/ Books / The Prophecy Of Light / Chapter 4 - The Island of Seldar

Chapter 4 - The Island of Seldar

by Adrian Sweeney - Approx 7650 words

Prince Salistar stood on the pier beside his mother, “I understand Mother, I might not be happy with the idea but I will do my duty.”

His eyes scanned the length of the pier searching but never seeing. He longed to see Mal apologise to her. His mother was right he should never have led her on. He now understood her distancing herself from him yesterday.

Sighing heavily he kissed his mothers cheek and boarded the Galleon the Royal Fox that was to take them to the Island of Seldar. Twenty-five men including Tomi and Darr and six monks and his personal guard were on board as well. He had asked Dareon to stay with Malderia this morning when his mother had informed him that Malderia would not be accompanying him to the Island and that she would be staying in the Palace until he returned.

As the Ship prepared to leave the harbour he watched his mother get into her carriage and leave. A two-week trip lay ahead of them to get to the Island and hopefully some answers. Nodding to the Admiral of the galley who was on the afterdeck of the ship talking with his first mate.

The Admiral walked over to the Prince and bowed. “Your Highness we need to leave shortly to catch the tide. With your leave, we will depart.”

“Admiral Klason, It is your ship and you don’t need my permission, I will get my guards out from under your feet while you cast off. Let us know when some can come on deck to stretch our legs.” Replied Prince Salistar.

The two weeks on board the ship were long and boring they passed their time either playing stones or chatting. When the Captain of the Prince's guard found out that Darr and Tomi had never had a proper sword lesson he commandeered a section of the deck and for two hours every morning and evening he drilled the two lads in swordsmanship. He commented on the fact that both of them were fast learners and that they were quickly becoming proficient swordsmen.

As thanks, Tomi and Darr were giving archery lessons to some of the guards. They would throw empty barrels into the sea at the bow of the ship and try to put as many arrows into them as they could the first time they had tried it the guards had put no arrows into the bobbing barrel.

When they complained that no one could do that Tomi put two arrows into a barrel as it flew past. After that they became much better with each guard was able to hit the target at least once. By the end of two weeks, they had become quite proficient and small bets were taking place on each try.

When they arrived at the Island of Seldar and docked in the harbour. The Governor of the Island was standing on the dock with a detachment of soldiers as an honour guard.

As the ship docked he shouted out to the ship “Prince Salistar you honour us with your visit, may I personally welcome you to the Island of Seldar. I have rooms and refreshments set aside for you and your party.

Tomi who was standing beside the Captain of the guard asked: “How did he know that Prince Salistar was on board the ship?”

“We are flying the Royal Pennant that identifies that the Prince is onboard. They could see as we approached the Island and someone would have told the Governor that a Prince of the Realm would be arriving soon. Since Prince Rupert is only two years old it leaves only Prince Salistar as an option.” Replied the Captain.

Grinning the Prince disembarked the ship to the dock and embraced the governor “Uncle Zeb, its great to see you, hows the family?”

“Good, Good and how’s my favourite nephew” replied the Governor.

“My brother Prince Rupert is in good health” replied the Prince with a hearty laugh.

“That’s good he always was my favourite” replied the Governor slapping the Prince on the shoulder and laughing heartily.

When everyone had disembarked one of the monks came over to the Prince and the Governor. “My Lords if you will excuse me, I will take the rest of the monks and we will head to the Monastery and inform the Abbot of our need to start duplicating the books and scrolls.

“Of course Brother Jacob, my thanks please tell the Abbot that I will call shortly after I have gotten my Uncle here up to date. With everything that has been happening.” Replied the Prince.

He led them towards the Governor's house. “So to what brings you to Seldar?”

“Grave times uncle, a demon wants to gain access to our realm and he succeeds all will be lost.”

Entering the Governor's house “Dire times indeed Sal, So how can our island help.”

“The Monastery of Hasder was attacked and the Great Library was burnt to the ground and since I was attacked when I arrived we believe that it held some useful information. We are hoping that the Monastery of Hasder here on Seldar has some information on the subject”

Governor Zeb picked up a small bell from a table beside the fireplace and rang it. A moment later a man of middle years came into the room dressed in fine clothing and bowed his head slightly to the Governor.

“How may I help your Excellency,” said the man.

