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“Your Highness,” addressed the royal messenger, as he kneed in front of Isaac, face bowed down in the utmost respect as he, with trembling arms, extended a piece envelope emblazoned with a familiar green-gold wax crest. There was utter silence befalling the honorable court of the kingdom Valiacrest, as eyes familiar with the meaning of the crest peered down upon the messenger, with Isaac, in all of his wildest shock turned around to look at Edward Johansson, one of his most trusted advisor and a member of the long running Royal Retainer closest to the Royal family. When Edward quietly bowed down before the king, bearing with him a thousand meaning to his gesture, Isaac, in utter bewilderment, motioned for the messenger to speak up.

But the poor fellow was still shaken, and he had come to deliver the matter with his face still looking unto the polished red marble floor.

“Sire, a man had come a short while ago to the visitor hall and had asked for me,” he said, “he had red hair and eyes the color of the golden diamond embedded to your diadem,” there was a pause, “he…he…”

“What was the matter, Gilbert, please, just say it,”

“He had brought with him the crest of Montgomery of Terra Firma, and had asked that I deliver this letter to you,” muttered the messenger, his face still looking down. He was still trembling, trembling very much

“I have a feeling you have more to say, Gilbert, so please, say it out so I may listen to you,”

“Please forgive me, Your Highness. I realize how much mentioning this name will sadden you, but I must…I must…” a pause, as he, the messenger roughly in his early twenties, continued to tremble, his head lowered further and further until he forehead was just about to touch the marble surface of the floor, “he reassembles too much of the late Viscount Samuel of Montgomery, the fiancé of Princess Edeniya that I…he

“The man you have just set your eyes upon is not a ghost, dear Gilbert…” interjected Edward as he took the envelope and handed it to Isaac, “If you please, my king, this letter will bear the future of this kingdom…”

“What have you known that I don’t?” demanded the king as he took the envelope from Edward’s hand and continued to stare at the crest harder and harder and harder until he could no longer deny what his eyes perceived. It was real, clear, and exquisite, the same way he remembered it from the past. Just next to the throne, Edward quickly fell to his knee, and he bowed deep, very deep and deeper, his lips mum. Realizing that the answer lay not with this retainer but in the envelope, he quietly tore the letter up and removed another lavender envelope, clipped to it a small note with a very beautiful handwriting, saying,

Please forgive me, my king, for everything, for every single thing that has happened…’ and signed below it by the initials S.J.A.M. There were stains of water drops scattered at the corner of the note, which intrigued the king. When Isaac removed the note, there, embed to the heart of the envelope was a seal he dearly know and missed for as long as he could remember it, that upon seeing it he immediately fell into the seat of his throne and his fingers, in great disbelief, quickly crept to his lips and his eyes slowly grew watery. In a very haste way, he ripped open the envelope and there revealed was five leaves of letters, the handwriting equally beautiful to those on the apologetic notes.

“Immediately bring the man who brought this letter here!” he ordered, and Gilbert scurried out of the room, toward the door, followed by a few guards who answered directly to Isaac’s sudden order. He glanced over to Edward, but the young retainer was still in deep bow, and the king had begun to find his fingers, his arms, and his shoulders trembling. It took Gilbert ten minutes to return to the hall, and upon his appearance by the towering door that led into the court, every eye went to him. Behind Gilbert was a man wearing a hooded cloak, his face hidden by the grey velvet hood, richly embroidered with golden thread from the edges of the cloak right down to the tail ends. There was a crest on his back, loudly speaking of the guild of the assassins, or known, in short, as CAG. He was tall, broad shouldered, and his steps were clean and muted, sweeping and stealing every noise there were in the court. Although his face was very much hidden from the crowd, they could see the sadness in his every step, and the heavy atmosphere that surrounded him, this stranger. He followed Gilbert until they were meters from the dais where Isaac rested upon, trembling, and followed in the messenger’s step as he bowed down, down, and slowly, he removed his hood, revealing masses of tousled blood hair that shone so beautifully under the mid-morning sunlight that were escaping the clestory windows set up upon the high wall of the court. Before the king of the court was a fair man, with skin still fair but slightly teased by the sun, dignified and defined lines that describe his being, and peculiarly beautiful aura surrounding him.

