This must be a mistake.
Everyday after lunch the pages of Baron went back to the Quarters to get their chores. Usually their errands were written on a scratch board and left on their pillows. The duties could be polishing weapons in the armory or dish-washing in the kitchen. One lucky page was allowed to leave the castle to fetch supplies for the Queen from time to time.
But something was very different today.There hadn’t been a scratch board on his pillow when he got back from lunch. Instead, a scroll was waiting for him. It was sealed with red wax and marked with the symbol of the King of Baron.
This can’t be for me!
The first thing he did was take the scroll to Master Hass to make sure it hadn’t been put on his bed by accident. When the Headmaster looked at it, he pointed out the writing on the silk marker that was attached to the scroll. The letters were really big and in a fancy handwriting.
But it has my name on it?
It has my name and the official seal of King Cecil himself?
Something about the way the scroll unfolded between Chase’s fingers felt very important. The writing on the inside was big and fancy, too. His heart nearly stopped beating when he looked down and saw the name at the bottom of the page. Big curly letters spelled out “Cecil Harvey”.
Chase was so excited that he had to read the letter ten times before he actually understood what was written on it. It had official orders straight from King Cecil.
And I got his autographical too!
Headmaster Hass knocked Chase on the head a few times until the funny feeling in his stomach went away. Master Hass thought that hitting his students on the head was the answer to everything.
“Well, whazit say, boy?”
“I have to go up to the East Tower guest rooms. There’s some kinda guest that His Majesty wants for me to serve, I think?” the page answered, gold eyes growing large and round. “But why me? Why not one of the maids?”
“You gonna question the King’s orders, boy?”
The look on Master Hass’ face told him that ‘no’ was the only answer.
So Chase said it, “No, sir.”
“Then get your rear in gear, boy. If there’s a call to do your duty, you better get to it chop-chop!” The exclamation was followed by a startling hand clap.
“Does the scroll say for you to bring anything with you?”
“No, sir. It just says to go to the High Vista Room in the guest quarters of the East Tower. And to be there at four-thirty…”
Master Hass gave a quick glance towards the clock on the wall. “Which leaves you with ‘bout three minutes from now to get there!”
Chase’s mouth dropped open in fearful shock as he looked at the clock, as well. Before another scolding word left the Headmaster’s mouth, the page was running out of the door with the official scroll clutched tightly in one hand.
I can’t believe I’m gonna be late for an assignment from the King!! Why didn’t I open the scroll sooner?
He had never met King Cecil before. Of course, Chase had seen him from a distance. But he had never really talked to him.
I wonder if he’ll be waiting there for me? I sure hope he won’t be mad! They say he’s pretty nice… even if you do mess up on accident.
Running as fast as he could, Chase’s boot-heels squealed as he turned a corner. A few curses were thrown at the boy as he dodged in and out of the group of slow-walking grown-ups who were taking up all the space in the hall. He didn’t pay them any attention.
Finally, he came to the foot of the stone stairs and began to climb them in big leaps. There were so many stairs to climb in the castle towers that it took a long time to get to the top. And it always made him tired out by the time he finally got there.
Today he was too excited to be tired. The moment he got to the top of the tower, Chase kept running straight until he reached the guest quarters.
Turning the last corner, the page saw that the hall was very dark. There was no one there. Not King Cecil. Not even a torch was lit.
Did I come to the wrong tower?
Standing in the light of the tall window, Chase held up the scroll to read it again. And still, it said for him to come to the High Vista Room in the guest quarters of the East Tower.
That’s right where I’m at. I’m sure of it. But there’s no one else here?
A little frown crossed his face.
I wonder if this is a joke. I could just see Loric getting a big kick out of sending me running up here to this old tower for nothing. And making play that it was orders from King Cecil!
Suddenly, he felt sad and disappointed. It had been so exciting to think that the King was calling him to do something important. The thought that maybe it had all been a nasty prank made all the happy butterflies in his stomach disappear.
The hall was still dark. There was still no one there. It was very quiet.
Chase gave a little sigh and kicked at the stone of the wall under the window.
This isn’t very funny! I bet that Master Hass was in on it too. He seemed to think that the scroll was real. And he let me run off like that.
He looked down at the scroll in his hand for a long moment. But just as he went to ball it up in frustration at having such a prank pulled on him, he heard a sound. Like someone talking.
Jerking his head around, Chase squinted and listened to see if he could hear it again. But he didn’t.
Maybe there is someone really here?
The page began to creep forward hopefully. He placed his hands up against the smooth surface of a large wooden door. There was a layer of dust on the door as if the whole hall hadn’t been cleaned in a very long time.
Pressing one ear against the door, Chase tried to listen. There was no sound. Reaching up, the boy found that it was unlocked. The knob turned easy with a twist of his wrist. Even as big as it was, the door swung inward without having to push very hard.
