Chapter 11

Kieran woke up in a cell. Kieran shot up in bed and then gave a groan of pain. He had the biggest headache that he had had in a lifetime. Rubbing his temple, he looked warily around the room.

It was a very sparse room really, that only held the barest of necessities. There was a bed with the thinest sheets and a thin blanket. The frames of it looked like it might snap at any given time. To the side was a simple bedstand with a small lamp on it. In a corner of the room was a chest for clothing - very like those in the good ole days. One door in the other corner was closed - locked, Kieran thought cynically. The other was opened, revealing the restroom and shower of the cell.

He wondered who had bothered to kidnap him and put him in something so barbaric. Hardly no one used this type of things anymore. He did not even think it possible that such an old building existed except for castles. Kieran had to revise that thought now.

Kieran got up and tried the door know of the closed door. Sure enough. The door was locked. He pounded on it and shouted, trying to get whomever it was to that had kidnapped him to come and confront him. He had no luck. The kidnapper was smarter and decided to pick a time of his choosing. Disgruntled, Kieran flopped down on the bed to wait.

Meanwhile, back at the palace, everyone were still clueless to Kieran's disappearance. Lucian had woken up and been told that Kieran had went to take a walk in the forest and that he would most likely be back by dinner time. So he had blissfully taken out his homework and started working on it on Kieran's study table.

When the bell finally chimed for dinner, Lucian looked up and frowned. Kieran had not returned from his jaunt in the forest. Where could his lover be? Lucian put his books away and went in search of Kieran, or failing that, to find someone who knew of his whereabouts.

Lucian asked whoever he passed if they had seen Kieran. All of them replied negatively and Lucian started to get all the more worried about it. Where could Kieran had gone to? Perplexed, he went in search for King Coulan. He was Kieran's father, surely he would know where his son was?

He found the king on his way to the dinning hall. When the king saw Lucian coming to him alone, he stopped, an ominous feeling washing through his aged body.

"Have you seen Kieran?" Lucian asked anxiously. "Roarke and the others told me that he had went to take a walk in the forest. He hasn't returned. Not that I know of. I waited and waited for him in his rooms."

King Coulan's face took on a worried countenance. He immediately turned about-face, in search of something or someone.

"Drakos!" He shouted at the top of his voice, "Varian! Come at once!"

"Lucian, follow me."

The two men he had shouted for came running from different ends of the hallway. When they saw that they had come within sight of the King, they slowed down to a fast walk.

"You called, Your Majesty?" Drakos asked brusquely, his gaze landing on Lucian and noticing the absent figure of Kieran.

"We need search parties," Coulan told them to the point. "Kieran is missing and something tells me that this is not in a fit of pique."

"Are you telling us he is missing?" Varian asked sharply, disbelief clear in his voice.

"Roarke said he went to the forest for one of his walks," Lucian said in a worried filled voice. "He has not been back since then. And I know he would not have been gone so long without telling me nothing."

Varian and Drakos nodded in understanding. They both knew of the boys' relationship. Lucian and Kieran were both virtually stuck in the hip together. Where one went, the other went. Or if they did not, they at least knew of the other's whereabouts.

"We will both get our people and start at once," Drakos told the King.

Coulan's weaponsmaster and spymaster both veered off at the end of the corridor to find their respective people.

"I'm going out there to search for him," Lucian told the king abruptly. "I need to do something before I drive myself mad with worry.

"I'll come with you," King Coulan told him. "Henry! Jasper! We're going out. Come with us if you must."

His two personal guards readily followed them towards the direction of the forest.

It promised to be a long and frustrating night.

Kieran looked at his watch for what must have been the hundredth time. Four hours past. It would be dinner time at the castle now and hopefully, they would have realized that he was gone and had not returned as he said he would. Lucian would worry. In the sparse room, Kieran could do nothing but fret and worry about what was happening at the castle because of his disappearance.

Who had caught him? And why? And his kidnapper had yet to show their face to him. When he had tried to use some of his magical powers inherited from his bloodline to the throne, he was surprised that the kidnapper had even known of his gifts and been prepared for it. No one but the immediate family and trusted people knew of their coveted secret. Their magic was used as a last resort. It meant that whoever it was that had kidnapped him was a trusted person of the family. Kieran was furious. He would do this kind of thing?

