Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by sukikyoufu
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Aspiria, home to rich and wealthy, a city that had been born centuries ago but flourished with each millennium. Technology had advanced and if you were smart you were taken under the Aspirians high borns who ‘nurtured’ your growth, ensured that your contributions and ideas went to the right people. It was considered quite the up and coming city until the rebellion hit a few years back. Hope, that was what they called it stating that they would bring hope to all Aspirians and how they wouldn’t segregate the high borns from the commoners. They considered themselves like a Robin Hood, taking from the rich to give it back to the poor because they believed it was themselves who helped keep the city alive. Not the pampered royals who lived in their castles.

The rebellion had changed everything, more and more people were joining their cause and willing to fight against the high borns. Their target was to overthrow the hierarchy and Regis who led the rebellion had entrusted his daughter with a very important mission. To assassinate the heir, he felt with the heir gone it would be easy pickings and give them the push they needed to take over. His daughter had excelled in slipping by unnoticed and he was certain she would be able to slip into their gates, infiltrate them from the inside. Regis had every faith in her being successful whilst he continued his rebellion and recruiting more members for his cause…

Standing on the edge of a forest using the trees as cover Iris listened out for any unusual sounds, her heart was racing as it often did when she ventured into what she would call enemy territory. To hunt in these grounds if not a high born held major consequences and she did not want to get caught, but it was also the easiest way to slip inside the inner circle. Her father had one of their members swipe a fine piece of clothing that a high born would often wear to make it easier for her to mingle when inside, the dress however felt like it was constricting her. She much preferred jeans and a top as it was easy to manoeuvre in, but she would stick out like a sore thumb within the inner circle if she opted for comfort.

Breathing a soft sigh of relief as she moved in further, she still felt on edge being this far in enemy ground, it was so unfamiliar to her and an area she did not know her way around. Not like where she grew up. Glancing around the forest she couldn’t hear anyone around thankfully. The whole idea of this mission seemed so simple, easy, her father had sold it to her like it would be over and done with in hours, but the doubt began to grow as she was left with her thoughts.

Fear of failure, that’s all this is. I can do this; they killed my mother. This has to be done…

Biting her lip as she began to question her actions, was she even going the right way? The usual way into the inner circle was through the markets but you had to have an invitation, this was a new rule that had been enlisted the moment the rebellion started. If she was honest with herself, she highly doubted she could even kill someone, gather information was easy but causing harm to another? Shaking her head as she tried to ignore the doubt, she remembered her fathers words, the reason they were doing this. Her mother.

‘Iris, we are hope to these people now. We have started a rebellion and your mother would be proud of you. Don’t you let them take that away from you, don’t let her death become nothing.’

Hope, that was their rebellion that fuelled these fights. The whole idea that there was something better for them than their current life. You can do this! Just a little bit further and you'll slip right in, no one will know. You'll be in and out like nothing even happened.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Dagger
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Pulsating lights and deafening music flooded the senses as a crowd of lavishly dressed people danced and mingled on the roof of a mansion. Tables full of food lined the edges of the space, plucked at by hungry guests while a bartender mixed complicated cocktails in the bar at the back. Parties in the inner circle were always extravagant. They were where all the young, twenty-something men and women gathered to let loose and enjoy themselves for a few hours, and they happened almost every night.

Living off the wealth of their predecessors, all the high borns in the capital had more time on their hands than they knew what to do with. Some spent it responsibly, learning useful skills and crafts to keep themselves busy, others wasted it on gambling and shopping and other guilty pleasures, and still others decided to live in the moment, finding hedonistic pleasure in enjoying every second they had left on this earth.

This third category was where Caspian Maydestone landed.

“Shots! Shots! Shots!” A cacophony of voices chanted as three men downed small cups of whiskey at the bar. Cas slammed his empty shot glass on the counter with a holler, wrinkling his nose at the way the liquor burned his throat on the way down. Into his fourth drink of the night, the alcohol was starting to feel a little smoother, but he still wasn’t drunk enough not to make a face.

Behind him, the small crowd cheered, and the man sitting next to him, a dark-skinned guy with fade-cut hair and a white suit that was way too fancy for the occasion, elbowed his side. “Another?” he grinned, leaning a little heavier on the bar as the whiskey hit his system.

“Nah, I should slow down,” Cas shook his head. “I’m supposed to have another class tomorrow. Can’t afford to get hungover, Jay.”

“Oh, come on,” Jay drawled, pushing him again. “You can ditch one class. Have a little fun.”

“Yeah,” the other man at the bar peered around Jay’s shoulder with a frown. “I’m not going to bow to a king who can’t hold his liquor.”

Cas rolled his eyes. Even though he brushed off the comment outwardly, he wished his friends wouldn’t bring up his soon-to-be title at the party. It was well known that he was the crown prince of Aspiria, but every once in a while, he liked to forget about all the responsibility that was about to fall on his shoulders. He wanted to pretend he was just a normal high born without an ailing father or an important destiny as the future leader of the country. Unfortunately, it was hard to do when everyone and their mother seemed to get some kind of satisfaction in reminding him he was royalty.

“Fine,” he caved. “Just one more.” Naturally, the crowd that had gathered screamed their approval. Whenever he went out, people followed. They all wanted to be able to say they were at the same party as the prince of Aspiria. He guessed it gave them an ego boost, or maybe they wanted him to remember their faces so they could ask for favors when he became king. Whatever the case, he’d grown used to being approached by anyone and everyone, chatting and taking pictures like a celebrity on tour.

The bartender slid three more shot glasses to the group of friends, and they downed them to the continued chanting of their audience before Cas finally ended it by standing up from his barstool. The rooftop felt like it was tilting for a moment, and he rested his palm flat on the counter to gather his bearings. When he was sitting, he hadn’t felt it as much, but now he could tell he’d had a little more than he’d intended. The others noticed too.

“Drunk already?” Jay snickered. “Well, now we know all it takes to down our future king is five shots of whisky.”

“Shut up,” Cas punched him in the shoulder. “I had a light dinner, alright? You guys went to that barbeque place, so you had a leg up on me.”

“Oh no, I’m very drunk right now,” the other guy laughed across the bar.

“Miles had a couple at the restaurant before we came here,” Jay whispered loudly.

“Typical,” Cas snorted. He glanced over his shoulder at the other people milling about the roof. Even that small motion made his vision swim a little, and he knew he was going to be feeling the effects of the liquor for a while. “Come on, let’s go over there,” he said, gesturing to the other side of the roof. “I didn’t come here just to get wasted, and they’ve got corn hole.”

“Ooh, a competition?” Jay smiled eagerly. “How about we put some money on this? I bet I can take drunk Caspian any day.”

“Drunk Cas,” he corrected with another wrinkle of his nose. “You know only my dad calls me Caspian.”

“Right, right,” Jay patted his friend’s back as he stepped up beside him. “You know what? I’ll make it interesting. If you win, I’ll call you by your nickname, but if I win… I get to call you whatever I want.”

“You’re on,” Cas accepted confidently. “I could beat you drunk and blindfolded.”

The two shook on it and headed through the crowd to the spot where the game was set up.

--

“Well, Caspian, looks like you were nothing but talk,” Jay grinned cockily, tossing a red beanbag up and down in his hand. They had played two games of corn hole, and he’d won both without breaking a sweat.

“You’re a dick,” Cas said dryly. If he had been sober he was sure he would have won. He was usually good at games like this when he had control over his aim. Speaking of which… He pulled his phone out of his jean pocket to glance at the time and then raised his brows in shock when he saw that it was already after eleven. It was taking him longer than he expected to sober up. His father expected him home by midnight, but at this rate, he wouldn’t be in any condition to drive himself back to the estate.

“Something wrong?” Miles asked through a mouthful of potato chips he’d swiped from a nearby table.

“I’ve gotta go,” Cas sighed, dragging his fingers through his dark hair. He fished his car keys out of his pocket and tossed them at Jay. “I’m still too drunk to get behind the wheel, so you take my car. Just bring it back to my place tomorrow when you can.”

Jay’s eyes widened with clear excitement at the thought of driving the prince’s car. The royal family had the best sports models money could buy. “Are you sure you don’t want me to drive you home?” he asked. “I’m pretty close to sober, so I could take you in like half an hour, if you want.”

“That’s okay,” Cas waved his hand. “I need to get back by midnight, and it’s not too far of a walk. Just stay here and enjoy yourselves.”

“If you say so,” Jay shrugged. “See ya, Caspian!”

“Later, Jayden,” Cas retorted flippantly.

“Man, that’s not cool,” Jay pouted, crossing his arms. “I earned the right to use your full name.”

“Yeah, well I’m using royalty privileges,” Cas smirked. He raised his hand in a lazy wave goodbye. “See you tomorrow. Don’t wreck my car.”

“I’ll try,” Jay returned the gesture.

Leaving the party behind, Cas headed down the stairs of the mansion and out the front door, walking at a leisurely pace as he let the cool night air help him clear his head. Truth be told, he didn’t mind the trip from this part of the city at all. It brushed up against the forest that surrounded the eastern side of the capital, so it was quieter than the more populated areas; just the kind of atmosphere he needed to wind down after the excitement of the night.

