Twists and Turns

What are you drawing?" Kalsara asked Drako as she settled down next to him slowly to avoid putting off the flickering candle with a gush of air.

"Everyone. They are up there because of they are in heaven and we are here." he pointed to the lower part of the paper.

Kalsara squinted her eyes, Goben wasn't in the drawing.

"Your drawings are getting better everyday." She patted him on his back, avoiding the obvious topic.

It has been some months since Aurora and Sol passed away. Ever since then, they and the Kingdom have been under Kalsara's custody.

She walked over to Goben who knelt down by a table and focused on sharpening a wood.

"What are you doing, child?"

He looked up at her, his eyes bright with excitement.

"I am making a sword."

"Why?"

"Because I am going to save the King and the Queen. My friend, Lewis, will be coming with me."

Drako squeezed the edge of his drawing paper tightly, he clenched his jaw.

"Oh, that is great."

"We will all be complete again."

Kalsara's eyes became sad, although she nodded with a forced smile, a tear still managed to escape through her eyes.

Goben creased his forehead in confusion.

"Why are you crying, Queen Mother?"

Drako lost it then, irritation filled his eyes. He slammed his fist against the table and stood up.

"Because you are stupid!"

"Drako!" She scolded.

Drako started walking up to Goben as he spoke.

"You are foolish for ever thinking you can bring them back, they are dead!"

Goben stepped back out of fear, his lips trembled and his eyes turned glassy. Kalsara quickly acted as a barrier between them.

"Apologize." She ordered through gritted teeth.

Drako tightened his jaws.

"Apologize to your him, Drako."

"No!"

She was taken aback and anger slowly boiled in her veins.

"Apologize, Drako!"

"But why should he?" A cold voice said and they all turned to the door. Drako staggered back a few steps as the hooded figure stepped into the room.

"He said the truth." The hooded figure shrugged. He walked to the table and held Drako's drawing.

"So there is no place for Grandpa? How sad." He tusked and Kalsara gasped.

"Lucius."

He pulled off his hood then, the unmasked part of his face plastered with a smile, his ever permanent long scar and more wrinkles.

"Did you miss me, Red Flower?"

Tears ran down her face and she nodded. 

"They are dead, Lucius. Our son and his wife, they are dead."

He looked back at her, his face emotionless, his eyes empty.

"I know." 

Kalsara's teary face turned into a confused one.

"Alusa needs a King and someone to train this little one over here in the ways of a King. Am I not a perfect fit?" He pulled Drako with him.

"Grandma!" Drako cried in pain. Kalsara rushed over to them, her hands on Lucius's while she went on her kneels.

"Please, don't do this. He is till grieving."

"Stay out of this!"

"No... Lucius, please he is only a child." Tears ran down her cheeks while she shook her head.

"I said..." His voice sounded venomous and cold that she immediately flinched, dropped her hands and she jittered away in fear.

He turned to Drako and his eyebrows weaved into an angry line.

He was holding a pencil?!

Lucius snatched it from his small hands, his face filled with disgust.

"You should be holding swords not pencils! Pencils don't conquer Kingdoms, just like quills and bottles of ink in peace treaties. They are all useless and that is why your father is dead."

He threw the pencil on the floor and jammed his boot against it, crushing it to pieces.

Drako looked at the remains of the pencil with teary eyes and trembling lips.

"My father was a good man."

"Yes but a weak one. I must train you to be strong."

He started dragging him along. Drako thrashed around. Irritated, Lucius swung him over his shoulders. He felt small hands beating against his legs, he huffed in anger and looked down at who he was.

"Let him go!" Goben shouted.

Lucius chuckled darkly.

"You peasant! What right do you have to involve yourself with issues between royalities. You are not a Fireburn." Then he kicked him away like he was filth.

"No," Drako cried as he watched Goben groaned in pain on the floor while Kalsara rushed to him. Soon he couldn't see them again. By then, his hands were already aching from struggling and he felt drained. He dangled on his Grandpa's shoulders.

He could hear his grandpa opened the throne room's door. There were people mumbling while they waited for the Kalsara to show up for the scheduled meeting.

