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Dark Skies REWRITE ch 3 by SuzuriHeinze Dark Skies REWRITE ch 3 by SuzuriHeinze
Dark Skies REWRITE
Ch 3

Very early the following morning, all of the adults that were able to stand on their own two feet were called into the village square of Fynn by castle guardsmen. They were all very careful and quiet as to not bother the children. The sun had barely broke through the night’s darkness. The wind was chilly. Most of the stars were still visible, and most of the villagers were confused as hell as to what was going on.

Standing near the path to the castle was King Gilbert, accompanied by several of the castle guards. He approached the people quietly, though many of the villagers were scared to hear of what the King had to say.

“People of Fynn,” he said, “Do not be alarmed. There is nothing wrong. I have called you here to make an announcement. It was decided last night that we will build walls around our castle and town to protect ourselves from whatever may come. Atop these walls would be guards to watch exactly who would approach.”

There was a murmur from the villagers. What was the king trying to tell them? They would build walls to prevent invaders? Who would invade, they asked each other. Why do we need walls? The whole scenario seemed off kilter.

“I know,” Gilbert continued. “You are wondering exactly why I wish to fortify our territory. You want to know what, or who, might be coming for us, am I right?”

Collectively, the crowd agreed.

“Truth be told, we don’t know if the threat will ever make it this far. But in case it does, I wish to be prepared. Thus, we will be starting a new program in the castle to find and train any and all who would like to be among the White Knights of Fynn,” Gilbert added proudly. “I will place my cousin, Count Borghen of Salamand, in command of this program, so please speak with him if you wish to join.” He put his hand to his chin, stroking his blonde beard. “That will be all. Thank you for coming together for this meeting. I apologize for it being so early, but I wish for the construction to begin at this time every day until the fortification is complete.” The king turned around to head back up to the castle. He yawned loudly, coming across to many of the villagers as very rude, considering he would be able to go back to bed for as long as he wanted after making his announcement.

Once the king arrived back into the castle, he found Minwu standing there with a few books between his hands.

“Ah, Minwu. Good morning.”

“Yes, it is, sire.”

“I trust that the lessons with your student will keep you busy most of today?”

“Unless you have need of me.”

“No, no. Keep to your duty. You might be one of the only useful people in the castle, but I cannot expect you to do everything that needs to be done around here,” Gilbert said. “I hope the dear meets every expectation you have.” He smiled, but ultimately his thoughts were devoured by the troubles clouding his mind. All he could think about was the trouble far to the south, and how to protect both himself and his people. Gilbert breathed heavily. The stress was becoming more physical than Minwu expected.

Minwu made a mental note of how different the king’s personality seemed to be compared to that of last night. He seemed more anxious than usual. “Your Majesty, you should take the opportunity to rest. Stress can kill even a steadfast leader like yourself. Should we brew you some tea to relax your nerves?” he asked the question very gently.

“A wise suggestion. Yes. Have the maids fetch me some tea, and... Someone go tell my cousin to get out of bed before I send a guard to stuff a spear up his ass.”

“Sire, I would have someone do it, however, everyone is deathly afraid of him,” Minwu said, turning around. “Considering what he’s been putting our staff through lately, I would imagine he’d enjoy such an unusual sort of punishment.”

Minwu and King Gilbert both were caught off guard by a cough from behind them. They turned to see the short Count Borghen standing there, his arms crossed. Borghen grunted in disapproval, walking between them both as if he was higher in authority than anyone else there.

Minwu stepped back for a moment when his eyes locked onto the count’s. “How long was he-”

“Let it go, Minwu. You have your own work to look after,” the king said quietly. “It is more important to worry about your student right now.”

