The night is short, Alex tosses and turns only to rise with the sun and go to the chapel, arriving just in time for the Brothers to start their chanting; the knight remains silent in the back, eyes shut, silently mouthing the drawn out words being sung. Maggie opens her door and steps out quietly, but cannot get passed the knight in prayer standing before the door, with a huff she crosses her arms and stands there waiting for him to open his eyes and move for her. Her wish is granted but only after what feels like hours of prayers, “Alex, can you move?” She snaps, the knight looks at her.
“Where are you going?”
“To the tournament, of course. The king invited me, and got me new clothing.” Alex sighs and steps aside, Maggie pushes out the door without a thank you, Alex quietly lights three candles, leaving the fourth out before turning and walking to the back of the chapel. The door opens as he reaches for the handle, the messenger thrusts a summons into his hands, bows, then vanishes into the corridor. With an annoyed sigh Alex breaks the seal and reads it with a frown.
“For the love of everything good in this world.” He grumbles and refolds the letter “Brothers forgive me, but I’ll not be back for lunch or the evening prayer.”
“Where are you going?” The master asks.
“To the tournament, summoned by the king himself.” The master sighs and looks at the knight of Cypress. “I’m sorry, master.”
“You never did like evening prayer. Go on, Alex.” The knight nods and turns, reaching for the door again “And Alex,” He looks over his shoulder “Good luck, you will always have a place here.”
“Thank you, master. I hope it never comes to it, but I’ll take the offer.” The knight exits the chapel and rushes to his room, quickly packing a bag. He goes to the stables and meets up with a squire, assigned to him. They both mount their horses and depart, heading for the country side and the tournament. The ride is easy, after leaving the city and the many people calling for Alex’s blessing on their children, homes, crops, and so much more; they reach the canvas city just a few miles from the city gates and Alex jumps off his horse, leaving it with his squire while he goes in search of the Keeper. “Your Grace!” Alex calls over a crowd when he finds him and Maggie, arm in arm. “I came at your request, I was not aware that my presence would be required at this festival.”
“A last moment change, Alexander. Please walk with us.” The knight pushes his way through the crowd and walks with them. “How was your ride?”
“I thought I’d never get out of the city, so many people wanted my blessing.” The Keeper laughs and Maggie giggles.
“I could only imagine, at least the people adore you. It could be far worse.” Alex keeps his private thoughts to himself.
“Do the people not like you, Jacob?” Maggie looks up at the older man.
“Jacob?” Alex’s eyebrows rise in surprise but he was largely ignored.
“No, no, most assume I stole the throne. I’m sure Alex is among them. He was so close to the young prince when he was lost.”
“I don’t think that Your Grace.” Alex does not finish his thought out loud, the Keeper chuckles.
“No need to pretend, Alexander.”
“I’m not pretending, Your Grace. I truly do not think you stole it.” The Keeper smiles “May I ask if I am to participate, today Your Grace?”
“Participate? No, no. I merely wished for you to join us.” Alex nods and continues to walk with him, his stomach rumbles as they pass food stalls but he dares not order from any of them in fear of the white fish and mushed grain being served to him.
Finally they reach the open air preforming area, hastily turned into a sand filled battle arena for the tournament, Alex joins both Maggie and the Keeper in the royal box to watch. Fighter after fighter, battle after battle, the day seems to drag for Alex silently watching the Keeper woo Maggie who innocently accepts his gifts and compliments, clearly enjoying the attention she is getting. At sun set the torches are lit and the battles finally come to an end; Alex stands expecting it to be over but instead four guards come with a hooded man held between them. They force him to his knees and the hood is whipped off, Alex’s heart clenches.
Throne looks up at the royal box and watches the color drain from both Maggie’s and his dearest friend’s faces. He knows he looks like hell but still he manages a smile that is less reassuring and more pitiful then he realizes. “Throne’s Heir, welcome to our little party.”
“Nice to be invited.” The young man rasps, his voice hoarse from hours of yelling, pleading, and cursing.
“Now, in a civilized society, you would be facing a judge. But you chose to leave civilization behind and now you are facing me, as your soul judge.”
“Only the Gods can judge me, murderer. And I’ll be resting easy if you kill me, where will you be?” Alex wants to scream for his friend to shut up, but he cannot risk his own life as well. “I know where you’ll be. Rotting in the fiery pits reserved for betrayers and killers.”
“Enough!” A guard grabs Throne’s long hair, holding his head still as his fist slams into the bandit’s jaw, effectively silencing him.
“This is barbaric, Keeper.” Alex whispers, the king shoots him a glare but Alex pays him no mind. Maggie watches in shock.
“What’s going on, Jacob?” She asks with a shaking voice.
“This bandit will pay for his crimes,” With a swift hand motion the executioner is brought out and the crowd murmurs, uneasy “Throne’s Heir, how do you plea to treason?” Silence “To burglary?” Again silence, Throne looks passed the Keeper to his friend, pleading silently for intervention “To kidnapping?” Alex takes a slow deep breath and nods to his friend “Will you plead to nothing?”
“Nothing I’ve done is worth death, Jacob Thorn Keeper King of Braydora.” Throne grits out, the Keeper waves his hand and the executioner lines up his ax blade and pulls back.
In seconds Alex is passed Maggie and the Keeper, over the railing, and running to his dearest friend’s side “AL! GET DOWN!” It is a blur of motioned, the ax comes down, and everything is still.