Acropolis

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Chapter 5: Four Princes

In October, the air flew wilder as it flooded into the courtroom. For once, Acacia did not squirm or fidget except from excitement.

Kazimir whispered to the Alexander family, “I know what lies in your passageway, but I can’t get involved in this. However, I would be protecting Ondrea and Jason if I protected this secret.”

Acacia’s dad leaned over, “My family will give anything to you to keep it longer.”

Acacia’s mother chimed in, “If the deed falls through, Acacia must find solid ground. There is no doubting Daphne, but she needs us, and we need you, Kazimir.”

Acacia’s father decided with few words, “Settled.”

After the day’s denouement, Acacia lied in her room weighing her own situation. I know Jason and he is trying every insane and insurmountable move, but I can’t move. I can’t keep a secret I don’t know about. How then do I feel so unstable? He could take me in as a friend, and perhaps more perchance it would work if this is what it’s about.

She called up Kazimir as soon as her thoughts became relevant.

“Kazimir, I need to talk to you about Jason.” She still couldn’t shake Conrad from her thoughts.

“Oh, I see your cousin has fallen out of the picture now.” Kazimir wasn’t ready to forget and forgive Ondrea. For Kazimir to have tunnel vision was unusual.

“Jason is strong. Most people think he is unsure, but under that entire mask, I think he has built up immunity so I’m sorry about my cousin but there is nothing more about it unless we can resettle it with Jason in court if we have leeway for a mistrial. But we must be the first ones to find the missing pieces. Ondrea doesn’t know what he’s doing but he needs to get over this and protect the passageway. It makes me look bad, makes my family look bad, and not to mention him.”

“Ondrea knows what he wants and that’s to get past his insecurity. I think he finds you his main security although Jason tries to one-up everybody. Despite Jason’s braggadocio, I think he is an honest guy too who knows what is best. Maybe I misjudged him. Same for Ondrea. It’s this town; it’s the courts that are screwed. Are you sure there isn’t a phone tap?”

Acacia gave a quick laugh. “Jason is honest around most people, but I think I may have misjudged him as well if he is not listening, but most importantly, Conrad has been growing more and more distant from me since this ensued.” She didn’t yet mention Conrad might be missing.

“Maybe I’m not a Judge of what is crazy. This may sound difficult and played beyond every campus adviser’s self-help book, but just talk to Conrad.” Acacia knew how she felt about the play on her need for self-help.

“Asking Conrad for help—I know he doesn’t want to be driven into my mess like you. It seemed like he was mildly interested but now he’s gone? I don’t even know where Conrad is! Have you noticed he hasn’t been in English Mythic class?”

“Acacia, I wasn’t driven into the mess, but I drove myself into it.” At both ends of the line there was an awkward pause. Acacia wondered if Kazmir hoarded secrets. Perhaps Daphne and Kazimir had secret business rendezvous in the day.

What if Kazimir had taken Conrad? Nah! Unless Jason had kidnapped him? Maybe Daphne sent Conrad on a mission before her death...

“I’ll let you go figure this out yourself Acacia. It seems like you have a lot on your mind. Bye. I have to eat dinner. Salisbury tonight!” She could feel him wink at the other end of the line.

“Bye?” It was more of a question than a salutation.

Three parts of her could make her complete—the part of the missing will laid either in the passageway or to be revealed in court, and her grandmother. Two parts, unfulfilled, still consumed her. The part Daphne left out and the empty place in her soul Daphne once occupied. She stood and left her room.

Not the Alexander landline, but Acacia’s cell phone rang a nerve-racking three times. Caller ID read “Conrad.” She always felt nervous interrupting Conrad’s quiet thoughtfulness.

“Yes—Acacia?” came the surprised, but surprisingly mellow, voice.

She admitted she hadn’t talked to Conrad in a while and things went awry. She felt connected to Conrad more since he suddenly understood and undertook her situation even if his worries kept him aside.

“Is everything okay? Where were you?” His words seemed, this time, too mellow. “I could’ve called the police!”

Never mind.

“Really? Where were you?”

