Chapter 12 pt B
“Brinley,” I called out but my voice failed me.
Even from over here, I could see the pure terror in her eyes as she saw the long arrow protruding from her arm. Her cries were loud and terrible. I could feel my eyes glazing over like I had been hit but I didn’t feel any pain. I couldn’t have been hit. It sounded like my head was still underwater from diving into the pool. Chaos broke when people realized what had happened to their Sor.
Some ran towards us. Some ran towards the Fortress. Others ran into the forests. I couldn’t do anything but sit there in the marsh, reaching out to Brinley who was otherwise too occupied to notice. Hundreds of arrows shot from the forest and they hit people by the dozens. The village men fell with nobles. Savs had it best. Some even tried to form ranks and fight back but we couldn’t see them in the impending darkness and fog.
“How are they seeing us?” A Sav next to me exclaimed as he quickly nocked another arrow. His voice sounded weird though. It seemed like it was almost distorted.
“Brinley!” I called out to her but she was laying on the ground and she was too far away to hear me. Next to me, Adlai’s breathing got frantic. There was no one next to him, helping him to hold on. It was just me and I had no idea what I was doing. All I could do was sit there exposed in the clearing, begging him for forgiveness. That arrow was mine. Just like the one in Brinley’s arm was mine as well. I was the intended target. He would lose his life for nothing.
“Help me!” I yelled at the subjects hiding in the woods.
The only response I got from anyone was a pitiful glance from one of the Savs before going back to shooting his bow. This wasn’t going well. The arrows weren’t stopping. They just kept sailing through the air. A Sav dropped, then a few subjects. The next victim was a nurse who was trying to comfort an injured man. The Savs were running out of arrows. They just kept firing but it was seeming to do nothing against our invisible attacker.
My attention was diverted once again, back to Adlai this time. He was bellowing hacking coughs that wracked his body with tremors. He wasn’t going to last much longer.
“Help! Please!” I begged.
The only nurse left was attending Brinley. She and I locked eyes for a few seconds and I knew exactly what was going on. The nurse was apologizing to me but she wouldn’t treat Adlai even though he was so clearly worse off than Brinley. It was a social thing. Brinley was now the Sor. If she wanted, Brinley could execute this nurse for neglecting her if the nurse decided to help Adlai.
If Adlai somehow survived this, he wouldn’t be able to do so. He would just be angry about it, I guess. Brinley held power and people were afraid now.
“Ene.” A Sav next to me started speaking but I was lost in thought.
I continued staring at the nurse who had gone back to caring for Brinley.
“Ene Kreed.” He continued.
I wasn’t Ene Kreed. That was my father.
It didn’t sound right. That couldn’t be my name.
“We need to go.” He informed me.
“What about Adlai?” I asked numbly as I stared into the woods. Another group of arrows came around.
“Adlai is gone. You are the priority right now Ene. We need to leave, right now.” The Sav pleaded with me but I wasn’t hearing him.
He couldn’t possibly be talking about me.
That was me.
“We need to go.” He insisted.
“Brinley?” I asked.
“We will get her. You need to go.”
“Alright.” I nodded.
I looked over at Brinley and she already had many people surrounding her. There was the nurse that I had seen earlier, currently trying to cut off part of the arrow protruding from her arm. She was also being hauled upwards by a worried Sav. I didn’t recognize him. At this point, I was more concerned with trying to keep food in my stomach than who this stranger was. There wasn’t too much blood since the arrow was blocking the flow but the sight alone was enough to make me feel sick.
The Sav next to me picked me up and yelled orders at me but I couldn’t heed them before pain shot up the side of my head. Just as quickly as I had gotten up, I could feel myself falling back to the muddy floor.
My sight was blurry but I could make out that I was looking at the sky before I blacked out. It had started raining again.
Consciousness came back to me slowly. The pain came back quickly and the cold. And oh, the cold. It was terrible. For a horrible split second, I thought that they had left me on the floor in the clearing to die but I could feel a blanket wrapped around my legs. I opened my eyes slowly and even the dim light was too much for my brain to register.
