Castle Roland


by Arthur


Chapter 7

Published: 29 Jan 15



The time to leave for the Kings Palace was now upon them; Andre was again dressed in his full formal Baron's clothes; the blue sash on his small frame seemed a little extreme but there was no other way.

Aldred was now his official Consort and wore clothes similar to Andre's so that his station was plain for all to see. Tomach was of course dressed all in black and had his long black scarf covering all his face except for the dark eyes.

In the limousine they were accompanied by Conrad as his security chief, he would also be inside the Palace and within calling distance of Andre.

The armed guard consisted of five cars of fully armed and armoured security guards; Andre was grateful that the diary was still under guard in the Kings private rooms, it was one less thing to worry about.

When they arrived at the King's Palace, it came as a shock to Andre's already overloaded mind; the whole front of the Palace had been dressed up the likes of which Andre could not even imagine in his wildest dreams.

Everywhere he looked there were uniformed footmen; further back and partially hidden were hundreds of armoured guards of the King's Regiment; Andre wondered what the cost of this one night would be; the more he saw, the more he wanted to do something for those left behind in the sixth and seventh quadrants.

It became a small game for him as he was ushered with bows and whispers up the wide marble steps and into the Palace. All along the wide entrance passage, stood uniformed footmen as well as troopers dressed in the old style of uniform from when the Planet was first being settled 350 years ago.

At the large metal doors of the ball room where the reception and entertainment was to be held, Andre was stopped by the same man with the black staff; the elderly man smiled at Andre and then, with a somewhat devious gin on his old face, he winked at Andre and softly whispered.

"Congratulations on your Consort, he's a truly beautiful boy."

Andre smiled and whispered back.

"I think so too."

The man lifted the staff and knocked three times; this time the doors opened and Andre saw the full reception hall for the first time.

The elderly man stepped inside and loudly called out.

"Your Highness, Baron Andre Lyre and Consort."

Much to Andre's surprise, the great hall which was packed to capacity with the elite of Pathos, all came to their feet and a thunderous applause started as he was ushered into the huge hall.

Andre tried to hide his embarrassment as he and Aldred, with Tomach close behind, began the long walk down the length of the great hall; Andre glanced at the marble floor and, much to his surprise, saw that the milky whiteness was shot through with what looked like pure gold flecks; his feet tingled at the idea of dancing on such a surface.

The King's table seemed so far away as the pair walked amid the tumultuous applause; the very air reeked of power, wealth and position, these were the highest placed of all the elite.

At the Kings table sat the six other Barons, three on each side of the King, the seventh chair was empty and was placed on the King's right hand; Andre saw that another empty chair was placed beside his own for Aldred. The Barons chairs were again like smaller thrones and the Kings larger; Andre and Aldred were ushered around the end of the table and to his place beside the King.

The King was first to speak to him.

"Welcome Baron, how do you like your first banquet?"

"I'm a little overwhelmed Sire."

"Oh you'll get used to it, and this must be the lucky young man that is your Consort; congratulations young Sadan, you are a very lucky young man."

"Thank you Sire." Aldred replied.

"Now tell me Baron, are we going to have the pleasure of watching you dance later in the evening?"

Andre blushed as he realised the great hall had become totally silent while the exchange between himself and the King had been taking place; with reddened cheeks he replied.

"As you Highness commands, it would be my pleasure Sire."

"Oh, excuse me Baron, it was not a command; even though we all here tonight would be more than thrilled to see you perform, I could never command one of my Barons; honestly it is your decision, we all realise you have had to take in so much in only a few short days; if you would rather rest and perform at some later date, we would understand the reason."

"No your Highness, I would truly like to dance for you; the marble floor intrigues me and it almost feels as though I am being drawn to it."

"It's no wonder that you are Baron, this is the very surface that Massam Lyre danced on when he performed the first and only Royal Terrasan; did you know that it was danced, not for the King but for his Prince?"

"No Sire, is that really true, he created the Royal Terrasan for the Prince and not the King?"

"Very true, and it was on this very floor that he performed it, so it is little wonder you are drawn to it; now who would you like to play for you; I have assembled some of the best flute players for you to select."

"Perhaps I could see them first, it takes time for a good player to prepare the music for the dance?"

