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Chapter one

The first-ever Feast of the Kingdoms happens after a decade had passed, and news from George’s mother home kingdom left the court of Aevusia in a shambled alliance.

Fourteen years old

He's pacing and so – oh, so nervous.

Clammy hands thread through his hair roughly as he pulled, his feet carrying him back and forth from his window to the corner of his chambers.

Luckily, his room was big enough just to do about anything. To eat, to study, to practice, and most importantly, to pace to and fro to settle his nerves.

There's a gentle thump on his window, thank god for the glass, and he maneuvered himself over to it and pulled it open, only for a pebble to hit him right in the head.

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry!" He mumbled something incoherent under his breath, not even he could understand and his eyes catch glimpse of brown and green that almost glowed in the dark.

"Are you trying to assassinate me? Jesus Christ, Oliver." He grumbled, but it was all bark because soon he found himself smiling at the familiar face below.

"I already said sorry, jeez –“ Oliver huffed with a shake of his head. "I couldn't find a better way to get your attention."

George just rolls his eyes and says, "Sure, you were totally not trying to kill me."

Oliver just glared at him to the point it drilled a hole in his head. A few cusses and banter and they're back to their usual selves.

"I've been worried sick," George heard him mumble, just barely. It was a miracle his voice reached hearing ears. Oliver continued as he looked up, "You were gone for almost a month, what happened?"

George tried not to wince but his face is scrunched up almost pleadingly, sorry for his absence.

He didn't mean to, but tonight was no any other night. Because he was being presented as an official head to his brother's court for the first time and it has nearly been a decade since the last meeting of the five kingdoms.

So for days that stretched on to weeks, his schedule was packed with politics and manner lessons that groomed him to be the perfect Prince of Aevusia.

"Apologies," He says immediately. "There's this big feast tonight and the kings of each kingdom are coming to dine. I'm being introduced since I came of age."

"At fourteen? Are you serious?" Oliver sounds baffled, questioning incredulously. He just shook his head sadly.

"Yeah, fourteen." George trailed off as he played with the weaves in his flowy sleeved tunic, the crown only beginning to grow heavier on his head.

"Don't worry though, I understand. Big stuck up royal and I'm just a lowly peasant." Oliver half-joked as he kicked away a rock with his worn out shoes.

He looked so lonely at the bottom, as well for himself, just at the top as Prince George to everyone else. He bit his lip in thought.

"After," He spoke up and Oliver is looking at him almost hopefully. "After the feast, I'll meet you in the forest."

The grin he got was blinding but the sheer happiness it gave him warmed the cold in his hands. They bid each other goodbye and with one final wave, he drew the curtains to a close.

Just in time for Cecilia to come barging in his room.

"Your highness –“ She blubbered over her words as she looked at him, the color in her face almost as pale as her graying hair.

"What happened to your forehead!" She exclaimed and rushed over to him, black dress swishing behind as she pulled him to a mirror and rubbed the mark to oblivion all the while he's groaning internally, 'Thanks a lot, Oliver.'

It was nerve-wracking, to have to face so many important people in one room. He's been to plenty of balls and parties to be immune to the crowd but the dazzling amount of jeweled crowns similar to his own makes him freeze on the spot.

His brother Leonardo was by Odessa, acting both as a militant and a noble; the family crest on his armor proudly shown upon his shield.

Then their eldest, seated at the head, just beside George with a golden halo that spilled gemstones of all kinds on his head and hands that hold his tunic's cuffs and the power of the throne.

They didn't speak to him before the feast.

Not anymore.

He forced away the frown on his face as everyone else began to rest on their designated seats, a plethora of food rimming the table full of delicacies and aroma, the finest wine from their very own orchard and silverware that's worth more than a new set of armor.

King Johanne rose from his seat with a wave of confidence that everyone was simultaneously quiet at his silent heed.

"Court members and kings alike," He began with a flourish of his tone, certain. "Aevusia welcomes you to her kingdom with open arms, please, sit and enjoy yourself. I wish to speak with each one of you tonight." And as he retreated, the guests broke out in low murmur and the clack of metal resonated out in the hall.

