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04 November 2008 @ 11:08 am
NaNoWriMo Entry: 01  

Chapter One: Of Wish-Granting

They made the trip to the Dimension Witch’s territory at midnight, when Cairre said the magical elements of Autopia were at their highest. Kalien dressed in a warrior’s clothes, the light, thin armor decorated only with a handful of jewels instead of what he was accustomed to, though the cloth was made of fine silk and the joints made of silver.

Kalien was generally a very wholesome man, and his feeling of adversary towards the magician had lessened considerably when the man’s help had been secured. He was still unhappy that Cairre was going to get the horse, of course, but Kalien decided (during a very large dinner) that he would deal with that at a later time. Cairre seemed like a gentle enough person, after the first thundering impression, and Kalien was agreeable enough a prince to revise his opinion of people with time. He was a good leader that way, and his mother had even said that Cairre might be good for the beast, acerbic as it was.

“So what do we do, Cairre?” he asked, alert but still good-natured enough to let the magician prod him around. His earlier tension aside, Kalien wasn’t actually a particularly snappy fellow, though he did tend to let his emotions get the better of him in most cases. But he hadn’t cut off the man’s throat, and that was what counted! The afternoon had, he reflected, just been a very stressful one, and his father had been looking quite defeated that Kalien had channeled his anger into his words and actions.

A very undignified way for one of royal blood such as himself to act, certainly, but Cairre did not seem to have taken it personally. If only for that, Kalien admired him.

“Just leave it to me,” he murmured, eyes nearly black in the moonlight. They were on the roof of one of the towers in the castle, the slate covered in writing. Cairre was still painstakingly drawing a diagram with chalk made of bone, clutching to the roof to keep himself from falling.

“How much longer will it take?” The question had been said pleasantly enough, but Cairre had given him a hard look. Kalien shrugged. “I’ll stop asking after this question, then,” he obliged, not used to it but willing to comply with his own promise for the sake of cooperation.

“I’m…” A simple stroke on a smooth tile. “Done.”

“Oh,” Kalien said as light swallowed them both and they sank into nothing, disappearing from sight.

------

They fell like a great fat teardrop from a particularly weepy giant; Kalien landed lightly on his feet, practiced as he was in combat, and gazed around while brushing invisible dirt from his pants, willing the disorientation away. Cairre fell with a heavy thud on top of a young man, who was bowled over upon impact.

“Oof!” Cairre uttered, and Kalien saw with some sympathy that the man’s thigh had landed on his own staff. That was, he guessed, going to bruise like an angry bull in the morning. He offered a hand to help his companion and the boy up.

“Where are we?” he asked and got a blank stare in return. “Cairre, did you take us to the right place?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?!” the boy was saying, arms a-flail and the strange cloth on his head drifting to the floor from the exuberant gestures. “Do you make a point to literally drop in on people in the middle of the night or something?”

“Oh, a person,” said Kalien helpfully as Cairre tried to stand up without turning green. “Would you happen to be the Witch of Dimensions, good man?”

“NO!” There was that flailing movement again, this time accompanied by the rather vehement denial. “She’s my employer!”

“Ah! Is your mistress asleep, then?” he inquired, thumping Cairre absently on the back as the man threatened to hurl the goose they had eaten for dinner out. “Will you be so kind as to rouse her? We have important business here.”

“Nothing that can wait ‘til morning?” the youth grumbled, fixing the rather strange contraption balanced on his nose and stalking back indoors – Kalien and Cairre could see it now, an elaborate but foreign house with thin wood and thinner paper. It was not anything like the two had ever seen, and they felt a little wary of entering it. It looked rather fragile. They did so, anyway, at the boy’s prompting, and stared in bewilderment when he gave their shoes angry glares.

“Please wait here,” he said, and they obliged willingly because they did not have a choice and Cairre stilled looked rather sick. The servant came back after a few minutes and handed them cups of – Kalien recognized it as tea.

“Thank you,” he nodded. “Your mistress…?”

“I’ll fetch her in a moment,” the boy answered irritably, retrieving the tray and shuffling out the door.

Cairre took a moment to stare at his cup before forcing himself to drink.

“Are you all right?” Kalien asked in hushed tones, fidgeting in his seat. He was unused to sitting on the floor, especially in armor.

