The attic-tower never had been so far for the journeying soul. The Mansion held well to its name, but it had never been too large for Phillip. He ran.

Muscles aching, he collided with the soft felt of another formal blazer. In a world of twenty-seven hours, nobody ever prepared for sleep at eleven o clock.

Phillip grunted and looked up. Benjamin raised one eyebrow, but a smile tripped onto his lips. “Wow, Phillip. I’m no tutor, but I’m certain Father would reprimand running in these corridors.”

At the sight of his dishevelled brother, however, Benjamin’s expression fell like a knife-edge. He pushed his brother away by the shoulders, a soft grip, but a grip nonetheless. “Yakinos, is it? What has happened?”

“Leave me,” Phillip whispered. His voice, ice, restrained itself.

Phillip ducked away quickly, directing his eyes into the space beyond Benjamin’s left shoulder.

A warm hand, so unlike Rion’s, encircled his wrist. Benjamin guided him back to facial view. “Phillip? Talk to me, Brother.”

He shook his hair again; he would not, for the many star-pricks in the sky, allow Benjamin to learn of the transgressions. Oh, the irony: the minute Phillip had sealed his lips, the very many fingers slipped in, fighting for his words.

Phillip looked at his hand, deep in his brother’s clutch. His face cast a dry shade over it, but still Phillip wriggled out his hands. He held them together, never leaving a trail of hurt in his way again.

Phillip swallowed. “I am a violent person. Where are the virtues Aristotle decreed? Where have I left them? In what dungeon did I throw offending justice?” He swallowed. It was the first time words so flowery had tumbled from his lips. Phillip licked the offenders. He didn’t mind the logic. It comforted. “I cannot be like this. Excuse me, Brother, I am to my room.”

A voice called his name – and Aristotle’s – somewhere in the distance behind, but he ignored Benjamin. The world swirled around Phillip as he walked; every segment of knowledge onto which he had clutched formed floating black circles in his vision, dancing their merry way to deceive him – because everything had deceived him before if this was the living he had crafted.

It was wrong. This fancy Costello artifice surely had no place in actual living. Phillip had never understood the arranged marriage system as it was, but now more inconsistencies of the upper-class bled from the perfect wallpaper. As he galloped up the many stairs, forever becoming a certain doom, Phillip scowled at his surroundings, from over-polished rails to the portraits staring at him from every corner. The next year he would let riches tumble from his fingers, for they had given him nothing before. Only one result stood from the wreckage of his upbringing.

Phillip was becoming a pacifist.


The End

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