Merchant

Good morning fellow lockdown dwellers. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy whilst this madness unfolds around us. If you need an escape, then dive into these chapters if you haven’t done so already! If you’ve just arrived, then thank you for stopping by to read Chapter Twenty-Three of The Cursed King! I’ve had a much more productive week of writing this week. Chapter Thirty-Four is underway, and is one to look out for, as it is looking like it’s going to be a busy one! And whilst we’re on the topic of busy chapters, I’ve got another one for you right here.

In today’s Chapter, the man who Jerimeh believes is behind the conspiracy to poison Queen Lorne and force her to murder her only son is arrested. Whilst they struggle to piece this scenario together, the war rages on around Harthelm and Silver City. The constant tug of war between internal and external politics begins to take its toll on those who are involved, and King Aron is desperate for a resolution. I will say no more, and I will let you enjoy this chapter. Look out for Chapter Twenty-Four, which will be posted on January 30th! Thanks for reading!

Merchant

Jerimeh V

            When Jerimeh arrived at Thair Spicer’s estate in the Merchant’s District, the heavy grey clouds looked about to burst. He sat upon his horse, one that had been provided for him by the stablemaster, and pulled the hood of his habit over his head, stretching it so that it would cover as much of it as possible. The pregnant clouds loomed over the city for such a distance that even at midday, it looked as if night was about to fall. A stray spec of rain dropped upon his wrinkly hand, and he looked up towards the sky, eager to get their task over with and return to Harthelm. Sir Jorund and Sir Bethan stood on either side of Jerimeh, but it was Sir Trevon who lead the arrest. The old knight was as sober as Jerimeh had seen him in weeks, his face was shaven and his hair had been washed, even his sword and mail had been polished. With his broad frame and heavy build, Sir Trevon now looked like the leader that he had been in his youth.

            Sir Trevon hammered on the door with his fist. Usually on an arrest of this magnitude, King Aron would have sent more men, but when Jerimeh told him that his suspects were a stick-limbed young woman and a merchant not much taller than the girl, the King thought it unseemly to cause such a commotion when it was not necessary. A few moments later, it was Mallory Talford who creaked open the door of the large home and poked her head through. Jerimeh lowered his hood and the girl opened the door fully. In her right hand was a ripe plum, which Sir Trevon pulled from her hand and took a bite out of before discarding it in a nearby bush. The knight grabbed the girl by the wrist and towered over her.

            “Come on,” Sir Trevon said through a mouthful of plum. “You’re coming with us.”

            The girl resisted, but did not say a word. Jerimeh knew that the girl did not speak, and was utterly horrified at Sir Trevon’s heavy-handed behaviour.

            “Sir Trevon, please,” he called and the knight reluctantly ungripped her. “Lady Talford, please accept our apologies. King Aron has requested your presence immediately at Harthelm. I’m afraid you will need to come with us.” Mallory gazed into Jerimeh’s eyes. She was a pretty girl with delicate features – a small nose, but large doe-like eyes and jet-black hair. Her stare was piercing, as if she could see straight through his soul and out the other side of him, as if she was looking somewhere far beyond anywhere anybody else could see. “Do you know where your father is?” Mallory shook her head. “Okay then. Sir Jorund, wait here in case he comes and bring him straight to Harthelm.” Jerimeh looked at Sir Trevon. Even sober, the man’s behaviour was grotesque to him. “Sir Bethan, please help Lady Talford upon your horse. You may be gone for some time; would you like to bring anything with you?” Mallory shook her head and accepted Sir Bethan’s hand as he lifted her onto his horse. “Very well then.”

            Mallory did not say a word when questioned by the King, though her eyes seemed sympathetic, and horrified at the accusations, it was as though she was wholly unable to communicate. Even when Jerimeh pushed a parchment across the desk with an inked quill, the girl looked at him as if he were a fool. She just sat there, talking with only her eyes in a language that none of the men in the room could understand. Sir Jorund and Sir Trevon both made movements to strike her, but King Aron quickly forbade any violence against the girl. Jerimeh knew, however, that if Thair Spicer or Sir Robert Talford did not arrive soon to speak for her, then the King’s mood may soon swing.