“Give me a moment,” was the slurred answer. The magician seemed a little green. With his dark hair, he looked a little like a goblin.

“Have you never tried this before?”

“Only in theory. I was sure it would work, but there was, of course, a margin of error…” Talking did not seem to be doing him good, so Cairre downed another cup of tea, refilling it quickly afterwards. Kalien raised an eyebrow at the confession, though he could hardly complain, considering that the (untested!) technique had worked.

Now was a good time as any, Kalien supposed, and sipped slowly at his own drink as he contemplated his next words. “Would you care to tell me why you are so intent on owning that beast?”

“Er,” was the enlightening explanation.

“Would you happen to know what that horse really is?” he continued carefully, glancing at Cairre from the corner of his eye. The magician still looked sick, but he was sure that the man was avoiding his eyes for a different reason.

“Of course.”

“So then…?”

“It is difficult to explain.”

The youth came back in that instant, face flushed and brows furrowed. “Yuuko-san will be here shortly. Would you like anything to eat or drink, in the mean time? I apologize for my earlier rudeness.” The words seemed sincere, if a bit grudgingly given. “My name is Watanuki, and I am a part-timer in this house.”

“A part-timer!” Kalien echoed with glee, already dismissing their earlier discussion. “I have always wanted to see one!”

“What?” the boy said blankly the same time Cairre blinked and asked, “What’s that?”

“A part-timer! A device that tells you the time better than a sundial, but only during the day. I did not realize they also look quite human.”

“Erm, no,” Watanuki said cautiously. “It means I don’t always work for Yuuko-san, I also have other obligations apart from serving her. For example, I study and go to school.”

The very idea seemed to baffle Kalien, who was used to living in a country where people were neatly organized into what they did for the land. Servants remained servants and did not do anything else, magicians performed magic, and members of the monarchy governed.

“School?” Cairre inquired, tilting his head and obviously finding the decision to move a bad one. He winced and touched a finger to his forehead.

“A place where I can learn things? For education?”

“Oh!”the prince nodded. “Of course. My brother and I were also schooled, as children.”

“I’m Cairre,” his companion said slowly, taking another sip of the tea. “Cairre Stormbringer. This is Kalien of the Royal Summorn Family.”

The boy, Watanuki, looked surprised. “A prince?”

“Indeed,” Cairre said the same time Kalien reached over and tapped the glass on Watanuki’s face.

“What is this device, young Watanuki?”

Watanuki pulled back and adjusted its position on his nose. “They’re called glasses, your highness. They help me see better.”

At this, Kalien and Cairre gave each other curious looks. Cairre was the one who spoke up. “You don’t have eye mages to fix your eyesight problems for you?”

“No, of course not. Aside from Yuuko-san – er, the Witch of Dimensions – no one else has magic here. Well, not normally…” Watanuki trailed off, looking a little flustered. “We don’t use magic, so when we get bad eyesight, we use glasses.”

The Witch of Dimensions came in at that moment, trailing a large amount of fabric behind her while her legs remained bare and exposed to the world. Kalien looked vaguely scandalized, Cairre blushed.

“Yuuko-san,” Watanuki greeted, moving aside to let her have his place at the table. He immediately served her something to drink, a clear liquid with a strong scent.

She was an impressive woman, tall and long-limbed, made more like a snake than a human being. Like the rest of her features, her hair seemed to go on forever, blending with the black of her intricate robes. Her small face showed nothing in its expression but perhaps the slightest hint of amusement. Kalien wondered how eyes so big and bright could reveal so little.

“Welcome to my shop. You may call me Yuuko. You have a wish,” she said, a statement.

Kalien was lost for a moment, wondering what the witch was talking about. But it wasn’t very hard to figure out – that the witch was a wish granter wasn’t a difficult conclusion to make. She spoke with purpose, and if she pointed out that he had a wish, it would only be because she would have the means to grant that wish. He had heard of wish granters before. He always thought they were just stories made to make peasants hope.

“I do. I wish to save Autopia.”

“I cannot grant that wish,” was her reply. “The wish is far too great for any price.”

“I expected as much.” It was a lie; Kalien hadn’t even thought of the possibility of the witch being a wish granter until a minute ago.