He let his brown-eyed gaze wander to blanket of stars overhead as he strode down the sidewalk, enjoying the tranquility of the city when no one else was around. With just enough whiskey still in his system to make him tired, he had a feeling he was going to sleep well tonight. He just needed to make it home first.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by sukikyoufu
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Feeling her heart stop as she heard a rustle in a bush Iris stopped in her tracks, eyes focused on the bush. Heart began to hammer and without even thinking she took a step back; her eyes did not leave the foliage. Leaves rustled and she could feel a cool breeze making her shiver in the night sky, this clothing wasn’t exactly warm. “Jeez!” Hissing out her words as she let out a breath she was holding, she hadn’t even realised she was holding it until she felt the relief of letting it go. The rustling had been nothing and a tiny squirrel just scurried out completely unaware of the girl it had frightened.

Rubbing the back of her head she couldn’t help the sickly feeling that was rising in her stomach as she continued to move, thoughts of doubt still troubling her. The night-time was certainly bringing a chill and she could feel it, she needed to get this done as quick as possible. Without even thinking she quickened her pace, heart still hammering as she focused on her target, her way out of the forest.

Nearly there!

She couldn’t help but smile as she thought she had made it, the idea that she had managed the first step of her plan.

“Ah!” Clasping her hand to her mouth to stop the cry of pain as she felt something catch her leg, it had been sharp whatever it was and had sliced her leg. Tears welled in her eyes, but she tried to shake her leg free, blood blossomed and trickled down her leg from the movement and all she could do was bite her lip in hopes to stop any cries of pain. “No, no… no! This can’t be happening.” Whispering to herself as she looked down at what had been the cause of her pain. Frowning as she saw the trap which had ensnared her leg and she had realised this had been meant for some animal, instead it had caught her. How could she have been so stupid as to not think traps would be in the forest?

This is not happening; how could I be so stupid?

Her mind frantic as thoughts began to swirl through her head, the doubt still there but fear had taken over. This was her life on the line, and she needed to get herself free. Leaning down she used her hands to assist pulling her leg out from the trap, whimpering as she felt the pressure. Body trembled from the effort, but it had to be done, this was a hindrance and she needed to be far from this area in case she had been heard. Sure, she was in fine clothing and no one would have any reason to question if she was a higher up but at the same time she would not know how to answer any question asked as to why she was here. Avoiding confrontation was best for now.

She felt a sudden rush of relief as she managed to break free from the trap, it was painful but again it had to be done. Grimacing she put a bit of weight on her injured leg trying it out to see if it was walk-able, she’d have a limp, but she could work with it. Standing still for a moment she looked around the forest, but it felt odd, it felt slow. Raising her hands as she tried to look at them, she felt her vision go blurry and confusion swept over her. Swaying slightly as the adrenaline began to wear off, she felt her body give way and before she could even catch herself or register what was happening her body hit the floor. Head hitting a rock as her body slumped over by the animal trap passed out from the impact of hitting her head. Another wound had formed, and blood slowly began to seep out from her head staining her blonde hair as she lay unconscious on ground.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Dagger
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Cold air had to be one of the fastest ways to sober up. The longer he walked, the more clearheaded Cas felt until he was sure he would wake up tomorrow morning feeling just fine. Good news for him, since he was sure he couldn’t ditch his lesson tomorrow even if he wanted to. Economics was his weakest subject, and his father had told him that he would be covering it extensively for the next two weeks to make up for his ineptitude. If he didn’t show up to the first class of the series, he knew he was going to get an earful about how “irresponsible” he was and how he needed to be more “mature” if he was going to be king. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best way the spend any afternoon.

Lifting his phone from his pocket, he checked the time again to make sure he was still on track to get home before midnight. The glow of the screen reflected off his face in the dark. It was eleven-forty right now. There was still plenty of time left, so he had nothing to worry about. He glanced away from the device, toying with the thought of turning on some music to pass the time. He’d brought a pair of wireless earbuds, so he could shuffle a playlist if he wanted to. However, he turned the screen off and stuffed the phone back into his pocket instead.

Even though the idea was tempting, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being followed. He knew it was just the paranoia. Everyone always thought someone was watching them when they were alone in the dead of night, but despite the knowledge that he was safe in the capital, he couldn’t bring himself to willingly cut off his hearing and let himself become an easy target for a mugger—or a member of the Scourge.

He shuddered just thinking about them. The rebellion had threatened him and his family on numerous occasions, and even though nothing bad had happened to them so far, he always kept the enemies in the back of his mind, wary for the day when they might try to follow through with one of their incessant death threats. It probably wouldn’t ever happen. The military in the capital city was trained to protect the royal family at the cost of their own lives. It would take a lot for the rebels to get past them and the stronghold around the Maydestone manor and the guards on the inside. To even try was practically suicidal.

Still, just knowing there were people out there who wanted him dead kept Cas from letting his guard down completely in the darkened city streets. It turned out to be a good thing too, because not long after he put his phone away, he practically jumped out of his skin at the sudden sound of a voice crying out. He spun around on his heels, searching for the source of the noise only to wind up confused when he didn’t see anyone else around.

He took a step back toward a tree next to the sidewalk, covering his back as he’d been taught to do to keep from getting attacked from behind. His heart hammered nervously, all intoxication fleeing from his brain as his fight or flight instincts took over. Someone else was nearby. That much was certain. The question was: Who? And why did they sound like they were in pain? His eyes shifted to the forest just beyond the capital perimeter, and he swallowed apprehensively.

Reflecting back on the sound, he was pretty sure it had come from the somewhere within the trees, but why would someone be wandering around the hunting grounds at this hour? There were signs posted everywhere in the city to keep out of the woods at night. The place was a minefield of traps and pitfalls designed for animals. All of them were marked with brightly colored flags to alert hunters of their locations during the day, but the warning signs were practically invisible when the sun went down.

He pressed his shoulders against the tree, absently noticing the way the rough bark tugged at the fabric of his shirt. Maybe he should call the police to come check it out. They were much better equipped to handle who or whatever was in the forest than a prince who’d never even been in a fight before. He was just about to reach for his phone again when a second noise made him pause. It sounded like something had fallen pretty hard just beyond his sight.

He bit his lip, feeling conflicted. It was definitely a bad idea for him to venture into the pitch black woods alone, but what if whoever was out there was hurt? The voice he’d heard before had sounded like it was a cry of pain. Even if he called the police, they might not get to the person in time if they were already badly injured. He glanced back into the city, but still no one else was around.

I hope I don’t regret this… he groaned inwardly, forcing himself to step away from the tree and walk tentatively into the woods.

As he searched for the person he’d heard, he turned on his phone flashlight to make sure he didn’t step on anything dangerous that might be lying around in the grass, shuffling his feet to displace the leaves that had gathered there as well. The last thing he wanted was to have to explain to his father why he’d gotten his ankle caught in a bear trap in the middle of the night, so he was extra careful as he wandered deeper into the trees.

Sweeping his flashlight over the ground, he gasped as the beam suddenly caught the edge of a dress instead of the usual foliage. Someone really had been trespassing out here after all. Forcing down his unease, he lifted the light a little further to envelop the rest of the girl’s body and then nearly staggered when he saw the state she was in. Dark blood ran from a massive puncture in her leg, and her hair was matted with the stuff as well.

Cas averted his gaze, lifting a hand to his mouth as he fought the urge to lose his dinner. He’d found injured animals near the edge of the capital before, but this was the first time he’d seen another human being with wounds this severe. Despite his better judgement, he snuck another peek at her. It looked like she had stumbled into a hunter’s trap and passed out from blood loss—probably hit her head on the way down too. For a moment, a cold chill shot up his spine as he realized the impact might have killed her, but his fear was quickly laid to rest when he saw the faint rise and fall of her chest. She was still breathing.

Slowly, he inched closer to her and knelt down in the grass, letting the light shine on the girl’s face as he got a better look. He didn’t recognize her, but the citadel was full of all sorts of people, so that didn’t surprise him in the least. She was probably from a different part of town, or maybe she just didn’t go out to the same kind of parties he did. He couldn’t help but notice she was kind of cute too. Her pretty blonde hair, girlish face, and pink lips stood out to him despite the urgency of the situation.

Not right now, Cas, he chided himself, chagrined as he realized he was paying more attention to her physical features than thinking about how he could help the unconscious girl. There wasn’t time to ogle. If she really had passed out from blood loss, she needed medical attention fast. He glanced over his shoulder at the barely visible city through the trees. The hospital wasn’t too far from here. Maybe he could carry her.

Shuffling a little closer to her side, he braced himself as he slipped one hand behind her knees and another around her shoulders. It was difficult to move her when she was a deadweight in his arms, but he managed to stand up without losing his balance. He let out his breath, his heart racing from the effort of getting her off the ground. Even though he was fit, it was no easy task to lift an unconscious person. At least it was done now.

Carefully, he adjusted his grip on the girl to make sure he wouldn’t drop her and turned to make his way back into the capital, trying not to think about the blood staining his clothes where her head rested on his shoulder. This definitely wasn’t the way he had thought he would be spending his night, but he needed to get her to the hospital so she could get her wounds treated.

Looks like I won’t be home by midnight tonight.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by sukikyoufu
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It was such an odd feeling, the sensation felt so strange to her but at the same time she couldn’t fully comprehend what was going on. Her body felt numb but yet there was this warm sensation against her skin that she didn’t quite understand, though it was warm she felt cold. Body started to shake from the amount of blood she had lost but the flow was starting to slow down, blood had started to dry in places from the cool night air.

