Duke of Two Cities
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Duke of Two Cities

By: BrassBadger Updated just now

Language: English
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Chapters: 42 views: 4.9K

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Families forge our most beautiful chains, and Devon Tomson’s chains are nearly broken. Turned out from his family and isolated from his friends, Devon is on the verge of homelessness. But when he meets a castaway prince, together they forge a continent-spanning bond of friendship that upsets the balance of power across two contents. It will take all their wits and courage to survive the manipulations of the powerful and the selfish, with the lives and futures of millions unknowingly hanging in the balance.

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Latest Chapter
42 chapters
Chapter 1
Devon was fifteen minutes away from being homeless, all because of a hat. The hat was part of his Convention costume—a leather hunter’s hat with a hawk’s feather sticking out from the brim. It took him three months' worth of paychecks for that hat, custom made and fitted. It was his hat, worthy of a hunter, and along with his hunter’s vest, it was a piece of work that Devon could finally be proud of. So, of course, his sister Neveah had to steal it. She wasn’t even sneaky about it. Neveah didn’t have to be, since Devon’s room had no door—only a sad, thin sheet of fabric. Nothing prevented Neveah from waltzing into his room at her pleasure and snatching up his hat. “Neveah! What the hell is wrong with you?” From down the hall came the hoarse cry of Momma, “Devon! Don’t you talk like that to your sister!” Devon grit his teeth, calming himself with a firm bite on his lip, and stormed out into the apartment hall, towards the kitchen at the end of the hallway. There sat Momma at a
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Chapter 2
He picked the hat. It wasn’t the smartest choice Devon had ever made. It probably wasn’t even a good choice. But it was his choice, and after living a life dictated by Momma's indulgence of Neveah's every need, that he chose was reason enough. Not all of him agreed, however; there was a practical part of him screaming at the top of its voiceless lungs, What the hell are you doing? You really fixing to put yourself out on the street over a hat?! Yes. He grabbed his hat and stormed off to his room. His legs shook. He barely noticed throwing a few scraps of clothes into his gym bag—some basketball shorts, some jeans, a few shirts, socks, and underwear. Meanwhile, behind him came the voracious screaming of Momma and Neveah, though in his anger he didn’t hear what they were screaming about. “Don’t go! Don’t go!” “Get out! Get out!” Whatever they were saying disappeared into a haze of chaotic shouting. Good, he thought. It’ll be payback for all the years his own screaming went unh
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Chapter 3
Devon stormed down the street, fuming, his thoughts in a chaotic blur of rage. Summer heat roasted his skin, worsening his already boiling temper. His precious hat, the hat that he had given up his family for, smelled like the seat of an old school bus parked in a scorching sun. He kept the hat on out of sheer spite, despite the sweat pouring down his nose. Truly, Devons costume was not made for city heat—it was a hunter’s costume, meant for cool forests and the shade of trees with easy access to babbling brooks and the like. Had he given himself more time, he would have changed into something more appropriate—gym shorts and a basketball shirt, maybe—so he wouldn’t have to talk to the convention sweating himself dry. Already, Devon was beginning to regret his choices. Down the street from his house was the 712 bus line that would bring him out to the New Hudson Convention Center. He pulled out his phone and opened up HighStreet Maps. NHCC was on the other side of the city from
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Chapter 4
As he was thrown off his feet, the would-be-thief thought maybe he had made a rather poor choice. He didn’t mean for their prank to get out of hand. This was just what he and his friends did; find chances to have a laugh at other’s expense. These laughs were harmless, or so he thought; something to look forward to in an otherwise dull, and sometimes terrifying world. Rarely did their pranks have any real consequences. Today, the consequences were quite real—and fast. CLUNK Thrown off his feet, the goon barreled over as the gym bag flew from his grip. He tumbled into a patch of sidewalk hidden beneath the shadow of a dreary-looking apartment, shaking. The sidewalk was cool on his cheeks; suddenly he felt an overwhelming urge to have a nap. If he laid there quietly, perhaps all of his bad decisions that day would go away by themselves. Victorious, Devon picked up his bag and headed back towards the bus stop. No sooner did he turn around that he saw his other assailant, Jaxton fum
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Chapter 5
Success! Sure enough, the trusty 712 bus had just turned a corner and began its long-awaited journey to the station. Devon’s heart swelled with relief. While Jaxton was busy arguing with Steve, Devon made a break for the bus. He started off at a brisk walk, hoping that he could get on the bus without anyone noticing .Devon only got about half way before hearing from behind: “…ACK HERE, I’M NOT DONE WITH YOU, YOU FEATHER-HATTED FUCK!” Behind Devon came the sound of pounding feet and an incensed Jaxton tearing after him, phone in hand, still recording. Devon made a break for it, sprinting as fast as he could back towards the bus station. Some new riders had gathered at the stop to watch, a few of them secretly recording on their own. But Devon didn’t care—the sooner he could get on the bus, the sooner this stupid idiocy would be over. As the bus pulled closer, Devon noticed the front of the bus was adorned with a black “pill” affixed above the driver’s seat. Behind the steering
