There was a time when he was a young boy, when he was young and free back. Little ever held him back, except for the sweet calls of his mother and the gruffness that was his father. Grass tickled his feet while clear water tugged at his fingers gently, calling for him to come join in the fun of the fish swimming beneath its surface.
Yet somehow, his mother always knew what he was about to do, even before he did them. Not that he ever minded. His mother was all things sweet and kind, his father gruff yet affectionate. Between the two and his life as the Crowned Prince, one would think the boy would want for nothing.
Yet, as he grew older, his eyes kept seeking the blue sky above and his heart yearned for something more.
“My word is final!” The king’s voice reverberated throughout the room, loud and commanding. The boy before him, his son slumped his shoulders forward, the corner of his lips down turned as he opened his mouth again to argue against his father. But he was cut off by a sharp glare. “I wish to hear no more from you son,” The king’s eyes softened just slightly. “Just...I do not think you are ready for such a task. To journey towards the East is a far off venture, for even the most skilled travellers. I would prefer someone who I knew could make the journey and return successfully.”
“I understand Father.” His son eventually ground out, eyes flashing as he bowed his head,“Might I be excused? My sword training begins soon.” The king waved a heavily ringed hand.
“Go. I will be by later to see your improvements.” Once his son had left the room, the king gave a heavy sigh and lifted a hand to his forehead. “Take me from the stubbornness that is my son.”
“He reminds me a lot of you, as a boy.” Glancing to his left, he couldn’t stop the smile from crossing his face.
“Expect, it seems he has inherited our combined stubbornness to ever give up on the thing he wants the most.” The woman at his side smiled sadly.
“You were also always fair and could be given reason. He is old enough to travel to the east and yet you deny him.” The smile on the king’s faced dropped, turning into a frown instead.
“He is nearly eighteen winters. Barely a man by our standards.” He told her curtly. The woman shook her head.
“Barely a man by your standards. Had he raised in the ways of my family, he would have been declared a man moons ago.” The king held back the always present sigh that seemed to hang around him more often these days.
“But we raised him the way of mine. And as such, he is not yet a man.” Their eyes met and neither were ready to back down.
“You don’t understand it do you?” She spoke lowly to him, her eyes locked on his and he couldn’t find it in himself to look away, even with the saddened tone in her voice. “That thing he has...That feeling that’s so attached to his soul will not go away simply by you ordering him to keep his peace and stay close to the castle. He shall not defy you for much longer until he can no longer bear it and take off one night, under the cover of shadows and starlight. You shan’t be there to stop him either, to yell at him to come back and stop this foolishness because you know what? I’ve had that itch once too. It didn’t go away until the entire realm had been traveled beneath my feet and I had seen all the sights that had wanted to be seen. And even then, it still resides in my heart but it has subsided enough that I can ignore it. So heed my warnings, my fair king, it’ll be of ill will to keep him chained here for too long. Madness he may have now but given time, it’ll turn into something much darker than that.”
“He is my responsibility!” He snarled at her, his anger flaring dangerously as he glared down at her. She stared back with firm eyes that somehow also held understanding and warmth. “I promised to care for him, to shelter him until he was grown enough to take care of himself. He is still far too young to be traversing the land, even with an escort of warriors to guard him! I-”
“And yet,” she interrupted him, her words soft and quiet beside his shouts. Yet somehow, they managed to catch his attention. “And yet you were even younger when you gathered a band of loyal and faithful men to take back what was rightfully yours. Nearly killing yourself and all of them in the process.”
“That was different.” he retorted back hotly. “We had a purpose then, a reason to walk around with swords at our belts and to sleep under the stars. He has none, except for his young stupidity-”
“Is it truly stupidity that controls him though?” How did she always manage to do this? He thought crossly to himself as he found himself staring into her eyes again, falling quiet at her words. How did she always manage to soothe his heart yet inflame it in the same moment? “Is it stupidity that makes him want to prove himself to you? After hearing the tales of your journey? He hears the ballads and stories around the campfires, grew up with them being whispered in his ears. You, and your fellows, who conquered mountains and monsters to reclaim what was rightfully yours. You, who he looks up to with a proudness and love that cannot be denied. You, who he only wants to prove that he is worthy to take the throne after you.”
“It is not the same,” He finally murmured after several moments of silence, slumping back into his chair. “I had to take the journey. It had to be done, or I would have died knowing that I could have done something to take back my one true home but didn’t. It should have been my biggest regret, had I not taken thought that it was a true possibility for me to take it back. What use is a heir if he runs off to totter around the land?”
