It was dead silent. Not a single thing moved. Not even a water drop dared to fall, or a pin. The whole court was silent. No one talked. Not a single mouth moved. All was still. All the people in the court were at the edge of their seats. Only Jonny Tyrell was kneeling. All of the faces were turned towards King Erlanko. He was about to give verdict about what was to be done with Jon Tyrell. But he was still on his kingship, just looking down on his brother, his hands resting on his lap. Those grey merciless eyes were shining in the moonlight.
Finally, brave counselor Jene spoke up, “Your highness, are you sure that this is your brother…the deceased Jon Tyrell?”
Erlanko answered without moving his cruel eyes from Jon, “Yes. Do you doubt my opinion? If so I can take care of that.”
Counselor Jene said no more. He bowed his head down and just looked upon Jon. Jon could feel the pressure of Erlanko. It was hard, to take it all in. It would drive anyone mad with joy, to see his brother come back from the dead. Only Erlanko was not even slightly happy. If anything it brought him more bad tidings.
Jon’s clothes and hair would never suggest that he was a mighty Tyrell. His hair was long and messy. It hung over to his shoulders. His mustache was over grown. His beard hung all the way up to his chest. His clothes were tattered. He was still wearing the same shirt he had worn the night of the ‘great fire’. It was torn at the sleeves, its rich black color was turned into a sickly grey. His pants were not the same. He had to borrow it from his old friend Klyne. Klyne didn’t mind though. The thought of Klyne brought warmth to his heart, but when he came back to reality it dismayed him again.
Jon Tyrell’s mind was still swimming over the events earlier that day. Jon had tried to take out Erlanko. Jon already had a small pistol that belonged to Klyne. It was in his knowledge that Erlanko always went out for a run in the morning, inside his manor. Jon had sneaked inside carefully. He had been all ready for the kill, his aim neat. But just before he had pulled the trigger, a sharp pain had stung him on the neck. He knew it exactly what had hit him. It had paralyzed him. Fleeting memories of guns had been flashing by. But the dark took him into its arms.
Finally when Jon had opened his eyes, he had found himself in a large white room. He had been taken into the court from there before the whole council.
Almost all of the council there was known to Jon. There was old Matrete, his son Matrete junior, councilor Lark, councilor Trahe, Hend, Gertol, Barter, Kart and many so others. All of them were looking at him, completely flabbergasted. The thought of their true King returning was clear on their faces. Jon couldn’t make out if it was a positive or a negative expression. But Jon’s eyes were more concerned of Naida.
Naida Grull was also looking at him, not daring to signal him or gesture him. He was Jon’s helper inside the castle. He was also Jon’s former advisor. Now he was just a petty counselor. Only a handful of trusted persons knew the whole story. Only they knew that Jonny Tyrell was alive, where the whole of the three cities knew that he was dead. And they helped him in all the way they could.
What they didn’t know was that Jon would attack. They didn’t take Jon to be so absurd. Even Jon didn’t either, but his rage took over his mind. He only wanted the kingship that was rightfully his.
Erlanko still didn’t give an answer. It was a common thing to slay anyone who tried to assassinate the King. Many had tried to take down the King before, but failed in vain. So, it was a normal thing to dispose of the killer. They were taking Jon to kill too, but Jon paralyzed managed to moan out Erlanko’s name. He turned at the call with a queer look. He surveyed Jon very carefully through his matted hair. When he finally noticed his brother, his face composed only of shock. He called the council at once. It was a shock to them all as Erlanko explained everyone the situation. Some thought of it as a joke but quickly stopped laughing as Jon was brought in.
Everyone in the council was thinking that Erlanko would surely kill Jon and burn his remains. But Jon knew Erlanko better than anyone alive. He would surely keep him breathing, because Jon would be a great use to him. Jon was always the more responsible brother. He always cleaned after Erlanko’s messes when they were children. But Jon knew that they were no longer children, and he was sure that Erlanko knew that better than anyone else.
Erlanko finally opened his mouth and said in a hoarse voice aloud to the council, “I shall want to talk to my brother alone. Make sure that he is chained and can’t get out. I want guards outside the doors armed. I want them here even when I whisper their names.” His voice was plain and cruel and it held no hint of courtesy or care.
