The wall opened up. Makron stepped out of the secret passageways and into his room. He stared at the Princess of Arrodine. The same portrait that was in the other rooms and hallways at the entrance of every secret pasageway. Except his place was much smaller. It was not a narrow servants chamber like that of a low-level servant, but it was simple still. The floor was made of stone, not marble, and his bed was lumpy. Even though Makron was an upper functionary, which placed him in a unique position to uproot some of the powerful figures in the nearby cities, he was still a servant. A servant, no matter what they did would always be looked down upon as having a certain status.
The laws of Arrodine were strict. Set to keep functionaries in their place. His predecessors were particular of this kind of thing, even down to the size of an upper functionary’s room, allowing it to be only at most half the size of a king’s own. That was, of course, within Arrodine. Many functionaries that traveled outside and had an income from their outside dealings procured great places for them to live when they were not working within the castle. But not Makron. He had been a bit naive in his neutrality. Playing it down. And in doing so, he refused to buy much land or other properties outside of the basics. Now he realized he had been stupid.
Makron sighed. He went into his wardrobe, and looked in it. There were a few nice cloaks; the only things he had that were of high quality. Cloaks were not involved in any set of rules or laws that were handed down in Arrodine. And a part of Makron’s past flourished in his attainment of those cloaks.
Taking his eyes off them, first Makron need a good pair of shoes. The cold stone prickled his feet, and so he picked a pair of nice black boots from the closet and put them on. The nice silk shirt he got from the room he woke up in was now dirty, stained from the dust and gravel that exploded in the other chamber. Makron changed that too, ending up using his best cotton shirt he had. It felt coarse against his skin, a huge contrast to the silk. The feeling stirred a rage in his heart. Have I been going through life doing this wrong? I have lost the pleasures of it. I have nothing of note. No personal possessions, really. No honor. No family. I have nothing!
Makron clenched his fist. He was angry at himself. Angry for being so naive. He looked back into his closet and sneered as he saw the ceremonial servant’s cloat. Before, he would wonder why most of the other functionaries chose not to wear them once they rose to a higher position.
Back then, he too did not like to be tethered down, to be looked down upon, or to be stereotyped. But he had made a decision years ago. And once he had, he would stick to it.
But that was then. Now after all he went through, his feelings were different. All he felt was disgust and anguish looking upon that coat. The things he had walked away from; the life he could have had. And all for a coat that would be handed to the next boring and lonesome guy.
Makron shifted his eyes back to the cloaks. He had a favorite among the many he bought or had made. One in particular was black with a deep blue silk stitched in the inside. He had never worn it before. He told himself every time that he could not. That it would be reaching above himself, a sign that he was no longer neutral and was seeking a way to advance, but now… Makron reached over and pulled the cloak over his shoulders. The item was custom-made. There were arrays etched in the stitch. He had invested almost all the money had accumulated for an entire year to have it made. And for someone in his position, that was a lot of money.
Makron placed the old stuff in the closet. He found his toolkit under his desk. Not the toolkit he commonly used, but one he kept in case for emergencies. It was something he was accustomed to doing in his younger days. He put it on his waist.
Taking out match, he struck it against a nearby object, lightening it up. He threw the burning match in the corner of the room. The match lit and burned old paint drawn array.The array lit, and soon the room was filled with the light of arrays, previously invisible to the naked eye, now glowing brightly.
Makron headed back to the wall he came from. But suddenly his eye caught the mirror. He looked. His skin was smooth. Makron looked to be in his early twenties. His hair was lush and dark. His eyes bright.
A fog shrouded Makron’s mind. He did not know why, but he felt as if something was off about the image in front of him. I’m young. Yes, I have always looked this way. No, but that’s not right. I am fifty-four years old! Wait. Am I? My… my memory is a bit hazy. What is going on?
As thoughts flurried through Makron’s mind, a deep green flame spurted from the symbols on the walls. The ceiling roared with flames. The fire hungered for the wardrobe, turning the rich cloth to soft black ash. A heat spread across the room.
Makron shook his head. It was best to leave first and then think later. He bled and wiped it on the wall opposite to the portrait of the princess, and when it opened, he went through.
It closed behind him.
A boy ran down a hall, he made twists and turns, a crystal torch in hand. The light glowed brightly, lighting up the way a few steps ahead of him. He soon came to an open area, where five men stood and a few others.
He handed one of the five men a message. That man was Barko. Barko took the message and sent the boy off. He opened it, took a quick glance, and crumbled it. The message turned into a wet mess with one press as he flooded his hands with spiritual energy.
“It seems the chancellor is trying to sneak past our enclosure.” He said aloud to no one, and yet, to all of them.
One of the members, his hair grey and eyes a dull green looked over. “We must close this up and fast. The entrances are not damaged, but some of the walls are. It will give the idea that we have secret passageways, and the others will get ideas. They cannot know that they exist and start hacking at the walls to gain access.” This man was number two of the upper functionaries.
“Hmph. Even if they did, Arrodine would just target them as an enemy, and the seal soldiers would move to kill them. No second chances.” Said Fokner.
