Chapter 8:

Chapter 8- A Crack in Appearances

The Husband and Hero

The brightly lit dining hall gleams with the radiant sound of knights laughing and delicious smelling food coming from the inter hallway to the cafeteria.

Wiping the tears from my eyes that I cried with Crowriff and Erebus previously, I make my way inside the hall.

My eyes glance around the room until they lock onto Fern. With her hand gently caressing the side of her chin, she sits there in a daydream. I wonder what someone with a mind like Fern's thinks about. 

Oddly, my heart starts to pound tirelessly. These past few days with Fern have made my heart feel conflicted. 

Someone I once despised, is now someone I seem to cherish more and more every day. I know she can be rough, but I like to believe she wants the best for me.

Reaching a hand up into the air, Fern begins to wave at me in a giddy nature.

Fern: “Devilynn!”

Startled, I take a deep gulp and make my way over to her. As I approach the cheaply made table, I sit down across from her. Her blossomy eyes are glued onto mine and a sense of discomfort comes over me. It seems as though I am always feeling two very different ways...why do I feel this way? 

Fern: “I was getting quite bored, but I’m glad your finally here.”

Fern reaches her hand out to mine, but before she can reach me, I pull my arm under the table. Letting out a sigh of disappointment, Fern precedes to scan the area.

Fern: “Where is Erebus? Wasn’t he just with you?”

Devilynn: “He needed a moment to himself after talking to Crowriff.”

Fern scoffs at my comment.

Fern: “Men shouldn’t be so emotional. In war you can’t show such vulnerability.”

Irritated by her comment, I raise my tone at her. 

Devilynn: “Men can be as emotional as they want.”

Pushing off my comment, Fern switches the topic to one more favorable to her.

Fern: “You know, before Erebus gets here, don’t you think somethings off with him?”

Devilynn: “Off?”

Fern comes as close as she possibly can without standing up on the table.

Fern: “He seems so untrustworthy to me. He’s so quiet, so quick to reject things, just..., so weird.”

Trying not to lose control of my emotions in an already emotional time, I take a deep breathe before replying to her.

Devilynn: “Erebus has only ever helped our kingdom. He is one of the only people I truly trust.”

Fern: “Well whatever…just know that I have the best interest at heart for you.”

Devilynn: “If you have the best interest then why-“

Leaving off with that cold last statement, Fern’s lips turn into a frown. Almost as if trying to divert my question, Fern moves onto yet another uncomfortable conversation.

Fern: “Devilynn, what’s your type?”

Devilynn: “Huh?!”

Stumbling with my words, my mind begins to try to grasp at a good way to answer that question. 

Fern: “No matter how much I approach you, you don’t ever seem to give me a chance…So I want to know what’s your type?”

Taking a moment to process her last comment leaves me with a sense of guilt. It’s true that up until Crowriff got injured, I didn’t treat these characters as people. Fern must be feeling rather heartbroken at my constant rejections to her advances.

Thinking about what the right way to answer her question is, I decide the best way to answer is to be honest.

Devilynn: “I guess you could say my type is someone who brightens up the world.”

Fern: “Brightens up the world?”

Devilynn: “Yeah, like someone who brightens the room when they walk in. The type of person who stubbornly puts others in front of themselves. Someone who-“

As I ramble on about my type, I begin to picture my wife Eri. I imagine her smile and her cutesy hard laugh. My heart becomes lighter as it begins to beat faster. 

Fern: “Hmm, no that’s not what I meant. Appearances is all that matters in this world. What do you physically like?”

Devilynn: “Ah! I’m an ass man.”

Fern gives off an incredibly disturbed look. Before either one of us can continue speaking, Erebus finally arrives.

Giving off a cold aura, he sits down beside me and gives an unpleasant glances over at Fern.

Erebus: “I too, am an ass man.”

A sense of joy that only men of culture could understand comes over Erebus and I. 

Fern: “Ugh, whatever. Now that Sir Erebus is here, I’ll get straight to the point.”

Fern reaches down to her pocket and pulls out a folded piece of paper. She unfolds it and lays it down in front of us to reveal that it is actually a map.

Fern: “During this last battle, we captured a prisoner from Robal. He was sent over today to be confided in the city of Bomi.”

