Castle Roland


by Arthur


Chapter 6

Posted: 22 Jan 15



The next two days passed by like something out of a dream world. Each morning, after going through his normal stretching and flexibility exercises: Andre would spend the rest of the day under a torrent of tailors and lessons on Court Protocol.

The tailors had to outfit him for his new position as a Baron of the land and his lessons on protocol were held by both Conrad and Aldred who were familiar with what he would need to know for his meeting with the King.

The security for Andre's penthouse had been increased, it was now almost impossible to enter without going through stringent security checks; the importance of both the diary and himself had become the talk of the day in every city on Pathos.

On the third morning, the operation of getting him and the diary to the Palace City of Geramak safely was in full swing. The security detail looked more like a military invasion force. Heavily armoured vehicles and fully armed troops spread around to cover every avenue that may be used to attack the Baron and his diary.

Nothing was left to chance, Conrad seemed to be everywhere at the same time as he organised the convoy. Andre could only sit in the heavily armoured limousine along with Aldred, and watch the goings on, it was still all beyond his understanding.

The convoy of one hundred security guards stopped only once, as they sat outside the Security Division Headquarters waiting for Leon, the people of the city could only stand and stare at the spectacle.

Leon arrived carrying a steel box and flanked by two more armed security guards. Leon got into the Limousine along with the two guards, placing the steel box by his side he asked Andre.

"Can you place the diary in this box, I know we are safe but I want to take every precaution to keep it safe."

Andre nodded and lifted the dairy into the box and watched as Leon snapped a large padlock on to it; with that done, Leon sat back and sighed, the two guards only sat straighter and more alert than ever.

With the Limousine placed at the centre of the large convoy, they left for the Air Pad; the Limousine would drive directly onto the transport and be followed by all the guards on foot; no one and nothing would get near the vehicle.

The flight to Geramak took two hours, at the landing Pad were lined up row after row of Imperial Troops, everyone of them in full battle armour and heavily armed; as the Limousine drove off the transport, every single Trooper snapped to attention, Andre could not believe his eyes.

The Palace city was just that; one single huge Palace. It was set out in concentric rings and covered more than two thousand hectares. Each ring was attached to the next inner one by short wide roads. It all looked like a lot of wagon wheels inside each other and joined by short wide spokes.

Running through the centre was the main boulevard; it was wide enough for ten vehicles to travel side by side and led directly to the central hub. The centre of the hub was the Royal Palace, it also covered an immense area of land and its tall towers could be seen from far off and well before you came in sight of the main city.

Andre was stunned at the size of the Royal Palace city; its only purpose was to house, protect and serve the King, all the surrounding homes and mansions only serviced the main Palace; there were no other industries in the city.

As the limousine progressed up the main boulevard they were surrounded by the heavy troopers of the Palace Guard, for Andre it was all a weird dream; a pleasure boy from the seventh quadrant just did not get to see this sort of thing, let alone be the reason for such high security.

Even though the special guests were expected and had come under the direct orders of the King, they still had to go slowly through all of the four security check points and have their identity checked and confirmed. While this was a little unsettling for Andre, Leon seemed totally at ease; it was evident he had been through all this before.

Finally they arrived at the main Palace gates, the Palace Guards stopped and let the limousine pass through until it came to the long wide stone steps leading up to the huge open doors of the Kings Palace.

Andre thought there were about twenty wide steps up to the main doors; down the centre was a red carpet and on each step on either side of the carpet stood three guards in full armour.

With all the spectacle of the Royal Guards and the many attendants, Andre looked down at his own clothes; these were the ones that had been made for him just for this occasion.

His body suit was of fine silver silk, on his shoulders were a pair of epaulets in silver and the fine tassels hung over his slim shoulders; around his waist was a red silk sash. His boots were of the finest black leather and were high enough to almost come up to his knees; it was all topped off with a pair of white silk gloves.

As the limousine door opened, Andre also saw the biggest man he had ever seen. The man had to be nearly seven feet tall and wider than any bull Andre had seen; he was dressed only in long black leather pants and had a wide black leather belt across his bare chest. Fixed to the shoulder belt were four wicked looking knives and in the man's hands he held a large red pillow.

