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These mechanical vehicles were fast, sickeningly so! I had never went so fast in my life! I held onto the rails, as the buggy jumped over hills. I wondered was this as fast or faster than Rejon. It definitely felt faster! However, the ride didn’t last too long! We arrived in the canyons an hour and a half later, everyone getting out.
We headed into Gou’s flat, his stable. There, Roi and Brija were, both training the two magnificent Dark Stags. After months of not seeing Bastion, his stripes were starting to fade and his straight horns, starting to curl. The young antelope was starting to look more bold, more confident than ever!
Rejon still looked regal with his giant dense main, hanging in curly shags. Bastion still had years ahead of him before his main grew to such proportions. As soon as Roi and Brija saw me, they stopped training, running over to me!
“Oh my GOD!” Brija screamed! She hugged me tightly, Roi doing the same.
Bastion paced over, sniffing me. He remembered my scent, his long black tongue slapping my face before he walked away.
“Gross…” I chucked.
Our embrace came to an end, Brija looking at my face.
“Fuck, what happened?” She asked.
“Don’t worry about it.” I said.
“You have to explain everything!” She said.
“I’m going to need some time to breathe a bit. That last few weeks have been…” I said, thinking about it all.
“That’s fine?” Roi said, “If you need anything…”
“Okay…” I said back, heading towards the stairs that led towards Gou’s abode. I waited for him to come. After several minutes he did, the Lutna Clan members not with him.
“Where’s everyone?” I asked.
“Yole is taking care of them. We’ll meet back up a few… I want to make sure you’re happily situated and will have everything you need. We can talk about things when you’re comfortable…” Gou said to me.
“Okay…” I shrugged, following him up the stairs.
Brija and Roi followed, closing the pin where the antelopes were behind them. We walked up the stairs into the home. To my surprise, Mercury was here along with another kid. This kid eyed me heavily, making me feel uncomfortable. I hurried along after Gou who led me to a room to stay in. The room was lavish with high end amenities just like my room back in the palace. This wouldn’t be hard to adjust.
“As for clothing? Um, this trader outpost is a functioning city and everyone knows who you are since, you know… free agent cover base, so you can take what you need…” Gou said, “But you’ll find toiletries stocked.” I looked at him indifferently.
“Okay…” I shrugged once again. He sighed, respectfully bowing and leaving. Brija followed him, leaving me with Roi.
“You don’t sound Okay…” He noted, standing there with arms folded.
“I’m not…” I said, plainly, “Shit sucks… I was trying my hardest to stay there, to keep everything not normal, but under control. But I got forced out…”
“Damn…” Roi said, taking a seat on an ottoman near the bed, ready to listen.
I hesitated, unsure if I were ready to tell him everything.
“Do you know how tiresome it all was, having to bust your ass to make sure things… my goal wasn’t even to make things work, it was to buy time for Kijus in the brothels, to sever Sir Socoshian’s ties. At first it worked but I didn’t quite know just how expansive his work really was. I mean it goes down deep!” I began to spill, “And the more time went on, the worse it all felt. Assassins tried to kill me, Roi…”
“What?” He asked, staggered.
“I was in the bathtub, sitting just relaxing. It had been a long day. Then I just felt these hands push me under and I couldn’t see who it was! I don’t know what happened but I panicked, fought back and somehow got him off of me so I could get myself out the bathtub. But I was done… That assassin came back with a knife but thankfully Knight Dior was there. He and Sir Ruben fended off the assassin until he somehow escaped. It shook me up a bit…” I said with a shiver.
“I bet. I’m so sorry you went through that. You heard from Kijus any? I haven’t since those last letters. With things going the way they are, I don’t even know how we’re going to even get back into the city…” Roi said.
“I don’t know either. I saw the takeover happen. There’s nothing we can do. All of ours is lost…” I sighed. Roi looked at me saddened, somewhat shocked as well. It seemed my words confirmed it all.
“What about Kijus?” He asked.
“I don’t know…” I shrugged, so torn, “I’ve been on the fence about him. He maybe was truthful with us, but not completely honest. He hid so much. We felt like we knew him so well but did we really? We know his name and where he’s from, and that’s it… This says a lot because we knew him prior to all of this for four months! FOUR FUCKING MONTHS! I don’t know the man I love… Do I even love him?”
Roi didn’t like these second thoughts coming from me. It made him withdraw a poker oyna bit before he took in a deep breathe.
