The Wayward Prince - 3 The Martyr

3 The Martyr

Tegra refuses food in the day because he often fasted like the prophets. Tegra is awake late night in prayer. Tegra sits on a bark and look at his sword with a solemn face. I don't know where they come from. Memories?

I turn and there is Rafel. "Father," I hear myself speak and move to him.

Suddenly, the ground is pooled with blood. I panic and look around and see the castle walls in distance. My feet move heavily in the thickening rising blood. I hear a scream. Was it Versia? Or Gavon? I cannot tell. I cannot breath. There is monster behind me. A giant black horse. I scream for the castle to save me. The walls breaks by a red wave that consumes me.

My eyes open. I sit up and look around but there is no more blood.

Bavin is practising in a courtyard. The dawn has not broken yet. He gives me a puzzled look when I smile and wave at him. This section is far away from my section of the castle. He rests the blade and comes at me, commenting on my unexpected early wake. We talk when someone comes storming out way.

The haughty son of chief.

"b.a.s.t.a.r.d, you dare touch my sister," he roars. His clothes dishevelled and eyes are red in drunken rage.

I almost laugh at his appearance.

"What are you talking about? You don't seem well, young lord," I say kindly. I have no sword. He does and proceeds to take it out.

"Shut up," he says wobbling closer. "I will show you what we men do to offenders like you."

His blades meets Bavin's, who pushes the son back. But he yells something incoherent and pounces right back at me. I fall and s.h.i.+eld myself. Bavin punches him hard before he tries anything. They wrestle each other until the son is pinned, exhausted.

The son is prisoned on the ground of attempt murder on the king. He rots there, waiting for his trial. Which will not be kind because I never met any of his sister after the feast.

The chief, the father walks to me before the court. Chiefs are known for their pride but he shuns all away and begs for his son's life.

Other chiefs who are still present in the city bubble in rage after witnessing the scene. They don't trust me.

I don't care.

Dealing with them requires a level of cold cruelty. A mindset to crush the enemy. But there is one difference between me and them. The political games. The prairie life is simple without complications. While it is true that I did not lay hand on any girl of theirs. But I certainly did send the rumour through the servants. Bribing their ignorance and instead say the young lord just stomped out without reason. Then wait at the right spot, the courtyard nearby the guesthouse. I have played their convention against them.

There is bigger threat still. And it has been bothering me for a time.

The citizens that have come from the prairies. They consist a big portion of the city population. Although they stay loyal. In the future, with chiefs working with me, some can rouse rebellion.

This is settled by an accidental fire the other day. It spreads from houses to shops. People scream and try to flee their home. Many get stuck in upper floors, burned or crushed by debris. By the time it is controlled, the casualty counts to a thousand. The news leaves the whole city horrified.

The prairies are given their silence warning.

I sit alone in the throne room, numb from my actions, when Gavon comes for me.

"You are behind this!" He bellows. "Don't try to excuse yourself from me. I have found out everything."

"Fine then," I say.

"Fine?" he looks bewildered. "What do you mean fine?"

"You will not speak or act any further on this matter," I order him sternly. "Do you understand?"

Gavon's mouth tightens. His gives me a venomous stare. "Actually I can."

I do not expect that defiance.

"You may believe in const.i.tutional laws," he says, "but do not forget this city follows the prophets principles, king Tegra made sure of that. You are a corrupter of the world, who have gone starkly against the G.o.d. The punishment of that is death."

Then he looks broken, remorseful. "I will not bring such a humiliation on you. I cannot do that to Tegra's descendant. It's best you go away. Far away from the city and never return."

"You want me to be an exile?" I stand up and walk to him, heart thumping loudly.

"Go before I change my mind." His face is cold again.

He calls two guards to take me to my room. I dismiss them and stomp away. Me, an exile of my own city. I cannot believe this. I cannot believe this!

No. All this time. It was him. Gavon was my biggest threat.

That coward. Who does he think he is? He has power and influence since my grandfather's age. And I know he must have wanted himself to inherit the city instead of me. Always saw me incompetent.

I will show him what I can do.

