Alone, a man sat in a large chair at the far end of a room. He had short gray hair that had once been dark in color and worn, weathered brown skin. His posture was weary and he stared at the ground with disinterest.
The room in which he sat was quite large, with a high ceiling. Overhead hung four beautifully crafted metal chandeliers. They each held five flickering candles that threw shining stars of light along the metal arms. They were simple but elegant with the arms curving gracefully upward.
The main source of light, however, came from a large window that spanned almost the entire left side of the room. It had ornate bars on the outside that were as much for adornment as they were to keep people out. The window was covered with sheer drapes that moved leisurely in the gentle breeze that came through. At night thick, heavy red curtains would be pulled over it and the many freestanding and wall mounted candles would be lit.
Along with the unlit candles, the walls were hung with the beautiful swords and shields of the four kings before. The current king’s shield and sword would not join them until his death. Until then, his sword would remain at his side.
Across the immense red rug that almost completely covered the wood floor the solitary man looked, as he heard the pounding of feet in the hall leading to the room. Wrinkling his brow, he could tell there were more than two people heading his way. With a sigh, he pushed himself up so that he sat straight and he folded his hands in his lap as he gazed expectantly at the entryway.
An instant later a young man of twenty-one charged in. He stood five feet seven inches with olive skin. Wavy dark brown hair fell into his face. His golden-brown eyes were hard and his lips were pulled back in a sneer. He wore an elegant black shirt and pants made of fine silk that hung loosely to his body. His shiny black boots wrapped around the bottom of his pant legs and hit the floor with dull slaps. A polished steel sword hung at his left side, held fast by a leather belt. He clutched the hilt tightly while his entire body shook. However, what drew the man’s attention was a large gash that ran from the young man’s collar to his chest. Blood flowed steadily down. His shirt was drenched and his grimace was not only that of rage but also pain.
Just behind the young man were two large men dressed in brown, less elegant clothes with the seal of the kingdom on their chests. They too had swords at their sides but were dragging a fourth man.
This man was thin and dirty. His clothes were barely more than tattered rags. Blonde hair stuck out in every direction and blood gushed from his split lip. Though he had without a doubt been beaten severely, he still struggled against his captors, shrieking obscenities at the top of his lungs.
The man sitting down at last stood up and the prisoner fell silent.
“What is this!” the man demanded in alarm.
The young man stepped forward, “This man has just made an attempt on my life, Father,” he cried angrily indicating the man on the floor.
“He’s lying, Your Majesty. Please!” The filthy prisoner interceded frantically.
“SILENCE!” The king bellowed. The prisoner cringed and shrank back as the king took his staff. With a loud grunt, he made his way down the two steps to stand level with the group. His son rushed to his side and grabbed his arm to support him.
The king gazed steadily at the man on the ground.
“You’re the third to try to murder my son,” he whispered callously as his coffee color eyes narrowed contemptuously, “But you’re the first to harm him.”
One of the guards caught his eye and then said promptly with a strong voice, “Your Majesty, we were guarding Prince Exendrik while he was in town. There was uproar in the crowd that diverted our attention and that’s when this refuse attacked. He used the distraction, which was a group of fellow conspirators I’m sure, to try to kill the prince. Thankfully, His Magnificence had his sword with him and was able to fend off the attacker. Forgive us for our blunder, Glorious King.”
The king peered at them contemplatively for a moment and then spoke sternly, “You have done well in protecting my son. I pardon you of your error, let it not happen again.”
The guards bowed gratefully as the king returned his gaze to the petrified prisoner, “You, on the other hand will not have it so well. But for now, you will stay in the prison till I have decided what to do with you.”