Everyone is Guilty
"You took forever in there princess with that man.. hope something worthy came out" Troy voiced as he laid on his side of the bed with his back against the headboard.
I had just finished a very hot shower and was changing into some nighties. "Well...I hope so too" I shrugged as I joined him on the bed.
"Hey" he leaned closer to me and brushed his fingers against my face. "Are you okay? What happened in your office..? Since you came out, you've been so cold and acting differently"
"Troy I told you I'm fine.... just having a little headache. I think i need to rest"
"Of course you do.... I'm sorry" and he pulled me closer to him as we lay down, my back against his front and his arms wrapped around me snuggly, planting kisses on my neck.
His arms tightened around my stomach area as he clutched it more.
Honestly, I wasn't feeling the closure. Intimacy at that moment was the least thing on my mind as my head was very much still processing the memories of the last ten hours and all I wanted was some alone time.
But Troy would never give me that. "Hey" he stopped kissing me and whispered into my ear, much to my surprise. "Let's go to bed. Tomorrow's gonna be quite busy plus you're gonna be giving us your report"
Hearing those words, I breathed a sigh of relief and before long, I had drifted off to sleep in his arms.
The next day was obviously going to be a very long day as Troy stated last night. Seated already in the king's office wasTroy, Adrian, Theon, Gaius and Charles as reported by Dorothy all awaiting the report of my strange encounter anxiously.
Even I, was nervous for just no reason all of a sudden. Oh please..... ofcourse there was a reason for me to be. How could I deny that?
This was a sensitive issue. How was I going to start explaining, 'hey guys, so the suspect happens to be my brother from ten years ago and he's back for revenge because he thinks the former king slaughtered our family'
That would be the most absurd thing to say. Imagining what their facial expressions would be, I chuckled lightly to myself. They would definitely think something was wrong with me......in plain words, they wouldn't believe me.
Think Aris! You need to come up with something fast. Remember the ball is in your court - my subconscious reminded me.
As I entered the office wearing an all white trouser suit with three quarter sleeves, I noticed they weren't as calm as I envisaged them to be. Adrian was tapping his foot on the floor incessantly, a habit he had come to love whenever he's nervous.
Taking a seat on one of the single sofas just beside Troy after every protocol of greeting had been observed, I crossed my ankles majestically and let out a small smile at them.
Troy stared at me, biting his lower lips in a sensual manner as I smiled back at him with a nod to hide my uneasiness and urged him to begin.
He cleared his throat with his clasped. "Okay, so princess, we need to know what happened yesterday in your office with the suspect who wanted to see you"
"All of it" Adrian added leaning forward and resting his elbows on his thighs. Rolling my eyes at his sudden attitude, I tried to keep a calm disposition as I spoke.
"Well, first and foremost his name is Alexander and from my findings I believe he's innocent"
The sound and manner of my response attracted a scary stare from all of them. Some gaped at me while others were......well just stunned.
"Innocent....." Troy narrowed his eyes at me wearing a shocked expression with a raised eyebrow. "How so?"
"He told me" I said managing to swallow the huge lump that was forming on my throat without being noticed.
"And you believed him?" Adrian asked chuckling, doubt written on his face and I nodded affirmatively.
He shook his head giving me the disappointed look. "Okay. But can you listen to yourself.... what's even his relationship with you? Because i don't think, you just go believing everyone without first being convinced.... how did he convince you Aris?" Adrian demanded, peering deep into my face waiting for answers I do not have.
There was a deep scowl already appearing on my face and I was trying so hard not to lash out at him in that moment. My hands were already curled up into a fist as anger was brewing, same with him.
He had this angry frown creased on his forehead with a slightly stiffened body.
I tried to calm myself down by looking away from him and taking deep breaths. He knew me so well and could easily decipher his satisfaction from my eyes.
"Adrian I am not a child to be tossed about. I know my left from right" I spoke through gritted teeth with a low growl before Troy had to halt my further actions.
"Actually, princess if he's innocent as you said, what evidence does he have to show? Who then, are the real culprits?" He switched questions when he studied my body's language endearing a deep scowl from Adrian.
Taking in deep breaths, I crossed my arms against my chest and relaxed back to the chair. "The responsibility I was saddled with was to get information out of the suspected criminal.... Right?" I reminded them of my assignment and they all nodded in tandem.
"So what's the fuss all about now?" I glared at Adrian who huffed, rolled his eyes at me and looked away. Such a childish attitude, I mentally said.
"I'm sorry your majesty. Please carry on"
"Thank you Gauis.... Like I said, he was wrongly accused and arrested. The other three guys who were caught with him are actually the real culprits" I lowered my eyes touching the lapel of my jacket, avoiding all eye contacts.
The weight of the lie I just told was already heavy on me as my heart beat began racing ten times than normal. Guilt encumbered me and frightening thoughts raced through my mind.
"Doesn't seem so to me, as a matter of fact, I feel Alexander or whatever he's called is the leader" Adrian countered my explanations, stating his points with so much certainty.
