Chapter Eight: Family Dispute
“How did it go with the boy? Did you get any information?”
“No mother I didn’t, he would not agree to lunch, wouldn’t even talk to me” Jeanove spat.
Stood in the meeting room at the head of the large table, balled fists supporting his body that leaned forward against the table as his head hung low and the blue curled locks hiding any facial expressions.
“Well did you at least find out when they will be departing or have you failed the mission I set you altogether? I thought I saw more promising values in you Jeanove don’t prove me wrong so early, I’d hate to have to find a new replacement”
“I’m sorry mother but just because you are head of the high council and partially rule Lirren doesn’t mean I have to live up to your warped and exceedingly high standards. Braylen” he retaliated sharply, almost as sharply as the elegant hand that connected to his cheek eliciting a harsh crack and a surprised gasp.
“Do not speak my name and do not doubt my leadership or my way of parenting even if you are my offspring. Don’t make me reunite you with your father” her voice merciless and threatening with not one ounce of an empty lie.
A tear slipped from the storm blue of his eyes, small droplets clinging to the thick lashes bordering the blue.
He didn’t dare make a sound or let more than the one tear on his cheek fall.
One single tear was all there was to show off his emotion in that moment, a single tear that was wiped away by the same gentle fingers that had caused it.
“Father is a traitor, forgive me mother I did not mean to speak ill of you. I will try again with the boy.”
“Good. Before you leave, pay the prisoner a visit to see if the guards have got any information from him yet.” with that said and a wave of her pale hand he was dismissed.
Light thuds rang out in the silence, his boots connecting with the pale, stone steps that descended in a spiral into the dark, cold abyss below the earth.
The only light provided was the occasional glowing torch but even as he descended the carved steps the light at the bottom was non-existent as of yet, not even casting a dull glow to separate the darkness and shadows.
A low and distant clatter could be heard, the shuddering sound of metal shackles accompanied by the groaning and consistent demands of not so friendly voices.
The sounds only increased as he neared the last step, the darkness was warmed with the subdued orange light beside the archway, the glow continued past the carved entryway down a long corridor, it’s walls littered with iron doors of-for now empty-prison cells.
The stench was unforgiving no to mention the lighting situation that created shadows seemingly meant for the mental torture of those imprisoned.
The groans and demands more prominent as his feet dragged him closer to the wooden door at the end of the hallway, he knew what the room was for and what it held as a result, he hadn’t been able to forget since the first time his mother had taken him in it to show him what happened to traitors.
Jeanove couldn’t say for sure he understood or even supported everything his mother was striving for but he didn’t have much of a choice unless he wanted to be in the same place as his father who had opposed her and threatened to send word to King Solon.
He swung the door open allowing the royal and unfazed mask to slip over the doubt and uneasiness, the metallic redolent lingered prominently in the very air he breathed as well as being visually unappealing and sickening.
A chair in the centre of the stone, dimly-lit room encompassed with racks filled with torture implements, at the far end of the room attached to the wall hung shackles that he knew all to well were for light teachings.
He’d tried escaping from his mother’s lectures early to run free with his friends when he was no more than sixteen, he stuck through her words which he’d heard countless times before and yet he disregarded them when his friends and himself snuck off and out of the walls of the capital.
He returned hours later, but his fun was cut short when he was dragged down to the room he currently stood in and was chained to the very wall he looked at and whipped until he’d lost count, all while his mother watched and lectured him on everything he’d ignored, she ignored all the screams and pleads that fell repeatedly from his lips.
The scars still remained jagged across his back each one overlapping the other, the vivid evocation of his friends calling by the council hall asking when he’d be allowed to go on adventures with them again or when they could see him and he remembered the exact words his mother said to them He told me he isn’t comfortable being around your kind, he wants new friends so run along.
Ever since then the only friends he had were the ones chosen by his mother, his father like him barely had a say in any matter but he knew it was never always the case, there was love there once even if it was all but gone presently.
To everyone within the city and outside, the capital was flawless but no one truly knew what happened behind closed doors, no one knew of what was to come in a short while, it would break the remaining bonds and destroy the very trust and hierarchy they knew and grew to follow.
“Take a break” he spoke, directing the words at the two guards standing in front of the chair blocking his view as the light dripping sound of crimson fell onto the solid ground.
Both guards bowed and headed out with no questions asked leaving himself and the man before him.
Cuffed to the chair, streams and trails of blood flowing down his face from lacerations and small nicks on the skin, bruises presented in horrifying bundles of yellows, browns and dark blues on every patch of skin visible.
It was a gruesome sight, his dirt infested clothes torn and soaked through in patches with crimson, his usual silver hair looking dull and grey in the light matted and damp with sweat.
