The Phantom of Choice

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3

Then morning was fast to come. I found myself standing on street and wondering what should I do next. I kind of didn’t think this part well.

Calm down. I said to myself when I felt that I started panicking. If there really was a noble child that is sick, rumors will spread and people will know. All you have to do is ask. You just need to find someone who will know.

But who will know?

The street started to fill with people and I was suspicious only standing there like that. Doing nothing just gazing into a wall.

I forced myself to move, to make few steps. See, it wasn’t that hard. It took just a bit of effort of rising one foot and pushing it forward. And then the same process with the other one. Muscles knew how to move I only had to give them command to move. It was as simple as that. And it worked.

I got out of street and out of looks of curious people.

Now, where can I get some information? Well, pubs were always a good place. But in this hour of day, in bright morning like this one, no one will be there so there won’t be anyone to ask.

Then there were old women. Everyone knew, they were a source of information hidden from anyone. And they were willing to share, if only you were patient enough to get to the point where endless chitty-chat was interesting for you. Now how hard it will be to find one?

In our village, they usually sit on porches of someone’s house and observe. But this is city. Will this be the same? Or do they have a special meeting point?

I started to wander the city. And I was looking for one of those meeting points they could have. This was too tiring.

After few streets and couple of hours of endless scroll without results I felt tired. I didn’t have money, but I managed to steal two apples from one merchant. Gosh, he was so oblivious, that even little kid wouldn’t have problem to take them from him. I wasn’t hungry, but I forced myself to eat one. I needed energy. And I needed to be strong if something happens. If there is really cure I needed to find it.

I couldn’t return the apple to merchant. I knew he lost some money because of me and I was very sorry. Instead, I gave that one apple to kid I found on street. She was obviously begging.

“You don’t have family?“ I asked her as I passed her the apple.

“No, madam. My parents died when I was baby. My aunt is taking care of me, but she is sick now too.“ she answered. I could hear her stomach clearly, but even so she didn’t bite into the apple.

“You are keeping the apple for her?“ she nodded. “She has the plague?“ she nodded again.

“Do you have anyone who will take care of you?“

“I have an older brother. He is working in palace. We will be fine. The two of us,“ she said and started to beg for food again. One woman tossed a rotten cabbage on her. But she didn’t throw away that rotten piece of food. She hid it again and begged. She looked as if she even forgot that I was still there with her.

I braced my bravery and asked her: “do you know anything about the cure?“ She looked at me with wide eyes. “Don’t lie to me or I will tell everyone how you hide food.“ I didn’t understand myself, how I started to threat like this, but I needed to know. I didn’t recognize myself. But I needed my answers.

“Tonight, it will be taken to palace. By north gate on water probably. But about that I am not sure. The daughter of noble is sick so they are bringing cure for her. But, please, madam, I am begging you. Let the cure for us. We need it for my aunt. We can’t survive without her,“ she started to cry.

“You told me all I needed to know. Thank you. When I get the cure, I will help you I promise. I will do whatever I can to help. I promise,“ I put my hand on her shoulder. She had so much pain in her eyes. That kind of pain a kid like her shouldn’t even know yet. “I swear, you will be okay“ with those words I stood up and left her.

What will I do now? What?

Who will I save? Who can I save?

Only one cure, but two people. Two people...

One family one that had my promise. What do I value more? Blood bond or promise?

She is my family and I can’t put my brother though that pain again. Not when I said I will help. But if I save her, that little girl will end on street forever. Her brother will probably leave to the army and die soon. She will become a prostitute and gosh... I can’t even think about that. About that little body of hers she would be selling. She may become a mother before she even knows what childhood is. And she may even not survive.

But that is my brother! He took care of me. He was there for me, when mom died. He is my only family. The only one I have left. And if his baby dies, how will I be able to face him? How will I look into his eyes? How will I explain that I had a cure, but decided not to save his child?

Who can I save?

Who will I save?

How can I choose between two lives? Whose life is more valuable, whose is less? Whose life is worth saving and whose life is not? What will I do?

And why am I even thinking about it? That little girl is not even my family! I don’t even know anything about her. Why am I trying so much to keep that promise I gave her? Why? Shouldn’t it be obvious that I should save my niece?

I stopped in the middle of the street. I was right outside the castle gate. But I was not realizing it. All I could think about was that for first time I realized, that that little baby is my family as well. That my brother’s kid is my niece.

But that girl... She was me. I could see myself in her. She resembled me so much. I could relate with her so easily. It was... It felt... I had a feeling... If I couldn’t save myself maybe... Maybe by saving her I could... Save myself too...

The sudden idea that meant I can relive my soul just a bit... Just that idea was enough for me to be able to breathe more freely.

But will that be enough when I say to brother, I couldn’t save his child, will that be enough for me to stay alive? Will this liberating feeling be enough for me?

Can I live just from this sole feeling that I could save a girl that is so much like me?

Why I don’t feel such relieve, when I think about saving my niece, as when I do when I think about saving her?

What will I do?

Who will I save?

Who can I save?

What can I do?

I have a chance to decide. The privilege. The opportunity to decide my own destiny. But this isn’t only my live. This decision involves many people. Not only my life depended on it. So many others to as well. What do I do?

Staring on front gate of the castle I realized it all.

I need to get out of sight first. And then I will save myself.

What did she said? By river? Where is the river?

What was her name? I didn’t remember it. No, she didn’t say. I didn’t ask. I have to find her and do that. I need to ask.

River. Need to find river.

When I was thinking about flowing water, I could hear it. It was nearby. I could hear water flowing in its current and falling. Waterfall?

All I had to do was to follow the sound and go along the castle walls and I was sure I would find it.

To left. That was the side sound was coming from. Left.

Soon, I was at the shore. Of course, the shore itself had walls. The sight from there was really pretty. It must have been a romantic walk during full moon here. But that was goddamn inconvenient for my plan. I didn’t even know I had plan. My only plan was to get the cure. I never thought about that how part.

And seems like I don’t have chance to think about it much. A ship was coming.

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