Kalion had been a very accomplished child, good in everything. Even more so than his two older brothers. He aced academics, swordsmanship and even on looks. The King had designated him as his successor, even though he wasn’t the oldest child. Kalion had to grow a little more, and then he would be the crown prince. However, everything had fallen apart on his tenth birthday.
It had been a normal day. He had decided to engage himself more on sword practice. That summer day he had drunk something that had been usually given to him. It was what he drank everyday. That day, the drink seemed strange and he had started vomiting blood.
He had been in bed for one week in a state of unconsciousness. His mother was by his bedside, her eyes red from crying. His father was there too, stiff-faced. He had tried to talk to them but his voice was gone. He couldn’t utter a word.
He woke up again to find the medic by his bedside. His parents had left. The medic explained to him that he had swallowed a very dangerous poison. His oesophagus and stomach had burnt from within. A wizard close to the royals had used his magic in time to prevent any permanent damage to his vitals. Still, despite all magic and medicine, his body would take a very long time to fully recover, and even then, he might not recover completely.
The medic has assured him that knowing him, he would recover in no time but it was important for him to not over-stress his body and take his medicines on time. Kalion had heeded the medic and took care of his body. He did everything he was told to do. Kalion had thought everything would indeed be alright. He thought wrong.
He had noticed that he couldn’t even keep down water. Every time he raised his hands to hold a glass of water, his hands would shake. His whole body would tremble, followed by a violent fit of cough. It had been difficult for him to swallow any form of liquid after that. Eating food was even worse. Whenever he thought about eating, or food was placed in front of him, a fear gripped him and his body refused to accept the meals. The medic had kindly explained to him that the psychological state was because of the trauma of having swallowed the poison. This fear had never left him.
In the beginning, his parents had been very supportive but as time went by, they started becoming annoyed at him and his behavior. “You just need to control it, Kalion,” they would say, “You can overcome it if you have a strong willpower.”
Not being able to eat or drink, Kalion’s body had shrivelled up. His cheeks had become sunken with yellowish pallor. His skin sagged and clung to his body. His muscles that he had earned through hard-work had all but disappeared. Kalion looked and felt miserable. His mother had been ill at ease, she summoned his teacher and instructed him to teach Kalion in the palace. She was of the opinion that he can’t lie down on bed forever. But because of his deteriorating health, it was excruciating for Kalion to concentrate in class. He didn’t understand a thing of what he was being taught.
This had gone on for five months with no good news. The king no longer sought after his son. It seemed he was in no mood to declare Kalion the crown prince, regarding his condition. His mother had recognized the king’s change of heart. No matter the effort and the alternatives undertaken to make him feel better, Kalion gave no sign of improvement. They had, at last, thought of one final solution. Their parents had planned for a new baby.
Ten months later, she had given birth to a boy. A healthy, intelligent boy, just like Kalion had been in the past. Their parents showered all their attention and affection to this new baby boy, not unlike how Kalion had been treated in the recent past. The palace had been given to the new prince, while Kalion had been transferred to another. The visits from the doctors, and teachers dwindled to once a month. The number of servants who were stationed to attend him dwindled as well. It seemed Kalion was fading from everyone’s memory.
On his birthday, when no one came looking for him, he knew. He had known it for quite a while now. He no longer existed as a person to others. No one cared. Several years later, Kalion received an order from the king, the first order in a long long time. An order to go to the Duchy of Hessenguard as a proud royal to represent Aether.
Kalion cursed inwardly and stared down at Erna on the bed, as he recalled his past. Erna lay there, with her face covered with her arms, as though she couldn’t bear looking at him. Kalion sighed. They hated each other in equal measure and yet their lives had been ravaged and damaged on both sides causing similar pain. The deed had to be done if there was to be any chance of them saving themselves from their homeland and the painful memories associated with their respective places.
What now? He wondered. Kalion wasn’t ignorant about sex from the things he had seen and heard from his knights. He was contemplating how to finish the deed as soon as possible with as little contact.