The routine never changed, but everyday he awoke hoping twenty four hours ahead might, just once, offer something different. The day started the same. A chime. Four hours in the morning. But he had been awake long before it. He had dressed in the simple, dark grey uniform, something he couldn’t remember living without. He sat up on the cot, his feet flat on the ground, his back straight, as he watched the wall, keeping his fists clenched to resist the exciting temptation to fidget. A knock came from the door. A small smile slipped, and he jumped up, grabbing the golden circlet from his beside, adjusting it on his head, and stood with hands firmly to his side just in time for the wall to waver and shimmer away with a caped figure in its place. Now this was out of the ordinary. The man who stood in the door had the prince’s own grey eyes, but not much else. His features were softer, and rounded. His hair was dark and the natural curls refused to be contained. But his face still held a firm, authoritative gaze. “What are you doing here?” the prince asked. His brother shrugged, an uncomfortable grimace flashing across his features. “Fischer was sent out for a scouting report today. I’m here in his place.” It took everything in the prince to hold back a smile. “But you’re ranks above him.” His brother let out an annoyed sigh, his professional stance breaking as he leaned in. “You’re also my little brother, so can we get this over already?” “Of course!” The prince practically skipped to his brother’s side. The wall sealed behind them, and they began their way down the dark hall. To any ordinary, or inexperienced eye, the hallway appeared to be dark. His kind didn’t see a problem with it. In reality, he had only seen the sun four times. Two of them had been far too long ago for him to even remember. What he did know, that the sun was bright, and had what the halls lacked. Warmth. His brother hurried his pace, his cape flapping into the prince’s face. The prince barely cared. He was with his brother, not the ordinary trainer. This was a change of scenery. The prince did find himself a bit envious of the cape. He was much too old to be without one, but he couldn’t seem to prove himself in physical combat. One lesson with a cape was wrapped up in a cocoon in five minutes. Maybe that’s why his brother detested being seen with him. Perhaps that would change today. Change was in the air. He could feel it. A few young trainees passed them, not daring to look up to his brother. One glanced up and shot the prince a dirty look over his shoulder. The prince flexed his fingers, watching with delight as the trainee slipped. He snickered. “Silas.” His brother glared at him. The prince sighed, and wiped his pointer finger through the air. With a cry, the trainee was flung to his feet though the air. “Now, stop messing around,” his brother snapped, clenching his jaw, hurrying up his pace. The prince ran beside him. “Oh, let someone have a little fun every once and awhile.” “Tripping others with your abilities is only fun for you. Only impractical and immature.” The prince shrugged. “He deserved it.” “One of your fellow trainees?” The prince gave a reluctant nod. His brother smirked. “Well, it’s not his fault if you’re no good with your fists.” The prince rolled his eyes. He never understood why they needed to train physically. It wasn’t like they ever went above ground and suddenly were unable not be able to use their abilities. He never questioned it out loud. Order were orders and that was that. No matter your status, or skills. You were all the same. Everything was the same. His brother stopped, turning to face the wall, and pressed his hands against it. A doorway appeared in front of them, leading them into a room the prince detested. An elevated pad sat in the center of the room. Weapons lay orderly on their shelves above benches. The room was cold, and smelled of sweat. The prince cringed, and followed his brother inside, as the doorway sealed shut behind them. His brother quickly unfastened his cape, and unbuckled his boots, and orderly set his belongings on the bench, all the while seeming to completely ignore his younger sibling. The prince pretended not to care, removing his coat, and boots, taking as long as possible, taking in the sweet moments before he actually had to confront his brother on the mat. “Hurry up!” “I am!” The prince rose front the bench, and walked slowly to his brother. His brother raised an eyebrow. “You forgetting something?” The prince frowned. “No--” His brother snatched the circlet from the prince’s head, and with a sigh, floated it safely to the bench. “Be more observant.” The prince shrugged. His older brother was far more fit than himself, his dark uniform fitting well over his muscular build. The prince knew he was by no definition scrawny, but he was practically a twig compared to his peers. He tried to tell his superiors he wasn’t fit for hand to hand combat, but shook him off as lazy and undedicated. He was the lord’s son after all. The prince took a deep breath, and lifted his chin, facing his brother. “What was your last lesson?” “It was like … punching or something.” “Very specific.” The prince snorted. He threw a punch, his brother caught it, twisted his arm, and sent him slamming to the ground. He crossed his arms. “Try again.” He helped the prince to his feet. The prince’s arms already ached. He slid into a stance, which his brother rolled his eyes at, and promptly fixed the prince’s posture properly. Sparring with his brother soon proved to be one of the most painful and single most humiliating events of his life. He couldn’t balance. His opponent moved too fast, and the prince moved too slow. He was small, but not at all nimble. Either his punches were weak or his brother was immune to pain. The prince, in fact, was not. He caught himself, when shoved back. He was sweaty, and hot, his hair sticking to his face. He absolutely hated it, but calling “break” would seem weak. In desperation and panic, he pulled at the air, the essence ripping with it. He dashed to the other side before he even realized what had happened, losing balance, and in a flash, he had tumbled off the platform. “Silas!” The prince’s head rocked, pain spiking. Two strong hands heaved him to a sitting position. Two eyes. His brother’s eyes wide. With worry. Compassion. The brother cringed. “Only a broken nose.” The prince tasted blood on his lips. His brother scowled, his expression suddenly hardening. “What were you thinking? Teleporting like that?” The humanity vanished from his face. The prince’s face felt light. “I-I didn’t mean--” “No!” his brother shouted. “Are you trying to prove a point? Because all it’s proving is your immature!” “It didn’t mean too,” the prince whispered. The older boy’s eyes flickered. “Stop. Using. Your. Abilities. Not in a fight, Silas. You’re going to get ki-” His voice cracked. He slumped back, tearing his fingers through his hair. The prince brushed his nose, his hand coming away bloody. “You need to try harder.” “I am trying.” “Not hard enough.” The prince’s face flamed. “Has it ever, even once, occurred to you, that we’re not all the same?” His brother’s eyes widened. The prince tried desperately to scrub away the blood, but it kept flowing. “I’m not good at combat. I’m not like you!” He stumbled to his feet, his body trembling. His brother lept up behind him. “No one said you needed to be.” The prince froze. “Then who am I?” The brother opened his mouth to respond, but he cut him off. “No! Never mind! I’ll walk to the Medic.” He turned his back to him, and ran to the wall, the doorway appearing at his presence. “Don’t forget your shoes.” The prince spat. Blood. He ignored his brother, and storming barefoot down the hall, not bothering to return the stares, or acknowledge the growing pain. His hands were stained with blood as he clenched them. He had been wrong to think they would listen to change.
Featuring Characters From "The Unanswered Questions" Series. Coming This Winter.