“Ah Plunkett, send a message to the watch commander that I want the Monastery of Hasder to be surrounded immediately. Tel him to inform the Abbot that the Library of the Monastery of Hasder in Calpo has been burnt to the ground. Tell him that we believe that his library might be attacked as well and that the guards are there to protect the Monastery. Also, ask the abbot to take him and five guards to the library and secure the building outside and in. Then organise rooms and accommodation for the Prince and his men.”

“Yes, your Excellency,” said Plunkett with a bow who turned and left the room.

Motioning to the seat opposite the one he had picked up the small bell from they both sat down.

“So tell me everything Sal”

So Sal started with what he knew of Mal and how she had saved him from the Dark Elves and fled to Elven Forest, then through to the events of the Monastery of Hasder.

“Wow she sounds impressive, did she really take on a fully grown Ogre by herself?”

“Oh yes Lord Turok was there says it was the best fight he had ever been in.” Laughing heartily “Uncle Turok, Thought she was a boy until Lord Cedric pointed out that she was a girl.”

“A boy?” asked Zeb.

“Yes apparently in the mountains they all wear heavy fur clothing and with all the fighting he didn’t think that it was a girl in front of him. So she signed up to be a Kings Ranger glad she did too or I wouldn’t be alive today.”

“Sounds like your quite fond of this girl,” said Zeb watching his nephew carefully.

Tentatively he responded “Yes, we have become good friends” Dam what way had he just been speaking of Mal.

Before his uncle could say anything else there was a knock at the door. Plunkett came into the room. “My lords, the Monastery has been secured and your men have been found rooms.”

“Excellent we better go see the Abbot now before I bend his nose out of joint much further,” said Governor Zeb standing up “Shall we?”

The guards around the monastery parted as the Governor walked up with the Prince and his men at arms. Walking over to the front door of the monastery which looked the double of the monastery in Calpo. It had the very same scene carved into the wooden doors as was carved into the doors in Calpo. Pulling the rope beside the door Prince Salistar wondered if every Monastery was a duplicate of each other or if the one in Calpo was a copy of this one. As the door opened a monk’s head appeared.

“If you would be so kind please tell the Abbot that a Prince of the realm requests an audience.” Said the Governor.

“Yes, my lords would you like to come in and wait?”

“Yes thank you,” said the governor motioning to the Prince to lead the way.

They were led directly onto the office of the Abbot. He didn’t get up from his seat behind the desk to give the common curtesy’s which showed the displeasure that the Abbot felt.

“Our apologises your Grace for the intrusion, As soon as his highness informed me of the attack on the Monastery in Calpo and the destruction of the Great Library. I ordered the Watch to protect the Monastery and the Ancient Library,” Said Governor Zeb

The Abbot’s eyes soften slightly as he understood that the intrusion of the Watch into his Monastery had been done for the right reasons even though all protocols had been breached.

“Do you know who attacked the Monastery in Calpo?” Asked the Abbot.

“No, the only thing we know about the arsonist was he was also an assassin he burnt the Library and waited to see if I came to the Monastery, It is a fluke that I ducked at the right time and the crossbow bolt missed me and hit one of my guards. The Lady Malderia, chased after the man but he eventually escaped.” said the Prince “Oh yes he wore a red neckerchief Lady Malderia noticed it as he escaped”.

“The Lady Malderia?” Queried the Abbot.

“A young lady that is unlike any lady that has come before her. She is an exceptional shot with a bow and as fast as lightning with the sword. She is fast becoming the most famous person in the kingdom. She, single handily fought and beat an Ogre.” Said the Prince with pride in his voice.

“The Ogre Slayer? The one that the bards are singing about?”

“The very same your Grace” replied the Prince.

“You’re telling me those stories are true? I assumed that they were made up or at least exaggerated in someway” responded the Abbot.

“Your grace I’ve never seen someone’s blade move so fast. I believe every story I’ve heard.” Responded Prince Salistar.

Shaking his head the Abbot looked at the Prince “So my Prince, why does someone want to destroy the Libraries of Hasder?”

“Have you ever heard of the Demon Délíntra?” Asked the Prince.

“No, I can’t say that I have but then I don’t get much time for reading running the Monastery. Let me get the head Librarian to come in he might be able to answer some of your questions.” Replied the Abbot.

Getting up the Abbot went to the door and stuck his head into the corridor and after a short period of time, he returned to his desk. “I’ve sent for the Librarian and some refreshments while we wait.”

A knock at the door announced the monk bringing refreshments to the Lords.

