Josh stood frozen. Was this the way? Was this how they’d finally be able to return to Maha? They’d get Michael back to Maha—it was impossible to bring Samuel under these conditions—and when they were there, they’d be able to drum up the revolution, be able to amass an army to fight back, find a way to win back their city. He could subvert Lady’s Dell’s orders. Somehow. He had to talk to his father, see how they could use this to their advantage. Maybe they could actually leave without too much bloodshed.
The blow that landed on his cheek stunned him.
“Bastard. You’re planning to take it, aren’t you?” Michael growled. “You’d take my throne from me and laugh as I grovel at your feet. You want to break me like Dell has done my father?”
“The throne of Maha will not be taken by infidels. It will not be occupied by Bayangans. The world will end before God allows that to happen!”
“Michael!” Josh grabbed at his prince’s flailing arms. “That is not what I intend to do! Listen to me, Michael,” he whispered fiercely, forcing the mad prince down on his knees. “You will be restored to your throne. But for now you must stop this. Stop it before you endanger everything.”
But Michael wouldn’t stop. He was in a frenzy, driven by fear, anger, and bitterness. Josh wrangled him into a chokehold, then manoeuvred his body, pressing him face-down into the floor. Reaching out, he snagged the ever-present chains and snapped them on the bands around Michael’s wrists and ankles. Michael continued wriggling on the ground.
“I don’t know how to talk sense into you, Michael, but you have to snap out of this. I can’t return a throne to a madman.” Josh kept his voice low, hoping that no one was listening at the door. “I’m going to meet my father tonight. I didn’t plan on bringing you along, but I’m going to need to. You need to listen to everything we have to say and understand Michael that everything we’ve been doing is intended to return your throne to you. You’re going to have to make decisions tonight. And you’re going to have to trust us.”
Michael stopped struggling.
“Can I let you up now?”
Michael nodded and Josh lifted the pressure from the back of Michael’s head and neck.
“Do you really mean all you said?” Michael asked, still wild-eyed, mouth full of carpet dust.
Josh nodded. “I do.”
“Why have you never told me all this before?”
“I told you right in the beginning, but you refused to believe me. And then it got too risky.”
“Then why tell me now?”
“Because if Dell intends to return us to Maha, this speeds up our timeline. This is an unexpected development that I hope will turn out for good. I don’t know how exactly we can subvert it to our purposes, but if we can, it means that you now need to know what we plan and how to react when we stage our coup.”
Michael lay silent. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. Then he opened it as he exhaled. “I’m sorry. Could you let me go now?”
Josh dug in his pockets for the keys and released the chains. His jaw hurt and he stretched it.
“That’s going to bruise really badly,” Michael said, dropping his eyes habitually.
They sat in silence.
“You know what?” Josh finally said. “You really pack a punch. This was the hardest time it ever took for me to subdue you. And even then, I felt as if you let me.”
Michael lay on his back and stared up at the ceiling. “Something’s changed. Something clicked in me and I felt a surge of power. Not like anything I’ve ever felt before. It shocked me so much that I stopped. I was only flailing about half-heartedly to throw you off.”
Their eyes met. Josh’s eyes widened.
“Your Berserker powers,” he gushed in a quiet whisper.
“No…” but Michael’s eyes widened too.
I was thinking of developing this week's homework into something for next year's Commonwealth Short Story prize so I decided not to post it up. :)
Anyway, did a 10K day yesterday, wouldjalookitdat!
The story is probably 80% waffle right now, but that's okay, because most of that waffle is helping me figure out what the characters want :p
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