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Surrounded by only his own energy, Arturur stood his ground, ready to dig in his heels. Nothing was going to break his back. Both hands were balled up in fists, and he raised his right hand, prepared to strike out with everything he had. The pixie closed his eyes, concentrating deeply. He thought about the main computer, thought about how it controlled everything, thought about how the gods used it to monitor their children. Everything they did, good and bad, smart and foolish. All of that was recorded and used to better Alastair. Every time someone smiled, every time someone frowned. Each and every activity done in each and every way. Limitless data pouring into the endless memory. Nothing ever forgotten, and all things weighed against each other. Arturur had to be clever. He had to use the main computer to overwhelm and defeat his opponents. No one could think as literally as the Prince. Only he knew how to truly connect his mind to the machines that carried out the will of the gods.
Since his first steps, he had been leading the world. As its last and permanent prince, every word he said and every action he made decided the fate of his people. Even in his youngest days, the computer was watching him, trying to predict his choices as best as it could. Trying to tie even the smallest differences to the greatest change. There wouldn't be much to determine from the beginning of his childhood, only a few noticeable traits that did not fit into the same mould as everyone else. But what was destined was so. And that was that Arturur would be the last in a line of princes and his father the last in a line of kings.
His reign had already began. Since he was a child, he had been making life changing decisions. The pixie had not understood it then, and even hated it. But as he grew, he realized more and more why his input was so desperately needed. The Old Ones could only control young daemons so much. Even the wisest of people did not know everything. The gods, as well as the Old Ones and the Guardians from the Edge, needed Arturur's special thinking to close the final gaps in fundamental and basic psychology. With this knowledge, mental illness had been vanishing at great rates, education was vastly improving, and government was growing its last roots. Arturur did not even have to explain anything. Amazing knowledge was apparent in his day to day life. Words created betterment, of course, but the effect was already so large and widespread just to watch his physical behaviour alone.
However, the gods, the Old Ones, the Guardians from the Edge, and all daemons who knew of the way he lived... they were all deeply upset. Arturur was a good person certainly, but they feared the illness that crippled him, the psychological turmoil that brought him great unease. He was always believing things that others felt outrageous. Yes, they could always accept it from him, yet they still didn't want him to think in such a way. It was their duty to take care of him, to keep him healthy. They wanted good health for all people, though, the Prince was obviously of utmost importance. Alas, they had not been able to find a humane way to remove the dreaded thoughts. They couldn't just beat it out of him. And even the Old Ones in their great wisdom were stunned to learn that they could not control a mere little boy! A special man he was, and special care was definitely needed. But all people could agree that, one day, he would make a fine regent. One day, he would rule as "King".
While Diego would always get that title back in time—It was his own personal destiny—the Crowned Prince, like all princes before him, had to have the opportunity to have that power. It was a necessary lesson for him, and he would indeed be carrying far more on his shoulders than previous rulers, who it was their calling to rule only once. Still, it had been the duty of Wendell to prepare him for this future, and when you were royalty and everyone around you expected a flawless performance, no matter how aggressive or assertive you could be, they would most definitely get inside your head.
A fever to a damon was not an illness, but a strong, overwhelming emotion. And Arturur definitely had a fever in the way that daemons got fevers. His mind was scattered, and emptying at a rapid rate. He was in bed, eyes closed, feeling like he was being hit with a force beyond measure as had been the case since he had arrived. Now it was breaking him down, crippling his thought processes, and destroying his sense of self. It was like he was floating around, his existence barely contained. Like his spirit kept leaving the room.
Diego was beside him, trying as hard as he could to not just be a good father, but a father at all. He felt like he was terribly out of practice, only ever having had Abner to gauge himself against. All those years, he had thought that Abner was so much like Arturur, but it was almost as if the two had nothing in common. Other than being white pixies and doctors, Abner was this troubled, trouble making kid, and Arturur was seemingly just a strange blend of softness and hardness.
The Prince was either extraordinarily sensitive or he was dumbfoundingly nasty. Nothing he said was ever aimed to hurt another's feelings, but instead was mere rawness, a rawness so raw that no one could compute it. Honesty was the best way to describe it. Of course, Arturur was clearly troubled and he clearly loved to cause mischief. However, for a reason that Diego didn't understand, his son was not identifying as a disturbed, young destroyer—He wouldn't admit to any of it at all. It was like he was an entirely different person, someone that wasn't Arturur. And the Prince seemed to be fine with that, with obscuring his personality by never truly opening up. The rare times that he did, a person saw only the smallest glimmer of truth.
Arturur was not only the oddest little boy that he had ever seen. He was also the smartest person he had ever known. In Diego's eyes and the eyes of all those meeting the young Prince, they all saw a very powerful rock of intelligence. Arturur had to be quite clever to know how to hide himself so well. Most things he could never enshroud, being so simple minded, but the most interesting things he had a knack for keeping secret. Why he wanted to resort to shadows, no one knew, but if only they could see what cowardice that he held inside, then they would know who he was. They would know the man before them.
