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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11. "Her curiosity was equal parts dangerous and helpful."

 

EIGHT

“I know that she must have been curious.”

“Her curiosity was equal parts dangerous and helpful.”

 

Five and a half months ago

The Royal Palace.

 

“You’ve been standing here since six this morning,” Hadrian claimed from the doorway, “It’s now midday.”

He was talking to Lucian, who had remained the way he had been for four hours; back pulled straight as he sat on a bench facing the picture of their father.

“He always prided himself on his tattoos, always so proud to have another one done or another space to be filled in. But he never took us with him, only you for one of them.”

“You’re avoiding the subject brother.”

Lucian blinked but no answer came. The private unveiling of the portrait had commenced that morning and while the other lords and ladies disappeared to talk artistry with one another, Lucian had remained as a statue.

“The story within his eyes, maybe he was flirtatious with Samantha, you know how he was since mother, or maybe just gleeful at a joke or a memory. Father was always a jester, he used to joke that in a previous life he must have been one. Oh, the discussions we would have.”

“Lucian, come on, you’re not doing yourself any favours if you stay here.”

Their eyes connected and looked away again. Lucian’s were locked on their father’s and Hadrian’s stayed on his brother’s. Maybe, to pull his brother away, Hadrian had be forceful and pull the curtains across his father’s form. But the look in Lucian’s eyes was not melancholic but like a gladiator racing into a battle; equal parts angry and ready for circumstances. Hadrian didn’t know what Lucian was waiting for, and he was perturbed by it. 

“You’re not doing any favours staying here King Hadrian,” Lucian said without eye contact, “I won’t leave him again, I’ve learned from my mistake. Maybe you should learn yours.”

Lucian had always claimed that Hadrian’s biggest mistake in life, his greatest weakness, was forgiveness. Forgive and forget should be dead and buried if Lucian had his way. But Lucian didn’t have his way, and it was time for Hadrian to start acting like the older brother he was instead of letting his brother walk footsteps across him and his rule.

He was King Hadrian indeed.

...

“You went and saw that lad didn’t you?”

One universal fact that should be known was that Lisa did not miss anything. Not a thing escaped her attention if she had her way.

Cassiopeia didn’t look up and finished lacing up her boots. Snow had fallen that previous night, the true winter’s day setting in early, and she didn’t want to fall flat on her face just walking down the road.

“Don’t ask me how I know, you actually hid it quite well,” she was of course talking about the necklace in the envelope and not Cassiopeia’s behaviorisms, “Someone blabbed that the fight was being talked about among the staff. I haven’t and Bruce certainly hasn’t, and the last time I checked, there wasn’t a fourth employee around here.”

Cassiopeia didn’t have to reason with her woman, but she did reply, “My parents did ask for a souvenir from wherever I went, I sent them a shell from one island, a bottle of sand from another and this time I thought they’d get something special. In this city things are going to be dangerous, I have to learn that, but I also have to learn how to deal with living in a dangerous city. Don’t begrudge me that.”

“If you get killed then we don’t have a third employee.”

The conversations between them were always short lived.

“Bruce, sort out the girl will ya?” Lisa shouted down to the bar, suggesting that Cassiopeia could be dealt with so easily.

“Ya think that she can be sorted out?” Bruce shouted up, reaffirming her point. Descending to the bar, Bruce was less stern than usual.

“Thanks Bruce.”

“No problem girlie, enjoy your day off will ya?” He muttered from cleaning some glasses. It was just before opening the tavern and it the building was full of blissful silence. Cassiopeia had a rare day off, a day in which she was going to investigate the man she had saw last night. Vocalizing her plans to Bruce, she spent a few minutes learning how every citizen of Irille, of which was classed as someone living there for more than a year, was logged in the citizens book located at the library.

“Have fun!” The owner shouted out as Lisa appeared with a twisted face. Clearly, Bruce was going to be lectured by his wife, Cassiopeia was glad to be out for the day.

At this time of the year you could define Irille by a simple word; cold. The icy air was always present, stinging skin despite the many layers covering the body. Cassiopeia was bundled up, however, despite all of her efforts the effect didn’t diminish. For someone who was still fighting the last edges of a fever, she was doing well. But she can’t begrudge the way that the air smelled fresh and pure, as though the snow and the cold has swept all the negative atmospheres away.

