Lies and Deceit Hidden in the Wind

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Chapter 10 pt B

We took off forward to make it to the council meeting. We were already late and I felt bad enough about that already. Ronin was sipping his tea as we were running down the hallway. It was a wonder he wasn’t spilling it on himself.

We just barely made it into the council chamber before they started. We made quite the scene entering as well. We looked disheveled compared to all the old men and women who look like they have a wooden pole for spines. My father looked directly at me and he was scowling. I tried to stop myself, I really did. I smiled back at him. It was a malicious smile that said “I know something. You don’t know what it is,”.

My father shifted uncomfortably in his seat. I can’t believe that this man is the one who I spent my whole life terrified of. I felt like I was looking at him with new eyes. I could see as clear as day that he didn’t have the power over me that I thought he did. We were finally equaled but only insight. I was still only the Chi while he was the Ene.

“Per Andromeda, Ronin Silas,” My father greeted the first two and I prepared myself for his anger with me, “Chi Lucian.”

There it was. The ice that made his words so cold and distant. I was wrong before. I remember thinking that he blamed me for my mother’s death but that wasn’t right. In truth, it was that he pretended that he hated me for so long that he didn’t have to pretend anymore. That’s all that was left of his feelings for me. Plain resentment.

“Glad to see you could make it,” My father’s voice boomed around the circular chamber and it echoed slightly.

I winced as I kept expecting it to get louder. It didn’t, eventually, it died down. That’s when I noticed my father’s eyes on me. He was examining me. I internally panicked. Could he see that I knew what was going on? Would I need a new plan? No. He couldn’t be that good. He spent years thinking he had the upper hand on me. He wouldn’t be able to switch from that comfort to anxiety. He wouldn’t want to.

It would take a lot more than me just being visibly uncomfortable for him to get worried. It would take a lot.

He knows.

No, he doesn’t, pipe down.

“First order of business,” My father announced.

I wasn’t paying attention. How could I? Council meetings are the slowest things since slugs. Instead, I let my mind wander towards my bedroom where Brinley was probably getting ready for the day. I wonder if she was surprised when she slept in longer than I did. I wonder if she was enjoying the sunny winter day.

“I have something to announce.” My father suddenly stood up in front of everyone.

All eyes went up to him. His councilmen themselves looked slightly confused as well as everyone else. This wasn’t planned. My father was being rash. Something had spooked him and I have a feeling it was me. I kept my breathing calm and devoid as we waited for him to continue to talk. No one knew what he was going to do. He had most definitely sat in his seat for a while, debating whether or not he should stand up and do whatever he was about to do. For my father’s standards, that was rash. No one knew about it so it wasn’t going to be something the people in this room wanted. My father was relying on his ability to talk. He knew he could probably convince them. He probably could. My father had a natural ability with words. Something that the rest of us couldn’t touch.

“Well, Edmond, what is it? Don’t leave us in suspense!” The man on my father’s right laughed. Maybe this happened a lot in the council meetings. I don’t know. I haven’t been to a lot of them. The only reason I’m here today is that the head councilman, my father’s right-hand man, asked me to be here today.

Everyone laughed nervously with the head councilman. My father was an unpredictable man. I know that goes against everything I’ve said about his conscious ability to overthink but you have to understand something. When my father thinks too much about something, his thinking gets warped and twisted. It makes for some odd choices that no one really understands, but it makes perfect sense in his head. It’s remarkable really.

“I called my son here today,” Edmond’s voice boomed. He really didn’t have a loud voice but it did carry very well.

Honestly, I’m not surprised that it was my father who called me here today. The head councilman cannot have a single thought of his own. Father is behind almost every dealing the councilman makes. It’s his way of remaining in absolute control. The council is here to protect against tyranny but my father has found a way to corrupt even that.

“For one reason and one reason only.” My father concluded.

Everyone around me was chattering excitedly. They didn’t know what to do or say. This hadn’t happened before. I didn’t know what to do or say. I just sat there dumbfounded by what was happening around me. This was certainly more exciting than listening to councilmen debate whether or not we should raise taxes to rebuild the castle quicker.

All the eyes in the room were either on me or my father. It felt like the council room itself was holding its breath.

The girl next to me smiled, “Congratulations.”

I didn’t know what for. Perhaps she thought that getting called out in the middle of a council meeting was a good thing. I wasn’t as positive as she was. It was more likely he was trying to sabotage my political career. Sounded more at my father’s speed than congratulating me or promoting me or whatever she thought he was doing.

I nodded at her politely and bit the inside of my cheek. I was nervous. I couldn’t help being so. This was the most powerful man in the Shire, and he hated me. I didn’t know what I was to do. Is there really something you can do in this situation except sit and wait for something to happen?

