2 weeks ago
Asrani's keen green eyes watched the threatening snake coiled around Master Eric's neck.
"So will you do it?" he asked. Asrani's eyes flicked back to Eric's face.
"May I have an audience with the king?" Asrani responded calmly. He could see the frustration and anger boiling in the man's eyes. Master Eric forced a smile.
"Of course," he said, before turning on his heel, and walking away. Asrani was the only one who dared defy Master Eric, the king's closest advisor.
Though he was powerful, he was not as powerful as the king himself. Asrani walked out into the courtyard, taking in the cool morning air.
Master Eric had given him an easy job, but he wanted to be sure it was what the king wanted. He sighs, before going back into the castle. He walks slowly and quietly through the stone halls.
"His Majesty, King Felix, requests an audience with you, sir. At once." a little boy says from behind him. Asrani turns, to look at the boy quizzically. The servant boy looks frightened.
Asrani chuckles to himself, which was a rare sight for someone like him. He kneeled down and patted the little boy's head.
"Of course he does," Asrani says, chuckling again. The boy looks startled and runs off before Asrani could say any more. He rises to his feet, shaking his head.
The way people looked at him with fear, it filled him with odd, prickly displeasure. Asrani shakes his head once more, heading to the throne room.
He stopped in front of the large, polished oak doors. The two guards that flanked the door nodded in Asrani's general direction, and he knew it was time. He pushed open the doors and walked in.
He blinked violently as his eyes were met by the warm light of the throne room. He bowed before the king.
"Rise. Why did you request an audience with me?" the king said. Asrani rose to his feet.
The king, Felix, was slumped in his throne, but when Asrani looked at him, he straightened his posture just a bit. The king was two years younger than Asrani.
He was a scrawny thing, rather tall for a fifteen-year-old. He had light brown hair and pale skin. He would have been fine to look at, but, his eyes ruined the picture.
He had gray, stormy eyes, like those of a pouting baby. Asrani sighed.
"One of your royal advisors has given me a task. I wanted to make sure those were your wishes, your majesty," he said. Felix regarded him with his gray eyes.
"And what was that?" he asked, his voice fragile.
"They wanted me to pursue...a thief," Asrani began. Felix claps his hands, as though this were joyous talk.
"Yes, yes, that reminds me. For months now, there have been complaints of a thief stealing from my people. She's been a real nuisance. I was hoping you could track her down.
Bring her back maybe. I was hoping I could have a talk with her." King Felix says, adjusting his crown. He spoke so...innocently that it made Asrani want to scream. But he didn't.
He kept his composure and nodded. He hadn't done anything so reckless in front of anyone in years.
"Are you certain my king? What if she is tracked to one of the other four kingdoms? Our delicate alliance could be broken." One of the king's more reasonable advisors said.
Asrani had been thinking the same thing, but he was not fit to say that, given his own rank. He gripped the dagger at his side and bowed.
He left the throne room before he could hear any more of the king's conversation. The thrown room always made him a little dizzy, with its high ceilings and golden light.
You could always smell the leftovers from last night's dinner, or hear the ghosts of people long gone. As soon as Asrani had left the throne room, he headed straight to his chambers.
It was quaint, no more than a simple room. He sat down on his bed and started getting ready for the long journey ahead of him.
He changed into some more comfortable traveling clothes and draped a cloak over that. In a small satchel, he placed some coins and an extra pair of clothes.
He intended to go to the kitchens to get some food for the road. He opened the door and was met by the sight of Master Eric. Asrani bowed slightly.
"What is it that you want? I know you did not come here to wish me good luck." Asrani said, his eyes narrowing. Master Eric nods.
"You have two weeks from today. Midnight. Bring her back, dead or alive." he says, before adding, "Preferably dead.
" Asrani rolls his eyes, before pushing past him and heading for the kitchens. The kitchen servants turn as he enters.
"May I have some dried meat for the road?" he asked politely. They nodded, before running off to get what he had asked. The kitchen staff were the only people who didn't seem afraid of him.
Soon after the group came back, and a young woman, a little older than Asrani, handed him strips of dried meat, wrapped in some cloth. Asrani smiles.
