Chapter 7: City of Wonder

Actually, Will didn’t want one of Darius’ arms. He wanted Darius dead. They shoved him around, punching and kicking the living daylights out of him. Will had hoped to goad Darius into doing something stupid like fighting back, so his swift death would appear justified, but Darius did what he always did: he covered his head with his hands and took the pain. He looked around the crowded street, hoping to find help, but barely anyone even noticed what was happening, or at least, they pretended not to.  The few people who actually noticed the commotion acted as if nothing was happening when they saw the regalia-covered clothing Will and his companions wore.

For Darius, this was just like the orphanage, so he simply lay on the ground and protected his head as best as he could. Will was running out of patience. In his mind, this coward had obviously recognized who he was and didn’t dare to lay a finger on him.

“Screw this; I’ll end it myself.” He unsheathed a long, curved sword and pressed it against Darius’s neck.

Darn it! Did I survive that bus only to get killed by this jerk? Is this really my end? Darius trembled, cold steel pressed against his neck.

On the other hand, Will glanced back at Jade who was standing behind them with the other girls. All the girls were begging them to leave Darius alone; after all, he hadn’t done anything wrong—except for Jade. She watched, her face calm and expressionless. When she saw Will hesitating and looking at her as if seeking her approval, she nodded, indicating that he should finish it.

Will steeled his resolve as the blade trembled in his hands. I’m William f****** Rylen! My father is the Gerald Rylen! Will repeated this in his head to muster the courage to finish Darius. He was a Rylen. Even if he wasn’t his father’s favorite, so what? He knew that, like all his other misdeeds, his family would find a way to sweep this under the rug.

He inhaled sharply as he lifted the sword. Just before it descended, Will found himself in a rather precarious position—a sword was pressed against his own throat. A voice from behind him said, “Kill my friend here, and I’ll slit your throat.”

Will could see his companions fearfully backing away, but he didn’t care. He seethed as he turned to look at the man with a death wish. However, as soon as he saw who it was, the blood drained from his face, and his face turned whiter than his untainted, white robes.

Will immediately bowed down, dropping his sword and clinging to the only chance to escape with his life. “Prince F-Farline,” he stuttered as he struggled to not wet himself. “F-Forgive me, my lord. I did not know he was your-“

“Shut up,” Prince Lionel Farline interjected. He had finally caught up with Darius, only to see him being beaten half-to-death by these noble imbeciles. William knew that if Lionel saw fit to do so, the prince could execute him without batting an eye, and William’s own family would be powerless. At this very thought, Will lost control, urinating over his clean robes.

“Ugh, you disgust me,” Prince Lionel snorted as he withdrew his sword from William’s neck. “Either way, you aren’t worthy to die on my blade. Now leave!”

“Th-thank you, my Lord.” Will squeaked and quickly backed away with his head lowered, not daring to show his back to the prince.

Lionel sheathed his sword into its scabbard before stretching out his hand to help Darius stand. For a moment, Darius looked at the friendly face beaming down on him before ignoring the offer and scrambling up on his own. He still saw Lionel’s disdain, no matter how the man hid it.

Lionel frowned slightly. Nevertheless, Darius was the perfect man for the job, and he wouldn’t let his pride get the best of him like those other high-born fools. Lionel considered himself much more intelligent and level-headed than them.

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As Darius grabbed the items that had fallen out of his bag, Prince Lionel crouched down to help.

“I hope you don’t mind.” He chuckled as he picked up a hat and scarf that had fallen out and wore them, trying to cover his face.

Darius said nothing but simply placed the rest of his belongings into his bag. “Well, you’re quiet; aren’t you?”

Darius still didn’t trust Lionel. Strapping his bag once more, Darius decided that despite whoever this guy was, Darius didn’t need any more problems.

Before Darius got another chance to walk away, Lionel hurriedly said, “I have a proposition for you.”

“Still not interested,” Darius muttered as he trudged forward. The Prince then uttered something that made Darius stop in his tracks. He said, nonchalantly, “I can help you become a Spiritsmith.”

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They looked at each other until Lionel broke the silence. “How about we go somewhere more private?” he said this as he looked around at all the citizens who had stopped to stare at their prince, many even bowing and kowtowing.

“I suppose you’re interested now, yes?”

Darius cautiously nodded his head but now feeling somewhat optimistic. The man had just saved his life, after all. Judging from the previous events and the surrounding citizens’ actions, Darius guessed that Lionel was a high-ranking noble; thus, there was a limit to how much Darius could refuse.

“Good, come with me.” Lionel clapped his hands in glee and pulled out his phone, opening an app that hailed one of the speeding rail’s taxis. A shiny metallic sphere halted beside the two of them.

Although it looked completely seamless, lines gradually materialized on one side of the sphere to form a rectangle. Turning into a hatch, the rectangle popped out and broke into several flat platforms, hovering diagonally in mid-air as a series of stairs descending to the street. Lionel flourished his hand. “After you.”

Although Darius tried his best not to show it, he could barely contain himself as he nearly sprinted up the staircase. Although still wary of the prince, he would not pass the chance to ride in one of these marvelous things.

It was a lot bigger inside than it had appeared on the outside. Darius had never experienced such spacious decadence before from the exotic walls to the velvety seats. Strange designs were embedded into the black surfaces of the sphere. He unstrapped his hammer and sat down, placing it on his knees.

Lionel entered as the staircase retracted, the hatch closing behind him. He declared, “The Imperial Dragon.”

Darius wasn’t sure where it came from, but the taxi hummed in response to Lionel’s command.

“Not bad, right?” Lionel teased with a cheerful grin.

Darius completely overlooked the prince’s comment and asked, “Where are we going?”

“Ah, so he speaks!” Lionel said, his smile wider than ever. To say the least, Darius found the fact that Lionel hadn’t stopped smiling slightly off-putting. “We’re going to a nice restaurant I know of in the noble sector. You must be hungry; I know I am from chasing after you for the past two hours.”

At that moment, the rail taxi took off. Although from watching these beads the previous day Darius knew that they were sliding at incredible speeds, Darius felt no sense of movement. In fact, the only way he could tell they were moving was that although the taxi had looked like a giant, windowless silver bead on the outside, the inside had a three hundred sixty degree view of outside flashing by. If not for his bodily constitution from his daily hammering, he realized he might have thrown up due to the view. As the taxi climbed higher, what Darius saw took his breath away. He gasped at the aerial view of Sahid’s night: the crowds of people, the bustling markets, the flickering lights throughout the city. As far as Lionel was concerned, there were far grander cities than this provincial town, but to Darius, this was the most breathtaking sight of his life. 

- my thoughts:
It's Prince Ali!
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