Fatefall - 44

Fatefall - 44

A Chapter by A.L.



Chapter 44 - Adrian

This is my history---my story. It is a tale of my heroics, a list of my crimes, and a collection of my regrets. I hope that when you read this, you will learn from my mistakes.

Adrian could not win a card game to save his life.

Which was unfortunate, considering the only entertainment he was currently allowed happened to be a deck of cards and a sister who had a knack for gambling.

Aida smirked as she laid another hand of cards face up on the sitting room table. All five of the Fates stared up at Adrian, their eerie grins mocking him. Compared to that, Adrian’s hand of a scorpion, an hourglass, two ships, and a rose seemed ridiculous. He didn’t even want to lay the cards at this point.

He did anyway, hoping maybe Aida would fetch him a book to read or something. Anything but cards. 

Aida smirked at Adrian’s cards. “I win,” she declared, like it hadn’t been obvious. Adrian rolled his eyes. “How many games is that? Thirty?”

“Forty-six. Today,” Adrian reminded her, crossing his arms.

“Don’t sulk,” Aida chided. “It’s okay to be jealous of my skills, but you don’t have to be a sore loser about it.” She collected the cards and began to shuffle the deck.

“I’m done,” Adrian grumbled before she could distribute the cards. “Look, I know you said no more favors, but could you ask Father--”

“No,” Aida cut in before he could finish. She laid out the cards for herself and began to play. “This is your punishment. Be glad Father is working to convince the rest of the judges to let you off the hook this easily.”

Adrian sighed. 

He still couldn’t believe that the Tournament had ended with Sage as the victor. He knew he should be glad that Sage’s lack of a Grace hadn’t been discovered and that Adrian wouldn’t be suffering a major punishment either. While Nakoa, Jett, and Poppy had experienced the agony of having their Graces removed, Adrian was to be placed under house arrest for a week with the specific orders not to indulge in any of his hobbies.

Because that was equal to the pain of having something as natural as your Grace ripped out of you. Not that he was complaining.

Still, he felt…useless.

He only agreed to play card games with Aida because if he let his mind wander he knew his guilt would catch up with him. 

He should’ve seen it coming. Should’ve known that with all of the extra hype around this Tournament that this would be different. Should’ve known that eventually the consequences of his actions in the second trial would catch up to him.

In all of his planning, he’d never stopped to consider what might happen if he lost. And now…

Now his friends would most likely face the death penalty for the events of the second trial.

Adrian wasn’t supposed to know the fate of his friends, but Aida had taken pity on him and shared that Poppy, Nakoa, and Jett were to be put on trial for killing the false Fate. The chances that they emerged innocent were slim to none. The judges’ reasoning for the whole ordeal was flimsy at best and Adrian knew the Tournament would’ve ended this way regardless of which teams made it to the end.

The recent rise in religious fanatics, the steadily decreasing income of the kingdom, and now the kidnappings and stolen Graces---by showing an iron first for criminals in the Tournament, King Hector was setting a precedent. He would not tolerate crime in his city.

Still, although Adrian understood his father’s reasoning, he didn’t agree with it.

If he were king, he would use the victors of the Tournament to prove how strong his kingdom was. He’d have all the competitors praised instead of punished for their bravery.

He would not allow his kingdom to follow Aecheral.

Adrian stood abruptly, startling Aida who dropped the cards in her hand. “Where are you going?” she asked as Adrian hurried to the doors.

“I need to speak to Father.”

He tugged on the door handle but it didn’t budge. Locked.

Aida heaved a sigh so loud that Adrian could hear it from across the room. “Give it a break, Adi. You only have a few days left of house arrest and then you’re free to go back to your normal life--”

“No,” Adrian interrupted. “I can’t just go back to my normal life. I can’t just sit by and let my friends suffer.”

“Not this again--”

Adrian glared at his sister. “If Jett, Poppy, and Nakoa are executed, our father is going to have a mutiny on his hands. We were the last team standing; we should have won. What message does that send to the rest of Xegalla if we kill them? It shows everyone that we don’t keep our promises and that strong Graced are threats.”

Aida crossed her arms. “You keep saying we like the two of us have any say in this. You’re not the king, Adrian. You’re not on the panel of judges.”

