The Red Sun

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The Blood of the People: IV

He detested the dungeons. Not only did they bring forth rather unpleasant memories, but he would never get used to the stench. Sebastian was curled up in the back of his cell, and Kasethen couldn’t help but feel sad for the boy. He sighed and set the torch in the metal ring.

“How are you feeling, my lord?” he asked.

The boy huffed. “So, I’m a lord now?”

“Well, according to the Kasenon, one has to respect the other, and one way of doing that is by respecting what they are,” said Kasethen. “You are a noble, a lord, and thus it’s a sign of respect.”

“And what are you?”

“I’m a kasethen, an advisor.”

“Isn’t that what they call you? Isn’t that your name? Kasethen?”

The advisor smiled. “Yes, indeed. We do not keep names under the Kasenon. Well, nicknames are quite necessary, of course. I suppose that is a name, of a sort. But people like me, with important positions, are named after what we do.” Then he sighed. “So, my lord, how are you feeling?”

Sebastian was silent for a moment, before he muttered, “I’ll live.”

Kasethen sighed. “I truly hope so.”

The boy looked up. “How long do I have?”

“I don’t know,” said Kasethen. “But you do have a chance to save yourself. Take it.”

“I will never submit to you!” the boy spat.

Kasethen furrowed his brows and cocked his head. “It must have been hard, being raised as a crown prince in a kingdom where people are starving.”

“Dukedom,” muttered Sebastian. “It’s not a kingdom, it’s a dukedom.”

“Ah, yes,” smiled Kasethen. He looked about and fetched a barrel from further down the hallway to sit on. “I’ve read about the King’s Accords—how the War of the Kings left the cities’ treasuries dry, and how you decided to end the war by declaring that no one was to bear the title of King at all.” He smiled. “I have read extensively about your history, and I must say, that is undoubtedly the most diplomatic decision your people ever made.”

This made Sebastian chuckle, albeit darkly. “Yes, well, it didn’t heal the treasuries or the people.”

“No,” said Kasethen. “War lingers, long after its end.”

“And long will this linger?”

Kasethen sighed. “For a long time, I reckon. But we have not come here to make your lives miserable, no matter what you think.” Then he sighed again. “We came because we needed to, well, expand. There is no longer room for us in Kasarath.”

“If you wanted lands, then why didn’t you just negotiate with my father?”

The advisor clenched his jaw. “Your father was driving this city to the ground, Sebastian. He was harbouring food, sovereigns, medicine—people were sick and starving. In our society, we don’t use currency but rely on people’s trust and goodwill. We would never be able to live amongst your unjust societal system. We believe our way is the better way, and we want to share that.”

“By murder and oppression,” spat the boy.

“How many innocent people have your father murdered?” asked Kasethen.

“Well, he never hung disembowelled bodies along the city walls!”

“No, he only put heads on spikes on the Town Square and hung hands from thieves above the gates,” Kasethen drawled. Then he sighed. “What the Vasaath did that night was deplorable, I agree, but he did it to avert a much larger battle. He killed about what, a hundred men? Had your army made it until dawn, you would have slaughtered our army, and our army would have slaughtered yours. That bloodbath was stopped because of what he did.”

“And what about the city?” Sebastian’s voice was shaking, on the brink of sobs.

“He did not cause the civil unrest,” said Kasethen. “He used it, but he did not cause it.”

“But how?” the boy cried out. “How could it be?”

“That is the price of greed,” said Kasethen. “Your father, and your forefathers, have all built this empire of greed. This is what oppression looks like. Sooner or later, the charade had to end. The kettle boils over. No people would ever accept being treated this unfairly forever.”

Sebastian pulled his knees to his chin and cried.

Kasethen tightened his jaw, sighed, and rose. “You are young, Sebastian. Don’t let your forefathers’ mistakes become yours. The Vasaath is a man of his words, but his patience is thin. Don’t try it. Your submission is only a formality, but it will save your life.” With yet another sigh, he turned.

“Please, don’t leave me alone,” sobbed the boy quietly.

“My boy, you’re not alone,” said Kasethen before he left the dark and dank dungeons.

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