Actions

Work Header

Potions and Problems

Chapter Text

The fairly tiny kingdom of Draelia was once known for its magical advances and thriving trade, but that era has been long over and few magically gifted are left. Many are now skeptic of any who have been blessed with this inhuman ability that once ran the kingdom.

Lukas Bondevik is one of the last in the kingdom born with full magical ability. The only problem is that if you are caught using this forbidden ability, execution will be the result. Such being the case, he and his younger brother Emil live on the rural outskirts of the kingdom; Lukas uses his magic to make and sell small and large tapestries while Emil determines what the design will be. It is often that these two venture to the center of the main city, Draelius and trade their tapestries as well as other items such as Emil’s baby clothes and stray wood carvings. While Lukas sells their items, Emil busies himself with greeting the other children. He gets in trouble quite a bit, but Lukas is okay with it since Emil can not play with others because they live so far away from people.

In their own very tiny corner of the kingdom, everything is old and wearing down. The two old mules who live in a vine-covered shed (which also features a wall with everything needed for summer gardening) pull their cart to the centre of the kingdom every friday. A large and ancient oak that still holds the secrets of the magic era in its’ roots hangs over both the shed and the small, shabby house; it has been repaired many times, but Lukas understands that a complete magical makeover could cause suspicions to rise when castle guards came around every once in awhile to collect taxes. Though, the house keeps Lukas, Emil, and the stray cat named Flacks warm enough in the harsh winter months, it was truthfully not enough. Lukas and Emil shared a small hay-stuffed  bed that sat on an attempt bedframe in a small room opposite from the hearth that Lukas used mostly for spells rather than food. Their attic had piles of neatly stacked tapestries on one side, along with materials and a small table and the other side contained crates of barley, wheat, and other storable grains that would last them the winter.

Today was the day before the old wooden cart would be pulled into town by the old mules. Lukas was preparing breakfast over the hearth with a cast-iron pan while Emil chased the hens in the yard, Flacks darting to catch a moth next to Emil’s hectic chicken chase. Not long after Emil had ceased to chase the chickens, Lukas was calling him in for breakfast. Emil obliged, running in faster than Lukas could finish his sentence. The blond little boy really loved his older brother’s cooking, especially breakfast. As they ate, Emil started conversation;

 

“ Lukas! Are we going to town tomorrow, or the next day? I’d really like to see what the book tent has!”

Lukas smiled with mild amusement. Ever since he had taught Emil to read, he was completely invested in venturing into the worlds of those books. “Of course you can. You have been saving your coins, yes?”

Emil nodded, excusing himself from the table and running down a small strip of hallway. He fumbled around for a few minutes before running back; Lukas watched the eight year old dump his bag of coins onto the table and begin to count them.

“Books are usually...ten Hvids?” Emil asked, hoping he had saved enough.

A nod came from the older of the two.

“Yes, you have more than enough.” Emil cheered, scooping all his money into the pouch.

It may seem odd that a mere child carries a coin pouch with enough to buy the food for a few weeks. The only reason that this is so is due to the generosity of his older brother. Though Lukas could easily say no to sparing change to Emil and say he needed it to pay for food and taxes, he didn’t. Truthfully, Lukas would set aside a good part of their earnings when the tapestries sold and he would give them to Emil. Of course, this was a counter productive practice considering their situation, but it was not as if having enough to move to the city would do any good. It would only bring trouble and less magic using, no fun and no childhood for Emil.

Later in the afternoon, Emil and Lukas were lying beneath the grand oak tree. Lukas was retelling the myth ‘ The War of The Aesir and Vanir’. He used minor magic to make fallen oak leaves into pictures of what happened in the story. Emil was infatuated, making sound effects and moving his eyes with the leaf figures. Lukas never took any part of a story out. Even if it included bloodshed or gore. These myths taught lessons, they told stories, and showed the flaws of humans; it would be senseless to deprive his younger brother of such valuable knowledge.

In the evening, Lukas and Emil spent their time preparing soup and baking bread.

“Big brother!” Emil shouted from the doorway, coming inside after bringing vegetable scraps out to the mules.

“When do we get to eat?” He asked, but Lukas answered the question by placing two hearty bowls of steaming hot soup upon the worn wooden table, along with two pieces of buttered bread. Emil sat down and began blowing on his soup, trying to cool it off.

“I love the day before we go to the market!” the small boy chimed, taking a spoonful of soup. Lukas raised an eyebrow, “Why is that?’”

“I really, really love your cooking and all the fun things we do instead of making tapestries! I like making the wood pretty too...can we sell more of those?”

Lukas chuckled as Emil babbled on,

“We will see about that, but I am glad to be hearing of such joy you feel.” he smiled, clipping the his brother’s hair back, as it was in need of a trim.

Once dinner had been finished, and all dishes were rinsed and left to dry, Lukas clothed Emil and himself into their nightclothes. Emil wiped his face with a wet rag, standing on a stool to wipe Lukas’s mug.

“Why thank you, Emil.” he smiled, lowering the little boy from the chair and onto his side of the bed.

“Now Emil, we must sleep, as we have a big day tomorrow.” Emil grinned, hugging Lukas once he too was under the covers.

“I sure will! Good night big brother!” he whisper yelled, snuggling into his brother’s side.

“Sweet dreams, Emil.” Lukas said sleepily, hugging his younger brother.

“goodnight.”

 

Chapter Text

When Emil had awoken, the sun was barely streaking across the room, it's dull rays illuminating the ceiling. He rolled over to find his big brother missing. Initially he panicked, but quickly realized that today was market day. Lukas had woken just before Emil; he prepared breakfast, bread and butter for lunch along with everything they needed piled into the cart.

Emil ambled into the kitchen, groggy morning still stuck to his face.

“I see that you are enthused.” Lukas mused at the younger one.

Emil simply sat at the table and ate breakfast. “When do we leave?” he mumbled, stuffing a spoonful of oats into his face.

“After you eat and dress.” Lukas responded. He was already clad in his nicer ‘town clothes’ which consisted of a belted blue shirt, white braies (a loose fitting trouser) and his best pair of shoes.

Lukas helped his younger brother dress himself and wash up. Market day was a big day, a day to make a positive impression upon other people. Once that was all said and done, Lukas and Emil tacked the mules to the cart and were on their way, the soft trot of hooves and chirps from waking birds filling the morning’s silence.

The two brothers played games such as ‘I spy’ and ‘count the signs’. Though, they ended up stopping the fun once the bustling, hectic city was in view. The local businesses and homes were packed together, and the streets were laid out in a grid. Luckily, Lukas and Emil knew the city like the back of their hand. People of different lands and backgrounds all congregated by their tents, selling and trading their foreign items.

Lukas set up their old tent and let Emil go roam, but the rule was to stay where Lukas could hear him (provided he yelled, of course). The eight year old easily found a playmate, they wandered between tents until his companion had to return home. Emil found himself watching the book seller cart in. He immediately ran to Lukas.

“Big Brother! May I please have my coins? I really wanna go buy a book!”

Lukas looked down toward his brother, retrieving the coins from his brown satchel.

“Go ahead, but please do not get in trouble like last time!”

Emil nodded, sprinting over to the seller and placing his coins on the table.

“I’d like this one please!” he pointed to a novel about nature.

The book seller chuckled, amused by the small child that came to his stand ever so often and handed Emil the book.

The small boy took it and immediately opened the book. “Thank you, sir!”

The bookseller grinned, enthused that such a youngster was able to read a lengthy novel.

The next time Emil came back to the tent, Lukas had already set up lunch for him.

“Eat, you’ve been frolicing around all day.”

Emil obliged, taking a bite of he and his brother’s homemade bread.

“Which type of book did you buy?” Lukas asked, trying to read the title while it was upside down. Emil held it up. “A nature book! It has birds in it!”

A small smile appeared on Lukas’s pale face. “Good, Good. It will be of good use on our way home.” Emil responded with a thumbs up, downing the rest of his food.

“I’m gonna go find more kids to play with!”

Lukas gave a small nod before resuming his sales, looking forward to having the book read to him on the way home. Emil had a habit of sharing his books in a verbal fashion.

When the sun was halfway from the setting point, Lukas began to pack up the remaining, unsold tapestries. Today’s sales were good in his opinion. After everything was secured onto the cart by twine and the mules were tacked onto the unglamorous wooden carriage, Lukas called after his younger brother.

Emil did have a tendency to get into trouble, so most people knew Lukas; whether it be because he sold them a tapestry, or if he had to rescue his little brother from an angry parent and amused child. Sometimes, he ended up looking for Emil for over an hour, only to find him petting a cat or some other odd and completely calm action. As amusing as this was, it was also a big problem considering Lukas lacked  a proper candle holder on the cart and the ride home was long and rather bumpy..

As predicted, Lukas ended up searching for Emil for over an hour, only to find him sniffling while reading his book. The small boy looked quite pained, which caused Lukas to move at the speed of light toward the younger sibling.

“Emil! Emil! Are you okay?” Lukas pestered Emil with questions.

“No! I was playing and I tripped!” Emil whined.

“Are you able to move? I can fix your leg...but..” He looked left, then right. Lukas did not care that Emil had not stayed within earshot, all that mattered was his wellness.

Emil shook his head, pain coursing up his leg when he tried to.

“Okay...Okay...I will heal your leg, but please tell me if you see anyone.” Lukas immediately began saying something, which resulted in the subtle glow of his hands, then a brighter glow. The result was Emil’s leg being all healed, as good as new. Unfortunately, a castle guard was not within Emil’s field of vision.

The guard began to run toward the pair of brothers, yelling about magic and how Lukas was under arrest.

Lukas picked his little brother up, dismissing the cart and everything in it. Their mules were not fast enough to outrun the guards. Instead, he sprinted toward the grand forest just a few meters away. That is when at least a dozen more came running after the ever so evil practicer of magic and the tiny boy who just wanted to go home.

The guards never stopped running after Lukas and Emil, but Lukas was getting to the point where carrying Emil was too much. He had a decision. It was not his best formulated plan, but he proceeded to cast a protection shell around his brother and himself. It gave them some time to think of a more efficient escape.

The guards stabbed their swords at the protective bubble, unable to break it. Though, it was steadily weakening Lukas’s power, thus making him struggle to keep the bubble strong.

With the heavy ring of metal on magic (almost like a rock) a large crack appeared, only to be turned into a billion tiny cracks and then, nothing. Lukas could no longer stand upright, he put the last of his energy into protecting his little brother.

The men grabbed Lukas, tying his hands and making sure the little boy didn’t pull any stunts. Emil was too busy sobbing at this point, having no clue how to help his only family, his big brother.

The guards began to talk of execution, when would it take place? What would King Mathias’s input be?

At that moment Emil realized something; his big brother was going to die and he could do nothing about it.

Chapter Text

When Lukas fluttered open his eyes, he could only see the red cape of a tall man. He was facing away from the group and chatting with a guard. The witch tried to move his hands, but the only result was rope digging further into his pale skin. Emil was clinging onto his older brother, unable to be pried away. If anyone wanted to hurt Lukas, they’d have to go through Emil first! Lukas wanted to hold his brother, tell him it would all be okay and that this was all some odd dream. Though, that would be a lie.

“Big Brother?” Emil whispered. “Are they gonna kill you? Or is that to make you scared?”

Lukas muttered something to himself, but then answered his brother’s question;

“Of course not. I will try my hardest to resist anything. I can’t leave you alone.” Tears brimmed Lukas’s eyes. He couldn’t cry in front of Emil.

King Mathias whirled around, cape hitting Lukas right in the face. A look of insanity was plastered on his lightly freckled face, sky blue eyes piercing into Lukas’s skull.

“I see that we have caught another descendant from the Era of Magic.” the king mused, taking Lukas’s thin face between two pale fingers.

“Too bad I have to kill you, you’re quite a sight.” Emil popped out from behind his brother, separating Mathias from Lukas.

“You will not lay a hand on him!” the small boy yelled, looking as blank-faced and angry as his own brother could get.

Mathias looked surprised, but quickly turned back to his insanity act.

“You, small one...you have eyes of violets...are you magic as well?”

Emil shook his head in response, still glaring at the king with daggers for eyes.

“Emil, please back away before he thinks of hurting you.” Lukas commanded, which caused Emil to return to the side of his brother.

It was extremely difficult to keep himself composed. Lukas wanted to have a fit of magical mayhem. He wanted to kick that stupid king in the face.

“Tell me your name, magic one. I want my guards to know what to call you when they announce a public execution.” Mathias had a glint in his eye.

Of course, he really did not want to kill anyone, but the responsibility and constant need of being calm and collected was wearing down on him. He did not realize running a kingdom would be this hard until his father had died; a cruel man he was. The cruelty that Mathias had observed and even faced himself had made a rather strong impression on his personality and how he treated others. All of this left King Mathias as two people; one person to his enemies and evil do-ers and another person toward his citizens, his kingdom.

Lukas had managed to stand up, to look the king in the eye and glare.

“My name is none of your business.” he hissed. Emil looked up at Mathias with the same rebellious look.

“You can’t kill my brother!”

Mathias smirked, drawing even closer to his prisoners. “Feisty, aren’t ya? Well...I suppose he could be of use when I want something.”

Lukas looked even more angry than before, using his magic to untie the ropes that held him. He lurched forward at Mathias and gripped both hands at his neck.

“I will not use magic to cater to you! You will not make me any lesser!” he growled.

Mathias was startled and amused at the same time.

It wasn’t long before guards ripped him off of the choking king, who immediately slapped Lukas across the face.

“I should execute you in the most painful and drawn out way for that one! Know your place, you filthy witch.” Mathias spat at Lukas, ordering that he immediately be escorted to a cell in the dungeon.

“I will have my decision in a month. I want you to rot a little before I decide how I’d like to kill you.” The King then swept Emil into his arms and shooed the guards off with Lukas.

Lukas writhed and screeched profanities at King Mathias, rage oozing from every word and a murderous intent behind every movement.

 

Emil reached for his brother, sobbing and trying to get away from Mathias. He could not lose Lukas! They had a promise! The King only held onto Emil tighter as Lukas was pulled through a door and out of sight, still fuming with the utmost rage he had ever felt in his life. He screamed one last thing to Emil before he would be knocked out by the large fist of a guard.

“Emil! Behave and be strong! I’ll be back- I promise!” Lukas continued to resist before all was silent.

 

Emil kept crying until King Mathias had carried him to a room and set him down.

“Why’d you do that!” The little boy yelled, trying to run out of the room and search for his big brother. Mathias easily stopped the violet-eyed boy with his hand.

“Now, now. None of that or you’ll face the same fate as he...and did he not instruct you to behave?”

Emil stuck his tongue out at Mathias and stood in the middle of the room.

“That is not behaving” The King wagged a finger and smiled.

Emil frowned. How could someone go from sending another away to smiling! It was truthfully disturbing and made Emil even more terrified than he had previously been. Emil ran to the large bed in the center of the wall, hiding from Mathias. He just wanted to escape into his book until he could sneak down and get Lukas back. He quickly realized the absence of the object that he and Lukas had their last normal conversation over;

“My book!” He exclaimed, running out of the room and past Mathias in an instant. He could not get Lukas now...he would be guarded until night, but he could get his book.

Mathias followed in hot pursuit, not wanting the child to get hurt by any unsuspecting guards. It wasn’t that Mathias cared for him quite yet, but he did need the boy to ensure that his brother would do exactly what Lukas said if need be. As much as Mathias did not want to hurt such a young child, he would if he was disrespected.

Chapter Text

Emil continued to run until he found his trampled-over book. To his luck, it was perfectly fine on the inside. Mathias finally caught up with the little boy, leaning over and panting.

“You seriously came out here for a book?” he asked, surprised that a mere peasant could read, let alone a child.

Emil nodded, glaring toward King Mathias as he hugged the book close to his chest.

“It’s the last normal memory of my brother.” He spat, turning away from the king. Mathias was quick to capture the younger boy in his arms and carry him to the castle.

“I refuse to have any further disrespect or shenanigans out of you! You are a peasant, and I a king. You are a child, and I am an adult!” he hissed through his royal teeth.

King Mathias was raised to expect respect out of all off his subjects and other kingdoms. The harsh reality of many disagreeing with his plans and thoughts left the king angry. In the earliest days of his reign, it was not uncommon that King Mathias would hold a public whipping or public execution for small hiccups such as disrespect. People quickly became frightened of such a punishment and kept their opinions amongst one another rather than directly to their ruler. The fact that any uprisings had not happened yet was beyond miracle.

Eventually, Mathias realized that the only need for public torture and death resided in the areas of ‘horrible’ crimes. Crimes that went far beyond the lines of stealing or disrespect. The kind of crimes that left marks on people for the rest  of their lives with no escape from them.

Emil twisted and wriggled in the tight grasp of Mathias. Of course, Emil did want to regain entry into the castle. He needed to get his brother out! Though, being defiant and a bit rude to King Mathias is all Emil needed to get out of his system. Just seeing the stupid piece of royalty made Emil want to kick something, preferably Mathias. Their childish feud that consisted of wriggling and several insults being thrown back and forth was ended when Mathias finally got Emil into his room.

The two stared at eachother with annoyance, but that did not stop Emil from making a face then diving into his book.

“Hey! Don’t you dare ignore me, you peasant child!” Mathias exclaimed, marching over and ripping the dirty book out of Emil’s hands. The little boy began to cry. He was tired of fighting today and wanted his book. No...he wanted his brother!

Mathias panicked, not knowing what he should do...he had never dealt with kids before!

“Oh no no no, don’t cry...um..” he was at loss for the boy’s name. Emil continued to whine, curling up away from Mathias. With a sigh, Mathias left the room to allow the boy to cry his feelings out.

 

---------

 

Hours later, Mathias checked in on his prisoner’s brother, who had ceded to cry and used his time to indulge in his book. Emil was still ignoring the king, snuggling further beneath the blankets when Mathias walked over to try and apologize for making the child cry.

“Listen! Lets just start over? I’m sorry for makin ya cry!” Mathias apologized, genuinely feeling bad for hurting the feelings of a kid.

