This is a book I started back in 2019. I went on hiatus for a bit, but now I'm writing again. I would like to ask the lovely people of this forum to help edit it, if possible. If there's anything I need to change, I would love for you to tell me. I'll try posting a chapter every day.
Set in a parallel universe, where the Earth is made up of kingdoms named after the different continents of the world, there lived a young princess in the Kingdom of Australia named Adira.
Adira is the only female in her cruel family, the youngest of 10 siblings, and the only child from the king's fifth wife.
To gain the throne, one must be the only sibling left alive...if you were male. Females were like chattel, to be sold to create alliances between kingdoms.
Having lived her life once already, Adira returns to when she was 10, and this time, she wants to make a change. She will become Queen.
This is the character list. It may be updated every now and then.
King Hori Hori is the King of Oceania and the father of Adira and her 11 siblings. He had two younger brothers, but both were killed by Hori when they were young children. Hori was manipulated by the archaic nobles who wanted to bring back the older laws. After the deaths of his younger brothers, his mother Sarah, out of despair, died of illness on year after his brother's deaths. His father died a year after that. Hori was raised by Butler Robert, but he continued to listen to the nobles, and when he became king, he brought back the laws that were reformed when his father was in power. Hori is 50 years old, and has one wife (Queen Satine) and four concubines (Lady Kaitlyn, Lady Violet, Lady Rita & Lady Cardinia). His innate power is to detect lies.
Satine is the wife of King Hori, and the Queen of Oceania. She is the mother of First Prince Alaric, Second Prince Murdoch, and Eighth Prince Sandor. She is currently 45 years old. She is the daughter of the former King of North America, and the sister of the current King. Satine was sent to marry King Hori to create an alliance between the two Kingdoms. She was raised to be a Queen, and knows how to fight to keep her position safe. She can use poison if she needs to, and has a lot of knowledge. Her unknown innate power is to grow plants.
Lady Kaitlyn kaitlyn MacDermott is the first concubine of King Hori. She is the mother of Third Prince Leod, Sixth Prince Brutus, and Second Princess Emilia. She is currently 40 years old. She is the daughter of the former Duke of Scotland, and the sister of the current Duke. Kaitlyn was sent to marry King Hori to create an alliance between the Kingdoms of Oceania and Europe. She is very knowledgeable in the use of poisons, and has used it to frame Lady Cardinia. She has had a long history in the useage of poisons, and will always use it when she feels backed into a corner. Her unknown innate power is to manipulate earth.
Violet is the second concubine of King Hori. She is the mother of Fourth Prince Clement, Seventh Prince Milan and Ninth Prince Alexander. She is currently 35 years old. She is the daughter of the current King of Antarctica. Violet was sent to marry King Hori to create an alliance between the two Kingdoms. Her unknown innate power is the ability to charm others.
Lady Rita Rita is the third concubine of King Hori. She is the mother of Fifth Prince Rai. She is currently 30 years old. She is the daughter of the former Duke of Japan, and the sister of the current Duke. Rita was sent to marry King Hori to create an alliance between the Kingdoms of Oceania and Asia. She is a very quiet person who doesn't make any commotions. Her unknown innate power is manipulating fire.
Cardinia is the fourth concubine of King Hori. She is the mother of First Princess Adira. She is currently 25 years old. She is a commoner of the Kingdom of Oceania who caught the attention of King Hori. They eventually fell in love, and she became his last concubine. She is a very simple female who is too kind for her own good. She will never harm another being. She was framed by Lady Kaitlyn, and now lives in the Southern wing (cold palace) of the Royal House. Her unknown innate power is manipulating ice.
"The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?" Edgar Allen Poe
I look up at him. He hated me, and I know it. I spent twenty years with him. I made him King and gave birth to his eldest son and daughter. He is now throwing me aside for someone else, someone he loved before I came into the picture. Asmodeus, son of Seth, King of Europe and Frostine, daughter of Duke Vale of France, the new Queen of Europe. Ever since I was offered to him at the tender age of fifteen by my father, he had been cruel to me, as his name suggests. Wrath Demon. He is exactly like his namesake, the Hebrew devil of luxury and sensuality.
Apart from me, he has another ten wives. Still, his little childhood sweetheart Frostine never entered the court just because he wanted the position of Queen just for her. He felt that giving her a position in his court as his concubine lowered her status; a blemish. Twenty years of my life was wasted on this good-for-nothing crown prince, and all I get is the death sentence so he could place his beloved on top after I do all the hard work. How stupid of me.
After the fights of succession in Australia, my sixth brother, Brutus, was the only one alive, and boy, is he stupid. He doesn't know how to run a kingdom, let alone be a good king. He was the only one to live because he is a real musclehead, tall, bulky, and seems to have such an excellent immune system, he cannot be poisoned. I hate him, though. He killed the only brother who loved me. My ninth brother Alexander was one year older than me and was the only one who loved me like no other. After my mother died, I was left with no one but Xander. He stayed by me through my most challenging times, protecting me.
It's May 23rd today in the year 2039. Here I am on my knees on a platform in front of everyone, not even bothering to listen to the list of 'crimes' I've supposedly committed. My hands are tied behind my back, and my hair is loose, moving with the wind. I'm in my nightgown, a light, flowy thing that is barely covering my figure. I was caught unaware. You see, the only way a Queen can be taken off the throne is if they have committed a crime, so a list of crimes was prepared beforehand. Those bastards really put some thought into the list; since the crimes they listed were all so evil, I'd have to be executed.
"...Queen Adira is to be sentenced to death by poison." And that's my sentence. Wow! They really must have wanted me to suffer. Poison's not precisely fast, you know... well, it depends on the poison, but I know they'll choose a toxin that's slow acting. Maybe Aconite or Hemlock. I wonder how long they want me to suffer... If Aconite is chosen, I'll suffocate to death... If Hemlock is chosen, I'll be paralysed until my body begins to fail. Both are horrible ways to die, but they want me to die horrifically. I know one thing, though. If I ever get the chance, I'll make sure they pay for what they did to me.
The executioner held the bottle of poison in one hand and grabbed my jaw with the other. He poured the whole bottle down my throat, making me choke. Once the bottle emptied, he released my jaw, pulling back. I coughed. Because I could not breathe through that whole experience, I somehow breathed in some of the poison which entered my lungs. Grimacing from the pain of nearly drowning, I soon begin to suffocate. So it was Aconite then. My eyes slowly close, but I made sure to keep my one vow in my heart. If given a chance, I will get my revenge.
My death was peaceful. I felt like I was floating in a world of pitch-black when a jarring noise sounded in my ear. It was a really loud beeping. Why did I hear a noise? I'm supposed to be dead. I'm not supposed to hear anything...or feel anything for that matter.
I wake up with a jolt. Suddenly, there are voices all around me, calling out my name, asking me if I was alright. What happened? Aren't I dead? Why am I still alive? All I can remember is being forced to drink the Aconite and dying. Why wasn't I dead? Did someone save me? It's effortless to save me if healing magic is used, though it would have to be a relatively high-level healing spell. Or is this heaven? I seem to hear my mother. But she's also dead.
I close my eyes, trying to focus my thoughts. All of the information was too much of a rush for my brain to process. What was happening? Okay, Adira. You're going to be fine. Just take a deep breath and relax. You can do this. I slowly open my eyes once again. Where am I? I don't focus on the people. Just the room. The walls are white. A hospital? I notice the machinery around me. I lift my hands up to my face, looking at my palms, then the backs of my hands. They're smaller than before. Why are my hands so tiny? They look like a child's. I slowly shift myself to sit up. Hands gently help me. I look at the rest of my body and notice my feet don't reach the end of the bed. Am I in a child's body? I look at the people surrounding me. Nurses and doctors.
"Hello there, little one," one of the nurses says, beaming. "It's so nice to see you awake. How are you feeling?"
"...Alright..." I say in a hoarse voice. "...Water, please..."
"Of course, love. I brought some with me." She pours me a cup of water, and I drain it instantly. "Now that you've woken up, we'll need to tell your parents. You need to stay here and get plenty of rest, Princess Adira."
So I'm still me... That means I've returned to my younger self.
"...What's today's date?" I ask after clearing my throat. I sound much better after drinking water.
"It's May 23rd, love," she says in a kind voice.
"And the year?" I ask, frowning slightly.
"We're still in 2014, dear."
"Thank you, Ma'am. I'd love to rest a bit now." I lay back down. I didn't want the other doctors and nurses to continue prodding me and checking up on me.
"Of course, dearie. The doctor and I will come back in a few hours. You rest now." My mind runs wild as the doctor and nurse leave.
I'm ten again! May 23rd... that's exactly five years before I was married off to Asmodeus. I remember May 23rd 2019, very well. It was the day I died. Not my body, but my spirit. Now, I'm reborn once more. I can finally get my revenge. I can change my fate. Now that I'm back in Australia, I will be Queen.
I remember I fell ill and nearly died, which is why I woke up in the hospital, so I will rest for now. Once I get better, though, I will make my plans a reality. I slowly drift off in the middle of my planning.
Two weeks later...
It's Friday, June 6th, and it's finally time for me to leave the hospital. I have enough energy to go bouncing off the walls. I can't wait to get out. Both the doctor and healer said I'm well enough to leave. My mother and ninth brother Xander are picking me up. The first time I saw them after waking up, I cried. It made me so happy being able to see them again.
