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An Unabridged Memoir - Part 03
Part 3 – Joshua and Seth
I did not know where I must head to, although it was described by the man as
the ‘far north’ of the capital. When I reached the gate, I was wordless,
without a single idea, that I stood stranded in the middle of the plaza, on the
horse. As if out of my mind, I asked if the black horse knew where I should
head to, when it hissed a reply, neighing toward a direction of a few men
dressed in greys and black seated on emptied beer kegs. One of these men
noticed us looking toward him that he very slowly rose up and trailed toward us.
He asked to see a letter, as he took the reins of the black horse. I noticed
that the black horse stood quietly and obediently next to the black-cloaked man
as if he recognized him when I decided to show him the letter. The man did not
say much as he led me towards the gate, and we exited the city. After retrieving
another black horse that seemed to have been hidden inside a bush, we rode for
further half an hour into the woods until we reached a solitude mansion that
stood in the middle of the lake. The mansion, designed to have a huge courtyard
in the middle of it, was unusually beautiful, the marbles that made up most of
its wall glowing and glimmered under the intense afternoon light. The man then
told me to put on a black cloak, and reminded me never to let out a single
noise, or say a single thing the while I was on the mansion’s ground. Still yet
to understand the situation, I decided to comply to the man’s warnings, and he
led me into the mansion, to a section at the back of the whole building. With
my face covered with veil, I was made to carry a tray of refreshment, and we
entered a room with ceiling-high door, into a room decorated with whites and
roses. In the middle of the room a woman sat motionlessly on the floor, with
overflowing black veil covering her face, and her dress richly decorated with
laces spread on the floor that formed an almost perfect circle. I couldn’t see
her face or any of her features, as even her hands were covered by the sleeves
of her dress. However, once we approached her, the woman reacted to the sound
of our footsteps. The clinking sound she made when she moved drew my attention
to the chain that cuffed her wrists that the silver metal ran all the way to
the wall. Pity crept all over my senses upon seeing the tied lady, and when the
man called her name, I nearly dropped the tray.
My shock was confirmed when she rose her head, and removed the veil. It was indeed her, Lady Freiya. Her beautiful blue eyes were empty, and her face pale. Her swollen eyelid suggested crying, and her very pale lips suggested that she had been suffering. I had to bit my lips until it bleeds in order to prevent myself from saying a single thing, or make any considerable noise. I’ll be lying if I tell you I the thing that I saw as of then did not affect me in any way. In fact I was surprised to find my mind contemplating ways to stop all this, although I was perfectly clueless on what could’ve caused all this. The man next to me took the glass from the tray I was holding and placed it in front of her, but instead of downing the water, she stared at it with her empty eyes. Moments later she held her palm to her face and started crying quietly, as the man pulled my cloak and dragged me out of the room. Outside I asked him what could’ve happened, and why was she chained to the wall, and he replied that Lady Freiya had once attempted to free Lord Ban, who was held captive at the kingdom’s Royal Palace, situated at the center of the capital. Those who assisted her had been captured as well, and their fate was unknown to the outside world. She had been captured as well, but following her standing and her relationship to the kingdom’s ruling family, she was held within the walls of the mansion instead of the prison. The man told me that he knew who I was, but asked that I refrain myself from doing anything stupid and steer clear from the dilemma. He told me that it would be exactly what Lord Ban would’ve wanted, but my head was far more determined that merely few minutes after I was sent out of the mansion’s compound, I sneaked into the area again, and carefully calculated my way to the chamber where Lady Freiya was held captive. I managed to reach the chamber in which Lady Freiya was kept in, and I’ve obviously startled her when she turned at the sound of my steps, face stricken by fear and panic. However her previously empty eyes lightened up upon seeing my presence that tears welled as soon as I reached for her hands. She could only sob as she placed her face against the back of my hand, and I was at such immense lost to what I should do next, or what I should say to her. It was there and then I realized that things won’t be easy for any of us.
Once things calmed down, I pleaded her to come with me, in which she at first refused fearing for the life of Lord Ban. I promised her that I will do all I can to save him, and although she was still feeling skeptic, she accepted my words and asked that I release her from the chains. I did my best to unlock the cuff, and was surprised when I succeeded. We escaped through the same route I used to get to her, and after we reached the spot where I hid my horse, we marched towards the capital without looking back. I couldn’t possibly tell what propelled my heroic antic, but as of that moment, nothing mattered to me but the lives of Lord Ban, and Lady Freiya. For once I forgot who I am, where I came from, and the promise I’ve made to Lord Ban when he was first captured. Together, with Lady Freiya riding pillion on the same black horse I came with, we tore our way toward the capital. Lady Freiya was too weak to even hold herself against the fierce gallops of the amazingly intelligent black horse that I had to tie her hands, using her lacy sleeves, around my waist to avoid her from falling. My visions and predicament was greatly hindered by my aching sense of justice, and the fire of wanting to set them free, regardless of the charges placed upon them. Looking back, it was such severe moment, and I, the quiet, docile and somewhat toned-down sort of child, am quite surprised that I was at all capable of pulling those off. The memory still lived, and still burned me from within, even after years had passed by.
