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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, '11, 6:16 pm
Chapter 5

“Her name is Gwyn.”

I raised an eyebrow, looking at my interlocutor. I could have feigned incomprehension, but it was abundantly clear who he was referring to. I did not wish to send this courteous relation onto a difficult path by playing the part of a fool so, I said nothing and allowed him to simply go on.

As soon as we left the dungeon behind us, Adan lead me through some scarcely populated castle halls, bringing me to a separate wing where he stopped in front of a door. “Go through this door, within these halls you will find facilities that will allow you to clean up. As I mentioned earlier, I am not keen on being seen carrying a beggar around my own kingdom, I would prefer it to be a fellow gentleman, walking with me. Take the time you need but do not linger; I would have you meet this person I mentioned before the sun sets. I will have clothes ready for you as well. I can ask my people to clean and repair yours, if you wish it so.”

This was very charitable of him, but I did not hold any significant value to these shreds of fabric hanging over my wounds. “Thank you for your offer, lord Adan, but it will not be necessary. I would keep this gem, however. It is the reason why I ended in your dungeon. I cannot say if it has any value but I do like the idea of keeping it as a token of my predicament, or perhaps as a symbol of who I was before leaving all that behind me.

Adan eyed the gem for a few seconds. “It looks similar to the control stones my forefathers used to move around our world. Perhaps it is a key we had yet to find. I would not dream of robbing you of it. I will ask my people to clean it and secure it to a new belt. Go now, make haste.

I nodded and left his company to explore the room he directed me to. It was actually quite private and cozy. A dark, warm chamber with a few mirrors leading to a single, smaller room covered with polished brass from floor to ceiling. A shower head protruded from one of the walls and sent a never-ending stream of hot water against the opposing wall. A live shower; I suddenly felt compelled to comply with my host's request as I did not hesitate to remove these rags and headed to this source of bliss.

I realized, now that I was out of the dungeon and as I stood under this stream of water, there was this one detail which struck me as very peculiar. My wounds had not only been dressed properly, they had been healed with techniques. That much had been made clear while I walked at Adan’s side, I could not find the pain that should have been plaguing me as I did. With this came a strange thought. I knew what techniques were but I could not remember if I had any proficiency with them. Perhaps Adan would be able to help me with this.

I was swift to remember the circumstances in which we had met. This man was not my friend. Unfortunate circumstances made him my host and no longer than a few minutes ago, he had been nothing less than my jailor. It would probably be better if I kept my distances until I could evaluate him further. I had so far survived as an anonymous entity; I would do so a while still, there was no rush. The answers would be found and they would not change, whether I found them today or at a later time.

Though I would have stayed there for hours had it been my choice, I decided to follow Adan's recommendation and held myself in check. A stack of neatly folded clothes were resting on a little bench, near the room's far end. Someone had actually been able to come in here and drop these while I was showering without my slightest notice. A good thing that their motives were limited to my comfort and appearance; I could only dread the result, had this person been an assassin.

Why would I even think that? Beyond the swift retribution I had exacted on a group of petty thieves, I had done nothing to warrant a nameless, gruesome death. Was this instinctive distrust another of my true facets I had yet to discover?

I also noticed a large crimson red towel, laid there for at my disposal. Something about the color of this fabric stirred a confused thought within me but it was lost just as soon. As I used it, I could not help to feel an unsettling sensation of warmth. It was as if someone repeatedly forced my subconscious to experience feelings that felt, for a lack of a better description, quite out of place.

I abandoned the towel, trying to shake the feeling away and focused on the clothes instead. Not that I expected to be handed royal garments like those Adan wore, but these clothes readied for me made me look all but gentlemanly. No mistake made, those were of a distinguishable quality, the fabric was well woven and appeared quite resilient; but they looked like clothes for a traveler. Yet another discrete sign that I was soon expected to show myself out?

I shook my head at this ingrate thought as I began dressing up. The pants were made of some animal's hide. Its earthy color shade reminded me of wet soil after the rain. There was a long-sleeved, tan shaded undershirt, woven with a strand of comfortable yet rugged linen. I was also offered a darker, reddish overcoat made of tanned leather. A pair of long, dark brown boots completed the set. I looked in a mirror and I liked what it showed me. Seeing how I was provided with no more than this, I used my hands to give my hair a rudimentary arrangement and I was all set. Clad in the colors of the earth, a traveler.

"Where's the belt?" I let the words escape my mouth without thinking it, clearly aware that no one was around to answer. There was no belt. Adan had mentioned that they needed to fit the gem on it. No doubt this procedure would require more time.

I opened the door and was surprised by the whiff of fresh, clean air welcoming be back into the castle's halls.

"Ah, these clothes suit you well. I trust they are adequate?" Adan asked with an honest voice.

"More than adequate. Your people have a keen eye, lord Adan. These match me perfectly." As I raised my eyes to look at my interlocutor, I stopped short. The red haired woman from the dungeon was now standing next to him. Her stoicism was apparently permanent, she looked at nothing in particular and she did not blink or smile. She just stood there. Adan picked up on my discomfort rather fast.

"This is Mieu," he began; "She has been serving the Landen royal family as a guardian for three generations now."