Suddenly, the knob to the locked door started turning and Kieran sat up straight, staring at it fascinatingly. It was turning open very slowly. Quick as a cat, Kieran got behind the door, hoping to surprise his kidnapper to make a getaway.

The door opened but no one came in. Kieran stayed there for ten minutes before he peaked around it and saw that it was empty of a person standing before it. Kieran glanced cautiously around the other side of the door. There did not seem to be anybody outside. He opted to stay cautious and peaked around the corners of the walls and tried to look at where anyone could hide at. Even the ceiling. But there was no one.

Kieran ventured out, careful to make his steps as quiet as possible. Beyond the door was what looked like a living room. There were two couches, a television set and a bookcase, but there was not a single living person in sight. A hallway stood to the right. Another door to the right. Kieran opted for the door first. He went and tried to open it. It was just a closet. Disappointed, he closed it again. There was only the hallway left.

He followed the hallway as it led him in a straight line at first and then in slanted down into steps. Sighing, he decided to follow it. What choice did he have? He needed to find a way out of there. It led him straight to a door. Apprehensively, Kieran grasped the knob and turned it open. He pushed the door wide to look through the door.

It was a workout area of some sort. There were mirrors all on one side and weapon-like equipment on the other. And there was still no one in sight. Kieran cautiously walked in and that was his first mistake.

The second he was inside, the door slammed close. Kieran whirled around to come face to face with a very familiar face he had known all of his life. Count Nema.

"You!" Kieran cried out in disbelief. "Why have you done this!"

"Because I can," the man said in a pleasant voice, his expression amused. "Because I will achieve something I want. The throne."

"And how do you think you will go about doing that?" Kieran sneered. "Killing me? That's not going to work."

"Shall I tell you?" Nema asked, taking time to put on some leather gloves, not even bothering to look at Kieran's way.

"First, I will brainwash you," he started out saying. "It will be a very unique brainwashing. After all, I am the person that have been tinkering with these things all my life. Your Father and you should know. You will kill your Father and not even know that it was I that have programmed it into you. No one will be the wiser. All people will think is that you have snapped. And you will be in a mental institution and I will be free to take the throne."

Kieran backed away from the crazy man. "I won't let you. I'll hold on. You'll see," Kieran said in a shaky voice.

"You can try," Count Nema told him evenly. "But I have all the time in the world to break you."

He took off his cloak and advanced on Kieran who in turn took steps to back away from the count.

This was NOT happening to him.

But it was.

Nema did not even need to turn to look when he plucked a piece of sword-stick off the rack as he continued advancing on Kieran. Kieran soon found the wall and he came to his partial senses that told him that he was trained to fight from their weaponsmaster.

Kieran stopped and waited for Nema to get close to him before dropping to roll to his right. Nema was not fazed and only continued to follow Kieran as he slowly and calculatingly backed away from Nema and towards the weapons rack. He took felt around and came up with a whip. It would have to do, he told himself. Kieran let the whip unfurl and watched the count as he stopped a few paces from Kieran and eyebrow raised.

"Are you going to use that?" Count Nema taunted Kieran. "Or are you going to stand there all day?"

Kieran flicked his wrist and the whip slashed across the count's face as he had not moved from his postion. A line of blood welled from the cut Kieran made with the whip.

"Is that all you can do?" Nema asked, taking out a handkerchief to wipe the blood away. "I have a lot of work to do."

And with those words, he burst into motion. Kieran immediately knew that he was in for trouble. He had never seen Nema in a fight before. And now that he was seeing firsthand how fast Nema was, Kieran knew that he did not have a chance. But he tried anyway.

Before he could flick the whip again, he was on his back, seeing starring at stars on the ceiling, the wind knocked out of him. Nema straddled on Kieran's torso, taking the whip and tossing it aside, pulling his hands to lock it above his head. Nema stared into Kieran's eyes.

"That's it," he said in a soft and soothing voice. "Look into my eyes. You answer to no one but me. I am your master now and your sole purpose is to please me."

Nema kept on repeating that phrase and a string of other litanies that Kieran had no choice but to listen to. And slowly but surely, he could do nothing but succumb to that luring voice into a spell that he could not break out of. Count Nema's will and subtle magic took over Kieran's will and remade him into a different person.

What emerged from it was a killer that would be molded by Nema's teachings.