“I want to announce to the entire Council,” My father continued.

Oh no.

This was going to be bad. Everyone on the council was on the edge of their seats waiting to see what my father would give me. Little would they realize that it wasn’t quite the gift they were expecting?

Why am I even worried about this? I’m dying. I won’t even be alive to see my days as the Ene. It doesn’t matter what he does to me. So what if I live my last few months as a hermit? At least it will be over soon.

They’ll disgrace Brinley.

Of course, they will.

I internally sighed. Getting married was perhaps the worst mistake I’ve ever made. It is constantly ruining our lives. I didn’t need to get married. I could’ve refused. I should have insisted on marrying a girl I picked instead of one my father picked. At least my way would have taken longer and I wouldn’t be married right now.

Fine. I wasn’t going to let myself get disgraced. For Brinley’s sake, not my own.

“Lucian is not fit for the throne!” My father’s voice echoed.

I sat there, emotionless. Scratch that, I was bored. I already knew this was coming. If he is going to ruin my life, at least give me the courtesy of not making the plan painfully predictable. The council room was silent. The representatives and the councilmen kept looking back and forth between my father and myself.

I was fuming, but I wasn’t about to let them know that. This wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before. This time it was in front of everyone powerful in the kingdom. I was angry of course but it’s better not to react. If I blew up in his face, that would only support his theory that I was unsuited for the throne.

“Excuse me? Edmond, what?” the head councilmen choked on his water.

My father remained unfazed by my apparent lack of reaction. He was determined to make me explode and he wasn’t about to stop there.

This is when he was going to start the persuasive part of his speech. The part where he would tear down anything and everything I stood for. I could take it. I’m sure I could. The thing he failed to plan out was that I would eventually become immune to his taunts. I just need to forget about all the people here and just believe it was me and him. I could do this if it was just me and him. He couldn’t do anything to me.

“As many of you have probably realized as Lucian was growing up, he was an odd child.” Edmond started.

This was it? This was his explanation for my inability to take the throne. I wasn’t a part of the status quo. Some people scooted away from me. That kind of hurt. I’m not going to lie. They just kind of abandoned me as soon as my father said a single thing that could have applied to anyone.

Sure I was an odd child. Who wasn’t? Ronin was. Brinley was. Andromeda probably was. High almighty Edmond was as well. There is no way to correctly classify children into a category because they do not yet understand the “social norms”. Everyone had their quirks. This was a bad argument.

“He didn’t like hanging out with children his own age.”

Okay, I vaguely remember that.

“He had an unhealthy relationship with authority figures that could only be described as clingy.”

Is that how he saw our relationship? I believe I remember avoiding him for the majority of my childhood.

“Which only goes to explain his fascination with boys.”

“Alright, can I cut in here?” I stood up and interjected. “That’s okay, right?”

I looked at the head councilman. I think he was too shocked to object so I continued onward. I stepped up onto the bench so everyone could get a better view of me and so I could be heard more easily.

I tried to not be hurt by the people scooting away from me as if they were going to catch my “mental illnesses”. I especially tried to ignore the girl who was congratulating me earlier when I got called out by my father. She looked disgusted. I really tried not to look at her. I gathered all my courage and spoke forward.

“Alright, everyone. It’s only fair that I defend myself, isn’t that right, councilman?” I looked at him and smiled.

He panicked, that’s the only way to explain it, “I-um, I guess- wait.”

“Well, what is?”

“I guess so- I mean. No- wait.”

I gestured around the room, “I think the people need an answer.”

I knew what I was doing. Pressuring him into saying what I wanted.

“Y-yes.”

“What was that?”

“Yes.” He answered firmly.

I could see my father shaking his head in the corner of my eye.

“Right, now that we have the rules set. I would like to point out that my father’s claims were exaggerated and mostly false.”

All eyes were on me and only me for the first time in my life. I swallowed hard. I need to be able to do this. I let out one more audible breath before launching into my defense.

“People of the council,” I started talking animatedly again.

I have to admit that this was kind of fun, in a terrifying and paralyzing sort of way. I had one half of my head screaming at me to sit down and apologize and I had the other half of my head telling me to put on a show. Telling me to entertain the people for that is how I will gain their support.

“ My dear friends and family. You have known me my entire life. I’ve seen all the weird tendencies that I have and you’ve probably laughed at them behind my back.” As I noticed that some of them were looking down at their laps, I realized I had to backtrack a little. I couldn’t be guilting them. That wouldn’t work. “No, no. It’s okay. I’ve laughed at them myself but I want you to all know that I was laughing at all of you as well.”

People were confused. I was messing this up, wasn’t I?

Surely.

Shush, I need to think.

