It had felt like a nightmare, one of which he could not awake from. The longer Dalious stayed at the scene, the more he realized it was not going away. His friend's body stayed cold with the sun's rise, his weapons stuck to the ground in blood. Looking around, he saw that many others suffered a similar fate.
Eventually he began to move again. He checked his friend's pockets, not sure in why he was searching him but he felt there may be something to find. Nothing, the man didn't even carry a coin pouch. Dalious was about to give up when he found a folded paper in his jacket pocket, a bounty letter. Opening it up he quickly read it, it forcing a smile out of him in the process. "Always the persistent one,"
he muttered. The man was technically a prince, yet he still took on odd jobs and did his own field work. The Mother probably wouldn't approve, but he enjoyed the mercenary work all the same. The Mother...the thought of speaking with her had just occurred to him.
The pirate's head ached even more as he pocketed the letter and stood with his makeshift cane. While the bodies were being loaded up in carts and wagons, he made sure to accompany and help carry his own share of the weight. He stayed with his friend's corpse, through the long ride in the city and to the destination. The burial itself would be up to the parents, but for now the soldiers would leave the body in a temple near where the ceremony would take place later on. This is where the soldiers would tell the Mother to come should she want to see her son before. His body was covered with a royal fur blanket and the blood was cleaned up from his face.
Dalious sat and awaited the Mother, knowing she would come. It was impossible to predict how she would act, he just knew none of it would be good. He simply stared at his dead friend lying on a stone table, knowing only more death would come from this. He sighed and said a silent prayer in his thoughts.
The night had been restless, sleep never came easy in that large, lonely bed. The room itself paled in comparison to the more lucrative ones, but it was far better then what Angeline had ever been use too. Her bed back in Luthra was hard and comfortable, here the bed was soft and uncomfortable. A stark comparison of how different the Exodus world was. Yesterday had been interesting for Angeline. Once again she had to solely rely on herself, something she was no stranger too. Once Avidan had left the tournament, to check on Dalious of all people, she had not seen him the rest of the night. It was strange, but not unexpected. Avidan was headstrong man, this Festival was trying even for her, and she could only imagine what it would be like for a man who hasn't seen civilization in decades. He had his reasons, but Melchior was a different story entirely. She had noticed at first, when conversating with other Nobles, trying to strengthen ties to her Kingdom, how absent her son was.
She hadn't seen him at all during the Festival, a very maddening prospect. Of course he wouldn't listen to dear Mother, he was one of the only few who were capable of such a feat. His duty was to be here, find a Princess to woe, and marry the girl. Not drink himself to a stupor in a tavern. She had sighed many times that night, between her fierce scowl and drinking. Once the tournament had started, and Avidan left, she recognized that it had been rigged, but said nothing. It was too good to be true really, and Angeline couldn't believe this was how the Exodus would so blatantly preform. She would have to tell Avidan when next she saw him.
Once the tournament was over, and feeling considerably drained, she confined herself to Luthra quarters. It was a large room, with not much in the form of any wealth. Exodus probably thought they would steal anything not tied down. The bed was large for just one person, a fact that was not ignored. Did they actually think the Mother and Father were a couple? Her disdain for Exodus grew further with each passing minute. They were fools, all of them. She sent out her guards, telling them to find Melchior for her, but even she knew they would fail.
Now, her face was blank as she sat reading the note that had been stuck on the door. In the night the unthinkable had happened, an event that even Angeline hadn't thought possible. One of the Mutated Bears, fearsome creatures, it had came in the night and slaughtered all that came into contact with it. A part of her hoped it had murdered many Exodus soldiers, as punishment for their little display in the tournament.
She began to get ready for the day, dressing fittingly for the occasion in just one of the black dresses she had brought. Her makeup was light, and her hair was let to hang loose. As she finished, she could not help but wonder where her son was. She doubted he would have been involved with the bear, probably too drunk to really even move from where he fell.
She left her room, walking across the hall to the room she knew her son had been assigned.
There was no reply, so she opened the door to find the room holey untouched. Melchior had never been there it seemed. Her anger was immeasurable, her boy was an idiot, and she had a few choice words for his hungover self to bear once she found him. She left the vacant room in disgust, but stopped in her tracks when she saw a few Exodus guards knocking on her own door."What's the meaning of this?"
she said while walking over to them.
The guards turned to her, both with solemn expressions. They wouldn't look her in the eye. The older of the two spoke, "You are the Mother, correct?" he asked."Of course I am, who else could I be?"
she said angrily. She had just about had it with Exodus.
The guard sighed, "I bring ill tidings, my Lady. We... We were able to identify one of the bodies from the attack. I'm sorry, so very sorry, but Prince Melchior was killed in the night."
She blinked, shaking her head slowly. Her angry expression contorted into a mix of disbelief and that of sorrow. She opened her mouth to speak but closed it. She couldn't believe it, she didn't want to. Melchior wasn't dead, he couldn't be."S-show me."
came her shaky voice.