All of the councilors got up heavily without hesitating and made their way outside through doors. All of the guards and shooters also left them after chaining Jon tightly, until it was only Erlanko and him alone in the vast courtroom. Erlanko got out of his kingship. He held up his chest as a king should. He was taller than half of his guards. He came over to Jon and sat down beside him, his long hair flinging with each step. It reminded Jon of the times they had spent sitting together like this under the kingship, while their father was the King.
“Why would you try to kill your own brother?” asked Erlanko after lofty pause.
“Why did you kill your father, mother, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, staff and the guards?”
Erlanko didn’t answer. He just kept looking at the kingship. So was Jon. It was almost like their father was sitting on the kingship, listening to them talking. After a long time Erlanko spoke up again, “The kingship was mine. I was the better man for the job. A king needs to have attitude, skills to control over the council.” Jo had to admit that he was skilled and was of attitude. The whole country suspected that Erlanko had illegally taken the kingship by burning the manor and killing everyone in it and then declaring it an accident, but no one dared voice it. “You are kind, forgiving. You can’t handle strength.”
“Don’t tell me that I don’t have strength. The whole country had bowed down before me, happy they were that a nice and saccharine king was to rule them. But you destroyed it all. Little Brother, remember that war is won on strategy not strength. You will lose one day. That day I will celebrate over your dead body while drinking your rotten blood. That I promise.”
Erlanko didn’t smile at that comment. He just stared. He did not move a single muscle. “I won’t kill you. I know you’re the one father wanted on the kingship, the one that knew all the secrets. You will be very useful in council. The whole of the country knows that you are dead. Your remains fly around the air as ashes. They will revolt if they know you’re alive. And I don’t want that. I know you have messengers. But I will let that go. Let’s see how far you can go. I promise that I’ll make sure you die before you ever step out of this castle.”
“That makes it more interesting. One of us will not be able to execute our promise. Let’s see who that would be.” said Jon smiling. He looked over at Erlanko, he wasn’t smiling like him.
“Now, brother I must call council and declare you to life imprisonment,” he said getting up. Just before he shouted for his guards he turned to Jon remembering something and said, “I know that a son of yours escaped the fire with you. People say the queen had died pregnant, but I know you ran away with the child immediately after its birth. You knew that something terrible was going to happen. No one knows that. I want you to listen to Jon. I will find your child and kill him in front of you.”
Jon could not say anything to that. He just stared. His rage was too shocked to be felt. It was impossible for Erlanko to know that. Only he and Klyne knew that. Even his spies knew nothing about it. Jon was sure Klyne hadn’t told him. But then how could Erlanko know? To that he had no answers.
“I declare Jonny Tyrell, son of Myre Tyrell, to spend the remaining of his life at the cells. May he gladly rot there.” spat Erlanko ruefully.
He felt a notion go around the court room as the trial continued. But Erlanko wanted nothing to hear. Rather he said, addressing to the whole court, “I know that all of you are excited to go home and tell your children how the King Hero returned, but if I hear one word of this subject out in the open, I will burn all your families’ heads together and make you watch. So, don’t go around spreading rumors.” He turned to his twelve shooters and said, “Kill the media and bury the remains. Bring me back their cameras.”
Jon closed his eyes as the guards dragged him out of the court room. He could feel all the eyes on him. He could feel the unexpressed words that the councilors were saying. Once out of the courtroom, the clutches of the hands on his arms softened. They picked him up from the ground to his feet. Jon could barely walk after he was shot but he managed it by the help of the guards. Finally, Jon opened his eyes and looked who they were. It was young Morice and Liota. Their eyes were full of concern as they helped Jon walk. All the time that took to reach the cells, Morice and Liota just stared at him gaping, as if they still could not apprehend that it was in fact Jon Tyrell. They did not dare talk. They would surely be disposed if they were seen talking to him. So Jon did not urge either.
It was a long walk, but Jon didn’t mind. He was actually feeling fastidious to see the inside of the castle after such a long time. The walls reminded him of the old happy times. Things were so simple back then, thought Jon. Jon remembered every passage of the castle, and as they walked about it the memories came back more vivid. He remembered the bathroom, where Jon had locked Erlanko in once. The whole city had been in motion looking for him. Finally, a cook had found him inside the bathroom. The memory made Jon smile. But, afterwards he had seen no one laughing when King had found out about it.