“To me, everyone around me was odd and strange and practically alien. Just as I was to you. I’m sure everyone in this room thought that they were the only ones who were truly normal and judged everyone else for the things they liked to do.”

Some people were nodding and I realized that I was actually doing it. I was convincing them. I just need to play this angle well and I would get the full support of the council.

“We are the same, you and I.”

Make it personal. If the people feel you are talking directly to them personally and not to the crowd they will more likely believe you.

“As a kid, I got made fun of a lot. Excluded in a lot of things but the worst of those taunting me came from my father.”

Eyes shifted from me to my father and then back to me. They liked listening to me speak. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had a voice. This was amazing. People were looking at me. They were hearing me speak.

“I remember the first time he started talking down to me. It was around the same time my mom died. I told my teachers around me and they told me it would pass and that he was just expressing anger toward me. It didn’t pass.”

I paused because I was afraid my voice was going to break. I hadn’t expressed this out loud before and now I was doing so in front of dozens of people.

“You all remember me as antisocial. Weird. Unhappy, maybe. But do you remember what I was like before my mom died?”

People murmured a little in the crowds a little and I searched through it. Surely someone here went to school with me. There had to be at least one person here. Then I spotted a familiar face and smiled.

“Rosia,” I looked directly at her and her eyes widened.

“We were taught together, right? You were related to my mother somehow, weren’t you?” I asked quickly and loudly so everyone would look at her.

The best way to make someone nervous is to have all attention turn to them. When people are nervous they are more likely of telling the truth.

I needed to do something big and fast because I was losing people.

“Yes. We were cousins.”

Ah yes, there it was, “Do you remember what I was like after my mother died?”

“Quiet. We all thought you were in mourning but then you stopped talking to us altogether. Lucian, I never thought you were-” Rosia choked on her words.

“Oh, that doesn’t matter now. How was I before Elaine died?”

Rosia squirmed in her seat. The name had significant meaning to Rosia. That was how I was going to get her to say what she needed to say.

“You were a happy kid. Always talking with everyone. The servants who cleaned the room. Kids several years older than you. The cook. Anyone. We all thought you were the happiest kid we knew.”

“You hear that folks. I was once a ‘normal kid’. Do you know what happened to that kid? He was verbally abused every day of his life.” I looked Edmond dead in the eyes.

Edmond looked like he was fuming. He was about to burst.

“THIS IS ALL HIS FAULT!” I pointed directly at my father and everyone frowned at him, “He thought I was too much like my mother and so he decided to squash all that was left of her. This man has been poisoning my political career since I was a child. This was his last chance as he could see that I was becoming happy again with my wife.”

“ENOUGH!” My father boomed.

Everyone shuttered and looked up at him. He was angry. Even from across the room I could see a vein popping out of his forehead. I didn’t shutter under his glare.

“Get down from there, Lucian, you look like a child,” My father harrumphed.

I wasn’t going to sit beneath his shadow anymore. If he was going to hate me then I’ll give him a reason to hate me.

I laughed as I was up on the bench, “Good for me. I look like a child? I deserve it. You stole my childhood out from under me. You made me cower beneath you for 11 years. Not anymore.” I snarled.

“Do you see the ridiculousness of this boy?”

Note how this entire time he hasn’t called me his son. I think he’s disowning me.

“He is ill. Mentally ill. I noticed it as he was a child but I was still holding on hope that he was still my son. I can see now that he is gone. His illness consumed him. That thing up there isn’t my son.”

He said it. There’s such a bad connotation with the phrase “mental illness”. There really wasn’t any coming back from this because he wasn’t wrong. I am technically mentally ill, but so is he. The best I can do is try and take him down with me to confuse the council.

As what my father was saying sank into the crowd, there was uproar. Some people were arguing that I was an immoral degenerate. Some people were arguing that my father was an abusive sadist. I mean, neither were technically wrong.

“Silence!” The head councilman demanded.

No one listened to him, they just continued arguing over me. I think I can say plainly that this wasn’t what I expected when I found out I had to go to a council meeting.

“Well, if I’m mentally ill then I think we know where I got it from,” I informed the guy sitting next to me.

He tried to stifle a laugh. My father was on the other side of the room arguing that I was a compulsive liar. Once again, not entirely wrong.

“SILENCE!” The head councilman demanded once again.

Slowly the room quieted. The head councilman looked enraged. He was extremely red in the face and he was gripping the edge of his chair very hard. He almost looked like he was dying. Poor man. I knew what that felt like.

“This has gotten out of hand! Ene Edmond, Chi Lucian, you are both dismissed from the council room. We will reconvene in five days where you both will state your cases before me and I will decide the verdict. You may go now.” He shouted at the two of us.

