Nicolas opened his eyes. He sat up and coughed. A dim, flickering light filled the room. It was cold and damp. Where am I?
Nicolas tilted his face, his eyes darting everywhere. Three of the four walls were solid rock. The floor was solid rock, with a carved out hole in the corner for a bathroom. There was no bed. The fourth wall was lined with steel bars, with a keyhole in the center.
Nicolas shook his head and shivered. He bent down and glanced at his undergarments. So they captured me, and took all my clothes…He shook his head in disbelief. Why did this happen? What about leaving Tulin, like the Master said?
Staring up at the ceiling, Nicolas shook his fist. “So much for your plan,” he said under his breath. “How am I going to get out of here?”
King Saris sat in the throne room of Saris Castle, drumming his fingers on the shoulder rests of his decorated throne. “Where is General Tarmis?” he growled.
A Saris guard scrambled up the steps and approached the throne, beads of sweat dripping from his face. “He’s on his way,” he choked.
The king grabbed his scepter and tapped it against the floor. A bright flash began to form on the tip of the scepter, and grew brighter and brighter by the second. He then lifted up the scepter and pointed it at the guard. “Tarmis has five more seconds to show up, or I’m killing you.”
“Gracious king, don’t kill me!”
“He’ll be here any second!”
“TARMIS! SHOW UP!!!”
King Saris waved the scepter, flinging the bright ball of energy directly at the guard.
General Tarmis burst into the room, and leapt forward, shoving the guard out of the way. He held up his shield against the bright orb. The shield absorbed all of the energy. “Let’s not be wasteful, your majesty,” he said. “You have already killed three this week.”
King Saris set down his scepter. “Very well, guard. You may live.”
The guard sighed with relief and grinned. Cowering at the king, he fidgeted back, and then ran out of the throne room.
The king then waved his fist at the general. “What took you so long?”
“So long? I got here as fast as I could, your majesty.”
The king scowled and swore. “You’re usually a lot faster than this. What held you up?”
“We have a new prisoner.” The general answered. “He’s a Tulinite kid that looked suspicious.”
King Saris pounded his fists on the armrests. “Tarmis!” he growled. “I gave you direct orders to take no prisoners. You were supposed to interrogate them, find out what you can about the Seed Relic, and then kill them. That includes children too!”
General Tarmis jerked back, shaking his head. “I didn’t apprehend the prisoner, your majesty. A couple of my lower ranks did.”
“Find those soldiers and kill them. They must both understand the price of not following my orders.”
General Tarmis began pacing towards the exit of the throne room.
King Saris held up his hand, motioning the general. “Wait! Let them interrogate and kill the prisoner first. After they do that, kill them.”
The general briskly walked back to the center of the room, towards the throne. “Very well, your majesty.”
A gasp suddenly came out of nowhere.
The king’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to detect where the sound was coming from. “What was that?”
“What was what?” The general frowned.
“I thought I heard something. It sounded like a gasp.”
“Oh, never mind. Moving on, I would like to hear your report. What did you find out about the Seed Relic? Did you find it?”
“No we didn’t, your majesty. But we do have a lead. We searched all the houses of the Tulin peasants and none of them were of any help. We then searched Tulin castle to find the king. The king wasn’t anywhere to be found. My guess is that he’s probably hiding somewhere in the Tulin continent.”
The king scowled. “And the lead, Tarmis! The lead!”
The general grinned. “I was just getting to that. Since we couldn’t find anything, I gave my ranks orders to burn down Tulin. Right after this, one of my ranks bursts into the castle. It appeared that he got a couple of Tulin nobles to talk.”
“And they both said that the relic was north. One of them said it was far north. I ordered a team of scouts to begin heading northward, towards the Tulin highlands.”
“Good. But that’s only half of the relic. The king still has the other half.”
“Don’t worry. These scouts are experts. They are all seasoned veterans in the Saris army and they should be able to find the king, no problem.”
The king grabbed his golden chalice, filled with purple passion wine, and sipped it. “How are things going on the secret project?”
The general held up his hand, motioning it in front of the king. “The project is moving along just fine. That is all that I can tell you.”
“Is that so? I can’t wait until it’s done.”
“You will like it, your majesty.”
The king scratched his head. “Where is my Tatiana?”
The general sat down his shield and shrugged. “Princess Saris? I haven’t seen her today.”
“Get someone to find her. I would like to have a nice conversation with her – father to daughter. Oh, and you are dismissed, Tarmis.”
“Thank you, your majesty. I’ll get someone to find her right away.”
A sneeze suddenly came out of nowhere, stopping General Tarmis in mid-step.
King Saris sat down his chalice on a small table near his throne. “Wait! I heard that sneeze. Now don’t tell me you didn’t hear it!”
The general nodded in agreement. “I heard that sneeze too! It was kind of high-pitched, and sounded like it came from nearby me.” The general darted around, searching all over the vicinity of where he was standing. He looked behind a nearby statue. “Well, what have we here? It’s the princess!”
King Saris pounded his fists on the armrests in a fit of rage.. “TATIANA! How dare you listen in on a private conversation!”
The princess shuddered and her face reddened. “S-s-s-sorry dad….”
“Oh, you will be sorry, my dear. You do understand the crime for listening in on private matters….”
“Tarmis, throw her in the dungeon. She will be executed tomorrow at sundown.”
The princess shook her head, her face filling up with tears. “No!”
With that, the general grabbed the princess. She then kicked the general, making him lose his grip. The princess immediately ran out of the room, with the general in close pursuit.
“Tomorrow at sundown, Tatiana!” The king barked from the throne. “Better say your goodbyes, my dear….”
The cries and screams became louder and began to flood the hallways of Saris Castle.
©2011 K. L. Walker
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