The Four Lands Of Arravan: Birthright

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Chapter Eighteen: Bitter Night

Through dark hallways following an ivy-green glow, the same green the mother tree emitted as well as in his dreams of Mayfel and Bregan.

The light held an odd wave-like effect, dancing streaks of light suspended through the corridor like lines of sting guiding Kaydence forward.

They lead him to a grand, stone, staircase to which he descended one step at a time.

On each step, candles stood welded to the stone with wax on either side of a smooth, navy carpet that cascaded down the centre of the steps, it's surface velvety beneath his toughened.

Kaydence thought he could make out words on its gold edging, but no letters formed, at least not ones he could read although they somehow seemed familiar.

Continuing along, his dimly lit journey soon lead to the ground floor where a chandelier of bone hung from the ceiling, droplets of green gems dangled off of sharp outcropping-like features almost as if the bone were polished and sanded antlers.

He was standing in the centre of Vasilios’ hall, his throne intimidatingly towering over him, even from the distance away he was.

Kaydence didn’t remember the staircase being a part of of Vasilios’ so-called lordly hall, and yet here he was, a dripping echoing through the crude room, an ugly laugh following suit.

Hello?” Kaydence yelled out expected a response, but none came.

Taking a step forward the bare sole of his foot hit something wet, a puddle as it seemed, although feeling thicker than water.

A thundering roll and a strike of thunder illuminated the entire room, clawed hands and watchful eyes appeared in the shadows against the wall, all passing unnoticed by Kaydence.

And like a spotlight, the glow filling the room focused into one beam on the throne where none other than Vasilis sat.

His dark crown upon his brow, it wasn’t a surprise to Kaydence to see him there nor was it when the serpent-eyed man stood up and stepped to the edge of the platform, not yet descending the steps.

In his hands lay an arrow, sleek and well-crafted, yet clearly not professionally made.

It’s end green like those Mayfel had when they’d first met, when his love ha saved his life for the very first time, but no the last.

Vasilios was gazing intently at the weapon as if it were some lost treasure that he had no care for, but knew that it held significant value to another.

Dreams like this are dangerous” he finally said, his eyes still set on the arrow.

I have no control over what I dream” Kaydence argued.

You are right, although it doesn’t make it any less dangerous”

And how is it dangerous exactly?” he asked he’d had enough of seeing Vasilios in reality but his tolerance for the man was warring forever thinner now he was walking his dreams too.

Think about it, your other dreams, you remember them, some of them were a mirror of reality or rather the reality to come” he began, his fingers rotating the arrowhead against his finger as if his had stopped it in mid-flight “This dream is no different and there is no stopping what is to come”.

The shaft of the arrow snapped in half in his hands, its broken body tossed to the ground in front of Kaydences feet.

Kaydences eyes followed the arrow to the ground where, for the first time, he noticed the substance he was standing in.

Blood, thick crimson liquid which began to rise in slow droplets around him as the arrow sunk beneath its shimmering surface.

Kaydence opened his mouth to call out to Vasilios, but what came out wasn’t words but a scream as bloodied hands shout out of the puddle and latched onto his legs, yanking him down into the undetectable depths.

His fingered scratched and clawed at the stone floor attempting to gain leverage, the shadows, however, grew forever closer.

Candles flickered out leaving the aroma of smoke in the air, all the while the shadows grew into disfigured bodies of animals, their eyes sharing the same green glow as they hunted closer.

Seeing no escape, Kaydence let go, plummeting into red.

As time went by, he opened his eyes scanning the area around him.

He was in a gorge, the rocks horrifically jagged and jutting out to the skies like knife blades, slopes of rubble and dust had gathered around him leaving the only options to go forwards or backwards.

No matter which way he was to take, there was nothing to see but aggressive rocks formations and the grey cloudy skies tinted green.

The broken arrow lay at his feet as though it hadn’t moved from where it had landed.

