Daughter of Light (rewrite) / Chapter 4
Posted January 18th, 2019 by Garrett
in a city drinking coffee
Finn overheard a few fascinating conversations the night before, at one of his father’s celebratory banquets. He’d been seated beside Cyrille, who had left just after the meal to go back to her bedroom and sulk. Finn didn’t remember sulking that much when he was ten. Or eleven. However old she was now. Finn didn’t keep track with her age. She was the product of his father and stepmother, though now both he and Cyrille had only Leon Hadar to look up to. Or at least to answer to.
But after she left, the news he’d heard had struck him as unique for the normal drinks and smokes gossip. It was about a Witch. But not just any Witch—a Witch with blue eyes. Unheard of. Impossible, some would say.
Finn had definitely never been taught of anything like that in any of his lessons.
But if there were known previous cases, would they tell him?
He’d been tossing the idea around in his head all night and morning, though he figured he would ask Castor if he’d heard anything about it before he went scouring the royal library for answers.
He hadn’t even stopped last night to wonder what the banquet was celebrating. Was it his father’s birthday? No, that was during the winter. Maybe some distant family-friend got engaged or married or something of that sort.
Not that it mattered.
That was why he was waiting on Castor’s doorstep, the shadow of the wooden sign slanted across his face, and the heat from the waves of people in the street wafting up to him. There were shuffled movements inside and then the door opened.
Castor smiled and said, “Papa, it’s Finn.”
“Let him in,” a gruff voice said from the back.
Castor swung open the door and waved a long arm. Finn stepped inside and surveyed the main room, the golden light flickering from a single lantern washing over Castor and his father in glorious shades of brown.
“Something is different,” he said.
“Aha, I said he would notice,” Castor said, shoving his hands in his pockets.
“Well,” Joseph Naldwine said, looking through a pair of spectacles at something on the workbench. “You know him better than I.”
“We moved the worktable to the left side of the room, and put all the toys for sale on the right,” Castor said. “Which leaves a clear path upstairs so we don’t have to stumble over a bunch of halfway built toys when we’re ready to sleep.”
“Well that’s great,” Finn said. “I actually came over here to talk to you.”
“Okay. Papa we’re going to go out for a bit.”
“Fine. Be back before dusk. I don’t want you getting trampled in the evening traffic.”
“Yes sir,” Castor said, ushering Finn out the door. They stumbled outside into the thick heat.
“So, I have a rumor for you.”
They walked side-by-side, hands-in-pockets, Finn throwing his hood up to hide his face despite the unbearable temperature. He hated the watchful eyes of strangers when all he wanted to do was have a simple, private conversation with his friend.
He continued, “Last night, everyone at this banquet was talking about some Witch in Mohana—”
“The Blue Eyed Witch?” Castor asked.
“That’s the one. What do you know?”
“Just what I’ve heard at Lucille’s. She’s a Witch in Mohana with blue eyes, like the Warlocks. She can control water like the Warlocks could. Nothing too extreme.”
“That seems extreme. I can’t believe this has never happened before, though. It seems likely,” Finn said.
“I guess Warlocks and Witches hated each other so much that they just never procreated.”
“Unless they’re all in hiding,” Finn said. “I mean we didn’t know about this one until just now. How old did they say she was?”
“I don’t know. Young. But not that young.”
“So like us?”
“Yeah, maybe,” Castor said. “You know they’re not super detailed down at Lucille’s.”
“But more detailed than they are at royal banquets. The people who attend those things wouldn’t dare talk about Witches in more than a hushed whisper, a word here or there.”
“That’s why you belong down here with us poor people.”
“I really do,” Finn said, staring at the nearest roof and imagining sitting on top of it, looking at the castle from a distance. “I hate it up there.”
He laughed and earned a few wary looks from strangers. “It’s not that easy.”
“Sure it is. Just walk out and don’t come back.”