“What use is an heir, if he knows nothing of the world?” She asked him back, quite boldly. “He only knows of it through texts and oral tellings from others. You know better than any of us that it is better to experience the stories themselves and be able to know that they will be told for generations to come, then to sit at home and read them after they have been done and have have rotted nearly to dust .”
“But he’s just a boy!” It was a futile last attempt, when they both knew who had already won. She always won. “Barely even to adulthood yet. He knows not of the horrors that could befall him, the tragedy that could happen. I do not wish him to experience what I have...”
“The land is at peace, my king. It has been like this for many years.” She assured him, reaching over and placing a hand on his, making him look back up at her, at her warm eyes that crinkled at the corners and the smile with that one dimple...
He shook his head. “And yet danger lurks at the corners. War to the west of us, hunger and famine to the south and east and not to mention the rumours of what is happening over the seas as well.” A small laugh from her and he couldn't help but relish the sound so rarely heard, he kept forgetting that it sounded like twinkling bells.
“And somehow, the peace still reigns here.” She leans over and kisses his forehead. He lets her, because he could never refuse her. “Remember my words. What use is an heir, if he knows nothing?” With those parting words, she is gone. Sweeping out the door to leave him with his thoughts.
“What use is an heir, if he indeed knows nothing at all?” He speaks to the bare walls around him, the words being swallowed up by the silence. He then speaks words even softer, these spoken as his chin tilts down to his chest and his weary eyes study the rings and bracelets on his fingers and wrists. Markings on his skin that told of his bravery and skills in battle were hidden under thick layers of fur and beaten leather. “What use am I, when I have forgotten what it was that truly drove me to embark on such a foolish venture and thus make myself king?”
It was two days before anyone noticed the prince was missing. His tutor had come to the king on the second evening, asking politely why he hadn’t seen the boy for the last few days.
'Had the prince taken ill?' Was asked on a calm tone.
That’s when all hell broke loose.
“Where is he?!” The king, his father, thundered to the hall of people, dark eyes scanning the faces of the horrified and scared nobles to the guards who looked worried and guilty at the same time. “Where is my son!”
“W-we don’t know your highness,” One guard answered shakily. “We've searched the entire castle and its outer parameters. Even the town is currently being searched but nothing has been found as of yet.”
“Well, I don’t want anyone to stop looking!” The king roared, sweeping his hand towards the door and dismissing them. “Go!”
Everyone was gone within a moment, leaving him all alone in the expanse of his throne room. He slumped in his throne, hand on his forehead and fingers trying to rub away the oncoming headache.
“I warned you of this,” He looked up to see her face smooth and without worry. “I told you. The boy can’t be locked in a cage like a bird. And now that the cage’s door was left wide open, he took his chance and flew away.”
“Don’t,” He croaked at her, a hotness behind his eyes and his throat tightening as he stood, hands trembling. “Don’t, please. I know my wrongs and now...Now I must pay the price for them.” The woman regarded him coolly, staring at the mess of a royal with blotchy skin and hair tangled. Her expression softened as tears rolled down his cheeks.
“I warned you of this day, so many times,” She murmured softly as she strode up to him, reaching to catch the now falling tears with her finger tips. “And did you listen? No, you chose to ignore it instead. As you always are wont to do.” His jaw trembled beneath her light touches, as he forced himself to not to sob. She chuckled lightly. “You already have the tears. No one shall begrudge their king if they hear he cried over his missing son.”
“And if he’s dead?” His voice cracked pathetically. “If he’s...If he’s gone? I should never forgive myself.” She was silent then, fingers still curled around his face as she stared down at him. Leaning down, their lips nearly met but she paused just before they touched and whispered.
“And I could never forgive you, if he was.”
No one ever mentioned the howls that came from the throne room that day, dutifully ignoring them and wondering if a wolf had somehow gotten in or if it was simply the wind in the east wing raging threw the halls yet again.
Only when they stopped did he dare peek out from his holdings to see where they were. It wasn’t anywhere he recognised, which had him worried. If he were to escape, where would he go? There was no way to tell his bearings as it was a full moon, which hung quite high in the sky and gave no hint as to which way they had headed and there were precious few stars in the sky. And they were no help, as his teachings of the stars had only truly been touched upon. and rather infrequently. His father had often seen to that. His tutor never helped either, though the prince suspected his father had a hand in coercing him. His father was rather protective.
