Another Hero's Journey: Dreams - Part Five
“Wow, you’re going to be knighted tomorrow! Even we didn’t know that, not till the king stepped up to give his speech! Isn’t it just amazing? And of course, it befits such a hero as you...”
“I must agree, Brett. To become a knight may mean a lot of work, many battles and sidestepping that mysterious stranger Death, but it’s also a rank of great prestige and service to the kingdom. And you deserve every bit of it, Reuben. Though his Majesty has not shared with me anything about the matter until today, I did have this feeling that he was eyeing you for a touch of the sword.”
“Aren’t you excited, sir? Very few citizens get to be knighted without passing through the rigorous training required for such! I mean, first you have to become a page while you’re still a kid, and then move on to becoming a squire under a knight for a few more years before you even get to...”
Reuben wasn’t listening to a single word they were saying. He felt as though he was floating in a dark void, not falling, but just floating – a strange, ironic sensation probably brought about by the revelation that King Skarl wanted to make him a knight, no strings attached. The king had even announced it in a great speech to everyone in the dining hall, causing every eye to turn towards the white Blumaroo, who had been both flattered and uncomfortable by all the attention.
But it wasn’t only that. Reuben never got to hear what happened to his younger brother, and amidst everything that had been going on in the dining hall, he had briefly forgotten to ask Skarl again, or everyone else, which reminded him...
“Which reminds me,” Harold said out of the blue, snapping the Blumaroo out of it. “Reuben... I think I know what has become of Rohane and his traveling companion Mipsy. The first and last time I saw them was indeed in the main hall, which doubles as the throne room. They were being recognized, and I heard the king ask your brother if he wanted to be a knight in the service of Meridell, and Mipsy if she could become an apprentice magician.”
“You knew what happened to them?” asked Reuben incredulously, and his two companions jumped when they heard him suddenly speak.
The red Skeith nodded solemnly, a grave expression crossing his face. “I was about to tell you before the banquet, but I guess I can blame the fanfare for making me forget. Now here’s where the court gossip comes in, as I had to leave the ceremony before it ended. Before King Skarl could get any answers out of them, they were called away, apparently by someone who claimed that it was ‘urgent’.
“For a long time, they waited for Rohane and Mipsy to return, until a guard entered the main hall with the news that they were nowhere in the castle, or within the castle grounds. There were no reports of struggles or tussles of any sort, or any evidence of such, so we can only assume that they left willingly. In fact, three guardsmen and five maids claim that they saw the two leaving through the back of the castle with someone in a thick fur coat before they disappeared into the forest. Neither the guards nor the maids were able to follow them. That’s pretty much the only lead we’ve got, and even until now we don’t know who was with them, or why they bailed.”
“Did they try to investigate again?” asked Brett curiously. “My mate Law was one of the witnesses, I remember. He said when they were about to tail that strange guy, he and the two tagging along were gone. Almost everyone began combing the forest shortly after Law and his other buddies revealed what they found, but there was no sign of Rohane, or Mipsy, or that other guy. It was sweltering that afternoon, even... some day to choose to wear a coat like that.”
“No,” said Harold, shaking his head. “We’ve done all we could to find them; the most we can do now is wait and see if they’ll ever return, or even show up. But we have faith, and you must, too. Perhaps... they are needed somewhere else. These brave, young ones survived Ramtor and managed to vanquish him; surely they are still alive and will come back...” His voice trailed off, and he stared into the distance as though looking for the lost adventurers.
For a while, everything was silent as Harold and Brett accompanied Reuben back to his quarters. The white Blumaroo’s eyes were narrowed and focused on the ground, and his paws were in his pockets.
“That’s... pretty much it,” said the Skeith. “Unless you have anything else to add, Brett? After all, you know Lawrence Hilltop.”
“Nothing else, that’s pretty much the same stuff he told me,” the yellow Ixi replied. “Master Reuben –”
Harold shook his head. “Not right now... he’s probably digesting what we’ve just told him. After all, he’s Rohane’s brother. You’d feel the same way if your sister pulled a disappearing act like that, just when you thought you could see her again after she’s been away from home, right?”
