I Know He's a King Ch. 06byJane Shield©
Author's notes (there are a lot of them): I've decided that the fortress in the dream has to be of stone! You will understand further on when you read. If it's a wooden fortress it's easily burnt, and in war you don't give things like fortresses away just so easily, so it has to be made out of stone! So if you've just read chapter four, the wooden fortress is now a fortress of stone. Well, that said.
Second: I've lost votes. It's darn frustrating. I hate to lose votes. All of my stories have now lesser points than before. And the thing is that it's not that people are voting my stories down, I've actually lost voters. Can you believe this? If anyone knows what this is about, please tell me. And don't DON'T vote. I have approximately 700 readers per story, and about 15 voters each story. Don't be afraid to vote, it's good for me to know if you like it or not!
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Another adventure that Lex lured me into was when he was obsessed with taming a wild animal. I tried to persuade him into capturing a mouse or anything that is small and will not hurt anyone, but he had already made up his mind about it. He was going to catch a Lynx kitten.
I was afraid of cats. They hissed and spat at me whenever I was around one, and that time was no different. We had a bit of trouble finding the lair, but when we had found it we had no problem capturing a kitten.
The kitten cuddled in Alexander's arms, but when he gave it to me – oh, I was so afraid – it started making those mewling, crying sounds a kitten makes when it wants to its mommy. And the mommy came.
The only thing we managed to get that day was bad and deep scratches from the Lynx mother. When I came home my mother cleaned up the cuts. She had been worried about me all day, and she frowned at me when I came home.
"Why do you keep seeing him, Amram?" she said more than asked.
She never approved of my friendship with Alexander. I could see why. Sooner or later he would be king, and I would mean nothing to him. I would just be a happy memory, which he would never think of again.
"He will never see you."
He does not see me.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I left the sick-tent I was instantly spat on by an ugly man with a deep scar over his cheek. The drool slid down my own cheek, and I knew that it was not only saliva in the glob. I wiped off the spit, disgusted by the sight when it fell onto the ground.
Then I seemed to disappear in my mind. I watched at the guy's back, he walked away, and this strange and funny feeling in my chest seemed to expand. It felt... good. I had never felt it before... But then I knew that it would slowly kill him or me if I would not consume to it. It felt rather good, to be somewhere deep and dark – it was a twisted place in my mind. I loved that feeling.
The scarred man fell to the ground, clutching his chest over his heart. Strangled sounds came from his throat. I had everybody's attention by then. It was so quiet that you could hear a needle drop, and even more.
"Amram that is enough", a voice slipped through my haze of hate and a hand slapped my face.
The stinging pain on my cheek and lips brought me out of my trance. I had no idea how much time had passed, but the man that I had done something to seemed really relieved, and so did everybody else. I was now the one that worried.
"Deathbringer", I heard someone whisper. There was a low mumble in the crowd watching me. I think they were all afraid. And so was I.
Bea took hold of me and walked me out of the crowd. "Go to the Moonsisters..." she said very sternly. She seemed mad at me, I could tell from the frowning eyebrows and the twist of her lips. Was she afraid of me too?
"Go now, Amram."
So I went... And I wept all the way.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"That's her, over there! Can you see her? She almost killed a man by just looking at him..."
The gossip consumed everybody. And mainly I was the juiciest subject on the agenda. Over the next few days I walked and stumbled, tried not to look back. I was scared to look anybody in the eyes, afraid of seeing hate or – even worse – pity. And it seemed to me that, though I was the hottest topic to talk about, people avoided me.
The only ones who had talked with me were Goovar and Bea. I did not care so much about anyone else, but it would have been nice to make a friend closer to my own age. Bea was nice to me, but I feared that after the accident she had closed her mind from me. We rarely talked.
Goovar was a different matter. She seemed almost painfully too caring of me. I liked it... but I suspected she wanted something from me. She had more than once invited me to her tent at darker hours of the day, but I always nicely declined. I was not sure if what she wanted from me was something I was willing to give her, or any other woman.
