Once upon a time, there was a castle.
As is the case with most castles, it was equipped with spires that seemed the scrape the sky, and was surrounded by heavy stone walls that settled into the ground like clenched fists. The building itself was fairly new, disarranged it may be, but the area in which it was built carried the baggage of eons on its shoulders; many homes of many royals had been seated on its dark earth, tearing away at the ground, wrinkling the land's fair skin and etching the mark of ages into the grass. Walking about, it has been said that one can almost feel the weight of the years press against their chest. Lin certainly could.
At one point, if someone had caught him roaming the ancient courts, there would have been a large chance of him being beheaded. Now, with there being nary a soul in sight, the odds of that actually happening were slim. It had been years since anyone had lived there, much less anyone of royal stature; sure, there were rumors that the ghosts of old kings and queens haunted its halls, but Lin didn't believe in ghosts. He didn't believe in a lot of things. Not because he was a poor orphaned child who'd seen a lot - even though that's technically what he was - but because he figured that's the kind of person he would have become anyway.
He bit his lower lip. Funny how things worked out like that.
Gripping his cloak tightly around his shoulders, the young brunet stepped forward, letting his feet take him deeper into the recesses of the forgotten courtyard. His shoeless feet kicked at several loose stones, and the sound of them cackling across the overgrown cobble seemed to explode in the silence. He didn't let it bother him; he’d have to get used to it, after all. This was going to be his new home. At least for the night. No telling where he’d be off to in the morning - or, they, rather. He couldn’t possibly forget his most trusted companion: Barn, the mangy tabby cat.
Turning around, the boy smiled at the little creature that was stalking silently behind him, barely trailing the hem of his garments; the little thing had been following him since he’d found it in an abandoned barn a week prior (hence its name). At first its constant presence had been annoying, but now it was a sort of comfort: having very few people to exchange words with regularly, Lin appreciated the company it offered.
Gently, he reached down and pulled the cat into his arms, gathering it at his chest. “Hey, buddy. How ‘bout we share this castle together, huh? Live like kings. Feast on mice every day. How does that sound?”
Barn, allowing himself to be scratched beneath the chin, purred. His bright kitten eyes were closed.
“Ha, yeah. That’s what I thought.” Turning to look at the enormous structure, Lin continued quietly to himself, “I bet there are a lot of mice in there. Too bad I can’t eat mice. You’re pretty lucky, Barn.”
The cat leaped out of his arms, hitting the cold ground with a light pit before violently attacking himself with a hind paw, scratching viciously at an apparent itch behind his ear. Lin snorted.
Live like kings. What would that be like, he wondered? Once, in the very place he was standing, all sorts of rich and wealthy rulers had communed. They’d eaten, talked, laughed—the true life of royalty. He felt like he could almost see them, grinning ear to ear, meandering through lush grass in their golden sandals, the skirts of women’s satin dresses trailing in the aged dust.
A laugh escaped him as he shook the vision away. Maybe this castle was haunted. Well, it’s not like it mattered—he could never live that kind of life. Perhaps in a different time, or under different circumstances, but not now; the title of royalty was not up for the taking. Yes, the castle he now stood in the presence of resided in shambles, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a real Royal Family, because there was. He’d seen them, once; back when he’d been kept in the confines of his own hometown, they had graced the little establishment with their presence, guarded by what seemed like an army of men in armor that glimmered like diamonds. The King had come to give some sort of speech that Lin hadn’t cared diddly squat about, but he did remember the King’s face: middle-aged, decorated with a sunset-hued beard that showcased a bit of gray. His wife had been standing beside him, with her flaxen hair blowing gently in the wind, blue eyes glowing like sapphires catching the sun. A truly beautiful spectacle, really. They didn’t have the sort of appearance that went with what they’d done.
But he didn’t hold grudges. Not anymore, at least—they kept him from moving forward, and honestly, he thought himself lucky to have figured that out so early on. The folly of his leaders could be counted as a sort of blessing, he supposed.
“Wouldn’t it be nice, though?” Kneeling down to stroke Barn, Lin glanced up at the towers, having to tilt his head upward to get the full picture in his line of sight. There were at least eight tall spires, stretching upward like branches into the cloudy morning, covered with all sorts of vines and ivies; more than likely mountains of stairs were hidden inside them, leading to areas unknown.
The castle was unaware of Lin’s presence, as he stared upwards at its majesty. He wasn’t one of its own. Deep within the confines of its brick and mortar, however, if the Castle were a sort of thing that could feel, it would be feeling the bare feet of a special blood shuffling along its empty hallways.
Those feet knew what it meant to rule, and the Castle around her, if possible, was aware; the beaten walls seemed to breathe as the little toes stepped.
The first installment in a completely random story I'm writing, just for fun really, and practice. Feedback or constructive criticism is welcome. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed constructing it! P: