Brothers and Kings
Art by imogenweasley
“If you’ll follow me this way, I can show you your new living quarters,” the Gelert said, leading two young Draiks through the Meridellian castle. One Draik was a dark, creamy chocolate color and a head taller than the other, who was the color of night.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it, Ryoran?” the taller one whispered. “We’ve never seen this part of the castle.”
Ryoran nodded. “Though I wish Mother and Father were here still,” he said, referring to the strange deaths the King and Queen had suffered.
“Me too. Why do we need new rooms?” he asked the Gelert.
“The Regent believes you should stay here for a while, while we sort out the problems concerning your parents. It is best to take your minds off of it, he thinks. Here is your residence, Master Quentin,” the Gelert said, pointing at the ornate door to his right. The taller Draik turned to it and grinned.
“Where’s mine?” Ryoran asked anxiously.
“Right here, Master Ryoran,” the Gelert replied as he lifted a paw and pointed to the door directly across from Quentin’s. The younger Draik scampered across the hall and entered his room excitedly. He gazed upon the enormous room, complete with its own bathroom and living room for relaxation. Ryoran grinned from ear to ear. He turned to go see Quentin’s room.
“Yours is bigger!” Ryoran said when he stepped into Quentin’s room. “That’s not fair!”
Quentin popped his head out from the bathroom. “Sure it is! I am older, after all.”
“So?” Ryoran shouted. “It’s still not fair! I want a big room too!”
“Ryoran, don’t start. We’ve been over this,” Quentin sighed. Sometimes he felt so much more mature than Ryoran, although he was barely a year and a half older than him.
“You always get more than me! It’s not fair!” he whined.
“Oh, grow up. Maybe if you acted grown up, people would take you more seriously,” Quentin said, going back to exploring his new room.
Ryoran opened his mouth to retort. “Hmph,” he said. “It’s still not fair.”
“It’s just not fair,” Ryoran said. “I have lived here as long as you, Quentin, twenty three years to be exact, and I have never received the same treatment as you, ever.”
The grown up Ryoran was standing before the throne of Meridell, where Quentin was sitting lazily.
“Haven’t we had this conversation before, Ryo?” Quentin asked idly.
“That’s beside the point! I demand some respect! Since Mother and Father died you’ve always had the better life!” Ryoran shouted.
“Oh, grow up, Ryo! You are not the most important thing to ever live. You don’t deserve anything except a swift kick in the rear. I’ve let you stay here, isn’t that enough?”
Ryoran glowered at Quentin. “You will get what’s coming to you, Quentin, you know that?”
“Whatever,” the king replied.
Ryoran spun around and stalked out of the throne chamber. “The nerve of him! Why, he doesn’t even want to be king! He doesn’t deserve it either!” he muttered to himself.
Quentin was bored. “Being a king is so dull,” he thought. “Why can’t there be something exciting for me to do?” He slouched down and closed his eyes, drifting to sleep.
“Your Majesty! Your Majesty!” Quentin was aroused by a squeaky voice coming from a light blue Meerca.
“Wha-?” he mumbled drowsily.
“Your Majesty, there is a disturbance in your sleeping quarters! Sir - everything is ripped to shreds!”
Quentin yawned and waved the Meerca away. “I was sleeping, Milodin, didn’t you see that? Just take care of it.”
“But your Majesty—”
“I said take care of it!” Quentin snapped. “When will everyone learn that I do not care what goes on in this castle?”
The Meerca slumped and turned away.
“And Milodin, if you see my advisor, please send him in,” Quentin added lazily.
“Yes, your Majesty,” the Meerca said humbly.
“You called, your Majesty?” the blue Skeith said sweetly.
“Yes, Skarl, come in, come in,” Quentin told him.
Quentin’s top advisor entered the sprawling throne room and waddled towards the throne.
“Yes, your Majesty?” he asked.
“I have a request for you. I am sick of the drama that goes on here. I am handing over all problems to you. Do whatever you need to do to take care of it, ok? I just want some peace and quiet.”
Skarl smiled. “But of course, your Majesty. I’ll take care of everything.”
Ryoran was panting. The guards were after him, but thankfully he knew all the shadowy places after living here almost his whole life. Twice now he had seen guards run by still searching for him. He’d give it maybe twenty more minutes until they’d assume he had left the castle and it’d be safe to leave his hiding place.
Destroying Quentin’s room was highly satisfying, and all too easy. Maybe that’d get Quentin worked up about something. It was so irritating to see his apathy! It infuriated Ryoran to watch Quentin make a mockery of the monarchy. Ryoran really cared about the kingdom; he’d make a better king for sure.
After waiting long enough, he left the shadows and went to his room, which hadn’t changed throughout the years. The only thing that changed was the occupant of the room across the hall, a young squire named Gerion, barely the age of twelve. Of course, Quentin had received a room upgrade; his room was the pride of Meridell.
