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The Royal Renegade #4

The Royal Renegade #4

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.

As Barnaby descended the stairs halfway down, the "Bottle"'s door flew open, crashing against the wall. The wind had picked up, coming with rainfall so heavy the street looked like a sparkling river. A girl in a dark overcoat rushed in, tossing her wet golden hair and mumbling something offensive to the storm, picked her wand from the holder and a simple flick of wrist later, forced the door shut in similar power it had opened. Again in calm, Barnaby looked at Augusta Strauss cleverly, waiting for her to turn and spot him. Augusta wiped the water from her eyes and turned, still shaking in her coat. Noticing Barnaby, her eyes grew wider and her hands parted.
"Had a nice swim?"
Augusta rolled her eyes, not too amused.
"Clever... instead of coming up with these witticisms, maybe you could lend a hand?"
Barnaby climbed the stairs all the way down, pulled his wand, aimed it to Augusta, and a puff of steam later she stood bone dry.
"Thank you." She sighed, trying to correct her hair. "You want to teach me that? Or is this one too an unspeakable?"
Barnaby put his wand away.
"Sure. Like you would waste a moment on a spell that dries clothes."
Augusta smiled, clearly in a better mood now when dry.
"You know me too well... Hey!" She waved to finally greet Barnaby, "Did everything go well?"
Barnaby nodded.
"Yeah, it went fine... How about you?"
"You were right, they didn't even mention it. Whatever you did to get me out of that trouble, you did it well."
Augusta pushed Barnaby to start walking down the stairs, toward the basement.
"That's good."
"It was actually kind of funny, to lie to him like that. It's almost made my day. I wasn't far from bursting into laughter. Long live the Government!" she chuckled. "But they ate it up, makes sense, not the smartest bunch..."
Barnaby shook his head.
"Well. I'm glad you didn't laugh."
Again Augusta rolled her eyes.
"You have little faith. But how did you do it, make it all disappear? If ever there was a time to tell me it's now."
"I guess there isn't a time then, just be glad you know me."
Augusta smiled, shaking her head like she couldn't believe Barnaby's arrogance, and then turned more serious.
"You know I am."
Barnaby blushed, he hadn't expected his joke to get a sincere answer.
Many years ago, on the second day of Capital School, Augusta had spelled a Giovanelli student. Why that was, never became clear, for no one had seemed interested in clearing it up. But Augusta was arrested and looked to be facing up to two years in prison. It had taken a lot of Barnaby's influence, many of his contacts and a pile of his family money to get the charges dropped, and to assure she would get to continue her education. But as the school was over now, Barnaby was certain that it had all been worth it.
"What's that?" Augusta asked, having already reached the basement door, waiting for Barnaby. She pointed to the pink bottle.
"Oh," Barnaby lifted it higher. "Theodore's gift, it supposed to be the best."
"So you're drinking?" Augusta's eyes widened. "That is amazing news."
Barnaby smiled, not wishing to make a comment, and pulled the basement door open. Another step and he was drowning in a sea of shouts laughter and melodies, all blended into a thick magical smoke and mesmerizing smell.
Scanning the surroundings, Barnaby's eyes met with Dorian Boussey's, who immediately gestured Barnaby to come talk to him.
Being too polite to say no to a conversation he didn't feel like having, he tapped Augusta on her shoulder.
"I'll catch up with you!"
Augusta's eyes narrowed looking both ways, not understanding why Barnaby would titch her so quickly.
Barnaby grinned and pointed to the old man sitting in one of the outer tables. Augusta sighed dramatically and rolled her eyes for the third time.
"Fine! But be quick!"
Barnaby nodded and watched her disappear into the crowd of intoxicated bodies, and then made his way to the man so desperate for his ear.
"Mr. Brawling!" Dorian greeted him cheerfully, pushing his large body upward as if trying to get up for a handshake. The movement turning out to be too difficult of a gesture, he slumped back down a moment later, pointing to the chair opposite of him.