Urgh… what? For a small moment she started to come around, her body felt oddly light and she couldn’t understand why. There was this warmth that she couldn’t describe and even though she had come around for a moment she felt like she didn’t have control of her body. Without even realising she had whimpered, and it was then she realised the pain she was in. It was strange she couldn’t pinpoint the exact area she was in pain and something didn’t feel right, something wasn't right. Something was wrong…

All senses were haywire, running into overdrive and all she could feel was confusion. Her brain was trying to piece it together, trying to fix what had been broken but it wasn’t working. The extra warmth was another, she was being carried, right?

Who?... Where?

Words she tried to voice but they didn’t come out, instead it was just whimpers, groans that were barely comprehensible. Blue eyes opened for a second glancing around, vision blurry but she could make out the figure of someone who was carrying her. From what she could decipher it was a male, but she was working her senses into overdrive and it was too much. Eyes closed as a small sigh escape her lips, body feeling heavy once more as she kept flitting in and out of consciousness.

The hospital had not been far and on the nighttime shift was Doctor Emett, he was in his late fifties but one of the best Doctors in Aspiria. He had often worked for the high ups, the royal family and due to his kind heart once a month he would be found in the lower parts of the city tending to the poor who could not afford medical services. Emett had a kind heart and it was clear.

Taking a sip of his coffee usually the night shift consisted of young adults overindulging themselves and regardless of the lectures he gave them they still did as they pleased. Tired eyes looked over his paperwork as he made a few notes here and there, he was currently looking at the Kings paperwork. Medical records on his illness. Emett was determined to do something for him, they were always working on new medicines and cures and he hoped there would be something for the King before it was too late.

His mind however was taken from his thoughts when he saw a familiar figure walk through the hospital’s doors carrying a body that at first Emett thought was dead. The blood however did alarm him, was he hurt? “Caspian! Are you okay?” Standing up he looked at the body in his arms and he wasted no time in ushering the Prince towards a room to lay the girl down. “What happened?” Looking over the girl he could see she had lost a fair amount of blood and quickly he spoke to a nurse to get him some supplies, finger pressed against her neck to check her pulse which was still there. Weakened but alive.

Rolling up his sleeves he began to work quickly, tilting the girls head he looked over the wound thankful that it was something he could fix. Picking up some tools and putting on some rubber gloves he began cleaning the wound gently being sure to not cause anymore harm. As he worked on the head wound the nurse had joined him to sort out the leg that definitely required stitches. Once cleaned he could see the extent of the damage, a few stitches and he was sure it would heal up nicely, but he couldn’t be sure of any brain damage until she woke up. Emett made quick work as usual and was already bandaging the girls head to keep the wound clean and free from any sort of infection. “I don’t suppose you know her name?”

Glancing back at the prince as he picked up a needle and injected the girl with some pain relief knowing it would help her when she woke up. “The injuries will heal, there will be some discomfort but you got her here in time.”
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Even though the hospital wasn’t very far away, the trip felt like it took an eternity to Cas. The girl was heavy in his arms, and he grew tired quickly as he walked. It made him wonder if he should incorporate more cardio into his regular exercise routine. Right now, he definitely felt like he needed it. After all, he wouldn’t want to drop someone if he ever found himself carrying another injured person to the hospital in the future… or some other situation that was more reasonable.

Suddenly, the girl shifted against him, and he flinched, not prepared for the movement. He’d thought she was out cold, but judging by the sound of her whimpers, she wasn’t as oblivious to her condition as he’d hoped. Her pained noises tugged at his heart and hastened his step. He’d always had a soft spot for the wounded animals he’d found on the edge of the city. He even snuck them back to his family’s mansion to take care of whenever he could get away with it. With a bleeding girl in his arms, his natural bent toward empathy only increased and made him all the more desperate to get her to a doctor before it was too late.

“You’re gonna be all right,” he assured her. It was unclear if she could hear him or not, but he wanted to try to offer her some peace if she was conscious enough to understand. “The hospital’s not too much further… They’ll patch you up good as new.” He wasn’t really sure how much truth was in his words. She must have lost a lot of blood if she’d passed out from it. He just hoped the medical experts could give him good news when he brought her in to be treated. If he found out his efforts to save her weren’t enough, it was going to mess him up for a while. Was there even counseling for that sort of thing?

Just as his arms began to tremble from the effort of hauling her all the way from the forest, Cas breathed a sigh of relief as he arrived at the emergency center. It hadn’t been that long ago since the girl’s last whimper, so he was hopeful that she was still holding on long enough for someone to take care of her. “I need help!” he called as he stepped through the automatic doors, getting the whole lobby’s attention with the urgency in his voice. The receptionists and waiting bystanders looked up at him with alarm, but none of them could do anything to save the girl.

He was just about to call out again when a familiar face appeared from a nearby office: Dr. Emett.

“I’m fine,” Cas answered breathily when the doctor questioned if he was okay. He was a little surprised by Emett’s concern for his health when he was carrying a near-dead girl in his arms, but it was the doctor’s first duty to take care of the royal family. If he’d been hurt too, he didn’t doubt that Dr. Emett would have treated him first.

Exhausted, he wasted no time following him to a nearby room and setting the girl down on the surgery table with shaky hands. As soon as the burden of her weight was lifted, he collapsed in a chair by the door with a groan while the doctor looked her over. “I don’t know for sure,” he panted in response to his next inquiry, wiping the sweat from his brow. “I didn’t see what happened… I think she stepped in a bear trap though. She was in the woods when I found her.”

As Dr. Emett and one of the nurses began to work on treating the girl’s injuries, Cas averted his gaze. Medical stuff always made him queasy, so he didn’t want to watch them stitch her up. Instead, he busied himself by inspecting the bloodstained spot on his shirt. It had been a bad day to wear white. He was probably going to have to toss it when he got home.

When the doctor asked about her name, Cas risked glancing up, glad to see that she was already being bandaged. “No,” he frowned, wishing he had more helpful answers to give. “You can just charge the bill to me though. I’ll cover it for her… She’d had a bad enough day already.”

Seeing Emett pick up a syringe, he looked away again with a grimace. He really wished he had a stronger stomach for this sort of thing. “Good, I’m glad,” he mumbled when the doctor expressed that he’d gotten her there in time. Knowing that the girl was going to be okay, he relaxed a little more in his chair. He was sorry to hear about the pain she was going to be in when she woke up, but at least he could be sure she wasn’t going to die.

When the two practitioners finished treating her, Cas leaned forward, crossing his arms over his knees as he watched the steady rise and fall of the sleeping girl’s shoulders. Now that she was safe, he supposed there was no more reason for him to wait around the hospital. He glanced at the analogue clock on the wall and exhaled. It was almost one in the morning. He was definitely late. Still, it felt wrong to just leave her here after the ordeal she’d been through. No one here even knew her name, so they couldn’t call any of her family to come and be with her when she came to.

He rubbed the side of his face with his hand, trying to stave off his weariness from the long night. Sometimes being an empathetic person was hard. He didn’t even know who this girl was, but he felt obligated to make sure she wasn’t alone. He wasn’t sure how helpful his presence would be, but she was probably going to freak out when she woke up. At the very least, he could explain where she was and why she was there.

Deciding he would stay, Cas leaned back again with a yawn. He just hoped his father wouldn’t be too mad whenever he finally went home.
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Emett bowed his head bidding Cas goodbye as he headed out of the room letting the unknown girl get some rest, he pulled out brand new notes and started to jot down what had happened so once he got a name he could add to her file. If not, he had new notes to start with. Shaking his head, he had not expected those events to unfold but it did beg the question as to why she was in the forest. Had she been intoxicated and stumbled into there? It begged a few questions, but they wouldn’t known until she woke up.

Sighing to himself he moved over to one of the coffee machines getting himself a hot beverage as well as one for Caspain, it looked like he was prepared to stay until she woke which he thought was quite a nice touch. They had no name and no sort of ID on her to confirm who she was, no way he could contact parents, so it was nice of him to wait if only to explain what had happened.

“Here…” Moving back inside the room he handed a cup of coffee to Caspain with a smile, “Help yourself, if you need anything give me a shout.” Holding his hand up as a wave he left the room once more to leave them to it, there was nothing else he could do for now. Stifling a yawn as he walked to his office, he rubbed the back of his head knowing it was only the beginning of his night, glancing at the time he could see it was getting on.

It had been a few hours; the time was reaching on for nearly three in the morning when Iris started to come around. The painkillers were still thankfully in her system keeping the pain levels manageable for now but that didn't stop the sluggish feeling she was now experiencing. Fingers twitched at first before her eyes fluttered open, vision blurry as she started to register where she was and regain movement of her body.

“Ergh…” Blinking a few times as she tried to focus her vision, blue eyes darting around the room as she raised her hand touching her head. Fingers felt fabric, it felt like some sort of bandage which panicked her. Sitting bolt upright she gasped as the sudden movement caused pain and her eyes locked onto her leg which was covered in bandages. Confusion started to settle in, where was she? She didn’t recognise anything, and her mind was working into overdrive as she looked at her hands.

What happened?