Emil immediately rejected all and any attempt that King Mathias even dared try. Mathias was an evil man who was unworthy of trust or second chances. This only resulted in Mathias trying to attempt more. It did not seem to cross his mind that Emil was Furious at him for merely existing at this point.

After at least an hour of hearing apologies, Emil grumpily put down his book and looked up to Mathias.

“I do not want your crummy apologies! I want my brother back! You’re just a meanie who thinks he can do whatever without consequence because you have money and power!”

This statement struck Mathias like an arrow to the skull. He felt a bit hurt and attacked mostly because Emil was completely right.

Mathias ended up leaving Emil alone until dinner, having one of his maids bring the boy a good portion of food. He was too skinny anyway...a lot like his brother. The king began to question what Emil and...the other one’s lives were like at home. Did they have parents? Other siblings? Maybe a pet that needed feeding? No no no...Lukas could not be good! He was a magic user. Every single magic user was destined to be horrid. Plus letting a prisoner go without good reason would make him a weak leader!

 

Emil was suspicious of the great plate of food sitting at his bedside. Why would that dumb king be kind enough to leave him food? He did spend a great deal of the time apologizing earlier...perhaps he was not as bad as Emil originally thought, but annoying and a burden nevertheless. With the queue of his grumbling stomach, Emil took a teeny tiny bite from the food to ensure that it was not poisoned. That would really put a damper on his plans. When he realized that the food was not meant to kill him, Emil began to shovel it into his mouth. It was really nice to taste something that wasn’t made of year-old wheat being stored in a wooden box. It tasted fresh.




Chapter Text

It had been days since Lukas was banished to the dungeon. Even though it was only a week, Lukas looked drastically different. His eyes were sunken and his hair greasy. The long nights of clamor from other prisoners along with the drips of water from some sections of the warped stone ceiling. Whenever a guard opened a door or came through with a lantern, Lukas felt like a mole. The depravity of light in the dull depths of King Mathias’s castle caused all of this anguish. He expected it to be at least a bit nicer, but that was a false expectation. The cell doors had rusty bars embedded within them for a small window. The door itself was half rusty and screeched every time it was opened so they could throw food at Lukas as if he were a sow.

Lukas could no longer distinguish night from day. The only way to tell was the times guards came down and that was not enough. He spent most of his time thinking about how Emil might feel. How was he being treated? Did he miss Lukas? Was Emil being forced to do anything? It was all worried about in the extreme, as Lukas had lost most ability to think rationally. He longed for his brother, for home. Anything that seemed bad before was nothing now. Lukas knew he needed a plan and he needed it fast. The dwindling sanity he had  left was enough to determine action.

His plan was formulated over the course of several days of his normal routine of absolutely nothing. Of course, magic would be used. There was no other way out of this hell, as well as the fact that no one else in the castle possessed magic abilities except Emil who could only use charms to increase luck or make the likelihood of disaster slightly less. This made Mathias a fool. He had no defense against a power he could not even fathom.

Lukas would not even attempt his plan until a royal meeting was called. It made sense to escape when guards were not coming in and out constantly. He was smarter than most other prisoners, who attempted to escape. They were only thrown harshly back into their cells and whipped until the guards felt content. It was obvious that this kingdom would quickly decline at the hands of Mathias. The conditions in the dungeon even showed it.

 

--------------------------

 

Mathias had spent his past few days attempting to gain more of Emil’s trust. The kid was as stubborn as a rock, and honestly it was a becoming a task to even make that effort. Emil hated King Mathias for locking his brother away. He hated Mathias for hurting Lukas. He hated Mathias for not taking care of his kingdom. He hated him for being unreasonable and horrible.

Of course, over the week that this had all taken place, Emil learned that everyone has a tad bit of good in them, even Mathias. This made it frustrating. Lukas always told Emil not to hate people unless they were truly terrible, and Emil did not quite know that significance until now.

His days often started with a nice woman knocking on his door and bringing him breakfast. Sometimes, she would sit and talk with him. They’d talk about his bird book and nature; she would even read to him every now and then! Though, Mathias would get angry if he saw a maid not continuing on with her job, so this was rare.

The day would drag on most of the time. Occasionally, Mathias would come in and talk to Emil. It was never long, as Emil had only stopped refusing to talk to the Kingly one. The rest of his day would consist of lunch, reading, perhaps a bit of sneaking around, dinner, reading, then bed. One thing that both bugged and calmed Emil was that Mathias would always come to tuck him in. Even if Emil had acted unkind toward him that day, or even if he was caught sneaking around; Mathias always tucked him in.

 

Today was no different from any other boring day. The eighth time through the bird book was making Emil feel sick from even glancing at the dreaded object. What was even worse was that if he did not want to read the precious book again, he would have to confront King Mathias. It would not be good, as Emil knew that a large, royal library would instantly make him trust and love Mathias. No way that was going to happen.  So, Emil placed his book on the nightstand, swinging his legs over the bed and going to the door. Mathias quickly opened the door before Emil could.

“Oh! Emil you have to pretend to be my kid!” Mathias exclaimed, worrying.

Emil made a face, confused and appalled; “Why!? I don’t like you! I do not want to be your dumb kid!”

Mathias frowned, “Because! A king from a few countries over has come and he expects me to be married! He will make fun of me!”

“Who would be your wife? Lukas told me that you need a boy and a girl for a baby to be born.”

“You’re a child! You should not know that!” Mathias exclaimed.

Emil just inwardly laughed. Making Mathias freak out was hilarious.

“Well....your fake mother and my fake wife died...okay? That works.” He sighed, all this planning was killing him.

Fine ” Emil finally stated, crossing his arms. “But I am not hugging you.”

“Okay, okay. But you need to bathe and change! You’ve been wearing the same dirty clothes for a week now and it is disgusting! I will have one of the maids bathe you.”

The little boy turned away. A bath sounded really nice...but he did not want anyone else bathing him. Emil wasn’t allowed to do anything on his own! “I don’t want anyone else to bathe me! I wanna do it myself!”

“Really? All right..I will just have someone heat the water for you.”

Soon enough, Emil was sitting in a washtub with a set of clean clothes set on the stool near the tub. Mathias had left Emil wooden bath toys incase he wanted to play like normal children do. Though, he had little interest, as he wanted to relax in the warm water; it was not often he got to take a bath, let alone the water be warm. The most he and Lukas could do was use a basin to scrub themselves down and be on with life.

As soon as Emil was done with his tub, he dried and dressed himself in clothes far fancier than he could ever imagine. Were those precious stones as the buttons? It made him feel like a true prince...like a character in a story.

Mathias came in to rush Emil out of the bathing room, going over quick table etiquette and how to address their guests. It was all common knowledge to Emil; he had read every table scene in his fantasy novels to know how to act, plus Lukas forced Emil to act properly at the table and not like a barbarian.

Emil was pulled into the grand dining hall for the first time in his stay. The chairs glimmered with gold engravings. Red banners with the seal of Drealia were all around the room, as well as golden candle holders and the amazingly large chandelier. The boy was amazed...the most gold he had seen was a small earring that his brother had in his left ear.

Mathias chuckled at the way Emil reacted, placing him into a seat next to where Mathias’s ‘dining throne’ was.  Emil took a second to move down a chair. Too close.

After a few minutes of waiting, Emil found himself staring at the tallest and scariest man alive. He wore kings clothes, but they were significantly less flashy than Mathias’s. A pair of glasses balanced on his nose and his hair was short and messy. Another man, much shorter, yet just as kingly as the tall man came in after.

“Greetings, King Mathias.” the short one said happily.

Mathias waved back and gestured toward the tall man. “My own greetings to you both, King Berwald and King Tino!”

Emil groaned. This was going to be a lonnnng breakfast.

Chapter Text

Breakfast went on dreadfully slow. Berwald and Tino just chatted about boring adult things, all while ignoring him. It was either about other kingdoms and their threats, or about policies and politics. Boring.  Thankfully, Tino spoke up when he noticed the boy sitting at the table.

“Aw! How adorable! What is your name, little one?” King Tino asked, enthralled that a child was in his presence.

This tiny outburst caused Mathias and Berwald to finally shut their mouths and pay attention to the rather bored child.

“Hm? A kid? Mathias...have you found yourself a partner?” Berwald asked. He was not going to judge Mathias’s choices, but why all-of-a-sudden show his child off? It made little sense...Berwald had not even heard of any wife or partner for King Mathias.

Emil was pouting, arms crossed over his chest. “My name is Emil. Hi.”

Mathias looked at him before facepalming. This child did not know how to greet a noble of another country at all. Little did he know was that Emil was purposely doing it all wrong. He may not be able to straightforwardly get revenge, but acting like he had no knowledge of noble mannerisms would definitely piss Mathias off to no end.

Tino gushed at the cute child, looking toward Berwald. “When are we going to adopt a child! Just look how cute he is!”

Berwald sighed before looking to Mathias in question, “You have not spoken of any partner. Why do ya have a kid?” He asked...not to mention that this child seemed out of the loop regarding noble manners.

Mathias shrugged. “I adopted him off the streets...He was hurt so yeah!” he bit his bottom lip, hoping the lie was convincing. He had to drop the other plan too...damn.

Berwald gave him a look, but accepted the lie. It sounded like something Mathias could end up doing...maybe.

The conversation that quickly shifted from boring to a bit more including quickly ended when a maid came in with the food for breakfast. Emil tried his best to find the right forks, but then realized that it did not matter. He picked up a salad fork to eat his sausage link on the plate, glaring at Mathias with resentment.

Tino and Berwald looked in horror at his table manners, looking to Mathias for answers. They only received an indirect glare that was aimed at Emil. How could he ruin this! Mathias had so kindly asked the child to pretend that he was not a peasant, yet he did this! How disrespectful!

Emil’s lack of cooperation made breakfast even slower. This day was going to be horrible for Mathias.

 

-----

 

Emil went to his room to read when Mathias had to take part in a ‘private’ meeting with Berwald and Tino. They had to discuss foreign policy and war tactics; both being things a mere peasant boy should never hear. Since this was the case, Emil decided to sneak around in search of the library. He needed that library...so many books all for free. He wouldn't have to pretend to like his bird book (that he had memorized) now.

It took an hour at the least of sneaking through the gloomy, grey castle halls to get anywhere near the library. One of the maids saw him at one point too, forcing Emil to go another way. It was rather dismaying, but a good book and some peace was all worth it. Luckily for him, he found a small hallway that led to the back of the magnificent library. It was two floors high, a giant spiral staircase made of the finest oak in the middle; walls and walls of books complimented the rows and rows of books that were below it. This was Emil’s dream come true! Perhaps Mathias owned a copy of every book ever written in Drealia...no no no, Drealia was far too small. Perhaps every book in Eloqueria! Emil could barely fathom the size of the small country of Drealia...he could barely imagine all the people it took to write these books...some must be centuries old! Maybe Mathias had copies of books from the continents of Aithasia and Afarirec!  

The small boy walked around slowly,the shelves on the floor easily two meters taller than he. He had to take in all of these wonderful books...just the sight and smell of knowledge and different worlds; it excited him, intrigued him. After a good three hours of scaling both levels of the library, inspecting them, Emil finally pulled out a book and sat down. It did not seem like anyone used the library...It was so dusty. Though, Emil did not mind. He was just thankful to be able to have a new book to read.

It was hours before Mathias came to find Emil. He was in a panic for at least two hours, searching everywhere for Emil. Did he run off? Oh no...did he find the entrance to the dungeon? He was so worried that he almost missed the sleeping boy when he walked past him.

Emil’s book was limply being held onto. His face blankly peaceful. Mathias picked the boy up, bookmarking the page before carrying him to his room. Mathias should have known that curiosity would get the best of the child.

Once Emil was all tucked in, Mathias placed the book on his nightstand, slowly walking out of the room. He too would love to be taken into the sensation of a good night’s sleep, but he had to go do something important...he had to check on his prisoners.   

 

The king put a cape on and some armor. His prisoners were not allowed to see him without it. He would not be viewed as weak. He then began his long journey into the cool, damp depths of his castle.

It was not a lie that Mathias felt a twinge of regret for being cruel, but this is how things had to be. Prisoners had to be punished cruelly and that was it. He opened the heavy metal door to the actual room with prison cells, walking slowly, taunting all that resided there.

“Hello, sows” He spat as he walked past a section of cells. Some of the prisoners cowared, too afraid to respond or even look at the man. Others who had been there for years sat there, staring aimlessly at the wall, far gone. Prisoners that had been there for minimal time, or were just defiant spat or yelled at Mathias, demanding their freedom.

In response, Mathias laughed, slamming his fist into the cell door of one prisoner in particular. That prisoner was Lukas.

Chapter Text

Lukas glanced up at Mathias from the floor of his dirty, cold cell. His hair was matted and his frame was of resemblance to a skeleton. This led Mathias to feel a pang of sorrow for the man. He knew he wasn't supposed to feel sorry for such a despicable creature that was less than human in the eyes of many, but Mathias still felt so. Perhaps it was due to Emil and his countless stories of his loving, caring brother as well as all the fun activities they would do together. Or maybe it was Mathias’s own longing for someone to just talk to...not that Emil wasn't a wonderful addition to his life, but he needed an adult to talk to about certain topics that are not appropriate for children.

Lukas simply stared at nothing, too tired to even be angry. At this rate he would die...it was obvious. Even the other prisoners were so afraid of him that they refused to talk to him, so much that even the name ‘Lukas’ sounded forbidden. As true as it may be, Lukas knew that this fear was what would help him escape, that was if he could manage to get some food. The guards didn't even throw him scraps, as they thought he was some wild animal and would rip their arms off.

   This awkward staring eventually stopped when Mathias called a guard over and demanded that bread be given to him immediately, unintended anger laced into his tone.

The guard shot Mathias an odd look before obeying. He didn't want to end up in one of these cells. Staying in the dark like a mole part-time was enough as is.

The instant Mathias received the bread, he chucked it at Lukas. “I can't have a prisoner dying before trial. It gives me a bad image.” he spat, hiding his pathetic sympathy behind a mask of faux hatred.

Lukas took one look at the bread before eating it...though bland and stale, it was the best meal he had eaten in weeks.

Mathias turned on his heel and proceeded out of the room that smelled of must and mold, only stopping to yell at a guard before storming up the stairs. His father was right, to rule was such a task. Sometimes, Mathias wished he could just take a break...go to the country and enjoy a nice farm, cook breakfast, be able to have a splendidly childish adulthood to make up for the lacking years.

With a sigh, he went to change, not even bothering with dinner. Who knew such a man who possessed magic could do so much to King Mathias. Even if not magic was involved, he was under some sort of spell for certain.

 

----

Emil woke much later, wondering how he miraculously made it to bed. He looked around before realizing that a maid or even Mathias may have brought him back, and obviously had not cared that he went searching for the library. With a silent yawn, the child rubbed the sleep from his eyes and rolled off the bed. A click came from the door as one of the older maids, Sørya came in and laughed softly at the tiny boy on the floor.

She bent down to his height and met the purple eyes. “I’ve come to fetch you for dinner, but if you are too busy lying on the floor, I suppose I will have to eat all of the herring myself.” the older woman chuckled, grey eyes lighting up and laughter lines becoming more prominent.

Emil responded with a delighted gasp, shooting up from the floor and grinning. He had a love for herring, but he and Lukas lacked in fishing skills as well as money and a smokehouse.

Sørya led Emil to the grand dining hall, escorting the child to a seat.

Emil took a while to observe his surroundings. Why were Berwald and Tino still here? Where was Mathias? He sighed and waited for food, wishing he had brought his book along.

Sørya cleared her throat, announcing that King Mathias was currently sleeping and waking him was not ideal. Withal, she exited the room.

Emil suddenly felt ten times smaller. He barely knew Tino and Berwald...they seemed nice enough, but they were royals...perhaps he could talk to them? Tino did not seem all that violent, just happy. He pondered for a moment before shyly looking up to speak.

Before he could, Tino had already moved next to the child and smiled.

“Sorry if I’m invading your personal space, but it is so delightful to finally meet you without the gaze of Mathias!” he exclaimed, which earned a look of warning from Berwald. The duo did not typically favor Mathias’s way of dealing with matters. Having a child tell him so would likely mean war.

Emil looked up, surprised to hear that these two forces were not on perfectly like terms. He thought all nobles were the same, greedy, hateful, and violent. The only time they were not was in books.

“...you do not like Mathias?” he asked, not caring if he blew his cover. That rude bastard deserved to be scolded! He took Emil’s brother!

Berwald only nodded, agreeing with the statement. “n’ ya don't either...do ya?” he questioned, the tone of the child’s voice eluding toward that subject.

Tino nodded as well. “Why do you not like him? He really isn't that bad...just has odd ways of dealing with certain adult stuff.”

The platinum blond crossed his arms, looking at the two again. “He took my brother,” he stated dryly, despite tears welling up in the corners of his eyes.

Tino put a reassuring arm around him, giving the child a gentle squeeze. “You can tell us if you want. It isn't good to keep all your feelings inside, especially when you're young.”

Berwald came to sit on the other chair beside his husband and the sad child, lips curved downward.

Emil wiped his own tears away, looking up at them. “W-Well...my big brother is magic...and he got caught using it...Mathias’s guards got mad at us and started to chase us.” he stopped for a moment to wipe his tears again. “Then they got into a fight...they hurt Lukas and took him away.” Emil sniffled, bringing his knees to his chest. “N’ Mathias is nice and all...to me….but I just want my brother!” he went into a full sob mode, unable to control it.

Berwald went into full on comfort mode, cradling Emil as if he were his own child, looking at Tino for the words. This is why they made an excellent duo.

Tino was pissed. Mathias let an innocent child suffer all this simply because he let his creeds get in the way of reality. This had to be fixed and it had to be fixed immediately; Tino would not allow a child to be belittled.

“We can go get him now! I will fight Mathias with my bare hands!” Tino exclaimed.

Berwald motioned for him to lower his voice. “Tino...remember where we are. Let us attend the grand meeting tomorrow and figure out what to do afterward.”

The smaller man sighed, knowing Berwald was right.

Emil simply sighed, still frowning. He jumped out of Berwald’s arms when he heard Mathias come into the room.

“Who is fighting with their bare hands?” a sleep-rustled Mathias questioned, sitting in his throne.