Diego reached out a hand and brushed back the upright spikes of hair on Arturur's head. The Prince had fallen asleep, unaware of anything but his own dreams. The King held his son's form in his mind, studying it. Nothing he could think of could make it all make sense. There was just this young man here, lying in his own bed at last. His own country, his own town, his own room. And right now, his own dreams. Diego was still so young himself, but he couldn't think of Arturur like anything but a child seeing the world for the first time. At least Diego learned. Arturur, on the other hand, never learned. Oh, he got smarter. And smarter and smarter and smarter. But the Prince was always like a very small child. His mind didn't work the same, his wording was very literal and kept hitting all these walls that frustrated him into silence.
And Diego was okay with that. He had always known that Arturur was supposed to be like a permanent kid, no matter how much he aged. After all, the King knew Abner, and Abner was like that too. But Abner was so much bigger than Arturur, and Abner could actually do something that other people could understand as thinking. Yet Arturur didn't seem to think. He seemed to live, and that was all. Like a little, little kid. He just lived. There was no sudden comprehension of his surroundings. He built up his castles of knowledge. And he just lived.
Came the voice.
"You are too damn soft!"
Arturur's eyes narrowed, filling with carefully contained rage. His eyes would not leave his, challenging him, challenging him to keep going into him with such ferocity and prejudice.
"You can't win this war. You shouldn't even try." It was Eugene, angry himself. Angry at Arturur for doing what he saw as basically screwing everything up. Making it impossible for real, true progress. Causing harm. Causing death... Bringing the end of an era to full climax before dropping off. "Get out of my way!" He roared, stepping forward a little closer to the Prince.
The white pixie said nothing, merely listening to the long list of accusations.
"You want to help people." Eugene calmed somewhat. "That's a very caring, kind, and wonderful thing. It is... But it's not working. Not any more. And when it comes to Asterterkin and Davin... you're not helping at all. You're just going to make things worse. You're going to get in the way and destroy everything I have worked so hard to create."
Arturur scoffed. What he had worked so hard to create!
"I have been planning." Continued the long-haired man, clearly intimidated by Arturur—Though, not enough. "You have an entire life of rules. But what I bring to the table... is essential to the survival of these two men! And not just them... All of them! You've had your chance! You never took it! What makes you cry now is... I can't stand it!" His voice shivered violently, breaking. He deeply cared for the doctor. He didn't want things to be like this. They had always been such good friends!
"Arturur... you take things too slow. You listen to everything they have to say, and then you try your best to make it all work out. You've done such a disrespectful thing. You've put the feelings of others before some of our worst patients. You've taught them to take turns and give into the emotions of stronger people. Weaker people. People who need more care. People who are more fragile. You've taught them to work together... not to focus on their own problems and revolve around the ones that really need the extra attention.
"Can't you see?" Eugene pleaded, intensely. Arturur wanted to cry. He tried to hold it all back. He succeeded. "They require so much more than you will give them. You want to cure them. You don't want to heal the injured parts of their minds. You want to cure them before they can even come to terms with their own illness. How is this a good path? How are you winning?"
"It's not about winning!" He could hold back no more, not this. "Psychology is not a game. You play this like a tabletop strategy RPG!"
Eugene roared. "It is about winning! You've made it that way!"
The white pixie was silent, then, "I have never treated people's emotions like a game."
"But you've turned it into... all of this!" Eugene's voice was breaking, shattering. He was overwhelmed, unable to talk in clear words.
Arturur said nothing, agreeing with none of it.
"How will we ever truly understand Asterterkin's condition if you don't submit to the findings?" Argued Eugene, passionately. "You don't have to believe me. All you have to do is work with me. You're avoiding me. You're turning away every time we meet in the hall. You're locking yourself up in rooms just so I can't get to you. You're—"
"Trying to stay sane!" Asserted the doctor, determined to get through Eugene's beating.
"—filling up your head with lies! Giving into soft, helpless feelings that just keep us from making progress at this critical time in psychology! You're soft, Arturur! You're weak!" Eugene felt so good and yet felt so bad at the same time. "The hour is upon us! The change is here! The world is before us! I am finally surrounded by people that will support me! Not just Wendell... but all of Warren as well! They are not a fragile minded people. I have always warned you of this! They will not take your stance once they realize just what that stance entails. They will not give into the crippled heart in all of us that aches to give instant soothing to the hurting and the delusional. They will follow me!"
"My father will never betray me!" And Arturur believed every word of it.
Now Eugene scoffed. "You can't hide in those excuses of yours forever... You must come to the reality that is waking all around us, that is taking to the skies and launching into full flight!"
There was nothing. There were no words. There was nothing... There was nothing but anger and hatred and a need for air!
Eugene turned away, as if talking to someone else, and viciously pointed at Arturur. "This man gives a toy to a child that his father just took away from him, and allows that same child to run rampant over his father's authority!" Then he faced the Prince again. "Really? You think that such powerful and highly reputable men are going to let you make such dunces of them in front of their wives? Their children? We're not in Peasant Town any more! This is the centre of government!"
"I am the centre of government!" Asserted the pixie.
Eugene laughed, a short and mocking sound. "Not until you're much, much older! And you still must learn, no matter how much time passes, because until we are so old that age no longer matters, you will be overturned for any childish urge to rule this world by all those that make you look small! And small you are!"
"You take great pleasure in overstepping me." Commented the doctor, containing all of his seething anger for the man in front of him. He was very good at that. Very good at keeping everything in no matter how much it hurt.