Leon leaned over to Andre and said.

"That's the King's personal assassin, put the diary on the pillow and he will guard it for us; believe me when I say no one will get close to it while he guards it."

Andre stepped close to the towering man and, with shaking hands laid the diary on the pillow; Andre was not sure but he thought he saw a very faint wink from the huge unmoving man, it did not stop Andre's shakes.

Leon, Conrad and Andre were led up the steps by the King's assassin, at each step the six troopers came to attention as they passed. At the top of the last step stood a number of formally suited men; Leon explained they were the court attendants and would take them into the Palace.

Andre was surprised that the thirty young men gathered at the top of the steps bowed to him when he came up in front of the group; the oldest of them was a man dressed in what looked like a fancy red dressing gown but it was very fancy with gold braid all over it; The man held a long black staff with the gold insignia of the Royal Household at the top and a gold cap on the bottom.

When Andre, Leon and Conrad had made it to the top of the steps, this man turned and led them towards the open doorway.

Once inside the massive hall they were led further down until they came to another set of tall wide doors; these were closed but the small group could hear the sound of many voices coming from behind them.

The man with the staff, lifted it up and, with the capped end rapped loudly on the wooden doors three times; it seemed almost immediately that the noise from behind the door ceased; from inside came another loud voice.

"Who seeks audience with the King?"

"Kramar, bearer of the Kings Staff, I bring before the King one Andre Severn, claimant to the Barony of Lyre."

"Enter Kramar of the King's Staff."

The huge doors were opened and Andre suddenly caught his breath; even with the huge frame of the King's Assassin standing in front of him, Andre found it hard to believe the size of the huge hall before him. Far above the great hall, Andre could make out that the roof was made totally of glass panes that let in the natural sun light.

At this point the man with the staff began to walk into the great hall, the Assassin stepped to the side so that Andre, flanked by Leon and Conrad could go before him, he then stepped in behind the trio; Andre could feel the power of the man just behind him.

When Andre caught the full sight of the hall before him, he gasped again, he almost wanted to turn around the run for his life; the hall was so long and wide he felt he was alone in some mystic place; on each side in tiers that went ten high, sat all the elite of Pathos; the gold and jewellery alone would have fed every man, woman and child in the seventh quadrant for ten years.

Far down at the end of the great hall sat six men dressed just like Andre except they were wearing a royal blue sash with a gold fitting on it; the chairs they were sitting on looked more like thrones than chairs, only the one in the centre had no one sitting on it, instead there was what looked like a painted picture of a young man; the frame was surrounded with a black cloth; it was too far away for Andre to see the painting clearly.

With steady steps the small group was led forward, Andre could now see the King as he sat on his throne two steps above the seven smaller thrones below. Much to his surprise, Andre saw that the King, whom he had always thought of as an old man, was in fact only in his mid twenties but it was not difficult to see the aura of power that surrounded the young figure.

Finally they were at the base of the Kings dais, it was then that Andre for the third time gulped with shock; there looking at him from the painting on the seventh small throne was a picture of himself but about ten years older; Andre almost fainted right then and there except for a gentle hand from Conrad that held him firmly.

From the faint murmurs of surprise around the great hall, it also appeared that every one of the two thousand people also saw the similarity, it took a loud tap of the black staff on the marble floor to stop the murmurs and all fell silent once again.

Kramar began the formalities.

"Your Highness, I present Andre Severn, claimant to the Barony of lyre."

The man stepped aside so that Andre could be seen clearly by the young King; by this time Andre was starting to sweat from the momentous occasion; the King looked down at Andre but gave no indication that he knew the young boy.

"We have seen the results of the searches performed by the Security Office and We have decided that Andre Severn may have a rightful claim; do the Barons of this realm have dispute with these findings?"

It suddenly occurred to Andre that this had all been set up well before he arrived; the youngest of the six Barons stood and bowed to the King.

"Baron Sarkan, you have dispute?"

