The Royal Renegade #1

The Royal Renegade #1

A Chapter by Eogin

Surrounded by his dead father's enemies, Barnaby, the heir to an outlawed throne, is pulled into a dangerous game of power by the most feared man of a newly formed nation.

Barnaby stood blank-faced and cold, staring up at the high desk, observing his current enemy, Mr. Grills, the bald and wrinkly High Inquisitor of the New United Government. The man was looking very busy or pretended to be so; he had failed to acknowledge Barnaby's presence in any noticeable way.
The tiny poorly lit room wasn't easy to breathe in. The wooden walls reeked of fear and despair, a scent left by those who had come before Barnaby.
"Brawling?" Mr. Grills broke the silence, giving Barnaby an uninterested glance.
"Son of William Brawling? Deceased..."
Barnaby nodded, bubbling anger forming fists.
Mr. Grills marked one of the papers before him, finishing his thought half asleep.
"Executed... Of course, for crimes against our nation..."
Barnaby took a deep silent breath, trying to remain calm. There was no need for Mr. Grills to bring up his father. But they always did!
Turning a page before him, Mr. Grills put the pen down and stretched backward in his chair.
"Do you know why you're here, Mr. Brawling?"
Barnaby kept his tone cold.
"I do."
Mr. Grills scratched his nose, again glancing at his papers.
"Alright. So, before we start... Would you like to make a statement relevant to your predicament?"
Barnaby's eyes narrowed.
"My predicament? It is my understanding that the questioning is a requirement to any person wishing to graduate. I sincerely hope I will receive the same kind of fair treatment that has been extended to those who came before me."
Mr. Grills' response stalled. He corrected his somewhat lazy appearing posture into a more royal and proud one.
"Of course, Mr. Brawling. I apologize for my ill-fitting set of words. What I meant to say... to ask... was if you would like to make a statement relevant to this questioning, prior to it's start?"
Barnaby shook his head.
"I do not."
Mr. Grills nodded, took another deep breath of the barely present air, and crunched closer to his papers. He spoke, voice suddenly very cold and royal.
"Very well! On with it then... It's written here that during your first year in the Capital School, more precisely, during the year's second government sanctioned duel, you performed a spell not included in the United Government's extensive list of all lawful magic."
Barnaby didn't move, but Mr. Grills lifted his hand as if trying to stop him from a premature response.
"Furthermore, the aforementioned spell is told to have been unfamiliar to the Capital School's teachers, almost certainly requiring an origin more sinister than the excuse of youths foolishness. Is the claim truthful?"
 His eyes attacked Barnaby's, making him swallow before responding. Still, he managed to keep his tone distant and fearless.
"Indeed, the claim is truthful. But, I gave my explanations the day right after. I do not wish to repeat myself."
A grin appeared on the High Inquisitor's face. And, slowly, he pulled his semi-launched body back upright. The pen in his hand started to move as if it had been far too long since it got to mark a paper.
"Never mind what you wish, Mr. Brawling. Let's hear it again."
Barnaby cleared his throat, now audibly, as to alarm the coming of a needlessly long story, and took a short moment to bring forth the lies he never allowed himself to forget.
"As I explained back then... The casting of the spell was an accident. Prior to the tournament, and it's unfortunate happenings, I had been ill, unable to sleep, I had suffered from the loss of appetite, and, to top it all off, I had only recently received grave news. Casting that spell, which I still couldn't even name, was a disastrous slip of a word, caused by a tired mind. And again, Mr. High Inquisitor, I swear not to have broken any rules of our new United Government. Not one. The unlawful act was, and remains an unfortunate coincidence."
Mr. Grills' elevated pen-hand had frozen. Without blinking or breathing, he had devoured every syllable of the well-rehearsed lie, which, at the end of the monologue, left him staring with a crooked smile.
That made the voices in Barnaby's head nervous, but he managed to say not a word more. That lie had worked on his teachers, and he knew, none of them had believed it either.
"Very well." Mr. Grills guided his pen back on the paper, marked it with a single straight line, and turned the page. Having read its information, he leaned back in his chair, using his pen-less hand to scratch his lip.
"As I'm sure you know, Mr. Brawling, not everyone passes this final exam." He shook his head, eyes flashing a sad smile. "Oh, no, many do not. And it's written here..." Mr. Grills' finger landed on the paper which Barnaby could not see. "... That you have been caught friendly with many such undesirable people." He lifted the whole folder closer to his eyes. "Robert Gaines, for an example. Halberd, Sanders? You are friendly with these people... Are you not?"
"No!" Barnaby forced his voice louder. "What you're reading, Mr. High Inquisitor, are baseless claims aimed to tarnish my name."
"Very well." Mr. Grills lowered the folder, exposing his sneer of disbelief. "But it is written here that there are witnesses..." His eyes moved from very top of the page to its bottom. "Multiple witnesses."
Barnaby's breathing quickened, and his foot shook for the first time. Forcing it still, he put on a smile as fake as the Inquisitors.
"I'm not hiding the fact that I've spoken to these people. As the son of the king, I find it..."
Mr. Grills coughed loudly, deliberately interrupting Barnaby in his response, and moved forward, his bald wrinkly head hanging all the way over his desk.
"But there are no more kings, Mr. Brawling. Not one!"
Mr. Grills remained over the table, eyes unblinking and sharp like daggers, making Barnaby feel like he was on fire. For the first time, his head turned from the High Inquisitor, eyes glancing at one of the torches on the walls.
"It is now I who must apologize for an ill-fitting set of words. What I meant to say, Mr. High Inquisitor was that due to my heritage, undesirable people still approach me... Having not yet forgotten about the old ways."
Again Mr. Grills grinned, victoriously, body moving back into its seat.
 Barnaby was certain the man didn't believe him. But the absolute truth rarely mattered in the Capital. Perhaps, in the minds of his enemies, making Barnaby call his people undesirable was a victory right there?
"Understandable." The High Inquisitor agreed, turning more serious. "We can not choose our blood, can we? As long as you're not encouraging that kind of behavior?"
"Of course not."
Mr. Grills marked the page, now with words instead of straight lines, and turned to the next one.
He then leaned back again.
"So, Mr. Brawling, what is your opinion of our new United Government?"
Barnaby went monotone.
"I think of it fondly."
Mr. Grills made a mark on the paper.
"Are you in contact with a person or a group of persons, wishing to harm out Government?"
"I'm not."
Another quick mark was made by the Inquisitor. His questioning started to pick up speed as if there was someone urging him to get it over with. Or, he was trying to make Barnaby slip up?
"But if you were to meet such a person, or hear of one, what would you do about it?"
"I would report them to the Security Tower. Without any second thought."
Mr. Grills nodded, very much agreeing, pen working double time, scribbling from one side of the page to the next. A half a minute passed before he stopped, at which point the High Inquisitor let his pen drop and looked to Barnaby.
"Very well, Mr. Brawling, all seems to be in order. Your participation in tomorrow's Ceremony of Proteges is required."
Barnaby, surprised but very ready to get out of that room, bowed quickly, feet tingling for a run.
"A word of warning, if I may, Mr. Brawling..." The Inquisitor stopped his quick getaway. He reached closer again and hissed his words like a snake.
"You stand at crossroads, Mr. Brawling. And these are dangerous times for those uncertain. Be careful of the path you choose. The Capital does not believe in second chances."

© 2018 Eogin

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Added on December 25, 2017
Last Updated on January 19, 2018
Tags: adventure, contemporary, dark, darkfantasy, fantasy, fiction, magic, mystery, power, sorcery, war, young-adult