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last edited on ZLT: 29.02.19
HENRI IS HOSTED AT ZHANLANN
Even staring at the black flames eating away the pathetic remnants of the castle, he failed to shed a tear for his deceased parents, nor for the deceased kingdom that had once been in line to be his.
Henri was a cold boy with an unearthly low body temperature of at least eight degrees below normal humans. He treaded his way across the thick snow without a semblance of care, his bare feet trampling the sizzling dark flames was like water to fire, leaving a trail of dying flames in his wake.
His father, was however, a warm person unlike him—within normal temperature range, or so in his definition.
He’d often thought about the differences in biological makeup between the two of them, and has yet to draw a definite conclusion, even till to date.
As a person, his father was one who held his head high up with arrogance, and he had every reason to, for he, all the while held the pathetic kingdom together with all his might. Even Henri himself knew their country was falling apart, with the slowing development and slackening business, as well as the decreasing amount of people out and about on the streets, and the darkening atmosphere, there was something wrong with it, and it had been a fundamental, and unsolved, problem that must have stemmed from generations ago that blew up from the barest of bubbles to an absurd size of a boulder that hedged itself in the workings of their society.
In terms of relationships, the two has a mutual understanding to hold each other at arms’ length and had their silent agreement that certain topics were to be dismissed. In some sense, there were many grey areas between the two, and Henri would have certainly not glossed them over if it were not for his pride to not give in to temptations.
With the new development that resulted in a lack of his father, however, he now was without a specimen for himself to compare against, not that he frequented doing so, but the loss of a standard certainly had its impacts.
His mother, a lady encased in her chambers for the longest of time imaginable, was someone he would not say he was extremely familiar with. He had suspected her to be bedridden, and gravely sick, for she never permitted him a visit into her rooms. He had some remnants of memories of her from when he was in his toddling years, and there were murals, and framed artworks of his parents together, along with the generations of parents before them, up in the castle along the long hallways in a locked gallery. He did not believe her reason for the lack of contact to be because she hated him, or along the lines of avoidance, for she had established, on her own, various working lines to engage with him, ranging from sending maids and butlers for him, to calling him into an adjacent room where the walls were thin enough to hear through to converse occasionally.
In essence, he had a strange relationship with his parents.
On the other hand, he was granted an abundance of freedom to do as he wished, which was decidedly odd for a crown prince who was supposed to inherit a kingdom. Perhaps his father had known this was coming, or perhaps he was firm in his decision to provide Henri with the time to nurture his independence.
Regardless, the kingdom that had once been alive, though only barely, was now dead. He found in himself not any lingering sense of grief, perhaps a little sore about the loss of a place of lodgings, but not yet enough to be beside himself with tears.
An entire kingdom wiped out along with his father and mother in the span of an hour, from when he’d left to find the lake, to when he returned, could certainly wreck a person.
For a normal ten-year-old, such transformation within a short time would have frightened the living hell out of him, and perhaps then he would be rendered unable to continue functioning normally. For Henri, who was already quite a bit strange from the beginning, found himself able to adapt accordingly. Strange as it was, he did not find in himself enough liquid to shed buckets’ full of tears, nor did he feel a piece of himself chipped off. His parents did indeed hold a place within him, though not as dearly as he’d thought they’d did; perhaps it was more of a place of a mentor, or a guardian, rather than dearest daddy and mommy.
The previously majestic architect before him that had stood tall in its days was now mere pieces of crumpled debris strewn across the snow. The town just ahead too, was burnt crispy black, and flaked like aged faux leather. A cold wind ruffled his hair, tearing at his robes.
In the harsh winter, the boy stood with his head bent lower than a royalty would deem proper and looked down at the wet spots appearing against his cloak, wondering if it had rained.
This incident did not seem at all an incident, he knew, for the dark flames before him raged on even in the coldest of winter, and stumbled about in the way a newborn deer would attempt to stand with its flaccid four legs before it was ready. In such situations, the most logical option would be to turn to someone trustworthy for help, was what he thought. Yet, there was no one of such he knew of in his existence he could go to for help. Despite having read and reread through every book in the royal library, as well as the locked archives that kept everyone, even the royalty out, save for this little boy and his prompt ways of ignoring instructions that hindered him and going ahead with his ways, he found himself in a ditch he had not dug for himself.
