The Royal Renegade #9

The Royal Renegade #9

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.

 "Have you been here before?" Augusta asked, leading the pair down a narrow dimly lit hallway.
"Here? No. I don't think so. I've only used the visitor's hallways. Though, they do look very similar."
Augusta nodded seriously and looked around, making Barnaby look as well. He couldn't spot anything special about the room.
"I think this could be where we met?" Augusta's voice was silent and careful.
"Oh?" How they met had always made Barnaby feel awful, he preferred not to talk about it. " I don't know."
Barnaby met Augusta during the trials following the war. His mother and Augusta's had been sentenced at the same day. Rosalind Brawling, the wife of the traitor, was let go without any visible punishment, though she did seem to punish herself by never leaving her home. Amber Strauss, on the other hand, was locked away for good. Despite it being his mother who got so lucky, the sentencing had never seemed justified to Barnaby, and even though Augusta had never mentioned that, the guilt of it never left him.
Augusta went on, in the same silent way.
"Do you think they're here? Is the prison here?"
No one, other than the people directly involved, knew where the prison was. There were no visitations allowed. And though you could send the inmates letters, you could never get one back. Nor would you get recieve confirmation that the letter had been received.
"Probably not. They wouldn't want a hundred Brawlingers right below their feet, I guess they're in the Security Tower."
"Yeah, probably."
Augusta stopped abruptly, blocking Barnaby's way. A line of words appeared in the air.
There was an arrow under it pointing to the left.
A hallway had crossed into the one they were walking, that one was dark too, so much so that the both of them could have easily missed it, hadn't there been the arrow.
They made the turn and kept walking, and soon multiple voices became audible. Even from far away, Barnaby recognized some of the mumbled words. Grace, Gulliver, and the Security Tower.
Though the Ceremony was a terrible thing to Barnaby, it was far from terrible to most others. It was especially great for Grace Le Grand, that dark-haired girl who had entered Barnaby's mind the first time he saw her and never left. The reason for why the ceremony was so great for her was the rumor that Gulliver Le Grand, the first general of the Security Tower, was making his pick during the coming ceremony. And everyone knew who that pick would be. His sister was about to graduate, and taking her as his protege would guarantee that the Le Grands influence in the Iegbuend politics would not fade in decades to come.
As much as Barnaby liked Grace, nothing really made him as angry as seeing how easy her life was. Yes, her magic was powerful, or at least it was powerful during the first years of school. But later on, she had fallen behind. During the last year in school, it was Barnaby who was at the top of every class. But that didn't matter to those in charge, no one cared about his greatness. The Ceremony was all about politics and punishment.
Another arrow appeared to make them turn left once more, but that time there was no need. The room they entered was very brightly lit, almost sparkly of all the gold and silver covering the walls and the four pillars that held up the ceiling.
As was his usual routine, Barnaby scanned the small crowd for Grace, and not seeing her, walked to Benjamin and Maxim who were in the middle of a whisper conversation.
Seeing them come, both stopped right away and stared with large eyes. But they weren't looking at Barnaby.
"Hey, Augusta," Benjamin spoke and gave a little wave, sounding more sheepish than his usual self. Augusta waved back with her usual somewhat sarcastic positivity.
"Hey. So, you guys ready for this?"
"More ready to get it over with." Benjamin, maybe feeling too awkward since the last night's events sent his eyes to ogle something behind Augusta. There was just a golden wall there. "So, what are we doing after?"
"Well, I'm going to Theodore's, you're all welcome to join us."
Benjamin looked more bored than overjoyed by the invite.
"Are there potions involved?"
"Probably not."
"Then I shall make other plans." Benjamin's eyes moved sharply to the right, and his lips formed an evil grin.
"Will you look at that?" The leader of the Government himself?"
Barnaby turned hastily, expecting to see Burt Le Grand, but breathed at ease, and joined the grinners, as he instead saw Bernard Waranger enter the room, sent by his one-man entourage of William Moseley. There was no one Barnaby hated more than Bernard, the most full of himself boy represented everything about the Capital Barnaby despised.
Benjamin went on.
"Just look at that hair, so royal..."
