Friday, January 11, 2019

The Quest for the King, Scene 23

The leaders of the loyalist army sat dejectedly around a fire the following morning, each one simply staring into the coals with hollow gazes. There was no danger anymore; the Steward’s army had withdrawn completely. But without the Prince, their whole purpose had been snatched away from them. Their grand revolution had failed, and failed miserably. Thanks for the Prince they were alive, but left bereft of hope.

“What now?” asked Kobi, lifting his eyes to look at a few of the others.

“We’ll take any who want to go with us back to the Great King’s land,” said the leader of the royal navy. “There’s nothing left here for us anymore.” 

Joe, Sim, and Lady were there too, sitting between Kobi and Mack. Joe looked around at the group and frowned. 

“No, that can’t be the end of this. I know the Prince is gone, but that doesn’t mean that the Steward should get to win.”

“Son, he’s already won,” said another leader. “It’s over. There’s no taking Arrens back from him now.” 

“But this is our home!” Joe insisted. “And he’s not the rightful ruler!” 

“Well, he may be now,” another said glumly. “It was a despicable coup, but he pulled it off.” 

“But we still have family in there!” Lady protested. “Uncle and Auntie!” 

“What, in the Steward’s ‘ghost house’? Little girl, they’re just as surely gone as the Prince himself. Best to make a new life of it now.” 

Lady’s eyes welled up. “But I don’t want a new life,” she said quietly. “I want the old one back.” 

The group descended into sad silence once again. 

Then Joe spoke up. “She’s right. We can’t just turn back now. At least I can’t. I’m going to sneak in the city through that hole in the brick Sir Kobi talked about, and I’m going to try to find my family, or at least a neighbor or two.” 

“Me too,” said Sim firmly. 

“And me,” added Lady. 

Kobi shook his head. “We’ve already lost too much. Don’t make us lose you, too.” 

“No, I’ve made up my mind,” said Joe, quickly wiping away a tear at the corner of his eye. “But if I were you, I’d be ready. Because even if I don’t find Uncle or Auntie alive in there, I’m going to do everything I can to throw those gates open and give you one last chance to bring down the Steward.” 

“Son, we’ve already lost that fight,” said one of the naval officers. 

But Sir Mack smiled. “Don’t bet against these three,” he said. “They are the Prince’s own squires, and they have already saved this endeavor more than once all on their own.”

The three children stood up and dusted off their clothes. Sir Mack rose in response. 

“I can’t speak for anyone else here, my friends. But for myself: I will be ready. If you throw open those gates, then Arrens will see the return of old Sir Mack for one last time.”

“And not alone,” said Kobi, standing, “for I’ll be there at your side.” 

Joe smiled at the two brave knights. Then, with a bow of his head, he turned and set off down the road to Arrens.