“You will have a guide wherever you go, my prince.” His tutor always exclaimed with a sniffle. “And a fleet of guards who will not allow you out of their sight.”
“But what if I become lost from them? Attacked and I am taken hostage, only to escape later? How would I find my way home then?” The prince had supplied, tugging on the corner of a starry filled map. He knew of a few constellations but none that would point him in the direction of home. There was always the Northern Star but that could never be relied upon solely. He knew of landmarks and cities that dwelled nearby but of smaller encampments and towns were always never as important as the trade routes that supplied the kingdoms’ food and everything else. His father never did like the idea of his son venturing far or knowing what really beyond the castle borders.
Though that rarely stopped the boy from trying to find out on his own.
He was brought out of his musings when a large hand caught his arm and tugged him out of the wagon, sending him tumbling to the ground below before there was anyway of knowing what was happening.
“Clumsy fool!” snarled the one who pulled him from the wagon, reaching down to grasp his hand around the boy’s arm before tugging him up onto his feet roughly. “And here I thought you’d be graceful, looking as much like an elf as you are.” The man’s grip didn’t loosen as he was dragged along by his arm, the boy stumbling awkwardly beside him.
“W-where are we?” The prince stammered, his voice coming out weaker than he intended, glancing around in hopes that maybe, if the grip on his arm could be loosened, he could make a run for it. Even without knowing where he was, surely they were close enough to somewhere that he could get help.
“Tha’s no’e of yer bus’ess laddie,” Another one of his captors growled at him as the brute strode up to them, from a nearby campfire. “Stupid boy, should be grateful we hav’nt killed him yet.”
“Oh, he’ll be wishing for it soon enough.” The one on his arm laughed loudly, the sound grating on his ears. “Praying for it even.” The boy stiffened, his heart stopping at the harsh words. What did he mean by that? That he’d be so wantoning for death to escape whatever they were going to do with him? It didn’t take long to find out.
“If you please, Gertian, to not grip the boy so tightly. The Prince here should fetch a high price on the Circuit, especially uninjured in anyway.” A new smooth voice cut through the air, a slender man stepping out to greet them from folds of a tent. In their talking, they had continued walking, only to wind up at its entrance. And the boy was stunned at how rich not only the man dressed but the tent as well. Was he a noble of some kind? But his eyebrows furrowed when the man mentioned something called the Circuit. Why did the words sound so familiar...?
The two men that had brought him to the tent, however, were startled.
“He ain’t no prince!” Snarled the man named Gertian. “Found him scrabbling along the alleyways, trying to sneak around like a mouse during the night like a mouse.” The rich man before them raised an eyebrow, then narrowed his eyes.
“Then tell me why, Gertian, does he have the mark of the King on his throat?” Gesturing to the necklace on the boy before him, the man waited for the two other men to glance down and watched with a small smirk as their jaws dropped open.
“Lord, he is the prince!” The unnamed man shouted while Getian shook his head.
“He could have stolen it for all we know!”
“Are you so dull, Getian, to not think that the castle and its keep is so heavily guarded that not even the some of the best have been captured as they've tried to make their way in?” The man drawled heavily. “So what makes you think this small creature could have done so?” Getian had no answer for his master, only to tighten his jaw and glare down at his feet.
Once again, the boy tried twisting out of the grip on his shoulder, only letting out a small whimper of pain when the thick fingers dug in sharply, to give him warning.
“Stay still boy.” His captor hissed at him. “or shall I tie these ropes around your neck too?” The prince shook his head vigorously, his wide eyes wet with tears that rolled down his cheeks. The man grunted. “Good.”
In the end, the men and he were sent away after only a few minutes. The man they had spoken to was never seen again and the prince often wondered who he had been. The leader of the slavers? He looked well enough off to be.
But in the days, weeks and months to come, he would forget about the man in the rich clothes. He would forget about the gentle touch of his mother and soothing voice of his father.
He would forget a lot of things.
Soon enough, he was reminded of just what the Circuit was.
Slave trading had often been whispered about just within his earshot, whenever others thought him not listening and the Circuit had cropped up often enough. There had even been a few brief mentions of it in history books, though nearly every single one of them claimed that it had been gotten rid of an age ago. All those books had been wrong.
Months passed, as he was passed owner to owner. Excuses and sneers as to why they were practically giving him away were spat within earshot of him, always.
“Learns far too slowly for my liking,” His first master drawled once, after handing him over. “Far too pompous looking too. Like he hasn’t had to work a day in his life. Thought I could beat it out of him. Sad that it didn’t work, think he could have been a good worker.”
