Beyblade Fan Fiction ❯ Schwarze Unterwelt ❯ Chapter 5
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Disclaimer: If Beyblade belonged to us, Kai would look as hot as Kamui from X/1999. But he doesn't, so there.
Schwarze Unterwelt - Chapter 5
Spring before summer, day before night. Such passed the seasons, without waiting for anyone as it always had, and always would. How many seasons had gone by? He had almost lost count - no, there was much to be done. Studies and training had occupied much of his life for the past six years or so, and he had no time to dwell on other things, what with the number of parties his mother loved to throw.
What was it with women and parties anyway? You had to plan, and you had to send invitations to people you don't like out of plain courtesy, then you have to see them, talk to them, be pleasant with them and basically, make them `happy' when you knew it was a snowball's chance in hell that they would ever be appreciative of your `excellent hosting skills`, as Mother loved to put it. But he supposed he saw sense in all that political riff-raff now, what with the condition the country was.
He sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he felt the oncoming headache. Thinking of the declining state of the country always gave him a migraine. What used to be a peaceful and stable place for his people had now become what one would label an extremely dangerous and unstable country. He had no idea what had sparked off the sudden increase in crimes - one could easily find themselves robbed and killed on the streets now if they weren't careful. And the worse part was, these people never cared if the victim was unarmed, or that they were women or young children. To say the least, the people were becoming insecure of their leadership. And something had to be done.
He turned, hearing the doorman rap loudly on the ground and announce the arrival of his Father. He stood, bowing slightly as his Father entered the balcony, seating himself across from him.
“My apologies for being tardy; there were matters that required my attention before I could take my leave.”
“It is not a problem, Father. I had arrived not too long ago too.”
There was a brief silence as they waited for the maid to lay the table, stacking it full with tea biscuits and other goodies. As she finished filling their cups, she bowed and left, pushing the trolley with her. The door closed, and the King turned his attention back to his son.
“As I have mentioned, Ray, there is something of great import we have to discuss.”
Ray leant forward, worry creasing his brows. What could it be now? Another attack on the villagers? Recently, the reported crimes were becoming more worrisome. Some villagers had their houses razed to the ground in the past weeks, and he was afraid that the crimes might progress beyond that.
The King studied his son carefully, watching the various emotions flit across his eyes only to be clamped down firmly. He knew Ray would make a good King in the future - he had trained him well. Perhaps he had worried too much over the news he had to break to his son; perhaps the idea would be accepted, even.
“It is a matter of your betrothal, Ray. I have approached our neighbors in the South with a proposition, and they have replied their agreement just two days past.”
He slid the letter across the table to his son and leant back into his chair, taking a sip from the cup.
Ray picked up the letter and stared at it in astonishment - a betrothal! Whilst he knew he was of age (and had been for quite some time already), he had not thought that this would happen, and at this speed! Hastily opening the letter, his eyes scanned the contents of it and felt a mild twinge of disappointment.
It is with great pleasure that we inform you of our acceptance of your offer.
We will grant the young Prince our daughter's hand in marriage, subsequently providing your country with any necessary form of protection and security to the people. However, we have only a small request to add - should the Prince pass on after he takes the throne, and there is no available heir, the Princess shall be allowed to take rule of the country.
We look forward to this collaboration, and shall visit your country in a fortnight's time.
Laying the letter down, he ran his hand tiredly over his face. Had he been degraded to something merely of transactional value? Was there really no other way, other than to barter himself to another country? And he definitely did not miss the meaning of that last `request', as they had so eloquently put it. Should he die, or get assassinated, the kingdom shall fall into that girl's hands. Was there really nothing more to them other than expanding their territories?
“There is no other way, Ray. I have tried to find all other means possible, but I am afraid that these times call for desperate measures. Their kingdom is relatively stable, and they have quite the military force. If we take up this proposition, there is much to gain from it.”
“But Father, don't you think this is a tad too risky? We could lose the kingdom overnight - all she has to do is kill me in my sleep!”
“There shall be proper security in place, and I highly doubt you need to worry about that,” the King chuckled lightly.
“The Princess has been quite… smitten with you, ever since the last party your Mother held.”
