For the next two months, Melaka kept a close eye on Krator. He kept to his house arrest, and was allowed to write to his wife once her son was born. His son was named Adelpho, and he was a healthy baby. Krator wrote every week and sent small gifts to his new son, just as a doting father should. Senator Angelis also sent in weekly reports, most of which were very similar in content and told her very little. Krator ate, slept, rode within the grounds of his house, exercised and read a great deal.
Once his house arrest was up, Melaka summoned Krator to the palace once more to formally release him. He answered promptly, and arrived at the palace the following morning. As with all the times before, Melaka felt nervous before she received him into her official chambers, although she could not fathom why. He was a soldier just like any other, albeit a dashing one with his olive skin, sable hair and dark flashing eyes. There was nothing particularly striking about him apart from his impressive height and muscular build, although the two combined made him into a rather handsome man.
Melaka formally released Krator from his house arrest and then dismissed him. As soon as he had left, she sat down at her desk and wrote a letter to the Mayor of Kymi.
Your Honour the Mayor of Kymi,
I hope this letter finds you well and that the seasons have been kind to you thus far. I write to tell you that the man who killed your senior judge, Krator Castellanos, has been suitably punished for his actions. He was placed under house arrest for two months and has this day been released. His actions were, to the best of my knowledge, done in self-defence and it is for this reason that I placed him under house arrest for two months.
Fair winds and following seas.
Princess Melaka, co-ruler of Skyros.
Two weeks later, Melaka received a letter that both startled and disturbed her. It was a letter from the Mayor of Kymi, and it was not a happy one.
Your Majesty Princess Melaka, co-ruler of Skyros,
Your letter found us well, although we are still mourning the loss of our senior judge at the hands of Castellanos. Whilst we are happy to hear that he was punished, his actions were not self-defence. Those who were with him came back the morning after our senior judge’s murder and told me everything. It transpires that the judge came upon your men in a local tavern and asked them to leave as they were not from Kymi. The men then got into a rather heated argument with the judge, and it culminated in Castellanos executing the judge outside the tavern. He then called his friends to him, and they took the head to the harbour and stuck it in the sand facing Skyros, as I told you in my original letter.
I am sorry if I have caused you any further distress, but I sincerely hope that you can sort this out sooner rather than later, so that we can bury our judge without further delay.
May the sun shine warm upon your fields,
Angelo, Mayor of Kymi.
Melaka dropped the letter onto her desk and immediately summoned a servant to fetch her husband. As soon as Kolkos entered the room, she showed him the letter and asked him what to do. He read the letter in silence, his eyes grave and worried, and then, taking Melaka’s hands in his own, he looked deep into her eyes and said, “All we can do is summon the Committee once more and ask their opinion in the light of recent events, my love.”
“Very well. You there, servant boy! Summon the Committee.” Melaka snapped. The servant left the room at a run. Within the hour, all of the Senators were assembled in the official chambers, some looking more confused than others.
Melaka and her husband led the way into the Committee chambers, and soon everyone was seated around the ornate mahogany table that took up most of the room. Melaka laid the letter out in front of her, and then began to speak.
“My good Senators, there is a problem with the Castellanos case. As you all know, we thought that with the end of his house arrest, everything could go back to being peaceful between ourselves and Kymi. However the Mayor has written to me today to say that the story given to us by Castellanos was in fact false. I will pass this letter around for you all to read, and then we will decide upon our course of action.”
One by one, the Senators read the letter. Some made noises of surprise, others merely raised their eyebrows and said nothing. When all of them had read it, they looked at each other and then Senator Petros spoke.
“Your Majesty, although you are not supposed to become Queen until your husband dies, I think now is the time for you to exercise some queenly powers. Castellanos clearly lied to you – to us all, in fact – and must be held accountable for that.”
“I have said to him that he must not enter any war that we may or may not have with Greece, surely this is enough? We cannot have him executed, his wife is a new mother and their child is not yet weaned.” Melaka responded, acutely aware that she sounded like a child pleading for a toy. She hardened her tone. “He is also one of our best soldiers, and I believe him to be loyal to Skyros. Without him, General Gianopoulos would need to find another second-in-command and that will be difficult.”
“I agree, Your Majesty, but there are very few alternatives.” Senator Demetriou responded, his tone smooth and oily. “If we let him live, he will only plot further actions such as this one, and may incite the rest of our young men to rebel against us or even start a war with Greece.”
“You speak wisely, Senator.” Senator Angelis responded. “However, the Princess is correct when she speaks about the military. It will be difficult to find another soldier with enough experience, and with his influence, Castellanos could easily whip our young men into obedience.”
“Senator Angelis speaks with great wisdom.” Prince Kolkos said. “It is my opinion that we should ask Castellanos to make a public apology to the people of Kymi, and to be one of the coffin bearers for the judge’s funeral. What do you think, fellow Senators and Princess Melaka?”
Melaka thought for a few moments and then nodded her head decisively. “I think that you are correct, husband. Castellanos will go to Kymi on in two days’ time with an escort of guards and Prince Kolkos. All I ask is that I am given tomorrow to speak with Castellanos and ask him to tell me the truth.”
“Why does it matter? We know he lied, so why ask him to tell the truth now?” Kolkos asked, his tone incredulous.
“Because I want to know why he lied. He might have lied out of fear, or worry that if he told the truth his wife and son would be left to fend for themselves. Whatever it is, I need to know why he lied to us.”
“Very well. You may receive him here tomorrow.”
“No. I want to go to his home and speak with him there. He may be more willing to be open with me in his own home rather than here, where he is required to be formal and courteous at all times.”
Prince Kolkos sighed. “Very well, my wife. You may go to the Castellanos home tomorrow, as long as you take an escort of five armed guards with you.”
Princess Melaka smiled. “Thank you, husband. That will be most adequate. Honoured Senators, I thank you for your time and advice. We will meet again after the judge’s funeral.”