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4 The Puppet and The Puppeteer

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The second figure was chubby and looked like a man who enjoyed his meals far too much, he had a perpetual smile on his face, that made him seem carefree, but he had a regal presence both in his demeanor and voice, which painted a confusing image for Rowan, he was like a pig that had the presence of a lion. This was the third prince.

His eyes unconsciously misted over, and he felt like crying," What is wrong with me?" Rowan struggled to push the uncomfortable emotions aside, and he barely succeeded, his eyes drifted to the rest of the audience, they were the normal aristocratic ensemble, men in three-piece suits, with canes that had become popular recently, it must still be all the rage because most of them were still holding them even while dancing, the ladies were in long flowing dresses that were primarily white with a dash of gold.

A gloved hand rested on his shoulder,

"Interesting, what do we have here?"

His heart sank to his stomach, and he was frozen in place, he could not move because the hand on his shoulder sent waves of icy chill through his body, Rowan's breathing was short and forceful, and each breath brought out plums of cold air, he was about to be frozen to death!

"What do you have there, Boris?"

"A little chick, General. A little chick who survived his crushed shell"!

"Humph.... It appears your little experiment bore fruit".

A sudden feeling of heat, and Rowan felt that he had been stripped down and meticulously scrutinized, every cell of his body was dissected and cataloged, the General voice continued, "although it's a little rotten and lacks any essence".

"Rowan...dear boy, you survived, you made it", the joyous voice of the third prince resounded in the now silent hall.

"Not for long" Rowan gasped.

"You brute, Unhand my son"

The hand tightened on Rowan's shoulders until he nearly screamed in pain, then mercifully let go. Sweet relief came after, as Rowan hurriedly backed away from the figure that loomed behind him.

"Come to me, son"

Rowan's father's voice was a siren call, as he hurried down the stairs, nearly tripping in his haste, the open arms of his father welcomed him; he ran into his embrace, and for that moment everything was bliss.

At that moment, in the room Rowan was in, the Black Book on the altar shivered, the pages began to turn, but they turned slowly, page by page until it got to the sixth page, it slowed down further and seemed to struggle against an unknown barrier, but it eventually opened and rested on the seventh page.

The page was blank, and dark as an unfathomable abyss, eventually, the picture of a face began to emerge from the page, it was of Rowan, but he was grown up, his eyes burned with pale flames, and words formed below the image, a language so ancient that it had left all living memory.

"Ascend the throne of grace, eternal mercy of all seasons".

The book folded on itself and vanished.

Rowan tightened his grip on his father, he could not help himself and started bawling his eyes out, he found solace from all the madness of the past few moments.

Nevertheless, he felt horrified, as if he was being forced to cry, as far as he knew, the previous owner of this body was no longer present, his soul was gone and his memories broken, why was he feeling such emotion for a man he barely knew?

He was a grown man who had endured many tribulations in life, and he could not remember the last time he cried, was it because he was in the body of a child? And any child's instinct was to seek safety from an adult, especially if that adult was a parent.

But you see, he was an adult in a child's body, and he refused to believe that he could not control his emotions, and that lack of control horrified him, he wished that this awful moment should pass.lightsnovel

All of a sudden, he suddenly felt a space open in his heart in which a Black Book appeared, he jerked a little and continued crying, but a startling transformation had happened to him.

At that slight moment when he jerked in his father's arm, the world felt like it went still, and his mind became startlingly clear, he had what he could only describe as a euphoric sense of control, his body became a puppet and strings were attached to his consciousness.

Time was slowly coming back to normal speed, and it took little effort of will to let his body continue the laments to his father, his sixth sense was tingling like an over-tightened guitar string about to snap.

This world he found himself in was dangerous, and power that exists in fantasy could be found here, including the darkest kinds.

Rowan was fascinated that his new state drew away his fears, and he achieved a startling clarity of mind.

"Was this what it felt like to be a Buddha? To achieve enlightenment? What is happening to me?

This state made Rowan realize that this emotion of happiness, and the sense of safety that he was feeling was being forced on him!

His body remembered this man, and no memories of him contained any love for him, his father was a distant figure to him, regal and untouchable, after the third prince knew he had a bad constitution he never even spoke to him.

Except for his mother, handmaiden, and the few friends he had, he was isolated from the rest of his family. Rowan, the young prince had learned how to live without a father, and he would have never run to him for solace.

From his vantage point, he could feel an almost palpable source of control oozing from the body of the third prince, his next action confirmed his suspicions.

"There.... there, father is here, hush now my dear boy", the prince pushed his sobbing body away from him and smiled warmly at him. Rowan's new perceptiveness detected a slight crinkling of his eyes and there was a flash of deep disgust before it was covered, it would have been easy to miss, and he felt a chill.

The third prince played a long game, and covered all his bases, for Rowan knew that he could as well be a helpless fly snared in a spider's web; the spider was singing a lullaby to him before he was devoured.

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The wariness in his heart grew further, this man was dangerous, he could not let him know he had control of his senses, for he instinctively knew he was dangling on a precipice, and every movement made must be done with the utmost care, or everything was lost.

He controlled his body and looked at his father with love and dependence.

The third prince caressed his hair and said, "I will be taking you home soon, but I need to know if you succeeded. Did you get the recognition of the singularity?"

Rowan was genuinely confused, what was a singularity? Did it concern this book inside his heart that brought this new ability to control his body beyond reasoning?

Rowan sniffled and replied," I do not understand, Father... I have no memories of what happened or why I am here..... what is happening father, why are there so many dead bodies above, and why am I now a child?... Help me, Father, I am so scared."

Fresh tears rolled down Rowan's face, whilst he looked deeply at his father and observed the rest of the trio that were raptly observing him, he discovered something about his new state, that he had a 360-panoramic vision of his surroundings, this new viewpoint drew his attention to the rest of the hall.

All the singers and dancers, the merry laughter and whispered conversations, were all a facade, he looked around him, and all he saw were corpses. Corpses dressed in prim clothes and polished shoes, all looking at him, with dead intensity.

Rowan's consciousness was suddenly drawn back into his body, the book in his heart closed and faded away, but he was excited that this strange new detachment of his mind remained, though in a more limited manner, at that moment, pain filled his body, he heard a panicked cry from the third prince, and as his awareness fell into oblivion he silently cursed at his deceptive father.

His enlightened spirit had seen traces of a pale glow that struck his head from the eyes of the Third prince, knocking him out.