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Sasawich, also known as Granpa Pooky, was a welcome change. Eugene had not been allowed to respond to the last part of Arturur's contribution to the court, and he had angrily stomped off back to Isaiah and Alexander. That was a comfortable place for him—With his own. Yet it was almost as if no one was watching. The long-haired soldier never seemed to get embarrassed, even the slightest bit ashamed. It was like he was the supreme voice on everything, and Arturur had been sick of his attitude problem for a long time. The white pixie felt completely pathetic as he wished against all odds that this would be a swifter victory than what anyone could imagine. A wish on a coin in a waterfall. But a wish all the same. We are defined by our wishes, because they make us the most known to the people around us.
"I really must know." Said the old man. Or at least, he was old to Arturur who had barely been in the world in comparison. "What in the hell do you do to entertain yourself?"
There was silence. Arturur was not sure how to answer, but it must be done. "I like the theatre." He admitted.
"The theatre?" Granpa Pooky seemed to think that was strange. "Isn't that something that we all do? How can you call that a real answer?" And all damons did indeed do the theatre at times—The arts was a requirement of life.
"I'm an actor." Replied the young doctor. "Professionally."
"Oh, you do that on the stage too?" Joked the pink pixie, a smile on his face. "What is your favourite role? Or do you even have one?"
"I enjoy being the anti-hero." Arturur felt embarrassed. "I'm really picky."
"Do you play the villain much?" He wondered.
"No." Said the white pixie. "I don't like it."
"Why not?" Sasawich honestly did not understand. "Abner loves to play the villain."
"I don't like playing some crazy person who just wants to dominate the world." Responded Arturur, relaxed now that Eugene wasn't staring him down any more.
The older pixie had short, pink hair. He was shorter than Arturur but still very tall, and he was considered an intimidating tower of playful discipline. Sasawich was both famous and infamous. His nasty mouth was legendary, and had earned him a lot of ire over the years of his long life. He was straight to the point, careful to conceal only punch lines. An extremely intelligent and knowledgeable person, the previous king had been an exceptionally talented man since his youth. People didn't really question him much, unless the questions made sense. Cornered by those who knew him only to restrain his biting wit and ferocious leadership tendencies, Sasawich was otherwise seen as an invaluable team member with the rare ability to move mountains and make rainbows. It was like the man was full of magic power. Instantly, he could transform an entire room of people into any psychological landscape. Pixies were known for their powerful illusions—A skill used frequently in wards to help the sick—and Sasawich's skills were beyond myth. Now if only he could get the young Arturur to see the crafty man behind the silliness, the pink pixie would experience a great triumph.
"You can't be so serious all the time." Said Granpa Pooky, concerned that the young doctor was still too anxious to discuss his own personal naughtiness. "You're a kid for heaven's sake! Why don't you start acting like one? Surely, you do something!"
"I really don't do much at all." Arturur's voice was like a whisper.
"Everyone plays games. Everyone makes jokes. Everyone pranks people." Explained his grandfather, trying to exercise as much patience as possible. "You're not a bad person because you're a wild, out of control pixie kid. There is nothing wrong with some harmless fun..." Sasawich gave him a long, studying look. "It's okay, Arturur. You can tell me. You can say this in front of all of these people. No one is going to think bad of you."
Arturur was looking down at the top of the inquiry stand.
"Come on now!" Urged the pink pixie. "Tell me, kiddo!"
But he would say nothing. A heavy silence rested on his shoulders, a ghostly fog in his eyes, his mysterious emotions weighing down a trembling, weak heart.
Sasawich was about to continue his encouragements when, "I like to tell jokes." Finally, Arturur was speaking. "Though, I don't know if they're always so appropriate. I can make people pretty mad. I try to play by the rules, but sometimes I think I just fail. It's not always clear what's okay and what isn't. The people that know me don't mind. However, I do remember that in my childhood, I angered quite a few adults. They never lost their patience with me, but I do remember some choice words that an old man made here and there. The older they were, the less they cared. But now meeting all these people for the first time, in a new world where people don't know me and don't understand that I never mean to harm anyone's feelings... Well... it's overwhelming... I don't want to truly anger anyone. Can you handle that?" His eyes at last met his grandfather's.
Granpa Pooky smiled. "You just described me perfectly." He said.