Immediately they noticed Lucius, they became silent. The sound of people pulling their swords out filled the air. 

Lucius smirked. 

He reached into his flowing hood and brought out the specter for all to see.

Reluctantly, they put the swords back into their scabbards.

Lucius's eyes sparkled with satisfaction. Everyone was tense with the fear of what he could do to them.

"Well, there are going to be a lot of changes around here." Lucius's commanding voice boomed while he walked up the throne. He dropped Drako to the floor and he fell like jelly.

"A lot of mad changes but before that..." He stopped at the throne where the King's Crown sat. He picked it up finding it alluring. Such great power and such a small ornament.

He settled it on his head then sat on the throne.

"Call me, his Madjesty."

Lucius looked at the confused faces, his eyes intoxicated with power. 

They immediately fell on their kneels and started chanting.

"Long live his Madjesty."

***************************

It was quiet except for the clanking of the utensils against the plates while they ate and the slow burning of the lit torches. The room smelt of roasted chicken, cooked grains, and burning woods. 

"The anonymous writer has done it again! Have you been hearing about the Pregnant Bride of the Red Moon." Goben said with his mouth full while his eyes were filled with excitement.

"Hush, Goben." Kalsara whispered to him while she watched Lucius carefully from the corner of her eyes.

"I'm sorry, my Queen. But I find it intriguing. It feels so real and believable, if only I could meet the writer. Did she really get stolen from the palace to marry off a Lord of darkness?"

Lucius scoffed, "Are you sure you are from a warrior family? You believe too many stupid things."

Goben's smile slowly disappeared.

"I am sor..."

"SHUT UP!" Lucius voice rang throughout the room and they all became tensed. There was absolute silence then he shouted again.

"SHUT UP!" He staggered up and started looking around the room in fear.

It was happening again, the boys said nothing but sat fixated at their spot. Kalsara watched in concern.

"It is not my fault!" He shouted into the air and swept his hand across the dinner table. The plates filled with food crashed against the floor.

Lucius gave a mad laughter while he covered his ears, his eyes wide with insanity.

"You made me do it, you made me do it." He whispered to himself, while he shook in fear.

"Lucius." Kalsara stood up at that moment, she touched him and he flinched. When he saw her, his eyes became glassy and he cupped her face in his hands.

"They are coming for me, Red Flower. They won't stop till I am dead, they won't stop." He started looking around again then she stopped him. Brought out a small bottle from her gown and opened it.

"Drink, Doctor Rika said it will help."

He gulped down the content of the bottle. He immediately felt weak and Kalsara wrapped her hands behind him, leading him to their room.

"Thank you, Red Flower." He whispered in a sleepy voice.

"Always, my Lord, always."

Soon they were gone. Drako went back eating while Goben still sat there horrified. He could never get used to this.

"Will he ever heal?" He asked Drako who sat next to him, he simply shrugged in response.

When it looked like he won't be saying anything more, Goben chipped in.

"You've been doing well in trainings these day. I see you train with the King..."

Drako scoffed at that but still continued eating while Goben ranted on.

"You are better than most of us now, I guess it is because you are always training. How about we train sometimes, it will be like when we were younger."

A darkness clouded Drako's eyes at that.

"Stop trying too hard. Those days are gone, learn to live with it."

Goben placed a hand on Drako's shoulder feeling the roughness of the robe against his hand.

"But we are best friends."

Drako dropped his fork, stood up. Goben's heart broke as his hand fell from his Drako's shoulder.

Drako coldly stared at Goben.

"No!"

"Don't listen to what Grandpa says. Our parents..." His tears chocked voice was interrupted immediately.

"My parents!" Drako slammed his fists against the table, Goben's eyes widened realizing his mistake.

"Stop acting like we are brothers, we are not! I am the heir to the throne and you are nothing but a boy training to become one of my warriors. Don't forget that!"

Drako started walking away but Goben's broken voice stopped him.

"You are going through a rough time and I understand. The trainings are wearing you out and he isn't showing any mercy. You don't have to hide it, you can tell me. I know you don't hate me."