“I’m not one for strong drinks you understand,” said the abbot “but I thought that you might enjoy a glass of Abilon Red my Lords,”

“Thank you, your Grace,” said both men understanding that the offer of the wine was more of an apology for the brisk way the Abbot treated them when they came into the room.

Minutes passed as they enjoyed the wine before the lightest of knocks at the door announced the arrival of the Librarian. An elderly man shuffled into the Abbots chamber followed by a younger monk, They both wore the standard monks' habit and his hair was as white as snow compared to the raven blackness of the younger monks hair.

“My Lord Abbot you asked to see me,” said the head Librarian with an ancient voice.

“Yes Brother Matthews, thank you for coming so quickly. We are looking for information on a Demon, a very specific Demon called Délíntra would you know of it?” Asked the Abbot.

“No your Grace. We will have to check in the ancient archives”. Replied the Librarian.

“How long do you think that will take Brother Matthew?” Asked the Prince not liking the sound of it.

“I would hazard a guess of a seven day my Lord” replied the old librarian “maybe a few more”

With a deep sigh, the Prince turned to his uncle “Well the sooner we get started the sooner we get on with it. “

“You're going to help?” Asked the Governor.

“Yes or at least if the Abbot allows. I don’t think I couldn’t sit for a seven day and do nothing it would drive me mad.”

“We will be honoured your highness to have you help in the research.” Said the Abbot “Brother Matthews will take you to the Library when you are ready your Highness”

“Thank you, your Grace, I’ll go now. Uncle, I’ll be back later my thanks to you both.” said the Prince.

Getting up the Prince left the room leaving his uncle and the abbot chatting.

The Librarian led them across the Garden towards the Library. The similarities of this Monastery and the one in Caplo were striking. The Prince wasn’t the only one his guards were scanning the roofs and balconies for any sign of movement.

Arriving at the front Doors of the Library the Prince dismissed the two guards at the doors and replaced them with two of his own men.

“Brother Matthews is there any other entrances to the library?”

“Yes, there is one more entrance that connects directly to the Dining area your highness,” said Brother Matthews.

Issuing orders for that entrance to be guarded as well Prince Salistar entered the Library. The Prince was impressed with the sheer size of the inside of the building and the number of books and scrolls that were in front of him. There would be no way to read all of these books and scrolls in a seven day let alone a year.

“Dear God, how many books and scrolls are there?” Asked the Prince to no one in particular.

“There are at least fifty-thousand books and scrolls in this library that we know exist. We are in the process of copying the ancient scrolls. So they haven’t been fully counted and indexed yet,” replied Brother Matthews.

They were coming to the end of the seventh day when the attack happened one of the junior monks that had been helping in the research had been killed and some scrolls had been burnt.

After the attack on the Monastery in Caplo, they had taken the precaution off placing buckets of sand and water around the library so that if a fire was to start they would have a chance of putting it out before the whole library went up in flames.

By the time people had got on the scene and put out the fire the monk had died. When they turned him over he had a scrap of a scroll in his fist that had a few ineligible words and one that looked like “Dar-seh-olt”

Looking at the small scrap of paper, Prince read it out loud “Dar-seh-olt? Does anyone know what Dar-seh-olt is?”

Looking around at the monks and guards none seemed to know. Angry that a seventh day had been spent getting this far only for someone to destroy the information that they needed.

“Guards find who was in this area and bring them to me we have an arsonist and probable assassin in our mist. Also, check that no one has left the Library since the attack.” He ordered.

In the seven days that the Prince had been in the library, the guards outside of the library had been reduced to four with two walking the perimeter of the monastery. The normal day to day routine of the monastery was one that saw a number of people come and go throughout the day. Some were academic others where seeking the interjection of the Gods with some aspect of their lives. Others still were seeking medical aid from the Brothers who ran a hospital for the sick.

There was a good likely hood that the culprit would have already made his escape but just maybe they would get lucky.

After an exhaustive search, they determined that there was no way to know who had killed the monk and if he had destroyed all of the information. Darr & Tomi had stuck to the side of the Prince since the attack. Even entering the Abbots office and refusing to wait outside.

“They have figured out where you are now and what we are up to your highness, One of us will always be at your side your highness,” said Darr.

The Prince knew that it wasn’t open to discussion after he found out that they had been given their instruction from his parents.

“Your Grace, I’m sorry that a member of your order lost his life in the search for information for us.”

“Your highness I fear the toll will be higher if we don’t find out how to stop Délíntra.”