My eyes closed out of pain once again. I had never felt like this before. I never got too hurt much in my childhood. I remember breaking my arm once after falling out of a tree in the forests. I remember it happening but I don’t remember how it hurt me. My mother said she had never heard me scream that much but I don’t remember it. Nearly getting strangled hurt a lot but it was a different kind of hurt. I was in pain for a few days, but after a while, it didn’t hurt so much anymore, only when I spoke.
This pain was tired and dull. I could manage it for right now but I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be able to for long. It wasn’t piercing like a few jabs I had taken from Ronin in our fencing sessions. It was more, pulsating almost.
It was focused on the side of my head. I had no idea what had happened to me. I don’t remember anything other than suddenly being on the floor looking up as the rain began falling once again.
Someone was talking to me. Asking questions, maybe. I couldn’t tell you. Their voice sounded like it was underwater or being drowned out by the sound of rain that continued to ring in my ears. I opened my eyes once again and the room began to come into focus. I was in the hospital wing of the Fortress. I could tell by the sheer lack of personality in the room.
There was a lady next to me. She was talking to me. I could see her lips move and I could hear the sounds she was making but I couldn’t understand what she was saying to me. She was talking so animatedly that I could feel fear collect inside of me.
“What?” I whispered.
I half expected that hurt my voice. I spent so much time in here recently for my throat that it was odd being in here for a different ailment. Her voice came into focus as I got myself up onto my elbows and tried to dedicate myself to be more into the present.
“Oh, Lucian.” She sighed, “I’m glad you are awake, child.”
She called me a “child”. For some reason, it wasn’t endearing coming from her. She seemed so sweet, I couldn’t imagine her being anything less than motherly towards me. I winced as another wave of pain rolled through my forehead.
“W-” I tried to continue but it hit again, “What happened? I don’t remember anything past Brinley getting shot.”
The woman cupped my cheek as she dabbed a cloth against my forehead. The stark difference between the cold cloth and the warm room made me shiver.
“It’s to help with swelling, hon.” She assured me as she moved it against the surely bruised surface on my forehead.
“I don’t remember.” I prompted her to explain.
She didn’t stop caring for my face as she explained, “I wasn’t there anymore when it happened hon. I’m not sure entirely what happened. You were in shock over Adlai and Sor Idris-Kreed getting shot. I believe you got hit by a rock or something of the sort. Definitely something heavy. I can’t tell you what happened next. I’m afraid you have a concussion. Stay in low lights for the next few days.”
As she recounted the story I suddenly remembered my worry for my wife.
“Brinley?” I asked.
“She’s a few rooms down. She’s fine.”
The assurance seemed to bring a little warmth back into my body and I quickly squirmed to get out of here. I needed to see her. The last thing I remember was her paler than I had ever seen her, lying on the ground.
The woman put her hands on my chest in alarm as I was already thrashing against her to get out. I must have been exhausted because she was quickly able to push me back against the bed.
“Please, miss.” I begged her, “I need to see Brinley.”
The nurse bit her lip as she considered before turning away and cleaning her medical supplies muttering something about, “not caring about health.”
The thing is that I was caring about health. I was caring very much, It just wasn’t about my own. She couldn’t stop me from seeing my wife, could she? No of course not. I was the Ene. I had the final say on all of this.
Then my heart sank. I had all say over matters, except when it came to my health. The doctor had the final say over that. This nurse could make me stay in this bed for the rest of the time if she wanted to.
“Fine.” She quickly turned around and I beamed.
I quickly sat up before getting struck by an awful wave of vertigo. I had been sitting in this bed for way too long.
“Now before you go running off, I’m coming with you.” She nodded as I had my head in my hands. “To stop things like this.”
“Fine.” I agreed as I stepped out of bed.
It was very obvious that I needed her with me but I wouldn’t say that in front of anyone. I needed to seem strong for Brinley. She couldn’t be worried about me and worried about herself. She would worry herself to death if she could.
The nurse lent me an arm to keep me upright but I insisted that I would be fine. Down the hall, I could see a nurse step out of a room and I looked over to my nurse for confirmation that this was my wife’s room. She gave me a quick nod and I picked up our pace.
It already felt like I hadn’t seen her in a long time. I pushed aside the curtain and Brinley was still sleeping.