Irille was a constant stream of houses and as she got closer to the city center, the population and the architecture style changed. Everywhere became grander and higher. Structures stretched to the sky and here, the snow was allowed to touch roofs. White coated the top of most things, proving to be a decoration that nature could only replicate.

Away from what Cassiopeia knew to be the travelers sector, the locals were seen to be in there element. The true Irille citizen was seen here, people who either were rushing to be at some place or another, or children who were all too happy to grab as much snow as they could and chuck it between themselves. Childish laughter and smiles were infectious, and beneath all of her layers Cassiopeia’s face was stretched wide.

Excitement was clear here in the cold, but the warmth of inside was infectious too and Cassiopeia was all too glad when she spotted the library. The library was something that Irille prided itself upon, which was shown in the specular sight of it. Designed to look like a gigantic book, it was made by the same person who masterminded the design of the Guild Hall. Inside was more appealing to Cassiopeia’s eyes though, looking up the eyes could see row after row, floor after floor, completed by a high ceiling of stunning artwork surrounding a gigantic circular skylight.

The Citizens book was held in the basement, the opposite direction in which Cassiopeia truly wanted to explore. She could tell that getting to the book was going to be a hardship. This was particularly proven by the desk that impeded all direction beyond the wooden structure manned by a strict looking man. “I’m here to view the Citizen’s book?” Cassiopeia asked and only got a reply of an application. Tediously, she filled in what she was doing here and how long she was going to be and who she was in particular. It was a while before the strict man actually allowed her beyond the desk and it was only when he escorted her to the book itself. Down another set of stairs, through many doors and even more doors, revealed a single podium weighed down by a truly massive book.

The Citizen’s book, documenting every citizen of Irille and the date they became a citizen, was a standard looking book. But Cassiopeia knew that it was not anything near to being standard. The pages were thin and the writing small, the names sorted through alphabetical order.

Albert Anthony, 25th Mar Year 276

Kathleen Sheer, 1st Dec Year 148

Max Waters, 14th Jun Year 302

Cassiopeia didn’t know how long she had been there as she got to the N section. She even checked it several times but a man going under the name of Nox was not within the book. Either a fake name was given or this Nox was not a citizen of Irille. The former fact was probably the case. Feeling as though her hours had been wasted, she thanked the strict man and turned to the factual rows of the Library. Nox had said that he was some sort of authority, so the rest of the day was spent reading up on all types of authorities and the organization's thinking that they were the authority.  

Irille was governed by the Guards, dealing with royalty and the Irille’s upper class, the Invigilators policed the rest. Names popped up, for example William O’Riley, the Chief of Law and Protection of the People, who was the head title of the Invigilators.

Turning to organisations she quickly found herself researching examples of mutinies:

Shadows – violent and haters of the government, but severely repressed by the government. Although still existing, a physical attack had not occurred for nearly twenty years.

The Sect – claiming that the political system was corrupt, its message was to fight corruption and heal the country. Minor incidents were reported but they were small and mostly undetectable.

Romians – an organisation fighting for equality and peace. Small and not a huge threat, they mostly used strikes and protests to get their message across.

Surely Nox had to be a part of either one of these organizations or she had talked to either a raging lunatic or an assassin of some kind.

What had Cassiopeia got herself into by talking to one stranger?

...

Being dragged out from the viewing room dredged up memories that Lucian would have preferred to be kept quiet. The guards escorted him with clipped words and rushed assurances, yet another similarity with his memories, and placed him rather kindly in a room. He could almost hear the clicking sound of a lock turning, if his imagination stretched to its capacity.

His brother may have took that jester or King comment too close to heart.

This must have been the case, especially since his brother had ordered the priest to return to the castle. The last time he was here, their father laid dead in the morgue.

Priest Jason Westley was a man of honour and philosophy. A hater of the apothecary and clinics, he believed in the power of belief, a higher deity and therapeutic sessions in order to heal any ailment. That included all mental worries.

“I don’t see why you’re here, or why the King had concerns to call on you,” Lucian said as he marched to the window, the view from this room was spectacular this time of year, “No one is dead from what I can see and I certainly am not.”

“Your brother recalled an incident this morning where you showed setbacks, grief is understandable and the Gods would allow such things – “

“I don’t believe in your fallacies Priest,” The view outside was better than the man inside, the blossom tree may have been void of life this time of the year, but the snow was adornment enough.

