Chapter 15:

Chapter 15. Truths Beneath the Elixir

Legacy of the Forgotten

I ran into the establishment and saw Alcides sitting along the bar's long counter, looking down at his glass. I then realized that my sudden barging in got the attention of all the other patrons within this place, though I'll be honest. The the place was pretty dim and not a flare of warm colors like the places outside of here. Instead it had a darker interior that had the colors that more or less "earthly" and not the fiery colors of it's kingdom. I then walked over to Alcides who seemed surprised to see me there, simply asking me. 

"Ah Prince Axelon, what brings you here?"

The chuckled as he takes a swing from his glass that was filled with a thick dark liquid.

"I heard your laughter after some guy got knocked out here and onto the street.

He grinned a bit as his head rocked from his right shoulder at the start of his sentence, and then to the left shoulder at the end of it.

"Oh yeah, that man thought I was all talk and no bite, and as you saw. It didn't exactly go over so well."

I noticed that there was a little sweat on my forehead as I wiped my forehead with my sleeve and took my seat next to Alcides.

"I don't know if it's me, but it seems hotter in here then out there."

The bartender was a big burly fellow with short blown hair and brown eyes and a beard, over heard us and simply stated.

"Yeah it's designed that way to help patrons like your big friend sweat out the Spiced Brew."

I looked at him confused, making him sigh and give a followed up explanation.

"I can already tell your not from here, so I'll break it down for you kiddo. Sure this kingdom is known for our Lord of Fire and the incredible blacksmiths that live here. However no one has ever bothered also adding that this place has Strong Brew and those big fucking Desert Drakes. Now you see the molasses for this drink is squeezed from a special plant that grows in this land. Once we wrung the plant dry, we add water and yeast to it. After that we put in a barrel of our finest Ingnious Wood and let it age to till perfection. The second half of this drink is the coffee, which grows from a shrub like plant. Now usually these shrub like plants would be extraordinarily hard to find cause we life in a fucking desert, but thanks to our Prince. That issue is being solves, now then. Once we extract the bean from the small fruit that the shrub bears, we will then start to ground it will the bean is in tiny bits. We'll then boil them in scolding hot water until all of the grounded coffee bits have dissolved. Now then after explaining all of that can you guess what we do with these two drinks in order to make Spiced Brew?"

"We mix them together?"

I said unsure if there was any other step to whatever drink the bartender was talking about.

"That's right! mixing these drinks creates the perfect drink for anyone, any time of day."

The bartender said, with Alcides raising his glass and shouting.

"I'll drink to that!"

I meanwhile put a few silver on the counter and ask to try this concoction. The bartender looked at me and back at before asking if I was old enough to drink? Alcides nods, before taking a swig of his drink. The bartender shrugs and serves me a tall glass of this Spiced Brew before warning me to not chug it all at once, as he walked away from us to serve the other guests. I took a deep breath and raised the glass to my face before taking a whiff of the drink. It was quite strong to be sure, with a single whiff of the stuff filling my nose with burning sensation. Making me move the glass away from my face, before shaking my head while Alcides laughs.

"Burned your nose eh? Well don't worry my Prince, it happened to me too. Strong stuff to say the least, I'd even say putting a glass of this stuff near your father would've woken him up immediately. That man did always have a nose of a beast. I heard from Avorion that he once tracked down a Geluian Lion, just by getting the faint scent of the beast alone."

Alcides said as he takes another drink from his glass. I looked over and saw that he had seven previous glasses of the stuff before I even arrived with the one in his hand being his eighth. I looked up to him and asked.

"Are you okay Alcides? I don't ever recall Avorion saying you were a drinker of sorts, only being the occasional drinker when it came to festivals and celebrations."

Alcides was about to take another drink but paused when he heard my question, setting his glass on the counter as his smile faded a bit. He then ran his hand through the hair on the right side of his head and said. 

"It's been such a long time since I was asked that Axelon, but if you want to know. Then please indulge me for a bit and share a drink with me. By then time we're done, you'll get your answer."

I nod and take a sip of my drink, trying my best to ignore the burning feeling in my throat from me swallowing a small amount of the warm beverage. I then start to get a warm sensation in my body while I looked to Alcides, who nodded in approval before finishing his glass and ordering a ninth. 

"This'll be my final drink for the day, and I'm feeling pretty loose of lip and since you asked if I was okay. I hope you don't mind giving this warrior your ear."