"You take that hand, as inexperienced as the feathers of a newly hatched bird, and you gently touch the arm of a savage lunatic." Eugene's eyes were like two red hot coals. "You calm him. You give him understanding of his emotions, even of his logical processes. You tell him that there's nothing really wrong with him. That his problems stem from the same thing in us all that gets confused. It soothes him. You become his favourite person. And he turns against all the other psychologists, and he won't listen to any of them. Not unless they are in full submission to you."
"I imagine you'd rather me hurt him?" Arturur was barely loud enough to be heard over the pounding in Eugene's head.
"You are too easy." Said the long-haired man. He seemed almost insane with frustration. "You will never properly rule this kingdom until you understand your place in it."
"I would sooner die than say that my favourite jewel is an emerald, when it's really a blue sapphire." Bravely countered the Prince.
Eugene looked as if he would explode into a torrent of obscenities at any minute. "There is no place in psychology for someone that can't even curse in front of a woman without apologizing. You are an old breed, Arturur. You have too many morals."
"Long... live... the King." His blue eyes held in them his eternal soul. And in that eternity was the very fabric of his being.
Arturur thought about his life like a series of flash backs that never ended. He thought about all the moments that he had been overwhelmed with emotions that lead to outcomes he couldn't control. Little moments. Big moments. Any moment. Just something that made him feel done. Something that made him stop. Those hurdles he had to go through to learn how to live.
Now was the time for everything to finally come to a cessation. For all the arguing to finally go away. He was ready to fight. He was ready to overpower every last person in Alastair. Arturur wasn't planning to just affect the younger daemons in his world. He was betting on upsetting the balance of power itself. The Old Ones had always been in control, but now he was going to take that control away from them. He was going to at last give into those feelings deep inside of him that yearned to be more than just a figurehead. The young doctor might not be King, and he may have just met his wider family and friends, but he was going to rule. Even if it was only for one fleeting moment.
Arturur closed his eyes. He was by himself. He thought of nothing for the passing of a slow minute. Then he reopened those same eyes, looking on a beautiful stone wall inside Vikram Castle, the historical home of his family and all nobility. This wall was a symbol of the one he was about to crush. No longer would people hold him back from his true purpose. The white pixie had no intention of waiting to grow up. He was going to stop it now. To stop the vicious cycle of youth.
The young man took his first step forward. He took his feet and literally stepped just one step. Emptying out his mind, he let the images of his bright and happy, simple and carefree childhood fill his senses. There was a time when he didn't know that there was a such thing as pain, but pain had become an old friend to him, and the time was upon him to change that. No more would he be told that he was a dreamer. He would show them all that even the smallest of them could shine brightly. Craig had once told him that he was like the sun. Arturur was ready to be embarrassed and feel stupid and hear people tell each other how they felt so sorry for him because he couldn't understand reality like "big" people did. It was only through our suffering of anxiety that we became leaders. We had to open ourselves to criticism, and we had to reassure ourselves that we were the ones that were right. Only then could we free ourselves of pain. Let everyone pity you for a moment, and let your reputation fall to pieces. Separate yourself from the unknowing masses. Accept yourself for who you were, and be that person. You couldn't let anyone take it away from you. You had to hold onto your identity if you were ever going to tell others what to do.
You had to let your wings spread.
All around him, in all the objects—Be it a wall or a blade of grass—there were cameras. Everything had sight, and through this sight, there was not one single portion of all of Alastair that was left unsupervised. Arturur was about to use this technology in his favour. Eugene was too eager for war, and Arturur's allies were too dispirited. It was up to him to set the balance of the world. And for that, he would have to use his greatest powers. One of those powers was his sheer innovation, his raw ability to create highly complicated series of instructions to computers. And he could do this all simply by reprogramming his thoughts. Whatever his intentions, they needed to be seamless with his overall goals.
He could like this, he could enjoy that. There were infinite lanes that he could take to get the same outcomes. Of course, the Jedediah had to make tough, conscious decisions in relation to his plans, but, considering that he could easily entertain himself even over a long period of time, none of this alone was able to hamper his strategy in this dangerous game of psychology. The biggest feat would be keeping his nerve. He would have to laugh when people required his confidence, and he would have to smile when his subjects could only feel defeat, and he would have to march on when everyone else was tired. Arturur would have to be the leader that he had been raised to be—With or without the influence of Warren, it didn't matter. Everyone that knew him understood his technical capabilities. It was faith that had faltered in the hearts of the people of Wendell. Not his actual capacity for hard, gruelling work. Wendell simply felt that he could not handle the emotions needed for such a difficult psychological journey. There was a time when they had believed in him, but that time was not now.
Mathematics was his constant friend. He could always rely on numbers to communicate cold, hard realities. But it was almost as if Wendell's inhabitants wanted to fail. They had lost so much hope for the future, and it was driving them mad. It was up to their leader to bring them back. It was up to Arturur. Everyone else had abandoned him.