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Chapter 6
Breathless and grateful, Devon took out his own code and scanned both his bus pass and pandemic code. A pleasant chime signaled that the passenger had both fare money and a clean history of infectious diseases that could cause harm to society. He lifted his bag above his head to squeeze his way down the aisle towards a pair of open seats. Exhausted, he plopped down hard on the seat and leaned his head back on the headrest. Cool air blew on his face and, though it was like breathing into an open refrigerator, Devon sighed with relief. The Convention hadn’t even started yet and he was utterly exhausted. It should not have been such a production just to get on the bus—all over a stupid hat! The hat was becoming more trouble than it was worth. He considered taking the hat off and throwing it in his bag. But another, more stubborn part of him insisted he keep the hat on. And why not? There was no law saying that a man couldn’t wear a hat with a feather in the brim. There was no re
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Chapter 7
Jaxton leaned with his shoulder and burst through the doors, which gave way with a cracking squeak. There was a flurry of gasps from the riders. A few of them took out their phones and recorded as Jaxton tried to storm his way down the aisle towards where Devon sat. Another alarm went up from the bus: “ATTENTION—NON-STANDARD ENTRY DETECTED. PLEASE SCAN BUS PASS AND PANDEMIC PREVENTION CODE. ATTENTION—” Some of the riders closer to the driver’s side covered their ears to stifle out the terrible grating alarm. Why did it have to be so loud? “Will someone shut that damn thing off?” “It’s an automated system, yelling isn’t going to fix anything!” “YOU’RE A FUCKING AUTOMATED SYSTEM!” “Oy…so early, all this shouting is…that’s what I get for taking the bus.” Noise upon shouting upon noise. The bus driver pawed at a few buttons at the control panel and managed to shut off the alarms and the announcements, but the passengers were now in a thoroughly soured mood. Meanwhile, middle-a
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Chapter 8
The driver restarted the bus’s self-driving systems. With sloth-slowness, the bus dragged itself from the station, leaving Jaxton behind. As they did, Jaxton pulled himself up from the sidewalk, a glaring of pure hatred burning in his eyes. Just before the bus turned a corner, Devon saw Jaxton fish out his phone from his pocket and snap a picture. “Guess his hand was fine after all,” Devon said. Adrenaline rushed from his body, and Devon suddenly felt exhausted. His legs shook, and he had an odd craving for ice cream—nothing fancy, just a simple ice cream with some chocolate coating. Even one of the fake ones would do. Sadly, there wouldn’t be any ice cream chances for a good few hours. He made he was back to his seat, his duffel bag jammed into the footrest space. Next to him sat the middle-aged woman dabbing at her face with a wet washcloth that filled the seats with an overpowering scent of lemon sherbet. “My goodness,” began the middle-aged lady. “That is definitely going
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Chapter 9
Devon sniffed and wiped at his nose. “Sorry,” he said. “Allergies, I think.” “Mm-hmm. ‘Allergies’.” Carla pulled out a few tissues from her bag. “Very convenient that you men get allergies when you talk about your feelings.” She smiled knowingly. “Now look, whatever’s going on with you and your family ain’t gonna get solved in the span of one bus ride—ooh, and speaking of which, my stop is coming up soon. Here’s what I want you to do—add my contact info, and if you ever find yourself in trouble or you need someone to talk to, I want you to add me, understand?” Devon smiled. “Yes, Ma’am.” “Oh, don’t call me that!” Carla gave Devon a gentle slap on the arm. “I’ll be your auntie from now on—and I’m serious. You find yourself in trouble, you give me a holler, you hear me?” “I will Miss Carla… I mean Auntie.” They exchanged contact info with a scan of their QR codes. Devon looked at Carla’s profile photo—it was of her in smart-looking business attire, her arms crossed, and a great, co
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Chapter 10
Neveah sat alone in the kitchen. Momma had gone to her room, leaving everything behind—the bills, her phone, her daughter… Now Momma was taking a nap using the sleeping aid of her choice. Because of course she was. For the past hour, Neveah sat at the kitchen table flipping through her phone, not really looking at anything. Her thoughts played the morning’s events again and again. The doctors called it “rumination”. Over and over, Neveah rehearsed and re-chewed the day like a cow and its cud—the partially digested food that a cow vomits up so it can chew and digest it again. In this way Neveah brought up Devon’s fight with Momma… the incident with the hat… Devon storming out… her mother snapping at her… her prayer for Devon to come home… Neveah flicked through her phone like a Buddhist priest with his prayer beads, flicking and flicking in a kind of dark meditation. Unlike the priest, Neveah’s meditations led not to the peace of emptiness, but the chaotic noise of thoughts that
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