“Let me guess, you sent one of your flunkies to test it out. That would be, of course, the only way you would know that so surely. I feel sorry for your underling’s family.” Another said coolly. He was number five. His face was calm, but there was hatred within his eyes.
Fokner coughed. Nearly choking on the pipe he had in his mouth.
Barko did not pay much attention to any of them. He walked into the large opening, entering a burned out room. He saw traces of an array. They were vividly complex. “You think this was seven? You think Makron had a secret hall within the secret passageways that none of us knew of? Is that even possible?”
“Or it could have been an eighth.” Jamk piped up.
“Stop with this nonsense. There are seven, and there will always be seven. No one needs a tie vote.” Fokner said.
He stepped in the room. Barko acknowledged the action. The others went in too. Bunch of cowards. Waited to see that I was safe after I entered to follow.
“If not an eighth, and is able to come into the passageways, you can’t mean a legacy holder of the First?” Number five uttered.
“Enough!” Number Two roared. “Its neither. This is obviously Makron. This… He somehow found this inner chamber and triggered the array. Such a place could have enlightened us on so many secrets. It could have made Arrodine shine once again. But that stupid little… He has done too much damage to our honor!”
“You really think Makron released an array this powerful and survived?” Number five asked, pointing to the two meter diameter spot a few paces away. Not an inch of soot or burn mark entered the circle. It made it glaringly obvious to them. “This power rivals number one. When had Makron ever been so strong?”
Barko bent down. He memorized the array symbols in that unmarred spot. “If we assume its him, we can assume he was holding back. For what purpose? I do not know. But we now know that he is dangerous. Should we put it to a vote?”
Number two had hatred in his eyes. He looked like he was about to spit fire. For some reason, seeing the room riled him up. Barko did not care why he was riled up. But the knowledge that it did did not go past him. He put that to the back of his mind. Right now he was certain that if a vote took place, four votes would be put down for Makron’s removal of his bond. A new member would be in his place.
Number five shook his head. “The problem is that we must find him first. Question him. Putting it to a vote when we don’t know the full story would provide a nasty precedent. Who here would want that?”
Barko cursed under his breath. He was not quick to things, but if Makron was issued a death warrant by them, he could provide the chancellor the chance to make a move he had been waiting for, and that move would give him an opportunity to provide a huge blow to the chancellor and to the king. Once that happened, he could pick up the pieces and significantly rise in power. No law against an upper functionary from being king.
But that statement from number five was correct. Even he did not want to create such a precedent. He may be in need of some sort of protection in the future. Everyone of the seven were against each other. There were temporary alliances, or just the providing of a momentary helping hand, but none of them were friends. None of them were close enough to entitle any sort of trust. All they had was precedence to protect themselves. Precedence and law.
“Search the room.” Make sure that we did not miss anything important. It could be that there is something here that the flames missed.” Said number two.
Of course Barko was thinking that, but he did not say it out loud. None of the others did. They were not like number two. They had no honor to worry amongst each other. They had plans to search, but if anything was found, it would undoubtedly be kept to themselves.
The five split up. The searched high and low.
Bark went up the dais at the other end of the room. It seems something was held here. The place is not completely burned. In fact the burn marks are much shallow. Must have been a much more powerful array here. A trap? Things like this are seen from some trigger sources. Does this mean it was Makron? A secret eighth or legacy holder would not trigger this array if they already had prior knowledge of it. After all, what purpose would it give them to do so. But if Jamk and Fokner trapped Makron… They did say that they confined someone to this area. There was a fluctuation in the essence of the earth, and that they were close to catching him. If he accidentally found this place, a lot would make sense. Barko’s face turned stern. Well. It does not really matter who you are. I will flush you out.
It was then that something caught Barko’s eye. Past the dais, closer to the edge of the wall, the floor was cracked. Something glittered.
Making sure that he was careful, Barko walked over to the walls, pretending to examine them. He had been bending down and up for most of the time. So it was not uncommon for him to do so again. He bent over, seemingly passive, and quickly pried the object from the floor. His strength was fortified, so it was a simple thing. Luckily the object was small. Barko did not take much of a glance before it disappeared into his coat sleeve.
Spending a few more minutes he left. The others did so too.
“Have the place sealed.” Number two spoke to one of his men.
Yes. Seal this place up. It does not matter anyways. I got something from it. If there are more stuff, its fine as long as the others did not get them. And once I have more power, I can fully search this place.
With all the attention dragged away from some of the key areas, Makron easily managed to escape the passageways and arrive near one of Arrodine’s many exists. Only seal soldiers guarded the exit now. And that was a good thing considering they were not looking for him… Yet. With his hood up, he left. And was out.
Makron had severed his physical ties when he burned the room. Only his emotional ties, only the thought of Koyu could hold him back. But that thought was not as strong as the bond that tied him to Arrodine. Makron knew that no matter where he went, he would always feel that presence of the bond.
It would always steer him back to the place he would no longer call home.