Eliam stared apprehensively into the mirror while Pam dressed him in new robes. The robes were embellished with tiny jewels along the hem, sleeves and collars. Patterns of snakes were stitched into the red and blue fabrics, and it was finished off with his parents’ medallion that had been turned into a necklace. Eliam fiddled with the golden chain, and he shuffled his feet awkwardly.
“I’m still unsure of this…” Eliam mumbled.
“You’ll be fine,” Pam assured. “All you have to do is stand there and just listen to Prince—I mean, King Ira. You don’t need to acknowledge anyone else in the room.”
“Alright…” Eliam huffed.
“There.” Pam fixed a loose button on the sleeve and smiled at a gloomy Eliam in the mirror. “You look wonderful, Eliam.”
Eliam’s focus fell to the medallion and he fiddled some more with the chain. He couldn’t think of anything to say before Pam dragged him across the room and out the door. “Now, you don’t want to be late. I’ll take you there.”
“Right,” Eliam mumbled.
As the two went down the hall, they passed by a few guards who gave Eliam sharp looks. The teen tried not to notice, but he felt their stares burning into the back of his head. The boy breathed in and out quietly to himself and focused on the double doors ahead.
“Here we are,” Pam announced, opening one of the doors. She gestured a hand for the teen to proceed, and she even delivered a small bow.
“Wait, wait, you don’t have do that.” Eliam stepped back in surprise and waved his hands.
“Well you are the advisor after all.” Pam winked.
“But I’m still a servant,” the boy remarked with the slouch of his shoulders.
“A servant with a high position.” The maid pointed out and gestured to the door. “Anyways, you should go in, they’re starting now.”
Eliam nodded, took a breath and stepped through. Pam closed the door behind him, and the click sent a shiver down the boy’s spine. However, what really tensed the teen up were the stares that he received from the audience. There were around a hundred people in the throne room, and somehow, he captured almost all of their eyes.
Eliam managed to ignore the stares and focused on the new king sitting at the throne. King Ira was dressed in lavish robes made from the finest silk, and rich jewels adorned his head, neck and limbs. He sat there with an air of grace, as opposed to his predecessor, who had carried an air of intimidation with him. A few other people were by the king’s side, they were dressed in heavy armor and provided the most daunting stares towards the teen. The men were the newly appointed bodyguards of the king, and they all stood like statues.
One of the bodyguards leaned into Ira’s ear. “He’s here, Sire.”
“Eliam.” Ira called as he gestured a hand for the teen to come over.
Eliam nodded and the crowds of people made a path for him to walk through. As Eliam walked towards the throne, he kept himself focused on the king, who steadily rose to his feet. He had something wrapped in his hand, but Eliam couldn’t make out what it could be.
Eliam climbed up the short stairs that led to the throne, and Ira reached out his hand before resting it on the teen’s shoulder. Ira revealed a small pin in his other hand; the adornment was gold and curved into the shape of a serpent. A pair of rubies made up the eyes. Ira fastened the pin to Eliam’s robes, and the teen straightened it.
“I pronounce you, Eliam, the palace’s ‘Royal Advisor’,” Ira announced and the room erupted in applause, but it was neither loud nor enthusiastic. Eliam turned to face the crowd and saw some of them squinting their eyes, while others carried grimaces on their faces. The teen expected this reaction. Almost everyone in the kingdom knew who he was. A thief. He could just imagine the bitter thoughts running through their minds. ‘What was the king thinking?’ ‘He didn’t just lose his sight, he lost his mind!’ Eliam turned back to Ira who seemed to be aware of the audience’s reaction by the way they reacted.
“As you all may know,” Ira started, “Eliam used to be a thief, however, he has shown that he can be much more than that. Without him, I wouldn’t be here today, and so I gave him this position to show my gratitude. I now command you to show yours to the person who saved my life.”
Despite the king’s words, the crowd still seemed wary. Yet, they stood there quietly and listened to the ruler’s speech. Eliam on the other hand tried with all his might to not show how nervous he was as he clutched his hands into fists and breathed in and out slowly. His shoulders tensed up and his knees were buckled, though it wasn’t until seeing Ira smile that his nerves loosened.
Later, King Ira hosted a dinner party in the ballroom for all the guests. The brightly lit chamber was filled with a sea of people dressed in colorful robes, and they chatted loudly amongst themselves. Their voices melted with the music from an ensemble that played merrily in a corner, and the mash of noises made everything livelier than it had been in the throne room.
The only person who wasn’t as content was Eliam. He sat quietly at the main table, watching the nobles chat and the musicians play their instruments. He caught the attention of one of the new bodyguards, Julius. He was a tall man with broad shoulders and a glare that could pierce through a wall. Julius marched over to Eliam and his shadow practically swallowed the teen up.
“Listen, you little thief,” Julius said through gritted teeth, “you may have gotten the respect from His Majesty, but it doesn’t mean that anyone else does. So, don’t get too comfortable here.”
Before Eliam could say anything, the guard walked away. The teen frowned and glanced at the pin fastened to his robes. He toyed with it, and the rich materials of the pin flickered in the chandelier’s light.
Eliam turned to see Ira walking over with the help of another bodyguard. The guard pulled up a chair and the king sat down.
“Have you not eaten anything?” he asked.
“I’ll eat in a bit,” Eliam answered.
“Alright.” Ira nodded, but then his calm demeanor changed to that of annoyance when a loud voice blared through the guests’ chattering and music.
“There you are, my king!” A man dressed in bright white robes squeezed himself through the crowds and approached the king with a bow. He then pulled himself upright, straightened his robes and smiled.
“Hello, Dr. Reed,” Ira greeted with some restraint in his voice.