"Thank you," Asrani says. The young woman, who was actually mute, curtsied and turned to prepare some other food.
Asrani was headed to the courtyard, to make a quick getaway, but before he could he was stopped by Master Eric.
"His Majesty wishes to have a private audience with you in the other dining hall," he said, sneering. Asrani regarded him, dubiously.
"Other dining hall?"
"Yes, yes. Oh....you don't know where it is? Oh, that's too bad. I'll just have to show you." Eric spoke giddily. If he hadn't been drinking some of the...bad wine...then Asrani was a princess.
Eric beamed. His snake was nowhere to be seen. Something odd was happening. Asrani followed Eric through the halls, dumbfounded.
Eric stopped abruptly, in front of a pale green set of double doors, with inlaid with beautiful reliefs of leaping rabbits. Asrani marveled quietly at the exquisite craftsmanship.
Eric unlocked the door, using two different, bronze keys. Eric let him in and locked the door behind him. Asrani looked around the dining hall. It was not what he'd anticipated.
The dining hall was small and more like a parlor than anything. There was a white dining table tucked in the corner, but it didn't appear to have been used in years.
The walls and ceiling were the same pale green as the door. A fire crackled at the hearth, and four chairs sat around a low brown coffee table.
A top the coffee table were all sorts of exotic foods. The king sat in one of the chairs, fidgeting with his crown in his hands. He barely looked up as Asrani came in.
"Sit, please sit," Felix said. Asrani sighed, sitting down.
"Your majesty. I'm sorry, but I don't think I understand. I was just about to leave for the mission, you assigned."
"It's not about that." the king said. Asrani looked at him quizzically.
"It's about my parents. You knew them well?" Felix said. Asrani looked away.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that. But, I knew them yes. What is it you would like to know, Felix? Er...your majesty." Secretly, he cursed himself for slipping up like that. Felix winced.
"Felix is fine, really. Eat, eat. I don't want you to have to travel on an empty stomach." the king responded. Asrani smiled slightly.
He tossed a small green nut, something called pistachio, into his mouth. He found the taste strange and interesting. He slowly emptied the bow. He looks up at Felix, once more, curious.
"Ask me anything, Felix." It felt so strange not calling him 'your majesty' or 'my king' or 'sire', anymore, and yet, it still felt so natural.
"My parents, what were they like?" Felix asked. Asrani closed his eyes, picturing the former king and queen.
"Your father, well, he was a lot different than you, and yet the same in so many ways. He was a little on the stout side and average height.
He had light brown hair, a lot like you actually, and a beard. His eyes were clear blue, and he was the kindest man I ever knew. He took my sister and I in when we had nothing.
" Asrani's eyes fluttered open. He sighed. "I'm sorry. Talking about it always puts me in a poor mood."
"Please, go on," Felix begged. "Why did he take you two in?" Asrani wanted to moan, and cry, he really did. But he couldn't let anyone know that. So he went on.
"He said something about us being consanguineous. Not exactly sure what he meant."
"What did he mean?" Felix said wistfully, more to himself than to anyone else. Asrani sighed.
"I never really knew. The word consanguineous relates to people of the same bloodline or ancestor, I learned that from my...previous studies.
I never understood though, because my mother was a simple farmer, same goes for my father who was a low-ranking soldier, who I never really knew." Asrani went on.
Felix looked astonished by the way he spoke, and that he had any studies at all. But he was silent.
"Your mother was tall and regal. She was slim, a bit like you, but, pardon me saying this, she had a little more muscle hidden in there. Her hair was like raw copper, and gold at the same time.
You have her eyes you know. I didn't know her as well as I knew your father, but she was kind too. But she always preferred debates and combat to sit quietly like people expected her to be.
My sister and I, we studied by her, and she was our personal tutor for the longest." Asrani sighed. "Is there anything else you wish to know?" he asked, reaching for a slice of some exotic fruit.
"Yes, actually," Felix said, leaning in closer. His face was pale, and his gray eyes were misty. "Why did I have to come back? Why did I have to become king? Nobody ever really told me.
They just said something had happened to...them." Asrani shook his head. His eyes shone with the tears he had never shed. And he still wouldn't.
He passed his sleeve over his eyes so that the king would not see.