How a little star learned not to give a fuck

Chapter 4 Here I am, in all glory and stupidity

The next day proved to be as **ed up as he predicted it to be.

Funny how yesterday evening he had a feeling of fear, which crept up his spine each time something important was to happen e. g. examination from the rotten depths of the inner circle of the desolate Kingdom that the spirits have long abandoned, yet instead of the anxious pit of dread multiplied by a hundred, he was left tired (as usual), seething (a rather new sensation), slightly nervous (not as new) and a bit craving for something milky.

Well, what happened, happened, the visions of this Eiichiro Han person having left more of an impact than he wanted.

Surprisingly, the intense feeling of seething didn fuel his motivation that was more akin to desperation to succeed. No, it gave him a random flash of a belly potted old man in a black suit, that was more common for the region further down in the south of the Kingdom, spouting stuff about the numbers not matching and clearly, he didn take proper inventory. Which, judging by the memories, was bullshit and the boss was just mocking him with this shitty grin.

Pure and simple mobbing. Nothing out of the ordinary. A thought projected to his own mind.

Wait till I quit this job, shithead! Ill buy the biggest cake there is, put dog shit mixed with icing into it, extra big red letters For you, boss :), then as you choke on the shit and curse me to death, you take a sip of your as dark as the pits of your soul coffee full with laxatives, and then as you crawl to the toilet of salvation in the section for privileged asses, it will be out of order and you will have to use the toilet for everyone that has NO toilet paper.

Interesting solution… Sweat trickled down his back.

But not something he could do to the committee overseeing the exam.

Though, he wouldn mind seeing the two other candidates desperate for the toilet. For once make these perfect specimens for rulers sweat and cry on the toilet seat.

A dry chuckle.

Cough.

Another thought paused the cursing for further inconvenience for the two rivals for the throne.

Just two months, two more months and Im out.

Apparently Eiichiro had a plan that didn involve being **ed with and was more about relaxing and chilling in the countryside with his pal and making his own business back home.

”Dear spirits, ” a weak mutter echoed as the poor man plagued by the vicious feeling of vengeance and pure glee put his head in his hands.

Relax.

A breath. In and out. He wasn sure whether to cry over the plans of potential murder from this man or laugh over the hilariousness of these plans.

What struck a nerve that let him half-sob and half-laugh was how it took to see another mans life to realise how much his own life, the heavy pressure and expectations of the Kingdoms Prince and candidate for the throne, was just as much filled with stress and exhaustion.

Granted, it was satisfying in a way but…

A sigh.

In the whole scheme to raise his popularity among the people, pushing himself to get a better score, think quicker, just be better than his competition, he stopped thinking for himself. Desperation tugged at his every nerve, the thought that it was obvious, natural even for the son of the Queen Regent to fulfil his duties and to become the next in line for the throne.

Sure, the royal decree states that anyone, regardless of origin, gender or species, who completed the tasks: best scores in the exams, the favour of the people and the aptitude test which gives insight into the mental capabilities, can be slotted for candidacy.

And then, completing the three years of ruling, series of tests and examinations, further training in defence, only the highest score gives the right to take the throne. Of course, it is stated that the Regent chooses the next one, though it all falls together either way.

Some even stated that he got to be a candidate thanks to the good word his mother put in for him. Then again, his mother as the Regent was known for her iron grip and no-nonsense attitude, causing a few people supporting the Queen, not necessarily him, to fluster at this indirect jibe at her. He thought that he managed to throw away his own being to fully commit to the people. It wasn like he didn like his duties. He loved the country, the people, the rush of adrenaline whenever he saw that his actions actually put a smile on the faces of so many. The so many that with time started to gradually leave him, with a pat to the shoulder and a pitying face that said:

”You
e not suited to be the Regent. ”

The words left him queasy – confused. A night before this would lead to a series of tiny knives prickling his skin. And yet…

A certain realisation akin to the sensation of the man Eiichiro who felt relief at the thought of simply leaving.

It wasn like it wasn an option. It would mark him a coward for just leaving, not seeing his candidacy, his duty, this honour, till the end.

But…

But.

The realisation that Eiichiro couldn and didn want to live his life being pushed around at his work, doing overtime, making ends meet in this place that clearly wasn for him.

To acknowledge that he is only his own person even if it came out from a random fortune cookie that was added to his take-out.

The flashes of relief as Eiichiro gave his resignation letter.

As he was sitting on the bed, pondering, tears dripping down onto his clenched hands, his much not wanted realisation dawned on him with these needles of reality that pricked at his safe bubble of stress and desperation letting it burst like a soap bubble.

Drip…

Drip…

Drip…

It was so unfair that he couldn meet his own expectations as well as his mothers. To be the one who could reach the potential of his ancestors, each of them being involved in the politics of this country.

So unfair that he was clearly outmatched by his two rivals.

