The King of Kalbem: Chapter 4 - Imprisoned
Updated: Aug 3
Chapter 4: Imprisoned
Will woke up with a headache. When his vision came into focus, he realized he was in a prison cell, and a tower at that. He went to the barred window to try to identify his surroundings somehow. He saw the mountains, but they looked different, and they weren't as green as he was used to. He had very little view other than the mountain side, so he wasn't able to figure out where he was. He opened his mouth to speak, but his mouth was too dry. He needed water.
He looked around his cell for as much information as he could get. He was in a small, conical room made of stone with one window. The floor was covered in straw and there was a door with a small barred window. There was a cot on the opposite side of the window. He spotted a mug of water and rushed over to drink it. It wasn't just thirst he was feeling though; the air was distinctly drier.
He looked out the window and saw the red of sunrise, but without the sun. He realized that meant he was facing west. Wait a minute, he thought, the mountains are supposed to be to the east. If they are on the west side, that would put me on the other side of the mountains, which means, he grimaced, I'm a prisoner of Tezel.
He looked through the barred door in an attempt to find a guard to question. He had no such luck. However, perhaps if he wasn't too heavily guarded he could come up with an escape plan. The roof was made of wood and the bars and locks were made of iron. Perhaps there was something Will could do with that. He was a metalworker, so surely he could come up with something.
However, it wasn't long before he found himself before King Frederick of Tezel.
“Well well,” Frederick chuckled, “it looks like we have the crowned prince of our dear enemy.” Will was genuinely surprised this information was known but kept his expressions solid, which the king smirked and added, “Don't even try to deny it. I'm not stupid. I know the son of Alexander and Elizabeth when I see him. You have the royal genes of Kalbem all over you. You look just like your mother. Except your hair: that’s from Alex.”
Will noted the king’s blond locks, “And yours too, apparently.”
The king sighed, “Yes, I suppose that makes me your uncle, but we try to forget that around here. I wouldn’t exactly describe my relationship with Alex as brotherly.”
Will had never heard someone refer to the king as “Alex,” but quickly recalled that he didn’t know where Jennifer was. “Where is Lady Jennifer?”
“I'm afraid she didn't survive my men's attack. Rather feisty girl, that one. I sent her body back to the southern kingdom of Volez, where she's from. It was the least I could do. Her father was a friend of mine.”
Will cringed, “How did she...”
“She was flung from her horse as you were, but the lady had a much more delicate constitution.” He grinned, enjoying Will’s distress.
Will was disgusted at how lightly Frederick took the matter and pulled against the chains.
“Have a temper, do we, young prince? It is not becoming of royalty. But then again, you were never raised as a prince and you have no right to the throne in the first place. I'm sure we can teach you manners in no time.”
“Don't patronize me, sire. Just tell me what you intend to do with me.”
“I haven't quite figured that out, actually. I only recently realized you were royalty. I suppose Elizabeth wasn’t barren after all.” His eyebrows furrowed. “I'm impressed you were kept hidden from me for so long. Your father should have been dead by now anyway, but he already knows that. I've never known a monarch to be so lucky or perhaps I've never known my assassins to be so clumsy.”
“Why would you kill your own brother?” Will demanded.
Frederick looked at him with a raised eyebrow, “I should think it was quite obvious.” He shook his head and continued, “You certainly would have met that fate by now. But I suppose Alex kept you hidden so that he could enact that silly inheritance proclamation for you to take the throne, even without winning fairly in the competition.”
He sighed and leaned back in his throne. “Perhaps you would have the same knack for survival as your father. Then again, you might be as delicate as your mother. The royal line of Kalbem was so weak.”
Will realized that the intention was to make him angry. He took a deep breath and went still.
“Now that's more like it, the stone face,” Frederick laughed. “No, I’m not sure what to do with you, because you aren’t even guaranteed the throne, so it makes little difference whether you are dead or alive. For now, guards, take him away. And give him the royal treatment,” he sneered, “the delicate Kalbemites aren't used to anything less than the greater things in life.”
After Will was taken out of the room, the king turned to Michael, who was hiding in the corner of the room, “You're positive you'll beat him in combat?”
Michael scoffed, “Don't insult me, father. He is a craftsman. I am far more capable in any kind of combat. It's the royal knights that give me reason to need more time. I have trained with them, and I am better, but I'm too young to be guaranteed a win. It’s best we wait a few more years. I have to at least achieve knighthood to compete.”
