Episode One: Far From Home
"I'm gon' teh live in the biggest 'ouse in the woods, and Onyx will be there with 'is kids, and it'll be… spectacular!"
The unlikely pair had only walked a few moments in silence. Now it seemed as though the words coming out of Ronan's mouth were an endless waterfall; Blumiere could hardly get a word in. So he nodded and smiled, still struggling to walk properly in the midst of Onyx's bouncing.
"And Melody will live with me, and you can too, Blue!" Ronan continued, ignoring the man's interjection that ' his name was Blumiere,' and that he should 'try harder to remember to refer to him as such.' "The three o' us would 'ave so much fun together!"
Blumiere chuckled lowly and shook his head. While he knew Ronan's dreams were unrealistic, he didn't want to ruin the boy's aspirations. "I'm not sure that I'll be able to live with you, young one. But I'll do my best to visit often."
The orange-haired boy left Onyx's side and bounded over to Blumiere, suddenly grinning widely. "Ye live in that castle, don't yeh? The big black one above town?"
"I do, indeed."
"Are ye a king or somethin'?"
Blumiere returned the smile at this. "Actually, my father is the king. That makes me-"
"A prince! Yeh're a prince!" Ronan exclaimed, his face brightening.
"That's correct," the man nodded. Unlike the human, however, the blue-skinned man grew suddenly depressed at this. The term 'prince' was indeed proper, though Blumiere realized just how unlike a prince he actually was.
His father, the 'king,' didn't exactly rule over anything. The people of the town feared him, yes, but he didn't govern them, or ensure their wellbeing, or anything of the sort. He was a 'prince,' but other than the fact that he lived in a castle, his life did not parallel that of storybook prince.
"Can I come an' live with yeh in yer castle?" Ronan pleaded excitedly, interrupting Blumiere's thoughts."
The blue-skinned man frowned at that. What would father think if he found out about this? He's always forbidden us from entering the humans' town; I can't imagine what he'd do if I brought one home. He shuddered.
"Blumiere," was the absentminded response.
"Can I see the castle, please? Can Melody come too?"
Blumiere put a hand to his head and sighed. He really didn't want to answer that question, especially since he had no idea how to explain to Ronan why he couldn't come and visit the castle. So he replied with a question of his own: "You've mentioned this 'Melody' quite a bit now, Ronan. Do you mind telling me who she is?"
The orange-haired boy frowned a bit, as he was upset that his initial question hadn't been answered, but he answered Blumiere's new question anyway. "Melody is me best friend! We play together all the time, even though she's a girl 'n she's little."
"How old is Melody?"
"She's only six. But I'm almost nine!" Ronan grinned. "I'm really old!"
Blumiere chuckled at that. And I'm nearly twenty, he realized. I'm more than two times as old as this child.
Suddenly, Ronan's pet chain chomp began to bounce wildly, as if it were excited about something. It jumped in place a few times before taking off into the forest. "Hey-!" Blumire was about to tell Ronan to retrieve his pet, but the human child was already running off, giggling.
Now alone again, the blue-skinned man sighed and trudged onward in the direction Onyx and Ronan had travelled. Looking through the woods to his right, he realized he could see the silhouettes of houses from the humans' town. They were far enough away that he likely wouldn't be seen by any passersby, though Blumiere couldn't help but be nervous. The humans were frightening creatures.
Soon he came upon a small clearing in the forest. Two houses resided here, set back away from the town a bit. One house was simple and rectangular, painted a light shade of gray. The other, set perpendicular to the first, was slightly more complex, and appeared to have two stories. This one was not painted, but had layered wood siding and tar shingles. To the left of both houses (or directly behind, from Blumiere's point of view) was a large stream that flowed in the direction of the town.
Ronan was standing outside of the gray house, speaking to a young girl Blumiere assumed must be Melody. Onyx had settled down a few meters away.
As the blue-skinned man neared the two children, he deliberately stayed out of sight, as he was afraid Melody might panic when she saw him. He settled down behind a tree not far from the children and caught their conversation.
"Meanie-head!" Melody was saying, "I said no going into the forest! I looked and looked and I couldn't find you, and I thought you died!"
