A pair of dark eyes flew open and glanced around the room. When he didn’t see anyone present in the near vicinity, he slowly propped himself up on the bed. Though the room was starting to lighten up with the morning sun’s rays, he could see rather well. The room was equipped simply with a dark wooden, four-poster bed, a dresser and a desk both made of the same wood as the bed, and a set of clothes laid across the wooden chair angled at the desk. The closet doors were of the same royal blue color as the rest of the room, the door opening out to the hall was a lighter blue and slightly adjar. The boy kicked off the blankets and went quietly to the door. He peeked out, not a soul could be seen in the hallway, but a noise alerted him to a presence on the lower level. He tiptoed down the stairs, determined to see what was going on and to see if his friends were alright. The noise had stopped, but the teen knew that whatever it was hadn’t moved from its location. He reached the bottom of the stairs without a sound, and proceeded towards the only room in the whole house that was lit up. He peeked around the corner, a tree with a hint of blue was set up in the furthest corner of the sitting room. It was decorated with candles, holly, roses, poinsettias, multi-colored stars, faux jeweled balls, and various painted shapes. At the very top sat an angel clothed in blue, glimmered with gold accents, and held a harp intertwined with roses. At the base of the tree sat a pile of presents, wrapped in shades of red, blue, green, and white. The teen took a quick look around the room before stepping towards the tree cautiously. He squatted to pick up the smallest present off the stack, and was surprised to find that it had his name on it. Gently, quietly, he peeled back the wrapping paper, bit by bit. He wanted to savor this moment for as long as he could, no one had ever given him a Christmas present before. Well, before he met his new friends, but they had only known him for about a year now, so they didn’t quite know what he would like. Though he went slowly, it still seemed like it had gone too fast, and the present was unwrapped. In his hands now sat a box that was soon opened. He uttered a soft gasp at the contents before pulling each piece out and setting them on the ground. The first thing that came out was a gold, crown-shaped pin with a lapis lazuli star imbedded in the center of it, and the word Ansalli underneath. Next came a miniature, old-looking lamp, like it was straight out of a picture from the Arabian Nights, with a black gem set upon the top. Then he pulled out a strange device, it looked somewhat like a black flip phone with mauve trimmings, elegant and sleek. But it wasn’t quite a flip phone, as he noticed when he flipped it open. Sure, it had the pad of a phone and the screen, but there were a few extra buttons and a few strange symbols. He put it down for the time being until he could find out more about it and took out the last item. Out came a set of keys around which a note was tied.
“Henceforth, should you agree to become the duke of Ansalli, this house and everything in it will belong to you.” The boy’s head snapped up at the sound of the gravelly voice and began to back away from the creature taking up the doorway. “Do not fear, little master, I mean you no harm. You and your friends are safe, no harm can come to any of you here.”
“A-and here is?” he asked in a hoarse voice.
“You are on the island Antillia, a sacred land, no evil may set foot here.”
The boy’s eyes widened, “A-Antillia?”
The creature nodded, “I know you have been here before, and it is for this reason why we rushed to your aid, only to find that the Mighty One has chosen you to become one of our dukes. What do you say?”
“What about the rest of my friends?”
“Another team was sent to find them. Do not worry, little master, all is taken care of.”
“W-what do I have to do as a duke?” the boy whispered.
“You must serve the king of Antillia without question, to follow him into battle or to stay here and lead in his stead, as he pleases. You will take care of the needs of your city, that is, Ansalli, and help the other dukes wherever the need arises. There may even be sacrifices you will have to suffer, for not all ruling roles are free of suffering.”
The boy scoffed, “That’s no big deal, I’m no stranger to suffering.” The creature eyed him, making him pause.
“All must suffer, those who do not are on a sure road to destruction.” There was a moment of silence before the creature spoke again, “Will you accept the dukedom of Ansalli, or should we begin looking for another suitable option?” There was another moment of silence before the boy glanced up at the creature, determination set in his eyes.
The creature smiled, “Welcome home, my lord.”
(Keep an eye out for posts on Antillia! Who the boy and the creature are will all be revealed in time. 😉 )