Marking of the Days
I find myself returning to the waking world. My new friendresthas left me
to my own doings. And so I immerge from the warm nest and yawn loudly and
stretch, taking notice that my rebirth is entertaining the troops. The group
that has been left to keep watch is playing cards, some standing at attention by
the entrances. There are about 20 officers watching me… And then they stand
“Welcome back.” One of them offers in jest.
“It has been a long journey.” I remove myself from the jackets, now
sitting on the edge of the bunk, and marvel at the pile. “Where is your
“He has gone to run the troops. They should be back shortly, highness.”
“Good… I need food.” My stomach is complaining of being neglected for
too long. I rise slowly, still feeling sleep’s grasp slipping from my mind.
“Should we call to the castle kitchens for you, highness?”
“Is there nothing to be had in the barracks? Where have the cooks gone?”
“There are cooks, sire, and food, but not the best of it.”
“No matter. Anyone else?”
They all join me for the march to the main hall. We are met along the way by
other contingents and divisions. They have been hearing strange things from this
world and while they are respectful and bow as we pass, their expressions speak
of their concern. The fact that the 53rd
has been lurking around is
disturbing. Their commander has always been loyal to my father and hateful-at
best-toward me. As a result the skirmishes between the 53rd and the
been deadly on many occasions. The in-fighting has always annoyed me, yet I am
never one to back down in the face of a challenge... I keep my eyes open for any
signs of danger.
The food is not the best by far, but it is more than adequate for my needs.
It is filling and not poisoned. The commander of the castle guard finds me here
with my troops, more of which have been arriving as we have been sitting to our
meal. They are talking about the enormous holes they have seen in the side of
the castle as their various craft have been landing outside on the platforms. I
am in hopes that the security crews have at least contained the fire at this
point. It is apparent from the conversation that the damage from my father’s
gifts has been quite visually spectacular.
The commander leans close, “Sire, we must talk.” He says quietly, “It
“It can not wait until I finish my meal?” I growl at him, not happy to
have my meal interrupted by work.
“It can, but not much longer.” He is looking nervous… But then he
always seems to look this way. Perhaps that is why my father has kept him around
“I will find you when I have finished.” I assure him.
“Yes, sire.” I watch him hurry out of the hall and wonder what the bother
When I finish my food and head off to find him again, the troops come back
from their run. Hundreds of them flow past, running through the halls to the
barracks, and to the showers. They all greet me loudly as they pass and for a
moment I find a smile creeping across my face at the cries of respect. Then an
arm goes about my neck, half choking me. Fortunately it is a friendly gesture as
the commander has seen fit to accost me in a playful manner.
“Where the hell have you been?” He asks as I shove him off of me.
“I have been busy…” I smirk at him, “Come with me and you will see
“You are confusing the troops, my Prince. What is going on here that you
have called us all back?”
“That too you will know. Be willing to keep your mouth shut about it.”
“I am.” He nods and continues to walk down the halls with me. “The
Information Ministry seems to be doing just that. Is that resounding silence
“Indeed… With the help of sub-commander Banrek. You know how much he
cares for them. And so he was glad to go and keep watch over their mouths for a
“I can imagine that he was! Perfect job for him really.”
“What of Hanta?”
“I was hoping that you would not ask.”
“Rrhh. You did not reach her??”
“I did reach her. She refuses to return. If you want her back, you will
have to talk to her yourself. She is quite happy being back at the Royal Academy
“She can teach when she gets old.” I grumble.
“Again, I would say you should speak with her. She will not listen to me.”
“What reason did she give?”
“The usual, my Prince.” He laughed, “She is angry that you left without
word for so long… She hates this place and she hates your father. She will not
tolerate either for another moment of her life.” He listed.
“Then she may be happy on at least one point.”
Coming out of the barracks and into the main body of the castle we find the
palace guard at the entrance. They bow as we approach.
“Where is your commander?”
“He is in the royal wing, sire.”
And so there we go. The commander of the castle guard is with some of his
higher troops by my father’s hall.
“What is all this about?” They jump noticeably, “Commander!” I feel
my patience waning and scowl as he hurries over.
“Forgive us, sire. This recent turn has us all nervous.”
“What is the problem?”