I'm dressed in a light pink dress today. Females tend to wear the colours pink and purple, while males wore orange and grey. Other colours, such as red and blue, were royal colours. Those colours were only used by the royal family or on special occasions. I wait at the hospital entrance, trying to spot my mother's long black hair, much like my own. It falls to her waist, straight at the top but curly at the ends. Her eyes are a beautiful hazel that stands out because of her pale skin tone and dark hair. My eyes are of the typical Australian royal family, a midnight blue so dark they look black at times.
I spot my mother and older brother, making their way over and rush towards them. "Mother! Ninth brother!" I call out in greeting. "You're late."
"Sorry, Adira. Your father caught us as we were leaving," my mother explains. "How are you feeling today? Much better?"
"Really? What did he want? And I'm fine, mother." The whole time I was in the hospital, I never saw my father. It was as if he never even existed...but then females of the royal lineage were only good for alliances.
"He's in the limousine," my ninth brother adds.
"He wanted to see you, hon."
"He never wants to see me..."
Although I've been through this before, I still react in the same way. I can't do anything differently, or they will be suspicious. My hands clench unconsciously, but I slowly open them up once more. This is it. This meeting with my father will determine whether I'm a good actress or not; whether I have the determination and ability to become Queen.
I walk with them to the car, talking about fashion ideas I'd thought up during my stay at the hospital. Before becoming Asmodeus' Queen, I used to be a chatterbox that loved fashion and design. I wanted to be a fashion designer, but I wasn't allowed to become one because I was a part of the royal family. I pause at the limousine, feeling slightly uncomfortable. I still held a rather large grudge against my father because he sent me to become Asmodeus' wife. Still, I knew the first step to becoming successful is staying in my father's good books and getting him to like me and spend more time with me.
We wait for the guards to open the door. Father steps out and looks down at me. "You're looking better, Adira," he says coldly. I've never heard father say anything in a warm tone. Maybe he doesn't know how to, but I want to try and teach him to use a warmer tone. Or at least look at me without that slightly disgusted glint in his eyes.
"I'm much better, thank you, father," I say in a sweet tone as I curtsey. I pretend to try not to cringe, as I used to be terrified of him. He nods once before entering the limousine once more. Mother, ninth brother, and I follow.
Everyone is silent as we travel back to the castle. No one dares to talk when father is around. He's terrifying when he's angry, and he can get upset quickly for the slightest of things. The trip back to the castle is quick. The driver is excellent and knows all the shortcuts.
When we arrive, all my brothers are waiting at the entrance to welcome father back. Father steps out of the limousine first, mother, ninth brother, then I follow. My brothers bow before saying, "Welcome home, father."
I Learnt Something New
"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." Carl Bard
I look at each of my eight brothers, all standing in a line. First Prince Alaric is the competent crown prince and dies one year after I leave. Second Prince Murdoch is a real playboy who doesn't listen to father and the last Prince to die. Third Prince Leod is hot-tempered and the fourth to die, with Fourth Prince Clement following as the fifth. Fifth Prince Rai is the peacemaker and was the second last Prince to die. Sixth Prince Brutus was the one to ascend. That left seventh Prince Milan and eighth Prince Sandor, the second and third Princes to die.
Seeing all of my brothers still alive was nostalgic. After father walked past them, I curtsey. "Good morning, older brothers. I hope you have all been well this past fortnight." Only eighth brother, third brother and seventh brother glance at me. The rest leave without a backward glance.
"Good morning, sister," eighth brother smiles, bowing to me.
"Eighth brother. How have you been?" I curtsey once more. In the palace, manners were everything.
"We're fine, sister. What we should be asking, is how are you?" seventh brother asks.
"I'm perfectly alright. Much better now." My smile is very bright and cheerful, the complete opposite of how I was feeling. Yes, I did love my three older brothers, but I wanted to start my plan and to do that, I needed to get into first brother Alaric's good books. "I wish to know how first brother is...I feel a need to know more about him and what he has to do as crown prince..."
"Why do you want to know that?" third brother asks in confusion. His speech turned informal due to his shock.
"Because I will eventually be sent off in a political marriage. I wish to know where I'll be sent off to, and first brother is the one who will know first." I look up at them with innocent, begging eyes.
"How do you know that?" ninth brother asks. He looks murderous.
"Fourth brother said so."
"Why would Clement say something like that?" All four of my brothers were angry. I couldn't help by smile wryly.
"He said that I need to act more like a princess because one day, I will become another Kingdom's Queen or another Prince's concubine."
"I will not let you become some Prince's concubine. You are my precious little sister. I will not let father use you like this," ninth brother states firmly.
"I don't want to be used..." I say sadly. All those memories of Asmodeus came back in a rush. "Big brothers, how do I stop this?"
"One of us will have to become King, or you, yourself, become Queen."
"Queen? But that's never happened before!" Yes! This was going according to plan.
"It actually has, Adi."
"I was never taught. What happened?"
"That's because it's a dark part of history no King wishes to remember. No King wants to remember that all the Kingdoms were run by Queens at some point because the women rebelled. No Kingdom wants another rebellion. The worst part about it is we were taught that men are above women, yet women were once rulers of the Kingdoms. If the Queens didn't just have sons and no daughters, the rule would have remained under the grasp of women." My eyes widened at the thought. A Kingdom run by women. That would be paradise.
"That sounds like a woman's paradise," I sigh. My tone turned informal too.
"Exactly, which is why you weren't taught about it. It's so you don't have any thoughts of taking the throne." My eyes harden slightly.
"Who was the Queen of Australia?" I ask curiously.
"It was during the blackout period. You do remember there was a blackout period for all of the Kingdoms, right? It was during those blackout periods that the Queens were in power."
"Those blackout periods were a rather long time."
"Yes. It's nearly 100 years, isn't it? That's because the Queens were so vigilant, it was too hard for them to be assassinated, so they lived longer."
"Wow," I sigh. "I can't believe I learnt something so new and exciting. It's all so much to take in." I couldn't believe that women once ascended to the throne. That means it could be done. I just needed supporters.
"I know, right? Our moms are always trying to make us take the throne, but I don't want it. I don't think many of us really do."
"Who wants the throne then?" I was curious as to who wanted the throne apart from Brutus.
"I'd say...Brutus is the one who wants the throne the most...Then probably Clement and Alaric."
"But first brother is expected to take the throne since he's the firstborn..."
"Just because he's firstborn doesn't mean he is going to become King. Father actually likes Brutus more than Alaric."
"Why does father like sixth brother?"
"Because Brutus has the drive to kill the rest of us."
"Then father would hate second brother for sure."
"That's right. Father is forever disappointed in his second son. Murdoch's actually the hardest brother to kill."
"Why is that?" I thought second brother was useless. So how is it that second brother is the hardest to kill? He's always so social and free!
"Because he's probably the most skilled out of all of us."
"He's...skilled...?" All four of my brothers look at me in surprise.
"You didn't know?" Ninth brother asks.
"Murdoch is more skilled than both Alaric and Brutus. On top of that, he's smarter than Clement. Father actually wanted to make him the crown prince, but Murdoch declined."
"So that's why second brother Murdoch acts like a playboy." My brothers nod. "So why doesn't he want the throne?"
"Because he hates the idea of being tied down by responsibilities," third brother sighs.
"He's always wanted to travel around the world," eighth brother adds.
"And he truly is a free spirit at heart," seventh brother chimes in.
"...Doesn't that make him the perfect person to help me gain the throne?" My four brothers look at each other in surprise. They hadn't actually thought of going to second brother for help.
"You're right," they say in unison. I suddenly realise we were still standing outside, and it was getting pretty chilly. I shiver, rubbing my arms.
"Um...big brothers... I would like to go inside now. It's getting pretty cold." The only reason why we were even chatting outside was that the walls had ears. Who knew if someone was trying to listen in to our conversation. Outside was safest.
"Oh, right. Sorry, Adi. We forgot you felt the cold more than us," seventh brother Mil with a rueful grin. They quickly hustle me into the castle.
Although I said it was a castle, our home is actually just a huge white house. It's 300 metres long and 300 metres wide, has a floor area of more than 250,000 square metres and contains 4,500 rooms, but most of them aren't actually being used.
My room is in the south, where I can see part of the nine hectares of native gardens. It is absolutely breathtaking, and I wouldn't change the scenery. Mother doesn't like my room because it's too exposed. Assassins could easily hide behind trees or bushes, and I'd be killed before I knew it, but I genuinely don't mind.
My brothers and I head to eighth brother's room, which is to the east. From his room, you can see more of the nine hectares of garden, along with some stone lion statues that seem to come from the Kingdom of Asia.
"Can you tell me more about second brother? I want to get along with as many of our other brothers as I can...though I don't think I can get along with sixth brother...or fourth brother..."
"I don't think any of us can get along with Brutus or Clement. They're just too cruel or cold for us. It's like we're not even family to them. Only some business associates or enemies." Seventh brother looks a little sad at the thought. He was close to our sixth and fourth brothers when he was younger.
"I think killing Brutus would be the best," eighth brother sighs. The other three nod in agreement. I frown, feeling somewhat troubled. I had that deep-seated hatred for sixth brother when I died, but seeing them all alive and well tugged at my heartstrings. I couldn't help but remember when my mother and I were still living close to my brothers when my sixth brother and I were very close.
"I don't want to kill any of our brothers." That was the problem now.
"We don't either, but Brutus is cruel. If you take the throne, he won't stop trying to hurt you."
"He may be bigger and stronger than me, but he's not smarter than me."
"He's smarter than you think, Adi," seventh brother warns. We reach eighth brother's room rather quickly. This is the first time I'm entering one of my brother's rooms in a long time, and I'm feeling incredibly excited. We all enter one at a time, third brother coming in last.
"It's spotless," I say with wide eyes as I glance around.