"I'll have them brought in for you to select one."

The King turned and whispered to a waiting page boy; while they waited, the general conversation around the great hall started up again.

Andre looked about, even now he felt small among all these powerful people; the tables were set out around the edge of the large floor space, they were huge round tables that could hold as many as twenty people on each one; from his place at the semi circular table of the King, he could easily see most of them; they seemed to stretch forever around the great hall.

On his own table, Andre saw the other Barons, like himself they had a smaller chair beside them on which sat their wives or, in the case of the youngest Baron, his Consort; Andre felt a little better that he was not the only one to be accompanied by a young Consort.

The hall hushed as ten men were ushered into the great hall, most of them were smartly dressed in the latest fashion; Andre noted that one of the men at the end of the line, was dressed simply; Andre smiled to himself, the man looked as though he had tried to dress as best he could but it was obvious he did not have the credits to spend on fancy clothes like the others.

Andre looked a little closer at the older man; he almost felt sorry for the man as he was obviously uncomfortable in the presence of so many of the elite.

Andre listened to the resume of each player as the king told him who and where they were from; Andre listened politely but he had already made up his mind.

At the call of the older man's name, the King turned to Andre and asked.

"So Baron, who do you fancy as your player?"

"The flautist at the end, Grogan Link."

"May I ask why, when you have some of the finest players in Geramak?"

"He was the man who played for me in Pathos at the dinner; he is pitch perfect and knows how to make the notes dance in the air; can I ask where he is from?"

"Why he comes from the sixth quadrant of your own home town of Aragon; didn't you know?"

"No, but after tonight I would like him to be appointed as my official flautist for any future dancing of the Royal Terrasan."

"Done, he shall be your official flautist if he shows he is as good as you say; don't get me wrong, I am not doubting your word, but I would like to hear him for myself if I am to appoint him to such a position."

"Then I agree Sire."

The King rose from his throne like chair and the hall fell immediately into silence.

"The Baron Lyre has selected his flautist and will dance for us later in the evening; the flautist is to be Grogan Link; Master Link, if you would like to retire to prepare, we will look forward to your performance."

Andre watched as Grogan's shocked look showed on his face; it was obvious he did not expect to be selected among all the finely dressed others from some of the best families in the realm; just in time he remembered the instructions he had been given before entering the great hall; with a low bow to the King, Grogan left the hall with the others.

The dinner went on for two hours; Andre ate very sparingly, it would not do his dancing any good to be over stuffed; beside him Aldred ate a little more but also did not get carried away as some of the guests were doing.

The King spent most of his time talking to both of them; it began to feel like a good friendly family affair and not the formal banquet it was; Andre was thankful for that, he did not need more pressure on him just now.

The last courses had been served when the King asked.

"You eat so little Andre, is the food too rich for you?"

"No Sire, it's just that as I am about to dance for you I cannot afford a full belly, it will make me sluggish; I do not want to give a bad performance for you."

"Aha, a very wise head on such young shoulders; I truly wish there were more like you Andre."

"Your Highness, if you would excuse me now, I must go and prepare."

"Of course." The king rapped loudly on the table top; the noise stopped almost immediately as he stood up.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Ambassadors and Barons, our young friend Baron Lyre is going to leave us to prepare. Tonight you will all be witness to the rebirth of Massam Lyre's Royal Terrasan to be performed by his only living descendant; I would ask you all to relax and prepare for what I am sure will be the experience of your lives."

The huge crowd clapped and called out good wishes as Andre rose from the table accompanied by Aldred; the King touched Andre's hand to make him pause before leaving.

"And who are you dancing for young Andre?"

"Why you Sire, you and Aldred."

"Good, Massam danced for his love and so must you."

Andre felt a little better now as he and Aldred took a hidden doorway behind the great table; as he stepped through the door he saw Grogan Link standing in the large room, in one hand he held the simple Sheppard's flute he had used last time but, this time he had a younger teen with him; the teens features were easy to trace to Grogan.

"My Lord Baron." Grogan began. "This is my third son Bertram, will you allow him to play alongside me; he is very talented and can well play the counter notes; My Lord I would not normally ask this, but I was hoping that one day he would take my place if the chance came."

"Master Grogan, I would be honoured to have your son play for me."

