Fatefall - 43

Fatefall - 43

A Chapter by A.L.



Chapter 43 - Sage

It’s the reason why I sit before my desk, a pen in hand, writing out what really conspired on the night of the Fatefall so many years ago.

“I’d forgotten how much I missed family dinners,” remarked Sage’s mother. She kept a pleasant expression plastered on her face. Sage envied her ability to mask her true emotions so well. 

He’d forgotten how much he hated family dinners, and he made no effort to keep that sentiment a secret. The glares from his father told him that he’d succeeded in making the dinner miserable. Good. It would show his parents how much of a mistake this was. 

“When was the last time we shared a meal together?” his father asked. 

Sage’s father needed more practice on hiding his true feelings too. Sage could practically feel the anger radiating from across the table.

“It’s been quite a few years,” his mother answered with false regret.

Sage snorted at that. Quite a few years? Try seven. 

With his parents’ status, they were often required to host dinners with other nobles and members of the higher society. If they weren’t hosting, then they were visiting, and on the few nights a year where dinner wasn’t some huge festivity, someone had always come with an excuse for somewhere else to be. 

A long time ago, Sage had viewed these family dinners as an honor---he couldn’t believe that he was worth his parents’ time. Now he would do anything to rid himself of the attention.

Silence weighed over the table when Sage made no effort to correct his parents. 

He checked the clock in the corner of the room. Only twenty more minutes before he could be free once again.

To be honest, he wasn’t quite sure why he’d agreed to dine with his parents in the first place. Well, he had some idea, but it was one he didn’t want to give much thought to because it involved his naive belief that maybe his victory had given his parents something to be proud of.

As if reading his mind, his mother broke the silence with, “So, Sage, I’ve been doing something thinking lately.”

He kept his gaze locked firmly on his still full plate. His stomach growled, but he couldn’t bring himself to eat. Maybe he could ask the servants to spare the food so he could take it to Jett’s parents.

“Your performance in the Tournament was laudable, and I think you deserve more recognition.” She grinned at him, and it seemed sincere. Shivers rolled down Sage’s spine. He didn’t like that his mother was trying to be kind to him. “Perhaps we could throw a party in your honor,” she suggested. “Something small, of course. We’d only invite your father’s friends and your friend’s and--”

“I don’t want a party,” he grumbled, wishing she would drop the issue. “Quite frankly, I don’t ever want to talk about the Tournament again.” 

He still regretted letting his friends take the fall for him---especially after seeing Jett’s pain when they stole his Grace. He’d heard rumors that his friends were to be executed for their crimes, which only worsened his guilt. He’d actually been halfway through planning some sort of rescue when his parents had called him downstairs for a family dinner.

“The Tournament was only two days ago,” his mother said. Like he needed another reminder of how useless he’d been. “Sweetie, I know you’re disappointed about that boy, but this is a huge stepping stone for you and--”

“No, it’s a huge stepping stone for you,” Sage snapped. “Because now when you brag about me, your stories are at least partially true. You don’t have to live in constant fear of your lies being uncovered.” He scoffed. “You might as well throw a party for yourself to celebrate your son not being a complete failure.”

“You’re not a failure,” his mother argued. 

“Right now I’m not,” Sage agreed. “But in a year from now, when my glory fades and I’m no longer the victor, will you still pretend to love me?”

He didn’t wait for his mother to respond, bursting from his chair and storming out of the dining room without another word. 

He was done trying to make his parents love him. Done trying to earn their affection. Done trying to fit the mold of the son they wanted him to be. He’d worked tirelessly to make them proud from the moment he’d known he would never have a Grace, and his effort got him nowhere. 

So he was done lying to himself---telling himself that he needed to be better. 

There were people out there who appreciated his talents. And those people were currently imprisoned for crimes that they committed out of self-defense. 

He made his way down the hallway, grabbing his coat and scarf before hurrying out the door with one location in mind: the castle. If anyone could be convinced to release Sage’s friends, it was the king himself. 

Sage bit back a curse as water seeped into his boots, soaking into his socks. The rain pounded relentlessly at his umbrella as though determined to drench him. Puddles lined the streets and Sage was confident that he’d stepped in each one at least once.

In the back of his mind, he knew he was being foolish. The king alone didn’t control the Tournament---if he really wanted to make a difference, he’d have to appeal to the entire panel of judges. But if anyone were to have influence over the fates of his friends, it was King Hector. Sage knew the chances of the king even listening to him were slim to none too, but he hoped that his status as one of Adrian’s acquaintances would earn him a meeting at the very least.