He opened his right hand, moving his fingers around. His eyes carefully watched every small difference in adjustment. The root computer was looking for him to crash. It totally expected it. One thing it could not predict was that Arturur could do what he had been taught to do and taught to do so well: That he could adopt mechanical-like behaviour and use mathematics to overwhelm and eventually overtake the computer, replacing it temporarily just long enough to fix the major problems in the framework. Arturur had to restore the computer's trust in him. He had to force it to bow to him instead of Eugene, who had infiltrated the doctor's own permissions.
However, he also had to protect everyone that was involved. Wendell had access to only a small amount of related villages, and then after that a nice, large portion of peasants. Alastair was broken into many different groups, as everyone would not have been able to get along in more youthful days. Once the Prince was born, it was only a matter of time before the root computer—Controlled by the gods—would force everyone outside of the Old Ones and the Guardians to finally assemble together and live in as much peace as was realistically possible. The greatest challenges laid ahead. But, for now, Arturur would have to work with Wendell, its relations, the peasant population that Wendell had been controlling, and then the entirety of Warren. This was a lot of people. It was a large percentage compared to Alastair's full population. And that was not even counting the Old Ones and the Guardians, as they were usually excluded from totals. Yet even if every last living person was included, the number was still great.
Arturur stood quietly, the setting peaceful and glorious in its tremendous silence and gleaming perfection, a small outdoor sanctuary of flowing green grass and rich, voluminous trees. The sight of it was greatly calming, challenging even the restless battle hunger of the young Prince. Enclosed by tall, stone walls, it was one of very many retreats found within the grounds of Vikram Castle.
His eyes looked over the private, little garden, and he thought about the more distant future. When he was King, finally at last when that day came, how differently would he look upon all the same places he was now just meeting for the first time? And what differences would he sense when the fighting had stopped? How much would even this current moment in time be rooted in the past? With every pondering he made, he was closer and closer to the victory that he was so powerfully assured of. No one on his side, except for the ancient statement of a world even the Old Ones had forgotten. Beauty like this was impossible to kill. He was sure of it.
Arturur had always felt invincible. But right now, he felt far less than invincible. He felt capable of being defeated. He felt weak. He felt like the only man in the world that could solve his own problems. The doctor was depressed... He had finally met a puzzle that was not easy to solve.
The white pixie knew in his heart that he had the intellect to win any battle worth such gruelling effort. However, he had run into a wall inside of his mind. No longer could he escape reality by almost seeing through stone. The Prince had found that all of his struggling could actually end in defeat. Everything that he held dear could slip out of his hands, and that was why he was fighting in the first place. Because subconsciously he had always known that loss was a real thing that could really happen. He was now thinking that consciously, and it was weighing him down. Arturur had felt like he could finally stay in a safe spot in his mind, and that spot would never go away. Yet now, it was not like that at all. He had realized, in all the time that he had been battling his thoughts, he had realized that even he could be destroyed.
But the doctor held up his hand, and he held up his hand to the gods, and he showed them that his faith in his ability to succeed was real, because his faith in them was real. And when others would have caved inwards and lost the fight and their hearts ripped out of their chests... Arturur was surprisingly calm. He had cried and cried like someone had died, but, all that time, he had never truly felt like the world was really over. Faith kept him alive and hope was something... that he had finally realized could be real. Hope was something deadly that could kill you. It was that fear of psychological death that spurred him forward. The pain in his heart as he warred against all odds. It was that drive in him that made hope always a thing of the past, and now he knew that hope had been following him all his life. But he had never met this terrible thing called hope until today. And that was when his mind almost cracked.
However, he had made a great victory. Now it was up to the gods to determine his fate. There was no fight left in him to protect his own wounds. Still, within him, there was an unending thirst for a war of numbers. The fight for himself, the fight that made him happy, that was what was at stake. It was the fight for everyone else that continued on without doubt. He was a soldier. He was not just a psychologist, a priest, or a school teacher. He was a warrior. Trained, yes. Trained to fail, no.
He was a warrior.
He was not a strong person.
But he was a warrior. And that part of him never perished. No matter how much metaphorical blood was on his hands, the blood of people that he had tried to help yet had failed... He knew that he could ultimately win happiness for others.
It was himself that was on the line. Could he find peace? Or would the pain become worse and... No. It couldn't stay that way. The gods wouldn't allow it.
It was himself that was on the line. It was his happiness that was truly at stake.
He was full of anger. He was full of emotion in general. Arturur was tired of being silent, and he was done with being careful. It was time for him to take out Eugene and his cohorts. He was sick of being walked on.
The doctor had trained all his life to be what he was. He had always been faithful to what he loved, even when he had no idea that his deep-rooted interests were deep-rooted in psychology. A long time ago, Craig had made him see that he really was a psychologist. All the years that he had hated the mere mention of the field, all those long but young years... One day, it all just finally dawned on him, and he woke up. It was like seeing the world for the first time. Arturur had at last accepted who he was. Craig couldn't have been happier.
But Craig was in danger. He was going to be psychologically killed, murdered even. If someone didn't protect the white pixie's vulnerable uncle, he would surely die. And Arturur had taken it upon himself to rip the reigns out of Craig's hands, and force himself and his psychology on the man that had fathered him all his days. The xavier pixie had always loathed the idea of his adopted son working on him, working with him. His entire life, Craig had felt that the only place that Arturur belonged was the place that his uncle had for him in his heart... protected from everything.