“His acts were selfless towards us! You don’t think he’d be there for us? I believe him! He seems a man of his word! Do you know what he did for Mercury?”
“I know… I’m well aware… It shocked me! He can leave the brothels any time he wants…” I said.
“Have you forgotten why he’s there?” Roi asked.
“In some futile attempt to find his sister?” I said back.
“Wish him luck!” Roi scolded, growing upset, “Get out of this funk, brother! Things will turn around…”
“I don’t see how! Mother’s dead… Father’s dead… Our fortune is gone! We have nothing! NOTHING!” I said, growing teary.
Roi gulped, finding it hard to come back from this.
“We’ll come back!” He said, too growing teary. I sat on the bed, staring at the ceiling. Roi left, closing the door softly behind himself. I don’t know how long I was laying there but it felt like forever. I just couldn’t stop thinking about how we went from being everything to absolutely nothing. I missed the power I had, being able to rule even the little of what I did rule.
Soon, knocking on my door broke these depressing thoughts. It was Gou followed by a number of Free Agents as well as Dior and Ruben.
“You’re well?” Gou asked.
“Well enough…” I shrugged.
“Okay… So, since we still have assets in the city, we can’t exactly win you your palace back just yet.” Gou said. This news frustrated me beyond a shadow of a doubt.
“WHO?” I demanded.
“Kijus…” Gou said.
“FUCK HIM! Get me my palace back, NOW! Kill Sir Socoshian, wherever he squirmed off too!” I said.
“It’s not that simple…” Gou said, pulling out a record of information about Kijus, “Kijus is a prince of a tribe, an entire nation of people… The Blessed Ones of Illisia! He has this right by birth due to his father’s death and role to his people! We can’t simply move yet! His mission for his sister is actually quite important for politics back in Illisia. Not only that, but he’s still the nephew of great, great warrior kings far to the South of Illisian soil…Whether he acknowledges them or not, the boy’s wealth is obscene! His well being is just as important as yours…”
“But now he’s in my way!” I said back.
“He’s also an ally! I must warn you now, Richard! The way you are talking is alarming and you need to rein this in! Having Kijus on your side could mean having not only one nation but two nations on your side!” Gou said.
“So I’m just supposed to sit here and wait while Socoshian ruins everything, like I’m not a priority?” I asked, growing more upset.
“Everything Sir Socoshian is doing can be completely undone but you just need patience!” Gou said, growing frustrated with me.
“I fear the King has too many stresses at the time and he needs some relaxation.” Dior said. I looked at him, angered. However the concern on his face made my immediate reaction dissipate.
“Very well… I’ll leave you all to talk…” Gou said. Ruben and Dior nodded as Gou and the free agents left. They gave a collective sigh, gearing to tell me something.
“We can’t stay…” He said.
“What do you mean we can’t stay? Where will we go?” I asked.
“I mean us two. Ruben and I have to depart… for now. There are only four Lutna clan left in this region.” He responded.
“So you’re just going to leave me?” I asked, devastated.
“For now, but we’ll be back. We’ll always be loyal to you and your family!” Ruben bowed.
“Leave…” I demanded. It shocked him and Dior. Ruben nodded, doing so. Dior stayed.
“Don’t be upset, your Grace… Please don’t! This is for you! We’ll…”
“GOOOO!” I screamed, pointing to the door.
He did so, his eyes welling up. I was left in the room alone to these awful thoughts. Eventually sleep draped over my mind. When I woke up, I did feel better, a lot better. However there was still a piece of me feeling void. Something within me was dying to fill this void, to find a way to fill this cavernous hole trying to swallow me. It was so strange, as though I was fighting with a huge, gaping abyss that wanted nothing but to consume me.
“You feeling better?” Someone startled me.
It was Roi sitting on the ottoman, reading over something.
“What’s that?” I asked, pointing to it. He handed it to me. It was a letter from Kijus. I didn’t know what to make of it, unsure if I really wanted to read it. One thing was for certain though. My feelings for Kijus weren’t the same as they once were. I sighed, reading it.
What the fuck is this? What happened? I heard that evil nobleman has taken over everything!I sent Richard a letter but Bazahra returned saying he was gone! I don’t know anything from here, what’s going on, ANYTHING! Before I do something stupid, please tell me Richard is okay, safe somewhere! I need to know… Please, I’ll give it three hours to see a response canlı poker oyna and if not, guarantee I’m looking for him!