"I'm sorry… But don't worry, I'm never goin' back in there again! It was really scary!" Ronan paused a moment. "But I made a new friend! Do yeh want to meet 'im?"
Blumiere cringed at that. I hope Ronan will at least warn her- URK!
Gasping, the man fell forward suddenly, clutching at his chest. The horrible pains from earlier were back, like sharp claws closing tightly around his heart. He cried out, sprawling out on the ground.
In an instant Ronan was leaning over him. "Blue! Blue, are you okay?"
Through blurred vision he could see Melody cowering behind the boy, eyeing him cautiously with clear blue orbs. She had a hand held over her mouth, and her eyebrows were arched in both fear and curiosity. A light gray sundress twirled around her bare feet, and blonde hair tied up in pigtails fell over her shoulder. "Wh-who is that…?" she whispered.
"It's me friend," Ronan answered quickly, before turning back to the blue-skinned man. "Blue…? What's wrong?"
But Blumiere had stopped writhing in pain and was now lying exhausted on the forest floor, gasping for breath. Just as before, the terrible episode had started and stopped in the matter of a minute.
Blumiere sat up slowly. His head was spinning, but other than that he was perfectly fine. "I'm...alright, Ronan," he muttered.
As he spoke the young girl giggled quietly, as if she couldn't help herself. She whispered something to Ronan, who frowned at her.
Now standing, Blumiere raised an eyebrow confusedly. "Um… hello. I am Blumiere. I believe you are Melody, correct? Ronan's friend?"
Instead of answering him, she burst into giggles again. "Ronan!" she sputtered, "You called him Ronan!"
"Is that not his name?" Blumiere deadpanned.
Melody shook her head, while Ronan nodded his.
"His name is O'Chunks!" Melody grinned. "He's a warrior and he's really strong and he likes to chunk things! When we play sometimes he's the hero and I'm the princess 'cuz he saved- saves me!"
Blumiere smiled at the boy, amused by the child's nickname. "O'Chunks? Is that what I should call you?"
"N-no…" the boy stuttered shyly. "Only M-Melody calls me that…" He shifted uncomfortably, his cheeks growing red. "Yeh, well… we better go 'ome…"
Melody jumped, as if suddenly realizing they had somewhere to go. Turning to Ronan, she said, "Oh yeah! Miss Kirsby is waiting for you! She told me to go find you and tell you. It's almost suppertime." She spun around and headed off towards the small gray house. Ronan began to follow her, but Blumiere trailed behind, unpleasantly reminded of the real task at hand.
"Ronan," he called hastily, "I have to go." Blumiere was suddenly finding it hard to breathe. He tried to swallow, but his throat felt as though it were closing. Father! He'll be looking for me! He can't find out I left to visit the humans!
"Wait!" cried Ronan, waving his arms frantically. "You'll come back, right? Ye 'ave teh come back!"
I won't be going anywhere if Father finds out about this. He paused briefly. "I'll be back," he called.
Blumiere took a deep, strained breath. "I promise." He held Ronan's gaze as he walked backwards for three steps, and then turned towards the human town, beginning a race against the setting sun. He approached the stream with caution, relieved to find a small bridge across a portion of it. He crossed it, immediately veering deeper into the forest and away from the houses that were coming into view.
For most of the run, he kept to the outside of the town, weaving through the trees and keeping out of sight. However he knew he'd have to go through it at some point, as the pathway to the hill where the castle resided was located at the beginning of the town. Even from here he could see his home's dark obsidian walls, casting a never-ending shadow over the houses.
As the entrance to town came into view, fear suddenly hit him full force. He's going to kill me! Ah, what was I thinking, entering the humans' town? I could have been… beaten, or… murdered!
He reached the cliff base, which by now was shrouded in darkness. A few meters away was the beginning of the cobblestone pathway that led to the castle. His foot touched the road hesitantly. No one was in the street, and it was unlikely that anyone would notice his skin color in the darkness, even if he was spotted. Despite all of this, Blumiere decided the best course of action would be to sprint down the street, praying to every divine being he could think of that no human would notice him.