It was not possible any more. Craig couldn't keep Arturur from the fire. His young, reckless nephew had taken it upon himself to save the world. And the young man was going to do it. Hope or no hope. Faith... without end. Arturur was now readying himself for the long, hard war that was ahead. All other preparation had been done, most of it a long time before he had even come to Warren. Once he was placed in the awkward position of living in this new environment full of cocky but fun loving psychologists, Arturur had, had to make the last preparations for the upcoming war that no one wanted to happen and that Warren would never expect. The fun was about to stop.
This was his home, but it was also about to turn into a bloody war zone. Psychology would be used against psychology. People would very likely lose their minds and break in a way that took decades to recover from. And, of course, Warren was not expecting to discover this at all. The people of Warren understood that something was about to happen, however, they were thinking that—While it would be mind blowing, whatever it was—there was nothing to ultimately truly fear. They were completely oblivious even now.
Arturur's fists were balled up and at his side. His eyes were burning with both pain and determination. The young man felt like he would shatter at any moment and never be capable of being repaired again, but he was so determined, he was so ferociously, tenaciously determined... that he was surprisingly calm. He had been crying and crying, yet he had managed to keep himself from totally breaking down. The doctor kept telling himself over and over again... that he believed in the power of the gods to save him from anything. It might take a little extra effort on his part, yet he knew what he knew what he knew.
It was a trait inherent to him that Eugene had always been jealous of, because Eugene looked at it as if it was power and Eugene craved that power. That was why he didn't have it. Because faith was not power. Faith was giving yourself completely to the protection of other people. Faith was trust. You couldn't turn it into a sword. It was the force not that drove the sword forward, but that kept you from using the sword to begin with.
It had just hit him, and suddenly he had felt incredibly vulnerable. The time for court was coming quickly. Soon, Arturur and his unreliable allies would be put to the test. As things got harder and people were placed under intense analysis, Arturur knew that his team would fall apart after only a brief battle of intellect. Most of the war, admittedly, would be up to the doctor. At some point, his team would have to rejoin him, but that would be far into the future. And no one but him believed that, that would even happen, or that he could last very long himself. Everyone had been right about him panicking after all, and it was making them feel that at any moment, the young Prince would lose his nerve and start flailing like the rest of his supporters. However, Arturur was made of sturdy stuff, and, despite that people had lost their faith in him, he knew himself better than anyone else. He was going to succeed. The world would be awed. And his team would become whole again. Then, together, they would beat Eugene and his allies. Everyone would survive, including their most vicious opponents, and peace would reign over Alastair once again.
And, yes, the world would be awed. After all, it wouldn't be much longer and the Guardians would begin to prepare the merger of the younger part of Alastair, which was most of it by a very large percentage. There were many, many older daemons, who had been around for well over a thousand years and more, but they had always lived separate from their much younger descendants. And the Old Ones almost never interacted with them. Only the Guardians personally tended to the very young.
The plan for court had been laid out years ago, just in case there was a future uprising. Even Eugene and the rebels had contributed to it, never believing that they would someday go up against their own. To everyone but Arturur, it had just been a required lesson given to them like so many others by the Guardians. A different way of looking at the world, a different way of looking at your family and friends. It was simply a kind of thinking practice that moved along certain ideas at a faster pace. No one really knew why such nonsensical teachings did what they did, except for Arturur, who had a far deeper understanding of it than even his own teachers.
The young doctor had always felt like a war was indeed possible, yet even Arturur did not really believe in it, though, he had definitely taken such studies seriously. That part of his character had been both praised and mocked. On one hand, people were amazed at his seemingly endless ability for innovation, but on the other hand, those same people had a really hard time with some of his more controversial ideas. There was anger, there was shock, there was sadness. There was even laughter at times. No one wanted to hurt Arturur's feelings, but they felt like if they did not laugh at him, then he would grow even more and more out of control. It made him very jaded, and they really didn't want him to feel that way, but alas there was nothing that they could do—Or at least, in their own minds. Arturur himself had an idea or two about how they could change.
And it was coming. Full force. The long awaited beginning of a tiring string of limitless court sessions. This would be the background for most of the war. People bickering back and forth about why the other was wrong. There would be so much bloodshed, so much ruthlessness to simply prove a point. The fighting would disgust Arturur. It would make him feel like he was surrounded by overly aggressive fools. Yes, the Prince would indeed be wielding fire of his own, but at least he would wield it with perfected calm and self control. Everyone else would be firing at each other relentlessly, throwing their weight around without enough care. There would be so much crying and so much helplessness. There would be so many guilty consciences. To fight, to yell, to scream. To see things from warring points of view. Arturur would get lost in it all instantly. But, unlike the others, he had a clear path to follow, a path that he had forged long ago in his childhood. An adult Arturur would have to finally face his greatest test—Speech.
Along the side of the room, Arturur was sitting with Dende, Jethro, Calvin, and Yagrius. On the opposite side were Eugene, Isaiah, and Alexander. The big people, their Warren caretakers from Wendell, were seated in front of the audience, which was very large and full of excited talking. No one was sure what to expect, including a lot of people who had come from Wendell. Craig, Aven, Charles, Clyde, Amos, and Garner were nearer to Arturur's group, while Cameron, Brook, Gulliver, Brighton, and Otto were nearer to Eugene's group. It was the first time that Arturur had seen so many familiar faces in so long.