This of course made no sense to me; the woman standing there was no older than thirty years old. She saw me observe her with intent and before I could remove my eyes from her, looked at me and spoke.

"Do not let my appearance elude you. I am a Myew-S2 type cyborg, I actually am several centuries old. I specialize in close combat and personal protection. If you attempt to harm any of the royal family, I will end you."

A machine! I had to fend a few artificial opponents off on my way from my waking point to Landen, but nothing quite as lifelike and sophisticated. Her eyes were directly into mine now; they were still devoid of emotion, so was her cold uncaring voice, but the threat was very real and it was obvious what she meant. I chose not to answer and tried to focus on Adan once more.

"Now that we have agreed that my appearance is no longer an impediment to anyone, may we move on? I am as eager as you are to learn more about who I am. Hopefully we can have this all sorted out by the end of the day so I may be on my way and out of yours.” I lied through my teeth of course and I suspected Adan realized it.

Gwyn was her name, I intended to meet her once more.

Adan nodded and we were once again on our way. Much to my visible discomfort, the machine decided to accompany us. They led me outside the castle and into the town proper. I felt many eyes on us but most only looked a few seconds out of curiosity. Was it because I was walking with the prince or was it because news of my fight at the inn had already spread? Landen seemed a peaceful enough town so I guess both were possible. My thoughts were quickly dispelled as Adan picked up where he had initially said so little.

"As I said a while ago, my sister's name is Gwyn. She is my twin but we were not born on the same day." He took a short pause. I wanted to ask how such a thing was possible but I felt he would explain on his own. "There was a problem with my mother's delivery. I was the first to be born, precisely on the date predicted by the royal family midwives. My sister, however, did not. Mother had to endure two days of physical ordeal before my sister was finally born. Gwyn saw life the night where our moons, Dahlia and Azura were in alignment. The sages agreed that this was a terribly ill omen and suggested that my sister be killed at birth."

The look on my face betrayed the horror and disgust I felt. The murder of an innocent child should not even be conceived in the minds of civilized people. Such an act would be proof of gruesome barbarism.

"Fortunately," Adan went on, "my father refused to take heed. They rued his name for what they called his 'lack of vision'. But the king's word remained undisputed and my sister was allowed to live. This has divided our nation somewhat. Not so much as a division, but there is a figurative chasm, unseen between our people. Many consider her to be cursed and refuse to deal with her altogether, unless they are forced to. But Gwyn never imposes on those who will not have anything to do with her."

I noticed that the cyborg was looking at him as well. I thought I saw emotion in her eyes for a second but the illusion quickly passed by.

"We grew up together. She was always shy and never liked to meet new people, which was a shame for she was brilliant and so insightful." Adan was no longer talking to me; he was looking back into his own memories and his smile alone was testament of the warmth he felt. "When were about ten years old, mother used to take us to the temple. Gwyn liked to sit with the sages who had been so quick to condemn her. She would play games with them, mind games, logic games. She would beat them, every single time. Some of them eventually grew to like her, but most of them… They did not outright hate her; I think fear is a better word for what they felt. Though she is the princess of a powerful nation, no man has ever proposed to her. Her name is cursed by the moons and men are such foolish creatures."

Adan remained silent for a moment as we walked by houses made of stone and brick. Landen was a gorgeous nation, I wondered if Adan yearned to be king.

"What about you?" I suddenly asked for no reason I could explain. "Have you married into a noble family? Will you be king when your father moves on to the great beyond?"

Adan looked at me, visibly surprised by my question. "No, I have not married. I have chosen to remain devoted to my people. I have also decided to remain at my sister's side. Her brilliant mind is a strength to her but her social stigma has cursed her into a life of loneliness. People have tried to abuse her in the past, for personal gain. Gaining her trust is hard but when she trusts someone, she loses all ability to discern good from evil, truth from lie. I must protect her, always.

I silently nodded, impressed by his brotherly loyalty. They were both blessed by each other's existence. Coming back to what he had said, I failed to see a purpose in abusing a shy princess if she was not in line for the throne. Then again, it had already been established in the last few hours that I did not possess the mind of a criminal. Once again, Adan was quick to provide an answer to my silent inquiry.

"Gwyn has a gift; she is endowed with an extremely keen sense of perception and she can catch glimpses of the future. It is said that this is a gift given to her by the moons. The gift is however poisoned as my sister often wakes up screaming in the night, her glimpses generally come through nightmares."

I narrowed my eyes, momentarily. This particular information was not only surprising, it was also extremely interesting. A person with the gift of foresight was an incredible asset. In a sudden flash, my encounter with her came back to mind. Everything she had told me back there, if could all be interpreted differently now.

"This and nothing else motivates my curious interest in you." Coldly added Adan. "My sister saw something in you and I wish to discover what that is. How this translates for you and your sake remains to be seen." His cold stare met mine in what was a barely hidden challenge. "She is my sister and my love for her is pure and limitless. Her kindness is a boon to us all and if I should discover that you are of those who would abuse her…" His stare never left mine, but his hand moved ever so closer to his sword. "Mieu here will be the least of your concerns."

Last edited by Aeroprism on Fri Apr 29, '11, 6:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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