His fingers curled around the broken area until it was resting in the palms of his hands, his eyes observed it as though he had any sense of how to fix it other than using tape or glue, neither of which would make it fly again.

Perhaps his hopes of reassembling it weren’t all too impossible, it was a dream afterall, although it felt very real.

Arrow in hand, he chose to walk forwards in strides avoiding pointed rocks buried beneath the ash grey sand.

It was barren and the air dry, there were no living sounds besides that of his own breathing, it resembled nothing form Vasilios’ realm or not anything he’d seen so far despite it being hideous enough to be a part of it.

It was not a part of Arravan, that he could be sure of, even Alden’s red sands and scorching deserts held more mysterious beauty.

Winds swept past him in harsh and benign whispers it knocked him sideways causing him to turn and check his surroundings as the whispered followed him, always staying behind him as an unseen spectre latched to his shoulder speaking in his ears.

A surreal and harsher voice sent him spinning around yet again to which he narrowly avoided a needle pointed rock, he took a few tumbling steps forwards in order to catch himself.

With hands outstretched, and with it the arrow, he felt himself collide with something.

Something to which the arrowhead sunk into, or rather someone.

A person clad in white fabric, light and soft material like those in Maer Arbor wore.

The white material began to dampen as it desperately attempted to soak up the blood.

Started, Kaydence let go and looked into the eyes of the one he’d hurt.

Eyes he knew, eyes he loved. Indigo eyes.

With shaking hands, that somehow managed to catch Mayfel’s collapsing body, they both fell to the sand where Kaydence tried telling himself he was trapped in a dream and that it wasn’t the first time he’d done this.

But with Mayfel crying and showing raw emotions, it made him question whether or not it was a dream.

Facing the wound, it glitched and flickered with every blink between the arrow protruding from his stomach and the silver dagger Mayfel had used the first time he’d taken a life.

Droplets began to fall from above, landing on the back of his neck and Mayfel’s face, blood drops from the heavens. A dream he wished he could forget.

Growling began to erupt from the sky but then reverberated around them like a beast prowling the night, there was no telling what was Mayfel’s blood or the rain anymore as the downpour set in.

Vasilios!” he cried out over and over again until his voice became gritty and his throat raw.

Mayfel was no longer breathing and yet Kaydence refused to move his hand from the wound or to relieve the pressure he held on it to the point where his hand had cramped.

It is such a pity. Young love, so naive and overrated” Vasilios said nonchalantly.

What’s happening” Kaydence all but sobbed.

You are dreaming, I thought that was clear”

Why does someone always die in my dreams? Why is everything always green? Why is it always my fault? Why Mayfel”

You are related to Ida, granted that relation is distant.

You are also related to the Kings bloodline, which under usual circumstances would dominate the genes of any child produced by the king's bloodline thud ensuring its survival. Your bloodline, however, Ida’s and King Helian’s genes were both dominant and so the compromise happened.” he said perching himself on a nearby rock like a parent sitting on the end of their child’s bed ready to read them a story.

Continuing on the, no doubt, unhappy tale, Vasilios cleared his throat “Ida is linked to the mother tree, its energy holds a green hue to which runs through her veins as it does with all of us from the five realms. It doesn’t show in physical form with you, however, for you have no magic capabilities, so instead it manifests in the form of dreams. It holds a link throughout your conscious and unconscious mind”

Linking his fingers together on his lap Vasilios cocked his head to the side As for you hurting those around you, that is simply fate. You can’t alter fate. A minor diversion can be created, but fate will always find you. There’s no avoiding it forever, what has been done here, will happen. When exactly, we shall never know, but you now know how” Vasilios endlessly explained to the point where Kaydence had lost track of what was being said, his mind forgetting how to register information.

Why are you part of my dream?” Kaydence asked in a flat tone that told Vasilios of his loss of hope.

I’m not, I have the power to control minds and also walk amongst the dreams of those I can influence. Now, I think that is enough questions for one night, breakfast will be at first light so do not be late, we have a lot to chat about”

Despite being among an expansive wasteland, the thick bloody drops had flooded the lands, its gentle waves lapping at Kaydences chin and soon enough his cheeks.

