CASeries #2: LEGEND
Chapter 28 ♕ The True Victim
Corvan could not comprehend how in the world she got such a ridiculous idea. He was careful about what words he spoke and did not remember hinting something or anything about marriage, however, the girl seems to be absolutely delusional to think that he, Lord Corvan, successor of his father, would ever stoop down to marry someone of her caliber.
Hell, he would even choose a certain foul-mouthed, aggravating, blue-eyed, honey golden blonde over someone like her.
He grimaced. Corvan did not know why he was troubling himself about petty thoughts that involved marriage.
“And what made you think I had the thought of marrying you?” His lips twisted in displeasure as he averted his eyes from the sight of her, feeling disgusted. “In case you don’t know, it never even crossed my mind.”
“Surely if you say that I’m unworthy of holding the position of ruler for this city, then you must mean that you wish to takeover, yes?” She beamed at him. “What else to do than marry me in order to get the position for yourself?”
“You . . .” He never even thought he would say this once more. “Such insolence,” he spat.
He could not even find the proper words to describe her. What would be the proper word to describe that . . . way of thinking? Stupidity? Naivety?
“I would never want such a small piece of land to rule over.” He stood up, the chair screeching as it was pushed back. “In case you do not know, I am the sole heir of the de la Wylden family. After I accomplish my studies in the academy, I will be responsible for running the whole continent of Arlandia, which is the second biggest continent next to Denovegasia.” His forehead creased even further as he clenched his fists in irritation. “This city is not even half of what I have, so do not even assume I would want it at all.”
“Listen, you impertinent, cheeky brat.” He stared her down, feeling the current expression of fright, pain, and embarrassment insufficient. “I have quite enough of your audacity and that measly pebble you call your brain.”
Now those words were his new favorite.
“If I ever said that you were not fit to become the ruler of this city, I meant it as a criticism. I simply chose to express my thoughts and judgment towards your horrible job of handling your position, and I did not, by any means, imply any sort of desire to become your husband, much less become this city’s lord.” He emphasized each word to her, wanting to shove each one into her brain.
He saw the tears welling up from her eyes as he scolded her, her bottom lip quivering.
“I will be spelling it out to you.” He added. “Firstly, I do not desire to take your position. If I were to want to take it from you, I’ll leave it to the Evereeshan family to do something about it. Secondly, you have to understand that a brat and insolent child such as yourself is not at all worthy of being the Lady of this city. To associate yourself with a demon and constantly change the seasons based on what I assume are your whims, is not something a proper ruler would do. A ruler would first mind the welfare of her people and put their happiness above her own.”
She cowered into her seat, her back slouching as she attempted to hide herself from his scorching gaze.
“Thirdly, I absolutely, positively, definitely,” She flinched with every word he said that he swore he felt a rush of pleasure seeing her act that way. It served her right. “Do not want to be your husband. If ever given the choice, I would rather have myself jump into the deepest pits where millions of demons are rather than be forced to be your husband. Do you understand?”
It wasn’t even a second later that she started sobbing. The poor Asthore buried her face in her hands, wailing loudly as Corvan allowed a smirk to grace his lips for a brief moment. He did not know he had such a sadistic side to him, but seeing this girl cry made him satisfied. He disapproved of her attitude as it grated his nerves. To think she could even go so far as to think that he would ever marry her, then she was wrong.
The doors cracked open and Keelan and Brindon entered, Faolan behind them. Keelan almost fainted—squealed like a girl, rather—as he saw the grand feast laid out on the table. His eyes sparkled as he practically leaped forward to stuff himself. Brindon, however, was uncaring.
“Milady?” Faolan called out.
She continued to sob.
“Milady!” He rushed forward, worried. “Why are you crying, milady?”
Corvan raised a brow as he watched the demon trying to console the girl. The distraught look in his eyes as he knelt by her side to soothe her made him suspicious. He must care for the girl to a great extent if he acted that way. Right from the start, he did not seem as though he was after something else—anything material to satisfy himself. It almost seemed as though he was doing this. For her sake.
