Chapter 3 Part 1.................. ReUnion
| The Reunion
Sir William? Where is my old friend? William!?
A man entered the room where William stood staring out to sea from a high balcony set upon the walls of a tall castle. The great fortress was built into the cliffs above a city, a great, white city by the Silver Sea. This was the King's court.
Despite the Kings loud voice, Lord William was not aware that King Harold had entered the room. The Paladin was fixed on a far horizon beyond seeing, lost in his own mind. A Paladin is cursed to remember everything. The battles lost, the damage done, doomed to drink the poison once again. He now confronted a power greater than he and his faith was gone, his strength spent. "How" he wondered "how will I face him now"
Then he turned and was startled to see his greatest friend standing there. King Harold was speechless. William was wearing a dirty, frayed sea lords uniform and the man within looked worse. He had a short ragged white beard, his face was sunken, the eyes hollow and unfocused. William swayed slowly as if he might fall over, there was grey in his golden hair. He looked old but Harry noted that he stood straight as ever, head and shoulders taller then the king, and there was a light still within his eyes that hinted at great power.
The Paladin approached the King and drew his sword, knelt and placed the sword on the stone floor before the king. His head bent low in misery. "Your Majesty I am here. I am at your service". His voice was weak.
King Harold can only be described as a great bear of a man, a black bear and "twice as smart" thought William with a bitter smile," a big man with a bigger heart". The King had a ruddy broad face with a full black beard and dark blue eyes. He was well made for laughter and the joy of life was in him and without. A bonfire of a man who shined so brightly that both the great and small were all drawn to him, drawn to feel the warmth of a life lived well and a future full of promise. The King's court consisted of people that had once sought him out and upon meeting Harold they never left. . He seemed not in control of his booming voice nor the wild enthusiasm that was his nature. Truth is, he did not want to control them. The King generally liked himself very much.
The King stood silently for just a moment looking down at his blood brother. He seemed a bit thin Harry thought and that was the least of it. Years had passed since last he saw this man and he didn't know what to say and a hug did not seem right either. A betrayal stood between as hard as a stone wall.
The King had commanded in writing for the Paladin to appear before him. He sent an escort with the message, William would not have come otherwise and it made for an awkward reunion. King Harold decided to leave Lord William kneeling for now and Harry spoke from his heart, as friends do.
"You worry me," said Harry softly, " Staring off into to space like that. You think too much. You have been drinking too much and not eating enough, all this is not good for you; Come!" Harry put his hand on Jonn's shoulder and motioned him to stand. "We are not responsible for all the problems of the world, even the mighty need rest, we should allow the world to spin on without us for a while. Rest here with your family"
The Paladin rose sword in hand. An uncomfortable moment passed with just a hint of menace. William gave the King a sideways look, his hands were shaking so violently that he had difficulty putting the sword into its scabbard. "Now what the hell was that" the king pondered.
William felt trapped and desperately in need of a way out of the room, his addiction was catching up with him and a thought flickered in his mind to attack his friend and make an escape. He was a sick man.
Harold went to a cabinet and pulled forth a bottle of wine and one glass. "You cannot go on like this... drink." Harry filled the glass and WIlliam accepted the cup and drank its contents
There was a long silent pause. The King grew annoyed at the silence. This man had much to explain and he just stood there without a word spoken. The King deserved an explanation for many things. He was sure William would leave and disappear again if he gave him permission to go, which he had no intention of doing.
So, King Harold, First of his Line, and Master of sails drew himself up and he appeared to become larger both in height and girth. His eyes held a fierce light; his wild, long curly hair seemed to wave about of its own accord.
"He certainly looks like the king I remember and Ole Harry does not look pleased," thought William.
"Sir William. You will now report. Where have you been these last six years and what the hell have you been up to? You can trust me and our friendship, as King I have to forgive many things"
William stood with effort. "Your Highness. I have been at sea for five years seeking knowledge of the Vendell but I have spent the last six months resting here in the Kings City." The King's friend explained formally, this short answer was scarcely a report but there it was; John obviously had no intention of delivering any more information.
The King paced rapidly before William. "Just look at you.. you're almost dead." Harold waved his hands about in the air. He knew what he must say, painful as it would be.
"You should not have run away. I should not have found you naked with my wife. You should not have done a lot of things. Yet I have forgiven you and Mary as best I can. I need you now. This country needs you."
The King's countenance became serious as he furrowed his brow and stared intently at his old friend. This man who had betrayed him and filled his life with jealousy and spite. He felt again the sting of old, bitter thoughts.
" Where is Rose, William?"
"She is still with me. Though I betrayed her she never left my side. She took my ship to Anari-Anar to see her family. She demanded that I stay here and speak with you. She will be back when I send word."
"Now that least that makes sense." Harry sighed in relief. "She is a fine, steadfast woman. I am not surprised that she stayed with you and I am relieved she is alright. She could have sent me word of your where-a-bouts yet she never did. Her loyalty to you prevented it I suppose. How we earned the company of women like that I'll never know"
The two men stood close, their eyes locked on the other. There was an intensity in the room. But William remained silent, it seemed that Harry was going to go on for a while so Jonn turned away, defeated, and found a chair and sat. He drank the wine. Harry did not sit. The battle of wills was over and the King had won.
"Did I give our Seafarer permission to sit Sir William?" asked the King.