Time went on, the ticks and tocks of the grandfather clock on the other side of the room filling the silence. For the first time the sounds reached his ears, usually stuffed with either cotton or his own thoughts – always going through important matters, documents, regulations, events – and easily cutting off the noises from around him.

He breathed. In. Out.

When he felt his muscles a bit less stiff, having run out of tears, he took a look at the time.

”Shit. ”

The first spoken curse of the usually well-mannered prince that wouldn let such brusque vocabulary invade his thoughts. Well, Eiichiro didn ** around, especially with words.

The time showed a nice 12 oclock.

The exam was at 11 oclock.

”Fuck. ”

The familiar icy coldness, that he thought his child-self had long left behind, viciously came back.

Either way, he was **ed.

✧✧✧

The next hours he wished were nothing but a blur to his hazy mind.

One moment the icy frost in the veins made his insides feel like icicles enough to stab someone with, likely his own flesh, another moment he was rushing around the room, the heat and urgency of the situation catching up to his mind.

No plan, no idea, lots of shame and a failed exam.

All without even leaving his room.

Great start of the day.

He knew that this failure would mark his rather rapid downfall. It was already difficult to make up for his own misgivings (which he always neatly kept out of mind, no lingering, just pushing and pushing and pushing) that made the distance between him and the two rivals even greater and harder to catch up to them, much less overtake them.

Tying up his dark green robes, a mark of the status of a high ranked mage in the palace, he went to brush up his bird nest of a hair disaster. (Iron clad rule – no outside help of any kind during the competition – no servants, no butlers, independence valued above all.)

Black hair sticking out in all directions, going down to his shoulder, was a pain to manage on a short notice.

It didn help that the swollen eyes with his blotchy pale skin fit more the image of a student at the academy after failing an exam or getting his heart crushed into fine powder than a proper candidate for the throne.

Good that he had nicely hung the robes on the hanger the night before – not a wrinkle in sight.

A simple cream for acne (because acne had a peculiar love for his skin!) in an attempt to hide the blotchiness on the skin, tons of cold water to ease the swollen eyes and he was halfway decent to go.

Now – what was he supposed to say?

Sorry, I overslept? Had a bad dream?

It wasn like he could go and say he got sick. The previous two times he had shown up wheezing and still wrote these damn papers – one result far behind the other, the other a nice shiny 1st place – the regulations regarding his favourite subject The theory of elemental magic – usually not that much liked but the crazy theories and formulas made him always giddy even if the actual exam was a dry recount and application of law.

Despite these intense feelings from the dream and his own rather cathartic cry, he couldn just up and leave this place.

Not after not showing up to the exam (which he could retake though considering the circumstances of his absence – painfully awkward), having worked hard for the results in the exams (some good, some bad, some average – always behind his two opponents), his supporters (that kept leaving), polishing his diplomatic skills (better not think about it), military strategy (he always had a good defence plan!), prowess and strength (…), his own motivation…

He did have an ambition to take the throne.

Or maybe after these visions he should be more honest with himself.

It was desperation clinging to him, masquerading at least partially as motivation.

His fingers fiddled with the ends of the grey braided sash. The guy Eiichiro had the courage to quit when he wanted. Then again, he was not Eiichiro. He didn have any plans to retire anywhere and he could feel the shame he would bring to himself by just quitting. Especially by not going to an exam as a candidate. Maybe he wouldn be socially dead, but frowned upon definitely.

A coward, some will say.

A quitter, others will whisper.

Failure.

A word he wanted to avoid like the Acacia plague that drained the energy of a person, putting them into a spiral of hatred and deteriorating stomach lining.

He already felt like throwing up blood at this point.

However…

If he were to drag this whole thing on, retake the test, gather supporters and so on, wouldn he end up throwing up blood either way?

In a way, it was funny how his throat constricted, the tears dripping onto the wooden floor as a memory came to visit him.

An old memory, probably unlocked by these damn visions.

”Remember, Flory, you have duties to fulfil but never forget about your own happiness. ”

A laugh turned into a cough. ”Yes, mother. Lucky me, the duties make me happy. ” A genuine and honest thought back then.

Well, the duties did make him happy at some point. Now, he wasn so sure.

Dear High Spirits, this was why he sucked at politics and diplomacy. To make a definite decision was always awful.

His fingers weaved the two loose ends of the grey sash into a simple braid, raking through his brain for answers. All the effort he put in so far, the night full of visions, the honour of the royal family as the only son of the Regent.

Maybe he mistook his duties as the honour? Maybe stepping down was a mistake?

The first time he ever took a moment to think for himself.

He looked at the little braid-like ends. A deep sigh.

This would be his most impulsive decision in his entire life and he was scared shitless.

Yet, this warmth of relief from getting away, getting out, getting free despite the consequences.

He gulped, his throat dry and heart heavy.

He would do this.

Get the shit away from here.

Besides, he could run away into the forest. As close as it got to this countryside life Eiichiro had planned out. Might as well wing it.

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