Perhaps Asthore was not actually the victim in this situation.
It was the demon.
Asthore’s face snapped forward as Keelan lunged for a chicken leg. His mouth watering, he brought it to his face and opened his mouth wide when Asthore screamed at him to stop, her voice ringing throughout the whole room.
“Do not even dare take a bite out of that!” She yelled, pointing a finger at him with a flushed face.
“W-what . . .” Keelan looked shocked, saddened, and disappointed. The emotions mixed and swirled within his eyes and sparkled as a drool dripped from the corner of his mouth. “Why?” His voice was on the verge of whining. It even trembled.
“No one will eat! I said no one!”
“But after I finally got to see food . . .” His eyes started to tear up and his lips quivering as he reluctantly lowered the chicken leg. “All I get to do is stare at it!” He sobbed.
Brindon came forward and patted him on the back, offering his silent comfort.
Corvan felt his aggravation worsening. “You think the world revolves around you only?”
“Do not say anymore.” Faolan growled at him. “If you dare hurt her further—”
The first-ranker cut him off. “You think keeping her from pain will let her learn?” He hissed back. “A child whose life is a bed of roses will only feel it with greater magnitude than others. If saying these words made her cry, then I wonder what would happen to her if she experienced life outside these walls? A ruler would have to shoulder thousands of suffering souls, solve millions of problems, protect hundreds of lives, endure the pain—all without shedding one tear. For his people, he must stand strong. A life of a leader is a life of a selfless sacrifice. Your life is not your own.”
He eyed the crying girl as Faolan, who stood frozen while gaping and seething at him like a cat, was unable to say anything to counter his words.
“You think the life she’s living right now can even be considered one?” He turned his nose up and stared the two of them down as he did many times before. “A life is not without pain. To suffer is to be free, to be free is to suffer. To live a purely happy life is nothing but a blissful dream. For to experience pain is to live. For to live is to experience pain.”
Keelan seemed to have stopped for a moment and forgot about his woes for food. Brindon’s mouth, for once, was hanging open and his eyes were somewhat wide. His shock was shown on his face, something which was very rare since he hardly allowed his expression to stray from something other than neutral.
“Spoken like a true leader,” Brindon said.
Keelan unknowingly dropped the chicken leg he was crying over a while ago, his pose the same and his form unmoving.
“I hate you!” Asthore screamed. “Jerk! Forget about everything! No one’s ever going to marry you!”
With that, she stormed out of the room and ran away.
Should he say he was hurt about that?
No. He shouldn’t. He didn’t. He wasn’t.
Because, if he wanted, he could have all the ladies lining up on his doorstep just to get that one chance of being chosen as the next Lady of Arlandia. He was, after all, still a lord. Who would not want to stand by him as he ruled his continent? Be primped while adorned with priceless jewels.
But there was no way. Not even a chance.
There was a loud bang as the doors flew in place. Faolan, although clearly wanting to go after the girl, stayed instead and decided to escort Corvan back to their room where they were to be ‘contained’ until such time that Asthore decided what she wanted to do with them.
With the others unaware, Keelan slipped a variety of food under his shirt and brought enough to feed an army—somehow without the demon actually noticing. Nothing seemed to have been impossible for the guy if it came to eating.
Even so, Corvan was more than satisfied of his previous actions that he didn’t mind being locked up once again. It would give that girl something to think over other rather than being carelessly off somewhere doing whatever in the world she wanted. He did not know what urged Courtney to befriend such a selfish girl. No one would ever last long with her—perhaps not even that demon.
Heck, he was sure he didn’t even have to wait.
For sure, Charles already came up with a good plan.
Corvan watched the lock click in place. It was followed by a surge of raw power that startled him slightly. He then narrowed his eyes as it occurred to him.
That damn demon had sealed the door with an enchantment.
Corvan turned and gazed at Keelan questioningly. He had merely taken his eyes off of him for a brief second, and the next thing he did was eat. No questions asked. His face was already stuffed with that chicken leg.
For god’s sake! Didn’t he drop that?