Mind completely blank, all she could see was darkness. All she could remember was… nothing. “I… what?” Whispering her words before she looked to her side, eyes met a figure and without even thinking she had shuffled away from him in the hospital bed clearly thinking she was in some sort of danger at first. “Who… who are you?” Her voice was shaky, and it was clear she was confused, whomever he was she didn’t recognise him but then she was absolutely terrified she couldn’t remember anything.

Heart was hammering away in her chest and the rise and fall of her breathing had quickened since she woke up, this was no doubt due to the fact she had no idea where she was or what had happened. Looking down at her hands which trembled slightly her brows furrowed in confusion, she continued to stare at her hands in hope it would trigger something. A memory of what had happened or even something that could help her in this situation.

Iris had begun to calm down as she realised wherever she was it wasn’t dangerous; she couldn’t sense any danger, but it looked like she was in some sort of hospital which was why she had been bandaged. Plus, she couldn’t currently feel any pain, but it was clear she had some injuries. Something had happened to her leg and her head? Fingers touched the bandaged on her head once more as if to just confirm they were truly there before she looked back at the male in her room, eyes burned with desire for answers and it was clear to see she had no recollection of what had happened.

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The room was hypnotically quiet after Dr. Emett left. The steady beeping of the monitors that measured the girl’s vitals made Cas tired as well. He sank down a little further in his seat, stifling another yawn. It wasn’t the most comfortable place to rest, but he’d had a long day and probably could have dozed off next to a busy intersection at this point. His droopy eyes flicked to the clock on the wall every few minutes with some impatience. He hoped it wouldn’t take too long before she woke up. As soon as she did, he could give her name to give to the doctor, so he could get in touch with her family.

Even though he wanted to make sure she wasn’t alone when she came to, he felt like she would be better off with a parent or sibling watching over her than a man she didn’t know. He stretched his arms, trying to keep his blood flowing so he wouldn’t drift off. On second thought, she would probably be ecstatic to find the prince of Aspiria sitting at her bedside. He could already picture the awkward stammering and unnecessary flattery that everyone who recognized him engaged in. He just hoped she wouldn’t read into the situation or expect him to stay.

After about fifteen minutes had passed, he glanced up when the door opened and Dr. Emett returned with two cups of coffee in his hands. “Thanks,” he offered the doctor a tired smile as he took the drink the older man had brought for him. “I will.”

Sipping at the hot coffee, he sat up a little straighter and took his phone from his pocket to pass the time by playing a game. The caffeine and activity helped him stay alert for a while, but around two o’ clock, his exhaustion won out, and he drifted off into a light nap.

Cas wasn’t sure how long he’d been asleep. He slouched in his uncomfortable chair with his head leaning back against the textured drywall behind him, lips parted and jaw hanging slack as a soft snore escaped from his mouth. His hands rested limply in his lap, still holding onto his phone which had long since run out of battery and was now nothing more than a useless, aluminum brick. He could have slept for hours but didn’t get the chance when he was interrupted by a jolting noise.

He jumped at the sound, looking around dazedly as he tried to remember what was going on, and then froze when his gaze landed on the girl. She was sitting up. Suddenly wide awake, he opened his mouth to ask her how she was feeling and then closed it again. There was a panicked look in her blue eyes that told him he’d better wait until she noticed him first, so he wouldn’t freak her out with the sound of his voice.

Luckily, it didn’t take long before he caught sight of him, but her reaction wasn’t what he’d been expecting. He blinked when she shuffled to put more distance between them and asked who he was. It seemed like she didn’t recognize him. This was a first. He’d thought everyone in the capital knew his face, since his family was always the center of attention in the news both online and on TV. Apparently he’d been wrong. However, instead of being offended, he found himself intrigued.

He took a moment to consider her question. Of course, he could tell her he was Caspian Maydestone, the heir to the Aspirian throne, but he kind of liked the fact that she didn’t know who he was. If he confessed his identity, he already knew what would happen: The walls would go up, and she would put on a face just like everyone else who wanted the royal family’s favor. This could be his only chance to talk to someone without any fronts.

“My name’s Cas,” he said decidedly, speaking in a gentle tone in an attempt to keep her from panicking more than she already had. Now came the reason why he’d stayed at the hospital for hours. “I found you in the woods on the edge of the city,” he explained, filling her in on why she was lying on a surgery table. “I didn’t see what happened to you, but it looked like you got your leg caught in a hunter’s trap or something, so I brought you to the hospital to get taken care of. The doctor said you’ll be fine when you heal.”

He glanced at the clock again and nearly blanched when he saw that it was about three in the morning. He needed to get home or his father would be furious. “What’s your name?” he asked, twisting in his chair to press the buzzer on the wall that would call Dr. Emett back to the room. Now that the girl was awake, he was sure the doctor would want to check her vitals. Once they figured out who she was, he would be free to go, and one of her family members could replace him to keep watch over her.
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“Cas?” Without even thinking she questioned his name; it was nothing she had heard of before but then it worried her she couldn’t exactly remember anything. Placing her head in her hands as she couldn’t help but feel groggy, she listened to his words, he had found her in the woods on the edge of the city. Why was I in the woods? Why… It seemed like such an odd place to be, had she meant to be there? Did she live nearby? “I… why was I there?” Whispering more to herself but it was loud enough for him to hear, she was in no way directing her question to him because she doubted that he would know why she had been there in the first place.

“Hunter’s trap… Ah! Sorry! I’m not intentionally repeating your words.” Holding her hands up as she had slowly caught on, she was repeating a fair amount of his words. “I just… I don’t remember…” Words trailing off at the end because she was fearful for the fact, she had no clue, no idea on any of the events.

Sighing softly to herself she looked back at her leg grimacing as she tried to move it feeling the dull ache from the wound, the pain was slowly returning causing discomfort. Looking around the room her eyes caught onto the machine which had the monotonous beep which filled the room, how had she not noticed that before? “My name? I…” Confusion swept across her face once more as she tried so hard to remember her name. Closing her eyes as if she could look into her memory and pluck it out from somewhere.

“I…” Stuttering as she tried desperately to remember her name, it was such a simple question, but she didn’t know it. Why can’t I remember? Without even think she went to touch her face feeling it was wet, fingers brushed against her cheeks as she realised there were tears rolling down her cheeks. She was crying. Why am I crying?

Emett had heard the buzz and smiled when he saw the room, this was positive as she had woken. Picking up some needles and painkillers knowing it was about time for another dose to ease the pain he made his way to where the Prince would be with the girl. On the way he grabbed hold of the file and slipped inside quietly listening to her words, he caught on quickly hearing her stumble at what her name was. Perceptive as always, he watched as she touched her head, it looked like she was trying to think of something which only furthered his first thought.

“Amnesia. Not uncommon with this type of injury.” Muttering to himself as he edged further with a warm gentle smile on his face, he coughed into his hand gently announcing himself to the girl on the bed in hopes he would not startle her. “Good evening miss, would you let me check you over? Ensure nothing else is wrong?” Smiling as he saw her nod, he pulled out a tiny flashlight, “Now look straight ahead for me.” Waving the light in her eyes as he watched for any reaction good or bad, “Not too bad, pupils slightly dilated but that’s to be expected with the painkillers. Hmm… now let me see.” Looking at the head wound he ensured the bleeding had stopped which he was thankful it had, then he checked over the leg which all looked in order. The memories however were not something he could just fix.

“Iris… I think?” Looking up at the doctor who was checking her over, it was strange the mention of pupils somehow connected her to what she thought was her name. It had triggered something in her, and it felt right. “I’m really not sure, it feels right.”

“Don’t worry, this can take time. Amnesia is common with head trauma, it could last a few days, weeks, months… sometimes even years. Can you remember anything? Do you know where you are? Where you live? Last name maybe? Any family?” Emett was gentle with his questions knowing that if he pushed too hard it could react negatively.

Shaking her head Iris looked towards Cas on the chair, she had no clue on how to answer any of those questions. “I.. I know that he is Cas? I think and I think my name is Iris… Something happened in the woods?” Her head was pounding, she felt like it was swimming and she had no way of getting up for air. Even with her answers it sounded like she was questioning herself on if she was even right.

Preparing another needle for more pain relief Emett took hold of her arm and injected her swiftly with another dose to ease the pain once more, he was unsure on how to go about this because there was no family he could contact. There was no way he could look for every person named Iris in the city and she wasn’t even sure that was her name so it could be a wasted effort. “All you can do now is rest, I wouldn’t feel comfortable releasing you without any sort of family member caring for you.” However, the bill will be pricey keeping you here he thought as he made a few more notes on her file. “Your memories may come back to you, perhaps in the daylight we could look at retracing your steps in the forest?”
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Cas nodded when Iris repeated his name. It seemed like she was still reorienting herself to where she was, so he was patient with her. He didn’t blame her for being confused. It had sounded like she’d hit her head pretty hard right before he’d found her, so she was probably pretty dazed. Maybe she even had a headache. If he had been in her shoes, he would have been just as freaked out, if not more so. In fact, he was impressed she was as outwardly calm as she was.

Well, maybe he’d made that impression too soon.

As she said she couldn’t remember, he frowned concernedly. Had she lost her memories of the night when she’d knocked herself out? He didn’t know much about head trauma, but it seemed possible. If she really had forgotten what had happened in the woods, waking up in a hospital was probably ten times as stressful for her. He wished he had some words to console her, but he was too tired to think of anything helpful to say. The most he could do was hope Dr. Emett would arrive with an answer.

