A Pair Of Eyes

Chapter 18|5 mins read

The shadows of King Cyrus and Ginger glided on the clean cobblestone street as the two figures made their way to the Royal Palace. The bright fire of Nowruz reflected on their backs in a faint yellow. The cheer of the crowd echoed softly in the distance. The wide path leading to the palace was lined with brick mansions that rose no more than a storey high. The decorations of Nowruz swayed in the light breeze flowing through the street. Few people scattered about, high in spirits and flush with revelry.

A pair of eyes followed the king and his trusted aide from a safe distance. The figure moved between the long shadows cast by the full moon. He stepped softly on the street, hiding behind protruding nooks and corners of the brick mansions. Dressed plainly, the figure’s face was masked by a thin piece of cloth. Beneath the masked face lay a satisfied grin: the figure had escaped detection from either the king or the aide. He had been following them since they departed from the crowd near the tall fire.

Who goes there?

A voice rang in the silent street.

The figure froze in his stride.

Cyrus and Ginger stopped and turned around.

“I have never seen you before,” A drunk reveller approached the figure with unsteady steps, “Do you live here?” His voice wavered with the question.

The figure motioned the reveller to be silent and to go away.

“Who are you? And what are you doing with your hands…Is that some kind of dance?” The reveller swayed as he walked, “I too know a few…hic…moves…Do you want to see them?”

Cyrus tapped Ginger’s shoulder and motioned him to slip into the alley a few paces ahead of them. He nodded and followed his king.

The figure turned around and caught the receding figure of Ginger. He took a few steps and then sprinted towards the alley.

“Where are you running off to?” The reveller’s voice faded as the figure raced across the cobblestone.

The king and his trusted aide moved swiftly past closed doors and windows of the brick mansions.

“Has someone been following us, my King?” Ginger almost whispered for fear that his voice will attract attention.

“I fear so,” Cyrus replied in his deep voice, “Let us take the alley to our left.”

The two figures slipped into the narrow opening just as the figure entered the alley.

“We may lose our way if we take random alleys,” Ginger voiced his concern.

“Take a look to your left,” Cyrus said in a calm voice, “What do you see?”

The aide looked up and saw the palace silhouetted against the full moon, “It is the Royal Palace.”

“Yes,” The king had a smile etched on his face, “Behrouz is laid out in a pattern, like a maze. Observe the wide streets and the narrow alleys between these brick homes. The palace sits at the centre, surrounded by the kingdom. All the streets and alleys are connected, opening at the palace.”

“And that is why you are the King of Kings,” Ginger voiced his appreciation.

Cyrus saw another alley open up and turned into it followed by Ginger.

The figure had lost the trail of the guests and stood between two closed doors, contemplating his next move. His ears picked up a faint rustle followed by a pitter-patter of footsteps not too far away. The lean figure rushed towards the sound, passing by the mansions in a blur. He entered an alley to his right and stopped. The footsteps echoed nearby but the alley was empty. He took slow steps, trying to follow the faint sound. Walking past a brick mansion, he turned his left. The footsteps sounded louder, emanating from the alley. The figure increased the speed of his stride and followed the sound. He was only a few feet away when he stopped. The footsteps stopped too. A pet cat, its black fur gleaming in the moonlight, sat on the street. Its green eyes observed the figure closely. Anticipating no harm, the cat proceeded to lick its paw. The figure kneeled and gently patted the cat’s head. Just then, he saw two figures rush past a distant alley to his left. Springing to his feet, he ran towards the alley.

“My King, I think the person following us has lost our trail,” Ginger said in as low a voice as possible while following close on the heels of the fleet-footed Cyrus.

“Yes, you are right,” The King replied, “Let us head back to the palace” He exited the alley along with Ginger.

The lean figure stood at the junction of two narrow alleys. He looked to his left and to his right but could not find any trace of the king or his aide. “Looks like I have lost them,” the boyish voice whispered. He proceeded to step out of the short alley on to a wide street neighbouring it. The Royal Palace lay straight ahead, at the end of cobbled path. The figure slowly slipped the thin mask from his face.

The moonlight revealed the face of Xander.

To be continued...

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