"Of course, it's spotless," eighth brother huffs.
"We do have maids, Adi," third brother reminds me.
"I know, but it's cleaner than my room, and I also have maids." My brothers were about to say something when we hear someone clearing their throat.
"Think like a Queen. A Queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness." Oprah Winfrey
My brothers and I spin around, only to spot eighth brother's butler, Robert.
"You have guests, Eighth Prince? Welcome, Third Prince, Seventh Prince, Ninth Prince and little Princess. We would have provided you with refreshments if we knew you were coming. Please wait a few minutes while we bring out some appetisers." Robert bows to us.
"Don't bow, Robert! You're dear to me," eighth brother sighs. "And how many times do I have to tell you not to call me Eighth Prince? You're like an uncle to me...no, more like a grandfatherly figure."
"Please don't say such blasphemous thoughts, Eighth Prince," Robert gasps in horror.
"Grandpa Robert," I say with puppy dog eyes, "please call us by our names. You did help raise us, after all."
"Princess..." Robert's face had a strained look. "...Very well, Princess." I give him a look. "...Adira..."
Smiling widely, I hug him. "You'll get used to it, Grandpa Robert." My brothers laugh at my antics. We go through this all the time when we see Grandpa Robert when no one is around. The white-haired old man is ancient, yet he still looks young and tall, his back straight as a stick. His sky-blue eyes twinkle at me.
"I know, Adira, but it's difficult for a servant to stop using honorifics. As servants, we must serve our charges, and we are forbidden to use their names. If it were your grandparent's generation, I'd be killed for this type of disrespect."
"But we're not our grandparent's generation, Grandpa Robert! And anyway, you're like a grandfather to us, so we treat you like family. You've watched us grow up so far, and we hope you continue to watch over us for a long time yet to come." I look at him, a childish gleam within my eyes. After being married off to Asmodeus, I missed Grandpa Robert, Grandma Miranda, Aunty Layla and Uncle Lucas. Hanging around my brothers, those four servants took care of me, teaching me and raising me as if I were one of their own charges. My own wetnurse Grizelda hated me with a passion, so I was neglected by her growing up.
"I don't like Grizelda...Why didn't I get a nice wetnurse like you, Grandpa Robert? Or even Grandma Miranda, Aunty Layla or Uncle Lucas..." I lower my head with a slight frown. "Even mother doesn't meet up with me much... Is it because I'm not a boy?"
"Don't be like that, little Princess. It doesn't matter whether you're a young Prince or a young Princess. I'm sure your mother loves you very much."
"But I rarely heard her say it... And Grizelda is always telling me I ruined my mother's chances of gaining more of father's attention. She's really mean and sometimes hits me with a bamboo cane..."
Grandpa Robert frowns. "When does she hit you, Adira?"
"When she's in a bad mood," I say automatically. I quickly cover my mouth. This was one of the things she told me to never speak to others about. I still remember the times when Grizelda hit me for no reason. All she wanted to do was release some frustrations and ended up taking it out on me. I was so glad I didn't have to bring her along when I married Asmodeus. It was one of the very few things I was happy about.
"I think I'll have to have a talk with Grizelda," Grandpa Robert says severely.
"Please don't, Grandpa Robert!" I cry, pulling at his clothes. "It's only when she's mad, and it's not even that often. She says she just needs to blow off some steam..."
"When was the last time she hit you, Adira?" he asks.
I frown. It's been so many years, I don't even remember the last time Grizelda hit me before my illness. It's been so long, I forgot. I have to tell Grandpa Robert something, though. I can't let him know how much I've changed. I'm no longer the innocent, naive child I used to be. With my old soul resting in my childhood body, it would be difficult to explain anything. It's tiring acting like a child. I don't know how actors do it.
"...Um...Two weeks before I ended up in hospital...?" I say unclearly. It truly is hard trying to remember things that happened over two decades ago, though it should be only a little more than a month. I was lucky Grandpa Robert only thought I was just reluctant to talk to him about it.
"Alright now. No need to tell me anymore. You go talk to your brothers now." He smiles gently at me before saying goodbye and heading out.
"Why didn't you tell us, Adi?" eighth brother asks. All four of them were unnaturally quiet.
"I didn't think it was important..." I feel jittery when talking to my older brothers about this now. It feels so embarrassing that I tattled like a child, yet I'm supposed to be one.
"You will tell us if anything else happens, right?" ninth brother asks.
I look away before squeaking out a small yes. My brothers don't look convinced, but they don't say any more about the topic. "Now, where were we?" third brother asks.
"We were talking about Brutus, Clement and Murdoch," seventh brother says quietly.
"We should put up a soundproof barrier. There are a lot of spies in the castle," says ninth brother. My other three brothers nod.
"What's a soundproof barrier?" I ask. My knowledge of the magics used was sparse to begin with.
"It's a barrier that does not let sounds exit the room or what it surrounds. We should also set up an alarm as well so that we'll know when someone enters the room," third brother explains. "I know the soundproof barrier spell."
"And I know the alarm spell," seventh brother adds. It takes five minutes for third brother and seventh brother to set up the soundproof barrier and alarm.
"Wow!" I cry. "How do you do that?" I was never taught magic, so watching it has always been a treat for me. I try to touch the multi-coloured barrier, but my hand goes straight through it. "Why can't I touch it?"
"It's effortless, Adira. We all have to learn it at some point in our studies," third brother says proudly. "You can't touch it because it's not a tangible object. It's just to stop the soundwaves from leaving this area."
"I wish I could do something like that..." I say mournfully.
"You will, Adi," seventh brother says comfortingly. "All members of the royal family are supposed to study magic. Even girls."
"But I don't know a thing about magic. All I know is that we use magic for specific tasks or for battle."
"We'll teach you then. You were supposed to learn when you were 5, but it's still not too late. You're still living in the Southern wing, but that doesn't stop us from teaching you. I can't believe we didn't think of it earlier! You may be five years later in learning than everyone else, but I'm sure you'll catch up in no time." Third brother rubs my head affectionately.
"Ok!" I say, cheering up. We all sit down at the couches, and my brothers look serious.
"Now, we'll start planning. Should we plan everything out now, or should we plan bit by bit?" eighth brother asks.
"I think we should plan bit by bit!" I call out.
"Why?" ninth brother asks.
"Because we don't know if everything will go to plan if we plan everything. If we plan bit by bit, we can adapt easier." My brothers nod. My thought process was already more mature.
"That's true, but if we don't at least have a framework, then we won't know which direction to go when we need to adapt..." seventh brother frowns.
"Then why don't we plan a rough framework of what we need to do and then plan in detail bit by bit?" third brother asks. We all nod, liking the idea.
"Now, which brother shall we start with first?"
"Second brother," I say immediately. "Because second brother doesn't want the throne and isn't affiliated with any of our other brothers."
"Nice thinking, Adi," ninth brother rubs my head.
"So the who is done. Next are the why, how, when and where."
"I already stated the why!"
"True... When should we approach him?"
"He needs to be alone...maybe in his bedroom."
"He never brings girls to his bedroom, and he doesn't have any maids either."
"He's rarely in his room, though."
"He does have a schedule," I say with big eyes.
"What schedule?" my brothers ask in unison.
"I've seen it once! It's always in his pocket. It fell out one time, and I picked it up. I gave it to him after looking at it."
"Then we need to steal it."
"One of us can talk to him, and another steal it, make a copy, then put it back."
"He'll realise," I say quietly.
"He is good with magic and probably put alarms up."
"We don't have any other choice, though."
"Can't we swap papers?" I ask.
"Yeah! Take the schedule out of his pocket, and switch it with a paper roughly the same size and weight. If he feels it's still in there, he won't be suspicious. We then swap it again when we give the schedule back."
"You've got a considerable amount of good ideas today, Adi," seventh brother says happily, giving me a big hug. I giggle, feeling a warmth I haven't felt in so long. This is what happiness, gratitude and family feel like. This feeling is one I want to keep for as long as I can.
"We have who, what, when and where, so that leaves us with how."
"What do you mean by how?"
"How do we get him to join our side?"
"We'll tell him straight. We want Adi to take the throne as Queen. If Adi is Queen, we won't have to hurt one another to take it, and we can all lead lives we want to live out."
"And if that doesn't work?" I ask anxiously.
"There's nothing else we can really do, Adi."
"Then who do we approach after second brother?"
"Hm... what about Alaric?"
"First brother? Why him?"
"Well, he is the crown prince, so we should try to get him onto our side. It'll be a much easier fight since Rai is on his side."
"Then we should talk to fourth brother and sixth brother last." My brothers nod.
"That's a good outline," ninth brother says happily. We didn't realise that two hours had gone past since we started planning, and Grandpa Robert hadn't returned yet.
"Service, which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy." Mahatma Gandhi
It is a servant's greatest happiness when he watches his master grow up into a wonderful lad, full of hopes and dreams. I have watched my young Prince grow from just a tot to a strapping lad. He is brave, honest, forgiving and full of warmth. Although he doesn't always show these traits, his core is still pure.
I know a lot about the palace; all the death, the hatred, the anger. It isn't a place of happiness for its residents. Us servants are happy enough if our young masters and mistress are still alive by the next King's crowning.
Eighth Prince Sandor is my charge, and he will be the last Prince I serve. Before Prince Sandor, my ward was the King himself. Being the King's butler, I was given the right to choose who I served next. Every time a Prince was born, the King called for me and asked if I wanted to be the child's butler. I refused seven times until I saw Eighth Prince Sandor. I fell in love with the tot the moment I lay eyes on him. He stared at me so curiously, so full of life. I knew he was the one I wanted to follow for the remainder of my life.
