I stirred awake and blinked a few times to get the spots away from my eyes, I attempted to sit up, but a headache forced me back down. I glanced around the room. It was as I left it, except for Paul laying next to me shirtless he was on his side and had his head supported by his left hand. He was smiling at me tiredly.
“Please tell me we didn’t do anything last night.” I begged.
“Why?” He teased, “You don’t want me in you drunk?”
He nuzzled his face into my neck.
“I wanna remember every time.” I told him and ran a hand through his hair.
“We didn’t.” He said resuming his original position, “You were a little drunker then you thought, and after the guys went down to bed you were giggling like crazy, pulled your boots and shirt off, then complained about the wrappings as you fumbled with the knot.”
“Must have been funny.” I grinned and successfully sat up that time. The blankets fell from my chest revealing it was bare.
I shoved the rest of them off and stood up only holding onto the wall momentarily for support.
“You’re still gonna drink?” Paul asked and stood up with me as I picked up another bottle on the floor. This one still had ale in it.
“Yeah.” I said and took a swig, “I gotta be drunk to kill ’em.”
He sighed and grabbed his shirt, “You never cease to amaze me sometimes Jay.”
I shrugged and downed the rest of the bottle before grabbing the wrapings and wrapping my torso back up.
“So who is this guy you need to kill anyways?” Paul asked leaning against the wall and eying me as I pulled my shirt on.
“Can’t tell ya’.” I said and sat down to pull my boots on.
“Why not?” He asked, “If he makes a run for it I can stop him before he leaves.”
“Wont leave.” I told him as I finished tying them up, “No one would expect it to be them, they won’t run. They’ll think I think it’s someone completely different.”
“Who is it?” Paul asked again.
I stood up and turned around to face him, “You’ll have to wait and see.”
He sighed frustrated as I picked up a few knifes and put them in their holsters. I also picked up one last bottle that was mostly full. I assumed it was the one I gave to Reggie, he was never big one ale.
I sipped on it was we walked down to the lobby. When we got there everything stopped. I looked around with the bottle at my lips.
“Everyone here?” I asked Martain.
“Some of the girls are still upstairs.” He replied.
“Candice.” I spoke softly, “Run up stairs and get the girls that are still sleeping if you don’t mind.”
She nodded and hurried up the steps.
I took another swig and pulled out my finest knife.
“The traitor is one in this room.” I told them, “I’ll give you an honourable death, as honourable as one can give to a traitor anyway.”
The girls hurried back down stairs. I quickly chugged the rest of the bottle and set it down on the counter.
Everyone was shifting wondering who the rat was.
“Hey, Jessie.” I called.
The crimson haired woman turned to look at me, looked for only a moment before receiving the promised dagger in her stomach. I walked up to her pulling out one that was serrated. I grabbed the front of her dress and made her look at me.
“You should have known your fate when you crossed the Red Shadow.” I whispered.
And with that I placed the knife at her throat and slit it. Pain was the most evident thing there was on her face.
I allowed her lifeless body to fall to the ground before I pulled the knife out of her abdomen.
“Take this as a warning.” I said as I marched up to the bar and started wiping the blood from the blades, “I wont hesitate to kill anyone who ever crossed me. Be you man or woman. I have no bias. Girls, go up to her room and take what you like of her belongings, find anything that I might like to see, letters, a journal, old books, what have you, bring them to me. Animal, I want you to take care of her body.”
“Will do.” Animal grinned. He got the name as his battle style was as savage as one. I’m sure everyone assumed he’d have been the one to sell me out. We sparred regularly, and there was hardly a day that went by that he threatened to kill me. Everyone knew he never could. But he and I were on good terms, we just had one that revolved around fighting.
The girls did as they were told, eager to go through her closet. Jessie always got first dibs of the cloths that everyone brought home saying she was the oldest so she had to be the first. Her cloths closets were overflowing more than my weapon one.
I sat down at the bar and rubbed my head with my hands.
“Can’t believe you had to kill her?” Reggie asked sitting next to me.
I shook my head, “My head’s killing me.” I told him, “Martain, can you make a Charlie oyster or whatever they’re called to get rid of hang overs please?”
He said nothing but just set a clear glass in front of me. I looked at it to find an egg with god knows what else.
I smiled at him, plugged my nose, and downed it.
“Bet you never want to drink again.” Alec said and sat on the other side of me.
I shook my head, “Just not for a little while.”
“I’ll give her ’till dinner, what do you guys say?” Martain chimed.
I stuck my tongue out at him and he just chuckled.
“How’s the kid doin’?” I asked.
“He’s resting,” He said, “You can go see him when he’s awake.”
I nodded and turned my attention to Maylen when she reached the bottom steps. She walked over shyly with something in her arms, she handed it to me.
“We think there might be more.” She said.
In my hands was a black leather bound book, pages old and worn. The cover was blank.
I went with her back upstairs to Jessie’s room. She had her’s on the second floor.
The girls were still going through her closet.
“Jowey would look so good in this.” Misty said holding up something that was red and shimmered.
“Okay, but you try to wrestle with her to get her to wear it.” Zoe laughed.
“I’m sure I could get Paul to convince her to put it on.”
“I think not.” I cut in.
Everyone froze and looked over.
“You found this in here.” I stated more than asked as I held up the book, “Do any of you have any kind of idea of what this is?”
They all shook their heads.
“Birth records.” I told them and threw it down on her bed, “That means Jessie was used to hide something from someone. From now on nothing leaves this room that I don’t okay first.”
“But you said,” May tried to say.
“And now I’m saying this.” I told her, “I don’t know what Jessie had in here, and as much I really don’t want to know, there might be something else in here that could tell us why she sold me out and who she’s working for.”