Noticing that she was trying to move her injured leg, Cas startled. “I don’t think you should do that…” he advised tentatively, shifting closer to the edge of his seat just in case she hurt herself again. He hadn’t looked at the wound when the doctors had stitched her up, but the image of the bloody punctures the trap had dug into her calf were burned into his mind forever. He guessed it would be a while before she could walk again without crutches. She’d probably have a scar too.

As she struggled to remember her name, he was starting to think he should have left the questioning to Dr. Emett. He didn’t know what to do when she started crying. The sight just made him feel worse. He hated how helpless he felt, but what could he do to make her feel better? She’d just gotten her leg gored by a bear trap, hit her head so hard she may have forgotten who she was and woken up in a place she had probably never been before. It wasn’t exactly an easy situation for anyone to be in.

When the doctor arrived to check on her, Cas practically melted with relief. A trained medical professional would be much better equipped to handle this than he could ever hope to be. He watched from his chair as Emett inspected her condition. Not knowing much about head injuries, he wasn’t sure what the older man was looking for when he looked at her eyes, but he trusted that the doctor knew what he was doing. Hopefully everything he found would be positive, so the girl could make a speedy recovery.

Suddenly, she spoke again, and he glanced at her. Apparently she remembered her name after all… he thought. Unfortunately, just a first name wouldn’t be enough to find out which family she belonged to. He propped his elbow on the wooden armrest of the chair, resting his cheek in his hand as he listened curiously to Dr. Emett’s response. Amnesia? The condition sounded familiar to him, but this was the first time he’d ever seen it in a real person. He winced to himself as the doctor explained that it could last as long as a few years. Going through every day, not knowing who he was sounded like hell on earth. He couldn’t imagine what she was going through right now.

Dr. Emett’s follow-up questions didn’t spark any useful answers either. “I told her my name before you got here,” he explained with a shrug when Iris could only recall who he was beyond her own identity.

As the doctor injected her with more pain killer, Cas looked away uncomfortably, not wanting to watch the needle pierce her skin. With no address or surname to go by, there was no way anyone could find the girl’s family. She was probably going to be stuck here until she got her memories back. What a shitty reality to wake up to. He checked the clock again. He disliked the thought of leaving her alone when she was so confused, but he needed to get home before the sun came up in a couple hours. His father might have already tried to call him to find out where he was. If the king thought something had happened to his only heir, he would lose it.

Still, he couldn’t bring himself to leave without checking to make sure Iris was okay with being by herself first.

“I can stay for a little while longer if you want some company,” he offered, looking up to meet her gaze before he turned to Dr. Emett. “Also, my phone died, so if you could call my dad to let him know I’ve been here, I’d appreciate it… You know how he is.”
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“What… what if they don’t come back? I can’t stay here forever.” Iris looked up at Emett who had just finished writing the last things in her notes, frowning at the idea. Maybe a family member would find her here? That was if she had a family…

“It would be irresponsible to let you wander with no memories. Were would you even go? We have no means of tracking down your family without more information.” Emett sighed softly, he felt bad for her because this was a hard situation. To even understand what she was going through, well… he couldn’t even imagine.

It hit her, where would she go? She had only just remembered her name she had no clue on where she lived, who was family. Who was who? “Oh… yeah.. I guess.” This was so strange, it felt like her whole life had just been wiped out. The reality was becoming worse with each second.

Emett looked over at Cas who spoke up once more, he smiled at the offer of company it was a nice gesture. Nodding he looked up at the time knowing that if his dad did not know of his whereabouts, he would no doubt be calling a search party for him, it was best he notified him as soon as. “I will see to it; I think I have a spare charger in my office. I’ll bring it through for you so you can charge it before you go.” Glancing back at Iris he gave a sympathetic smile, “Try to rest up, you could start to regain memories at any point.” Moving out he placed her file back on the tray and headed into his office to call his father and find that charger. It wouldn’t surprise him if his father was waiting by the phone for any sort of news on his son.

It felt so strange, watching the two talk with one another. She heard their words, but it just didn’t feel like it was registering, she couldn’t help but blink a few times just looking at her injured leg. Walking would be fun, not. “Thank you, for the offer of company. That’s really kind of you.” Giving him a small smile, regardless of how she was feeling it was a relief to know she had a little bit of company in this confusing time. Sure, he was a stranger, but she was a stranger to herself at the moment and that was scary.

“You said you found me in the forest and then brought me here?” She had remembered his words from a few minutes ago about how he had brought her here after finding her. It was a promising start as it meant current memories she was retaining, she was just unable to recall past ones. “Thank you, I dread to think what would have happened had you not been so kind and even now offering me company. You don’t know me.” I don’t know me…

Glancing around the room she couldn’t help but feel pretty useless, was this where she would practically stay until her memories would return? What would she do for clothes? Food? All these thoughts were circling through her mind and as much they were questions, she wanted to ask another part of her didn’t want to know the answers.

There was a gentle knock on the door and a nurse entered holding a charger, smiling brightly she handed it to Cas, “Courtesy of Dr Emett. He said if you need anything let us know.” Bowing her head to both Iris and Cas she left quietly shutting the door behind her with a soft click not needing to stay any longer than necessary.

“Sorry, it’s quite late isn’t it. Are you okay to be here?” Iris asked looked up at the clock taking note of the time, she rubbed her arms feeling a chill as goose bumps appeared. Her mind was still ticking over, catching up with everything and registering things which had been mentioned before. Hang on, doesn’t healthcare cost? How can I even pay for this? Brows furrowed once more on her thoughts, she had no personal belongings on her, no cards to pay for things… no cash. The feeling of unease began to rise, blonde hair falling past her shoulders as her eyes focused on her leg once more as if it would give her all the answers she needed.
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As Iris raised the question about what would happen if she never got her memories back, Cas snuck a glance at Dr. Emett, hoping he would tell her that wasn’t something she needed to worry about. Unfortunately, the doctor glossed over the remark in a way that suggested to him that it was a possibility. He dragged his fingers through his hair, unnerved. The realization that just one blow to the head could take away a person’s identity forever was daunting to him. He might not have believed it if this girl wasn’t sitting in front of him now, barely able to scrap together her first name. He hoped for her sake that she would remember who she was eventually.

At their continued conversation, he dropped his gaze to his shoes in thought. Where would she go if she couldn’t get her memories back? They couldn’t get in touch with her family without her last name. Maybe her parents would get worried and call the hospital looking for her? That sounded likely enough. He knew his father would turn over every stone in Aspiria if he suddenly went missing. Even if her family didn’t have the resources to do that much, they would probably ask around to find out if anyone had seen her. The thought was relieving to him. All they had to do was wait for her parents to realize she was gone and think to check the hospital. She would be home in no time.

“Thanks,” he nodded gratefully to Emett when the doctor agreed to call his father and even offered to bring him a charger for his cellphone. After the crazy night he’d had, knowing he had a working phone in his pocket would definitely give him some peace of mind when he headed home later. Honestly, he had half a mind to call for a police escort. Not knowing how Iris had ended up in the woods, his tired mind naturally jumped to the worst conclusions: Maybe she had been jumped by a thief and tried to run away, or maybe she had been avoiding a stalker… or maybe she had spotted members of the Scourge outside the capital and tried to hide.

Yeah, a police escort sounded good.

Cas followed Dr. Emett with his eyes as he exited the room, leaving the prince alone with the girl once again. Even though he’d offered to stay with her for a little while longer, he wasn’t sure what to say. What was someone supposed to do to console a person who’d nearly bled to death in the forest? Luckily, he didn’t need to come up with anything when she broke the silence by thanking him for his company.

“It’s not a problem,” he shrugged nonchalantly, returning her smile. “This wooden chair is too comfy to leave anyway.” Was humor appropriate in this situation? He wasn’t sure, but he had a habit of making bad jokes when he was uncomfortable, so the comment slipped out regardless. Right now, he was pretty uncomfortable. He had no idea how to behave around her. His first question about her name had made her cry when he hadn’t meant to say anything offensive. He was clueless about which subjects were safe to touch on and which were off limits.

Besides that, he couldn’t deny that he found her attractive. Normally, he was fine around women he thought were cute, but it felt weird to think that about a girl he’d found half-dead in the woods. He wished he could detach from the feeling to make it easier, but he couldn’t help noticing how good she looked with a smile on her face. It definitely didn’t do anything for his discomfort.

“Yeah,” he confirmed when she repeated the information he’d given her earlier. For now, he decided it was safe to just let her come up with the topics, so he wouldn’t say something that might make her cry again.

As she thanked him one more time, he shook his head, a bit embarrassed by her high words of praise. “Really, it’s not that big a deal… I just did what anyone would have done.”

He turned toward the door at the sound of a knock, watching as the nurse stepped into the room with a charging cable for his phone. “Thanks,” he took it from her and then stood up to scope out the edges of the room for an outlet while she left them alone again. Spotting one near the door on the wall across from where he had been sitting, he crouched down to plug in the device and ambled back over to his chair.

At Iris’s next question, he shrugged again. “Well, I was supposed to be home—” he glanced at the clock. “Yikes. Three hours and fifteen minutes ago. It’s way too late for me to make curfew now, so I don’t think it matters how long I stay here anymore.” He leaned back in the hard seat and folded his arms over his middle. “I’ll probably leave by four at the latest; just figured you wouldn’t want to be alone right after you woke up.”

