"Geven? Geven?" he heard Falcon's worried voice cut through the darkness like a sharp dagger. His head hurt. It hurt badly but it wasn't the same pain he felt when in the presence of Maleous, this pain was a direct result of the hit he'd received. Geven opened one eye; the light pierced his lashes causing him to quickly close it again. He could feel the dry blood clumped in his hair. Strands of hair stuck to his cheek and pain shrouded his entire head.
"What happened?" Geven whispered.
"Your brother arrested you."
"What?" Geven's eyes popped open.
He was in the dank prison ward of the castle. The holding cells where prisoners were kept before their sentencing, when most would be banished to the prison moon of Delure. Streaks of dried blood and rotting flesh lined the prison bars. Chains hung from the ceiling. Limp forms of those attached to some of them hung with them.
The air was stale; it smelled of rotten food and rat droppings. He could hear the faint squeaks of the rats as they crawled in the sewage drains. Geven looked down. His legs were chained together, making it impossible for him to stand even if his body would respond. His eyes turned to Falcon who sat outside the prison cell. His friend's eyes were black and blue and filled with sadness.
"I'm not sure. I was on my way to meet with you when all of a sudden the guards stormed by me and into your room. I tried to stop them as they dragged you away but one of them hit me, hard. For awhile I wasn't sure what planet I was on let alone what had just happened," Falcon explained. "I tried to find your mother, to see what had happened, why you were taken away. I found her in the great hall fighting with Maleous. He said you were plotting against him, that you were jealous he had passed the Challenge. That you wanted the throne for yourself and that he had proof that you planned to kill him before his coronation. And he has proof Geven! He has documents written in your own hand asking for mercenaries to kill him!"
"WHAT!" Geven gasped. That was impossible; he'd written no such thing. "I don't understand..."
"Neither do I, but it is your handwriting. I saw it with my own eyes. Maleous had all of us look at it to confirm so that there would be no doubt."
"But I would never..."
"I know you wouldn't. There's more though."
"What more could there be? I'm being framed clearly!"
"Ralic's gone. All the Kernion are gone actually. They just upped and vanished as if they were never here in the first place."
Geven rubbed his face with both hands. The pain was getting stronger. He couldn't wrap his head around what Falcon had just said. How could Relic, all the Kernion, just vanish?
"Maleous is saying it is because they plotted with you, that they were going to help you to kill him."
"But..." Geven started but his voice failed him.
"Kye and I searched everywhere for them but there is simply no trace."
"What about Kye? She was on her way to meet with Ralic. That's why I was in my room instead of with her."
"She's fine. Her mother was fired, they left the castle early yesterday morning. Maleous said it was because of how close you two were he feared she too would plot his demise and felt it was best to rid him of their presence," Falcon's voice quivered as he spoke.
Kye would never hurt Maleous, she would have done it a long time ago if she were going to. Hell he would never hurt his own brother. Nausea swept over him as he turned to one side and vomited. When he was sure he was done being sick he wiped his mouth and looked back at Falcon.
"And you? How are you Falcon?"
"I'm playing along. I'm supposed to be guarding you right now while they ready your trial. It surprised me that Maleous didn't have me banished as well. He made me sign some kind of affidavit though. I'll be executed the second I'm caught doing anything that goes against the Kingdom. I was hoping that if I played my part I might be able to hear some kind of answers. But there just isn't anything. Maleous is simply paranoid to the point of being out of control. He even pushed up his coronation! It's going to be tomorrow!"
"Tomorrow? But how? He hasn't even traveled the Kingdom to accept the village offerings or prove his object," Geven sighed.