The Winner's Crown

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Chapter 5

Desmond lead’s me through blank hall’s that unsettle me greatly. There is just something about the palace hallways that contain no object or trophy that make me on edge. In my palm, the crystal I’d broken off the mirror pierces into my hand. Making the cut I’d gotten earlier, expand just a little larger. But even through the small amount of pain there is from the gash painting my hand red, I don’t stop. I guess I just need something to distract me from what may lie ahead. And though it may sound awful, inflicting pain, completely optional pain that is, onto myself. It makes me feel a little better. I assume it is because it show’s me that for once, I am in control.

If I were alone, wandering through these large halls, I would for sure get lost. This palace is a maze, no matter how extraordinarily beautiful or elaborate. It is still a trap, reminding me faintly of a math equation. The twists and turns of those real life problems, seem to me, something like this puzzle of a home. And maybe that is why Desmond is the way he is. His parent’s are, after all, the ruler’s of the messed up kingdom we live in. It would for sure explain why he is so mysterious. While simultaneously explaining why I am so interested in him. Because I love a good puzzle to solve. And Desmond...well, he is a living mystery to me.

Looking past where Desmond is leading me, I stray just a little from him to look at a large painting of a young boy. It look’s almost exactly like him, except for that the boy in the painting’s hair is two shades darker, and skin two shade’s darker.

“Don’t wander.” Desmond commands me, continuing to walk without me by his side.

“Wait.” I instruct him precisely, pointing up at the young boy in the portrait. “Is this you?”

Desmond shrugs his shoulder’s, sighing deeply before joining me by the image of the boy.

“No. That is my brother, Richard. You’ve seen him...yes?” He asks, his brow furrowed as he survey’s the picture himself.

“Only at the drawing’s.” I answer, tilting my head back to look at the completely exposed, and yet masked prince. “Why haven’t you ever attended?”

“So many questions Leontios.” Desmond smirks at my expression full of disappointment. He never give’s a full answer, does he? Come to think of it, I have never once heard him answer one of my questions with a clear and concise line of directiveness. He has always avoided my inquiries for insight into his life. Instead, refusing to respond. And it is time’s like these where I want so badly to read minds. His mind specifically.

“Let’s continue on.” Desmond point’s to the place beside him, and I almost roll my eyes at his mystery games he most certainly like’s to play with me.

“One day I swear, you will have to tell me who you truly are.” I mutter under my breath before joining Desmond yet again. Letting him steer me across the palace hall’s to our unknown destination.

It seem’s so odd, to feel so comfortable in the situation that I am in. I would have thought I’d be in a dungeon, far down through the palace. I would have never expected to be treated so fairly as I am when I’m with Desmond. And yet, I wouldn’t change a thing about how thing’s turned out. I am currently at an advantage here. Because, even though I still have no idea what the Royal family want’s with me, I do know they want me for something. And so, I have all the advantages in the world right here at my fingertips.

Desmond walk’s through the palace swiftly. Which makes sense, this is where he grew up. This is his home after all. No matter how huge it is, it is still a place where the King, his two son’s, and his two daughter’s grew up in. And I can’t judge them just by that. Just by where they were born, and grew up in. This was not their choice, just like it wasn’t mine to be born into a poverty stricken family barely having enough money to support two children. Let alone five children! Luckily, my family and I...we’re farmers, and that is how we support ourselves.

Ever since I was three, and able to speak, walk, and do all the mandatory exercises of a regular person. I had been allowed to work and help my family on the farm outside our shack of a home. It was hard work, and I got injured many times. But now, when I look at the firm calluses on my hand’s and feet, I am proud to call myself a farmer. Because I am able to support myself. I have been able to support myself through life ever since I turned eight. As a yellow, it is just safer that way.

Chancing a look at Desmond, I imagine his father’s crown on top of his head. I imagine what it would look like to watch him rule, to watch him make the decisions that would determine the fate’s of so many people. He would be a strong ruler. But as strong as his father? As close minded? As opinionated? As traditional with upper class and lower class societal politics? I wonder, if he was king, if there would still be a competition.

But I already know the answer to that. No blue will ever try to eliminate the competition. It is just a source of entertainment to them. To all the upper class color’s, in fact.

