The Royal Renegade #6

The Royal Renegade #6

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.

  Barnaby stood before the tall upcoming task, looking at it curiously, wheels of rain-sobered mind running through his collection of knowledge. The Bell Tower, built during the Great War, was the highest, most threatening, building on the Hill. It had no doors or windows, the only way up was a set of stairs spiraling around its stone body, first two floors of which having been removed by the powers to be long before Barnaby's time.
Maxim spoke in high mousey voice.
"I don't think we should do this. They closed this for a reason you know... Kids kept falling off it."
Benjamin was eyeing the top of the tower, scratching his lack of beard.
"But we're adults now. Aren't we?"
"Plus," Maxim continued as if he hadn't heard Benjamin. "we've been drinking... I don't think we can do this." He pushed out his palms, letting the restarting rain drizzle its drops into his palms. "And it's raining."
Augusta sighed even louder than she usually did.
"When is it not?" She rubbed her hands together, now also staring at the tower. "I'm going to do it. A tradition is a tradition. But how exactly are we getting up there?" She turned to Benjamin, the one who had come up with the plan, but he had his eyes on Barnaby.
"I assumed the greatest sorcerer has a way... Barnaby?" He called out loudly, making maxim shake and check every direction for the patrols.
"You know how to get up there, right?"
Barnaby shrugged his shoulders.
"I guess," he sneered, "or maybe you'd like to give it a try? After all, you're the reason we're here."
Benjamin shook his head.
"No, go ahead. We all have our strengths. Dazzle us with your extensive knowledge."
Still smiley, Barnaby pulled his wand, running the lines through his head for practice. Maxim stepped between him and the tower, more formidable than his usual self.
"Guards come past here, like, every hour, you know that yes? They'll arrest us!"
Benjamin walked to him, grabbed from his sleeve and pulled him out of the way.
"They won't know we're up there. So calm down, let the man work."
Barnaby pointed his wand to the spot where he figured the first step was years ago, but his face turned to Maxim.
"It'll be fine, we'll be quick."
Maxim turned around again, looking around nervously.
"We better."
Barnaby closed his eyes, concentrating on the ground, and to what he wanted to create. And he spoke the words in his mind. A muddy looking bump rose from the ground, breaking out of it with a loud crack. Opening his eyes, Barnaby moved the wand smoothly forward, and where he pointed, another bump appeared, each one being higher than the last. As his self-created, tall-angled, stairs met with the stone ones, he let his wand drop.
"Well yeah!" Maxim shouted, now being the loudest thing around. "How could the guards notice that?"
Benjamin chuckled, patting Maxim on the back.
"Oh, you know, they're not that observant."
Barnaby's careless eyes found Augusta's large ones.
"That one you have to teach me..."
 That was the most impressed Barnaby had seen her in a while. But of course, she would be, when seeing an illegal spell.
"Nope. Sorry, an unspeakable."
Augusta rolled her eyes.
"Not cool to hoard knowledge..." She turned on the spot, shouting. "Last one up buys tomorrow!" And she took off, rushing up the ladder-like stairs.
Benjamin didn't miss a beat, he was at her heels just a moment later.
Barnaby, as he didn't mind paying at all, watched them go, bumping into each other, far past the point of dangerous.
Maxim cleared his throat, reminding Barnaby of his presence. He clearly had no desire the follow the tradition. Suddenly feeling a bit guilty for having not taken his feelings into account, Barnaby turned to him with his friendliest smile.
"You know. It's okay if you don't come with us. We're going home after this anyways."
The tension in Maxim's body dropped visibly, his shoulder's lowered, eyes carefully on the king to be.
"Are you sure? I mean, I don't really want to."
"Of course. No problem. I'll see you tomorrow then?"
Maxim nodded, a little smile forming on his lips.
"Yes. Tomorrow. Good luck with this.." He peeked up once more, and then took off, almost running down the hill. 
As Barnaby reached the tower's top, Augusta and Benjamin were busy examining the huge silver bell that floated above the stone floor, not being held or covered by anything.
Benjamin gave Barnaby a quick glance and then stepped back, fingers scratching his chin.
"How do you suppose this stays up?"
Augusta stepped back as well, eyes dramatically large.
"I don't know, magic?"
"Oh, really, that's good to know." Benjamin turned to Barnaby, one eyebrow raised.
"Where's Max?"
"He went home."
"Hmm, figures." Benjamin pointed to the bell.
"Look under it."
Barnaby climbed under the metal, glanced upwards and got back out, looking a bit amused.
"It doesn't have the thingy that makes it ring..."
"Exactly!" Benjamin parted his hands, "How can we make it ring then?."
"I suppose we can't." Barnaby thought back to hearing the bell ring and reached a quick conclusion that the event had never occurred.
Benjamin went on, sounding irritated.