She looked miserable though. Her shoulder was in a sling and elevated above her. Her face was contorted in pain but she was asleep. It wasn’t a very deep or restful sleep but it was sleep nonetheless and I wasn’t going to take it away from her. The nurse followed into the room behind me and she gasped as she saw someone else in the room. I didn’t see him at first, I was too focused on her.
“You aren’t supposed to be in here. This is the Sor’s hospital room. Only approved guests and so far the only approved guest is the Ene.” My nurse snapped.
I looked over at Brinley’s visitor and I had no idea who or what they were supposed to be. He was handsome enough but he looked nothing like Brinley. In fact, they were stark contrasts of one another. I ruled him out as a family member, even a distant one. He wasn’t wearing any sort of uniform which confused me more. His clothing was nice but wasn’t too nice so he wasn’t royal.
He puzzled me. I had no idea who this was.
“Hello.” He scrambled to his feet and I sized him up.
He was taller than me by an inch or two. I had no idea who this could be.
“My name is Lyndon. Lyndon Pierce.”
I had no idea who that was. This stumped me. His name wasn’t familiar and had seen everyone’s name in the castle before. Usually, I could recognize if they were supposed to be here or not. The thing that bothered me more than not just knowing his name is that he seemed to know my wife. I had no idea who this was but he knew my wife.
“Lucian. Kreed.” I introduced myself.
“Yeah, of course. You’re Brinley’s husband.”
That was so odd. He addressed me as Brinley’s husband. Of course, it is the truth but normally it isn’t the first to come to mind. It suggests that he is close to our family. I don’t know him. He must be close to Brinley.
“Yes.” I responded as I continued studying him, “And why are you here? I don’t remember Brinley ever mentioning your name, Lyndon.”
I could feel the nurse’s distaste behind me but I needed to know who this was.
“Oh.” There was an odd sort of look on his face before it changed. It was nearly inapprehensible but something was there. He was uncomfortable. I couldn’t tell if it was talking to me or the nurse who was trying to intimidate him with a glare. “Well of course not. I only just met her today. I’m the Sav who carried her back to Fortress.”
This did nothing to ease my head. It only caused more questions. I met his eyes intensely. They were dark brown and didn’t seem to match him. He seemed like he should have blue eyes like Cersei. But no, his eyes were brown. They were almost intimidating. How did I not recognize him? His wasn’t a face I would forget.
“So why are you still here?”
“The shift manager gave me the rest of my hours off. She said that I had done good and deserved the day off.”
Well, that explains why he wasn’t in uniform.
“That’s not what I meant.” I was probably scowling at him. My distaste was usually written on my face if I wasn’t trying to catch myself. “Your duties ended the second you delivered her to the trusting hands of the doctors. You should have gone home. You aren’t permitted to be in this room.”
Lyndon’s head tilted to the side for a second. He sensed a challenge and tone in my voice. He was accepting. Accept he will. That would be the last time he accepted a challenge from me. I could visibly see his mood shift. In some small way, he was standing up to me. I was impressed. Perhaps under different circumstances, I would have enjoyed his company.
“Yes, but I also saw that you were, um, out of sorts. I thought she would wake up before you and I figured she might as well have someone waiting for her.” Lyndon explained. His voice and vocal patterns were playful. It seemed to me that his concern was no longer for the Sor and instead focused his mind and strength on me.
“I’m here now. I can wait here with her. You are no longer needed.” I stated simply. Secretly I wished him good luck trying to come back from that. It had been a while since I was engaged in a battle of wits and this was just getting started.
“Forgive me, your highness, but why is your nurse with you if you are alright?” His voice. His voice was so innocent. It almost seemed like he was genuinely concerned with my wellbeing. Of course, that probably wasn’t it.
“It was her terms of condition. I’m fine. A slight concussion won’t keep me down.”
“You should rest. A few years ago I got a concussion during training. They are no laughing matter.”
He was clever. He was asserting superiority in his age and experience. It was his way of telling me that he saw me as a child because I was one child to him. He was older than me. You need to be 18 to go through Sav training. His wording was immaculate.
“Don’t you worry, I will rest,” I assured him, “as I watch over my wife. I’ll even keep the terms and conditions of keeping the nurse here with me.”
“Are you sure? You get tired with a concussion. I can already tell that you are worn out. I think you should go back to sleep in your room, highness.”
