PETRICHOR

Rivka, a young female royal guardsman, is tasked with a daunting mission to assist a species known for brutality against her own.

Caine, a prince of a dying race, seeks aid from those his kind feast upon.

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Author's note

This story will include graphic images and attempt at horror. If gore is not something you are comfortable with, I recommend to not read. Certain themes maybe too much such as infanticide and noncon. While noncon will never be described in this version, it will be mentioned as a fact that it does happen. Please steer away if you might be triggered.
AA

5. When the Wind Blows

Rivka had marched them straight to the king, leaving Caine behind two guards with uncertain glances at their new ward. After whispering to Craedel his eyes widened at the chained up young man brought to his throne room.

 

The sight visibly shook and paled Craedel for the few seconds that it took him to calmly, and smoothly regain his classic repose features. Craedel always wanted to appear calm and collect in every situation the few times Caine had seen him in visions.

 

As Rivka and Craedel whispered to each other, Craedel waved for the guards to stand down and motioned behind him, a dark figure came forward. He was a tall lengthy man, he had brilliant blue eyes in a permanent furrowed expression, his blonde hair slicked back to complete the look of absolute authority. Caine instantly disliked him, he gave off an air of superiority with his movements. 

 

This new figure and Craedel spoke for a moment, the figure nodded and started making his way to Caine.

 

What a turn of events, Caine thought to himself and sighed. He hoped he would be able to see Rivka again as he watched her be dismissed. He suddenly wondered if would see her again and although he barely knew her he had a sinking feeling at the thought of parting ways.

 

The new royal guardsman nodded to the soldiers standing by Caine, they left quietly. 

 

"My name is Barrett, come with me." Straightforward and to the point.

 

Caine rolled his eyes as Barrett turned on his heel, the crispness of his clothes proving his immaculate attention to small details. Barrett led him to the right corner of the throne room and down a hall. He walked fast and with a purpose, as if Caine was the first of a long list of tasks he needed to complete before the day's end.

 

After a short and brisk walk down a gloomy hallway, Barrett veered to the right leading Caine through a small, yet intricately detailed wooden door. It was a stark contrast to the crumbling castle, much like the garden outside. King Craedel must have priorities in certain aspects of his home.

 

"Craedel will soon be with you, your highness." With that, Barrett was gone, presumably guarding the door. 

 

He knew of Caine's status, he called him 'highness'. He wondered how many knew of him and the proposal, certainly not Rivka.

 

Craedel soon arrived afterwards and proceeded to berate Caine, kin to an older brother or a concerned friend.

 

Tap, tap, tap…

 

He was surprised they were alone together. He guessed such controversial matters depended on confidentiality.

 

Tap… tap…

 

“You couldn’t wait for a response?”

         

Tap… tap…

 

Now as they sat across from each other, Craedel demanded answers.

 

“Caine, you can’t just force me to make a decision.”

 

He wanted to listen to Craedel, but he was going nowhere (at least not where Caine wanted). Caine instead took to observing his surroundings, drowning out the lecture coming from his potential ally. He glanced at the book lined shelves, neatly alphabetized yet lacking in literature. He guessed there wasn’t much history to their society, being so young still.

 

Caine’s eyes kept wondering from the books to an unlit fireplace, and then settled on a map on the wall. It nearly covered the entire side of the wall but lacked hardly any detail outside of their city. Even the markings for the abandoned villages that lay outside their walls lacked much information, desertion so early in the history of Ginseng.

 

Tapping of the king’s foot forcibly garnered his attention. Robert Craedel was insistent and impatient. What an annoying combination. Caine met his eyes and then looked down at a silver bell in front of him, two crows meeting at the handle.

 

“Your highness…” Craedel cocked his head and snapped his fingers to get Caine’s attention, “You do realize a decision like this requires more time? You arriving here, unannounced, demanding I—”

 

Caine interrupted as gently as he could, “I am not demanding, I only want to establish how dire it is for you to accept my proposal. My people are dying out, I can’t just wait around for your answer, my middleman traveling back and forth not knowing whether he’ll survive the next trip…”

 

Craedel frowned, “Why come in his place then? You are more valuable alive than dead, if traveling is as dangerous as you say then that is another reason for you to not be here.”