Inside the room, Chase could see a flickering green flame on the far wall. He couldn’t make out much else in the dim light. Nothing except for strange lumps where a table and maybe a bed was. There were things leaning against the wall. Some of them were tall and some of them were fat. None of them moved.
The page curiously tip-toed into the room. Something about the strange color of the fire made him think maybe the best thing to do was turn around, walk out the door and not come back.
I’m not afraid of green fire! That’s all it is, right? Just weird green fire.
He couldn’t help but start to wonder exactly why it was green. And then he began to wonder who would want to make green fire. It did look really neat. But it didn’t seem to work as well as yellow fire did.
The page inched closer to the fire. Getting a good look at it, he could see it was actually a very normal torch sitting in a bracket on the wall.
I wonder if it’s hot like usual fire?
With his fingers spread, Chase reached one hand up, bringing it closer to the flame. He didn’t feel any heat coming from it, so he moved his hand closer. Just as he was about to touch the fire, it hissed and leapt up, growing brighter.
Oh no, what did I do?
With a small yelp, the page jerked his hand away from the green light. That was when he saw that there were a lot of torches all over in the room that were lighting up. All around him, green fire began to shine with a strange, scary glow.
I better get outta here! I should tell someone that weird things like this are happening!
Chase took a step back, turning to run out of the room. Instead, he bumped straight into something big and hard.
And the something gave a deep grunt.
“Hey there? What are you doing in here?”
Before the page could say anything, two strong hands closed around his wrists, half-dragging him off of his feet. Fear and motion made him feel sick to his stomach as the ground vanished from under him.
“I’m… I’m s-sorry! I didn’t mean…!”
“Doesn’t anyone teach human children better than to sneak into other people’s rooms?” the voice prodded.
“Ah..! Ah..!” Chase stuttered fearfully. Then he said the first thing that came to his mind, “Are the green lights yours? They’re awful pretty!”
For a moment, the voice was quiet. Then very carefully, Chase was set back on his feet. “So you like the torches, eh?”
The boy wasn’t sure why he was put down. But he did hope that the voice wasn’t angry at him because the owner of it sounded very big and scary.
“Ye… yessir…” Nodding and letting out a deep breath, the boy blinked up.
The green fire-light made the huge man in front of him look a little bit ghostly. Chase had never seen a ghost before. But if he had, he was sure this was sorta what one would look like. Especially the way the man’s eyes glowed in the darkness.
-Great darkness seeking the light…-
A shudder ran through Chase’s body as his eyes locked with the strangers’. The visions came as they always did.
This man was important. Very important. Very powerful.
And someone that Chase felt like he had met before. Long long ago.
-Sorrow… guilt… shame… scorn… rejection…-
His golden eyes grew wide as he felt his lower lip begin to tremble.
This man was terribly alone.
A lot like me.
“What?” the man blinked down with a confused frown. Somehow, he didn’t look so scary when he was confused.
“You’re all alone here? So am I, mostly.”
The white-haired man didn’t look happy. But not too many people were happy when Chase asked about the things he saw in his visions.
People didn’t like to admit to the things he could see.
“Well, I’m not all alone right now… because you are here. Though you should not be,” the man frowned.
The page tilted his head with a look of question.
“Must I spell it out for you, child? Now go on… get out of here,” he pointed towards the door.
The boy remained staring and blinking up.
Seeing this, the man’s mouth curved down with a grumpy expression, “Don’t you know I eat little kids for breakfast?”
A jolt ran through Chase’s body. The words came to his lips before he could stop them.
“That’s not true.”
“Eh?” The green eyes focused on him again, narrowing.
Chase swallowed, “You fibbed. Fibbing isn’t nice.”
“Fibbed?” When the man spoke again, it was slow as if speaking a word he had never said before, “What is… ‘fibbed’?”
“It means you said something that is not true.”
“No I didn’t!” the man protested.
“There, you did again!” the boy pointed with a hint of pride.
“Lying isn’t nice! You shouldn’t say things that aren’t true, you know?”
“Look here,” the man scowled, gently taking Chase by one arm and moving him towards the door. “I told you once – you shouldn’t be here. So why don’t you go and find somewhere less dangerous to play?”
Just as the boy tried to protest, the scroll fell out of his pocket, on to the floor. The man looked at it with a funny expression on his face. Then he leaned over to pick it up. The flames in the room grew brighter to let him read better.
“Where did you get this?” he finally asked.
“It was my chore assignment for today, sir.”
“So what are you trying to say?” The man flipped the scroll shut with a practiced motion. “Cecil assigned you to act as my servant?”
Chase nodded. He was not sure how to address someone who didn’t refer to King Cecil with a proper title.
“I see.” The green eyes softened somewhat, “I thought you might have come to my room to steal something. I seem to attract thieves as of late.”
“N-no sir! I’m not a thief! I’m a page!”
“Page?” the man mused. “Funny thing to name yourself after a piece of paper in a book.”