"Sire, I would know the results of the DNA testing for confirmation?"

"Baron Sarkan, the results were 98% positive."

"Then sire I have no dispute."

The next eldest then stood up.

"Baron Median, you have dispute?"

"Sire, if the DNA result was 98% positive then can we know if the claimant has the ability to dance as did Baron Lyre?"

"Baron Median, We have seen the results of the claimant's talents in this area and we find them undeniable."

The next on line stood up.

"Baron Kraft, you have dispute?"

"Sire, has the claimant been recognised in any written line of descent?"

"Baron Kraft, while We have not seen with Our own eyes the written claim, it has been brought to Our notice by the highest authority in the Department of Security, that the claimant does indeed have written claim."

It was then the turn of the oldest of the Barons to stand.

"Baron Lykon, you have dispute?"

"Sire, we have all inspected the painted likeness of Baron Lyre, the six Barons here assembled have no dispute with the claimant, Andre Severn."

"It is therefore Our duty to inform the claimant, Andre Severn that his claim as heir to the Barony of Lyre is without dispute; it is to be written that on this day We approve and avow that the claimant, Andre Severn, will from this day forward be known as Baron Andre Lyre and shall be entitled to all the estates and titles of that rank. We welcome Baron Andre Lyre to the throne of Pathos.

The man with the staff then stepped aside and directed Andre to take the centre throne, two Guards immediately took the painting of Massam Lyre and carried it up to the King where it was placed reverently on a waiting easel that stood by the side of the King's throne.

Andre was now shaking like a leaf in the wind as he stood before the centre throne, beads of sweat fell from his forehead and his finger tips tingled as though they had electricity running through them.

Before he could be seated, the eldest of the other Barons produced another Royal Blue sash, this he placed over Andre's right shoulder so it hung with the tassels by his left hip. Andre took a quick glance at the sash and the gold medallion attached to it. The medallion was in the shape of a small harp, the elderly Baron whispered to him that it was called a Lyre; each of the other Barons had a different style of pin.

Once he was seated, Conrad and Leon saluted him then stepped to the side of the large stone dais where others waited.

Andre also noticed that the huge Assassin was now kneeling on one knee in front of him but facing the crowd in the huge hall; the King spoke again to everyone assembled in the hall.

"Ladies, Gentlemen and Courtiers, We thank you for your attendance on this momentous day, We would now ask you to allow Us to speak with the Baron in private and would look forward to your attendance at the Dinner and Royal ball tomorrow evening, thank you all."

Everyone stood and bowed to the King before leaving amid a babble of whispers about the young Baron; for Andre it only got more complicated as the man with the Staff, along with the huge Assassin and the other six Barons; led him out of the hall and into a smaller private passageway; Andre was thankful for both Conrad and Leon by his side.

The hall led to another smaller room, there were no windows and only one door that was guarded by four fully armoured guards.

The King led the way inside and his Assassin closed the door behind them all. The room looked more like a comfortable gentlemen's study; heavy leather chairs and fine tables sat around the room; as Andre watched, each Baron seemed to take a particular chair as though it was reserved for him.

Andre was still in something of a daze as he looked around; above him the ceiling seemed to stretch into dark shadows it was so high; he almost missed the King's softly spoken words.

"Come Andre, sit here beside me, this is our special sanctum, in here there are no titles and we can all relax."

Conrad and Leon were ushered towards two plain chairs near the closed doors; the Assassin stood waiting patiently for the King to continue.

"Garahvan, would you place the dairy by the lectern, I'm sure Andre will show us later; now have you selected a protector for our new Baron?"

The Assassin whom finally Andre knew as Garahvan, gave the King an almost imperceptible nod but remained as still as a statue as he stood beside the King's chair.

"Uhm...Your highness..."

"Now Andre, there's no need for titles like I said before; you must understand that the eight of us are responsible for all of Pathos, there are times when we just don't need titles to slow things down; especially in here where we can relax without being overheard."

"Thank you, uhm..."

"Gustavo, call me Gustavo, that's my name, the others you will get to know soon enough."

"Thank you... uhm, Gustavo; but what do I do now?"