He was mocking me. I wouldn’t take this sitting down.
“Well, I suppose it’s a good thing I have my Savs watching over the castle so I can rest in a room with my wife. It’s my well-deserved privilege.” I shot him a white smile.
“Nurse?” He was running out of ideas, “Do you condone this nonsense? He is looking worse by the minute. Just look at the bump on his head. He might be delusional.”
I narrowed my eyes. How dare he use my nurse against me.
“I don’t know about that, son. As long as the Ene stays hydrated and rested, I’ll believe he’ll be fine.”
Exactly, you don’t use my nurse.
The curtain slid to the side and we all turned to see who the new visitor was. There stood Ronin and he barreled into me.
“I’m so glad you are okay!” He exclaimed as he squeezed me tighter.
“I’ve been better.” I sighed. Ronin pulled away and looked at me.
“I think you are getting taller.” He noted.
I laughed at his bluntness, “So I’ve been told.”
Ronin pulled away from me and he ran his fingers through his light brown hair, “I wasn’t there when you-” He trailed off.
“It’s okay,” I assured him but he continued anyway.
“I got there late, Lucian. I’m sorry. I didn’t even know what was happening. Everyone just started running away and it didn’t occur to me that there might have been something wrong with you until I got back to the Fortress. I tried to get there earlier. They wouldn’t let me in.”
I wore a small smile on my face, “It’s okay, I promise.”
Ronin, just noticing that there was another person in the room stepped out of my way to get a better look at him. I think he was confused as well because he got a look of puzzlement on his face. Ronin knew the staff better than I did and I started worrying a bit that he didn’t recognize him.
“Lucian, who is this?” Ronin asked, gesturing to the man standing in front of us.
“Lyndon. This is Lyndon.”
I was very grateful for Ronin’s confusion because it reinforced Lyndon’s place in the Fortress. A place below me. And Ronin.
“Lucian, who is this?” Lyndon asked in a mocking of Ronin’s tone.
Ronin’s eyebrows furrowed. I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from lashing out at him. I took one breath. And then another.
“Lyndon, this is Ronin. He is married to Per Andromeda. Seeing as you are so close to the Sor, you should know her.”
Lyndon nodded once.
I cocked my head to the side. What a liar.
Gotcha. I smirked.
“Of course. Per Andromeda. I see her in the library on my days off.”
It was such a generic statement that it could apply to nearly everyone. We all were in the library most days because if you don’t have work, there’s much else to do.
“Oh really, what section?” Ronin’s eyes brightened as if this was such a coincidence.
He put on an apologetic mask, “Sorry. I don’t remember. We’ve all been busy lately. Oh, congratulations on the wedding Ronin.”
He had such a nerve to smirk. I stared him down.
As he walked by me he leaned closer to me to whisper something softly, “This was fun. When can we do it again?”
My eyes widened at his words and then I answered in a way I never thought I would have, “You seem to be up for it. It’ll happen when it happens.”
Lyndon smiled at my words and walked out of the room.
“Seriously, who did he think he was?” Ronin asked as he took a seat near Brinley’s bed.
I kept my eyes on the door as I kept expecting him to show up once again and ask me if I thought I was going to get rid of him that quickly. There was a certain draw towards him and he certainly was intelligent, I could tell just about that much. Maybe Brinley and Lyndon bonded while she was receiving medical treatment.
I supposed that maybe I was coming down on him too hard. After all, it wasn’t against the laws for the Sor to have friends. And I have known Brinley for over two years, she can make friends in any kind of situation.
“Where did he come from?” Ronin continued fuming and I hesitantly turned away from the door. I gave a second glance backward just in case he was there again.
“He’s a Sav. I don’t think I’ve seen him before. He might be new.”
“I hate him.” Ronin sighed, “He’s so smug and self-righteous”
I took a hesitant seat next to Ronin and tried not to let myself look back at the door. Even if he was at the door, I wasn’t going to let him know that I was waiting for him to show up again. I instead diverted my attention to staying awake and talking to Ronin.
“Yeah.” I agreed.
He was such a jerk. I muttered to myself.
“Maybe they aren’t keeping his pride in check, in Sav training.” Ronin continued.