People didn't fully understand him. That much was evident. However, they did know that he was smart despite all of his difficulties. Eugene was plagued with hardship. He was a man that had tremendous trouble reading others' emotions and reacting appropriately. His inabilities extended not just to those stronger than him, but also to those weaker than him as well, including the most vulnerable person in all of Alastair—The Crowned Prince Arturur. And these obstacles were always getting in his way of becoming the person that he really wanted to be, a true genius of such unparalleled greatness that even Arturur would be stunned in awe of him.
Right now, he stood in front of the inquiry stand. The man sitting there was locked in eye contact with him, and Eugene could tell that this person saw him as nothing more than a stubborn child. It didn't matter how far Eugene got. His enemies did not accept what Wendell was telling them. They did not believe a word of it, yet they were still prepared to be brainwashed. None of Arturur's team could fight this battle—Or at least, they didn't think so. And this man before Eugene, while he was not officially on Arturur's force, still agreed with everything that Arturur stood for. The man was terrified of being psychologically brutalized into Eugene's greedy hands, and felt for sure that his next steps in this world would be the last ones that he ever took on his own. A kind of enslaved state, almost mindless in obedience. This was not what the man wanted. He did not want to be changed. Arturur was sympathetic to this wish, and never violated the man's needs. But if Arturur lost this war of minds, then it was only a matter of time before even the Guardians from the Edge helped Wendell bring down this man once and for all.
It was the Guardians that he was truly afraid of. Not Eugene. Not Wendell. But them. They were so old and wise and powerful. If Eugene convinced them that he was correct, then there was no way that this poor, cornered man could ever escape the clutches of such mental giants. While much older than Eugene, his age was still so tender in comparison to the Edge Damons.
"So..." Began Eugene, standing firmly before him. "Asterterkin... I haven't talked with you for months. I can only imagine the agony of waiting for your life to end. Tell me... have you reached any personal insights, or do you still rebel against us in the greatest way possible?"
Asterterkin scoffed, derisively. "You're just a kid." He said, honestly. "I am not intimidated by you at all."
"I see." Replied the soldier, simply.
Asterterkin was maximum height, and had long, thick spikes of blue hair. He wore long, blue robes, and tightly fitted clothes underneath, as was common for him. Up to his knees were black, leather boots, giving him a commanding air of an aggressive and assertive nature. His face was the perfect blend of shapes that artfully described the intense, powerfully controlling personality that was constantly fighting everyone for dominance. His hands were like delicate claws that could rip out a person's heart without effort. And despite the complexity of his often broken thoughts, his emotions were usually clear and easily explained. Even now, his robust, demanding spirit immediately dispersed misinterpretations of his viewpoint, as he struggled through the frustration of meeting people for the first time. New people meant that he must go through every exhausting trial of questions that they could conjure, and be forced through the extremely annoying experience of having to describe everything about himself while others combated inevitable misunderstandings.
It was no surprise that Eugene's unrestrained battle of logic was only met with tired anger.
Eugene was not smiling. He was not laughing. He was not mocking anyone. But Asterterkin felt that way anyway. However, the young soldier was bullying him, pushing him into a corner, and beating him against a wall. It just also felt like he was mocking him. Mocking him. Persecuting him. And Asterterkin could not stand to be persecuted.
He had to keep telling himself over and over again that Eugene was little more than a child. That he couldn't blow up on him. Yet it was hard. He didn't understand how he was ever going to cope with someone that was ramming into him at full force. Arturur, he could handle. Eugene? Well... Eugene was hardly as blameless as the young doctor. Innocent, yes, but in a whole different way. And Arturur didn't even begin to be cruel, not like Eugene. Eugene was selfish and downright nasty, and in a way that couldn't be excused. The ferocious young man was going for the tender spots on purpose, and Arturur wasn't like that. He wouldn't hurt someone like that.
"Will you shut the hell up?!" Cried out Asterterkin. He couldn't take it any more. "You talk about me like I'm some terrible, horrible person that doesn't even begin to take anyone's feelings into account! You act like I don't care about people! Why do you have to go into me as if I was Davin?! Davin is the real problem!"
"Yet you trust, Davin." Accused Eugene, keeping his emotions in check. It made him feel more professional, to address someone like Asterterkin with a powerful sense of authority.
"I do not trust Davin!" Exclaimed Asterterkin, frustrated with the over enthusiastic soldier.
"Then why do you always say that?" Questioned Eugene, trying to get the older man to break.