Its silky caress, like that of the man he still held in his arms submerged beneath the blood, lulled him into a daze, his eyes fell closed and he let the flash flood consume him.

Sitting bolt upright in bed, his heart almost beating out of his chest, he and the bedsheets where his body had been lying were drenched in sweat.

And if by some miracle, Mayfel remained asleep, then again he was a heavy sleeper and didn’t let much disturb him.

Just to make sure and to relax the anxiety in his chest, Kaydence lay down on his side and slid a hand around Mayfel’s body until it was lying over his heart.

His fingertips detected the rise and fall of his chest and his heart beating steadily within.

Kaydence could feel Mayfel’s hair against his forehead as he left a fleeting kiss on the nape of Mayfel’s neck, before making small and slow movements to roll over once again to attempt sleeping the rest of the night.

That was until a hand linked with his one resting on Mayfel’s chest, Mayfel then chose to relax back into him, their bodies close together.

It was an unexpected move and if it weren’t for his dampened shirt and bedsheets, he would have obliged.

Attempting to slip his hand away from Mayfel, he sat up but with whatever sleeping state Mayfel was in objected to the interruption and with a grumble he held on tighter.

Leaning over so his lips hovered over Mayfel’s ear, Kaydence whispered softly “I need you to let go, just for a little while. I will be back” he assured.

But Mayfel was having none of it and groaned in protest as he rolled over to bury his face into Kaydences chest only to feel the damp material that clung to his body.

Next thing Kaydence knew, he was being shoved away to the point of rolling off the edge of the mattress to the stone floor below.

True enough, the bitter coolness of the tiles was refreshing but he didn’t much appreciate the way he ended up on them, even more so when Mayfel seemed to claim the entire King sized four-poster bed as his own, enveloping himself in the heavily weighted duvet.

He knew Mayfel valued his sleep and pillows would be aimed his way should he wake him up from his so-called happy place, but never in the times that they’d shared a bed, had he been kicked out.

Collecting himself off of the ground he moves himself to the rather Gothic and eccentric on-suit considering it resided in a dying land, beneath the surface of a cliff.

It made him wonder who built it, whoever it had been clearly knew what they were doing and were heavily ordered when in it came to its décor, unless it was a new flare that Vasilios thought to try out.

A grand, yet disturbing chandelier consisting of delicate, petite bones, skulls of what used to be birds at a guess, haloing the column and bowl.

And dangling from it all were golden gems adorning the chain running from the canopy to the several spanning arms where candles, although not lit, sat posted in each cup which were in other words, open jaws of some other animal’s skulls.

All of it held together with the same thorns that Vasilios wore upon his head.

Kaydence wondered if the crown was even comfortable to wear, then again, perhaps Vasilios had no feeling just like he had no remorse or empathy.

The floor, continuing the grey stone from the bedroom, remained icy under his footsteps to his dismay.

More so was the polished obsidian walls that held an oval mirror to which forced him to face himself in its reflection, even if he avoided his own eyes and diverted them to the blackened ceilings, bony moon and obscurely cut green gems.

Its reflective window was surrounded by golden, metal entwining vines roses dotted amongst the havoc as well as leaves that invaded the mirror's surface to an extent.

Sat proudly at the top of it all was a rose, larger than the others and deathly black standing out from the rest, he guessed Vasilios really liked his black and gold themes, not to mention his love for aggressive shrubbery.

Placing both hands down on either side of the washbasin, its taps also the same gold mental, he forced himself to look into the mirror.

His eyes were reddened and the skin around them aggravated, had he been crying? He didn’t remember crying, only in his dream that was an hour earlier when his mother had been lead out to them by Vallen.

If he hadn’t despised his father before, then he certainly did now.

How dare he disrespect his mother and agree for her to be used as Vasilios’ test subject.