“The only thing that we have at the minute is that the monk that died had this scrap of some scroll in his hand.” Said the Prince handing the scrap the monk had in his fist to the Abbot.

“Dar-seh-olt, that looks like a dwarven name if it is then it should be pronounced Darseholt,” said the Abbot.

“A Dwarven name? Do you know where this place Darseholt is? I’ve never heard of it.”

“Tomorrow we will add it to the list of things we are searching for and hope that it leads to more information, your highness”

In the morning when the Prince came back to the Library with his escort. They were met at the door by a monk with a huge smile.

“I think we might have found some information your highness the Abbot is in his office.” Said the excited monk.

“Thank you brother” responded the Prince as he headed off towards the Abbots office with Tomi beside him.

The attack happened quicker than the Prince could have believed. Tomi and Dareon had a habit of considering each day as a day that the Prince could be attacked so Tomi was prepared when the assassin had pulled out a dagger and swung for the Prince. Tomi had pulled the Prince back to safety while simultaneously drawing a dagger and engaging the assailant.

While not as fast as Mal, Tomi was faster than the Assassin and was able to deflect the blade. Slowly he pressed the assassin back up the corridor waiting for the assassin to make a mistake. It happened so fast that Prince Salistar wasn’t certain if he had seen it correctly. Suddenly the blade of the assassin was on the floor and he cried out in pain. As Tomi’s blade cut the tendons on his wrist. A look of fear came over the assassins face turning the assassin tried to run but Tomi foot kicked his foot out from under him and sent him flying.

As Tomi jumped on the assassin to pin him down he felt the body of the assassin shake below him and suddenly go limp. Realising that the assassin was not moving he got up and turned him over slowly while Prince Salistar held his sword pointed at the man. Once the body of the assassin was turned over the lifeless eyes stared out at nothing.

“My Lord, I didn’t think I had done that much damage,” said Tomi to Prince Salistar.

“I don’t think you did,” said the Prince pointing with his sword to the wrist of the assassin. A small needle was stuck in his wrist.

“STOP!!” Exclaimed the Prince as Tomi reached for the needle “Its probably poison.”

Guards and Monks came running including the Abbot.

“What's going on here?” Demanded the Abbot looking at the Prince and Tomi both standing with swords and daggers drawn.

“This man attacked the Prince with that blade when I got the blade off him he seems to have taken his own life. We think that needle is poisoned.”

“I see, quick Brother Francis, Brother Craig please pick up this corpse and take it to the temple, we must be quick if we are going to get any answers. Quick, Quick” snapped the Abbot “The rest of you get this cleaned up and get back to your studies.”

The two indicated brothers picked up the corpse being careful not to touch the needle still embedded in the arm they carried the corpse into the temple. The Abbot raced ahead threw open the temple doors and headed straight for the altar lifting the golden symbol of the God Hasder from the altar.

“Here put him up here quick” commanded the Abbot “My Prince if you have any questions during the questioning please ask them quietly so that you don’t break my attention we will only have one chance at this and it might not work at all”.

The two brothers swung the corpse unceremoniously up and on to the altar. The Abbot placed the golden symbol of Hasder at the head of the corpse of the assassin.

As the Abbot started to speak Brother Francis and Brother Craig started to sing a countermelody.

“Oh, mighty Hasder I beseech thee to hear our call and lend us your strength. Bring the soul of this departed man back to us to answer our questions. We beseech you.”

The corpse on the altar shook and almost sat up before falling back onto the altar.

Stepping up quickly the Abbot grabbed him by the shoulder. “I command you to answer our questions”

“Noooooo” screamed the corpse “Let me gooooo.”

“What is your name?” Demanded the abbot.

The corpse shook and writhed on the altar “NEVER” it snarled.

“You will answer my questions the power of Hasder compels you. You will find no rest until you answer our questions. Now what is YOUR NAME!” commanded the Abbot.

“Ahhhhhh” screamed the corpse as it fought a lost the battle with the power of a god. “Jax, my name is Jax”

“What where your orders Jax?” Asked the abbot.

Now that the abbot had the assassins real name he couldn’t resist the questions

“I was to kill the Prince if I got a chance but was to destroy the records that would lead to the information he needs”

“Jax, Have you destroyed the documents you were sent to destroy?” asked the abbot.

“I thought so, but I was contacted last night and told that I had failed. If I didn’t kill the Prince I would regret it.”

The Prince sighed a sigh of relief not everything was lost.