Drako gnashed his teeth.

"You are only saying that because Grandpa put it in your head. You don't hate me, Drako."

Drako tightened his fists. He turned his angry eyes at Goben whose face was wet with tears.

"No, I am saying it because it is the truth," his voice was cold and a darkness sipped into his eyes.

"And I hate you."

 (Flashback ends)

************************

Goben looked at the hundredth paper for the day. He had skipped lunch and he was starting to get tired. DL had left the work of the mines to him to handle including increasing their ration by a quarter, it had surprising helped to reduce the stealing at the mines.

Goben found Clara to be really clever with her idea but he knew that DL would refuse to give her credit. He was just so stubborn!

Goben stood up and walked around in his study. His legs felt weird for having been in chair all day. He thought of sending for one of the kitchen staff to bring in food but stopped, he had no appetite.

DL had been gone for some time now. After their lunch that day, reports got to him that there seemed to be uprising against him in the Fire Tribe. That was really strange, they were getting bolder to go against him and it infuriated him to no end. He refused to send Goben there to bring back order but decided to go there himself, leaving the paperwork and the mining problems to Goben to solve. There was no doubt that DL would solve everything but if it was taking him this long then the uprising must be a little strong that he had decided to stay back and conduct some investigation.

Someone busted into his office and Goben frowned.

"How rude!" Goben thought annoyed.

He turned to see a warrior as he bowed quickly.

"I apologise for barging in like that my Lord. I have being knocking at your door but I got no response. The urgency of the matter couldn't have me wait." The warrior said then stood up.

The urgency of the matter....

Goben frowned.

"What is it then? Tarry not, tell me for goodness sake!"

"The lady, she poisoned herself. The medical staff are already attending to her, I wouldn't have called your attention to this but she stopped breathing." He said quickly like the words burnt his tongue.

"Stopped breathing? She is dead? Didn't I assign you to watch over her, Lewis? Why didn't you stop her? What are you useful for if the task I assigned to you couldn't even be properly carried out? Do you know how much trouble this is? How much trouble we are in? The Dragon Lord will not be happy to hear this." Goben paced around frustrated and angry.

"I am sorry, my Lord. I couldn't make it in time." He pleaded.

"You are useless!" Goben shouted in anger. "When he gets back, be ready for your punishment. I don't think I will be available to beg on your behalf, probably be too busy serving mine."

"What about the other lady, the one whose life was tied to hers?" Goben questioned.

"She is still in her abode, my Lord." Lewis replied.

"Lock her up in the dungeon! I can't pass a death sentence so just whip her well. When he gets back, he will be sure to kill her. Just pray he wouldn't kill us too." Goben said and Lewis ran out to carry out orders.

Goben knew that he wouldn't be killed but he wasn't sure if he wouldn't be punished.

******************************

On the battlefield, Diamant saw her grandfather's head lying on the ground and his body some distance opposite it. She was standing, staring intently at the head.

"I tried to tell you." The head spoke.

Diamant's breath caught in her throat. Her heart raced and she felt pain everywhere. Her gown was stained with blood. She looked around frantically, the head and body had disappeared.

"I tried to tell you." Her Grandpa's voice said again, his voice in the air, fading away slowly.

"Forgive me." It said again.

She felt a sudden heaviness on her hands and she looked down to find her Grandpa's lifeless head, his empty eyes staring at her.

She screamed.

"She screamed! Take the cloth off her. I said take it off her face! You get the water, she will need it." Someone shouted quickly.

Diamant woke up slowly, this was becoming an habit. Was Death purposely avoiding her? She looked around and saw blurry images of people running everywhere to get somethings. A cup was handed to her. Lifting the cup to her mouth felt like an herculean task but her thirst was great.

"A miracle," someone said excitedly. She looked around for Sunain but she was no where.

"Y-you died...or maybe not." The male attending to her said. "I am Doctor Rika." He smiled.

"You have to be closely monitored. This is a puzzle. You had some internal bleeding and your inside was burning up. It is a wonder that you are still alive." Doc Rika said.

