Fallen Crowns

•Three kingdoms, one prophecy

Two will fall but only one will rise•

Adonia is from Exortitan, the kingdom known for its richness and royalty. Aleka lives in Sveltorm, an island that produces enough seafood to feed all three kingdoms. Arete is from Gordona, a small but beautiful, mountainous and heavily forested area.

By chance they meet, which causes a chain of events to happen, and truths to be told. Their very different worlds are soon turn upside down as they try to survive and keep things as they know them to be. But the prophecy says two kingdoms will fall, and prophecies are always true. Or are they?

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3. Chapter Two

Chapter 2

-Aleka-

 

The boat continued to calmly swayed back and forth as though sitting in a rocking chair. Aleka was still numb to the fact that her brother, Kai, was a third child. How was that even possible? How was there any chance of him being a third child and not her? She was younger than Kai! The guard simply did not have any answers for Aleka’s question, but he also looked like he didn’t care much about the matter at hand either.

  No one from her family back in Sveltorm believed the guard when he said why he was taking Kai away. Aleka had always had a special bond with her brother, so when he was being taken to Exortitan, she demanded to come with.

    “Really, Aleka, you shouldn’t have come with. I would’ve been fine on my own,” Kai spoke up from a nearby barrel. The sailor had put them in the lower level of the boat, the storage level.  He told them they deserved nothing more.

    Aleka sneered, “You know I would always come with you, whether you like it or not!” She crossed her arms and sat down on the barrel closest to her. Her long, straight, brown hair swayed with the boat’s movements. She continued to glare at him until he flung his hands up.

    “Alright, I’m sorry. I do appreciate you coming, I really do.” He stood up and walked over to her, putting a hand on her shoulder. “I just don’t want you to get hurt or see anything. I can’t escape my fate. We can’t change how the world works, Aleka.”

She looked away, not wanting him to see the tears forming in her brown eyes. Exasperated she muttered, “Don’t talk like that! We have every possible way of changing how the world is! I’m not just going to sit and watch it die amidst the flames!”

For the first time in a few days, her older brother laughed. “You know, that’s what’s keeping me sane right now.”

Aleka glanced over at him. “What do you mean?”

“Your determination. I never really realized just how much you care,” he murmured, his voice getting soft. “But just because you don’t like how it is, doesn’t mean anything is going to be different.”

She opened her mouth to argue, but quickly shut it. Kai had a point. Aleka couldn’t do anything to change the ways of the world by herself. There needed to be more than one person to change a law. Plus, she just wanted to keep Kai happy. As much as she didn’t want it to happen, Aleka didn’t know if Kai would be leaving alive. He was supposedly a third child.

After a long, awkward silence, he whispered, “I want you to have this.” He reached out his hand. He held a small bottle with a cork in the top. It was his good luck charm.

Contained inside the bottle was a handful of sand that Kai had put in there when he was five years old. Because Aleka had been a very bossy three year old, she had insisted on putting in her favorite sea shell. Kai had never gotten rid of it. He once told her that it reminded him of the days when they could be carefree and not worry about the weight of the world. She couldn’t bring herself to take it from him.

“I can’t…” Aleka murmured quietly. “This is yours…” she voice trailed off.

“Take it,” Kai’s voice broke. “Please,” he pleaded. When she made no move to reach for it, he carefully opened her hand and placed the bottle in her palm. “I need to know that it will be in a good place for the rest of eternity. I want you to remember me by something other than my death. Keep it safe…” he turned away to wipe the trail of tears off his face.

Feeling that she needed to return the favor, she looked quickly over the things she had on her. On her ankles were matching bracelets made of rope. Kai and her had found the rope together. Aleka slowly bent over to her ankle to undo the rope from one of her feet. She tugged at the tattered thing, but found it wouldn’t budge. Seeing her distress, Kai took a knee and began carefully untying it. Within seconds it came loose.

“I need you to take it,” she whispered, her voice surprisingly even. “I won’t be able to live with myself unless you have something of mine.” His face broke into a reassuring smile as he got back onto his feet.

“I’ll cherish this for the rest of my life…” Aleka couldn’t help but burst into tears. It was rare for her to be caught crying. The only times Kai had seen her cry was when she was a child.

“Everything…is...so...unfair!” she managed to spit out between sobs. Unsure of what to do, Kai ungracefully flung himself at his crying sister. He held her until she was able to compose herself. Once she stopped shaking, she noticed he was crying as well.

“It’ll be alright, Aleka. Nothing will happen to you,” Kai sadly murmured.

“But what about you?” her voice now soft and drenched in sorrow.

He shook his head to silence her. “We can never tell what the future has in store for us. All we can do is sit back and hope.”

Normally Aleka would’ve come back with a come back or a joke, but his words left her speechless. All she could do was look into his sparkling eyes and whisper, “I love you.”

Without responding, he pulled her in closer. He had so much hope in the future. It seemed to Aleka that he had accepted what was sure to happen. She could only hope that she would do the same.

    Her dreams were filled with screams and death. It was one of the worst nights she had ever had. It was rare for Aleka to dream, let alone have nightmares. But the single thing that stuck in her head was a deep voice speaking a name repeatedly. Quin, or something of that nature.

It wasn’t long until an angry voice awoke her. “Get up, ya worthless rats!”

Aleka opened her eyes. Everything had a slight blur to it, meaning she had been asleep. They were already at Exortitan! She had a childhood dream of coming to the richest kingdom. Of course, that dream never ended the way it would be today…

Without missing a beat, the sailor yelled again, “Do I have to tell ya twice?!”

