19 The Sins of the Father will not be that of the Son*
Phillip watched as the fruit was force fed to Anna, who struggled but had no choice but to swallow in order to get air. She coughed, and the men stepped back as Anna's body convulsed. She cried out in shock, the screamed as pure silver life lines began appearing on her skin, burning into it. Phillip shouted for it to stop, but to no avail.
After what seemed like hours, Anna hung from her manacled chains, breathing heavily.
"Maybe she's not entirely useless then," the Duke sighed, looking at the life lines, then he turned to Phillip, "But that doesn't mean I'll let her live".
He turned to the man in the cage and nodded. The man produced another piece of fruit and Phillip froze.
"You knew," he said, "You knew what would happen when more than one fruit was eaten and you still made the deal".
"Of course I made the deal," the Duke said, "Can you even imagine what an Empire full of Magicians would look like? We would be unstoppable".
"We have no need for a larger or more powerful Empire, we already rule the entire continent!" snapped Phillip.
"Naïve boy," the Duke scowled, "Since when has that ever stopped us?"
The man approached Anna and Phillip screamed, "NO! No Please!"
Bu the Duke barely glanced at him as they once again force fed Anna another piece of the Volotun fruit. Again, Anna's body convulsed and she screamed as more lifelines appeared. This time it was longer than the first, and the Duke and Francois watched with wide eyes as Anna withstood the pain and the change before passing out.
"How is this possible?" asked the Duke, "I thought no one had ever survived the second piece?"
The man in the cage shrugged, "I have no idea, my lord. Perhaps she has elf blood?"
"Ridiculous, if I want the damn girl dead, I'll just have to do it myself," the duke stated, drawing a sword from a nearby guard. Phillip stood and stepped in front of his father.
"No," Phillip said, "You don't get to kill her. You don't get a say at all".
"Move aside," the Duke ordered, raising his sword to Phillip's chest, "Or you die too".
"Then kill me," Phillip replied, "I'd rather that than whatever putrid future you have in store for me. I will not bow to the whims of a power crazed Emperor and his extended family".
The Duke seethed, pushing on the sword, but in the blink of an eye Phillip stepped forward around the sword and disarmed his father before pulling the duke into his chest and holding the sword to his throat.
"Move, and I will kill him," Phillip said as the guards stepped forward.
For the first time since Phillip had arrived home with news of the fruit, Francois showed an emotion other than indifference. He looked scared. That was the brother that Phillip had come to know but had been reluctant to see. The brother who seemed strong, but was only a puppet for his father. Too obedient and submissive to lead himself.
"Release me, boy," the Duke managed.
Phillip leaned down to whisper in his father's ear, "I am not a puppet, father, I have a will of my own. A will I quite frankly think you are terrified of, because god forbid I want to lead my own life. Well, here is a promise for you, the first and last I will give you as your son. I will never again claim the name Kildare. I cast it off as I would depravity, and all that comes with it. My descendants shall not hold your name, and they will only known enough of their ancestry to know that it is nothing worth going back to. When I leave here today, I hope to never see you again, because if I do, I will do more than give you a permanent scar, I'll rip everything you care about from beneath your feet". Then Phillip turned to the main inside the cage, "Release her".
The man didn't hesitate, neither did the guards that unlocked his manacles. Phillip paused as he went to take Anna, knowing that he could only do one at a time between fighting them off and taking Anna away. Luckily, he did not need to choose.
Green vines shots out of the ground and locked around a few of the guards, then Gerrick appeared from the shadows, his life lines glowing as his power flowed through his veins.
"Go!" he shouted as the vines lurched the Duke and the closest guard away from Phillip and Anna. Phillip didn't hesitated, he grabbed Anna and lifted, her jogging into the clear corridor behind Gerrick. There, Gerrick pulled up a wall of vines to block the tunnel, and turned to Phillip and Anna.
"Let's go," Phillip said.
Gerrick shook his head, then took out a syringe full of clear liquid and jabbed it into Anna's arm. She frowned in her unconscious state, whimpering in pain as the silver lines seemed to fade and disappear.
"She'll be sick for a few days so take care of her. She won't remember what happened after she ate the fruit," Gerrick stated.
"Thank you...but aren't you coming with us?"
Gerrick shook his head, "Someone has to cover your escape".
Phillip paused, "But..."
"Call me an old romantic, but I think it better than you two young ones survive this than me? I am old and abandoned by my people. I have little left to live for," Gerrick stated, "Just promise me you'll stop the trade deal".
Phillip hesitated then nodded, "Thank you".
Gerrick sighed, "Go".
Philip didn't see Gerrick ever again.
Nor did he see his family.
In the year that followed, Phillip and Anna were nomadic in their movements. They stopped only to tell the story of the Volotun fruit. Many did not believe it at first, but it only took one or two incidents before the people began to protest and rise up.
The stores of it were burned, and the Emperor had no choice but to order to trade deal to cease. On their last stop, Phillip and Anna were married, and returned to Cordon. After some words with Carter, now married to Rachel, another of the village girls, the two were seen as nothing more than a farmer and his wife. They gave birth to a baby boy three months later, and named him Rassa.