By Alicia Steen
Dnovan paces the dining area of the family house restlessly. The room is quite spacious when the six brothers are not all occupying it at once, but as it is Dnovan’s pacing makes it feel quite small. Devin and Arlan sit at opposite ends of the long wood table trying to get in Dnovan’s way when he changes direction. Nearest Devin, Dwaine leans in the kitchen doorway engaged in silent communication while on the other side Druce stands staring out one of two windows, his back to Aedn who stares at the floor next to the front door of the humble house.
None have spoken words since King Certan confined them to the house. The family motto, which all have lived by since their parent’s death, is Live Together, Fight Together. To allow their sister to die for anything less than a serious criminal act grates against everything they stand for, yet so does acting against the king to save Delia’s life.
A knock on the door breaks contemplation. Aedn opens it, and in steps a well-known maker of trouble, Drest the maker of nails.
Dwaine greets Drest first. “Look who’s come to share his intimate knowledge of jail cells and the king’s justice.”
Dnovan quits pacing, but Druce doesn’t turn from the window. “State your business,” Druce tells Drest curtly. Drest starts to speak with sweeping hand motions, but Devin interrupts.
“Before we change our minds,” Devin cautions. All the brothers have had experience extracting Drest from whatever trouble he’s stirred up and escorting him to the dungeon. Knights cast lots to determine who gets to unravel Drest’s next scheme.
Drest nods and puts his hands on the sturdy table. “All this has happened before. It will happen again. Not even the Lady Certainna was safe from our previous king’s wrath, and it seems our current monarch has inherited his vengeance.”
“Stick to the facts,” Druce says, still without moving.
Drest continues. “The people of Camlon agree with you. The king will never overturn the ban on magic; to ensure the safety of our loved ones we must change the law ourselves.”
Dnovan’s deep voice resounds off the walls. “We stay true to the royal family and our own.”
Drest shakes his head, which creates an odd rhythm with his hands and his knees. Only his voice stays steady from long practice in sticky situations. “Fate has not given you such an enviable third option. We are entitled to rights, Sir Dnovan, and we must fight for them.”
Dnovan stands tall and approaches Drest until he stands not a foot away. Drest straightens, but at full height he does not come even to Dnovan’s shoulders. Dnovan speaks.
“I know what ‘rights’ you speak of, Drest. The right to act lawlessly, the right to shirk your duties, the right to drift where your whims take you. A man does have rights: the right to be ruled justly under fair law, the right to build a livelihood in safety, the right to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Your ‘rights’ are anarchy, Drest, and when you your days are utterly spent you will return to our king and ask for a place in his household.”
Devin rises from his seat. “You heard the man, Drest. Take your words elsewhere.”
As Devin escorts Drest from the house, Drest leaves a parting thought. “Your ideals still won’t save your sister, Dnovan! You will join me if you ever want to see her alive; fate has decreed it!”
Aedn shuts the door firmly. “What a loudmouth. Doesn’t he ever shut up?”
Dnovan leans on the table. “I’ve decided. Here’s what we’re going to do.”
While the Laine brothers hold conference, King Certan confides to his trusted servant and friend Mernan in the king’s chambers.
“I do not have a choice, Mernan. The Lady Delia herself confessed to using magic, and the law is clear.”
“Yet it remains, sire, that Lady Delia used magic to protect Camlon. She saved many lives by her actions.”
“Magic is power, and power corrupts. If wizards are allowed to use magic feely all of Camlon will dissolve into chaos like it had before my father’s time.”
“I have used magic before in your presence; at times powerful magic.”
“Yes, Mernan, but you use it only in great need and never in such a public manner. I wish more than anyone this were not necessary, but I have a duty to protect my people.”
Mernan bows his head regretfully. “Yes, sire.” At that time Sir Morcant enters desiring to speak. Mernan leaves the room so trusted nephew and respected uncle can speak in private.
King Certan speaks first. “If this is about the Lady Delia, my decision is final.”
“The law is wrong, uncle. Not every wielder of magic is bent on destroying Camlon, as Lady Delia proved mere hours ago.”
“And how long will it be before her power goes to her head, and she betrays us as Lady Certainna did?”
“You cannot compare Delia’s situation to your sister’s. My mother was scared, she acted in fear of what would surely happen if your father should discover her abilities. If you show Delia mercy instead of trying to kill her the same will not happen.
King Certan shakes his head sadly. “I cannot take that chance, Morcant. The lives of my people are at stake.”
Sir Morcant does not want to believe what his ears tell him. “And what of those in Camlon who use magic? Are they not your citizens as well?” Morcant shakes his head in disbelief. “You do not even believe your judgment is just. You say you have no choice, but in my eyes you have already made it.” Morcant moves to the door of the king’s chambers. “You have told yourself that magic is evil for so long you no longer see people, only monsters.” Morcant shuts the door behind him firmly.
“You have made the right choice, sire,” Sir Khad says. “Magic was even able to corrupt your father in his last moments. You cannot spare any of them.”