Of course, I watched the other Princes as well, and when the little Princess came, I watched over her too. I loved to think of myself as all of their guardians, but there were some things I just could not condone. Sixth Prince's behaviour is one of them.
Prince Brutus is a cruel child. He used to be so innocent until his 7th birthday. That was when his mother did something that changed him. I don't know what it was. No one knew, but after that, Prince Brutus grew sadistic and cruel. I wish he would return to the loving, gentle and sweet little boy he once was. He used to follow me, calling me Grandpa Robert, just like the other Princes and Princess. I will forever miss that sweet boy.
I grew up in a small village. My mother was a maid at the palace, and my father was a guard. Because I was too young, I was left for my grandparents to raise. It was like having two mothers and two fathers. They taught me everything I needed to know, from writing to numbers. I grew to become a very bright child and eventually became a companion to Prince Sandor's grandfather.
King Liam was my best friend. His bright blonde hair and midnight blue eyes really made the sunny disposition he had and the loyalty he showed. We became the best of friends the moment I set foot in the palace to visit my parents. As soon as we met, we went everywhere together, playing and learning. We taught each other things the other didn't know and learned to trust one another. Liam was lucky, having had no siblings. He didn't have to kill his siblings to gain the throne, and I was glad that my best friend wouldn't lose the good qualities he had.
When Liam met his beloved wife, Sarah, I was overjoyed. She was a gorgeous woman, long jet black hair and soft sea-green eyes. She was a commoner just like me, which made the other officials furious. They didn't want a commoner to become Queen. They wanted a noble girl from the most excellent noble families or a Princess from another country. They tried to pressure Liam into taking one of their daughters in as Queen, but he refused. He only wanted Sarah, and Sarah was what he had until the very end.
Everyone was happy when Hori was born. He was such an adventurous lad, full of ambition and compassion. Everything changed, however, when his younger brothers Mateo and Isaiah were born. Somehow, Hori found out that he needed to kill his brothers to gain the throne, that they were a threat to him, despite being 1. The twins were gregarious, even at their young age, and you could tell they had a special twin connection, one that was reinforced with magic. They knew exactly what the other was thinking or doing, which was scary yet fascinating at the same time.
Hori killed his two baby brothers just before they turned 2; he was 8. Sarah was devastated. She couldn't understand why Hori would do such a thing. Why would he kill his baby brothers? Liam eventually explained to Sarah the tradition for the throne. It was a law set in stone until Liam changed it. They talked and talked until the following day. They just couldn't understand how Hori knew about the old laws and how he could have the determination to kill the very brothers he loved so dearly.
When we spoke to him, all Hori said was that they were in the way of him taking the throne, and all obstacles must be eliminated. Heartbroken, Sarah died a year later due to her failing health. She barely ate or left her room, dying slowly. My best friend joined her a year later, leaving a 10-year-old Hori in my care. I tried to raise Hori to the best of my ability. Still, when Hori became King, he had already been influenced by the old nobles. They filled his head with the old ways, and so the laws were reverted back to what they originally were before Liam changed them.
I sigh, shaking my head. Remembering the past is too painful for me. I still love Hori, but I will also be disappointed in him until I die. He cursed his children to lead a cruel and unhappy life.
As I was leaving the room, I overheard that the Princes wished to make little Adira Queen. I, personally, thought it was a pleasant surprise. She would make a kind Queen. I just hoped she wouldn't be too naive. Wanting to get back in time, I quickly make my way to the kitchen. I place the tea and biscuits on a trolley and get ready to wheel it all out when I nearly crash into Prince Brutus.
"Where are you going, old man?" Prince Brutus asks in a lofty manner. "You seem to be in a rush." Ever since young Brutus changed, he began to harass me. It seems he knows that I was allowed to choose who I wanted to raise, and so feels angry I didn't choose him.
"I was just getting some tea for Eighth Prince," I reply calmly.
"For my younger brother, huh? Why are there so many cups and cakes then? Don't tell me Sandor's become a glutton?"
I shake my head. "Of course not, Sixth Prince. Eighth Prince has guests, so I must bring some refreshments for them as well." Brutus laughs.
"Guests? Who would visit Sandor?" He sounds so condescending.
"Seventh Prince, Ninth Prince, Third Prince and the First Princess," I reply. Brutus frowns.
"What are they doing there? They're not up to anything funny, are they? Father did say us Princes weren't allowed to create factions; otherwise, brothers from the same mother would already be banding together."
"Good. Guards! Take him!" I grit my teeth in annoyance. I was so sure my lie wouldn't be noticed. Each person has a magical ability, a unique talent that's only for them. Prince Brutus' magical ability is being able to tell when someone lies.
Guards grab both my arms before a secret guard covers my mouth and nose with a chloroform-soaked cloth. I glare at the young Prince before falling unconscious. I never thought that I would be kidnapped by a Prince. Not even the current King would capture me.
I wake up to a bucket of cold water. I look up, my eyes bleary from a mixture of the induced sleep and water running down my face. Blinking a few times, I notice a water mage by the Third Prince's side. "Third Prince, what is the meaning of this?" I ask. My voice is raspy, and my throat is dry.
His grin looks evil as he says, "I just want to extract some information from you."
"Not even the current King would kidnap me, Prince Brutus, so what makes you think you have the right to?" My tone was more snappish and informal. I nearly lost control over myself, and I had excellent self-control.
"I don't have the right, but no one's going to notice if you're gone for a few hours."
"They will notice," I growl.
"If you say so," he smirks.
"Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love." Morihei Ueshiba
I look up, feeling a little famished. My throat was sore from talking so much. "Um...Where's Grandpa Robert?"
My brothers look up, suddenly realising that Grandpa Robert hadn't returned yet.
"He should be back... What's taking him so long?" Eighth brother looks a little worried.
"Do you think someone noticed our gathering?" Third brother mumbles.
"No way! We were super careful!" Seventh brother cries.
"Let's not speculate. We should go and look for him."
"You're right, Xander," Eighth brother smiles. It's hard to remember that we're all so young. 16, 13, 12, 11 and 10. That's our ages. It's hard to think that we need to be intelligent and cunning. I have never met a naive royal or noble... Well, not as gullible as I was in my former life. We learn at too young an age that naivety is a life-threatening trait. If I wasn't that gullible, I would've survived better.
"We should start in the kitchens since Grandpa Robert was getting us tea and snacks," I state with wide eyes. I couldn't help but worry for Grandpa Robert. Is he alright? Did anything disastrous happen? Will he be in the same condition as when we last saw him?
"Good idea, Adi. We shouldn't question anyone, though. They may find it suspicious."
"We should definitely check the security tapes, though. Even though they might have been tampered with, we might be able to pick up who took Grandpa Robert."
We head towards the security room to check on the tape first. We watch Grandpa Robert head towards the kitchen. The cameras at the kitchen entrance go blank before Grandpa Robert leaves.
"Check all the entrances," third brother orders.
"Don't forget the hallways too, third brother." Third brother nods in agreement.
Watching the tapes of the hallways, I notice something. "I think I found something. Sixth brother headed towards the kitchen here."
I try to find other tapes with sixth brother on them, but I come up empty. "Third brother, I can't find our sixth brother anymore. It's like he disappeared."
"He probably used the secret hallways," eighth brother frowns.
"Secret hallways?" I ask.
"Yes. There are secret passageways throughout. Most of them are escape routes," ninth brother explains.
"How many secret passageways go through the kitchen?"
"Five in total."
"There are five of us."
"But you're too vulnerable, Adi."
"I don't mind. I want to help. Will we use our phones to keep in contact?"
"No. It's not that safe. We should use something else..."
"What about eighth brother's plants? Didn't you brag about one of your plants being telepathic? Why don't we use that plant's telepathic abilities to talk to each other?" I cry in excitement.
"That's actually an excellent idea."
"And if we need to put something down on paper, we can use ninth brother's beast tamer ability," I add.
"But what animals?"
"Rats are the best. They have better senses in the dark and know where to go. They'll be able to find their way through the passageways to each other. We should keep four rats with us. One for each person." Seventh brother smiles. The bookworm in him remembers all that he's read.
"Okay. What's the plant called, eighth brother?"
"Clematis telepathia," he smiles.
I frown. "Clematis...telepathia...Clematis meaning a climbing plant, telepathia meaning telepathic."
"Perfect, Adi. Yes, that's exactly what the words mean. You know your Latin."
"I read a lot in the library since I'm not allowed to study. Mother taught me how to read and write."
"Well, she taught you well."
"So, what's the common name for the Clematis telepathia?"
"Telepathic climber. Sometimes the simplest names are best."
"That is simple," I giggle.
"Where can we get some?" Ninth brother asks. "And what rats should we use?"
"I have some seeds in my room. We can use the one in my room as a command centre. All you need to do is swallow the seed, and you can telepathically talk to others who swallow the seed. It only lasts for two hours, so we need to be quick." Eighth brother explains what we need to do for the telepathic climbers to work.
"As for the rats, any type of rat will do as long as it's not albino. An albino rat has impaired senses," seventh brother explains.
"Alright. You'll have to bring the rats to me. I can't talk to animals. Just tame them."
"All we need to do is leave out some cheese near a sewer, and rats will come pouring out."
"Those rats won't be clean, so I would rather have them walk next to us rather than having to hold them."
"We also need to bring a notebook with us and a pen, so if we need to write something down, we can."
We move out to collect the things we need after having agreed on a list. Everyone had something to do, and we had to do it quickly since we didn't know what condition Grandpa Robert was in.