At this point he was acting so impossible to convince but I ignored his annoying remarks. I knew he always had a soft spot in his heart for the kingdom of Doxa.
"So are you saying, these people don't even know each other from anywhere because they sure comfortable and act like buddies?" Charles raised a questioning brow at me as I let out a nervous high pitched laughter, though it was brief.
"Exactly. Mere coincidence and guys just being guys" I smiled, still maintaining my demeanor.
"Then why didn't they say anything all this while and preferred to be tortured like they were in a clique or something...." Theon voiced out as Troy took a relaxing position on the couch exhaling deeply.
I wondered what was going through that head and mind of his.
"Well, I really don't know the reason" I shrugged a little "But you can ask them. I guess they will be willing to talk to us now"
For a moment there, I had hoped I was doing very well in convincing them that Alex was actually innocent and not related to the other prisoners.
I felt like a lawyer defending the wrong cause and I hated myself for it.
But this was the only way. Troy would never waste a second to have Alex executed if he got to find out, he was the one behind all the fire incidences.
Also, considering the fact that the continous unrest and out of the blues fire outbreak had caused panic and pains to our citizens, causing them to loose faith in the crown which was a bad sign. I had to protect my brother at all cost.
Troy's head was buried in his hands, massaging his temples. He was exhausted mentally and emotionally and it was pretty much obvious.
Rian was tapping his feet on the floor again in an annoying manner with his head rested against the chair and his head upwards facing the ceiling.
Charles kept running his hand through his lower lip in deep thoughts. They were processing and digesting the situation and it made me feel more delinquent.
As for the others, their expressions were unreadable and they looked normal without any demonstration before Adrian broke the brief silence that befell the room drawing our attention back to the issue on ground.
He must have reasoned it in a different light because when he sat up and stared at me, I couldn't help but notice the smug smile that was forming on his lips.
It's going to be an attack Aris, brace yourself. The voice in my head whispered and boom, it was correct.
"So you're saying you really believe this guy...and you want him released?" He arched a questioning brow with a slight close lipped smile. "Where is he from by the way?"
"No Charles" he held up a hand to hush him. "Let her speak" and Charles relaxed letting out a harsh breath.
He asked me again eyeing me warily. He knew what he was doing and I understood all of his games when Troy's deep voice infiltrated the whole room.
"How the hell is she supposed to know that Adrian?" Troy growled at him with a budding anger.
"Why wouldn't she?" Adrian snapped back in anger. "She seems to know Alexander or whatever a little too well. Can't you see it?" He spoke while darting his eyes at me skeptically with his voice laced with sarcasm.
"Come on man, you've got to stop. This is called harassment and she's the queen, that means we believe her. She's working for the good of the kingdom" Charles stated, a bit angry at Adrian's character whilst the others just nodded like they all agreed with him.
"That should be okay....thank you very much love" Troy sounded softly after calming himself. He barely said much. "Theon and Adrian would have to interrogate the other suspects and find out what they know about the fire and why they started them in the first place..."
He breathed deeply, shutting his eyes briefly, he turned to me like he was appeasing the gods or something before verbalizing his next words. "Alexander should be released with immediate effect"
"Come on Troy, You can't do that. We can't release a criminal. You know how long it took us to find their trail and arrest them and now you're just going to set him free to do more damage" Adrian protested, in a high tone, rising to his feet.
"But we've got no proof that they are actually the ones behind the fire incidents?" Troy defended with a shrug as Adrian's shoulders fell in disappointment but he didnt budge as he shot another bullet from his mouth.
"Hold on" he raised a hand to halt every action "We don't even know anything about this guy but surely he's not from Doxa and we just want to release him because the queen said so?"
What the hell was wrong with Adrian? Why was he acting like an overly sensitive detective aIl of a sudden at this moment when I was already having my way?
He obviously wants to ruin it.... There's no way I'm letting that happen.......I better stop him.
"And your point is -" Troy inquired further with a raised brow, piqued and puzzled at Adrian's recent outburst.
"Can we atleast know what relationship our queen shares with this stranger?"
My breath seized briefly whilst my heart started to beat eratically again at Adrian's question.
Swallowing the lump in my throat, everyone turned their attention to me like they were initially under a spell or something waiting for an answer.
"And what if there is no relationship?" Troy reiterated countering his question.
Oh! my beloved husband, I felt like giving him a big kiss right now for having my back.
"Then why would he ask for her?"
"Adrian do you have a personal problem with this guy?" Charles yelled annoyed at his constant persistence as he turned and glared at him.
"This is me being diplomatic. I don't give a fuck about the human in question" he blurted out as Gaius tried to restore peace to the tensed atmosphere for which I was most grateful.
"I'm sorry your majesties and your lordships, if I may speak, I think we are all missing the point here" Gauis spoke giving an apologetic nod to Adrian. "The point was to get the queen to meet up with this person and see if she could extract some information from him... If you ask me, she's done just that. So every other matter is inconsequential. I'm sorry, just my humble opinion"
"Fine, that's it" Troy interrupted "This meeting had become unnecessarily long. Theon do as I have instructed. This meeting is now over and you are all dismissed" He declared as everyone rose to their feet with a nod and walked out leaving only the king and the I.
