Demon is back! After a hiatus for life, the universe and multiple other things, Demon is back on track.
If you want to read from the beginning see Here
This week's prompt is to have a character listen to birds. Castien does just that and they help him finally find his balls
As the door closes on Tian, I turn on Jandra.
“What’s going on?”
Jandra smirks and I hate her. The only thing that stops me slapping it from her face is the knowledge that she is stronger than I, and would overcome me easily.
“Sit down dear. Would you like to play chess? That always calm you.”
“I don’t want to calm, Mother. I’m sick of being kept in the dark all the time. No one ever tells me anything.”
“Stop being such a child, Castien. No one’s interested in your tantrums.”
I have never wanted so much to hit her. “It’s not a tantrum. I’m crown prince and Tian is my betrothed. I have the right to know what’s going on.” I struggle hard to keep my voice level and my anger under control. The last thing I want is to be treated like a child, and both these women seem to have an inherent ability to do so without even trying.
“Tian is my betrothed. I’ve had precious little time to come to terms with what that actually means. The last thing I need is secrets. I know something’s going on and I need to know what it is.”
“You need to know nothing.”
“So you say. Holy Mother!” There’s no point in arguing with her but it sets my teeth on edge. I stride over to the window and lean against the frame. A lemon tree sits outside the window, filling the room with the scent of citrus. Bright birds perch on the branches and their song soothes me. I envy them. They are free to fly wherever they will. They are not bound with bonds of propriety and tradition as am I. No one stops them loving as they will or bans them from gatherings.
One bird in particular catches my eye. Its plumage is brightly coloured and its song particularly sweet. Yet the other birds appear to be avoiding it. In fact, most of them edge away then fly off with fluting cries of warning. Why is this bird so shunned by its fellows? I feel immediate affinity.
The bird extends its wings and shakes its feathers. One or two fall and spiral to the ground in a slow dance of brilliant light. A strange call draws my attention back to the bird. It’s answered from above and I gaze aloft to see another bird of the same kind dancing overhead. ‘My’ bird launches from the branch with a cry of pure joy and I follow with my eyes as the birds meet in an explosion of light that sends sparks falling like rain.
“Firebirds,” I breathe as the blazing dance continues. The birds rise higher until it’s impossible to see them.
My mother and sister stand with me, watching the amazing sight. Just as I wonder if I can bear the brightness there is an explosion of fireworks and streaks of fire as the birds head off in opposite directions.
I have always found it sad that firebirds must live alone so much of their lives. Other birds fear them and their own kind avoid them lest they both combust. Only twice a year do they come together in their mating dance. It’s no wonder they are so lonely. Will Tian and I set the sky on fire? Will it keep us apart?
“No what?” Jandra askes in a long–suffering tone.
“No one will keep us apart, no matter how bright we burn.”
“You make no sense,” Jandra says.
“You have never understood me.”
Gritting my teeth, I turn and stride for the door, knowing she will follow.
“Where are you going?”
“To the Council Chamber.”
“That’s not going to happen. You know that.”
She takes me by my arm.
“Take you hand off me.”
Jandra seems surprised by the tone of my voice. I have to say, I’m surprised myself. I wasn’t intending to be so cold. I’m calmer than I could ever have thought, and more single minded than I have ever been. No more tantrums. No more arguments. I am crown price and it’s time I started acting like it.
“No way. Trust me, little brother, you’re not going anywhere.”
“Take your hand off me.” For once I am able to meet Jandra’s gaze. She is as large and as fierce as she ever was, but I’m no longer intimidated. What can she do to me, after all? We’re not children anymore.
“When you get over this tantrum and see sense.”
“Castien, dear, why don’t you come and sit down?”
“I’m sorry, Mother, but I don’t have time to sit with you right now. I have business to attend to.”
“Yes, right. Your business it to sit down and behave yourself,” Jandra snarls.
“I will tell you one more time to take your hand off me, or I will call the guards. As I understand, it is treason for anyone – including you – to lay hands on me. I wouldn’t wish to see you in a cell, but if I must….”
“Don’t be ridiculous. No one is going to throw me in a cell for this. Don’t get ideas above yourself, little brother.”
It gives me no pleasure to call the guards, but call I do. They respond immediately. “The Lady Jandra had laid hands on me. As your Prince I demand you immediately intervene to prevent this assault on my body.”
These are all members of my own personal guard and I cannot deny it gives me a kick to watch them take Jandra by the shoulders and move her away from me, tearing her hand from my arm.
“Castien, think what you are doing. You’re not a child anymore.”
“No, I’m not, and it’s about time I acted like a man. Hold her here. If she tries to leave take to the cells.”
She calls after me as I sweep from the room flanked by my bodyguard. Did I hear him mutter, “about bloody time”?”
Next week sparks will fly, but in the meantime check out the other flashers