“Your Highness,” he addressed, his clear voice echoing well inside the quieted hall. Isaac eyed him closely and curiously, trying to catch a glimpse of this red-headed man’s face but no matter how he tried, his bow was too deep that his façade was hidden well before him. Though, his being, and his very self and his presence felt utterly familiar that it felt strangely nostalgic.

”From where did you get this letter, you, dear unnamed man before me?” asked the king, still trembling, still deeply seated on his throne seat, eyes still peering deeply at the man before him.

“Your Highness,” began the man, “I do not wish to say it, and spare me the heartache…”

“The writer of this letter – a she, wasn’t it? She claimed herself to be the Princess Edeniya, my sister, of whom we all thought to be long gone, long dead…” paused Isaac, and the court started to be filled with curious murmurs, while the man with red hair did nothing but lowered his head deeper, and deeper, making it difficult for him to assess or see his face at all. “And she wanted me to recognize you as her husband, and a child by the name Arthur as her own. What is the meaning of this? Who are you?”

Silence. There was such strenuous silence spreading in the crowd, and Isaac, with his myriad of feeling found anger flaring in his veins when the much asked question was left unanswered by this stranger who had just delivered such provoking letter. When it grew greatly unbearable, he jerked up from his seat, rose his hand and screamed, “Sir Soul, arrest him under the charges of trying to blackmail and pretend to be a member of the Royal Family and bring him to justice!” and to that enraged order, Sir Soul de Monrec, the famous knight of cavalry charged forward, unsheathed his sword and pointed the edge to the redhead. Two other guards began subduing him, forcing the redhead to his feet, but little did he resisted the brute forces of the guards and merely let himself be taken. Soul managed to catch a glimpse of his face and was shocked to find that he knew the man he had just pointed his sword at.

“Lord Saath Hmer!” was what he blurted unknowingly, and Isaac, again, froze in his action. That was when Edward interjected as he hurried by Saath and Soul’s side, dismissing the restrain the guards had come to put upon him. There were murmurs within the crowd. Of course. The name Saath Hmer was famous throughout the kingdom, although not many had seen him, his appearance remained almost unknown. Those who had the chance of working with him will have to enter into a pledge that he must protect the secrets of the assassins with all his might and will, thus successfully cemented the discreet and well-kept secret of the world of the elusive creature they all knew only as assassins.

For an assassin of his standard, a leader of the Elite of the Central Assassin Guild, he had worked previously for countless high ranking officials, and with his name ringing well within the walls of the court, officials and nobles strained their neck trying to catch a glimpse of the famed Lord of the Assassin Guild, while those who had known him before could only gasp in utter surprise. There were a sort of indescribable silence floating about the air, and the noise, once stolen and erased by the existence of his man, returned.

“What does an assassin of your standard having anything to do with this?”

“My lord, my king,” began Edward very softly, as he sighed deeply, turning to look at his master with all his glory, “this is not a blackmail. And this man here may be Saath Hmer of the Central Assassin Guild, but he is also someone you trusted so much twenty years back. You, and him, the history goes further back.”

“What are you trying to imply, Sir Edward Johansson?”

“I present you, my Lord King, the last legit heir of the once heirless Crest of Terra Firma, a descendant of the esteemed Montgomerian Hall,”

Soul’s face quickly changed as shock quickly took over his senses. His fingers immediately loosened and he quickly looses grasp of the hilt, as the blade came crashing onto the floor. He was staring very hard at Saath, as the man with blood red hair raised his face and came face to face with the king. They could all see his empty eyes, his pale skin, and his bluish lips and the terrible bandages on his neck that could hardly be hidden by his cloak. He smiled, and he smiled bitterly; an almost nonexistent gesture barely noticed by others, who was busy being surprised and shocked. In what seemed like an arduous and painful attempt to speak, he opened his mouth and with one strong but weakened voice, he announced something the king and his court had thought they will never ever again able to hear…

