Uhhhhhmmmm, second full story ever. I feel proud, too bad it's not totally done yet. ;) It's a lot in my books, but not really now that I can see it on here. Please review, if you happen to somehow read it all without getting bored or distracted.
Angels, demons, and magic. Do you believe in them? Or just one of them? Maybe you don't believe in any, and you think they're all tales bards tell, made up for entertainment. Believe what you want, but first, know this. Before you make any assumptions to life, hear this story, about magic, demons and angels.
Years ago, in a small town, there lived a wealthy middle class merchant. He had a small family of himself, his wife and two children. The boy was the eldest, an adventurous and clever child, and the daughter was steadfast and intelligent. Their names were Charles and Sophia, born of a good family; lucky compared to most. Their family was of modest wealth, but rich in happiness. Men would have envied to be in the merchants place, whose main customers were wealthy men in power, such as the king, who favoured him as a trusted advisor. When Charles turned ten, and Sophia, 7, the merchant was offered a job at the palace, exclusively serving the king. With such benefits and such an opportunity, the family moved to the palace grounds. They lived in a home near the sea, where the view was breathtaking, and you could see ships from afar. The house given to them was richly decorated, large and perfect for the two children to grow up in. The family was diligent in following the king's demands to keep such a beautiful home.
Time passed, the family grew, as well as the merchant's job. Men in the palace would watch day by day as the busy merchant worked less and less of his job, and more of another's. Some were jealous, as with all kingdoms, there are jealous men in power, their intentions dark and greedy, but well hidden. It was a man named James Coss, who was filled with jealousy, who, each day, wished more and more that he was in the merchants place. Coss worked in the palace, he worked as second in command to the king's army. Watching some ordinary, useless merchant climb to power while he sat watching wasn't in his favour. Daily, he spoke to the king, wondering what his intentions were of giving such a man so much luxury and power, and often wondering why he wasn't in such a position himself. By now, the children were fifteen and twelve. They were accustomed to the castle and took to exploring the depths of the palace. They also knew everyone in the castle very well, as they saw them everyday. But Charles had a liking towards guns and how they worked. He went into the army training grounds everyday hoping to learn something from them. Coss had began to notice his fascination with the army, and often gave him lessons on fighting. This went on secretly for a while, and Sophia would never notice anything, but a change in her brothers attitude.
Charles was a quick learner, and found pride in everything he could do successfully. His mother and father thought that he'd be going off to work as a scholar, but instead, after he turned eighteen, he joined the kings army. There was nothing they could do after that, the king had no control over the army's work, and Coss was now the Commander of his army. Charles was training everyday, and he had no feelings but gratitude to Coss for getting him this position. Eventually, Charles began ignoring his family, losing contact with them all except for Sophia, who was worried for him, but would not try to undo his choices.
Now, another young man named Vaughn was a friend of Charles, that he had met in training. They soon became good friends, with more in common than any of the other men, who only focussed on war. Vaughn could have also been a successful scholar, but instead he chose to fight for the king, too. He thought that there could be more done for his country if he did so. Vaughn was only a year younger than Charles, but knew nearly just as much as he did. They were smart and clever, enough so that eventually they were advisors to the General of the army, advising tactics and rising up from being ordinary soldiers. Before Charles could turn twenty, they were at war, in the last weeks before he was to go, he wrote to his sister. Even though Sophia knew what she was supposed to do, she couldn't help herself telling her parents. It was known that eventually he would have to go to war, and they wanted to at least resolve their bitter situation. They decided to visit him, forgive him for what had happened. They found Vaughn over at Charles' house, speaking and drawing out attack plans.
"Sophie and Vaughn, could you please give us a moment with Charles?"
They left the house, Sophie bitter that she had to leave and couldn't listen to their conversation. While outside, they spotted Coss, training several men in close combat warfare, yelling loudly.
"He's just a haughty man who dislikes everyone," Sophie glares at the ground. "This isn't fair, I should be in there, they think I'm a child still."
"Maybe he acts like that to better train his men," says Vaughn, watching the fighting with amusement. "And maybe your parents have good reason not to discuss it with you."
For a moment it's quiet, except for the fighting men. Sophie is sitting on a stone bench, near the garden while Vaughn watches the fight, noting Coss's frequent glances at them. In a few short seconds, the second man falls, the training is finished and Coss begins to walk towards them.
"Ah, Vaughn, any words on the combat? I think that stronger swords may be necessary…" Coss glances to Sophie, fuming quietly, and back to Vaughn.
"Actually, lighter swords are needed, or else your men will be tired out before they even reach the enemy. If one of those men had had a lighter sword, the other would be dead by now." he tilts his head towards the retreating backs of the two fighting men.
