Lampleton and the Dead Princess

After planning to propose to the Golden Princess of Golden Gates in the Fountain of Dances, Steven is met with an unsettling sight.

Steven is deeply disturbed and hate boils in his heart from this sinful act. On a journey of love, loss, and ultimately revenge, Steven is packed for an adventure that will test his limits.

Will Steven fall victim to the Black Gate Cult, or will he find the justice he seeks for the Golden Princess Melanie?

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2. The Blood Flowing Orb

The walls of the alleyway were plastered with beautiful designs and noble crescents, but as we reached near the end of the alley, a confrontation of disease and poverty presented itself to me. Residue leaked from cracks in the walls, and rats squirmed from place to place. A few homeless coughed and wore cloth over their heads to reimburse themselves in anonymity.

It was then I recognized the Black Gates symbol encroached along the entirety of the dead-end. It was a castle and it depicted it in flames. I stopped behind the man who had shown his face earlier, and the members behind me followed step. It seems we'd arrived at our destination, even though I was confused as to where they were going to go. I didn't see any kind of sewer system or any rope to climb.

Two men emerged from the back and brushed me aside as they came to the front along with their leader. "For the common good, against nobility, and a future without kings." The men murmured in unison as they cut a small layer of skin and let the blood flow freely in their palm. With zest, they pounced their hands onto the symbol that defined the alleyway's end. 

Blood ran red up through the rigid cuts in the wall, filling the castle and tracing the figure until it laminated a bright blue. A blue fire pierced through the castle as heat emanated off the wall and the bricks laying in our way dispersed. 

I stood there puzzled and dumbfounded. I knew magic existed, but in this form was unexpected. My feet wouldn't move, as I engaged in something I now knew I wasn't ready for.

"Move Steven, you wanted information on the princess did you not?" A random passerby shrugged past me. My feet moved on their own as I immersed myself in between the walls and into a dark room. The wall closed behind me a few moments later. Covering me in a room without light. 

My chest was bursting forth, like a bird had lost its wing. Blue lights popped into action in a domino effect motion around the premises of the room. The men in the black hoods now bare, as they laid their uniforms to rest. 

The man with the scar along his eye removed his hood and glared at me. His bald head and wrinkled face brought shame to his identity. His dark brown eyes shot through me like icy cold spears. "Steven, do you know why we wanted you?" The man asked, as he brought a tube to his lips and enveloped himself in it. 

"No, and what's that thing?" I asked.

He looked at me as he puffed hair from his orifices, "I'm Jharl by the way. This thing? Nobles wouldn't know of this practice. It's just a device to relieve yourself of all that pent up stress..." He gave me a wretched smirk as he puckered his lips to the device again. "The Seven Gods of Lampleton wouldn't appreciate me doing this now would they? Good thing none of us believe in all that shmackt." He tossed the tube onto the table near the center of the room and looked back at me.

"Steven, are you aware of the three families of Golden Gates?" He asked.

"Yeah, the three families are basically the only eligible nobles to marry into royalty." 

"Then you're aware that you come from one of those three families...correct?" The room became dead silent.

I didn't respond. 

"Don't make me repeat myself Steven...I don't like it when people don't answer my damn questions." 

"Yes, I'm aware." I said, choking under my breath.

Jharl started pacing around the room, his arms mandated behind his back in a pressuring form. After a momentary thought, he finally gathered his words and looked back at me, "So, we need your blood. There's something we want, and it requires your noble blood. Magic is directly linked to bloodline. Most nobles aren't aware of this around Golden Gates." 

"I'm not going to give you my blood, you sick freak!" I snarled.

Jharl stopped dead in his tracks, his black boots squeaking against the floor. "Excuse...me?" He scurried towards me and launched me against a wall. "You'll do whatever I say, especially in these walls..." He looked me up and down.

His face was even uglier up close, and his breath smelt like that of a monkey who hadn't washed. "Yeah, I get it." My eyes closed as I squirmed against the wall.

"Good." He laughed. 

The grasp of Jharl's strong hand left me as I fell to the ground in a blistering drop. "Bring the orb." Jharl commanded two of his subordinates. 

They nodded and turned their attention to a large wooden and metal chest that was tucked firmly in the corner away from everything else. Dust and webs coated the chest. As they lifted up the chest, Jharl had fished a key out of his robe. He shifted the key through the lock and it clanked open. Jharl slowly opened the chest, as a light blue glow pearled from its depths.

He reached both of his hands into the box and straddled out a blue glowing orb with a yellow spiraling ring. It emitted a sound foreign to anything ever imagined as it warped the air around it. 

"What the hell is that thing?" I asked.

Jharl set the orb down in a bronze globe holding device as it latched in and rotated the orb into a set position. "Do not worry what this may be, but just bring your hand over here. This process will not take long if you do not struggle." 