“...all right, Your Majesty,” Minwu answered, carrying his books back to his tower. He smiled faintly, though no one would have known otherwise with the veil hanging over the lower half of his face. The sunlight fell through stained glass windows above, making the beautiful patterns of the wild rose land right on the carpet where Minwu was walking. The imagery helped qualm his worries. Each of the designs depicted told a piece of a story that led to the founding of Fynn, and the fable had been handed down over the years of how the wild rose became the symbol of the royal family. “Perhaps today would be an excellent opportunity to tell Cantirena the legend,” Minwu thought aloud.

When he entered his tower, he lit a stick of incense, put his books on the nearby table, and bent down to pray. He felt that same sensation every time he concentrated his mind lately. A slight wave flowing through the inner reachings of himself. Minwu breathed very slowly, calming every aspect of his body down. As he reached the epitome of his calm state, visions started to cross his closed eyelids.

Yes, I am the Captain of the Guard of Fynn, but why would you address a letter to me? What can I do for you, Your Grace?

Minwu’s eyes opened. Borghen’s voice? Who would contact Borghen? What use would he serve to anyone? Even Minwu had more authority in the castle than he did. How odd.

--

Down near the outskirts of Fynn, Cantirena sat awake before either Firion or Clarisse. Even she couldn’t believe it. She yawned a few times, then climbed out of bed. Getting dressed was the simplest thing, and it took her just a few minutes. Her messy, curly hair never did as it was supposed to, so she never bothered trying to style it. It wasn’t like a brush could even go through her mop anyhow.

Cantirena turned away from the trunk where she kept what little belonged to her after closing it and pushing it under her bed. She looked over at her father, sitting with such a vacant expression on his face. It made her worry.

Frederick was sitting on his bed, but zoned out a bit, hardly keeping his attention on one thing. His broken leg was far from healed. He felt like he could keel over dead with the amount of pain he had been enduring all night.

“Papa?”

“Cantirena? You are up early.”

“Where’s Mama?”

“The king called all the adults that were able to go out for a meeting this morning. I can’t imagine what it was about,” Frederick answered, not really caring about whatever it was. “I can’t get up, so it’s not like I-”

The little hut’s wooden door opened, and Sumia walked in with a look of both worry and sadness. “Frederick,” she called out loudly. “Oh. Cantirena. You’re awake. How odd.”

Cantirena paid it no mind. She was going to hear that from everyone this morning. “I’m hungry,” she said quietly.

“I was called to the meeting right out of bed,” Sumia said. “I don’t have anything prepared for you.”

“I’ll... Just ask Lord Minwu about breakfast, then,” Cantirena replied flatly. “If he comes looking for me, I’m going to be out in the back yard.”

“No, Cantirena,” Sumia said. “No, you can’t do that anymore. I know it’s a part of your morning, but the king has ordered new changes in town, and the place you like to go will be turned into a part of the wall.”

“Wall?” Frederick and Cantirena asked, both of them surprised to hear that.

“Yes. King Gilbert has ordered that a wall be built, surrounding the entire village and castle. The rumors are that a country far to the south has lost stability from an outside force, and the king wishes to protect all within his kingdom,” Sumia explained. “All of the livestock will be pulled into a collective pen within the wall.”

“That complicates things more than fixes anything. Fynn thrives mostly on farming livestock,” Frederick said. “If there is a collective pen, then only so many cows, horses, and sheep will be able to have the room they need. I don’t know what we will do for work if we lose our horses.”

Cantirena listened to her parents speak, but she didn’t really care about any of that. She liked her private place. “Why can’t I go sit on the stump?”

“Because they will uproot it today, most likely.”

“But that’s my stump.”

“Cantirena... That isn’t your stump.”

“Yes it is. No one else goes to sit on it. It’s my place!”

Frederick shook his head. “Cantirena, please stop acting like a child. We all will have to give up something. I have to give up our livestock. You have to give up your stump. When royalty give the order, we do as we are told. Do not question the authority. You’ll only get in trouble.”

Cantirena’s eyes watered. She stepped outside and closed the door behind her.

“Dear!”