"I feel like Davin and I have some things in common that are really important." Explained Asterterkin, feeling overwhelmed by all the people that were watching him under close scrutiny. "But that does not mean that I trust him!"
"Is that not the definition of trust?" He attacked.
"Eugene, get real." Asterterkin was through with him and his out of control aggression. "You know me. Don't act like you don't. Don't stand here and accuse me of things that you already understand to be normal and healthy behaviours. You are going for anything that could convince a person that I'm wrong. That I'm too insane to be around Arturur. That I'm this wonderfully crazy person who doesn't know reality from fiction. And, you know what, Eugene? I am not going to argue that I am not... insane at times. That I do not have a very serious condition... But if you're going to tear me down in front of all of these people who have never met me before... then do it with some damn dignity! Use the truth, Eugene! It's more than enough to get people to agree with you that I should wear a fucking leash!
"But don't you come out here..." His eyes glared with rage. "and start attacking Arturur! Because you are bending everything that is said, in order, not just to destroy me, but to destroy Arturur as well!" He leaned forward in his chair. "I will not allow you to drag that poor boy down with me." Each word was like a fiery hot coal.
"I am not lying." Insisted Eugene, his arms folded across his chest. "You are not going to stop me from achieving what I have come here to achieve. I don't care how you use language, and I don't care what you expose about mine. I'm only here to make sure that Arturur is protected, and that you... and Davin... and all the rest of the people with your condition... finally get the help that you need." He turned around, faced the audience, and spread out his arms, hands open. "Arturur is a good man. Arturur is very sensitive. But we can not allow him to endanger himself!" Then he became quiet, and turned back around to Asterterkin. In a few quick steps, he approached the stand and made himself very close to him. "We will not permit you to brainwash him any more than you already do! We will not ignore the things that you have done and are capable of doing!
"I am here for Arturur! But I do care about you too. You raised me. I love you. We're a happy little family most of the time. However, you are always going back to the same, harmful behaviours, and there has never been any way to stop you!
"I know what needs to be done. Everyone stands behind me. Shortly, this will all be over."
"You underestimate that child!" Yelled Asterterkin, suddenly. "You act like some divine being who has the answers to everything! You are brutalizing the boy! I can tell you what's really happening! It's you, Eugene! You're the one who's turned yourself into a fucking hero! You can't bear to lose! You can't bear to share the spotlight with him!
"Get off of him, Eugene!" Asterterkin warned, voice full of conviction. "Get off of him before I throw you off!"
"I'm not the one with schizophrenia!" Barked the young soldier, losing his temper. "There is nothing seriously wrong with me at all!"
"You have autism!" Roared Asterterkin. "You don't think that's a serious condition? I'm not just a schizophrenic, Eugene! I'm a person!"
"I'm not the violent one who always has to have his way!" Eugene was about to say more, but...
"You're not violent?" Asterterkin's voice became tinged with laughter. "You don't always have to have your way? Really?" There was silence for a moment, as Eugene stiffened in quiet rage and Asterterkin stared him down. "You're just so fucking perfect, aren't you? Ever since you were a child, I have watched you in slow motion become a negative, hateful hypocrite. Arturur was always the sweet one. He was always the kind-hearted little kid that cared about everybody. But you... you hate people, Eugene. You hate people in a way that I've never hated anyone. My problem is not that I hate people.
"It's that I can't stand it when others abuse me!" He shouted.
Eugene was riveted to the spot. Raw anger had darkened his entire demeanour.
"You will regret challenging me." Said the soldier, eyes locked on Asterterkin's.
"I think the change that I am the most against..." Started Eugene, Asterterkin furiously hanging onto his every word. "is the medication revolution." The soldier made an angry, disgusted face. "Arturur, for whatever ungodly reason that has come into his head, doesn't want you, of all people, to take medications for your condition any more...
"You can't possibly agree with that." Eugene felt that this issue had an obvious conclusion.
"Why not?" Asked Asterterkin, honestly. "Perhaps he has some great plan. We have not gotten the chance to hear him yet. Much time has passed, but he has been busy explaining other things. He's been busy meeting new people. He revealed that decision shortly before we all left Wendell. No one has had a chance to talk to him about it. You know, Eugene... he's been keeping a lot of secrets, and the reason is you. Every time he tries to make a change, you have been immediately crying out against it. You won't let him prove anything. You just start throwing a tantrum and forcing everyone to stop progress." He raised a brow, intending his words to sting.
