The Husband and Hero
I’m here again. In this dream.
Standing in the middle of a place so familiar yet so unrecognizable.
The unbearable cold floods through me.
My hands are shaking and my eyes are trembling.
Everything is out of focus and everything feels shattered.
He’s standing there again, like he always is.
A man I don’t recognize. A man I should recognize.
I always wonder if he feels this cold or this shattering feeling that runs deep inside me.
He reaches his hands just beyond my reach, and no matter how close my feet take me I can never reach him.
His eyes speak loudly. He’s scared. I’m not sure of what, but he’s terrified.
I want to help him. I want to save him from this unknown fear.
But my heart and my head are conflicted.
He’s no longer the same person anymore.
Pressing his lips together, he is unable to speak, but still mouths to me a name from the past.
And the dream ends.
Startled, I grab tightly onto myself as I awaken from the dream. Looking around, I can see the slimmer peek of sunlight from my windows. I must have wakened at daybreak.
Ever since I made the request to become a candidate to the throne, I’ve been having the same dream every night. And every morning, I awaken in fear from it. Hearing my name from another lifetime makes me feel unsettled.
I think I know what the dream symbolizes, but if its true it makes my heartache. In my past life, my husband was in the car with me during the accident that would bring me to my death. I always assumed because I took the initial impact, that he survived.
But, what if he didn’t?
Bringing my hand to my chest, I find my heart pounding and my throat tightening. If he did pass away, then it’s possible that he may have reincarnated into this world as well with the memories of his past life like I did. If he is a character, it’s possible he’s in Frostala. If he truly is in Frostala…
Then we are bound to be enemies.
I bend my head downwards and begin to cry. As much as I want to find him, I can’t make him my priority. My Kingdom is my all. And if Zaro’s anything like he was, I know he’ll be looking for me.
Every inch of my being hurts. My mind is a mess and my heart is in shambles.
As much as I loved him, if he’s in Frostala I can’t trust him. The people of Frostala have been manipulated by the royal family already; and I know Zaro would never be able to see through it with that stubborn head of his.
I’m sorry Zaro. Please forgive me…but for now, you have to be an afterthought.
In my besmirched disarranged state, I bring my head upwards and lock eyes with Birch. His face is wearing a somber look, one that he’d only ever let me see. Making his way over to my bed, he sits himself down on the quilted fabric nearby where I am lying. Reaching a hand out to me, he begins to wipe my tears.
Birch: “Why are you crying?”
I feel pathetic and cruel.
Shinkyo: “I had that same dream again.”
Birch let’s out a small sigh and then cups his hands in mine.
Birch: “It’s just a dream. I’m here now.”
Birch is the only person I have ever told about my past life. In the heap of a moment, where the unimaginable pain of losing everything settled its way into my brain, I told him everything.
In the main story, Birch stands beside my character throughout everything. And in this life, he is the same. No matter how unbelieve my past was, he never questioned it and accepted it; perhaps it's because we're so young.
Calming myself down, I take my hands away from his.
Shinkyo: “Thank you Birch. I’m sorry for making a scene.”
With a sadden look on his face, Birch moves back to a comfortable distance. His face is smiling but his tone is still darkened.
I don’t want to take advantage of him anymore than I already am. I know that his heart resonates with mine. But if there’s even a slight chance that Zaro is out there searching for me, then I can’t reciprocate these feelings. I won’t lead you on.
Shinkyo: “Have you heard any news from Killian or my father?”
Birch: “Ah, That's why I came in here, your father has requested to see you immediately.”
Hearing his confirmation, reassures me. My mind, while still shaken, feels calmer. Finally a response.
Shinkyo: “But what about Killian?”
Giving off a more tension sneer, Birch responses with a cough.
Birch: “He couldn't pass up a request to duel against me. So today I’ll get answers out of him.”
With a giddy snicker, I leap my way out of bed.
Shinkyo: “Looks like we have a lot to do today, Birch.”
Standing in front of the large menacing door to the throne, I find my feet trembling. I like to think that if I wasn't a ten year old girl I would feel a bit braver right now. But I know the true is I'd be shaking regardless.
With a swing and a pull, the door is open widely and I find myself standing within the throne room.
It's funny how a place so warm and so meaningful can so quickly turn into a place of fear.
King Bloodsworth is staring down at me with a mixed expression on his face. While his face is darkened, his eyes are beaming brightly.
Confused by his reaction, I'm unsure of what his answer to my request will be. However, that doesn't matter to me. Regardless of his answer, I will make sure that I sit at the throne.
Shinkyo: “Greetings father.”
