Sweet Waters Throne -
Chapter 12: Chapter 1
Lord Akirbus, Lord Dagen, Lord Balrus and Lord Angun also famously known as “the four” came to organize themselves inside the carriage making their way back to the palace from the arena. The most famous king’s speech was given and it was up to the people to decide whether it was worth to be remembered or it didn’t live to King Arteides’s worth. However it turns out no one would ever remember Artemis’s speech but his impromptu decision to point out Lord Balon as his hand of the king and ignore “the four”.
The caravan made its way back to the palace and the good folks of Maldonia escorted their king by marching in the streets in groups. They raised their voices in unison “Long live the king”
“I think we should speak to our King and make sure he makes the best decision. He’s young and...” Lord Akirbus said, he paused and then whispered “Stupid! Young and stupid. Never in the history of our kingdom has it even been a hand of the king who isn’t Maldonian”
Lord Dagen intervened “Was he threatened by them? Who are these people anyhow?” he asked seemingly confused.
Then it was silence, Lord Angun and Lord Balrus seemed to not have anything to say anymore. Probably from the shock of the turn of events. Lord Balrus was an eunuch castrated ever since he was a fifteen years old boy after he was found raping a girl in his father’s farm. Where Lord Balrus comes from one had to cross the sea, climb two humongous mountains and then cross a river – he always talks about his home being the most awkward place a man could live. Unlike the other three, Lord Balrus was sly, obsequious, and without scruples. Perhaps his lack of testesterone and lust for intimacy made him effective at his work as “the four” and palace’s lord.
Lord Akirbus looked at Lord Balrus “Lord Balrus?” he called out to him. “Don’t you have anything to say about this outlander? Do you know him or ever came across his information?” Then he asked because Lord Balrus somehow was aware of everything that’s happening in people’s lives. He spends most of his time walking around the palace in his black robe, a brown scarf around his neck and he was a huge man standing at six foot tall and weighing over two hundred pounds. He was bald and his skin wasn’t that white but closer to brown, some said he resided from the land of the forsaken. Like many eunuchs but more experienced and educated unlike others.
If you wondered how did King Arteides defeated his first ever enemy king Forosus in the battle where none of Forosus’s men survived then you should ask Lord Balrus for he spied his way into King Forosus inner circle and betrayed him from within his own walls. Since then Lord Balrus was King Arteides’s favorite and the most valuable asset. Even when he was in his death bed King Arteides made sure to advise his son, he said “Keep Lord Balrus at your side and you will never fall. He’s as loyal as a hound. He should be your hand” but it seemed Artemis had his own plans. But also Lord Angun thought he would be the hand of the king.
Lord Balrus was in his deep thoughts, the only sound he paid attention to was the bumping in the road as the carriage moved up and down.
“Lord Balrus?” Lord Akirbus called out again. This time Lord Balrus came to his senses.
“Yes, my Lord?” he replied.
“I asked what do you know of this outlander”
“Lord Balon?” asked Lord Balrus looking at all of his friends.
“You are the spy here, aren’t you?” Lord Dagen added. All this time Angun was so silent still grieving over the fact that he wasn’t pointed out as the hand of the king.
Lord Balrus took his time to compose himself – that was his character. He was never a man who jumps to conclusions or speaks when not spoken to or when he wasn’t ready. But when he was, he cleared his throat “He is penniless, Lord Balon of Nemphis” he started to talk. “He owns one gothic dark clumsy castle far from Maldonia and few goats and cows, perhaps even chickens but apart from that he owns nothing. Lord Balon has a reputation of getting himself in the higher tables”
“Higher tables?” asked Lord Angun who seemed interested now in knowing more about his enemy who took his job.
“Yes my Lord, you see he married Princess Sansa just to keep himself relevant. He thought by marrying a princess perhaps somehow he would be relevant to the people he spent his whole life idolizing, but that was a blow for him. Princess Sansa was thrown out of his father’s palace and exiled, she has never returned back to her kingdom since then. Hence they moved to Nemphis, Lord Balon’s embarrassment castle even though it wasn’t the kind of life life Princess Sansa was used to” continued Lord Balrus.
The stories of Lord Balon took the whole half an hour, and yet still that wasn’t enough for Lord Balrus to say it all about Lord Balon. Lord Barlus was ready to do anything to save Artemis, and he wasn’t against Artemis’s new appointment.
“Lord Balon maybe be penniless but let’s not forget he has an impressive fighting skills which if you ask me, Lord Balon looks like that kind of man who is capable of protecting our King when it comes to exchanging swords” said Lord Balrus and then when the carriage stopped he was the first one to get out of the carriage.
Then followed Lord Akirbus, Dagen and finally Lord Angun. Lord Balrus’s eyes were glued at Artemis and Lord Balon conversing – Artemis laughed, so did Lord Balon and this angered Lord Angun even more.
“He maybe an outlander to all of us but let’s not forget I’m not a Maldonian either. If his intentions are pure and aim at protecting Maldonia I say we give him the chance” said Lord Barlus.
Suddenly Lord Angun intervened in his angry tone “He’s nothing but a penniless bastard with an intention of milking His Grace off his treasures. If we don’t stop him now, I fear we maybe too late” he warned.
What Lord Angun actually meant by if they don’t stop Lord Balon at that time then it may be too late was purely part of what “the four” does on daily basis. The major task of “the four” was to eliminate threats before it’s too late. Lord Balrus is the one who usually conducts the elimination of threats either by blackmailing the victims and exiling them from Maldonia or if they seem to be persistent, then they usually find themselves deep in the soil of Maldonia or worse thrown into the sea.
The guests who were invited for tonight’s ball were already inside their chambers getting ready for the big night as it was already late. Lord Balon was given his own chambers inside the main part of the palace, just few steps from princess Aeryn’s chambers. “I’ll see you at the ball, my hand” Artemis shook Lord Balon’s hand and proceeded to his chambers with Lancet.
Princess Sansa curtised as Artemis passed through them and then when he was far, she laughed. Lord Balon warned “Not here” and he laughed too. Then they were escorted to their new chambers with three servants.
The one who was at fault and not in the mood to converse was Lancet. He was so disappointed with Artemis’s decisions but then again he wasn’t the king of Maldonia. All the things Artemis was doing it’s because he wanted to remind Lancet that he wasn’t the king, and that he didn’t have any power over Artemis nor was he even supposed to be his influencer. Lancet had one job and one job alone, to protect the king.
When Artemis got inside his chambers Lancet waited outside. He stood firmly looking forward. Artemis hesitated for a moment before stepping inside. He was upset earlier and he even swore to punish Lancet but now he was feeling remorseful, after all Lancet was still his friend no matter what happened.
Hence he cleared his throat with his hand holding the door. Lancet gave him his undivided attention. “Do you want something Your Grace?” asked Lancet.
“I wanted to punish you today. Have some men beat you up, and maybe perhaps feed you to the jackals or my hounds. But... then I remembered, it’s Lancet. Lancet is my best friend and my closest ally and the only person I can trust, so I will ask you again and make sure you only tell me the truth. Did you invite Lady Kholin to the ball tonight, as I ordered you to?” he asked looking straight into Lancet’s eyes.
Feeling like he just betrayed the most important person in his life, Lancet slowly turned away and placed his eyes down. Then he admitted “I didn’t Your Grace. My apologies”
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