An Unabridged Memoir - Part 02
Part 2 – Advent, tragedy, contemplation
15th birthday was the advent of the tragedy that engulfed the
mansion of the Noel family. Lord Ban was kind enough to hold a birthday party
for me, but unlike in the past, and due to his extremely busy schedule, it was
only a small ceremony between me, Lord Ban and Lady Freiya. It was held at the
furthermost edge of the lake that covers a very wide area of the estate. Lady
Freiya baked a cake, so it felt special to have someone as noble as her doing
something as trivial as baking a cake for me. They sang to me the customary
birthday song, and yes, I admit, that was the first time I’ve heard Lord Ban
sang. Although a bit on the emotionless side, his voice packed powerful and
special quality to it, and Lady Freiya’s beautiful voice complemented his manly
notes very well. What ought to have been a happy song turned out to sound quite
differently, that it touched my heart, and I was saddened by an unknown
thought. Under the hundreds-years old willow tree by the lake, I blew the
candles on my 15th birthday cake, marking my 10th years
living under his care. Lady Freiya gave me a pair of gold cuff-link, while Lord
Ban gave me a velvet box. He asked me not to open it, or at least, not until
the time comes. I was puzzled by his wish, but decided not to ask anything. The
small ceremony went on quietly, as we shared a solemn toast,
and Lord Ban wished for my well being, as well as for my future. I left him
with Lady Freiya alone under the willow tree when she fell asleep on his
shoulder, and he dozed off leaning against the willow tree, and I immediately
returned to my study.
But by then, what ought to have been a happy day ended with me feeling heavy and depressed…saddened by the sequence of event. Deep inside, I could sense that something was amiss, but my mind had better control over my judgment, that I merely ruled the uneasiness out as…yet again another intuition.
Just a wild intuition.
Just an intuition.
And that night…
A woman, surprisingly, an elf woman appeared at the mansion. Lord Ban invited her in, but she had refused to accept his offer. I remember seeing her from the window of my room. She and Lord Ban spoke outside the main door, in utter quietness. The first few moments they spent talking in absolute calmness, but suddenly the conversation began to heat up, it appeared more like an argument than a ‘talk’. Lord Ban was so bold that night that he snatched her hands and held on tightly, while the woman retaliated greatly. This lasted for some time, when Lord Ban dragged her into the mansion, which had me feeling very curious as I ran out of my room and headed towards the central hall. There I hid myself by the staircase, just in time to hear Lord Ban shouting to his servants, ordering them to leave the room, while the woman screamed for release. Although he was shielded from my eyes most of the time, the times when my eyes fell on him merely made me realize that he was no his usual self. That was when he dragged the woman to the centre of the hall, and threw her violently onto the lounging chair, as he stood in front of her with his eyes glowing mercilessly. That was when he muttered something that truly shocked me – something I will never forget for the rest of my life…
“Your crown prince had never existed in the first place. I am dead to you, the nation, and your king,” was what he blurted to the elf woman, and he said it very angrily that his yellow eyes were shining with unusual rage. What surprised me most was that the presence of the elf woman at the mansion that night was to bring Lord Ban back to his kingdom and leave the kingdom, as they needed his authority to commence an attack on the world of humans, as a mean of revenge for what they’d done in the past. It turned out that his uncle, the late king had passed away, leaving behind a will that ordered the Royal Court to bring back the only heir to the kingdom’s throne and resume their ambition of obliterating human’s kingdom in the name of revenge. It turned out that Lord Ban’s cousin, Gabrelda was murdered by a human knight when he ventured into the woods very long years ago, and they had since named Lord Ban, the only surviving heir of the last elven kingdom in the word as the future king. The elf woman, despite the objection she received from Lord Ban, insisted that he will eventually return to them, when she gave him a book with leather cover, which turned out to be a journal. Lord Ban recognized it almost immediately that his face softened, when he took the journal and began reading the contents, as the elf woman watched closely the reaction on Lord Ban’s face. I remembered seeing the woman grinning subtly, her unusual smile projecting a sense of malicious evil, of which I was certain no one else but me had witnessed it. When Lord Ban’s eyes widened and the book fell off his hand onto the marble floor surface, he stood up like a jack-knife from his seating and spun around to look at the woman was only when the evil on her face disappeared. He shouted at her, calling her a liar, as the woman walked toward him and picked up the book in front of him, and held it tightly against her chest. I saw how her scheming expression was replaced with mocking sorrow, as she suddenly shed tears, as if she was deeply hurt and disappointed by the reaction she was getting from ‘the only saviour of the last elf kingdom’. I suppose her trick worked, when Lord Ban’s face softened. He was about to say something when the elf woman interrupted and started speculating about ‘the truth’; about how Lord Ban’s father was murdered by the scheming humans, as well as the death of Gabrelda. She asked him if all that wasn’t enough to convince him that no elf could live among humans and no human could be among elves. Lord Ban didn’t answer her, when suddenly extremely loud noise attracted their attention, as well as mine. The noise came from the main gate, and I ran to my room to see what was happening, which shocked me. I was greeted by the sight of a mass of fully-armoured cavalry marching into the compound, behind them civilians carrying torches. The cavalry men’s faces were covered with their shiny helmet, but the expression on the civilians’ face clearly told me that they were angry over something. It was scary to watch them march into the compound, especially the grim faces of the civilians, and the rigidness of the cavalry troop. They assembled in front of the main entrance, forming a semi circle, and when Lord Ban appeared at the doorway, a fully-armoured man stepped forward. He unrolled a scroll encased in silver holder which seemed to be a royal decree or something, and began to read aloud. I remember being extremely shocked when his word reached my ears…