He stared at his Father for a moment, before shifting his gaze uncomfortably back to the letter. His Father was right, there was much to gain from this… trade. But they had almost as much to lose, too. But he knew that this situation could not go on, it was only a matter of time before the villagers went and sought help from the neighboring countries. And that would prove to be much more troublesome than he would like. Besides, a betrothal might just be the thing to take their minds off the rampant crimes and violence around them. His marriage to a princess of another kingdom might be their only saving grace. Not that he had to like it, though.
“Whilst I do understand the necessity,” Ray said in a strained tone of voice, “I wish you had thought to discuss this matter before betrothing me to a girl I have never met.”
The King sighed, “Even if I had consulted you, the decision would still remain unchanged,” he paused studying his son, “Things will work out for the best, my son,” the King offered what comfort he could give, “Your Mother and I had never met before we were married either.”
Yes, indeed it seemed that he no longer had a choice in the matter. And begrudging his Father for this unwelcome turn in events was not going to do him and the kingdom any good. At his age, he sure hoped he would be able to take a wiser and more mature take on such unexpected circumstances. He could not be behaving like a fool now, not when the country's livelihood more than likely weighed on his decision.
“I will do my best to get along with the princess, and align ourselves with her country, Father. Worry not,” Ray reassured.
Now all he could do was hope that this princess was someone he could come to like - after all, his parents did not turn out all that bad, did they?
The sun beat down mercilessly on them, seeming to enjoy adding to their misery. What with the layers and layers of clothing and armory, he wondered how these people could actually withstand the heat and train. Indeed, the Royal Army was not to be trifled with.
It had not been too long since he had been recommended to his post, and to say the least, he was enjoying himself immensely. Being a Captain of the Royal Army gave him quite a few incentives, amongst which included a better bathhouse, better live-in facilities, and the best part of it all, much better food.
`Food, oh glorious food!'
Thinking about food almost made him feel better about the insufferable heat. He could almost hear the lunch bell now, and his stomach rumbled in response to his thoughts. Reaching into his pouch, he drew out a loaf of bread and chomped down with relish.
Meanwhile, across the courtyard, Kai was brutally mutilating the dummy before him. Slash, stab, slash, strike. The movements had been drilled into him for the past six years - it had almost become mechanical. He knew he'd definitely be able to do it in his sleep, with little to no effort.
`This is turning out to be a complete waste of time,' he groused as the wooden practice sword made yet another satisfactory slap against the dummy.
The only reason he had joined the Royal Army - even forced himself to stay for this long - it was all for a chance to meet Ray again, no matter how slim that chance might be. And look at how he was rotting here now! It was so ridiculous it was laughable. He now understood why the Royal guards were no good whatsoever. They had a routine drilled into them from day one, and had only practices said routine over and over again. And since everyone had that routine as the basis of their sword work, it was no wonder that they were all so predictable and lousy.
He breathed a sigh, standing back and wiping the back of his hand across his sweaty forehead. He was barely panting - such exercise could barely be considered strenuous. Perhaps that was why it was such a nightmare when he had to train Ray back then.
The only thing he had to look forward to was the sparring match they held every fortnight. No matter how little of a challenge the guards posed themselves as, it always felt good beating someone to a bloody pulp. Too bad he couldn't unleash his full capacity upon them, for fear of being discovered. He had to keep his role as minimal as possible, although how that could help him get closer to Ray, he had no idea. At least their new Captain, Tyson something-or-other was not good enough to be able to see through his pretenses - it had taken quite some effort to mask his true abilities with the retired Captain. Absently, he wondered how that Captain had come to have such an imbecile as a grandson.
As though in response to his mental jab, he saw their new Captain start towards him, apparently satisfied with the response from the soldier he was surveying. He immediately turned back to the dummy and started practicing again, hoping against hope that perhaps if he ignored him, the Captain would just go away…
“So, soldier,” the Captain said between mouthfuls of bread he had indubitably filched from the kitchens, “How's training coming along today?”
“… Well,” Kai replied in monotone.
`Ignore him,' he chanted mentally to himself, `if he doesn't get an encouraging enough answer he might go away… although I highly doubt it.'
“Lighten up, soldier!” the captain clapped Kai on the shoulder.
Kai fisted his hands tightly around the practice sword and swung, letting it slam against the dummy loudly. It was the only thing he could do to resist braining the idiotic Captain with his weapon. And he highly doubted that he would be rewarded for it, no matter how much of an idiot the Captain was.