Tino smiled. “Oh! Just talking about the time when you and I dueled!”

Mathias shrugged, too tired to really care. The food soon came in and Mathias told everyone to shut up and eat. “Also, Emil...tomorrow there is a large meeting being held. Please stay in your room or the library.”

The youngster nodded, quietly prodding his fork at his food. It was a relief to know that someone other than himself knew that Mathias could act like a complete buttface, though not much could be done. Emil sighed once he was done, fleeing from the table and habitually bringing his plate to the kitchen. Mathias snapped at him,

“Where do you think you are going?”

Emil stared at him in defiance, rather annoyed. So he wasn't permitted to take his plate to the sink like any polite person? Royals were so...so stuck up and dumb! “I am being nice and polite like my big brother always asks me to!” he spat, disappearing behind the kitchen door.

Mathias grumbled before looking up to his guests, unnarrowing his eyes. “Kids, right?” he laughed. Mathias was honestly glad for tomorrow’s meeting. He would finally get to dispel his important matters and the best part was the lack of snotty little children.

Chapter Text

 The next day seemed to come quickly. Mathias had already had his maids go to work and made sure his outfit looked fit for the most humble, powerful kings. He would be having guests from a few small southern kingdoms as well as a few from the east and the west. Other guests would be the most powerful lords and soldiers in his land. This did include the men in his castle.

   However, Emil spent his time stockpiling books from the library into his room. He wanted to listen to the clamor of men and hear all that they said. He may be able to use it against them...and seeing as the grand hall was almost below his room, he would be able to hear. Of course, Mathias had to come in when Emil was listening in one a small argument between a Lord and Berwald. It was kind of ridiculous.

“Stray words shall not reach your ears,” Mathias stated plainly, causing Emil to jump with surprise.

“I’ll be having you reside in the library. Make sure the doors are shut,” he stated in a formal fashion, exiting the room. Emil was not pleased, grumpily taking his books and a blanket to the large room...at least he wouldn't run out of stories now.

The day slugged on. Emil had no form of entertainment nor anyone to converse with. How he wished he could chase chickens again and snuggle his cat. Why was a month going on so slow? Mathias did say that he would make his decision….He just wanted Lukas. He wanted to go home. Perhaps Mathias was hiding something...was Lukas dead? No no...it couldn't be. Emil wanted to sob but he knew better. He knew getting too wrapped up in assumptions was a mistaken move. Lukas would not want him to be sad anyways.

 

--

Mathias and many other men debated specific topics all through the day, yelling, laughing, and even getting into a few skirmishes with one another. It truly meant nothing most of the time. He was a king! Matters did not always have to be serious. The meeting could be heard all throughout the castle, as they practically screamed their declarations.

This made Emil more than glad that he was forced into the library. This meant he would not have his eardrums blasted with the sharp noises of Mathias and his guests.

 

Meanwhile, Lukas was plotting his escape. He needed to know where Emil was...or else this would not work. Since Mathias had ordered that Lukas is to be fed regularly, he was feeling stronger and more confident.

The other prisoners groaned and complained about all this. Lukas found them to be as pathetic as most people were. They didn't even take initiative. The punishment was to be feared, but being free was worth that price. With a sigh, Lukas pressed his hands against the rusty metal, feeling it slowly begin to warm as he directed energy into it; melting it into a puddle. He didn't have time to save any of these people. They were already half dead anyway.

Once the metal had cooled, Lukas stepped out of the cell and ran toward the door, as quiet as a mouse scampering and as stealthy as a mountain lion. He would not be stopped now. He would not be stopped ever.   

Creak

Oh by the gods! Why now?

Stomp stomp stomp

Pound pound pound

Lukas made a break for it, running out of the door and freezing it over. They wouldn't be able to get out that way for a few days. He then continued his mission, tearing up the stairs and through the large, heavy door that separated both innocent and tainted filth from rich sows, the epitome of filth. He could hear the two guards yelling somewhere, but that was nothing but an afterthought. Lukas sprinted through the castle, trying to pick up on the little magical essence that Emil had in him. In the process, he was almost caught. Multiple times. Though, these guards were mere hurdles. Lukas would no longer put up with this.

Not the king.

Not the kingdom.

And most of all, not the kidnapping of his brother.

Finally, Lukas busted into the library. Normally, he would have been amazed by the fine woodworks and a number of books, but anything belonging to King Mathias was trash.

“EMIL!” He called, voice raspy from both running and not having talked for so long.

 

The little boy practically attacked his brother with a hug, tears of joy streaming down his plump cheeks.

“Big brother! You're you...right?”

Lukas took Emil’s hands into his own, true tears streaming down his dirty, sunken face.

“Of course it's me...but we must hurry.” Lukas picked Emil up and began to run just as guards burst through the door. He knew he was cutting it close, but here he was, rescuing his brother.

 

A guard whispered the happenings in Mathias’s ear. His eyes widened and he slammed his fist on the table, chipping it. “what did you just say?!” All of the guests turned to Mathias, the whole room going from noisy to silent in point three seconds. Tino was the first to speak up.

“Mathias? What is wrong?”

Mathias looked to Tino and sighed. “Keep the meeting going, I will deal with my issue.” He demanded, walking briskly out of the meeting hall.

“Now where is he? Have you caught him?”

The guard shook his head. “His last location was the library, your highness.”

Mathias stomped his foot. “I want all guards on duty. This instant!”

The guard nodded, alerting all of the demand.

--

Lukas had received multiple stab wounds on the legs and arms from the spears of men. Luckily, his swift movements and magic held them off as he and Emil flew down the hallways of the castle. Fearfully, Emil pointed Lukas in the right direction. They were so close now. Despite Emil’s fear and Lukas’s both lasting and new injuries; they had to make it out.

Little conversation went on between the two. Both brothers were too scared, too focused on the goal of freedom.They’d make it home and run after that. Both knew of the uncertainty ahead. It was daunting, standing over them like the highest cliff face.

 

Mathias’s guards stopped the escapees before they could make it to the main hall. Lukas was having none of that. He used fire magic to ward the guards off and ran right through it. The little strands of hanging fabric on Lukas’s clothes caught, but quickly went out. All of his magic power was going mostly into protecting Emil from the swinging of swords and bodies of evil men.

 

Mathias and his guards finally caught up with them at the entrance, Mathias standing right in the middle, wearing a face of sheer anger. Lukas stared back, a blank, slightly angered face being worn.

Though, his hatred was rooted far too deep at this point. He raised his left hand, drawing a sigil and sending it Mathias’s way.

Mathias jumped back, feeling the sting of fireless heat melt the skin of his right arm. He screamed as the skin started to sludge down his forearm, sinking to his knees as blood seeped onto the ground. He trembled from the pain while all his men stared in fear and disgust.

Lukas felt no mercy. That was until Emil started to shake and sob, horrified at the scene in front of him. As much as Lukas wanted to stop and reassure him, he knew that wasn't an option.

Lukas picked his brother up once more and walked slowly out of the entrance, shooting a death glare at any who dared meet his eyes. Then, once the wretched walls of Mathias’s castle stood a long way behind them, Lukas set his brother down and healed both their wounds, giving them both a much needed moment of rest.

The two sat there until the yells of guards could be heard from nearby. Lukas shakily picked up his younger brother and ran down one of the back roads to their home. It was a shame that they could not stay, but supplies were necessary.

 

--

 

Mathias insisted that his guards go after the two. He was currently being taken care of by the nurses in the infirmary. Everything was pain at the moment and all he wanted was the reassurance that his kingdom would not rise up against him at the mercy of Lukas’s word or his own displays of weakness. If that were the case, they were sure to overthrow him.

“Mathias, you need to calm down!” Tino would exclaim whenever Mathias would angrily mumble statements and try to get up. As angry as the man was at King Mathias, he could not drive himself to abandon his friend. Mathias needed lessons on how to rule.

“Tino! People will rise up against me if he tells them! The kingdom will be in poverty! Chaos!” Mathias exclaimed hysterically.

“MATHIAS!” Tino finally yelled, which brought Mathias’s nonsense to an end. “Your kingdom is already in poverty! The farmers and the traders who live on the outskirts or in small villages are dying due to lack of food! Riots against lords are happening toward the east and the north! People have come to Berwald and I’s kingdom trying to escape it all!” He spilled the truth, furious.

“You are too involved with yourself and harming innocent people from your main city to prove yourself as a ‘worthy leader’. Though, you are far from that. You are weak and pathetic! I hate to say it, but the only way to prove yourself as worthy is to treat everyone as equal and to go to even the poorest provinces. To show your kingdom that you love everyone for any type of work, not just because they are useful to you moneywise.” Tino took a deep breath, as his face was red with anger and he could kill the man in front of him.

 

Mathias looked at Tino as if he had just stabbed him. Was all of this true? Was he that bad of a ruler? Did his entire kingdom hate him? He had no clue of what he should say or do. After a good twenty minutes, he finally spoke.

“Thank you...I needed that…” he softly sighed.

Tino was surprised at how well he took the rant, kneeling down beside the bed. “You need to fix this as soon as possible.”

Mathias met his violet eyes, realizing that Tino too could be magic...but that was beside the point. “Fine... Rule for me with Berwald until I am better...I will make this right.”

Chapter Text

The mewls of the cat that had been eating all the house mice while Lukas and Emil were gone filled the dusty kitchen area. Emil was trying his best the wrap up the wounds his older brother had taken while escaping the castle. The older brother was pained each time the rapidly cooling cloth brushed away crusty, dried blood from both new and old wounds. It stung and in some cases, ripped portions of weak skin off. Emil apologized each time, finishing an area on his arm and taking a cloth to wrap it. He had gotten quite good at it since starting.
Once Lukas was all patched up, Emil wiped all the nasty dirt off of him and rolled his brother to the straw-filled mattress in their room, earning a few pained squeaks from the mice that resided there. The cat quickly took care of them. The tiny boy covered his brother with a thick quilt before running back to the hearth and beginning a stew. It would likely be gross seeing as the only food was old chicken eggs, half moldy cheese, a few potatoes, onions and whatever wheat and barley was left in their store box. Though, he made it taste good enough to eat. He eventually brought a bowl to Lukas, spooning the warm mixture into Lukas’s mouth. He was welcoming to the nasty taste of the soup. It was better than eating stale bread and water that tasted strangely of dirt.
Once Lukas was fed and asleep, Emil tried to wash up the house. He knew that they would be leaving the instant Lukas felt better, but Emil wanted to pretend that they were not. Emotions bounced around in his head. He was conflicted. Despite how much Mathias had battered his brother, Emil still felt a deep wound be opened up. The fatherly notions of the man as well as his cheerfulness were another side to Mathias that few had ever seen. Emil enjoyed having someone like that. He was almost like a parent in the time spent waiting for Lukas’s return. When Emil had seen the king laying on the ground with a disgusting, thick and bloody layer of skin sludging down to the floor as well as an incredibly pained look of shock and realization on his face; he saw the window into another side of Mathias. Emil knew he could not tell Lukas, as that would probably make him angry. He had a right to be angry.
Time passed quickly and the stars soon hung low in the sky as well as the inconstant moon. It seemed as everything was drooping down in sorrow along with many others that night. Guards from the castle were still on the prowl for the two delinquents who dared to harm their king. Mathias sat asleep in his chambers, arm wrapped and cleaned. Tino was talking with Berwald about the task that King Mathias had temporarily left them with. It was a daunting one. His kingdom was in pieces and the duo was unsure of how much they could settle.
“I’m not sure about this. Do you know what we would be getting into?” Berwald stated quietly.
“We have to help him! No one ever taught Mathias how to rule!” Tino countered.
Berwald sighed, knowing his spouse was right. “Fine...but we must start small. Perhaps with fixing all the rioting,”
“That sounds good...also we should call off the search for Emil and his brother. They need time.”
Berwald looked at Tino like he was crazy. “I am not one for corrupt government, but he can not tell anyone of this. It will worsen the kingdom’s problems immensely.”
Tino looked shocked. “But what if the guards hurt them! There is a vulnerable child involved!”
Berwald sighed and gently placed his large hand on Tino’s shoulder. “I will tell them not to. I do not want anyone to be hurt…”
Tino sighed and stood up, walking out of the room to get fresh air. He was stressing.

Back at the Bondevik residence, Lukas had finally awoken. He was in much better shape than he had been before, as his energy had been replenished as well as sleeping in an actual bed. Emil bounded in with new, clean wraps as well as a bucket of water to clean Lukas’s wounds. It probably would have been easier to heat water for a bath, but Lukas did not hold the capability at the moment and Emil could not carry that much water.
“Emil? Have you eaten yet?” Lukas asked, worried that his younger brother may be doing too much.
“No! But I caught a fish in the stream earlier! I will cook it!” The child was obviously proud of himself… he just had to figure out how to cook it.
Lukas sighed and pulled his brother into a hug, glad to be reunited with him. “I had no clue what happened to you. I was terrified that you’d get killed, or I would die waiting.”
Emil hugged back, looking up to his big brother. “It was not that bad! I thought you were dead…’’ he refused to tell Lukas that Mathias was actually a decent person.
“I’m going to make sure that damned King pays for this if we ever see him again.” He grumbled, holding his brother tighter.
“No! Lukas….I mean we have to leave when yer not sick anymore!”
The older of the two sighed and released Emil, looking up at the ceiling as Emil started to unwrap and clean one of his arms. He winced as the skin that had adhered to the cloth peeled up. Emil made sure to be gentle, discarding the fouled bandages to the side as he began to clean and rewrap the wound, making sure to do so with caution. He was bleeding less, which was excellent.
“Big Brother? Did I hurt you at all?” Emil’s voice wavered with worry.
Lukas shook his head. “No no, not at all. You’re doing an amazing job.You’re just as good as a doctor.”
Emil’s eyes lit up, he was joyed. “Really? I am that good?!” he exclaimed, grinning at his older brother.
Lukas responded with a ghost of a smile, weakly ruffling Emil’s hair. “I must continue to slumber. Would you pack bags for us to leave?”
“Most definitely.” The younger nodded back, hugging his brother carefully before getting up and taking the dirtied bandages for washing.

The next day came all too quickly. Lukas had yet to wake and Emil was walking through their overgrown garden trying to salvage any food that had not been stolen by small rodents or rotted. It was quite literally a fruitless effort except for the two small squash that he found in the very back. They would do for now. With that, he put the two half grown squash into his basket and ventured back to their house in shambles. Though, misfortune seemed to follow Emil as if he owed it something.
Two guards bounced on the backs of their Friesian horses while all the metal clips jingled as the group moved down the desolate dirt road. A small gasp came from Emil as he hid in one of the puffy evergreens in front of the house, shaking as he waited for them to pass by; terrified by the sight of anything that wore the royal seal of Drealia.
One guard looked at the other before each man slid from the saddle of their horse and made their way toward the front door, delivering a strong knock to the heavily splintered wood. This process repeated before Lukas wearily made his way to the door, leaning on a wooden staff for support. Though, it did not take him long to realize that these were royal guards and Emil was not in the house. With haste, he made his way to the door, clearly worried and angered. Of course, there was little that Lukas could do to defend himself as well as others in his present condition. Why were they here? Had Mathias any heart? A nearly fatal brawl just occurred and he still had his guards on the prowl for the weak? Lukas sighed. It made complete sense. Even so, he refused to open the door. Instead, he pressed himself to a wall and hoped that the guards would leave once they figured that no one lived there. It was believable seeing as everything was overgrown and the house looked like it would collapse if not for the dark-leafed vines creeping up its’ sides and enveloping the home in their grasp.
Soon enough the guards seemed to give up. However, they did proceed to go around the house a few times just to make sure. Each sighed and returned to the back of their horse. They discussed a few points having to do where the people in question could be or where the house was. King Mathias really should have made his prisoner or the odd child give up more information in their time there. It would have made this entire situation easier. Unfortunately for them that was not the case.
That was until Emil finally lost his grip and fell from tree to ground, skinning his arm and hands in the process. He cried out in both fear as well as pain.
Each guard trained his eyes at the child, making no move until the other did. As Emil got up to bolt, the first guard jammed his foot into the side of his horse and scooped the squirming child up like a bird takes a worm. This was quite the win! The King would surely be pleased with them. Emil yelled for help, attempting to kick the guard anywhere he could and escape. Though, this proved to be a wasted effort and left the boy tired and weak.
Lukas did not process Emil’s voice calling out until the fourth or fifth time, causing him to run outside at a speed faster than mortals could imagine. By then, the misfortunate child was far down the street, weakly trying to escape the iron grip of a guard. Lukas knew he could not run that far or fast. It would surely kill him if he dared to use magic, and that magic would not be enough to save Emil. So, he collapsed on the overgrown front lawn and sobbed, burying his face into his shawl and wailing like a child. For the first time in a while, he felt truly powerless, truly hopeless. He felt even worse than he did while in the gruesome cell of Mathias’s dungeon. He, by the name of Lukas Bondevik, had failed to protect his only remaining family. He had failed to protect Emil more than once. Lukas felt as if death was not even enough to punish himself for this crime. He rolled over to look up at the cloudy, grey sky and screamed, tears rolling down his frail face as his body shook with anger and sadness. It felt like the end.

Chapter Text

Somewhere along the way, Emil had fallen asleep from exhaustion. When he woke, he was in a bedchamber that was not familiar. No...he was in the infirmary? Why so? With a sigh, the small boy rolled off the side of the bed and stood, muscles tense and tired from all the fighting. He stretched, feeling a painful tug of fabric at his arm. Why was his arm wrapped? Now that he thought of it, all his wounds that he had obtained during he and his brother’s great escape all felt clean. Sure, it hurt, but it beat an infection by a longshot.

Emil sighed, walking around the room in search of an escape. There was only one door to this room. Emil crept toward it slowly, stopping in his tracks when he came around the dividing wall to see King Mathias sleeping soundly, half his face burnt as well as his arm wrapped in thick layers, bits of crimson showing through the heavy-duty wraps. He slowly approached the sleeping king, curiosity plaguing his conscience. Part of him felt victory for Lukas, but another found that to be rather harsh and mourned the injuries to both adults.