“Quite a patient boy I’ve raised,” Frederick commended. “What do you suggest we do in the meantime?”
“I can continue my undercover work in Kalbem. I have an idea of how we can infiltrate the castle in case things don’t work out with the competition, but it could take years to plan properly.”
“That is wise to have a backup plan. You know that they aren’t above breaking rules in order to keep the kingdom.”
“It’s true,” Michael agreed, “but it is best to win fairly. One just must be prepared to counter a cheater.”
“That’s my son!” Frederick clapped him on the back. “Now what shall we do with Will? I say we kill him.”
Michael cringed, “I don’t think that’s necessary. Besides, it could help my image in the kingdom if I rescue him.”
“Fair enough,” Frederick sighed, “but let’s give them a chance to miss the prince that was hidden for so long. Perhaps he can work in the smith shop in the meantime.”
“That’s a good idea. He is a fantastic silversmith.” Michael leaned in, “Though I’ll deny it if you tell someone I said that.”
“Then it is settled. In one month’s time, you can stage your daring rescue. You better make it good; Tezelians are hard to beat.”
“Fortunately, I’m the best!” Michael winked. “I’ll have to keep my distance, but Will can’t see the knights practice from where he is being held, correct?”
Frederick smiled, “Not at all. Go have some fun practicing your skills. You’ll be ready to take Kalbem soon enough.”
* * * * *
Will sat alone on the cot in the cold prison after nightfall. He shivered some as he lay down to try to sleep. He thought of his parents, the king, Samantha, Jennifer, and Kat. His lip quivered thinking of what happened with Jennifer. If I hadn’t upset her, she might still be alive. This is all my fault. A few tears streamed down his face.
His mind flooded with thoughts. He couldn’t imagine how the king could know about him being the crown prince as he revealed it to no one. He worried about his family at home; surely they were concerned he didn’t return. He hung his head as he thought of Jennifer’s fate.
At one point, his thoughts turned to Kat. He wondered if she noticed he was missing. His head drooped as he thought of all the time they haven’t been speaking to each other. Ever since I made that necklace, she hasn’t spoken more than a few words to me. He sighed that Kat would grossly overreact to such a small gesture. He thought of Michael and the jealousy he felt towards Michael. Goodness, I would be happy to see even Michael right now.
Will felt utterly alone. He was in a hostile kingdom with no one to turn to and no idea what would happen to him. More tears came as he reflected on his loneliness.
He sat up, What if I never see Kat again? She’ll never know I’ve been waiting for her. He sighed sadly as he remembered her disdain for him. Not that she wants me to. What I would give to be on our bridge and call her Gardenia. “My Gardenia,” he whispered.
His thoughts kept him up all night, but as the cock crew, he was given a meager breakfast and ushered into the smith shop.
“Good morning, young prince, you’ll be working with me for the next while. I am Ulric, the royal silversmith of Tezel. It is nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too?” Will was slightly confused by this greeting.
They spent the entirety of daylight hours working and then Will was ushered back to his jail cell. He was so tired, he was able to fall asleep shortly after lying down.
“Hello Ulric, how was the first day?”
“It was pleasant, your majesty,” the silversmith bowed in front of the throne. “William is quite a talented silversmith. I will enjoy learning a few things from him.”
“Just make sure it’s not too pleasant for him. I want him yearning for freedom, but not able to reach it.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
* * * * *
Kat lay awake in bed, drowning in thoughts. She wondered where Will could be. It had been a full week, but there was no word from him, Jennifer, or Michael. What if he doesn’t come home? Her blood went cold and she couldn’t breathe for a few seconds.
She couldn’t accept that possibility. He had to come home. Her mind filled with regret as she reflected on the past year without him. If he didn’t come home, he would never know that he was the man she wanted to be with. Will, she called out in her mind, where are you? I need you in my life. Please come home.
She sat up and wiped tears from her eyes. Michael wasn’t back either. She thought it was so kind of him to go looking for Will and Jennifer, but maybe something happened to him too. She slammed face down in her pillow and wept bitterly.
Phillip walked into her room, “Can’t sleep again, Kat?”
She couldn’t choke out any words and motioned for him to sit by her.
“I miss him too,” Phillip put a hand on her shoulder.