“The Medical staff wishes to know what you would have them do next. You
have made no arrangements… They are waiting for you inside your father’s
We follow him inside and see that most of the castle’s medical staff has
“Highness.” The senior staff member approaches and bows briefly, “Sire,
you must let us do something with your father.”
My commander shoots me a look, cocking an eyebrow my way.
“You will do NOTHING. He will stay where he is until I am certain it is
over. Let him rot where he is. Then I will be satisfied that he is dead!”
“Forgive me, sire, but he is very dead. You must let us make his
arrangements… He is beginning to decay for certain.”
“I do not believe it.”
“Come and see for yourself.” He casts his hand in the direction of the
bed and so I take up his offer and approach the bedside, feeling a bit of panic
rise as I see the outline of the body beneath the sheet.
It has been two days since I have seen them pull the sheet up over his head…
And I almost expect that he will suddenly sit up and laugh at me, calling me a
fool for thinking him dead. There is a bad smell here and it takes a great deal
of effort to reach down and pull back the sheet. There he is… Dead indeed as
last I had seen him, and beginning to return to dust. A sick wave of emotion
washes over me as I yank the hideous gold crown off his head and drop the sheet,
grimacing at what I have seen.
“Take his body and burn it to ash. Return the ash to me. You will speak to
no one of this. Is that understood?”
“Perfectly.” They all bow again as I turn heel and march out of there,
determined never to return again.
My commander keeps pace and grabs me by the shoulder in the hall, “Your
father is dead?” He hisses in my ear.
“Very dead.” I feel my jaw setting against a renewed wave of nausea and
brush him off, leading him into a side hall and down another to guest chambers.
Here I slam the door behind us and hurl the crown across the room, watching as
it dents against the wall and falls with a clang to the floor. By Gods, that
“Did you kill him?” He asks.
“No… He died on his own. My only contribution was to be here for the last
few days of his existence, making him angry with the knowledge that I would
still be here after he was gone.”
“I am sure he never thought you would outlive him.” My commander’s eyes
are wide with disbelief, “You are the King!”
“Yes, I am.” I turn and smirk at his expression, “And you are my second
in command, Shilne. How does it feel?”
“Horrible!” He laughs. “Are you going to tell me where you have been
for the past season?”
“No I am not. Suffice it to say I was doing some things with myself that
will be of assistance under these circumstances.”
“How did you find out he was passing? No one could find you when you left.”
“The old witch… She has her ways about her… I have heard from the
castle guard that my father found out she had sent word to me and imprisoned
her. I am surprised that he succeeded. I have not yet inquired as to where she
is. I do not think I wish I know.”
He nods and takes a seat, “Why so much silence about this? I would have
imagined you would be screaming with joy from the balcony!”
“I have ideas, Shilne. Things that require the silence. I would like to
pass these ideas by yourself and Hanta before proceeding. Those who know of what
has happened have been told that their lives will be forfeit if they let this
news out of their mouths… I will need to contact Hanta myself it seems.” I
frown and cast a look about to see if I can find the comm-panel. It takes a
short while to track her down, but finally she is on screen before us.
She sees Shilne first as I am working on the view angle, “Augh, it is you
again.” She groans, “Leave me alone, Shilne.”
“No.” He makes a face and starts to sing a child’s taunt to her. Shilne
has always been a rather playful creature for the highly trained killer and
military commander that he is. His humor has been a great relief over the years.
“You love me.” He winks at her angry expression.
“I do not at all! Ugly thing.” And then I come into view, “And you as
well. How lucky I am.” Her voice is dripping with sarcasm.
“I am happy you feel that way.”
“The both of you can leave me alone!” She thrusts a finger toward
the viewpoint on her side.
“How can you refuse my request to return?”
“Why did you leave?”
“Why?? How can you even ask me?? You left me with your father! That
horrible horrible man! How could you??”
“It was not something that I had planned, Hanta. I hope that you will
forgive me.” I bow my head to her slightly.
“It is inexcusable!” She is furious, her face coloring.
“Please… Settle yourself.” I sigh, “I know that I can not begin to
repair what ever it is he did to you while I was absent, but I do need you to
return. I promise you that it will not be for long… Does your husband not miss
being here? Think of him!”