Grogan Link smiled with gratitude, then both he and his son bowed and went to stand by the door ready to enter the great hall when called upon.

Andre went to his small shoulder bag for his dance costume; with Aldred helping, he was soon dressed and ready; the King had sent a gold cape for him, but at the last moment Andre put on his original silver one; he only hoped the King would not be upset by his decision but he just felt better with the fine silken silver cape.

When they were all ready, a footman appeared and took them down long passageways until they came, once again, to the main doors into the great hall; the doors stood open although six guards stood three on a side protecting it.

Grogan had this time brought a small red mat, it was just big enough for two to sit on it; Aldred asked to carry it in for them.

As the crowded hall grew silent, Aldred walked in alone carrying the mat; at the middle of the hall , he stopped and lay the mat down as he had been told by Grogan; it was in the middle of the large floor; Aldred placed the mat then went to take his chair beside the King once again.

In the hushed silence of the great hall, everyone felt the expectations of what was to come; the silence was only broken by soft whispers as they all saw, not one, but two flautist walk into the hall; it was obviously causing some speculation as the Royal Terrasan, as everyone knew, was danced with only one flautist.

Grogan led his son to the mat; both bowed low to the King and then, instead of sitting side by side as might be expected; they took a seat facing each other across the small mat. Grogan began the first notes once they were properly settled.

Outside in the passageway, Andre heard the first notes, they were then touched with counter notes and, in that instant; Andre realised the full meaning of the Terrasan; the second flute brought a new understanding of Massam's greatest work.

Again it was as though Andre was carried away to another place, those first simple and yet complex notes made his blood hum and his body reacted instinctively; the counter notes of young Bertram seemed to awaken something new in Andre.

As he entered the hall with the first movements of the Royal Terrasan, the golden flecks in the milky marble seemed to take a new form; each group of golden spots formed in his mind as steps; from then on his mind took over his body; his bare feet followed the golden steps around the large hall. Andre was being guided by an unseen hand as he danced; the music ebbed and flowed like never before and all Andre could do was be led by it.

When the final notes sounded and Andre went into the last stance before sinking to the floor in the classical ending; the crowd of dignitaries could only stare in disbelief at what they had just witnessed.

For fully a minute there was not a sound in the great hall; two thousand people had never been silenced in such a way; it then began as a gasp of breath and escalated into a roar or cries and applause as the people returned to the here and now.

In times to come, some would say they were transported to another world on the night they saw the true magic of the Royal Terrasan danced by a reincarnated Massam Lyre.

Even the King himself could not stop the cheers and clapping after the dance; on nearly every face were the tear tracks from the more sad parts of the dance and yet, the clapping and cheering went on and on.

When Andre could finally look up from his position on the floor; the first thing he saw were the tears in the eyes of both Grogan and Bertram; it was evident they had seen what the last movement of the Royal Terrasan truly meant.

Had Massam had a premonition about he and his lover's imminent death that he finished his finest dance with such an ending? None would ever know but Andre had his suspicions.

There was such an uproar in the hall that no one noticed Aldred run from the King's table and down onto the floor where he helped Andre to his feet; he was also assisted by both Grogan and Bertram, although they were also showing the signs of strain caused by their playing.

The two flautists were dressed in plain brown cotton shirts as most were that came from the sixth quadrant, they would have had little else to wear; the shirts were saturated with perspiration and hung on their bodies like wet sheets; their faces were drawn and a little gaunt from their exertions; it was no mean feat to play for three hours and in front of the elite of Pathos.

The king finally restored order by the use of his man with the black staff; when silence reigned once again, the King left his throne like chair and stepped to the front of the curved table where it was placed two steps above the rest of the hall.

"Baron Lyre, we are speechless; all I can say is your earlier wish is valid and will be fulfilled. Grogan Link, Bertram Link, please step forward."

Father and Son did as they were asked and stepped up to the bottom of where the King stood.

"We, by the power vested in us, hereby declare and decree that Grogan Link and Bertram Link shall be hereafter known as Masters of Music by Royal Appointment and, that they receive all benefits and titles assured by such. It is also to be noted that they are to be presented with a Royal Stipend of 10,000 credits per year for life and attached to the Barony of Lyre under the protection of Baron Andre Lyre."