Walking faster, picking up my legs quicker, I manage to keep up with the prince. But he is fast, and if I don’t hurry I am sure he will leave me behind. Kind of like how our lives are so different, and yet we still made it to here. By chance, we met each other, and now we are here. Because, even though the story of how we met, and how we got here, is fast paced. It almost feel’s as though years have gone by knowing each other.

And remembering that just three day’s ago, I was at my home village, with my family, with makes me unsure about how fast life really is. This is just a pure example of that.

My bare feet stick to the floor with sweat, and my hair is frizzy all around my face. But still I move, not risking being left behind. Staring down at the floor, I can just make out the large lines of wood that mark it as....Not being careful enough for the hundredth time in the last few days, I walk straight into Desmond, my head hitting his all too familiar back.

"Watch where you’re going darling!” Desmond exclaims, but I can see the smirk in his eyes, as one of my hand’s come up to massage my forehead. While the other, stays put to guard the crystal shard still secure in my palm.

“Well what do you want me to do? I’ve been through so much these last few days! Most people don’t even experience this type of hustle their whole lives.” I find myself saying, and all too late I realize that I should not have revealed my weakness. Now he know’s that I am not as strong as I appear to be. Now he know’s that I am stressed out, and worst of all, afraid.

“Fair enough.” Is all he say’s though, and we continue to hurry on through the door’s of a rather large room. A room with a balcony overlooking the garden’s I’d seen earlier, from the crystal adorned room of the holding chambers I am to stay in.

“This is what I need to show you. And I want to warn you, once you look, you cannot unsee the sight’s that are down below. So only look at your own expense Leontios. I am showing you this, because I know this is what you need to see. So look only if you are ready to. Look only if you trust what I say. And especially, look only if you believe that I have all good intentions towards you.” Desmond tells me, gesturing me towards the sun setting in the distance.

“I do not trust you. And do you blame me for such a thing? I do not trust you, nor your families intentions towards me, or your kingdom. I can’t, not after I have spent my whole life living in fear and unfairness. But, I will look. Because that is what I want to do.” I respond, my voice never breaking and my breath’s staying completely calm as I speak.

Walking towards the large deck overlooking the garden’s down below, I breathe in a deep gust of wind and let it calm my nerves. I have absolutely no idea what it is that Desmond thinks I should see. But it isn’t good. It can’t be. Nothing from these past few day’s has been good, so how can I believe, how can I trust, that today will be different?

The strong perfume of flower’s float around me, and I calmly open my eyes. Looking down below, I can see all the beautiful color’s of the rainbow, in all different forms of completely unique flower’s, down below me in the gardens. But that is not what Desmond thought that I should see.

And I know this, because in the distance, I can see a faraway dance of people. Of figures moving in the grasses ahead, but I cannot quite see what they look like. My vision is much too blurry to see the exact features of the people down below.

“Can you not see it?” Desmond asks, coming nearer me, to point out the shapes I have already established as human form’s.

“Yes. But I cannot quite make out what it is that you want me to see.” I tell him, facing him again just in time to see lines crease his forehead.

He is in thought as well, possibly not quite understanding why the people are so far away from us. He must have thought the people down below would be somewhere closer to where we are standing currently, somewhere we could see whatever it is that they are doing.

“Follow me.” Desmond tell’s me, but instead of going back the same way we came from, he begin’s to climb down the vines strewn over the palace walls.

“Oh, so you just think that I will follow you as you quite litterally, risk your life going down those vines? And on top of all that, they are barely steady enough to hold your weight. Correct, Mr. Williams?” I ask incredulously. Watching as the prince dangles himself across the large vines, his musceles working hard to support all his weight before he can fall to his death down below.

“Oh, come on now. We are only three stories high. Don’t you want to see what it is that I have been so desperate to show you?” Desmond tries to tempt me.

“Not at the expense of my life.” I complain, my disbelief showing through my features. Desmond laughs, causing me to gasp in a breath of air. No matter how much I don’t trust the prince, I certainly do not want him falling to his death right in front of me.

“I thought you were a fearless lady. So come on now, join me. This way is faster anyways.” He explains, knowing I will follow him if he insults my pride.

Digging my handmade weapon constructed only of crystal, deeper into my palm, I squeeze my eyes shut. Letting myself imagine that I am at home, climbing down my familiar spot in the warm arms of the apple tree of which I have spent so many wondrous day’s. I try not to regret my reckless and unladylike decision, as I follow the foolish prince down the vines of the palace.

Risking my life, just to save my pride.

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