“Your Majesty.” The doctor bowed once more. “It’s an honor to be in your presence again, truly. Though, it’s a shame that I never got to meet your bride. She seemed like a lovely girl.”
“Yes, she was,” Ira agreed.
Eliam rolled his eyes, since the previous king was dead and there was no point of being in disguise anymore, Ira had told everyone that “Eliana” tragically died from falling off a balcony.
“My dear king,” Reed grabbed a chair and sat next to Ira, “I have a daughter who might be a perfect fit to you, she’s young, beautiful and smart. Her name’s Noemi and she should be around here...somewhere.” Reed stood up and glanced around the crowd to find her.
“Thank you, doctor,” Ira said, “but I’m not looking for a bride now, I’m still recovering from my loss.”
“Ah, yes, of course.” Reed nodded in understanding and turned back to the king. “Well, there is something else I want to do for you, and it’s much more urgent.”
“What is that?” Ira asked.
Reed leaned in with determination fixated in his eyes. “As a well renowned doctor, please allow me the opportunity to fix your eyes.”
Eliam turned to Ira who didn’t seem comfortable by the way his face turned sour.
“Have you ever cured blindness before?” Ira asked with apprehension.
Reed’s enthusiasm wavered for a second, but he pulled up a smile for reassurance. “No, but I have worked on eyes before, and I’ll do my best to cure you. We can’t have you leading an entire kingdom in this state.”
“I’ll be able to handle it,” Ira remarked with a frown.
“I’m sure you will,” Reed said. “But don’t you want to see again?”
Ira paused and lowered his head. A few moments of silence passed as the king was lost in thought. Eliam glanced at him worriedly and tension came back to tighten his nerves.
“Let me have a look at your eyes.” Reed leaned even closer and clicked his tongue.
“The cornea is quite damaged. Unfortunately, I’m going out of the country tomorrow for a business trip and I can’t say how long I’ll be gone. But as soon as I get back, I’ll work on your eyes.”
“He hasn’t given you an answer yet,” Eliam said suddenly, but was taken aback by the glare that the doctor threw at him. The teen’s shoulders slouched and he sunk a bit into his chair.
“Give me some time to think about it, doctor,” Ira finally answered.
Dr. Reed frowned at that, but gave in and stood from his chair. “Very well, I’ll let you be.” He left the table, and Eliam released a sigh.
“What are you going to do?” the teen asked Ira.
“I don’t know,” Ira answered. “Dr. Reed is in fact a well renowned doctor, but he has never cured blindness before.”
“Has anyone else?” Eliam asked.
“Not that I know of, besides, I can live with this,” Ira said, but then grew silent again, lost in thought once more.
Eliam also became quiet as he stared wordlessly at the king. The teen didn’t know what to say, or what was even the right thing to say in the situation. Finally, Eliam got up from the chair and excused himself to the washroom.
Once he entered the room, Eliam went over to the sink and splashed his face with cold water. The teen gave himself a moment to relax as he glanced at his reflection. His gray eyes held traces of tiredness from what had occurred in the last couple of months, and it didn’t look like his exhaustion was going to go away anytime soon. The teen then splashed some more water, but before he could dry his face, the door suddenly flew open.
“Oh, there you are!”
A girl in a flowing green dress and matching veil covering her mouth bounded into the room. She caused Eliam to nearly jump, and the girl giggled. She skipped to Eliam’s side with her sandals clicking on the marble floor. The former backed away in surprise as he stared with confusion at the girl.
“I overheard your conversation with that doctor,” the girl confessed as she fiddled with her hands. “I don’t trust that doctor, he doesn’t seem professional enough. What do you think?”
“I…I’m not sure myself,” Eliam admitted.
“Don’t trust him then,” the girl warned; her cheerful attitude swiftly disappeared in an instant. “Instead, you should trust me.”
The girl opened her palm to reveal a small vial filled with clear liquid. It was almost like water and could be mistaken as such. Eliam stared at the unusual vial with a spark of confusion, and turned back to the girl who was obviously smiling behind her veil.
“This is a medicine that will cure the king’s blindness,” the girl started as she waved the vial in front of Eliam’s perplexed face. “No procedure is necessary. Just a few drops in each eye and poof, no more blindness. It’s as simple as that.”
Eliam focused his attention back on the strange liquid as the girl swirled it around. It bounced against its small glass chamber in little waves.
“How do I know you’re telling the truth?” Eliam asked with suspicion. However, he simply elicited a giggle from the girl, who playfully tossed the vial in her other hand.
“Do you trust the doctor instead?” the girl inquired, keeping the vial in plain sight to taunt the boy. “He has never cured blindness before. But there is a cure, and I have it in my hand.”
“Where did you get that anyways?” Eliam demanded.
“Just a dear friend of mine, but he’s a doctor too and a more professional one,” the girl remarked with a sense of honesty laced in her voice, but Eliam wasn’t buying it and moved towards the door. He opened it but the girl slammed it shut.
“I’m giving you such an easy offer.” The girl lightly pushed a vexed Eliam away from the door. “Do you want the king to suffer through such a procedure? That doctor would have no idea what he’d be doing. He might even just end up killing the poor king with all those instruments plucking into his eyes. That would be such a painful death.”
A sickening sensation sunk in Eliam’s stomach at the thought. He stood there frozen as he imagined the horrific pain Ira might go through. His head spun from nausea and the teen pushed the girl aside as he exited the room.
The teen returned back to the ballroom and sat back down at the table. He felt his heart beating rapidly in his chest and he tried to relax, but it wasn’t helping. He closed his eyes momentarily, attempting to avoid the thoughts that the girl gave him, but they wouldn’t leave him be.