The two men could not find any words but could only stand like statues as the King began to clap with the crowd soon joining with him; Andre and Aldred were the first to congratulate the two as the King looked down with a wide smile on his face.

"Baron Lyre, perhaps you could join the other Barons and myself for a few minutes."

Andre bowed and somehow found the strength to follow the King who was trailed by the other Barons, to the hidden room; everyone else went back to the top table as the conversations around them went on about seeing the dance and what it all meant to each of them.

Grogan and Bertram were escorted to the closest table to the Kings, it also held most of the Councillors of Pathos; it was Leon that was the first to shake their hands and call them by their new titles.

In the private chamber, the first thing Andre saw were four large trunks lined up on the floor; when the King and the other Barons had taken their seats and before Andre could sit; the King said.

"One moment Andre, I'm afraid you have some business to take care of first. Those four trunks hold all the titles to your lands and properties; everything that you have including all of what we recovered from those lawyers. Now I need you to take possession of them with a signature, we will be the witnesses; there is one other thing first though."

The king reached to the small table beside him and took up an oblong box; after opening the box, he gestured for Andre to stand before him. When the box was opened, Andre could plainly see two large gold rings; one was set with a bright red carved stone; the other was plain gold but had another design carved into the gold.

The King took up a tightly rolled scroll; after unrolling it to its fullest extent; he began to read out loud.

"I Gustavos, King of Pathos; do hereby avow that the seals of the Barony of Lyre are tendered to the hands of Baron Andre Lyre, being the Signet Crest of Lyre and the Coat of Arms of the Barony of Lyre; by my hand and signature on this day."

The King rerolled the scroll and handed it to Andre; next he took up the solid gold ring and placed it on the forefinger of Andre's right hand; with that done, the King took out the second ring and placed it on the small finger of his right hand; with all the actions complete, the King smiled and shook Andre's hand.

"Well that now makes it fully official; you have your crest and coat of arms; next are the scrolls of title; they are all in those four chests for you to look over."

Andre went to the first chest; it looked as though it would take at least two full grown men to carry it. Andre knelt down and grasped the small handle at the base of the front panel; lifting the panel upwards, he watched as it rolled into the upper side of the chest.

With the front now open, Andre could see the chest held a mass of small square box shelves; in each box was a rolled scroll and showing on the end of the scroll was the imprint of his new Crest. The small boxes were ten across and six deep; there were sixty scrolls in this one chest.

"The other three hold the rest of your deeds as well as the honours and titles presented to Massam which are now yours by right; I will have them delivered to your Palace tonight; at some time in the future you may want to look them over."

Andre could only nod his head at what the King had said; somehow he had now become the holder of two hundred and forty properties; the ones he felt the most interest in were those held in the sixth and seventh quadrant; during the night he had thought it all over and a plan had formed for the use of the two quadrants properties.

For the next hour they all sat and relaxed; the Barons talked to Andre on what he could expect as a Baron of the realm and that he could always call on any of them for help when needed; the King also told him he would be there and all Andre had to do was call him.

It was early in the morning hours when the reception wound down; Andre was glad when he was able to make his break away; his dance had gone well and the discussions in private with the King had been very revealing; all he had to do now was find where his vault was; his own Palace was still much of a mystery to him.

When they eventually walked in the front doors of his Palace; Andre saw Paton waiting patiently for him; beside Paton stood four young footmen with the four large boxes from the Kings Palace sitting between them.

"Welcome home My Lord, these were delivered while you were out; where would you like them placed?"

"They are to go in the vault, just as soon as I find it Paton."

"Very good My Lord; do you wish for me to show you the vaults now or, would you prefer to rest and see them in the light of day?"

"Tomorrow morning will be soon enough Paton; just make sure they are under guard during the rest of the night."

"Very good My Lord, they will be kept secure until morning; if there is nothing else My Lord, I will say good night."

"Thank you Paton, yes good night; we will see you tomorrow."

Andre led the other two towards the large bedroom; all three were ready for bed; it had been a long and eventful night.

It was midday before Andre awoke; after an interesting bath with Aldred and a solid pummelling massage by Tomach; Andre was feeling more like his old self; all he needed now was to stop the rumbling in his empty stomach; it had been some time since he had eaten sparingly at the reception.