'I hope Grandpa Robert is okay. Please be okay, Grandpa Robert,' I pray. By the time I reach the gathering place, third brother and ninth brother were already there. Seventh brother and eighth brother came not long after.
"Good. Now that we've gathered once more let's start distributing." We're handed a cage with four pristine rats in them.
"I know you said you didn't want to hold them, as they would be dirty, so I asked my maids to clean them up. They were treated like dogs, so they're pristine," ninth brother explains.
"I wish I had your power, ninth brother," I grumble. "That, or beast language. I want to talk to animals. It would be so much fun."
"We don't know what your innate power is yet, Adi. We'll know soon enough, though."
"When?" I complain.
"When we get Grandpa Robert and reel in someone with an innate power measuring tool. They're hard to manufacture, so there are minimal supplies. We should only have 10 in the kingdom."
"Wow! If that's the case, how do each of the men know what their talent is?"
"The 10 crystals are taken to each village once every 5 years."
"That's amazing! How can you tell?"
"Well, first, it'll say whether you're passive or active. Passive is red, and active power is green. If your ability is passive, then you'll go through a series of tests to see what passive ability you have. If it's active, however, the crystal will shine a colour that is linked to you. The colours are transparent for air, blue for water, red for fire and brown for the earth. Dark green is for plants, light green for healing. Gold for light, and black for dark. Yellow for lightning, light blue for ice and white for snow. There are others, but it would take too long to go through each colour and power."
"I have a lot of learning to do," I sigh.
"At least you have seventh brother on your side. He can help you," ninth brother says in a sympathetic tone.
"You guys have had years to learn all this stuff, but I have no foundation. What if I suck at all this Queen stuff?" I suddenly feel disheartened. I have so much to learn but so little time. I'm already behind my brothers because I am not allowed to study. Can I really do this?
"We'll all support you, Adi," third brother says seriously. They all hold some part of my body to reassure me. I smile, feeling grateful that I have all my brothers in my life once more. I missed them so much.
"Let's go get Grandpa Robert!" I cry, feeling better. We move out, heading to our own location. The location I decided to take began in the kitchen. I didn't know how they got away, but they definitely went through the kitchen. Sixth brother will not get away with harming Grandpa Robert. We'll make sure he pays if Grandpa Robert ends up hurt.
I head into the pantry, where I see a slightly raised area in the wall. I press on it, and an opening appears. As soon as I enter, the wall shuts behind me, leaving me in what had looked like a pitch-black room. I switch on my torch and shine it everywhere, but it's too difficult to see, so I take out a lantern and swallow the seed given to me.
'Can everyone hear me?' I ask in my mind. It takes a few rounds, but eventually, all four brothers reply.
The lantern will give me a broader view, even if I can't see as far forward as a torch. My brothers all keep in touch, and I don't say any more than I need to. The passageway for me is relatively short, and soon I come to a crossroads.
'Big brothers, I have a problem,' I say, linking to them.
'What's wrong, Adi?' they chorus.
'I've come to a crossroad. Which way do I go?'
'Whatever your gut says, do. You need to trust your instincts. Our bloodline will always be happy when near relatives. Try to use it.'
'Okay, big brothers.' I sigh to get ready.
"Okay, I can do this," I say in an encouraging tone.
"F-E-A-R has two meanings: 'Forget Everything And Run' or 'Face Everything And Rise'. The choice is yours." Zig Ziglar
I close my eyes and breathe deeply. In and out. In and out. Slowly, calmly, I wait. My mind is blank, my blood rushing through my veins. In the silence, there seems to be a song calling to me, like a siren. Come to me, it seems to say. Where is it coming from? I sink deeper into my subconsciousness. I begin to hear my blood sing. It's like a beacon of light, ready to point me in the right direction. I point down one of the passageways.
"That way," I say. My eyes open, shining brilliantly. "I can do this."
I move towards the passageway I pointed down but pause. 'I'm heading down the left passage,' I say to my brothers. 'I know he's down there.'
'Ok. We're coming,' they reply.
I move first. I'm coming, grandpa Robert. I felt more comfortable, not so cold anymore. I walk at a relaxed pace down the left passageway. This time, it felt much longer before I reached the end. There was light at the end of the passage and voices that were speaking loudly. I was hoping the room wasn't as grimy as the passage. I can still smell the rot and mould because of how damp the passageway is. By now, I wasn't feeling as scared as I was when I first started. Of course, I was nervous but not frightened. It was as if the fear had just drained from my body as adrenaline coursed through my veins. My blood was feeling hotter now. I knew I had found my third brother, but how many more were there? I was all alone, and I heard at least three different voices. One of those voices was sixth brother's. It was in how hoarse his voice was, how raw it was. Out of all my brothers, sixth brother's voice was the only one with such a rough yet deep voice.
'I can hear them,' I tell my brothers. I was right outside now, and even one step out of the room would enable the people inside to see me. I was either lucky or unlucky, and at this moment, I prayed I was lucky. I never really felt that there was a God in my past life. With so many bad things happen to me, I didn't have the heart to pray, but being reincarnated, I feel that there must have been someone watching over me. Why else would I return to 10 years of age with my memories intact?
'Wait for us, Adi,' they say urgently. 'We're nearly there.'
What was probably only five or ten minutes of waiting felt like an eon. When my brothers finally arrive, I quickly hushed them. They were running too noisily. What if the people in the room heard them? Then we'd be screwed. I silently point at the light, glaring at them. They smile sheepishly at me. Rolling my eyes, I tap my head.
'So, what's the plan?' I ask.
'Well, we need a distraction, I think,' eighth brother says a little hesitantly.
'But where would we hide? It's a hallway with nowhere to hide, and we have no idea how the room is structured...' I respond.
'Leo, you have power over earth, right?' seventh brother asks.
'Yeah, you should know that by now, Mil...' third brother grumbles.
'Well, how about you make an indent within the wall of the passageway, and then one of us creeps to the other side, make some noise and draw whoever's inside away.'
'That's actually a good plan, seventh brother,' I say, feeling surprised.
Mil pouts. 'Why are you surprised? I can create good plans.'
My brothers snicker.
'So who will be the bait?' I ask. I think for a bit. 'How about we use ninth brother's beasts?'
'Well, there are always rats in these passageways, so why not use the rats? They can bite whoever's inside. We have four rats each right now, so five times four is twenty rats in total. That's a large mischief of rats.' I smile very sweetly as I explain to my brothers my idea.
I can see my brothers tremble as they watched me with large eyes.
'You're very scary, you know that, Adi?' ninth brother mutters.
'How am I scary?' I ask, feeling a little confused.
'You can say such scary things with such a sweet smile...' third brother trails off, but I understood that it was because I didn't feel anything but happy when I told them my plan to injure others.
'So, what are we going to do?' I ask.
'We'll go with both of your plans,' eighth brother says firmly. 'We shouldn't be separated, and one of us cannot go head to head with professionals, like the ones I'm sure Brutus has in that room.'
'Leo should sort out the hiding spot then,' ninth brother states.
Third brother nods and closes his eyes. He places a hand on the wall of the passageway, a part that looks crumbled and broken. I feel something tug in my blood, but I ignore it. Using the earth's power, third brother excavates the wall. He creates a hole large enough for all five of us to fit in.
'We should hurry. I'm sure Brutus has felt me,' third brother says in a rush.
'What do you mean by he felt you?' I ask curiously as I enter the hole.
'You know how you felt a tug in your blood?' eighth brother asks.
I nod in agreement.
'That's what happens when someone uses their innate powers. We have the same bloodline, even if we have different innate abilities. That means that we can feel when others with the same lineage within the same vicinity use their powers, much like how you felt which way to go when you were at the crossroads. We can feel the general direction others with the same bloodline are. But that's only with immediate family members.' eighth brother explains.
'Oh...so when I felt for sixth brother, did he feel me?' I ask.
'No,' ninth brother answers. 'He will only feel it if you use your powers, not if you search which direction he's at.'
'How long before he notices?' I ask.
'He would have noticed the moment I used my powers,' third brother replies. By this time, he had already closed the wall behind us.
'How can we breathe so easily?' I ask, feeling astonished. I've seen others use their powers, but I've never done something like this before. The hole was so small and enclosed. There shouldn't be enough air for all of us in here.
'I left openings in the wall. That way, we'll be able to breathe in the fresh air whilst expelling the carbon dioxide,' third brother explains.
'You must be really good with your powers to be able to do that,' I say with wide eyes.
'Of course, I am. I have been practising for years now. If I can't even do this, I'm a failure at controlling my powers.' Third brother sounded incredibly proud.
I smile. It's nice hearing my brothers talk about something as trivial as their powers proudly. It felt like we were a typical family with its members bragging about how good they were. It's the type of ordinary I've always wanted but could never achieve in my past life.
'It's your turn, ninth brother.'
It's pretty dark, and I couldn't see anything. I heard squeaking and the patter of paws.
"What was that?" I heard a voice say.
"I don't know, dude! Probably the rats again. What's gotten you so agitated?"
"I don't know. Sixth Prince said one of his siblings were nearby using their powers. He doesn't know who, but it was definitely one he was familiar with. We need to take a look around."
The voices and footsteps were getting closer to our position. I hold my breath, hoping they wouldn't find us. The footsteps pass us. Hearing the voices beginning to fade, I release my breath and sigh in relief.
'Have you sent the rats into the room yet?' I ask.
'Yes. We should hear the results soon.'
Suddenly, there's a deafening squeal.
"Where the hell did these rats come from?"
"Get it off me! Get it off me!"
Footsteps moved in our direction and didn't stop as they passed us. We waited until we couldn't hear them anymore.
'Are they all gone?' I ask.