“He’s not very strong,” Sighed the wife of the second to last master, after he dropped a bucket of water from the well. “I told you, when you brought him home. I told you he wouldn’t be useful at all, except for his fingers. Thief fingers they are. Probably what got him into trouble in the first place, the wretched child."
And there was nothing he could say or do to tell them otherwise. That lesson had been learnt early on, when he fought his first master.
The scars from the lashing still lingered on his shoulders.
He escaped once, near the start. The master’s dogs were set after him soon enough.
The snaps and snarls of strong jaws and gnashing of teeth had him bolting for his life.
His lungs stung and his legs burned as he ran.
He was going to die. (He didn’t want to die.)
His feet were sliding out from beneath him and he was falling down, down the side of a river with hands scrabbling at the roots that trailed over the edge of the river.
Nothing helped though, as everything soon went black.
That was the first and last time he ever learnt to never escape and to never speak back to his master.
Some nights, while lying on whatever form of bed was given to him, he’d sob into his arms.
Sometimes, if he was lucky, his tears were caught in an old raggedy pillow or old threadbare quilt that was no longer wanted. But most nights, his room was the smallest closest in the house and he had to make do with old rags.
He still remembered the feel of soft fabric that slid over his skin at this point, instead of roughness that sometimes left rashes along his arms and legs and other parts of his soft body. But not for much longer. Soon, his body would roughen in ways different to his weapons training. Callouses would form but not from holding swords and shields. Muscles that were used for pushing bellows instead of bow strings became firm and his eyes quickly became sharp when on the look out for undeserving kicks by his master or his family.
He had a kind master, once. An old lady, whose family wanted little to do with her until her last breath. She treated him more like a son then a slave whenever her family wasn't around, always smiling at him and having given him an actual room to sleep in. But even when her family was around, she still let him have warm meals in the kitchen instead of the dining room like that always did when it was just the two of them.
"It gets so lonely, without them here." She told him once, after a three months in her service. "Of course, they only like me for my money but they won't be getting a bit of it. In the middle of changing my will so it goes to those who have served me with loyalty these last few years." When he heard that, he was of course ecstatic. That meant he could be free soon!
But alas, the old lady died before the will was properly changed and everything did to to her family. Those who were loyal were thrown out or sold away, like unwanted possessions.
He should have known good things always happened to bad people.
It was a rare day for his stomach to be full. Being feed scraps that barely kept him alive meant he was growing oh so skinny, enough that his bones were beginning to poke through his skin. After nearly a year, whenever he looked down at himself, it was often wondered if they were sharp enough to hurt, if someone touched them.
His mouth salivated when thoughts of his old home and meals that always had him feeling stuffed and things that were snuck in between floated by, instead of a stomach that no longer felt hunger because he was so hungry. It’d be the only feeling he’d remember soon enough.
One day, after being handed over again, he was thrown into an enclosed wooden wagon and locked inside. He was being passed on, yet again, this time under the excuse he was too thin and was always sickly.
“Won’t get a good price for him,” His old master had sneered as he was tossed inside. “Would be better as dog meat.”
The town had been dank and always wet, because it was built partially into a cliff side right on the edge of the ocean. For him, escape had been nigh impossible for the streets had been built to confuse all but those who had been born there.
And yet, his heart had still leapt into his throat at the sight of royally trained guards marching past the wagon with hearty laughs in their chests. Even if it had been two years since his kidnapping.
But they ignored his cries for help. Like always.
Why did he keep trying again?
“Why won't they help us?” He sighed heavily, glancing over to the other within the wagon. Her dark eyes lifted to look at him, her fingers still working over the toy bird in her hand. It looked well worn, its edges smooth yet with chips scattered here and there. “I thought knights were meant to be honorable and save those in need.”
“They would, if this was a fairytale laddie,” She murmured as a thin smile stretched over her mouth. But it wasn’t a true smile, not one that reached her eyes and truly existed. She looked tired, oh so tired with her sunken body, purple dusted over her eyes and pale skin. “But this...This isn’t a fairytale you hear tossed around the fire, or by your mother to soothe your tired body. This is real. Sometimes, the wit of a hero isn’t enough. His strength, tenacity, whatever makes a hero...” With her voice trailing off and her chin being tucked to her chest as a deep breath is released, the boy doesn’t see the glistening of tears yet hears the trembling of a voice about to break into sobs. “Sometimes, just sometimes, the hero never comes and lets the damsel die. Just let’s the villain win and take whatever he wants. Because the hero is nothing but a coward.”