“But,” she continued, expression changing for the first time, considering. “I can give you the opportunity that will lead to a more beneficial situation than the one you have now.”

“That’s good enough. I’ll do anything.”

At this Yuuko smiled. Kalien did not know if it was a sad smile or not, neither did he know if he felt safe or threatened, but his hold on the teacup tightened. “I can grant you the opportunity, the chance to actually be able to do something. However, the price is your family’s very existence. Will you take it?”

------

“I do not have very long to speak with you, Father. All the jewelries I had taken with me can allow me only a short amount of time,” he said, feeling a little off about talking to a… projection, there was no other way to call it, of his parents. They loomed over him, coming out of the light from a small animal’s mouth. “I told you I should have taken more with me,” he added absently, wondering how he was to speak to them when they were suddenly so huge.

“What is it, Kalien? Were you able to find the witch?”

The prince hesitated. “Yes, she is in another room now. She… she cannot help us the way he hoped, Father. She is a wish granter, and the price for saving Autopia, she said, is far too great for anyone to pay.”

The large projection visibly slumped. Kalien almost felt guilty for breaking the news, but his father was King and there was no space for such things. “She is willing to give us the chance, though. If we pay the price, she will give us the opportunity to change the destruction of Autopia ourselves.”

“This is good news, my son. And what is the price?”

“The…” Kalien gazed up at them uncertainly. “Our family’s existence. The death of Summorn.”

The look the King gave him could have pierced his soul if they had been standing in the same room. As it was, the projection was a little blurry, especially around the edges. This was small relief for Kalien, who did not want to even think about it. But he had to, because he was prince, and his mission was to save their country.

“You have already accepted?”

He flinched and turned his head away. “Yes. I am aware that the decision was yours to make, but--”

“Well done, my boy,” his Father said, and when Kalien looked back up, his parents were gazing at him in pride. “Well done. I would have done the same, myself. I do appreciate that you called us, though. It gives me the opportunity to say that I love you, and you and your brother have brought us great pride. Summorn’s finest is what you two are.”

Kalien opened his mouth to say something and found that no words would come. He lowered himself to a knee and bowed his head. “Thank you, Father.”

“I have one other thing to say.”

“Yes, anything.”

“You and Elsith are no longer part of this family. I hereby disown you from the Summorn.”

“What—Father, no!” the prince protested, lunging forward for the projection, stricken. “Forgive me for what I have done, but please don’t do this! The Summorn name means everything to me!”

“But not more than Autopia, Kalien, and this is why I feel honored to have you as my son. I am merely disowning you to ensure your survival.”

“… Oh.” Kalien said in a small voice, thunderstruck and a little embarrassed for his reaction. There were voices in his head distracting him from the proper thing to do. Perhaps it was because he did not know what was proper in this kind of occasion, in the first place. “I swear… I swear that I will rebuild the family one day, after all of this is over.”

The King nodded. “Very well. Do tell the witch to give us until morning. I feel that we at least deserve one last feast before departing from this world.”

“Yes, Father.”

“And another thing. Please take care of Elsith. You two will be the only ones left.”

“Yes. I love you.” He did the right thing, but he was sorry, anyway.

------

“Is it really fine?” Cairre asked him later, concern in his voice. Kalien nodded numbly, something he had been doing since he came back from the conference with his parents. He was seated with his back against the wall, Cairre next to him. He had been there for hours, perhaps, just staring at the pond outside the room and developing hideous muscle cramps everywhere until his legs were as numb as his brain. This was hardly the proper conduct for a prince, but he wasn’t exactly one anymore, was he?

“The sun is about to rise,” the magician continued, and Kalien wondered how he managed to fuss without moving an inch from his own space. “You can still change your mind, can you not?”

“Of course I cannot.”

“Ah.”

Watanuki came in at that moment with a tray of food. The pastries looked delicious, but Kalien could not smell nor taste anything. He left Cairre to eat them, and resumed staring out into the pond. Neither of them spoke.

“Understand that you are not paying for a solution.” Yuuko was coming in from the garden. “Merely for opportunity.”

Kalien met her gaze evenly, his first since he came here. “I pay for hope.”