Gavon has called the council to discuss the matter at the throne room. Some spot me and gape in terror. Gavon turns and spots when he sees me with two black blades. Braveheart, Rod called them.

I throw one to him.

"If you want my kings.h.i.+p, you will win it from me."

"Stop it," Gavon pleads.

I charge at him.

The councilmen scatter, calling for guards. They will not come. I thrust at Gavon's stomach, completely ignoring his blade. He jumps back and bats away my blade.

Rage has filled my head. I take every chance to attack, not caring about my openings. Gavon clashes with each one. Shouts rise outside, below the balcony leading to hall. Gavon stops holding back and starts swings his sword for my arm or head. I smile, dodging them. He is known as one of the best fighters, despite his age and unwilling to duel.

But I still push him back and we move toward the king's chair.

Gavon is closer to me than my father has ever been. He has searched me in the streets and dragged me to my or duties when I was a child. Now here he is, fighting me for power.

I will destroy him.

Our blades clash violently, sending Gavon down over the dais of the chair. There, I see his opening at the heart. But his eyes finds mine at the stomach. His blade is closer. He can thrust through my flesh.

He looks determined to move, then gives up.

Before I could process his action. Before I could ask him why he did not move, my hands drops the sword into his chest.

I look into his dying eyes. He looks worried. For me. Before he is lost.

What? Why?

Then it hits me. He never intended me dead. He never wanted my power. He really meant what he had said.

"I care for you, Nikelas."

Down at the hall, Bavin has come running with his men. Versia and Rod included. He shouts for them to return but their frozen stare makes him look up at the balcony where I have stepped. They meet the blood on my blade and the coldness of my eyes. Versia, who has looked up to me, is broken. Rod, who has cared, is perplexed.

Bavin's face turns from shock to angry. This somehow gives me relief.

I descend down the side stairs.

"Surrender yourself, you have murdered the Minister," he commands.

"Men!" I call my soldiers present in the hall.

The Steel Brotherhood do not expect the soldiers to obey. They are still mine as long as I hold the kings.h.i.+p. They clash, however, some are still loyal to Gavon, and they resist the onslaught of the band.

Bavin manages to reach me.

My blade meets his. Braveheart is sharp but a broadsword is heavy. I move quick but Bavin swings forceful.

The hall meets an ambush from the chiefs. Some chiefs charge with a force of both human and monsters. They are here to take my rule. Taking advantage of the chaos, I flee.

There are trees and shadow around me. I don't know where I am going but I keep moving. My muscles scream in pain. The path treaded in darkness does not seem to end.

But there is light. I scurry over there.

It is a large gravestone with grand engravings. A few rays of sun s.h.i.+nes over the small s.p.a.ce of gra.s.s. I am huffing in exhaustion. I walk over the stone and rest my head against.

So peaceful here.

It feels like destiny. Like this gravestone has called me here.

Whose grave is it?

The answer comes to me. A group of honourable people come and are looking down at me. My head turns to look at them. Among them is the first king Tegra. His son Rafel. Other men who had worked with them and died as martyr.

A faint stream of light surround them.

I am full of pain and remorse. I am on my knees, head bowed down. Tears flood my eyes and start to drop on the gra.s.s.

"Forgive me," I whisper. "I failed to carry your legacy. I lost everything. Everything. Even the city you raised and died for."

Perhaps this is how it ends. King Nikelas, the foolish wrongful king. If this is how it is, then I don't to live anymore.

I raise the dark blade to my neck, to make a quick slice so it finally ends.

A hand stops me. Gavon. I stare into his eyes, which are no longer sorrowful. I want to say a lot things. Apologise. Curse. Cry. Plead. Instead he says to me, " Not now. Do what you ought to do."

I wake up.

It feels like someone had stabbed me with a thousand needles. My face is hot with fever. I try to sit up and look with my hazy vision.

Before I try to figure where I am, I am alerted by someone approaching.

"G.o.d! It is you!" Rod yells. He stomps toward me, holding out a sword.

I try to move and wince at several little wounds I have. Cuts made during my escape.

He punches me terribly. "I have been wanting to do this ever since two days. b.a.s.t.a.r.d, who knew you were that kind of person. Fooling everyone around with your charm. You murderous wretch."