He held a dagger in his hand, and held his other arm out waving me over. "Come on now."

"How am I suppose to know if you will keep your word? You say you know more about Princess Melanie's murderer, but do you really?" 

"We fight for the good of the common people, but do not take us for intolerable liars. That we are not Steven." He began to grow impatient.

I slowly crafted my feet along the dreary and cold floor towards the man with a dagger. I held my hand out for him, and he held me tightly around my wrist. "It won't hurt a bit." He said mockingly, as he slid the dagger across and blood blemished my hand, drifting down onto the blue glowing orb below.

It stung as he squeezed tightly, pounding as much blood as he could out of me. "Just a little more." His voice became impatient and excited.

"There!" He threw my hand from the orb as the blue orb distorted into a red glowing orb. Its yellow ring turned to a dark purple and began to spin violently. The device that latched it in had a river of blood dripping from its sides as it clanked and cricketed away. 

Then in a magnanimous performance, yellow circles appeared all around the orb and little lines formed like a map across its globe. It was a map of some sort. It traced roads and specific points across Lampleton. 

"So this is the legendary orb of magical tracking. What an outstanding device indeed." Jharl gawped at its figure.

There were several yellow points on the globe and they seemed to be moving. "What are those yellow dots representing?" 

Jharl's smile broke as he looked up at me, "People, powerful people. They have strong enough magical pressure to appear on this device. This is your answer Steven." 

"How is this my answer? So what if they're powerful magic users?" 

"Do you truly believe any ordinary human could sneak into Golden Gates Castle and murder the princess in the Fountain of Dances without some pretty nifty talents? We've only gotten the news you've told us, but this is a step in the right direction to finding your killer." 

My patience was beginning to run thin today. "Jharl, you do realize we can't approach someone if they're that powerful and hostile to the Royal family?" My hand shook.

"Another reason you must come with the Black Gates Organization. We're known as commoners, and if you hide among us during our confrontation with the murderer...maybe he won't kill you." Jharl shrugged.

My heart felt heavy with disgrace and disgust. This was basically riding my nobility into a death sentence. It was renouncing everything I'd ever stood for. I was born into nobility to be a noble, not to become a commoner. What kind of backwards thinking was that? 

Blood dripped from my hand, as time seemed to move in an inseparable slow motion. What good could come from blending in with these commoner scum? I would be lowering myself in status, and my pride would be shot!

I looked at my blood smothered hands and remembered Melanie. I was doing this for her. All of this so far had been for her honor. This was never about me, nor would it ever be about me. It was about what I had lost on this day, and who had taken it from me so underhandedly. The hate in my heart boiled with temperatures unfathomable. I would renounce my honor to protect my dead lover's pure heart and allegiance to this kingdom. 

In hindsight, I wasn't renouncing anything, but instead I was doing this for the greater good. I glanced back at Jharl who waited patiently, sitting in his chair. He would occasionally smoke from his device as he stared deeply into the hot and bothered red glowing orb.

"I'll do it. I'll portray myself as a Black Gates member. But not for your selfish reasons, I'm doing this for Melanie. Keep your heretic beliefs to yourselves." 

Jharl didn't move. He just looked into the orb, smoking. "Even if you want to just temporarily be a member of the Black Gates, you have to go through an entry process, like the rest of us." He snapped.

"I'd say you're about twenty, so you're physically capable." He said.

"I'm twenty-one." I corrected.

"It's all the same, you may be physically prepared, but mentally you're as weak as the squirrel who hides in his hole."

Jharl clapped his hands twice, and two robed men appeared out from a tarp hanging door with a black robe in hand. "This is yours for now, wear it. If you pass the training process, we'll let you aboard our journey to visit the magic wielders." 

"Okay, when and where does this training process begin?" I ask.

"Well.. you see there's a slight problem with telling you that." 

He gave a slight pause and rose from his chair and began sifting around for something. My eyes glazed around the room as emotionless faces drifted up and down my body.

"Our training process isn't exactly the same for everyone. I only know of one guy who handled this process perfectly, and he was the one who taught me coincidentally enough." Jharl explained.

He found a small syringe from a box below the table and eyed it down as he continued to speak, "Plus, its about time you get some sleep. This stuff'll knock you out good enough for what we're gonna do. Can't go easy on noble blood, so we might as well use the big boy stuff am I right?" He winced, as everyone chuckled around the room.

I felt a strange vibe around the room as he walked over to me with the syringe in hand. His smile was evil and harbored bad intent. He stopped in front of me and smiled really big, "You thought I was going to make it this easy? Trust me, you're in for a world of hurt if that's the case!"  

He burrowed back, as a stick entered my peripheral vision and smacked me in the head from the side. "Nighty-night, my noble knight!" Jharl cried as my head cramped up. I felt a piercing medicine enter my veins afterwards, and then a silent darkness overcame me.

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