I gave a small bow before jumping off the bench I was standing on. I didn’t want to be here anyway. I can go check on Brinley now and see how she was doing. I think she wanted to go out and do something today as well. Now we can.

Behind me was silence and as soon as I turned out and into the hallway there was an uproar of noise. I was kind of proud as I walked back towards my room. I finally stood up for myself. I stood up against my father. I was proud of myself.

Behind me, I heard a small noise and I whipped my head around. Behind me was my seething father. My father was only an inch taller than me so we were nearly eye level. I think I’ve been growing. I don’t remember standing so tall before this.

“Yes,” I responded cheekily.

Maybe I was feeling cocky but I definitely earned the right to be so. He couldn’t hurt me. If I turned up dead or beaten and blamed my father then that was probable cause. A whole council witnessed us arguing. Suspicion would automatically fall on my father and there was no explanation in the world that would save him from those charges.

Before I could react he had his hands pressed against my throat and he started squeezing. It wasn’t long before I was gasping for air and struggling against his hard grip.

My immediate thought was “this was it. I had finally done it. I pushed him far enough for him to commit murder.” I was going to die. He started walking forward and aggressively pushed me against the cold stone wall.

I could see black spots as he squeezed harder.

“Stop!” I whispered breathlessly as I was using my waning strength to try to hit his hands away. This couldn’t be it. Could it?

“You weren’t supposed to know. YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO KNOW!!” My father yelled. I could hear his voice echo in the corridor.

“H-help.” I tried to scream but my voice was gone, crushed away. There was nothing but a whisper left.

“Help? I am trying to help you!” Edmond growled.

Help me? My eyes blurred and my vision started going out but I could see his eyes. They were dark, inhuman. I didn’t recognize them. What had happened to him? I don’t understand. In the last entry that I read he only wanted to get me thrown out of power and here he was, squeezing the life out of me.

“Please,” I begged.

I wasn’t even sure if he could hear me.

Most of my vision was black. I couldn’t see anything. The only noise I could hear was my gasping for breath. I was about to pass out.

“This is better, Lucian. I’m granting you mercy.”

I could hear my father’s words but they didn’t translate. I heard them but I didn’t understand what he was saying.

I could just barely respond with my depleted energy but I did, “Dad, please.”

I could feel my eyes close but it was not darker than it was before. I felt myself fall but I didn’t feel myself hit the floor. I could feel that first breath I took. It was filling and cold.

….

I don’t remember when I woke up that evening. It was dark outside. I was so cold. I was so tired. It was that weird sort of tiredness that you feel after sleeping for way too long.

I had woken up with a start and it hurt my throat.

I woke up disoriented. Nothing around me was recognizable. I was in a bed that was way too small to be my own. The room I was in had no personal items. The nightstand was empty, except for a single sheet of paper.

“Lucian, are you awake?” Asked a small voice.

It seemed terrified and hopeful at the same time. It had to be Brinley. She was the only person who would be worried for me like this.

“Brin?” I tried to ask but my voice was tired and sore.

My wife ran into my section of the room that was blocked off by white curtains. Her hair was in disarray and she had tear marks running down her face. She looked like she had been sitting there for a while.

“Come here,” I gestured for her. I figured that would work better than asking her to come.

Brinley staggered over to the bed and collapsed onto it. I turned toward her and she softly traced the corner of my jawline. I could see that her eyes were still watery. I felt bad for her. How long had she been sitting outside of the room, crying?

“I-I don’t understand. What ha-happened?” I hugged her closer as her voice broke. Right now I think she was in more pain than I was.

I shook my head. I couldn’t explain it to her. It would only hurt her even more. Even if I wanted to, I don’t think my voice was very reliant at the moment.

“I don’t know how this could have happened, Lucian. How did I let this happen to you?” Brinley cried.

I wish I could comfort her at this moment, assure her that it wasn’t her fault. How could it have been? It wasn’t her hands on my throat.

“I don’t-. Lucian. I was waiting for you to get back. Hours passed. It was getting dark and you still weren’t home. Ronin came by looking for you and was surprised to see that you weren’t with me. We didn’t know where you were.”

I brushed a curl out of her face to reassure her I was okay and that I was here with her. She took it the wrong way and continued to indulge in her sad story.

“That’s when the servant came and told us that you were in the infirmary. We ran down here as fast as we could, Lucian, but you were still unconscious.”

I looked at her and saw her watery brown eyes were tired.

“Sleep,” I whispered but even that hurt.

Brinley shook her head.

“No. I was going to talk to you about something when you got back from the meeting. Then I decided I was going to talk to you about it when you woke up. It’s important. I just wish it was under better circumstances.”

I was getting a little worried. Had she read the journal or maybe the parchment. I know she’s at least seen the journal. Perhaps she was going to confront me about whatever was happening to me.