Noticing that she was feeling the cool air, he frowned, “Want me to ask the nurse to bring you a blanket? There’s a pager on the back wall. They’re usually pretty fast about answering.”
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It seemed rationale that if she had family, they would look for her, right? But then on another note what if she didn’t have any family? That idea was scary, and she didn’t want to dwell on it much longer. Looking over at him she couldn’t help but feel a bit relieved when he had smiled, having him there was nice. “I highly doubt that.” Chuckling softly at his comment from the chair, it had however perked her up. A smile, a laugh it was a much better feeling than misery.

Watching as he looked for an outlet to plug his phone in, she couldn’t help but feel curious around him, he was still here with her. Would anyone else have stayed to see if she was alright? It said a lot about a person who was willing to put others first. “Ah, I’m sorry. I think it’s far too late to make that curfew.” Looking up at the time it was hard to believe it was that late, she felt a twinge of guilt realising she had probably ruined his evening. “I appreciate the company, even if it is at your own expense. I hope you don’t get in any sort of trouble, but you were right… I don’t really understand what’s happening, but I think I might have panicked more had I been alone.”

“Oh, that would be great!” Smiling she nodded at the idea of being brought a blanket, it should certainly warm her back up. Looking down at her attire she noticed that she was wearing a black dress, it looked like something you would wear to a night out so perhaps she had been out? Nothing stuck out in her mind, it was just full of nothing, dark and hazy and no memories were coming back to her. Absentmindedly her fingers began to trace the hem of her dress as if it would spark something, anything as she fiddled with the clothing.

Looking over towards Cas, her saviour for the night she took in his features curious over him. He seemed carefree, relaxed and he wasn’t bad looking at all. “Did you want to tell me about yourself? Maybe it would help spark something for me? I don’t know… maybe it’s silly.” Chuckling nervously as she fidgeted on the bed, should she had asked him to do that? Well she did want to know more about him, who he was. He had helped her, brought her here to be healed and she was curious to know him. What kind of person he was?

Hearing another knock, she smiled as a nurse had walked in with a blanket placing it on the bed before leaving once more nodding in acknowledgement. “Thank you.” Reaching down she grasped at the blanket pulling it over herself to keep warm, it was soft, and it felt great beneath her fingers and it certainly added to her comfort. “Hey, I highly recommend one of these blankets, I’m sure it would improve that comfortable wooden chair you’re on.” Teasing gently as she made a joke herself, regardless of how crap her own situation was at the moment there was no need to dwell on it because it wouldn’t help anything. It would just make her feel worse and there was no point in that. Without even realising she had started to rub her eyes trying to hold back a yawn to hide the fact she was tired.
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At least his joke wasn’t taken poorly. Cas was glad to see that Iris seemed to perk up a little when he teased about his chair. She didn’t look as hopeless as before, and it was a nice change. He relaxed more too. Maybe he’d been overthinking the situation since he’d thought she was going to be completely devastated all night. He didn’t know how to comfort a new amnesiac, but he did know how to converse with another human being. Looking at her that way made it easier to think of things to say.

“Don’t worry about it,” he shook his head dismissively when Iris apologized for causing him to be late. “Making sure you didn’t die was way more important than being home by midnight. My dad should understand that.” He didn’t even want to think about what might have happened if he hadn’t been nearby when she’d gotten hurt. There hadn’t been anyone else around to hear her cry of pain. As much as he hated to admit it, maybe he owed Jay and Miles for making him take that extra shot at the party. He never would have noticed her if he’d been in his car with the music blasting on high volume as he always had it set. She could have died if he hadn’t been walking off the alcohol instead.

As Iris approved the idea of asking a nurse for a blanket, Cas nodded and got up again to press the pager on the back wall. It was close to the patient’s bed so she could ask for a nurse without assistance if she needed one, but knowing she was probably uncomfortable with the fresh wounds in her leg and head, he figured he could do it for her this time while she rested.

Once that was done, he turned to walk back to his chair, glancing at Iris as he passed by. He noticed that she was toying with her dress. In the dark, he hadn’t been able to see much, but now that they were in the white lights of the hospital room, he could see that she was dressed up for a night out. He wondered what she had been doing before she’d stumbled into the woods. Maybe she’d been at a party? He didn’t remember seeing her at the one he’d been at, but there could have been another going on that same night.

Or maybe she had been on a date with her boyfriend. She was definitely attractive enough that he wouldn’t have been surprised if she had one. Still, that scenario seemed a little strange to him. If she had been on a date, why would she have been walking home alone? It would have been pretty scummy of any guy to just ditch her once the night was over. He found himself hoping she’d been at a party, just so she wouldn’t get her memories back only to remember being abandoned by a jerk.

Settling back down in his chair, he looked up at Iris as she asked him to tell her about himself. He shifted his weight. That was a touchy subject. On one hand, he really liked the fact that he could talk to her without worrying about being fawned over for being a prince, but on the other hand, maybe it would help her get her memories back if she knew who he was. Maybe he could find a happy medium somewhere in between.

“Well, I can say for sure that I don’t know you, but why not?” he shrugged, letting his brown eyes wander up to the gypsum ceiling in thought. Perhaps listing the names of some well-known places around the city would jog her memory. “Let’s see… I’m from the center of the capital, which is where we are now. I went to Oak Ridge Academy when I was in high school… Never went to college, but I’ve got a couple friends who graduated from Grand Park University, which is the most popular school in the city. Maybe either of those are familiar to you?”

He paused as a nurse entered the room with a blanket for the girl, waiting for her to leave before he would continue. However, before he could go on, she spoke first. “Oh yeah?” he laughed at her joke about the blanket, happy to hear that she was in a good enough mood to return a little banter. “I’ll keep that in mind, just in case my chair becomes not-so-comfortable anymore.”

Leaning forward, he went on, “Anyway, I like to hang out at some of the bars around the city too. Goodlife Brewery, Hop of the Hour and Full Moon, to name a few.” He tried to list names of places that most high borns in the capital knew about. “Recognize any of them?”
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“Yeah it’s strange to think that this could have gone in such a different direction.” Sighing slightly as she lent back in the bed enjoying the warmth of the blanket that was now wrapped around her. What would have happened had he not found her? “It’s kind of lucky you were around. I have no idea what I was doing out there…” Pondering her thoughts as she thought back on her attire, the dress she was wearing hinted towards some sort of party or social event “Maybe I was at a party? I… I don’t know. I hope it was a good party at least.” Chucking slightly as she shook her head still confused over what she was actually doing out there.

Looking back over at Cas she listened to him name off places and were he studied. None of it sounded familiar to her which was worrying but none the less she wouldn’t give up hope. “Centre of the Capital…” For some reason that seemed familiar to her, “That… maybe? Although if you don’t know me maybe not…” The place was big enough but then again, she could just be grasping at straws. It seemed familiar but she didn't know why and that was what she needed to figure out. “Didn’t go to college? Any reason why? I mean you don’t have to say of course, I guess I’m just curious.” Laughing once more at her questions but it was clearly a nervous laugh, she was still cautious in her new surroundings.

“Full Moon…” Frowning why did she know that name of a bar? She had heard it somewhere before but where? It was like a fleeting flash of a memory. “My… mother spoke of that place.” Whispering more to herself than anything as her hand went to her head, the flash had been so quick and was over within a second. Had her mother visited that bar he mentioned? She could hear her mothers laugh echo in her head, ‘Oh I snuck away from that full moon bar to meet him…' Meet who?

“Ah sorry! I kind of spaced there.” Looking up wide eyed realising she had just spent the last few moments so focused on her own mind and completely forgot about Cas, touching her neck rubbing it slightly as she felt quite self conscious on the fact, she had just spaced out so easily. Would this happen again? Slowly as things would start to piece back would she just kind of stop, not realising that the world was still going on.

“Oh gosh, look at the time. I’m sure you should be heading back right? I should probably get some rest. Perhaps things will start to come back tomorrow, and I can go home. I actually quite dislike hospitals.” Looking around the room she had started to gain a sense of herself and there was something about hospitals that she disliked, she couldn’t tell you why but perhaps that was another thing locked away in her memories. “Maybe when I am recovered, I could buy you a drink sometime? Thank you for your kindness? It would be the least I could do. Especially as I am assuming, I’ve probably got you into trouble with your father. You mentioned to Dr Emett to call him earlier so he wouldn’t worry.”
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Cas couldn’t tell if his efforts to jumpstart Iris’s memory were working or not. She seemed to get little bits and pieces back as he spoke, but nothing was coherent enough to tell them who she was or even where she had come from. He sighed to himself, slouching a little lower in his chair. Dr. Emett was probably right when he’d said it would take time for her to remember everything. He shouldn’t have expected his words to click with her right away. Amnesia seemed like a condition that required a lot of patience from everyone involved.

When she asked him why he’d never gone to college, he pondered how to answer. In truth, he hadn’t bothered to enroll in higher education because there was no degree for “King of Aspiria,” but he still didn’t want to tell her he was the heir to the throne unless he had to. Instead, he settled for a vaguer version of the truth: “I’m just studying a trade instead. It’s not something you can learn in college.” That was close enough, right? Technically he was his father’s protégé, even if he wasn’t studying at a trade school.