Finally, after what seemed to Jon for like an hour, they reached the cells. The cells were a dreaded place. It was a grim leave, only three lights overall supported the sighting. One of the lights was flickering. The walls were covered by raucous noises. On both sides of the walls, there were cells and only cells. The iron bars that held the prisoners were rusted and some were even broken. They could easily break out. But, Jon guessed that given the condition of the country, it was better to stay inside the cells than out. The prisoners were all tattered and looking wild. Their hair and beards were over grown and looked hideous. All the sounds died away as they made their way. Jon could see their eyes. They followed Jon, curious to know who their new mate was. Jon did not look. He was afraid that he could lose his identity.
The guards led him along a long corridor. It was all silent. They just looked at him. Lastly, they stopped at outside a tiny cell apart from the others. There was also another person inside. He was sitting on the lower bed of a double bed. He was sitting with his fingers intertwined. As the guards opened the doors with a creaking sound, the man inside didn’t look up. The guards gently pushed Jon inside. He looked around. The walls were yellow and some part of it was even broken. With it was also a strong smell of urine. But Jon looked past all that. He was looking at the man sitting. He wanted to go and talk, but something inside him told him not to.
Jon went up the bed to the top bunker. He guessed it would be his as the man was sitting on the lower one. Jon lied on the bed. He stared at the scarred roof. He was thinking. Everything he had done in the past few hours. He had tried to kill the King. He failed in doing so. He was held captive. He was almost sent to get killed. He was saved by his wretched brother. Now in one abandoned small cell, he was trapped, a prisoner, like any other. There was nothing he could do.
Jon thought about his small son. He was only one year of age, and he was fatherless. Surely they would not let Jon go ever. He was too precious. His small son would have to spend his life under Klyne’s care. Jon didn’t mind. If it was anyone he could trust on this, it would be Klyne. He smiled thinking that. But his smile faded as soon as it came. He thought about the outside world, the world that existed outside the walls of the manor.
Jon had seen it. It was terrifying. The part inside the king’s circle was not as bad as it seemed. But the part outside was terrorizing, including the other two cities. People were starving to death. Not a single drop of pure water was there. People were killing themselves off for even a scrap of food. People were animals and cannibals looked more human compared to them. Some killed their children, their family and friends for a bit of meat and water. Jon was worried to think of this. He was worried how Klyne would bring him up in this situation of the country.
He wondered why Erlanko was letting all that happen. Knowing this, Erlanko turned a blind eye on this. He didn’t even glance twice at the circumstances. He just did his duties and earned himself money. That was he all cared about. Money was the only thing he actually tried hard to achieve.
Jon was immersed in these thoughts when he heard a dull sound from outside the cell. It was a slow moving thud that was approaching them. Finally, it was close enough for Jon to realize it was footsteps. It was coming closer and suddenly he heard the door being unlocked. He sat up at the sound and looked towards the door. It was Liota. But in his thin feeble arms was a plate of food, a piece of black burnt toast and a small spoon of cheese. That was it. Liota came over and handed it over to Jon without wanting to touch him. He didn’t look back as he made his way up the long corridor again after locking the doors.
Jon took the toast in his hand. It was cold. He didn’t expect to be given a warm and crunchy toast. He figured the prisoners were given food not to fill their appetite, but just to keep them alive…barely. Jon hastily regardless the smell and coldness took a bite. The taste was ridiculous. It tasted stale. But, Jon didn’t hesitate to take the second one. He was very hungry. He hadn’t eaten anything after his dinner the night before. So, the staleness or the draftiness of the toast didn’t bother him. He took a small bite out of it with cheese. He savored every single nibble. It tasted like heaven to him. He licked the plate as hard as he could, so that he might not leave out any. He then realized after finishing eating, that Liota had not left him any water to wash the food down.
“Keep the plate beside the bars and there is a bottle of water under that chair,” a coarse voice spoke up. Jon looked down. It was the man that had been sitting on the bed. Now he was sprawled on it, his eyes were closed.
Jon didn’t know how to reply to that. So, he just went down, put the plate down beside the bars and climbed up on his bed after drinking the water. He went to sleep as soon as his head hit the hard pillow.
He dreamt a horrific dream. In it the whole country was on fire. The mills, houses, offices, parks and all other places were on fire, except the manor. It was intact. Not a single scratch befell on the manor. He saw that Erlanko was sitting on the top of the manor, laughing as always on others miseries. He watched as the places burned. The King’s circle was burnt to smothers, yet still Erlanko just sat there and laughed and stared.