"Yes, very well, then. And who is this? Sophie? Why are you here on such a nice day, shouldn't you be at home working?"
She doesn't even move her head to glance at him. "….Charles…"
"I see, you're visiting Charles, that's lovely. We hardly see you around here anymore, Sophie," Coss fakes his pleasantries, pretending to be glad.
Vaughn shakes his head, "Her parents are visiting Charles, sir. They are speaking right now,"
The general's face darkens, "Oh, I see, well, then I should be going now. I'll see you at training tomorrow, goodbye Sophie." He turns and walks away.
"You should have more respect for a man working for the King's army,"
" I don't care, he doesn't deserve respect…"
The door opens and it's Sophie's father, "You can come in now, I'm sorry for the wait"
Sophie's the first to walk into the door. Her brother is standing, hugging their mother while she cries quietly.
" Go on, Sophie, say bye to your brother, he leaves very soon." Her father speaks quietly, his hair seems to have grown more grey in the moments that passed. She goes to give him a hug.
"Charles? Is everything okay, now? When are you leaving?"
"Soon, a week at the most I'm afraid, but I will see you when I get back."
Later that night, James Coss makes several changes to the army. He's speaking with Vaughn, finalizing the details.
"Vaughn, you will not go to war, we need you to stay here. You are our best strategist, and though you are a great fighter, we cannot lose you here."
"What are you talking about? What do you mean I won't go? You can't leave me here! I have to go! What about Charles? You're going to send him out there without me?"
"Charles will do fine on his own. This is my final decision, you will not go."
With that, Vaughn storms out of the room, leaving the general to his thoughts. Over the years, his jealousy has turned to hate, and now he despises the merchant's whole family. If there were any way to kill Charles, this would be it. No matter what, he would tear apart that family, the one that didn't deserve any of the wealth and greatness that they had.
The next day, at training, Vaughn is fighting Charles, hitting him hard, and knocking him over several times.
"What's bothering you? You've never fought….so…recklessly - before." Charles is speaking between every hit, fighting back each blow.
"It's General Coss, damn him,- he says I won't go to fight. I'll stay…here…"
Charles puts down his sword, dodging another hit from Vaughn, before he stops. "What do you mean? There's no reason for you to stay behind."
"Exactly, and the damn bastard won't hear a word. He thinks he's doing the right thing, he thinks he knows what he's doing… He couldn't be any more wrong…"
"There's nothing we can do, the general is stubborn. I suppose I'm going without you, then. It'll be difficult,"
Vaughn begins examining his sword, angrily. "It won't be difficult for you, the king's made sure you weren't on the front lines, that you'd be safer. Of course, he did this for your parents."
"….Yes, my family. You will promise me that you'll take care of them while I'm gone, won't you? This is important to me, there's so many that would want to hurt them, just for information against the king, especially in these times."
"Of course, I will. I know how important they are to you…."
Although this is unknown to anyone, Vaughn was an orphan. He could have been the child of a servant and a member of the royal family, but no one knew. Either way, he ended up at the castle, and Lady Durante refused to let anyone throw him out. She paid for his teaching and, in learning of how intelligent he was, they allowed him to stay at the palace. Vaughn has no real family, and the closest thing he considered family would have been Lady Durante, and General Coss, who raised him into the army. Orphans and abandoned children were common, many of them died early, and Vaughn considered himself lucky. He studied dutifully and worked hard to get to where he was now. He didn't want anyone getting in his way, and yet, Coss was stopping him.
The next week seemed to pass to quickly, Sophie visited her brother nearly everyday, whenever she had spare time. On the last day, she persuaded him to stop working for a moment to say the last goodbye's to their parents.
"Sophie, take care of our parents, they seem to tired lately. I don't know how to help them."
"It's because you're going to war. Do you expect them not to worry?"
"I expected them to be mad, and never speak to me again…."
They approached the cliff side, where General Coss was, smoking a pipe and looking out onto the sea. He called them over, but Sophie refused to go.
"You know how much I hate the sea, you go. I'll wait for you here." She stood back, walking along the dirt path, writing into it with her foot. Charles left, walking swiftly to the General.
"Hello, Charles. I just wanted to tell you that there were some minor changes made, you're on the front lines, now. You've been training exceptionally well lately, and I think you can do well there."
"Oh…..Yes, sir. I'll be ready tomorrow to leave, then."
He left to go back to Sophie, he couldn't tell them now, they didn't need to know. Sophie was talking to Vaughn, who had probably been looking for him. As he approached, he quickly made up his mind.
