Friday, May 31, 2013

A Tale of Two Kings -- Part #3

            Roderic staggered only slightly as he followed his escort through the corridors.  As always, it seemed that the sun rose too early over the palace of Ara’keim.  Even more annoying was his father’s unexpected summons, which came before that sun had a chance to rise.  He would have certainly preferred more time, at least to properly nurse this headache and the soreness he felt.  All were a well earned gift from last evening’s festivities.  Parts of which had been more enjoyable than others. 

Between the abundance of drink, and chance encounter gone wrong, he couldn’t say which contributed to his discomfort more.  Though at the suggestion of the one that got away, the pretty flower he had found later in the night, did help to dull the pain of the bruises he had received.  Thinking of Anne sent a fresh spike of pain drilling through his skull.  That encounter could possibly have gone better.

            She looked beautiful last night.

When had that happened?  How long had it been?  Roderic winced at the memory of how quickly a candle's flame once took that hair, and the following hate that burned in a young girl’s eyes.  It was still there, and could I have acted anymore, the fool?

            “Did my father say what this was about?”  He called out to the tall lean man who had awakened him, and was now leading him to an unknown destination and fate.  Well it wasn’t exactly unknown.  Roderic had spent his youth with Zareth, exploring every inch of this palace and the surrounding city.

            “I’m certain that I do not know,” he responded with the same even tone he had used when answering the last several times.  Roderic knew the monotone voice wouldn’t change a single pitch or vary the response to much, if asked again.  Merric was his father’s personal servant, loyal as a dog, and devoid of what most would call a personality.  He would only say what he was told to say, and nothing more.  Still, it didn’t hurt to try, and it was likely the only amusement Roderic would get this morning.

            “So you’re certain?” Roderic prodded, curling a half smile.

            “Quite,” Merric replied.

            “Really… I guess, quite, is pretty certain.”


            Roderic got nothing more, though he did ask a few more times just out of spite.  Their route meandered on through the palace.  Wherever they were going, it was not a direct path to their destination.  This could only mean that his father wanted him in a specific place at a precise time.  It was that, or he had taken into account that Roderic, would need time to walk off the effects of his––less desirable behaviors.

            After an hour of walking in circles, Merric glance back at him.  If Roderic hadn’t known better he would have believed the man was amused, but that would require an actual emotion.  No, he was just assessing Roderic’s state.  Shortly they came to a stop in front of the King’s audience chamber.  It was not the usual place his father chose to chew him out.  This time however he had no idea what he had done.  At least he wasn’t certain of what his father may have learned he had done.  His best guess circled around the incident with princess Anne’s guards last night.  He and Zareth had only sent three to the infirmary wing.  It was hardly a thing that would raise his ire.

            “You may enter,” Merric stated, turning to face him.

            Roderic stepped forward, putting them only a few inches apart.  He looked the other up and down, chewing on the words he wanted to say.  Roderic’s best curses would be wasted on this man.  Merric never flinched.  Even now the taller man just stared straight ahead, not meeting Roderic’s eyes. 

            “You do know that we’ve made seven passes of this door, while you’ve led me about this morning,” Roderic stated.

            Merric suddenly blinked.  Then oddly out of character, he looked down and met Roderic’s stare.

            “We had time for eight more,” Merric replied.  “The need did not seem necessary.  Do you disagree?”

            Roderic’s mouth opened but then close.  He would swallow that particular curse too, and save it for one who could at least appreciate it.  Instead he raised a hand to Merric’s shoulder and brushed some imaginary dust from it.  With a crooked smile he turned toward the door.  From the corner of his eye, he saw Merric wave the signal.  Two guards stepped in and opened the double doors as Roderic approached. 

            He stepped into the audience chamber, and saw his father sitting with two others.  When the doors closed behind him, his father turned his direction and stood.  Roderic instantly knew this was not going to be good.  Absent from his father’s lips, was the scowl he had expected, the scowl that most of their meetings usually demanded.  The King instead gave him the grandest of smiles.  It was not a fatherly smile for a beloved son, and if he had seen that one, he would know his death was imminent.  No, this particular smile, Roderic had seen many times. 

It said, “I am King Tiber Arcanius, and you will perform a service to my kingdom.”  That service usually got more than a few men killed, especially the one who received that smile.

At that moment the two guests stood, and Roderic knew for certain that he was in trouble.  The visitors wore floor length coats, of a colorfully multi-patterned design.  If only they had been gleemen for his upcoming Naming Day, he might have felt a little better, but they weren’t.  The long pointed ears and the eyes of glowing silver said but one thing.


The Elves had not come to Ara’Keim for over three generations.  In the histories it spoke of the times they did come, and those times had always been the worst.  His father eagerly waved him forward.  To Roderic’s credit, he did not vomit, but his headache screamed louder than ever, and he sorely wanted a drink.

End of Part #3
Thank you for the visit.
Come back soon for Part #4

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