Part 13: Rage
I’m going to die, Janus thought as he stood before the Knights of Dusk with two children on either side of him. The five of them were the only ones that had made it this far. He knew it wasn’t fair. He shouldn’t have been able to do this. After all, he was stronger and faster than the children, and had already been trained with a sword beforehand. It wasn’t fair, but Hunter still allowed it. Because of Emmy, he thought. Now that she was on his mind, his eyes easily found her watched from one of the balconies that overlooked the courtyard. She was too far to make out her expression, however. Was she angry that Hunter allowed him to compete with mere children?
“All right, men!” Thomas shouted, and everyone turned their utmost attention on him. “You have seen these children — and man — perform over the last year, and I’m sure you have come to a decision about who should be taken on as squires.”
“Yes, sir,” said one of the Knights, this one with gold and blue ribbons pinned on his uniform over his heart. Janus recognized him as Sir Maxwell, Thomas’ right hand man. “Sir James, Sir Callahan, and Sir Jenkins have decided they will take three of the children; those boys.” He pointed to the two to the left of Janus, and to the one on the far right.
“All right, boys, come on and introduce yourselves,” Thomas said, but there was a nervous look in his eyes.
The three boys, gleeful expressions on their little faces, ran forward, leaving Janus and the boy who was the smallest of the entire group.
“Oh…,” the boy — Augustus was his name — said under his breath. He looked up at Janus. “That means we didn’t get picked.”
Janus heart thudded extra hard in his chest. “We…we didn’t?” When he looked up, he found Thomas watching him. Indeed, the Knights of Dusk were beginning to leave the courtyard, three of them with the boys in tow. “But- I-“
“Sorry, Janus, August,” Thomas said as he came forward. He knelt down to be at Augustus’ eyelevel. “You’re a strong lad. You will make a very fine knight, at least.”
Augustus nodded, sighing. “Yes, sir. At least…I have that.” He put a smile on his face.
Janus, however, was not smiling. He felt a rage building up in his chest.
I can level this entire kingdom. I can make them all wish they had never been born.
He held his breath, willing himself not to get angry. He knew this might happen. He had prepared himself for it. He might be skilled, but he was simply too old to begin training to be a Knight of Dusk.
“Mr. Janus?” Augustus said, looking up at him. “Are you going to be a knight to? a regular one, I mean?”
Thomas met his gaze. “You do have that opportunity, Janus. In fact, you could take part in the trials now and be knighted. Maybe you could even take August here as your squire.”
“Janus!” The princess’ voice made them all turn. She was running towards them, holding up the skirt of her red as roses dress so she wouldn’t trip. All three of them bowed once she arrived.
“Good afternoon, Princess,” Thomas said, bowing his head. “The Knights of Dusk have just gone.”
“Yes, I saw everything,” Emerald said with an apologetic look at Janus and Augustus. “I’m so very sorry.”
“It’s okay, Princess Emerald,” Augustus said, putting a small smile on his face. “I will still be able to try again next year.”
Janus felt himself blush when the princess turned her soft, caring eyes to him. “Will you be knighted, at least?”
“I’ll fix it to where he can be in this year’s trials,” Thomas spoke for him, clapping him on the shoulder. “It’s not as hard as the trials to become a Knight of Dusk, so I think you’ll pass easy enough.”
Janus nodded, swallowing. The princess’ gaze never left him for that moment. “I think I can,” he finally said after a moment. He was still trying to process the fact that he had failed to become a Knight of Dusk, but…if Augustus could try again, did that mean that he could as well? Of course, Augustus was still very young. But what if he could train until the next Knight of Dusk trials? Surely he could be allowed to take part in that! He just needed to prove himself was a worthy knight, first. “Yes…I’ll do it.”
Emerald clapped her hands, a wide grin on her face. “Perfect! It’s only in a few weeks, so it’s not a terribly long wait!”
Janus inwardly groaned. Some day this was turning out to be! His fists clenched, the magic in his veins wanted to unleash with all the fury he had pent up. But he couldn’t let that happen…not when the kingdom had given him a chance. Not when…when he had found the first person to ever treat him like a human being in entire life. His eyes wandered to Emerald, and again he felt blush rising to his cheeks. She was wearing the very same dress she had on when she was up in the tower a year ago.
“Are you all right, Janus?” Emerald said as Thomas and Augustus walked away, chatting about opportunities for the boy to become a squire. “Your face is so red! You aren’t having a heat stroke, are you?”
“Huh?” Janus said, snapping out of his thoughts and into reality. “Oh…no, Princess, I’m all right. I suppose I’m just disappointed, but…I’m used to that feeling.”
Emerald clasped her hands behind her back and shuffled her feet shyly. “Maybe I could talk to Thomas about-“
“No,” Janus, his tone suddenly harsh and his eyes narrowed. “I won’t take favors. Perhaps you royalty can have anything you wish handed to you, but not me. I can’t live like that. I won’t live like that. If I find a place among the Knight of Dusk, it will be because I earned it.” He turned away to leave, his rage growing. He had to be by himself, somewhere where he wouldn’t hurt someone or make a fool of himself.
When he got to his room, he looked in the mirror. He had snapped at Emerald, even though he hadn’t really meant to. He sighed at himself, seeing in the mirror that the black of his irises had begun to leak into the whites of his eyes. He had been alone for so long, simply being content with his tower and his garden. He had no reason to be angry as long as he didn’t think about everything that had been taken from him. But now it was being rubbed in his face. He had lot his chance a second time. And perhaps he was not chosen again for who he was…for being a so called “child of evil”. That thought was almost too much to bear. Would he ever be able to escape from this identity?
The anger tightened in his chest until it pounded in his head with every beat of his heart. His nails dug into his palms, and suddenly cracks like spiderwebs sprang up on the glass of the mirror until his reflection was so warped he could barely see himself.
You’ve got to control this, he told himself, or they’ll never choose you.
He turned around, and his eyes widened when he found the mirror was not the only glass in the room that had cracks in it. The window looked as though one tiny touch would shatter it, and the oil lamp and a vase were in the same shape. Was there no way to contain the rage that fed his power? His sister had learned to do it, why couldn’t he?
Your sister never kept it pent up inside, he reminded himself. She was a real monster, just like our parents.
What he didn’t want to admit was that he could be a worse monster than they could ever dream to be.
~ <♥> ~
Unfortunately, Janus was not chosen to be trained by one of the Knights of Dusk. However, this was not technically his last chance!
For Augustus, he is young enough to try again the next year to become a squire to one of the Knights of Dusk, but they won’t be letting Janus try again for that. But lucky for Janus, he can try to be knighted as a regular knight and go for the Knight of Dusk trials the kingdom holds every five years! To be picked, he will have to be in the top three of that trial. Will he be able to do it?
Thank you so much for reading this! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! As always, God bless y’all and have a wonderful weekend!