A homeschooled apprentice, that’s what he was.

At last, something seemed to get through to Iris more than the rest. Cas sat up a little straighter with interest as she mentioned her mother. So she had a family. That was good news, since he was still hoping her parents or other relatives would come looking for her when they realized she was missing in the morning. Maybe seeing someone she actually knew would help her remember who she was too. At least they could tell her about herself, whereas he could only talk about the city and cross his fingers that something would spark a fire in her fuzzy brain.

“That’s alright,” he smiled when she apologized for spacing out. “Think as much as you need to. The sooner you remember who you are, the sooner the doctors can get you home.” If she found any leads that would tell her where she’d come from, he didn’t care if she zoned out for a whole hour. He was only here to make sure she wasn’t alone, after all. It didn’t matter to him if they chatted or sat in silence.

As Iris spoke about the time and said she should rest, he nodded, standing up from his seat and stretching his arms lazily over his head. “I don’t blame you,” he agreed when she said she disliked hospitals. “They’re kind of creepy and they always smell like sick people. I don’t like them either.”

At her following comment, he laughed. “My dad worries about everything, so this is nothing new. As long as I get home in one piece, he’ll let it go.” He paused for a moment before he added with another smile: “But… getting a drink sounds like fun. I might just take you up on that.” Cute girl who didn’t throw fake flattery at him every other sentence? How could he say no to that?

As he stepped over to grab his phone—it was all the way up to a ripe eight percent after the short time it had spent charging—a knock sounded at the door. He looked up to see another nurse poke her head into the room, which she quickly bowed to him out of customary respect, “Caspian, there’s a sedan waiting for you outside.”

Looks like daddy sent a ride, Cas nearly rolled his eyes at the over-the-top gesture. “Perfect timing,” he turned back to the girl. “Well, I guess I’m out of here. I’ll see you around, Iris. Hope you get your memories back.” With a curt wave of his hand, he followed the nurse out of the room and headed to the black vehicle waiting in the pick-up area in front of the lobby. Like all the private cars the Maydestones used to get around the city, it had tinted windows that were too dark to see through from the outside. He climbed into the back with a yawn, ready to get some sleep after the long night he’d had.

--

The ride back to his family’s mansion—well, some might call it a castle, but Cas thought the term was gaudy—was short and uneventful. The driver pulled the sedan around to the back, where the prince was able to get out and walk inside far from view of any skulking paparazzi who might want to get a picture of him for a sultry gossip article.

It was nearly four in the morning, and he practically swayed on his feet from exhaustion as he shuffled up the stairs to his room. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it all the way there before he was stopped.

“Just where have you been all night, Caspian?” He cringed at the sound of his father’s voice. Looking up from the floor, he found the king standing by his bedroom door with his arms crossed tensely over his chest.

“Hospital,” Cas answered tiredly. “Dr. Emett filled you in, right?” He frowned as another thought crossed his mind. “Besides, what are you doing up anyway? I thought he wants you to rest. You’re going to wear yourself out.”

“I’m not going to sleep knowing my son isn’t safe in his own bed,” Atlas scoffed. “You should have been home hours ago. Emett said you dropped that girl off not long after midnight. There was no reason for you to linger as long as you did.”

“I was trying to be nice,” Cas rolled his eyes. “And look,” he held up his hands. “I’m home safe and sound.” He paused, glancing down at the bloodstain on his shoulder. “Well, my shirt didn’t survive the night, but I swear the rest of me did. Now can I please get some sleep? I might pass out at any second.”

“You still don’t understand the gravity of the situation, do you?” his father pinched the bridge of his nose. “You can’t just play hero every time you think you can help someone. That’s what the military is for. You should have called one of the soldiers to help you the second you felt like something was wrong.”

“But there was no one else nearby, and—”

Atlas held up his hand, “You’re going to be the next king, Caspian. There are no lives equal to yours. Dr. Emett told me you found that girl in the woods outside the capital. What if it had been the Scourge, trying to lure you into a trap?” He paused, but Cas said nothing. “You were lucky this time. Don’t be so reckless the next or there will be consequences.”

Cas ground his teeth, “Fine.”

“I’m only hard on you for your own good,” the king sighed. “You’ll thank me someday. Now then,” he stepped away from the door, picking up a cane he’d left propped against the wall to support his weight as he limped down the hallway. “Get some sleep. Your economics tutor will arrive at ten.”

At least his father had pushed his lesson back a couple hours. Cas nodded tiredly, “’Night, dad.”

“Goodnight, son.”
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Iris chuckled when he spoke of disliking hospitals too, he was right they were kind of creepy and there was a stench of sickness which was always unsettling. “I’ll hold you to it.” Speaking softly as she watched him gather his phone, glancing up when she saw the nurse enter the room once more. It didn’t escape her the fact she had bowed but what was interesting was his full name, hadn’t he said it was Cas? It seemed like it was shot for Caspain and for some reason that seemed familiar. Caspain. Where had she heard it before?

“Thank you again Cas, hope your dad isn’t too hard on you!” Smiling as she watched him leave the room fell silent, it was strange, and the feeling of loneliness began to settle in. He had been right; the company was a nice touch as now she was alone left to struggle with broken thoughts and memories.

Where have I heard your name? Why do I feel like I know it? Closing her eyes as she hoped it would spark something. Caspain… Cas… who are you? Grimacing as she felt a pounding in her head, she could feel the headache creeping up on her. Sighing she knew it was probably best to go get some rest, there was nothing more she could do for now other than hope her memories would return.

Pulling up the blanket over herself she shifted in the bed, settling down beneath the soft fabric and sighing with relief as she felt her head hit the pillow. She hadn’t realised how tired she was and not only her body, but her mind seemed to all be in agreement, within moments of closing her eyes resting in the bed she had fallen into a light slumber. Chest slowly rising and falling in rhythm as the light slumber soon turned into a deep sleep. Rest was what she needed as it would start the healing process.

--

Sunlight beamed into the room warming Iris as she started to wake from her sleep, yawning as she opened her eyes greeted by the bright white walls it took a moment before she registered where she was. Rubbing her eyes as she slowly sat up on the bed blanket falling down in a slump on her lap as she looked around the room, had she dreamt what had happened? No… I still don’t remember anything… she thought glumly to herself as she looked underneath the blanket at her leg. The bandages had stained red from the wound of the animal trap that she had been caught in hours ago, it was so strange to think how the trap had managed to cause so much damage. Wipe out her memories in an instant.

“Good morning Iris, how are we today?” One of the nurses called Jac had entered the room with the file, Dr Emett had gone home in the early hours of the morning for some rest before he would return later. “Any pain or discomfort?”

“Ah, good morning.” Startled Iris looked towards the nurse that had entered, for a moment she had completely forgotten where she was. “Oh, just a dull ache in my head. The leg is worse, but I assume that is to be expected?” Questioning slightly as she held back another yawn behind her hand, regardless on the fact she had slept it had still been quite the long night.

“Of course, it’s natural.” Jac smiled moving inside the room placing the file down, moving the blanket she looked at the girls’ leg noting the stain of blood on the bandages. It was natural with the healing process and she had expected to change the bandages over today. Moving over to one of the cupboards she pulled out some fresh bandages and something to clean the wounds with, this was to ensure no infection would happen which could worsen things. “Let me clean everything once more, rebandage it all. This will help stop any sort of infection.” Talking through what she was doing she always found it eased patients to know what was going on each step, it was also a way to get them to open up and talk.

“Oh, of course. I don’t suppose any family have asked about me?” Iris asked softly as she watched Jac undo the bandages, this was the first time she had seen the wound and she was curious. However, it might have been best not to see it, grimacing as she saw the slightly mauled skin and marks of the trap, she knew it would scar once healed. Not that it bothered her, but she couldn’t help but think on it. Flinching as she felt the solution touch the wound, she couldn’t help but gasp as her leg jolted, it was clear Jac had expected it because she held the leg in place and continued to work. Soon having it bandaged back up all fresh.

“I’m afraid not, sorry.” Jac looked over at Iris and motioned to check on the head wound this time, doing the same as what she had done with the leg. “There’s still time, did you want us to bring you some food in the meantime? Dr Emett also mentioned you could try walking but with crutches at first. Let us know alright?” She tried to keep it positive, especially with the fact that the girl had no memories and it could be a dangerous slope.
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The next morning, Cas woke up to the annoying beeping of his alarm. He made a face and buried his head underneath his pillow to muffle the obnoxious noise. It was nine in the morning, and he hadn’t gotten nearly enough sleep to recover from the hectic events of the night before. Unfortunately, he didn’t have time to lay around. With only an hour before his tutor was supposed to arrive, he needed to get up and get ready for the lesson so his father wouldn’t have another reason to be mad at him.

Tiredly, he dragged himself out of bed and shuffled into the bathroom that adjoined his room. The mansion was so huge, he had one all to himself. It was elaborate too, even by high born standards. Every countertop was made of polished granite, and he had both a glass shower and a Jacuzzi tub with a flat screen TV built into the wall. He spent quite a few evenings in the latter, watching sports or movies to unwind after hours of mind-numbing classes on politics, history, warfare, or whatever else his father thought he should know before he was crowned the next king.