“I would get tracked down. I am the heir, you know?” Finn’s laughter died. He was the heir—sometimes he had to remind himself of that fact. He could never leave Berea, except on business. This was the city he would live in for the rest of his life, because one day he would inherit all of it. And the only good thing about that prospect was that it would mean his father’s death.
But if Leon Hadar died now, would Finn be able to rule the entire country of Euanthe? Would he be able to talk to King Heru and King Roku without crumbling beneath the pressure?
“Why are you so interested in the Blue Eyed Witch anyway?” Castor asked, trying to pull the conversation back into a lighthearted zone.
“I don’t know. It just seems weird that…that nothing like this has ever happened before.”
Castor kicked a random pebble and they watched it skip away and disappear beneath the feet of the masses.
“I guess,” Castor shrugged.
“He has to be the one to do this,” Leon Hadar said, his voice muffled from inside his council room. Finn listened outside the door, knowing it would be a while before the meeting ended and that he would only stay for a few minutes.
“There is no other way,” his father continued.
“But shouldn’t someone less…expendable do this particular job?” Asked Jeor Krenswall, his father’s Right Hand Man, Second to the king.
“No,” Leon said, his voice short and gruff. “This mission is just what he deserves.”
“Finn is young, and—”
“And so am I.”
Finn’s stomach twisted. Stinging guilt washed over him, rising in his throat. He needed to leave. Though his mind told him to stay and listen, his heart threatened to hammer out of his ribcage. Finn walked off down the corridor, casting the entire conversation he’d overheard out of his head.
“Can we please talk about something else?” Ciara groaned, feet propped up on the wall as she laid back on Finn’s bed, red curls splayed out around her. “Something that is actually relevant to us?”
“Maybe Kaede’s embargo on coffee?” Ciara said, turning her head to shoot the words directly at Finn where he sat sketching in a bedside chair. There was the curve of her arm behind her head, the sharp angle of her elbow, fingers peeking out the other side—Finn traced the lines of her body with a soft charcoal stick, allowing for her to flow through his fingers onto the paper.
“That is extremely relevant to all of us. We all drink coffee, and if they’re just going to stop importing it, then we won’t have anymore. Just because our kings are not getting along and there have been a couple raids mean that they are going to cut off their biggest export. Do they really think that is going to stop Leon Hadar from attacking their land? Plus, his little attacks are the least of their worries, with the Savages and all. But ever since the treaty’s been broken, everything has been chaos.”
Finn’s charcoal stopped midway across the arch of her foot.
“The treaty is broken?” Finn asked, looking up to meet her eyes.
Ciara spun around, crossing her legs beneath her. “Are you serious?”
Finn’s eyes widened and he gave her an of-course-I’m-serious-now-tell-me look.
“The treaty has been broken for at least three weeks. Maybe more. Ever since your father started invading Mohana, searching for the Blue Eyed Witch, it’s just been attacks from everywhere. Every country is turning against each other. Except for Xanthe, which seems to have allied with Kaede—”
“My father is hunting down the Blue Eyed Witch?” Finn asked.
“Yes, I thought you knew this already.”
“No…I…how do you know?”
Ciara shrugged, “I’m a servant. We hear things.”
“This is insane. I can’t believe…where have I been?”
“You’re own little world,” Ciara said, peeling herself off the bed and straightening her long skirt. “Speaking of being a servant, I should definitely get back to my duties. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Wait,” Finn said, tossing aside his sketchbook and climbing across the bed. He took her neck in his hand and pulled her in for a long, sweet kiss.
“What day this week are you not working?” He asked.
She twisted her eyebrows and said, “Why?”
Ciara sighed and said, “I have a two hour break in three days.”
Finn smiled, kissed her, and let her go, her hand dropping from his chest when she pulled away and shut the door behind her.
Silence rung in his bedroom.
His father had been hunting the Blue Eyed Witch. His father had broken the treaty signed by all three kings of the continent and the Witches. His father had changed the course of history.
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