Hey there! Thanks for clicking on this story. If you're up to a lot of turmoil, action, comedy, and slow-burn romance, then go ahead, little one.
"My rear hurts," King spat, picking on his rather shortly trimmed nails. He hissed in pain when he accidentally scraped deeper than he should have. "This is why I despise traveling. Ugh! Why did we even bother accepting their invitation?"
"You should have handed your complain while we were still in Venice," Pandora answered, silent sarcasm seasoning her inexpressive tone and face.
King snorted before looking out of their carriage. He grunted, hitting his head on the ceiling when their vehicle rolled over a peeping rock.
"Why stay quiet beforehand?"
"I don't know," King hissed, massaging the top of his head. "It just went over my head like a flying fart in space that I completely overlooked the fact that we're going back to that crap!" he spat, shaking his head and gesturing a hand wildly in the air.
Pandora sighed. "It's the least we could do for Axel."
The lad frowned when he heard the name. He didn't blurt a word though, just left another snort out of his nostrils and looked away.
Pandora didn't added another word. She knew very well how King felt about their pride. But they were already in Rumania, spent long hours of traveling by land, and now tolerating the head-splitting ride from the shabby stinky wooden carriage that they had rented.
Though it felt as if it would crack apart whenever they would hit a rock in the road, the carriage was all that they needed. They just needed a ride to the mountains, and spending money over a fancy wheel was not worth it.
King peered at Pandora in his peripheral vision, who flung a strand of her copper-colored braids out of her face. She still had her poker-faced profile, acting oblivious to his silent pleas.
King finally gave up, simulated a sob before tossing his head back hard on the headrest. Bonk, was the sound of his head hitting the plank of wood.
"Stop grumbling." Pandora avoided looking at his theatrical arse.
King breathed out an obscene curse through pursed lips, rubbed the aching spot on his skull before he ignored her back and continued his grumbling.
A few seconds later, he planted his head onto the small window by his side, the sound of his fake cries flittering away as the rush of the fresh breeze whispered across his face.
It's so green, King mused as he watched the tall rows of trees roll by like a film. Everything was all familiar to him, but distant at the same time. He got used to a capital, where man-made structures had started climbing towards the sky and metallic carriages of newborn gas engines called cars were populating. Venice was abundant in colors, but pure nature still had the richest green of all.
King placed his head back against the headrest, carefully this time. He observed from the corners of his eyes as Pandora picked up her flask of coffee.
"You should lower down on your caffeine consumption." King puffed air out of his nose, looking all neutral.
"I feel drowsy," Pandora replied.
"... That's your third one today."
"Is it?" Pandora took a sip, feigning obliviousness. King gave her the judgemental eyes.
Abruptly, a snort, followed by a snore, rumbled from in front of them. King turned his head to his front and stared at Douglas. The big-framed chap, with legs that was bent awkwardly due to the little space provided by their carriage and his long bones, was slouched over his seat. For a seventeen-year-old, he sure was big.
Pandora knitted her brows, which dug deeper when King started singing out loud. Douglas, while shifting from his position, groaned. Or more like a whine. That didn't stop King; he was getting his revenge from when the latter had jolted him awake by screaming yesterday. His lips curled up as his tone heightened.
Douglas's head perked up, confusedly squinting his eyes at King before his face dug into a scowl.
"King! Shut it!" Douglas snapped, partly kicking King's shin before he whined back to sleep. King sang some more, pitch so out of range and annoying that the latter bolted up for real.
"Ack- hey!" King thrashed when Douglas held him in place. Though younger, Douglas' force hits like a brick. He knuckled King on the head.
"You called for it, you shrimp!"
"Wha- who's a shrimp?!" King growled.
Pandora's knuckles went white against her flask when the two tussled inside their carriage, shouting, grappling at each other, and bumping against her in the process. It was one of their perpetual nonsense again.
"Quit it, you t-!"
Pandora's voice was thrown back in her throat when the horses and the coachman cried out. And suddenly, a white flash swept them along with the jaw-rattling boom and the earsplitting noise of shattering wood.
King gritted his teeth as pain bit his body relentlessly like a mad dog. The world spun so many times he had semi-drifted out of consciousness.
Then a moment later, everything ceased, the world gone into obscurity. King felt senseless. At times, his eyes slightly opened, like it was grasping reality for the first time yet again. He thought he was dreaming. Then he recollected the events.
Terra Madre, King thought. Yes, that shithole.
King and the two were heading back to their pride for Axel's twenty-first birthday, which was going to be held on the same day of his rank ascension, rented a shabby ride in Slovenia, and-
King gritted his teeth and twisted, pain crashing back in on his guts. He started coughing and heaving for air, catching a whirl of dust and scenting the small trail of blood that dripped down his nose. Dust whirled in around him, wooden shard scattered around like a bundle of confetti.
King dazedly twisted his head to one side, hoping his cousins would get less than his abrupt nose job. He watched Pandora move, who disturbed the hollow mass of wood. "Doug?" King forced out of his burning throat, his voice barely reduced to a whisper.
Douglas patted his forehead, grimacing as he did and soaking the tips of his fingers with a print of fresh blood. "I'm..." Douglas groaned as he sat up, "I'm all right?" he returned, sort of like a question rather than an answer. King and Pandora were still relieved to hear it.
King tried to move, and he hissed in response. There was a burning sensation on the left side of his pelvis. Much better, he thought. At least, he wasn't dead.
"Get out, " Pandora suddenly blurted out. "We have to-"
There was a faint, raspy growl blending in with the shuffling of pebbles under the now silent surrounding. The horses have already long escaped when the carriage broke... so who was making that sound?
They all froze, straining their ears at the sound that moved in. A stagnant odor started attacking their noses. King grimaced and started breathing through his mouth instead. His heart was drumming on his chest, and when he saw Douglas and Pandora's eyes widen eeriely as they stared so intensely at him... no, behind him, he shuddered.
King slowly turned his head to seek what it was behind him that got his two cousins into their wordless disposition. And when he did find out what it was, a massive chain of chill slithered its way into his body.
Through the narrow gap on the dirt-splattered side, a bent-over creature of leathery grey skin was staring at him, lips curled into a smile as it flashed its shark-like teeth at him.