Trying to wake up a little more, he took a colder shower than usual that morning and completed the rest of his ritual hygiene before he heard to the kitchen for breakfast. To his excitement, the maid who had cooked the food today had elected to fry bacon and eggs. He filled up his own plate with a hearty helping, needing all the energy he could get before he dove into his first in-depth economics lesson of the series.

Just as he was about to go to the dining room to eat, he realized there was still enough food leftover for one more person. “Has my dad not come down to get his breakfast yet?” he asked the maid with a concerned frown.

“No, sir,” she shook her head. “I believe His Highness is still in bed.”

“Huh,” Cas mused. “Okay, thanks.” He turned and headed out of the kitchen with a contemplative expression on his face. Any time his father’s appetite waned, it was time to call Dr. Emett for an evaluation. He probably needed an adjustment in his medication or something. That usually fixed the problem.

Thinking about Dr. Emett, his thoughts also wandered to Iris, and he wondered if she was doing any better today than she had been when he’d last seen her. Maybe she’d woken up and remembered everything. He hoped so. It would be nice to call the doctor and find out that she’d gone home to be with her family while she recovered, especially since she’d told him she didn’t like hospitals.

When he finished his breakfast, Cas made his way into the study, where he usually met his tutors for his lessons. He didn’t have to wait long before an older man with white, wispy hair appeared and the class commenced. Like all his lessons, economics was dull, and he found it hard to pay attention to the statistics and figures the tutor tried to teach him. Instead, he found himself thinking about the night before and about the girl he’d found in the woods. He glanced frequently at the clock as he waited for the lecture to end, so he could make the call to Emett and find out what had become of her.

After six excruciating hours of reading and taking notes, he was finally released from the tutor’s clutches to have an early dinner. He didn’t see his father this time either, and he suspected the king had skipped lunch too. It was definitely time to arrange for the doctor to visit. He requested for one of the maids to go upstairs and check in on Atlas while he made himself comfortable on a plush couch in the living room, kicking his feet up on the coffee table as he settled down to dial the hospital.

After about thirty seconds of listening to the tone, the doctor picked up. “Ah, Caspian, how are you this afternoon?”

“I’m fine,” he answered, picking up a pen from the table and toying with it between his fingers. “My dad stopped eating again though. Could you come by to see him sometime this week?”

“I see,” the doctor sounded thoughtful. “Yes, I can be there tomorrow.”

“Great. I’ll tell him you’re coming.” Cas paused briefly before adding: “By the way, is Iris still there?”

“Unfortunately, no family has contacted us, and she hasn’t regained her memory, so I can’t release her yet.” He could hear Emett sigh into the speaker.

“Really?” Cas frowned, a little surprised that no one had called looking for her yet. Maybe they just hadn’t thought to try the hospital yet. “Well, let me know if anything changes.”

“Of course,” Dr. Emett agreed. “Anything else?”

“No, that’s it. Thanks, doctor.”

“You’re quite welcome.”

Hanging up the phone, he tapped the pen absently against his thigh. Iris had to be pretty devastated that no one had shown up to find her yet. Over twelve hours had gone by, and she was still stuck at the hospital. He couldn’t think of anyone who would be happy in that situation.

Maybe I can stop by for a little while, he thought. It was only five. Visiting hours weren’t over yet, and she would probably be glad to talk to anyone at this point.

Deciding it was a good idea, he stuck the end of the pen in his mouth and unlocked his phone again to send a quick text:

Jay, bring back my car already, you jackass. I need it for something.
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Watching Jac place the crutches at her bedside she assumed it was so she could get up and use the bathroom or go for a little walk, it was nice to have the option of a little freedom especially as she assumed she was stuck here as no family had come to collect her. “I’ve put some medication on your bedside, painkillers for if things get too rough. Your recovery looks great and hopefully someone comes to collect you as you’re free to go. We just don’t want to release you with no memories unless we know someone is there for you.” Jac smiled once more as she placed the dirty bandages in the waste bin along with her rubber gloves. “I’ll be along later; we’ve got something we would like to try for your memory.” Leaving the room once more Jac went about her daily duties.

Sighing to herself Iris winced as she moved off the bed, reaching for the crutches to help her walk. This is going to test my strength. Feeling her arms tremble at her weight she adjusted how she would walk and then made her way towards the bathroom that was attached to her hospital room. She wished she had some other form of clothes to wear, using the sink she washed her face to freshen up. It was strange how just a quick wash made her feel human, made her feel normal if that’s what she could even call it. Looking at herself in the mirror it was strange seeing the reflection back, it was like she didn’t know who she was anymore. Shaking her head, she moved back into the room getting used to walking around with crutches, it seemed alright, but she doubted she’d be able to go long distances.

Six hours had passed, and Iris had spent the time walking around in her room finding it easier each time she tried. She had sat with Jac who went through questions, flash cards and other things trying to spark any memories, but it was no use. Nothing had sparked which was frustrating, but what made it worse was the fact no one had called for her. No family had come, and she couldn’t help but fixate on that snippet of memory of her mother from last night. Why had her mother not come for her? She definitely had one and her flash of memory had confirmed that fact. What if they didn’t know she was missing? Did she live alone? Were her parents even alive? All these thoughts circulated through her mind over the hours she spent in the hospital.

I don’t want to be here

Looking at the clock on the wall she felt that time was dragging, resting her hand on her forehand before she moved once more from the bed. Using the crutches once more she hobbled over to the bathroom ensuring that she didn’t place too much weight on the injured leg. Using the sink to help keep herself upright she watched her reflection once more in the mirror, eyes looking at the stranger in the mirror. Reaching up to the mirror her fingers touched the reflection, she could see herself. Blonde hair, blue eyes. The bandages from her head were no longer there but she could see were the wound had been. It looked a lot cleaner which showed it was healing. At the same time however she didn’t feel it was her true reflection.

Hand curled into a fist on the mirror as she continued to stare, biting her lip she could feel the rush of anger. The outrage that this had happened. This was no one’s fault so she had no one blame, who could she be angry with? Without even thinking she smashed her fist against the mirror, shattering the glass beneath her skin, the sound of glass clattering against the sink and the floor broke her from her trance and she had realised what she had done.

“Ah… crap.” Grimacing as she looked at the mess she had caused. Looking at her hand it was a miracle she hadn’t broken the skin, frowning as she looked around knowing that she needed to clean it up. “Ah… how will I explain this… I just vandalised property. I’m going to be in so much trouble! How can I even pay for this…” Rambling to herself as she looked at the mess on the floor she had been the cause of.

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“Are you serious?”

It was almost six o’ clock, and Jay had finally stopped by to bring Cas’s car back. The prince knew he’d probably been joyriding around the city all day, but the vehicle was still unscathed as far as he could tell, and his friend had even been thoughtful enough to fill up the tank for him before he returned it. He couldn’t complain. Instead, he found himself filling the other high born in about the wild night he’d had as he drove him back to his home. It was still at the forefront of his mind, so he couldn’t not talk about it. He needed to get the story off his chest, and Jay was an eager audience.

“Wow,” his friend leaned his head back against the rest on his seat, one arm dangling loosely out the open passenger-side window. “That’s insane. Who knew one extra shot at a party could lead to all that?”

“I know,” Cas sighed. “I’m still wrapping my brain around it too. If I hadn’t called the hospital today, I might have thought it was just a vivid dream.”

“God, your life is always so much more interesting than mine,” Jay shook his head. “I’m jealous.” He turned to the prince with a glint of interest in his eye. “So… I’ve gotta know. Is she hot? The girl you found in the woods.”

“Come on, man,” Cas wrinkled his nose. “She was unconscious.”

“Fine, sorry,” Jay held up his hands. “Okay, how about this: What did her leg look like? I bet it was pretty gruesome, right?”

“Just shut up, Jay,” the prince rolled his eyes.

“You’re no fun,” the high born crossed his arms indignantly. “You get to have the coolest experience out of the three of us. The least you could do is share it a little.”

“I already told you everything that happened,” Cas snorted. “What else do you want?”

Details,” Jay clapped his hands together with each syllable of the word.

Fortunately for Cas, it only took a few more minutes before they arrived at the Arowood mansion, so he narrowing managed to escape his friend’s pestering. Of course, he had answers for both of Jay’s questions, but he didn’t want to confess that yes, he did think Iris was attractive when he’d found her nearly dead in the grass; and he didn’t want to think about the gory punctures in her leg at all. That information, he would keep to himself.

Once he dropped off a very disappointed Jay, he turned his car around to make his next stop: the hospital. Part of him was still hoping that he’d get there to find out that the girl had just been picked up by a family member, but he doubted that would happen. It had only been an hour ago when Dr. Emett had said she was still there. Most likely, nothing had changed.

Circling around to the valet drop-off, he passed his car keys to the worker on shift and headed into the hospital lobby. As soon as he stepped inside, the receptionist greeted him with a respectful dip of her head and a warm smile. “What can I do for you, Caspian?” she asked politely.

“I’m here to see Iris,” he said, leaning his forearms on the counter. “Can I get a visitor pass?”

“Of course,” the receptionist jotted his name down in her visitor record and then opened a drawer to retrieve a green lanyard, which she offered to him with another bright smile. “Here you are. Just remember that visiting hours are over at nine.”

“Thanks,” he nodded, slipping the string around his neck, so the pass dangled visibly against his chest.

Stepping away from the counter, he turned and headed down the hallway that led to her room, both curious and apprehensive to find out if her condition was any better today.
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