For a moment,the prince frowned, wondering what had happened with her to make her question the world so...bitterly.
But no more words were spoken between the two, as the wagon lurched forward.
For two weeks, they lived in that wagon, only to be taken out to relieve themselves or to be put on show. Many times, he tried to begin a conversation but the best that ever came from the women were either grunts or few words answers. Like when he attempted for her name, even after giving his, her response was;
“It is no concern of yours who I am.”
Or when he spoke of his old home and what he used to be. Hoping that if he did, it would coax a story out of her.
“I was a prince you know, once. But I ran away and became captured. What about you?”
All that was given was a harsh glare and a silent warning to cease talking.
He eventually became disenchanted with getting to know his wagon mate and silence soon ruled between them.
All he felt was pain. it was coming from his head but he couldn’t figure out why. His eyes were bleary when he opened them, squinting in the sun that shone through the leaves above him. Where was he?
“There you are!” A voice snapped to his left, scaring him but when his head snapped up and towards the voice, he couldn’t stop the wince and the groan escaping from his lips. He rested his head down again. “They sent me to find you and what are you doing? Sleeping? They’d flog you for sure, if it was them who had found you anyway.” What was the woman talking about? He wasn’t even sure where he was and she was talking about getting flogged for sleeping? “get up you lazy clot!” A shadow fell over his eyes and something smacked his head, which was just enough to send the already creeping darkness further into his mind. The last thing he remembered seeing was a wooden bird grasped tightly in her hand.
Yet, as he fell back, he dreamt of horses.
He awoke from a nightmare to see a woman staring at him from her corner. He was sore and his limbs ached as he tried to sit up. Their wagon was going over a bumpy part of the road-or was the road always bumpy?-so he had to ask.
“Where am I?” His throat was sore and his head pounded. Groaning, he managed to touch a finger to his head, feeling a hard lump under his prodding fingers. It was then he realised he couldn’t remember why he was even in the wagon, with the woman and the toy bird. His last memory was of open skies and caring for his masters’ horses. Had he been knocked out by a swift kick? But a scowl settles on his face when he struggled to recall anything more. “Who are you?”
“You don’t remember who I am?” She echoed in disbelief, a frown crossing her pale face. He was confused. It sounded like they had known each other.
“No?” He frowned, wondering why it was such a surprise to her. He had only just met her. “Do you know who I am?” The girl was silent for a few moments, her eyes staring at him and her mouth in a thin line.
“No,” She finally said, slowly as she turned the toy bird in her hands. His eyes watched the fingers scrap over its edges which were already smoothed out, even the chips that had been there. “No, I don’t know who you are. I just found you.” Something about her voice was clipped and unforgiving and it made him wonder why she was so. It sounded as if she was hiding something. But something told him not to press.
He never asked why she said “I just found you.” when they had been in a locked cage because three days later, they escaped when the wagon broke down and the rain was falling so heavily no-one would follow them without risking their neck.
“I can’t do this anymore,” She announced one day as they sat around their campfire, their dinner in their laps and the stars above them and the great expanse of the lake beside them. They had been free for the better part of two months now, moving constantly so not to be caught. Their food was either stolen when they were near villages and felt brave enough to steal or were foraged.
He looked at her in startled bewilderment, eyes wide and his mouth open as he tried to think of something to say. But there weren’t any words, nothing he could think to say. In days to come, there was a broken heart that wished there had been some words that he could have spoken to her. To ease the oh so obvious pain that was held truthfully in her eyes but were told dishonestly on her lips so many times.
Because two days later, she was dead.
He had gone to forage for food and when he came back, only half an hour later, her body was by the shore and not moving. Crying out in shock and fear, all the berries he had been collecting were flung to the ground as he dashed over to her. Her lips were blue and though her eyes shone from the light of the moon when he turned over over, it was only a flash and they were dark again.
And he sobbed with his arms around her shoulders, forehead resting against hers. His tears fell freely, some striking against her face and rolling down her cheeks, giving the impression that she too was crying.
But she wasn’t.
The tears were his and his alone.
He wondered years later, if she knew more than she had been letting on. Deep down in his heart, there was a feeling she knew who he truly was but for whatever reason, whether it was to protect him from himself or her, she didn’t tell him. Strangely, though his heart was broken over the fact there was no way to give her a proper burial, it wasn’t broken further at the thought she might have once known him yet never told him.