“I am…Samuel Joshua Alexander of Montgomery, Viscount, and son of Joshua Alexander Ian Frederich, Archduke of Terra Firma…Your…Majesty…” was what he muttered, his eyes closing slowly and slowly before Saath immediately fell to his knee, loosing balance as he rapidly loses his strength. Soul was quick to react as he caught the unconscious Saath right before his body hits the floor, and commotion immediately followed. Courtiers’ voices filled the hall, and they discussed among themselves the event that had just followed. Edward laid little attention to Saath as Soul securely held him, his face looking at Isaac. Slowly dropping to his knee, the retainer bowed his head in deep apology and muttered, heartfelt;

“And I, Edward Johansson, swear upon the names of my forefathers, as well as certify that the words that this man, Saath Hmer, had uttered to be true and only the truth…”

And with that, real tears began falling off Isaac’s eyes, slowly and slowly and soon, forming a steady stream that signify the purest emotion of sadness. The letters simply slipped off his fingers, onto the floor, and silence within the noisy hall ensued. No one said anything after that. Nothing, for the sudden discovery proved to be too much for them to handle…

 

There was a series of furious steps coming from the hallway, ginger yet hurried, filled with excitement as well hastiness, toward the hall they were in. Isaac was seated in a chair adjacent to the bed, on which a man with blood red hair lay unmoving, his shirt unbuttoned and the bandage removed. The doctors were attending to him, his movements were careful as he gently cleaned the wound on his neck and chest. Aside the cuts, there were other healed scars scattered all across his chest, a hideous sight to their eyes as compared to his beautiful complexion. Isaac seemed distraught, his hands folded into a fist as he placed them just around his mouth, his lips touching his thumbs. Soul, who stood next to Edward at the end of the bed were both wordless as they watched in silence the doctors and nurses came tending to the unconscious man lying limp on the bed.

That was when, however, the door burst open and a woman in her late forties, who was decked in such fine garment and jewelry stepped in in such hurried manner, her eyes gleaming with tears and face projecting disbelief. She dashed forward to the bed, but Isaac was quick to rise from his sitting and stopped her midway. However, it was rather too late, and she had seen him, and seen wounds that had infested the body of the man lying on that bed. Torrents of tears began falling and she started sobbing in Isaac’s arm, face buried into his chest.

“Please, please tell me that we won’t be losing him for the second time…!” she begged, crying sobbing, and Isaac, whose face was deeply distraught quickly soured and tears formed again at the corner of his eyes. “We’ve lost Neya! I do not want to have to let him go too…!”

“Hush, Cedreanne…and calm down…”

“Dear husband, tell me what I want to hear or I won’t be able to feel peace at all!” she noted, rather hysterically as she grasped the front of Isaac’s vest, tightly so that the husband , whose build was imposing and well-endowed, a king that he himself was a warrior, could actually felt it dearly the pressure by the pull.

“My dearest queen,” addressed Edward, as he stepped down and bowed humbly to the new arrival, “I hope you do not worry too much. The Viscount is fine. He merely collapsed due to exhaustion and fatigue. His injury won’t kill him that easily,” he guaranteed, and to that the queen took a deep sigh of relief as she again turn to look at Saath…or now as he must be addressed, Lord Samuel of Montgomery. “Those are flesh wound he acquired during the war a week ago,” he explained. “The guild’s doctor had certified that he was well enough to do light travels, and this means he is in no mortal danger.”

“He is, he will be fine?” she asked, hope brimming in her tear-filled eyes and her voice. Edward nodded, and she turned to her husband, who, in turn glanced over to one of the doctors working over the unconscious man. The doctor bowed his head and he stopped doing whatever he was doing, with his assistant quickly taking over the task.

“Dr. Fitcher?”

“Sir Johansson was true to his word. He was in no mortal danger,” began the wise-looking man in his early fifties, a relieved smile forming across his face. “And I have ascertained that he is the genuine Viscount Montgomery. The mark he attained during the hunting twenty-five years ago is still invisible on his wrist, although other scars may have seemed to overtake it. However, such signaling shouldn’t be sufficient, I assume. If you wish, my Lord King, I shall have his genes analyzed so we could see if he matched the sample we acquired of the viscount from the long years previously?”