Tyson tried his best not to flinch from the sound of the impact, watching sullenly as Kai continued to mutilate the dummy as best as he could. He had been intrigued with this young man when he first saw him - his composure and lack of reaction had seemed weird and mysterious. He never hung around the other soldiers much, only agreeing to talk to a select few, and most conversations did not last for more than a few minutes. But the soldier's attitude toward himself was indeed shocking - he was condescendingly polite on good days, otherwise he mostly ignored everyone else. It sometimes irked him to no end, how the soldier would seem so unflappable by the events around him.
“If you continue to show such an unsavory disposition, I'll just have to put you on cleaning duty.”
With that, the Captain turned away from him, walking towards the cafeteria just as the lunch bell rang. Kai glared at him from under his bangs. Did the man have an alarm installed in him or something? And to threaten him with cleaning duty!
One day, Kai vowed, he would make that fool of a Captain rue the day he had pissed him off.
He pushed the doors to the gardens open slowly, taking a deep breath and letting it whoosh out of him. He loved the gardens - it was probably his favorite place other than his room in this entire maze of marble called his home.
His conversation with his Mother still rang in his head. He hadn't needed the extra drilling and reminders of his upcoming marriage; he already wasn't looking forward to it. What with the princess' arrival in a few days, he felt he could do with the extra bit of peace before his life was turned upside down and thrown into a whirlwind of activities.
As such, he had somehow managed to excuse himself from lessons today, and then extricate himself from his Mother's `evil claws' before he made a beeline for the gardens, his sole sanctuary.
Sighing, he shut the door tightly behind him, so that he would hear if anyone intruded on his rest, and then proceeded through the gardens. He supposed the reason he loved the gardens so much was largely because this had been where the best times of his childhood had been.
His Mother and himself had practically built the gardens by themselves; they nurtured it, added the new plants, and even experimented on new species. They had a garden of blue roses at the back - just a small section of them. It was their prized possession, something that had taken them years to grow.
He easily scaled the large elm tree that stood in the middle of the garden, overseeing most of the garden. To him, this place probably represented the portion of his life where he was truly happy, the part where politics and kingship had not been drilled into his mind that strongly yet. They used to be so happy, to be satisfied to spend just a simple afternoon in the gardens. Him and his Mother would be getting themselves all tired and grubby with mud (although he was certain the grubby part only applied to himself), but they'd be happy. And Father would be at the swings, reading a book and smiling at their antics. Briefly, he wondered where all that had gone. Now, all they really talked about was their political ties with the neighboring countries (with Father) and politically arrange marriages (with Mother). Was that all they could talk about now?
Sighing, he settled back onto the wide bough, letting his eyes slide shut as he attempted to catch a bit of a shut-eye. It had only been mere moments before he heard the distinctive creak of the door opening, followed by the crunching of leaves under someone's foot. Opening his eyes a crack, he groaned inwardly as he saw Max making his way to him.
“How do you always manage to find me?” he greeted as Max came within speaking distance of the tree.
“Because you always come here, Prince Ray,” Max laughed, grinning at him from below.
Ray sighed - it seemed that his hopes of catching a short catnap had just gone up in a smoke.
“What is it?” he asked, leaping from his perch and landing quietly on the ground below, “And I do remember telling you to just call me Ray, Max. Surely we`re past all that pleasantries? Or shall I start talking about the weather?”
Max threw his head back and laughed, his voice filling the garden and seemed to ring about him. Max was probably the only person he could call a friend in the palace. They had knew each other since they were young, what with him being the son of the Priestess after all. Although, it seemed his efforts to coax him out of using formalities when they were alone had all but succeeded.
“Nothing much, really,” Max smiled, hands behind his head, “just wanted to find out what you thought of your upcoming engagement.”
Ray twitched, staring at his friend blatantly. Et tu, Max? He already had enough of that drivel from his Mother, and to think his friend would be giving him an reenactment. Perhaps he should have just feigned sleep after all.
Max only chuckled, seeing his expression of disbelief. Remembering the reason he had sought out Ray, he quickly sobered.
“Actually,” he paused, studying Ray carefully, “I have been thinking… you might want to consider increasing your personal security for the upcoming festivities.”