"Ah, first you relax, and then we would all like to look at the diary but, before all that we have to get you a Protector."

"A Protector?"

"Yes of course, we can't have our Barons going around without their own Assassin to protect them; we each have a chosen Protector, Garahvan is in charge of selecting and training all of our Assassins; I can assure you that he will find one that is just right for you."

"Uhm Gustavo, I am able to Protect myself, Councillor Leon has had me trained for such events."

"Nonsense young Andre, you are now a Baron of Pathos and it is a part of whom you now are, besides, you would not want to disappoint some young Assassin of your company, would you?"

Andre could only blush at his lack of knowledge about the King's court and its many protocols.

"Now Garahvan, who do you have for young Andre?"

For the first time Andre heard the giant of a man speak; much to his surprise, the voice that came was as soft as a whisper of wind, for such a large strong man his voice was almost lost in the silence.

"Tomach, Sire."

"Really, you would set your first born son as his Protector?"

Again the soft whispering voice spoke.

"Yes Sire, he is now sixteen and should start to earn his keep."

"Of course you have him close by?"

The faintest of smiles flittered across Garahvan's lips as he nodded.

"Well come on, let's see him?"

Somehow Garahvan gave a small metallic click with his fingers; Andre almost missed it but, in the corner of his eye he thought he caught a faint movement high up in the shadows of the vaulted ceiling; it then happened as though the body had just appeared out of thin air; a young teen was kneeling on one knee before the seated men.

The teen's head was bowed but Andre could see he was dressed just like Garahvan, black trousers with long soft boots, naked chest with the wide leather belt carrying four knives, but this time his head was covered with what looked like a black cloth scarf.

At a signal from Garahvan, the teen lifted his head and Andre saw that all he could see of the teen's face were the pair of dark eyes; the rest was covered by the black scarf.

An almost imperceptible whisper from Garahvan and the teen lowered his other knee and lifted his youthful body until he was kneeling upright, a hand placed on each knee as he stared unblinking directly ahead; his eyes showing no emotion what so ever.

In the same whispering voice, Garahvan continued.

"Baron Lyre, I give you my first born son, he is bound to protect you with his very life, do you accept him?"

Andre was so taken aback he could not find his voice, a gentle nudge by the King and he managed to stutter out a soft "Yes"

Garahvan raised his head and seemed to look up into the dark shadowy rafters, in a voice filled with authority he called out loudly and for the first time his voice partially echoed in the room.

"Who bears witness to Tomach the Protector?"

This time Andre did not miss it, the deep shadows of the high rafters came alive as six similarly clad men seemed to appear kneeling on the floor, three on each side of the young teen. Garahvan continued in his new strong voice so everyone could hear each word.

"Tomach, first born of my sons, do you accept the duty of Protector of our King's chosen, Baron Lyre, until your death?"

Tomach did not say a word but instead drew one of his knives from the shoulder belt and handed it to Garahvan. Garahvan stepped behind the teen and took off the black cloth scarf until everyone could see the teens face.

Like Garahvan the teen was not only hairless but also bald apart from a top knot of hair that flowed behind him, it was kept tightly in place by a number of silver rings; Garahvan's rings were of gold.

Andre was more taken by the teen's dark beauty and his magnificently toned body as well as what appeared to be a substantial bulge in the right place.

Garahvan took hold of the teens top knot and pulled the young head back until the teens eyes were staring right at Andre, the gleam of the razor sharp knife was not missed by anyone watching.

Garahvan continued once again.

"Brothers of the code, do you swear to do your duty should Tomach fail in his?"

At this each of the other six stood up and seemingly flowed past the kneeling teen, it was done so quickly and with such expertise, that none of the Barons even saw the movements but, when it was over, Tomach had six thin cuts on his face, three on each cheek bone that dripped a small amount of blood down his chin.

It was then that Andre got the biggest shock; without thought, Garahvan pulled the teens head back further and ran the razor sharp knife across his throat, Tomach never so much as flinched as the cold steel cut his flesh.