“Can you ask him if there are any more assassins on the island?” Asked the Prince quietly.

Nodding the abbot spoke with a voice of command “Jax, how many of you are here on the island?”

“Twelve, are here the rest are on missions.” Replied Jax

“Where are they?” Asked the abbot.

“The basement of the Red Parrot in the harbour” replied Jax starting to squirm on the altar.

“We must hurry your highness or we will lose him completely,” said the abbot.

“Is Mal in danger?” Asked the Prince.

“She should be dead by now twelve assassins were sent to kill her.” Said the corpse before the spirit of Jax departed completely.

Panicking at the thought of Mal in danger the Prince could think of nothing other than getting back to the capital and protecting her. Salistar realised that the Abbot had been speaking but he hadn’t heard any of it.

“Sorry your Grace but would you mind if they didn’t just cast the corpse into the midden. We might be able to use it to our advantage,” said Tomi.

“What plan do you have young sir?” Asked the abbot.

“If his highness could be dressed in a monks habit we could dress the corpse in the Prince's clothes and we could escort the Prince safely back to the Governor's house.” Turning to the Prince he continued “My lord, we need the city watch to take down this band of murderers. For that, we need to get to the Governor's house and get the guard under our control so that no-one can get a message to the Red Parrot. I’m sure that they will have some agents in the watch or maybe just guards in their pay.”

“So why do you want to dress, the corpse as me?” asked the Prince.

“My lord, if they think you are dead they might relax. We will tell the watch that they will be an honour guard for the Prince being returned to the Capital, that will allow us to get the Prince and his guards near to the Red Parrot before they know the Prince is alive. We can also make it known that the Prince was slain.”

The Prince was speechless “Tomi you have a good tactical mind when we get back to the Capital I’ll introduce you to Lord Kilburn.”

And saying that the prince started taking off his fine clothing.

“Brother Francis go get a fresh habit for the Prince but send a message to the Governor that the Prince is dead and that an Honour guard will escort his body to the Governor house shortly.”

Brother Francis left quickly while the others dressed the Assassin in the Prince's clothes.

Tomi drew his dagger and started to shave off the light beard that the assassin wore so that he might more resemble the Prince.

When Brother Francis returned he had a monks habit and a stretcher. Handing the monks habit to the Prince they lifted the corpse on to the stretcher.

“Your Highness, you will have to wear your habits hood up so that no-one can see your face, in fact, we all will. I will lead the procession with hymns for the dead. Your guards will walk side by side of the stretcher so that no one can get a good look at the corpse. Ah, Brother Craig please go and round up another ten monks to follow up the rear to make it look more official.” Ordered the Abbot

Stepping out into the garden of the monastery with no weapons was a strange experience that had the Prince's nerves on edge. As they headed fo rate front gatehouse of the monastery the other monks fell into line with the procession. The abbot started to sing an ancient song for the dead.

They proceeded out of the monastery and headed to the Governor's house. As far as the public was concerned the Prince was dead. Brother Francis had made sure that he repeated the message to the messenger outside of the monastery were beggars would be able to hear the news would be all over the city before long.

As the procession headed up to the Governor's house the Royal Fox could be seen docked in the Harbour.

Whispering lightly so that only the Abbot could hear the Prince said: “Good Admiral Klason has returned that gives us more men if we can get a message to him.”

Slowly they progressed up the hill to the Governor's house. When the reached the gate to the building the Governor was standing at the gate dressed in the black of mourning. Twenty of the city watch lined the path to the front doors of the house. A crowd of street urchins and others of the city had great outside of the Governor's house to show their respects and thought the prince to hide a few spies.

“Governor I bring the body of our dearly departed.” Intoned the abbot using the religious phrases that announced the return of the dead.

“May he find rest in the afterlife.” Responded the Governor holding back his emotions. What he really wanted to do was grab someone and get answers as to why his nephew was dead.

The Governor stepped beside the abbot and led them up to the house who’s front doors stood open Admiral Klason stood to the side of the door head bowed in reverence.

Entering the house the Governor led them into a room where the body would be kept until the ritual was finished and his body concentrated with holy oils.

As they entered the room the Prince was able to look around and seeing no one in the room that would be able to see the Governors face whispered in his uncle’s ear.

“Do not react Uncle, I live but all must think that I am dead send the guards out to patrol the gardens and send the staff away so that we can speak. Keep the Admiral and your Chamberlain.”

The Governor almost whipped around at the sound of his nephews' voice but stopped himself in time.