The first path on the left led up the hill to the castle. It was blocked by a tall, black gate with no lock; it was common sense not to pass through it. He noticed a few humans mingling, whispering in groups down the pathway to the right, and he slipped through the gate as fast as he could so they wouldn't see him.
On the other side of the gate was a black stone path that wove its way up the hill, mostly obscured by trees; he wouldn't have to worry about being seen from this side.
Wishing he could stop to catch his breath, Blumiere slowly dragged himself along the path, the elevation making it all the more difficult. Finally, after three turns, the castle entrance came into view. It was still a bit dark up here, as the sun set directly behind the castle, but it was lighter than what it was at the cliff base, and a few lanterns glowing with blue orbs lined the path.
Despite being a completely black castle, it had a very elegant look. The large arched doorway was free of the spikes and bars many thought might be blocking it, and instead contained two majestic black doors that closed together in the middle. They were decorated with light gray spirals, complete with a border of tiny blue hearts that alternated between right-side-up and upside-down.
The stone pathway branched at the door. To the left was a large garden filled with various flowers and shrubs that cast a sweet smell over the entrance of the castle. The right path lead to a large courtyard containing a small chapel used for marriages, and very rarely used at that. The only marriage Blumiere could remember was the one that took place two years ago, uniting his oldest brother with his first cousin.
The entire castle was complex and tall, with many spiraling towers and long hallways all decorated in black, bright red and navy. Thick trees and bushes covered the very edge of the cliff, obscuring the view from the townspeople; they had no idea what it truly looked like.
Blumiere placed his hand on the gracefully crafted loop door handle and pushed, only to stumble forwards as the door opened faster from the inside.
A tall man was standing there, blocking his way. He had the same blue skin and black hair as Blumiere, but his hair was short and choppy, and his eyes glowed a blue much deeper than that of the younger man's. He was dressed in a bright red robe with black silks underneath.
Quickly straightening up, Blumiere dipped his head. "Good evening, Aldrik."
The older man also bowed his head, a slightly irritated expression on his face. "Blumiere. Your father has been looking for you."
"Ah, yes," Blumiere stuttered. "I was in the gardens…with mother's oleanders."
Aldrik hummed. "I understand, sir. But your father sent me looking earlier, and you most certainly weren't in the gardens then."
"Yes, well, I did pay mother's grave a visit. Perhaps you came to look for me when I was at the tomb. You must have missed me."
It had been just over seven years, now, since his mother had passed. He still visited her grave often, so it was a viable excuse. Aldrik nodded and opened the door completely, letting Blumiere in.
They traveled down the black hallway, brightened by red and blue carpeting and banners, as well as patterned wall sconces lit with blue flames that flickered wildly. "My apologies, sir," Aldrik murmured. "I forget you still pay visits to Queen Anastaise often. Perhaps I'm due to pay her my respects as well, I haven't been there in a while."
Blumiere laughed once in a quiet and humorless manner, a melancholy smile on his face. He really hadn't meant to bring up this conversation. "I'm sure she'd appreciate that."
They continued to the end of the hall in silence, coming to another large doorway similar to the outside one. It lead to the Grand Hall, where his father and family were no doubt waiting for him with supper.
Upon entering the room, Blumiere's father got up from his chair at the long table and rushed over. Aldrik bowed.
"King Basile," he said, keeping his eyes lowered. "Your son has just returned from visiting the late Queen. He explained that this was his reason for his tardiness to dinner."
Basile placed a hand on his son's shoulder and looked him in the eyes, the deep sorrow hidden within his blue irises now quite evident. He didn't say a word, but nodded once in understanding. The King hadn't taken his wife's death very well. It was why he was so protective of his sons and the rest of his family; he was so afraid of losing anyone else.
Blumiere took his place between his closest brother Rene and his cousin and sister-in-law, Arabelle. Neither looked at him.
As the small family of eleven ate, various conversations drifted about. Blumiere didn't speak, however, and only picked at his food, occasionally looking up to glance at his family. We're all… blue. So what? Why does that matter? But it did. The humans, except for Ronan, hated him. His family hated the humans. Was this the lifestyle he was expected to accept?
Mother… Mother didn't accept it. Now she's dead.