The boy stared for some time, only venturing further when Mathias looked like he would wake soon. As much as he wanted to stay to see what exactly would happen, Emil knew that was a bad move. So, he bolted to the door, effectively running into it when Tino and Berwald came in. He whimpered on the floor, nursing his bruising forehead.

“Oh, my gods! Are you okay?” Tino panicked, feeling terribly that he had hit the little boy in the face with a door.

Berwald crouched down as well, picking the child up and placing him back on the bed that he had originally been in. “You’re supposed to rest.” He stated simply, returning to Tino’s side shortly after. Despite Tino’s insisting, they checked on Mathias first. Berwald changed his wraps and cleaned his wounds, wishing he did not have to. Though, it was much easier than calling an attendant in. His eyes fluttered open,

“Hmmm? Why are you two here?” He asked, groggy.

“We just came to check in on you and Emil, that’s all.”

Mathias, despite his grogginess and fatigue, sat up at lightning speed; “He’s here? Is the other one, Lukas, the magic one here too?”

Tino shook his head and sighed. “No...they could not find him.”

Mathias sighed. “I don’t want him upheaving this kingdom even more...we have to find him.”

Then, Emil came around the corner, looking as angry as his chubby little face would allow.  

“He would not do that!” he yelled; “My big brother is hurt worse than you are! Stop acting like a baby!” The ashy blond stomped his feet, red in the face from anger. “I hate you!”

The King looked at Emil with a mixture of anger and hurt. He felt like a parent after spending a month with Emil….but he was hated.

“Lukas, my big brother is laying in bed waiting for me to wash his wounds and feed him! We barely have any food in the first place!” Fat tears began to stream down Emil’s face. He had no clue what to feel. His only family was going to die because he could not be cared for, he was trapped in this stupid castle with stupid Mathias, and he had no power in any of it. Emil felt like the universe was trying to make him suffer. No one else other than serfs and criminals suffered this much! Why was Emil the designated sufferer?

With no other way to express his hurt, Emil curled up on the ground and wailed, tears pooling in tiny puddles beneath him. To everyone’s surprise, Berwald was the first to try to comfort the child. He did not know the first thing, but he hated to see such innocent souls feel so down.

Emil soon reduced to whimpers, cuddling into the warm shoulder of Berwald. He didn’t care who he was as long as it was not Mathias. He’d rather die than hug Mathias. Tino wiped a few tears here and there, also tending to Mathias who looked completely shocked. Reality just punched him in the gut, as well as the fact that a mere child delivered that punch. Emil didn't feel bad. Mathias didn't deserve sympathy, though Emil wouldn't want him to suffer either. There was balance involved.

After a few awkward minutes of silence, Mathias ordered that Emil be taken to his original room so he and Tino could discuss a matter. With a glare from Emil, Berwald carried the tot out of the infirmary.

“‘S good that you get to be away from him ,” Berwald stated, trying to lighten the mood a little. He wanted nothing more than to tell Mathias everything he was doing wrong and maybe punch him in the face, but he definitely did not want war.

“I guess so…” Emil mumbled, looking at the floor. He wanted to escape. He wanted Lukas to be beside him. This last month had been completely horrible. It was all Mathias’s fault! He began to cry again, starting off with sniffles. This wasn't fair.

Berwald placed Emil down in ‘his’ room, unsure of how to make the child happy. “hm...your book is still here. Want to read it?” he asked, reaching for the bird book on the side table. Emil looked up, having forgotten about the prized object. A tiny smile on his face.

“Can you read it? Lukas would read to me if I asked…” he stated quietly, not giving Berwald much of an option since he curled under the blankets and put his head on the pillow.

“All right, I suppose I could.” he smiled back, joyful that he could at least better part of this situation.

 

Mathias was emotional and angry, gripping a pillow as he spoke with Tino. The whole experience over the past few weeks had significantly changed him.

“I still want you to find him...even if it's self-interest, I just want Emil to stop being upset….he hates me!” He cried, hugging onto Tino. It was not fair!

Tino sighed, holding Mathias in his arms, “Fine...but you must promise to treat his brother just as you treat him. No more of this torture...please.” He stated, practically demanding what he had asked. This just needed to stop. If Mathias would not be willing to fix one thing, this kingdom would fall apart without the aid of Tino and Berwald...perhaps the whole situation did have some positives. With a sigh, he finally pried Mathias off of himself to look the other in the eyes.

“I’ll do anything!” Mathias exclaimed with watery blue orbs, staring up at Tino like a kicked puppy.

Tino nodded, “Well then, get some rest and I will handle this My Way. If I find out that you go back on your promise, I will not hesitate to cut the ties from our kingdoms.” It was obvious that Tino was trying to be firm, but that was hard considering their friendship. He then walked out of the room to deliver the new developments to guards.

 

Back in the Bondevik home, Lukas laid on the grass, having cried himself to even more weakness than before. He wanted things to be normal...and oh gods if he ever got his hands on that wretch of a king, he'd make sure he paid with his life. The little fuck had taken his brother away twice now. Twice. This was the work of one with no compassion, no sympathy and Lukas would not sit there and take it.

He tried to get up, staggering as he did so, body shaking and his legs buckling. He barely made it halfway to the door before collapsing to the ground, smashing his face against the bumpy, weed-ridden walkway in front of the house. His nose began to gush blood as he rolled over to look back up at the sky, letting out broken sobs as his face throbbed with the dull beat of pain.

After a few minutes, Lukas passed out on the ground, the sound of thunder in the distance and raindrops falling on his face to match his tears.

 

Tino told the guards of the new plans, and that they were to bring Lukas back unscathed.

“If you do so much as hurt a hair on anyone, I will leave the punishment to your king.” He threatened, putting his hands on his hips, “In fact, I shall go with you to find him. Just to make sure you do not do what you did last time.” Tino smiled, though it was a threatening one. He rarely got like this, but when he did everyone should best know not to mess around.

The small group took off toward the rural area of Draelia. It was more to the North, perhaps sharing a border with Sarheila or Narkild, though it was all hills, fields, and forests. They passed by the large, bustling city, which slowly thinned out into the forest and dirt pathways opposed to bricks and gravel. It was a lot easier to pick out homes based off of Emil’s descriptions. Eventually, Tino hopped off his horse, walking toward the house with overgrown shrubs, a walkway with bunches of grass clumping out, and vines climbing up the crumbling walls. He felt a pang of sadness for Emil. They likely struggled to live well and spent a lot of time working. The man sighed, walking closer to the house. The rain that poured down was lessened by the tree hanging over the house. It definitely had a magical vibe to it. Tino looked down when he felt something that was definitely not grass under his foot. It was Lukas. Tink.crouched down to see if he had a pulse, thankful when it was there. The last thing he needed was to bring home a dead brother to Emil.

“I will hold him as I ride. Make sure nothing bad happens.” Tino ordered, sitting the unconscious man onto the horse, then he got on himself.

“Now, we go, and we must go quickly.”

Chapter Text

    It was an awkward, bumpy ride back to the palace. Lukas had nearly been dropped several times and his nose was bleeding again. Tino was simply trying to hurry since this man clearly needed serious medical aid. His wounds were infected, some red, oozing with puss, and swollen. Others were regular, but beginning to become that disgusting.

Tino and the guards rushed Lukas up to the infirmary, carefully setting him down as Tino waved a doctor over.

“Examine him immediately!” he exclaimed, getting wraps and cloths paired with lye soap. “He will die without medical aid.”

 

Mathias, awake, watched with a look that faltered between hatred and sorrow. As much as he abhorred those with magic, he couldn't help but feel for Lukas. His wounds must be ten times more painful...physically and emotionally. He began to realize why people were rioting against him. Mathias was a terrible ruler. He didn't deserve the loyalty of people he let suffer.

“Call more doctors in! I want him under fulltime watch!” King Mathias demanded as Lukas’s arm was cut open for bloodletting.

“Also, make sure Emil doesn't come in here until his brother is somewhat better…he doesn't need to see this.”

Tino stared at Mathias and sighed, “When did you become so caring and responsible?”

 

Mathias raised a brow. “Right now.”

 

Berwald butt in, “Well, It's about time. Now you need to fix the rest of your kingdom.” he stated gruffly, though he was proud.

 

     It was hours before each and every wound of Lukas’s had been bled and wrapped. He sat unconscious in the soft bed for a while now. Hopefully, he wouldn't wake soon enough to feel pain.

Emil was waiting outside the door, watching with horror as bowls of Lukas’s crimson blood were carried back and forth. What were  they doing to him? Why would they do that to his brother! Emil knew this was Mathias’s fault. Stupid...dare he say it, dumbass.

Tino happened to notice the child before he could come into the room anymore.

“Emil! Just in time for Lunch!”

Emil narrowed his eyes and frowned. He was well aware of his brother’s presence and longed to see him. When would all the chaos end?

Tino tried to scoot him out, not wanting any more distrust to form, as well as not wanting Emil to be scarred. Though, these were both present in Emil’s little mind.

“I want to see my brother!” He stomped his feet, reaching out to push Tino out of the way.

“No no, Emil you cannot go in quite yet...please wait a few more hours?” The short blond tried to coo him away, feeling bad enough that he was forcing the two apart longer.

“NO!” Emil hissed back, shoving Tino with the force of an adult. He fell backward into a table, then Emil whizzed right past him into the infirmary, meeting his unconscious brother within seconds.

Berwald was quickly at Tino’s side, examining him to ensure nothing was broken or bleeding.

Emil however did not care, he buried his face into his brother’s side and sobbed, hugging him carefully. When he woke, Emil wanted to ask him if they could leave. He didn’t ever want to see anyone or thing affiliated with this stupid kingdom again.

 

    Hours later, Mathias attempted to wake Emil for dinner. He had made sure that the cooks baked lots of sweets for afterwards. It was an indirect apology, as Mathias was never good at these sort of virtues. He could barely manage to respect another king or a soldier. It was sad, really. Perhaps it was him being a product of his environment, though not nearly as horrible as his father. The kingdom had even nicknamed him Andreas The Terrible.

 

Emil awoke abruptly, pushing Mathias away and glaring. It was a bad idea to treat a royal in such a poor manner, but Emil knew Mathias would not do anything. Even if he did, it would not make anything better or worse.

“Emil...it is dinner time.” Mathias stated softly, scratching the back of his head.

“I don’t care” The child spat, blood boiling at the sight of the king. He then proceeded to shield his face with the blanket.

“Okay...that is fine. Just...come along when you feel like it...I’ll have to eat all the sweets myself.”

Emil’s brow rose at the mention of sweets. As angry as he was, he was still an eight year old with an undying passion for an endless bucket of sweet foods that Lukas would never ever allow, even if they did have the money for it. Suddenly the angry little boy was up and out of the door, on his way to the grand dining hall. If sweets meant dealing with Mathias, he could endure.

 

Mathias cracked a small smile as he strolled down the sparsely-lit hallway. From here he could work his way to forgiveness from Emil. He truly hoped that he would be forgiven quickly...if Emil forgave him, Lukas would probably be able to do so as well. He knew he did not deserve any pity, but this was a new chapter of his life, and soon his kingdom. They just had to forgive him.

 

---------------

Soon enough, Mathias, Emil, Berwald, and Tino were all gathered in the grand dining hall. Plates of food steamed on top of the table. Emil had completely ditched his manners, shoving forkfuls of food into his mouth while Mathias nearly stared in horror. Was that really how peasants ate? Gross!

“Someone is hungry.” Tino mused, taking slow bites of food as he watched the child. Little kids were an absolute riot, from messiness to misspoken words, Tino loved it all.

Mathias still watched, but with a little less disgust. He had not realized that Emil did not eat all day, and likely not when he went home for a short period of time.

Emil was finished in record time, marking it with the clatter of his fork on the metal plate. He looked very angry while doing so.

Berwald even laughed a little at the tiny child with a food filled mouth, looking angry.

Emil crossed his arms, muttering a bit before pushing his plate away. Oh was he happy that Lukas was not awake. Lukas would have smacked him upside the head for acting like this.

“Can I have desert now?” he asked, tone pointed at Mathias. The King responded with a small smile and pointed to the kitchen door. “Go ask, I’m sure they'll let you taste.”

 

Emil did as told, walking into the kitchen and searching for the sweets. It would be the highlight of his night if he found them.

Meanwhile, Mathias turned to more serious matters.

“We have an uprising revolution in the north fishing village. Berwald, could you please help me out?”

Berwald shook his head, looking pointedly toward Mathias.

“Why should I help ya? Tino n’ I have extended our stay, done what we can, taken care of ya, n’ dealt with your smaller revolts. Ya haven't even said thank ya to either of us!”

Tino was about to add, but he did not when Berwald essentially covered the point, looking to Mathias for the next move.

“I’m trying! Okay?” Mathias sighed, clasping his hands together, despite it hurting one of his arms; “I promise I'll come and help you whenever I can! Please...I can't do much until this arm is better.” he frowned.

“Stop guiltin’ me.” Ber grumbled, standing up. “You” he pointed at Mathias from across the table, “Ya never live up to yer promises and expect the world in return. S’not happening. This time ya gotta show that even you as a king have a weak link n’ yer people have the right to be angry. Ya have done nothin for anyone but yourself all these years.”

Mathias was red in the face, trying to contain both his anger and hurt. He gradually tightened the grip of each hand and yelled in frustration, knowing Berwald was one hundred and one percent right.

Tino stood to the side, surprised that Berwald had actually said what had been on both their minds for a while now. Especially with all those words in such a short time.

“...thank you though.” Mathias stated, standing up and walking out of the room. If he wanted this done, then it would have to be him. He had no other options left.

Chapter Text

“It's time to clean my act up.” Mathias mumbled to himself as he mounted his horse and prepared to leave. “I've played a dirty bastard this entire time.” he continued, essentially attempting to motivate himself. He hopped on top of his Jutland horse, gently nudging her side in signal to take off. He had packed food incase it took longer than normal to reach his destination. Weaponry was for additional self defense.

 

The horse whinnied and jolted forward in surprise, quickly taking off toward the gravel streets of the town, which laid past the expanse of green field behind the castle. Mathias held on tightly with his good arm and gently with his injured one. Hopefully adrenaline would kick in if need be, otherwise he was screwed.

 

Townspeople watched their king, who rarely left the security of his castle, so casually trot by them on his majestic horse. The most of them cheered, but others who knew the truths of the kingdom booed. Nevertheless, it caused an an unwanted scene.

‘I don't deserve to be cheered for’ Mathias thought, sighing.

 

He soon made it out of the town and into the beginnings of the countryside. A light rain accompanied the clip clop of hooves on the semi-rocky ground of the dirt road. It felt nice on his arm since the water was cool, though it would prove irritating later on in the ride if it did not stop soon. He paused for a moment to adjust himself on his horse.

 

Then, he was off to fix his mistakes.

 

Back at the castle, Emil spent his time unwillingly helping to look for Mathias. He had not told anyone where he went, but both Tino and Berwald had the sneaking suspicion. If it was so, Berwald would feel horrible. Everyone knew that citizens could get angrier at the sight of their king. Let alone the fact that he was already hurt.

 

Emil honestly felt a bit bad as well, but he also felt as Mathias deserved a good punch in the face or two. He could not fully grasp the problems of the situation. As an eight year old, revenge was nothing of large harm.

Tino had told him that the situation would be okay as long as people didn't get out of hand. Well It was more like Tino told Berwald and Emil listened in, his little ear pressed in between the crack of the door. He soon got bored, toddling back to the infirmary to check on his brother. At Least Mathias was not there to bother them.

 

“Oh?” Lukas asked quietly as the door opened. There was no sense in moving when he did not have the capability to at the moment.

“Big Brother!” Emil cheered, sprinting over to Lukas and enveloping him in a crushing hug.

“okay okay, hello” Lukas whispered, wincing as he was squeezed, nevertheless he did hug back. “Why are we both back at the castle?”

“King Mathias told people to go find you...he was nice for some reason…” the tot looked perplexed.

Lukas raised an eyebrow, holding his baby brother. “I wonder why...well, no matter. We are good for the time being…though, now that you mention it, where is that devious man?”

Emil shrugged, snuggling into his brother's side. “He went to do something...I think to fix a problem. Berwald and Tino seem upset about it.” he stated, sighing.

Lukas raised a brow in interest. He likely would be hurt, but he had trouble when it came to caring. Though, he faked it as a good example for Emil.

“They should be worried. He could be hurt badly.”

Emil didn't want to believe it, but he infact did care. “We gotta save him! He's gonna get hurt with his hurt arm!”

Lukas sighed, staggering a bit as he moved to get up.

“I am too weak at the moment, Emil.” He stated.

The child sighed and looked toward the ceiling, thinking; “When you are a little bit better? I could go save him! I can ride a horse!”

“No, Emil, that is far too dangerous for someone of your age.”

“But Lukas!”

“The answer is no. Now, come lay down with me for a bit? I will tell you magic stories.”

Emil crossed his arms and shook his head, stomping his feet in place. Tears threatened to spill out of his eyes.

“Emil...come on...I can talk to someone and see if they can do anything. For now, calm down and take a nap…”

“No! No, no, no, no!” He yelled, hugging himself as he sunk to the floor. He was full-on sobbing now.

“I just want you and him to be happy and safe! I know he was mean to you, I am still mad about it, but he was so nice to me! It was almost  like a parent!” Emil wailed, throwing himself to the ground and having a fit.

Lukas’s eyes widened in both fear and surprise. He knew that Emil barely remembered any parental figure other than himself.

Their parents had sent Lukas away at age nineteen, three years after Emil had been born. It was not because of hatred, or war, but because of illness and famine. Ports had been closed due to spreading sickness in his village and many had forced family members to leave. Lukas had been sent off at the first signs of sickness, taking only a cart, a donkey and necessities. They moved close by for a while until the infection spread. He then took his brother over a small sea and to their current residence. They settled in nicely, but Lukas could not use magic in this new land. It was a shame, but better than being dead or suffering.

He had explained the story to Emil before, but he knew that his younger brother would never fully accept this.

 

Finally, Lukas sighed and held his brother close, rocking him back and forth.

“We can try...I need to heal a little first...okay? I know it is hard when we don't have anyone other than ourselves.”

Emil nodded and sniffed, rubbing his nose on his sleeve.