            It was later that day when Sir Robert arrived at Harthelm, looking grizzled and far older than his twenty-seven years, but he had not arrived alone and seemed to have little idea of what had been going on at his estate. The news had arrived just a day earlier of Prince Asher’s retreat from the Battle of the Mountain Pass. It seemed that Prince Charles had been greatly underestimated by Earl Grosvenor and Prince Asher, and now they had received more news that Lord Steel had taken one of the Six Castles in the south. This region was one of the most tactically significant of The Twin Kingdoms. Of the Six Castles, two belonged to The Blacklands; Roots Hall and Black Hollows, two belonged to Amenti; Eulad and Aqad, and two belonged to The Hartlands; Quarry Rock and Hartlake. It was Quarry Rock which had been seized by Lord Steel and his men, which meant that Hartlake had little protection from both the invading Blacklands, and the volatile Amentians. After such a crushing defeat, and his own lands being in such jeopardy, Jerimeh could see that Prince Asher was in no mood for further problems. Prince Asher always looked sharp and tidy. Even in defeat and tired from war, the man looked fresh-faced and regal, clean-shaven and sharp-eyed. Robert rushed to kneel by Mallory’s side and wrapped his arms around her as if no one else was there. He kissed her and held her face in his calloused hands. Jerimeh noticed the dried mud still thickly coating the bottom of his boots.

            “What is the meaning of this?” Prince Asher asked assertively, but with a note of caution around his King brother.

            “Arkgodson Jerimeh has been thorough and unrelenting in his pursuit of those who poisoned Lorne. We have found a barrel of such a poison in Thair Spicer’s home.”

            Robert looked up at Prince Asher and King Aron and shook his head. “Whatever was found in Spicer’s estate has little to do with myself or my wife I can assure you. Queen Lorne was locked away for weeks by the time we reached Silver City. Before then, I had been all around The New World, and Mallory, she is just a young girl, the daughter of a merchant who I have scarcely ever heard say a word, and we are married. Whatever my father-in-law’s reasons for having such a thing in his home, they are nothing to do with my wife or I,” Robert explained. Jerimeh heard the breaking croaks in his voice, as if he hadn’t had even a sip of water on his entire journey.

            “Where is Thair Spicer, Sir Robert?” Jerimeh asked.

            “Away on business in The Old World. I do not know when he is due to return. He holds small amounts of land all over the Kingdom and abroad, he is almost always travelling here and there selling his wares. We do not see him often.”

            “A daughter who refuses to speak. Does this not seem oddly convenient to you, Sir Robert? Perhaps the merchant ordered this girl to stay silent in case we did question her,” Aron said through gritted teeth.

            That thought seemed a stretch even for King Aron, however he had not spent much time with the King in months, perhaps his obsessive behaviour had become far worse whilst he was out of favour with him. Jerimeh had known Goddaughters who had spent their entire lives in silence, and he could tell the ones who had only recently taken to it from the ones who had been practicing for years. Those who were comfortable in their own silence let words wash over them, they had an innate knowledge that no matter what was said, they would not or could not respond. Those who were new to it, their ears pricked up, their eyes flashed from side to side if they were wrongly accused or insulted. Mallory was not emotionless, but she was still and calm in the presence of such words, which told Jerimeh that she had spent most of her years a silent observer.

            “Your grace, I do not have any reason to believe Spicer’s daughter is involved in this. Perhaps it would be more prudent to await Thair Spicer’s return. Sir Jorund is guarding his house. It is only a matter of time before he returns. In the meantime, we should be looking for the messenger boy, the one who kidnapped the blacksmith’s daughter,” Jerimeh pressed, eager to distract King Aron and protect Mallory from the dungeons.

            Sir Trevon scoffed. “Do not worry about that, your worship. He has already been caught. I promised The Guildmaster that I would spare his head the pike if he guided me to the lad. Now they’re both sitting in shit below the King’s Hall.”