It was relatively easy when we entered the city through the gate I left. I had Lady Freiya wear the black cloak I was given earlier and we effortlessly made our way toward the Royal Palace. As the palace was encircled within a line of well-kept green belt that gave it the much needed solace it ached for, it proved to be at my advantage as I dutifully hid the horse and Lady Freiya behind the trees and the shrubs. I made her promise, although she tearfully begged that I let her join me in seeking for Lord Ban. I couldn’t let her, in no way, that I, in the end, and for the first time, forcefully tied her to the tree trunk. She cried, but my heart had turned stale enough that her pleading did not matter as much as my mission does.
The man that greeted me at the South Gate of the palace was, shockingly, the very man that took Lord Ban away. Of course, he recognized me very much, thus recognizing the intention of my appearance here at the royal palace that we needn’t say much. He led me into the grounds, into a section of a circular garden belted by arcades of columns and pergolas. At the centre of the garden grounds stood a cage made of glimmering wrought iron, and next to the cage stood a man bearing such enormous sword. His unusual silver hair reflected the sky’s blueness, giving it a mild, dusty blue sheen to it. For that hair, I recognized him as the head of the Order of Royal Guards and member of the Centra Court, Lord Seth Harris le Beaumont. My veins stiffen at the thought of meeting one of the most powerful men in the kingdom. Enough with this man next to him, whose hair was the colour the dusty, golden earth and eyes almost as translucent as the crystal clear water of the fountain surrounding the cage, I don’t need another well-known, high ranking personality within my territory.
Forgive me for I have failed to note earlier. The man who stole Lord Ban away from my world wasn’t any ordinary man either. He was previously a judge with the Kingdom’s High Court, before stepping down as an honour to his late father’s request that he led the Left-Wing Brigade within the Order of the Royal Guard whose head had always came from the Peace family. And this good lord’s name, of course, was Sir Joshua Peace, who played pivotal, meticulously and explicitly crucial role that will lead to this future; this future I am living in.
Of course. If it wasn’t for my deeply-rooted articulate sense of judgment, I could’ve rushed by the cage and throw an imaginable hysteric tantrum. Although deeply shocked and deeply disturbed at the sight of the cage and its content, realizing that I am, as of that very moment, was standing within and at the centre of such important and unusual ground, attracting trouble was something I had not planned doing…yet. But I couldn’t well control my own emotion, and one of the self-restrain I imposed on myself broke and pearls of tears formed at the corner of my eyes. I suppose Lord Seth Harris saw the pearls slipping, falling down my eyes when his face changed, and his almost emotionless, stoic face gained but a little emotion. He and Sir Joshua exchanged glance, a single nod followed, and Lord Seth Harris stepped away from the cage and stationed himself by the columns that formed the circular arcade around the garden. At that cue, I need not ask for any permission from Sir Joshua that my legs, by itself, moved forward and toward the cage, and with every step that I take, the sight of my beloved lord father grew clearer and clearer as my tears slipped heavier and further. There was no word to describe his condition. Pale, weak, and tortured. Lord Ban was still wearing the same dark brown attire he wore on the day of his capture, with parts of his sleeves torn apart, revealing unsightly marks that could’ve been caused by burn marks made by coarsely-pulled ropes. The blisters on his palms were bleeding, and his dried, flaking lips told me his state of dehydration. He was asleep, his eyes partially open, and he looked too terrible for someone who came from a noble family, with noble blood in his veins, and heart as warm and kind as the sun.
No words escaped my lips during this sheer moment, but the unknown bond I shared with Sir Joshua told me he truly understand how I feel. When his fingers grasped my shoulder in one very strange embrace, I felt a jolt of electricity tearing up my senses. When he said what he said, it felt like thunder, as truth rushed in and out of my veins and nerves, every muscle and bones in my body tensing.
“I am sorry I couldn’t save your father.”
It was enough to tell me that Lord Ban was indeed innocent, right from the start, from the moment of his arrest.