His usual kind-hearted voice is replaced with a serious tone. Ignoring my greeting he gets straight to the point.
King Bloodsworth: “Shinkyo, why do you want to be the heir?”
Startled by his sudden question, I put my nerves aside and directly look up at him.
Shinkyo: “This Kingdom needs someone who will put their people first. Someone who will lead them well with their considerations in mind.”
King Bloodsworth: “And you think Killian can’t do that?”
Shinkyo: “This isn’t about Killian. This is about our people and who can lead them to the most harmonious structure.”
Giving off a similar expression as his own, I bring myself closer to where he is sitting. Perhaps this is an ability I developed in these past 10 years or perhaps I had it all along, but all of my fears vanishes as I am face to face with the decision maker of our Kingdom.
Shinkyo: “A war will start soon.”
Surprised by my sudden words, father looks at be with a tensed face.
King Bloodsworth: “What?”
Shinkyo: “The Kingdom of Frostala has always had their hearts set on demolishing us, father. The moment that Princess Fern is named heir to the throne, she will declare war against our kingdom.”
King Bloodsworth: “Then isn’t that more reason for Killian to take the throne? He has been practicing aside our knights since he was young.”
Shinkyo: “No. Should Killian take the throne; our Kingdom will perish.”
Giving off an alarming look, King Bloodsworth sighs and begins making his way down towards me.
King Bloodsworth: “How do you know that?”
Shinkyo: “I just do.”
I know in my head that that was a ridiculous response, but I’m not ready to reveal the truth to anyone else but Birch. I know that should Killian take the throne and title of King that our kingdom will not have any chance of surviving against Fern’s rage. I’m not even sure if I have a chance…
King Bloodsworth: “Shinkyo, you have always been incredibly intelligent and I can tell your dedication. I’ve seen the effort through your studying, your practice with your spear, and all the things you do. But you’re sick Shinkyo. If it wasn’t for your sickness, then there would be no question.”
Panic rush through me as I realize what his next response will be.
King Bloodsworth: “Shinkyo, what would happen should you fall ill?”
Biting my lip, I have no excuse. It’s true that there’s a possibility that my sickness will get the best of me. In this frail body, I find myself struggling to even pick up a book somedays. But, I can’t give up the throne. I will have my happy ending.
Shinkyo: “Just give me a chance!”
King Bloodsworth: “Shinkyo-“
Shinkyo: “Give me until my 15th birthday and I will show you that I’m the best choice to the throne.”
Silence falls as I spurt out my pleading wish. I can’t look him in the eyes. I’m afraid of what he’ll say. I’m afraid of the rejection.
King Bloodsworth: “Fine.”
Lifting my head up, my whole body feels heavy. Did I hear him right?
King Bloodsworth: “I will give you five years to prove to me that you are the best choice to lead this Kingdom. But in five years, because of this delay and call of renouncing Killian’s right to the throne, you will have to duel your brother for it.”
With one victory, another problem arises.
Outside of the palace walls, the young Killian and Birch are both standing in the grassy training field. Killian is lying on the ground covered in sweat, with his sword nearby, panting. Aside of him, Birch is sitting down calmingly cleaning his sword with an old rag.
Killian: “One of these days I will win against you Birch! I promise my life on it!”
Birch: “You’ll need another lifetime to train if you want to win Killian.”
Birch let out a cheerful laugh as Killian bursts with rage. Changing to a more tension topic, Birch breaks the ice.
Birch: “How do you feel about Shinkyo wanting the throne?”
Killian’s irrational expression shifts to a more somber one within a matter of seconds.
Killian: “I don’t know.”
Killian lifts his body upwards into a sitting position beside Birch. He pushes his golden locks to the side.
Killian: “I’ve always grown up being told I would sit on the throne. It was never something I necessarily wanted, but it was something always expected…I think she would be an amazing Queen. One better than I would be for sure…but she’s so frail."
With a similar expression Birch nods in agreement.
Killian: “So I can’t let her have it. I don’t know why she wants it, and I know she never does anything without passion and devotion behind it, but I have to protect her from herself.”
Birch: “I agree. She is sick and vulnerable and there is the possibility that she might get worse or she may be injured…but, she’s stronger than you think.”
Killian: “So are you saying you're supporting her?”
Birch: “Of course, without a doubt. I would bring her the world if she asked.”
Killian: “I forgot you were such a featherhead.”
Birch smiles brightly at Killian and then looks up into the sky.
Birch: “I don’t know what to expect yet. But I think she will really surprise us all; that is if the King gives her the chance.”
Killian: “He will.”
Killian slightly smiled and turned away from Birch.
Killian: “But, I won’t lose.”