Chapter Four: The Cold Prince

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The outside jacuzzi did nothing to soothe the throbbing pain in my muscles from the 'conditioning' the Prince had us do. I must've run up the 50 foot hill at least thirty times, jogged through the snow for over a hour, and done other torturous exercises that resulted in my limbs wanting to depart from me.

I had it the worse, just as Prince Sebastian promised, and my hate for him grew more and more each time he made me do an exercise all over again. The idea of using my newfound muscles to kill him one day made me work my way through the rigorous routine without giving up.

The other three warriors in training sat inside of the large jacuzzi resting with closed eyes. Even though we all were silent, there was an unspoken bond between us. We survived day one together.

"Between us, the Prince is as awful as he is rumored to be," Cora said, finally breaking the silence. "I'm from the Western Tribe, and he's mostly hated by all. Because we have the richest soil for produce, they slave our people worse than any of the other tribes. We starve and work day and night so that other tribes may eat. Sometimes I wish I was born in the Eastern Tribe...pure luxury. I heard that there is no such thing as 'homeless' out East."

"Don't be fooled," Luca spoke up. "The Eastern Tribe may be one of the wealthiest tribes, but we do have poor areas."

"But are there homeless people?" Cora asked.

"Well-"

"No, there aren't. My case has been proven. How about you come to my tribe and live for a week. You'll appreciate your surroundings a little more." Cora turned to me. "What about the Southern Tribe? It can't be much greater than mine. And then you have to deal with warmer temperatures. I bet you burn up down there while forging our clan's weapons and protecting the boarder. How hot does it get down there?"

"Umm...well the weather varies. Some days it's as cold as the North, then other days the sun threatens to melt the snow, most days, it's just at freezing."

"And what about you?" Cora asked the guy to my right. I still didn't know his name, but he had short, white hair and a masculine face. He looked at Cora, as if noticing her for the first time. "What tribe are you from?"

"I'm from the Northern tribe, a village just north of the castle," he responded.

"And what's your name?" Cora asked him.

"Titus," he responded with a flat voice. Cora sat back, watching him intently as if she could read him like an open book just by staring. He closed his eyes and rested his head against the back of the Jacuzzi.

"Titus, no one ever hears much about the going-ons of the Northern people. It's as if the castle acts as a barrier, filtering whatever news slips through the cracks. Do tell me about your home. Do you live in igloos and hunt penguins and wild things?" Titus grunted but said nothing. "Are the men's powers strong up north since they have more cold to fuel the ice in their blood?"

"The strength of a man's power is determined in his DNA," Titus spoke with a voice deeper than any man's I'd ever heard. "Why are you so curious about us and our homes? The one home you should be most concerned with is the castle. If you want to measure a man's strength, spy on the Cold Prince."

"The Cold Prince?" Cora asked with raised brows.

"That's what the Northern tribe calls Prince Sebastian. We are the only tribe who sees the chaos that happens within the castle walls. We hear the rumors of death and destruction...the stories that don't make it to the other tribes. When the Prince lashes out, we are his chosen people to blame. I've seen him kill his own people with the very substance he's trying to teach us to control.

"His power is too strong, and it pours out of him in a terrible rage once the energy has built up to a certain extent. So, before you assume what you don't know about everyone else's tribe, make sure you know what you are talking about." Everyone in the Jacuzzi fell silent as we took to our thoughts.

"Will we become cold because of the gift?" I spoke up after a couple long minutes.

"Who knows," Titus said. "Us Northerners have seen the effects this source has on each royal member who possessed it. There have been many Kings in history who wielded White Fire and lived completely sane and peaceful lives. The last King to have the power did not.

"My grandfather is a history scholar who spent many years studying white fire and its effects on those who possess it. He found that the gift takes a toll on those who use it, and the more powerful the gift, the  colder your soul becomes. It was one of the reasons my grandfather tried to keep me from using my gift...but I was foolish and went bragging one night while drunk. A few months later, the King beckoned me." Titus met my eyes. "I'd be questioning the state of my sanity if I were you. The way you wielded your gift was extraordinary, even more powerful than my own. Be very careful."

"Maybe you can give the Prince a run for his own money," Cora joked, but there was nothing humorous about it.

"Trust me, the Prince would destroy her in seconds," Titus added. "Sometimes I believe that an impending attack against the Fire Clan would be more merciful than being in the hands of the Cold Prince. Let this be a warning, do not provoke him to anger. Complete your training and do exactly as told. Your lives depend on it."

Titus rose from the Jacuzzi and dismissed himself, leaving myself, Cora, and Luca alone.

My heart was pounding heavily, and the heat from the water wasn't doing anything to ease the anxiety swirling around in my chest.

I didn't even notice when Cora and Luca excused themselves, leaving me alone with my thoughts. The only thing that kept me frozen in place was one question:

Will I go cold as well?

Will I go cold as well?

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