01: unfold

The clouds looked menacing with the deep black that clung to them; greying them and darkening their appearance. The moon, hidden behind thin blankets of the cotton fog, loomed overhead like some symbolic object of destine. However, the sky seemed to be noticed only by a young boy, just reaching the peak of age eight, who stood veiled by the dank shadows cast by the lush trees and bushes. The vine-spouting wall on which he leaned back against itched at his back, but he did not care for the discomfort.

His sharp, acuate eyes were narrowed against the wind, partially covered by stray strands of ebony hair. His pale lips were drawn in a half-smile; he was unjustly at peace despite what he knew would soon unfold. Crossing his arms over the soft fabric of his sheer black shirt that clung to his young frame, the boy tilted his head back and looked back up at the sky.

It seemed to know his intentions.

With grace not quite mastered, he detached himself from the vine-infested wall and sunk low to the ground. He whipped around the corner of the wall, one hand lightly tracing along the cold stone of it as if he would get lost without it. The sight that met his gaze made his body tremble slightly — but not with fear.

With pure hatred.

He could hardly suppress the furor that tingled within his stomach; he flicked his tongue out against his teeth, eyes narrowed dangerously, posture rigid and hardly containable. He wasn't sure if it was natural for a child his age to feel so strongly towards others, but he did, and he couldn't control it.

If only his intentions had been to burn the entire garden of the palace; lock all escape routes; watch the once-mingling nobles scream and cry, pleading for some miracle to free them from their deaths... and all the boy would do was watch, smiling, as their flesh melted and they mixed with the soil.

His keen gaze scanned across the garden, catching sight of many nobles dressed in their fancy, expensive clothes. No doubt those who had made their beautiful dresses and suits got no thanks nor pay for their hard work. The women fanned themselves with their decorated fans, their faces plastered with makeup to enhance their beauty.

One looked in the boy's direction, and he immediately sunk further into the shadows, pressing himself against a towering tree, which leaves were tickling the base of his neck. He snorted in irritation, then slipped past the tree, keeping his lithe frame within the shadows, and bolted along the wall, closer and closer towards the noble party. He could now hear their laughter and lively banter; see their jocosity and beaming appearances.

Why was it that they were so happy?

The boy continued his dash. A fireworks display immediately started, and he almost tripped in surprise at the loud cracks. His heart managed an attempt at jumping from his throat; he slammed his back against the wall, clutching his chest, and cursed himself for being so jumpy.

The nobles cheered and grabbed onto one another, smiling brilliantly at the spectacle of fireworks. The boy regained his composure just as a bright yellow flashed against the dead sky and he realized he had the perfect chance — without time to hesitate, he dove out of the shadows, moving with such speed he was sure to trip.

He managed to slide himself under a table, concealing himself under the legs, and he clamped a gloved hand over his mouth to stifle his harsh breathing. He stared at the feet of a woman, hoping she hadn't felt his wind as he had tackled the grass. He pressed his forehead into the earth, trying desperately to lower his breathing.

He was too far into the mission to get caught.

A chorus of gasps emitted from the crowd of nobles as another set of sharp fireworks sprouted into the air. At hearing this, the boy dashed to the table beside the one he had been under and took a moment to collect himself. There — now he could see the window in which he would climb into. He bit his lip gently as he searched for ways to get to the window without being seen.

His mind was slightly clouded in his excitement — just a few more steps and his mission would be complete. He had yearned for this moment; had lived for it through his entire existence — he needed to do this; he needed to complete this. He couldn't let his brother risk his life for this.

Everyone thought that he was sleeping in his warm little bed, while in all actuality, he was doing the job his brother was supposed to do tomorrow night. Once he returned home with the King's blood on his hands, everyone would know what he had done, and his brother would never have to risk his life.

The boy lowered his eyebrows. He would rather die by the King's sword than let his brother fall.

He dug through his pockets in search for something he could throw; something that would make a loud sound to distract the lords and ladies. He found a few coins and lint, but that was about it. Gritting his teeth in annoyance, he had the stupid idea to snatch a shoe off a woman's foot and chuck it.

The silly things he thought up when he was lost.

He heard the chime of silverware and stiffened — yes! He peeked over the table, then rose his arm to touch the edge. Feeling his way along the top, his gloved hand met with a glass. He jerked it down towards him and breathed a sigh of relief.

This would work.

He paused to wrinkle his nose his disgust at the fine goblet; it was so elegant and expensive, he wanted to drop it to the ground and rub his hand on his pants as if it was now contaminated for holding such an object. Resisting that very urge, he drew his hand back and chucked the goblet towards the vine-covered wall on the opposite side of the palace that he would soon run to. It made contact.