Eugene glared at him. If he had not taken special medicine before this event, he would have blown up and charged the inquiry stand. "It's positively ludicrous." Seethed the young soldier. "You're just being defiant at this point!"
"Oh no, I really am not." Asterterkin replied, his conscience perfectly clear. "I really do agree that we need to give Arturur a chance. I don't think any of us understands this problem more than he does. He may be extremely autistic, but he's a good doctor. And he's the Crowned Prince of Alastair, for the sake of the gods. For the rest of eternity, he and his father, the King, will rule us without question. And we all know about Arturur's unique talents... I would feel stupid to block out his voice so readily. It would be a true act of prejudice."
"It would be common sense!" Exclaimed Eugene, in an explosion of anger. "You just really get on my nerves, Asterterkin. You are so cold and calculating...! I can't stand it!" He spent a few moments simply staring him in the eyes.
But Asterterkin wasn't about to take his accusations. "There you go again!" He said, exasperated with Eugene. "Telling everyone that I don't care about them! You're not using those words right, little boy. You're purposely twisting all of this to fit your own needs. I am not a cold and calculating person. That's Davin. You know that. Yes, I can be like that, but that is irrelevant. You need to stop painting this really ugly picture of me. My problems... the ones that really matter to people... are not things that I can act on, because they won't let me. It's impossible. What am I supposed to do? There's cameras everywhere! I have not had the slightest opportunity to truly carry out some of my 'darker' plans, as they're called. So, seriously Eugene... You need to stop reverting to the same tactics. They're harsh, they're untrue, and they just confuse people."
Eugene did not have the character or the emotional control to take on a person like Asterterkin. The mere image of him infuriated Eugene, and it was so difficult for him to try this extremely challenging task. The young soldier kept thinking that he could do it, that he just had to keep going at it, but that was not what was happening. He was losing his mind. He was filling with rage. He was unable to take anything that Asterterkin said to him. And if he didn't find some way to cope and soon, then he would have to forfeit this particular argument to one of his other team members. And that was not something that he wanted to do. Eugene felt like he had to prove himself once and for all. Giving this duty to someone else would be a heavy blow, and his heart could not take it. He was too set on victory. Not just victory over this ferocious battle of philosophy, but personal victory as well. Eugene just had to try again.
He turned around, away from Astererkin. For a few passing moments, he let his eyes focus on the faceless group of people watching this disaster unfold. Then Eugene quickly resumed his role, and turned around, ready to get his way.
"You are obsessed with science." Began the soldier, keeping his voice as calm as possible. "You do things with it that are just plain sick. And then you get Arturur interested in your weird, over the top manner of discussing this obsession of yours."
Asterterkin swiftly interrupted. "I do not do anything that is 'sick' or 'twisted' in front of Arturur or do I talk about it with him... That... is... Davin!"
But Eugene would not stand to be thrown off track. "You have lived with him every day! You may try to keep your dark side a secret to him, but you can not erase all of the time that you're around him!"
"My every day life is not so horrible or they would never have him around me!" Yelled the blue-haired man.
"But you do, do sick things!" Insisted Eugene.
"Never around my nephew!" Asterterkin was losing the last of his patience.
"You know exactly what I am referring to!" Accused Eugene, pointing a finger at him.
"I do, but they don't!" He asserted. "Stop turning this into some soap opera!"
"You can not deny that you have been brainwashing Arturur since he was a small child!" Challenged Eugene, feeling confident that Asterterkin could do little more than just stutter in response.
"Brainwashing?" Asterterkin looked at him as if he was just as crazy as Cameron and his gang. "Why are we bringing this up? I hardly convince him of anything that isn't true. I almost never teach him something that people would really object to. Why does any of this matter?" His expression was incredulous.
"Don't pretend that you're completely innocent!" Argued the soldier. "I know that you speak of many simple matters that don't add up to being of much concern, but you know very well that you're always in trouble for filling his mind with outright silliness! It seems harmless to you, however, the rest of us can clearly see the danger in such beliefs."
"Then why do I live with him?" It was a plain point and one that Asterterkin could use again and again. "Why am I around him at all? Why am I not separated from him somehow? You fail to take into account the most common of all sense. You just keep jabbing at me and jabbing at me, treating me like I have this great, terrible secret. I don't have any secrets, Eugene. I don't have anything to hide. I'm not the one who fills his mind with real garbage. I'm not the real controversial one."