Aleka grasped around, hoping to find Kai with her hand. Once she felt his shoulder, she started shaking him awake. “Kai! You have to get up! We’re already here!” Even she could sense the panic in her own voice.

She couldn’t stand the thought of not leaving with Kai. He was everything she had ever known. Kai was her rock. He was always there for her, through anything. Now, she would have to be there for him, as long as they would let her anyway.

“Hey, hey… ok, I’m up!” Kai muttered groggily. He was never much of a morning person. Aleka laughed at how he couldn’t keep his eyes open. Without thinking, he continued. “You better let me sleep longer tomorrow, or you’ll regret it little sister!”As the words came flowing from Kai’s mouth, he realized what he was saying. Aleka didn’t even try to stop the tears from streaming down her face. “Oh my god! I swear, I wasn’t thinking!” Kai pulled her into a tight hug, apologizing over and over.

As though he couldn’t hear what was happening in the lower deck, the sailor again yelled, “If ya two ain’t up here in two minutes, I’ll make ya regret it!” There was definite anger in his voice.

Without speaking, Kai stood up, helping Aleka to her feet. Carefully, he wiped the remaining tears off her cheeks. “Hey,” he murmured. “Please, don’t worry about me.” Before she could reply, he was already halfway up the ladder. Aleka took a deep breath, trying to calm herself before following.  She didn’t understand how she could be so emotional. Aleka never cried. But here she was, crying for the second time in just eight hours. Burning with embarrassment, she rubbed the tears off her face and made her way to the ladder.

As each foot hit a new rung, she felt an emotion slip away. It was time to become her emotionless self. It was much easier for Aleka to not show her feelings to anyone, out of habit. And in a world like this, it was either a blessing or a curse.

 

***

 

“I’m going to tell you this once more. Never show your true emotions, Aleka,” Papa snapped. “You have a tendency to do that far too often. And one day, you will regret it.”

“But Papa! I’m a lady now! Mama always says a lady should never be afraid to act how she feels,” Aleka whined. Papa never understood her. Not that he tried, or ever would for that matter. He was a man, and how are men supposed to understand a lady when they can’t think for themselves?

That was one of Mama’s favorite witty lines. Aleka didn’t care much for the others, though she laughed along with Mama to please her. It is what a real lady would do after all.

“Nevermind what she says! You listen to what I tell you, is that understood?” his face was turning a beautiful rosey red, but what that meant was not quite as pretty.

Aleka took a small step backward, distancing herself from him. Her leg bumped into a chair. If she attempted to retreat anymore than she already had, it would be obvious. She could only stand there and pray to the gods that Papa would become tranquil.

“I said is that understood?” his voice was strained and harsh. Aleka nodded quickly but that alone did not satisfy as an answer.

His hand came fast, like a bolt of lighting, right across her face. The burning pain shot to her head. This wasn’t the first time her skin had been slapped raw. Papa was unpredictable, one moment joyful as could be, the next a whirlwind of anger needing to be released. She lifted a finger up and carefully touched her cheek, thankful for no blood to be seen. But Aleka knew there would be a ghastly mark left from the rage.

“Maybe next time you’ll learn to speak when told to,” he hissed. There was a gasp from behind. Whipping their heads to where it came from revealed to them Kai. The look of anger was written across his face.

“I thought you would stop!” her brother roared with no emotion other than hatred. Kai was the only one to stand up to Papa, for Mama was too afraid, and Aleka would only get hurt worse. Papa’s head shot down to the ground, like a small puppy afraid of its master. The siblings could tell he understood the severity of what he had done and had gone back to his somewhat normal self. Aleka was aware that this wouldn’t last forever, maybe a week, if they were lucky.

Kai reached for her hand and pulled her away from the ashamed man standing in their home. He calmly said, “Let’s get that taken care of.” His voice sure and sympathetic. And like always, he was the only one to care.

 

***

                                                                            

She could hear Kai talking to the sailor. How could he act like nothing was going to happen? Aleka bit her lip to stop herself from bursting into tears, yet again. She hated the feeling of being vulnerable. Within seconds, she was standing next to Kai. He quietly moved his hand over to hers, giving it a tight, reassuring squeeze.

The sailor smiled when he saw her. Not a nice smile. One that made her hairs stand on end. “As I was jus’ tellin’ your brother, there’ll be a servant waiting at the shipyard for ya two. After that, ya two know what’ll happen!” He looked them both straight in the eyes, continuing to smile. Aleka took a step back, and rushed over to the railing.

The water gracefully splashed up against the sides of the boat. The boat never failed to push a new wave up, disturbing the calm. In a way, it reminded her of Kai’s situation. The calm water was Kai, living his life. The boat was the law about third children. The waves represented her own life; it would never be the same. The calmness of the ocean was gone, just like Kai would be.

Aleka felt a pang in her chest. It even hurt to think about what would happen. Normally, she was able to keep her emotions in check by not talking about them. This feeling was an exception.

The time must’ve passed quickly because the sailor was soon behind her. “We’re here. You can get off, now.” Nearly giving herself whiplash, Aleka turned around to find Kai. He was standing next to the ladder, ready to get of the boat. But he wasn’t moving, just looking at her. Her feet felt like bricks as she made her way towards her brother. Once they got off the boat, there would be no going back. Kai would be sure to die.

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