“If today had gone normally, you would have come back to our room. I would have a picnic basket all set up and we would go to the courtyard even though it was cold.”

Maybe it was good news. I don’t think Brinley would go through all this trouble if she was going to get mad at me. I hope that I profiled her correctly.

“We would have eaten our food and laughed at one another. It would have been great.”

So probably something good. She doesn’t look anymore sad than she was when she walked into the room.

“I would have told you that I had something to tell you.” Brinley then smiled for the first time since she walked into the room, “And you would have asked what it was.”

I smiled at her to continue forward. I was intrigued. What was she going to say to me?

“And I would have responded,” continued Brinley, “that I was pregnant.”

My eyes got wide. My mouth got dry and my limbs felt numb. I felt my mouth drop open and I couldn’t form words. In fact, I don’t think the words really sank into my mind until a few moments later.

“What?” I rasped.

“I’m pregnant, Lucian.” Brinley’s face was dead serious and I knew that she wasn’t lying to me. I gasped audibly and I quickly glanced down at her stomach.

Logically I knew that I wasn’t going to see a baby bump but I still wanted to check.

“I’m four months along.” Brinley had a wide grin on her face.

“Really?” I mouthed.

I had given up trying to talk. It was painful.

“Really.” Brinley nodded quickly.

I pressed a quick kiss on her forehead and looked back down at her abdomen. Once again it wasn’t logical that I could see a change in only a few seconds but still. There was a child in there. There was a child and the child was mine. For the first time in months, I was entirely happy. This was my moment.

I could feel tears in the back of my eyes. This warmth in my chest was so wonderful and welcoming that I remembered how much I missed it.

“Lucian, I know that we have had a rough few months. Can you promise me that we will be okay? Can you promise me that you will try and give effort? I promise I will.” Brinley guided my eyes back towards her.

“I promise.”

I didn’t lie at that time. I had known about this child for about 30 seconds and already I knew that I was going to do whatever it took to keep them safe. I could keep my promise and I was going to. Whatever it took. Whomever it took. It didn’t matter to me. This child’s life was going to be better than mine.

“Hey Luci,” Brinley whispered.

I looked down to see that Brinley was looking at me.

“We are going to be okay, right?” Brinley asked quietly.

I thought I already answered that question. I could tell it was about something different than our relationship so I cocked my head in a question.

“I mean, Lucian. I’m worried about you.”

Has she figured out that something was wrong with me? I would be impressed.

“Is there something going on with you?” Brinley sighed.

I mean she’’s close. I wish I could explain it to her but I’m afraid that would do more damage than good. And by damage, I mean to my vocal cords. I think it would maybe give Brinley at least a little peace of mind. If only just a little.

“I mean you were so distant for months. You were acting differently and then as soon as you start getting back to normal, you get attacked.” Brinley gestured to my neck which was probably all sorts of bruised.

I was about to protest but Brinley shushed me.

“Save your voice. We can have this discussion when you are healed.” Brinley insisted. “Just answer one question, nod yes or no. Does Edmond have you involved in something?”

I bite the inside of my cheek. I wish I could explain it all to her. Instead, I shake my head for no. Brinley sighs in relief.

“Okay.” She ends the conversation.

Brinley cuddles into my chest and says something that I couldn’t make out. But she pulls the blue journal out of a pocket in her skirts.

“I figured you would want to read it so I grabbed it from your nightstand earlier tonight. Here.” She handed me the book and I was overwhelmed with emotion.

I know that she was my wife and we were supposed to do little things for each other all the time, but this simple gesture was exactly what I needed. I didn’t grow up with very much affection from my father. I was reminded of that today. I was reminded of a lot of things today. Just knowing that Brinley was thinking of me almost makes me feel better.

“Do you know I love you?” I asked her.

Brinley’s breathing stopped for a minute and then she sighed in relief, “I do now.”

Brinley soon closed her eyes after that. Before long her breathing steadied and she fell asleep. She must have had a long day. I don’t blame her. It felt like I had a long day too and I was asleep for more than half of it.

I looked at the journal that was in my hand and then down at Brinley again. I decided that I wasn’t going to read it and put it on the nightstand next to the small bed. I wasn’t going to let father ruin my life even more than he already had. I settled in next to Brin and closed my eyes. I tried to sleep but I couldn’t. There was just so much on my mind. In five days the council is going to decide whether or not the Kreed bloodline is going to be expelled from the throne. Brinley is pregnant now. If we get kicked out, that’s another person disgraced. The poor child hasn’t even had the chance to be born and already there is a threat to their life. Also, I’m still dying. By the way, my mother deteriorated, I would say I have a few months to a year at most. That still a majority of our child’s life is being raised by only one parent.