George just sat solemnly and poked at his food, urging the time to go faster so he could meet up with his friend. Then there's a heavy hand on his shoulder and he stilled, pink eyes meeting yellow shades.

"George, you're no longer a child. These men, whatever they may say or do, are your equals now. There's no reason to fret over their judgment when you've come of age." He let the words sink in slowly, then hesitantly nod as he rose from his spot to mingle.

As much as he hated social politics, this was his job now, as the ambassador of the kingdom.

For the rest of his life.

The celebration is soon coming to a close as his brother greeted each and everyone and as he said, took his turn to speak to whoever wishes to. George was in awe of how he managed to gain everyone's respect, much more that he's managing the state of their people and his court at the same time.

He met a few nobles of his age, Nicholas who came where Oliver was from, and the young son of a renowned general named Matthew. They were both kind enough to talk with him throughout the evening.

So he swore to himself to introduce them to his childhood friend.

Everything was fine and the festivities had already begun to die down when a man dressed in a lazuli colored robe and long black hair approached them with a cautious smile. George blinked, a spike of uncertainty within him as he drank from his goblet.

He introduced himself as Lord William of Notemberg in Luthwenia, George stared down at the scarlet in his wine cup, thinking back to his late mother who came from the same kingdom. He was startled out of his silence when he heard a word.

That damned word.

“– and the fortification of our crops for the harsh winter, which our guild of magic users assured that," He tuned out completely and his fingers left the neck of his cup to the hands of his chair, gripping the wood tightly.

'What?' He thought and in his peripheral view, Johanne is already moving forward in his seat, eyes squinted warily and hands balled up.

"Excuse me, William," He spoke harshly as their gazes locked. "Did you speak of sorcery happening in your kingdom?"

The man is quiet then he began to reason out, words drying up in his mouth as the King slammed his hands down on the table as he stood high.

"Do not make excuses for this foolery! I suppose I don't need to make it known to you what magic had done to all of us?"

"I know, your majesty – but!"

"Do not!" Johanne roared angrily, a warning, "How dare you defy the lives that have been lost by bringing this treacherous news in my castle, I can only hope you did not bring those witches along." He spat.

George watched as what he could only presume one of Lord William's people began to urge towards the door, face stricken with fear and he paled.

There were witches in his home.

Before he could think, his hands flew to the hilt of his sword and he pulled, the sword glinting dangerously against the chandelier's light as he held it out. To his surprise, the knights stationed beside him, his brother Leonardo with him and Odessa, drew out their swords as well.

"Leave, as long as witchcraft is roaming free in your kingdom, no longer will Aevusia open her arms to you." He turned towards the king of Luthwenia, whose face is contorted in fear.

"Never will we be your allies." And on that final note, the guards escorted William out, who looks scornful in their direction. Even Luthwenia’s king followed suit, perhaps in fury or in embarrassment.

George relaxed, the grip of his sword wavering as the adrenaline began to thin out and his breath came out in short huffs. Everyone else was whispering amongst themselves, their tones confused and scared.

"George," Leonardo was beside him immediately, looking frazzled and worried that he could almost laugh at the pathetic look on his face if the earlier encounter didn't happen. "Are you okay? He didn't hurt you, did he?"

"I'm fine." He breathed out then swallowed thickly as Johanne approached them both, eyes clouded over with something unrecognizable, something dark.

"We will never allow magic to coexist with us and our people," He began, looking deeply into George's eyes. "It is our duty, your duty, to eradicate the existence of witches. Give them an inch and they will devour everything else."

He nodded and felt the familiar flare of anger coursing through his veins, so he stiffened and his face is furrowed in deep concentration.

"Do you understand me, George?" The king asked with an outstretched hand and he took it gingerly.

He thought about all the people in their homes, sleeping as of now. Some staying up late to work and plow the fields or carry heavy loads in the darkness of the night.

Then he thought about a brunette, a certain green-eyed boy with a playful smile. He thought about Oliver.

He knew what he had to protect.

"Of course," He spoke, "I'll never let anything happen to Aevusia and its people, ever."

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