The witch smiled with what Kalien took as agreement. “The price has been paid, the exchange done. I will be sending you help,” she announced. “People who come into my shop for their own wishes. They will assist you in return for the wishes that your country has paid for.”

“I paid for hope,” Kalien repeated, stiffly rising to his feet. “Thank you, I will wait for the assistance that you have promised.”

“Go back to Autopia, former Prince of Summorn. And go on a journey. Fate will reveal itself.”

Cairre reached for his chalk and drew the diagram that brought them there on the wooden floor. He finished just as Kalien finished thanking the witch for her hospitality. When they landed in Autopia, there was no welcoming party waiting for them, only a horse.

“There is nobody left,” it said, unmoving. Its mouth did not move, but they heard its voice directly in their heads. Cairre thought it was strange, Kalien, on the other hand…

Kalien threw himself at the steed and wrapped his arms around its neck. “I am sorry, brother, I did this!” he cried, hiding his tears from a currently very empty world. “I had to!”

“Yes, you had to,” the beast agreed, snorting, and nuzzled the prince. “Father told me some of it, but I shall count on you for the details. Come now, you are weeping on my beautiful hide.” It turned its head to look at Cairre, pale blue eyes like ice drops against the white of its body. “I assume that you are the insolent fool who dared ask for me in return for help. Well, here I am, what do you intend to do now?”

“I do not know,” the magician murmured, and the castle remained silent.

 
 
 
baby, you're my forever girlficcentricity on November 4th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
Hiiii Watanuki, hiiiii.♥ Why am I not surprised that there was nuzzling. How suspicious. B|

They fell like a great fat teardrop from a particularly weepy giant

This metaphor sdjahdjahs brb dying from lulz wtf.
.Yukeh. ( ̄‿ ̄)ノ: *glomp*yukitsu on November 4th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)
Hiiiiii, Watanukiiiiii!! ♥ That is what horses do. They nuzzle.

asjkdhaskjd I CAUGHT IT~ ♥
baby, you're my forever girl: » domestic violence。ficcentricity on November 4th, 2008 03:24 am (UTC)
Suspiciously. B(
.Yukeh. ( ̄‿ ̄)ノyukitsu on November 4th, 2008 03:29 am (UTC)
I mean, YOU CAUGHT IT.

Wtf typo.

Not so suspiciously. :>
Lynlynkye_kestrel on November 5th, 2008 08:59 am (UTC)
XD That phrase leaped out at me, too! And Kalien poking Watanuki about his glasses and school is so cute. ♥♥♥

Hurr. Disowned. I kind of expected that. It's sad, but it just emphasizes how awesome Kalien's parents really are despite their defeatist attitude in the prologue.
.Yukeh. ( ̄‿ ̄)ノyukitsu on November 5th, 2008 09:04 am (UTC)
:< It is hard not to be defeatist when your country is crumbling around you and nothing works! They are pinoy, huhuhuhu. XD
a mind as vivid as it is absent: this is heartmiir on November 4th, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC)
I HAVE AN OTP FOR THIS NOVEL ALREADY.

Elsith/Cairre/Elsith. (Human, of course!)

ILU ILU!

(Also, does Elsith keep his hair in a ponytail? Or does he just let it hang loose?)
.Yukeh. ( ̄‿ ̄)ノ: <3yukitsu on November 4th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
YEEEEEEES! ♥ Mine too. *w*

(Loose, I think, because he doesn't like making it wavier than it already is. *hasn't actually finalized Elsith's appearance beyond that he's smaller than Kalien*)
do not feed the animals: fandom crack - clamp.izkariote on November 4th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
Oh Watanuki. Always such a flaily little git. ♥

And wtf. DISOWNED. D
.Yukeh. ( ̄‿ ̄)ノ: ;_;yukitsu on November 4th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
;;;; Always! asjkdhasjk He is unexpectedly harder to write now than before!

D: Yes!
Khursten Santos: my crack is cute to the corekhursten on November 5th, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
Cairre thrills me. I don't know why. He turns me on. That's a good thing, right?

The donkey amuses me. I don't know why. He turns me on. That's a good thing, right?
.Yukeh. ( ̄‿ ̄)ノ: o.oyukitsu on November 6th, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
I-- I guess they are good things. oAo Am glad you like them enough so far?