Clouds2

McKayla Rose

United States

I'm 16 years old and I've been writing since I was in fourth grade. It is such a huge passion of mine and I hope that is very evident :-)

Message to Readers

So, this piece goes along with my other piece "Bartered." "Bartered" explains the background and the world in which this takes place, and this piece delves deeper into the characters' lives. I wrote this a few months ago, it is a very, very rough draft, and I was just hoping to get some feedback on it/get it out there. Its kind of long (1700 words) but I hope you will believe it is worth it. :)

The Bartered Prince

June 8, 2015

FREE WRITING

1

“How can you even call yourself a prince,” Ronan asks, “when you’re afraid to face the people?”

Vance shifts his eyes from the carriage before him to Ronan. He’s standing there like a shadow, all darkness and no sunlight, just waiting for Vance to slip up again.

“I’m not afraid of them,” he says, and technically, there is truth to it. “I just don’t trust them.”

Ronan smiles, but it’s more like a dog maliciously exposing its teeth. “Why? You can stop them from hurting you easily, can’t you?”

Vance feels his stomach twist in frustration. Ronan knows the answer to everything he’s asking. “Not legally.”

As servants load the carriage, Ronan steps closer to Vance, so not to be heard. “Since when has that stopped you?”

Vance crosses his arms and looks at the ground. He doesn’t even have to be looking at Ronan to lasso him with his mind. That’s how Vance has always imagined his power, like a rope, or a lasso. He attaches it carefully to Ronan’s shoulders with intense care and concentration, so that maybe Ronan won’t notice. But after the Great Scare, and every Royal going through training to protect their minds against Comets, Ronan discovers him, his eyes widening. It takes a split second, but feels like much longer to Vance. Ronan lurches forward as if to shove Vance, but Vance gets to him first, and without laying a finger on him, he yanks the mental-rope on Ronan. Just before Ronan’s hands slam into Vance’s chest, Ronan is slammed to the ground, right at Vance’s feet.

And the world returns to its normal speed again, with Vance taking a few steps backwards. “Don’t patronize me, Ronan.”

You-” Ronan starts, but so many threats are coming to his mind at once that he can’t even get one out. He staggers to his feet slowly, wiping at the blood that drips from a scrape on his elbow.

Upon seeing the blood, Vance looks away suddenly. I did that, he thinks, with a sick feeling in his stomach. He pushes past it though when he sees the flustered scowl on Ronan’s face. Vance turns and climbs into the carriage, putting himself as far in the corner as he can.

Outside, Vance can hear the hurried voices of Daya and Lysander. “Ronan, what are you still doing out here? Get in the carriage, we can’t afford to be late,” Daya commands.

Vance’s heartbeat races as Ronan, Daya, and Lysander enter the carriage, Daya sitting next to Vance, as they both know Ronan or Lysander won’t sit next to Vance.

With them all in place, the carriage takes off. Through a crack in the curtain across from him, behind Lysander’s head, he can see the palace growing smaller and smaller. As they roll on, Vance can still make out the dark walls of the palace against the sky.

Things are just as tense between them in the carriage as they were in the castle. Like always, Ronan is ball of ferocious energy, all fake smiles and power thirst. Lysander is just unfriendly and hostile, a wall of barbed wire, but only towards Vance. That’s another reason Vance tries to sit far from Lysander, because if they so much as bump knees, Lysander will shoot him a look like he’s going to hit him. Daya is the only relief Vance can find and she knows it.

Finally, breaking the silence, Daya says, “Vance, you know we all support you here. The people will listen.”

Vance looks up. “Thank you, Lady Queen. I like to believe they will.”

The rest of the journey goes on in silence, which doesn’t surprise Vance. He doesn’t feel like talking. He’ll be doing plenty of it later, to a much more important crowd: the people. Everything he is going to say there matters. He doesn’t know what will happen if he slips up. Anytime he made a mistake in privacy of the palace, it somehow leaked and there was a public uproar. He can’t imagine what will happen if he slips up in public.

Finally, Vance begins to hear the sounds of a village. He can hear the soft tapping of hooves on the ground, accompanied by the growing murmur of a crowd. Vance shifts in his seat, thinking of all the eyes that are going to be on him, frowning. Ronan glances up, looking at Vance. Vance catches his glance, surprised when Ronan gives him something like a reassuring nod.

---------

For a split second, Vance’s world goes out of focus. All he can see is from the corner of his eye. Daya is on her back, her arm raised in a vain attempt of protection. A boulder of a man towers over her, one foot on her other arm, and a large stone in his hand.