Kaydences hands clamped down around the sides of the basin, his knuckles and fingers paling under the pressure.

After finding out, he’d stared into her eyes, words weren’t something he could conjure and apparently his legs had had other ideas.

He had found himself running out of the doors and into the wasteland, his lungs drinking the thick air as he’d fallen to his knees.

Even when Fraya had gone to get him and made it clear that she wasn’t there to comfort him or act as though she cared.

Nevertheless, she’d told him it was a lot for anyone sane to take in, that he shouldn’t let Vallen win and that he should make the most of the granted opportunity to see his mother alive while he can.

There’s no knowing what tomorrow might bring she had left him with.

Kaydence knew his mother had been saddened by his reaction, he’d seen it in her eyes, but where sadness reigned, understanding lay in its shadow.

Perhaps he could talk to her, he was a sorry sight to behold and nothing about him looked lordly or even remotely as if he could be a ruler.

His mother was probably ashamed to see what her son had become, she most likely knew of their heritage and so knew the standards set for the royal family and their reputation.

It did make him wonder why she had never told Dalamis about their connection to the throne, he had been older than Kaydence and would have surely understood what she was speaking of.

The shock was perhaps the reason, but ever since discovering his heritage and what was essentially his birthright, something felt off within him asides from wishing it was a mistake on Vasilios’ part and that it would all be bestowed upon someone else so he could rest assured of a peaceful future.

Ida had said herself that after the war, she’d attempted to return to Arravan only to retrieve the stones when the light obliterated all Arravan’s powers.

So how could she possibly know he was her descendent?

Vasilios on the other hand was a snake in all meaning of the word, he was sly and cunning, manipulative if you will, so there was no reason to believe him or his talk of the magic supposedly flowing through his veins.

It could be a scheme to recruit him just like Bregan had tried and with Ida having withheld so much and lied to them all too, what was to say she wasn’t a part of it and simply kept Erabos in the dark about their alliance to make it more believable.

After the bombshell of his lineage was dropped, there wasn’t much the others had said, Evan had asked if he’d known or even Dalamis.

Admittedly, Kaydence hadn’t exactly handled it well but then it was their own fault for not observing the clear surprise and dread on his face, how could he hav made it any more obvious?

Mayfel on the other hand, asked one question when they’d been shown to the room they would be staying in, despite them arguing against it and attempting to persuade Ida to escape.

He’d asked Kaydence if he would be telling the King.

Of course, he had thought about it, but the truth was, he wasn’t cut out to be a King or even a prince, he could barely get through life with so much drama as it was let alone having to deal with so much responsibility.

Dalamis, however, deserved to know and have the choice because afterall it wasn’t for Kaydence to decide for him.

They may get along and be bound by blood yet there was still so much he didn’t know about his brother so predicting his choice wasn’t something he could do, besides even if Dalamis did tell the King and ascend o the throne, he’d undoubtedly be a great leader after some practice.

Gazing at his reflection, at a worn down man he barely recognised, a faint shadow of stubble etching his jawline.

And yet through it all, his eyes remained the same, a sign of betrayal and an unhappy family. A sign of broken love.

He was cursed from the second he was conceived he thought, he never had a chance of fitting in or being normal, all because of his father, or was it because of his mothers wondering heart.

Was it right to blame her after what she had done for her family? What she had sacrificed? In comparison to everything his father had done, she was a saint.

Returning to the bedroom, Mayfel was lying on his side, huddled into the blankets not that Kaydence could blame him seeing as the stone walls of the cliffside didn’t hold much heat or provide it for that matter.

The fireplace in the corner, most likely too damp to even light, drew Kaydence over who gave lighting it a go, sleep far from his mind.

Poker in hand and fresh firewood, from the stack by the wall, in the gaping square mouth in the wall, he collected up a box of matches sat coated in dust- much like the rest of the room- atop the fireplace.

Sliding one across the box's rough side, it sparked to life and was sent sailing into the woodpile.