Looking down at her map, Bomi is located nearly directly next to the capital of the kingdom. Based on how long it took to make it here from the capital, it will more than likely take us at least 2 days to make it to Bomi.

Fern: “I want the two of you to both go to Bomi and interrogate this man on everything he knows. Since he's a prisoner not of our kingdom, use any method you need to in order to get him to talk.”

Before I can speak up, Erebus talks first.

Erebus: “Who will lead in the case of battle while our commander is gone? It would be more reasonable for me to go by myself.”

Putting on her emotional mask once again, Fern makes up an excuse.

Fern: “I want people I trust to go. I can lead in the case of a battle. After all, I am the Princess of Frostala and heir to the throne. You aren’t questioning my ability to lead are you, Erebus?”

Tension rises as Fern continues to speak. There is a clear line of distrust between her and Erebus that I have never noticed till now.

Although Fern is putting pressure onto Erebus’ next words, Erebus calmingly replied.

Erebus: “Of course not. The Kingdom of Frostala has always led it’s people well.”

Instead of her fake smile Fern looks at Erebus with a disturbed frown. Despite this, Erebus is still smiling.

Fern: “You will both leave tomorrow. One of our troops is stationed over in Bomi beside the confinement area; while you are over there, I’d like you to review their next tactics Devilynn as our last tactic- “

Erebus: “Crowriff.”

Fern: “Yes, Crowriff-is no longer here to advise.”

Devilynn: “Right! I will do what I can to help.”

Standing up, Erebus and I begin to make our ways out of the cafeteria hall after agreeing to Fern’s command. Before we can exit the hall, Fern calls back to us.

Fern: “One last thing before you both go. I know Crowriff was a friend, but please be advised that in the Kingdom of Frostala bringing harmony without sickness is our objective.”

Fern turns away and begins to head in a different direction that us. After a tirelessly day, I force my feet to walk towards my camper.

The last comment Fern made sticks to my mind. This is now the second time I have heard that ‘objective’. What undertones rest with the saying “without sickness”? Breaking my thoughts, Erebus speaks up.

Erebus: “Devilynn?”

Devilynn: “What’s up Erebus?”

Erebus takes a quick breath and then looks over at me.

Erebus: “When we get to Bomi, there’s something I have to tell you. But, before we get there, I really really want you to think of this war. Think of the reason for it, the people, not just our people but the people of Robal, think with your heart.”

Shaken by his sudden request, I ponder closer over to him. I whisper into his ear so that just he can hear me.

Devilynn: “Erebus, if you need to tell me something, please just tell it to me directly. We’re friends, I-“

Erebus: “I will tell you in Bomi.”

Erebus’ eyes dart around the hallway before targeting back to me.

Erebus: “There are people here that don’t want you to know what I have to tell you.”

With the last mysterious statement, Erebus carries himself down to his camper.

I stand there with a dumbfounded look on my face before pressing onward.

I already had so many questions about the war without Erebus saying something. Now, I’m really frickin confused.

The bright shimmers of moonlight gazes through the curtains of a nearly empty room.

Once again, the women with long white hair, is standing outside of the room on the balcony. Unlike last time she is wearing her crown on top of her head.

She lets out a big yawn and then squints her eyes. The same blacken crow sweeps down over to her, wearing another note around his neck. With a smile, she feeds the bird another treats and takes the note.

Uncrumpling the paper, reveals a note written rashly.

Tactic considered disposable; in need of rescue.

The women continues reading the note and a sense of excitement rushes through her face.

Commander not as described. End note.

???: “Edgar!”

Quickly after calling out the name, a rather buff looking man dressed in maid apparel opens the door to the room. His facial hair oddly fits with the apparel he is wearing.

Edgar: “Your majesty, what is your request?”

Shinkyo: “Please call for my brother immediately. Him and I will be heading out soon to retrieve someone very important.”

Edgar: “As you wish your majesty.”

The maid rushes quickly outside of the room, while Queen Shinkyo quickly begins to find her way back to the crow.

Shinkyo: “Let us send a note back.”

Picking up a ripped piece of paper and a feathered pen from a nearby desk, the queen begins to write a short note back.

The note reads: “Your effort is notable. Recuse is on its way.”