What followed next felt like a series of whirlwind tearing up the record of my memory, my belief, and how everything changed, altered. At the aforementioned statement made by Sir Joshua, Lord Seth Harris, as if he was overcome by an unknown spirit, unsheathed his sword and swung it toward Sir Joshua, who did little but remaining still in his steps and stead, his back facing the somewhat disturbed Lord Seth Harris. My heart could’ve burst out of my chest looking at the scene because of two huge reasons.
One of the reason for my fears being that the famous notion how Lord Seth Harris and Sir Joshua had been known all over this kingdom as one of our most effective pairing alias friend and the other, the icy cold façade of the taller knight that was Lord Seth Harris, as if him pointing the sword at his dear friend was nothing new, nothing serious, nothing wrong.
“So, instinct had been telling me truth,” began Lord Seth Harris, his face projecting nothing but coldness. We are in the middle of autumn, and the weather was surprisingly very cold as of then, but under Lord Seth Harris’ aura and torturous presence, I was burning with all anxiety, all fear, all fear for what was Sir Joshua’s safety, and of course, Lord Ban’s own well being and of yes, the future of everything. When Lord Seth Harris held up his chin a little more over an inch or two, I thought his clean, handsome yet gruff face projected plainly pure tyrannical ego only leaders so sure and full of himself possess. He looked like a snob, but even with this much twirls of thought, not even one managed to ease the tension and I was sweating like a cockerel awaiting for his fate under a man’s knife. “You, of all people, showing sign of deterring loyalty to the ruler we once vowed to give our life to…”
“You know of the truth better than I do, Seth, but in the name of justice, I can’t take this anymore!” shouted Sir Joshua as his fingers grasped the rustic-golden bars of the cage, his teeth gritted and his face projecting what ought to have been a result of his own inner turmoil. “The man I swear my loyalty to is all but dead, and you know as well as I do how I refuse, and do not plan to sacrifice justice when I join you and the rest of our brothers.”
He was still not looking, and Lord Seth Harris’ sword was still pointed at his back, unmoving, unshaken, sure and silently waiting.
“I…can’t take a father from his son, a man from his wife, for the sake of one man’s selfish importance,” noted Sir Joshua, as he spun around and unsheathed his own weapon that was two double-edged blades the colour of the most brilliant silver. Although armed, he did not have his blades pointed at his dear friend, but rather, in a stance that truly dictates of self-defence, as he faced Lord Seth Harris, who, in all of his glory, with face unchanged by the thought that he might have to kill his own good friend in the process of upholding his loyalty to the kingdom’s most important person. I, needless to say, was scared right down to my marrows at the thought of what such men, awarded by God such blind loyalty, capable of doing.
“…so this is your answer?”
Sir Joshua did not answer his friend, but snatched the keys off his belt and threw it to me. In a way, such action warrants a certain meaning to it, and very much that meaning dictates of his standing as heading down the path of traitor. To this Lord Seth Harris gave not but a single raise of eyebrow, an act of suppressed element of surprise.
“I will return Benjamin to his beloved, and more importantly, his kingdom.”
“Are you not afraid such action might bring the two nations into a state of chaos?!”
“The future is not certain, my dear Seth. You, and I, we both know the truth. In fact, it might be the other way around, where the future you so feared might never visit,” noted Sir Joshua, his voice low and soft, like a father, as he rose the tip of his own sword and pointed it toward this friend of his. “You, fair son of Benjamin! I entrust the release of your father to you and do it quick, because I can’t hold back the entire Order on my own,” and by that very words, I realized that slowly and surely, we had been surrounded by members of the Order, caretaker of the palace and the Royal Family. “And pray, pray to your and your father’s God that we shall escape this unscathed.”
It was like a death wish that I unknowingly shed fearful tears when I nodded, turned around and began trying all the keys in hoping to find at least one that will open the multiple lock of the cage. I tried to ignore all the commotion behind me, but that was as much as I could do. My hands were shaking; I tried not to turn around to look at Sir Joshua, or the soldiers and guard that rushed forward in their bid of trying to apprehend us – me the intruder and him the traitor. I heard not a single voice that could’ve belonged to Lord Seth Harris, nor could I feel his presence. Thinking about Sir Joshua’s sacrifice gave me nothing but fear, and those fear stimulated my tear gland and yes, the very moment that I truly tried my best to release my dear lord father was a blurry shade of colours. I simply couldn’t stop crying.
