'Look what you did,' Will exclaimed, glaring at the creature coldly. 'I suppose you've won, I don't know when the next carriage will come.' He crossed the grass, grabbing his suitcase, but the handle gave in and snapped off. He grunted, feeling as if everything was against him, awkwardly slotting the case under his arm as he stomped down the pathway. After a moment, he heard the crunch of gravel behind him, he span around, the peryton was following him, each trot elegant and careful.
'What?' Will fumed,
'You still have not learnt. I must ensure that you remain here, therefore you must understand why it is imperative that you stay. You need to see why you are better off here.'
'I'm not better off here, though,' Will retorted, 'and neither is anybody else as long as I'm here. I almost killed one of my friends, and even if we're not friends anymore, I can still act like one and leave him alone.'
'You say that as if they were ever safe.'
'What does that mean?' Will's voice was lowered in curiosity, sensing this, the peryton trotted closer.
'Their lives were always at risk,' it said. 'They will face danger and betrayal wherever they go, this estate is nothing but an illusion of the world outside. If anything, it does more harm than good. If they did not expect trouble in the outer world, I would brand them fools.'
'Yeah, danger, from humans. Not from a classmate, not from somebody who's supposed to be a prince. How am I supposed to look after Maegard when I can't even look after my friends?'
'Do you think all royals are born perfect, or anybody for that matter? It does not matter what we do, but how we feel about it. You regret what you did, your actions were nothing but an overflow of power, something which all magi struggle with. Why should you hold yourself accountable for an accident -,'
'Because nobody expects me to have accidents. Not a prince. If I was still a prisoner, it would be different. Everything was so much simpler back then...'
That life had been dull, and it had been difficult, yet in ways it was the easiest way of living. It was all he'd known, and as the lowest of the low, he had no reputation to uphold. Now, the legacy of eight millennia of royals rested on his shoulders, a weight thrown at him in less than a month, one that seemed to have buckled and broken him.
'Simpler, perhaps, but better, I disagree. You left your life behind for a reason. You chose to take Percival and Anala Paradam's hands that night in Vincula. It is time you remembered why.'
'Wait,' Will said, puzzled, 'how do you know all that?'
'I am much more than I appear to be. Do not discredit yourself, and do not discredit me.'
'What do you -,' Will began to say, but suddenly, the peryton reared, flapping its multi-coloured wings, catching him in a wind which knocked him to the ground. He vaguely remembered his feet slide out from beneath him, the jolt through his skull as he made contact with the ground, then emptiness as he slipped into a state of darkness.