Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wednesday Briefs Demon Chapter 24

So we are here at another Wednesday and another installment in the story of my pretty little Demon and his prince. This week, I used the prompt - watching the sun, a ball of fire, setting in the evening sky

Outside the chamber I pause and reconsider. Why have I allowed myself to be pushed out? Why have I left my prince to face such hostility alone? A glance at the guard satisfies me that I not be permitted re–entry, so what shall I do?

“Where the hell is he?”

I start having not heard Jandra’s approach. I must take care. It would not do to become too distracted to see danger approach. I must not become complacent. I am alone in the hands of the enemy. Though one is my beloved and my bonded I cannot forget that many years of hatred and fear make this place far from safe for me.

“It would appear he is addressing your Council.”

“The fool.”

The guard steps forward as she reaches for the door. It is not one of those in green who seem to be a personal bodyguard, but rather wears an ornate red and gold uniform. Even so, he wears a sword at his hip and carries a wickedly sharp spear which he uses to body block the furious princess. “My apologies, Princess, but the king has given clear orders that no one is to pass.”

“He couldn’t possibly have meant me.”

“No one, my lady.”

Jandra snorted and stormed off back the way she’d come. After a few steps she paused and glanced back. “Well, come on then, or are you going to stand outside the door like a hound waiting for your master?”

I glance at the door. Will he need me? Will he be angry if I leave? Sad? A loyal hound indeed. “I come, Lady.”

Jandra allows me to catch her then hisses in my ear. “You would do well to treat your bonded with a little more respect and perhaps some affection.”

She startles me, then I remember I am supposed to be bonding with her. “Oh. Of course.” I allow her to take my arm and we stroll at a more stately place.

“Do you know what my fool brother is intending?”

“I thought to ask you the same.”

“How did Father take it?” she asks in a tone that betrays amusement.

“Not well to begin, but Castien knows his law and was able to quote back at them their own regulation.”

Jandra snorts. “Oh yes, you won’t best Castien on knowledge anything, lest of all laws and rules.” She falls into a speculative silence. “I hope he knows what he’s doing,” she comments when I have ceased to expect it. The sombre tone startles me.

“Is he likely to bring trouble to himself?”

“Not in the way you might think. However, there are reasons he has not taken a part in Counsel. 
There are things about Castien you do not know.”

“There is very little about Castien I do not know. If you are concerned for his health do not be. It is much improved from my healing.”

Jandra stops dead and turns to me, her eyes wide. “I had forgotten,” she says. “Can it me? Is my brother really healed of his maladies? Many healers have failed and we have come too close too many times to take lightly. There was a time when we were warned not to expect him to live to take his sword.”

“I don’t understand. Take his sword? I was led to believe Castien has not seen battle.”

“No, it is a coming of age custom among our people, when a boy is presented with his sword and his rank. This is when he becomes a man. This is when Castien was formally sworn as Crown Prince. Father still has a list drawn of those to whom the title might pass should Castien not live to take the crown.”

“I didn’t know. Is he so delicate?”

“He does not appear so, but he is.”

My mind falls prey to dour thoughts as we walk on in silence. I have felt the strength of Castien’s spirit, but could not fail to have noted weakness during our bond. I had thought it a general constitution malady and that he was now strengthened by the bond. Perhaps we had better consult 
with our healers when we return home.

Jandra leads me through the castle to a bright room that faces West. I had not thought the day so advanced and wander to the window to watch the setting sun, a ball of fire in the growing evening sky. 

“Will they come before dinner?”

“You have sat in Counsel, Tian dear. They may not come yet tonight.”

“Will you father have Castien talk through the night?”

“Not by choice, but from what you have said it seems the power to stop it has been removed. Once the debate begins it would be unthinkable to stop for Castien’s sake. The shame would be too much for him to bear, and he would allow it.”

My lips curve in a smile that does not come from my heart. My lips, dizzy with kisses respond to memories of my fondness for Castien, yet my heart is heavy with fear for him. “Would your father permit him to fall ill through stubbornness?”

“My father’s hands are tied by Castien himself.”

“I wish I had known before. I would have insisted to stay, or that he leave with me. Pride for his courage blinded me.”

“As pride often does.”

Time limps on and evening fades into night. I sit. I stand. I pick at the food Jandra has brought to the tables. The Queen joins us, then retires. Still he does not come. Many times have I thought to return to the Counsel chamber. But for my fear I might shame my prince, I would have done so.

And now, the sky lightens and my bones ache.

The door is thrown wide and both the princess and I rise swiftly lest we meet a threat.
Castien's slight frame seems to fill the doorway. He appears to vibrate with anger. “How dare you?” he snarls.

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