He rehearsed what he wanted to say to the king even though he knew he’d probably end up saying something stupid and ruining his chance of freeing his friends. 

Hey, Your Majesty, how’s it going? Sorry to inconvenience you, but you’ve imprisoned my friends for a crime that they did commit but it was sort of an accident and I’m sure they're super sorry about it. What crime was it? Well, y’know, just some murder. Anyway, if you could pardon them, that’d be awesome…

Like that would ever work. Maybe he should just ask if there was another bail he could pay off with his prize money. How much would bail cost for three murderers--

He swore aloud this time as he ran straight into another man. Their umbrellas tumbled to the ground and the rain eagerly pelted Sage, weighing down his curls. He reached for his umbrella, apologizing profusely under his breath. 

But when he went to hand the man back his umbrella, the man’s hand caught his wrist. 

Sage froze. It took him a moment to recognize where he’d seen the man before. 

“You were one of the competitors in the Tournament,” he realized. They had met during the Qualifiers and then again in the first trial.

The silver-eyed man nodded. “And you’re the victor.”

Sage blushed and pushed the man’s umbrella back into his hand. “It’s not that big of a deal. My teammates did most of the work, but--”

“But now they’re imprisoned, and you’re the only one who can save them,” the man interrupted with a sly grin. Sage gaped at him, not sure whether to be impressed or concerned. He recalled how the man had seemingly read his mind during the first trial. 

“I can feel the curiosity burning in your soul,” the man continued. “Let me ask you this: how far are you willing to go to save your friends?”

Sage narrowed his eyes. “Save?” he repeated. “Are they in danger?”

“Your teammates will most likely be executed within the next week for the crimes they committed during the Tournament,” the man explained. “So let me ask you again: how far are you willing to go to save your friends?”

“They don’t deserve to die,” Sage answered without hesitation. He crossed his arms. “Listen, I don’t know who you are--”

“My name is Declan,” the man interjected with a wave of his hand. “But that’s not relevant. Listen, Sage, I agree that your friends don’t deserve to die---and even more than that, I think that the punishment for losing the Tournament was too harsh. No one deserves to have their Grace stolen from them.”

Sage didn’t know where Declanwas going with this, but he was admittedly intrigued. He’d been at war with himself from the moment Poppy surrendered the final trial to him. He wanted to save his friends. He truly did. But how far was too far? And why would Declan help him? He couldn’t lie, a small part of him trusted the man. He’d offered sound advice during the first trial, and he’d been kind to Sage in the Qualifiers. 

“Your Graced of Void---I believe he has the ability to bring back the Graces of your other friends,” Declan said as he pulled a small sheet of paper from his pocket, shielding it from the rain from his umbrella. “These are detailed instructions of how one might go about a prison break---theoretically of course. If your friends were to somehow miraculously escape jail, you should bring them to the arena tomorrow evening---and make sure you have the Graced of Void with you. I might be able to help.”

He pressed the paper into Sage’s palm, patted him on the shoulder, and then disappeared into the night without another word.

Sage tucked the paper into his pocket, his mind racing from the odd interaction.

Could Sage trust Declan? He wanted to, that was for sure. The logical part of him was more hesitant, but his mind kept reminding him that the lives of his teammates were on the line now too. And if what Declan said was true, Sage’s friends would be saved and given their Graces back. 

He briefly considered continuing onward to the castle but thought better of it. If his friends truly were scheduled for an execution, it wasn’t likely that King Hector would free them or even spare their lives. It seemed like Declan would be his best shot if he wanted to rescue his friends.

His hand dipped to the paper in his pocket, his mind made up.

He would return home and read through whatever Declan had left him. If it didn’t seem plausible, he’d protest to the king tomorrow. If a prison break was something Sage would be able to accomplish, he’d spend tomorrow gathering resources and maybe some allies.

Regardless of the method, Sage intended to free his friends somehow. No matter the cost.

© 2023 A.L.

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Added on February 13, 2023
Last Updated on February 13, 2023
Tags: adventure, Grace, Fates, Fate, teen, ya, fantasy, fiction, magic, tournament, game, competition, enemies to lovers, young adult, assassin, thief, royalty, prince, priestess, death, survival, noble



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