Adrift: Chapter Twenty-Two

Day Thirty: 1,126 words (30,125 total)


Beroel was stopped by guards as he approached the cathedral. They held their swords high at him. This seemed to be a growing trend. But hopefully this would work. He was completely unarmed. Not that he could take on four guards by himself, but his chances of walking away unharmed were slim if he said the wrong thing.

"What is your business with the High Priest?" the guards asked.

"I will speak to High Priest." Beroel said.

They laughed, "Don't be so sure of yourself."

He wasn't sure how well it was going, "Help, yes?"

The one guard snickered, "I could perhaps let you through for a few coins."

"What is?" He asked.

The guards turned to themselves, "What's wrong with this kid?" one asked.

"It doesn't matter. Let's check if he has anything on him."

They turned to him, "You may see the High Priest, but we need to search you."

The guards surrounded him. They patted him down and sifted through his pockets. Beroel was confused, but there was no fighting it. He only had five coins in his pocket, all of which the guards took. But they seemed pleased with their find. They examined the glistening red coins.

"What are these?" the guard asked.

"Not sure how called." the warrior responded.

He held up the coin, "Do you have more?"

"I will see High Priest?"

The guard narrowed his eyes, "I'll let you in. But I'm escorting you out and you'll give me as much as I want. You understand?"

The other guard turned to him, "How do you get to keep it all to yourself?"

Another chimed in, "Yeah! I want my cut too!"

The first guard sighed, "You'll all get a share of whatever I find on him."

They turned to Beroel and grabbed his arms. They pushed him through the cathedral doors. The main room had a tall ceiling with beautifully designed glass windows as well as stone benches that sat in rows in front of a podium similar to the longhouse, but so much more grand. They let him into another room that looked like a library. Scholars worked diligently as they arranged books, read, and scribed letters. Towards the back of the library was a spiral staircase that they ascended. Upstairs, at the end of a hallway was a grand door fitted with gems. The guards knocked and a voice from inside beckoned to enter.

"What is the meaning of this visit?" an elderly man with a long grey beard asked.

"This man has been requesting to speak with you all morning," the guard pushed Beroel forward, "Make it quick."

The old man stared at the warrior. He was nervous. This may be his only chance. He had prepared with [the man from the tavern] all morning to practice the words he would say. What if he spoke them out of order? There was no going back now.

"I am from Zehnai lands. I seek help from High Priest. People are sick and hungry. Zehnai need help."

The guard heckled, "Sounds like a beggar. I'm sorry, High Priest Tacim. I will remove him."

But as the guard approached, the High Priest ordered him to stop. He stared at Beroel as to see into his mind and determine his true motive. The warrior began to sweat. But at last, the old man smiled.

"You must explain more, child. I will pray for the sick and hungry, but I must know who they are."

"Help...yes?" Beroel asked.

The High Priest turned to the guards, "Where is this man from?"

The guards shook their heads, "I heard a couple of days ago they came with some merchant carts. But no one knows where."

Tacim pondered a moment as he looked at the guard, "What have you found on him?"

The guard gulped, "Nothing, your holiness."

He scrunched his brow, "Do you lie in the temple of the gods?"

"No! I wouldn't dream of it!"

"Bring what you've found."

The guard mumbled to himself as he gathered up the coins he took. The High Priest extended his hand the coins were plopped into his palm. He examined them closely. The old man seemed very intrigued.

"Bring me one of the scholars."

The guards rushed off out the door. Alone, Tacim turned back to Beroel, who stood anxious. Why did they care so much about four small coins? It was only enough to buy a meager loin of pork and a few potatoes. These people were dressed so rich, wouldn't they just scoff at such a simple amount?

"This metal comes from Ruun, yes?"

"Zehnai come from Ruun once, yes"

The High Priest realized he would not get much more information from this man alone. But soon the guards returned with one of the scholars from the library and Tacim greeted him. The scholar bowed and approached him. The High Priest held out his hand and the young man examined the coins.

"The metal appears to be from Ruun...but no one has been able to travel to there in ages. This sort of thing is rare."

"What is 'Zehnai'?" the High Priest asked.

The scholar shook his head, "Our research of Ruun is very limited-"

Beroel cut in, "We are Zehnai. Travel across beach for help. We starve and suffer is called 'haibio'."

The scholar scratched his head, "He looks similar to the Rummai. Perhaps they've rebuilt."

"We've seen Rummai before," the guard added, "Most are pirates. They're a bunch of lousy cheats and thieves."

The scholar nodded, "So I've heard..."

"But you've said they did not come by ship?" Tacim asked.

"They could've tricked the merchants. I wouldn't put it past a Rummai." the guard said.

But another added, "The pirates we've seen don't have coins like that. The Rummai trade in gold and nothing less."

Tacim folded his arms, "I will hope you've discovered that fact through legal methods."

"Of course, your holiness!"

The scholar continued to study the coins, "This metal could be valuable. But we'd need much more of it to determine a proper application."

Tacim turned back to Beroel, "That red metal. Do you have more?"

"Coin?" Beroel asked.

"No. The red metal itself. Do you have more?"

Beroel though for a moment, "Armor?" he asked pointing to one of the guards.

Tacim sighed and returned to the guards, "Bring him back to whoever he is staying and retrieve all of this metal that you can find. All of it. The gods will know if you deceive me."

The guards grabbed Beroel and pulled him towards the doorway. He struggled with them. What did he say wrong? Was the High Priest going to help him? He tried to break free.

"Help, yes?" He asked the old man.

But no response was give. The large jeweled doors were closed and Beroel was dragged down the stairs and out the cathedral. Outside, the guards yelled at him to show them where he lived, but he was silent. What was going to happen? Did the old man not understand what he asked...or did he just not care?

The End

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