Out on a balcony, in the early hours of morning, the Red Wizard stood thinking to himself. He was watching the courtyard down below. It was a small one, surrounded by workshops that were separated by neat narrow streets. Thin columns of smoke drifted into the air, spewing from the workshop’s chimneys. From these columns, the air held a thin aroma of wood smoke and a blue haze. Past the courtyard of workshops, were soldiers’ barracks and horse stalls. Despite it being so early in the day, faint shouts and hammer pings were in the air.
Mornings like this was the Wizard’s favorite time of day, yet in this one, he was somewhat troubled. It wasn’t the disturbed typed of troubled one gets when they’re worried. It was more of a dutiful type. He felt that he absolutely needed to get certain duties accomplished, but there was so much to get done, he didn’t know where to start. To know where you’re headed but not which road to take was a terrible hinderance and a bother.
The very first and obvious duty he felt he had to rid of was Jude. He knew the man would stop at nothing to destroy him. Of course, he knew Jude couldn’t possibly place a finger on him, but he could and would try to ruin his plans.
Ah, yes his plans. He had several small fairly insignificant ones before the new arrivals. A week ago, when he had received a letter from the High Officer containing details of a “special shipment”, he couldn’t care less who they were. He was curious however, and that’s why he had requested them as an audience. Now that he knew who they were, his entire agenda had been disheveled.
For his twentieth time, he cursed the High Officer’s name. He now had to scrap everything he was working on before (something he hated doing) and start on what was at hand. He admitted he did feel a tremendous amount thrill and glee at his new agenda, more than he ever felt in his lifetime, but still…
Like a shadow, Aman stepped from a dark corner of the wall behind the Wizard.
“You asked for me Father?” Aman asked.
The Wizard sighed away his deep thoughts and said, “Yes, I have orders for you.”
“For the new arrivals I presume?”
“Yes… They’re likely to be a handful. Especially Jude. Unfortunately, I created a great deal of wounds for him, but forgot to kill him in the end. A mistake of my youth I have to face…” The Wizard stroked his chin, calculative at his options. “But then again, I may manage to make use out of him once more.”
“What of Rebekka?”
“Rebekka? Hm… I may have plans for her, but I doubt they will be successful. Mason however, I have much planned for. She’s extremely powerful, but naïve. It’s hard to find that type of power at one’s disposal in these times. And the boy… ah, what’s his name?”
“Yes Wert. If my knowledge serves me right and it always does, he may have just as much use as the girl. But my plans can only be accomplished using the right methods. Here are your orders. Tell Security Sergeant Gammond to double security. I am confident that our new arrivals will not be escaping, but I have reasons to believe we may have problems from that Rebekka.
“And the girl, she isn’t to be harmed in any way,” He paused to raise a finger. “Not one hair, I say. Also, she must be kept apart from Jude. As long as she is attached to him, I cannot carry my plans out to their fullest.”
“I thought you would say as much. I included these orders went I sent them to be identified.”
“I can always count on you can’t I?”
“I am my father’s son,” Aman replied with a bow.
With a grin of amusement, the Wizard resumed watching his view from the balcony. After a few silent moments, he passively waved a hand.
“You are dismissed. See to it that Cecilia is woken and,” He cut his eyes to Aman with warning. “not as you had last time. She is your mother regardless of what you would like to believe.”
Aman dipped his head, with a notable grin, and sunk back into the gloom near the wall.
The Wizard sighed and muttered, “Specters. I swear he will be the death of me.”
As soon as Rebekka opened her mouth, the man continued, “Rebekka Pien. Magical Ranking… Medium leveled witch. Number 2231 is your ID. Step over there. You’ll be under Commander Bastōn. Next!”
Without warning the nearby guard grabbed Rebekka and shoved her to the right side of the room.
The “room” was more of an inner court. The walls, support pillars, and low arching vaults were made of rough-cut gray stone. There was nothing lavish here for the eyes to see. Wait, maybe the polished hardwood desk the caller sat at and the rich red-brown robe he wore were an exception. Actually, given the slightly annoyed distained look on his face he probably lived an extraordinarily lavish life himself and thought his job was a great deal of boring.
Rebekka looked around her but was careful not to make eye contact with anyone. Soon after their meeting with the Red Wizard, they had been grouped with other prisoners and transferred to this room. Some of the prisoners were sorrowful souls, having the look of fear in their eyes, but most of them looked hardened and spoiling for a fight. It was best to speak to no one, not even the hint of starting a conversation.
So far, what Rebekka had learned was that the new prisoners were separated into groups of three. Three groups, three commanders. From the size of the groups, and how many were left to be sorted, Rebekka also deducted there was an estimate of fifty to sixty prisoners. Twenty souls per Commander wasn’t very much, but who knew how many soldiers they already had under their command.
