Viaan was walking with his companions in the crowded market of Mihira. He had a reason to be present there. But his friends didn't know that. He didn't want them to get agitated and talk him out of it. He had to do this without them knowing. He was waiting for a chance to slip out of their reach for a few moments. It was hard considering his friends had their full attention on him. He was trying to sneak away with no success. That was unacceptable to Viaan. He knew the streets pretty well. He could get away from them at any point and he decided when.
The crossroads were ahead and there was an alley which turned up to his left. Viaan took a cut and dashed among the incoming group of people. They were carrying a woven basket full of flowers and it would be hard to identify Viaan on this onslaught of colors in anyone's eyes. He dashed forward without losing any time and circled back to the start of the market. There was a shop with no one inside it. It was for people to leave their possessions when they had to go to work. But that place served another purpose to Viaan. He knew someone would use it to leave a message for him.
Viaan got in and went towards the farthest cubicle from the door and looked for the underground opening. As he expected, no one knew its presence except him. He pulled the rug out and felt inside the small hole. There was nothing at first and then he felt the smoothest fabric he had ever touched. He pulled the velvet handkerchief out and put it inside his pocket. He replaced it with a white pebble he had found on his way in. That would serve as a reminder that it was him who took the message and not any spy.
He quickly made his way back and moved to the clearing in the market square. His friends would be definitely waiting for him there. He found it right when he saw Nairiti and Vidyut looking nervous.
"You were missing?"
As always it was Vidyut who got emotional over him. He was lucky to have a friend like Vidyut who worried when Viaan was out of his sight. Nairiti maintained her cool but he could see that she was somewhat worried about his whereabouts.
"I got pushed by the traffic. I had to circle back here. Thank god I found you guys."
Viaan knew he wasn't fooling them so he used a half truth. He did circle back to the square. He didn't want to tell them yet about the secret. They wouldn't understand and call him reckless. But it was important to him so he did it anyway. He would tell them when the time was right. And it wasn't right to tell them in the immediate future. He had to maintain his cover and not reveal himself to anyone in the kingdom. That was easier said than done.
They had secured their living quarters in the household of a maintenance official as apprentices. He didn't see the official which wasn't bad. If he could maintain his distance from all the officials, it was very good for him. The assistant of the official took them to their rooms and gave them their respective works. Viaan knew all the things about the palace so it didn't take much time for him to work out. He signaled his colleagues and they set up their headquarters in the barn. It was not good smelling place but it had he advantage that no one would suspect them. And then Vidyut cast an invisibility spell on their papers and objects which were in the corner of the barn.
Nairiti had a whole room to herself because she was the only female apprentice and Viaan had to share the room with Vidyut. They also used their fake names for the apprenticeship. Viaan had settled on his bed when he heard Vidyut speak.
"You know many things about maintenance so we would have much time to spend in the palace with spying, right?"
"Are you ready to go there?"
That was something Viaan wondered. He wasn't going there as prince Viaan but as a commoner. How was the commoner's life there? Would he be bullied or insignificant? He would know it soon anyway.
"I hope we will find what we want."
Vidyut had been quiet for a long while before he answered, "Let's hope so."
It was very late but Viaan wasn't asleep. He was nervous and scared. His cover relied on his confidence and acting skills. He had to find out about his mother and his brothers secrets. It wasn't hard if he wasn't banned from he kingdom. But then luck was favoring him for the first time. He had acquired the apprenticeship in this house which offered him a good view of the palace. He could see his part of the palace very clearly. And with some help, he could see his brother's balcony too. He got up and picked his traveling telescope and looked at his rooms first. They were not disturbed. He then saw Vivaan leaning on the railing. Viaan knew his brother was deep in thought. It was quite easy to read him.
Vivaan was looking in his direction and Viaan was sure he couldn't see him. But Viaan could see his brother's aura was clouded. He couldn't see any colors shining. That was reason enough for him to drop to the floor. He knew his brother was sick. Viaan could do nothing to help him. For the millionth time, Viaan felt helpless. He pulled out the dark blue velvet handkerchief and looked at it sadly. It confirmed many of his suspicions. That a plan bigger than any of his family members was in action. And it had already executed its first part. Viaan would have less time to free himself and his family if he wanted them to survive.
Not much conversation in this chapter, eh? Viaan is back in Mihira and that too, in plain sight. Who should he believe in the palace? What are your thoughts?
And thank you for sticking with me.
Unedited version. I'll start editing and rewriting it after I finish writing it. Sorry.
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The Battered CrownFantasy
No kingdom exists without its own troubles. But who was responsible for the crime of an assassination. The crime of killing the Queen. When the youngest Prince, Viaan is accused of killing his mother, all chaos breaks loose. Who would kill the Queen...