“That is disgusting, go blow your nose in a rag, not your sleeve.” the man made a face.

The little boy thought Lukas's reaction was hilarious, laughing madly as he got up to go get a rag. It was amazing how quickly his mood changed. Kids are like that.

Lukas smiled a little, getting up off the floor and making his way to the basin in the corner of the room to get a rag to wash the little boy’s sleeve with. He could easily change, but Lukas didn't think of such a thing. He was accustomed to peasant life.

Emil, who had run out of the room, was brought back by Tino, who was thoroughly appalled by the snotty child.

“Wipe your nose! You'll get us all sick!” he exclaimed, not realizing that with children, came grossness.

Emil laughed madly and ran to the basin, wiping his nose on a rag that Lukas handed him.

Tino caught his eye, waving slowly at the distant fellow.

Lukas looked back, sizing the other up, unsure of what to make of him.

“You've treated my brother with nothing but kindness, correct?” he stated finally, tone even and slightly intimidating.

Tino nodded, picking the little boy up as he tried to run out.

Lukas thought for a moment, trying to recall what Emil had told him.  “You also brought me back here and made sure the king did not throw me in a cell, correct?”

He nodded once more.

“Good...Thank you...very much so.”

“You are welcome.” Tino returned the thanks, smiling small.

Lukas barely smiled back, sitting back down on the edge of the bed, clearly exhausted. “I never thought a royal could feel empathy for someone as low down as my brother or I.” he stated, staring right at Tino.

Tino’s brow rose, “Really? Why's that?” he asked, though the answer was apparent.

“I'll tell you.”



Chapter Text

Mathias was drawing closer and closer to the riot areas, the appearance of the land either burnt or broken. It genuinely frightened him, but that was the price that came with this. He had neglected it, so fear would have to be ignored.

As the landscape rose into buildings and small hills, Mathias gripped the reins of his horse tighter, well at least with one hand, the other was useless at this point. The rain had rubbed the skin on his burn raw, it was excruciatingly painful.

People, many faces of surprise, anger, fear, flat out awe, all stared at him as the clip clop of hooves interrupted their arguments.

He cleared his throat, “Good People of Drealia, I have come here on the terms of your riots and anger.

The people began to chatter, some shouted and others took a few steps back.

“I KNOW that I haven't been a king worthy of rule, in fact, I have followed my father's footsteps. I deeply regret such a thing...As I have come to realization over the past few months.”

“Stop lying to us!” shouted one.

It went downhill from there. One peasant threw a rock at Mathias and all the others yelled.

Mathias’s horse got spooked by the commotion, though he managed to hold on. Somehow.

“I am not lying!” he shouted, grabbing a satchel of coins and holding them up. “If this much proves it, hopefully it goes toward your village….I” he was lost for words. This situation was such...such a mess that he had let go too far. It was scary.

The bribery did however stop a few people from causing more trouble. It was the most the king had ever offered, so that must mean something. In their eyes it did.

Mathias handed the governing officials of that village the money and sighed.

“I’ll pay for the repairs myself. I'll send in supplies by the end of this week…” he looked toward his people, who looked back at him with more hope than they ever had.

It was nice to know he got them to settle, but there were places in the kingdom that were far worse.

---

Lukas took a deep breath and stared at Tino, motioning for him to sit.

“Why do you hate higher-ups so much?” he questioned.

Lukas gave a slightly bitter look and began to speak.

“Wherever you go, there is hierarchy. It is unnecessary. When i fled my home kingdom to live elsewhere with Emil, he was only two or three. I couldn't have both a job and him at my hip. Sometimes, I had to, but other times we did not have the resources to buy anything. I had to steal food for him. I often skipped meals just to keep him alive….do you understand?”

Tino knew that this happened all too often, poverty, especially in Drealia was no fun matter. It had led to a lot of problems, including people leaving to go live in he and Berwald’s kingdom.

“I do understand, and I am sorry.” he sighed, motioning to pull the other into a hug. “I’ll make sure that Mathias does not endanger you any further while you're here.”

Lukas pulled out of the hug and nodded, uneasy about being that close.

“I appreciate it.”

 

The rest of the day ticked on, rain becoming heavy at times. If you were indoors, it was comforting. If you were Mathias, who was riding his horse to another village, it was agonizing. He had not even made it to the next village, he fell off his horse in pure agony half way. His arm was rubbed even more raw (if possible) and his armor was scraping into his skin. The blood running down the wounds irritated the flesh more.

Berwald had been sent out after hours of waiting to find Mathias. He was a tad worried, but he speculated that he would be held up…this was no easy business.

“We need to ride north.” The tall one stated, letting his horse trot a bit ahead of the others.

“But, your highness, he should already be in the eastern half dealing with the riots.” A guard countered.

Berwald shook his head and kept going in the same direction, “You have too much faith in him, he is not in the Eastern half. Especially not in the condition he was in when he left.”

The small group behind him seemed to worry immensely. Sure, Mathias was not always the best, but he was still their king.

As the central city turned into countryside and hills, the rain began to come down heavily, turning the already sodden ground into muck and rocks. The horses whinnied as thunder boomed and lightning cracked.

Berwald nudged his foot into the side of his horse. If they wanted Mathias alive, they would have to go faster than this. He really wished that he had forced him not to go, or else he would not be in this soggy situation.

 

Once they reached the village, which had noticeably calmed down, Berwald hopped off his horse.

The village people looked at him, uneasy. Two kings in one day? That had to be bad news.

“I've come to check on Mathias. Though, he is not here. My apologies for the startle.”

As quickly as they came, Berwald led the group away from the village and toward the eastern half. Knew Mathias couldn't be there yet. He was too dumb.

Low and behold, Berwald and the castle guards discovered Mathias’s seemingly lifeless body on the ground. Sinking into the mud, horse nowhere in sight.

The Northernmost king hopped off his steed and picked the man up, checking for pulse. Thank the gods that there was.

“He’s fine. Just tired.” he mumbled, pulling the other onto his horse and nudging her side so they could take off.

 

Soon enough they had Mathias back in his infirmary bed and his arm wrapped in new bandages.

“How was it? Was he okay?”

“He did somethin’ right for once. He got the northern village to stop rioting, but he never made it to the eastern half.”

Tino cracked a small smile, “Well, that's progress”

Berwald nodded, gazing about the room. Lukas and Emil were asleep next to each other, a storybook between the two. It was a nice scene.

“Berwald, we need to leave and prepare the next meeting for Mathias. He won't be able to in his current state.”

Berwald nodded, following Tino out of the room.

Chapter Text

Lukas woke well before Mathias. He was satisfied to see that the other had suffered a bit. Even if he was harmed while trying to fix his kingdom, it was still a mini victory in his own mind. Perhaps it would change the royal as well.

With a sigh, he slowly moved from his bed to go clean his bandages again, over at the basin. The small wounds were healed, and larger wounds are turned into medium sized. It was much better than before, but still incredibly painful; more like a dull beat in his entire body that had become routine.

As Lukas cleaned his wounds out with salt water, he pondered. Anyone would have thought of him to be weird, but bloodletting was ineffective. He was still livid that the doctors had let his blood before hand.

His thoughts were interrupted by the groan and rustling behind him, causing Lukas to jump in surprise, especially when the same body formed words.

“Do you need help? What are ye doin?” Mathias mumbled, attempting to sit up.

“Lay back down. I am simply washing out my wounds.” Lukas replied, a bit dismayed that the other woke up...who let the two be in the same room anyway? Wasn’t Lukas a threat to the King and the kingdom? It made absolutely no sense that they were together.

“Why washing them? That is not yer job...supposed to be asleep.” The King grumbled, finally sitting up.

“No one else is here. My wounds hurt. So, I decided to clean them. It is called self-capability, try it sometime.” Lukas snipped at him, feeling bitter.

Mathias sighed, dragging himself from his bed so he could at least look Lukas in the eyes when he apologized.

“I’m truly sorry, from the depths of my heart, I am”

Lukas whirled around to face him, partially shocked and partially appalled by his words.

“Why you- you have the audacity to apologize? Do you know that the voices of others down there still haunt me? Every time I have been beaten by your guards is comparable to the amounts of nightmares I have had since!” For an individual with  wounds, Lukas firmly stood his ground.

“I know... “ King Mathias began, pondering of what else to say. It was useless to reason. So, Mathias put his arms up and enveloped Lukas into a hug.

“Get your filthy, corrupt, and uncompassionate mitts off of me.” he spat, wriggling away.

Mathias sighed, looking at the ground. He was wobbly when he stood, but that was fine. “Lukas...I do apologize... I can send builders out to rebuild your house and supply you with new donkeys….”

“I do not want your money, your help, or your time. All I want is for my brother and I to be able to go home without any more interference from royals. Oh wait! I do not have a home! Your cursed kingdom is too hellish for a home! I would be better off dead with the rest-” he seethed, stopping the rant only when Emil’s tired voice interrupted the conversation.

“Lukas? Are you gonna keep pushin Mathias away? He doesn’t hate you...you tried to hurt him too.”

Mathias smiled half heartedly at Emil's little speech. The boy could not understand that Mathias had been horrible for many years.

On Lukas’s end, he knew Emil could not fathom it all, but he was right. Lukas had tried to kill Mathias on multiple occasions. It was petty revenge that had made the whole situation worse.

“I-I am sorry, Emil.” he stammered, beads of water streaming down his face. “I didn’t mean to ruin your childhood, and take away someone you trust...I am sorry that you’ve fallen victim to the darkest parts of me.” By now, Lukas had crumpled to the floor in his depressive state.

Emil let worry overtake his young mind, wrapping Lukas in a tight hug.

“You’re trying your best. It’s okay.” He stroked his brother’s hair back, essentially copying what Lukas did whenever he was upset.

Mathias watched the two, slowly backing away from the them to sit on his bed.

“Thank you, Emil.” Lukas rocked Emil back and forth, kissing his forehead. “I’m sorry that I haven’t let you live a full childhood.”

Emil smiled, hugging his brother closer, “Shhh, it is okay, Lukas”.

The brothers sat like that for a while, letting the rain lull them both to sleep, sprawled over the floor with exhaustion painting their faces. If the situation hadn’t been caused by Mathias, he might have laughed.

Hours later, Emil woke with a cough and a headache. Lukas, whom was disturbed by the sudden noise from his brother, leapt into action immediately. He wiped the gunk from his eyes and half dragged his brother to the bed, checking his temperature with his cool fingers. Luckily, Emil felt normal, but it was something to watch.

“Go away Lukas!” he whined, rolling over. He loved his big brother, but not when he acted like such an adult.

“I’m making sure you aren't ill. Bear with me here.” Lukas sighed, expecting the resistance. Emil was far more stubborn when he was unwell.

“I’m not sick! I'm just tired!” he exclaimed, glaring at his brother before falling back asleep. Lukas rolled his eyes, crawling back into bed, staring at the ceiling as rain pounded against the windows. It was actually kind of nice...calming. The ceiling had designs carved into it, making Lukas almost appreciate the situation. At Least they weren't starving in a broken house...it could be worse.

Though, it did seem as Mathias only acted nice because Emil was there. The two had a strange bond that angered Lukas. It was unfair to him that he couldn't sock Mathias in the jaw. Perhaps, it was a good thing. Otherwise, he would be dying in the disgusting cell, possibly tried for treason against the kingdom, and ultimately beheaded.

Perhaps he should count his blessings before he complained….or maybe not. The king had treated all of his subjects poorly...Lukas could overthrow him. It would be terribly easy.

Though, Lukas knew he was not ready to rule...perhaps let Mathias fix his country first.Inheriting problems did not sound appealing...even if they all could be fixed with magic.

Lukas shook these thoughts from his head and sighed loudly, rolling over so that he could drift back into sleep. It would be better if Emil stopped coughing his lungs up, but Lukas was used to it at this point.

The child coughed again.

“Emil. Open your mouth. I want make sure you don't have dots.”

“What are dots? Why would I have dots in my mou-” he was cut off by Lukas prying his mouth open by the teeth and examining his brother's throat.

Sure enough, Emil’s mouth was lined with little red dots. His brother’s eyes were slightly watery and he was congested.

“Lukas! Stooop!” Emil whined, laying back down.

“You have some illness… I don't really know what it is called, but I must go get a nurse.”

Lukas hoisted himself from the bed and made his way to the door to the hallway. He bad no clue where they would be, but he could try to find someone.

He wandered the halls until he was lost. Everything was tapestries and portraits...how the hell was he supposed to find anyone?!

“Dear god...what are you doing up?” asked one maid, looking toward Lukas with mixed feelings. He had to be the magic user…

“My brother is ill. I haven't a clue what it is.”

The woman nodded, pushing a few strands of brown hair back into her bun.

“I am sure that I can identify what it is. Come, we shall see.” she stated, beckoning Lukas into her direction as she began the journey back to the infirmary.

“You...you are the magic user, correct?” the maid asked, glancing back at Lukas. She had a trace of fear in her voice.

Lukas smiled bitterly. Fear was not her fault, simply nature.

“Yes I am. Why?”

“Well, I wanted to thank you.” she stated, looking back once more. Shadows cast over their faces as they entered one of the center halls with no windows.

“Why would you want to thank me? I almost killed your king.” Lukas stated, almost mad, but more confused than anything.

“Why wouldn't I? This is the first time I've seen a royal try to do anything progressive since I was but a babe! It is amazing!” she exclaimed, truly happy about the situation.

Lukas stood there in disbelief. For the first time, he was amazing. He wasn't a burden or an outcast, but a saving grace.

“Stop standing around and hurry, you said your brother was sick, let's go.”

Lukas began to walk again, and then they were back at the infirmary.

 

   “Sørya!” Emil exclaimed, surprised to see the maid who had accompanied him so many times previous.

Lukas raised a confused brow, going over to sit next to his brother.

Sørya smiled and put a finger to her lips and pointed toward Mathias.

“Your big brother told me you aren't feeling well. Lets take a look.” she stated in a hush voice, walking to Emil’s side of the bed and checking his temperature with her hand.

“hmm...you are a bit warm and congested. Stick your tongue out.”

Emil followed directions flawlessly, earning a frustrated sigh from Lukas, who had to shove his mouth open earlier.

“You seem to have the start of the measles.” Sørya stated, tone lowering slightly.

“Have you ever had the measles, magic user?”

“I do not believe...why so?”

“Well, that makes it more likely that you'll get it...coughed in your face or anything?”

Lukas raised an eyebrow, but shook his head.

“Though, he has been coughing quite a lot. I also stuck my hand in his mouth.”

Sørya pointed him toward a bath. “Wash yourself and I will get the blankets. Emil is to stay out of contact with everyone until he is better.” Sørya picked Emil up and sighed.

“Wait!” Emil yelled. “Am I going to die?”

“No honey, you will not. You're a kid, you've still got the stamina to fight disease...also, your brother caught it early enough.” She stated, smiling.

Lukas let out a breath of relief, picking the blankets off the bed and throwing them in a washing tub. He knew it wasn't his job, but it was rude to let everyone else take care of it.

He then closed himself within the wash room, pumping cold water into the basin and climbing in. It had been ages since he last bathed...it was a heavenly experience.

He leaned back and stared at the ceiling for a moment, hoping that his brother would heal quickly. He was too tired to comprehend, but he knew that if Emil died, he would be alone.

Chapter Text

Lukas ended up being awoken by Mathias, who also needed to take a bath. Sorya’s orders. He groaned as he got up, drying himself and changing into another night robe. He still hadn’t processed the situation. He could not believe that all of this fighting to reunite only lead to this, another separation, another hurdle. It was not fair at all, but at least they were in a place with the proper care resources. Despite his magical abilities, Lukas was unable to heal Emil without certain ingredients for a potion or the help of other gifted people.

His thoughts were interrupted by a particularly loud king who urged Lukas out. Lukas simply shot King Mathias a glare before exiting the bathing area and going to his bed. To his surprise, the sheets had been changed.

“How did you bathe in water this cold? Are you insane?” Mathias yelled from the bathing area as the tub was drained and filled with hot water that had been heated by the hearth.

“I was, and always will be a mere peasant boy,” Lukas replied dully, curling beneath his blankets and sneakily using his magic to summon a book.

“Well, Peasant boy, I did not know that they didn’t heat their water... It doesn’t take very long.”

“Us peasants don't have the time nor a number of maids to heat our water for us,” Lukas stated, obviously unamused.

“What about your magic?” Mathias asked.

Lukas blinked, feeling a bit dumb, “What about it?”

“Couldn't you just use magic to heat the water?” the king asked, obviously attempting to be more comfortable on the topic.

“Oh,” Lukas stated softly. “I never thought of that…”

Mathias laughed loudly, realizing that even though magic was dangerous, the holders of it were still human.

A few hours of awkward silence and the occasional babble from a nurse or two passed slowly. Lukas had nothing to say to Mathias and Mathias had nothing to say to him. Without his brother, Lukas was essentially a brick.

“Mathias.”

The King looked toward Lukas, who had put down his book. Formalities did not matter anymore.

“Thank you for being so nice to my brother...I mean I still abhor your existence, but I appreciate the kindness.” Lukas was not looking Mathias in the eye. He could not.

A smile broke onto Mathias’s cheeks as he heard the words, “You are welcome! Oh yeah, I talked to him earlier and he said that he missed you.”

The magician stared, slightly shocked; “Aren’t you worried about falling ill?”

“Nope! I’ve had it already! I’m immune!”

Lukas narrowed his eyes. How unfair! The stupid King could see Emil, but Lukas could not? What was a noble doing with any form of illness anyway? They did not go outside often.

“I see. Well, next time you go see him, tell him that I miss him as well and he needs plenty of sleep. No reading past dinner.”

“Someone is a worry wart” Mathias teased, but Lukas only grumbled, annoyed with how quickly Mathias adapted to situations.

“He is all I have. I have a reason to be so worried.”

“You have me? I know that I have been terrible, but I am trying! I don’t want to kill you anymore...I think it was irrational to do so when I look back on it…”

Lukas rolled his eyes, “apologize once or a thousand times, but you will never be completely forgiven. I just want my brother to be better, not to be friends with you. I want you to fix your kingdom, not our strifes.”

