King Gorion leaned back in his seat with his eyes closed and meditated on the words of Prophet Faibius. The ‘Book of Caution’ laid open on his desk.

‘Gold and daughters they gave to silence the spell,
But no sacrifice was enough to quell the storm;
Their safe haven became the imprisonment of hell,
Upon everlasting spring the darkness swarm.’

“Why do my people hate us so much? My forefathers did everything to maintain peace for them…” King Gorion spoke aloud to himself, “my whole family had been living like hermits inside these cursed walls for as long as I remember. How much longer must we continue?!” Sweat rolled down his forehead and his brows knotted. He pounded the table with his fist suddenly. “This cursed castle! It should be torn down! It should’ve been torn down ages ago! Why didn’t King Onan tear it down after his father passed away?!”

“Because, he followed the commandments of God and honoured his father.” A deep raspy voice accompanied the dark shadow behind the half-shut door. “Have you forgotten so quickly, my dear brother?”

King Gorion was startled by the voice, but his firm figure did not shake.

“King Netham dishonoured God in almost everything he did, but Prince Onan honoured him as he honoured God. Hmm, what a dilemma…” A long bony finger tapped the thin upper lip of a withered face. “Are you suggesting that we should honour God above our king, who has been appointed by God?”

“Noam, we have scheduled to meet after breakfast.” King Gorion answered calmly. “Is there an urgent matter you wish to discuss?”

“Must we always be so formal with each other?” Noam strolled leisurely towards King Gorion with his hands tucked behind his back. “I was struck with an urge of brotherly affection when I awoke this morning, and decided to stop by your chamber.”

“Please take no offence. I would be delighted to have your company, but I’m afraid now is not the best time. I would like to spend some time meditating before our meeting with the Hermonions.” King Gorion’s face looked majestic under the light of the rising sun. “You know very well that they are a rapacious people and we must be careful with our words.”

“Of course. I have taken the pains to acquaint myself with them on a personal level.” Noam glared at King Gorion with his cold blue eyes. “I just remembered an important detail which I forgot to mention earlier, but I mustn’t force it on you during your hour of meditation.”

“Is it regarding our meeting or the Celebration afterwards?”

“Of course, what could possibly be more important than the Celebration of the king’s birthday?! The Hemonions have come here to congratulate you. I don’t suppose you suspect anything malevolent with them?”

“Noam, is there something we forgot to talk about last night?” King Gorion was nonplussed.

“Are you blaming me again for not telling you things when I should have?” Noam’s raspy voice was so dry that he coughed. “Why is it always my fault when we have a disagreement!”

“I’m afraid there isn’t enough time now to discuss any serious matters.” King Gorion stood up to face Noam, who looked like a waning shadow next to him.

“Haha, of course, your Majesty hasn’t any time for his little brother to discuss important matters.” Noam mocked with pouty lips, and waved his hands in front of his face. “I fully understand the king’s dilemma.”

“Please, don’t take my words the wrong way.”

“Well,” Noam cleared his throat and glanced at the ‘Book of Caution’ with contempt, “I shall leave your Majesty in peace with the words of the late Prophet.” He floated back to the doorway like a ghost and added monotonously. “In the time of great distress, a foolish king would sacrifice his kingdom for himself, but a wise king would sacrifice a scapegoat for his kingdom.”

“Noam, it’s not up to us to judge King Netham’s actions. No matter what he had done, he is still our forefather and deserves our respect.”

“My dear brother, I’m not talking about people who have perished long ago. You will understand soon, very soon. I’ve waited my whole life for this day. Hahaha!” Noam’s dry cackle faded into the hallway.

King Gorion continued with his meditation. But when he saw the next verse in Prophet Faibius’ poem, his heart sank like a millstone.

‘Truly the fall of Orr comes with a celebration knell,
The castle shall be captured from within its walls.
Is that day the beginning or end, none could foretell,
A young prince from the Rock of Prayer falls.’

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