Andre could not believe what he was seeing although had he watched the other Barons he may have got an inkling of the procedure.

Andre was in a daze as he looked at the bleeding teen, the boy was beautiful in a masculine way, every muscle and sinew rippled with power and speed but it was now marred by the six thin cuts on his cheek and the long thin slice around his young neck.

It suddenly dawned on Andre that the cut on Tomach's throat was not as bad as it first seemed, it was just deep enough to draw blood but not do any real damage, Garahvan was certainly an expert with the sharp blade.

Next Garahvan presented Andre with the hilt of the knife, Tomach's blood was still fresh on the blade; the King whispered in Andre's ear.

"Take the knife and then offer it back to Tomach, it will tell him that you accept him."

Andre did as he was told, when Tomach took hold of the knife he bowed over Andre's hand; suddenly Tomach looked up in fear at Andre but he did not let go of the small hand he was holding. Tomach gave a long glance at Garahvan, it was as though he was conversing telepathically with the huge man.

After a few seconds, Tomach let go of Andre's hand and then took his place beside his chair but there was still a look of confusion in his young eyes, Garahvan took up the conversation on his sons behalf.

"Baron Lyre, your Protector would like to know how you can carry the venom of a Starburst Scorpion in your blood, he smelt it when close to your hand?"

Andre felt his face heat up as he blushed, was he allowed to tell them his secret or would he be breaking his vow to Leon; Andre looked over at Leon where he sat quietly in his chair; Leon gave him a slight nod to say it was alright to tell these men his secret.

"Councillor Sadan had me modified for the purpose of my own defence, the Scorpion venom was one of those modifications."

Garahvan smiled at him and nodded, he then took his place beside the King; Andre noticed a look of awe on Tomach's face as the teen looked up at him; Andre could only blush a little brighter.

"Well young Baron Lyre, you are certainly full of surprises; now let's talk of other things. As you know We are having a reception and ball in your honour tomorrow night, would it be too much to ask you to dance for us at some time during the evening?"

Andre was taken aback by the request but he knew he would not refuse; at least these powerful men would still let him dance when he wanted to.

"Yes Sire, it would be my pleasure."

"Gustavo, please Andre, now down to other business. I have had my people investigate the goings on of those men that were meant to be the executors of Massam Lyre's estate; it appears I might have to come to you for a loan if I need it. It seemed only fair that everything they took from your estate is returned to its rightful owner; that's you."

The King paused for breath before continuing.

"Over the last three hundred years, since the untimely death of Massam Lyre, your estate has accrued quite a fortune, both in land and credits; of course it will now be well boosted by the confiscation of everything the executors stole from you as well. Up to this point I can tell you that you hold lands in the Southern Continent that cover some 80,000 square kilometres. Here on this Continent you hold the Barony of Lyre; that equates to some 50,000 hectares as well as large holdings in both the sixth and seventh quadrant of the city of Pathos."

The King paused again as he got his facts right before proceeding.

"With the confiscation of the executors estates, you now own properties including palaces, mansions and apartments in all the other quadrants of the city of Pathos; to make it a little more simple Andre, you now hold more wealth than any other individual on the entire planet of Pathos; congratulations and I hope you will give me a loan when I need it."

The shock that Andre felt meant he did not hear the laughter of the King as he finished his summing up of Andre's wealth; for Andre everything suddenly went dark; it was sometime later he heard the concerned voice of Leon whispering to him.

"It's ok Andre, you just fainted, do you feel better now, can you get up?"

Andre realised he was laying down on the floor of the room, all the Barons and the King were standing around him as he came to; he reached up and loosened his tight collar; the wonder never left him, a pleasure boy from the seventh quadrant was now the richest person on Pathos; he could still not get his head around it all.

Once Andre felt better and was back in his chair next to the King, Gustavo smiled at him and continued on.

"Now Andre, I have to leave you in the capable hands of your new friends; I need to begin preparations for the reception. The Barons will tell you all you need to know from here on. I have had Massam Lyre's Palace prepared for you as it is now yours; it is where you will stay when in the city on business. Now I must get away, thank you for coming to see me. One more thing before I go; can you show me the entries of descent in the diary?"

"Of course Gustavo, it will be my pleasure."

Andre got to his feet and led the small group to the lectern, checking that his new gloves were still clean; he opened the diary at the last page. First the King then the Barons looked down the list of names, smiling and nodding as they recognised some of them.

"They are all here, even Konra Karl."

"He is one I don't know Gustavo, who was he?" Andre asked the King.

"You really don't know who most of these people are, do you?"

"No, Mother never spoke of them."

"Gentlemen, let's return to our chairs; business can wait, our little friend needs some history lessons."

Once everyone was re-seated, the King began his story.

"As you know, this all happened in the time of Gustav the 2nd; his eldest son, the Prince Regent, first in line for the throne, was called Tellac. When he was still a young boy and, in the fashion of the time, he was given the opportunity to select a young play mate; his play mate was of course, Massam Lyre. He was only eight years old at that time but already quite an accomplished dancer as well as a pleasure boy. In those days the boys started very young. Massam was from what was then known as the fourth quadrant, so your upbringing was very similar. The fourth quadrant in those days was much like the seventh today."

The King Paused before continuing.

"Tellac was immediately taken by Massam's ability and beauty, as you can see for yourself in the portrait he looks very much like you in every way. Now where was I, oh yes; now Tellac spent every waking hour with Massam until it became impossible to see them apart and, of course they were soon inseparable bed mates as well; as time passed, the two of them grew only closer. The story I have heard is that Massam started this diary at age fourteen; Tellac was then sixteen and had been given his first wife. In those days as now, a wife was purely for the continuation of the line; Massam was always Tellac's first love and remained so even after Tellac took a second and third wife."

Again a short pause then the King went on.

"Now as to the diary and its entries, all the words and descriptions were those of Massam but, the drawings were actually done by Tellac; he was renowned for his art work, especially with a single hair brush. The end came for both of them under very unusual circumstances; King Gustav the 2nd was gravely ill, everyone did not expect him to live much longer and so Tellac was due to take the throne on his death. Tellac was now thirty and Massam was twenty eight; they still spent every night together as they had done since boy hood and that was how they were found. They were wrapped in each other's arms when the servants went in the next morning but both were dead. This has never been released to the public so it must not leave this room, even after all this time. Tellac‘s second brother, Konrad, took the throne; for Massam there was only his young sister left and she could not hold his Barony so it went to the executors."

Another pause and then the King went on again.

"Now as far as our records go, some generations later, Konra Karl appeared although he was never recognised as a descendant of Massam Lyre. It had been a long time since the passing of Massam and Tellac so no one connected them together. Konra as it turned out was also an excellent dancer and became a very popular boy around the court of the day. He was only fifteen when he was noticed by the Royal Family and invited to dance at a reception for the Royal court; he never made it. There have been many theories about how or why but one thing is certain, on his way to the Palace to dance, he was waylaid by someone unknown and murdered in the street before he could perform. As he was from the fourth quadrant it was taken no further, it was just one of those things that can happen; now I am not so sure it was that simple seeing his name here raises some doubts in my mind."

"I know that every dance that Massam created and performed is written in that diary; can you perform them as well?"

"Yes Gustavo, Mother trained me in all of them but of course the Terrsan's are my favourites."

"That's good to hear, they are my favourites as well. Did you also know that more than 50% of all dances today were created by Massam Lyre?"

"No, Mother never told me that, I thought they were in the book as a reminder for teaching."

"No they were all his creations, that's why it was deemed to be an historical treasure; when it was never found, even though it was known of, it caused such an uproar; its loss and the death of Massam and Tellac nearly brought the continents to a state of war. The only thing that stopped any war was the fact it could not be found anywhere; no one guessed it had been placed in the hands of Massam's only living relative, his sister; it must have been her that kept it for the descendants and now you have it back in its rightful place."

Andre was to stunned to take any more in, the revelations on this day would keep his mind awake for days to come but for now, he had to get some rest, there had been just too much for him to take in all at one sitting.

The King could easily see that Andre was overwhelmed, with a smile and a shake of Andre's hand; he left the Barons alone to help the new Baron Lyre find his feet.

The informal meeting soon broke up and, with his Protector Tomach leading the way, he was shown a hidden passage from the room with the proviso that he could use it any time he wanted to get from his Palace to the Kings when required; he was told that no one apart from the King and the seven Barons knew of the hidden passage for security reasons and ease of movements by those same eight persons; of course now that also included Conrad and Leon but they were also sworn to secrecy.

The underground passage did not go as far as Andre thought it would before they came to a division in the passageway; Tomach led them down the left passage and soon came to a great steel door; it took very little to push it open and, after Tomach had gone through to make sure it was clear for his Baron to come through, they all passed into Andre's new home in Geramak, Massam Lyre's original palace.

One glance at the opulence that greeted him and Andre felt he could not take any more; the world around him went black for the second time that day.

Andre's eyes cracked open in an unfamiliar room; behind him he could feel a lithe young, firm body, its boyhood firmly planted between his buns; in front he could see the familiar shape of Aldred's head, his smaller body spooned in close to Andre's. Andre could also feel the tight dampness surrounding his own boyhood; Aldred had already started something and so Andre did not waste the opportunity. The effect of his movements soon had the body behind him following his own actions and, by the large feel he was getting as it bumped his own hole, the body expected entrance; Andre complied.

It was an hour later when they all surfaced for a rest; Andre was very happy that Tomach had joined them in the bed, it seemed the young Assassin was going to protect more than just Andre's life.

Andre sat up amid a few groans and giggles; he did not recognise the huge room he was in. As far as he could judge, the large circular room had to be close to 20 metres in diameter. All the wall panels were dark and no outside light entered; the ceiling was made like a dome and was high above them; it also had the dark panels that blacked out any light. This made Andre think it was still night time; he was soon in for a shock.

"What time is it and where am I?" Andre asked the two boys in bed with him; it was Tomach that answered.

"We are in your bedroom and it's now midday."

"Midday! But it's as black as pitch out there, you must be wrong."

"No I'm not, the windows are charged with a magnetic power source, it means it can alter the amount of light coming into the room, it might come in handy when you bath or everyone will see your boy bits." Tomach laughed as he rose from the bed to walk over to the sunken bath beside one of the glassed walls.

The bedroom was unusual, not only in its size but in its configuration; The huge round bed was at the centre of the room; the sunken crescent shaped bath was by one set of panels; on the other side was what appeared to be a lounging area; Andre could see no sign of any wardrobes or clothes closets.

"Where are my clothes?"

"Get up and walk over there behind the top of the bed, just ask the Palace computer to raise your closets; it's been programmed to your voice already."

Andre walked over to where he had been told by Tomach, in an unsure voice he said.


A faint hum came to his ears and, from the floor at his feet rose four wide closets, their glass fronts showing all the clothes neatly lined up on hangers and racks; Andre had no idea where they all came from, he was certain he had not bought them at any time in the past.

"Whose clothes are these?"

"Yours and ours, your Security Chief went shopping while you slept the night and half the day away." The laughter in Aldred's voice was unmistakeable.

For Andre it was easy to pick out which closet belonged to which person; Aldred's clothes were all outrageous designs and colours; Tomach's were simple and all black, the six pairs of long trousers which seemed to be made from something resembling fine leather; six pairs of calf length black boots with soft soles that made his movements soundless, even on cold hard marble; and finally six turban like head wear with a long length of black clothe to cover his face. Hanging on a hook was a spare knife belt and a number of small black boxes sat on a separate shelf.

The last two closest were for Andre, they included what looked to be fine clothes for special occasions along with many pairs of boots and shoes. In the second closet were a large number of dance costumes as well as more everyday wear; it seemed that Conrad had been very busy.

"So what do I have to do now?" Andre asked the other two.

"We bath first then some lunch; after that you have to select your Palace staff, by then it will be time for you to get ready for the King's reception." Tomach replied

"Do you think that Aldred can come to the reception with me?"

