Another Hero's Journey: Dreams - Part Four
“You look absolutely dashing, milord,” said Brett, bowing so deeply that Reuben wondered if the yellow Ixi’s back would break. “Simply marvelous! Astounding! Truly the epitome of heroism! The quintessence of majesty! The –”
The white Blumaroo rolled his eyes and glanced down at his chosen outfit. He had worn the blue jacket with gold trim and matching epaulets over a white shirt with a large collar bordered by fine golden thread, cobalt trousers that were so long that they had to be tucked into his gilded black boots, and for the heck of it, he clipped a single gold hoop in his left ear. He wondered for a fleeting second if Brett was being paid not only to keep him safe but also to compliment him every chance he took because he was a special guest.
“Right,” said Reuben, hiding a smile. Sure, it was corny in a way, but he was somehow enjoying Brett’s tirade of praises. Then again, if he showed that he liked it, it would give the guardsman the impression that Reuben was being a bit too egotistical, and he didn’t look like the kind of guy who was good at keeping secrets. “So... erm, we head for the dining hall now, right?”
“Ah, Lord Reuben, you look absolutely dashing!”
“What the – Mr. Kingsrock?”
The red Skeith eyed Reuben critically at first before breaking into a pompous grin and clapping the Blumaroo on the back. “You are ready, I presume? Very good choice of clothes, sir, I might add. And please, feel free to call me Harold.” Judging from how overly clean and well-pressed Harold’s usual Second Order Scribe uniform looked, Reuben concluded that it was a spare one reserved for special occasions like this. Either that or he got a really quick servant to get his outfit washed, dried and pressed.
“Aye, now we must be off!” said Brett. “Scribe Kingsrock and I shall escort you to the hall. Is there anything else you will need before we go?”
Reuben shrugged. “Not really.”
“Good! I’ll lead the way!”
“No, no, Brett, I’ll lead the way; you keep a close watch on our esteemed guest.”
“Right, sorry. Don’t worry, you’re in good hands – er, hooves, Lord Deivrann – Terraflare – whatever. Please forgive my less than dignified choice of words, sire.”
Before he could control himself, the Blumaroo ended up grinning at this. “Nah, no problem, Brett. Deivrann, Terraflare, does it really matter? Deivrann’s just our old name, Terraflare’s the new, and it’s not like others have the same last name as we do, besides our relatives. Sheesh.” Of course, he didn’t add that he was also grinning because of the attention he was getting.
Especially when they started walking through the corridors of the castle, passing nobles who would either start whispering into each other’s ears, stare after Brett and Harold’s charge, or both, every step of the way. Reuben couldn’t resist the small smile – which was more of a smirk – that was slowly forming on his face with every tidbit of attention he got.
As they passed by a huge tasseled tapestry depicting a few knights riding into battle, clad in full combat livery and heralded by a young squire bearing the flag flashing the official Meridellian colors, the white Blumaroo’s thoughts wandered to his younger brother again. I bet Rohane’s been through all this... after all, if he saved Meridell, he probably got a bigger ceremony and such...
Still, I wish I could’ve been there to see it...
“Something wrong... er, Reuben?”
Reuben blinked and shook his head as Harold’s voice pulled him out of his nostalgia. “N – no, not really... oh, have you met Rohane – my brother, or his friend Mipsy? You know...”
“I only wish.” The Skeith sighed wistfully. “I do remember seeing a glimpse of them in the main hall, where the king praised them for their work. There were many others around too... but the ceremony didn’t take long. Rohane and Mipsy –”
“The Dining Hall, sirs,” interrupted Brett. Reuben suddenly had the fleeting urge to strangle the yellow Ixi guard, who now talked with the two Draiks standing on either side of the gilded mahogany and oak double doors with spears almost as long as Reuben was tall. It didn’t take long for each Draik to take one door handle and pull them open, revealing the Dining Hall, which was buzzing with conversation and other goings-on, but all that was interrupted by a couple of Krawk heralds sounding their golden horns and getting everyone’s attention. When that was done, and the last few notes faded away, the taller one cleared his throat and bellowed in a deep, clear tone,
“Hear ye, hear ye! Second Order Scribe Harold Kingsrock and Guardsman Brett Ares present the honorable Reuben Deivrann, renowned hero of Trestin, Northwestern Meridell!“
“It’s Terraflare,” Reuben muttered under his breath. “Ah, what the heck, it doesn’t matter. Why do I even care?” Brett heard the Blumaroo and shrugged as they walked into the Dining Hall, aware of all the eyes on them and the nobles and other esteemed guests whispering among themselves. An Aisha maidservant, her long blond braids curled at the back of her head and held together with huge orange hairpins, led the three of them to their places on the long dining table where the king of Meridell was seated at its head before disappearing behind a door that was presumably the way to the kitchens.