“I wish some time alone with the abbot. Guard patrol the gardens make sure none interrupt us. Marice, please have the staff prepare the feast for the dead we will mourn my nephew tonight then come back here I will have further instructions for you. Admiral if you could wait we need to discuss the return of my nephew to the capital.”

As everyone left the princes guards took up position outside doors and windows to make sure that the Prince and the Governor were not disturbed.

The Governor waited for the doors to be closed before turning directly to his nephew “Do you want to explain exactly what's going on and who this is,” he said pointing to the corpse dressed in the prince's clothes.

“Sorry Uncle, but if we fooled you then we might have fooled the assassins,” replied the Prince.

“Assassins, so you were attacked then?” replied the uncle worry shown on his face.

“Yes, Tomi here saved me from the assassin’s blade. When Tomi bested him and took his blade from him. He took his own life rather than become a prisoner and give up any information.” Replied the Prince “Luckily for us the Abbot was able to call on the God Hasder to intervene and we were able to question him. We have found that a den of assassins exists in the basement of the Red Parrot. We plan on taking the tavern and the assassins.”

“I see but why the subterfuge?” Asked the Governor.

“That was Tomi’s idea if we can make them think that I died and their assassin didn’t then we might take them by surprise. Uncle, we want the watch to be involved in this but we don’t trust them so we needed to keep the watch in the dark as it were. Admiral, how many men do you have on your ship?”

“Fifty crew your highness” replied the Admiral.

“Go and get them as part of an honour guard that will escort my corpse to the harbour to return to the mainland. Along with the watch and my men, we will round up the bastards”

A knock a the door announced that the Chamberlain was coming back into the room.

“Your Highness? It gladdens my heart that you still live.” Said the Chamberlain.

“Marice we will need the Watch formed up as an honour guard to escort the fake Prince to the harbour. Admiral, you will get the crew of your ship together and we will meet half way. We will be able to storm the Red Parrot and arrest everyone before any get away. We need to be quick and get into the basement as quickly as possible.”

“Red Parrot my lord?” Asked the Chamberlain.

“Yes, why? What do you know of the Red Parrot?” Asked the Governor.

“The Captain of the Watch has long had suspicions that the landlord is a notorious thief, smuggler and murderer. But every time he raids the place he tells me that the basement is empty. He thought that they might have a way in and out of the basement that no one knows about. It is right beside the Harbour and he believed that they were using the city sewers somehow.” Replied the Chamberlain

“Bring the Captain here under the pretence of funeral arrangements.” Ordered the Governor.

Twenty minutes later the Chamberlain entered with the Captain of the watch. The Prince had put his hood up during the time and stood to the side to watch.

“Captain you believe the owner of the Red Parrot is using the city sewers to smuggle in and out of the city.”

Looking around a little confused about why he’s been questioned about this as such a time.

“Yes my lord, I believe that the landlord of the Red Parrot is the head of the local thieves.”

“Why have you not been able to bring him to justice then?” Asked the Governor.

“My Lord, I have tried but I can never get any evidence that proves it. The sewers are too many to cover at once and I hate to say it but I don’t trust that he doesn’t have placed men that will turn a blind eye to some of the things he does so they let him know when we are going enter his premises”

Pulling the hood down to show his face the Prince spoke for the first time since the Captain had entered the room.

“You will have additional men this time and none local. When the procession reaches the market near the Red Parrot your men are to surround the Tavern. My guards will go into the tavern. Admiral your men will enter the sewers to stop any of these rats escaping. Let me be clear gentlemen any that resist will die.” The coldness of his voice spoke of command and doom for those in the Red Parrot.

“I can show you on a map where the entrances to the sewers are so that your men can get in as quickly as possible.” Responded the Captain of the watch with glee. He had long hated the tavern keeper as his smugness and contempt showed that he had people in the watch that would warn him each and every time. He hoped to use this to flush out a couple of traitors as well.

It was a sombre group that had left the Governor's house. The Captain of the guard had insisted on inspecting his men and telling some off for the state of their uniforms. This it was believed would lend an official sombre air to the proceeding hopefully lulling the assassins into a sense of safety.

The procession proceeded at a slow pace as to not alert the assassins. Members of the public lined the streets the news had spread like wildfire that a Prince of the realm had been killed and that they would be taking his body to the war-galley in the harbour to take home to his parents.

