19.Reins of Destiny
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As I am attempting to slip away I am caught by the Pope of all people. “Your majesty, what is that look for?” I don’t let up my glare even if he mentions it. This man sold me out for gold. Will of god? A bunch of lies. 

“I pay my respects to God and to his holiness, the pope.” My tone is dry and a touch sarcastic. The pope merely smiles at me with a small chuckle. “I was going to the balcony, you care to join me?” 

“It would be my honor, your majesty.” I can sense people staring at me. It is rare for both the emperor and the pope to be in one spot. The wind blows into my face, Its touch cold and sharp. The city hustles and bustles below the palace. Boats float through the river. Beyond darkness hides the forests and grasslands. 

The pope merely hums a religious hymn. “Do you still hold contempt towards your father?” He stops for a second to ask me a question before continuing. Instead of immediately replying I consider whether he ever dreamed of becoming an entertainer.  He is rather good at humming.

“Yes.” 

“You should forgive him, who is in heaven, for his mistakes. He was a broken-” 

“Excuse my rudeness for interrupting but I care not for his reasoning. I know exactly why he loathed my existence. I have read his diary.” The pope just looks at me with a complex expression. I do not know why he brought this up today but I know that I wish it to stop. Immediately. 

“I do not condone his actions, I merely want to see you become a better man than him.” 

“A better man? His blood runs through my veins, all the emperors of Arria have their blood flowing through my veins. I am a descendant of their vileness and evil. There is no goodness in me.” The pope has the audacity to laugh at me. 

“No goodness? You slave away for the empire every day. You create public works for all of Arria to benefit, as far as I am concerned you are a good man.” I rap my fingers upon the balcony ledge. That qualifies me as good? This is merely my sentence for past crimes. “I see that I cannot convince you. Let me, instead, ask you how wedded life is treating you.” 

“It is... nice.” I do not know how to explain it but I have never been able to sleep well. So long as I keep my emotions stable I can get enough to get by but I have hardly ever had a good night's rest. This has been different since my marriage. 

“Good to hear, despite your belief I chose the marriage on the will of god. I accepted no money from Giovanni.” I snort in response. Even if I did believe him I do not believe in God. The pope slowly walks away leaving me alone to myself. 

Giovanni once told me I had the devil’s blood in my veins. I could not have agreed more with him. A slender hand touches my shoulder. I look back to see Isabella. “Mother asked me to find you. She wishes to take you up on your promise.” 

“Very well.” I say walking away from the balcony.  

I walk onto the dance floor and begin to dance with Rosa. She is a similar height to Isabella. “You have gotten so tall, I hardly noticed at the wedding.” I narrow my eyes. I am only a bit taller than the average Arrian, Luca is the one who is tall. I guess she was much taller than me when I was younger.

“You are shorter than I remember.” 

“You remember me? You couldn’t have been older than eight.” She laughs. I don’t exactly remember my age, it was roughly ten years ago. But that memory still resides within me. The emotions. “It is flattering that you remember, you were such a sweet boy.” 

“Was I?” 

“Oh, most certainly. You handed the rose back to me and said that you weren’t pretty so it didn’t suit you but instead suited me better.” She laughs. I do not remember the details, I merely remember the emotions. It is more like a spectre of my past. A small glimpse at light. “I was totally set on you from the moment I met you.” 

“Set on me?” 

“There you go again, both you and Giovanni keep doing that. Don’t simply repeat what I have said.” She starts scolding me. Suddenly I feel as if I am seeing Isabella in front of me. She reminds me of Isabella. Though the parralel to Giovanni displeases me. We are very different people. I am young and he is old. Not to mention that I prefer the sword over the pen.

“I apologize, I was merely confused.” We remain silent for the rest of the dance. The night slowly creeps along as people retreat to their lodgings. While the palace begins to quiet the city does not. I imagine that tomorrow many people will wake up late and with a head ache. 

“Everyone else has left, are you just going to stand out here watching the city all night?” I look back to see Isabella. Perhaps it is because I have been nostalgic today but I feel exhausted. This may be the case or it might just be the wine. 

“Shall we go to bed?” I extend my hand and Isabella takes it. The world is mine for the taking, all I need is to take it. Some say that I am the chosen of God. Some say the stars dictate the future. 

I do not believe any of these notions. I take the reins of my own destiny. I forge my own path. I may have been forced into this marriage but I have accepted it. For better or for worse. 


A/N: Last of the ball chapters. What do you guys think of Leonardo? It is funny because Michael is a bit of a hypocrite. He says that people shouldn't be judged based on the sins of their fathers and yet he seems to shoulder the responsibility of his ancestors. I have actually been toying around with the idea of a prequel centered around Lucifer. It would be shorter than this but it was an idea in my head. I was thinking of doing a poll with a couple of ideas to choose from, this being one of them.

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