“Which one?” Kat sobbed.
“Both, but mostly Will.”
“I don’t even like Jennifer, but I hope she’s okay, especially if it means Will is okay. Michael can take care of himself well, but I worry since he hasn’t sent word yet. Though at least he left on a good note. I never even told Will…” She erupted into crying.
“There there, sister. Let it out.”
“I really enjoy Michael, and he is perfect for me, but I want Will!”
“You’ve hardly talked to him in a year.”
She sobbed more, “That’s what makes it so hard. He doesn’t even know how much I need him. I just want him to be safe and come home.”
After a few hours of crying, she finally fell asleep. Phillip snuck quietly back to his room.
The next week, King Alexander received a letter from King Frederick.
Dear King of Kalbem,
How go things on the easy side of the mountains? I hear you have a proclamation out in search of your recently missing son. I suppose congratulations are in order, even though I’m nearly seventeen years late. I didn’t know you were capable of having children. I guess Elizabeth pulled through long enough for that. I’d say we should have a nice little family reunion, but my child doesn’t desire to meet you and your child seems to be missing, so that might feel quite awkward. Sending you a loving lance to the helmet in this difficult time.
Your King, Frederick
Alexander crumpled the parchment upon reading the letter. How could his own flesh and blood be so unfeeling? Especially since the likelihood that Will would be alive decreased by the day. He covered his face and retired to his chamber.
* * * * *
“William!” Ulric shouted, “Hurry up and finish that piece. We have to have these finished by next week.”
William quickly concealed the key he was working on and grabbed the goblet he was supposed to be working on. “You know silversmithing is delicate work. I’m still on repouseé. They are giving us very short deadlines for such fine detail work.”
Ulric admired how purposefully and exactly Will hammered. He shook his head and replied, “I don’t make the rules. We’ll just have to work longer hours.”
Will groaned inside, but didn’t complain. Instead, he focused his negative energy towards getting the pieces done.
Meanwhile, in the fields, Michael and his personal bodyguard, Sir Hector, were sparring.
“It’s been great having you back in Tezel these past few weeks, my lord,” Hector commented as he parried.
“It has been a pleasure being among my knights again,” Michael nodded, “though it is good for me to train in Kalbem, since they are the main source of my competition.”
“I understand, sire.” He thrust his sword at Michael, who parried, stepped in, and grabbed the hilt. Hector didn’t release his grip, so they struggled until Michael pulled his hand and a half sword to Hector’s neck. “Impressive wrist strength,” he commented.
“I have to be the best in order to take my rightful place as ruler of both kingdoms.”
Hector nodded, “You’ll be ready in a very short time. You’re flawless with the sword, and you can beat most knights in the joust.”
“Now I just need to beat all of them.”
“You will,” Hector assured. “What is your plan with this rescue mission for the prisoner?”
“I’m not sure. Obviously I don’t want to hurt anyone, but it needs to be a believable rescue so Will buys it.”
“You could sneak in at night, knock out the prison guard, and then maybe I can confront you on your way out. We can choreograph a fight where you knock me out and then you can take Will back to his kingdom.”
Michael nodded, “Quite simple, but it should work.”
“What are your plans when you get back to Kalbem?”
“The first priority is training so I can win the competition. The second priority is getting the mines navigated in case we need to infiltrate the kingdom that way. Obviously a frontal assault doesn’t work. My father figured that one out the hard way.”
“The infiltration is moreso a backup plan though, right? You plan to win the kingdom fair and square?”
“Of course,” Michael agreed. “I prefer to play by the rules, but I need to be prepared. After all, my father won fair and square when he competed for Kalbem and that was taken from him.”
Hector nodded and offered some throwing daggers, “Target practice?”
They started throwing daggers at a target. After some hesitation, Hector inquired, “May I be so bold as to ask a personal question?”
Michael turned and raised an eyebrow, “What kind of personal question?”
“I hear there is a girl back in Kalbem that you’re courting?”
Michael smirked and threw another dagger, “Yes, Lady Katrina. It’s a mix of business and pleasure.”
This was a knightly version of two girls giggling and talking about boys for hours. Michael smiled softly when he thought of Kat. He started getting her attention so he could get more information about the kingdom, but as he got to know her, he genuinely enjoyed her company. He looked forward to seeing her soon.