'Don't know,' my brothers reply.
'We should wait a bit longer,' eighth brother suggests.
'Why?' I ask.
'Because there might be some stragglers inside the room still. We don't know how many there actually were, and we don't know if Brutus left with them. We need to wait until we're sure.'
Suddenly, there were even footsteps walking down the passageway from the direction of the room. It moved at a steady pace and paused right in front of our hiding spot.
Please don't find us, I pray.
Saving Grandpa Robert
"Do one thing that scares you every day." Eleanor Roosevelt
The footsteps move on. I wait until I couldn't hear the footsteps anymore before sighing in relief.
'That was close,' I moan, suddenly feeling exhausted. I've been tightly strung for so long now, and my body just stopped working. All the adrenaline just left. I sag, and my ninth brother quickly catches me, gently lowering me to the ground.
'Are you alright, Adi?' He asks.
'Yeah. I'm fine. I'm just glad we weren't found. I think I need to rest a bit.'
'That's fine. We need to check if they're all gone anyway,' eighth brother sighs.
'I'll ask my rats to make a sound if there are still guards in that room,' ninth brother states.
'That's a good idea. How will you contact them, though?' I ask.
'Through my mind. As a beast tamer, I can speak to my tamed beasts no matter how far away they are. I can understand them, and they can understand me,' ninth brother explains.
'I should've learnt all this, shouldn't I?' I ask quietly. I feel sad. There were so many things I didn't know, and it frightens me sometimes. Can I be a good Queen even if I lack so much knowledge?
'I know the reason,' third brother murmurs.
'Why wasn't I taught any of this?' I ask him pleadingly.
'It's because of your mother. You know how she killed our youngest sibling?' My brothers all make sounds of acknowledgement.
'Hold on! She didn't kill anyone! My mother is the sweetest person alive! There's no way she'd kill a defenceless baby!' I shout through the link. My brothers wince.
'We know, we know—your mother's way too naive to do something like that,' seventh brother groans.
'We never said she did, Adi. But it's something the whole kingdom knows and believes, so you can't say she didn't do it without proof.' I glare at them before looking away. I was so mad. Does no one believe in my mother like I do? My sweet, clumsy, gentle mother. There's no way she'd harm another person's child, especially my father's. She loves him so much, and it hurts her so badly when he treats her coldly like that. She's suffered so much because of him.
'As I was saying, because of that... incident, our father decided that you weren't allowed to learn the basics. He said it was punishment for your mother killing one of his children... one of his sons.'
'Did he ever care for me?' I ask in a small voice.
'I'm sure he does care for you, Adi.'
'He's never shown any care for me...'
'He used to hold you all the time when you were a baby,' third brother smiles. 'He would carry you, set you on his knee, and rock you to sleep. He would sing to you and play with you. With you around, we would see him smile all the time.'
'But that was before the incident,' I state.
'...Yes... That was before the incident...'
'There's no one in the room,' ninth brother suddenly exclaims.
'It's time then?' I ask, jumping to my feet.
'Yes, it's time.'
Third brother opens the wall for us to leave. We move quickly and quietly as our third brother closes the wall up once more. I reach the room first and stick my head in it.
"There really is no one here!" I exclaim aloud.
"Shh!" my brothers hush me. I giggle, clamping my hands over my mouth.
"Sorry," I whisper. "Let's go in."
We move slowly, with ninth brother on the lookout. Looking around the brightly lit room, it feels cozy. The stone walls are cleaner. There's a fireplace going, and the furniture is classy. There's a huge red rug before the fireplace, with a small table and two armchairs sitting on top. There are paintings on the walls and a larger table with more chairs surrounding it. There's another hallway on the opposite wall to where we entered.
"I think grandpa Robert is through that passageway," I say, pointing to it.
"I'll go with Adi. Sandor, you stay here with Xander," third brother orders.
"Got it, big bro!" eighth brother salutes him playfully.
Third brother rolls his eyes, pulling seventh brother and me along. We're back in the dark and damp again. I shiver as the warmth of the previous room leaves my body in an instant.
"Draw power from your bloodline, Adi," third brother says softly.
I nod and close my eyes. Feeling the power in my bloodline is much easier this time. It doesn't take as long to touch upon it. The temperature slowly stabilises, and I no longer feel the cold.
"I feel much better," I sigh, turning to my two brothers. They look at me weirdly. "What?"
"I think your powers have an icy component..." seventh brother mumbles.
"An icy component?" I ask.
"Look at the ground at your feet, Adi," third brother says softly.
I look down, only to see ice. I blink for a second before jumping away from the icy area.
"Where did that come from?" I gasp in shock. I'm sure there was no ice a minute ago!
"The ice came from you, Adi," third brother says gently.
"That means your powers are icy!" seventh brother exclaims.
"Ice?" I mumble. "So that means I have powers over ice?"
"That's so cool!" I squeal. "Let's go get grandpa Robert! I really want to show him!"
I sprint off, giggling.
"Careful, Adi!" third brother calls out.
"Wait for us!"
I ignore them and continue down the passageway to another room. The room was filled with cells. I quickly stop at the entrance, my eyes wide. There were a few people in the cells, but even more skeletons and crushed skulls.
"Woah! So many skeletons!" I was too shocked at what I saw.
"Princess?" a voice calls out. I turn to it.
"Grandpa Robert!" I rush over to his cell. He looked peaceful, and I couldn't see any wounds. "You're alright? Sixth brother didn't do anything to you, did he?"
"I'm fine. I'm not hurt." His voice is soothing and gentle.
"That's good," I sigh in relief. "What is this place?"
"It's a dungeon. One that's kept many captives over the years."
"I can see that." Third brother and seventh brother come up to me.
"We need to get going, grandpa Robert," third brother says seriously. Grandpa Robert nods.
"That'd be best if we do. Who else is here?"
"Eighth brother and ninth brother."
Third brother uses his powers on the cell walls, creating an opening for grandpa Robert to get through. This time, I can feel a stronger tugging sensation in my bloodline.
"Third brother, I'm feeling this tugging sensation..."
"That's because I'm using my powers. The more you become in tune with your abilities and bloodline, you will feel that tugging sensation grow stronger. Especially when someone with the same blood as you uses their powers near you."
"Oh. So that's what sixth brother would have felt?" I ask.
"That's so mysterious!"
"It is." Grandpa Robert hugs me.
"I'm glad you're alright, grandpa Robert," I sigh.
"I'll always be alright, Princess. I may be old, but I'm not useless."
"Let's go back now."
We head through the passageway once more, completely ignoring the other prisoners. I don't know why they were there, but I'm sure not all of them are innocent. We move through the passage in record time.
Ninth brother and eighth brother were sitting on the armchairs by the fireplace.
"That's good. Let's get out of here then. I'm pretty sure Brutus is returning."
"Do we need to hide in the wall again?" I ask.
"We can, or we can just fight our way through."
"I want to hide. I don't want to confront sixth brother just yet..."
Third brother leaves the room. A few minutes later, he returns. "We should probably hurry. The space in the wall is open again."
The six of us rush into the small space, and third brother encloses us once more. Footsteps and voices grow louder.
"Those rats were crazy!"
"I know! I feel so dirty and sore from all those bites!"
"I honestly want a raise... I don't have enough money to buy medication for any diseases those rats might have. Just thinking about it makes me shudder."
The voices move on into the room, but footsteps stop right in front of us once again.
All is quiet in the passageway. I cover my mouth with my hands, hoping my breathing isn't as loud as it sounds in the silence. My heart is racing, and it sounds deafening. Don't find us! Don't hear us!
The footsteps move on once more.
'That was close! I don't want to do something like this ever again! It's way too scary!'
Third brother quickly opens the wall up, and we rush out, sprinting away. I continue to hope they don't hear our shoes over the noise they make in the room.
A New Sister?
"Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden." Phaedrus
We finally make it out. Our footsteps could be heard, and sixth brother would have felt it when third brother used his ability. The only explanation would be that he let us go. But why? I don't understand sixth brother. Why would he let us go?
When we reach eighth brother's room, we're breathing hard. We ran the whole way back.
"It's good that you're back, Grandpa Robert..." Eighth brother mumbles, hugging the old man.
Grandpa Robert laughs. "It's good to be back." He ruffles eighth brother's hair. Seeing the gentleness and happiness between the two made me happy. Their relationship is just too beautiful.
"So, what do we do now?" I ask.
"I think it's time to take a break for now," Grandpa Robert suggests. "You've all had a very long day. I think you all should go rest. Especially you, Princess."
"Ok, Grandpa Robert." I curtsy to my brothers. "Third brother, seventh brother, eighth brother and ninth brother, I bid you farewell for today. I will meet with you all at a later date."
My brothers bow to me. "We shall see you next time, First Princess," they say together.
Smiling at them, I leave the room and head back to my own quarters in the cold palace. I can't wait to see my mother and tell her all about my day.
Friday, June 20, 2014
It's been two weeks since we saved Granda Robert from sixth brother, and I still can't understand him. He's still the nasty person he's always been, but why do I get this feeling that not everything is right? He could've caught us that day, but he didn't. Why is that?
I've been working on the basics. Apparently, everyone has magic, and everyone learns the basics. The only reason I didn't was because of what my mother was framed for; murder. Even commoners learn the basics. Was it because I was sheltered that I didn't know? Or was it because I was blind in my previous life? Because I didn't want to know? The only thing women are not supposed to have is their own ability. I don't have a lot of common knowledge, so learning so much information is both a blessing and a curse. I have so much to remember, yet I seem to soak up all this knowledge like a sponge. It's been an extraordinary experience.