“She has to learn, especially if she’s going to follow Minwu’s path. He is a servant of the king. No matter his powers or how smart he is, he is still a tool for the king. She should learn that now instead of later,” Frederick said sternly.

“I know, but...”

“She has been through a lot lately. But she still has to keep going. That’s just life.”

When Sumia turned around, she saw that Clarisse and Firion both had their heads held up, staring at her directly. “Good morning, both of you. It’s time to start getting ready for school. I am sorry I don’t have anything ready for breakfast. I can give you some coins to pick some up from the market.”

Firion got out of bed. He seemed far less sleepy than Clarisse was. Reaching under his covers, he pulled out the knapsack he had been keeping with him the previous evening. “You said something about a kingdom far to the south?” he asked. “I don’t know much about anything else, but I spent a long time studying my father’s map book.” He pulled the book out and turned to a map of the world as they knew it. “Here. Maybe you should look through it.”

“Firion,” Sumia whispered, taking the book into her hands for a second. “I know this book means so much to you. You don’t have to do anything with it you don’t want to.”

“Papi once said that everyone needed to know what the world really looked like, but many are afraid to travel. That’s why he made maps of every place he ever visited and put them all in this book. Maybe it’s because he knew that at one time, someone would need to have it,” Firion said quietly. “When he was dying, he... Handed me the map book. He told me to keep it, always. Someone was going to need it.” He reached into the sack to pull out another set of clothes. His expression was somber, more than it was when the twins went to retrieve him from the sanctuary. “I think the kingdom far to the south is the one.... I have a hard time saying it. Para? Palamese?”

“Palamecia.”

“My father was never allowed onto the island when he went to chart it. So he made a detailed map of all he could get from his ship.”

While Firion had been talking, Clarisse was getting dressed, too. She was hanging on every word he said. When she closed her eyes, she could see a man looking like Firion but thirty years older standing on a wooden ship, looking up at a very tall mountain with a massive castle built into its crevices. He held a graphite chalk to his parchment and drew everything he saw from the dock in front of him to the castle. As she opened her eyes again, coming back to the room, she noticed Firion having a single tear stream down his cheek.

“It was his last voyage.”

“Oh, Firion,” Clarisse said, hugging him from behind so quickly that he couldn’t put up any resistance. “You were there, weren’t you?”

“Archers from the island were ordered to shoot at us while we was trying to sail around the entire place,” Firion continued. “Papi ordered me to go below deck, and... He was struck in the back as I was climbing down the stairs. So. If that country is the one responsible for what’s going on, then I won’t hesitate to give all the information I can provide.” He then pushed Clarisse off of him.

“We didn’t mean to- not this early, anyhow,” Sumia whispered. “Firion, we didn’t want-”

“It doesn’t matter,” Firion replied. “Come on, Clarisse. Let’s take a few coins and go get something to eat. I can’t sit in school hungry.”

“Ah, yes, that’s a good idea,” Frederick agreed, reaching over to a pouch sitting on his nightstand. He winced in pain a few times, giving two gold coins to each of them. “Oh, and give these to Cantirena.” He gave Clarisse two more coins. “No reason for her to have to ask people at the castle to eat when I still have a few coins on hand.”

“Yes, Papa.”

Together the duo walked out of the house, and their parents looked on with a sense of worry.

“It’s hard to believe he’s only two years older than our girls,” Sumia said quietly.

“He’s been through a lot more than they have,” Frederick answered. “Experiences like that cause a child to grow in the mind much more than in the body. I’m not surprised.”

“Poor boy. I’m glad Clarisse decided to bring him here.”

“She has a lot of experience with difficult siblings, so I think there is no better place for him in Fynn,” Frederick said, smiling at his wife. “Will you help me clean my bandages? I’m letting out some ugly discharge.”

“Of course, of course,” Sumia said, leaning over to kiss his cheek. “Anything for you, my beloved.”
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