With the meal over; Andre led his small band out into the foyer once again; the four large boxes were now under guard by two heavily armed troopers.

"Have you found the vaults, Paton?"

"Yes My Lord, if you will be so kind as to come this way?"

Paton led the group of three down the long passage until they came to a large solid door; taking a pass key-card from his vest, Paton opened the door and then led the trio downwards.

The stone steps seemed to go on forever but in fact it was only a few minutes; at the bottom they were met with what looked like a glass wall; there seemed to be no way past it and only a small tubular stand with a blank panel gave any indication of its use.

"The access is by biometric reading, My Lord; no one but Massam Lyre can enter but, if you would like to try and it is not accepted then we will have to get the security people in to open the door."

Andre walked to the reader and placed his hand on the clear panel; as the vault was made when the Palace had been built, which was in the time of Massam Lyre; Andre did not expect any result. After he had placed his right hand on the reader surface, Andre got the distinct feeling of his hand being sucked into the reader although this was an illusion; the reader was biometric and the computer voice soon told him the result.

DNA reading, 98%, welcome Massam Lyre, please wait while security system 1 evacuates the room.

Andre was just as shocked as the others; the computer had read him as being Massam Lyre; all they could do was stand and watch as the faintly greenish yellow mist in the opposite room was sucked out through ventilators; when the room looked clear, the voice came back.

Please place your left hand on the reader for secondary verification.

Andre followed instructions; again the voice spoke.

Verification accepted, Massam Lyre, Baron of Pathos, you may enter.

The thick clear glass door opened and Andre, Aldred and Tomach, along with Paton, walked through; Andre noticed the residual smell of the tinted gas before the others did; even Tomach was taken aback when he recognised it; the gas had been a vaporized version of Sunburst Scorpion Venom.

Once inside the narrow room, the small group were met with a large and thick steel door, again the lock was biometric; Andre saw the reader was twice the size; it could mean only one thing; Andre placed both hands on the reader and waited.

Confirmed reading, DNA 98%, Baron Massam Lyre, welcome, you have access.

There were some heavy thuds inside the steel door as the locking bars were released; next the door divided in two, each half sliding back into the wall to reveal a long, wide vault; at the far end was another clear glass room just like the first one.

On the right hand side of the vault was a walkway about three feet wide; on the left were row after row of tall shelves; apart from the shelves attached to the front and rear wall, the rest were back to back with about three feet between each set.

Stacked on the shelves were metal oblong boxes, each on a small set of wheeled runners; they were ten inches wide, two feet long and about four inches high; each box was numbered.

Out of curiosity, Andre pulled out one of the boxes and opened the metal lid; like the others he could only stand and stare at the contents; two even rows of gold plaques sat in the box, Andre estimated there were one hundred plaques to a side. Andre let the lid slam shut as he stepped back and looked down the long row of shelves; even seeing it all he could still not understand the total value of what was stored here.

Andre opened the lid again and took one of the gold plaques from the box, one glance and he knew they were from the almost beginning of Pathos; today the credits were marked with their value; in the time of Massam Lyre they would have been blank like these; in those days the value of a credit could fluctuate with the value of the metal or trade of a planet so they were never marked.

It was only one hundred years ago that the Galactic Council had set a common value on the credit; these were all unmarked and so were worth not only their known value but also as ancient currency which made them very collectable and worth far more than their face value.

Andre gulped as he realised what he had come across and there was still another room at the far end; replacing the old credit plaque back in its box; Andre pushed it back and headed for the far end; he was now interested in what lay in the next vault.

Once he was in front of the glass wall with the same greenish yellow mist behind it; Andre looked for the reader; this time he saw something different; this reader was an optic scan; Andre knew he was now in trouble; every one's eyes were different, he would not be able to get past the computer security this time; with little hope of success; Andre stepped up and placed his face against the reader so that his eyes were looking right into the small holes on its surface.

There came a light humming and then a flash of light; Andre blinked then stepped back; he did not feel much hope as the computer analysed its readings, then came the hollow voice.

Optic scan complete; eleven of twelve markers verified; welcome Baron Lyre; please wait while security system 2 evacuates the room.

The small group waited as the strange gas was ventilated once again, when it looked clear the computer came on again.