            “Your grace?” Jerimeh approached King Aron.

            “You do not think that you were the only man I had on this, do you Jerimeh? I’ve had half of my court hunting down the perpetrators for months. I thank you for your service in this matter, and I apologise if I was distant with you. I had to know who I could trust and those that I could not. On the same note, your oblate, Nadir, for his efforts in this venture, I will consent to having Sir Bethan leave for Hunter’s Valley to search for his mother. If she is found and it is feasible then she will be brought to Silver City, though you will be in charge of their care. I have no other duty in this matter, is that understood?”

            Jerimeh felt shocked, hurt, betrayed and overjoyed all in one. Perhaps now his dreams would stop, perhaps now he could die having lived his life fulfilled. Each time he dreamed of Nadir’s mother, each time he saw her burning face melting away, he knew that this was his last duty, his last task before he would be allowed to walk with Natos into paradise. She was all that stood in his way. “It is, your grace. And thank you.”

**

            It had been so long since Jerimeh had been alone in his King’s presence, that all of the resentment and bitterness that he had felt before melted away like candlewax. He sat basking in the ambience of the roaring fire as the heavy rain clattered against the wooden shutters. It was as if the Angel of Life herself had breathed her soul into King Aron’s chambers. There were torches and candles and the fire giving it not only warmth, but light. His large oak desk was polished and tidy, even the portraits and furnishings had been refreshed and repainted. Even in the midst of, what was beginning to look like, a slow and arduous war, it looked as though King Aron had finally found some purpose to drive him through the darkness of the past summer and autumn.

            Though despite the fact that the shutters were doing their best to block out the rain, the heavy storms were a sign that autumn would soon be over, and that winter was slowly creeping up on them. Wars were won and lost in winter, and it was usually won by those who were able to keep their men healthy, fed and motivated. The faces of Sir Robert and Prince Asher upon their return told Jerimeh all he needed to know about their experience. To be defeated so brutally, to be outsmarted so soundly would have wounded Prince Asher, Jerimeh knew. He had always been a proud man, always accepting his position as Prince and not King, but always desperate to be seen as equal to his twin brother. It did not take him long to realise that he was the smarter and more obviously skilled brother, and yet he was smart enough to never pose himself as a threat to his easily prickled twin. His defeat to Prince Charles, a man held in contempt by even those in The Blacklands, would have left a sour taste.

            King Aron would never say it, and indeed, possibly never even felt it, but Jerimeh was sure there was some part of the King who revelled in his brother’s defeat, even for a split second. It was in Aron’s nature to be threatened by those around him, he was brought up around men idolising his father, praising his every move and every deed, and knowing that he was expected to continue where his father left off as King. But King Eldrian had years to cultivate a reputation as a capable leader, and by the time he was coronated, he was already held in high regard. Whilst King Aron had a crown thrust upon him before his time, still a teenager, and in a time of peace, having scarcely held a sword outside of a courtyard.

            Now though, as King Aron re-entered his chamber with Nadir following him with a flagon of wine and two goblets, he began to look like the King that Jerimeh had always hoped he would become. Nadir also looked rested and calm. It was as if the news of Sir Bethan had filled him with a new motivation to serve eagerly, and promptly. His movements were no longer sluggish and lethargic, the boy looked positively determined, as if he was out with Sir Bethan searching for his mother himself. Nadir carefully placed the goblets upon Aron’s desk, poured the wine and left them to talk. As soon as Nadir left, Aron’s face lost some of its jovial expression and took on a more serious tone.

            “It is good to have you back, your worship. It has been a truly gruelling few months, and I know that you have not supported every decision I have made, but please know that I made these decisions for the good of the Kingdom. Despite Prince Charles and Lord Steel claiming victories, we still have the stronger hand, and I need your assistance.”

            All of a sudden, Jerimeh filled with dread. He had hoped that his part in the investigation was over, particularly as he had allowed Sir Robert and Mallory Spicer to stay at Harthelm whilst they awaited the return of Thair Spicer. “Of course, your grace.”