Five days from the day I had almost killed a man with just my looking at him, I had the dream again, the dream of the fortress and the tower where I fell down on my back. But this time, I climbed upwards the ladder, but I fell down when I had reached the edge. And I could see Vicdaen standing above me. He looked at me with a hard and still frightened look on his face. The same look Bea had given me when I was named Deathbringer.
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The Wilijies were retreating. They were not forced to retreat; they did so without us humans even posing a threat to them. There had been no attacks. There were rumours about a Wiliji in the camp – I thought it was Vicdaen, but I was not so sure. He would hardly give away his heritage – not when there was a war going on against the ones like him. He would not survive a second.
So, if not Vicdaen, who was it? No one knew. I only hoped that it was not him.
When the Wilijies retreated we marched further into their land. We left the desert landscape behind us and walked right into a jungle. This part of Veriton, I remembered, had been a lovely countryside when I and Lex visited Veriton. Now everything was overgrown, the fields had been conquered by fast-growing poplars, the original trees desperately fought for light against the clinging ivies – a battle lost. The now muddy roads had once been straight and hard. The air was hot, fuming and wet.
Bugs irritated everyone, but they annoyed the soldiers the worst. The insects found ways into their armour, and not so few times several cohorts halted, trying to sustain the preferred march rhythm. The Moonsisters league were untouched by the winged creatures – well, not me – by just saying a small spell a few girls had made the majority of the Moonsisters invisible to them. I, on the other hand, had big troubles. It seemed they attacked me more badly than the soldiers.
They giggled and made faces. I hated them, and after a few moments the giggles stopped to be replaced by an eerie silence. I heard Goovar speak the same spell as the girls, so I was freed by the flying monsters. But by then the girls had turned their heads away from me, and they seemed to not speak for ages.
Eventually the army halted. By then we were all sweaty, and especially the girls wanted to bathe. The jungle smelled like wet rotting grass and raw meat. It made your stomach clench of the thought of food.
"I have never felt a stench like this. Is a jungle supposed to smell so?" a girl asked her friend.
By then I could hear the rumour spreading lively through the army. It went from one cohort to the other. I went to ask Goovar about it.
"What are they talking about?" I asked her.
"It's a fortress up ahead... That means that..." Before she could finish her sentence I was up and running towards the front.
"Amram, come back here!" I could hear Joanja shout, but I did not care.
The fortress of my dreams, I guessed it was. I had to see it for myself. If it was the fortress in my dreams, I had to stop Alexander from claiming it yet. I knew by now that whatever was in the tower was evil, and would surely hurt Lex.
When I reached the front cohort I shouted for someone's attention. The soldiers and officers looked up at me, all confused. Some of them tried to stop me, obviously afraid that I was posing a threat to the king. When I finally reached the king's party I was out of breath, and almost passed out in front of Alexander. Well, I had succeeded in preventing them from taking the fortress.
"Your highness", I started, but my voice failed me.
"Amram, what are you doing here?" It was Vicdaen. Where he sat on his horse I found him more royal than Alexander. Then I noticed what they both had in common. It was not the hair, Lex' golden hair was not like Vicdaen's black hair – I suspected it to be black, since most Wilijies had black hair. Nor was it their figures, Alexander was as tall as me; his body was very muscular, and big. Vicdaen beat my length with half a head, and his limbs were long and fine, with a wiry muscularity to them.
It was their faces. They were brothers. They had to be. I remembered what Vicdaen had said about his father; that his father was royal... Perhaps Vicdaen's father had been Alexander's father. By the likeness of them I knew it had to be so.
"Amram", Lex gasped.
He recognised me. I could not help but smile, though the joyous feeling was mingled with fear for his life. I made a small curtsy for him and his lips broke out into a big smile.
"Do you know her?" Vicdaen asked Lex. His beautiful face had the vicious look of a Wiliji. There was something between him and Alexander that I could not understand.