What followed next felt surreal. The guards began subduing Lord Ban, while few of them barged into the mansion and detained the elf woman. The quiet situation suddenly went noisy when the civilians started shouting and cursing Lord Ban, who was obviously shocked and confused by the sequence of event. Few of Lord Ban’s servant and house guards rushed to the front door and began demanding for their master’s release. I myself immediately ran downstairs and to main door, when my nanny Karen begged that I stop them from taking him away. When I stepped forward, trying to negotiate with them, Lord Ban screamed for me to retreat but before I could react to his warning one of the guards attacked me with the back of his spear, causing me to fell onto my knees. When the cold blade of the chivalry knight’s spear touched my neck, I realized that my life was at stake. But somehow that night I was too determined to let that blade stop me that I rushed to my feet, oblivious to the blade that had tore down a chunk of my shirt. I tried to say something when the same knight punched me on my face, sending me flying. I heard Lord Ban screaming that I be left alone, and I was surprised to hear him calling me as his ‘son’. Karen had rushed to me by then and apologized for making me stand for Lord Ban, but my determination won’t let me be in peace with the bastards that took him away that even with my trembling body I rose to my feet and walked forward. The troop leader who was also the decree holder was obviously dumbstruck when I demanded that the reason of Lord Ban’s capture be made clear, and when one of his subordinate tried to hit me he was stopped by his superior. Gently he told me that Lord Ban was involved in a conspiracy that had wrecked havoc at the capital. When I asked what the conspiracy was, he refused to tell, and I remembered that I demanded him for the truth even after I was initially refused. He laughed at me and told me to concentrate on my study instead of mingling in a grown-up’s matter. That was when he ordered his troop to prepare for return, and warned the civilians not to go overboard by starting fire on the mansion or something. Realizing my failure I rushed to Lord Ban, passing through all the troop and I managed to cling to him. For the first time in my whole life under his care, he wrapped his arm around me and told me to look after everyone until his return, and in that hectic moment filled with unsure reality, I carelessly let my heart promise him although my head was more determined to save him. Our little chat was witnessed by the troop leader, who did nothing but stood next to us. Lord Ban told the man not to harm me, or the household in return for his cooperation and the man promised. That was the start of every following ordeal that actually made this story very famous in my land of birth, centring on two of the souls that it will greatly concern, and two nations about to wage war, of people’s suffers and feeling, of one’s emotion and desire…
There was no news about Lord Ban from the castle for the entire week. I was very worried and I couldn’t concentrate. The fact that I hadn’t seen Lady Freiya since Lord Ban was captured worsen my concern, and my instinct had been telling me that something very bad was about to happen. That day, I was scheduled to return to my hometown, but I couldn’t very well leave the mansion in the middle of the crisis, that the very moment the carriage passed the main gate, I ordered the chauffeur to head toward the capital instead. As usual they felt pretty reluctant to let me go to the capital, but after continuous threatening, they complied. When we reached the capital however, I was shocked to see the city was swarmed by citizens dressed in black, and white roses were everywhere. Once my eyes were laid on the half-drawn flag, I realized that the situation was far worse than what I’ve expected. I managed to stop one of the passer-by, and he told me that only recently the king had been assassinated by an elf woman, sent by the one and only remaining elf kingdom on the far north continent. I was shocked to hear his revelation, and as he went on with his story, I also learnt that the elf woman had been beheaded only yesterday. From the man’s description I was sure that he was talking about the woman that I saw at the mansion a week ago. When I asked him if he had heard of Lord Ban, the man seemed reluctant to tell, but I managed to coax him into giving me all the details he had heard, learned and gathered. I was further surprised to learn that he was one of those who interrogated Lord Ban along the time when he was detained by the kingdom’s Royal Knights, as he introduced himself after I told him that I was Lord Ban’s apprentice. I begged him for the details of the event that had engulfed the nation, of whom I was kept away from very diligently, that he willingly brought me to his place. He dismissed his maids and butlers, as we sat over tea, and he explained in great detail of the things he knew, he learned and he have read. I learned only then that this kingdom had been engulfed in political instability the very moment the elfish knife struck our king’s neck. The details of the king’s murder were truly gruesome, to the point that I couldn’t believe anyone was ever capable of doing so. Further into the story, I was briefed about the knowledge gathered by their intelligence posted at the elfish kingdom, of whom they suspected had been captured, life ended. In fact, all elves residing or presence in the kingdom had been detained following the murder, and Lord Ban, he was held captive as the kingdom’s political prisoner, given his lineage and his position in the concerned kingdom. They believed that Lord Ban will be a threat should he be allowed to roam free, as Crown Prince Darius prepared to ascend the throne, in line and in accordance to the requirements after the death of the current king. I asked him about Lady Freiya, but the man, who asked me that I never mention his name to anyone, refused to comment about it. He merely asked me to head toward the far north of the capital, after giving me a letter sealed with black wax. We bid goodbye there and then, as he handed me a horse, telling me to leave at an instant, without having to inform the butlers that accompanied me. His action evoked countless questions within me, but I dare not ask further when he told me to ‘be brave and be prepared’. My answer, obviously lay somewhere in far north section of the capital. I left his place through the back gate, and being the fifteen year old child that I was, everything felt surreal and unreal the moment my hands grasped the reins of the black horse. As if understanding my disturbed mind, the horse dashed toward the far north of the capital, for the first time, alone and without the chaperon I’ve always had…