As much as I would have liked to keep talking to Ronin about how awful this guy was he reminded me of something Lyndon had told me.
“He got a concussion in Sav training a few years ago,” I whispered to myself.
Ronin heard but not well, “What?”
“He couldn’t be new because one of his defenses was that concussions were no laughing matter. He told me he had gotten one in Sav training a few years ago.”
“So he was lying to you?”
“No, that’s not it.” I continued as I thought harder about this. Who was Lyndon Pierce? This was messing with my already tired head. “He wasn’t lying. I can tell.”
“So what about it?” Ronin didn’t understand why it was so important that I know. I didn’t even know why it was so important. This shouldn’t have been bugging me so much but there was something about his demeanor that put me on edge.
“I just think it’s weird that he’s been around the Fortress for years and we haven’t seen him. I mean, we go out don’t we? There are always guards with us and we haven’t seen him? That doesn’t seem to make sense.”
“Oh, you’ve seen me.” A new voice was in the room.
I knew it.
“Then explain why we don’t recognize you.” Ronin frowned at this ridiculous debate. I could feel the embarrassment of being caught talking about his run through my veins. I was thankful for the dim light because if my face got red, there would be no coming back from that. I needed to save face.
“It’s probably the helmet. I’ve been told my blond hair is my defining feature and without it, I’m not recognizable. Apparently, it goes the other way around as well. I’m so glad to hear you debate all about me, but if you excuse me, I need to grab my jacket.” He gestured to the floor beside Ronin’s feet.
Oh, how convenient. He just happened to forget his jacket here and walk in on us talking about him. I glared at him as he wore another smug look on his face.
“Oh calm down, highness. It was a simple mistake, there’s no need for you to get angry at me.” He smiled so sweetly that I swear I was getting a toothache from the falsity of it.
He kept calling me “highness” with such a tone. It was endearing. The three of us fell into an uncomfortable silence. The nurse had conveniently excused herself a moment before. Both Ronin and I were looking at this oddity but he was locking eyes with me and me only. He was a worthy opponent. That much was glaringly obvious.
“What? Are you waiting for me to bow?” He asked.
I didn’t respond and so he dipped into a deep bow. He was making fun of traditions and customs that he was subject to. Where did he come from? He wasn’t from Fyn. For a minute I thought he had come from the mountains, like Cersei, but he didn’t have her accent. His was just like mine. It didn’t make sense to me in the slightest. I guess that was another example of his differences. He looked up into my eyes once more before turning away and walking out again. Such a strange thing.
He had a mocking mannerism. I couldn’t tell what he was serious about and what he was mocking. It frustrated me. How was I supposed to understand his actions and see what truth was and what was a lie when I couldn’t even differentiate which of his actions were serious and which were to poke at me and the way I grew up.
“I have to give it to him, he is very bold.” Ronin admitted.
“Yes, yes he was.”
I don’t know when I fell asleep that night. It was sometime late. Being right about Lyndon coming back seemed to make me think that he never left. It kept me awake at night. Just the sheer thought of someone waiting outside of my room made me paranoid. Even if it was only a Sav. It still rendered me restless. I knew that since I had woken up, I wasn’t going to fall back to sleep any time soon.
I looked around the room for any sign of people being awake. There was nothing but the soft breathing of three people. Ronin had fallen asleep before me, Brinley had stayed asleep, and sometime during my fitful sleep, the nurse had succumbed to its gentle pull. Even as I was looking around at the three people in the room, I knew I was alone.
I looked around and I knew that I couldn’t remain here. Already the three sets of breathing seemed claustrophobic. From off the bedside table, I grabbed the dim lamp and slowly avoided making noise. It seemed difficult to say the least to explain what had come over me. All I could figure out was that I needed to leave. To get out of this place before it makes me crazy. I stuck my head out of the small hospital room. There were a nurse checking rounds but it looked like she was going in the opposite direction of where I needed to leave from. I stepped into the hallway and became very aware that I didn’t have any shoes on. The cold seeped into my foot and it sent shivers and tremors up my body.
I quickly escaped down the hallway and prayed that the nurse hadn’t noticed the light change in the hallways. She didn’t and I was out free. I need to remember to set up security near the hospital. If it was this easy for me to escape with a concussion and no shoes then something isn’t right.