The room was accommodated for up to four-hundred people at once. On the ground floor, there was space for one-hundred audience members and enough seats for two opposing groups. In the middle, against the wall farthest from the observers, was a large seat that was high off the ground, and next to that seat was another place for a person, except that this chair was level with the floor. The judge for that session was already seated in this grand chair while the seat below him was empty.
The court session was not yet active, however, everyone had already taken their seat—And they were all men. Above the ground floor, there were three separate areas for one-hundred people each. Every last chair had been taken. There were countless people that deeply desired to watch the proceedings, but without enough seats, there would have to be a degree of rotation throughout the sessions to come. This would be the only way for more people to get a look at this, as of yet, mysterious case. Despite everything that Warren felt they understood, they really did not even begin to comprehend the level of seriousness of the issue at hand. It might take some time, but Warren was guaranteed to be shocked.
Arturur was feeling extremely nervous, and he had been ever since he had entered this room. Fortunately for him, he had been given some medicine to help his anxiety. All of the other little ones had been given this medicine too. But Craig and the other big people had refused to take the medicine when it had been offered to them, because they felt like it would adversely affect their ability to argue. For the autistic children, including Alexander, it had not been an option to go without it. They were all too weak to handle this great, big, terrifying thing without at least some kind of help. It had not been long ago that Arturur had taken his, and the medicine was not designed to have a full effect instantly. Therefore, he was still experiencing a large amount of unease.
The room was bustling with noise, every loud, glaring sound grating on the young doctor's nerves. The walls were a dull golden colour, the floor made of swirling marble that matched. The rows and rows of seats were a dark brown wood, and the judge's seat as well as the inquiry stand was made of the same wood. Tall columns were etched with beautiful images that went all the way up, each column with its own unique set of pictures. The ceiling was glowing with a soft, yellow light that created an amazing transparent fog over a highly detailed and carefully imagined painting. The entire perfect place made Arturur feel sick, his overloaded mind spinning with confusion. He greatly wished that he was in his bed right now and not here, but if the Prince allowed himself to run away, then he would surely lose before he had even started. If Arturur could not even handle the court room itself, how would he ever be able to battle against people? He knew that he must do everything in his power to calm down, so that he could take on the massive responsibility of protecting Alastair.
Suddenly, there was the most horrifying sound that Arturur had ever heard. The court session had now begun.
Craig was the very first one to speak. He stood in front of the inquiry stand, Otto sitting there while he listened to the xavier pixie knock him down again and again. But Otto was not the slightest bit intimidated, and, like the rest of Eugene's party, he showed no signs of taking Craig seriously. You could tell that Craig was already thoroughly irritated and did not feel like his interaction in this court room lead to anywhere but failure.
Otto was the same head type as Eugene, including Cameron, Brook, Gulliver, and Brighton. They were all soldiers, all men that marched on with supreme confidence in their abilities. In other words, they were stubborn and difficult. When something got stuck in their head, it never came out. Everyone was always trying to walk around them, worried about what they might make them think next. Ultimately, while they were all considered exceptionally bright people, they were also notorious for being amazingly ignorant.
But Arturur was not listening to what Craig was saying. Instead, he was carefully watching his movements. The young doctor was trained on his every change in emotion, except for what was occurring solely within the xavier pixie's mind. That was analysis for Arturur that was still impossible. While the Prince could study anything that happened outside of a person's head, he had the most tremendous difficulty understanding what was unsaid and merely assumed. Therefore, he really did miss the whole picture. What he did notice was so technical that it was very difficult to communicate.
Craig's arms. His legs. A small difference in his lips when he smiled. The precise movements of his hands and the angle of his neck. Everything a tiny ripple in an endless pattern of behaviour. That was what Arturur saw. And he didn't comprehend things like happiness or anger or confusion. He was securely attached to people's movements, like a cat or a dog interpreting the actions of his prey. The Prince's mind was so raw and uncivilized. He was like a wild animal. Not paying attention to the feelings of his target, but rather the beastliness of a person. It was something that could be written down. It was something that could be added up or subtracted. All psychology seamlessly connected to mathematics. Arturur was a fox hunting a rabbit. He was slow and steady in his methods, carefully eliminating possibilities as he went along rather than focus on what was there.
Craig was moving. He was talking from everyone else's understanding, but that was the beginning and the end for Arturur. Simple, raw movement. Like a dance that could be calculated down to its very last twist, everything entered into his memory like balls falling into finely controlled categories. Variables. Many, endless... variables. Numbers going up and down with every switch-flipping action. All things interacting together in pure, hard facts. An ever rippling web.
Otto was also moving. They were both moving. They were both talking. It was a heated argument, a fascinating combination of warring defences. Each person had their own view on the matter, and neither one wanted to budge. But Craig was being bullied so badly, so totally and utterly by the unfair advantages of Eugene's party. The xavier pixie was overwhelmed to the point of savagery. Their enemies were being unbelievably brutal, and Arturur knew that, that truth would eventually dawn on the people of Warren who were watching this sad, terrible event unfold. Soon, the extent of Eugene's mercilessness would become a household name. The young, long-haired soldier, used to being high up on the hierarchy, was about to fall. Or at least, that was Arturur's "opinion". But he knew better than to think such things about his own thoughts. The Prince was utterly sure of himself. Let everyone doubt him until the end.
