• Reign of False Kings
    Chapter One: Exile

    "Then be it from this point on that Aran, Prince of Geese, be banished from this kingdom. If ever to return he will be met with execution."

    He stood tall, a mask of dignity frozen on his face. Icy optics stared through dark bangs towards the man atop the throne, his throne, as his sentence was laid before the court. The speaker, a tall middle-aged man with short raven hair bore down on him. It was as if he was barely containing his amusement shining through his amber eyes.

    "You have been cut from your rank and all ties to the royal household," the man's voice droned on. The young prince's eyes began to narrow. It was a voice he had grown to despise. Ever since his father's untimely death, his uncle had slowly been running the country into the ground. The people were suffering while he lined his pockets with their gold. The only one to stand against this new tyrant was soon to no longer be a threat.

    "Have you any last words?" The tyrant almost taunted him. He was met with the boy's silence. "Very well then." He waved to the guards on either side of his throne and they each took an arm of the exile prince. Aran allowed himself to be moved, casting a look of purest ice towards his uncle before being escorted out of sight.

    Daross felt a shiver go up his spine. That look -- that look laced with ice frightened him. Banished or no, Prince Aran was still a very dangerous man. He settled back into his throne. However, with his two biggest threats now eradicated, Daross was free to rule without confrontation. The tyrant relaxed into his seat, a smirk slowly creeping onto his face. Now, he was truly king.


    'Damn you, Daross. You may have the rest of the kingdom fooled, but you and I both know better...'

    Aran posed no problems towards Daross' henchmen as he was escorted from the palace and outside the kingdom's wall. They had relieved him of his sword and used it to prod him along whenever his steps became sluggish. Despite their taunts and jibes, the young prince kept his head raised and his eyes forward. He had no doubt that he could take one of the men or at least out run them, but as long as he was still in Geese there was a good chance that he would be caught again. It would be best to wait until he was escorted from the kingdom.

    His feet began to ache after what seemed like hours of walking. It was nearly night now. A structure came into view over a field of grain. It was likely a military outpost, though it seemed as if it had been abandoned for a few years. The dilapidated stone building had horses posted outside next to filled sacks. The bags didn't look like they held much, but he wouldn't need much to sustain him until he found some place else to hold up.

    The prince turned to retrieve his blade but instead was pushed on and into the worn building.

    "What is this?" Aran attempted to push past but was knocked back onto the ground by the large men.

    "You ain't no prince anymore, pretty boy," one of the guards leered at him while the other fought to strip the royal of his clothes. He ran a hand through his greasy hair before reaching down to the boy and plucking the small crown from his head. The prince froze up, glaring at both men from the ground as they chuckled at his half nude form.

    "Here, yer majesty. Put these on." The second guard tossed a handful of clothes at the boy. This one had lighter hair then the other, but still shared the disgusting look of his partner.

    Aran reluctantly clothed himself, the plain blue tunic and pants worn and ripped in several places. It was a dramatic change from the silken garbs he was used to. The dark haired man yanked the boy from the ground as soon as his pants were on and lead him over to the dimly lit side of the building. He swung open the iron bared door to the cell. "In ye go. The royal suite." He shoved the prince to the floor and slammed the door shut again. He walked over to the entrance as he waited for his partner to join him. "Nighty-night now." They left, laughing.

    Aran pushed himself from the ground and backed himself against the wall, hugging his knees to his chest. He really shouldn't be surprised by this, he thought. Was he really to believe that his uncle would just simply banish him from the land and that would be the end of it? Frankly it was a surprise that he was still alive. He placed his forehead on his knees. The only thing to do now was sleep. Sleep and wait.

    A shuffling made him lift his head. His eyes had only just begun to adjust to the darkness and he still wasn't able to see further then his arm's reach. "Who's there?" He called out, staring cautiously into the dark.

    "I heard them talking about you," a voice replied from nearby. The shadowed figure sat in an opposite corner, his head bowed. His voice seemed laced with contempt as he spoke again. "Are you the prince?"

    Aran watched the figure as it drew closer. "I was," he replied calmly.