“No matter your belief, sitting staring at your father in death is not healthy from one with your roles. While your brother rules the country, you are his ally, you are still an image for this country and you are a vital piece of a great puzzle that cannot function if every piece does not cooperate. The great games cannot be won if you don’t participate.”

Silence reigned the room as the younger man refused to deal with his problems. His problems were his own to fight, not a priest’s who believed in the Gods to sort them for him.

“There is opposition at every corner and they must be kept at bay.”

“I don’t know of what opposition you speak of, Irille’s foreign relations have been concreted since the reign of my great, great, great grandfather’s. I have time to grieve normally and peacefully in a way that an individual should. A position should not dictate on how I grieve.”

Running away from the gigantic elephant in the room was the way of living these days.

“You forget the purpose of what I say – “

“I forget nothing!”

The three words were the purest concentration of truth as you could order on any market. Lucian had not forgotten a day from what he could remember. Every prompt he received was rewarded with clarity so perfect it was transparent.

He was made aware of his father’s death at four o’clock in the morning when he was considered a criminal. It was prompt that would never erase itself.

“So have you come to collect me from my grounding dear brother?” Lucian glowered from the dark corner of The Cellar, “Has father decided I’ve been punished enough for doing nothing?”

His brother’s silence made Lucian’s dread rise from his chest. How stupid he must look previously curled up like a child in the cold and now looking up eagerly. How miserable he must look, like a stray on the street begging for love. His father had done this to him.

Where was his father?

“Hadrian say something, you must have something to say. You always do.”

Hadrian was as gaunt as he, as though he had just spent an entire night in the dark and cold, lost in humiliation. A ghost stood in front of him and not his brother.

“Hadrian…?” The air fogged up around him. Hadrian seemed to swallow it and keep swallowing. Swallow. Breath. Swallow. Breath. His hands fumbled in front of him, resting finally on the bars up above Lucian’s head.

The hatch was opened and only one movement served as distance between the two of them. Yet none of them moved. Hadrian’s hands fumbled again, hesitant to touch Lucian.

Then Hadrian ruffled his brother’s hair. He had never done that and had sworn never to do so. Hair was a perfect symbol, too important to wreck purposely.

“Father’s dead.” Hadrian’s voice did not crack or stutter, it was a monotone.

Lucian laughed. Of course father was dead to them. What he had done was inexcusable this time. Hadrian explaining the obvious was how he did things sometimes.

It was either that or he was joking. Hadrian was always a limpet to their father’s side. Joking would only lighten the mood come Lucian’s release. Any moment now, Hadrian’s nose would twitch and his serious face would be betrayed. Then he would erupt into laughter, his so carefully put together serious face shattering under his humour.

Any moment now…

Or a moment later…

Just…

Lucian stopped laughing. “You can’t be serious!” The shout echoed off of the close walls.

“I am not joking!” Hadrian screamed and his seriousness broke but not in humour. In anger. Anger proving to be more like a hurricane than a mere feeling.

Suddenly, his brother’s hands were pushing themselves into the small enclosure, grasping at shoulders and hauling upwards. Feet dangling. Eyes meeting circles of red flames. Brother facing brother. Hadrian held Lucian aloft for minutes, displaying a strength that anger rewarded with a vengeance.

“Some utter twat murdered our father and you’re laughing. Have some decorum brother, have some feeling!”

Confusion. Confusion. Confusion.

Hysteria. Hysteria. Hysteria.

Lucian was dropped by into the small cage and left there to pick himself up. His brother was a force and he was spiraling, descending, falling.

His father was dead. Alexander Wyrick had been murdered.

Pulling himself out of the darkness he knew that Hell would arrive at someone’s door that night. Above all, Lucian knew that the devil would come with the same wicked intensity that he had when he had visited the Wyrick family and laughed in their faces.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Give me a date and I will recollect what happened on that day.”

The priest complied with an anxiety tinted mind. Date. Date. Date. Memory. Memory. Memory. On one date a woman had lamented about the worlds end. On another a man walked across the street, wearing a peculiar outfit consisting of every colour imaginable. On the last date, he had ate an entire bowl of fruit and learned that he was allergic to bananas.

All pointless memories. But the point still stood. But back to the most important day, the day his father died and the day he pushed him into a prison for conversing with a woman. 

It was a day where Lucian felt trapped in the confines of the castle. He was also bitterly alone, his father doing some Kingly duties and Hadrian away doing some state affair. The servants grew on his nerves by simply existing, the food couldn’t calm his feelings and his day felt meaningless compared to everyone else’s. He hated that feeling. It had to be stopped and the only thing that he could think of to do that was to take a walk.