When he could finally leave her, hours after having buried her under dirt and leaves with a small plain stone as her grave maker, her bird was in his hands. It was debated for a long while whether he should leave it with her or take it but in the end, his fingers couldn’t let it go. Time and time again, he tried placing it over her heart but he couldn’t. It was hers but it was also the only thing he could have to truly remember her by. Even though he couldn’t shake the feeling that she knew him before, he feared losing all memory of the sweet girl who figuratively took him under her wing if he let the little wooden bird go.
It wasn’t until days later that he realised that he never even knew her name and if he once did, it was no longer remembered.
He was caught a week later, trying to steal food from a vendor. The man had caught him in the act and raised the alarm by screaming THIEF at the top of his lungs before lurching over his stall to catch him by the wrist. He had been too weak from hunger to put up a real struggle. The woman had been a better thief than him, even with his supposed thief hands. Even if he didn’t remember where he had got that idea from. It had been a niggling thought that never left him.
Carted off to the dungeons, he was only freed when the king himself came down and just stared before ordering his release. He had blinked at that. Weren’t his hands meant to be cut off?
He wondered more about the stares he received from some of the palace servants as he was taken down the hallway. They were a mixture of disbelief and utter confusion. As if he was someone they knew but he didn’t remember this castle or its inhabitants.
After being cleaned up and few wounds tended to (a few cuts and scrapes, from living on the streets), the king had come by and called him his son, his darling prince. Yet when all it was met with was confusion, the king’s face crumpled.
“Do you no longer remember me? Your own father?” He had cried, some great sadness in his eyes. “I am your king and father, the one who raised you! What of your mother? Do you not recall her? Do you no longer know even who you are?”
The supposed prince frowned at the trembling man in front of him, struggling to recall who he was at his demands. But nothing came forward. Nothing was remembered of the old king, who had flung himself at the man’s feet, pleading and begging to be remembered and forgiven. To be loved despite his wrongs.
But no matter how many times old memories were told to him, as weeks eventually passed by, of his childhood and how he loved to wander as soon as his legs had been steady enough, his memories never returned. Only ones of pain and suffering ever returned. Ones that showed such horror that he was often left gasping awake at night, unable to sleep again.
The wooden bird was his only comfort, his fingers mapping it out, much like its previous owner. (Oh, how his heart ached at the thought of blue lips and pale skin falling away to even paler bones. If only he could go back.)
And for many years after his apparent return, when the king had grown truly old and grey, the forgetful prince often wondered if he really was the prince. He certainly didn’t feel like a prince, nor did he particularly look or act like one. There were things seen from the corner of his eyes
shadows with knives, with whips. Menacing grins that promised pain and cruel fingers that held him down.
The feeling was worsened when one day, it was announced that he would take over the throne and his heart leapt into his throat.
The rush of not belonging, of not being able to remember, came back to to him the closer the coronation came. Each day it worsened when, in the end, it wouldn't ever leave him. It sat heavily in his otherwise hollow heart, the terror of becoming king and the thought that he was a prince once so long ago and now, he was soon to be made a king. Yet it was something he could never believe. Certainly, it didn’t help that it was always followed by a painful tug on his heart each time he looked out a window and instead of seeing a city, his eyes saw only rolling green expanses, high mountains and deep rivers.
(He remembered fondly sleepless nights spent under the stars, the few good memories that ever returned to him. The stars were slowly mapped out to him, a long forgotten wish at long last fulfilled and a thirst for knowledge quenched. Only, stars didn’t last forever.)
Instead of seeing people enjoying themselves as he walked the streets, he saw lines of people being lead to their deaths, tied together by chains and struck with wicked steel tipped whips if someone so much as stepped out of line.
(He shuddered at that particular memory, remembering those terrible tips striking his skin and blood seeping from the wounds made on his back. The feeling couldn’t ever be forgotten, even if it was just water being poured on his back. Oh how he hated the rain now. The water felt too much like the red liquid as it dripped down his back.)
It was raining the day before his coronation, servants and nobles alike wringing their hands as they paced back and forth while shooting glances out the windows. Thankfully, it cleared up by the morning and he was grateful.
(He’d forgotten how much he used to love the falling water.)
But most of all, when his eyes were drawn to the sky on a particularly sunny day, like on his coronation with people cheering at him from below
(There were screams that rang in his ears.)
(There was so much blood) (Why was there so much blood)
He saw a girl washed up by the lake shore, a toy bird clutched tightly in hand with her lips painted blue to match the sky above.