"Sophie, go on ahead home, I'll be there soon, I just need to talk to Vaughn," When she left, he sighed, "I don't know what to do. Coss just told me that I'm up on the front lines…. I'm not going to tell them. But I need you to do me a favour. If…I don't come back, please take care of them for me."
Vaughn was quiet for a long moment, thinking. "Of course I will….I promise."
It had been several weeks, Vaughn visited the family often, keeping his promise. He had become a good friend to that family in the short amount of time. The connection through Charles gave Vaughn a family, and Charles' family a way to deal with him being gone. Days passed quickly, but they still couldn't stop worrying about Charles, and one day, during a visit from Vaughn, a letter came. They were outside, enjoying the day, the merchant sat talking with Vaughn about the king and what would happen after the war. Sophie was inside the house, helping her mother to make supper. Inside the house, a knock resounded solemnly throughout the quiet house, and Sophie went to get the door, it was a man with a letter.
"From the King's Army." and he turned and left.
Sophie brought it to her mother, thinking that the war was over, and that Charles would be coming home soon. Instead, they found an apology, and scrawled words saying that he had been killed. Sophie's mother ran outside to the merchant.
"Jack! Jack! You need to see this, it can't be true!" already tears were running down her face.
He took it in surprise, and scammed the writing. He was silent for a moment, and noticing Vaughn's confusion, he handed the letter to him. His puzzled face turned grave.
"No, that can't be true. He's a great fighter. This couldn't have possibly happened to him…." He seemed unfocussed as he spoke these words, staring into the grass, as if he would see what had happened in the green.
"How did this happen? He was supposed to be advising the general, not fighting. We had the king's word." Sophie was wiping her eyes. "I thought the base would be safe from all danger."
Vaughn had already told himself that he would not tell them what had happened before Charles left. He said nothing, and left so that the family could mourn. He didn't know what to do now. He had promised Charles, but he would not replace him.
Before the letter had ever arrived, though. Before the war had even started, Sophie and Vaughn had fallen in love. Before Charles had even left. And now, there was nothing to be done that would undo Charles' death. Vaughn could not marry Sophie without his best friend knowing, and with him gone he thought of leaving town, fighting in another war elsewhere. He had nothing else to lose, and he felt as he had before he knew Charles, that he was only an asset, but he wanted to be used at least for the good of his country. Of his king. For this reason he stayed, he could not leave the kingdom that had accepted him and raised him. He would find a way to fight in the war. Sophie and her family would move on and grow, and so would he. He went to the king, and requested to be sent into war, replace those that had died. The king allowed his removal, and he would go to war in less than two weeks. Two weeks was long for him to wait, though, and he became restless, knowing how he'd left the family, he thought that he should at least go and tell them what he would be doing.
It was only a few days after the news of Charles, when Vaughn came to visit the family. He announced his implement back into the war. Anna, Sophie's mother disagreed with him, she told him not to go, and that she did not want to lose another loved one to the war. The merchant, Jack remained silent, his face grave, and his eyes devoid of any emotion or interest. It was clear what he thought of Vaughn's future.
"Well now, you must stay for dinner. Here, we'll set another seat for you. Please stay the rest of the evening," Jack stood up, to help Anna prepare for dinner, and left Sophie with him there.
"What are you talking about?! War? Do you even know what's going to happen there? If you return, you won't be the same…. You might not return at all.." Sophie's voice shrank from a yell to a whisper.
"I have to, I'm doing this for the king. Our kingdom needs this. I have to." He looked down steadily, repeating these words like stone.
"You don't have to at all… You're a martyr, and you don't care what anyone else thinks…"
"It's for the good… I'm going to go, and you can't convince me otherwise,"
"You're going to end up just like Charles. How could you do that?" She was bitter, and refused to look at him anymore. After a moment of silence, she got up and left the house.
Vaughn apologized to her parents, saying she'd went out for a walk, and that he had to go. He promised to have dinner the next night. Immediately, he went to the king, and found General James Coss there, speaking with the king quietly. Coss turned to look at him, and smiled.
"Ah, Vaughn, so you want to go to war? Well, due to the slight loss of soldiers I suppose you can go now,"
"Charles is dead? Is he really dead?! What happened?"
"Oh, I'm very sorry, I know how you were such good friends, he battled bravely. You should be proud of him. So you his family," Vaughn didn't see his smile fade at the end.
"Is there something you came here for?" The king looked kindly upon Vaughn.
"Yes, well, no. There is, actually."
"Oh, the poor boy's devastated at his friends death, it's alright, I'll talk to him for you, your highness" Coss bowed lowly and led Vaughn out.