I need to know what happened? It’s hard being here, putting up with the horrors of this brothel, being away from the man I love, having my own investigation going on, still being a wanted man, and having so many new and changing variables pop up. I don’t know if I’m close to quitting but, maybe we also need to rethink this strategy. It may have seemed like a decision from my heart to join this brothel in a search for my sister but, no!
This was a well plotted, pre-thought pre-coursed plan of option because it was my last resort! But with the slow pace of this operation, and the fast pace of what’s changing around me, I’m slowing things down and I don’t think that’s fair! What should I do, Gou? This all is weighing so heavy on me, like you don’t understand, I’m barely holding together… Just advise me, tell me if Richard is safe, and guide me through this… please!
“So,” I began, placing the letter beside me on the bed, “He’s still not telling us shit. What’s going on in there? If I mean as much as he says, he should tell me.” Roi looked at me, shocked.
“I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him in there. It’d be hard for us, but think about it from his perspective for a moment! He’s a foreign national, really, whose whole premise for existence is perfection, regalness, class, purity! At the same time, he is a warrior people! Do you know what this means?” Roi retorted, clearly upset with me.
“What, Roi?” I said, not liking his scolding tone.
“It means that there is a certain level of class he holds himself to, but guess what? Everything he has ever learned, everything he was ever taught has been uprooted and undermined and for me to say it is a culture shock is an understatement! He is having to conform to new rules, new ways of living, new everything, all for the two people he loves the most. You have someone willing to break out of a brothel, risk his life and his mission to save you, because he loves you!” Roi said, acting it all out with his hands. He looked at me with longing, as if he gave me puzzle pieces to solve some complex riddle and if the answer was as plain as day.
“Okay…” I shrugged.
“And you don’t see how selfish and stupid you sound? The last few weeks you spent alone in the palace have changed you…” He said, shaking his head in disapproval. This bit at my skin.
“What do you mean?” I asked daringly with arms folded.
“I mean EXACTLY what I stated! You’re not my brother any more! You’re this entitled, rotten man who’s lost his humility…” He said. It definitely got to me.
“Well if you were there for two weeks trying to hold on to the remnants of what once was a great empire, you’d change too! You don’t know what it’s LIKE to sit there and not be able to do anything as people just undermine who you are, and violate what’s yours and rightfully yours! You can’t sit here and tell me that you wouldn’t change…” I said, tears streaming down my cheeks.
Roi’s freckled face turned so red. I had never seen him get this angry! With every exhale, his nostrils flared! Mother’s penetrating eyes came out of him!
“I don’t know what it’s like to have someone violate what yours? To be undermined as an individual?” He asked calmly, “From the time I was seven, to the time I WAS FIFTEEN, I WAS RAPED AND MOLESTED! MY FATHER TURNED HIS BACK ON ME! My mother was OBLIVIOUS! YOU didn’t know! Brija didn’t KNOW! I was not my own at all! You think you lost it all? I never had it from the GET GO! I wish father loved me the way he loved you! I wished he would have had a spine and PROTECTED me from that preying little coward that he let take the empire right from his hands! Father called me unworthy of ruling! He called me unworthy of being his SON! The only reason he didn’t just cast me away was because of MOTHER! I can’t believe you!” He began to get to his feet, pointing at my chest, “I see it now… I see it as plain as day… We can never right ourselves by each other! I will never matter as much to you as your ego matters to your damn self! You’re just stupid! Plain stupid! You don’t deserve Kijus! You really don’t! That boy gave himself to you! To you! He made a sacred place for you! No one… NO ONE ELSE matters beyond that to him… at all,” He snattched the letter from me, “Can you not see this from the FUCKING letter? He LOVES YOU!”
I just looked at him, too shocked to respond. I had never seen Roi this explosive, this raw, this upset. He always was this timid, easily pushed over boy! He said that I had changed a lot. No, he did! He made me feel fear, right now. Roi sighed, backing away. His breathing was slow but heavy as he began to reign in his temper.
“I see…” He said, “You don’t even want to try and reconcile things…”
Roi turned, heading towards the door. It then hit me! That whole while, he was trying to talk to me!
“Roi wait…” I said. The internet casino boy didn’t even bother to turn to acknowledge me as he headed towards the door. I followed, him, “Roi… Okay, I’m sorry! This is a lot for me.”