One fact that did puzzle her was the caller’s knowledge of her magical skill. Was he a wizard trained in the arts of the Seers? Maybe he had an enchanted item. Rebekka didn’t notice anything that he could use as an item of enchantment… Hmm, maybe it was his pen. However he done it was something Rebekka didn’t think was possible. She somewhat chided herself afterwards. In the realm of magical abilities, almost anything is possible, however each possibility had a different price.
“Name? Mason Taalak. Magical Ranking……. High level.” The man’s eyes looked up from his writing to Mason and then picked up the note beside him. “Says here that you will be under Commander Bastōn. He,” The man pointed to Jude. “will be under Commander Stratuss. Number 3820 is your ID. Number 5546 is his. Next!”
“No!” Mason said with panic in her voice. The guards began to close in. “Jude! You can’t– Don’t let them take me!”
Jude was silent and still… until the first guard came too close. The moment he did, Jude engaged a quick set of punches that sent him flying into a wall. A second and third guard moved in. Keeping his motions fluid and his footing light, Jude danced past their attacks while initiating his own. Within moments, the two were as the first guard, immobilized in defeat.
Jude stood from his kneeled position and walked back to stand beside Mason. The room was silent in awe. The caller, however, was indifferent. If was almost as if–
Suddenly the doors of the room burst open and more guards rushed into the room. Too many to count, too many to match.
“We were warned you may try something like this,” the caller said and stood from his lush chair. “Surrender or suffer a sore defeat.”
Jude cast a low glance at his surroundings. Rebekka saw his fist clench and knew that, no, he would not surrender. But she also knew there was another way out of this situation.
“Jude!” she called catching his attention. She looked him right in the eyes. “Don’t do it. I will look after her.”
One of the guards took this moment to begin an advance, but the caller lifted a set of fingers to signal his stop. Jude looked from the guard back to Rebekka.
“Swear to me,” he said.
“I swear.” Rebekka replied. “I will keep her safe, no matter what.”
Jude’s tense stance loosened. Without looking down at Mason, he said. “Mason go with Rebekka.”
Mason looked up at him. “But–”
“All will be fine. Listen to her advice and I will see you soon.” He looked down at her to give her a gentle smile.
Mason looked from him with tears starting to slowly trace down her cheeks. Rebekka nodded a type of confirmation to Jude and beckoned the girl to her. Mason wiped her tears away and, with a sniffle, ran over to where Rebekka stood before her mind could tell her otherwise.
Just when Rebekka began to feel relieved, Jude gasped. He held a hand to the side of his neck, where the feathers of a dart could be seen between his fingers. He crumpled to the floor the moment after.
“Jude!!!” Mason screamed. Right before she could run to his side, Rebekka grabbed hold of her.
“He’s fine Mason, he’s fine,” Rebekka whispered holding her tight. “He’s going to be fine. See he’s breathing. He’s alright.”
But none of Rebekka’s reassurances stopped the girl from trying to get loose.
“Let me go…” she sobbed. “Let me go-o-o. We can’t just let them-m t-take him…”
“No, we shouldn’t, but he would tell us there is nothing we could do. He’d want you to be strong until you see him again next time.” Mason looked back at her with teary red eyes and tearstained cheeks.
“You promise we’ll see him again.”
Rebekka couldn’t tell what they would do with him, or how long it would be until “next time”, but she had to comfort Mason somehow.
“Yes,” she told the girl. “I promise we will.”
At these words, Mason began to calm herself and dry her tears.
“Get him out of here and cleaned up,” the caller was saying with a look of disgust.
Next he waved off the guards, but said to a red headed one standing nearby, “Take those two out to the court, but, and listen well, be sure they stay together. The girl is not to be harmed in the slightest way. Notify the grooms to skip her preparation. Take the rest of them with you too. Be quick about it. Commander Bastōn is not one to be left waiting.” He sat and waved for the next person which would have been Wert.
Rebekka watched as two guards took Jude by his feet and began dragging him towards a door on the left side of the room. Mason couldn’t bare the sight and kept her gaze away.
“You two,” the red headed guard said, “get up and let’s go.” Rebekka picked herself up and got Mason to her feet.
“Eh, Riden!” the guard called. A blonde-haired female guard looked around for the caller of her name. “Over here.”
“Whatchya want Bouwer?” she asked walking over. “Ugh, don’t tell me–”
“I need ya ta help me with this lot.”
“Tuh, I help ya with every lot!” She placed her hands on her hips and shook her head with a sigh. “Alright, let’s get a move on, then. Don’t want to be late for first meal. Your buying me a drink for this one.”
The red headed guard didn’t look all too happy about this, but he didn’t reject the offer neither. “Alright!” he shouted. “Move ‘em out. Let’s go you sorry hides. Move it! Move it!!!”
Rebekka felt Mason take her hand. She looked down at the girl and gave her the most comforting smile she could. Together, they followed along with the rest of the weary prisoners through the door ahead.
(to be continued…)
Click Here for the previous post Rebekka: The Axon One (pt. IV)
Click Here for the next post Rebekka: Challenges (pt. 2)
© 2020 Alison Bankroft