Henri was smart. Despite the king’s measures to hide them accordingly, he knew of his father’s entire collection of study rooms as well as each of his ongoing studies. Though as to why there were no records of predictions for such an event occurring, or why the king had done certain things in the way he did, Henri could not understand.
Unbeknownst to the boy, who had clearly taken after his father for his quick-wittedness as well as unyielding nature, the king had these entries carted off to a place far beyond his imagination. And as far as Henri’s limited knowledge stretched, the lack experience could not be replaced with information for if he had not known its existence, he certainly would not imagine the likes of such existence.
Henri pulled out a piece of long cloth trapped between the fallen structure of what had been the ballroom, satisfied with its seemingly alright colour and material. For a moment, he felt a twinge of gratitude for whomever it was to furnish the floor-to-ceiling balcony windows with such heavy curtains. He had it wrapped around himself in a comfortable cocoon, not that it made him any warmer, but for appearances’ sake, and continued downwards, in the direction of the market, to scour for edible materials.
He had considered searching for any survivors, or anything alive, but dismissed the thought seeing how he had not chanced upon any scarred corpse from the fire. Such deadly witchery must have disintegrated any forms of living beings, he concluded. Even so, he found himself hiking towards in the direction of his mother’s chambers, and his father’s study room, which both laid alongside each other.
Stopping before what had supposedly been the frame of a bed, he bent down, pushing aside the crumpled structure and collapsed ceiling beams. His hands grazed something cool. Something akin to polished metal glinted back at him laid upon the ground, beneath the woodworks, and for some reason completely beyond him, he found himself drawn to it, and proceeded to insert his tiny body into the hole amongst the piled woods which threatened to collapse any moment.
“Mother, are you from a royal family as well?” He remembered his conversation with his mother from a while ago.
“What do you think, my son?” Her voice had been muffled as it travelled across the thin plaster wall that had separated the two of them.
“I suppose so,” he started, “if not you must at least be from a well-off family.”
“Why is that?”
“You sound very proper, and you order the servants around very well.”
A muffled cough of laughter penetrated the wall.
“You have grown up to be very observant, my son.”
“I’d like to think so as well.”
“Keep your observations to yourself, however.”
“Pardon?” He had almost thought he had misheard her.
“People do not like to be scrutinized.”
He kept his silence.
“For that is how secrets are compromised.”
He remained mum.
“You are curious, are you not my son? As to what secrets I may have kept from you.”
“You certainly have restrained yourself well, son.”
“Mother, people dislike scrutiny.”
“Well said, son.” She said. “However, you cannot not be curious, for humans are curious beings to begin with.”
“Are you divulging your secret, mother?”
“Shall I? Are you curious enough to bear the responsibility of the aftermaths, should there be any?”
“I believe I am.”
“Son, what are your thoughts on magick?”
“I have not seen it before.”
“Oh, you have, son. Everyone has.”
“I have something round, something old, something gold and blue.”
“Are you describing your heirloom to me?”
“It glows like the stars in the night skies, but only when the time is right, and the wearer is right shall it glow.”
“It is an accessory.”
“Find it in my chambers when I leave.”
“Are you dying, mother?”
“We all will, one day. We live to die. We die to live.”
“Living comes before dying.”
“Have you lived well, son?”
“I cannot say for certain yet.”
“Live well, for we all die one day, and when that day comes, it should not be a day for regretting how poorly one has lived up to that day.”
“Mother have you lived well?”
“It is well enough for someone like me.”
“Mother, should I bid my farewell in advance?”
“Son,” a pause, “how poor is your faith in me? Am I that weak that I will wilt away like a flower from a conversation about death?”
“Ah, my apologies, mother. Live well.”
“You too, son.”
Henri picked up the heavy case smaller than his ten-year-old palms, cool in his hands. He pressed down on a protruding latch where the case appeared to be locked at, and the miniature device clicked open with a popping spring sound. A creak of the hinges suggested it was something old enough to be a few times his age at least. The cover opened with tremble to reveal a tiny set of duo mirrors that gleamed back double images of his own haggard self. After inspecting it the blue and rose gold designs indented on the flip side of the cover, he pushed his mother’s mirror deep inside the pockets of his clothing and trudged on in search for food, all the while with the mirrors occupying the back of his mind.
HENRI IS HOSTED AT ZHANLANN