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Ember Colored Thorns

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When being called a 'Rose' it's often taken as a compliment, however for inmates Elliah and Lumite it's as much a burden as the abilities they possess. Can these two boys ever find true freedom?

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Dried Up Petals

All over the land there were said to be people born with special abilities. These powers were not inherited or caused by anything tangible.

Some believed they were chosen by a holy force but the majority believed they were a curse upon all humanity and were sure to cause destruction.

At first the total amount was small enough to be unnoticeable, but as the years passed it increased drastically. Naturally they were detested and exiled to live in the shadows…until a new King came to the throne.

Suddenly, the empire of Nostreumten was thrown into dismay by the change of rulers.

Odera was the only son of King Yesera. After his father’s abrupt death there was no longer anyone to stand in his way.

He was a true monarch, obsessed with conquering all that he didn’t posses and destroying everything that defied him.

The kingdom had doubled in size with all the seized land he attained. Many citizens were forced to live in crowded homes and had fallen into poverty.

His thirst for power made him realize the potential the outcasts had and soon they were targeted. Hunting down as many as he could get his hands on, he imprisoned them in multiple areas.

He proclaimed them ‘Roses’.

In order to make a living some men and women sought out the ‘Roses’ for rewards his majesty promised in return. Bounties became the common way to earn money throughout the kingdom.

Regardless if they were an elder, woman, or child…if the King found an ability useful he used it for his own personal benefit or as a weapon of war…

More light had been coming through the barred window than usual. It slightly lighted the room and to keep myself busy I counted my toes to remember the numbers Lumite had taught me last month. I had to keep being preoccupied in order to not think about the darkness all around me.

When I was alone in it, it was always harder to stay calm.

The binding around my mouth became even more intolerable as the moments passed and I occasionally had to restrain myself from trying to remove it.

Sometimes the steady droplets of water falling from the ceiling would divert my attention, but usually the only sound would be my heartbeat. Hearing it would only make me restless.

I looked up at the light shining in, but shut my eyes quickly because it was so bright. In spite of how very little was coming in, the warmth resonating from it distracted me from the iciness of the stone floor. I would've sat on the bundles of hay piled against the same stone walls but it became uncomfortable after such a long time.

As used as I was to waiting patiently everyday for his return, the fear I felt never resided.

Only when I heard dragging footsteps approaching would my heart finally calm down.

Out from the shadows came the same guards who would disrupt my few moments of peace. They carried a young man's body that had tattered clothing like I wore and uneven strands of hair that fell in his eyes.

Even though he looked drained and completely worn out, my heart still leaped with joy just at the sight of him.

"We brought back your pathetic friend!" one guard yelled as he the other unlocked the cell door. They pushed him in and he was falling to the floor.

[Lumite!!] I held my arms out and caught him in time; he was breathing heavy and sweating like crazy.

The slightly taller guard re-locked the door, "His highness should've named your kind 'scum' instead of 'roses'! As if you guys deserve that title!"

"You two are so pathetic! A dead body and a mute...I swear if the King didn't find you useful I'd have gotten rid of you myself a long time ago." He laughed and his friend joined him.

"Let'em rot in their misery while they still can! We've spent enough time in here, let's get goin'!" they began to walk away but insulted us one more time, "See you tomorrow freaks! If you're still breathin' that is!"

I ignored their remarks as I only concentrated on the boy in my embrace, [Are you okay, Lumite?]

He half opened his eyes, both hues clouded and hazy "Don't worry Elliah..." his voice was coarse.

[What did he have this time?] I brought him up to a sitting position but still held him close to me.

He took a couple breaths before replying, "Just the common cold...nothing serious."He shut his eyes again "I'll be fine...I need to sleep is all."

I rocked him gently back and forth, and smiled behind my gauge when he rested his face against my chest.

Lumite and I are some of the few 'Roses' still living inside the castle.

We became cellmates only two years ago, but I've been here almost all my life...

Lumite coughed loudly and I grabbed an old cloth we used as a blanket. It was filthy, torn almost everywhere, and very thin; however it was the only thing we had so we had no other choice. I held him a little tighter, hoping my lousy body heat could help lower his fever.

From what he's told me...Lumite was previously located in a maximum prison outside the castle perimeter, he was there for six years. He was relocated because the King wanted him closer to not have to travel so far.

Lumite's amazing healing powers made him a constant necessity to Odera...

The daylight from the window turned to an orange and reddish color, so I knew it would soon be dark. I decided to lay Lumite carefully down on the hay we were sitting on; making sure he was covered completely. Or at least most of him since it was such a poor excuse for a blanket.

This 'gift' Lumite possesses causes him more harm every time he heals the person...whatever illness or injury someone has is transferred to him by a mere touch...after ever healing it takes him much longer to recuperate...

All I ever saw of night time was a very dark blue sky; Lumite had often told me that he was able to see the stars and the moon when he was in his old cell, I considered him lucky since I never have before.

The few times I was out in the open it had been daylight...and the sun would always be too blinding to see anything around me...

"Mnn..."Lumite groaned as his eyes fluttered open.

[Lumite! How are you feeling? Do you still feel sick?] I brushed his long bangs off his face.