“Think so?” Maylen asked.
I nodded, “The cloths you can still have, but I want to go through everything first. Is that fair? Speak now or forever bite your tongue.”
“It’s fair.” Zoe said, “But I just wanna ask one thing.”
I nodded and crossed my arms.
“What do you think she was trying to hide?” She asked.
I paused a moment thinking it over before I sighed, “I have the faintest of feelings she was working for Cyrus.”
Back down the mountains in the castle. Cries were coming from the princess’ chambers.And not long after, new cries, that of a new born baby could be heard echoing through out the stone walls.
One of the doctors cleaned off the child before handing it back to its mother.
Dawn held her new son to her chest lovingly. She sniffled wishing Paul could have been there to see his son.
“You did well, my princess.” King Cyrus said stroking her hair.
“I wish he were here.” She whispered.
“I know.” He said and kissed the top of her head, “I’ll get him here, don’t worry.”
“Thank you father.” She said trying not to cry.
I sat at a table in the lobby late that night with the five of them.
“What would you guys make of this?” I asked as we looked over what we found. In total there was one birth record book, seven or eight books recording the reign of king Valkner, more than a dozen letters addressed to Jessie, and one medallion that didn’t belong.
“Cyrus is defiantly hiding something from everyone.” Paul growled, “And I served that bastard.”
I placed my hand on top of his fist gently to calm him down, it worked but not very well.
Alec lit another candle for more light.
“I think the best way to find out exactly what’s going on is to check the birth records.” Reggie said and reached for them.
“Why the birth records first?” Zuren asked.
Reggie stopped and looked at him, “I remember hearing one of the guards in the castle speaking to another about the day the king was over thrown, something about a birth in the middle of it. Regardless of what was going on at that time a doctor would have recorded the birth of any child born when he delivered it.”
“And you think that’s what started all of it?” Alec asked.
He shook his head, “But I think it might help to find out why Jessie was hiding all of this and what role she played.”
“You’re the best reader.” I told him.
Reggie picked up the book and flipped through the pages, he stopped about half way through.
“What is it?” I asked him.
“King Valkner had a daughter.” He said, we all stared at him, “She was born just before Cyrus went into overthrow him. Says here, she was seven pounds two ounces. Black hair, eye colour- it’s smudged.”
“It’s a start.” I said, “Valkner had a daughter, she’d have been the princess of the country. But that leads to another question, did Cyrus over throw the king just for power or was there an actual reason behind it?”
“If I remember right,” Reggie said, “Baba always said that king Valkner was a good king and just. There was little to no poverty when he rained, the county was completely happy, even bandits would come into his kingdom and be redeemed for their sins and they got to live in happiness and peace.”
“I’ll assume those books will go into depth about what he did.” I said.
“I also remember something he told us.” Alec said, “Baba told us about all those precious jewels he had. And about whoever had them would live in eternal happiness and prosper. But he also said that only one true to the royal blood could touch them, and the rest would die a slow and painful death.”
“I remember a story I head while in a tavern not too far from the castle.” I said, “There once was an old king with not a child nor wife to give one. He brought in woman after woman to try their luck, not one had given him even a daughter, so he killed every last one. One after another women everywhere started to become scares on the streets in fear of being his next victim. One day in church the king cursed the heavens for not giving him even a wretched daughter to carry on his blood. A voice from heaven replied ‘Thou art but being punished for thou’s sins, thou hadn’t been the king thy people needed. thou shalt now parish a untimly death.’ and at the snap of fingers the king fell in unbearable pain. A kind peasant boy brought him back to his hut to care for him. The king had actually recovered, and upon opening his eyes he found the boy in an empty hut, he was close to starving too. He asked him where his parents were. And he replied that his mother was sent to the king to try to give him a son, and his father was killed refusing to hand her over to the king. His heart was broken hearing that. He then thought of all that he’d wronged. He went around the village and collected those orphans and brought them to the castle. He cared for and taught them. One day he fell ill again from another disease. But this time he died with all those he’d cared for around him. Before he had died he gave that kingdom over to the boy who had saved him that day. And from the heavens another voice came saying he had atoned for his sins. and his body and soul were brought up to heaven. in his place on the bed where he lied there were millions of jewels and much gold. The children where told to protect it as it would give them the strength to run the country for as long as their blood existed. And with the help of each of them the kingdom prospered. Same time that guy was really drunk.”
Paul shook his head, “I remember reading something similar to that in the library.”
“The king was good, how’s the economical standing now?” I asked.
“It’s quite poor.” Reggie said, “Heavy taxes, lots of sickness, little food. The castle couldn’t be in better condition, but the villagers.”
“So this was for power and money.” I said, “Wonder what he’s gonna do when he realizes he can’t have that wealth.”
“What do you want to do?” Zuren asked.
I shrugged, “I wanna see how things play out for a little longer.” I told them, “I was gonna go down to the village in the morning, see what I can find out.”
“You alone?” Paul asked, “After you were sold out?”
I nodded, “Trust me,” I told him, “Me and the girls are about the same size, and I have more than a few tricks up my sleeve.”
“Jowey.” Paul warned.
I shook my head, “I go down alone, if I think I need a little back up, Animal, Bull, or Thunder would be the best choices.”
“You’d take animal with you?” Alec asked.
I nodded, “We may not be as close as the six of us, but I can rely on him and he can keep up easily. Trust me.”
“All we ever seem to be doing.” Martain said, “But I do want someone to go with you. Take no chances.”
I nodded, “We should all get some shut eye. It’s been a long day.”
I blew out the candles and went to bed.