A/N: Did I see the music video for King and Lionheart by Of Monsters and Men and get an idea for a story? Yes. Yes I did. Not a very good one. But an idea.


Chapter One: A Hot Summer Day

The marketplace was crowded. Arthur supposed that was his own fault for arriving in the late afternoon. People weaved every which way, a few shoving one another, to claim the fresh produce or small trinkets the stalls provided. It was unbearably hot today as well, a thick, humid air blanketing overhead. Still, the people marched on. One of the butchers was having a sale on the cuts of salt-cured meat and the customers, nearly walking on top of each other, packed together, sweat dripping from their faces, shouted their orders. He tried to avoid them as much as possible, dodging stray elbows and standing as far away as he could. It was rather late, and he needed to get home as soon as possible.

"Arthur? Arthur!" He looked around, trying to spot the caller of his name. "Over here!" Finally, at the far end of the row of stalls, he saw a pale, wrinkled hand waving him over. He rushed ahead, carefully avoiding the arms of a loud man who was waving them angrily at a younger man, no doubt his employee, and stumbled in front of the stall.

The crooked smile of an elderly woman greeted him. She was hunched over, her cane the only thing keeping her from crumbling to the ground. Her long, silver hair was tied back into a tight, neat bun and he could see the aging spots on the side of her face all the more clearly.

"Good morning to you Ms. Lin." Arthur greeted with a polite smile. "How are you today? Hope your hip is feeling better."

Ms. Lin flapped her hand dismissively, brushing off any comments regarding her health. She waddled over to the back of her stall, where three large wooden crates sat open. Bending down into one, making a noise of disapproval when Arthur moved to help, she then plucked out a rather large, woven basket.

Once Ms. Lin placed the basket down in front of Arthur, did he realize it was for him. She looked up at him with that knowing smile that all elderly people seemed to have.

"Ms. Lin, I really shouldn't. It's too much!" He protested.

Again, she made a sound of disapproval.

"You should learn to respect the decisions of your elders' young man," Ms. Lin scolded, a smile on her face all the while. "The least I could do is buy a few things for you and your brother who have helped me more times than I can count!"

But Arthur knew this wasn't just a "few things". Rather, they were some expensive "few things". Six containers of different medicines, medicinal herbs, two, thick woolen blankets, three beautiful ceramic jugs and a pair of beaded bracelets. The bracelets shimmered in the sunlight, a pale pink with gold filled cracks running down the sides of the beads, all held together by a thin, leather strand. Arthur nearly fainted at the sight of real gold within his reach. Surely, these must have cost a small fortune!

"Ms. Lin I-" Arthur stopped himself at the raised brow of the woman. He huffed but smiled, grateful for the gifts given. Ms. Lin and he chatted for a while until Arthur could no longer dilly dally and bid his farewell, once again thanking the woman before he set off back home.

On his way, he grabbed some things for dinner, the original goal of his visit to the marketplace. A few potatoes, carrots and beans that would certainly make a wonderful stew and some sweet bread rolls to go along with it. The way back home was uneventful. He had stopped once to pet a very polished looking cat that had rubbed itself against his leg. Its shiny white coat was incredibly smooth, and Arthur thought how much his younger brother would have loved it.

Thoughts of his brother flooded his mind as he walked down the backroads, down the cracked stone staircases and into the rows of hovels that were nestled away from the main road. His younger brother was at home with a fever, something Arthur found a bit odd since it was summer, and he had set out to find some ingredients for a stew that would hopefully alleviate the boy's symptoms. The basket that Ms. Lin had given him really couldn't have been more convenient and Arthur just knew the woman had found out his brother was sick somehow.

The cracked staircase came to an end and a single dull red door stood away from the rest. Arthur took out his key and he braced himself as he slotted it in, turning it as quietly as possible. He winced when the door gave a loud creak and before he could even close the door, a force nearly knocked him over.

"Big brother!" A raspy voice called out.

"Alfred, you shouldn't be out of bed." Arthur scolded, trying to detach his brother from him.

Alfred laughed softly and finally unleashed Arthur from his hug. Immediately, Arthur began to fuss over the boy, checking his temperature and asking all sorts of questions. 'How you are doing?' 'Would you like some water?' 'Hungry?' 'Are you still nauseous?' 'Did you take your medicine?'

"I'm fine big bro! I feel better than yesterday!"

It was true. Alfred didn't look as flushed and his eyes weren't so hazy with fever. His throat still seemed raspy and he still felt a little too warm but overall, Alfred was making his recovery.

"Well, I'm still going to make some soup for your throat." Arthur said, putting away the food. He was taking out the medicines in the basket when he spotted the glistening bracelets. "I've also got a surprise for you."

Alfred immediately perked his head up at that. Had he had enough energy; Arthur was sure the child would have been bouncing off the walls in excitement.

