The Royal Renegade #3

The Royal Renegade #3

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.

 Since most of the "Bottle"'s upper floor was used as a storage area for various potions, some brewed on the Brawling Hill, some imported from the Lowlands, there wasn't much room left for office space.
Barnaby followed Theodore up the squeaky dusty stairs, both pushing themselves past piles of wooden boxes, and straight into a small well lit yellow-walled square room. There were no shelves or paintings on the walls. The only things covering the ugly color were a calendar and a few Theodore's handwritten notes glued there by magic. The room had a single small window, aimed toward the Main Street, a large light wooden table buried under a hundred folders and individual sheets of paper, and two chairs; a hard one before the desk and a patted one behind it.
Theodore walked to his desk, gesturing Barnaby to take a seat but remained standing himself. Barnaby sat, eyes on the mountain of paper and a smirk on his face. It had always amazed him how much paperwork it took to serve people potions. Theodore spent a moment creating order, stacking some of the files and setting them on the floor, digging a space through which he could see Barnaby when sitting. Finally satisfied with the quick cleanup, he took his seat, folding his fingers on his stomach.
"So, how are you feeling about the ceremony?"
That question wiped the smirk from Barnaby's face.
"You know." He scratched his hand angrily. "We all know how that's going to go." He paused, eyes dropping to the floor, hissing the rest of his answer.
"I hate it."
Theodore nodded mournfully.
"Yes. It's terrible, but there's nothing you can do about it. I hope you know that? So, you might try to just put it out of your head."
Barnaby didn't like the suggestion. His insides heating up, he demanded loudly. 
"How am I supposed to do that? You should see the idiots who are graduating! Bernard Waranger is... And he's going to get picked tomorrow. What does he know about magic, huh? What does he know about anything? I could take him blind and hands tied behind my back..." He shook his head slowly, hate bubbling under his skin. "But I'm a Brawling. Brawling's don't get picked. Brawling's don't get into the Government. Brawling's don't get anything."
Theodore sat silently, staring at Barnaby with a somewhat fatherly concern.
"I'm sorry. If I could change that, you know I would..."
Barnaby's head shook again, his anger making him feel awfully guilty. He had no right to attack Theodore like that. 
"No, of course... I know that. I'm sorry. I'm just... Angry, you know... A difficult day, Inquisition and all." he put his eyes back on Theodore's, wanting to make sure he understood. "I wasn't saying it's bad to be a Brawling... That's not at all what I meant."
Theodore smiled warmly.
"Of course I know that. And you don't need to justify anything to me. I can't even imagine what this must be like for you. I was never going to get into Government, war or no war. And that's fine because that's how it was supposed to be..." He unfolded his fingers and swung toward the table. "But you are supposed to rule... The Brawling's always have. And I promise you, I know you will, I know it in my heart. It just won't happen right away. You need to be patient."
Barnaby had nothing nice to say about that, but regretting already going off on the man he respected the most, he decided to just keep his mouth shut.
Theodore moved back in his chair, using his charming smile to rid the air of tension.
"So, for now, you should occupy your time. I know you well, and I know you're not the kind of man to sleep through life, letting your families fortune live your life for you. So, what i wanted to discuss was..." He paused, clever eyes drilling into Barnaby's. "If you'd like to come work with me? As partners. We could do a lot together, a lot of good..."
Barnaby squirmed uncomfortably. A job offer was something he had expected coming. He took a strong breath, trying to match Theodore's confidence.
"I'd love to, I trust you know that, and it has nothing to do with you. But I have to..."
Theodore, coldly serious, cut into Barnaby's response.
"There isn't going to be a war. No." He shook his head once, not letting Barnaby's eyes out of his. "The time for war came and went. No more wars, it's time to rebuild."
Barnaby jerked backward, eyes large and hands squeezing into fists.
"Rebuild? You want to rebuild? Rebuild when there are over a hundred of our people locked in the Capital's dungeons? Rebuild when we have to be approved by those people to do... well, whatever!" Barnaby laughed coldly. "Look at what you have to do to sell a bottle of potion. No! Thousands of people are being punished for a crime no other than following my father. We CAN NOT rebuild on that..."
Theodore sighed defeated, lifting his hands as if trying to block Barnaby's offensive rant. That shut Barnaby up right away. And again, feeling bad for his outburst, he looked to anywhere but to Theodore.
"Okay. My intention was not to argue. But, and you must know this as well. You are the king to be, and on this Hill, it counts for something. No..." He got louder, forcing Barnaby to look. "It counts for a hell of a lot. So, when you say war must be had, people will listen, they will follow you like they did your father. They will put their lives in your hands... Lives that cannot be replaced or fixed later.
"You're a great man, and you will be a great leader, but so was your father. Our army was filled with great men... And they couldn't get it done." He sighed, leaning back in his chair. "All I'm saying is, don't rush into anything. War will be war no matter when it's fought."
He clapped his hands together, making it clear he was moving on. "Either way, forget about that... It is a great day." His hand moved to under the table, into a drawer. "And it should be celebrated."
Theodore pulled out a yellow long-necked bottle and slammed it on the table. As he did, pink lines ran through the liquid, making it bubble.
"So, I think a gift is in order."
Barnaby, mood not so easily changing, observed the bottle carefully. He was ready to move on from the subject of war, but potions weren't something he loved talking about either.
"Thanks, but..."
Theodore waved Barnaby's cowardly response away with his hand and picked the bottle back up, lifting it toward the light, looking through the liquid.
"I know all about your last experience with potions. That was... I don't even know what that was, some Lowland poison... This, however, is the best there is." He offered it to Barnaby who accepted it hesitantly. "I guarantee you, this one won't get the best of you. And when I guarantee something?" His smiling lips weren't far from touching his ears. Smile that wide broke even through Barnaby's walls of anger.
"Then it will happen. Thanks, I'm sure the guys will love it."
Theodore clapped his hands victoriously.
"Yes. And speaking of whom, I'm sure they're already waiting... And I have work to do."
Barnaby got out of his chair, weighing the bottle in his hand. It was so light it could have been empty. 
  "Even the king to be can let loose every once in a while," Theodore concluded. He got out of his chair as well and tiptoed past the stacked folders to shake Barnaby's hand.
"Okay. I might then."
Theodore kept hold of his hand, smile fading.
"How's your mother?"
Barnaby squirmed uncomfortably, pulling his hand free.
"You know... Like always."
Theodore nodded knowingly.
"Mad and I will be at the Ceremony, no matter what! And maybe we could do something after. To get rid of the bad taste... So to speak."
Barnaby gave him an unenthusiastic smile.
"Yes. Thanks. That would be great."
"Alright," Theodore grabbed Barnaby from his shoulders and turned him around "go now, a good king never keep his people waiting."

© 2018 Eogin

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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