His walk around Irille was mediocre to some standards; he adopted a disguise of normal clothes and dipped his head down low to avoid his features being recognized. Some people came up to him and conversed for a while, but he was always able to escape with a polite excuse. He was allowed to go on his way through a forest and he allowed himself to breath.

Upon the forest floor there lay trees of yesteryear, fallen in storms long forgotten. The seasons had been harsh, stripping away the bark and outer layers, yet rendering them all the more beautiful. They had the appearance of driftwood, twisting in patterns that Lucian could only remark to be either waves or art work. It was soft and damp yet his fingers came away dry. Birdsong came in lulls and bursts above him and a smile crept up onto his face. That was when he heard the giggle – feminine and gleeful he knew who it belonged to. Marianne.

Marianne was a stunning woman. Lucian had originally met her as being a politician’s daughter or something like that and they had grown to like one another. But the dowry his family offered was too low compared to the dowry of another family. He lost her to another man, someone who was not necessarily a prince of a country but a son of a lord, a son with money not restricted by up keeping a city. They tried to be together despite this and failed. Eventually, Marianne gave in to the other man’s affections and she and Lucian met no more. His father made sure that the affair would not continue on any circumstances after that.

In that forest, Marianne was held in her new husbands embrace, now with lips locked that halted the giggle. Hands travelled and disappeared underneath fabric and Lucian felt like an intruder. He shouldn’t be there and he turned to go. Feminine eyes opened and caught his figure. Passionate actions stopped instantly and the couple withdrew.

“Lucian…” Marianne whispered.

“I’m sorry, carry on – I’ll go.” Lucian stammered with his back to the couple. Yet he did not move an inch. This was his peace and for a shameful moment, jealously pooled in his stomach. That should have been him in that place and if it could not have been him than he should have been allowed to walk in the forest with some peace.

“My lord,” the husband bowed weakly, tucking himself in place and making sure he wasn’t revealing anything, “It is we that should go, you are clearly enjoying this forest.”

“No, you were clearly engaged before I got here, I will leave you to it. Congratulations on the marriage by the way, I wish you the best and happiest of days.” Lucian couldn’t stand to look at her, with half of herself exposed and her cheeks flushed.

Marianne did not share the same feelings and stepped forward, not caring that she was exposing herself to another man, “Thank you, my lord. I’m sorry for how things turned out, my feelings have now changed but you will always share a place in my heart.” She stepped closer to him, away from her husband’s prying ears, “I will always love you, Lucian,” she whispered.

Her voice was carried by the wind and her husband scowled from behind her, “Marianne.” It was a warning and Lucian knew that he had outstayed his welcome there. He turned and left. The couple would be happier if he had never turned up at all.

Lucian knew that the husband would report the day’s incidents to the King in some form. It was this reason why Lucian wasn’t surprised by his father’s orders for him to have dinner with him that night. Sitting tensely at a table with the King and his brother, Lucian picked at his food as if anticipating the argument. He did not have to wait long.

“I have learned from Lord Brickell that you visited Mrs. Brickell this morning. Marianne Brickell to be specific.” His father was serious enough to put down his knife and fork half way through eating his dinner.

“I ran into her accidently on a walk through the forests father,” Lucian tried taking a bite and despite his efforts found it tasteless.

“You have disobeyed my orders of – “

“I cannot help running into the woman, I did not try to deliberately go against your word.” He tried to reason with the man but he could see his father turning redder and redder with each word he spoke.

“You do not talk over me Lucian Wyrick. I made it clear that you would make a conscious effort to not sabotage that family and their new marriage. No matter if you came upon them accidently, you still stayed and made your presence known. How can you become a King if you cannot obey a simple order?”

“I am not to be King unless Hadrian perishes before me. How can I be blamed for something that I could not have helped? I was on a walk and when I saw them, I made an instant maneuver to leave. However, they caught me before I could and I made the decision to leave as fast as possible. I even wished them a good marriage!” Lucian’s anger was increasing as his father failed to see reason.

“Father, Lucian did everything that he was required to do – “

Hadrian’s efforts to discharge the fury lingering in the room were extinguished by a harsh glare. Under the storm of his father’s gaze, Hadrian was forced to dip his head towards his plate once more and stay out of the conversation. Lucian had wished that his brother had a more prominent backbone when it came to their father.