            “I need you to speak to my brother. He has been frantic since his return from the mountains, desperate to return home to Hartlake to defend his lands. I have told him that I need him here, and that his best chance of protecting his family will be working with me on defending the entire Kingdom, and not just one part of it. We have had strong words on the subject, and whilst he is my brother, and I love him, he is also my vassal and needs to remember who is King.”

            Jerimeh nodded, and suddenly his fear subsided. “You need me to speak with him.”

            “There is no one else I trust more to reach my brother’s heart. He loves and respects you as I do, he will listen to you, as I did. When Edward died, your words did not mean much at the time, but they did stick with me. Just as with Asher, they may not mean much to him right now, but perhaps they will stick with him as they stuck with me. The right words in the Prince’s ear could keep this war in our favour, and you are the only man I know who would know what those words are.”

            “It would be my pleasure, your grace…truly.”

            “Thank you, Jerimeh.” Aron sipped his wine thoughtfully and then walked over to the oriel, where the rain still hammered against the shutters. “Now then. Thair Spicer. Sir Robert and his low-born wife are only sleeping in my castle because the dungeons are too dangerous right now. It is easier for them to think that I do not suspect them in this. I have spies infecting this castle like fleas on a mutt, and I know there is information getting to Aedvard somehow. That note that you had in Ancient Antinnan, perhaps there have been more, perhaps they are using this language to communicate with each other.”

            Jerimeh had to supress a scoff. “Your grace, whilst I do not deny that there may well be spies around your court, they could not possibly be communicating in Ancient Antinnan. This language is highly intricate and impossibly complex, it would not be wise nor convenient for one to learn it simply to communicate secretly. It would be easier to create a new language entirely.”

            “Then why did they have her take it to Lorne? I just cannot understand it.”

            “It was clearly intended for someone in this castle, someone who is learned enough to be able to decipher the language.”

            “It took you months to decipher that note. Who else in this castle is as learned as you are?”

            “Alas, your grace. If I could tell you that, I could tell you who was behind all of this madness.”

            “Perhaps it was for you, Jerimeh. Have you considered that? You are perhaps the only man in this entire city who is capable of deciphering that note, maybe whoever gave the girl the note was expecting for her to be caught.”

            “It is something I have considered, your grace, but to what end? I have been studying this prophecy, it is not repeated often and is tucked away in scriptures that are also centuries old and long forgotten. In truth, your grace, all prophecies that I have seen are generic and could apply to a thousand situations with the right interpretation. You could argue that all prophecies have come true to some extent if you piece them together in the right way after a flagon of wine.”

            “It may be that the prophecy itself is immaterial, but the motivations of whom is behind this is of the utmost importance. Even if it is not Thair Spicer, we are one step closer to finding out who it is. And we will find out who is behind this, your worship. One way of another, we will find out.”

**

            After a few days of worry that Thair Spicer would not return to Silver City, the squirrel-faced merchant was in a fit as he was dragged into Harthelm by Sir Jorund. Jerimeh felt a certain amount of sympathy for the man, and indeed anyone who was forced to spend too much time alone with the cruel and bitter knight. When they’d arrived, Spicer sported a cut just above his cheekbone, which Jerimeh was certain would turn into a bruised eye over the next few days. For now, though, the man had greater concerns. The questioning was informal to the point of interrogation and Effei had stressed several times that he believed it was right to save the questions until the merchant was put on trial.

            Whilst Jerimeh agreed with the Godson, Asher and Aron were firm, and did not wish to give the man the public hearing of a trial if they did not need to. A man of Spicer’s wealth was good for the city, especially in war time, and they were both wary that they would only be able to claim this man’s wealth for the treasury should he be found guilty of his crimes. Moreover, King Aron was desperate for the truth, and would not stop his search until he was certain that he had the right man, the right vessel in which he could extract his keenly sought-after vengeance.