Conrad and his immediate family were part of the jury. He knew better not to talk to Acacia after court. She had enough on her mind anyway. The case just added to it and Conrad wished someone was charitable enough to pass him a will, and hopefully, Acacia. He would fight to join it no matter who was on it, especially for alliance. Protection.

“There is something I forgot to tell the lawyers, actually, something I forgot to tell everyone, especially you. I really don’t know where the actual deed and will came from. My grandmother sealed it, but now I wonder if it’s still beneath our hands. Another thing—the treasury and the passageway were kept secret, but I just found out my family has great knowledge of it, perhaps just fairy tales, but is it okay if I don’t tell you how I figured this out? Will you take the pleasure of investigating it with me? Again? I’ll explain the rest of the way.”

“Sure...this is very short notice, but I owe you.”

Acacia was afraid she might have sounded long-winded, however, after their separation, it wasn’t enough to abolish their friendship if it stood on solid ground.

✷✷✷

Acacia and Conrad met at the corner of Moonlit Court and walked in the balmy night to the secret passageway. The air was heavy again. Storm clouds reigned in the distance like large surveyors, but Acacia thought the sooner the investigation, the sooner the storm would pass or dissipate. She held the alternate key to the entrance, fumbling with the lock. The passageway was lit by burning torches—a sign Ondrea or somebody was the recent keeper. The musty smell mixed with the smoky varnish in the air—another sign it had a keeper. Chests were heaved against the walls and sparkling jewels twinkled in firelight. Even the eyes of the cave crickets sparkled.

After several hours and avoidance of the branch of passage which led to the clearing, they reached a dead end in the dead earth. At the end of this passage was a glass encasing raised on an altar. Inside the glass encasing lay an aged piece of parchment. It resembled the document presented in court.

“Kazimir—I mean Conrad—this document looks like the one presented in court exactly.”

“Is it a copy?”

“It has Jason’s name on it but says a Drought, ‘Razim Markopolis Drought,’ handed it over to—wait a minute—the Alexander’s.”

“Acacia, this could mean another nasty quarrel, but it could also mean...you are responsible for Jason and may be responsible for everyone else.” She enjoyed Conrad’s light take on the situation.

“Conrad, in Domain’s economy, this could mean I’m mayor. This could mean even more for you. I feel sorry for Jason, but it reads—

“‘In accordance with the will of Drought, the small town of Capital Domain gives their land, property, and valuables to the Alexander’s for hereby presenting the heraldry, exceeding order and war to this Old World and the New World.’”

“Wait, Conrad,” she almost felt ashamed her hopes were up. “This doesn’t look like a deed but maybe there was never a deed! Hey, maybe this is all the proof we need.”

“Acacia I’ll never let anyone who you’ve known for years changed or unchanged, change this.” Acacia knew no matter what, Conrad didn’t see her differently. She wondered if he would feel the same without the hole in his pocket. “Your secret is safe.”

But she wasn’t gaping at his choice of words before she could speak.

“Read there’s more.”

“″Therefore, I pass down the chest of pearls, rubies, and gold, the ancient coins, the family portraits, the furniture heirlooms, the passageway, and lastly I give the portal to the old world. The Old World is whence we came, and I hope you use this portal wisely because we ensure you will start anew. It lies at the end of the passage and he who finds the fruit or has it in their possession can get to it.’”

Without words, she stared spaciously into her mind.

“The fruit? Is it some kind of metaphor?” Conrad inquired.

“Don’t know, I can’t think. It’s too musty here.” After a confused look from Conrad, she reinstated, “I wrote a bonfire story mentioning the world of the fruit, but I think parts of it were a dream. Sometimes I hope it’s a dream. I have too much to worry about.”

“A repressed memory can surface at exactly the right moment. It’s your choice whether to pay it any attention.” His voice was soft; gentle yet wise. Knowing.

“I paid attention to what I thought were escapist stories. Now I realize this holds—an escape.”

“Remember, I won’t tell anyone about this until the time is acceptable for you.”

“I understand that. My thoughts are whirring right now so...let’s return home and go to bed.”

Thus, the pirate and the gypsy took only what they needed.

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