Gosh this week has gone fast. Where did the time go? Here I am again with another flash and another installment of Demon. I have a confession to make. I was really on a roll with this part of the story and I wrote a few installments in one go. There was no way I could fit in any of the prompts this week so I cheated and didn't use one at all :D
I have no idea what’s going on. Everything was going so well…well relatively. Now Father is talking of breaking off the alliance, Tian’s parents are falling apart and this man appears to be trying to suggest I break off my relationship with Tian and leave my home to…what? Be his apprentice somewhere in the middle of the forest? I don’t think so.
What hurts is that everyone but Father seems to have given up. Tian looks heartbroken, but he isn’t going to fight for me. Who is this man?
“Please stop discussing me as if I’m not here.” Tian tries to hold on to me, but I pull out of his arms and stand. Something cold and hard settles in my belly. I no longer feel safe here. “I don’t care how long you give us. I’m not going anywhere with you. Perhaps you’ve not been listening, but I am Crown Prince of The Kingdom and I take orders from no one. I am no sapling and I will put down my roots where I choose. As I will bond with who I chose.”
The Druid has a formidable presence but he is not a big man and I barely have to look up when I stand before him, ignoring the quiet pleas of Tian and his parents. It is clear they fear him. I do not. The bitter taste of copper in my mouth, if anything, spurs on my anger.
“Should you lay one finger on me again, my father shall break the alliance, and if you attempt in any way to prevent our return to The Kingdom, my sister will come for us, with an army at her back.”
The Druid sneers. “Do you think I care about your sister, or your army?”
“You ought to. As I recall, you didn’t do so well against them last time we met in war. Perhaps things have changed. Perhaps your magic offers some protection now, but you know as well as I that war would decimate your people and foul your land. And this is before we touch upon how either of us, alone and in a weakened condition, could stand against the threat amassing in the South.”
“Be careful, little boy,” The Druid says, taking a step forward. I quickly hold up my hand to stay my father’s grip on the hilt of his sword. “You May be Crown Prince in The Kingdom, but here you are nothing. You have no power. Here, I am the power. You will come to me. You will serve me.”
“Serve you? Never. Not in three days or three hundred. I don’t know what a Druach is. I understand, perhaps a little, and I might consider studying with you once this situation is resolved, but I will go nowhere under duress, and I will not serve you or anyone else.”
“Castien,” Tian says, sounding distressed. “You don’t understand. A Druach is…is…. When you go to the cave of the winds and…become, you will no longer be as you are. Your role will no longer be to command, but to serve – the Druid and the land – until the time comes when you will be invested as Druid.”
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Am I caught in a nightmare?
“Would you conspire now, with those who seek to bind me? Would you let go our love so easily and abandon me to my fate?”
“No,” Tian’s cry is one of torment and it twists in my heart, but I cannot allow myself to be moved by it. A growing fear leads me to believe that I no longer have any friends here. This man intends to take me and no one but Father and our men will fight for me.
Cold fear leadens my limbs. I have been a fool, blinded by love. I have led my father to this place of betrayal and now we are deep in hostile territory with no prospect of easy rescue, in the hands of our enemies.
“I’m sorry, Father,” I say softly. “It was my impulsiveness that brought us to this. You warned me but I would not listen. When you said demon, I saw what I thought was truth and beauty. I allowed myself to become deluded. I truly believed Tian was faithful and his love was honest. I believed in him and I believed in this alliance. I allowed myself to be led astray, and I led you false.”
“Castien, no. It isn’t like that. I love you, I swear.”
Tian reaches for me but I move beyond. “You swore I would be safe, that you would protect me against anything.”
“You are safe.”
I spin on him, pain at his betrayal fuelling anger hotter than I have ever felt before. “Safe? This is safety? I trusted you. I stood up to the Counsel for you. I defied my father; my sister, and you tell me I’m safe when you would cast me into the hands of this monster to be taken in slavery against my will? If this is your protection, I don’t want it. If this is your love, you can keep it.”
I’ve heard it said that it’s possible to feel a heart break and I could not swear to the truth or otherwise of it, but I can say that in this moment the pain in my chest was so great that there might well have been hands thrust inside my body, tearing my hearts to shreds.
“I will stand with you, Father.” Turning my back on Tian’s anguished cry, I try to sidestep the Druid, my hand already on the hilt of my sword. He slams down his staff, blocking my path and when I glance up the crystal flares into life. I hear voices around me that fade quickly to silence. I feel hands on my body that dissolve into mist. The thoughts in my head swirl and are silent.
Now go check out the rest of the amazing flashers