I nod and hesitantly took another swig of the Spiced Brew in my glass. I tried my very best to drink the throat burning concoction, being barely able to to so while taking deep breaths afterwards. Alcides lets out a roar of laughter as pat my back before saying to me.

"Hey, don't force yourself now. I'd hate to see you get sick over a drink that you don't have the acquired taste for, but I appreciate that you're trying it out so we can have this moment."

I set the glass done on the bar's counter, thankful that didn't have to drink anymore of that Spiced Brew. These people are so obsessed with heat that even their drinks have it. I couldn't help but wonder what's wrong with them? Anyhow once the burning sensation in my throat settled I looked to Alcides who began to speak.

"All my life, I've been fighting, struggling and doing what I could for my brothers and I to survive in that forsaken place we called home. Watching intently as beasts that blended in with the snowy fields looked for the vulnerable. Always stalking, and waiting for their chance to get a meal. It was truly survival of the fit. Yet I found liberty in that, knowing that my brother's and I were the strongest things out there. Despite that fact, my power was bested by the likes of Avorion and who served under your father at that point in time. By all rights we should've died, however your father presented the option to either serve and have my power be used for mindless hunting or die. The choice was obvious, and that how we came to dutifully serve. Protecting the people,  going on hunting missions and even making few friends along the way. Eventually after proving my worth to he King, I was made one of the King's Stride and obtained my Soul Forge Pale Regulus."

I looked on at Alcides as he spoke, ordering myself a glass of water as he continued his story.

"Upon my introduction to the King's Stride, I met you and your mother. I shocked at first, since such a powerful man married and even reproduced with a women; who's dainty appearance at first glance looked like she could've been knocked over by a light gust. That's  when I met you, a small long haired boy, hiding behind his mother's legs as if I was some beast of sorts."

Alcides chuckled to himself for a moment, before he grew silent with him staring into the his drink and signing.

"I never stopped thinking about that day." 

He said in a low tone, as if the very memory itself weighed down upon his soul.

"Which day?" 

I asked him. Honestly thinking back on it, I should've known what day he was referring to, but I was hoping he was thinking about anything else then that.

"The day madness broke into our home Axelon, the day where I truly became an animal. I always find myself back on that day, fighting my former friends, before I stand alone against my brothers. While I can get over losing a home, I just always find myself at the end of my dreams committing patricide over and over again. I honestly believed that we were strongest Axelon, but meeting King Surt made me realize something, that I was arrogant in thinking that I could've changed anything with just my power alone."

I couldn't help but sympathize with him but before I could give my condolences. The Bartender came back and looked at the two of us with his arms crossed.  

"I get that you two must've been through something incredibly awful, but take it from a man who's lost someone important to'em. As impossible as it seems, you have to let it go and build yourself up again. It'll take time but you'll be better off for it, even if it hurts a little."

After the man said his piece, he turned around and walked to the other side of the bar with Alcides rising up from his seat. Shouting at the man for his seemingly unsympathetic words as he followed him to the other side of the bar.

"What to do you know about loss huh?! What could you have lost to make such a-"

Alcides words fell short as I followed to see the what caught him so off guard that he stopped mid sentence. I saw the Bartender polishing glasses to a photo of a Dark Heart female who appeared to be with child, though the light was dim in this place, her darkened hands and dark hair made it obvious. The man just looked up at us and then looked at the photo before speaking.

"We were supposed to get married and our child was suppose to take over this business. However she was a Fetcher and so I went to barter with the smith that she served and instead of taking the money I offered him. H-he.."

The man teared up a bit before taking a deep breath to calm down before he became overwhelmed. After which he wiped whatever tear escaped his eyes for a moment before he spoke again.

"He sent her to the mines, and knowing that she was with child. I doubt she lasted long. Those who word in those minds word tirelessly until their usefulness has come to an end."

The man looked away as he started to get back to his work. Alcides looked at me as I just looked at the photo, with my blood starting boil.

"I-I'm sorry for your lost."

The Bartender sighed and shook his head.

"It's okay. Just get out of my bar, I don't need you or your friend bringing up more emotions within me. So just go for the day while I recollect myself."

I nod before walking out with Alcides with both of us noticing that it's already near sundown. We both agreed that it would be better to return to the castle now and so we silently walked through the streets of this kingdom, unsure of what to think of these people at this point.