Purple crescents lined under his eyes, only just noticeable between the strands of his hair as his entire body hung forward, the only thing holding him back was the fact the chair was attached to the ground as well as his limp body being restricted to it by his ankles and wrists.
“Father” he began simply making sure to test his voice out before engaging in a full conversation where it could waver or show the sympathy he felt towards the man who raised him.
They’d always been close as he grew up, his mother and father were very different in the way they saw fit to raise him which was the majority of the issues that played into their disagreements but his father had always been a patient man and an accepting one at that.
Jeanove did indeed have good memories of his childhood as long as his father was in it like the time they stayed up late and binged on mundane made candies that got traded mysteriously into the market, sure they were caught by his mother in the morning but the time spent alone with him was one of the fondest memories he kept a hold of and not even his mother could take them away from him.
The only thing he got in reply was a dark laugh, although strained and raspy it held the same unnerving nature.
“You know all this could be avoided if you’d simply give us the names of the mundane scum that you contacted and just joined us with this rebellion instead of that little joke you called a resistance group”
“You know nothing Jeanove, Braylen has brainwashed you, can’t you see, she has no mercy not even for you, her own son. She doesn’t feel love, just the need for power and trust me she will stop at nothing to get that power even if she has to sacrifice you in the process.” he explained starting up the laughter again as if he’d lost all sanity.
“You know nothing, you betrayed mother and me, you have no right to talk to me like that. You chose your fate the minute you sent that letter to those people you call allies. Where are they now? you’re here locked up facing possible execution for treason of the high council and where are your allies. I’ll tell you, they’re out living their petty human lives while you rot in here” he spat grasping the sodden hair of the man lifting his head to glare daggers into his features.
The smudged blood and bruises that littered his once lordly features was devastating, dry lips split in multiple places, cuts and gashes slicing his pale skin, eyes heavy with exhaustion and sleep deprivation as well as being heavily swollen.
And yet a smile pulled idly on his lips, how he opened his eyes is beyond Jeanove, how he was alive after the months of torture he’d endured was even more difficult to grasp.
“I thought I raised a Terra child, a proud Lirren boy instead I raised a monster. You’re no better than those winged beasts that hide in their fortresses in the mountains. You’re a disgrace Jeanove you’re too naïve to know what’s going on in the world. This will end in war and you will be caught in the middle of it” the man gritted out remaining intense eye contact.
In one swift movement, his fathers head was sent twisting to the side as a loud thud resonated in the stale air around them.
Looking down at his red knuckles, his hand held firmly in a fist he realised what he did.
Jeanove looked at the man who’d turned back to look at him while moving his bottom jaw around stretching out the pain inflicted.
“Don’t compare me to them! I’m fighting for a cause, unlike those cowards. And you’re more of a coward than they are, you’re too scared to tell us the names and you’re too much of a coward to face your own mistakes! There will be no war because they’ll never see it coming to start with”
“Oh, I’m the coward? So I’m a coward for standing up for what I believe is right, I’m a coward for holding in those names even with the relentless torture and I’m a coward for seeing the truth. Your mother is mad Jeanove I don’t understand how you are so blind to it, she’s using you and when you’re stuck in a battle and you face death see if she cares enough to protect you.”
“She’s not using me; she promised me things you could never give me even if you tried. What happened to my father, the one that would support me no matter what?”
“He died the minute you looked me in the eyes and took her side. After you took the devils side you doomed not only yourself but you doomed us all. Everyone you know will fall, Lirren will descend to ruins and you’ll be stood amongst the corpses and rubble. I will die before I give anyone those names.” his voice nothing more above a mutter as if all the fight in him faded at that moment he looked truly aged, the fires of determination simmered down to a low almost non-existent boil.
He looked tired, it weighed heavy on Jeanove’s consciousness as well as his heart knowing the man who raised him was in this position.
The greasy locks of his father’s hair slid between his fingers reminding him of all the sleepless nights he’d have as a child when his dad would sit next to him on his bed running his fingers through his hair as his mother would sing him a lullaby passed down through their family.
All of that has changed, there would be no more lullabies, no more comfort from his parents, he watched his father’s head drop forwards and his body slump, the once-proud shoulders that would hold up the weight of the responsibilities in fine silks now hung weightless and hopeless in nothing but torn rags.
No pride showed in his desolate hazel eyes or the stature of his body, everything showed he’d given up all but his strong and uncorrupted mind.