That was close, I released my breath thanking Gaius and Charles mentally.
To my amazement and before realization, Troy had pulled me up to my feet and into a very hot, deep and brief kiss. "Thank you so much princess for helping us. This means alot" he whispered with a smile after pulling away.
"Harissa, Thank you so much" Alexander clasped his hand in excitement. "I can't believe this?" He roamed his eyes over himself, jumping in full joy.
Alexander was released as instructed by the king and I demanded to see him. So right now we were seated in my office again. He was saturated with happiness and was quivering all over with excitement.
"You did it...."he threw his fist in the air frantically and repeatedly. "I knew you had the power. You've proved it. You're a strong queen Harissa" he stated, but I was oblivious to if it was a good or a selfish compliment spewing from his guts.
"I had to do what I had to do. In as much as i don't comprehend or support you, you're my brother and I can't watch you die again. It would kill me" I confessed with a shrug. Albeit, that was how I felt.
"So what are your plans now that you've been released?"
"Well, like I stated two days ago, I'm here on a possible mission and hopefully it will be accomplished because I've got you but first, I need you to believe me so that we could be on the same page" With that said, he handed over to me a file.
"Everything you need to know is in there. You can find all my investigations in there too"
I gazed at him intently and he nodded urging me on to open it but I was hesitant. This was very deep for me - it was a big decision. My fear was if I eventually opened this document and peeped into it, there will be no turning back for me.
"Go on Harissa, open it.... so that you can trust me..... I need you to trust me" He said, leaning forward, nodding, wide eyes with a strong eye contact.
With my hands ontop of the file, I took a deep breath, broke the contact, closed my eyes and unlocked the file.
Slowly I began to open my eyes before they fell on the evidences infront of me. My body began shaking and trembling, with wide eyes and lifted brow, I flipped through every page in details.
After about forty minutes of reading through every word, every number and every diagram, my body slumped and tears were streaming down my eyes uncontrollably.
It was true. The former king, Constatine Vernadoz, my husband's father ordered the killing of my entire family and village.
Anger engulfed me as every muscle in my body became tensed and clenched, with an increased heart rate and a heart that was literally pounding, resentment was lurking around.
My fears. All along, I was hoping Alexander was lying - that he was so wrong but No, it's all in here- in the file. It was without doubt a comprehensive report.
"Hey....hey" He called out to me, strolling to my side and pulled me into a hug as I wrapped my hand around his waist, burying my face in his abdomen, sobbing while he stroked my hair gently, confronting me.
"Everything's going to be fine Harissa. I'm here now. For you. Nobody is going to hurt you. Together we can be an invincible force" He whispered with so much confidence and I nodded.
Was I being rational? Yes I was, well in my head. After a while of comfort, he pulled away and lowered himself to my eye level and cupped my face, brushing his thumb against my wet face and smiled. I reciprocated his gesture and asked,
"So what now?" He grinned and stood up straight talking some steps across the room towards the windows with his back against me.
"But the former king is bedridden"
"Who said he had to be the first to die?" He turned and faced me with a half smile.
"W-what..wait, there are more people?" I stammerd, surprised and he cocked his head to the side with a wide grin on his face. When he refused providing an answer for me, I continued with my questions.
"I'm confused Alex, Is this revenge about killing them?"
"Ofcourse there are more and yes, death is the only punishment that awaits all of them" He let out a wicked grin as I strared at him dumbfounded. He handed over a folded note to me and took his seat.
I held the paper in my hand, studying it critically. "What is this?"
"That's the list bearing the names of everyone we need to eliminate"
Immediately my eyes shot open as I stared at him, stunned and frozen down to my feet.
"Petrified huh...." He chuckled. "Go on, open it"
Terrified and shaking, not knowing what to expect, I gently opened the folded note and gasped immediately clasping my hands over my mouth in disbelief once my eyes scanned through the list.
My entire body wasn't making it easy as it kept trembling in fear. I shook my head over a million times mouthing the words "No! No!" whilst still ogling at the names. Each written boldly and deep black ink. There was no way we could kill all of them.
1. Lord Christopher Buros
2. Duke Dionysius and Duchess Isabella Argyros
3. Lady Marsalis Sica
4. Lord Cirillo Galatas
4. Duke Vitus and DuchessVera Toles
6. Lord Andino Adonis
7. Sir Horatia Hareoto
8. Lord Ajax Stathos
9. Sir Poualin Lawol
10. Duchess Rufina Glezos
11. Lord Brutus Potter
12. Lady Roscha Woodey
12. Duke Carlos and Duchess Caroline Vernadoz
13. Lord Ocean Carlos Carlos Vernadoz
14. Lady Ophelia Castor Kambers
15. Constatine Vernadoz
16. Sheila Vernadoz
These were literally the names of the royal family and most of the noble men and women in the land. I knew them, all of them and trust me when I say they've not been naughty.
Why would they have to be killed? And what roles did they exactly play in the Eathros Massacre?
End of book 1