For Lord Ban, whether by the commotion or was it the sound of the keys banging with the chain and the cage itself, he eventually woke up from his deep slumber and was surprised, albeit unbelieving, to see me parched up at the entrance to his cage, crying and trying very hard to release the locks. He did not say anything, too weak to do so and his eyes, from time to time, remained heavy and difficult to open. That terrible sight of Lord Ban somehow flared up the rate of my attempt and when the last of the locks were released, I jumped into the cell and tried to move him out.
And I was still crying.
“What are you doing here…?” was the first sentence I heard from him. It was weak, coarse, and spoken with much effort if not with much pain. There was no smile, too weak for even such gesture. Those awfully chapped lips wouldn’t let him anyways without giving him pain.
But of course, I couldn’t possibly answer him with all the heartache, fear and anxiety that had been clouding my senses from the first moment clock ticked in this wrong direction. As I led him out, I somehow had my sight fixed into those eyes of Lord Seth Harris, who, surprisingly, had his pair of gleaming jewels fixed at me. His face beheld the same ego, but his sword had been lowered, and he had moved steps behind. Sir Joshua was still fighting for his and our lives just outside the cage, defending the entrance with all his might and height. Meeting Lord Seth Harris’ gaze was like being stared at by a tiger. All around him were some of the Order’s high-ranking personnel, most of them busy commencing attack and barely bothered to look at me. For a fifteen year old, I could burn to death under his extremely sharp gazes but I had to go against my own fate if it means so in order to save lord father. Like Sir Joshua, I’d do anything to free him from this prison that he did not create nor deserve! And gladly saying, I’d even go against him in a hopeless duel if I have to. One could only imagine how severe my determination was, as logic keep slipping piece by piece and I, perhaps, every of my nerves was overloaded by adrenaline. It was a selfish thought, but I decided that unless I be so, my one wish to see my lord father well will never ever be true.
Though in that eye-to-eye encounter, one I dearly tried to survive, it felt like he was, in a way, trying to communicate with me. I decided not to pay him much attention as I rushed to the exit of the cage, towards Sir Joshua who was busy trying to defend himself and us two pretty hopeless outsiders. The scene was amazing, for Sir Joshua, alone with his twin blades, defended himself against a stream of very brave guard and still managed to make his stand. I noticed how light his slashes and thrusts were, greatly lacking that utter brute force I used to see in a knight’s swordplay. He was extremely agile, light-footed, and his swordplay closely mimics that off a dance. If it wasn’t for the extreme noise I swear my mind could’ve wander off just looking at his nifty steps.
But yes, no matter how strong a man was, a man will still be just a human, and a human possess such limited amount of stamina. No matter how strong Sir Joshua was, he will, one time, succumb to the call of his body. When Sir Joshua stole a moment’s glance at us it was enough to understand that he was running out of stamina and strength. Lord Ban kept slipping in and out of his conscious, his breath battered and irregular. I was at my nerve’s end when I scoured around for solutions, and again, my eyes landed on that of Lord Seth Harris. He was still looking at me, amazingly, with his pair of tiger’s eyes. This time I maintained my position, peering deep into his when it struck me like lightning when he, with a single voice, stopped all the commotion before him and forced every attention there will ever be in this garden to him.
“Was it even worth sacrificing your soul for someone you barely know, someone who could’ve been your enemy, the one that might bring destruction to your own nation, your land of blood?!” shouted the knight from afar, obviously, directed to his best friend who had just turned himself against the kingdom and ultimately, against his oath of undivided loyalty to the king and of course, the nation itself. Sir Joshua, refusing to lower his swords, turned to look at his friend with what I suppose a façade filled with determination, and a touch of disgust.
“I have first vowed my loyalty upon justice!” he replied in an equally loud voice, “To which I owe my life should I let pass one severe prejudice which could’ve been avoided and stopped, as long as I am still breathing and well. Seth, you know that too, don’t you? But how could you turn a blind eye to something very obvious?”
There was silence. Everyone present had their eyes fixed on Lord Seth Harris, as if waiting for his very precious answer since whatever he will say next will determine his standpoint. It somehow occurs to me that even within the organization itself existed distrust, judging from the way the rest of the order member were looking at him. It was such a strenuous moment for us, especially for Sir Joshua. Lord Seth Harris seemed to be taking his own sweet time in answering Sir Joshua’s enquiry, in which the whole scene was brought to a standstill. It was an amazing moment, in one way or the other, being the one witness to such drama. Every minute of silence merely emphasized my worry, and the trouble did not cease even after the fighting had temporarily stopped. For us, for Lord Ban, every minutes count, and he, my lord father, with every second that ticks away robbed him off his strength, his breath, his will, his life.