Ray frowned, contemplating his words.
“Is this one of the Priestess' premonitions?”
“Nope,” Max shook his head, “It's my own. Mom is still busy choosing an auspicious date for your engagement.”
He shifted slightly, reminded of the engagement again. Truthfully, the letter of correspondence his Father had let him see had been troubling him. They were practically risking the entire kingdom, for this marriage, just to save the kingdom itself. He couldn't even be sure that the princess could rule the country, although he surmised that she would likely pass leadership to someone else from her country. But then, would they be dedicated enough to his kingdom? Would they care for his people, as much as he and his Father did?
Frustrated, he flopped down on the ground, leaning back against the tree. Max settled himself down next to him, happy to just sit in silence whilst his friend pondered on the suggestion.
He knew it was definitely a good idea increase security around himself, especially during and after the celebrations. At least, right until there was a rightful heir to the country. But who knew if they wouldn't kill his son for the throne, anyway? He shuddered to think of that possibility.
“What do you suggest, Max?”
Max turned to him, pursing his lips as he thought.
“Perhaps... A personal guard? And maybe you should increase the security in your wing of the palace… although, I'm not fully trained yet, so I have no idea just how accurate this premonition might be.”
“I'll definitely think about it,” Ray returned, a tight smile on his face.
“That's all I ask for, Ray,” Max paused, a cheeky grin tugging on his features, “don't worry about the engagement - I'm sure you can sweep any lady off their feet in a jiffy.”
Ray groaned, “Not you too…”
He had been daydreaming right up till the point heard the name `Ray'. He hardly paid much attention to those nonsense `meetings' they had; it had always been about increasing security because the Queen had decided that throwing a party would be a good idea. But this time, it appeared that the meeting was a lot more interesting than expected.
He turned his attention back to the conversation at hand, wanting to find out as much as he could without seeming too suspicious.
“… the Prince's betrothed will be arriving in two days, and as such, we of the Royal Army are to lend strength to the guards and ensure the safety of the royal household, and also that the celebrations proceeds smoothly…”
He had tuned out in shock at the mention of a betrothed. A betrothed! Ray was getting married! To say he was annoyed was putting it lightly - he was almost in an apoplectic fit. After all this time of waiting and suffering under that idiotic Captain just for that small, almost microscopic chance of meeting Ray, that guy was happily doing his own things and getting engaged?! And to think of all the trouble he had gone through, just to get himself into the Royal Army!
He clenched his fists, feeling like bashing something into bloody pulp. The Captain that was still talking seemed like a likely candidate. Didn't he ever get tired of hearing his own voice? He glared mutinously at the Captain, mentally thinking of the thousand and one creative ways he could mutilate and ultimately kill the idiot for simply breathing.
“… in view of the large number of people who will gather to attend the celebrations, his Royal Highness, Prince Ray, has decided to accept a bodyguard…”
`More like his Royal Asshole,' Kai commented to himself, feeling the injustice of it all.
But wait - did they mention something about a bodyguard? He turned his full attention back to Captain Tyson again, curious about this bit of information.
“… trials will be held to select the most qualified person for this position, and he will be installed as the Prince's personal guard for an unspecified period of time…”
Kai's eyes gleamed in triumph. The opportunity he had waited so painstakingly for had finally arrived! He would get this post, no matter what he had to do.
`Not that there is much to do, these soldiers are practically computerized dummies anyway,' he smirked at the prospect of being able to beat everyone to a bloody pulp, not having to hold back much this time.
After all, how difficult could defeating a measly few soldiers be? He had fought and won them before - heck, he'd even trained with them before. He knew all their moves, he knew their thinking, and he certainly knew they didn't have enough brains to think up something new. Now all that was left to do was defeat every single opponent in his way, and the post, as Ray's bodyguard would be up for grabs. Nothing had ever been simpler in his life.
Satisfied with his plan, he let his mind drift from whatever nonsense the Captain was spouting now, contented to just imagine Ray's shocked face when he first meets his personal guard, only to find that his new guard was not that new to him after all. He smirked - perhaps his life as a palace guard had only started to get interesting.
In contrast to the last chapter, this was much easier to write. The odd numbered chapters are always easier for us to write though, weirdly.