Shrugging, Brett said, “You’re right. I’d be right devastated if it were Brenda. Well... here we are. Hey, it’s getting pretty dark outside. That banquet took a lot longer than I thought. No wonder the servants decided to already serve us supper before we left.”
“It wouldn’t take this long if it weren’t just some everyday banquet, which it isn’t,” remarked the scribe. “Reuben... you do know what to do for tomorrow, right? It’s really simple – get up before nine and be at the entrance of the throne room. The ceremony won’t begin without you. And you have to look your best, and...”
“You need a good night’s sleep,” Brett interrupted. “Don’t freak out just because you’re going to be knighted. Old Scribe Harold here has already sent word to your village, too, Master Reuben.”
“Don’t call me ‘old Scribe Harold’, just because I’m a wee bit older than you are,” said Harold, elbowing the Ixi. “Are you all right, Reuben? You haven’t said a single word in a while.”
Reuben turned to face the Skeith, and nodded.
“I’m... fine. I guess...”
“You’re worrying about Rohane, aren’t you?” When Harold said it, it sounded more like a statement than a question. “Well... it’s only natural, as you’re his brother.” Harold sighed wistfully, and added, “You know, I wish I had a brother myself. I was born and raised an only child.”
“And I’m the younger brother,” said Brett. “I’m afraid I have an assignment tonight, so I’m asking another good buddy of mine to take my station tonight. His name is Arvine, and he may look and act tough, but he’s actually soft as a marshmallow when he doesn’t have to fight.” He squeezed Reuben’s shoulder. “Just have faith. We all do. We believe Rohane and Mipsy will once again grace us with their presence... and we’ll finally find out who the heck that guy was.”
The white Blumaroo managed a small grin. “Yeah,” he agreed. “My brother... he and I have been through a lot together, and if he can save Meridell, he can do anything. I know he’ll be back. I think he’s a lot more like our father than I am.”
“That’s the spirit,” said Harold, clapping Reuben on the back a little harder than was needed. “And congratulations in advance, we look forward to working with you, Sir Reuben.”
“Hang on, I’ll be late for my post!” said Brett, his voice rising as he pulled out a pocket watch. “See you tomorrow! I’ll go on ahead.”
“You do that,” said the Skeith, waving him off. “And I’ll be off before First Order Scribe Justin kills me. He’s a stickler for punctuality, you see, and we’ll be having a meeting about tomorrow’s ceremony.”
Reuben nodded absently. “Right... see you two in the morning, then?”
“Aye, we’ll be here, don’t you worry,” said the Ixi guard, saluting and strolling east. Harold simply waved before breaking into a run down the west corridor.
That left the white Blumaroo standing in front of his quarters alone, the key cold in his paw. He slowly pushed it into the hole underneath the ornate handle, and turned. The door swung open before him as slowly as he had unlocked it, and he stepped inside rather automatically. After shutting it, Reuben promptly sat down on his bed and sighed, his head buried in his paws.
Harold and Brett had been right. Reuben was indeed worried about his younger sibling and the latter’s whereabouts. They had answered his question, all right, but it had opened up so many more. Where did the stranger take Rohane and Mipsy? Would they be all right? Would they even return? Still, they were right too, when they had told Reuben to have faith. After all, hadn’t Rohane saved Meridell? In that case, he and his comrade could take whatever fate had in store for them next...
But that wasn’t the only thing bothering Reuben right now.
Lying down without even bothering to change, he thought of what King Skarl had told him... about becoming a knight.
As a child, the Blumaroo and his brother had always dreamed of being knights, like their father. They often practiced under the tutelage of their parent and role model, and continued to strive even after he was killed during Ramtor’s reign of terror. But Reuben had to put that dream on hold when Rohane proclaimed his wish to finish whatever Sir Reynold hadn’t, and Reuben had to be left behind to take care of things, not to mention their mother.
Now the older Blumaroo had been offered a chance to fulfill that dream. In less than twenty-four hours, he would be knighted.
I’m supposed to be... well, real happy.
But why am I not?
To be continued...