He brought his hand up to hold mine that was resting on his cheek, "Not that much anymore, thank you for taking care of me." He gave me a small smile and it made my heart flutter a bit.

[You don't have to thank me every time I try to help you...I didn't even do anything useful...] I bent down and brought our foreheads together, he still felt hot but not burning like earlier.

Lumite ran a hand through my hair, "Yes I do...and don't be modest, you did your best to lower my temperature...anyone else would have just left me like I was..." his right eye began to glow. It was the same color as the sunshine, but a somewhat darker tint.

One of the King's head consultant's was suffering from a failing cornea...while recovering from the horrible pain, Lumite's eye changed and never returned to its original shade...

I breathed out my nose, [When are you going to tell me which was your actual eye color, Lumite?]

He smirked, "The day we escape from this place..."

I had fallen asleep at Lumite's side and somewhere during the night he must have wrapped his arms around me. The gesture made me lightly blush but it was so comforting being in that position. I could feel his soft breathing alongside the top of my head and watched as his chest rose and fell.

When we were like this, it always seemed to make everything around us disappear.

However, our minutes of serenity were interrupted by our harsh reality.

The door of our cell slammed open and the same impudent guards stood above us.

"Get up, you damn freak! His highness needs your stupid healing power!"

Lumite still had one arm wrapped around my back; his voice was rough "I just cured him the other day."

The guard became annoyed, "Don't argue!" he stepped towards us as he grabbed Lumite's hair and yanked him to his feet.

I became scared and angry at the same time. As they pulled him out I tried to grab a hold of his arm, [No Lumite! Don't let them take you! You still haven't recovered from your cold!!]

"Don't interfere you pest!!" the man shouted at me, pushing me backward. I tumbled down onto the hard stone floor.

I heard Lumite yell, "Leave him alone! I won't resist so please don't mess with him!"

"We're the ones giving orders here!" he brought out his keys and locked the cell door.

I immediately got back up on my feet and ran to the bars, cursing them for being in the way [No! Lumite!]

He turned is head to me and half smiled as he said, "I'll be alright Elliah...remember that his majesty's body doesn't have the greatest immune system after all."

Again the guard pushed him forward, "Quit wasting time with the mute! Move!"

I kept my gaze on them until they disappeared in the dark hall. The silence once again became my company.

I gripped the bars as I sank to the ground, continuing to wish that I could call out his name instead of just screaming it in my head.

Despite my constant worrying over what ailment Lumite is forced to treat...a bigger fear overcomes me every time they come for him...

My body shivered and I turned around so I could hug my knees to my chest, slowly rocking back and forth.

Many of the roses that have been captured usually never last for more than a year...

King Odera uses them as much as possible until they...well as Odera once told me, "They will fulfill my needs till they shrivel and dry up...exactly like a rose that withers."

So far he's been true to his word...

All who he found useless or drained of their powers...were executed.

Therefore...when they take Lumite away...I'm terrified that one day he might never come back...

Every single time I wait in the never ending stillness...listening carefully for the sound of approaching footsteps...

Lumite was now standing in front of two giant elaborately decorated doors.

There were no noises being made from the other side, but it was different for Lumite.

Odera's thoughts are louder than anyone else's...maybe even more than his actual speaking voice.

Two servants opened the doors and a booming shout echoed the huge throne room.

"What the hell took you idiots so long!?"

Lumite winced, he hated hearing this man speak, I didn't think a normal human's voice could elevate that high...

Both guards who had escorted him bowed and apologized, "We are sorry your highness, please forgive us." It was obvious they didn't mean a word.

"I don't want to hear it, get out and don't come inside until I give the order!"Odera commanded.

The men were hesitant about his order, not wanting to leave the King with a Rose but obeyed without saying anything else.

As the doors shut, Lumite stared at Odera closely for a few seconds before stating,"...You're not ill, so why am I here again?"

He scoffed at Lumite's demanding tone, "I don't need to give you a reason...You will come to me whenever I command you to even for the smallest thing. You 'Roses' solely exist for my purposes, nothing more. Never forget that." Lumite glared at him, "But! Because I'm bored I'll inform you anyway..."

Lumite had already figured it out, "You want me to heal another of your lovers..."

Odera smirked mischievously, "That ridiculous brothel needs to send me some that can withstand a little 'tough love'."

Lumite remained quiet as he continued glaring daggers at such an evil man.

I jumped up from where I was sitting when I heard rapid steps coming my way. I could make out the two sets that belonged to the guards and the shuffling of another.

"Look at this excited brat!" one mocked Elliah.

"You're so much like a dog! Here's your wretched master!" I waited right by the door as they unlocked it and grabbed Lumite's body from them. He was heavy so I quickly set him down on the wall that had most of the hay located near it.

Surprisingly the guards didn't laugh or make fun of us; I only knew that they left when the jingling of keys faded.

It felt like my heart had stopped at the sight of Lumite, his skin had become paler, there were some bruises on the side of his face, and he had trouble taking breaths due to the pain. [Oh my god...Lumite what is this!? Who on earth did you heal!?]

Through staggered huffs Lumite replied, "Haa...Someone else that...suffers Odera's wrath...besides us 'Roses'..."

To be continued...

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