I looked around the small room for something, anything really, to take my mind off my problems. The only thing was the small blue journal sitting on the nightstand. I picked it up and stared at it intensely. How is it that something so small and written a decade ago was still impacting my life to this day?

I rolled my eyes. Curse my morbid curiosity. I wasn’t done reading the journal. I’m pretty sure I was getting close to finishing it though.

Don’t read the book.

I’m kind of done with people trying to mess with my life so I elected to ignore the voice in my head. I picked up the book and flipped through it to find what entry I was on.

….

Journal,

It happened late at night. It finally happened. I remember waking up from a fitful sleep to screams. Elaine wasn’t awake but she was screaming. I didn’t know what to do. Savs would be patrolling the hallways and if they heard screaming they would question what was happening. I decided the best course of action was to wake her up. Maybe she could swallow her screams if she was awake.

Elaine’s fingers were already trying to scratch her ears off so I used one hand to pin them to the bed and my other hand to shake her awake. I didn’t want to wake her up but it was better if we did this quickly rather than prolong it.

It’s gone.

Elaine didn’t wake up at first and I was almost relieved. That is what made me so disgusted. I was relieved when she wouldn’t wake up.

It’s gone.

The lamp’s flame blew out and I was sitting in the darkness. I could still make out some of the words on the page from the lamp on the wall so I continued reading.

Her screams still penetrate my ears. They echo in them. I’m afraid I will continue to hear them for the rest of my life. It scares me.

I shook her again and she stirred in her sleep. Her tears ran all over my hand and I stared at them. In the low light, they looked red, as if she was crying blood instead of tears. I couldn’t get distracted now. I closed my eyes and I felt my tears begin to fall from my eyes. I needed to pull myself together. I wouldn’t be able to help if I was hysterical. I backed up for a few minutes and focused on my breathing.

You know what’s happening Lucian.

No, I don’t.

I tried to calm down. I really tried but how am I supposed to be calm in a situation like this? How?

“Elaine! Please wake up!” I cried as I shook her again.

You’ve always known what happened.

No, I don’t. Shush.

The wind blew open the shutters and a gust of cold air entered the room. I shivered in the now frigid air. I set down the journal for a second to shut them and Brinley shifted in her sleep.

“Where are you going, Luci?” Brinley stretched on the small mattress.

I patted her head and climbed back into the small bed so she knew that I was there. Brinley buried her face into my chest and I kept her close. I picked up the journal again and kept reading.

“Wake up!!” I screamed.

Elaine’s eyes fluttered and she tried to claw at me. I shook her again and she opened her eyes. They were red and hollow in the low light. I could see the trails her tears left on her face. She looked miserable.

Elaine’s hair was knotted and matted from days upon end staying in the bed. Her face was hollow and wasted away. There were no longer the chubby cheeks that I used to make fun of her for. Instead, they were replaced by her now protruding cheekbones. Even in the low light, I could see the color of her eyes as clear as day. I will never forget them. They were the color of tree bark in the summertime. A summertime she will never see again. The world has gone cold and dark. Just as Elaine has wasted away.

“Edmond, take it away.” She cried.

I felt dissociated by her cries. I didn’t want to believe it was her. I didn’t want to believe that it was my wife crying out of unimaginable pain. That couldn’t be me. That couldn’t be my life. How? How was it possible that life would choose to take Lainy from me? Why did it have to be her?

“Edmond!” She cried.

I wasn’t thinking about the present. All I was thinking about was the garden she would plant in the springtime. She would spend hours in that garden. Just sitting there and watching her flowers grow. I never understood how she could just sit and watch flowers grow. Now I do. I wish I could take Elaine far away from here and just sit and watch her roses grow with her. That sounds like paradise to me. It was a world of no pain.

You know what happened.

No that’s not possible.

“Edmond, you promised.” Elaine cried. “Please.”

It didn’t seem to register in my head. My wife was begging me. How could this be her? Elaine hardly looked like herself anymore.

I remember running down hallways with her, back before we were married. My father hated it. He scolded us for not living with sticks for spines. Elaine never cared when he would yell at her but she would insist we stopped for the day out of respect for my father. Of course, we would be back at it the next day. I can’t even remember the last time we did that together. It was sometime after we got married.

I remember seeing her for the first time. She was the Aus for the Shire very far away. You could tell by the way she looked. She was so different. Her skin was pale and her hair, oh, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was a mix of orange, red, and brown. Her eyes were brown, like mine, but her’s seemed better. They had golden specs in them. Her parents were only in town for a few days and I knew I needed to make them last. We had our first kiss on the first day she was in the Fortress.