"What good is a bell if it doesn't ring?"
Augusta cut in, even louder than Benjamin.
"Maybe it's broken, what does it matter? Are we ringing it or not?"
Benjamin sighed.
"I guess, this is not as spectacular as I hoped though."
Augusta rolled her eyes again and placed her hands on the metal. Barnaby and Benjamin followed her lead.
"On three then.." Ben spoke, moving his feet on the spot to check traction, which there was very little of. "One, two, three.."
And the Bell did move, not much, but enough to be seen. The three stepped back, watching it not make any noise at all. None of them looked impressed.
"There you have it," Augusta smirked, "Tradition upheld."
"Yeah," Benjamin agreed with a serious nod, "this is good enough." He took a deep breath and moved closer to Augusta, looking all serious, very unlike his usual self. "Augusta, could I have a word?"
Augusta's eyes narrowed and she glanced at Barnaby, she had clearly noticed the difference as well.
"I suppose you can, why don't you give it a try?" But her attempt at humor didn't stop Benjamin. He grabbed her elbow and pushed her to walk toward the edge, all the while mouthing the words "just a second" to Barnaby.
Barnaby, more amused by the situation than anything, watched them walk away with a curious grin on his face. The two stopped about two feet from the edge and faced each other. The wind was strong, so Barnaby could not use his ears to make sense of curious happening, all he had to use was their body language. Benjamin ran his hand through his long wet hair, pushing a lock away from his eyes. He then spoke a few words and reached into his jacket's pocket.
 Barnaby froze recognizing what he pulled out. It was a golden ring. Now not amused, he shifted uncomfortably, tightening insides making it hard to breathe. But Barnaby didn't appear to be the most surprised person on top of that tower. Seeing the ring, Augusta took strong steps backward, almost falling over the edge. Benjamin stopped her just in time, grabbing from her hand and pulling her back closer. And then Augusta shook her head and closed Benjamin's palm with the ring still in it. There was a pause, as the two looked at each other, and then Benjamin walked away quick, right past Barnaby, not stopping for a goodbye.
Feeling somewhat awkward, but also again able to breathe, Barnaby walked to Augusta who had sat down with her feet dangling over the Tower's edge. He sat right next to her, looking at Augusta's shame covered face. She moved her hand just enough to be heard over the wind.
"So, did you know about this?"
Barnaby shook his head.
"No. I'm not surprised though."
Augusta kept squeezing her face with her sleeves.
"This is terrible."
Barnaby patted her on her back, voice turning mockingly sweet.
"Don't worry, he can do better than you."
Augusta shook from a cough of laughter and pulled her head up.
"Hey, you're not gonna get pity from me, I think you should have married him."
"Yeah, you'd like that. Could get rid of me."
Barnaby took a deep show-offish breath.
"Sounds like a dream."
They shared a smile, and then, in silence, faced the Brawling Hill, which, despite the low burning torches, had succumbed to darkness.
"You know," Augusta spoke, looking into the dark distance, "you never asked me why I did it..."
"Did what?"
Augusta bit her lip, looking unsure.
"You know, spell that Giovanelli girl. Why you had to go through all that trouble to get me out..."
"I don't need to know."
Augusta breathed in and tapped on her knees.
"It's stupid really. Very stupid." She locked her eyes on the barely visible Capital Bridge. "I guess I thought that I would see her, my mother," she laughed sarcastically, "but I didn't, didn't see anything but four ugly walls."
Barnaby inched closer and put his hand on her shoulders. Augusta's mother had survived the Last War, but she had been sentenced to life in prison for treason. The last time she saw her was about thirteen years ago.
"I'm such an idiot."
"No. You're not. I'm so sorry about your mother."
Augusta, quickly done with the sappy talk, forced herself to perk up and pushed Barnaby's arm off her shoulders.
"Anyways, thanks again, you've done a lot for me, way more than you should have."
"No problem, what would I do with my time, if not clean up your messes?"
Augusta grinned and punched Barnaby in his arm.
"Hey, I haven't made a mess since that day. I know that kings wish to feel important, but try to remain with us in reality."
Barnaby chuckled.
"Alright, I'll do my best."
Another silence fell, and again they stared at the dark Brawling Hill.
"So, what's coming now?" Augusta asked, both sad and serious.
"Ceremony tomorrow..."
"And then?"
"You know what then.."
Augusta nodded.
"You're going to rebuild the army."
"That's the plan."
"Can't be easy doing that..." She put her arm around Barnaby's shoulder.
"...But you know what, even if no one else wants to come, you can count on me marching to the Capital right beside you. I think we can take them."
Barnaby forced a smile and looked to the darkness. He could not think of the Capital without thinking of Grace. 

© 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