"Stop using Davin as an excuse for your behaviour!" Eugene was so frustrated that he could not think straight.
"I'm not doing any such thing!" Exclaimed Asterterkin, so completely fed up with the whole mess despite that court had barely really begun.
"You are incapable of following instructions!" Started Eugene, passionately. "You are beyond listening to anyone but yourself! You never take advice from your elders! You are always breaking all the rules and then bending the ones that you can't break! You are a bad influence on all of us, especially Arturur, and you refuse to admit that you have any problems! I'm not really that surprised that you are insisting on not being at fault for anything that would require more than just a slap on the wrist. This is all just another elaborate evasion technique for you."
Asterterkin was having trouble taking Eugene seriously at all. "If I wanted to evade some troubling truth about myself, I certainly wouldn't waste my time denying it. I would simply refuse to converse with you on any topic that could reveal my deception."
Eugene growled, angrily stomping one of his feet on the ground. "Oh hell! You are so damn annoying!"
"You just can't stand to see all of your arguments fall apart." Accused Asterterkin, wishing that Eugene would just get to the heart of the matter rather than keep taking detours. "If you want to be a super hero, then do Arturur the kind thing and stop battering him at every turn!"
"Arturur is not on the stand right now." Replied the young soldier, hoping that he would be able to withstand Asterterkin's scathing remarks. "You are the one that is being examined!"
"There's nothing to examine!" Claimed the teacher in him. "You are making all of this up! How do you ever suppose that you'll be able to restore your reputation after creating such a tangled web of lies?"
"Stop trying to make everyone think that I am a liar!" Eugene countered.
"You're doing a fine job of that yourself." Chuckled Asterterkin, crossing his arms over his chest.
The soldier merely growled again. Words were not his best friend at that moment. Somehow, this had always seemed like it would be easier. But leave it to Eugene to underestimate his opponents once more.
"Don't you have something unpleasant to say about me?" Asterterkin wasn't in the mood to be merciful; not to this man, and not to any of his followers, if you could call them that.
Eugene shook his head, eyes locked on his enemy. His face was contorted with hot anger. "I certainly have nothing good to say about you."
"Isn't that being unfair?" Questioned the blue-haired teacher. "Shouldn't you be neutral and objective rather than biased and subjective?"
Eugene was just so mad.
"You can't just throw a fit and get your way, child." Reminded Asterterkin. "You have to have actual proof and evidence to support your case. That's not what is happening here. You're looking more and more the fool, you're making yourself into a joke."
"Don't call me a joke!" The soldier couldn't take that. "Don't treat me like some stupid idiot that has no certifications and thinks that everyone is simply a toy!"
"You do think that everyone is simply a toy, even fragile Arturur." Said Asterterkin, speaking what he believed to be the truth. "He is alive, Eugene. He is not a plaything."
"I only want to help Arturur and I will continue to do what I think is right!" Eugene asserted.
"Get out of the way, boy." Warned Asterterkin. "The people I really want to talk to are the jerks behind you. I want to talk to those evil, wicked men who have turned you into their puppet."
"There's nothing wrong with Cameron!" Insisted the young soldier. "Don't pretend that I have no ability to make my own choices!"
"I thought I was the brainwasher here?!" Exclaimed Asterterkin, voice raising. "What?! Are they not controlling every thought in your head?! Can they not be held accountable for treason?!" He was quiet for a moment, letting the thought sink into Eugene's head. "They have viciously attacked and conquered a once brilliant mind! They have destroyed you, Eugene! They have destroyed you! I will not allow them to fill your head with any more lies! Even if the war is lost, a new war will take the place of the previous one! There will be a whole new way for people's minds to be broken! There will be a whole new cry for peace!"
"Cameron has his faults, as they all do, but that is what is truly irrelevant here." Responded Eugene, stiffening his body in defiance. "They are highly intelligent people. They are not the barbarians that you claim them to be. I understand the logic in your opinions, and I can see every bit of grain in most of Arturur's debates. I know that they really do look like a team of insane, brainwashing crushers. And there is definitely truth to that. But, like I said, that is truly irrelevant to what we are discussing. It's not really about Cameron or Brook or Gulliver or Brighton or Otto.