To this inquiry the king raised his hand and shook his head, denying the doctor’s suggestion as he smiled bitterly. “No, at least not now. I do not wish to hurt him more, now that he had suffered so much from the war,” sighed the king, as he turned around and came to face both Edward and Soul. “My trusted cadre,” he began, “If you’d be so kind as to share with us the knowledge on this man…I…”

Edward bowed immediately, at his tail, Soul, even before Isaac could actually finish his words; “I am at your service, sire.”

A small smile escaped the king’s lips, as his palm found its way onto Cedreanne’s head as she snuggled closer to him, closer still, tears still flowing down her cheek as she closely eyed the man lying still on the bed. The medical envoy summoned from the Sanctuary was done working with his wound, and had come to cover him with the warmest blanket there were, carefully tucked him as if he was a soundly sleeping child. Tears continued to grow heavier as she slowly perceived the similarity between the two; the young viscount and the grown up one twenty-years later, as her memories slowly growing more and more vivid with each passing second. That nose, lips, high cheekbone, deep-set eyes, blood red hair. They couldn’t have belonged to anyone else but the handsome viscount from her past, which she loved like her own child, betrothed to be married to her little sister-in-law.

Oh, the poor child. What could have the long cruel years do to you, poor soul…?

 

“Samuel,” addressed Cedreanne, as Saath opened his eyes after nearly half a day slumber after he passed out in the royal court earlier. The weakened, body and soul, man stared, for the longest time, before tears slowly gleamed at the corner of his eyes. Seeing the hurtful pearls of crystal clear liquid rolling down his face, her own eyes become covered by tears for she truly understood the meaning of his emotion.

“Madame Cedreanne…”

“You remembered me…” she said, between sobs, as her hand ran through his tousled hair. A weak smile dotted his face, a little in his eyes, a little in his lips but all together his complexion was ruled by pain, grief and fatigue. “Oh how I missed you, Samuel, for all the long years…”

He replied not with a single word, but his lips flowered into a smile, a very weak smile as he reached for her hand, with all strength that he had, took her fingers down to his face and kissed the back of her palm. Her hand was warm, and soft, as compared to the stark whiteness of his own, and the coldness of his flesh, his skin, like those of a dead man.

“I’m sorry; I have to be rude to you, my queen…” he noted, rather breathlessly. The lady Cedreanne could barely hold her tears as more and more spilled out of her eyes, and she bent down, kissing the forehead of the man lying limp. It was as if her heart had been torn apart by what he had just said, and Isaac could only turn around to hide his own breaking heart. “I did not intent to do this, ever, and I…”

“My son, you did the right thing,” interjected the king, “I have learned of you the past twenty-two years, but that was only from the surface and the details were minor, and I did so from Edward. I am grateful…despite whatever happening, and the event in which Edeniya was taken away from us all, you had remained. And this son, Arthur, if you’d let me take into our arms, he will be this ailing nation’s salvation, a perfect union of the two major royal blood that I had once hoped to see.”

“When all hope seemed distant, you appeared, with news we had once thought to be a complete lost…” added the lady Cedreanne, eyes still filled with tears. “How could we turn our back on you, after all that had happened…?” murmured the queen, between sobs as she kissed Saath’s cold hand, “And you, of all people, had come to spend the last of Edeniya’s moment together. You are the only one who had known her at all, in her second skin, one we could only hope to relay her final memories to us, and share with us a series of memoirs we could never ever learn if it wasn’t from you…”

To what Cedreanna had noted, Saath immediately launched into a terrible sob as his emotion reservoir quickly broke at the mention of the one woman he had lost, one he had ever, ever loved. The long hurting feeling that he had endured ever since twenty over years ago somehow erupted that not even his pride and his ego could contain it. As it flowed freely out in the form of his most sincere tears, and quickly influencing the nurses that had been stationed in the room by the doctor in charge of the ailing man, and of course, Edward who had stayed by his side since he first fell in the court. Everyone inside the room cried at the abundance of emotion they are witnessing, the pain they felt from it. Hands tightly grasping the front of his shirt, he held his hand across and toward Edward, who was obviously tying to contain the emotion aplenty in him. “What is it, Samuel? Please tell me,” asked the lady Cedreanne, panic obvious in her voice. “Edward…please, I beg you, bring Arthur to me. I have…abandoned him for too long,”

“Most certainly, my lord…”

“Arthur…”

“My dear husband, Arthur?”

