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III. Hide and Seek

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This is a tale from a few weeks ago when Father was bored during one of the political meetings. He couldn’t stand it, so He rounded up a group of nobles to play a game of hide and seek. Of course, the less-liked members of the council were the ones chosen to participate—those who hadn’t collected as much in taxes from their areas of influence or perhaps had slighted Father in some way.

The rules of playing hide and seek with Father are simple:

  1. He is always the one seeking. 
  2. You must do your best to remain hidden, as He is bored if the game is too easy.
  3. The last person to be found wins and gets to keep their head.

If you don’t want to die, all you have to do is win.

“It’s not fair, sir!” One nobleman—a duke, perhaps—cried out. He must have been new to court, as by now most everyone has realized how futile it is to resist Father. He usually doesn’t react right away, but sooner or later you will get your comeuppance for defying Him.

“Shh!” His peers tried to stop him from speaking, but it was too late. My Father had heard.

“Don’t stop him,” Father drawled, His signature smirk beginning to form. “Let him speak. What do you find unfair? You failed to deliver and I’m being charitable enough to give you a second chance.”

“Hide and seek is hardly a cha—”

“Your argument isn’t very compelling, you know. Perhaps you don’t want to play?” Father began to unsheath His sword and the duke quickly realized his error at last. No one who faced that rapier had ever lived to tell of it.

Desperately, the duke looked around for an opening. His eyes stopped on my face and his terrified face showed the barest hints of relief. “I-if it’s a game, my lord,” he stammered, “Why not let the child play?”

Father pushed the rapier back into its sheath and turned to look at me for a few moments before turning back towards the duke. “You want Luca to play?”

One of the higher-ranked councilman, one influential enough to avoid participating in the game, purpled as he yelled, “You imbecile! How dare you suggest that the crown prince participate in such a thing? He has done nothing wrong!”

But Father smoothly gestured for the man to stop. “I’ve always listened to my subjects, have I not? If Luca’s participation would make you feel better, then I don’t mind letting him join in, but you might not like the results so much.”

Still, the duke looked relieved. I couldn’t blame him, really… An older, wiser man like him up against a young whelp barely 16? I would have felt good about my chances, too, were I in his position.

Unfortunately for the duke, I never have been in his position. If I were, I never would have made enough mistakes to warrant being punished in the first place. At the end of the day, when Father found me, the castle had six fresh corpses for the CCK to dispose of. He didn’t even bother praising me for winning; it was so matter-of-course.

Boredom, the complacency I felt after a hollow victory, hit me like a wave and for the first time in my life, I understood completely how Father probably felt on a daily basis. The councilmen were all so stupid, so hopelessly deluded to think that they could best me, let alone Father. After this business was done, Father went to his study to work on some things and I walked through the halls to get back to my own room.

I heard whispers down the corridor—older male voices. Stopping and hiding myself behind a pillar, I changed to my cat form to better avoid detection. My white paws made almost no sound as I stepped down the hallway towards the furtive conversation.

“… just like his father. Mereton should have known better. If Prince Lucian hadn’t participated, perhaps one of them might have even survived.”

“His father? You mean Mejo—”

“Are you daft? You know we don’t mention that name. What if the king thinks we’re plotting?”

“My apologies…”

“Incidentally, you were wrong. Lucian is Auger’s son. There is no doubt in my mind.”

My blood ran cold. It was common knowledge that I was the son of the late Mejojo… Father had even told me so. Though they were twins, surely Father would know the difference? Surely He would know his own son?

“What makes you so sure?” The other man echoed the question that was on my mind.

“The older brother,” I supposed he meant Mejojo, “was a fool. You shouldn’t believe all the stories told about him… The crown prince before him was more foolish still. No matter how history had gone, Auger would have ruled eventually—he was meant to. Prince Lucian is just as cunning, though he is still young. …And besides, I have heard it whispered that the elder Garibaldi twin had gone mad long before Fiona conceived. They had not seen each other in weeks.”

“So Ms. Galland gave birth… And then His Highness killed her? Why?”


And I found out the truth about my existence only from eavesdropping on a pair of buffoons.

I cannot explain the emptiness I felt then, but it did not much resemble grief. I returned to my human form and the two councilmen were quickly dispatched. I had their bodies taken to where the other six were; no one would bat an eyelash at two more corpses. I wouldn’t want my father to know what I had found out and I did not think my father would mind their deaths.

I continued my walk down the corridor, but changed my direction until I came across my mother’s room. No guards. When I thought about it, I realized that there never had been any. The truth had always been here. My father did not bar me from it, I merely shut my eyes to it and believed what he told me.

Mother’s body, when not cleaned and polished by whichever godforsaken servants had to take care of her corpse every time I visited in the past, was a terrible sight. I laughed a little and then exited the room, making sure to close the door and leave everything as it had been.

I am Lucian Von Garibaldi, the crown prince of Weblin. Nothing has changed… Only… Now there is a great hunger in me—a boredom that binds me as I’m sure it does my father. I don’t know why he lied to me about my birth, about my mother. Father always did love playing games, so perhaps we’re still in the middle of one right now… What are the stakes? What’s the goal? I’m still alive, so I must serve some purpose to him. 

I never knew Fiona Galland, in any case, so now that I understand that she truly is dead, I don’t feel any lingering attachments to her as a “mother”. I only wonder why she was brought here, why she was taken in by the Garibaldis only to die. I try to imagine what she felt in her last moments as Father killed her, but more importantly, I think about how Father felt—what compelled him to act in such a way.

I suppose I will find out when I kill him.

My own game has just begun.