His breaths were becoming shortened, and I could sense his soul struggling to not stray away from his body as my fingertips curled around his throat.
"Please, believe me, your majesty, I would never-"
"Don't test me further. I ask you one last time, where does your loyalty lie?" His eyes showed defeat and terror to the point that would haunt his masculinity for generations to come, but I didn't want to leave without deriving a revelation from this badhra's mouth.
His shameless history was known to most of the villages nearby. He made sure to never remain in one place too long, fearing that if he was caught and prisoned for his continuous thievery, he would drag his family down into the rabbit hole with him.
But I wasn't here to prison him for that particular family crime he was infamously known for.
"We have not done anything that puts the kingdom in danger! We do not even know what you both are here for, terrorizing me and my husband for a who-knows-what reason-"
His wife's body was slammed against the chest of drawers by my sister, Aaliyah, a different side to the chirpy and jovial self, baring its teeth at the thief's wife.
"You want us to trust your words, makarti? A woman that stands by her husband, assisting him in his crimes that steal from the innocent, would spew anything but lies? What did you take me for?"
The thief's eyes widened, and he immediately grasped my arm, falling down onto the floor.
"I vow on everything that I love, on every night I have spent, shamelessly taking away the peace of the villagers with the thought that their wealth is safe, and my wife's heart and soul, that I did not commit any crime that puts you or the palace in danger, your majesties. I swear I will never steal from anyone again, just, p-please leave my wife unscathed. I beg for your mercy, please."
Tears flowed out of his wife's eyes, followed by her sinking down on her knees. She tried to crawl towards her husband, who I had released now, but was quickly stopped by Aaliyah's glare.
I blinked slowly and looked at him, crouched next to my feet.
"I will not let you get away either way. You are no different from the ones rotting away in the dungeons," I looked to his wife who continued sobbing, who was clearly in fear of their future. "You may be loved by a woman who will suffer without you, but you are still a thief. A criminal. For that, I cannot and will not forgive you."
I ordered the royal guards in, telling them to deliver the thief into the wing that came two floors before the basement of the dungeon, the order of the floor from up to down representing the increase in the level of cruelty and seriousness their crime imposed.
I whispered to the last pair of guards standing, to take the wife away and leave her near the borders, which lead to places that weren't under our protection and responsibility, with the appropriate financial aid.
Me and Aaliyah exited the cottage, that a few hours ago, might have seemed like the humble abode of a perfectly happy family but that ambience was now ruined, leaving the ruined depressing remains.
To say I was frustrated with the empty result, was an understatement.
Just before we were about to completely exit the surroundings of the cottage, something had again caught my eye.
It was what that had lead me to this trail.
The floral decoration before the doorstep. It was designed with powder that came in various colours, sprinkling itself across the entrance, always listening and acting in coordination with the careful movements of the person's hands that was using it. The product would look beautiful.
But it was the same powder I had found minuscules of in the dancer's cell.
Aaliyah spoke first as we rode through the forest on our horses, back to the palace.
"They are thieves after all, brother. Why would they risk the satisfaction they got from that to meddle in royal matters? To help a prisoner escape? That is something I would put beyond them."
"They didn't even know why we were there, Lia. Gauging their reactions if we had asked very particular questions on last night, could have helped our case. But, we couldn't."
"It isn't surprising that Father didn't want us to do that. You know how much he cares about the maintenance of peace amongst our people, and if news got out to them that a prisoner had escaped-"
"At what cost, Aaliyah? A country being misguided with a disguise of true peace, isn't actually peace, is it?"
Her response was blocked by a sound.
A hum, more like. The sound of a constant humming that had only decided to greet my ears now.
It didn't follow any sort of tune. It was just like breathing, constant but notably different in the way it expressed itself.
The pitch of the hum rose and stopped. Rose and stopped. It continued, in that pattern, as if it knew exactly when to hide and appear.
Where was it coming from?
'Trace it back', my curious mind whispered.
"Do you hear that Eli?"
'Trace the sound back', it whispered again.
"Oh, what a beautiful pair the two of you make. Can you teach me how to make that sound?" My sister was communicating with a pair of hummingbirds resting on a branch of one of the many trees we had passed by.
It was just a pair of birds. That made sense.
I digressed, as I smiled at my sister's antics, at how she tried to mimic the hum, but was desperately failing.
"Hey, Eli?" I turned to my sister, who was now giving me one of her sly smiles.
She tightened her grip on the ropes of her horse, and winked at me. "Last one to reach the palace is a rotten royal apple!"
I shook my head at her words, racing against her through the forest, all my concentration directed toward our destination.
I didn't realise then.
That, if I had stayed behind, I would have heard the fleeting sounds of the heavy anklets of a female, being hurriedly carried away by the wind.
I would say a lot more than I'm going to but my eyes are going to cry if I don't stop typing.
'Badhra' means thief.
Thank you for everything.
YOU ARE READING
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