 "What a great pleasure..."
"As always, the pleasure is mine, Mr. Boussey."
Dorian Boussey was Brawling Hill's most famous author. Having spent months among the humans across the sea, he had made a fortune writing books about those mysterious beings most of the Iegbuend knew next to nothing about. Curious as he had always been, Barnaby, of course, owned all of those books. But as it was, Mr. Boussey was no longer able to visit his source of inspiration, so his later works had become just slightly changed copies of the books already written. That in return had severely lowered his wealth, which was obvious not only from his worn clothes but from his somewhat wrinkly face, which signaled he must have had to cut down on his visits to the Health Tower.
"You flatter me, young king. But, I do have great news. It's happened, I have finished my book. Humans who fly, it's called." He tilted his head left and right. "A good one, if you'd ask me."
Barnaby kept his face neutrally smiling, trying not to offend his favorite writer. The "Humans who fly" would be the third installment of the very narrow subject.
"And I know you've always enjoyed my stories, so I thought I'd give you a heads up. So... You know, you could let your friends know."
Barnaby nodded assuringly.
"Thank you. Of course, I will. I look forward to reading it."
"Yes? That is good to hear..." Mr. Boussey faded off, quickly scanning the people closest by and lowering his voice. "But you know, Mr. Brawling, I've been thinking about changing subjects..."
Barnaby moved back, eyebrows raising. Studying Barnaby's reaction, Mr. Boussey bit his lip.
"Or, maybe not then? It might be a silly idea. Humans, yes they are interesting."
Barnaby erupted forward.
"No! I think that's a great idea! But what would you write about, if not humans?"
Mr. Boussey observed their surroundings again, now more intently, and satisfied, forced his heavy body up and forward, cutting the distance between them in half. He spoke in half whisper.
"Well, as you know, I haven't been able to visit the humans for quite some time now. So, I've spent more time looking into our own history. And, I've got to say, there are some scandalous things hidden in our past. Mighty people. Ground shaking events. All forgotten about."
He looked both ways once more.
"And I wouldn't be surprised if these things were lost on purpose. I would be putting a large target on my back looking into this, I do believe."
The two stared each other, eyes locked until Mr. Boussey finally let his body fall back into a more comfortable position.
 Barnaby tilted his head pondering.
"I must say, it does sound interesting." He smiled again. "But it's you who must make the choice Mr. Boussey, after all, it's you who is the artist."
Hearing those words, Mr. Boussey smiled like a child, eyes beaming with true happiness.
"That is true, I guess." He let out shyly, now observing his fingertips.
Barnaby, figuring the time to be as perfect as they came to say his goodbye, stretched himself out of his chair.
"I must go now, there are people waiting for me."
"Of course, young king. It's been a pleasure. And good luck on tomorrow's ceremony, hopefully, it's time for a change. I myself can't attend I'm afraid, my back's been having the strangest pains..." he stopped mid-thought, as if he had told a secret, and turned slightly red in face, "of course I shall visit the Health Tower at my first convenience, I've just been too busy, you know..."
"Have a good rest of the evening." Barnaby cut in, stopping the man from explaining things he clearly didn't want out, and marched away quick, heading toward the bar, where he had last seen Augusta.
For a little while, Barnaby had great success sliding through the gaps in the mass of people, but almost at the bar, a body blocked his way roughly. Barnaby recognized the roadblock as Jacquel Huston, a man known best for his long greasy hair and his less than ethical dealings in both business and relationships.
"Oh, Mr. Brawling..." He spoke slimily, olive eyes inserting distrust into Barnaby. "What a pleasure, may I have a word?" He inched a bit more to the right, assuring the king to be couldn't escape past him.
"I would love to..." Barnaby lied angrily, "...Mr. Huston, but I'm rather busy, perhaps another time."
Mr. Huston didn't let the denial stop the conversation from happening. He continued as if deaf to Barnaby's words.
