The Royal Renegade #2

The Royal Renegade #2

A Chapter by Eogin

Surrounded by his dead father's enemies, Barnaby, the heir to an outlawed throne, is pulled into a dangerous game of power by the most feared man of a newly formed nation.

 Iegbuend was falling into darkness, the torches lighting one by one as the last of the day's Sun pushed its dimming rays over the sharp mountains separating the Capital, the Hills, and the Lowlands from the sea only a few got a chance to touch. As was true to every hour of every season in Iegbuend, the cloudy sky promised an arriving rainfall, landing its first drops on the Capital's large cobblestone streets just as Barnaby reached the Brawling Bridge. The bridges, all five of them, built through magic long ago forgotten, served to connect the former kingdoms, now the mere inglorious parts of the United Government, to the Capital and its power of the Orches.
The streets to the North, toward all things Brawling, stood almost empty, the last lurkers being the merchants battling time to get their stalls set up for tomorrow's market, hoping to walk the Bridge before the Security's patrols decided to come rush them.
Staying would not have broken a law, but the common opinion could not have been more clear: losers of the war were expected to stick to their rock.
Barnaby stopped a foot before the gate and looked back toward the city that didn't want him there. He eyed the four towers lording over the city, making anything that couldn't touch the clouds seem insignificant. He hated the Towers, and he hated the Government, but still, as he turned to make the journey home, there was no joy in his gut; just a large hole he had no idea how to fill.
Time being past the workday's end, but still short of the nighttime's celebrations, the Brawling Hill's streets looked almost as ghostly as Capital's. Even the Main Street, which ran all the way from the Royal Mansion to the Bridge, was only walked by the two-men patrol heading toward Barnaby, and the few early starters making their loud way to the "Bottle".
Not wishing conversations with either grouping, Barnaby took the first turn right, off from the most walked paths, and made his way up the Hill zigzagging between the dark empty houses most didn't dare visit after nights fall. The Hill's west side was filled with them. Some big, up to three stories high, and some small, all of them had once been called home by some Brawlinger family. That changed with Last War, where many took their final breaths. Some windows were never lit again, and the few who returned soon looked for homes closer to friends, not wishing to love like ghosts surrounded by death.
Barnaby knew the area well, so despite the lack of torch-light, he had no problems navigating himself uphill.
Being the "king to be" on the Brawling Hill, and the "son of the traitor king" in the Capital, there weren't many places that allowed him peace from the constant looks and whispers. Those ghost houses provided him with the calm he needed to think, and ever since leaving the Inquisitor's office, his mind was stuffed with things he needed to work through.
The Inquisition, which had taken the bulk of his worries of the previous months, had turned out to be suspiciously easy to pass. He wanted to thank luck or his preparedness, but much more sinister ideas flooded his mind. They all started with some grand scheme of the ruling families, and ended with him at the bottom of a dark hole: the Brawling bloodline finally entirely destroyed. But no matter how hard he tried to figure it out, he could not understand how him passing the Inquisition could have served his enemies. So, with great unease, he set those things aside, allowing in the other worry that had grown only stronger ever since it first appeared.
The school was over, and with it had ended the dream he so wished to come true. Even though he could not deny that he had been a fool, and his dreams had been nothing but a child stupidity, the idea of never seeing her again felt strikingly awful. Or, perhaps he will see her again? Grace will ascend to lead the Security Tower, whilst Barnaby would stand on the streets, like the common men, listening to her speeches; him and the love of his life living in two separate worlds.
Or, they would meet in battle? He would march his Brawling Army over the Bridge, much like his father had, restarting the war few considered finished. An epic face-off between Barnaby and Grace, the outcome of which couldn't be truly glorious no matter who came out on top.
No real answers came to his mind, so he continued on, head foggy, soon reaching lively street of the "Bottle".