We spent two weeks together and I had already fallen in love with her. Our romance seemed so special and rare. After four weeks I had my father ask her parents for the right to court her. Two weeks after that we were engaged. I thought nothing could touch us. We were in love and wouldn’t love to conquer all? Obviously, they were wrong about that.

“Edmond, please. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay, Edmond.” She was comforting me.

Why was she comforting me?

“I forgive you, Edmond. Please take me out of this place.” Elaine begged

No.

“You promised me, Edmond.”

Yes.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my knife. It caught the firelight in the other room and it looked like it was glowing.

NO!

Elaine caught my eye as I was horrified, “Thank you.” She whispered.

Do it.

....

I threw the journal against the nightstand and threw off the covers. He took away my mother. He took away my life. HE TOOK EVERYTHING FROM ME!

He needed to pay for his actions. He got away with everything for far too long. He needs to be taught a lesson.

He will take your child.

I stormed out of the infirmary.

“Lucian!” One of the nurses exclaimed, “Shouldn’t you be in bed?”

I glared at her and continued out of the room. He poisons everything he touched. I was the only one who knew about it. I was the only one who could bring justice to everything he’d done wrong. He wouldn’t hurt anyone again.

I turned out into the hallway and for the first time in a long time, my mind was blank. I wasn’t overthinking anything at that moment. Everything was quiet and that was how I knew that this was right. This was the first thing I would do that was right.

I could hear my footsteps echoing the corridor as I walked quickly towards the tower where my father would already be in bed. He’d poisoned our land for far too long. I was doing our world a favor. A man like that shouldn’t exist.

As I walked up the stairs I went over everything he ever did to me. The list was long.

He deserves it.

He does.

He deserved everything that was coming for him. He manipulated and hurt everyone around him. Then he went around and pretended it wasn’t happening. I would at least have more respect for him if he embraced everything he was. Just the fact he was suppressing it in front of the public meant he was a coward.

“Lucian! I was told that you weren’t supposed to be out of bed.” One of the servants paused and then chased after me.

I whipped around towards him. I was on a mission. I don’t care if I’m supposed to be healing or whatever anyone else wanted me to do. That wasn’t what I was here to do.

“You will leave me alone.” I threatened him.

It was painful talking to him but it was the easiest way to get him to leave me alone. I’m sure it worked too since my voice box was crushed which made my voice all gravely and low.

The servant backed up and I think he knew that this wasn’t anything for him to get involved in. He was right. It was nothing for him. On the stairs, I passed my bedroom and then stopped and walked back towards it. The room was in a state of disarray. Brinley left to go to my aid quickly. A stack of books was knocked over and a few items on her vanity had fallen to the floor. The one thing that caught my eye was my sword on the pedestal. The gilded blade was glinting in the moonlight. It almost seemed to be beckoning to me.

Take the sword.

It had been dormant for so long and it seemed to be yearning for blood once more. Upon the pedestal, it seemed minacious and taunting. It was like it was saying I didn’t have the willpower to take it down. It was wrong, I had done it before and I will most certainly do it again. I reached up and pulled it off the wall.

The pedestal broke and clattered to the floor. I didn’t feel the need to fix it. The sword wasn’t going to be on display anymore. I don’t know why it ever was. It was such a beautiful design. It was too perfect just to sit on a wall.

Do it, Lucian.

I held the sword in my hand and saw my reflection in its blade. My eyes held no emotion. My face was still and slack. It was like my spirit abandoned me for the moment and left me as a husk.

I faltered as I looked at my expression. To take a man’s life is one thing but to take your own father’s life?

Lucian, do it.

I still stared at the sword. How would I be able to face myself ever again?

Do you see the ridiculousness of this boy? He is ill. Mentally ill. I noticed it as he was a child but I was still holding on hope that he was still my son. I can see now that he is gone. His illness consumed him. That thing up there isn’t my son.

I heard my father’s voice as clear as day in my head, and it made me wonder if he was here. If somehow he knew what I was planning on doing and so he came back to finish the job. I looked around the room but there was no one there. Only shadows and whispers of past memories. I used the sword and jabbed at the thin air. It was heavier than my fencing sword. I hadn’t practiced with a sword like this in a long time.

Lucian!

Anger. The voice was angry at me. He wanted me to continue. He wanted me to go forward with my wicked plan but why? Was it another manifestation of my arguments or was it its own being with nefarious purposes?

My immediate thought was “this was it. I had finally done it. I pushed him far enough for him to commit murder.” I was going to die. He started walking forward and aggressively pushed me against the cold stone wall.

I could see black spots as he squeezed harder.

“Stop!” I whispered breathlessly as I was using my waning strength to try to hit his hands away. This couldn’t be it. Could it?