            Spicer was soaking wet, the rain having not stopped for days, but he was soon given a towel to dry off his wet, ratty hair. Jerimeh and Effei stayed to mediate whilst Asher and Aron questioned him as cordially as they were able in their anger and their excitement. It seemed though, that Thair was genuinely shocked and confused at the charges they lay at his feet. “What reason could I have?” He’d say. “I am far too busy for such nonsense,” he would continue. And yet there was a lingering doubt, and a vat of evidence that lay within his own home.

            “We found the poison in your home, Spicer. What on earth are you doing with a barrel of Indinifali?” Asher asked.

            “I have been working with The Guildmaster closely. I am far more than a spice merchant and have been for some time. Do you think a man like me has such a trade empire without moving a variety of wares? I pay my tax. You both know I do, and I do it happily. By Jivana, is this about my new tax rate? The one agreed with Lord Grant? Jerimeh. You were there yourself. It is all completely transparent, I assure you.”

            “This has nothing to do with your tariff. It is about my Queen. About my son. Do you not understand the severity of owning such a concoction?” Aron growled.

            “Your grace, forgive me, but there is no law preventing me from owning this substance. What possible reason could you have to believe I would harm your family? It is this Kingdom that has allowed me to grow my wealth. It us under your very father’s reign that I was able to trade my way from a pot of parsley to over twenty trade ships!”

            “Then why do you have it, Spicer? Tell us now. What have you been working on with The Guildmaster?” Effei stepped in eagerly.

            Thair sighed. “Indinifali is a powerful painkiller as you know, but people do not trust alchemists as they once did. Healers and doctors and scholars, they have monopolised medicine. All of a sudden, The Alchemists are losing business, and it will not be long before we lose their skills completely. There are people out there who want an alternative. Across The Settler’s Sea, there are men and women from high to low birth who do what their doctors say, and drink what the healers give them, and yet they are still in pain, they still get sick, and they watch their friends and family die.

All they want is to try something else. Indinifali, in the right dosage, and made correctly can help save people from pain. Across the sea, they use many herbs and spices in their remedies, and it is where my business has grown the most. You may believe I own many estates in this Kingdom, but I own double in The Old World. I spend more time aboard ships than I do upon land, my lords. With Indinifali, I can expand this empire that I have built, I can trade from here to the edges of the earth, and I can help the sick and needy whilst I do it. These herbal remedies, infused with Indinifali, would be an exceptionally powerful healing tool, and allow The Alchemist Guild to return to its former glory. That is my motivation. I promise you that is the only reason I have it.”

The room was silent for a moment, and whilst Jerimeh believed Thair’s story, he did not believe the man’s motivations ended at trading. “The Smith’s daughter. Before she tried to deliver the note to Queen Lorne, the messenger took her to your estate. She had been given a poison which made her act the same way as Queen Lorne acted on the night, she took her own son’s life. She was violent, aggressive, utterly rabid. You mean to tell me that this is a coincidence? That you had nothing to do with this? You are involved, Spicer. Your motives may be hidden, but everyone in this room knows you are involved. We just do not know why.”

Thair Spicer looked around the room anxiously. “This is no trial. I am a citizen of this Kingdom, a popular member of my community and a pillar of this society. If you believe me guilty then you must give me a trial. You must give me an opportunity to defend myself before you send me to the gallows, and should you find me guilty wrongly – and that is the only way you could find me guilty – then I will die happily, and walk with Natos to paradise. Whilst you wallow through your miserable lives knowing your hands are caked in the blood of an innocent man. What is it to be, my great lords. What are you going to do to me?”

King Aron raised his hand before anyone else could say a word in response. He turned to his brother, and they shared a long stare before Asher nodded approvingly, as if they were speaking to each other without talking aloud. “Take him to the dungeons,” Aron said flatly.  

**

            In the days that followed Thair Spicer’s arrest, there came more news from Hartlake as Lord Steel’s army had begun to lay siege to Prince Asher’s castle. There were messengers with ill tidings of trees being chopped down for siege towers and trebuchets whilst the lake itself had been surrounded by an army that seemed to be growing in number the closer that they etched themselves into The Hartlands. It was Lord Garrison who had been dispatched to the south, and yet little had been heard from the Earl of Hunter’s Valley after his army failed to hold off the advance of Lord Steel. The last Jerimeh had heard, they had set up camp in Jivanos, the most easterly region of The Hartlands, which infuriated King Aron when he’d heard, and yet no one seemed to know the strategy behind it.