The "Bottle", Brawling Hill's most popular nightly meetup spot, was located on the eastern side of one of the poorest housings of the area. It was built into the basement of a rundown two storied family home of the Masons, a family well respected under the Brawling rule. It was Theodore, Mason's last surviving blood relative who took the house many considered ghosted, and rebuild it into something every one of the survivors needed, a place of joy and laughter. He fixed the cracks in the walls, replaced the broken windows and became the Brawling Hill's first person to serve potions legally. No one knew how he managed to get the required approvals from the government, gaining him the reputation of a skilled businessman.
Barnaby stopped a few houses before the "Bottle"'s dark wooden main entrance, standing under a torch that had failed to light, hiding from a joyful group of five coming the other way.
Actively avoiding Brawlingers wasn't something Barnaby did often. In all honesty, despite their occasional over-attachment to the line of kings, it gave Barnaby great pleasure to feel connected to his people. Their laughter and cry kept his mind on track, they stopped him from getting lost in his dreams, which were childish, and forced him to focus on the really important.
But Barnaby didn't feel like himself. Even the extended road past the ghost-houses hadn't been long enough to get him into the correct state of mind. And that was not acceptable. That was not the Barnaby people needed to see. The king to be needed to be strong and royal, never rocked by the winds of the Capital. So he remained there, in the darkness, even after the crowd had left the street, head buzzing and paralyzed, distant memories flashing before his eyes.
The last time Barnaby had stood at that very spot was a little more than eight years ago. He was seven then, and it had been his first visit to the newly established hot-spot. Having never been surrounded by crowds that large, Barnaby had kept away, curiously observing the potion influenced men and women. He remembered a lot of laughter, hugs, and songs being sung.
But then the mood changed, so suddenly as to have been blown by the wind. Curious, he too looked where everyone else did. And the view made a chill run through his body. Heading right toward him were the black and white uniforms of the Security Tower.
Stricken by fear, he pulled from Theodore's arm.
Shouldn't they have already run?
But his guardian wasn't scared. He looked down carrying a warm and brave smile.
"Don't worry, Barney, they won't touch you." He spoke fearlessly, bending closer, "They are the ones who are afraid. Weren't they required to do so, not one of them would dare step a foot this deep into the Brawling Hill."
Barnaby, though eased by Theodore's words, felt it still better to take a few steps back; close enough to his guardian, but out of sight under the unlit torch. And what he observed from that spot changed much of what he believed in.
The scary guards marched in a quick step, trying their best not to look anyone directly in the eye. All the while the angry and intoxicated Brawlingers cursed them loudly, throwing potion bottles and threatening duels. But no punishment followed, the guards just avoided what they could, not even lifting their wands to deflect the projectiles, only adding pace so to be out of there. And as they disappeared into the darkness of the ghost-houses, a loud roar of laughter and victory echoed the streets. Even Barnaby, only moment ago deeply frightened, rose his hands overcome with joy. That night was when Barnaby for the first time realized the truth about his people. For them, unlike for the ruling families, the war had not ended, it merely stood on pause.
The "Bottle"'s door flew open, crashing into the wall with a loud bang. The suddenness of the noise brought Barnaby out of his daydream with a racing heart. Instinctively he reached for his wand, which was, as it always had been, secured tightly in the holder on his left arm.
Eyes on the door, his fingers grabbed on the magical wood but then released, his heartbeats slowing and a sigh exiting his lips. The man responsible for the angry exit was one he knew well. For a moment longer he remained hidden, watching Earl Caufield rush outside, turn after a few steps and throw a bottle at the beige wall, shattering it into thousand pieces. Earl was a heavy tall bald man in body and somewhat missing in mind. If you did not know him well, he could have been an example of a danger you would cross the street not to run into.
But Barnaby knew him well, and he knew that Earl Caufield was, and had always been, the definition of "loyal to the crown".
