Those who have heard the mystical tales...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

King Carl's Last Stand

When King Carl was a boy, he had an older brother, William. Their father, William the Elder, was the first king of Bamah. He conquered the tribal people that lived on the land, and by invading established the country itself. Kawan was the oldest son of the tribal chief, who lived with his older sister. The tribal chief killed himself when he heard of the coming invaders, leaving Kawan and his sister. She died in battle, but the young Kawan, who himself saw William the Elder murder his sister, was left alive. William took in Kawan as his own; he was the oldest surviving male out of the tribe. The three grew up together, and Carl and Kawan bonded because of their close ages; however, after both the Williams died, Carl and Kawan fell out of each other's graces.

A shadowy figure crossed a wide, green field. The light breeze made the tall grass ripple like a breaking wave; in fact, the sunlight on the grass was enough to create such an illusion. The dark figure, its hood like a sail on open seas, stood out among the grass. It made its way into a village, a large bag over its shoulder and an empty bow in its hand. It moved through the busy crowd and made its way to the castle where King Carl lived. Removing his hood, Schaff entered the gate; the keeper waved cheerfully at the young prince. Retiring to his room, a single, silent tear rolled down his cheek. Claire was nowhere to be found, but it had been two years since she disappeared; Schaff moved on.
King Carl entered the room unnoticed, and he addressed Schaff in the way only fathers can.
"You all right, son?"
"Yeah. It's over. I'll find someone else; I just hate to have seen it end this way."
"That's how it is a lot of times. Sometimes, the ones you care about most are the one you've got to let go of. Come on, we're holding that banquet thing tonight, and, to be honest, that... are you really gonna wear that raggedy-lookin' outfit?"
Schaff smiled. "No." King Carl began to leave the room, but Schaff caught him with a quick phrase. "Love you, dad, mean it."
"All right, Madame Harrison," replied King Carl, referring to the governess who kept Schaff when he was younger. (She always expressed her affection in this way.)

That night, the Bards met together, for the first time in a year. Each came in couples, Holden with Haley, Badger and Scott, Fox with Kat, and Paddy and Dumon. Gizmo arrived and began a new song; few had heard it. After a single chorus, the entire group joined in, and the other villagers with any musical ability contributed as well. The entire piece was a beautiful melody, and everyone applauded the Bards. Gizmo, the scheduled entertainment, then began a song more popular; this one was met with almost as much applause as the first. Then, King Carl formally began the feast. This feast was a simple harvest ball; the annual Baman tradition was a night of "food, family, and fun." Gizmo told stories that amazed the younger children, and many older children joined them.
Scott and Badger approached Schaff. Badger, in high spirits, embraced Schaff, and the three exchanged salutations. Then, Scott introduced Schaff to a friend from the Fort, Emily. She and Schaff began talking, and the two spent their entire evening together. Paddy and Dumon joined Gizmo in his story telling, and Fox and Kat watched from a seat together. The event was proceeding in a marvelous fashion.
King Carl watched the banquet with satisfied eyes, and turned to reenter the castle. He did, but as he passed his dining hall, a sight caught his eye; a chill ran down his spine. It was the maid for that room, dusting old armor on the shelf. He smiled and continued.
When Carl entered his room, he found Kawan sitting by the window sill, watching the events of the evening progress.
"Well done. Your fathers would be proud."
"Thank you," King Carl could hide the disgust in his voice, but not his face.
"I trust you know why I'm here, right?"
"Actually, no. Not this time."
"I have a bone to pick, well, another bone to pick with you. Remember when you tried to have me killed?"
"That was ages ago. I have to apologize for my actions, and I will, if you're willing to recant yours."
"Hmmph. As if. I accept your apology, though. I personally told you I didn't have him."
"I cannot allow you to stay here alive, Kawan. Your actions are far worse in the eyes of the law, than kidnapping my son."
"Yours are even worse than that, and you know it."
King Carl sighed. "My brother was a traitor; THE traitor. He threatened father; he deserved to die. That was his punishment, and I don't have to hear it from you!"
"He was innocent."
"He was guilty! I heard him myself!"
"I threatened your father! He killed my sister in front of me, with no reason. Then, he has the GALL to adopt me? He takes the one person I have, I take him. Your brother was a casualty, and for that I will apologize."
"You!? You murderer!" King Carl was taken aback. "Oh, you will definitely not leave here alive."
"One of us won't," growled Kawan.
"I DIDN'T GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO SPEAK!" King Carl grabbed a sword off his wall, and lunged at Kawan. The two fought as they had in their childhood, but the stakes were more than imaginary kingdoms and treasures of candy. Swords clashed, metal parried, and Kawan held his ground. However, King Carl had not kept up his sword training as much as he had liked, and his age was beginning to show. The two swords met in an upward cross, and Carl drove Kawan's blade to the ground. Carl turned and lunged, but Kawan drove his weapon through Carl's side. The king started, but fell to his knees. A tear rolled down Kawan's cheek, but he turned and left.
"It didn't have to come to this, brother," gasped King Carl. Kawan stopped at the door.
"Yes, it did."

Kawan entered the village streets, approaching Badger. Schaff stopped him with a sword and a fierce word.
"Boy, you might want to visit your father at this moment. It may be his last." Kawan's face was ravaged by anger and sorrow.
Schaff, stunned, took off to his father's quarters. No one ran as fast as he did that night, not since. Scott, Badger, and Emily turned to Kawan.
"We're not finished, girl. This had nothing to do with you," said Kawan as he vanished into the night.
"It has everything to do with me!" cried Badger into the darkness. The three took off into the castle. The other Bards witnessed the scene, and ran to be with Schaff.
They missed their chance. King Carl was gone, and his oldest son, was grieving over him. All the Bards sympathized with him, and they vowed to help him in his revenge.
"We're all here for you, dude," said Holden.
"Yeah, like, we'll help you tear him apart," replied Fox.
"Yes, we will." Carson's tears burned in fury. He turned to leave.
"Well, what about your dad? We can't just leave him here," called Emily. Dumon and Badger agreed.
"Well, we won't. It's just... sometimes, the ones you care about the most are the ones you've got to let go of. It was his time, and now, it's ours." The Bards left the room, and as Gizmo shut the door behind them, he heard a shudder. He saw the open window and curtains ruffling. Little did he know that King Carl's look of shock turned into a tearful smile. He died at and in peace.