"Yes of course but, he will have to sit at another table, you will be with the King and the Barons at the top table, they will all have their wives with them. Colonel Conrad and Councillor Sadan will also be up there as they are now considered your sponsors."

"But Aldred is very special to me, why can't he sit with me?"

"Because he does not have a recognised place in your family; wait, there is one way you could do it and stay within Royal protocol."

"What way?"

"Have him declared as your consort, that way he can go where ever you go and be accepted by the Kings court as a legitimate member of your entourage; just as I am. I will be standing behind you as your Protector just like the others will do with their Barons."

"That sounds good, how do I go about it?"

"After we bath, you have to call his father here, when he arrives you tell him that you wish to take Aldred as your consort; if he agrees, and I see no reason he wouldn't, then you bed Aldred right then so his Father can see you have the full intention of having him share your bed and life."

"Is that all, I just have to have sex with his son in front of him to make it official?" while the words were easy to say there was still hesitation in the revelation he would have to perform in front of Leon.

"Yes, mostly, it will have to be recorded on the security records so he can move about with you, but once you have fulfilled all of the requirements then he is your consort, he goes where you go except for one place."

"Where is that?"

"The private chamber of the King and Barons, the one you were in yesterday. Only the King and the Barons along with their Protectors are allowed in there; yesterday Councillor Sadan and Colonel Conrad were given an exemption because of your circumstances."

"Ok I see; well Aldred, are you game and most of all do you want to be my consort?"

"Of course I do, you know I love you with all my being."

"I think he loves your mighty weapon more." Tomach laughed as Aldred blushed; Andre jumped into the bath before they saw the redness of his own cheeks.

As it turned out, an hour later and with Aldred having to take a second bath, Leon was overjoyed to let him go as Andre's consort, the day had been a good one so far; Andre now only had one more duty to perform before he dressed for the important reception. Tomach had told him he would have to spend a few hours selecting his staff for the Palace; they would have to be here and on duty whether Andre was in residence or not. Andre was starting to find that being a Baron of the realm was not as easy as he thought it might be.

When the three boys finally got down stairs from the fourth floor where Andre's bedroom was situated, he was surprised to see more than fifty young people waiting for him; all were well dressed and stood like statues as the trio walked in.

"Where did they all come from and why so many?"

"They are all sons and daughters of servants that work in other Palaces; they are trained from a young age to serve. The Barons and I am sure the King also, has sent them over so you can select some as you own personal staff." Tomach replied.

"But I don't even know how many I need, I haven't even seen the entire Palace yet; how can I make a selection without knowing that?"

"Well if you will let me help you; you will need about six for the kitchen and another four servers; next you will need about twenty for the many bedrooms and then another six or eight for the cleaning staff; finally you will need at least five gardeners and two chauffeurs."

"That must be nearly everyone here?"

"That's right, they have already been selected by the Barons and approved by Councillor Sadan but the final decision is yours."

"But how do I know what to tell them all; I've never run a house let alone a Palace before."

Tomach looked at the large group of waiting servants, seeing one that was a little older than the rest and seemed to be standing a little off from the others; he whispered in Andre's ear.

"The older man, the one that looks to be about 25 years old, ask him his name and position; I think he will be the one to run the Palace for you."

Andre nodded and looked at the oldest of the young group.

"Sir what is your name and position?"

"Platon Sir, I am trained as a butler, Sir."

Andre glanced at Tomach and got a small nod in return.

"Thank you Mr. Platon, will you take over and get the staff to their places, I will be relying on you to keep the Palace in order."

"Yes Sir, and thank you Sir, I will not let you down; if I may Sir, there is one small thing that I should raise to your notice?"

"Yes Mr. Platon?"

"I am just Platon, Sir, I am here to serve your household and there is no need to give title to my name Sir."

"Thank, I'll try to remember that."

"Thank you Sir, now if you will excuse me, I will get everyone to work; and thank you Sir for your confidence in us."

True to his word, Platon the new butler soon had everyone else scurrying for their places of work; Andre's Palace now had a staff and started to sound like a well ordered home.


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