“He does not miss it. He has taken position in the Namidan
Enforcers and is quite pleased with life. He will not likely give it up to go
“Ah, well, he will not need to. You will be back with him soon enough…
There will be a cruiser waiting for you at the main port. Be on it in the next
“No! Are you deaf?? NO!!”
“Hanta… Please do this favor for me.” I do my best to look as needing
as possible, asking her to return instead of telling her.
She sighs, “Can’t you find anyone else?”
My new strategy is working and so I continue, “I can not. You and Shilne
have the honor of being the only ones that I truly trust… Come along. Will
She folds her arms and thinks about it then sighs, “I will be there shortly…
You had better be not fooling with me in saying it will only be for a little
“I would not dare to suffer your wrath. You have my word.”
She frowns at me before cutting the communication, “Ah can you feel the
love?” Shilne chuckles.
“Not nearly.” I frown and shake my head, turning my attention back to him
instead of the blank screen.
“Are the holes in the castle really gifts from your father?” He smiles.
“Yes, presents for his son’s return. I have had the wing closed off. One
of the bomb squad lost his life in my rooms. Several others were injured. Whatever I have left in there is not worth the destruction.”
“No fancy clothing for you for a while.”
“I would prefer to have limbs over clothing.”
“You are blessed by the Gods to even be alive from what I have seen on the
outside. What are you going to do with that?” He nods toward the crown on the
“Mmhh… Melt it down.” I go and gather it up, admiring the damage I have
done, “No time like the present.” I turn to go.
“Yai yai! Wait just a moment.”
“What should we be doing??”
“Wait for Hanta to return. Until then, enjoy being amongst the troops and
keep clear of the royal wing.”
“That is all??”
“Yes… And keep your mouth shut. I know how you love to talk.” I smirk
at Shilne to let him know I am kidding with him and then turn to go find the
keepers of the crown jewels. I wonder what the old bastard has done with his
scepter. I want to melt that down as well. All of these trappings of royaltyobscene.
I find the commander of the castle guard on my journey and bark at him to
come along with me. He jumps into step quickly. The vaults are being well
guarded still and I shove one of them out of the way as he thinks to question
me, slamming his back against the doors that are blocking my path.
“Open the doors!” I fume at him, “NOW.”
They hurry to do so and I push past them into the main receiving hall. The
royal jewelers and the treasurers jump with surprise as the doors swing open and
I come marching in. I am pleased that the frown I am wearing is enough to get
everyone in the room moving.
I stop and glare at the head of the group, “Silence!” And then I see it.
That ugly scepter in a glass case. They were hoping to keep it safe, “Rrrhh.”
I make for it and raise the matching crown over my head to smash the case,
suddenly surrounded by these people and their pleas to calm myself, “GET BACK
FROM ME!” I cast my arm around, knocking most of them back and then once again
I raise the crown and bring it down, smashing the case. The sound of it is
“If you value your lives you will SHUT YOUR MOUTHS.” I grab the scepter
and yank it free of the demolished case, scattering more glass. I grin at the
weight of the hideous thing in my hand, “Now you will do something worthwhile.”
I wield it like a sword, smashing every case in the room, throwing the contents
to the floor while they look on in horror.
Finally my work is done and I throw the scepter across the room. It goes
skating across the stone floor, throwing up broken glass in its wake, coming to
rest at the feet of these people.
“Who is the senior member of this staff??” I follow it across the floor,
drawing my sword and watching them all take a step back, “Speak!”
“Sire… I am.” One of them urged out.
“Then I will hold you responsible.”
“For… For what?” He gulps.
“All of these things that I have removed from their casings… You will
melt them down.”
“But, Sire! They are the crown jewels!!”
“They are an abomination. And I will not tolerate them! Do you wish to
argue this point with me??” I punctuate my speech by thrusting the end of my
sword under his chin.
“No, Sire!” He backed away further, “What do you want done with the
“Pour it into a block the surface size of a writing tablet and bring it to
me… If I find one single piece still in existence, you will be melted
“Commander, you will keep watch over these people to make sure they are
doing honest work. Understood?” I sheathe my sword again.
He nods and jumps aside as I march out of the room, glass crunching under my
boots as I go… And smiling.