"What is it? Can I see? Please Arthur!" Alfred begged, trying to look into the basket in hopes to see the surprise.

Arthur rolled his eyes but smiled at his brother's impatience, finding it endearing. He gently grasped the two bracelets in his hand and presented them to Alfred.

"Ms. Lin gave us these beautiful bracelets. They even have real gold in them, see?" Arthur followed the cracks in the rose quartz with his finger, admiring how it glistened in the light from the window.

"Real gold!? Like Mr. Thomas has?" Alfred asked in amazement.

Arthur cringed a bit at the mention of Mr. Thomas. Or rather, Lord Thomas von Hartfield as was the man's official title. Lord Thomas governed this area with an iron fist, and it was no secret the man admired anything that glittered. He taxed everyone mercilessly and probably had enough money to replace the clay in his bricks of his mansion for one's made of gold and silver. He would parade around town, flaunting like a peacock, attracting the hateful and envious eyes of all with his well threaded clothes and shiny hair. Really, Lord Thomas resembled a toad rather than a peacock, with his short, stout stature and beady, black eyes. His voice was so deep that it rumbled and sounded like a croak whenever he complained about one thing or the other.

"Yes Alfred... "Arthur finally replied. "Just like Mr. Thomas."

Alfred giggled happily and picked one of the bracelets and observed the gold closely.

"Can you put it on me big brother?" Alfred asked, after a couple of tries to tie the leather band together but ultimately failing.

Arthur chucked and took a knee. He quickly but securely fastened the leather band together in a sturdy knot. He took his own bracelet and did the same. Arthur held his wrist up and smiled happily.

"We match now."


Night had begun to fall but the air had barely gotten any cooler. It was warm and humid, not a good combination when trying to get a young boy, who was sick to boot, to sleep.

"Come now Alfred. It is time for bed. You'll get cranky in the morning if you do not sleep now." Arthur said, a bit of a desperate plea in his voice. He too was getting very tired from looking after the boy all day, making dinner and doing all the chores.

"But it's too hot Iggy!" Alfred whined.

Arthur rolled his eyes. "Then don't sleep with the blanket on. Also, what is it with that nickname? Iggy? Sounds like a bug's name!"

"No it doesn't!" Alfred protested. "I was reading a book the other day and the kingdom the hero was in is called Igirisu. A lot of the people in that kingdom acted like you big brother so I decided to start calling you Iggy! Since Igirisu is long."

Arthur raised a brow at the new information. But then laughed at how passionate Alfred seemed to be over the subject. The boy always surprised him, that was for sure.

"Alright alright. It's a good nickname. Now, go to sleep or I won't take you to the bakery tomorrow to pick dessert."

"Dessert on a Thursday? You're not joking!?"

"Hmm...that still doesn't sound like sleeping to me…" Arthur teased.

Alfred yelped and quickly laid down in his bed. Arthur chuckled at the display and took the warm blanket from the bed, folded it neatly before putting it in one of the shelves above the bed.

"Big brother, are you going to work now?" Alfred asked, eyes barely staying open.

Arthur hummed affirmatively. See, he worked as a bartender in a pub on the main road during the night. The owner had been kind enough to take a few days off to take care of his brother but since Alfred seemed better today, Arthur decided it was time to go back.

A quick look at his pocket watch-an old thing but got the job done-told him he only had a few minutes before his shift started. Hurriedly, he changed his everyday clothes into the uniform that was provided by the pub and ran a hand through his knotted hair. He gave a quick kiss to Alfred's forehead and grabbed his key before rushing out the door.

Getting up to the main road, Arthur dodged the people, which wasn't many, to finally make it to The Golden Pot. It was a ratty old building, with the wood beginning to weather down, the windows scratched up and the roof slowly sagging in the middle. Yet, once Arthur had pushed aside the creaky doors, it was full of laughter and light. The smell of liquor was oddly welcoming, and the gruff chortles of drunkards was all too comforting. He knew that pubs were tricky business and Arthur did have horrible days but being busy was the only way Arthur knew how to relax.

"Oi! It's Arthur! Where ya been lad?" A man named Luther slurred. A bright red blush painted his cheeks and his eyes were foggy with alcohol.

Arthur rolled his eyes at the man. "Come on Luther, I think you've had one too many. Don't go getting alcohol poisoning. Your patronage is what keeps me going."

Luther laughed boisterously and chugged whatever it was in his cup.

Arthur shook his head, amused before going up to the counter, where his boss stood, cleaning the glasses.

"Evening." Arthur greeted.

"You're away for three days and that's all I get?" His boss said, a large smile on his face.

"Didn't know I was going to be missed."

"You know all our customers find you amusing."

"Define amusing."