Mathias sighed, feeling a little part of himself crumble. “Fine, but I can do all of those things, but perhaps with a little more sleep.”

Lukas sighed at the king’s persistent attitude, getting up to go look out the window. It was raining once again and summer was coming to an end. It would soon be fall, then the trees would lose their leaves and liveliness. Lukas rather enjoyed the fall, as it was harvest season. Everyone gathered together for a festival and shared their crops at the harvest moon in his old village, years ago. Now, everyone was so isolated. No one shared, it was only selfishness.

The days were repetitive and slow as both Mathias and Lukas healed, in the same room, together. When Lukas slept, the king would go and speak with Emil, who in turn would keep him there for hours. When he was back, Lukas would be awake, listening to the messages and then instructing Mathias to return them, which he always did.

 

At the end of the week, Lukas and Mathias were both well enough to wander about and be in their own rooms. Lukas had not felt comfortable with anywhere else in this castle, opting to stay within the infirmary. Though, Mathias did still visit, sometimes falling asleep in one of the many beds.

 

One afternoon when Lukas was staring out the window and over the dreary city, Mathias came up next to him.

“Emil is doing a little better than yesterday. He was only up for a little when I was there.”

Lukas was silent for a few moments, thinking of a response; “I see. What did he say?”

“He misses you and wants you to read his bird book to him with the fun moving pictures...which I don’t know what that means.”

The magic one laughed, a small smile coming to his face. It was probably the first smile that he had shown since he came there.

“It’s a little show I do with magic. He loves them dearly….I’m surprised he still thinks of them.”

The king raised a brow, intrigued; “I’d like to see a show if you wouldn’t mind.”

“Perhaps. Not now. though.”

“Please?”

“No.”

“Pleaaaasseeeee?”

“NO!”

“PLEEEASE”

“FINE”

Lukas grumbled, moving away from the window and to the front of the room.

“You’re a child, I swear” He mumbled before thinking of a story to tell.

“Oh, I’ve got one…” Lukas began to fashion a small. translucent figure with his magic, creating a scene drenched in the colour blue.

“The story begins in a far off land. A man, he is far away from home and wishing for power.”

The character morphed into an all too familiar image of the first king after the end of the magical era.

“He saw the world around him in a dark and disgusting light, using hateful words to empower feeling in those who he would then use to smite. The rulers of the land saw him as a petty threat, charging him with public disturbance and treason, you’d bet. This man was locked up for seven days, each one of them a plot to start a public craze.”  Lukas depicted the scenes with simple, but intricate detail, hoping Mathias would take the hint.

The story continued on, telling of how this man wreaked havoc upon the kingdom and how it's magicians worked as slaves, and eventually fell to the will of the people. Many were executed and all reminisce of the era was destroyed.

The only artifacts from said time that remained were the trees, which held hundreds of years of history and magic within them. Hundreds of years of information and clues.

The story concluded with a brief summary of what Lukas and Mathias’ paths crossing was like, and how Lukas really felt about it.

Mathias stared at Lukas in awe. He was split between feeling heartbroken and utter amazement. That was a show that  was a once in a lifetime experience...it was gorgeous. He now could not even imagine someone wanting to take the magic away from everyday life...his entire childhood he had been told that magic was evil, but it had been proven to be an ignorant lie.

“....Do you understand now? The truth?” Lukas whispered, staring at Mathias.

Mathias stared back, understanding now more than ever, “Yeah, Yeah….I do”.

Chapter Text

Within a week, Mathias and Lukas got closer. It wasn't on purpose or by desire, but by the constant need of messages from Emil. They were always adorable and sweet. Mathias would talk to the little boy for hours and then he would come to the infirmary to tell Lukas all about it. This back and forth would cause conversation and more understanding between the King and the Peasant.

Though, today Mathias walked into the infirmary with a look of despair on his face, a paper crumpled in his hand. He had already delivered a message from Emil, but Lukas could not help to panic.

“What is wrong? Did something happen to my brother?”

The King looked down at Lukas, shaking his head, holding up the letter.

Lukas swiftly snatched the letter from his clutch, looking over the smudged, crumpled words with frantic interest. The words read: “The people of Drealia have decided to revolt against the crown. ”

The declaration was short and simple, but it held so much fear, so much intimidation. King Mathias was already working to improve his rule and fix his kingdom, but it was not enough. The people wanted change now, change that Mathias was not providing.

“Have they not seen your efforts? Or did you forget your promises already?” Lukas asked, placing the letter down on the windowsill, smoothing it out with his hands.

“I sent in workers to fix the other village! I have yet to fix the east...but I am trying,” he tightened his fists, angry.

“Well, you’d best get to work, then. If you can win them over before they have the chance to prepare for battle, you will not have to deal with it. Though, you must be quick, as being a ruler is not another job, but a duty to the people. You have not been diligent in that duty, Mathias.”

The King stared at Lukas, an obvious look of worry painting his face.

“Okay...I suppose I will have to go east soon...I need to plan.” he sighed.

“At least your main city has some faith left in you.”

“Are you joking? They are probably plotting against me too...I’ve received so many threats in the form of letters….” He sighed, staring up at the ceiling.

A few moments of silence passed before Lukas let out a particularly loud sigh, causing Mathias to jump.

“What is it?”

“You’re overthinking it. The longer you ponder and wait for an answer means that the people will have more time to prepare. Now, you need to start by securing the main city and moving outward…I suppose I could help you.”

Mathias gaped, not expecting Lukas to actually help him. “Okay, Mr.War strategist…I will get right to that.”

“Don’t just stand there. Go coordinate your guards and troops.” Lukas stated matter-of-factly.

“Okay, okay! I’ll go do that.” Mathias nodded, looking about the room quickly.

Before Lukas could comprehend, he felt Mathias squish him into a hug. He made a face of protest but, sank into the hug anyway. It had been so long since he had felt the comforting hugs of someone superior to him, someone who didn't have tiny arms. As much as he partially despised Mathias, this hug was the best feeling he had felt in a while.

 

“You’re not mad?” Mathias asked after a few minutes of hugging. Lukas had forgotten what time was for a moment.

“Why would I be?...Everyone needs a hug once in awhile, even if it is from you.”

The King grinned, slowly letting go of Lukas.

“I think that is the nicest thing you've ever said to me.” He mused.

“Don’t get used to it” Lukas mumbled, giving Mathias an odd look.

“Anyways, I have to get to work!” The King chimed, hastily exiting the room.

Lukas sighed and gazed out the window. This was going to a whole ordeal that would probably fail miserably. Lukas knew he would probably have to fix a lot of things. For some reason, he wouldn't mind doing that.

He really just wished that this would be over, Though. He wanted a normal life, he wanted to just settle down and continue, not be held up by murderous citizens or illnesses. It was too much.

 

Hours later, King Mathias sat in the meeting hall at the head of the table, staring his trustiest commanders right in the face. He had called them in so he could at least have some ground when people began to protest Mathias’s rule.

Chatter filled the hall as the commanders talked. Mathias easily ended it with the wave of his scarred hand.

“I’ve called you here to plan for the revolt of my citizens.” He stated clearly, sternly, demanding.

“ I do wish to change how I govern them, but I need peace and the acceptance from those people first, so we shall enact basic rules and plans.”

The men stared at the King, shock written all over their slightly shaven faces. When did Mathias begin to think of the people and not himself? Did that creepy magic user cast some sort of spell on him?

Not that it was a bad thing.

“Our first plan of action is to secure the main city, as this is our stronghold. We want to minimize the death toll on both sides and attempt to keep the peace.” He stated clearly, slowly standing up and beginning to pace around the table. It was a small habit of his that signaled a new thought process.

“Your Highness, wouldn’t it be wise to resolve the bigger threats first?” One commander asked, holding his breath after.

Mathias stared for a moment.

“Why would that be wise? We have multiple threats, and we do not know if anyone in the main city wants to revolt either.” he sighed, “You will do as I say. Also, do not be so stern. Greet the people kindly, help them if needed.” The King was obviously trying new tactics, but was now really the best time?

The commanders shut up, knowing they would have to improvise when the time came. The King was too fired up over the situation to be realistic.

After hours of one-way debate, Mathias sent his men away, going up to his chambers to write his planning down. He wanted to see what Lukas thought of it. He had no clue why...perhaps to both impress and please the other man. That seemed to be the logical explanation.

 

“So, what is this about? Lukas asked, taking the rolled up paper from The King, making a confused face. How could battle plans be made in a few hours? Was Mathias absolutely lacking in the brain department?...well, that would not surprise Lukas one bit. He sighed, slowly opening the paper, examining the slightly smudged ink words.

The planning was actually somewhat intelligent, especially when it came to battle. The fact that Mathias wanted to minimize injury and death was heartwarming. Just a few months ago, Mathias would brutally murder people in public; now, he was empathetic and willing to make sacrifices and not take the easy way out. It was an incredible change that Lukas was proud to see.

“I think you need a different strategy concerning the security of the city. Sitting ducks will just maximize deaths. You need to go win over the people in other districts before you do this. More importantly, you need to win over people like me. You need to win over anyone who may be a magician because they probably believe that I am dead. Those are the people who will help fix broken districts.” Lukas stated, staring at Mathias the whole time.

It was true, though. Magicians were insanely valuable people within a kingdom with virtually none.

The King nodded, looking at his plans. He thought that they were solid, but the diplomacy within his own kingdom may help. He looked up to Lukas, smiling.

Chapter Text

Lukas dressed in attire that was far too fancy for him and waved his brother goodbye from afar, having a conversation through the door. He was sad to go, but truthfully he didn't trust Mathias to peacefully execute this plan. He was a bit of a loose cannon.

Mathias had two horses ready and a supply of food and blankets backed in, as well as plans and anything else they would need.

“You need to wear armor,” Mathias stated.

“I am most certainly not wearing armor,” Lukas responded, walking toward his horse and getting on, staring over at Mathias. What was the point of armor when they were trying to make peace? Perhaps the King was stuck in a few of his royal customs still, but intimidation was not the answer. It was definitely a good thing that Lukas decided to go with Mathias. He was an utter idiot.

Mathias rolled his eyes as he commanded his horse forward, Lukas following in pursuit. He had not really ridden a horse before. Maybe a few times when he was young, so Lukas demanded that they go slow for a little so he could learn the ropes.

His travel partner had suggested that he and Lukas ride the same horse, but the magician refused. He would not depend on anyone, let alone Mathias; though, he already depended on the King for a lot of things. It was embarrassing to Lukas, as he had been an independent individual for his entire life. It was so unfair that now he had to give all of that mental programming up just to submit to Mathias.

The King also insisted that they ride through town, as it was a quicker route out, and the people would see their future ruler who would stand by the side of Mathias. Though, he did not tell Lukas that second part.

In truth, Lukas speculated that Mathias really just wanted the pride from his ‘survival’ from the encounter with a magical being. These two were obviously split with their thoughts.

The people within the inner city of Drealia were surprised to see their king out and about. It was quite rare that his majesty ventured into the public eye. Some bowed and others took off their hats; others were distracted by the man behind him...who was he? Why was he dressed like royalty? Was he a visitor? No no no, his embroidered clothing was too similar to the “Kings own clothing.

Many merchants felt as they recognized the man who had been missing from his regular spot in town for the last few months. They had no clue how he had gotten in with the king, but it suited him. Lukas was never one to interact much with anyone else anyway, so perhaps he could have been undercover...though it seemed unlikely. The situation was highly perplexing.

Mathias simply continued to lead Lukas through the crowds. They did not have the time to stop, as they needed to get this over with.

As soon as they made it through the crowd, Lukas sighed in relief.  All of the people, their judgment, their piercing eyes, it made him feel sick. They were his equals, but they were terrifying.

The King turned to Lukas, smiling.

“Did you see how popular you were!” He exclaimed, elated about the fortunate outcome.

“I do not see why. I am a stranger that most of them have not met before.”

“You are new, plus no one ever sees me with anyone other than my guards or with Berwald and Tino. It is a change in the pattern” He stated smartly.

Lukas rolled his eyes, a slight smile on his lips, “You are not completely stupid, are you?”

 

An hour of travel seemed like days for Lukas. He had seen these roads a thousand times and Mathias would not shut up about his plan! Oh if he could snap his neck he would.

Fortunately for Lukas,  the roads soon changed into a more hilly landscape. It was kind of nice how everything rolled together so smoothly.

“We are almost there!” Mathias exclaimed, gently nudging his horse to go faster.

Lukas sighed, “You’ve said  that at least five times.” He commented, making his horse trot a bit more speedily as well.

Lukas immediately regretted his decision. His horse went a whole lot faster, causing him to lose balance and topple to the ground.

Mathias immediately stopped, hopping off of his horse as quick as humanly possible. He was hoping that Lukas was okay because falling off a horse hurts.

Lukas sat on the ground processing what happened, sitting up, then moving to stand. It was incredibly easy to do so, which was questionable, though he soon found that Mathias was lifting him from behind.

“Are you okay? Are you bleeding at all?” the king asked gently.

Lukas made a face, stepping away from Mathias; “I am perfectly fine. It was only a fall.”

Mathias smiled, watching Lukas’s horse run around a bit before settling down. “Do you want to ride with me? My horse is a bit more used to the normal routine.” He stated, patting her on the nose.

“I am capable of manning my own horse, but thank you,” Lukas sighed, running over to where his horse was, gently petting him before slowly returning to the saddle. He would not accept help from anyone.

Mathias frowned slightly. He wanted Lukas to ride with him, but it was okay. They had time.

The two men were off again, arriving at the eastern parts of Drealia before the sun set.

 

The scene was a mess from the beginning. Many people had rioted against the nobles in the villages and ripped the streets to shreds. Mathias was sure he could see blood staining some of the worn down paving stones. Some bits of this and that a skew. Mathias almost exploded then and there. A heartfelt speech would not fix this, no. Only violence could fix this.

Luckily, Lukas was right there, gently placing a hand on Mathias’s forearm to let him know that reality was still there and that there was talking to do.

“I...Lukas..” The King bit his lip, obviously nervous. He had no clue where to go from this point.

“You messed up,” Lukas stated. “But you can try to fix it. Don’t say much, just send in reinforcements then rebuilding teams. Other than that, this will be violent.” he sighed, worried as well.

Mathias looked him, feeling a tad better. “I will go back and do such. Thank you, Lukas.” he stared at his rebelling village one last time before trailing to his horse.

“This journey was useless.”

“No, it was not.” Lukas countered. Mathias obviously had his priorities skewed if he thought this was useless.

“How was it not?” The king asked, hopping back onto his saddle.

“The people still need you. Seeing that you actually came out here is better than nothing.”

“Only a few know of my presence! They are  probably organizing to hang me now!”

“Then you can't let that happen! As a good leader, you need to stand up for yourself!” Lukas hissed, getting on his horse and riding towards the town.

Mathias sat still, watching him make his way toward the filthy town. It took a moment to click before he actually followed, worried for his well being. He wore royal clothing, therefore he was subject to similar treatment that the King would receive.

 

Lukas had already reached the town center, staring down at the people from his horse. The people stared back, confused and afraid. They never thought that a royal would actually come, let alone one they did not recognize. They murmured about him, stared down at him, pinned him beneath their judgment and hatred.

“People of Drealia!” He announced, staring at Mathias’s subjects.

The people’s murmurs turned into shouts as Lukas spoke.

Mathias kicked his horse in the side to make her go faster. What was Lukas thinking! Was he suicidal? The king groaned in frustration.

Lukas dropped his weapons and slid from his horse, putting his arms up.

“I am not here to hurt you! I am one of you!” He exclaimed, starting to panic and feel desperate. He needed to help.

Unfortunately, rebellion does not listen. The world was loud, painful and violent, but then it was black.

Chapter Text

Mathias stared blankly at his rebelling subjects for a moment, feeling even more betrayed than before. Then, he felt all logic and reasoning be taken over by blinding rage and hatred. He grabbed the hilt of his sword and swung at the man who had stabbed Lukas, slicing right through his neck. Mathias felt the drag that muscle and soft tissue created when he slid his sword across now bloodied skin. He felt the sharp crunch of bone and the fear, though he did not care. The surrounding people stepped back in hopes of preserving their lives, fear-infested adrenaline pumping through their veins.

Unfortunately, the king was not done there. The first person he saw, which happened to be a noble, met their untimely demise. He slammed his sword into their eye socket, blood gushing out as the soft sides of the eyeball started to pop out. A scream of pain rang through the streets as he pressed the weapon further into the noble’s skull. He continued until he felt the sickly satisfying crunch of metal breaking skull into pieces. Blood was spilling into a puddle on the ground, soaking Mathias’s shoes and sinking into the dirt to become a memory.

The towns people were staring in horror, not sure whose side he was on. Their king had destroyed one of the very people they loathed, but he had also killed one of them. There were too many questions.

 

Meanwhile, Lukas lay in his spot half-conscious, blood pouring out from a jagged wound in his side. He couldn’t die yet. He had not had a chance to properly say goodbye to his brother...but it was too late now. Perhaps he could use magic and heal himself, but then he would be accused of witchcraft. If that happened and Mathias was defeated, he would surely be left to burn at the pyre.

His time was running out though, he would be weak if he healed himself. Being weak was much better than being dead. Lukas thought long and hard, slowly moving to press shaking hands to his side as he muttered out quiet words, his palms glowing slightly as the blood stopped and his wound healed. Mathias’s rage had been interrupted as he watched others be captivated by the alien practice, their fear turning to another form.

 

“A witch! That is what he is! A damned soul! A Bastard! Our king has been consorting with darkness!” hissed a bold merchant, breaking the silence.

Murmurs between civilians began as they turned to their king, hateful. He had not only abandoned them, but he had also disobeyed his own laws.

 

Mathias backed away toward Lukas as they became angrier.

 

“Well, the laws are changed! It is now illegal to accuse people of witchcraft! There was once a time when this kingdom thrived off magic!” the king yelled back, helping Lukas up onto his horse, soon joining behind him to both hold the man up and make sure that they got home safe.

Most of the townsfolk felt offended by the statement, while select few seemed slightly relieved. If there were any stragglers left in the areas of magic, they obviously stayed hidden.