"I heard about your partnership with Mason. That is great news. For the whole hill, I'm sure. I guess that explains how a man like him can out of nowhere afford a factory in the Lowlands."
Barnaby couldn't hide his reaction of surprise. But as soon as his head pulled back and eyes narrowed, Mr. Huston's gaze turned burning.
"Of course, if it is not you who is sponsoring his fancy endeavors? That is curious. Oh, good old Teddy, always with his tricks..."
"Well, if there's nothing else?" Barnaby demanded, growing angrier. He hated having given Jacquel what he had been searching for.
"Oh, nothing else, enjoy the night." He moved aside quickly, revealing one of the outer tables, behind which sat the year's three other Brawling Hill's graduates.
As was to be expected, for none of them had yet reached the legal age to buy potions, the tree just glanced around boringly, eyes on those who stood out for their especially loud voices or tables covered in spectacularly colorful potions. Barnaby was underage himself, but being the king to be, there were no barmaids on the hill wishing to deny him service. Still, he never enjoyed abusing his power and felt glad that the bottle Theodore had given him meant he wouldn't have to.
"Hey." He spoke, having easily sneaked to the table, hidden among so many more attention seeking objects and people. He slammed the yellow bottle to the table, making the pink lines reappear and took a step back.
"Lifesaver!" Benjamin Barnes shouted loudly, grabbing the drink without any hello and moving to pour about a quarter of it into four glasses, which he managed to do quicker than Barnaby managed to pull a vacant chair from a neighboring table. Benjamin then pushed one of the glasses under Augusta's nose, pulled the other on toward him, and left the remaining two for Barnaby and Maxim Minghella to get themselves. Maxim lifted his glass to his nose, sniffing it carefully, nose twitching.
"What is this?" He asked shakily. Maxim had never been the kind to break the rules.
"Don't know," Barnaby answered, picking up his glass. "Theodore said it's the best."
Maxim, not looking satisfied with the answer placed the drink back down, cautiously looking around for anyone to come and bust him for the crime.
Barnaby quite appreciated that about the frightful boy. Unlike Benjamin, who often behaved somewhat untouchable when around the king to be, Maxim had never looked for any special treatment. He hardly ever even seemed to enjoy the company. But being the only four of the year's Brawling Hill's graduates, there wasn't much choice in the friends you could make. Throughout the years, they had had to stick together.
"Oh, stop it with your negativity!" Benjamin called, pushing his dark messy hair from his eyes, rising from his seat victoriously. He lifted the glass for a toast, looking to Barnaby.
"Alright king, you want to say some words?"
Augusta and Maxim jumped up as well, latter doing his best to hide the glass behind his scrawny body.
Barnaby got up, shrugging.
"Not really."
Benjamin waved Barnaby off as if he had expected the answer.
"I will then," he looked to Augusta, "well, the school is over, and who could have guessed we would graduate? Especially Augusta," he grinned and Augusta grinned back. Benjamin then pointed his glass toward Barnaby, "I even had my doubts about the greatest sorcerer of our generation over there..."
Barnaby smiled but didn't interrupt. He was indeed a pretty magnificent sorcerer.
"But, we did make it. And as far as the diploma will get me," Benjamin chuckled sarcastically, "I feel incredibly fortunate to have met you three." his eyes were back on Augusta, who was looking into her glass, still smirking, "you guys have made the last five years worth living. So," Benjamin lifted his glass higher toward the center of the table, "SCREW THE CAPITAL!"
Barnaby's hand locked half way up to meet Benjamin's for a celebratory clink. Benjamin's toast had been far too loud, even for the deepest ends of the Brawling Hill. Coldly sweating, he turned his head to the tables around him, which had suddenly grown quieter. He was the target of many eyes, but not one of them seemed threatening. Everyone close enough to hear the words had lifted their glasses to join the toast.
Barnaby turned back, heart racing as if he had just avoided great danger, and clinked his glass to Benjamin's. There was a smile on his face.
"Screw the Capital indeed."

© 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