With a loud shattering sound, the curious nobles turned to face where the sound had come from. Without time to ponder, the boy leapt out of hiding and tore across the remaining distance between the table and the window. He made a strangled sound when he held out his hand to stop himself; it slammed against the wall and sent a sharp pain tingling through his fingers to his wrist.

He glanced over his shoulder and saw that a lady had witnessed his sprint.

Mentally cursing, the boy pressed himself against the wall directly beneath the window and heaved in a slow breath. Perhaps she would not say a thing... perhaps she was shy and would turn her back to the unusual.

He could only hope.

Whipping around, he dug his gloved fingers into the vines of the wall. Half his mind told him he was going to fall before reaching the windowsill, while the other half urged him on. The anger that rippled throughout his veins gave him the strength to scale the harsh wall within minutes. His gloves felt tighter and tighter against his hands as he climbed higher, his breathing became more rushed, but the adrenalin within him pumped him to continue.

His hand at last clasped the bottom of the windowsill. He made sure to keep his small body against the wall in case anyone were to glance his way — he silently prayed that he blended in with the shadows of the wall. He pressed his forehead against the wall to cool himself off. Eyes closed, he clung to the wall as he tried calming his breathing.

With a surge of strength; perhaps the last of it, he hauled himself onto the windshield and looked through the window, where he could see that the King was not in his chambers.


He would slip inside and hide somewhere, then when the King came in to get his rest, he'd jump out and slit his throat in a second.

He tried the window. Locked. Baring his teeth in annoyance, the boy flicked out his dagger and ran it along the crack in the middle of the window. He jerked his wrist slightly and the window swung open, almost knocking him off the sill. He clawed at the windows for support and managed to stay balanced. Blowing some of his hair from his eyes, he slipped inside and delicately clicked the window shut behind him.

His heart was still threatening to break free from his rib cage. He flattened himself to the carpet and took the room in with his large eyes. Silky red covers were draped across the large bed which had silvery curtains falling from the ceiling, entirely down around it. There were many oak dressers and to the far end of the room, a closet greeted the boy.

Perhaps he could hide in there?

No, the maids may find me when they go to help the King change for bed...

Sliding against the maroon carpet, he decided to just wait under the bed. He hated how the King's room was unimaginably luxurious — he did not deserve this kind of treatment. He was a vile King, a terror amongst his people. He deserved to die in the most horrifying and painful way.

A slit to the throat wasn't exactly the most gruesome demise, but the boy didn't care at the moment. He just wanted to kill the King to save his brother.

Once he was hidden beneath the bed, he decided to just stay on his stomach. He clenched the dagger in his grip so hard he felt his hand go numb. He shifted until he could see the bottom of the door — the door that the King would sooner or later step through, and he gritted his teeth.

His anger was refilling.

The King was the poison of the people; he fed them his false views of improving their lives, and they ate it like fools and eventually perished, being consumed from the inside by the horrid King's sick lies. How the rage in the boy trembled, crying and biting at him to rip through. He wanted to go on a massacre through the palace — he wanted to run into every room, mercilessly slaughter every fool who willingly followed the King, and then be struck down by a sword and die happy.

Die knowing he had made an impact.

Just as he was contemplating this, the door swung open with a loud bang as it met with the wall. He saw the feet of the security — the guards.

Swallowing nervously, he tried to sink into the floor. The noblewoman who had seen him had told.

The soldiers raided through the room in search for him; searching every corner, closet, compartment. At last, one stopped at the bed and kneeled down, his armor groaning in protest. He reached under the bed and began feeling around; feeling for the boy so bent on murdering their King.

He had half a mind to bite the soldier's damned fingers off.

He shifted away from the hand, his heart racing. He then let out a squeak when he felt something touch his back. Instantaneously, he was lifted out from the darkness of beneath the bed and greeted by the many soldiers.

"We got'em!" the solider, who had the boy in his grasp, announced loudly. Then, slowly, the King walked in the room, his hands placed behind his back and a small, cold smile resting upon his large lips. It was as if all the air in the room had depleted; no one dared to breathe. His presence was vast; they all knew this, as did he. His bushy white eyebrows were drawn downwards, and his grey eyes burned mercilessly into the young boy's.

"If it isn't Talon's boy, Khedi?" King Marl simpered, and the boy, Khedi, allowed his gaze to flicker onto the King's hand, which was now placed on the hilt of his sheathed sword.

Khedi gave a feral, wild snarl and bared his teeth like a caged animal at his enemy. He made sure to keep his dagger hidden while he spit directly at King Marl's feet. Khedi was the son of Talon, the leader of the Rebels. Certainly, this would cause great conflict. Khedi had a feeling that King Marl wouldn't immediately kill him — instead, he'd use him for some sick purpose. Bargaining, perhaps, or to just plain hurt Talon.

