Monday, October 13, 2008

Chapter 34 (of 43)

XXXIV

That Al’bert began to use his compulsion on Alice liberally as time went on was something of which he was strangely ashamed. She changed beneath his hand, and became that which she wasn’t before he’d gotten to her. She changed her name to Al’ice, and although outwardly he professed to it being flattering and yet another pad for his towering ego, inwardly it made him cringe.

All of this cringing and unhappiness was carefully boxed away, however, and buried in a chest deep within the ground of his mind. Al’bert knew what he had to do, and he would do it.

Through his distraction with Al’ice, however, he had lost Sangwine. The idea was somewhat ludicrous, considering that Sangwine had stuck out like a sore thumb everywhere he had gone. However, it was true; Al’bert had lost him in a terrible way, and now it wasn’t a case of Al’bert only biding his time and being able to take care of the prince whenever he should want, but he had lost that freedom and had to find Sangwine again in order to regain it. What he would do then was a matter up for debate.

As time wore on they searched, and letters came from Fang.

Al’bert,

I require that you finish your job expediently and without further delay. It has taken far longer than I had expected. What more can I do to give you a sense of urgency regarding this problem?

Fang

- - - - - - - -

Fang,

We are always drawing closer. The target is far more adept at the clandestine than I had first supposed. I will update you when we find something.

Al’bert

- - - - - - - -

Al’bert,

It has been months and you have done nothing that I am aware of. Are you out for a jaunt? Do you not realize this world will soon be entirely under my dominion? Will you cross me, knowing the consequences?

Finish it.

Fang

- - - - - - - -

Fang,

I have not written because there is little to report. I ask your indulgence in this problem, but he has been difficult to procure. Finding one person in the whole world can be a difficult task; I hope you can understand especially if that person wishes not to be found.

Al’bert

- - - - - - - - -

Al’bert,

“Indulgence” is something that I don’t do, Al’bert, and the sooner you digest that, the better. Your ineptitude grows tiresome, and I’m not certain if you need more motivation that what you are currently under.

Fang

- - - - - - - -

It was this last letter, which came to him some months after the first, which gave Al’bert pause. It was at this time that he realized the balance of power between Fang and himself had not only tipped, but was slipping away from Al’bert and becoming something entirely unsavory.

Fang was what he was; he was a dictator, now. He was an emperor. He was the most powerful man in the known world. Al’bert was nothing but a small count from a distant land, and he was entirely beholden to that which Fang desired.

For most of the past year, Al’bert had been sure that his lifelong association with Fang was enough to keep him secure. He began to wonder, now. He began to wonder if, unless Al’bert was willing to kill for Fang, his future wasn’t altogether as secure as he had once imagined.

He also began to wonder if, should he deign to do the things Fang required in order to maintain his status, his future would be even worse than if he should not.

It was in this state of mind some time later that he arrived in Mud City, and found Sangwine at last, reduced to entering swordfights to earn his keep. It was this state of mind that led him to intervene at the last hour, and to save Sangwine’s life as the prince’s blood stained the fight-room floor. Out of the hands of a pixie that loathed him and the humans who were bewildered by him Al’bert had carried the Sangwine, against all that he knew he should do and knowing he was forfeiting himself, should it become known. It was this state of mind that began to torture him, and as he split further and further into two parts, Fang took that which was most dear to him in all of creation and held it for “safe-keeping”: his sister, Camilla.

1 comment:

spasticfreakshow said...

hmm. al'bert did knowingly risk camilla's life to save sangwine's. i think he should be spared when sangwine & co win the kingdom back - maybe even rewarded. bizarre, for someone who is emperor, it is not clear that he has any tight allies over whom he does not possess mind control.