The Eastern Prince, The Western Knight
Earth 53: Prince Snart/ Knight Lance
Part V: The Plot Thickens
Sara wakes from an intense nightmare alone and an indescribable panic settles into her chest. She sits up and looks around, finding the door cracked open just slightly. She’s set the bolt to lock from the inside, so she allows herself to believe that Leonard left of his own volition and intends to return.
With that in mind she lays back down, intent on returning to sleep, but it eludes her. Her mind can’t stop racing, her thoughts jumping from one to the next, a painful dance of what ifs. What if Leonard was hurt while he was out. What if he was captured by the enemy when he left. What if he’s not coming back. For a moment she considers that he may have felt like this when she left him to chase after Darhk and she’s never felt more remorse for it. She had to do it though. She had to leave, to find Darhk and stop him once and for all. She would never have been able to live a long happy life with Leonard as she intended with the constant worry that Darhk would return.
None of that meant she didn’t regret leaving.
Sara sighs, rolling over and closing her eyes, trying to find the calm she needs to drift off. She’s finally close to sleep when she hears the door close and the bed dip beside her. She grumbles lightly as she feels Leonard burrow himself under her arms, laying himself along her body. She curls around him, burying her face in the fur of his neck. Even as a leopard he still smells like himself. That cooling bite of his frosty magic and the comforting scent of sandalwood and pine. As she breaths it in, she finally takes those last steps into morpheus, sleeping peacefully for the first time in almost two years.
“I’ve sent Thea and Roy to your family’s summer home to protect Lisa.” King Robert tells Leonard the next morning as they gather in the throne room. The only truly private place in the castle at the moment. “Since we don’t know who we can trust, it’s best that we rely only on those we have no doubt in.”
Leonard simply nods once before turning his attention on Harrison Wells as he prepares his spell before them. His apprentice, Bartholomew Allen, is one of Leonard’s closest friends, and Leonard’s confidence grows knowing they’re working together.
Sara is seated beside him on a long bench, her fingers running through his fur in an effort to calm him, though Leonard suspects it’s just as much for her as well. They awoke this morning eager and nervous, ready to free Leonard and put an end to the people who hurt his family.
“Alright, Leonard, if you would please sit in the circle, we’re ready to begin.” Wells spoke up, drawing his attention from his thoughts. Leonard hops down from the bench as Sara stands, padding across the room and sitting in the dead center of the seal Barry had drawn on the floor. “This won’t be simple.” Wells continues. “Breaking another sorcerers curse is tricky. Don’t leave the circle.” he tells him. He looks at everyone else. “And don’t interfere.”
With that final directive, Wells looks to Barry, giving him a non verbal queue to begin. The two sorcerers stand across from each other the chalk lines on the floor begin glowing lightly around Leonard. It feels like hours as they stand there, their hands out, eyes staring unseeing. They watch in tense fascination as sparks rise from the chalk lines, dancing around Leonard’s feline form.
Leonard didn’t know how much time passed before he felt energy ripple along his skin. Electric sparks tingle across his nerves, eliciting an unpleasantly persistent feeling. As the light began to fade, Leonard felt the tingling ebb, and by the time it was gone, the electric buzz was nothing but a faint shadow of its former self.
“That should do it.” Wells finally speaks. “Try to change back.” he instructs Leonard.
Leonard does just that, reveling in the familiar feeling of shifting bone and flesh. As he comes back to himself, he doubles over coughing and struggling to catch his breath. Despite how much he made the shift between forms he’d never spent more than a few hours as a cat, coming back to himself now was disorienting in a way being in his own body should never be.
He felt hands on him, looking up and catching Sara out of the corner of his eye as she rubbed soothing circles into his back. He hears Lady Anna speak.
“Does he need medical attention?” she asks.
“He’s just getting used to being human again. It’s not wise for any magic user to remain in animal form for too long.” Wells explains. “He’ll be alright, though I recommend he take it easy for a few days.”
Leonard sits up when he finally manages to catch his breath, letting Sara help him to his feet. Before long he’s back on the bench with Sara at his side practically holding him up.
“It was Druce, Zaman Druce. He killed my parents and then had Declan curse me when I caught him.” Leonard explains not waiting for anyone to ask. This needs to be sorted and it needs to be sorted now.
Wells stares in shock. “Druce I can understand, but Declan?” he questions. Leonard simply nods. “I was his apprentice, I’ve known him for decades.”
“Are you sure?” Robert asks Leonard.
“I know what I saw.”