Vance lets out a shout, and the world stops moving in slow motion. The man pauses, letting out a soft grunt, as he feels what almost seems like a large hand grab him by the chest. The man is thrown backwards suddenly, his shoulders hitting the ground first. An agonizing crunch rings out as the rest of the man makes contact with the ground. Everyone stops moving. Vance scurries to his feet as the crowd realizes exactly what happened. It was the Comet. They are now witness to just how dangerous Comets can be, and they have to act fast.

Daya grabs for Vance as he pulls her off the ground, tears almost falling at her almost demise. But Vance can’t keep his eyes on her, her mouth is moving, but he can’t hear it, only the shouts of the people as they break through the line of guards. Daya grabs him by his face, forcing his attention to her.

“Run, Vance, run! Get out of here!” She shoves him forward, and though Vance wants to collapse or hug Daya or scream, he just runs.

Vance’s feet slam into the ground so hard clouds of dirt fly up. He darts down side streets and between buildings, not once turning around. He has no idea where he is going, absolutely no knowledge of the layout of Elecan towns. There is one thing Vance knows for sure. He has to get away from the crowd. And so he launches himself around a corner and another, hoping to lose the flocks of people that are getting nearer every second.

Suddenly, he finds himself facing the same row of broken down shops he did moments ago. Temporary confusion clouds his thoughts, making his breathing go even heavier.

“There!” A voice laced with hostility and energy shouts. Vance turns to the side, his heart skipping a beat as he realizes he went in a complete circle; the crowd is now closer than ever.

Vance turns on his heel and takes off again. He tries to take a route he didn’t before, but with his head pounding and his blood racing he can barely tell up from down. If only he could find some Imperial soldiers, then he would be safe. He wouldn’t have to use his powers. The guards could use their weapons and simply, their presence, to fend off the crowd. But as Vance remembers the lack of force they used to keep back hostile citizens, he isn’t so sure he could even be safe with them.

A sharp burning starts in Vance’s sides, and he knows he can’t keep up running much longer, but he could not stop. If he stopped, the people would catch up and they would try to end his life. He would have no choice but to use his powers. If he did that, they would see what he is really capable of and he can’ imagine that would make things better. People fear things they don’t understand. Since day one, they didn’t understand why a king would trade his daughter for a boy with silver markings all down his back. They didn’t understand why his punishment wasn’t more severe when he made a man suddenly have the ability to dance, just to see if he could manipulate his mind that way. So, with their King failing them, the people decided to take him out themselves. The thought makes Vance wish he had never been born. And now it’s happening.

No matter how hard he runs and how much he turns, Vance can’t lose the crowd. Though by the sounds of it, a few have given up or decided to take another route. It doesn’t ease Vance’s fear at all. He takes a sharp turn down an alley and spotting a building with the door open, he slips inside.

Gently, he shuts the door behind him. It was like stepping into another world. The house is quiet and still, the floorboards creaking with each step Vance takes. From the outside it looked like it had been abandoned for years, but Vance can’t trust that. He makes a quick round of the house, which was beginning to look more like a shack to him. Its walls were growing weak and collapsing, there were holes in the roof allowing sunlight to stream through. The silence is almost inviting, but the last thing Vance can do is rest.

He has to start the ritual. He has to get leave Eleca.

Vance rips the necklace off himself, throwing the thin cord to the ground. The pendant is what he needs. He rolls it over in his hands, letting his eyes skim over the smooth black stone. Already, he can feel the energy radiating off of it, accompanied by a buzzing in his ears. His shoulders feel lighter just from not carrying it around his neck anymore.

Vance begins muttering under the spell under his breath over and over. As he does, he drops to his knees. He begins to clear a spot on the floor, clearing away all the dust and dirt left by the past. Splinters of wood get stuck in his fingers but he barely feels it. Using the rock, Vance begins carving a series of symbols into the wood, all while murmuring the spell like a lullabye.

Vance is so deep in his concentration that he doesn’t hear the voices until they bust through the door. He jumps to his feet. needing only to get the last phrase of the spell out and -

A white hot pain explodes in Vance’s chest with the force of a punch. He jerks backwards, the stone dropping out of his hand. He lets it fall. He lets the force take him, because all he needed to do was hit the ground and he would be-

Gone.

The rioters stand motionless in the doorway with their arms dropping to the side. The man who shot the arrow steps forward, unable to take his eyes off the ground. They all saw it, but could it have possibly happened? The Comet was there one second, an arrow in his chest, and the next second he was:

Gone.

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