King Periphral took a sip from the wine glass beside him, and looked at the map lain out before him.
Candida was huge. To attack the kingdom- it wouldn’t be easy. But he had two hundred thousand troops. It was four times more than the king of Cardiza had, but-
An unnerving feeling of unease overwhelmed the king. Morteus’ voice echoed in his ears. They did nothing to you- why bother them?
The king was unsure what to think about him. Morteus was only a year older than Darren and five years younger than Darius, but he was a hundred times more cunning and sensible than the both of them added together. Darius always acted on impulse, and that idea of killing Morteus- it was… was reasonable if looked at in a twisted perspective, but… Morteus grew up as a brother to him. After all, a life was a life. How on Earth-
A loud knocking interrupted the king’s troubled thoughts.
“Come in,” Periphral’s voice was agitated.
A graceful figure sauntered in. “Your majesty.”
“Violetta,” The king gave a curt nod.
“Your highness, I’m afraid I have some bad news,” Commander Violetta bowed her head.
“What is it?” King Periphral asked, perturbed.
“My lord, I’m not sure how to say this- but- but your son has escaped,” Violetta stated with a wry smile.
King Periphral stood up, tense. “My son- what do you mean escaped?” He couldn’t lose another child, it would break him. First his daughter, then-
King Periphral started bombarding the commander with questions. “Who is it? Darren? Or is it Darius? It must be Darius, it’s exactly the kind of thing he’d do. He was upset with Morteus about Cardiza…” He said to himself, and then continued on. “What do we do? What’s-” The king was becoming flustered.
“Your majesty-” Violetta cut through the torrent of questions. “It’s not Darius.”
Confusion flitted across King Periphral’s face, then understanding flooded his expression.
“It’s Morteus, isn’t it?”
Commander Violetta gave a solemn nod. “Yes, your majesty.”
“Morteus,” King Periphral pinched the bridge of his nose, saying the name as if it were a curse.
“I’m sorry, your highness,” Violetta apologized. “I could have stopped him- I passed him at the tower door, but I honestly didn’t know. I thought he fought with Darren or something of that sort, and was going out for a ride on his new horse…”
“Darren!” King Periphral jerked upright on his throne. “Where is he? He was with Morteus just now!”
“Not to worry. He’s in his room, your majesty,” Violetta said. “But he won’t talk to anyone. I think he’s too shocked.”
King Periphral slumped back into his throne, momentarily relieved.
“This is all because of Morteus,” he mumbled. “But why would Morteus run away?” King Periphral asked, but knew the answer at once.
“I should have known…” King Periphral trailed off, then spoke a little louder for Commander Violetta’s benefit.
“Morteus overheard us talking about attacking Cardiza. He was very upset.”
Violetta nodded. “Sounds like him. But why did he run away, instead of trying to convince you not to attack Cardiza?” She questioned, sensing something wrong.
“That’s right…” King Periphral pondered. “Unless…” His heart skipped a beat.
“Unless what, sir?” Commander Violetta asked, inquisitive.
“Unless… He went to tell the King of Cardiza that we were going to attack?”
Not once did King Periphral even assume that Morteus overheard his other conversation with Darren.
Commander Violetta’s expression froze in horror and shock. “Then we’ll be at war, with no advantage whatsoever!”
King Periphral buried his head in his arms. Country above family, he reminded himself.
“Go,” he said, his voice agonized.
“Go find Morteus.”