his round face like he was planning something devious.

“Of course, a favor will do. What do have in my mind?” I ask him, his lips quirking up into cute smile.

“Allow me to get you a change of clothes. Something easier to move in,” He lifts a part of the heavy fabric up and drops it almost disgusted. “The Lords clothes look much better on the lord.”

“And how exactly is this my favor to you?” It was my turn to raise an eyebrow curiously at him.

“By gracing me with your presence. It is nice to have someone to talk to that is not arrogant.”

Next time I’ll dream sweeter🌹

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- Loraine🦋

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