Jon stood there watching from the top. He could do nothing more than watch. Suddenly, he noticed his infant son among the victims. He was in shock for a minute, but as he revived from that shock, he let his heart out and shouted, He shouted for all of it to just stop. He shouted at Erlanko. He shouted at himself. He shouted at Klyne. He shouted at them for his son, his only infant son. He wanted to leave everything and run to save his son. But, no matter how much he tried, he always failed. It was like he was glued to that place. He struggled continuously to get out, but just couldn’t. Finally, he gave up and felt tears run down his eyes. Then with all his might and voice, he shouted, “No.”
A strong pair of hands held him up. Jon felt the sting of the sharp pain on his head as he was being held up. He sat down on a bed with someone’s help. Then, Jon felt water go down his throat. He felt as the liquid trickled down his throat. It was soothing to him. It calmed him down a lot. Finally, he came back to reality. It was all again clear to him. It was all a dream, thought Jon, encouraging himself. He knew that it wasn’t reality, but he still was afraid. He knew that somehow or another Erlanko would try to get his hands on Jon’s son. According to the public the boy was supposed to be the king instead of Erlanko. It was the rule that the son would get the power of the country firstly. If no such children exist, then the brother’s claim to the kingship comes next. So, Erlanko would not be able to sleep properly until the boy was dead.
Jon looked up. It was the man who was sitting beside him. His stance proposed that, he had jumped from the bed to save Jon from hurting himself much by the fall. He was nursing his right arm. It was badly hurt by the looks of it. Jon looked at it and squirmed. He then said, “Thank you,” directing at the man. The man just nodded to show him that he appreciated it.
Jon moved forward his hand and said; “I’m …” Jon couldn’t finish it. Who could he pretend to be? As he was thinking that the man spoke up, “Don’t need to pretend. I know who you are. I recognized you as soon as I saw you entering…your highness.” Jon was star-struck. He suspected that the man had recognized him, but he actually didn’t think that. He asked a little shaken, “What about you?”
The man did not answer immediately. He hesitated then answered, “I’m just another city brat to you Kings. My name’s Clejene Teikol. I work as a trader in the markets.”
“So, why are you in here?” asked Jon. He regretted it as soon as the words came out of his mouth. Clejene looked at him with his surveying eyes. He finally looked away and said, “I was caught in a revolt against the King. I was among those who protested. Luckily for my clean record they kept me alive.” Jon could see the water in his eyes. “They kept me alive, but burnt my family breathing in front of me…I swear that King Erlanko will pay.” He then looked at Jon. “Why did they chuck you in? You’re the King’s brother.”
Jon couldn’t answer that. What explanation could one have as to why his own brother chucked him into the cells? Jon just stared hard at the floor. He did that to avoid the question. But he could not. Jon felt sorry for Clejene. He was sorry that Erlanko had burnt off his family. He turned at Clejene and said, “I…tried to kill the King earlier today.” He smiled and then said, “Obviously, I’ve failed.”
“Sorry, for that. I would have liked it better to hear that you had succeeded. I’d ask why you were trying to kill off your own brother, but that would be plain idiotic.”
Jon looked confused. “Why would that be idiotic?” asked Jon. “Because, I bet everyone has some sort of problem with that man. Small or big, everyone would kill him if they were given the chance,” said Clejene.
Jon wasn’t surprised at that. He was wondering why Erlanko moved around with that sort of guard. People perhaps try to kill him every time he gets out, thought Jon.
“I don’t get it, aren’t you supposed to be the King? Aren’t you supposed to be the one sitting on that damn chair and rule? I like you better than that man already.”
“I know. He’s sitting there; he’s claiming to be the King. But he’s not supposed. He sits as the fake King, as the real King sits inside a cell.” Jon was almost shouting more to himself.
“But, can’t the council do something about this? Don’t they know?” asked Clejene. His eyes were shining with curiosity as he sat beside Jon.
“They know, but they’re more worried about their lives than mine.”
“But, don’t you have anyone who’s on your side, anyone inside the castle?”
Jon was about to answer that, but he thought that it wasn’t the best place to about it. He was also wondering if he was talking with the right man about this. So, without taking any chances he answered, “No. I have outside. But, they can’t help me, now that I’m inside.”
