The King’s Celebration – 4/6
“My dear brother, I love to see you like this, naïve and helpless.” Noam derided with pouty lips as if speaking to a baby. He caressed King Gorion’s cheeks with his gnarly fingers. “My poor brother, what else should I tell you before you go to the grave? Do you remember our younger brother’s accident in the shed? I was the one who commanded Frank to lock it up and set it on fire. That poor scapegoat! And his poor, lovely fiancé, who refused to be my woman! Well, they all got what they deserved for disobeying the future king! Hahahahahahaha!”
“Noam, you have pierced the hearts of all those who love you.” King Gorion’s chest was struck by a searing pain. His head became heavy and his thoughts muddled with disbelief. “Why have you not plotted against me?”
“I have many times! But you were like a cat with nine lives! Do you not remember the countless assassins who broke into the castle? I was the one who commissioned them, but they were all bloody idiots! I hid all the beautiful and goodly women of our kingdom when our parents sought a wife for you.” Noam’s face turned red as his voice grew louder with passion. “Yet you brought back the most beautiful woman on this earth after the most tragic fall! That fall was supposed to kill you, not prosper you with a beautiful queen and sons! God’s hand had been with you for a long time, but today you will fall from both his favour and the throne! And I shall be the revered king of Orr. Hahahahahahaha!”
“Even if I were to kill you seventy times over, it would not be enough to avenge all the evil you have done!” King Gorion’s right hand formed a tight fist. “You’re a disgrace to our family and our people. May God repay you for your wickedness!”
“Now, the true King Gorion speaks!” Noam snickered. “I’m afraid it’s too late for revenge. If you were to kill me today, your entire household and kingdom would perish with the sword of the Hermonions. But if you will cooperate with me, then I could spare their lives.”
“You may take my life in exchange for theirs, but only if you swear to keep your word!” King Gorion bowed down his head in submission.
“I am usually a man of my words, except for exceptional circumstances in which things don’t quite go according to my plan. Nonetheless, I will keep my word today since it’s my birthday, and there is no harm in being generous once a year.” Noam cleared his throat and straightened his hunched back as much as he could. “Now listen carefully for what’s going to happen and what you must do. At the assembly, I will first depose you for high treason and murder. Then have you removed from my kingdom permanently as an exile, because my kind heart cannot bear to see my own brother hanged…”
The dry and raspy voice of Noam faded into a murmur as King Gorion rehearsed the plan of escape in his mind.
At the start of the ninth hour, King Gorion appeared in the balcony of the Marvelous Castle to address the people of Orr. This day was different from the previous years because neither the king nor his people came willingly. Thousands of Hermonion soldiers were stationed amongst the people to keep a close watch on them.
Queen Nymphna and Ayden, who was no more than five years old, stood next to the king on his left side. Though they were clad in lavishly beautiful garments of purple and gold, their faces revealed their true feelings. Only Noam’s face beamed with joy. He stood on the right side of the king, a short distance away, accompanied by the high official of the Hermonions.
King Gorion raised his right hand and waited for the people to quiet down. He spoke with a loud and clear voice that projected beyond the people. “My beloved citizens, kinsmen, and loved ones. I’m delighted to see you all today at my birthday celebration! According to our traditions, today is a day of rejoicing and forgiveness! Each household shall receive from the king a portion of meat, bread, and wine.”
The people groaned at King Gorion’s words, but he continued, “I am aware that today’s celebration is not the same as in the past. For today is a day of great sadness and lamentation, of the loss of our homes and kingdom to a foreign army! Nonetheless, I urge you to follow after the footsteps of our forefathers, who have patiently waited for our God. I assure you with utmost certainty that Prince Ayron will return one day to deliver our kingdom from the hands of our enemies, the Hermonions!”
The people were just as surprised at King Gorion’s words as Noam and the Hermonion high official. They mumbled amongst themselves. “Is this a show that the Royals put up for us to watch?” “What is King Gorion talking about? I haven’t a clue what’s going on.” “I was told King Gorion is the traitor, and the Hermonions are our friends.” “No, King Gorion is our goodly king. Noam is the traitor!” “It doesn’t matter who is the traitor or king, our lives are ruined!” “Shush if you don’t want to lose your heads!”
The Hermonion high official squeezed Noam’s arm like a sponge and asked him discreetly. “What he mean that he says?” He understood the language of Orr, but he did not grasp the meaning of all the words King Gorion spoke.