"…..I can't believe it's true. I thought you'd say it was false. How did it happen? What did he do wrong?"
"Oh, let's not talk about such things so soon, you're still grieving for your friend, understandably. We wouldn't want you distracted from your duties by telling you now. But I had wanted to talk to you about something. It seems that that merchant family has been betraying the king. They've been sending information right from the castle to the enemy. They caused Charles death. I don't know why they would do such a thing, but I think they may be bitter towards him for joining the king's army. I need you to stay away from them, they are dangerous."
The next night, Vaughn is at the merchant family's house for dinner. Replaying what the general had said, he could not believe it to be true, but the general could not have been lying. At the end of dinner, he decided he would tell Sophie, confront her about it to see if it's true. They did not seem like the type of family to betray their king.
He brought her outside, to talk with her, but after noticing all the passer-by's, brought her somewhere else so that no one could see him after what Coss had told him. Behind the palace gardens, was a vast area that ended as a cliff. Sophie refused to go, and he already knew that she hated the sea, hated the heights. He begged her, for the sake of their safety, and she finally agreed, refusing to look out onto the sea. No matter how beautifully the moon shone off of the ocean. She held tightly onto his arms, as if she would fall into the sea at any moment. He spoke to her but after mentioning Coss, she became angry.
"How can you talk to him? He's a liar and a scoundrel. He's scammed my father a million times, tricked him and stole from us. I know it because I've seen him every time, my father and mother may not know, but it's true." She threw her arms down, letting go of him in her anger.
"But he's raised me, and he's taught me honest morals, he must have had good reason for everything he's done." He looked worriedly at her "Just listen, he told me that you family was spying on the kingdom, and that you were giving secrets to the enemy-"
"What? And that we killed Charles? My own brother?!" Her voice escalated to screams, yells. She was angry and her voice resounded into the sea, and into the shadowy gardens of the castle grounds. "No! We didn't do anything. You should know! You were always there. You don't trust us, how can you not trust us?"
She began to cry at the mention of her brother, at the thought that she caused his death.
"No, stop. I know, I believe you. Please, I really do." He became quiet as she slowly calmed down.
While all this is happening. Coss, after taking his nightly smoke, noticed something happening, heard talking. He watched them talk from the garden, under the dark evening shadows, heard her yelling, saw them embrace and kiss. His anger grew when he realised that he had lost Vaughn to that family as well, and that he had no more weapons to fight off the wretched merchant and his attempts at power. Out of pure rage and frustration he did what he did next.
"I miss Charles, I want him to come back." Sophie had finished crying, and was hugging Vaughn.
"There's nothing we can do, but we all know that he fought his best, and did what was necessary for the king."
"Ha, the king? He promised us that he would make sure Charles was safe… he lied."
"No, he didn't lie, Coss changed the battle formation before he left…I'm really sorry Sophie, I think you were right. I think he is trying to ruin your family." She stood frozen, looking at the ground angrily. "It's alright, we can tell the king, he'll get his right end… He's just a lair, scoundrel and crook."
"I hate him… he caused Charles' death. That bastard. Where the hell is he? We have to tell the king now," She started towards the castle, but he held her back.
"No, not yet. We can't bother the king tonight, it's far too late. You should get back," He kissed her head. "I love you."
She smiled, eyes closed, "I love you, too."
When she opened her eyes next, what she saw was Vaughn's face, but only for a moment, because something had emerged from the garden and was running quickly towards her. What the roses saw from the garden, was the ending of a life. You might even say that a star stopped shining in the sky, as the dark silhouette pushed the young girl off. All you could hear was a yell, echoing into the night. The young man's silhouette reaching out towards the sea, in a plea to the angels, grasping for air. Hoping for any consolation.
The roses saw her fall, but most of all, they felt the pain. Whatever noise she had made when she fell into the water was drowned out by the waves crashing loudly and Vaughn's screams. He yelled and pushed the General, so that he fell. He yelled and yelled, screaming at him and kicking, hoping for a way to undo it.
"What did you do?! You murderer! You killed her!"
Only moments later did he stop, tired, afraid of what he'd done to the only mentor he'd had. In fear he looked down, but it was replaced by anger again, when all he saw was a pitiful, jealous and bitter old man who wanted power and nothing else.
"You're nothing to me. You used me, and you don't deserve what you have. If I were to throw you into the sea right now, the ground would swallow you up, and drag you right to hell, but you don't deserve that. You deserve to live with this hanging on your neck for the rest of your life." He glared down at him. "Murderer." he spat at him, before walking away.
No sooner had he left before tears started again.