The king kicked the side of his horse to get them going, making her race off in the opposite direction of the eastern town. The people cried out in protest, but he did not care. He was more focused on returning Lukas to the infirmary and possibly asking Berwald and Tino for backup...if this was going to be war, he might as well have some magic users on his side, as Lukas would not be able to handle it on his own. Mathias couldn’t see himself letting Lukas do such a thing to himself. He hated to admit it, well maybe not so much now, but he genuinely loved the other man. It was sick and twisted seeing as the two had only become close enough to trust recently, but oh god was it the best torture he had ever felt in his entire goddamn life. It was torture that was well worth it. Lukas was worth any amount of pain.

 

Lukas was trying his best to hold himself up as they raced down the winding dirt roads of the Drealian countryside. Everything was a blur other than the wind in his hair and the grounding force that was Mathias behind him. Lukas held tightly onto his cloak, making the fabric more stationary as he used it as some sort of reassurance. Magic use after a major depletion, on top of the fact that it was healing magic, made this so hard.

“Mathias…” he whispered loud enough for him to hear.

“What’s the matter?” he asked in a wavering tone, glancing down at the weak man in his arms.

“Take me back...:” He thought a moment for the words, “Take me home, to my home. I need the tree” he mumbled slightly, feeling consciousness slip again. It was highly probable that he had a concussion.

“Okay, Okay I will,” the king whispered back, guiding the horse in the direction of said home. It was more of a shed in his opinion, but that hardly mattered.

 

Back at the palace, Emil was sitting up in bed eating soup. Sorya had gone to find Emil some books. He had grown terribly bored. Something seemed wrong as well…Mathias had yet to talk to him today...Lukas had left with him earlier this morning, but it was a brief conversation...where had they gone? Did they leave him!? He most certainly hoped that they did not. Though, Lukas would never do that to him. With a slightly relieved sigh, the small boy sunk into his cushions. He hoped that Lukas and Mathias came back for his birthday....It was in a few days for goodness sake! He would be mad if it was missed.

In fact, where were they? Did Lukas mention anything about some long trip? He didn't think so...maybe it was a trip to the market...but that would take a short amount of time...maybe they got a little lost?

Emil was worn out from his over-thought excuses. He barely remembered the conversation he had with his brother that morning, so perhaps it was nothing to worry about.

“I found some books you may like!” Sorya exclaimed, zapping Emil out of his trance. She looked tired, bags under her eyes and her hair bun falling out with frizzies everywhere.

“Thanks...You look tired.” He stated obviously, moving to take the books from her.

“No moving! You are getting better!” She exclaimed, setting the novels down. It was amazing that such a young child could read so much.

Emil groaned, lying back down again. He felt better already! He really wanted to go play!

“I know, I know,” She cooed, gently moving the boy’s hair from his eyes, “Give it a day or two, just to be sure.”

“Children are not meant to sit in bed!” he argued, crossing his arms.

“Fine, fine. I will let you roam tomorrow after a bath.”

 

After an hour had passed, Mathias had stopped by the decaying home, part of the roof already caving from lack of upkeep. The growth of new moss and vines also helped further the decay.

Mathias gently shook Lukas, sliding off the horse with the man in his arms. Despite the initial stumble, he caught the magician with no problem, slowly walking toward the house. It was easy to see which tree Lukas was talking about, as it looked as old and scarred as the kingdom itself. He made his way over and placed Lukas on the soft ground, hoping he would be conscious enough to know what to do.

“Lukas, please wake up already, I have no clue what to do from here.”

The man stirred, carefully opening his eyes; “Thank you, Mathias, but now I can handle this” he mumbled, gradually sitting up.

He then placed his back to the tree and his hands at the roots, feeling his dwindling energy intertwine with the tree’s hidden reservoirs of magical energy. A faint, purple-pink glow emitted from the contact points, thoroughly amazing Mathias.

Minutes passed as the glow slowly dissipated. Lukas seemed to be unconscious, which was a little odd to Mathias. Though, perhaps it was something to do with the way magic worked. He had no clue. A minute or so passed before Lukas’s eyes fluttered open. He looked around and scooted away from the tree, leisurely sitting up.

“You’re okay!” Mathias exclaimed, springing up from his spot on the ground and helping Lukas up. He squeezed the other man into a tight, affectionate hug. He was afraid that he may have lost Lukas back there, or nearly did.

“Yes, I am...thank you.” the witch sighed through his nose, slowly hugging Mathias back before pulling out of their hug. This moment was comfortably awkward for him.

“Why did you take so long to wake? What did you do?” the king asked quizzically.

“I took magical energy from the tree, then disconnected myself. I’m glad that I remembered it, or I would be feeling a lot more lethargic than I want to.”

The king thought for a moment, a slight breeze ruffling his hair.

“Okay, that is interesting...but now we have to go...are you ready?”

“I am fine. Let’s go” Lukas responded, looking at the horse.

“You will have to ride with me,” he shrugged, supporting the idea.

“If I must…” Lukas then trailed over to the horse and hopped on after Mathias, not even bothering to ask why his shoes were squishing. He wrapped his arms around Mathias’s torso and held onto the sides of his armor, closing his eyes as the wind started blowing in their face; the sound of hooves on the ground. Lukas did not remember most of their ride, only the contrast of cool air on half his face and Mathias’s warm back on the other half.

Chapter Text

Lukas woke to Mathias yelling something at his guards. They were not even within the bounds of the main city, but Lukas was sure that this was about what happened.

The shuffling of boots and the making of rough plans could barely be heard through the wind and the clack, clack, clack, of hooves on pavers. It was not long before they reached the confines of the castle walls, gates being shut immediately.

The king was pestered by a wave of “Your highness! Are you okay?” and “How did it go, sir?” from his servants and commanding officers.

“It did not go well at all.” He stated, “ I want all unoccupied troops to be sent to secure other cities whilst other troops attempt to occupy our rebelling citizens. Send for King Berwald of Sarhelia and King Tino of Sarhelia. I need both men in my presence for my plans.”

His officers bowed, prepared to sacrifice their lives for their king despite his previous horribleness. The servants, on the other hand, were scrambling, as their own lives depended on it. Perhaps now they did not, but in years past they’d watch each other come and go, sometimes to never return. With a collective franticness, they almost immediately sent the message to the North.

Lukas observed the chaos and plans by ear, relieved that Mathias had moved to a more realistic set instead of being a dreamer. The previous effort was nice, but it would not fix everything. Certain things had to be fixed with violence. Human nature typically brings upon a knee jerk reaction, and on occasion, it is a correct one. Lukas knew this better than anyone. He would do anything to save his brother. Perhaps he would do the same for Mathias one day.

Mathias finally slid off his horse after giving a few more commands, bringing Lukas with him. “I need you to start plans on how you will use magic to fight this, but you need to rest first...please.” The king sighed, feeling tense.

Lukas rose an eyebrow, surprised, “I will make plans after a brief` nap, then.” He began, “But I do wish to see my brother. I miss him.”

Mathias murmured something before speaking, “Tomorrow you should be able to see him, now go rest.” He demanded, continuing to hand out orders and plans to his men.

Meanwhile, Lukas made his way to the infirmary and collapsed onto a bed, falling asleep almost immediately. It was a good thing that he did. Otherwise, he would be plagued by memories and questions. The most prominent question was why. Why was Mathias nice all of a sudden? What had happened to his hatred? His creed? It all seemed to be some messed up puzzle in his head and a few pieces were missing.

 

Lukas did not wake until the dawn of the next day, harsh rays of sunlight harassing groggy eyes. He felt rejuvenated, but the loud snoring nearby just made him want to sleep again. It was insanely irritating. He turned over to see who was in the other bed, not surprised to find Mathias there. He had no clue why he, the king would choose an infirmary bed over some really comfy bed. Though, Lukas was not complaining about these beds. These were beds fit for a king in his own perspective.

Eventually, he rose from his messy pile of blankets and stretched his limbs, gazing out the window and over the town, surprised to see that they had not been invaded yet. Yesterday had been hectic and it was still a lot to process. He had nearly died quite a few times over the past few months now that he thought of it...it was odd.

Perhaps all the agony would be worth it in the long term, as Lukas had somehow managed to put his miserable existence to use and help the very person he despised become much kinder. Perhaps the kindness was all because of Emil and he himself was simply an adult extension to help it along. Regardless, Lukas was thankful that he and his brother were still alive and ready to fight whatever life threw at them.

Sure, it had been a bumpy road, but they had just replaced their wheels and they were ready for rock slides, the winds, and the wrath of the gods themselves. They were strong enough to make it. He was sure of that.

At that point, Lukas had not realized that salty tears were streaming down his cheeks in fat drips, or that the sun had risen significantly. Well, that was until Mathias gently tapped his shoulder, causing Lukas to jump, looking back toward the tapper.

“Why are you crying?” asked the king, examining Lukas’s glistening cheeks and red eyes.

Lukas cautiously moved his hand to touch his face, surprised to find it wet; “I don’t...I don’t know.” he whispered, wiping the slowly drying tears away with his sleeve.

Mathias hugged him, whispering, “Well, no worries. If you need anything, it is fine to wake me.”

“All right.” He sighed, embracing Mathias. Their hug was long and comforting, but Lukas soon pulled away as it began to feel awkward.

“You can see your brother as soon as they wash him up and clean the sheets.” Mathias smiled, trying to make the other man feel better. Lukas had every right to be upset, but Mathias could not bear to see him cry. Lukas was the strongest person he knew.

Lukas had immediately perked up, remembering something important.  

“It is Emil’s birthday today!”

Mathias made an ‘o’ expression, looking to the door. “He has not been cleaned up yet, though maybe we can have the cooks start on a cake for him...how old will he be?”

“Nine,” Lukas stated, gazing out the window. “What about the ordeal that is going on? Will it be okay to just ignore it for the day?” he questioned, worried.

The king thought it through before shrugging, deciding that it would not matter. It was highly unlikely that they'd be prepared and make it on time to cause problems. His rebellious subjects also had to surpass guards.

“I will go ask about the cake,” he stated plainly, brushing past The King and out the door he went. This was important. Emil was important. Lukas just needed to make sure Emil had a grand time. He deserved it.

 

Meanwhile, Emil was sitting up in the tub. Sørya was dumping warm water down his back as he scrubbed with a cloth. It was clear that he just wanted to eat breakfast!

“When will we be done?” Emil groaned, just itching to get up and run around.

Sørya laughed, rinsing his hair; “You're almost clean, but you must stay still! You'll tip the basin over!” she laughed.

The child groaned, eventually just getting out of the tub and drying off. He felt like he was being babied...he could wash himself, as he was a nine year old after all.

Sorya shook her head, retrieving new clothing and a comb, preparing Emil for the day despite his refusals.

In no time, Emil was ready to go. He immediately ran to the infirmary to meet Lukas. The time spent away from his guardian was more than enough. He really just wanted a hug from him, to hear a story and maybe talk about the books he had read. Though, when the child reached the room, Lukas was not there. Instead, it was just decorative walls and a perfectly sterile room. That was one thing Emil hated about the castle. Everything was always clean. It was almost as if no one had been there. Not even a hair was left out of place and it made it difficult to see if anyone had even sat or passed by. It was scary.

The King had moved on to breakfast, casually eating and urging Lukas to stop anticipating every five seconds. Despite his efforts not working, the boy of the hour came in almost as Lukas was going to get up to retrieve him. A humongous smile broke onto his face as he ran to his younger sibling, cradling the boy as if he were a baby all over again. The scene caused the king to smile as well, unable to resist.

“Happy Birthday! You got well just in time!” Lukas cried, an immense weight lifted off his shoulders. It was similar to the clouds clearing after weeks of drabbiness and rain.

“Thank you, Lukas!” Emil grinned, hugging his brother with all the strength he had. He could feel joy bubbling up in his stomach. He got to play and be with his brother...all on his birthday! Maybe they could even have a cake!

King Mathias watched the two carefully, his heart warming at the wonderful scene in front of him. He was sinking slowly into his thoughts, though. He had truly tried to separate and kill off people like Lukas for some time now...He had tried to separate Lukas and Emil. A thick bubble of sadness and anger rose around his gleefulness, crushing it into nothingness. Mathias’s smile fell as he slouched in his chair, deep in thought.

“What’s wrong?” the birthday boy asked, a slight frown on his face.

Mathias stared blankly, thinking of the right words to say.

“I’m Sorry.”

Chapter Text

Long minutes felt like weeks as Lukas paused, staring back at the ashamed king with his mouth gaping open; breathing stagnant air. Time itself seemed to be as frozen as the three of them. Mathias could feel himself being reduced to nothingness. Not in a sense of peasantry or beggars, but in the sense of being stripped down to his very being. All pride, greed, and power lost to something much more but oh so less.

Emil watched the two adults remain frozen. He wondered what they were doing...why? Mathias had clearly apologized...Emil had no clue why. The man had already apologized by accommodating both he and his brother beyond what was needed.

“Accept his apology, Lukas!” Emil finally exclaimed, throwing his arms up, “That is rude!”

Both adults were equally startled, a quick word of acceptance stated by Lukas as he stood, brushing himself off.

The man sitting on the throne simply sighed, riding from his seat as well, looking toward Lukas.

“Can we start over?” He asked, slowly walking over to the other man.

Lukas thought for a few moments, contemplating his answer. “...No. We cannot completely start over, but we can drop the anger and grudges. I do not wish to live the rest of my life in hatred.” He sighed a breath of relief.

Mathias smiled, staring at the other and enveloping him in a quick hug. This was a step in the right direction and he was proud of himself. He was proud of Lukas as well. The other man had just accepted fate beforehand and that was a hard task in Mathias’s mind.

Emil was getting restless as Lukas and Mathias made up. It was all well and good, but it was his birthday and he deserved attention.

“Will we have a cake?” he asked loudly, hoping to capture their attention.

Lukas turned his head, smiling warmly at the small boy; “Yes, of course. Though, not until after dinner.”

-------

Hours later, Emil had made himself content playing with all kinds of children's toys on the floor of one of the finely decorated common rooms. Lukas was sitting on an armchair with a book while the King thumbed through his battle plans.

“Are Berwald and Tino coming for my birthday?” Emil questioned, hoping he would have as many guests as possible.

“If they can make it here on time. I am sure that they are already in our region at this moment...they are only a kingdom over.” Mathias smiled, truthfully hoping that they would arrive soon.

The birthday boy clapped his hands, going back to the block city he was attempting to construct.

 

The comfortable atmosphere was broken by the shattering of glass and loud voices yelling out in protest. Mathias and Lukas froze for a brief moment before diving to cover Emil before glass may hit him, little shards falling down like raindrops with blades on their ends.

 

Voices got louder and louder as guards raced up to find their King, already knowing that he knew. The least that they could do was get him to safety.

Emil cried out in fear as Lukas grabbed him, moving too fast for anyone in the room to process. Even Mathias was up, guiding them through the halls all while practically screaming instructions as blood dribbled slowly behind him.

It all seemed so instant and surreal...Everything was moving in slow motion, but too fast all at the same time. The diluted feelings that Emil felt were nothing like he had experienced before. He was not upset or scared, but simply confused and disoriented.

The King found one of the passages used for servants and quick travel, pushing it open with an amount of struggle.

“Lukas, bring him through. l shall shut the door after you.” He stated with caution, ushering the brothers through.

As soon as they were in, the King pushed the passage closed and hoped that no one would accidentally find it...that is if they could find their way through the castle at all.

 

In the dark, significantly colder stairwell of the castle, Lukas led the way down with Emil as Mathias followed, keeping an eye out for exits or ways that would lead them further away from harm.

“Do you think….Will we be...Ok?” Emil asked anyone in general, perhaps even himself. It did not matter as long as he got an answer.

“Maybe...I hope” Lukas whispered, trying to be realistic.

Mathias simply placed his hand on Emil’s head. “It will be okay. We will get all these people out, have cake, and relax.”

Despite the differences of non-wizard and wizard, It was obvious that Lukas was lacking in the department of illogical or unrealistic thinking. He was blunt and honest. Mathias was simply trying to make others feel better. He had always been unrealistic, but sometimes that came in handy.

Their stairwell soon came to an end, and Mathias could hear the voices getting closer...it was now or never. Perhaps if he gave himself up, they would let Lukas and Emil be.

With a sigh of disapproval, Mathias waited until the voices passed, pressing his head oddly against the door.

Lukas gently tapped Mathias’s shoulder, making a face.

“What on earth are you doing? We cannot leave unless it is absolutely needed.”

The king shook his head as he slowly opened the door, peering out before leading the way out.

“It is better to get further away. I do not want the two of you to get hurt…” He sighed, pulling both Lukas and Emil out from the doorway. He then shut it. It would be a struggle getting past all the revolutionaries, but if they just found another way...he knew that they could do it. Mathias would give up his life for them after all the sparing they have done for him.

After a few minutes of walking, it was clear how dire the situation was. Glass was shattered on the ground, glittering like a blanket of fresh snow. Banners were torn and strewn across the floor as if a dozen ravenous wolves tore through the place. Statues were broken and distant, it was clear. The people would not leave without blood and perhaps a head if they were lucky.

Mathias frowned deeply, picking up a piece of broken glass.

“Mathias. We do not have time for this. Put the glass down and let's GO!” Lukas exclaimed, grabbing him by the arm as he led Emil around broken pieces.

The king stumbled forward as Lukas moved swiftly down the hall, trying his best to keep up as he was practically dragged.

“Wait! Lukas! I can hear voices,” Emil whispered to his brother placing a hand on his shoulder.

Mathias peered around a corner and investigated. Sure enough, angry peasants resided a few meters away.

“What do you suppose we do now, Mathias?” Lukas asked quietly, wishing he hadn’t gone so fast down the hallway.

Mathias stared for a moment before pointing down the hallway, “We can just run by...its the only way” He stated.

Lukas looked at Mathias as if he were insane, holding Emil close. “Fine, but we need to be quick and quiet. wait until they go up the hall a bit more.”

Emil looked between the adults and sighed, “Just use your magic! They won’t see us!” he exclaimed rather loudly.

Both Mathias and Lukas rapidly put their fingers to their lips to shush him, hearts racing a mile.