"How lucky this night appears to be," King Marl sneered. Before another word could be said, Khedi whipped out his dagger and slashed the face of the man who held him. He was released from the gasping man and instantly lunged at the King's throat, his eyes burning with the hope of killing this horrid beast of a man. King Marl stepped back with a cry just as the blade of Khedi's dagger sliced at his throat.

Immediately, he was surrounded by swords aimed at his neck.

"I should kill you now!" King Marl roared, spit flying at the face of the young boy, who only stared back with frost-lined eyes. "I should have you hung right now!" He threw his large hands in the air and snarled. "But I won't. Do you know why?" He paused to grin maliciously.

Die, you horrid beast! Khedi only stared fiercely at the King in reply.

"I'm going to make Talon wish he had never sent his own son to assassinate me," King Marl said slowly, as if every word was the blow of a weapon, cutting into Khedi's flesh and wounding him.

Khedi only spit at the King, creating havoc once more.

"We do not keep hostages!" Talon Desico slammed his fist against the hard wood of the top of his desk, causing his eldest son, Sablet, to start. "You know this! If we were to keep a hostage; steal a noble or something; we would be sinking as low as Marl himself!"

Sablet couldn't help but laugh, and laugh loudly at this. He stood up so quickly that his father wavered. "I'm not talking about a noble, father. I'm talking about a princess." He flicked some of his black hair away from his eyes — the same, messy black hair that his youngest brother, Khedi, carried. Khedi and Sablet, youngest and oldest, looked more alike than any of their other siblings. They were also the closest — Sablet constantly taught Khedi how to hunt birds, spear fish, increase his stamina — anything. The two were always found together.

Sablet had two younger brothers other than Khedi. First, there was Trym, feisty and strong-willed at age eleven, and then there was Klion, shy and timid at age fourteen. Trym had a dusky brown hair and golden brown eyes, just like his mother. Klion was mixed — black hair and brown eyes. Both, however, despite their difference in appearance, were practically joined into one person. They were never separated.

Sablet ran his finger along the edge of the desk, his gaze following the invisible trail he was marking. "Kidnap a whiny, spoiled princess, and Marl will be at our feet, begging for his daughter to be brought back in one piece."

"Have I really raised such a fool?" Talon sighed, pressing his forehead against his palm in frustration. At hearing these words, Sablet's eyes flashed and he bit back a venomous snarl. Talon continued, his voice tired like he had been working in a field for days without rest, "Marl does not care for others. He is like the stone that guards his palace."

Sablet leaned back slightly, lowering his eyebrows in amusement. Certainly Talon was being absurd; who could not care for their own daughter? Deciding not to press the matter in case he started some book-chucking, Sablet gently said, "Well, perhaps the Queen would care if her daughter was kidnaped by the Rebels?"

Blowing out a breath, Talon only shrugged his large shoulders and looked away. Sablet crossed his arms over his chest, feeling slightly at ease, which was rare. He couldn't exactly tell why he felt this way — after all, he should have been panicking relentlessly. Just tomorrow night he would sneak into the palace to, once and for all, kill the King. Normally, he would be itching with nervousness, trembling in secret. There was a ripe chance that he would die — a very ripe chance.

There had been many attempts to assassinate the vile King, but none had succeeded. All those who had tried had their dismembered heads thrown out the palace windows and trampled on by cattle.

Sablet didn't exactly think that was the most... honorable way to die. He glanced down at his fingernails and began inspecting them, absently, while Talon fumed in the corner.

"You shouldn't go," Talon murmured, and Sablet immediately knew what he was talking about.

"You let Har go, and Lysn, and Parn... why not me?"

"Because you're my son!"

"That's awfully selfish of you," Sablet smirked slightly, "After all, weren't Har, Lysn, and Parn sons of others?"

Talon only scowled.

Sablet couldn't help but smile — he was grateful and touched that his father cared so much about him, but he had to kill Marl. He absolutely had to. No more failing at assassinating him — he would, once and for all, destroy the source of pain in this country.

Once Marl died, his eldest son, Prince Slyd, would rule. Slyd wasn't too bad of a prince; it was obvious to say that he did not approve of his father's style of ruling. It didn't matter, at the moment, that Prince Slyd was a slight coward — as long as he was a better ruler than Marl.

Clearing his throat and also succeeding in breaking the silence, Sablet said, "I still think we should kidnap one of the princess's. Perhaps the youngest? She's bound to be the stupidest and the most naive."

Talon's scowl grew. "No! No kidnaping!"

Just at that moment, the door flew open with an air-like whoosh, and there in the doorframe stood Bystan, the messenger, panting and breathless. His golden hair was blown back from the wind; obviously, he had been traveling at high speeds on his horse. He clutched the doorframe and his chest, closing his eyes as he weakly announced: "He's... he's been captured, sir."