Leonard can’t sleep. News of Darhk’s demise has come and gone and there’s a well of emotion that threatens to consume him. Between the thought that Sara could be coming home soon and the danger that’s brewing in Central, he’s struggling to keep the calm he’s known for. The thought of Sara coming home brings a kind of joy he has not felt since the night she accepted his courtship of her. He had spent all night crafting a letter of intent to her father and it is that energy, that enthusiasm mixed with fear and dread that keeps him up this warm late summer night.
As Leonard turns to get comfortable once again, the sound of footsteps outside his chamber door draws his attention. The steps stop just outside, and instinct kicks in, forcing him up and behind the tapestry that hangs against the wall. He’s just concealed himself when the door swings open and whoever owns the footsteps enters his room.
“He’s not here m’lord.” a voice sounds. He vaguely recognizes it.
“Then search the castle, he can not be allowed to escape. None of this works without everyone dead.”
That voice he knows for sure. He’s heard it since he was a little boy, speaking in council meetings, advising his father. Zaman Druce, first advisor to the king of the Eastern Empire.
When Leonard had realized there was a faction of usurpers within the Central hierarchy, he’d started looking into who they might be. His research led him to a list of potential leaders, suspects that had the means and motive to put something like this together. Zaman Druce was near the top of the list, though his father had vetoed that when he finally confronted him. Leonard had never liked Druce, there was something about him that didn’t sit well with Leonard, but his father trusted him as much as King Robert trusted Merlyn and Lance. Druce’s father had advised Lewis’ father and now Druce advised him. He was trained for it. Instead of turning him off the idea, Lewis’ claims only strengthened them. A lord of one’s own province held a great deal of power like Quentin Lance himself, but a lord within city limits held no more power than a tiered politician. Imagine being trained all your life, raised to be limited. To never be more powerful than you are, to never expand your influence as you’re capable. Leonard was sure, for a man like Druce, the idea was infuriating.
Leonard hears footsteps leave his chamber and after waiting a moment longer he slips out from behind the tapestry. The shadows beneath his door tell him that he can not escape that way, so he climbed out the window and onto the roof, delicately picking his way across clay shingles until he makes it to the far side of the castle. Carefully, he swings himself through the window and into the antechamber of his parents rooms. The door to their sleeping chamber is open and he can see someone moving around inside.
Leonard steps out, only to stop short at the sight before him. Bloody and lifeless, his parents lay in their bed. Their assassin had not awoken them with the act, and they lay there as if simply sleeping. He feels the churn of bile in his gut, but forces it back down before he can expunge it.
As Leonard steps further into the room, catching sight of their killer looking over his work, he tenses, ready to strike out. “Druce.” he grinds through his teeth. Leonard takes some small measure of satisfaction in knowing the advisor was not expecting him to appear here.
“Clever, little prince.” Druce replies, laying the knife beside his father’s body. “How did you figure it out?” he asks.
“It wasn’t as difficult as you seem to think.” Leonard tells him. “When I caught rumors of a dissident faction I simply asked myself who had the strongest motive to overthrow my father.”
“And what made you think I had that motive?”
“You did. Everything about you.” Leonard explains. “Your arrogant, self congratulatory, unsatisfied with the lack of defined class systems. And then when I told my father I suspected it was you, he reminded me that you were born to advise him. Imagine, growing up learning about the power of a king and being told you could never achieve that, you could only coach it. Guide it, but never touch it, never have it for your own. It must be frustrating to be so intelligent and have to bend the knee for a man you think is beneath you.”
“He was beneath me.” Druce snapped. “My family has advised yours for generations and for what? So we can watch this empire crumble the closer and closer it moves toward democracy? Every generation that passes, the people gain more and more liberties and with each new grant, they move closer to knowing they can do better, be better than any monarch. They must be put back in their place and the only way to do that it to show them that you hold the power. Keep them dumb and ignorant and they shall never question your authority.”
“Ignorance breeds hate and intolerance, have you not learned that from the South. They refused to educate their lower classes and they fell to revolution and tyranny. The southern empire is in ruins and now you wish that for the east?”
“I will not allow that to happen. The people loved Darhk. Letting them love him was a mistake. They should have feared him, feared what he was capable of, feared that he could never be stopped. Feared what would have happened if they managed to overthrow him.”
“You’ve lost your mind.”
“No, Leonard, I am very much sane.”
Druce cuts his eyes to the door and Leonard turns to find Declan standing there. “Clearly you didn’t look hard enough.” Druce tells him before Declan can say anything. “Change of plans, death is too good for him.”
Before Leonard can react he feels the twist and pull of his body, the shift of muscle and skin as he’s forced into another form.