Harold nudged Reuben, who blinked and quickly bowed before King Skarl, who was drumming his fingers on the table. The scribe and the guard followed suit.
“Greetings, your Majesty,” said Reuben slowly, enunciating his words with as much formality as he could muster and trying not to mind the sudden increase in the mumblings and wandering eyes in the dining hall. “It is an honor to meet you. I am –”
“Yes, you are Reuben of Trestin, are you not? Have a seat, have a seat. You must be hungry. I know I am.” The Skeith smiled, though he still kept drumming his fingers. Brett and Harold already took their seats, and when the white Blumaroo saw them out of the corner of his eye, he quickly did the same, slipping into the chair directly to King Skarl’s right as per the king’s gesture.
Reuben leaned slightly towards Harold. “Not that I’m begging for them, but shouldn’t there be... like, speeches and stuff? I dunno... sure, they trumpeted and such and yelled out my name for everyone to hear...”
“I think it would be much better for the lunch to come first, don’t you think?” said Skarl amicably, rubbing his paws together and smiling. “And then we’ll have those speeches you’re talking about. Don’t worry – I assure you, they’re as concise as can be. You’ll see in a while.”
“I’m... glad to hear that, sir,” said Reuben, twiddling his thumbs. “Anyway... do you mind if I... ah, ask you a question, your Majesty? I know it sounds really weird and everything...”
“Anything for the great hero of the village Trestin. Do name it, and I will do my best to answer whatever bothers you,” was the reply, which took the white Blumaroo aback. So these were the perks of being a hero, he thought, stifling a huge grin. He glanced towards Brett and Harold, who were too absorbed in a conversation with two Aisha ladies and a Kacheek who looked as though he worked under Harold, judging from the scribe uniform he wore.
The Blumaroo frowned in thought. “Umm...” His voice trailed off as he tried to mentally arrange his words. Sure, Skarl had given him a chance to speak, but the blue Skeith was still the king of Meridell, and technically, Trestin was in Meridell...
“Your Majesty,” said Reuben slowly, “you do know my younger brother Rohane and his comrade Mit – Missy – Mipsy, I mean.”
“Rohane has mentioned you quite a few times while he was here,” said King Skarl. “He clearly looks up to you.”
“You saw him?” Reuben quickly toned down his voice after realizing how high it had risen at the last syllable. “Pardon me, your Highness... but yes, I would just like to know if you did see him, as I’m looking for him. I want... I want to know if he and Mipsy are all right, as you can imagine, sire, I have not seen him in a long while, and I’m quite worried.”
He took a deep breath, and continued with the question, “Do you know if he survived?”
King Skarl furrowed his brows. “Indeed, I have seen your brother. I myself have offered him a chance to be knighted, to join my army...”
“He wants to be a knight,” Reuben mused, more to himself than to the Skeith. “Did he accept?”
This time, it took a little longer for the king to reply. He adjusted his crown and drummed his fingers on the table before saying, “Well... we were in the throne room, and one minute I was talking to him about becoming a knight, and I could see that he most probably wanted to, but then suddenly...”
But his story was cut short by the kitchen doors banging open, and a steady stream of servants and maids marching into the dining hall spilled out. Skarl’s head quickly turned to their direction, and Reuben found himself and his query briefly forgotten.
Clearing his throat to get the blue Skeith’s attention, Reuben said, “Excuse me, your Majesty, but please, what happened?”
“Is that the special potato salad?” asked King Skarl, waving at a couple of Ruki maids bringing in a large, heaping tray each. “Oh, it is! Do give my regards to that new chef! And to everyone else too, looks like this will be a great lunch!”
The white Blumaroo opened his mouth to say something, but shut it out of respect and frustration as the king went on chatting with several servants about the food. Just when he thought he could finally figure out where Rohane had gone...
“Oh, I’m sorry,” said Skarl, noticing how the corners of Reuben’s mouth turned down and how his brows furrowed. “I seem to have forgotten what we were talking about.”
“No... no problem,” was the polite reply through gritted teeth. “Majesty, please continue...”
“Anyway... yes, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about. That’s why I invited you here, Reuben of Trestin.” As he spoke, the king was already helping himself to the many courses laid out before them, but the Blumaroo was too anxious to think about anything else, let alone eating... not when he was about to find out where his elusive brother was.
Skarl seemed to be talking to a spoon of salad when he finally said, “With your strength, skill and bravery, you would make a fine warrior, following in your great father’s footsteps. You know, Reuben, it would be an honor if you would become a knight of Meridell.”
To be continued...