Of course, I don't know everything yet. I mean, I have a whole 8 years to make up for, but I'm getting there. I've already crammed 1 year worth of study within these past two weeks, and I can remember everything. Turns out I have a photographic memory. I didn't before, but I think the reason for my memory getting better is because I was reborn.
I was reborn with the soul of an adult, which is much stronger than a child's. As a child, I already had a soul, and so because I was reborn into my younger self, with the two souls merged, my soul has grown much more powerful. With a powerful soul, it affects how much of my brain works. It's much like people with a higher IQ. The stronger the soul, the more information I can retain at more extensive qualities because my brain works more efficiently.
Of course, the brain is active almost all the time, with certain parts being used at different times and completing various activities. Your brain is continuously active, which is the reason for you being alive. The information you retain, though, is less than 10% for the majority of people. This is where the myth of using 10% of your brain comes from. It's not that you only use 10% of your brain. It's just that you can only retain 10% of what you experience every day. This is why there are always holes in your memory or things you don't remember after a long period.
My brain can retain at least 20-25% of the information. This is at least double what others can keep. And so, with a more efficient memory, I have what is called a photographic memory, where images of objects or text from books are retained in my long and short term memory. I do have to review what I know, though, or the things in my short-term memory won't become long-term.
Today, I had just completed my homework given by my brothers when I came across sixth brother when I went on my daily walk. He seemed in a hurry, so I decided to follow him. I hurry back to the cold palace.
"Mother! I wish to leave the palace today."
"Because there's something I want to do." I look at her with determination. Sixth brother was hiding something, and I had to find out what. Mother looks at me and sighs.
"Ok. But be careful."
I nod happily before rushing out once more. Walking over to the chauffeur we usually use, I ask him to follow sixth brother.
"Sure, Princess," he smiles warmly. The servants living with us were all kind people who didn't believe the rumours surrounding mother. We follow sixth brother out of the city and into the countryside.
Why is sixth brother coming here...? I wonder. There shouldn't be anything of value out here... Sixth brother's car eventually comes to a stop outside a farm. It was a beautiful place, full of flowers and fields. There were paddocks full of horses, cattle and sheep. I could only look at the horses with shining eyes. I've always loved horses. Shaking my head, I focus once more on sixth brother.
As he emerges from the car, a pretty little girl with flaming red hair comes running out of the house. As she comes closer, I notice her eyes; they're the same as all of us siblings, a midnight blue, the sign of the royal family. The young girl with curly hair threw herself into sixth brother. If I'm correct, this little girl is slightly younger than me and has to be an eleventh child sired by father. But why hadn't I heard of her before? Why didn't third brother tell me about her? From sixth brother's reaction and her hair colour, she must share the same mother as them. The one and only Lady Kaitlyn, who framed my mother for the death of her son eight years ago...
Eight years ago... Wait! Lady Kaitlyn only mentioned the birth of a son, never a daughter. The little girl looks to be around eight. Of course, I wouldn't know, but she definitely looks younger than me, but the only royal child younger than me should be dead... and a son... so where did this daughter come from?
Just trying to think made my brain hurt. I've done so much cramming, I couldn't even think properly anymore. Forget it. I'll talk to third brother first. He can help.
"Let's go," I tell the chauffeur.
"Of course, Princess." The chauffeur backs away the minute sixth brother enters the house with the little girl and heads back to the palace.
I head for third brother's quarters the second we return. I couldn't wait to tell him what I found out.
"Third brother! I have to tell you something!" I gasp, bursting into his room.
He was standing around a table with seventh brother, eighth brother and ninth brother.
"What's wrong, Adi?" he asks.
"We have a younger sister!" I burst out. My brothers look at me with a frown, confusion written all over their faces.
"A younger sister? Adi, you're kidding, right?"
"I'm not! She has the royal eyes! The same midnight blue as us all."
"The very same," I confirm.
"Well, where is she?"
"On a farm outside the city."
"How did you find out about her?"
"I followed sixth brother."
I nod, eagerly examining my brother's expressions.
"It's true! He looked so warm and gentle towards her; I doubt I could be wrong. She has your hair, third brother! The same flaming colour... but her hair is full of curls. Your mother doesn't have curly hair."
"Actually, she does. She just doesn't like it, so she straightens it. No one else would know except father, Brutus and I... as well as mother's family, of course."
"She must be our sister then!"
"Why did you come up with the idea that she may be our sister? She could just be a cousin of Brutus and me."
"Because she's the spitting image of Lady Kaitlyn. Unless Lady Kaitlyn has a twin sister that has children, I doubt she's your cousin." I stand firm with what I saw. "We must interrogate sixth brother."
"We could give it a try, big brother..." ninth brother murmurs.
"If we have a sister, then we need to know more about why we never found out before, and Brutus might have the information we need... No. He'd definitely know what's going on," eighth brother says firmly.
"I want to know our little sister," seventh brother says happily. I could see he was imagining meeting her and spoiling her.
"Act the part, and you will become the part." William James
Monday, June 23, 2014
It's been a few days since I spoke to my brothers about a potential new sister. I just can't stop thinking about her. She looked so cute. I know I'm supposed to look adorable, but I'm an adult in a child's body. It's very hard trying to pretend to be more innocent than I am. Most of who I am right now is acting. I know deep down, I'm not lovable. I'm not sweet, or cute, or adorable, or gentle. I'm full of darkness and hatred. I have so much pain in my heart, so much anger.
What isn't an act is how I feel for my brothers, my mother. They are my family, the people I want to keep close to. Of course, I would prefer it if all my brothers were kind and gentle like ninth brother, but that's just a fantasy I know will not come true.
Because of my wandering thoughts, I haven't even gotten through half of the reading I was supposed to complete. It's stressful, yet something I feel is essential. Who wouldn't want to know if they have another sister? Who doesn't want a big family? I'm not saying I want to have heaps of kids when I get married, but I like having lots of siblings. As the youngest, I've never been able to spoil a younger sibling before. It's something I've always wanted to do. I'd cherish her if she were really my younger sister.
I wonder what her name is and how old she really is. Is she really third brother's full-blooded sister? And why didn't sixth brother tell third brother? It's all so confusing. I really want those answers. Knowing I'm not going to focus on my work, I head over to eighth brother's palace again. Have they gotten any results yet? Do they know anything?
Now, I know what you think. Eighth brother has a palace? Well, it's not really a palace. It's more like a wing. We just call it a palace. Each brother has their own wing or palace. Just like the cold palace mother and I are living in is the Southern wing. It's only a more abandoned area with not as many servants as the other palaces.
I sprint the whole way, not caring how I looked. A proper princess is not allowed to do anything unladylike. Still, at this point, I just wanted to know if the investigations proved that we had a younger sister. I reach eighth brother's palace and barge in, as I've been doing the past few weeks.
"Eighth brother! Have you found anything yet?" I call out loudly. I look around, not seeing anyone there. "Eighth brother?"
No one was around. The whole palace was deserted. Where is everyone? Was something supposed to be happening today? Where's eighth brother? Where's Grandpa Robert? I walk out with a deep frown on my face. Let's go to ninth brother's palace then.
I head to ninth brother's palace, then seventh brother's, before finally finishing at third brother's. No one was home. Where is everyone? Standing at an intersection between third brother's palace and ninth brother's, I stomp my foot in frustration. What on Earth is happening today? The whole place is like a ghost town. I rush back to the cold palace—time to ask mother.
"Mother! Where is everyone?" I ask when I reach her room.
"There's a parade today. That's why you don't have any lessons and were just told to read," mother explains.
"Yes. The founding parade. The Kingdom was found this week, thousands of years ago."
"Yes, I understand that, but why weren't we invited to this parade?"
"Because only the Prince's can attend. It's one of them, after all, that's going to be the next ruler."
"Mother, do you think we have abilities too?" I ask. It's been something I've wanted to know for a while. Do other women think we may have abilities?
"Maybe. But I also don't want to know if we do. It's hard enough being a woman. I don't want to be called a rebel and a traitor too."
Mother sighs. She looks tired. I hug her tight.
"It'll be alright, mama. It'll get better. I know it."
Mother hugs me close.
"I know, sweetie. We just have to be patient."
"Mother, why do you still love father?" I ask.
"Because I know he still loves me too. He was my everything. Despite my being a commoner, he didn't despise me. He was kind to me. Loving towards me."
"He already had a Queen and three other Ladies, though." I felt so confused. How could father love mother like that when he was already married?
"He married Queen Satine when he was a Prince, but he never truly loved her. He didn't love Lady Rita, Lady Kaitlyn or Lady Violet either. Each and every one of them was chess pieces given to your father. He didn't get to choose them. He did choose me, though. And that's enough."
"But he sent you here, to the cold palace. Why would he do that if he didn't love you?"
"Him sending me here is him loving me. If it were any other ruler, the death of a son would be death for the culprit."
"But you never killed the child. It wasn't you. Your nature doesn't allow you to harm another. You're kind and sweet and gentle. Not vicious like everyone in the Kingdom thinks."
Mother laughs, rubbing my head gently.
"Your father knows that, but he can't move against Lady Kaitlyn. She has too much backing here in the Kingdom. After all, she has the Third Prince and the Sixth Prince by her side."
"Third brother doesn't want anything to do with his mother. He calls her vicious and a disgusting human being."
Mother frowns, not happy at all. Her grip on me tightens.
"You never say that about another person. It doesn't matter who they are or whether they genuinely are vicious and disgusting. You never call anyone that."
"Why not, mother?"
"Because, as long as you think kind thoughts and feel pure feelings, you will always be a good person. As long as you see the good in a person, there's surely something in them that's redeemable."
