Kirill felt Jami’s warmth behind him and thanked God that they were more than friends. If he could choose a brother, it would be Jami. His intelligence and train- ing pretty much matched Kirill’s at twenty-three.
They reached the hill that overlooked the manor and watched for a long while. They saw nothing amiss. As soon as twilight appeared, they walked the horse straight to the barn and found his mother’s best friend there. Kassin had taken charge of things in the manor since the first day they arrived there. His mother thought highly of him.
“At the palace, though I don’t know if alive or dead.” The eyebrows of the man on his late forties rose sky high, while his eyes moved between Kirill and Jami for more information.
“The palace was attacked and we were lucky to run here with our lives, Kassin. I don’t know what to do. Jami believes I should stay out of the light for a while.”
“Who attacked the palace, young master?”
“We don’t know..., they fought with thick, long knives.”
“The Sirilians. I told the king they would be back before I left with your mother.... Is the king taken then?”
“We don’t know for sure, though when I went by the throne room, a man cried ‘the king has fallen.’”
“Thank you.... Jami, when did you know who I was? With the run for my life? It didn’t register that you called me prince, until now.”
“I found out when your mother told you that you needed to learn your letters because a king didn’t need to know about chickens and such.”
“You were but five then.”
“Yes, I never told anyone, not even you, that I knew because I wasn’t sure what it meant.”
“I was glad no one treated me like they do in the palace. I guess they didn’t because they didn’t know who I was.”
“If you remember, Sire, your mother made her lady-in-waiting and me called her Lady Sophrony, her maiden name, instead of Queen Consort. Of course, I did know who she was. The servants you have now never knew.”
“She really was our queen?”
“You didn’t know that either? Think about it, Jami. If I’m the prince and she is my mother...”
“She is the queen. No, I never thought of it that way. I, I fancied her my mother, at nights growing up, but she wasn’t, how could she be?”
“Don’t worry about that, Jami, you are like a brother to me, anyway. Wait, how did you know I was at the castle?”
“You were to go to the palace and didn’t invite me. I decided to leave before you did and see the palace for myself. I was looking about when I found myself in a tower. That is when I discovered foreign troops hiding outside the palace about the gardens. I gave the alarm and may-hem ensued.
“The next time I looked down, I thought I recognized your horse just a breath behind the enemy. I followed your advance and knew you would be killed if I didn’t get to you before the enemy did.
“You were lucky they were going in and didn’t pay attention to their backs, or they would have seen you.”
“And your quick thinking saved me, Jami.” He embraced the young man sideway. “I didn’t know right from left at the moment, so deep in my thoughts was I. I had no idea a battle raged in the palace until I saw the guards fighting for their lives.”
“It has been an adventure, young master. Why don’t you get cleaned up and have something to eat? I will have the lads watch the road from the palace. They will let us know if trouble is coming from there.”
“Thank you, Kassin. My energy has escaped to realms far away and left me lacking.”
Before he lay down to sleep, Kirill heard a knock on his window. He turned the light down before he opened it.
“What is it, do you know?”
“It’s a message from your mother, addressed to you. It came by messenger two days ago.”
“Thank you, Kassin. Listen, I don’t know when I can return here.”
“Don’t worry, young master. Safe travels to you and Jami. You’d better get some sleep; morn comes too early in the country.”
It must have been midnight when a loud bang and crashing that seemed to be the front door awoke Kirill in a fright.