Beta: Alys Blanchefleur

Chapter 1

In Matthew's childhood, the one thing his mother pushed was that love was a conquering force. 'It didn't matter who you love,' she would say in a soft, dreamy tone, 'it would always work out in the end.' Now, he wanted to bitterly laugh at their past mindset.

Love was a monster. Even though he has that knowledge, it still doesn't keep him from giving into the eternal abyss that is love. He still seek it out; yearn to feel the tidal waves of emotion.

The ghost of Arthur (some might say his entire past) is in every moment he muses to himself. The pain of loving him lingers in his heart, festering like an infected wound. He is dead, but was his ghost ever going to leave him? Was he damned to be forever alone? A part of him hoped it wasn't true, another part (one far more logical than the other) knew that there were no happy endings.

"Matthew!" His father yells, snapping him back into the milking of the knight's guard. "Boy, didn't I tell you to pay attention?!" Matthew squirmed uncomfortably from across the room. This kind of tone of voice was always a bad sign.

"Yes, father." He managed to say. Matthew turned his attention back to the business his father had going on.

As time wore on, so did the feeling of normalcy. His father always did like swindling the wealthy. Even if it were the king's knights he knew his father took perverse pleasure from taking their coin. It was sick in a way.

When they continued to drone on about things not too interesting; Matthew drifted into a light sleep.

"How many times do I have to tell you!?" The booming voice roared. Sleep left his body, leaving an alert mind that tensed in rapt focus.

Matthew decided to stay silent, knowing all too well that speaking would not help his case.

"You ungrateful boy!" His father's meaty hands grabbed his hair. The rough tug only grew until his scalp burned in agony. Matthew's once deadpanned face contorted to a grimaced. His father's eyes lit, and his lips curved in malicious pleasure at his display of pain. "I've been kind to you, haven't I boy? And you take this for granted?! I could always sell you as a slave." Revulsion brewed in his mind and the stale taste that sat uncomfortably at the back of his throat willed itself to go down. Matthew gave into its demand.

He looked into his cold eyes and flinched. So he was serious? Silence cascaded throughout the room. "I can't stand looking at your face! I'll sell you tonight!" He said whilst lifting the pregnant pause. The ringing in his ears stopped and a new ringing started. The sense of foreshadowing crept like an insisting whistle. He threw Matthew back on the floor, his head hitting it with a thunk. His ears decided to once again add to the symphony.

Lifting his head, Matthew tried to speak, tried to plead his case to his father. His vocal cords would not work; he gave into the silence.

"Yes, I think that would be...sufficient punishment." He looked down at the ground refusing to meet his eyes. When did he turn into his father's doormat? Emotions intruded upon his heart. The one that stood out the most was guilt. Why couldn't he live like his mother and Arthur wanted him to? Why was he such a failure? A part of him almost felt like he deserved to be punished. Another part wanted him to join the deceased. But of course, he once again ignored everything the voices in his mind whispered to him.

Stumbling forward, he tripped on the corner of the cart.

Several hollow eyes darted to meet his form. "Clumsy boy!" The grimy looking caretaker chided. The man took a second to take him in. Matthew started to feel nervous under his scrutinizing gaze.

"How much you selling him for?" The man's voice had the soft scraping tone of a sword grinding against whetstone.

"I'd like six gold coins, but I'd really take anything more than one." He found himself flinching. His life was only worth one measly gold coin to his father? Tears prickled at the edge of his eyes. Was it a mere child's dream to want to be loved by his only living parent? He looked into his serious face. He guessed so.

"How 'bout five? He'll make a lot of money with those feminine looks."

"You got yourself a deal." And with those words, the man handed his father the gold coins.

Lifeless. That's what he'd be.

No, no, no, NO!

Reality caught up to him. The hallow eyes that he knew he would sport if he let his father sell him, haunted Matthew. Caught up in the moment, courage burned in his veins. He took off in the opposite direction; his heart sped and as he bypassed the few people who were out this late, he dodged and ducked at the many obstacles.

"CATCH HIM!" The slave master said. Matthew ignored him and continued forward. Out of pure desperation; when he caught sight of an alleyway he ducked into the shadows and pressed himself against the wall. He caught his breath. A few moments passed and guards trotted past his hiding spot. They stopped in front of the alleyway and scanned the area. He put his hand over his mouth to try not to make a sound.

"You see him?"

"No. I bet he ran this way."

"Snot nose brat." They ran the other way. After little time had passed, Matthew gasped for air.

After a few breaths, he heaved himself off the ground and started to briskly walk down the alley. He looked around and a red door jumped out at him. He was not all too picky at what his hiding spot was going to be. He walked closer to the door and upon closer examination he realized that the door was almost off the hinges. Was this a robbery site? He stepped inside and pulled the door closed. Glancing over the room he saw that clothes littered the floor. There were five candles, three of which had long since sputtered out. A couch was tipped upside down in the middle of the room, and a table and its drawers laid among the broken furniture. It looked as if someone was searching for something.

Suddenly, a loud pounding noise came from the room that had its door closed. He had half the mind to run. But he couldn't, the black door compelled him to see its contents. He moved closer and closer until he got to the knob. He didn't need to open the door; it opened to reveal a cloaked figure. The shadows hugged his body, almost as if he was a part of them. His beard was short, and the man's hood hid his eyes. Surprise flickered onto his face and Matthew's heart squeezed from the scare. He blanched from the intimidating posture the man had. Matthew felt as if he was invading the man's home.

"Who are you?" The deep voice grumbled from underneath his dark cloak. The man surprised him into a shocked hush. "I asked who you are." The man said while gritting his teeth. It was obvious that he didn't like not being answered.

"Matthew, sir." He wasn't one to forget his manners.

Almost a second after he answered, the man quickly asked. "Do you live here?"

"No." Matthew bluntly replied.

"Then get out of my way." The stranger then pushed him to the side; his elbow met with the wall. He had no where else to go. This man seemed able. The hope of freedom prompted him to follow.

"Hey! Where are you going?" Matthew said. The man paused for a second before turning around.

"It's none of your concern. Get back to doing whatever the youth of today do." He briskly started forward once more.

"Could I come with you?" He turned around once again, only this time with a huff.

"Will you stop talking if I let you?" Matthew nodded. "Well then, come on." He motioned Matthew with his hand and Matthew followed. His pace was fast but he kept up. The footsteps were what he focused on; he started to relax. He realized he lulled himself into a false sense of security when the man stopped, grabbed him, and knocked him upside his head.

Matthew fell into oblivion.