“This is a lot for us all, Richard! You’re not the only one being affected here! Brija and I are both as much as victims as you are.” He said calmly.
“Okay… Okay…” I said, losing it all, tears just flurrying out, “I’m at my wit’s end here! Like… everything is so overwhelming and everyone is not making it easy… This isn’t easy…”
“You’ve reached your breaking point. Everyone’s a little bit different.” He said, pulling me in for a hug, “Just know that, we have each other! I’m in the same boat as you and so is Brija…”
“Alright.” I nodded, wiping my tears.
“Let’s get you some essentials… We haven’t seen each other in weeks. Catch me up on everything.” I said, continuing onward.
“Alright…” He said.
We walked down the stairs, everyone in the house sitting silent with awkward stairs between each other. It was clear our big fight was heard even three flights down in the rest of the home. Gou, his grandmother Yen, Mercury, his friend, or even Brija said not a thing.
“Where are you two going?” Brija asked as she saw us heading towards the door.
“We’re going to pick up some clothes for him,” Roi said, pointing to me, “And just have a little brother time…”
“Okay…” She said, sounding quite disappointed. It was clear she wanted to tag along but her time would come. She sat back down, Gou looking at her warmly as he pinned a response to the letter Kijus wrote.
Roi and I left the abode, a lurking question swimming in my head.
“Is Gou moving in on our sister?” I asked.
“I can’t be too sure.” Roi shrugged, “They’re close but he’s considerably older than her and I doubt he’ll pursue anything. But she likes him a lot.”
“He also likes her.” I chuckled.
“With him being a Free Agent, essentially a spy, him having a relationship with a royal makes fundamentally no sense so I’m sure that’s another reason he wouldn’t attempt a relationship with her.” Roi noted.
“True.” I nodded.
We walked through the canyon outpost, homes and stores carved into the side, running deep into the canyon. From the outside, it looked bleak, stairs carved into the canyon side and a few windows as well. However, on the inside were incredible, incredible stores where the technology could just blow your mind.
Everything was run by Free Agents. It was an incredible operation that ran deeper than anything Sir Socoshian could build.
“I love this place…” I sighed as Roi led me into a clothing retailer.
“Yeah, I was thinking about just staying permanently.” I said.
“Why?” I asked.
“I realized that the royal court life just isn’t for me. I like this freedom to just go!” He said.
“But you belong to the royal court! Everything about you is royal!” I said, unable to wrap my head around this.
“I don’t know. I’ve been inspired to by hearing about Kijus’s father! He was a man with an incredibly free will and a longing for adventure but simplicity. It was why he left the Zamb Lands and treked through the Great Rift to the Blessed Lands. I’m not saying I want some journey like that but I need a change of pace. Maybe I’ll go to the Caucasus Mountains which is fairly close.” I said.
“What’s there?” I asked, somewhat curious.
“There are these giant sheep-like antelope called ibex. They’re like dark stags but instead of being incredibly fast, they’re incredibly sheer footed. We’re talking about an animal that can walk on a near vertical cliff face. The Syu people there use these ibex to traverse these mountains. Not only that but there are giant bears, giant owls, cave leopards, saber toothed cats, woodland buffalo, just a plethora of fauna…” Roi said full of excitement.
“That sounds dangerous.” I said, looking at him as a large selection of clothes lay across my arm.
“It is.” I sighed, “But, I’m up for the task. And I’m dying to see those giant owls. Reports say they are like Silver’s size.”
“Okay, now that sounds tempting. You know Streaker flew away?” I asked. Roi looked at me shocked.
“No…” He gasped.
“Yeah. My fateful red-breast left my side. I miss him a lot and I do want another raptor.” I sighed, going over to another section of the store.
“From what I’ve read. The Syu people do something akin to what Kijus does, hunt from the back of his stag with a raptor, but in a more extreme way. I heard they use these giant owls to hunt prey while on the back of an ibex. I’m dying to know.” Roi said, so much excitement on his face. It made me smile to see him happy again.
“Your heart seems genuinely there for this place.” I noted.
“It is, and I can’t wait to go. I bet it would be so humbling.” Roi smiled with child like anticipation.
“When do you plan on going” I asked.
“I don’t know. If I could do it now I would but I have to wait to see how things go.” He shrugged.
“What all would you bring?”
“Not a damn thing. Kijus father didn’t bring anything. Neither will I.” Roi said.
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