Earl was in his late forties, which meant that just like any other adult of the time, he too should have partaken in the Last War. However, in a twist of fate, a month before the fighting started, Earl had injured himself severely enough to be taken to the Health Tower. The rumor spoke that he had experimented with magic far beyond his grasp, and paid the price. But being stone-cold out, the first he heard of the War was months after it's ending, when returning to the Brawling Hill to find out that everyone he loved was gone, and his last remaining blood relative, his brother Elijah, had been sentenced to life in prison for treason.
After that, as Barnaby had heard and learned, the once well-respected man, from a well-respected family, spent the bulk of his times in "Bottle" or some other similar establishment, doing his best to hide from the real world.
As Earl turned, hands in fists, Barnaby could see red all over his face. The bottle-smashing hadn't been enough to ease his dismay. But when he spotted Barnaby, eyes momentarily narrowing, his anger seemed to fade and a smile formed on his face. His hands relaxed, one reaching toward Barnaby for a shake.
"Young King." He greeted Barnaby, almost beaming.
"Mr. Caufield." Barnaby shook his hand. "All is well I hope?"
Earl nodded eagerly, standing an entirely different man from just seconds ago.
Barnaby's lowered his eyes to the shards of glass crunching under their feet. Earl looked down as well, turning more sheepish.
"Oh, that? That is..." He paused, greens in his eyes moving quickly from left to right. He then shook his head, like the answer refused to come to show itself, and turned more serious.
"Young king, there is a matter I must discuss with you. I walked past the old prison... I beg you to not ask me why, and I heard voices." His eyes grew larger, staring without blinking. "Like, from the below... And yes, I know the prison has been sealed. But that is what makes it so interesting, is it not?"
Barnaby thought before answering, trying his best to come up with the words to defuse Earl without sounding too proud to care about his issues. But the man was known for those kinds of stories.
"Well, Mr. Caufield, as long as they're just voices, I don't think we'll need to worry."
Earl tilted his head, eye-greens rising all the way up to the lids.
"As the king wishes, but you would want to know my business takes me down there more often than I'd wish. So, I very well could keep an eye on it, the situation?"
Barnaby nodded.
"Alright, I would appreciate that."
A sharp shout echoed the street, shaking Barnaby just enough to feel embarrassed about his cowardly nerves.
"Caufield, leave the king alone!" Theodore demanded, eyes narrow and direct, the entire loud communication aimed solely at Earl's bald back of the head.
Earl's teeth pushed together, but he didn't turn to face the man commanding him. Instead, he bowed quickly, and without another word took off the way Barnaby had come, toward the ghost-houses.
Barnaby sighed turning to Theodore, his guardian of over a decade, whom he could swear had not aged a day since he came to his life by marrying his aunt Madeline.
"What was it this time?" He asked grumpily, scratching his sizable black beard.
Barnaby shook his head.
"Oh, nothing. You know... He just wants to feel useful."
Theodore's eyes remained on Caufield's back, waiting for him to disappear into the darkness.
"If he wanted to be useful, he'd spend a day or two in the real world..."
Theodore's head jerked to Barnaby, his lips forming the largest smile.
"Barney! Great to see you." He stepped aside, gesturing Barnaby to enter past him. "I take it you graduated?"
"Yeah. It was..." Barnaby dragged his answer, letting the door shut behind him. "...Easier than I thought."
Theodore smirked, tilting his head toward the stairs that lead both down to the "Bottle" and up to his office.
"I told you, you were overthinking it."
Barnaby forced a smile as well but looked grieved with doubt.
"Maybe, or maybe I've just become too good of a liar."
Theodore shook his head, smirking. 
"In your world, there is no such thing." He paused, looking at the clock on the wall. "Your friends aren't here yet, let's go talk in my office. There's something important we need to discuss."

© 2018 Eogin

Author's Note


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Your work is one if the best fantasy pieces I've read in quite a while. I appreciate how well planned it is and how smooth the flow is. Too many fantasy writers over complicate anything or everything, you don't seem to do this which is a relief.

Posted 2 Years Ago

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Added on December 25, 2017
Last Updated on January 19, 2018
Tags: adventure, contemporary, dark, darkfantasy, fantasy, fiction, magic, mystery, power, sorcery, war, young-adult