Chase blinked. Then shook his head again, a half laugh rising in his throat. “No.. no… not that kinda page!”
“Yeah! You know? A page is a knight-in-training!”
“Is that so?”
“Yes sir! I’m training to be a knight under the service of King Cecil himself!”
“I see. I still don’t understand what that has to do with books though,” the man frowned slightly.
Chase frowned too, getting confused. “You’re strange.”
“Thanks,” the word was followed with a soft grunt. His expression looked a little sad.
“It’s not a bad sorta strange though! Really!” the boy nodded up and down quickly.
The man’s mouth folded into a firm line as he sat down on the edge of the bed. “So you’re sent here to..?”
“Serve you, of course! I can do lots of things! Anything you want me to do!” Chase gave a hopeful look.
“I don’t want anyone to serve me.”
The boy’s face fell, “But… it’s on orders of King Cecil…”
“I’ll get them changed. I don’t want anyone to serve me.”
“I won’t be any trouble, I promise!”
“Especially not a child…”
“I may be little but I know all the places in the whole entire castle and city!” Chase pressed becoming somewhat anxious. “And I know all the guards, too! I betcha I could find anything you want me to find in all of Baron if you just asked! Go ahead and ask me!”
“What did I just say?” His eyes slitted dangerously as his finger jabbed sharply at the air with each sentence, “I don’t want a page. I don’t want someone to serve me. I can find my own way around town. And you are dismissed.”
The boy’s golden eyes grew round and sad.
The white-haired man suddenly choked, coming under the full force of the boy’s pitiful gaze, “Eh! Stop looking at me like that!”
Chase whispered very slowly, “But… you… you shouldn’t be left all alone.”
“I like it that way!”
“No you don’t.”
“Listen to me…” A hint of frustration clouded the man’s face. “I don’t want to be bothered. And I don’t think you want to bother me. You have no idea who I am.”
Chase tilted his head, “Yes I do.”
The glowing green eyes turned to meet the golden gaze. This time, the man seemed to look deeper. A chill ran through Chase’s body as he felt something pressing upon his mind… something very big… something very powerful… He was scared but he tried not to show it.
“How interesting,” a musing expression came to the man’s face. “Those eyes… you can really see?”
The boy’s mouth fell open in surprise. Somehow the stranger had figured out about his visions by just looking at his eyes. No one had ever done that before. It was if the man could see things, too.
Chase swallowed and nodded.
“That is unusual…”
The page had heard people say that sort of thing about him a whole lot. But this was the first time someone had said it and not meant it in a bad way.
“What’s your name, boy?” the white-haired man leaned forward slowly.
“Chase Wescott, sir.”
A frown crossed the man’s face. “Well, my name is not ‘sir’. And if you’re gonna be… serving…. me, that’s the first thing you better remember. I’m not ‘sir’… and I’m certainly not ‘Master’. Got that?”
“Yes, si– … er… I mean…?” The boy suddenly paused. He realized he did not know the man’s name.
“What?” the man chided softly. “I’d think that Vision of yours would at least tell you what to call people.”
The boy frowned, shaking his head, “Nah… nothing like that.”
“Well, in that case, I’ll give you one last chance to back out before you seal your fate,” a grin slipped across the stranger’s face as he spoke. “I am King Cecil’s brother, often known as Golbez Benjamin Ya. But if you’re gonna call me anything, I prefer the name ‘Ben’, okay?”
“G..ol…bez? As in–” The boy’s heart suddenly plummeted straight down to his feet as a cold fear gripped him.
The Man of Darkness Golbez?
“Yes. Golbez. The very same,” The man set his chin sternly, “Why? What’s wrong?”
“But… I thought Golbez was supposed to be a bad guy?!” Chase blurted quickly. “You don’t seem all that bad to me!”
Green eyes widened in absolute surprise.
The boy blinked up, waiting for an answer.
“Well… ah… you have a chance to leave now if you want to,” Ben responded somewhat uncertainly. “Ordering you here was all my brother’s grand idea. I knew nothing about having a page-servant assigned to me. But I won’t keep you here if you don’t feel like you can… well… now that you know who I am and all…”
He really doesn’t want to be alone, no matter what he says… even if he is Golbez.
A look of determination fell on Chase’s face, “My Liege ordered me to serve you. So that’s what I’m gonna do.”
“Really!” the boy chirped, rocking back on his heels.
I can’t leave. Something feels like… I’ve met him before. I know him somehow. But I don’t know why.
Chase lifted his eyes and asked, “So… what do you need me to do first?”
The white-haired man scratched his chin in response. “You said you know your way around the town, yes?”
“Then I bet you know where…” Ben’s eyes were glowing again, though in a different way. “The very best place to get a double decker ice cream floater would be, yes?”
Chase took in a deep surprised breath. Then a big, bright grin crossed his face, “I sure do!”