The Captain of the guard knew of a few of his men that he was completely certain of. He had positioned them throughout the column, while they didn’t know it yet they would lead six men each to surround the tavern and to make sure that no one got away.

They were only a hundred yards now from the market square that held the Red Parrot. Soon they would launch the attack Prince Salistar’s palms were sweating as they always did when he was about to engage in battle. Slowly they approached the Middle of the square. The Prince could make out the entrance to the Red Parrot a man was standing outside watching the procession a red neckerchief stuck out from behind his shirt and he had a grin on his face. The Prince could not wait to wipe that smile off his face. Just as the Prince was about to give the command to attack he smelt burning sulphur, as suddenly as it came it disappeared.

Shaken but determined the Prince threw off his cloak and gave the order and his Guards stormed the Red Tavern Tomi and Darr came to stand beside the Prince protecting him in case an assassin escapes. The Captain of the City Guard shouted instructions to his trusted men to take six men each and surround the tavern none where to get away and too detain everyone no exceptions. Admiral Klasson's men stormed off like a tidal wave to enter the sewers.

The sounds of battle inside the Tavern made the Prince move forward and while Tomi and Darr disapproved of the Prince walking into danger they knew that he would ignore them so drawing a dagger and a short sword each they entered the fray either side fo the Prince step for step.

The scene inside the Tavern was one of bloody gore his men were under orders to detain everyone and to make example of anyone that tried to resist. After the attack on the Prince, his men were out for blood. Two bully boy bouncers for the Red Parrot lay dead on the floor some patrons and two serving wenches were kneeling with their hands on their heads.

Scanning the room the prince noticed that the some of his men were heading down some stairs. Following down the creaky steps one at a time the sound of guards battling could be heard coming from the far side of the basement.

Tomi Moved ahead of the Prince ready for any attack while Darr took up the rear. Flames could be seen as a lantern fell behind a bale. Suddenly men were streaming in from the back of the basement and the assassins were either killed or knocked unconscious.

The flames had taken hold of the bale now and it would be a hard job to put it out.

Admiral Klason stepped in front of the Prince. “Your Highness we need to get you out of here before the whole place goes up in flames.”

A guard shouted over “Your Highness there are barrels of brandy in this basement.”

“Bring the Prisoner’s leave the rest.” Ordered the Prince.

Once upstairs the exited the tavern as one of the smaller barrels of brandy exploded the fireball exploded in the confined basement sending a part of the barrel into other larger barrels which simultaneous exploded knocking everyone off their feet and scrambling to get away from the heat.

“Did we get them all?” Demanded the Prince as he stood and wiped burning embers from his clothes.

“We killed three in the sewers and one that was trying to come out a secret door. We were able to knock two out while they were fighting with your guards.” said the admiral.

The Captain of the Prince's personal guard announced “We took six prisoners upstairs and a further two downstairs, My Lord”

The Captain of the watch announced that they had captured three people trying to escape including the Tavern keeper.

“Drag them over here and we will see who we have then,” said the Prince.

“You’re the owner of the Red Parrot?” He asked.

“Just an honest businessman” he replied.

“You’re no honest businessman, you’ve already been judged and found guilty the only thing that has to be decided is the sentence. Now answer the questions or its back into the Tavern with you” Threatened the Prince.

The flames were consuming the tavern and the heat was blistering where they stood. The Prince didn’t flinch from the heat. “Choose now or the Captain here will throw you in the flames.”

“Yes I am the Owner” replied the man the heat from the fire blistering his back.

“How many men did you send to kill Malderia?”

“Malderia? Do you mean the girl? ha, twelve of my best men the bitch will be dead by now.”

The Prince’s fist leapt forward without a conscious thought catching him on the nose. Bloody sprayed in all directions and the tavern keeper sprawled across the floor. The red neckerchief visible below his shirt.


Signalling to the Captain and Tomi to pick up the tavern keeper. He pointed at the fire both men nodded to the prince and dragged the semi-conscious tavern keeper towards the flames. The tavern keeper became fully awake as Tomi and the Captain swung him and threw him through one of the windows. His screams lasted for what seemed like an age when they finally finished the prince turned his cold hard eyes on the rest of the prisoners.

Walking over to the group of Prisoners the Prince grabbed the collar of a rough looking man. Exposing a red neckerchief.

“Captain of the Watch, is it a common thing for people to wear red neckerchiefs?” Asked the Prince.