“That lady was mean.”
“She is no lady,” he answered. “She is a child.”
“Mmm.” Keelan nodded in agreement. “Want some?” He held out the chicken leg he was nibbling on.
Corvan shook his head.
“How about you?” he asked Brindon.
“No.” Was his simple answer.
“You seem deep in thought, though.” Keelan stated simply.
Corvan gave him a questioning gaze, but that statement seemed to have been directed to him. Although he might’ve not looked like it, he was pretty sharp. There were just some things that wouldn’t go unnoticed from Keelan’s eyes. Although only the eleventh among the twelve, he was still a ranker. He did not hold that position for nothing.
Despite his gluttony.
“Was it because of what she said about no one ever wanting to marry you?”
“Was it?” Brindon asked as well.
Keelan then beamed at him. “Don’t worry, Corvan! If I were a girl, I’ll marry you!”
Corvan growled at strawberry-blonde. “Don’t even think about going there. You’re not even helping at all.”
“Ah, but I just remembered.” He then scratched his head with his greased hands. “You don’t have to worry about that because you already have someone right?”
The first-ranker’s eyes narrowed. “I told you—”
“You’re already betrothed.”
Chapter 31 ♕ Phase Number One
Tamara could not believe that she would run into this guy of all people in here of all places. She leaned forward and squinted through dark. True to her suspicions, it was him. The trademark mismatched eyes of his gleamed through the blanket of darkness, not to mention the gruff voice he had.
“What in the world are you doing here?” Tamara asked, bewildered.
“I should be asking you that, kiddo.” His tenor voice rang in a low chuckle as he turned away and evaded her gaze. “Do not tell me you got this assignment?” He then paused. “Did you graduate from the academy already?”
She huffed and crossed her arms. “No. But I’m finishing my studies this year.”
“Mind telling me why you’re taking an A-class mission like this?” he asked. “Even though you’re a ranker, the highest level of mission that you’re allowed to have is a D.”
“I’m not doing this alone. I have the other eleven with me, and three—or four—tagging along.” She sighed.
“I see.” He began laughing. “So what made you end up in this situation? Don’t tell me—”
“Of course not! The circle isn’t that weak!” Tamara huffed before she turned up her nose arrogantly. “It’s all going according to plan.”
“Oh? Even I know better than to believe that. You kids barely have any experience in this sort of things.”
Tamara decided to avoid the subject. “Besides, what are you doing in that stinking jail? Aren’t you supposed to be a member of the Celestial Knights? No wonder you haven’t returned! What in the name of the gods? You’re supposed to fix this city!”
“Ah.” He waved a hand at her dismissively. “I’m just hanging out, really.”
“Just hanging out. Really. Seriously.”
“You’ll know what I’m talking about when you become a Celeste.” He rolled his eyes as he snuggled up against the wall. “Trust me. You’ll one day find something to use as an excuse just so you can get away.”
“And hanging out inside a smelly dungeon is one?”
“Maybe.” He shrugged. “I brought a month’s worth of booze in here with me, so I don’t really have any complains.”
“Ah, you drunkard!” Tamara snapped at him. “How seriously degrading is it allowing yourself to get locked up inside that jail just so you can get away and drink? Hasn’t it occurred to you that you’re actually a Celestial goddamned Knight with certain responsibilities?”
“I got them all done a few days ago—or maybe a month. Except this one.” He huffed. “If I stick around, Emmett’s going to shove more work on my table.”
“And you think that staying out of sight will stop him from doing it?”
“No,” he answered. “But he’ll drag me and force me to do it.”
Tamara sighed, speechless once again. “You never changed.”
“So did you.” Laz smirked at the expression on her face. “So, things alright between you and your brother?”
“He doesn’t want me calling him that.” She pretended to search the room with her eyes, hoping he would drop the subject. The third-ranker wasn’t too comfortable discussing that topic, but knowing Laz, he would never give up.
“Not that either.” She then gave him an exasperated look before heavily breathing out. “Look. Can we just talk about something else? Like how to get out of here?”