The peasants walking down the hall turned their heads in confusion, slowly starting toward it with their knives and short-swords out and ready to fight. Their faces were contorted into one of confusion as they crept, quiet as mice.

Lukas grabbed Emil and looked the way they had come from; he could hear voices from that way, it would be no good. He then looked to Mathias, panicked. He could feel his heartbeat in his toes as the icy claws of dread began to dig into his soul.

Emil was looking around, noticing that he had caused quite a predicament. They could have been out of there if it hadn’t been for his loudness. All he had wanted was a nice day with his brother and Mathias; he wanted to eat cake and sing, maybe even play a few games. Though, he now was faced with more reality that his young mind had trouble processing. It was all his fault after all.

The peasants began creeping closer, hearing the voices of others grow near. Perhaps they had finally gotten the damned king trapped! All that was left to do was slaughter him, then parade his head around the kingdom upon a pike. Yes, that would suffice.

Each man looked at one another before charging around the corner, thrusting their swords in front of them.

“Death to the king!” they declared in sync, calling all near to see the fantastic feat. Though, they had not realized that another two accompanied.

Nor did they realize what their swords pierced.

It would not be death to the king, but death to a child.

Chapter Text

Emil looked down at his stomach, feeling the warm blood start to come up his throat as he sputtered and coughed, tears streaming down his chubby cheeks. The peasant pulled the sword back, putting a hand over his mouth and taking a step back. He had never meant to hurt a child. Crimson started to seep through Emil’s clothes and into the carpet below.

Lukas could feel the anger bubbling within his veins, but at the same time, it felt as the entire world fell apart. He dove toward his brother, catching him and cradling the boy. Tears streamed down his face too; he gently pet his hair back and rocked Emil.

Emil coughed up a glob of blood as Lukas held him, only able to just barely grip his older brother’s finger. He was not sure what was happening right now, but it hurt.

Mathias took one look at Emil before unsheathing his sword, angrily slashing at his opponents.

“NO!” Lukas yelled, a bubble of magic suddenly encasing the three. It swirled around them in a faint purple-red glow. The bystanders gasped, struck with a sense of awe and crippling fear.

“What, why?” Mathias asked, having tumbled onto his behind.

“Not right now…I want to deal with those bastards myself!” Lukas yelled through broken sobs, gripping Emil as if it would make everything go away.

Mathias crawled over to them, gently wrapping an arm around Lukas.

“I know how to help stop the bleeding, it will be okay” he stated softly, ripping a part of his shirt off and tying it around Emil’s stomach, making sure it was compressed.

Lukas continued to sob. Emil was losing consciousness now and it terrified him. He couldn't lose him. This was all he had left, slipping right through his fingers. If he lost his baby brother, he too was better off dead.

Emil looked up with heavy-lidded eyes, shakily moving his arm toward Lukas’s face.

“It’ll be okay, You know it will. I promise” He was mostly incoherent, but Lukas got the point as he leaned gently into the other’s bloody hand, giving his brother one last hug.

“I’m sorry I could not protect you” He whispered, shaking as he tried to stop crying.

Emil closed his eyes, trying to pat Lukas’s face, “I love you big brother, I'll say hi to mummy for you”

“Emil, please don’t die, not yet, you’re too young” Lukas whispered frantically, refusing to let go. “I love you, Emil, please you’re all I have left”

Emil’s hand had fallen back into his lap. The child had passed out.

Mathias looked over at Lukas, slowly taking Emil from his arms.

“If you can clear the way, I can get him up to the infirmary…”

Lukas did not have to hear anymore, as in an instant, hot pain seared through the wretched men who dared to lay a hand upon his family. The cries of agony rang through the halls as they moved forward, stepping over writhing bodies of the pigs. Lukas would have sympathized with them, perhaps even agreed before all of this. Though, it was a different story now. They had intended to kill, they hurt his brother and now they would all pay.  Perhaps it was a good thing that Emil was not awake.





The nightfall was proving difficult for King Tino and Berwald. With but a lantern to guide them, they had difficulty navigating the paths. The smell of smoke intrigued Tino in particular. Woodsmoke was normal, but this had a different smell. It was almost as if the town itself were burning.

Berwald looked up, squinting at the brilliant lights blazing through the centre village, black smoke spewing into the atmosphere. He then looked over to Tino, who was staring with his mouth wide open.

“We have to go save them, Berwald...the castle has another entrance...it should be fine because of the stone.”

Berwald simply shook his head, leading his horse closer to Tino.

“I will get the people to help put out the fire, you should go help Mathias and Lukas if they are still alive.”

He took a breath and leaned over to kiss Berwald on the cheek, gently patting his arm.

“Be safe, then. You’ll know if I am okay or not, so worry about the people first” Tino whispered.

“I will. Be safe...I love you” he smiled softly at his husband.

“I love you too,” Tino replied, blowing Ber one last kiss before riding off towards the other entrance to the castle, determined to do his best.

 

As Tino made his way into the castle with his stealth and Berwald rode into the town with his orders, Lukas was much busier. Mathias and Emil were already safely sealed away in the infirmary as he fought his way through the barbaric beings beneath him. His bones were aching and a sticky combination of sweat and blood rolled down his body in waves, soaking his clothing and staining his vision red. With the sweep of his hand a group would fall, merciless, but filled with so much malice, so much vengeance. Lukas had put up with the greed and hate from others for far, far too long. Now, he would take their lives.

He could hear the final breaths of those he had slaughtered, lying upon the floor, twitching with their eyes wide open in fear. Footsteps could be heard slamming into the stairs as the temperature in the great room, now decorated with the dead, grew hotter.

“Lukas stop right there!-” Tino yelled, looked, then froze right in his spot, eyeing all the new additions to the floor.

Lukas looked up at Tino, almost reflexively raising his arm before realization hit him; slowly lowering it to his side. He knew it was time to stop now, but something inside him wanted to continue, to level the battlefield, as it had never been a fair game for him.

Tino, on the other hand, wanted to help. He did not condone needless slaughter, but he understood that life simply was not fair. He had no clue where King Mathias or Emil were, though he hoped that they had not fallen. Unfortunately, that seemed to be the only logical reason for this massacre to occur.

With sad eyes shielded by hate, Lukas stared back for a moment, turning away. He needed air, he needed to think.

The Sarhelian King cautiously manoeuvred through empty eyes and bloody wounds as Lukas got further and further down the hall. He tried to see if any of those who had moved on were his friend and the child. He had no luck.

“Lukas! Come back here, please! We need to talk about this, we need to fix it! ” Tino yelled, partly frustrated.

The other man simply disappeared onto the stone porch in front of the castle, the hot air of dying flames blowing back his hair and drying the wet blood the wet blood that drenched his form. Thick smoke was rising above the town as Berwald and whoever he had recruited extinguished buildings. It made Lukas cough and wheeze a tad as he stared over the ruins. Everything felt so...surreal. It was as if he were floating out of his body, a ghost of what he once was long ago. Perhaps it had been that way the whole time. Maybe he had died and this was his eternal punishment; if so, he was not too happy about it. He wished for death, but not for a haunting reunion of who he really could be.

His contemplation did not last, as Tino burst through the doors and grabbed Lukas by the shoulder, gently.

“What are you thinking? You must calm down.” He whispered, concern boring deep into Lukas’s being from those eyes.

“It’s hopeless. I am terrible and Emil is likely dead….I have lost everything.” Lukas looked down at his hands, shaking slightly. Everything was real again and it hit him in devastating blows. When Tino went to place a hand on his shoulder, Lukas crumpled onto the deck and sobbed, his heartstrings tearing with every shake of his body.

“Lukas, Lukas...it’ll be ok...Emil and Mathias...what happened?”

“I…” he breathed, wiping the tears from his face. “I do not remember.”

Chapter Text

Mathias and the nurses had gotten Emil’s bleeding to stop for the most part, so they decided to sew up any wounds that were deep enough to sew. Luckily, there were only two problem areas. They were already lucky that Emil remained unconscious throughout the whole thing. Mathias could feel his heartstrings snapping with every stitch put on Emil’s side. The kid may have started out by pretending to be his son for a stupid reason, but now he was truly a part of Mathias’s life, and he really knew what family felt like now. He knew that he was accountable for all of this and that his kingdom was unlikely to forgive him.

“Your Majesty, Sire, The child is fixed up to the best of  our ability...is there anything else that you wish for us to do?” The head nurse asked, gently stroking back Emil’s long hair.

The kingly one sighed, “Thank you, Kristine, please wash him down thoroughly so that he does not end up ill.”

Kristine nodded, directing the other nurses to ready the warm water, soap, and spare clothing.

Once the nurses went into the attached bathing area to clean up Emil, Mathias curled in on himself and began to cry. He felt so defeated...He had let everyone down...Lukas could be as good as dead at the moment and he never even got to express the feelings that had been eating at him for a bit of time now. He knew that he should not feel anything for someone he tried to kill, But Lukas was amazing. Mathias had found himself falling deeper and deeper in love with him as time went on. Of course, infatuation started it all, but ultimately he just wanted to hold the other in his arms and protect him through thick and thin.

Now, Lukas was somewhere in his own castle of death trying to fight all on his own. It was all the king’s fault. If only he had been kinder….wiser. If only he had decided a better route for his kingdom, a path away from violence, greed and oppression. Though this is how it went down and now it was Mathias’s time to pick up the pieces again...perhaps with a little help this time and a much more open mind.

 

Tino and Lukas began by facing one another, but it ultimately turned into Tino coddling a broken man with far too much weight on his shoulders. His shirt was getting awfully wet and dried blood was flaking onto his clothing, but Tino did not mind. It was his duty to care for the weak and broken; Lukas was no exception.

Through the splutters of sobs and snot, Lukas mumbled incoherently; in which Tino responded to him by gently rubbing his back and rocking him, trying to calm his fellow witch down.

“We are going to have to face this eventually, Lukas”

The other shook and sighed, eventually calming down to a point. He had a huge headache and his body felt both burnt out and numb, but a big bout of tension had been lifted off his chest.

“Thank you for stopping me, Tino” He mumbled, eyes fluttering shut. He was so exhausted that his body simply decided to crash.

The Sarhelian king sighed softly, petting back Lukas’s hair before picking him up and carrying him back inside. The stench of dead bodies had already begun to pile up. He would start on removing those after Lukas was safe and under care.

-------

 

Berwald and the group he had gathered to extinguish the fire finished up rather quickly. They were lucky that there were a few stragglers from the times when Drealia was like the rest of the world; welcoming of magic.

Regardless, the town had been reduced to hot, smouldering flames in the night. Plumes of white smoke remained above, contrasting with the dark sky. It was finally over...Berwald could finally worry about Tino and Mathias instead of a whole population.

The people of the main city seemed to be settling down some, feeling safer now that their homes were unlikely to go ablaze. Though, the looming stench of death wafted from the castle, which gave an uneasy air to the brief moments of relief.  

Despite the mass rejoice, Berwald could not calm down. He had no clue if his husband and friends were okay and he also had to help Mathias clean all of this up…

with a deep sigh, he directed his horse to the entrance of the castle. Guards were already dragging lifeless bodies out from the inner halls, looks of disgust on their faces.

The King, however, was not all too grossed out. Sure, it smelled absolutely rancid, but he had seen his fair share of carnage at war time. It was essentially a part of life.

 

---

At some point, both Tino and Lukas had made it safely to the infirmary. Though, they found it to be locked up tight and barricaded, likely the work of Mathias.

While a smart idea, it proved to be quite useless to Tino at the moment. Luckily, it was as simple as moving the objects with a simple spell, then knocking on the door.

 

The Drealian King jolted out of his thoughts when a noise sounded from the barricaded side of the room. With caution, he made his way over and removed several heavy objects before peeking through the keyhole. Much to his surprise, Tino stood there with Lukas hanging limply in his arms. He felt a wave of both crushing defeat and joy smash into his entire being all at once.

The door flew open, and Lukas was plucked from Tino’s arms.

Mathias did not bother with hellos or reassurances, but he did lay Lukas on a bed and make sure his heartbeat was still there. He hoped to every single deity that there was, even if it was not his own, the church be damned. Lukas’s life was more important.

One of the nurses who had been tending Emil walked over with rags to clean off Lukas’s face along with a fresh sleep gown.

The king began wiping Lukas’s face off and removing his dirty, bloodstained clothes so that he could replace them with the gown.

Meanwhile, Tino spent his time washing the soot and blood off of himself. He was glad that Lukas and Mathias were okay, but he had no clue about Emil and Berwald. For now, he would just have to hope and assume.

 

After a while, the Nurses laid Emil upon a bed next to Lukas. He was still asleep, but cleaned up and dressed in new garments. They tucked him in and began to help their King clean and dress Lukas, making sure that any wounds obtained were cleaned out.

Tino felt relieved.

 

Once it all settled down and the two brothers were sleeping soundly, Mathias turned to Tino.

“I can not thank you enough...Tino...I am sorry for putting you through all of this.”

The other king looked up, a small smile gracing his lips. “hey, hey, Mathias...it is okay. Berwald and I are always here to help. You may make terrible decisions, but we have all been there.”

Mathias gave a relieved grin, walking over to Tino and bear-hugging him, squeezing the breath away. “You are a wonderful friend...where is Berwald?”

Tino carefully let go of Mathias and smiled bitterly, stepping away.

“I do not know right now...I hope he's okay..” he sighed, knowing he should not feel angry or upset. A good king would remain calm.

The Drealian king nodded at his friend, looking toward the door. “Would you like me to look for him?”

Tino shrugged, “Be my guest...it is a war zone out there. I am not joking, Mathias..”

“Lukas did some damage then...didn’t he?”

“Of course...You really should thank him when he wakes. He is the only reason you or any of this city is alive.”

 

Mathias nodded, going over to Lukas and gently stroking his cheek, looking up at Tino.

“I love him, you know…”

Tino looked back at Mathias, a soft grin on his lips; “You did not think that it was obvious? You are terrible at hiding your feelings, Mathias” he chuckled, going over to the door.

“I know not if he will accept it, though.” he huffed, slowly getting up and joining Tino by the door.

“Give it time, old friend, because I am sure that you will find him liking you back.” he had a grin on his face again. He knew that Mathias just needed a little encouragement.

 

The king thought about the conversation for a moment before nodding eagerly, hugging Tino one last time before leaving the room to go find Berwald. He was probably getting caught up in the cleanup...oh what a courteous chap.

 

--

The desolate halls were torn pieces of what they once were. Bodies lay lifeless beneath great windows and banners, their final resting spot marked by either burns or blood...Lukas had not taken any mercy.

Mathias could feel days of battle in his earlier years as King begin to wear into his conscience. They were not days that he was proud of...no, not anymore. He fought alongside Berwald a few times too...it was true that Mathias had changed drastically since then.

 

After ages of walking through his broken home, Mathias saw  Berwald standing with a grave, sad expression at the end of the hall, taking a moment to pity all those slaughtered.  Mathias ran towards Berwald, careful not to trip and receive a faceful of burnt flesh.

The solemn king stared up at his friend, realizing his entire point of coming inside and beginning to make his way down the battlefield. He and Mathias soon embraced; a sense of comfort and relief washing over them.

“Berwald! Tino is worried sick! What took you so long?” Mathias knew the answer.

Berwald stared for a moment and sighed, “I got distracted…”

“Well, let us hurry, then. Everyone is safe upstairs..follow me.”

So, Berwald did as he was asked, trekking up what seemed like kilometres and kilometres of stairs.

 

When they finally reached the room, Tino unlocked the door and let them in, embracing Berwald in a strong hug, then kissing his lips sweetly. Alas, they did not have to worry about one another.

Mathias smiled at them and went over to Lukas’s bedside, sitting down and holding one of the magician’s hands. He gently placed a kiss on the top of his pale, bony hand. Lukas’s eyes fluttered open.

“What’s going on? Where am I?!” He asked frantically, sitting up and reaching out to Mathias, hugging his head.

“It is fine Lukas, you are in the infirmary.”

“Is Emil okay? Is he alive?!” Tears began to well up in his eyes. He hoped his brother was okay.

The King sat up and carefully took both of Lukas’s hands in his own, looking into his eyes.

“Emil is right next to you...he is all right at the moment, though we need to watch his wounds...please do not worry.”

Lukas sighed, relieved.

--------

After a few months, the castle had been completely cleaned up and a new system of taxation was implemented. Executions stopped almost completely and the dungeon was seldom used for petty crimes.  

It was a miracle that King Mathias was still in power, but not so much when the help of his advisor, Lukas, factored in. Lukas had been helping Mathias put his kingdom back together along with advice from the ever-travelling Berwald and Tino.

The feelings that Mathias felt for Lukas were never formally revealed in their time planning, but Lukas was not a dumb man and picked up on the obvious messages that the King would send.

Another event was a redo of Emil’s birthday. After the last attempt, Lukas and Mathias decided to throw him a much grander party and allowed for the townspeople to come as well. The tailor had sewn a small suit for Emil and Mathias did his hair. An enormous cake was made by the chefs, decorated with wood-carved birds of Emil’s choosing.

The day of the party was a grand event, and this time King Berwald and King Tino arrived a few days early to ensure that they would be on time.

Servants carried great plates of food to the dining area, and they decorated the ballroom with colours and colours of cloth. Then soon enough, guests began to arrive, congregating in the centre of the ballroom until Emil walked down in all his glory, eventually getting tired of stairs and clinging onto the King while forcing Lukas to link arms with him.

 

The dances and food lasted all night, up until Emil was drowsy from running around and around and around. So, Mathias and Lukas finally got a moment of peace together, both adults also very exhausted. They walked out onto the balcony and looked over the town.

“Lukas….Thank you.” Mathias began, wrapping an arm around his companion.

“What for?” Lukas responded, gratefully leaning into the embrace.

“Giving me a second chance...you know...after I tried to kill you…”

The warlock chuckled, looking up at his King with a rare, toothy smile.

“That was a year ago. All is forgiven.”

The King grinned also, slowly leaning down to Lukas’s face, “Good, because I might be able to kiss you without my jaw being broken.”

Lukas chuckled and leaned up, their lips meeting halfway in a soft kiss. From there on out, they’d share a thousand more.

 

The End