 

Caine wasn’t going  also say he brought a small army to protect him until he reached a village with a royal guard.

 

“I understand but I am here now, and I need an answer soon. My father doesn’t fully trust my proposal to work even though it is in his best interest. If your answer is no, all those that follow my brother could rebel alongside him, putting you in a much more dangerous position. You have no other real options.” Caine swallowed hard. He may love his brother, but his ideas were more ruthless and although their father wanted to follow with Caine’s proposal, any sign of failure meant Mortikai had full reign.

 

Craedel knew all of this of course. He understood Caine’s family politics. They had been exchanging information via written message and Caine’s closest servant who would travel between their cities. Traveling meant weeks of waiting and Caine wanted to know the moment Craedel made his decision.

 

Craedel sat back in his chair rubbing his eyes, “I am sure that he would rebel even if we said yes. Caine, your brother doesn’t want to befriend us, he wants to enslave human beings.”

 

Caine frowned. There wasn’t much to say on that, Craedel knew very well. Caine took to observing the room, trying to think of what to possibly say. Books on the walls were without a spec of dust, maybe because Craedel

 

“Please consider it, please tell me you’ll have an answer soon and… and,” Caine tried desperately to settle his voice down. He knew he was losing Craedel and if he couldn’t persuade the king, everything would be ruined.

 

“… and if you don’t say yes I will do whatever I can to make the proposal in your favor.”

 

“It isn’t really me who gets to decide.” Craedel almost seemed understanding with his words.

 

Caine rubbed his thumb and pointer fingers together, anxious to have the conversation over with.

 

Craedel didn’t speak, he motioned for Caine to go to the door. Caine sat there staring dumbly, was that it? Was it all over?

 

Craedel sighed and grabbed the silver bell from in front of him and rang it, the high ding resonated in the open room almost making Caine wince from the piercing noise.

 

The walnut colored door slowly opened as Barrett silently came to Craedel’s side. He didn’t bow, he only stood there, waiting for his command.

 

“Barrett, would you take our guest to the special bedroom. Guard the door.” Barrett nodded and motioned for Caine to stand up. Caine felt everything slip from his grasp, all his hopes and his eventual failures flooded into his mind. 

 

“No one is to talk to him, no one is to go near them, no one is to even know about him.” Craedel rubbed his temples, his eyes closed in deep thought.

 

Then he added, "Do try to keep Rivka away as well, she can get overly curious and I do not want her involved."

 

Caine shuffled out behind Barrett not noticing the map he was just observing earlier was a cover for a hidden door, his head turned in Craedel’s direction in attempt to read his face. The door closed with a heavy thud forcing Caine to bring his attention forward. 

 

Silence continued as he followed Barrett, was still in his chains much to his dismay. He wondered how long he would be waiting, if maybe he was trapped there. Craedel knew his brother would come for him, didn't he? 

 

Craedel would let him go, but what was the possibility that he would agree to Caine's offer?

 

Caine sighed as Barrett led him down stone steps below ground. He felt a familiar twist in his gut, not from anxiety, but hunger. He wondered if they would feed him, if they could feed him. 

 

The air smelled musty and gave him chills. He felt as though he had been here before, he was scared. He was unnaturally afraid. Yes, he would be a prisoner here but he knew they wouldn't intentionally hurt him, but something about the atmosphere and the hint of the female guardsmen's scent on his clothes made his heart sink. He felt like crying.

 

Caine grasped at the wall beside him racked with an unpleasant desire to run and hide.

 

To run and hide meant death.

 

He felt dizzy.

 

There is no escape.

 

A voice rang through his head as he tried to shake off these feelings. Holding himself up he tried to focus his eyes as they blurred with tears. What were these thoughts?

 

"Are you alright?" Caine looked up to see Barrett blushing a few feet ahead of him, just now noticing his plight. His facial expression showed his reluctance to come near Caine.

 

Caine smiled weakly making Barrett take a step back out of precaution, he refrained and murmured, "I'm fine, I'm just hungry. As you probably know we get extremely weak without food." 

 

Barrett only nodded, still slightly blushing and motioned for Caine to follow him further down.

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