            Now though, it was up to Jerimeh to convince Prince Asher to stay at Harthlem to help repel the inevitable threat of a siege on Silver City. The armies of the Northern Earldoms of Dawnmount, Eboncrest and Snowden were already being brought south to try and trap Prince Charles’ army between Silver City and Hazelfield, but it left their northern border weak, and with rumours spreading that Prince Charles’ son, Prince Riechard, had betrothed himself to an Ismann Warlord’s daughter, it seemed more and more to Jerimeh that their Kingdom was surrounded by their enemies on all sides. The only alliance that remained intact was the Kingdom’s uneasy peace with Cesara, who had their own political troubles whilst Emperor Nebu was busying rallying support for an invasion of the small republic.

            Despite all that was going on, Jerimeh felt happier than he had been in months. His feud with King Aron had subsided, and although it hurt him that the King had treated him so much like a stranger, it pleased him to know that justice may finally be done. Jerimeh walked out of the God’s Hall and across the courtyard towards the King’s Hall, where he waited for a moment and looked up at the grand palace where soon Thair Spicer’s trial would take place. He wondered how Sir Robert Talford and Mallory felt. They were still not permitted to return to their estate in the Merchant’s District, forced to remain in Harthelm under the watchful eye of King Aron and his court.

            Despite everything that they had discovered, Jerimeh was still not convinced. Thair Spicer could be a prickly man at the best of times, and had a chip on his shoulder the way all low-born men did once they had attained a certain level of wealth. They would never truly be accepted by those of noble blood who ruled their lands as their families had for hundreds of years prior, those who worked for their money, to them, were just up-jumped peasantry and nothing more. For a reason that Jerimeh could not fathom, he felt compelled that night to go into the dungeons to speak with Thair Spicer alone.

            As he made his way down the dank, slippery steps, the scent that he had almost forgotten infiltrated his nostrils and made him gag. He could not help but think of Lorne and the time she spent in such a vile place, but it was not long before the smell faded into the background and became less potent as he became accustomed to it once again. It also helped that he was immediately distracted from the smell by a commotion towards the end of the corridor. There were cheers and growls and laughter coming from the cells further down the line, and Jerimeh rushed as quickly as his weary legs could carry him across the damp stone ground. As soon as he got to the source of the noise, the prisoners cheered sarcastically as Jerimeh stood before Thair Spicer’s cell. Jerimeh’s face was aghast as he gazed at the two dead guards laying adjacent from each other, and saw that the merchant was nowhere in sight.

            King Aron’s face was the shade of blood when Jerimeh told him. A search of the entire city had begun. Sir Robert was marched through the city by Sir Jorund and Sir Trevon who demanded the merchant’s son-in-law take them to all of the possible places Thair could be hiding. All of the Royal Guard, and much of Aron’s court, including Prince Asher, Lord Hardwick and Effei. Not a single one was sent on their own. King Aron did not trust a single individual. When the pairs or threes were dispatched, Jerimeh went with King Aron to the singular cell that held King Aedvard. Jerimeh struggled to keep up with both the King’s pace and the speed of his thoughts as they streamed unfiltered out of his mouth.

            “It is Aedvard. That blasted old cunt wanted to be caught. He is the one doing all of this I am sure of it. The Smith’s daughter, the Merchant, the Guildmaster, he is controlling them all, it’s all a great conspiracy and he is behind all of it. How many of my court are in his pocket? How many are feeding him information? I will find it all out soon, I am sick of all of this. It ends now, Jerimeh.”

            “Your grace, whilst I do not doubt that Aedvard has eyes and ears inside this castle. I doubt he wields as much influence as you think. We are likely to have as many spies in his court as he does ours.”