"Do you think sixth brother is redeemable?"
"Yes. I know the Sixth Prince is."
"Because he's a genuinely kind soul at heart. Don't look on the outside, Adira. Try to look underneath the tough facade he puts on. It'll show you just how kind and genuine he is."
"How do you know he's kind underneath that mad dog appearance?"
"Because he was the kindest to you as a child. I still remember when you were born." Mother's eyes turn misty from remembering. "You were so small. So cute. The Sixth Prince would always watch over your cradle. He'd sing you lullabies and help feed you. You were his favourite sibling apart from the Third Prince."
"But sixth brother is so different now." I did remember how kind he was, but that was so long ago. He changed completely after his baby brother died.
"I know. But the day before he changed, he came to me. He bowed and apologised. He said, 'I'm so sorry. My mother, Lady Kaitlyn, wronged you. I want to help you, but I'm not strong enough.' He then stood upright and said, rather firmly, 'I will get stronger.' It was such a cute thing for him to do. I still laugh happily now when I remember."
"But he was 6 years old."
"All royal children grow up fast. He had to so that he could survive. He's a Prince, after all."
"I wasn't like that, though..."
"Because you're a Princess. You're not supposed to grow up that fast. You're supposed to know things, yes, but you're not a part of the succession line, and therefore a pawn that needs to remain alive and sheltered."
"Why do I have to stay sheltered?"
"A female who knows too much is deemed a rebel. A female who tries to change their status is considered a traitor. Us women need to be very careful, sweetheart. So make sure you don't do anything wrong in front of the Second Prince."
"The Second Prince is sly and dangerous. He's like a snake hiding in the dark, just waiting to strike. So be careful, Adira, honey. Whatever you're planning, don't do anything or think about anything in front of him. He has complete control over his mind-reading capabilities. He'll find out everything with even the slightest thought from you."
Mother is mother, after all. She's the one that knows me best. She's the only one that can see right through me.
"I'm glad you're my mom. Thank you for being there for me." I could only smile at her. Nothing can replace my mother, and I will do anything to keep her safe.
Planning a Poisoning
"As a matter of fact, most cases of food poisoning are never linked back to their source." Eric Schlosser
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
My brothers came back late last night. Everyone was so exhausted, and I didn't want to bother them. But today's a new day. I will bother them as much as I'd like and get my answers.
I march to eighth brother's palace, ready to ask them when I run into third brother.
"Third brother!" I cry. "Did you find anything out?"
"Shhh!" He shushes me, holding a finger over his mouth. His eyes dart around. "Let's get to Sandor's palace before discussing this. Don't forget the walls have ears."
I nod and follow third brother quietly. I've gotten so used to my brothers and so relaxed around them that I'd forgotten that we were in the palace still. It wasn't safe for anyone in the palace. We reach eighth brother's wing quickly. Ninth brother greets us at the door, closing it behind us. After setting up the wards, my brothers relax.
"So, do we have a sister?" I ask immediately.
"Yes, we do," third brother sighs. "I didn't expect mother to be so disgusting." His face twists in disgust. Inspecting him closely, I found that he looked terrible.
"I thought I was a good brother to Brutus, but it seems that I'm a worse brother than I thought. I didn't even realise he was crying for help inside."
"What happened?" I ask. I wasn't sure what was going on. My brothers look at each other before third brother speaks.
"You know how eight years ago, your mother was framed for the death of our youngest brother?" I nod. It was something I was bitter about. My mother didn't kill anyone, let alone a tiny baby.
"Well, that baby boy wasn't even father's child. My mother-" third brother Leo cuts himself off. "No. I can't even think of her as my mother anymore. The woman who gave birth to me, Kaitlyn MacDermott, had a nursemaid that was also pregnant at the time. That nursemaid gave birth to a son the day before she gave birth. She, however, gave birth to a healthy girl. Seeing the child wasn't the son she wanted, Kaitlyn told the nursemaid to give her the child, and she killed both mother and son. After poisoning the boy, she died what little hair he had red and ran to father, saying, your mother killed their son."
"How did father not know she gave birth to a girl?"
"Father was out at the time of the delivery, and Kaitlyn was surrounded by her own people," seventh brother explains.
"How did she hide our sister then?" I ask. How did she get our sister out of the castle?
"Brutus was there at the time. He was there when Kaitlyn gave birth to Emilia and so heard that she had a little girl. Kaitlyn told him to keep an eye on her and to hide her, or she'd kill her. While father was grieving, she gave Emilia to one of her own servants and told them to leave the country after killing her. Brutus told them to change sides, to follow him. He said to them that he'd let them raise her and protect them from his mother."
"And that's what he did. He became the son Kaitlyn wanted to hide the fact that he kept our sister alive," I finish. My brothers nod. I felt heartbroken for my big brother. He was only 6 years old at the time, yet he had burdens to carry with no one there to help.
"Why didn't he ask us for help?" I ask mournfully.
"He probably didn't know who to trust," third brother sighs.
"Well, we have to help him now," I state firmly. My gaze locked onto each of my brothers. They all nod in agreement.
"That means we'll have to change our plan around. Rather than second brother, we start with sixth brother. And maybe go onto first brother after that."
"Why Alaric, and not Murdoch?" seventh brother asks.
"Because mother said we must hide the fact that we were collaborating from second brother. She said he has complete control over his mind-reading abilities and that it was perilous if he found out." I quickly cover my mouth. "Sorry eighth brother."
Eighth brother shakes his head. "It's alright, Adi."
"But you share the same mother!"
"I've been preparing myself just in case I need to battle it out with Alaric or Murdoch, so don't worry. Our ties as full-blooded brothers aren't as strong as with the rest of you."
"Then we go on to Alaric when we've finished with Brutus," third brother says finally.
"We need to talk to Brutus first," ninth brother adds. "So that we can create a plan. Do we want to kill Lady Kaitlyn or just send her to jail?"
"Kill her," third brother states, hatred dripping with each word. "She needs to die to atone for the sins she's committed."
"...She's your mother, third brother," I say with worry. "And will sixth brother agree to it?"
"He will. She doesn't care about either of us. I've known it all along."
"I'm sure she does care."
"She doesn't, Adi. I know you want it to be true, but you need to face the facts. Kaitlyn MacDermott doesn't care about Brutus and me. She's a true monster who only cares about becoming the next Queen Dowager."
"...Okay...But we run the plan through sixth brother first."
"So how do we... kill Lady Kaitlyn?" I ask.
"Poison," third brother replies flatly. "Kaitlyn loves to poison others. It's basically her thing; her trademark. It's what she was known for back in her Dukedom. She would kill off anyone she was displeased with back in the Dukedom of Scotland. It seems she didn't stop when she came here."
"How do you know that?" I ask. Usually, a son wouldn't have dirt on his own mother.
"After the death of your 'youngest' brother, I did some digging into Kaitlyn's past. I was a little suspicious because your mother wasn't the kind to kill an innocent baby, and her closest maid was suddenly gone too. The child looked poisoned, so I decided to look into past cases back in the Dukedom of Scotland. I found hundreds of cases that were buried, each and every one of them leading back to Kaitlyn MacDermott."
"That's terrifying," I shudder. "Has she done anything that extreme over here?"
"No," third brother says, shaking his head. "But she has killed a considerable amount of people. It's not only her, though. Queen Satine also uses poison, it seems. I also looked into Lady Rita and Lady Violet, but both seem to be clean. And as for Lady Cardinia, she's clean as a whistle."
"I know my mother's clean. She's too nice to hurt others... and that's her problem..." I sigh.
"I'm glad you know she has a problem, at least. She's literally the weakest one out of the concubines, and she has no thoughts to punish anyone and make her stature known! It's as if she thinks she's still a commoner or something."
"It's just her personality. She never raises her voice."
"Alright, enough talk about Lady Cardinia. We still need to plan how to kill Lady Kaitlyn. So we use poison, but what poison? How do we poison her? And how do we make sure it doesn't link back to us?" ninth brother asks.
"We should use ricin," seventh brother suggests. "Ricin is the excess found in beans of the castor plant. After the castor oil is removed, all that remains in the beans is ricin. Everything in the castle is made fresh and from scratch, including castor oil. After inhaling, the individual will only have an 'allergic reaction' which includes nasal congestion, hives and wheezing. Post mortem results will only show the inflammation of the lung tissue and airways."
"How do you know all that?" I ask, nearly gaping at my seventh brother. It was astounding how he knew such things.
"I read," he shrugs apathetically.
"What about other ways to apply it?"
"Well, there's ingestion and injection. But no matter what we use, Lady Kaitlyn will only die between 36 and 48 hours later."
"Is that the best we can do?" I ask. "There's nothing that can kill instantly?"
"Not if we want them to find out about the poisoning. And anyway, ricin doesn't have an antidote."
"Well, we can use a pre-existing allergy," third brother muses.
"Well, Kaitlyn has a love and an allergy for chrysanthemums. Although it's hard to find some, there is a possibility. And I can hand-deliver them."
"Wouldn't that get you into trouble? You're not close to her."
"Then we need to get Brutus to do it," eighth brother says calmly.
"Brutus is closer to Lady Kaitlyn," ninth brother agrees.
"That's if sixth brother agrees to our ridiculous plan," I sigh.
"He will. He just can't sniff the flowers. They'll probably chalk it up to a severe allergic reaction."
"Will sixth brother get into trouble?"
"Probably not. Kaitlyn asks for chrysanthemums a lot since she likes sniffing them. We just need to put a whole lot of ricin into the bouquet of chrysanthemums, and it should be alright."
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