He senses my lack of movement and notices the condition I am in. Where I used to take pain to maintain my looks – My hair is wet and dirty. Clothes spoiled, covered in wound stains. Eyes dull and unfocused. He has said two days. I was unconscious for two days. I don't remember. Seeing me in such a mess shocks him even now.

He sighs and crouches before me. "A group of chiefs have taken over Great Middle. The leading one calls himself Grand Lord of Chiefs and is already hara.s.sing the citizens," he says, inspecting my injuries. "Bavin has been searching for you. He is out here, with whatever men he has left."

I think of what I'll do and nod.

We don't walk for long before we reach where he and his men sit beside fire. Most of them look tired and haunted. It is all my fault. If we were not fighting amongst ourselves, their rebellion could not have worked.

Bavin spots me immediately and rushes. He has his sword ready to strike. Rod stops him.

"Atleast give him a chance," he insists. I don't know where this faith comes in him.

"What chance?" he exclaims. His composure is broken. "Because of you, my sister is-"

The reason of his distress dawns on me.

The man who calls himself Grand Lord has s.h.i.+fted the king's chair to the hall down below. And filled it with young serving boys and girls, guards, chiefs and councilmen who are reduced to his sycophants. He is having a game of calling the notable citizens one by one and decide their fate. Imprisonment, execution or enslavement. I watch this from the old throne room. They have not figured out the secret pa.s.sages and left them open.

My heart sinks when Versia is presented before him.

Her face is bruised, probably the doing of the men who have dragged her. Her hair uncovered and dishevelled. Despite her condition, she manages to glare menacingly like her brother.

"I finally found you," he says delightfully. "You are quite a troublesome girl with a lovely face. Come near."

One guard pushes her forward and she climbs the dais. He grabs her chin by his hand. "Don't think about resisting now. You will live as my slave of night."

Versia's head is bowed. In what looked like submission. But in another moment she pulls out a hidden blade and aims at his eye.

The Grand Lord dodges her. Versia tries to run up the side stairs. "I will never submit to a disgusting king like you!" She screams.

The soldiers catch her.

"And what kind of king you will submit to, in your slave's opinion?" He growls, walking to her.

"Slave's opinion? Atleast I did not degrade your people like that."

His head shots up at me. I call, "Charge!"

The Silver Brotherhood pours into the hall, clas.h.i.+ng with the soldiers. Rod takes the chance to s.n.a.t.c.h Versia away. She looks at me for the last time, an emotion in her eyes.

I jump at the Grand Lord. Bavin's band is terribly outnumbered. They mostly maintain a defensive position, taking the citizens out of the hall.

I keep my opponent busy. Swinging with all the strength my present condition can allow me. He makes tactless, aggressive slashes. I manage to make cuts on his arms. He still insists on fighting.

My left foot trembles and I stumble. Grand Lord takes the chance to knock Braveheart out of my grip.

Monsters sprint in, earning gasps and cries. The same ones, beasts with long claws.

My men begin to fall and the rest run away.

Grand Lord laughs.

I am made a show before the city. On the duelling ground where the silent audience is seated. The moon s.h.i.+nes in me. The horrendous monsters circle the ground. I scream everytime they scratch me, the wound worse than whipping. I am fighting to keep my consciousness.

"This is price the murderous king deserves," Grand Lord announces.

I scream at another claw cuts at me. I grit my teeth and glare at the monsters.

"His own men knew to betray him when he wanted to s.n.a.t.c.h the throne back!"

Another comes at me, roaring thunderously, and the pain from the claws are too much. It has been going on for an hour now. The chains tied to my arms to the pillars clink as I come to my knees. But refuse to fall.

It disappoint the chief.

"Archers, finish him."

He makes a great show of brining a group of archers to shower arrows at my body. I smile at last. It probably makes everyone think I have gone mad. But he does not know that I merely came as a distraction.

So he does not know when Bavin has gone to Dewarii to gather a large army. He is going to seize control back. He has a letter by me, which wills him to be the king of Great Middle after me.

As the arrows shoots in the sky to come down at me, I close my eyes and wonder how the world will rememb