Jon was surveying Clejene very closely, as he answered. He saw curiosity turn into confusion. Clejene was obviously hoping for a better answer. Jon was wondering whether Clejene was there with him as a coincidence or was he a setup. Jon thought really hard about it. It sounded all so real to Jon. Jon wanted to accept that it was all real. He wanted to accept that he might have made a friend inside the cell. But, it all was very weird to Jon. How could he become friends with a criminal in a few hours? So, he said bade Clejene good night and went to sleep.
He didn’t dream again. He spent a reverie less night. He only got a few hours of sleep. It seemed to Jon, that he woke up as soon as he closed his eyes. The sirens were the worst part. It blew the sleep right out of your eyes. Jon was tetchy, as he woke up.
The day went in a blur. It seemed to Jon that no matter how much he worked, he just didn’t get tired. Everyone was looking at Jon. But they didn’t recognize him. They all weren’t as clever as Clejene. That reminded Jon that Clejene had known his real identity. So, that increased Jon’s suspicions more. Still as he knew no one, he spent the day with Clejene as they worked. People occasionally looked at him, but none approached. When Jon asked why they were looking Clejene answered, “They’re just curious.” But Jon didn’t believe him. He didn’t trust him. Jon didn’t even know the man that well.
Jon sat with Clejene at the table, with two other prisoners. One was completely bald. He had little eyes, which squirmed at Jon sporadically. His hands were small and moved very quickly over his food. The other man was a bit black. He had golden hair and a beard. He didn’t glance at Jon even once. He just ate his food and left. Jon was getting up to go deposit his plate, when he noticed Naida standing in a corner. He wasn’t looking at Jon. But Jon knew he was there for him. He quickly deposited his plate of scraped food and made way for washing his hands. He passed Naida, as he was going. Jon didn’t dare look at him. He just pretended normal like everyone else. He knew that Erlanko had eyes on him through his guards. Jon also knew that Naida was being followed as well, as he made the best suspicion as a spy for Jon. Old feelings just don’t disappear.
Although he tried not to look at Naida, he could not miss the sign that Naida passed to Clejene. It was a nod of approval. Clejene came forward towards Naida. They shook hands as old mates. Both of them were smiling. They were exchanging small talks by the looks of it. Jon was very surprised at this and wondered if his suspicions could be totally opposite. He could barely believe what he was seeing. Jon spared a glance at the guards. They were all chatting with each other, not paying any heed to the queer meeting between the two. Jon quickly washed his hands and was making his way back. As he passed the two, he could hear the usual hum of the exchange of conversations. They did not dare look at Jon as he passed. He went over and joined the rest of his table mates. But, he was still looking carefully at the two.
They kept their conversations short. They shook hands once more and with smiles painted on their faces they departed on their own ways again. Jon looked as Naida went out of the hall in small steps. Clejene came over to the table where Jon was sitting. Clejene’s face was covered with a king of concern. He was biting his lips as he was walking over. He looked directly at Jon, his eyes burning. He nodded to indicate that time was over and that it was time to go. Jon didn’t need a second sign. He swiftly picked himself from the table and followed Clejene out of the hall. As they passed, the guards stopped their chat and looked at them with a funny expression. Clejene didn’t pay any attention to them, but Jon couldn’t help but notice. Their looks gave Jon goose bumps. Some of them were of contempt and some of regret. Jon could even recognize a few of them .But he could not exactly recall their names. As he followed Clejene’s bare back, he kept thinking what would happen to him? It was the first time since his capture that his head was flowing that way. He didn’t really give it a fair amount of thought. He had thought more about his poor son, and his sufferings. But he did not care to apprehend what would be of him.
He knew that he could not put a case in front. It would be rejected immediately. He also knew that he would be transferred to a different, more concealed cell. But he didn’t care as long as his son was living happily. He knew it would be hard for him to face the society as an orphan, but he knew that a Tyrell would surely have the strength to overcome such a thick superstition.
They entered their room. As Jon entered, Clejene turned around on his heels and told him on face, “I’m a messenger of Naida. Klyne has your son and he’s safe.” Relief spread over Jon’s face. He knew it as soon as he saw them together. He’s suspicion was completely contradictory. But the news of his son was the only thing he truly cared about. But what Clejene told him next, made him rethink. “But the king knows about Klyne. He’s has a fat sack of money for the man who brings him in alive.”
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