“For you to disobey me deliberately like this is to paint a picture of me being insolent. It makes the people think that I can’t handle my own children and therefore I cannot be fit to rule over a populace. It will inspire the first active rebellion in over fifty years. I hope you know what you have done.” The Kings hands were held tightly to the table cloth and his brows were so close together that they could have been considered one rope of hair tied across a forehead.

“I can’t understand how my actions could cause a rebellion!” Lucian tried to lower his tone but he couldn’t, “How are your eyes so blind to see that?”

His father went to open his mouth and Lucian saw his chance to strike.

“Mother would have saw reason with me - !” That was the final straw and the King rose from his chair with a force that jerked the long table.

The Guards had flooded the room and awaited orders from their King in seconds. The table was ensconced in tension. “Take him to The Cellar. He will stay the night.” The King ordered and the guards snapped to attention, capturing Lucian in their strong grip and hauling him away.

“Father please! Please Father! Don’t!” His explanations were ignored.

“You have gone too far this time Lucian, I am forced to take action in order to gain the support of the citizens of Irille. A sacrifice of one is better than a sacrifice of millions.” The Kings head was bowed and his eyes were closed to all voices, even that of his sons as they fought for Lucian’s freedom.

“I am your son…!” Lucian was taken away before his sentence could be finished.

I am your son, I am meant to be worth more than a simple sacrifice.

“Do you remember everything – there is an old world name for that – “ The Priest started and Lucian knew the direction of that train of thought.

“No I don’t remember everything, maybe when prompted and that prompt can be anything from what I have experienced.” Lucian admitted and started to pace.

“You have a great autobiographical memory… there’s an old world name for that too.”

Lucian was quite sick of all the old world narratives, after all the old world was long gone. A whole population eradicated due to a lack of widespread genetic diversity. One disease wiped out three quarters of the population and the one quarter that remained was left to try and fix a world where most of its people were dead. Their New World – Earth Two if you will – had the aim of fixing the old worlds mistakes by searching through genetic backlogs and preventing interbreeding even from way back in the family tree.

“Would you stop with the Old World Theories?” Lucian muttered and stopped pacing out of fear that he would wear a hole into the carpet. He knew that it was very well possible, after all most of his teenage years were spent wearing a hole into his bedroom floor because of it.

“I can’t quite recall what exactly it was but I can hunt down some old texts for you, I’ll go right away back to my quarters…”

Well at least the priest was distracted from what he had originally came to do. Lucian didn’t need therapy from a priest no less.

...

Later that night the brothers both got word from the priest. Lucian received a tome with a note attached:

‘You have a condition known as hyperthymesia, which is where an individual possesses an extremely detailed autobiographical memory. Those with this condition remember an abnormally vast number of their life experiences, but not all. I believe that this book may help you with your thoughts about your condition. It is not a curse but rather a biological difference within you.’

Hadrian meanwhile, got a letter from him. He had originally asked for this since he wanted to know how his brother was doing and coping with the death of their father. If Lucian couldn’t speak with him then maybe he would speak to someone he didn’t have any normal interactions with:

Your Majesty, I found that your brother has a condition which is known as hyperthymesia, the ability of having an extreme autobiographical memory. During my meeting with him, he seemed very much in thought and hostile to my presence. I cannot be certain of what plagues him, but there is certainly something. I suggest that you consult with him personally and try and figure out what this is.

With those words brought thoughts that demanded attention. Both brothers had a lot to think about that night.

...

The Cellar was named due to the rather stupid notion of keeping inmates captured from the street in the cellars of highly secured families.

The Cellar wasn’t as small as a normal family cellar however, but it was underground. Its only entrance was an old miner’s shaft reaching into the dark with an eager hand. Nobody knew just how far down it actually went but everyone knew that the levels corresponded to the seriousness of the crime. The less serious the crime committed the closer to the surface the criminal was. Lucian was only placed on the first level, but the light didn’t penetrate here. He wondered softly on what the lowest level would look and feel like. But he was scared by his own thoughts of creeping insanity and petulant begs for freedom. He supposed that he was meant to sit there and think about what he had done. But in his mind he knew that he didn’t do anything wrong and it was his father’s twisted sense of obedience that had led to these events. And so he was left there alone with the darkness and the thoughts of resentment. Time passed unknowingly and he waited for someone to come to release him. This wasn’t what he had wanted when he had felt trapped earlier that morning.

 

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