“You weren’t supposed to know. YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO KNOW!!” My father yelled. I could hear his voice echo in the corridor.

“H-help.” I tried to scream but my voice was gone, crushed away. There was nothing but a whisper left.

“Help? I am trying to help you!” Edmond growled.

Help me? My eyes blurred and my vision started going out but I could see his eyes. They were dark, inhuman. I didn’t recognize them. What had happened to him? I don’t understand. In the last entry that I read he only wanted to get me thrown out of power and here he was, squeezing the life out of me.

“Please,” I begged.

I wasn’t even sure if he could hear me.

Most of my vision was black. I couldn’t see anything. The only noise I could hear was my gasping for breath. I was about to pass out.

“This is better, Lucian. I’m granting you mercy.”

I could hear my father’s words but they didn’t translate. I heard them but I didn’t understand what he was saying.

I could just barely respond with my depleted energy but I did, “Dad, please.”

“Please stop!” I pleaded with the air.

Kill him.

“Will you stop if I do it?”

Kill him.

I looked down at the sword in my hand. This was the only way to make the voices stop. This was the only way for me to continue to live. It was either him or me and I knew what choice I would make.

I wiped away a few stray tears and picked myself up. I had to do it.

The voices will stop, Lucian. Do this one thing.

I walked out of my room. I could feel tears dripping down my face but I wasn’t really crying. I wasn’t sure what I was really feeling. Everything was quiet. All the buzzing in my head was gone. The voices weren’t whispering anymore. Everything was so quiet. It was like everyone was holding their breath, waiting to see what I would do.

I was too. I wasn’t making any sounds even though I knew that no one was around to hear me. No one was around to see me. No one would witness what I was doing. I had to keep reminding myself that because I was on edge.

The only thing around me was the sound of my footsteps on the stone floors. It was bugging me so I took off my boots. I needed complete silence. I trudged forward, unable to stop myself. How was I supposed to know what to do or think? I was on a mission to murder my father in his bed. Not many people could say that.

I took a breath and remembered why I was doing it. It was for my mother. She didn’t deserve everything he put her through. Mom was begging for him to kill her but he manipulated her into thinking she wanted to die. In the entry before that, he was thinking about it. He said he wished that she would die then instead of being in pain. He probably convinced her that dying was the best way to go. He convinced her to die without letting me say goodbye.

When I looked up I was in front of my father’s bedroom. The door was unlocked. It didn’t make sense. My father practically invented overthinking. Why would he leave his door unlocked? Sure he had Savs guarding the door to the tower, but considering our relationship had been rocky for over a decade you would have thought that he would lock his door in case one day I decided that I didn’t want to deal with him when I woke up. I lock my bedroom door every night. I always assumed that he would do the same.

I pushed the door open and everything was dark. The embers in the fire were dying out. From the sitting room, I could see him sleeping in his bed. Seeing him before me sent a second wave of regret.

Do it.

The voice was insistent and I slowly walked forward. I felt sick. The sword in my hand felt heavier than it had before.

Lucian.

What?

Lucian.

W-yes?

Do it.

I am.

DoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoitDoit.

“Shut up!” I accidentally said it out loud and I could see my father shift in his bed from across the room.

I walked over to his bed and I looked at him. He seemed so defenseless. It almost didn’t seem right to kill him like this. I picked up the sword’s tip from the floor and pointed it at my father. He was sleeping. I was going to kill him in his sleep?

Coward.

This time it was my father’s voice.

You can’t even kill me while I’m unarmed.

I can. I can and I will.

Kill him, Lucian.

The voice was taunting me. I pressed the sword’s tip to my father’s throat.

….

Dear son,

I did it, Lucian. I did it and it was the worst mistake I had ever made. Taking someone’s life is something you can never take back. I may have ended Elaine’s pain that day but it started an eternity of suffering for me. It changed me.

Already I can feel my humanity slipping away but now you know what really happened. I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you before but I’m afraid it was something you really had to find out for yourself.

You can hate me all you wish. I know I do. You can hate me with your entire being and I won’t be mad at you son. A part of me died with Elaine that night. The best part of me died. I don’t know if I will be able to hold on to myself for much longer. I thought I could move on but I can’t, son and for that I’m sorry.

I’m leaving my door unlocked for you. If you decide you cannot go on living, knowing that I was not punished for Elaine’s death, then I invite you to take the matter into your own hand. Every day it will be unlocked for you to decide my fate. I don’t care, either way, Lucian. May it be by your hand or by fate’s hand, I will be whole again and I can return to the love of my life.

I’m not mad at you son, in fact, I’m really proud.

I know you will grow up to be a wonderful man and I’m sorry for all the things I will do to you in the process. I love you.

I hope one day you will come to forgive me.

-Your Father

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