"Well...if I didn't love my wife-"

"I will throw this glass at your head."

His boss laughed and Arthur, trying to remain threatening with the glass in hand, burst into a fit of giggles as well. The night seemed to pass like this for awhile. Men would come in, have a drink and either stay until dawn or leave soon after. It was the normal routine that Arthur had been following for over two years now in this pub and, despite only being gone for three days, it didn't change. He wondered if anything around here would.

A loud bang snapped his attention and Arthur tried to look out the scratched up windows to see what could have caused such a noise. Everyone in the pub was silent. For a second, everything was calm and no other sound but the crickets could be heard. Then another loud bang sounded. Then another. Soon, Arthur could hear screams.

"What the hell is going on out there?" His boss shouted and rushed towards the doors. The rest of the men also stood and followed. Arthur, not wanting to be left behind, quickly ran towards the door and peered outside.

Horrific.

Houses were sent ablaze. People every which way were screaming, children crying and running. Some people laid on the ground, unmoving, and Arthur couldn't bring himself to keep looking at them, feeling bile rise up his throat.

Terror.

"What the-" Arthur heard his boss mutter in disbelief.

"What are you guys doing!?"

Arthur looked up at the man that had come stumbling near them. The man was ragged, face covered in soot and hair in ash. His voice was rough, and he was panting heavily but the fear in his eyes made him look anything but tired.

"What the bloody hell is going on!?" Luther cried out.

"P-pirates, they're ransacking homes!" The man sobbed out. "Burning it all down, killing anyone who fights back." Arthur gritted his teeth at the news. Pirates had always been a problem on this side of the kingdom, since they were on the coastline. However, their village had never had an issue with them before.

"Did you see whose crew it was?" Luther asked.

'Have to get home. I doubt the pirates would go into the lower end homes. It's more likely they would go to the houses on the main road where there are more valuables.' Arthur thought. He was just about to run home when the man said something that made his blood freeze in terror.

"It's Crawford's crew."


Arthur panted heavily as he finally made it into the narrow walkway and quickly, taking two steps at a time, went down the cracked staircase. All pirates stole and killed. There wasn't anything unusual about it. A lot of them even kidnapped people from the villages they ransacked and shipped them off to places where they were never heard from again.

Crawford's crew.

They were notorious throughout the east coast. Burning down villages, killing those who resisted, robbing everyone so all they had left was the clothes on their backs. However, what made them feared by everyone was the business they held with the kingdom to the North, the Kingdom known as Magane. Magane recruited pirates to take boys from 10 years and older from other villages in neighboring lands to work in their mines, serve in their military and be forced to serve the Magane upper class. Arthur heard the stories of what happened to those boys when they arrived.

It made him sick.

Arthur prayed to whatever god that was out there that Alfred had been able to hide. That the pirates, by some miracle, hadn't found their home. But, as Arthur made it down to the final door at the end of the staircase, he knew his prayers weren't heard. The door was off its hinges and no sound came out of their home.

Nevertheless, he rushed in and called out for his younger brother. Everything was broken and thrown on the floor. The herbs that Ms. Lin had given him were all gone, meat that had been dried to be eaten later was too and the sugar jar Arthur had stashed his money in was shattered on the kitchen floor.

"Alfred?" Arthur called out.

No response. Everything was still. Faintly, he could smell the smoke from the fires that burned on the main road and the screams of the villagers also seemed far away. Arthur could feel the burning in his eyes and his vision was getting blurry.

Before his tears could fall, he heard a slight shuffle.

"Alfred?" Arthur called out again. Yet again, no response but slight shuffling. "It's okay Alfred, it's me Arthur!"

Arthur could hear that the shuffling was coming from the kitchen cabinets. He quickly crouched down and flung open the wooden doors and he gasped in surprise. Huddled away in the corner of the cabinet, hands and arms bound with a gag in his mouth, Alfred squirmed and whimpered softly.

Quickly, Arthur pulled Alfred from the cabinet and began untying his hands. The skin was red and irritated, some of the chafing causing wounds and blood to leak from them.

"Mhmm mhhh!"

"I know, I know. Let me get the ropes undone first. They're digging into your skin… " Arthur reassured, trying to untie the complicated knot.

"I don't think that'll be necessary."

Arthur looked up at the unfamiliar voice. A woman glared down at him. She bared her teeth into a snarl and lazily waved around a large axe with her right arm. The infamous Crawford tattoo could be seen on her collar bone-a skull with eels coming out from the sockets-but hidden by her thick braid. She was tall, muscular and looked ready to kill.

"Get away from him!" Arthur growled, pushing Alfred behind him. He could feel the boy shaking and he wanted nothing more to hold him and sooth his fear.

"Hmm…look like you're the 'ight age as well. Cap'n 'll you." The woman said, her accent making her sound all the more terrifying for some reason.

