I am

"She was made out of pure spirit and life. A star on earth. Yet a hurricane in space. Cassiopeia Turow was different."
I am a girl who dared to dream. I am someone who sought adventure. I am a person who will learn and thrive and satisfy curiosity. These are all qualities most people share. But most people can't say that they overthrew a monarchy or helped burn down the world.


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9. "...He had to get over his immaturity."

 

SIX

“The King was lucky to know her.”

“He was indeed, but before he could he had to get over his immaturity.”

 

Five and a half months ago

Irille high street

 

It was a rite of passage. His father had done it and his father’s father and so on and so forth. Hadrian distinctly remembered that when he was little, his father used to tell him stories about it. As a child, he would squirm and say that he hoped he would never get them. The pain was too much to bear Hadrian had said, and it was often the source of his nightmares. However, his father would placate him and say it wasn’t so bad. Above all, Hadrian would always listen to his father. He had to believe in him now.

God, Hadrian wished that the pain wasn’t as bad as he feared. Now, as a near nineteen year old he was still frightened. It was foolish of him he knew. Still he had a mantra:

It’s not going to be bad. It’s going to be okay, you know it will. You know it.

He had to trust in his father’s stories, and in his artist’s talents. Hadrian would be in loyal hands.

Hadrian was suddenly cold and this was not from nerves, after all he had just had his hair cropped as short as the scissors would allow. It would not surprise him if he would be mistaken for a monk or Priest. A king could not look like a priest and the forthcoming tattoos would make him stand out. That was the point.

What was it his father had said – the King should be the first person that is recognized in a sea of strangers, that’s even if all of the crowd are deaf, dumb and blind.

Alexander Wyrick was a man of many talents, but being creative was not one of them. No, his father was more of a military man than a painter.

“Don’t stand outside the door like a ghost your majesty,” a voice called from the room he was standing outside of. He had been stood there for a good twenty minutes, debating whether he should go in and get it over with or put it off. Hadrian was a king he shouldn’t be indecisive, and that could get people killed if the situation was dire enough.

The door rifled pages of sketches and Hadrian smiled. Samantha sure was mighty with a few bottles of ink and a stick of graphite. She was the only person he trusted with this job.

“I thought you would never come in, then I would have had to call the Guard.” She smirked from behind an easel five times the size of her small frame.

“I could have you arrested for that remark,” Hadrian muttered as he looked around the room. He had only been in there once before, and it hadn’t changed. It was sparsely filled, just with a few chairs and a single desk near the large window at the back. The rest were pages and pages, and sketchbooks and easels, and paints and brushes and…

Everything that a budding, and excellent, artist would need and want.

“But you wouldn’t, who else would do the bidding of the Royalist family in Irille?”

But for all of her brilliance, she still refused to work for his family.

He couldn’t put this off any longer. Hadrian drew near to the long and comfortable chair placed in the center of the room, the chair in which he would sit in pain for the next couple of hours. Samantha hurried to his side, turning the easel around to hide it from his prying eyes. The artist was always a cunning girl, damn it.

“Are you ready for the almighty reveal?” She coaxed and she handled her tools in her hands.

“You know the tradition, not until you’re finished.” Every King should trust the people he rules over his father had said.

Hadrian swallowed as she bracketed his head into the neck of the chair and first placed her tattoo pen to the skin of his forehead. He prepared for it, he really did, but all his imaginings couldn’t prepare him for the constant scratching and stinging.

Samantha did not mention the tears that avoided all demands to never be. “So your mother is doing well yes?” Hadrian tried to converse.

Samantha’s mother had done his father’s tattoos and just like Hadrian, Samantha was another small addition hanging on the coattails of their parents, watching with raptured eyes at the whir of the machine.

“Even bedridden she still insists on having a sketchbook in hand and I can’t drag her away from a pencil.”

“Flu isn’t it?”

Samantha filled her with stories from her childhood, filling the hours with years that Hadrian had been too engaged to wonder about never mind to know about. It was a shame, that the only time he would come here again, would be when his own son would be of age or when Hadrian himself became a legacy (a King of fifty years).

“There we are your majesty,” she whispered as she withdrew her tattoo pen away from his skin and back to her table, “You can have a look at your markings.”

Pulling a mirror around from the cluttered desk, she positioned it so that Hadrian could see the tattoos that would make him the King everyone would know instantly and respect. A pyramid of black triangles graced his forehead, fading as they drew closer to his eyes. Half of his forehead was bare, except for the scant runes at his temples. It was his eyes that were the distinguishable features, the arrow and dagger drawn surrounding the bottom of his left eye, the thorns drawn just underneath the eyebrow of his right. The colours were few, black and blue. Black triangles, blue weapons and thorns.

Samantha had completed excellent work for only corresponding with the King through one meeting and a half a dozen letters.

Hadrian was amazed and running off adrenaline. “T – This is amazing,” he muttered to the wonderful girl.

“That isn’t the custom my majesty,” Samantha chuckled and drew back to the easel. What was painted on it? Hadrian’s slight pain edged into inquisitiveness.