Alive...

He did some checks and was surprised that she seemed to be healing quickly. He was amazed that she was even breathing.

Diamant didn't say a word as she was trying hard to remember something. Something had her frightened but she couldn't remember just what it was.

Doc Rika left after sometime and instructed two people to look after her till Sunain came back.

******************************

Diamant had fallen asleep that she didn't know when Sunain came in. She felt so refreshed and healed that it felt like she hadn't poisoned herself at all.

"How about you give me a little warning next time. Just so that I can at least get my thoughts together." Sunain's poisonous and cold voice seeped into the air.

She looked at Diamant with angry eyes as she stood at her bedside, away from Diamant.

"What are you talking about?"Diamant's sleepy voice clouded we the confusion.

"You must be really forgetful or just so selfish. It isn't your life attached to mine now, is it?" Sunain scorned.

Realization shredded her confusion away,

"He doesn't really mean it."

"Then why was I at the dungeon getting the beating of my life. I would have been dead but he was away and his Right-hand man couldn't pass a death sentence on me."

Sunain walked closer to Diamant and Diamant gasped seeing all the whip marks on her body. The only one she couldn't see were the ones underneath the small gown Sunain wore.

"You know what? You are selfish and wicked. How could you? Did you ever think of me? All you thought about was how you wanted to die, how it was hell for you, how it killed you!

You! You! You! What about me?!" She paused as she watched Diamant who was fighting guilt.

"Do you know how I felt when you stopped breathing? Do you know how I feel everytime I am out there and I know that I could lose my life any moment because someone somewhere so desperately wants to die. I am mad at the DL but I am even madder at you! You never thought of me for once. How it was to be in my own shoes."

Sunain walked back slowly and stifled a tear.

"Today, while I was awaiting my death sentence, I thought of my family. I thought about how they sacrificed their lives just so I could live, just so I could run away. My brother's eyes as he made me promise that I would keep myself safe. I remember hearing their voices as they held them down for me while I ran into the forest. I remembered everything and I couldn't help but think that I had failed. I couldn't help but think that they died for nothing!" Sunain's teary in her eyes held great sadness.

"I am not enjoying this life. I grieve my family too but I have a promise to keep" Sunain gulped down a glass of water

"and you think your Grandpa would be happy that you want to die?" She mocked.

"Before you go gulping down the next bottle of poison just know that you are a killer." Sunain snapped.

"But aren't you selfish too? Wanting to stay alive and trying to stop me for yourself?" Diamant snapped. She had finally had enough of the speech.

"Aren't we all?" Sunain questioned with dark eyes.

"Well, none of these is my fault! I am not the one to be blamed here. Be mad at the right person." Diamant looked away and Sunain left aggressively.

She was selfish too, they were all selfish. They were all guilty and Sunain didn't have the right to blame her, this wasn't something she could control.

******************************

Diamant risked wandering into the forest. After that argument with Sunain, she had felt weak. She could see things clearly now and she realized that it wasn't all about her. It hurt her that she had been so selfish.

She walked with the hope of finding him. She didn't know why but she badly wanted to.

"Pure luck and here is fate. Didn't they say that you were dead?" A voice said behind her.

She looked around to see Aaron looking disheveled. His eyes had bags, he looked lean but his face lit up.

"Aaron." She called his name feeling engulfed with peace.

He walked up to her and hugged her.

"I thought I would never see you again." He whispered sadly into her hair.

Diamant felt pain realizing that she would have hurt this one too. They had only met once, how would that mean a lot? But she knew it met something, if it hadn't then why would she look for him?

They went to his abode. Diamant explained how she felt and her argument with Sunain. Aaron understood but he made her see that she had truly been selfish. He made no mention of himself but Diamant felt that it had been implied. She spent the evening there, listening to Aaron's great tales of his hunt while he turned the meat over the gentle fire.

Diamant realized she would have to apologise to Sunain. She promised Aaron not to try to kill herself again but made him realize that if she didn't do it then DL would one day.

That dark truth lingered over them and Aaron's eyes darkened.