"It's about you. It's about Davin. It's about Aven and Amos and Clyde and Craig and Charles and Garner. All of these people have serious problems. Nothing like the people who back me up. Who believe in me. Who have done everything in their power to give me what I need."
But Asterterkin interrupted with a vengeance. "You can't be serious!" He exclaimed, shocked at the outright lies. "Davin is definitely completely out of his mind. However...! That is not true about the rest of them! Craig is just ridiculous. Amos is obsessed with power but never knows how to use it. Aven is mindless. Clyde is simply playful and bounces off the walls. Charles is a prick, there's no condition for that. And Garner... Well... everyone knows that Garner is full of himself. But yet again... he is still utterly harmless.
"Where in the world are you getting all of this nonsense?!" Asterterkin would have been stumped if it wasn't for... "It's those bastards who call themselves your friends! As little and weak as you are, Eugene, there are still crazy people in this world that can take advantage of you! All of our guardians, from the gods to the Edge Damons... They can't see or predict everything that can happen. And Arturur is still far too young to be at full power. You have to trust your elders, kid. You have to trust me too.
"I know, I know." He lifted up his hands, offering up his most humble modesty. "You are worried about me making you think a bunch of absurd nonsense. I can understand your fear of me. But you must keep in mind that I only ever provide my knowledge in the full confidence that I only brainwash you with facts. With stuff that other people have already approved of... I want our old relationship back." His voice started to break. "I want us to be friends again. I've watched you grow up and I've—"
"You've watched me grow up into a negative, hateful hypocrite!" Countered Eugene, echoing Asterterkin's earlier words. "Now you want to change what you said, and make me out to be some simple, defenceless victim! I am not so ignorant as to forget the extent of your faithlessness in me. Asterterkin... I will stop all of this! I will stop all of this foolish talk! You will get down on your knees and beg me for forgiveness. You will apologize to me! I am not the weakling that I was under your parental command!"
"You will always be a child to me." Said Asterterkin, feeling a heavy weight on his soul, as he helplessly remembered all the times that Eugene had come to him for advice.
A small, little boy he once was, a happy, playful kid that constantly looked up to him as a role model. Yes, there were times when Asterterkin's thoughts confused him or even caused him some small, insignificant degree of harm. However, even when he failed, it didn't really matter too much. It was Davin that worried people. Wendell had tried to come up with a solution for Davin, yet they were reluctant to make such big changes to everyone's lives. It just wasn't possible to remove the crazy, insane sprite from their day to day activities. So they found a way to control him and make him as harmless as possible. Asterterkin...? He wasn't really that bad. He had strange thoughts and dark ideas, but... it wasn't like anyone had any trouble preventing him from carrying them out. Alastair was a peaceful place for a reason. No one could escape the ever watchful eyes of the gods and their powerful computers.
"It may sadden you to hear this, but..." Eugene started, back overly straight. "I am an adult now."
Asterterkin scoffed. Eugene had been making so little sense in his endless efforts to win all of these conversations. "You will never be more than what you are. You are weak. But that is fine. That is who you are. I am weak too. There is a small amount of us, but we are the most fragile of our people. It's okay to be yourself. It's okay to doubt yourself sometimes. It's even okay to doubt us sometimes.
"I wish I knew how to change your mind. I wish I could just say one word and that would make everything go away. Make everything completely and totally obvious to you. Change the world back to its previous state in infancy. The time before maturity and the silly, destructive wisdom that came along with that.
"But I don't know how. And I don't believe in Arturur. It's a sin, I'm sure. A sin to be treasonous. However, there is one thing that you have definitely taught me, you and the rest of your little team over there..." The sad teacher began to choke. "That Arturur is a dreamer and that dreams can't run this country. Can't run this world. That he needs to learn how to lose, and that, that challenge is too much for the purity in his heart. He expects... He expects to find himself a successful ruler, the Crowned Prince of Warren and Alastair as undefeatable in the eyes of all his people. Peace and harmony and love the only things that really matter, things that all on their own have the power to change the world in an instant.
"I didn't want to know that." Asterterkin closed his eyes, his expression one of raw pain. "Because now that I do, I must have the conversation with him. The conversation that you have with a little boy that doesn't understand that there is evil in the world. The conversation that frightens all children when they are very small and then they just grow out of it as they get older. But he's not a little boy any more. So how do I have this talk with him? How do I teach that poor, little guy..." His eyes looked to the side, where Arturur was sitting with the rest of the damon children. "that love can not save everything?"