“Only that demon can do that,” Laz answered. “He placed a sealing enchantment on these doors to make sure his prisoners don’t escape.”
“Then what are you doing just lying around doing nothing?”
“I feel lazy.”
“Like you aren’t always.”
There was a pause between them.
“You’ve grown,” he said, bringing out a bottle from underneath his thick, brown coat and popping the cork open. “You resemble your mother more and more every day.” Laz brought the bottle to his lips before tilting it to pour the contents inside his mouth.
“And you still have that spitfire attitude of yours as always. It fits your hair.” He chuckled. “Ah, how fast time goes by.”
“You never notice because you spend every second of it drinking or loitering around doing god-knows-what,” she told him, trying to busy herself with something else. “That’s why you got demoted.”
“Hey!” he exclaimed, frowning at her. “That’s not a good thing to say to your elder! I’m still older than you by ten years or so.”
“It’s actually fifteen.”
“How old are you now?”
“That makes me . . . did I really grow that old already?” Laz questioned, reaching up the caress the mop of dark brown hair on his head. He forgot to get it cut again for the hundredth time from the last two years, so it fell wildly around his shoulders in untamed waves. He brushed the area around his mouth as well, feeling the growing mustache a bit thicker than he remembered.
“By the looks of it, you are. But you’re not showing it.”
“So I still look young, don’t I?” he exclaimed cheerfully.
“Just get that haircut and shave that horrible mustache,” Tamara replied bluntly. “It makes you look like a pervert.”
“Anyhow, you did not answer my question,” Laz said, deciding to change the awkward topic. “How are you two doing?”
“We’re still the same.”
“He still doesn’t accept you?” He sighed. “You’ve sacrificed so much already. You threw away your title, surrendered your rights to the position . . . you’re not even giving your father a chance. Does that boy know how much you’re torturing yourself just for him?”
“Stop. There’s no use talking about this,” she said, grinding her teeth together. “None of that belonged to me anyway. It all belonged to him.”
“You’re still a child of your father.” Laz argued. “I really feel sorry for you, Tamara. I had hoped that after the two of you started attending the academy, you’ll grow closer—but I was wrong. You’re still too scared to actually say how you feel and he’s still adamant in believing what he made himself believe.”
Tamara, contrary to what she usually was, was quiet.
“What is it going to take for the both of you to acknowledge each other?”
“It’s better this way,” she said, turning her back on him completely to wake Courtney up. She didn’t want to hold this conversation any longer and having the former fifth conscious would prevent him from digging up the past.
Laz sighed, his brows furrowing as a weight pulled the corners of his lips into a frown.
“I know a way to get out,” he said, pulling himself out of his musings. “But you will need a plan.”
“As if Charles hadn’t already come up with one.” She smirked.
And that was when it came.
‘Kouill, it is time for the first stages of the plan to be executed.’
Laz shook his head.
He’s just as narrow-minded as he is smart.
Faolan fought the urge to slam the door behind him. He chose to calmly seal it with a strong enchantment that would prevent it from being opened by anyone else but him before taking long strides away to attend to his lady. He wanted to crush that Lord Corvan’s skull for saying such horrible words towards Asthore, but even he himself could not deny the truth they held. Besides, if he were to lose his temper so easily towards him, he could consider himself a lost cause.
But he wouldn’t forgive him for acting that way.
As he entered the room of Asthore, he was confronted with plain darkness and the sound of muffled sobs. It was a habit of hers to hole herself up within her bedroom, surrounded by her fluffy pillows while she vented out her frustrations and sadness. She was lying on her stomach, with her face buried in her pillows.
“Leave me alone, Faolan!” She shrieked at him, sobbing.
This time, he could not bring himself to obey that command. It was the one thing that he would not be ever able to do—not when she was like this.
When he didn’t do as she said, she turned around and glared at him. “What are you waiting for?” she yelled at him. “I told you to leave! Didn’t you hear me?”
“I am afraid I will be unable to do that.”
Asthore continued to cry. “I bet you think the same.”
“Think what, milady?” He took a hesitant step forward.
