Slow Roasted

Started by Alex Benson at Mar 17, 2021 6:53 PM
March 10, 2051
76 Posts

5 Posts

A forgery. A last grasp at retaining his precious birthright, no doubt, that had been stolen from Jincan since before he could walk or talk. “You are the forgery,” he said contemptuously, eyeing the other medal only briefly. If everyone could replicate the medallion, then what was the point? 

He pulled up the sleeve of his left arm. The skin there was unblemished and pale. Applying the medal to it, he counted two heartbeats and then lifted it away. “Still think it’s a forgery?” Underneath the skin, where the medal had been pressed, his blood glowed. Traces of his veins and vessels could be clearly seen: royal blood reacting to the magic of the medallion. A commoner would not have triggered its effect and surely this fake prince of the Zhu tribe had to know it. 

“I have returned to reclaim my place by my father’s side.” He tucked the medal away, back into the inner pocket which was safe from thieving hands. “And you can either come with me peacefully, or I will bring you in by force. It’s your choice.” 

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It was true.

The rumors and gossip.

They were all true.

How could Minghao deny it, when it was there before his very eyes? Nervous, he slipped his medallion back where he had produced it, heart thudding against his chest so hard that it hurt. Minghao's medallion had never done that without his mother nearby to enchant him. If he tried to replicate what this man had just done without her near, the truth would be revealed. A truth that not even Minghao had opened his eyes to. Not until this moment.

There was no denying the credibility of the man's bloodline. Or the medallion itself.

Minghao turned his gaze to Huamei, the fear naked in his eyes.

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This was impossible. Huamei was ready to defend his master at a moment’s notice, but he was also aware that there were many humans in the area, and creating a scene now would endanger them all. He tensed when the stranger reached for something, only to come away with a medallion that looked eerily similar to the one that Minghao had in his possession.

But how? It was one of a kind, each supposedly tailored to the prince who owned it. How could anyone get their hands on it long enough to reproduce it?

And then the stranger pressed it to his skin and Huamei watched in disbelief, then increasing fear. If it was true what he said. If he was here to upstage Minghao, to fight for rights to the throne of the Zhu tribe, then there seemed to be little they could do. He had just proven his lineage, right before their eyes. And yet... it could still be a trick. More powerful magic existed than some paltry trick played with a medallion. 

Minghao turned to him and they must have both thought the same thing, because the fear he felt was reflected in his master’s eyes. Huamei drew closer to him, shielding him slightly from the stranger’s laser stare. He grasped Minghao’s wrist tightly, as though to reassure him that Huamei was still there.

”We are trapped here,” he said quietly. “There is no way of returning to our tribe’s territories and by our law, you cannot reclaim your birthright without the consent of the king.”

The stranger snorted dismissively. “I’m aware of it. We will stay together until such time we find a way out of this place. I’m not letting you two out of my sight, so you had better get used to it.” He crossed his arms and leveled them both with a fierce glare.

”Master.” Huamei turned to speak half into his ear. “We should find out more about him. Let him come with us. For now. We’ll find a way to prove that he’s a fake.”

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Oh, he could kiss Huamei!

But of course, he wouldn't. That would be improper in so many ways. And he didn't mean it. Of course he didn't. It was just a silly thing humans said when they were relieved--I could just kiss you! It didn't mean anything. Especially anything untoward. Thumping in his chest like a rampant stampede of panicked antelope, Minghao's heart could hardly take it. He turned away from the battling; it was only agitating him now.

Huamei knew just what to say when Minghao's tongue was tied; and everything he said was true. There could be no challenge or battle to the death without the Zhu warlord's permission. If this man killed Minghao here, he would only be accused of regicide and probably charged and executed for the crime. With or without his... trinket.

The existence of it, though. He wondered if Huamei was thinking what he was thinking: which was to get their hands on it and either destroy it or swap it for the one that Minghao had. Or he could be thinking they should get closer to this mysterious person. Minghao sighed. Did he have any other choice? He had a feeling even if he told this one to leave, he would stalk and follow them to the ends of the world. Or as far as they could go in this accursed place.

"That sounds... fair," he made himself say, even though he preferred not to have the added company of a stranger. "And what shall we call you, then?"

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Huamei's brows lifted delicately. That name was highly unusual... for a supposed prince of the Zhu tribe. But he supposed that it was a false name, and the way that this Jincan looked dismissively away indicated that he wouldn't be having any more friendly chats with them. In fact he turned his entire body away from them to look on at the fighting in the arena.

"Rude," Huamei whispered to Minghao, with a small shake of the head. But he was comforted by the fact that Jincan still needed them. Alive. Without Minghao, he couldn't achieve his goal of becoming the next heir to the Zhu tribe. So... that was a small consolation, although he didn't exactly relish the company of a hostile stranger in their midst either!

Since Jincan didn't ask their names, Huamei assumed that he either already knew, or didn't much care what to call them by. Rude. Again. He turned back to the fight too, but gently squeezed Minghao's hand--very briefly, so as not to be seen or caught. It was his job to protect Minghao but loyalty to the tribe wasn't his only motivation. He was sure that he could find out something to discredit this false heir! 

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While Huamei's brows lifted, Minghao's lowered. He frowned. A false name? And then, just like that, Jincan was watching the fight as if he had never come over here and threatened both Minghao's life and his status. The gentle hand that squeezed him gave him some sense of relief but it was all too brief, both the hand being there and the relief. What else could he do? He could kill the impostor himself, he supposed. That was an option...

He glanced over at Jincan and wondered how much they could get out of him, when he seemed so aloof and unfriendly.

"I believe I'm done here," he said to Huamei, probably looking as green as he felt. The hot dogs were bad enough but this conversation (such as it was) and the situation had completely turned his stomach. "I'm not feeling well and..."

He looked to the fighters in the ring, where the familiar one had fallen before the giant and looked none too pleased about it, either.

"We'll come back another day to search for suitable allies."

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