Eugene, in his arrogance and selfishness, smiled... The bastard actually smiled...
And Asterterkin noticed it.
But he said nothing... There was nothing to say.
He was sitting in his room at Vikram Castle, seated at a big, fancy desk. It had been built and carved for him many years ago to celebrate his twenty-first birthday. Of course, he had not been there to receive it, so it had been there for six long years, just waiting for him to come back and finally use it. It was some kind of tradition in Warren, the gift of a very special desk to a man at a specific age. Arturur wished he understood it, so that he could enjoy the sight of it and the feel of it. But it was just a little thought in the back of his head, small but constant, and constant but unfocused. What was really important to him right now was a dilemma of such size that the young man couldn't comprehend it.
Arturur had been sitting in the court room, listening to Eugene talk to Asterterkin. There was a massive battle between them, each one striving for victory. Eugene wanted his damn glory, while Asterterkin only wanted to protect his nephew. It had been a horrible thing to watch. Eugene kept picking Asterterkin apart, unfairly creating a steep cliff in the minds of the audience. From their point of view, the notorious teacher was insane and unreliable. Or at least, that was how Arturur imagined it. Eugene wasn't playing by the rules, and he kept inventing new ways to make the controversial nobleman look mean and cruel. However, that did not mean that Asterterkin was an easy man to attack. No, certainly not at all. Asterterkin was far stronger than Eugene, and he had the persistence of a ferret. There was nothing in this world that was going to defeat the blue-haired man so easily. It infuriated Eugene, but then he finally found comfort in some of his opponent's words.
Asterterkin had told Eugene that he had proved Arturur to be a simple child with innocent albeit foolish dreams. That had hurt Arturur. But what really wounded him the most... was when Eugene smiled. The long-haired soldier didn't have his priorities straight. And it was really obvious.
That was enough for him.
The white pixie had risen from his chair, burning eyes on only one. Eugene was so distracted by Asterterkin's fiery response that, at first, he didn't notice the man he had betrayed. Then Arturur spoke. He spoke in a loud, angry voice that utterly demanded the attention of everyone there. That demanded the complete attention of Eugene. The long-haired soldier turned around in surprise, and listened intently to his rival's words. However, Arturur didn't make any sense. He was ranting, and he was out of control. He was angry, and he couldn't think of how to describe his feelings. How could anyone just sit there and take that smile? How could anyone who had been through so much just sit there while one of their best friends in the world happily destroyed them?
Arturur started to fall apart then. He had never felt emotions like that before. Court had been long, yet there was still so much unsaid, and "long" only meant that a considerable amount of time had passed. Eternities would stretch on forever in those walls, a seemingly unending final battle. And Arturur appeared to have lost his patience at last.
He felt empty. He felt hollow. He felt like everything in his life had come to a halt, and all of his normal activities had become meaningless. One person. A man with a small child's mind. One Prince, and the symbolic crown still on his father's head. This courageous, brave, and truly righteous young psychologist. Still so youthful. Still ruled over by his elders. The power of the throne beyond his inexperienced hands.
The most arrogant man in the world... had finally tasted a hint of defeat. His age was too tender, his mind was too unformed. He was not old enough to feel this kind of loss, to cope with it, to understand it. The feelings dominated him, and a hint of defeat became the final sound in a great musical masterpiece. Arturur had cracked. He had been through harder things. But this, for whatever reason, had broken him. The pressure; the impending doom; the powerful, crushing opponents. An unseen failure.
Tension snapping. Thoughts shattering. Like the pieces of a glass ball flying all over in all directions. The young man had been warned time and time again that he could lose, that it was a real possibility. But he had never felt loss like this before. He had never seen himself fall to the floor and give up. While the time in court had not yet been great, he was already breaking under the gruelling pressure, pressure that had begun building about a year ago. He had not noticed this. But everyone else had. And they had warned him.
However, there was something that no one had expected. Something that deeply perplexed and shocked everyone who heard the news. You didn't have to know Arturur to understand this. You had been prepared for the royals all your life, and this was definitely something that you had been told was not possible. Horror had filled not only the faces of Arturur's allies, but also the faces of Arturur's opponents. Confusion was spinning out of control, and anger was rising.
Arturur did not want to be a doctor any more.
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