Bernard had made a drastic change to his hairstyle. It was cut diagonally, with half his head bald, and the other half at almost shoulder length. That was a hairstyle known best on Burt Le Grand, the leader of the Iegbuend. But he, as was told, had not chosen to look like that. It had been a result of a spell he had taken during the war.
"Oh my god!" Augusta laughed, excited. "Isn't that something, look out people, Bernie means business."
All four laughed quietly and watched that short and pompous boy cross the room as if he were larger than life.
"You kid," Barnaby spoke seriously, "but the odds are he will one day rule Iegbuend."
Despite the non-existent brain of Bernard, the Waranger's were a very powerful family, only to be out-shined by the Le Grand's.
Augusta turned colder.
"Not while I'm breathing."
There was no doubt in Barnaby's mind that Augusta was being entirely serious. The judge who locked her mother away had been a Waranger.
But despite Bernard's appearing, the general mumble did not change to the Waranger's. Still, only the names of Grace and Gulliver were thrown around. They were the hot topic.
Maxim tapped Barnaby on his shoulder.
"Hey, could I talk to you, in private?"
He seemed more shaky than usual, looking around in quick glances, not only frightful of his enemies but friends.
Maxim walked to behind one of the four pillars, out of sight. Barnaby followed him, curious whether he was about the get more bad news.
"What's up?"
Maxim was grinding his teeth, words not wanting to come out.
"The thing is," he started, growing more nervous, "I got offered a mentorship..."
Barnaby drilled into his eyes, wondering why that had put Max on such an edge.
"...In the health tower."
Barnaby's eyes widened.
Max nodded avoiding eye contact.
"It's low level, of course, but you know... I don't know."
"It's great news, Max!"
Only now Maxim looked up.
"You think so? I mean, it's the capital."
"If you want it, you should take it..."
Barnaby stopped mid-sentence as if sensing her coming. He put his eyes on the doorway leading to the waiting hall. And in walked Grace Le Grand, followed closely by her best friends Lorelei and Mathew. A complete silence fell over the room, or at least it did in Barnaby's head for he could not hear a sound. Grace, true to herself, was the only female graduate dressed in illegal black, as opposed to the mandatory white dresses. It was tight, painting her perfect body all the way to her knees where it stopped. Her hair was up, tied in a forceful bun, giving her a soldier-like look. She had no silver or gold on her, no trinkets or chains, for she had no need for any. Her pale face and black dress and tar-black hair made her a beautiful work of art.
And as did most of the graduates, Barnaby just stood there looking, taking in that stunning image of the girl of his dreams, the girl he would soon have to forget about.
Time moved slowly, as it often did when Grace walked into a room, but not everything was how it had always been. As she walked, her head turned to Barnaby, and her eyes locked on his. Never had that happen before, Barnaby's knees weakened and his lungs shrunk like they were squeezed by an invisible force. Had he been able to think, he would have considered himself insane and closed his eyes to try to reenter reality. But he could not think, so he stared right back, looking almost fearless, all through the long moment, a moment which ended just as abruptly as it had started. Suddenly her eyes were facing forward, and for all that Barnaby could be sure off, that's where they had been looking all through her entrance.
"So, I think I'll take it," Maxim went on, scratching his upper lip dreamily.
Barnaby stared at him blankly, not having the slightest idea what the chipper boy was going on about.
"Thanks, Barney, I'll see you at Theodore's. I think we should get in line now." He gave Barnaby a small bow, which had not happened before, and walked to the girl from that year who had been forced to pair with someone from the Brawling Hill.
Barnaby let him go and looked to Grace, now only the back of her head was visible. Had he dreamed it? Had the pressure become so much that he lost his mind?
Beyond confused, he looked at Augusta. She seemed cold, the kind of cold she had been after the incident with the potion, when he had told her about his feelings toward Grace. Had she seen something too? Was that why she looked upset?
Augusta walked to him, but she wasn't interested in talking about Grace, her voice was formal.
"We should get in line." Augusta pushed him moving and grabbed his hand.
The door to the Great Hall opened, and Barnaby let her lead them through it. There was far too much on his mind to worry about walking in straight line. 

© 2018 Eogin

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