Kyran felt the bones in his body creak and jam together as he got up from his straw made bed. The narrow gap at the top of the wall above his bed allowed the warmth of the morning sun to seep into the once freezing prison. The warmth, however, could not ease the impending dread that ate away at Kyran’s mind, he knew very well that there was only one hour until noon and then he would be given forty-five lashings and be sent to the Last World.
Kyran tried not to let those two words feed his already growing fear and instead he thought back to the last day he ever saw his tutor, Serik, alive.
The late afternoon sun turned the cluttered study golden, mounds of books covered the walls, loose pages from old books were scattered along the floor and the mahogany desk was hidden underneath maps and curious knick knacks. The study of Professor Serik was in itself a marvel to look at, each and every time there was always something for Kyran to look at.
“What have you heard about the Last World, Kyran?” Asked Serik, he was an old man with white, wild hair and yet he had large hazel eyes that seemed to always sparkle with curiosity and passion.
“My father tells me that we are not to speak of it.” Kyran replied quietly and yet he hoped that Serik would ignore his father’s warning.
“Your father is not an ignorant man, he is far more intelligent and manipulative than you or anyone else knows and gives him credit for.” Serik spat harshly, Kyran had never heard his tutor speak like that before.
“Your father has lied to everyone, even you Kyran. The Last World is not a place solely made from suffering and pain. In fact, it is almost exactly the same as our world.” Serik began as he went around the room and started to gather large books from various shelves.
“There are two different worlds, ours and what we call the Last World. But they are like two sides of the same coin and one cannot live without the other. The events and happenings in our world almost mimic that of the Last World and vice versa.” Serik explained as he finally sat down opposite of Kyran and opened a large book.
“Then why is being banished to the Last World considered to be a fate worse than death?” Asked Kyran, Serik shook his head in answer and sighed long and harshly. Serik always did this when he was getting frustrated.
“Your father creates these horrific stories about the Last World to instil fear and terror. That is how he has managed to keep the masses in line. They are too afraid to stand-up for themselves, too afraid to speak harshly of their King and too afraid to even question his motives.”
It was then that Kyran realised what Serik was saying, the meaning behind the words and he realised without a shadow of a doubt that Serik was intending to bring a revolution to the royal family. And Kyran knew that it was his duty to report anything ‘unsavoury’ to his father, to the King.
But for some reason he didn’t want to.
“You do realise Serik that you’ll be hung if I tell my father what you’re planning. It’s treason Serik.” Kyran state,d hoping that the tutor would apologize and claim the treachery as ramblings of a crazy old fool.
But Serik instead just looked at him, a flicker of surprise and understanding in his weathered features and hazel eyes. Before smiling thoughtfully and turning the pages of a large book as if he hadn’t heard a word that Kyran had just said.
Kyran in turn just watch the old tutor, worried for the safety of his favourite and only tutor. Serik had been his teacher ever since Kyran could remember and Kyran himself had confided in Serik all of his troubles and thoughts. It worried Kyran that Serik had truly lost his mind.
It took a few more seconds before Serik looked up from Kyran with an encouraging smile upon his wrinkled face.
“Do you know why I know that the Last World is not as bad as your father makes it out to be?” Serik asked, almost whispering the question to Kyran, who shook his head, no, in reply.
“I used to live there, once, when I was a boy.” Kyran stared at Serik in surprise, an awful silence surrounded the pair and Kyran suddenly felt hyperaware of his surroundings. Of the cold draft that leaked through the gap in the door.
Thousands of questions raided Kyran’s thoughts, each and every one of them far more interesting than the last. But instead Kyran asked the simplest question “how?” he said in a whisper.
“Rainbows, they are the hidden archways that guide people from the Last World to this world. I managed to walk through the centre of a rainbow once and suddenly I found myself in this world. I tried to walk back, but rainbows here are very rare events here.”
“Why didn’t you just go to the Sisters?” Kyran wondered.
“I didn’t have any money and when I did have enough I had already made a life for myself here. And I was afraid of what my world would look like, the changes, the wars; I didn’t want to find out if my parents had died in pain. It was fear, mostly, that kept me here.”
The uncomfortable warmth of tears blurred his vision as the image of his tutor being burned on the stake flashed before his eyes. The day after their conversation Serik was arrested for treason against the King and in just a few hours the kindle was being lit underneath him. Kyran had to watch his favourite and only tutor burn alive.
It was those memories and the predicament of his situation that made the tears seem to flood out of him. He was still young, he still had so much to live for and now all those things that he wished to do was now falling rapidly through his fingers. He was terrified of the Last World, and even though Serik had told him that it was not created from suffering, pollution and cruelty, the very thought of being ripped from his own world, from his own people felt like he was being sentenced to death anyway.