16. Verdict

91.1K 3.1K 185
                                    

"I said, repeat yourself," the King shouts, but the lad seems like frozen, only staring up in our direction. "Tsk." The King grunts as he waves his soldier a signal. Oh god, please dont hier the boy, I thought.

Surprisingly the knight lets go of the boy and stands up straight, bows and returns to the side row of knights, leaving the boy seated alone. Thank god, I was sure it would be his end.

I can't make out their signs, and clearly no one else from Lyria can either making the unexpected painfully present.

"Do not fear my questions, boy," the King says sternly. "But, answer me when I ask."

TheKing must have realized that speaking isn't easy for anyone when you think you're looking death in the face.

"Now I'll ask you one last time to repeat yourself," there is seriousness in his voice, hearable for all. I try to figure out the Kings motives. The boy spoke without being asked, naturally that is a sign of disrespect. Punishment should be inevitable, but why force the boy to repeat himself? To mock him?

"I-I...," the boy swallows and stammers, his eyes wide from fear.

"I didn't mean to disrespect you, your hi-highness, I just meant to say that.." he pauses a second. "I meant that we, we where under attack and- and scared so naturally we fought back."

Another pause.

The King rubs his temples, clearly annoyed.

"So you're saying, it was self defense?"

"Yes, you're highness. Your soldiers killed many people. Like- like my father." The boy looks downwards.

The King shuffles in his throne. I releases a breath I didn't know I was holding in.

He looks towards his speaker with the scroll. "How many soldiers did we lose during this siege of their village?"

"Three, my lord. These untrained peasants had no chance against your mighty army."

The King seems to be in thought. "Boy," he speaks. "How many of your people died during the siege?"

The boy seems taken aback by the question before his eyes turn sad. "Many have lost their husbands and fathers. If I where to guess, it would have been at least-"

He pauses and contemplates, searching the Kings eyes for the answer.

„Speak," the impatient King demands.

„20 people," the boy says hesitantly.

Soon the room is filled with silence. Sorrow visibly fills my people's eyes as they think back to the family members, friends and neighbors they've lost.The King rubs his temples again, thinking. I've never been to a royal court. Is he going to judge them now? Or later? And will he try to find out who took those three lives?

A handful of minutes pass. The silence makes me uneasy but I dare not speak. Then the King gets up from his throne and takes a long look at all of the people chained to each other.

"I've made up my mind."
He glances in my direction shortly.

"It will not be possible to find out who killed my soldiers, so I will judge you all the same."

Oh god. Please no execution. I open my mouth to speak but hold my tongue. My frightened look seems to be infecting my people who clearly feel similarly.

"You've lost loved ones and I've lost loyal soldiers. I do not see the need to punish you more than you've already been in my cells. You're free to go, but are to leave my country at once."

People exhale. A woman cries out in relief and many hug each other barely being able to believe that they would be free again. The sounds of relief fills the air and confusion overcomes me. He's letting them go. Or could it be a trick? Is he lying? Or may there actually be a hint of mercy in this mans bones. No. He's lying. He'll free them only to have them hunted down.

My questions burn my heart and my feet hurt as the adrenaline leaves my system.

Soldiers are ordered by the King to unchain them, and soon they're led out of the throne room.

"Your highness?" I squick. Darn it, why can't I sound composed for once.

The now seated King looks over to me. „May I speak with you privately?" I want to confront him with my questions, but doing so may anger him especially if his subjects are listening.

He nods and says, "Leave us."
Soon the throne room is empty as all soldiers and servants leave the room silently. They wouldn't have had to leave we could have gone into a different room.

„What is it?" he King demands.

An uneasy feeling overcomes me as I realize that his mood had worsened, but I need to know.

„Did you mean what you said?"

"Mean what?" His eyes seem to be boring into me from the side as I'm still standing next to him.

I move towards the steps leading downward from the throne and take a seat on the top step. My feet are killing me as I've been standing for about half a day.

"About the people's freedom."

"You were present while I decided their fates, weren't you?"

"Yes, but-" I don't know how to go on without angering him.

"-but you think I'm lying?" Annoyance traces his voice.

"I don't mean to distrust you, but will you really let them go?"

"I've done many things, Alice. Many horrible things."
He looks away.

"I've taken many lives but I do not lie. For lying gets me nowhere."

He's actually going to let them go? I don't know what to think. Can I trust him on his word.

Or is he lying to me? But then again like he said there is no point in lying to me. He could have had them all hung and I wouldn't have been able to do a thing about it.

Caught up in thought I'm surprised by his words, "look for yourself, if you don't believe me." He points towards one of the big windows on the side of the throne room. I had noticed the windows while standing next to the King. They had been not been visible while coming in due to the pillars.

I get up and walk down the steps. While speed walking towards the window I don't know what to expect.

Finally being able to see through it I'm surprised. My people. They're cheerfully being lead to the gate of the castle into the city by the walzenorian knights. No chains, no pushing, no lying.

"I told you, didn't I." The King says while emerging from behind me.

I look up at him. He's expressionless as always, but for once looking at him doesn't cause me fear or anger, it causes me happiness at least for a few moments.

The feared Crimson KingWhere stories live. Discover now