******************************

Diamant walked slowly towards the door, allowing the light of the bright moon to guide her while she advanced the house.

She went in softly trying not to cause any noise just in case Sunain was sleeping but she couldn't find her anywhere.

So she decided to retire for the night. She went to the bathroom to have a bath only to see Sunain on the floor chanting some words into a bottle. The bottle darkened and there was a purple glow surrounding Sunain.

Diamant's eyes widened.

"You are a Witch?!" Diamant snapped breaking

Sunain away from her chanting while she trembled in fear.

"It isn't what you think. I deserve a chance to explain and you shouldn't jump to conclusions." Sunain defended herself.

"Well then of course, explain this! The DL will not find it fascinating to have a Witch in his kingdom."

"I am not a Witch! I only know a few weird spells, that is all." Sunain defended herself again,

Diamant looked on blankly. The explanation was not enough and Sunain realized that.

"My uncle used to trade herbs to different villages. I often follow him on most of his trips, I loved to go with him. 3 years ago, some of the traders starting finding me attractive and wanted to lay with me. My Uncle, try to have their way with me, taught me this spell. It is used to fool people into believing that they had an intimate moment with the person who uses it on them. He was first scared that I wouldn't be able to prepare the portion on my own as he was from a long lineage of sorcerers but I took more of my mother's side. I could still prepare the portion but it would take more time and concentration. His preventive measure wasn't totally baseless, year after he taught me and had me carry it everywhere, I was kidnapped and I would have being raped if I hadn't had it with me. They would forget about the hallucinated moment in their head after five days, that was how the portion worked." Sunain concluded breathless.

"That doesn't change anything, you are a witch! You are evil." Diamant hurried out of the bathroom and towards the door. Her mind filled with memories of her encounter with the Crescent Witch.

"No, please, Diamant stop. They will kill me, they will kill me, please don't do this." Sunain cried after her.

Diamant didn't stop, she reached out for the doorknob and held it in her hand.

Sunain tripped, pain shot in her head. Her skin hurt as a result of the beating she had earlier that day. Although she had applied some healing paste, she could still feel pain.

She ignored the pain, crawled on the floor and reach out for Diamant's gown. She wrapped her arms around it and wept.

"Please, I beg you. I have nothing but my life, I beg you not to take it away from me."

Diamant abruptly stopped. The thought of taking someone's life disturbed her.

She turned away from the door and Sunain's hands dropped from her legs. Diamant laid on the bed and pulled the covers over herself.

Sunain stood up slowly, her face creased in confusion.

"So you used it that night with the warriors?" Diamant's voice broke the silence.

"No, I couldn't." Sunain chocked on tears.

"It was my first time."

Diamant felt her pain. She couldn't blame her for her actions.

"So... you won't report me?"

Diamant turned her face to look at her disheveled state.

"What does it look like?" She hissed.

"Like you won't report me?"

"Exactly." Diamant closed her eyes and Sunain stayed at the spot, still surprised.

"I am sorry." Diamant said after a while.

"I am sorry for being so selfish." She opened her eyes.

"I am sorry too." Sunain said coming to Diamant with an outstretched hand.

"From now on, I promise to have your back too. Like sisters."

Diamant eyed her outstretched hand.

"I don't have a good experience with accepting a Witch's hand."

"I am not a witch." Sunain said a little offended.

"Keep telling yourself that." Diamant whispered then closed her eyes again. She opened her eyes after a while to see that Sunain was still there with an hopeful smile, her hand outstretched.

She looked at her in surprise then slowly, she held her hand and whispered.

"Like sisters."

Sunain giggled, said a good night and hurried back to her spells.

With Sunain away, Diamant was left to listen to her breathing. She slowly started falling asleep, then she remembered her nightmare and remembered that she had it twice. Her mind raced.

Why had she forgotten it? Her Grandfather was talking about something, trying to get her to forgive him for something.

What could it be?

It must be really important if she kept having nightmares about it or was it just a trauma?

If it wasn't, then did it have anything to do with her sleeping past or the unknown that was chasing them?

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