The long, arduous walk to the temple felt as if each step was a mile. She held her head high with each crushing step, her heart was burdened with weight she had never felt before. They entered the Temple, walking past several corpses with blankets covering their bodies. At the end of a hallway that felt as if stretched on forever, there was a doorway and through it sat tables with more bodies. These were covered in finer blankets.
When she saw a familiar face sitting next to one of the bodies, her heart sank. Her throat felt like a lump as tears began to fall from her blue eyes. Her fingers trembled as she touched the fabric, pulling it back until she saw the pale face of her son. Her little Mel.
The lump in her throat was replaced with a heartbreaking wail as she cradled her boy's head in her hands. Touching his cold skin for any reaction, any sign that he might still be alive. But there was nothing."No no no no NO!"
she cried out, "My son... My boy..."
Angeline's voice broke as she began to weep over her dead son. She cried and cried for what felt like hours, the immense pain she felt, all consuming. Never in her life had she shown so much emotion, and the years of holding everything in popped like a cork. Chief among those emotions was her anger, and it was rising like a volcano before it erupted.
Without looking away from Mel's face she spoke aloud, her voice raw, "Why? Why did he die?"
She turned to look at Dalious, her tears had stained her black eye shadow and her eyes were red with grief."Why are you here, Dalious?"
Dalious stayed silent. He had a lot of time to think of something to say, but in the end decided on saying nothing. For a moment he wanted to hug her and weep with her, but it was not his place to do so. Having no mother or father himself he looked up to them, but he knew the difference. Still, he was here for them still."I've nowhere else I'd rather be, my lady,"
he said calmly, his gaze stayed on her son. "He was my best friend, my only friend."
He took a moment to clear his throat, then pulled out the bounty letter and set it on the table's side. "I found this on him, I think he was pursuing it on the side. Maybe that's why he was out there so late. I'm sure he would have brought me along if I hadn't lost him in the festival. I ended up getting thrown into the arena, then some healer afterward brought me to a ...her, friend's house to stay. I found him just before dawn, the bear was dead then as well."
He finally took his gaze away and looked to her. "If there is anything I can do, anything at all. I am here for you."
She did not reach out for the paper Dalious tried to give her, it was meaningless. A thousand different thoughts flooded into her head as she listened to Dalious speak. Angeline clung to his words, desperately trying to find some justification for her Melchior's death. Rational thoughts were quickly being pushed away by irrational feelings, and the only explanation she was receiving simply just wasn't good enough. She looked at the man before her, alive and breathing, then back to her son who was lifeless.
Her anger boiled over in that instant, and she lashed out at the only person who she could blame. Whether it was his fault or not, in that moment Angeline no longer cared.
Her breathing became erratic as she stood up straight and looked at Dalious with intense hatred, her voice was a Mother's scorn, "Lost him..? You LOST HIM? The Prince of Luthra? MY SON? My ONLY SON!"
She yelled, moving around the table in Dalious' direction. "By all accounts you shouldn't have even been in the tournament! Yet there you were! Helping an Earthican WHORE no doubt! I don't care that you were wounded Dalious! I don't care! That's no excuse! Why didn't you search for him? You SHOULD have searched for him! You didn't even try!"
She continued her ramblings, coming to stand directly in front of Dalious, her hands balled into fists at her side as she looked up at him."You should be ashamed to call yourself his best friend, Dalious. Where were you when your 'friend' needed you most? Not by his side, no, not with him. You were probably out fucking some whore or drinking yourself into a stupor instead! Why weren't you with HIM!"
she shouted, slapping Dalious across his right cheek. There was a deep silence in the room that followed, and with that quiet, her anger washed away.
She felt numb now, the absence of feeling felt like drowning. Angeline let her hands drop to her sides limply. She looked up at Dalious, her tear stained face devoid of any emotion. Her voice was broken, and hauntingly desolate as she spoke next. "You should have been there for my son, not for me, not now. I never want to see you again. That's what you can do for me, Dalious. Do you understand?"
Angeline then turned away from him and back down to her son.
Dalious stood stone still until she turned away. He grabbed the crumpled up letter and pocketed it, then nodded. "I understand."
With that, he walked out of the room and made way down the long tunnel toward the outside. He had shamed both the Mother and Father in less than two days, something that used to never bother him because Melchior was always there to make things right again. Those days were no more. He knew his bad influences over their son had left him with a tainted image of himself, but even with everything, he looked up to them as if they were his own parents. Now that was lost and he was all alone again, a thought which angered him.
Pausing just before exiting out, he pulled out the bounty letter one more time and looked it over. Melchior had written down an address of where he believed this gang to be hiding just under the text that read 'Dead or Alive'. Without the Mother and Father there to hold him back or keep him well behaved, he decided to honor his late friend by pursuing this bounty. He knew he would need some help, however, but at the moment didn't much care whether he would live or die. The festivities were a good time, but they were only a distraction for things to come. It was time to implement a bit of chaos.