Coming over to look the captain replied “No your highness”

“Looks like we have another assassin here.” Signalling to his men that surrounded the prisoners they grabbed each Prisoner and tore the shirts of their backs. Of the twelve that were left four wore the neckerchief.

“Ok, it’s the fire for you unless you can give me useful information.” Said the Prince in a cold hard voice “You have five seconds or you burn.”

“They left three days ago,” said one man hurriedly.

“They will stay in the Red Parrot in Caplo,” said another.

One sat dumbfounded and oblivious to his surroundings and the last a young boy no older than ten summers sat crying.

Turning to the boy his heart went out to him but he had joined a band of assassins. The Prince searched for a way to save the boy from the flames. “You boy what's your name?” Demanded the Prince.

“Faini, sir” replied the boy still sobbing.

“Faini, have you anything to say to me before I sentence you? Anything that would atone for your sins?”

The first man spoke up “My Lord he’s only a boy and recently joined us a street urchin. He has no family but us, he has no knowledge of the things we did. He only ran the odd message for us.” He said hurriedly.

“Is this true boy? Were you just a messenger?” Asked the Prince.

The boy nodded in response.

“Very well,” said the Prince turning to the first man “ What are your names?”

“Maliki, Trevor, Seamus and the boy is Faini, my lord,” said the man trying to curry favour with the Prince.

“Tell me the names of your associates and where I can find them and I will be merciful.”

The flames in the Tavern leapt high as a huge beam snapped and crashed into the middle of the building. The heat from the fire swirled around everyone in the plaza and the Prisoners eyes grew wide with fright.

They all spoke out quickly naming the men that had been sent to kill Mal and the name of the tavern that they would be staying at.

“Faini do you know these men that they speak of?” Asked the Prince.

“Yes my lord,” he replied.

“And could you point them out?” He continued.

Again he replied, “Yes, my lord.”

“Maliki, Trevor and Seamus, I find you guilty of attempted murder of a Prince of the Realm” nodding to the soldiers behind them that stood with swords guarding the prisoners. A guard grabbed each of the three prisoners by the hair.

“You will not die by fire though you will die though for your sins against the people and the realm, I Prince Salistar sentence you to death.” raising his hand the prince dropped it and each guard shoved their sword into the back of the prisoners’ blood gushed from their mouths and life drained from their eyes. The last thing they saw was the pity on the prince’s face.

Looking at the other prisoners the Prince turned to his uncle. “I hand the rest of you over to the Governor for his justice. He may be more lenient than me, but you will have to wait and see. Faini, you will come with me.”

“Captain Ellis,” said the Governor “please take these prisoners to your jail and then get someone to put this fire out before we lose the city,” snapped the Governor not best pleased with the executions that his nephew had just ordered.

“Uncle Zeb, Lord Abbot, shall we go back to the Governors House and discuss matters. Admiral, please make ready to leave. We need to get to the Capital as soon as possible.”

Turning away from the fire the Prince and the Governor went back to the Governor’s house. On entering the room where they had organised the events of the last hour. The Prince Sat down in one of the chairs.

“Forgive me Lord Abbot, but I have a question for you. Just before we attacked I smelt a strange smell like rotting eggs it nearly made me throw up but it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. I didn’t think about it until I sat down but one of the things you spoke about a five day ago was to do with the realm of demons, do you remember?” Asked the Prince.

“Ah yes” replied the Abbot “The theory goes that our realm of existence is surrounded by two other realms a high and a lower realm, and in turn, each of those realms is surrounded by yet more realms. Each realm contains life but not as we know it. The plane of existence that contains what we would call a demon is supposed to exist on is several levels below.

If you were to move down into the next lower realm your lifeforce would start to be sucked from your body, the lower you went the faster it would be sucked. If you were to consume food in those realms it would be like eating rotting food.

To a creature from the lower level realms, eating food from our realm would be like drinking from the cup of the gods. You think a demon was there?”

“I do, what I don’t know is if the Demon was fooled by the subterfuge or not.” Replied the Prince.

“Lord abbot do you feel that there is any more information to be found here?”

“No, but we will keep looking if we find something we will send it over to the Capital.” Replied the Abbot.

“Fine, then we will be leaving as soon as we are ready. Thank you for all of your help, your grace. Uncle Zeb, I seem to have left you some cleaning up to do.”

“Ha, you always loved making a mess Nephew, Don’t worry about it I’ll get it cleaned up quick enough,” he said with a laugh.

Getting up the Prince and his uncle hugged before the prince shook hands with the Abbot and left for the ship.

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