When dinner was served to us later that night, I just stared at it. My stomach was in a knot and so the few bites of the spiced filled dish that I  managed, were very forced. After swallowing my fifth bite, I paused for a bit to listen to what everyone else's day was like. Jeremy said his day was spent in a whore house, getting his rocks of with King Surt, that was easy enough to be expected of a man like him. Navis said she went around helping the teachers of the kingdom in whatever way she could since she didn't know too much about their culture. Finally Avorion told us that he spent his day patrolling and watching how they do things here. I asked if I could be excused from the table, King Haco gave me permission to do so, before saying that he needs to get some fresh air anyway. Upon me leaving the table and heading back to my assigned room, King Haco then gently grabbed my right shoulder as he walked beside me to the left.

"C'mon lets get some fresh air, I think it'd do us both some good actually."

He said in gentle tone before leading up to the rooftops again, just like the previous night.

The sun was setting over the horizon, behind the hills of dirt and sand. I immediately went to the ledge and leaned over it, gently folding my arms upon the ledge with my hands intertwined to cover my mouth a bit.

King Haco stood beside me and looked upon the setting sun as well. He then asked me in a concerned tone.

"What's troubling you Axelon? You didn't enjoy your day in the kingdom?"

I looked down at the vast city below us, taking a deep breath before I replied. 

"It was fine...but I think I stumbled upon something I really wish I hadn't. I can't stop thinking about it, and it's been putting knots in my stomach."

"Oh really? What did you find out?"

He said in a curious tone before I replied to his quandary. 

"I noticed that there aren't any Dark Hearts here...what happened to them?"

The King then grabbed my shoulder in a slightly firm manner to show that this would be quite a serious conversation as he stated to me.

"I'm afraid they're in the mines, forced to work until they can't lift their tools."

"Why?! Can't you do something about it?!"

I said to him before I moving away from the King, looking at him with a confused frustration.

"I'm afraid I can't. While I hold no ill will towards the Dark Hearts, this kingdom is dependent on their constant labor, not to mention if I wanted to impose such change. Not only would I be forced to face my son, who's extremely talented with the Gift.  I'd also need to deal with grandson, whos potential has yet to be seen. So I'd prefer to not face my family, if at all possible. I'm sorry Axelon, but be thankful that you're of a King's blood, since that's the sole why your not in the mines with the rest of them. "

I gave a loud reply to the King saying, unaware that my gem was dimly lighting up again, with ice starting to form around where my feet were.

"No one should be forced to work till their death! That's not a life worth living and it's certainly not world my parents wanted! My father entrusted me to fix this wor-"

"Where is he now Axelon?!"

He abruptly said as his fiery aura flared up around himself, making the air around him much more dry. The hairs along the tip of his eye brows and the bottom of his beard were set a blaze, making him look as if there were burning candles adorning his face. He firmly crossed his arms, before continuing to rebuke my words further.

"Just because a man entrusts you with a wish, doesn't mean that you can just order it be so! I have nothing but respect your father and I would've liked to think that his dream could've been something beautiful. However, in order for such a thing to be a reality, you need absolute power Axelon. I'll be blunt and tell you that from what I'm seeing you're severely lacking in that department. So don't come to me and talk about change when you, yourself are incapable of enacting it!"

At this point my mind was fatigued, the absolute frustration I felt towards the fiery older man started to make my head pound. During this time I was unaware of what laid ahead of this crossroad of conflicting ideas. The man's aura was so over powering, I couldn't help but close my eyes due to the dry air he was creating around us.

The voice came back at this point, speaking in a frustrated tone with its words reverberating in my head. 

"I hate to admit it, but he's right. Your power is but a inkling of what your capable of, if you continue to challenge this man, you'll only burn away into flakes before being casted into the hot winds of this land. Accomplishing nothing in your life, unable to bring change and unable to save your people. I'll tell you what though, why not let me take control for a while? Your body is quite malnourished from the lack of food and fluids; with that in mind. I'm certain you won't last much longer."

I replied to being speaking in a brave tone, but we both knew it was only a front. Not only that, but I could swear that my skin starting to burn due to the King not letting up whatsoever. He only applying more of his fiery energy onto us. 

"What do you get from helping me? You've been nothing but a hindrance to me. So why now do you want to help out now?"

It's reply was horrifying but I could tell it was genuine.

"I don't want to die by scared flames, to feel the fluids within us start to boil as our skin blackens and breaks off like fragile charcoal."

Hearing those details swayed me into acquiescing control to the being, unaware of what I was about to unleash. I just hope I'm able to wake back up before things get out of control.