“So what do you propose?”

Aida hesitated. “I…I don’t know. You’re finally out of danger, Adi. Is it selfish of me to want it to stay that way?”

Guilt tugged at his heart. Aida had already lost one brother, she didn’t need to lose a second. But at the same time, Adrian couldn’t sit idly by and allow his friends to suffer. He had to believe that he wouldn’t be putting his life on the line by helping them.

Before he could answer Aida, however, there came a soft tapping from the windows.

His heart leapt. Could it be Poppy--

Aida was at the window a moment later, pushing the curtains aside to reveal…Evangeline?

“Let her in,” Adrian ordered as Aida gave him a stunned look. He, too, was shocked until he remembered what Jett had said about Evangeline engaging in a life of crime. 

Evangeline wore casual street clothes, which surprised Adrian considering she’d seemed to embrace the life of nobility the last time he’d seen her. Then again, he hadn’t expected to find sneaking into his room through the window either.

Aida raised an eyebrow as she slid the window shut. “I didn’t realize you had girls making house calls now, Adrian.” She looked Evangeline up and down. “And I must say, she really doesn’t look like your type.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not here to kiss him,” Evangeline interjected. “I doubt he’d be much good at it anyway.”

Adrian sighed. “Aida, this is Evangeline---my team’s second sponsor if you didn’t know that already. Evangeline, this is my sister Aida---a royal pain in the--”

“What brings you here today?” Aida interrupted, plastering a pleasant smile onto her face.

“Sage,” Evangeline answered. “He intends to free the rest of his teammates from prison.”

“Ah, so we’re on the same page then,” Adrian said.

“That sounds illegal,” Aida grumbled.

Evangeline only shrugged.

“What does Sage plan to do once he frees the others?” Adrian pressed.

“He met a man who promised that he could bring back your friends’ Graces,” Evangeline explained. At Adrian’s hesitation, she added, “Sage swears he can trust this man. I wasn’t sure at first either, but he reminded me that even if the man is lying, your friends don’t deserve to be locked away.”

“You don’t have to convince me to free them,” Adrian said. “I just want to know that Sage can guarantee their safety. If they get caught escaping, there will be absolutely no chance they’ll be spared more punishment.”

“Sage believes they can seek refuge in Nakoa’s village,” Evangeline said. “He said that they’ll cross that bridge when it comes to that.”

Which wasn’t exactly reassuring, but Adrian didn’t have any better ideas.
“How is he planning to go about this prison break?” Adrian asked

“Are you seriously considering this?” Aida cut in, shooting Adrian a dirty look. “If father finds out--”

“If father finds out, then I will deal with the consequences,” Adrian assured her. “What’s the worst that can happen? He disowns me?” He scoffed. “He can’t bear to lose both of his sons.”

Aida’s mouth fell open. “Don’t say that! Don’t laugh like this is some kind of joke! Father’s opinion is not the only one that matters in a situation like this one. What if the judges decide that your involvement in the prison break---whether it succeeds or fails---is punishable by something worse than house arrest?”

“The people won’t stand for it,” Adrian argued. “They’re probably already upset that their victors aren’t being treated with respect.”

Victor,” Aida repeated. “Singular. Times are changing, Adi.”

“Yes, and not for the better,” Adrian said. “I won’t allow my kingdom to fall into ruin, and that starts with preventing it from executing its heroes.” He turned his attention back to Evangeline. “What is Sage’s plan?”

She grinned. “Sage said Koda has some potions?”

Adrian nodded, relieved that he could actually do something to help. “I’m pretty sure he has them arranged in order of chance of combustion.”

“I can see there’s no stopping you,” Aida sighed at last.

“There’s not,” Adrian agreed, pulling her in for a hug. Aida reluctantly wrapped her arms around him, but Adrian could tell she was still angry with him. “I’ll be safe. I promise.”

Aida finally pulled away, her eyes brimming with tears. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

“You’re already the best sister I could’ve asked for.”

Aida rolled her eyes. “Flattery doesn’t work on me.” She paused one more time. “Now go save your friends, Adi. This better be worth the struggle.”

“Trust me,” Adrian said. “It will be.”

© 2023 A.L.

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Added on March 7, 2023
Last Updated on March 7, 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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