"No, you did not Sire. Yet I am at your service seated or otherwise" Jonn replied with a forced smile.
"Oh, the hell with it," Harry said. And he sat across from Jonn. "We are friends again"
"I've been searching for you. The last four years spent looking in every corner of the known world including the Three Seas. So where do I finally find you? Perhaps in an ice cave at the end of the world. Oh no, not in an ice cave or any other cave. No.. I find you not a days ride from my front door. Living here all these months without saying hello? Too afraid to face me... is that the way of things now?"
"A mystery to me is how you managed it... Oh, I know you can be hard to find when you put your mind to it. But, after all, I am the king and this is my city. I usually know the comings and goings of old enemies and especially old friends. You could have saved me a great deal of trouble and spared my wife much worry. Mary loves you, as you know too well, and so do my daughters. I have told my children nothing. They have always seen the best in you."
"It was Mary who has coordinated the search. Worried sick she was, worked herself almost to death. Do you know that woman traveled to the Palladium and she brought my girls with her? They are all up there now. The Queen traveling alone with naught but her two daughters as guards. They are a deadly trio but that was quite an argument. I said, "NO" to her going, of course, but Mary got her way eventually: wore me down over time. The Wisest invited her to see the Holy Lake that no outsider has ever seen, not ever, it is forbidden. That old wise man got around all those forbidden parts by bringing her into the family. She is one of The People now and a member of the Convent; all the oaths and secrets have been bestowed on her. She is a Priestess and I'll never hear the end of it. I find this all very alarming, I'm still amazed your Grandfather Ferdinan did such a thing"
William surprised Harry with a response.
"He is quite fond of Mary, she has gained his trust as few have. He considers her among the very wise. He will want to know how she could have betrayed you. He fears an evil lies here beyond lust."
"Harry, I have an offer to make that may fix many sins, my Grandfather has suggested a plan for our reconciliation. Hear me out before you answer." As William spoke Harry found the need to sit, his head spinning. This... "offer," was most unexpected and he did not know what to do with it at first but secretly he liked it. He liked it a lot.
"So... you make this offer willingly, without coercion," said Harold looking suspiciously at William, "or is this one of your games where you appear to offer much but in truth give nothing. In this, I do not trust you."
William's face blazed with fury and with what power he had left he stood and banished the broken man.
"No. That is not the case. In the past I had nothing that could make this right. Apologies are such worthless things and my shame is not enough. I owe you and now I have been shown a way to repay you for my sins. Do you think I want to have a vision of you loving my wife forever in my minds eye." He could not bear to look Harry in the face and turned his back to the King.
William looked down at his hands and noted they were still. "I hate the idea and I will not be getting any sleep that night. But I know it will fix things between us and stop the rumors. The people will see this as a generous show of loyalty on my part and it will strengthen the Kingdom if I have your child living as a part of my house. Do this so that the vision of me with Mary will be banished from your heart. Let us be jealous together if we must, better that, than the bitter resentment I have built between us."
Now Harry became angry and spoke loudly to Williams back. "You know I will refuse this offer, you know me better than that. I will not take your wife against her will... you damn fool. How twisted a plot you have made so as to have back your pride. Do you think I will betray my vows to Mary"
William was desperate, he would not give up. He faced the king.
"All the words I have said and all the dishonor I bear, though it has driven me mad, cannot repair our friendship as this will. Such a friendship as ours has a power greater than can be measured. In the treacherous days ahead we will need to trust each other as we did when we were young. I have spoken to Rose and she supports my thinking on this matter and... truth be told-- she is enamored with the idea. She has always been enthralled with you. You are in the secret places of her mind, but she has more honor than I. So you will have my wife and I will have my friend back. Your wife shares my shame, she will agree to this. Then we four can sit together with new secrets but without jealousy or covetousness."
Harry's face softened and he spoke softer words, "William," Harry placed a hand on friends shoulder," you have paid for your sins. I am glad to have you back, let not this matter come between us again. I've missed you."
"Harry, you are a bigger man than I, yet I will need my pride if ever I am to serve you as the good squire. Pride is what drives me. I beg you, give it back to me. I know you, you want this thing to happen, I see it in your heart. She will stand before you naked and you will not deny her. You have not the will."
William stopped there. He had run out of words and his brain hurt. The King had enough to think over. He wasn't sure what to do, all this was very confusing. Just then a decision came to mind, he liked it and King Harold stood up.
"Hearken to me Sir William. I, Harold, First of my line, King, Master of Sails, and Lord of all the Highlands. I command you, Our Paladin, to live in my court until I command otherwise. You are under house arrest in my house. I command you not to escape. I will hold you here till Rose and Mary arrive."
"Oh, and William, don't panic I will order my servants to provide you with all the drink you desire. Sleep all day, drink till you are ill, I will not prohibit you."
A long silence ensued. William slumped down into his chair appearing again weak and vulnerable. "I want to go to sea" replied William softly "that is where I belong now."
The King sighed and looked at the floor, "In your condition, you won't last six months at sea. You know that William. I will be back to see you soon". King Harold turned quickly and left the room.
The King had imprisoned one he loved best. He did not quite know what to make of it. He decided to see what tomorrow would bring. He sent riders to fetch his wife home, "Mary will know what to do" Harry whispered to himself, he found it a comforting thought.
John Frank Jonnswritings@gmail.com