“Suit yourself, you should know you’ve chosen the wrong side, they’ll betray you that’s all mortals are good for and when you’re faced with the blade of Ludicium we’ll see if your allies help you”
“I’m begging you Jeanove, don’t trust her. If you’ve ever trusted me at all, get as far away as you can” he whispered
“I trusted you once as I did mother, never again” his feet lead him out the room with haste, the sound of the guards footfalls heading back into the room to no doubt finish the punishment they’d previously been dealing.
The slamming of the door is what pushed his body to move up the steps, further away from his father, further away from the sight of red, further away from the stench of death.
Braylen was sat at the head of the table which she rarely left liking the feel of being above everyone and in charge, clutched tightly was a piece of crumpled paper where a message for her husband lay.
When she’d found out about his plans to intercept her own to say she was outraged would be an understatement, never in her life did she believe that someone within her ranks would possess the audacity o to betray her, much less her own husband.
She’d barely blinked when she locked him in the cell after drugging him with his nightly glass of wine, betrayal was weakness and there was not a chance she was going to risk having him anywhere but locked up below especially when he had a group readying to combat her and the so-called company she worked for.
The plans and orders were Braylen’s, yes but, the resources and go-ahead were from much higher up, from someone she’d never met, that was the one condition of their agreement that all of their communication would go through a second in command or a messenger at the border.
It’d worked so far so who was she to complain.
The note in her hands read:
Plans are coming together.
Our numbers are rising.
Move 1 will be executed this week, will keep you updated.
“I want to know where it came from, who sent it and what it means by the time I get back!” she demanded glaring harshly at the other council members before marching less elegantly to the barricaded door leading down to the prisons.
She took every step with a wave of burning anger directed to one person and one person only.
Braylen had glared at her son when he’d reappeared from down below with no new information, she was beginning to think she’d chosen the wrong person for the jobs she’d set him, his incompetence was growing bothersome and it was of the utmost importance that Kaydence and his companion stayed under surveillance at the very least until they left her cities borderers.
Having not faced her husband since she condemned him to months of torture and solitude, Braylen hoped it would stir some emotion in him and would bring his mind to crack open and divulge everything within a split second, then again knowing how stubborn Rowan could be it wouldn’t be so simple.
Little did he know, she had a trick up her sleeve, one that might just manipulate his mind enough for her to control or at least to give her more leeway for persuasion.
Both guards stopped and looked in the direction of the door which had slammed open making contact with the stone wall it was fixed to.
“Who sent it! Who sent you the letter? I know it was for you so don’t even try lying to me!” her voice echoed off the icy walls reverberating through the air.
No reply came, he made direct eye contact with her and yet kept his mouth closed.
“You will give me the information I want.” she said with an eerily calm voice considering her recent outbursts.
“And what makes you so sure of that?” he said
“I have our son under my thumb all it takes is one little order and he won’t be alive to see the new lands we create” she spoke in a hiss, pure madness behind her dangerous hazel eyes.
They had once been kind and reminded him of the woods their country grew but now they were darker like the shadows that lingered between the trunks that lured you in and let you wonder and lose your place so they can play with your mind to confuse and scare you beyond sanity.
“He’s not my son anymore, do what you will with him I have no remorse for that monster you created, anyone who takes your side will regret it and won’t be spared when the time comes”
“I wasn’t speaking of Jeanove” she said.
“What are you talking about? Have you completely lost your mind?”
“I am carrying a boy, your son, our second child. All it takes is a simple move my dear Rowan, will you sacrifice the small life of your unborn child for this petty attempt to stop the inevitable change?” she said while grinning maliciously.
“You’re lying. If you are truly with child then I want no part in it, I will not have it grow up in a time of war and so much death. If you kill it that’s your choice but If you keep it I will not stand by you and your delusional ideas. It is not my child.”
Her smile fell into a scowl, her eyes pierced his but he dared not look away and instead stood his ground with a hard glare.
“You call me mad and yet you are willing to sacrifice your own offspring to protect these humans you don’t even know, am I mad for wanting a better world and more power? I think not, the mad ones are those opposing us. In the end, it won’t matter”
“You’re talking about killing an innocent life to get me to talk Braylen and it will matter in the end because you will fail and so will your plans” he said before spitting at one of the guards who was staring at him.
“Suit yourself but you will wish you’d have joined my side.” with a nod in the guard's direction she backed away towards the door “Don’t hold back but don’t kill him just yet I’d like to be the one to do it, after the trial of course” with a strict gesture of her hand she dismissed the two guards who crowded around him again, her boots padded at the flooring as she left.
By the time she reached the meeting room again everything was silent, the other members stood staring at her in panic and dread.
“You have until tomorrow before I start imprisoning you one by one.” she said before leaving and heading up the grand staircase to the living quarters.