Please verify code word access.

Now Andre knew he was screwed, only Massam would have known the code word; it now appeared they would not be looking inside the last vault; Andre would now have to find out what to do to gain access and reset the computer system; as he stood in bewilderment; Aldred touched his arm.

"Try the Princes Name, they were boyhood lovers, he may have used that."

Andre smiled at his consort, he had little to lose and so spoke up as clearly as he could.

"Code word ‘Tellac'."

Code word ‘Tellac' accepted, welcome Baron Lyre.

The doors slid open into the walls once again; this time Andre did not have to give anymore data as the heavy steel vault door was already cycling open.

This vault was smaller but just as well ordered and packed; the walkway was down the centre; on the right wall were paintings all sealed in hermetically contained sleeves; each painting looked like a master piece. The lower shelves held the larger paintings and they grew smaller as they rose up the wall; there had to be nearly thirty paintings on the shelves. Each and every one was signed by Prince Tellac.

It was not difficult for Andre to see that most were paintings of Massam; some were of him in dance poses and others were less formal but all were magnificent paintings. At the far end of the vault was one life size painting all on its own; it was of two young, semi naked teens entwined in each other's arms and leaning in for a kiss; one was obviously Massam, the other could only be Tellac.

Even after looking as close as he could, Andre found it hard to realise it was a painting; the duet of lovers seemed to almost jump off the canvas as though still alive; it took Andre's breath away with its reality.

On the opposite wall were more shelves; one large set held many carved boxes of varying sizes; he would look at them soon; the last set of shelves held what looked like well used books; on closer inspection, Andre saw they were more unknown diaries as well as a small booklet for each of the dances Massam had created; they also were encased in hermetically sealed sleeves; fixed to the front of each of the dance booklets was a small old fashioned computer disc in its own sealed container.

Somehow Andre would have to get to see them; hopefully without any damage; it would be a feat just getting something old enough to play the long unused discs; today everything played only the holo-cubes; computer discs were long out of use.

Andre returned to the first shelf of boxes; he noted that some had the crest of lyre and others the crest of the Royal household; because the shelf was so high; Andre asked Tomach to take down one of the larger boxes with the Lyre crest.

Once the box was in his hands, he opened it and gasped at the contents; sitting in the lined box was a beautiful gem encrusted gold coronet, it had to be one of those worn by Massam when performing formal duties; he could only guess that the ones with the Royal crest were crowns belonging to Tellac as the boxes were larger.

Andre was now almost shaking with the pressure of what he had found; this was his heritage; everything here was a part of whom he was; the tension of the discovery was almost overwhelming, he needed to get out and take time to work things through.

These last weeks had been so much for him, he didn't know quite which way to turn; he needed some space and time to let it all sink in; closing the box he looked at his friends; it was time to go back upstairs and catch his breath.

Andre was almost in tears by the time they got back to the upper floors; Platon had gone off to watch over the staff; Tomach had taken off to tour the Palace and check the security arrangements; this left only Aldred to sooth his growing fears of having too much too soon; he was glad of the tender arms that encircled his slim shoulders.

Andre could no longer keep the tears from his eyes; all of the events of the last weeks now came crashing down on him; it was to be hours before Aldred could get Andre back on his feet; the torrent of continuous tears seemed never to end as Andre tried to rid himself of all the pressure that had been building.

Aldred never left his side; his warm and loving arms stayed firmly around Andre as the tears flowed; even the staff trod gently when going past the pair on the large couch.

When finally Andre had cleared all the stress of the past weeks from his system; Aldred was able to take him up to their private quarters; with a good hot bath which included a lot of petting and kisses, Aldred got Andre back on the sunny side; the two young teens just lay in the hot water in each other's arms and relaxed.

"What am I going to do Aldred?"

"You're going to do what a Baron does; put your best foot forward and set an example for others to follow; never forget, you are Andre and not Massam; just be yourself and don't let other change you; I love you just as you are."

"You know the next fifty years are going to kill us, right?"

"Yes they probably will, but we are going to have fun waiting for it."

At last Andre was able to truly laugh for what he thought as the first time ever; what the future held they would have to just wait and see but, at least they now had each other and that was worth everything else to both boys.


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