“I’m a brat. I’m selfish. I only think about myself.”
“Do you wish to hear the truth?”
“No,” she answered.
“Then, I will not say.”
Asthore shifted from her position on top of her bed and glared at Faolan through her lashes, which was wet with tears. Her lips trembled and she had pillow marks on her face. “But you do, don’t you?!”
Faolan merely answered her with plain silence.
“Why do you even stick around?” she mumbled, returning to her previous position to continue her tantrums.
“Do you not know why I’m here?”
“But I don’t understand!” she screamed, pulling herself up to sit. “I don’t understand you at all!” Asthore turned to meet his black eyes with her blue ones, her cheeks flushed and her eyes puffy and red. “Why are you even here with me? If I’m selfish, then why do you stick around? You’re no one to me but you insist in giving me everything I want! Why?”
“I’m no one to you,” he repeated her words. “But you’re someone to me.”
Her eyes reflected the confusion that she felt inside. “Answer me properly! Faolan! Who exactly are you?”
“I am whoever you want me to be.”
“Answer me properly!”
“That’s the answer.”
She went red in anger. Grabbing the pillows that rested on her sides, she began launching them at him as hard as she could from where she was. “Leave! Leave me alone! I hate you! Don’t show your face to me! Get out!”
Faolan shielded himself coolly as the pillows hit him. He then bowed reverently at Asthore, incidentally evading the object that came zooming for the place where his head previously was. When he erected his back, he grabbed for the knob of the door and closed it behind him. A loud thump resonated and he was once again blanketed in silence.
He felt an alarming pulse as the enchantment he placed on the doors to the cell of his ‘prisoners’ were being trampled with. There was a specifically strong impact to it that he felt it being shaken. With a sigh, he made his way towards the dungeon to check on whatever was happening.
As he got closer, he heard screams and unrelenting clangs.
And just as he suspected, the redhead he remembered taking was kicking the door forcefully. Her limbs were covered with her raw power as she punched the rusting bars. If he hadn’t bothered putting the seal, it would’ve already been broken down. He watched her as she materialized a sword made of ice from out of nowhere, coating it with layers of strong magic before swinging it in a powerful motion forward.
He was mildly shaken by how much force and power it contained. It was a bewilderingly strong attack that it caused a gust of wind to sweep the floor until about a meter or two away from where it came.
If she continued, she might just break it down.
“Damn.” And with a frustrated grunt, she kicked it. A flash of dark violet that symbolized the presence of the seal appearing momentarily.
“I see you’re awake,” Faolan said, eyeing the blue-eyed redhead behind the bars. “I do hope you had some good sleep.”
“Good sleep your demon ass!” she shouted at him. “Where are Corvan and the others?”
“They’re quite comfortable, I assure you.”
“In a stinking jail? Yeah, right!”
He felt a frown making his way to his face. “No,” Faolan bluntly replied. “Are all you rankers this rude?”
“We’re rude towards people who deserve it!” she replied with a glare. “So why don’t you let me out of here and we can settle this fair? Ah, right! You’re actually a cheating bastard!”
“It’s not my fault you underestimated me.”
“We didn’t underestimate you,” Tamara replied. “We gave you a chance in fighting fair. You challenged Corvan so we allowed you to take him on.”
“Oh really?” He raised a brow.
Tamara’s hand suddenly shot through the space between the bars and pulled him by the collar. He was startled by the suddenness of the action. A spark of pain erupted from different parts of his body as he slammed against the metal bars. It made him question how exactly this girl possessed such brute strength.
“I assure you, when I get out of here, expect that not only your head will be severed from that body. I’ll make sure to cut you to itty-bitty pieces so slow so that you’ll feel every little bit of pain there is during the process.” The look in her eyes made a chill run down his back as she abruptly tossed him away.
He almost fell off balance if he didn’t manage to regain his footing and stand properly. Tamara continued to glare at him from inside the cell before turning her back to him—only to suddenly spin back and kick the door with the same startling power.
He flinched slightly, but did not let the fear get to him.