XANDUR applied the stick a second time – his blame cane for the North prince.
‘Arstol Protector of Highland North!’ he bawled. ‘Are you protecting the bastards’ camp now?! Or have you been made Prince over the bastards’ realm?’
The North prince altogether pathetic. He wished his hero wasn’t taunting him so.
But then, Xandur spat on.
‘Oh, is this why you looked at us so disdainfully few tides ago?!
‘You scorned our noble Feast of Remembrance and left the solemn assembly with so much haste then. I never knew you’ll now descend lower than all honourable heirsens today!
‘Or if I knew today will surely come, would I have been hurt by your conceited attitude towards me the Breather of Fire?
‘Would I have even wasted my time over you?’
Arstol couldn’t believe Xandur was mocking him to his own face. He knew their friendship wasn’t as solid as it used to be. But he didn’t expect things to be that worse.
He swallowed as the older prince’s words hit him so hard.
Xandur caught the shamed look on Arstol and knew his words were hitting on the right spot. So he simply fired on.
‘Oh Arstol! I was told the people who handed you over were your own army!’ gloated Xandur.
‘You didn’t even travel far to find for yourself traitors. You brought your people to here to simply betrays you, Prince Arstol!
‘And this is what you look like now, noble prince! Broken and cracked up all the way from neck down to the waistline! What has happened to you Prince Arstol?!
‘You didn’t even have the courtesy of covering your flaws and saving us this eyesore! Ah, what has you befallen you, gentle Arstol?!
‘What has become of you, valiant prince?!’
By this time, Arstol lost hope in Prince Xandur.
He was now certain the old noble hadn’t come to save him at all. He was really sure Xandur had only come to ridicule his predicament.
Ah, no one can help me here!
If my own citizens handed me over to the bastards, what makes me think the prince of another city will rescue me?
What makes me think Prince Xandur will want to save me?!
Now Arstol was almost giving up on the two nobles in front of him when Celson took over the speaking floor.
‘Well, it happens!’ Celson interjected. ‘Prince of Highland North, this happens once in a while. But listen, you will be fine and out of here if you do what I say!’
Arstol’s attention was so caught with Celson’s words. But Xandur was rather caught unawares and he glanced at the speaker a little surprised.
Celson continued speaking.
‘I know you don’t want to be here right now, Arstol. But beyond leaving here, I know you want to be a great conqueror like Xandur Breather of Fire.
‘And that is why I, Prince Celson, am here with Xandur.’
Arstol nodded and listened.
‘That tongue of flames and fire that you need to be Xandur,’ Celson continued. ‘That flaming tongue you need to be a great conqueror, I Great Celson can give you!
‘You can become a celebrated conqueror of tens of thousands. Like I made Xandur Protector of Olde Glassfield!’
Prince Xandur glanced at Celson with surprise.
Now he got the picture. And he admitted he’d been too carried away with his resentment that he almost forgot the larger scheme.
The Glassfield prince also recalled now that the tongue of flames and fire wasn’t anything their League could give an heirsen.
He remembered that Celson’s promise was only a bait to hook Arstol. And now, Xandur was curious to see how the North prince would respond to their offer.
Prince Celson paused a moment to let his words sink into Arstol’s core. And then he stepped forward in front of the noble and added a few words.
‘Listen, Highland North! I can make you all you want to be. I can give you all that you desire.
‘Even if you dream of ruling a people as numerous as the sand of seashore!
‘Listen, Protector of the North city! I can give you all that you ever wish for! Only bow down to me!
‘Bow down to me and everything you desire will be yours! Bow to me now, Arstol of Highland North!’
Arstol stood quiet and still. He heard Celson clearly.
That Celson could free him from the bastards, and even give him the tongue of flames and fire which he so desired.
And that Celson would give him everything he ever dreamed of, including the expansion of his city.
In the lingering silence, Celson decided to hammer on Arstol’s helplessness some more.
‘Prince of Highland North,’ he called. ‘You are captured here and you must return home right now! Don’t you know you can’t leave your city unguarded for too long?
‘Or do you indeed not fear, most gentle Protector, that your city may be left in the hands of the traitors that sold you here… if you linger too long on my offer without a decision?!
‘Or do you not fear, Arstol?! Do you not fear what the usurpers would do to Princess Ereon when they cease your city?!
‘Only my offer is your lifeline now, Arstol! Just bow down to me and I’ll set you free and also grant your wildest dreams!’
Celson and Xandur looked intently into the young noble’s eyes, waiting keenly on his next words.
Arstol remained silent as Celson’s words troubled him.
The offer seemed so mouth-watering, he reasoned. Yet it didn’t appear costing anything at all.
Well, except only a bow to another heirsen.
‘But a heirsen must he only bow down to the Father-King,’ Arstol contemplated in a mumble.
OUT 1ST OF NOVEMBER!
The North prince had had to make a few choices since he started off on the path that led him here.
And at every crossroad, there always seemed to be a solitary path that he left for the feet-worn lanes.
But now that the young prince was stuck in a bigger dilemma, Arstol decided to seek out the way back in that less-trodden path.
He muttered again. ‘But a heirsen must only bow down to the Father and King.’
Celson and Xandur heard the young noble murmur something. But neither of them heard him well.
‘Did you say something?’ queried Celson.
‘Yes, I did. I’m ready to bow,’ replied Arstol.
Celson breathed a sigh of relief. And he stood straight to receive that fateful bow.
The West prince commanded for Arstol’s fetters to be loosed so he could bow with ease. And the two bastards standing close hastened to lose Arstol.
Prince Xandur knew what that bow from Arstol really meant. He knew that bow wasn’t earning the North prince a path into the Great League.
He knew Arstol wasn’t going to kneel and then rise up into the League’s affluence. Xandur knew too well that Arstol was going to go down completely destroyed with that bow.
Now Celson and Xandur took a few of steps backward, with Celson standing shoulder high in front to receive the fall.
And then, suddenly, Arstol raised his hands high, turned about to the opposite direction, and fell prostrate with his face to the dust.
In that moment, some heavy drops of tears wetted the ground as Arstol wept for his many wrongs and begged the Father-King for mercy.
A contrite Arstol rolled forth and back in the low dust as he cried bitterly for failing the Father-of-All.
That moment, Celson and Xandur were hit with surprise.
Then suddenly, a silver bolt of lightning appeared in the lofty skies and it touched the ground where Arstol lay flat.
Then, drawing down a torrent of sparkling rain upon the crushed and contrite one, the bolt kissed his entire cracked skin with intense, welding fire… the waters also washing off the painting gels masking his crystal sparkle.
There and then, both heirsen conspirators dropped to the ground along with the guarding bastards.
For everyone was shattered with a great astonishment.
Celson and Xandur sat in dust, utterly shaken. They never thought they could lose Arstol just when they had got him in their hands.
They looked at the young heirsen as his crystal armour shone again in one piece, like every heirsen was born to.
No, the West prince couldn’t bear it now. Neither could Olde Glassfield handle himself.
Right then, Prince Celson screamed out loud. It was the loud yell of a frustrated one.
‘AARGH…!!!’ he cried.
And just then, Celson’s unicorn came flying near from a nearby park. At the sound of the cry of its master.
But rather than perch at Celson’s side, the winged steed flew to a prostrated Arstol, and roosted gently by his side.
Prince Arstol raised himself from the dust and mounted the huge beast. The unicorn gave a low grunt of submission as Arstol bestrode it.
And just before the conspirators could race down to that spot, Prince Arstol was up in the air already…
Flying home free and victorious.
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© July 2021 Kayode & Tola Olla