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HAAKON FREDERIC NISSENHauviel, his birthplace, his inheritance, his home. Haakon didn’t recognise the city after nearly two decades, but he recognised certain spots. The church that his father used to lead, the market location, its docks that he liked to stroll through. Those had remained at large. The people moving in the crowd, however, were nothing different from the cities Haakon had seen so far. The occasional cry yelling for attention as the goods offered were announced. Fresh bread, fresher vegetables, still bloody meat. All of it were sights he hadn’t explored as a child, but that were strangely familiar because he had encountered them elsewhere, not for tender childhood memories.
“Kun?” Artem questioned next to him, the aged and folded visage of the old weapon master to whom Kun owed his life squinted in worry. Inquisitive warm eyes searching for that of the young man who turned his gaze away and a warm hand pressed against the prince’s arm in concern.
Over the years it was Artem who had stood closest to Haakon, treating the lost prince as the son the weaponmaster had lost in that terrible war.
“The city crosses me as strange,” Haakon admitted, “it daunts me how little I know of my birthright.” He had been so young. Too young to understand what was happening and what he really had lost other than that he was suddenly an orphan. Now that he had returned, overseeing Hauviel perched on the deck of his own ship, having climbed from nothing; it terrified how Hauviel seemed like nothing but yet another city to which they had docked. No emotion of homecoming, nor a feeling of nostalgia.
Artem’s face relaxed at that admission, understanding where the concern came from as the aged man released a sigh. He wasn’t the same lad he had been before, just as Haakon wasn’t the boy he was when he lost everything. The trauma lined their faces, but the memory was only felt and on their minds. Whatever trace of familiarity they had before, what could have them recognised, was long since gone in the near two decades that had passed.
“I had hoped to bring you back under better circumstances,” Artem admitted, and Haakon waved it off, signalling for the man to silence himself as the rest of the group climbed onto the deck of their ship.
“Don’t bow,” Haakon hissed under his breath, the warning thick in his voice as he noted the way their knees were about to bend, their fists over the left side of their chest, “this isn’t the time, nor the location,” he pointed out solemnly, his eyes scanning over the crowd below that moved and bustled about their day. The crew straightened themselves up quickly after, discomfort clear in their faces at the thought of breaking away from their habit, embarrassed for not being more mindful.
There was no time for that, however. Turning his eyes back over Hauviel, Haakon released a sigh from himself, his jaw clenching. He hated the thought that it was the poorest among them that had to suffer. It was always those down the ranks that suffered the consequences. A fact that Haakon was still unable to change and wasn’t going to be able to change for a long while.
“As we agreed. Target the nobility. Leave the rest. We wish to disrupt their transportation. Not to feed greed.”
The order came out more simple than the plan actually was, but the group had already gone over the plan so many times on their way to Hauviel. A repetition wasn’t needed after so many journeys together.
"Captain?" one of them called, and Haakon turned his attention over to Leah, the maid that had taken care of him like a mother would despite barely being much older herself. Haakon regretted the fact that she had foregone her youth in devoting herself to this cause. That so many of the crew, both aged and peers, all who had survived that terrible night, had given up on so much as they somehow had found their way back to his side.
"Spill it," Haakon commanded when Leah fell quiet, as if waiting for his permission to speak. A habit Haakon had to break with as well for as long as they found themselves in Hauviel. He couldn't have their conduct around him reveal his identity.
Leah took a deep sigh, as if needing courage for what she was about to say next and Haakon wondered what it was. If it was fear for him, or if she believed that she was crossing a line. Neither had prepared him for the question to come.
"Will you visit the grave of your parents?"
Sucking in a breath Haakon leaped off the railing he had been sitting on, his expression darkening as his lips pulled into a thin line. The crew took a step back, as if wishing to maintain proper distance, or perhaps they were more afraid of him lashing out. Only Artem remained in position, but Haakon could see how even the old man tensed as the male shut his eyes, knowing what his eyes were doing and commanding himself to calm down.
"What grave?" The answer came thinly, and Haakon felt a little broken having to utter these words, "did you think the D'Ambrosio would honour my parents after dipping their own hands in their blood?"
Haakon dismissed the group soon after confirming their meeting spots one last time. There was no use in lingering.
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