Kaydence watched as the blaze began much sooner and more powerful than he’d anticipated.

The poker in his hand poked and prodded at the crackling wood, his eyes captured by its flickering tendrils, the fire was so constant in his memories and his life thus far but it no longer scared him.

A hand met his shoulder and brushed across his back as Mayfel sat beside him huddling into his and linked his fingers with Kaydences freehand saying nothing as he did so.

Mayfel knew how Kaydence got when he was lost in thought, it was better to let him find reality on his own terms than to drag him into it.

His other hand found its way to his pendant gifted by Kaydence, his thumb traced over the words etched on the back.

Never had anyone bought him a gift, his father only ever bought him what he needed to survive until he was old enough to do it on his own.

There had been no one else, no friends, no siblings or parental figures worthy of the title, Demetrius had been there but it never amounted to anything personal, it was always a simple stop at the market now and then or a surprise meeting in the streets, never a personal visit.

To receive a gift and one so thought out to meant more than everything to him and was the most precious item he owned.

Ut corda nostra ligare nos tam.

“May our hearts bind us both” Kaydence repeated the translation.

Leaning his head to the side and onto Kaydences shoulder Mayfel felt his body relax “What are we going to do” he muttered tiresomely.

“End it, once and for all”

“How? You heard Vasilios, it can’t be stopped.”

“He’s probably lying, he’s a trickster and has a sharp tongue” Kaydence said.

“Do we have a reason not to believe him?”

The whole situation made Kaydence question a lot and the fact that he couldn’t tell what telling the truth looked like anymore bothered him to no end, how could you hope to do anything when everyone could be the opposition?

“Well for one, if he told us that there was a way to stop him, then we’d look for a solution”

“But we are still looking for a solution” Mayfel noted.

“True, but it seems more hopeless when there isn’t an answer”

Mayfel’s sigh floated into the greedy flames that engulfed it “I don’t want to spend anymore time here”

“Me either. Vasilios is bad enough, but to find out my own father is a part of it as well is much worse. I preferred it when he was locked away where I could forget about him”

“Perhaps while we’re stuck here, you could try and talk to him. You both have one thing in common afterall” he said.

“I doubt it” Kaydence dismissed instantly.

“You both love Elena, you love her as your mother and he loves her as his partner”

“I didn’t know either of them growing up, I loved the thought of her but I never had a real person to go on, just an image in my head of what a mother would be like”

“A parents love doesn’t have to be shown. I never met my mother either and my father was an abusive drunk, yet I know they both loved me and I loved them too. Some bridges can be resurrected”

“I’ll think about it” he said

“I know what that means” Mayfel sassed.

“It’s like I said, I will think about it”

“No, that means you’ll disregard the idea altogether”

“Why shouldn’t I ignore the idea? I don’t owe that man anything and he made not only my life miserable but everyone else’s in that forsaken mountain miserable too. I told you what Dalamis had told me” he said with the stubbornness Mayfel often used himself.

“I do know, but that was then. Things can change, some people can change” Mayfel trued to reason, although his efforts seemed to be falling short.

“Clearly not when my so-called father has partnered up with Vasilios”

“I don’t want to argue Kaydence, I just think it would be worth a try. Afterall, he is still your father whether you like it or not, you share the same blood so no matter how much you despise his guts, you should at least get to know him” he said as he brought his lips to Kaydences knuckles before removing himself from the floor. “You should come and get some rest” he added, holding out his hand towards him.

Kaydence, with a deep sigh, took his hand.

He peered up at him momentarily as he manoeuvred his rigid legs, a wingless angel he thought, not one that had fallen with the rest, one that floated about them all beckoning them to rejoin him, could he even say he was nearing Mayfel’s level of grace? If anything he was tumbling further and further away from it.

Kaydences mind drifted to Evangelis, to his brother who he worried for with the King’s nagging .

Dalamis could stand his ground, he knew that, he just didn’t know for how long.

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