“He is…my child…” he said, with battered breath and tears-filled eyes. “My…” and he coughed, to which blood came spluttering out of his mouth. Edward quickly reacted by reaching for the syringe and a vial from his waist pocket, withdrew the clear liquid from the vial and in one swift movement, injected the needle into his wrist and emptied the liquid into Saath’s vein. “Edward!” muttered Saath between gritted teeth as he tried to contain the pain from the sudden injection as the bard very slowly and very gently removed the needle. The king and his queen were extremely shocked to have witnessed the event before them, so as the attending nurses. When Saath slowly closes his eyes, they all knew what Edward had just injected into the ailing man’s bloodstream.

It was tranquilizer.

“My lord, I owe you thorough explanation, I realize, but hear me. I must bring Arthur here before I could do any explanation. This is a rare occasion. For more than a week he had all but abandoned the poor child, in his mourning for his gone wife. If the child is further more ignored…”

“There was a child…” muttered Lady Cedreanne in utter shock as she immediately grew limp; she came sprawling onto the floor. To the cue she began sobbing, and she did it terribly and hysterically, regretting the news she had just learned of.

A child from the union.

“Oh my poor Samuel, how love had wrecked you so!” was what she said before she buried her face into the lush mattress, sobbing without control to the one news she had just learned of.

 

What a somber moment, in what seemed like an eternity of regret and loses. No one said anything. Not a single noise dared break this heart-breaking moment. The air stood still for the longest time, plenty of emotion, heavy and suffocating. It was a perfect memento of the ugly sides of a war, and the tale shall remain forever. Facts in history, legend passed down by fathers.

That was how Samuel Montgomery returned. That was how Valiacrest regained hope. That was the very moment that started the countdown of the end of the Isaria dynasty, and the beginning of Montgomery.

 

===================

Author's note (rant):

I AM BACK WITH REVENGEEEE..........not.

I think a solid one-year...er...a little more than 1 year passed since I posted anything. The last was Gabriel and Adora? Oh dear. February 2010. Truth be told, I did not stop writing whatsoever, only that I am currently embarking on lengthy projects that would NOT make any sense if I post it up. T_T Beginning last year, I started re-writing 3 of my major works. (3rd, 4th rewrite even zomg) and they are all of fantasy genre...which I kinda not sure if anyone would want to read it. But then earlier this year I realized that I haven't much input or comment from friends and people out there so I tried to put out some short pieces, among them some prologues to this...like. Quadrilogi pieces I am writing now. But even that managed to get to be so very long so yeah....-_-

 

Anyways the above piece was written end of last year, as a control point for a fantasy I am *really* trying to finish here. It may not end up being the exact piece I'll eventually use to piece the stories together, but that is roughly how things will go. It is a post-war stories. This piece is in the same universe as that of The Red Gauze and Two Men's Wish. And yes, this Samuel is the same Samuel to Two Men's Wish, only that roughly 25 years had passed since the setting of Two Men's Wish.

 

Anywayssss I know. It's a very lengthy authors note/rant, but *sigh* I am just happy to be posting again :) Enjoy. I welcome comments, enjoyed it even. Also forgive me for any mistakes. Per usual, I hadn't this piece proof-read by anyone, not even my usual proof-reader ^_^;; Till next time!

 

Iasa

 

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  • 1) nice piece! hope you write more
  • 2) Do not stop writing. We missed you .

  • (Author)
    3) @tomkiddo Thank you!

    @uculer missed you too ;_; why no more YM?

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