Craig was a good man. In fact, he was the best man that Arturur had ever known. He was kind and thoughtful while mean and cruel. He knew who he was, and he knew how to be that person without ever hurting anyone. Craig could tell the nastiest jokes, and yet make everybody laugh. The world bowed before his greatness, his inability to fail, and the true softness in his heart. He was like a stuffed animal. Deep down. Past all the vicious barbedwire and protective spikes.
Craig was his hero.
No matter what ever happened. No matter how many times that Davin had attacked him or that Asterterkin had turned himself into yet another obstacle. The orange-haired doctor had always been there. His bright, shining face; his long, strong arms; the steeliness of his legs; and the depth of the undying love in his eyes... This was the man that Arturur wanted to be. He wanted to be just even half as good as Craig. Of course, that wasn't enough, and the white pixie kept learning and growing and learning and growing. Craig was always his end goal... except for the terrible pain that held him back. Arturur would have no choice but to heal that pain on his own, until Craig's father could step in, until Sasawich could grab him and stop him. Until Granpa Pooky could make room in his son's crying soul for both him and his mother.
Until then, Arturur felt like he had to fight all on his own. His allies were barely helping him. Craig's faith in him had been in shambles since the war had first begun. The time before Arturur had, had any idea what his grandfather looked like. And now it was now. The court sessions had officially started. Eugene's party was already fighting with full fury. And Craig was already feeling as if he was slipping to the ground and losing consciousness, the darkness overwhelming and destroying him. Arturur had to be smart. He had to be tenacious for everyone around him. And that was where the two broke apart, Craig intent on saving as much of Arturur's mind as possible, as much of his heart and soul and courage as he could. Craig was trying to push him out of the battle, and Arturur was fighting for his life to hold on. The young, white-haired doctor was being shoved towards a fire by the man who had always called himself his father. Craig didn't feel like there was any better option, that the only thing any of them could do was knock Arturur out of the race before Eugene could break more of his character. Craig was fighting for what he saw as the last scraps of Arturur's quickly fading life.
It was horrifying. It was utterly terrifying. Eugene had created this situation where the only man more frightening than himself was Arturur's own adoptive father. The feeling of betrayal was strong, but the white pixie knew that he must hold onto the truth just long enough to survive the steel hands of Craig. The Headmaster, the Wexler, and the Jedediah... at full power... and his knee-high, black, leather boots slowly sliding against the floor, heading for the thin line that marked the outside of the ring. He must live!
For himself! For Craig! For everyone!
And even for the selfish Eugene and his hardened allies!
Craig had many times called him a bleeding fool. The best person there was, but with a weakness. All throughout his life, his uncle had said that he was too kind. Now Craig felt like the consequences of Arturur's innocent beliefs were enough to lead to his own destruction. Fearing the worst, you could hardly call Craig an ally any more. The xavier pixie had taken on the identity of a father already in mourning.
Craig was a good man. And Arturur would win him back!
"Your idea of helping someone... is disgusting to me." Said Arturur, as he sat at the inquiry stand. "Your idea of freeing the weak and liberating the innocent is purely nonsensical." He was quiet, then, "There is no way that I am going to bow down to you, Eugene. There is no way that I am going to allow you to do what you want to do.
"You want to hurt Asterterkin." He continued, his voice ever calm and level. "I want to help him. We can all agree that he has brainwashed me. Okay, it's done. It's said. But what about the end? What about the results that you're hoping to create? You tell me yourself that you're not entirely sure, and you still go about this crusade anyway. I understand that you desperately just want to help people, but I also know you very deeply, Brother.
"You kill for fun. You assassinate for sport.
"How can we trust you? How can we trust a man like that? If glory was not a constantly alluring option for you, then you would just simply kill yourself and be done with life. That is why I can not reach you. Because I am not willing to have your blood on my hands.
"You call it weakness. I know that it is in truth... simply that I can not bear to harm anyone.
"So that makes me soft? That makes me weak? That makes me a bad doctor?
"Because I refuse to be reckless in the hope that we will make progress?
"How do you justify the means, Eugene? How do you plan on convincing my father to follow your every last command? Did you not live in Wendell all of your life because you would not get along with your fellow countrymen? You make me sound defiant to all the people we have been meeting. They keep hearing the comprehension in you for something terrible and selfish and cruel and downright ignorant. And they can't believe in that kind of evil, because evil is merely a concept, not a reality. So what they do is they keep thinking that they are hearing about me, when in reality, it is you that they are learning about...
"You have helped to destroy all the time that I have had here. You made it all the harder. I'll never forgive you for that until someone forces me. It's too much. All the things I wanted to say, all the jokes I wanted to make, all the honesty that I wished I could bestow upon my listeners. But you turned everything into a battle zone, and while I know that it would have always been difficult, why did you have to complicate the most complicated thing in my entire life? Why did you have to spray blood all over the walls and keep ramming nonsense about me down people's throats? I am not so bad. You have convinced them that there is something seriously wrong with me that needs some kind of immediate attention and harsh discipline. In reality, I have simply been in hiding from the lies that you keep surrounding me with.