    The other occupant jumped to his feet and strode over to where Aran was sitting and into a beam of light from the window.

    "You b*****d." Furious blue eyes, almost the same shade as his own, glared down at Aran. Wild red hair stuck every which way, slightly held back by a blue headband. He wore similar clothes that Aran now wore. The male slammed his hands into the bars just aside of the royal's head, leering down at him. "Do you realize what I went through because of you?!"

    Aran looked up at him from his position on the ground. He could almost feel the boy's anger radiating from him like fire. "Whatever is was, I assure you I had nothing to do with it." The royal matched glares with the stranger. "As of a few hours ago I am no longer prince."

    "Nothing to do with it? Don't even try to act!" he shouted, eyes following the young prince as he moved to stand. The auburn-haired boy looked straight up into Aran's eyes, fearless. He would not be intimidated by the ex-prince's height. "I'm seized in front of my unit, stripped of my sword, rank and clothes; and the only explanation I receive for the cause is you."

    Familiarity was starting to sink in now that he had a good look of the shorter male. The son of one of his Father's generals. As young as the boy looked, he was told that he possessed great skill in the way of the sword and controlled two soldier units on his own. What he didn't know was what he had to do with his removal from their militia.

    "What reason would I have to remove you from your rank? As you can no doubt see, I am in just a bad a situation as yourself." He shifted his gaze from the scrutinizing ones below him to a corner of the cell. "If you're quiet done shouting maybe we can work a way out of this cell.."

    The other male's fist clenched tightly as he took a step closer to the ex-prince, his muscles tensing before landing a punch on Aran's face. The royal stumbled backwards, placing a hand to where a tinge of blood began to trickle from his lip. He stared down at the shorter boy slightly dumbfounded.

    "You royalties are all the same. You don't care about your people. Only about their riches lining your pockets!"

    "Shut up!" The ex-prince returned the previous blow to the face, sending the red head to the ground. The other male brought a hand to his face a little shocked before looking up at the infuriated royal. "I am no longer your prince and had no hand in your removal! Why can't you understand that?!"

    The warrior remained silent for a moment, before slowly breaking into a laugh. "Ha, didn't expect that. Maybe your not just an airy figure head." He wiped away a bit of blood from his nose before rising to his feet and moving back to his side of the cell.

    Aran watched, his back leaning against the barred walls before slowly sliding to the ground. What was happening to his kingdom? Were all its citizens this bitter towards the royal family? With Daross in command now it shouldn't be a surprise. He felt the ice seep back into him. He had to do something before his uncle destroyed what little face him and his late father had left with the people of Geese. If there was any to be saved..

    The royal studied the auburn-haired male in the opposite corner. The only reason he could guess for the hotheaded general's dismissal was that he too posed a threat to Daross. His uncle wasted no time in ridding himself of those that got in his way. Aran closed his eyes, immediately dismissing the other male from his thoughts. Then, sleep.


    "See Marlin? Told ye we shoulda put 'em in separate cells."

    The ex-prince woke up to the dark-haired goon from the night before probing the bruise on his cheek. "They've been feudin' and gone ruined their pretty faces."

    "Done worry 'bout it, Brently. They'll heal by the time they get to market," his partner snapped back, all too busy struggling with the boy-general on the other side of the cell. He was attempting to bind the boy's wrists behind his back and, with great difficulty, succeeded. Half dragging and half yanking, he wretched the red head from the cell. Aran noticed his sword as they passed out the door.

    Brently turned to Aran and pulled him roughly to his feet. "Now, ye gonna behave?"

    "No." Aran rammed his shoulder into the goon's chest, slipping from his grasp and bolting for the open door.

    "Gah! Get back 'ere!" Brently shouted, lunging after him. The lithe royal dodged and seized his sword.

    Marlin had managed to wrestle the flailing general outside the building and forced him to sit against the wall. Once he saw Aran loose and armed he jumped up and headed warily over. Aran held his sword steady, intent on his escape. He was so focused on it, however, that he'd forgotten about Brently until it was too late. The dark-haired man had snuck up from behind and tackled the royal, using his bulk to bring him down. The air was nearly knocked out of him but the ex-prince still held strong to his blade and fought to free himself. Marlin wrestled it from his grip and bound the boy before tossing him next to the boy general.