Ryoran stormed into his room and slammed the door. He didn’t care that it was the middle of the night, or whom he woke up. The Draik paced across the room, back and forth. There had to be a way to get his brother to care about something. He was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn’t hear someone knocking on his door. On the third knock, he looked up.
“Huh? Who is it?” he asked absently.
“Skarl,” a gruff voice said. “May I come in?”
Ryoran had never really liked Skarl; he was too much of a brownnoser.
“I suppose,” Ryoran sighed. The door swung open and the blue Skeith toddled through the doorway. He shut it with a soft click.
“I’m sorry for disturbing you, but I didn’t think you were asleep. I heard the door slam.”
“Yes, Skarl? What is it?” Ryoran said impatiently.
“Yes, of course. I have a proposition for you,” the Skeith said.
Ryoran was intrigued. “A proposition?”
“Indeed. Will you keep this conversation strictly confidential?”
The Draik was really interested now. “Of course. What is it?”
“Quentin is sick. He won’t like me telling you this, but it is fact. He is dying a slow death.”
Ryoran shook his head disbelievingly. “It can’t be. He doesn’t look sick at all.”
“Ah, but it is true. He’s had many doctors come for diagnoses, all under the cover of night, of course, and they’ve all given him the same answer. He is dying, Ryoran.”
Ryoran was silent. His brother was dying? Why didn’t Quentin tell him?
“So what’s the proposition?” he asked finally.
“A cure is on the way. If you will go out and receive it, I’ll allow you to administer it to Quentin. Perhaps it will finally put you back in his good graces.”
“Where is the cure?”
“It is coming by way of thieves. It was the only way to get it to Quentin without the public knowing,” Skarl explained. He pulled a small scrap of parchment out of his cloak. “Here are directions to the rendezvous point. I take it you are accepting my request?”
Ryoran took the parchment, nodding. “Thank you, Skarl, for this opportunity!”
“It’s nothing. Now get going! The thieves will arrive soon; you shouldn’t keep them waiting.”
Ryoran set off through a small escape route from the castle, smiling like a fool. This was his chance to set things right!
It was early the next morning. Ryoran tramped back through the side door and hurried to find Skarl. He found the Skeith in the advisor’s office, a gilded room full of royal treasures.
“I have it,” he said happily as he emerged into the room.
Skarl looked up from his papers. “Very good, Ryoran.” He smiled. “Shall we find Quentin, then?”
As usual, the Draik was snoozing in his bedchamber.
“Quentin sure snores loudly,” Ryoran thought to himself. Ryoran was tiptoeing through Quentin’s bedroom towards the king himself. Ryoran was trembling slightly; he wanted to cure Quentin, but if this whole thing was a secret, perhaps his brother would be angry with him instead. Skarl was waiting outside in case of trouble, “either in the bedroom or outside of it” as he put it. Why there would be trouble inside, Ryoran wasn’t sure.
Ryoran was now standing next to the bed. Did he really want to do this? Yes, he was sure. “It’s the only way to cure him,” he told himself. He lifted his arm slowly, and opening the vial, poured the entire solution into Quentin’s opened mouth.
He braced himself for any change, but there was none. Quentin continued to sleep peacefully, as if nothing had happened, as if Ryoran hadn’t just saved his life.
Should he wait for a response? He wanted to be sure Quentin knew that he, Ryoran, was his savior. No, he couldn’t wait. He grabbed Quentin’s arm and shook it roughly.
“Wake up, Quentin,” he said.
But he didn’t budge. Ryoran shook him again, frowning. He usually wasn’t a very deep sleeper. Still no response. He shook him harder, but there was nothing.
“Skarl!” he shouted, calling for the Skeith. The doors burst open, as if he had been waiting for the call. “Skarl, there’s something wrong with Quentin!”
Skarl examined the King. After a moment he replied. “Ryoran, what did you do?”
Ryoran was near tears. “Nothing! I just fed him the cure, like you told me to!”
“Ryoran... you’ve killed him,” Skarl said solemnly.
The Draik bit back a sob. “I didn’t! I didn’t do anything!”
“Let me see the vial,” Skarl said coldly. Ryoran complied and handed him the small glass tube.
Skarl sniffed the inside of it. “This is poison,” he said.
Ryoran was shocked. “It must’ve been the thieves! I didn’t put anything in there!”
“Nonsense. Those thieves know the price if they were to disobey me. This is your doing, Ryoran,” Skarl said angrily.
“I would never want to hurt my brother!”
“But you did, Ryoran. My advice: run. Run away, Ryoran, and never come back. I’ll take care of the rest. It’s either that or the dungeons.
Ryoran, bleary-eyed, stuttered. “But-”
“Just go! There’s no time!”
“Yes, yes, oh, thank you, Skarl!”
“Think nothing of it! Now go!” he whispered hurriedly as he threw open the window.
Ryoran burst into the air, never to return.
Skarl watched him from the balcony, grinning maliciously. Things had worked out even better than planned.
A major thanks to phsycoticdancer for her advice and suggestions. It wouldn’t be in the Times without you!