I exhaled in relief and saw my breath in the low light. The Fortress was getting colder and colder as the night wore on. Usually, at this point, I would have been buried into blankets with Brinley next to me for warmth. The hallways were near freezing and it hasn’t been this cold in a long time.
The lamp I had kept my hand warm and I had to bury the other one into my robe I was dressed in to keep any feeling in it at all. I was dreadfully undressed for the temperature I was in. The lamp wasn’t doing me much good, it was still dark enough to see the silvery moonlight slipping through the giant windows.
I was tempted to turn back and enjoy the warmth of the hospital room. However, I knew that if I did that then I would be back here in the hallways, not ten minutes later, doing the same thing. I set down the lamp on the side of the hallway and continued forwards.
Of course, I had been in the hallways after dark but never this late and usually, I was just moving up towards my tower to go to sleep. Here I was walking towards the heart of the castle in the dead of night where nearly everyone was asleep.
I turned hallway after hallway and it all became abundantly clear. I needed more guards on the night shift. What was going on here? I was nearly at the main hallway and I had yet to see a guard. I took a final right and my world opened up into a vast corridor that led everywhere else in the Fortress.
The sheer splendor of it at night nearly took my breath away. Flames glowed softly from the walls and it showed me the grandeur of the place. The quantity of history hanging here in these walls was immaculate. Every single ruler in the Kreed Dynasty was hanging on the walls here. Starting at the end with the first, Tauriel Kreed and his Wife, Aeryn Kreed. Their pictures hung side by side, clearly aged but still as talented as ever.
They were the ones who started the dynasty and they were good rulers, you could tell by their smiles. They were the only ones to smile so brightly in their pictures. It was terrible that their son, Eryx, started a tradition of “regalness” for the portraits. It is now required that you pose with a straight back and a simple smile.
And so every other picture is like that, all the way down to the last two on the wall, Elaine and Edmond. Still, even with the restrictions, the artist caught the kindness in my mother’s eyes and the stark indifference in my father’s face. I’m sure if I could have known every face on the wall I would have been able to point out certain mannerisms that pertained to the person but I couldn’t.
I walked to the end of the hallway and turned left into the dining room, where the Thrones sat. I exhaled as I took in the way the moonlight cast an eerie sort of a glow onto the floor beneath the Thrones. In the odd shadows, the Ene’s white throne took on a darker look. It seemed to be black like Chi’s throne. All the thrones were cast in darkness.
I felt drawn towards the throne. It was mine to take. There was supposed to be a whole ordeal where the people in the castle witnessed me sitting on the throne for the first time. That didn’t matter to me at that moment. It seemed to be calling to me. I needed to be there. This was my birthright. This had been my birthright for nearly a thousand years. This was my throne. It was my rule. It was mine.
I ran my hand over the cool surface and felt the history of the place rush through me. Dozens of Enes have sat here before me. All of them, like me. The throne was marble so it was most likely even the original one. There was always the possibility that this throne had sat in this room since even before Tauriel took control of the Shire. It could have been here before our Family’s rule. Thinking like that felt foreign to me. All the history I have ever been taught, my family has been the rulers. I don’t even remember who came before us. I don’t think I’ve ever been told. I could feel the weight of just below 30 generations of rulers sitting on my shoulder as I sat on the throne for the first time in my life.
I could feel the parallel as I was doing what 28 Enes before me had done.
I had a voice inside me that whispered what I was doing was right. Everything that was happening was right. This feeling was right. From this throne, I could see a future I wasn’t destined to have. I could see the dining room packed with guests all dressed in suits and gowns as the royal family was in the middle of it all. For the first time, I could see what my father saw and he saw the world. He saw people dancing and enjoying a life of freedom and happiness without worry. I could see that world. It was so close to me that I could almost taste it. Even in the darkness of the late-night, I could see the light of a world I had always wanted. A world that should’ve been mine.
It simply couldn’t have.
My mother, bless her heart, made sure of that long ago when she poisoned our bloodline and damned the rest of the Kreeds to die slow and painful deaths.
On this throne I was sitting height above a world I didn’t want, but one that was mine all the same. I didn’t want to go back to it but soon it would call. It would call with the sounds of Cannons.
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