"Although this seems like a very happy reunion... Is it not time that we take the fortress, your highness?" asked the general, Lazlo.
"You can't!" I interrupted.
"And why not?" the red-faced general asked.
"Because there is something inside. You can't go in."
"Your majesty... Are we going to take orders by a peasant girl, and if I'm not mistaken, a killer?"
Alexander flinched. Did he not know? He looked first at Lazlo to Vicdaen, then at me.
"We should hear her out. She's a foreseer." Vicdaen nodded at me. "What is inside, Amram?"
"I don't know exactly. But it's evil. I volunteer to go inside and search for it..."
"And die going. I'll come with you", said Vicdaen. He jumped off his horse and gave the reins to a young soldier who looked thrilled to be holding them.
"There's no reason for you to be playing hero, Vicdaen", said Lazlo. "Let her go alone. If there is something inside, and it kills her, well then we'll lose one of our major problems in this army."
"Well, that wouldn't be very gentlemanly, Lazlo. And I don't consider her to be a problem... more of a..." He swallowed hard, and then he smiled at me. "Anyways, let's go, Amram."
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We left the army behind us when we walked through the open gate. I knew where to look, but Vicdaen persisted in doing it his way. So we walked slowly around every corner, searching through the lower chambers of the fortress before we turned to search the towers.
"You never told me that you knew Alexander", Vicdaen said when we had just searched through the rooms and chambers.
"Oh, I tell everybody that I know Alexander... You would never have believed me. Nobody would believe me. Not even my brother believes me, because he never met Alexander when we were young."
"Do you love him?" He surprised me.
Did I love him? I did not know. "Why are you asking? Are you jealous?!" He was driving me mad with his questions. Perhaps he was jealous. I knew he was interested of me, and now hated the thought of me liking his brother even more.
"He would just use you", he argued.
"In what way? And why do you care? You haven't given me a great impression of yourself. It seems to me that you come and go just like you want to. Or is it just because he is your brother?"
He backed a step away from me. "How did you know?"
"About you being a ladida, or that Alexander is your brother? I remember that you told me about you father. He was royal. Alexander's father was your father too."
"You can't tell anyone..."
"Anyone who looks at you two will see it."
"For the public I'm just his second cousin. But that's not why I care..."
Obstinate person! I thought. He really knew how to drive me crazy.
I pointed to the tower left of the gate. "I'm going to that tower. That's where it is."
But of course he could not stop me. Ten seconds later I was climbing up the ladder, and when I reached the edge I could feel a hand grab my hair. I squeezed my eyes together of the pain. The hand dragged me upwards, but I let go of the handles and fell backwards and he fell with me.
"Amram... Lay still."
I had lost my breath. It hurt trying to inhale a breath, but it just stopped in my throat. When I put my arms over my head to try to regain my breathing I felt loose strands of hair. Once I could breath again I saw my hands full of yellow hair. My hair.
Vicdaen was fighting him. He had drawn his sword, and so had the evil man. It was a Wiliji, probably ordered to stay here to take out the enemy's leader, Lex. They both fought the way of Wilijies. It went so fast that I could not tell which sword belonged to whom, or who had the upper hand. Not until Vicdaen fell down to the ground, trying to parry the Wiliji's last blow. If I did not do something Vicdaen would die.
"You're weak, halfblood", the Wiliji laughed scornfully. "But even though your deathbringer will kill me, I will have time to kill you. The job will be done..."
He raised the sword above him, but it fell down behind him. His hand went to his throat, and his face became blue. His eyeballs rolled in their sockets, showing a complete white.
I remembered this feeling that took hold of me. It was the same feeling I had when I killed the rapist, and almost killed the man who spat on me. Why did it feel so good? Twice I had succumbed to it, and once I had killed. But the rush felt so good. And it stayed with me longer after the kill. So I gave in to it.
And he died so both Vicdaen and I could live.