These two words echoed in the hearts of all those present. Fear and disgust were shared among everyone.
“Your majesty, to do that to one so respected, are you not afraid of what others may say of you.”
The king though shook his head.
“Although I said it, I never said I would force Garn to undergo a Mind Frey. If he wishes to completely prove his innocence then I’m sure he will have no reason to refuse. But if there is something he has the need to hide and he’s determined no matter what not to undergo a Mind Frey then would that not prove that he is the one responsible for the incident. As I have said I did make him perform the summoning and he did warn me about problems but like I said earlier, I believe he should have easily been able to do this, don’t you all agree? After all, he is the most powerful mage in all of Treia if anyone should have been able to do it, it should have been him correct?”
Some of the group did have such faith in Garn and figured he could pull it off but with that thought brought suspicion. If he could easily do it and then something happened then shouldn’t that be his responsibility. The room began to split off into those who were now suspicious of Garn and those that weren’t and the room was quickly split with opposite viewpoints.
In the end though, all eyes focused on Garn. Now it was not a matter of whether he actually knew something more about the incident or not. Now it became about whether he would undergo the Mind Frey or he wouldn’t in which case whether there was evidence or not, Garn would instantly be labeled a traitor for not undergoing the Mind Frey.
But to be honest most thought he wouldn’t do it. To have every single one of your memories on full display in front of the people in this room. All of your secrets and all of your truths. Every lie you’ve ever uttered from your mouth and every sexual act you’ve ever done by yourself or with someone else. Every time you’ve taken a shit and every time you cried as a child and every terrible deed you’ve ever done. All of it would be on display for everyone here to see.
Garn to most everyone’s surprise took a step forward. He eyed his King with a bit of pity.
(Do you really no longer trust me. It was this easy for you to lose faith in me. Have I not been loyal? Have I not protected you from the outside evils since you were a boy all the way til now? What was it all for then?)
“My king, are you sure you wish to see my memories?”
King David smirked at Garn.
“It’s not that I wish to see them, it’s just that some of us no longer have faith in you. The incident was a monumental failure and we all just want to know the truth. Are you willing to undergo the Mind Frey?”
Garn gave a long sigh before he nodded his head in sadness.
“Let’s do this.”
Rust though interjected.
“Garn you don’t have to do this, there’s no way you’re a traitor. I absolutely refuse to believe it. My king, there has to be another way, something else he can do. Anything else and he’ll do it, please your majesty.”
David shook his head.
“It’s already been decided.”
Rust was going to say more but he suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking back it was Garn’s. The same Garn who refused to be touched and would visibly grow enraged by physical contact with someone else, he was now touching someone of his own accord. Garn looked gratefully at Rust.
“Thanks Rust, but it’s fine, so please step away.”
Rust wanted to say more but King David gave him a ferocious glare, causing the unspoken words to be swallowed back down into Rust’s gut.
“Everyone, move away.”
The crowd took several steps back curious as to what they would see from a famous mage. While others could barely stomach the idea of using a Mind Frey themselves.
The king waved his hand over empty air and a gem attached to a ring on his hand glowed a faint purple. The purple gem flashed for a moment and a box no bigger than the king’s hand appeared from seemingly out of nowhere and softly landed atop the table. The king waved his scepter and the box slowly opened revealing a fleshy creature inside.
Everyone couldn’t help but take another step backward seeing the appearance of the creature. Covered in greyish-green slime and covered with sticky tentacles. It had the face of a human with swollen eyes as though it had been stung by a mass of bees.
The only thing missing from its human face was a nose leaving a gaping hole that gave you a visual of this small creature’s insides. It was truly disgusting. Garn took a step forward and gathered magical energy at the nape of his neck. The creature as though sensing this energy began to sniff with the gaping hole in its face causing the hole to expand and contract repeatedly. The ugly little thing then began to lumber forward dragging itself with its tentacles sometimes and rolling over its own face at other times until it was face to face with Garn.
Garn swallowed hard before he increased the concentration of magic at the nape of his neck. The creature seemed to inhale deeply before stretching its tentacles forward and grabbing Garn by the head. It then proceeded to pull itself closer and squirm its way to the back of Garn’s neck. Opening a mouth that wasn’t really noticeable before, sharp and jagged teeth pointing in a spiral sunk deeply into Garn’s neck, causing him to grunt in pain.
Garn shut his eyes in discomfort and waited for it all to be over. The eyes of the creature began to glow and released a blue light into the air forming an image.
Everyone watched in anticipation.
The projection showed the image of a small boy, no older than 5 or 6. The boy was playing inside a house with a single toy soldier carved from a piece of wood. The boy played with his toy soldier gleefully while a delicious aroma filled the tiny home. His mother only a few feet away was cooking a meal waiting for her husband’s return when suddenly all hell broke loose.
The door was kicked in and several bandits tore the place up first they beat him and his mother then they committed terrible violations to the women. The boy lost consciousness while his mother screamed for help. At some point, the boy awoke to hear his mother’s cries, when the husband came home and killed a few of the bandits but couldn’t fight them all off and was murdered in front of the boy and his mother.