Arthur darted his eyes around for some sort of weapon. His knives were on the other side of the kitchen, he didn't own a firearm and he didn't have any other metal tools in his reach.

'At this rate...Alfred and I will both be…No! I refuse to let Alfred be taken like this!'

There was no way to overpower the woman, that much was clear. The only way Arthur would be able to…

"Take me…"

The woman looked at him as if he just lost his head.

"Wha'? You actually wanna go?" She said in disbelief.

Arthur narrowed his eyes at her. "Of course not! But I got no choice! I'm older so I'll be able to do more work than a measly 13 year old. Just...take me and leave him."

"Wha' makes ya think I won't take the both of ya?" She grinned sadistically.

"Because you aren't like the other pirates. You seem reasonable compared to the rest I saw on the way here. Moreover, they wore their tattoo proudly. Yours is hidden by your hair." Arthur watched as the woman reached up to touch the tattoo on her collarbone. She seemed surprised. No...nostalgic perhaps.

The woman sighed and looked down at him.

"Look kid," She said. "In this world, ya do whatcha' can to survive, they're ain't no other way. Even if that means steppin' on others to do so. I'll admit I ain't the biggest fan of kidnappin' children, "Arthur felt the flickers of hope rising in him. A hope that this woman wouldn't take or kill either of them. "But don't think for a second I wouldn't kill the little runt just cause ya begged me not too."

A cold chill raised up in Arthur as the woman raised her heavy axe and brought it down over them. All he could do was shield Alfred with his body and pray that his bones would prevent the axe from going through his brother.

A second or two passed and he felt no pain. No blade crushing through his body. Warily, he looked up and saw the axe wedged into the floor, the ropes binding Alfred cut with a precision Arthur couldn't fathom.

"I'll take up your offer. The boy stays. You come with me. Try to run and I'll chop both ya legs off." The woman threatened. Arthur nodded, his entire body shaking at what happened mere moments ago.

He stood, Alfred clinging onto his shirt tightly. Arthur removed the gag and immediately, Alfred was sobbing. Really, Arthur felt like crying too. Alfred pushed his face into his chest and wound his arms around him. Softly, Arthur rubbed his brother's head. When had he grown so big? It seemed like yesterday that he was only knee high and yet, the boy now reached his chest!

"I'm going away now Alfred." Alfred sobbed harder and shook his head in denial. "Listen to me...hide until the pirates leave, there should still be some food left in the upper shelves in the kitchen, grab it and pack it up. Take the map that's in the chest and anything else you might need for a three day walk. Follow the map to the red circle I marked on it. That'll take you to a friend of mine in the next village over, he'll be able to help you." Alfred clung onto him tighter.

"No...wanna...s-stay with b-big brother…" Alfred whimpered.

"I-I know love. But...here," Arthur took a knee and gently cradled the flushed face of his younger brother.

He looked him straight in the eye. "I see you still have the bracelet. Well, that's how we'll find each other. Someday, somewhere, we'll meet again. Want to know how I know?" Alfred nodded weakly. "Because that bracelet will guide you to me, searching for my love. I love you very much and I will always love you so, naturally, it'll lead you right to me."

Alfred looked at him in amazement. And Arthur hoped his words gave comfort. Even as he was pulled away. Even as his brother sobbed and screamed for him. He hoped those words reached his brother.

Even if they were most likely a lie.


Like always, the morning sun came. The shadows from the night receded and light was bestowed on the land. However, the looming memory of the night haunted the minds of the villagers, casting a shadow much darker than any night could.

Everyone gathered on the main road, searching for loved ones, mourning the loss of the dead and trying to clean up the remains of their homes.

One boy sat still on the steps of what used to be the bakery. It was Thursday now. Big brother and he were supposed to be getting dessert today. The noise around him was drowned out and he kept staring at the ground. He felt so empty. He wondered to himself what was the point of living. Why did big brother have to sacrifice himself? Why was he...so helpless!?

Why…

Why…?

Why!?

WHY!?

'Mrrrow!'

He looked over to the side in surprise. A white cat sat next to him, its dark blue eyes staring straight into his own sky blue ones. The cat nudged his arm with its head, purring faintly before leaping off the steps and began walking down the main road. It stopped and looked over at him curiously.

'What are you going to do now?' It seemed to say.

That's right. He had to move forward. He wasn't going to get anywhere by sitting here. His brother was out there, and he needed to find him. No doubt his big brother would do the same if it were him.

He stood up from the steps and wiped his face, still wet from the tears he had shed throughout the night. Despite it being the morning, the current warmth promised more of the summer's heat later on.

He huffed in annoyance.

Another hot summer's day.


A/N: Can this be any worse? Sorry if it seems rushed. Cause it was...