    "Ye makin' it hard on us, ye majesty." Marlin said, tapping at the scratches on the side of the royal's face before joining his partner to finish loading the horses.

    "I take back what I said earlier. You're a fool," the red head muttered under his breath. "You made several mistakes."

    "I am not one of your soldiers, General. Do not lecture me.." Aran growled.

    The auburn-haired teen looked with mild distaste and was about to retort when they were both yanked up and slung over separate horses.

    "We've both had enough a ye two and if ye give us anymore trouble ye'll regret it, ye hear?" The deep, angry voice from beside where the ex-prince was slung over addressed the two captives. Aran remained silent, preferring to retreat back into his mind while the general seethed deeply, glaring down at the ground.

    "So, whaddya say Marlin? Ought to make it into Getz by nightfall, eh?"

    "Yeh. An' then from Getz it's a day an a half to the rendezvous point."

    "How fun." Brently smirked at the red-haired teen slung over just in front of his saddle, giving his bottom a rough tap. "Hear the road's terrible- lots a jostling." The boy general growled.


    Nightfall came with their arrival to Getz and the two men stopped at an inn on the outskirts. The captives were finally allowed to slide off the horses. The general's knees buckled under him and he fell face first into the dirt, unbalanced by his bound wrists and ankles. He'd become aware of the bruises that had formed on his abdomen and bit back a moan. The ex-prince, however, seemed unresponsive and was staring off as the bulky man set him next to the boy general.

    "Hey, how 'bout we tie 'em up in the barn with the horses? They can't cause much a fuss there," the bulkier Brently suggested to his partner.

    "Fine wit me. Do that while I go get the rooms."

    Brently jerked Aran up and the raven-haired youth glared daggers of ice at the goon.

    "Ah, go 'head an glare. It won't do ye any good." They dissapeared into the barn for a moment before Brently came back for the general.

    "I'm glad yer light, Kid," Brently muttered while hoisting the redhead over his shoulder and climbing up a ladder to the loft.

    "I'm not a kid," the flailing boy growled back.

    The goon rolled his eyes. "Sure ye ain't. Ye can't be more then fifteen, Boy."

    "Boy!? My name is Luca! GENERAL Luca, you low-life scum!"

    Brently tossed the fiery redhead next to the ex-prince, tying him to the same support beam. The large man laughed at the disgruntled look on the kid's face at being pressed against the other male before dissapearing down the ladder.

    Luca glared down until the bulky man drew out of sight before trailing his gaze over to the boy he was tied to. He had only just now realized that the young royal hadn't said a word since the attempted escape that morning. His shifted his gaze when the ex-prince turned to look at him.

    "You going to sleep tonight as well?" The former general scoffed at him. He didn't mean for it to sound like he was willing to trade his sleep for the royal. Seeing as they were now, he didn't want to sacrifice anything for the former prince.

    Aran stirred for the first time that day, lifting his head to move the unruly bangs from his eyes.

    "If you wish to sleep I can stay awake," he replied.

    "I don't wish to be caught unaware, Highness."

    "I'm no longer a prince. There's no reason to call me that." It seemed like he was constantly repeating this statement to the fiery general. "You'll do no good depriving yourself of sleep anyway.."

    "I don't think you've forgotten that royalty yet." Luca shifted against him uncomfortably, fighting to keep his eyes from closing. All the nights staying awake were finally catching up with him. "But for once, you're right. Can't hope to escape like this."

    "Sleep," Aran said, as if he could see the struggle the red head was fighting. The boy grumbled as if to say he didn't need his permission, but was nearly half way out. The ex-prince leaned his head back against the beam, reflecting on Luca's words. He may be right. However, eighteen years of royalty didn't just vanish overnight and there wasn't a thing he could do to speed it along.

    Aran breathed a sigh and looked out the window flooded with moonlight. It was going to be a long night's watch.