One of the men in the throne room couldn’t stomach what he was seeing and said.
“My king is this necessary, you can force the Mind Frey forward can’t you.”
“Silence yourself and watch. any more outburst will be dealt with severely.”
The man went quiet and the crowd continued to watch.
The mother and boy managed to escape during the night when the bandits got drunk and fell asleep. Some though awoke and chased the two down slaying the mom. The boy was close to a river and fell in, this was the only thing that saved his life that night.
From there the boy burned with hatred he grew into a thief and robbed anyone just to eat. One night he broke into a seemingly normal house that turned out to be owned by a powerful mage. This mage saw something in the boy and took him under his wing, teaching him and training him in the secrets of magic. The boy learned and grew slowly but surely becoming increasingly formidable.
By the age of sixteen, the boy was now a young man and had surpassed his master in magic years ago. His master had told him to go out into the world but the young man thought of his master like a father and didn’t wish to leave his side. Finally, though the young man left to travel the world.
He had many great encounters and slew many monsters and powerful magic beasts. He also crushed any bandit he ever came upon, thereby releasing pent up anger he almost forgot he even had. He saved thousands upon thousands of lives and lay with many beautiful women. His life was full of fun and great adventure but something was missing. The more he traveled, the more he felt it. This young man had no real purpose in life and so at 23, he returned to his master’s side.
His master though was dying of old age. The Master told the young man that he wished to return to his homeland and speak with his brother one last time. So the two traveled far, far to the north, until they arrived in the capital of Treia itself.
The Master led the young man into the palace and surprising neither of the two was stopped or questioned. Eventually, they came upon a room with large golden doors and entered. Once inside the young man was shocked at what he saw. His master and the king looked identical. The king held a small child in his hands no more than 3 years old. The child struggled free from the king’s hands and ran into the embrace of the young man’s master all the while screaming with joy.
The Master pulled at the toddler’s cheeks.
“Now now is that any way to behave as a prince.”
Later on, as the Master lay dying in his deathbed he asked the young man for a favor. A favor that should not be asked of anyone.
“Garn, my light is fading. I know you’ve had a rough beginning but now with the power you’ve gained and the riches you hold and your youth, you could basically go anywhere and do anything. The limits to your future there are none. Which is why this is really difficult to ask.”
“Master, anything, I’ll do anything for you, just name it.”
His Master’s hand began to tremble and Garn took hold of it releasing tears and crying something in which he hadn’t done since he was a child.
“Garn, the prince, my son, watch over him and protect him. My brother may be king but Treia is weak, far too weak, and the Azirians grow stronger every day. Treia needs you, someone strong, someone to be the backbone of this country and my son, David, needs you. Please, I know its too much, far too much to ask of someone that needs not be bound by such a burden but please, protect David.”
With those final words, Garn’s Master died right there in his arms. Through a stream of tears, Garn made a solemn vow.
“Master, I promise, no matter what I will always protect your homeland and even if the gods themselves try and crush me, I will always protect your son. I will protect him through the harsh rains and shelter him from the cold. I will be his sword and attack and destroy all those who wish him harm and I will be his impenetrable shield and put my life on the line and defend him as though he is my very own, this I solemnly swear to you.”
The people of the throne room were left stunned. They never knew that David wasn’t the actual king’s son but since the king didn’t have any offspring and he was technically the king’s nephew and he still had a claim to the throne so no one would dispute that. This isn’t what awed them though. It was the pure heartfelt dedication they all felt from Garn.
Many of the people there reconfirmed in their hearts.
(He really is a hero.)
Even King David knew nothing of his real father’s promise but he was truly left flabbergasted by Garn’s solemn vow. The king clenched his fist under his sleeve and thought
(What have I done.)
The memories, however, were not over yet and showed Garn’s true dedication and fulfillment of his promise to the land of Treia and to the king and prince.
The king was nearly assassinated on a few occasions and Garn had saved the king each and every time. He dutifully watched over the prince and was like a big brother and mentor to the prince all this time. Garn gave up his future prospects and devoted his entirety to King David and Treia. Never once did he make one misstep or mistake and every time he thought something wasn’t right, he would honestly tell King David his thoughts.
The memories continued all the way to the summoning and everyone leaned in paying close attention for any clue of foul play or whiff of a spy.
Garn entered the summoning chamber and a moment later so too did everyone else. The inscriptions were carved and his memories showed how closely he inspected everything to make sure it was up to standard. It even showed him lying on the floor eyeing each inscription up close and running his fingers through every groove, every nook, and cranny.
From his memories, everything seemed perfect. The soldiers came in with the gold it was melted poured everything went accordingly. Finally, the spell was activated but even that seemed to go off without a hitch. The spell was cut off from the 88 mages and did the rest on its own, there were no discrepancies and no foul play.
Everyone in the throne room King David included looked at one another in confusion. Meanwhile, in Garn’s memories, the summoning circles had just arrived and Rust had just begun to speak, that’s when it happened.
The room filled with a blinding light and then.
*BOOM BOOM TSSS FSSSHH*
A series of spells went off and the room went completely black.
Everyone in the throne room had the same thought.
(What the hell happened?)