Talon furrowed his large eyebrows and stepped away from his desk, almost timidly; "Who's been captured?"

"Your youngest son, Khedi! He was trying to assassinate King Marl, but he was caught..." the messenger trailed off to exhale a trembling breath.

Sablet blinked, completely caught off guard. Snapping his head back to look at his father, he snarled through gritted teeth as a burst of worry and rage overtook him — "We will proceed with my plan. The youngest Princess will be kidnaped." He slammed his palm down on the desk, not bothering to cringe from the pain, and barked, "We will have leverage!"

Princess Carmine, youngest of three siblings, briskly walked down the hall with her head held high. She spun around a corner, her pace high, and smiled to herself as her mind wandered with poetic yet tragic thoughts.

She slipped out to the gardens and graciously fell on her knees beside a bush of roses. She gently touched a pedal and smiled, utterly at peace. She brought the flower close to her face and inhaled its rich scent, a smile taking hold of her ruby lips.

A strand of her blonde hair tumbled before her eyes, but she took no note of it. She could hardly feel the heavy mass of hair on head that towered upwards in a flurry of beads and gems. She didn't care that her pure white dress was getting stained by the grass, or that her cheeks were reddening from the lifting wind. She was lost in her mind; lost so deeply that she had temporarily erased all touch with reality.

She parted her lips and allowed her eyes to slide shut while she leaned back slightly, enjoying the wind's caressing touch. "I lay in wait, in hopes of you. I wish only for the touch to tell me what it is you stand for. I don't know where it is you come from, where it is you wait, but all I knows is that somewhere... somewhere, we'll meet."

She knew she was being silly; she knew she was speaking like a fool poet. But she didn't care. She was, to put it bluntly, obsessed with romance. Such a beautiful word: love. And there were so many meanings behind it.

Carmine couldn't help but smile — she wanted to fall in love. She had never experienced any kind of love, except that fake feeling that entered her when she looked down upon peasants. Her father, King Marl, was not one to express love to anyone, not even to his own wife. His wife, Queen Annelis, also wasn't much for affection. She did indeed claim her love for her daughters and son, but Carmine just couldn't feel it.

Love had to be a strong feeling, not just words.

And true love? Well, Carmine didn't believe in that. She believed in the love that a man and women shared, but it wasn't like soul mates or anything. Just love.


Carmine's smile grew. She yearned to experience it.

"Adrift the sea that parts the two greatest nations, among the mountains that overlook the forests and valleys, a mingling warrior in raging battle... whatever you are, wherever you are, I await you so meekly. Lords, how I wish to meet you. Lords, how I wait for your presence to cloud within me."

"Alright, sister of mine," Prince Slyd's voice cut through her daydream like the blade of a knife, "You dreamful poet. Up, father beckons us."

Carmine felt a blush stain her cheeks as she glanced at her older brother, the future King, and stood up, absently brushing her dress off. Slyd's gaze fell to her knees, where green stained the white of her dress, but he did not say a word. Instead, he offered his hand out to his sister.

"What is it he wants?" Carmine asked in her light, airy voice; the tone that she was trained to speak in. She placed her hand in her brother's and he led her out of the gardens, back into the warmth of the castle.

"Something regarding the rebels, was all I was told," Slyd answered, closing the door behind them with a quick look at the sky, "How long did you plan on sitting out there, lost in your dreams, sister? Rain will be falling shortly, you would have been soaked."

Carmine only shrugged and followed Slyd through the corridors until they reached the throne room, where their father waited for them. The doors were shoved open by Slyd, and the two stepped in the room. Marissa, the third oldest child of the Royal Family, was already standing before their father.

King Marl greeted them with a tight smile, while the Queen motioned for their children to come closer.

"A wonderful thing has happened!" Queen Annelis said excitedly, but managed to keep her stiff, official tone. "Darling, do tell our children!"

Marl gave his wife a long look; a look of annoyance and disturbance, and set his gaze on the three before him. Mainly on Slyd. "Yes. Quite wonderful news. As you have already heard, a rebel was in my room last night with the intent on killing me."

Carmine and Slyd exchanged looks. They knew the rebels were furious little savages, but full on assassinations were very rare. However, they were coming more frequently; obviously, the rebels were getting more and more serious; more and more out of control.

It was only days before they would do something completely drastic to twist the straight line of control.

"However, you were not notified who that rebel was," King Marl continued with a sly smile. "He was Khedi, son of Talon himself."

Carmine, unable to hold back a surprised look, placed a hand to her chest. "Unbelievable."

"Do you plan on using this boy?" Prince Slyd questioned.

The King's eyes flashed, and one word sealed the boy's fate, "Indeed."

A/N: Yeah-yuh. Note the difference in the rebels speech from the royals? I am oh so clever. (notreally)

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