“You have done the crown a great honour,” and he bowed stiffly to her, when he straightened he barely missed the quirk to the artist’s lips. Then escaped a bubble of laughter and the king and the artist collapsed into amusement. It was in the minute when he was short for breath when the easel was turned around. It was then that his breath was stolen properly and he choked on spit.

The painting was of his father. The painting that would be hung in the palace and looked at by millions. The strong man had his back to the audience, bare backed and extra tattoos on full display. Alexander was a man of literal art, individual pieces that matched with the dips and scars of his body.  It was amazing how he had gotten all of those extra tattoos in one long sitting. Hadrian dreaded to think of the pain his father must have felt. Patterns and words and images from history. He was smiling over his shoulder, a scar along one cheek and eyes defiant and alight with humour. Perhaps, when Samantha was called for the consultation, he had been telling a joke to the girl to lighten the tone lingering in the room. The markings around his eyes were thick in close together words. The right eye was surrounded in blue ink, the left eye in black. The words of his mother and of him and his brother.

“Hadrian, I have weapons on my face and my back. I may only have words for my markings but they can be as damaging as any blade.”

Those were the exact words his father had said when he was asked about his markings.

Samantha was just adding the white details of his eyes and of the royal band around his waist.

“It’s complete. I found it symbolic to finish it on the day you receive the markings you were destined for since birth.”

“Then I must take my leave.” It was an excuse, he could still be there when he called the lords to pick the painting up. But he couldn’t be there when his father would be taken away from him yet again.

Samantha just nodded and curtsied, “You look wonderful your majesty and I am glad to have done it for you. Before you leave please take away some words of advice.”

It was too much to ask of a King, a thing that could have been penalized. But he didn’t disallow it, instead he nodded his approval, grateful for an outside view.

“That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, looking as if she were alive. I call that piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will’t please you sit and look at her?” Her voice sounded mystical as she recounted what Hadrian knew to be a poem. “It’s from an old world poet, Robert Browning I believe. Look at your reflection and this painting, and see a story behind it, it does good to dwell on memories and forget life for a moment.”

“Thank you Samantha, you have a good heart.”

He left just as he witnessed the faint blush painted on her cheeks.

...

Hadrian’s arrival back at the palace was met with stony silence. Every person he encountered bowed to him so low that their knees skimmed the floor. He knew what these markings meant, he was one to be watched and noticed. He was a King. This was an important day, only seconded by his coronation.

Lucian bowed down to him too, which was something he didn’t do often. Together they linked arms and smiled to one another before retiring to a private room. Alone with only his brother, Hadrian was able to breathe out the pressure he had felt just walking down the palace corridors.

“You look like you’ve been through a war,” Lucian remarks, offering his brother a pastry from the dish in the middle of the conference table.

“You go and have a needle stab you fifty thousand times and come out not looking a bit nauseous.”

“You have a point,” Lucian replies and directs his brother to sit down on one of the two chairs on opposite side of the tables. This was a room dedicated to meetings between the two, the cabinet full of whisky was tell of that. “It’s something more than that isn’t it?”

“I saw father’s painting,” it was abrupt, somewhat halted by a bite of apple.

“You wouldn’t have been able to do that unless…” Lucian caught on to what that meant and he coughed, “How does it look?”

“Amazing, it was like father was standing in front of me. I wonder if putting it in a frame will make his face seem artificial.”

Lucian didn’t speak his thoughts aloud but Hadrian knew that his brother’s thoughts would be reminiscent of the love they shared for their father. While he left his brother to deal with his demons alone, Hadrian called for the lords to pick up the painting from Samantha. It would be here tonight and tomorrow, they could put it in the frame and mount it in the palace. They would have to be a private unveiling with just the palace staff and then a public unveiling later on in the week. Damn, that meant that Hadrian would have to arrange a ball. How he detested balls.

When they were gone, he finally rescued his brother from his own mind and was once again reminded on how he was a few minutes older.

“I was surprised that you bowed to me earlier on, you never bow,” the words were made in jest but it was the truth. Hadrian had always known for his brother to be the only one left standing at the bottom of a corridor, while the surrounding people would drop to their knees in honour. He had always admired his brother’s stubbornness.

“This is an important day for you my brother, there will never be a more important day than this now,” Lucian answered and was done speaking about it. Instead he switched topics, “You remembered the day he died didn’t you?”

“I remember going to identify him, tradition the mortician called it. Everyone knew who he was and yet he needed me to confirm it. He shouldn’t have been strung up like he was.”

The police had described a bloody and gruesome scene, the King strung up like a criminal on the city wall. Nails drove through his hands, and through his eyes. Whoever had murdered him had done it with great malice. A hatred that Hadrian had never known before. Who would have wanted to kill the King? The royals of Irille were loved, and never before had they saw a successful assassination for nigh on over three hundred years.

Lucian, although he was clearly hurting, came around the other side of the table and hugged his brother with a fierceness dedicated to moments of sadness; warm and safe.

“You are the strongest man that I know Hade,” the childhood nickname reminded him when they swore that they would always have each other’s back, “You will be a great King.”

“Thank you Luc,” Hadrian whispered and they stayed there, chests pressed together and eyes remembering the past great man. On their minds were the possibilities that the future days might take, but good or bad there was one thing certain.

They were brothers, twins, and they would always have each other. No matter what. 

 

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