“Answer me, Seth.”
And in reaction to that urging by Sir Joshua, Lord Seth Harris closed his eyes, tightly squeezing his eyelids shut, a deep breath, and a sigh.
“I shall answer, with my sword,” and that was when he unknowingly punched his colleague that stood all around him, the force throwing them down to the ground as he took them on off-guard, while the rest, mainly his subordinates, stood there on their track, too surprised to react and to understand the scene before him. When he was done clearing his way, he turn to Sir Joshua and between gritted teeth, shouted, “And you give me no choice in this matter!” to which he suddenly charged forward, sword held high, as he brandished the rest of the guards who were trying to stop his advance. He was, however, way too strong for them to withhold that with a single push he managed to forge his way with ease, toward us.
“I owe you my life, Seth.”
“Indeed, you do. Let’s get out of here. Benjamin won’t last long if this continues.” But yes…easier said than done. Both Lord Seth Harris and Sir Joshua fought with all their might trying to get us out of the palace’s compound, but it was too difficult even with the strength of two of the kingdom’s most famous knights. Our attempt was to not much avail. Nearing the escape route from which I came in from soon enough appeared like a dreadful, near impossible attempt. Things somehow spiralled down toward much worse situation when Lord Ban lost his consciousness. For I was but a small child in build, despite my age, carrying the towering Lord Ban proved to be difficult. I couldn’t rely on the other two because they were already fighting for us and it will only slow everyone down. The reality was far uglier than anyone would ever anticipate and when blood began dripping out of Lord Ban’s nose, I was officially terrified.
For us…for us three, the situation wasn’t any better…and escaping the place…seemed so distant. My hope shattered soon, when Sir Joshua was stabbed on his back by one of the charging knights and guards, which eventually brought down our fighting force by half. It was a nightmare coming true, and Lord Seth Harris, in his attempt to protect his friend, received a slash that tore apart his chain-mail, wounding him. All hope seemed lost, for the two knight rapidly lost their breath and strength, and I was at my nerve’s end…when…
What happened next was too fast and too soon that I failed to record the moment as vividly as I could with all my senses. I only remembered a group of men, wearing unusually-fashioned armour charging into the garden, on beautiful horses with satin coats. They trampled everyone blocking their way, perpetually making their way toward us four. The group weren’t big. There were about 25 or more men on horseback, and upon infiltration, formed such effective circle as two men with the most intricate-looking armour trotting very elegantly, on their horse, toward us four. One of them, the one wearing black-gold armour, hopped off his horse and quickly walked toward us. I was thoroughly intimidated, so do the two knights that had defended us two that they quickly pointed their sword toward this approaching man. What surprised me, though, was when he completely ignored Lord Seth Harris and Sir Joshua’s sword and paced toward me…or rather…toward Lord Ban.
“Young Lord, I am here to rescue our Crown Prince, your father, Lord Admarith Noel,” he noted, as he removed the face cover of his helmet and our eyes met. He was a man with amazing hazel eyes, which shone red at times. Although I see not any sign of it, his demeanour, his unusually beautiful eyes, his voice and the way he spoke suggested that he was no human of this continent. I needn’t ask to know that he, himself, was an elf. “And by our treaty with this kingdom’s late king, we will take him back to our land. And you, human son of Lord Noel, shall come with us,” he added, as an endearing smile so bright and so honest spread across his lips and as he extended his hand to me. As if in trance, I took his hand and before I knew it, he, with ease, scooped up Lord Ban. “And my fair lords, we shall take both of you with us, where you will receive our protection in return for your deed of protecting our one and only Royal Blood,” was what he said to both Lord Seth Harris and Sir Joshua that before the two could even reply him, two soldier scooped them up onto their horses. The man with black and gold armour took Lord Ban under his care, while his assistant, a man with almost similar armour but with less intricate ornament took the liberty of bringing me with him on his horse. As easy as when they entered the garden, the group eased out of the palace ground with not a single hassle and before I knew it, we were already riding in full speed toward the capital’s northern gate, leaving the place behind. In that sheer moment of confusion, Lady Freiya’s face popped into my mind but before I could say anything out of it the man I was riding with assured that they’ve previously rescued ‘the princess’. Although parts of me were reluctant to believe in his words, given our standing, there was not much I could do but accept their help.
Little that I know how much this one event spanning over a short period of time will change forever my life…
to be continued in part 4
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1) ouh i tot that Lord Seth will have to kill his friend
good turn on this one
why do elves have to be perfect?
like beautiful and strong and agile
- 13 years ago