Chapter 9: PATRICK'S NEW ROLE
When Brynn, Jonathon’s sister, the girl who said she could see the spirits of people who have died, said that the bones that Patrick brought in had no ghost to them, Patrick felt worlds better, but just for a fraction of a moment. Knowing what he learned yesterday, about bones and the ghosts that follow them, he felt that these bones were somehow alive- well, he knew that to be the case, for they attacked him. But, what he believed, deep down, was that it was not the owner of the bones controlling them. Regardless, Patrick felt guilty, thinking that he had crushed these rogue bones into the pile on the ground before them in front of their original owner. So, he was glad when Brynn said that the owner of the bones was not around. Relief soon dissipated, though when Patrick feared who or what controlled these bones to attack him?
“Bury them,” Kyrstin said, turning her attention to Dominic to discuss the missing witch, Leila.
“Bury them where?” Patrick responded, already not liking the fact he was given an order without a please.
“Wherever you want. But, I doubt you want them anywhere close to your home.”
His sister was right about that. Patrick was already disturbed at the fact they’d be outside of the castle, in his general area, at all. Underneath the castle of Springborough was a crypt, and in that crypt was a hallway of all the bones of all the royal families that resided there before them. It wasn’t always the Lishens family that ruled, and Patrick couldn’t name half of the families that now spent eternity down there, but he knew one day his lessons would teach him about them all. Just recently, he learned that if he liked a servant enough, or anybody for that matter, he could give them the honor of residing in the crypt after they die. But, that seemed like a really awkward honor to bestow.
“Happy Birthday! I got you a burial plot!”
So, it being an honor and everything to be kept in the crypt, Patrick knew not to ask if this pile of strange bones, who was just an enemy a little bit ago to one of the royal children, could be buried underneath the castle. He knew his sister was right, that the bones should go in the yard, and rather than have one of the average guards, of average height, and average strength, labor the day away digging the hole, might as well just have giant Patrick with his giant length and giant brawn scoop out a mound of earth and place the bones at the very bottom of it. Patrick stooped down, and picked up the pile, which was obviously the skeleton of an adult, but appeared to be a child in his ever-growing hands, and with Lucky the Bear following, he made his way to the door.
“Brother,” Kyrstin called, and Patrick turned, seeing his lovely sister in her cream colored gown, standing in the middle of the Great Hall, the sun filtering through the windows behind her, guards in front of her awaiting orders. She looks like a young Queen, Patrick thought, the smell of bones in his nostrils. My brother, the Ruler. My sister, the Queen. Me- the gravedigger.
Patrick nodded in her direction, words catching in his throat as his thoughts turned sad.
“Be careful out there. Keep your wits about you, and your eyes moving. If you see any more of them, come calling. And if you don’t want to stay in the barn tonight, we can figure something else out.”
Patrick nodded again, seeing that she wanted a little more of an answer.
“I will, Kyrstin,” he replied. “Honestly, it wasn’t too tough to kill. Like an insect.”
“Wasn’t too tough for you, maybe. Bury it quick.”
Patrick pushed open the large wooden doors and stepped out into the sun.
The day was bright, hot, and the evaporating rainwater from the night before was making the air thick and muggy. Patrick walked about the castle grounds, trying to look for a perfect spot for an evil skeletons’ grave. The front of the castle, which faced South, opened almost immediately to the town. There was, perhaps, a hundred or so feet between the large wooden doors of the castle and the first couple buildings of the town which housed merchants of spices, meats, and flowers. They positioned themselves there smartly because the castle servants would stop there first thing in the morning for the day’s supplies. Fresh flowers for Kyrstin’s room and the various entertaining rooms, food for meals, etc. Burials in front of the castle were out as that just seemed too morbid to do.
The townspeople had their own graveyard outside of the castle walls, but still pretty close to the Kingdom. Patrick wondered if Kyrstin would be angry with him if he ventured that far from the protection of the castle. He didn’t feel like she had much right to be angry when she, herself, had disappeared yesterday, going deep into the woods, even, but he also knew times were different today, that the world is a little bit more vicious.
The East side is where his field and barn were. A great big field where even now, at around nine feet tall, Patrick felt he had all the room in the world. His barn, the two story structure with vaulted roof rose above him, almost half of the height of the castle with a window on top where the Queen could see in from her bedroom. Queen Jenniffer. Even now as Patrick looked up, he thought he could see his lovely mother at her window, looking down at him with her hands clasped in front of her, donning her royal green robes. She’d watch Patrick intently down her little button nose, and when he would look up to see her, she’d smile brightly, ear-to-ear and wave down at him, telling him she loved him as she did.
The West side of the castle held no room for such a burial as it was just a small spot of land, then a small gathering of trees, and then a drastic drop down to the waters below. If he was feeling lazy, he felt he could just throw the bones down the cliff, let them all be swept to sea. But, suddenly he had a daydream of sleeping at night, and a pile of wet, salty bones entering his barn, a jagged rock in bony grasp, slicing away at him.
No, Patrick thought, these bones have to go. They have to go into the ground, and deep, so that I never see them again.
So, that left the North side of the castle to be the skeleton graveyard.
The Kingdom of Springborough rested on a small island which, for all Patrick knew, was surrounded by cliffs that fell into the waters of Cornwall. The cliffs rose from the water, the forest of Fortis rose from the ground, and right behind the castle, to the North, rose a higher elevation of land. When Patrick was five, he believed it was a mountain behind the castle, but now as he was growing older and growing more giantlike, he could see why his father, King Daniel, always told him that it was more of a hill than a mountain. Either way, it rose toward the sky, and beyond that was the greatest cliffs of Springborough, five times as high as Quakenfalls. Queen Jenniffer would tell Patrick that their island used to be bigger, but one day- the Earth shook, cracking everything in half, and half the mountain came with them on this island, and the other half of the mountain floated away with the rest of the northern land. So, now, here they were, with half a mountain North of them, and their castle at the bottom of it.
Patrick, one day, wished to move the castle up into the North. That way nothing could attack them from behind, and they could look down at everything they ruled over. But, he would have to get stronger and taller to make that dream a reality. As for now, he carried the bones behind the castle, looking up at the incline, at the grassy surface splattered with rocks that would sometimes jostle and fall down the mountainside when it rained heavy. Old trees with deep bark and long, spindly branches peppered the area. New trees always tried to grow on the mountainside, but they never got to be more than saplings before just petering out and dying.
The young Prince walked up to one of the sturdy trees which rose about six feet above him, but he could still wrap his arms around it. He felt it first, then gave it a cursory hug. Lucky the Bear watched him, probably wishing to itch his back on the gloriously sharp bark, but Patrick had other things in mind. In the hot sun, without a breeze to his shirt, Patrick wrapped his arms again around the trunk, and bent his knees. He felt the earth pulse at his feet as he clamped down with all the strength in his arms, and he began to stand up. The tree shook, the ground rose, the Bear yipped and moved farther back. Patrick could feel the blood fill his face and sweat pop through the skin of his forehead and collect and fall down off his cheeks and down his back.
The tree snagged at places, roots caught, but Patrick’s strength broke through it, and suddenly, he was standing up, his knees straight, and the tree still in his grasp. He pushed it away from him, letting it fall to the ground as he looked into the four foot hole that was where the tree once was. The complicated root system still was tangled about the area and the wet, fresh soil was alive with grubs, worms, and insects. But this was what Patrick expected it to be.
This was a proper place to bury something you didn’t want to come back. He dropped the blanket of bones into the hole and gathered the tree back up. He did not mind killing the skeleton, but he hoped the tree still had a chance to live.