"When we were in Wendell, three months before we all came here... home... you created a horrible, terrible lie, and with that lie, you made accusations in my direction that you knew people would misinterpret without you to explain them away. You knew I was too weak to shove off the heavy influence of your evil. But you did it anyway.
"You're brainwashed... I'm brainwashed. We're both brainwashed. And it has had its consequences.
"My blood splattered all over the walls... barely surviving... that's the kind of consequences that it has had. And if you were willing to do that to me, of all people, the gods only know what you did to everyone else... Desperate for attention... maddened for glory. You have ruined yourself, Eugene. With help.
"But I swear to the gods, if you really do try to complete your wicked plan... if you harm Craig to the brink of no return... I will make you regret it. In peace... In forgiveness... I can not become a person that I am not... but you will still regret it. You just won't know why at first. And then it will come to you, and I will not need to talk any more."
"I spent my life walking up and down roads. I always felt very lonely. I always felt lost." Began Arturur, still sitting at the inquiry stand. "I didn't understand anything. I was completely separate from the rest of the world. There was nothing connecting me to society." Eugene was standing back, merely looking upon him with his arms behind him, as he talked to the room as a whole.
"I was obsessed with alcohol. I didn't drink, but I was still obsessed with it." The doctor was almost as equally calm as before. "I used to imagine myself completely wasted, spending this time all by myself, as I preferred to indulge my imaginary addiction with just me and a water bottle. There was nothing in it but water. I drank that, and I pretended it was liquor.
"I was never interested in drugs. I was aware that there were plenty of doctors that had, had real addictions with medications, but I was never one of them. No, my choice of poison was a water bottle. They collected in my room, empty bottles shoved under my bed. Every once in a while, someone would clean them out, because they just gathered there.
"I kept my mouth shut about it. Up to this point, I haven't even discussed it with anyone. It was just one of those things that I always kept to myself. Along with many other things I never wanted to share. Everyone knew that I dreamed of being a hero, but I don't think that they ever really made that make sense to me. That they knew and how and why. But that didn't seem to bother me much. Even now, I really don't know everything about what others can figure out about me. I suppose it doesn't really matter much at the moment.
"It's the kind of thing that would make Eugene be like... 'Well, that's only going to end you up on the other side of people's plans.' Plans! My god, plans! Why is his world so absolutely drowned in plans?! You would think that eventually he would get tired of his own arrogance, or move into his own mansion some place and just ignore all his old friends while he gets the celebrity treatment by the majority of the region. Who ever really stood up to him but me? Well... Craig and Jethro, of course... but who else? Why was this always looked at as one of the most normal things in the world? Am I really supposed to be expected to cope with this kind of person? This man that I call my brother?
"As a psychologist, I was very interested in violence. But not because I wanted to be violent, but because I was fascinated by the cruelty of other people. I wanted to understand it. I wanted to understand it so much, just to know, just to explain it all away. I was so interested in it, I was worried that others may think that I was as violent as the things that I was reading and watching on the telly. It really wasn't like that. I'm a doctor. I can't help but be drawn to things that I want to change.
"You know that this man... Eugene... You know that this man has been trying all this time to make me look like the villain? He knows me. He knows what kind of stuff bothers me, what kind of stuff gets to me. And all this time, he has been using it against me, in order to cut me off from all the big people, so that I'll fall down faster. Lose swifter. Give in. Stop. Give up. Die. He considers it some kind of great, wonderful plan to free me from what he sees as the grip of perfection and, well... there's always those things that he blames on Asterterkin, and there's always those things that Davin really did... And, well, it doesn't really matter. All that really matters is that he has been purposefully trying to confuse people of my true aims. Of my true personality even. In his raw, little mind... he does not understand the gravity of what he has been doing to his own brother. He really does think that he's helping me, yet he is so underdeveloped in so many ways in which normal people don't even have to try... that he is hurting me. And I want it to stop. I want the hurting to stop.
"He's not allowed to talk right now, otherwise I'm sure that he would come up with some more excuses. But, you know, I can't take it any more, and I don't know when this pain ends. I just want this all to be over. I want the truth to come out, I want the darkness to go away, and I want everything to be a perfect utopia. Is that so much to ask for? Is it really so hard for everyone to get along?
"If I was ever addicted to anything solid, I suppose that it would have been balls. I love balls. I have tons of balls. If I was asked whether I wanted a ball or a shot of something, I would always say 'ball'. Can you really have enough of them? I think I own a hundred of them, mostly small ones. I suppose that's not necessarily something that's going to kill me one day, but I can't tell you how happy it makes me to look at all the balls I own. I just want to throw them all over the place and just live that way. In balls.
"Something really strange and new is happening to me, but I am so precisely aware of every little emotional change that I'm going through right now, that it's not as horrible as it would otherwise be. Well, maybe not every little change, but enough to make me feel better.
"Eugene..." Arturur leaned forward in his chair, eyes on his rival now. "What else do I need to say? You're the one scripting everything, aren't you? Forcing me to figure out some way to reveal the truth about myself. To show everyone I'm not so incompetent after all. What do you have to say for yourself anyway? Is this what you really want?"
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