Passage Chapter 16

At the Bottom of Night

Richard ran through the palace halls, which were empty save the occasional guard. He entered a guest bedroom and immediately slammed the door, feeling that his entire world had been shattered.

He rapidly made his way over to the bed and turned around. “Damn it! Damn it!” He kicked hard at the nightstand as if it punish it, and then flopped down on the bed. He brought one hand to his face, crying softly.

How could this have happened? he demanded silently. How...? Tears flooded his face, but they brought with them no answers or comfort. Mueller...Mueller was always there. How could he have gone?

The man’s words echoed in his mind, each repetition a knife in his heart. “You can’t follow me forever...”

“I can’t?” Richard asked in disbelief, completely heartbroken. “I can’t follow you? No...that’s not how it’s supposed to be. You were always supposed to be around. You were always...supposed to...”

Trailing off, he leaned forward, pressing his elbows into the top of his legs. He then buried his face into his hands, continuing to weep.

How...? How will I go on...?

I’m all alone now...

* * * * *

“Is he okay?” Kyle asked as Wilhelm entered the audience chamber.

“Uh...I don’t know,” Wilhelm replied wearily. “I couldn’t find him. I...can’t blame him for disappearing, though.”

Lymsleia watched everyone from her throne, her expression full of sadness. It had been several hours since the incident, and Richard was nowhere to be found, or so it seemed. Tired of being kept in the unknown, the girl stood up. “I’ll go look for him.”

“Good idea,” Miakis said. “I’ll go with you.”

Lymsleia shook her head. “No, you stay here, Miakis. I think it’s best if I go alone. The area is relatively safe anyway, now that the Nether Gate has been stopped.”

Miakis looked at Galleon and Kyle, who were both nodding at her. “Oh...are you sure?”

“Yes,” Lymsleia replied firmly.

The female knight stepped back. “Then...please be careful, Your Majesty.”

* * * * *

It seemed as though she spent an eternity doing the task. Lymsleia headed outside, only recognized by half of the citizens due to her attire. The girl did not venture too far from the palace, spending most of her time asking questions of the people. Had they seen a blond-haired teenager dressed as a mercenary run by here? Yes, yes, the one who temporarily acted as the Commander of the Queen’s Knights. That guy. Had they seen him, please?

Her search led her to the ground below, some distance away from the old Senate Hall. There, by the water’s edge, she saw him. He was standing up straight, his back to her.

“Richard?” she called out, approaching him slowly.

He didn’t respond, not at first. When she was only a few feet away from him, he finally spoke...with a tone devoid of happiness. “All that I have...belongs to Mueller. Now he’s gone...with everything I had.”

“That...that can’t be true,” the girl said, stopping in her tracks. “You have...a lot of things.”

“Only because of Mueller.”

“But...he only made all those suggestions, right? Wilhelm says you’re the one who got yourself that far.”

“I wouldn’t have done it if Mueller hadn’t been there,” the teenager insisted gloomily. “It means nothing without him.”

The young queen sighed, turning her gaze from him. “So what you’re saying is that...your choices mean nothing? That if somebody planned your future for you, your role is meaningless?”

Realizing this applied to more than one of them, he momentarily backed down. “I...I don’t know.”

“Sure you do.” Lymsleia walked over until she was standing by his side. “You said it yourself. You believe in giving credit where it’s due. Well, Mueller gets credit for inspiration, but you should take credit for being the one to do things. It’s’ll have to find something else to inspire you now.”

Richard shook his head slowly. “It’s not that simple. I knew...everything I was going to do in life. Wherever Mueller goes, I follow...”

“But Mueller’s gone,” the girl pointed out. “You can’t...follow him anymore.”

“There has to be a way...” his whispered.

“Huh?” Lymsleia looked up, noticing Richard studying the waters with a despondent look. It gave her a most unsettling feeling in the pit of her stomach. “Richard...?”

He finally turned away from the water’s edge. “I’m...sorry to be so selfish, Your Majesty,” he said, not even facing her. “It’s just, this is the first time I’ve...” He trailed off and walked away, leaving Lymsleia to stare after him with a worried expression.

Chapter 17

All That Glitters Is Cold 3 Fanfic Competition

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