A Restless Spirit

Chapter 19|4 mins read

The soft candlelight cast a faint shadow of Xander on the pale wall as he tiptoed into his chamber. The boy took soft steps so as to not wake his father. Xander had slipped out without Bahrayni’s permission and did not want to get caught slipping back into his room past midnight. So far the boy had succeeded in raising no alarm. His mattress was just a few steps away. All that he had to do was slip into the blanket and no would ever know of his escapade.

“Do you really think you can escape your father’s attention?”

Xander froze in his spot.

Bahrayni sat in a quiet corner of the room, his visage illuminated by a single candle that sat on the table next to him. The short, broad figure rose from his seat and walked towards his son.

“You better have a good reason for slipping out of your chamber without telling me boy,” The father stood near his son and raised his hand, only to bring it down softly and rub Xander’s thick, curly hair.

The boy smiled.

“Tell me, did you step out to meet a girl?” The father was curious.

Xander denied with a nod.

“Then it must have been to meet your friends…?

“Father, you know that I do not have any,” The boy replied.

“It surely must have been to walk through the fire of Nowruz…?”

“It kind of was…”

“See, I know my son very well,” Bahrayni said with his chest puffed.

“But I did not walk through the fire,” Xander said in a slightly lower tone.

“What then?”

“I was following Cyrus and his aide,” The boy’s eyes lowered.

The smile on Bahrayni’s face evaporated, “Why did you do that?” The father asked, concerned.

Xander shifted his eyes around the room, searching for the right words. The father waited for a reply with his thick arms folded across his chest.

“I do not know,” The boy replied after a moment, “I was angry that he insulted our princess at the feast by turning down her hand.”

“So, you decided to follow him?” The father pressed.

Xander was silent for a moment. “No…yes…,” came the confused reply.

“My boy,” Bahrayni gently patted his son’s cheek, “You have done nothing wrong…But I do want to know why you followed a much feared warrior like Cyrus around. What would your mother, may her soul rest in heaven, think of me if something were to happen to our only child?”

“At first, I wanted to confront him and ask him why he refused Princess Hadiyeh’s hand,” The boy raised a fold of his dark grey robe to reveal the shimmering curved dagger.

Bahrayni was surprised.

“But then,” Xander continued, “As I followed Cyrus, my instinct told me to only observe and not to confront…The king and his trusted aide were roaming the streets of Behrouz and I was curious to know why.”

“Did you find out anything?” Bahrayni asked, with his ears leaning forward a bit.

“Not really,” Xander palmed the back of his neck, “They simply walked about the streets. The two of them went from the palace to the fire, and back to the palace.”

“So, they did not see you?”

“They did,” Xander replied softly.

“What happened then?” A look of concern flashed over Bahrayni’s visage.

“They ran away from me,” Xander smiled.

The father stood expressionless for a moment, and then burst out laughing, “Ha ha ha...The fearsome King Cyrus afraid of my boy…Ha ha ha…You have done our family name proud tonight,” Bahrayni hugged his son.

“Father, tell me one thing…Why are you still awake?”

Bahrayni relaxed his embrace and took a step back, “There seems to be a restless spirit hovering around the Royal Palace tonight,” He walked towards the open window in the chamber.

Xander followed close behind.

“The candles are still lit in General Hateem’s chamber, as well as in the chamber of the princess, and in the king and queen’s room as well.”

Three points of light reflected on the window.

Xander stared at the palace, then his eyes wandered to the streets of Behrouz that lay out in a pattern below. A thought struck him “Father...”

“Yes...,” Bahrayni peeled his eyes away from the window towards his son who stood next to him.

“I am wondering…How did Cyrus manage to find his way back to the palace?”

Bharayni thought about his son’s words for a moment.

“It is not as if he knew the way between the alleys, but he still managed to navigate out of them and head to the palace,” Xander traced an imaginary path on the window.

“It may be that he guessed which way the streets lead,” Bahrayni offered a reply.

“That would mean he knows how our kingdom is laid out,” Xander turned towards his father, “And that was probably why he was out in the kingdom past midnight,” The boy’s eyes brightened.

“I do not follow,” That father stared at his son.

“Cyrus is mapping the kingdom…Perhaps for an invasion.”

To be continued...

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