            “Yes, but he is not there. Think about it, Jerimeh. It takes weeks to get information back from Duncath. Aedvard has placed himself right at the heart of my court, guarded by fools and that drunken turncoat, Blacksquire. How do we know he isn’t under the employ of his former King?”

            “Blacksquire might be a drunk, your grace, but if he is loyal to anyone, it is Lord Black. That is who the Blacksquires are named for and whom they have always served. There would be no motive for him to serve King Aedvard.”

            “I do not know anyone’s motives anymore, Jerimeh. It is all jumbled, nothing is making sense. It is as if someone has shaken the entire earth and tipped it upside down.” Aron stopped suddenly as they reached the door to Aedvard’s cell, which was being guarded by Sir Danayal Grosvenor and his cousin, Sir Kiernan. They immediately stepped aside, but Aron waited and turned to Jerimeh. “No longer, your worship. I have prayed to the Gods, I have been just and patient in all things since Edward was murdered. My lands are being squeezed north and south. I can wait no longer.”

            “What are you going to do, your grace?” Jerimeh asked, unable to hide the fear that had crept into the back of his throat.

            “Your grace, your worship,” a voice came from across the corridor. Master Torvic stood with his hands clasped together, his eyes filled with remorse.

            “Master Torvic,” Jerimeh said stupefied and turned to Aron. “What are you doing?”

            “What needs to be done…Torvic, follow me. Sir Danayal, Sir Kiernan. In tow.”

            The King opened the door himself and led the way. Torvic met Jerimeh’s eyes as he walked past the Arkgodson and into the cell room. King Aedvard was stood on his feet with his hands behind his back and a chain around his waist that was tied to one of the vertical bars that encircled him. Despite the fact that the King of the Blacklands had been held prisoner for over ten weeks, he still looked fit and strong. Jerimeh had not endeavoured to see much of Aedvard Byrne, much because he was busy, but also for the reason that he did not wish to further antagonise his own King. Instead, Jerimeh left the prayers and pastoral care to Effei, whilst Nadir did little more than bring the man his food and ensure some level of comfort. Even if he was their prisoner, he was still royalty in the eyes of the political realm.

            “What a joyful welcoming,” Aedvard commented as the men surrounded his cell as Jerimeh felt himself skulk naturally into the corner. “Have you finally come to execute me? I dare say I have quite been looking forward to such a suicidal plan, even if it does mean my own demise.”

            Although King Aron tried not to show it, his youth seemed to almost always betray him in matters of wit. Aron could not hide his scowl as he motioned to Sir Danayal to pull Aedvard’s chain around the bar and keep it held. As soon as Aedvard was yanked back, Sir Kiernan unlocked the cell door and within moments had thrown a mailed fist into King Aedvard’s jaw. Sir Danayal released some of the chain and Sir Kiernan punched the other side of his face, and this time he fell to the floor. Sir Danayal then also entered the cell and pinned down the King’s right arm, whilst Sir Kiernan took his left and held him to the floor.

            Aedvard spat and scoffed as Master Torvic held the vial in his shaking fingers and knelt down towards his side. “This is your great plan is it? Poison me? Like you poisoned my daughter? Your father would be turning in his grave, boy. He would have never done this to anyone, lest a man who was once as close as family to him.”

            King Aron could not help but laugh as Torvic poured the liquid into King Aedvard’s mouth. “You think I am stupid enough to poison you, Aedvard? What will it take, man? What will it take for you to stop underestimating me?”

Published by beyondthecryptsandcastles

I am an aspiring author from York, UK, and this blog is a place for me to post the chapters of my book; The Cursed King (working title). The Cursed King is a medieval fantasy novel set in the fictional continents of The New World and The Old World and details the lives of characters, rich and poor, old and young, in their quest to navigate their war-torn homelands. I post a chapter every two weeks and absolutely crave feedback (both positive and negative) from readers and writers alike. If you are reading this, then it is YOUR opinion I want, and will also reciprocate with other aspiring writers no matter their genre or content. I hope you all enjoy these chapters and please feel free to send me a message or comment on a post. I look forward to speaking with all of you. Thanks for stopping by!

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