Fade to White
“Commander, I know where he’s been going.”
Nosaj looked up as the doors to his Throne Room swung open and Ramo entered with grim determination. “That was fast,” he commented, leaning against his elbow with his chin in his hand.
“There’s a farm in the forest, northeast . . .”
“Of the castle, I know,” Nosaj cut Ramo off, finishing the sentence for him.
“There was a girl, and apparently Jerek is . . .” Ramo trailed off.
“Not too surprising.”
“Commander, what are we going to do?” Ramo pleaded, clasping his hands together and biting his lip.
“Indeed, what can we do?” Nosaj stood up, stretching both of his arms above his head then slowly bringing them down. “Don’t worry so much Ramo. Everything will be right in the end. For now, let’s just wait a couple days. Jerek won’t be going anywhere, his punishment will make sure of that. Then when he’s regained his strength, we’ll go and get him.”
“What?” Ramo frowned. “Wouldn’t it be easier to rush out there right now and bring him back? That girl won’t be able to stop us and Jerek can’t fight because of his wounds.”
Walking up to Ramo, Nosaj put his hand on his shoulder. “You are young, and there are things you don’t understand yet. We will wait.”
“But I can’t stand waiting! Jerek betrayed me, because of that girl!” Tears flooded Ramo’s already red eyes as he screamed, “I want her to die!”
“Hush now,” Nosaj murmured, “don’t get yourself worked up. Let’s sit down and you can tell me about this girl.”
Blinking furiously, Ramo let Nosaj guide him to the side of the room where couches and chairs lined the wall, and sat down on one of the cushioned sofas. Swallowing, Ramo began, “It looked like she lived at the cottage.”
“Yes, it’s quite the possibility.”
“She was . . .” Ramo gritted his teeth together before forcing out the word, “pretty. She was wearing a loose pink nightgown when she came out of the cottage and found Jerek lying unconscious on the ground. Her hair was long, a bright reddish-gold color, and kind of wavy. The morning mist made her seem kind of mystical, like she was some sort of nymph.”
“It sounds as if you’re taken with her too.” Nosaj smirked.
“No, I’m not!” Ramo burst out, then sullenly added, “there was something about her that struck me, is all.”
“There must be something about this girl that makes her considerably more pretty than her mother, because that whore was as plain as dirt.”
“I think she used her siren charms to brainwash Jerek.”
“Jerek would never kiss or hold anyone like that! He’s too strong for it, too independent.”
Nosaj frowned. “Jerek is just a man, after all. They did that?”
“Yeah. When she came up to him, she touched him and woke him up. After she saw the whip marks on Jerek’s back, they clung to each other for a while, then started kissing each other with such intensity it was disgusting to look at.”
“My poor Ramo. It seems this situation is worse than I had originally thought. Because of Jerek’s stubbornness and hatred toward the more intimate aspects of life, he’s completely unguarded when it comes and hits him. He’s just a child when it comes to love.”
“Then we need to go and get him right now!”
Pausing, Nosaj thoughtfully pursed his lips before soothingly saying, “Ramo, ever since you came to live with us ten years ago, I’ve thought of you as a son. Just as you trusted and obeyed your real father, I want you to trust and obey me. You hate this girl that stole Jerek away from you, right?”
“With all my heart!”
“Then don’t you want her to suffer?”
“Suffer?” Ramo repeated.
“It’s only what she deserves, for manipulating Jerek and turning him against you. I bet if it hadn’t been for her, Jerek would be devoted to only you. You’re the only one he spends any time with, the only one he’s formed any attachments to.”
“Yes . . . I want her to suffer.”
“Then you’ll help me with what I’m about to do?”
“Good. We’ll wait to go to the cottage, but when we do we’ll take out our revenge on the girl. We want her to feel a false sense of security, we want her to think that she’s succeeded, so that when we rip everything away from her, she’ll fall from the top to the very bottom. Doesn’t that sound like a plan?”
“Yes. It’s a plan.”
“Out of curiosity,” Nosaj spoke as Ramo stood up, “if I brought her here, would you use her? Is she that pretty?”
Ramo danced slightly on his feet, thinking hard about the question. Finally, he answered, “I probably would. We don’t have any like her in the castle.”
“Thank you, Ramo. You may leave now.” Leaning against the armrest and putting his feet up onto the cushions, Nosaj smirked and stroked his chin. “Beautiful enough for Ramo, eh?” he mused out loud, chuckling, “and beautiful enough for Jerek too. I am lucky, there is no doubt.”
Out inside the corridor, Ramo stopped and leaned against the wall. He couldn’t stop the sick feeling in his stomach, the sense that everything was on the verge of crashing down. No, it already was falling and it was just a matter of time before it exploded. His life as he knew it had already ended, and the future only held uncertainties.
He didn’t want to think about that. It was a scary thought. Without considering what he was doing, Ramo found himself wandering to Jerek’s chambers and pushing his way into the empty room. All of Jerek’s stuff was still there, packed up and sitting on his bed. Jerek didn’t have a shirt and he would need one. He would miss his sword too, and his cigarets. Kneeling down, Ramo retrieved the little tin from underneath Jerek’s bed and went to stuff it into the pack with Jerek’s clothes, but saw that they were all in a bundled mess. That was typical of Jerek. Sitting down, Ramo proceeded to pull out all of Jerek’s shirts and pants, carefully smoothing out the wrinkles as best he could with his hands before neatly folding them up and putting them back into the bag.
He hated the idea that had come into his head, but it was better than sitting and waiting. At least Ramo would be doing something, and helping Jerek, instead of moping around the castle. He had done enough of that recently. It was time for action, even if it was as simple as making sure Jerek had his clothes.
Slinging the bag over his shoulder, Ramo picked up Jerek’s sword and considered it for a moment before strapping it around his waist. Common sense told him that it wouldn’t be a good idea to hand Jerek a weapon like this, considering what they were planning, but for some reason he couldn’t leave it behind. Jerek was proud of his sword, and proud of his ability to use it. It would be a shame to withhold it from him.
Despite his resolution to help Jerek, Ramo’s feet were still heavy as he dragged his way through the corridors of the castle. It would be better if he was going with the intent to bring Jerek back home, instead of going to drop off his things. He couldn’t understand Nosaj’s purpose in delaying such actions, all he knew was that he would have to trust the Commander.
Even with slow-moving feet, it didn’t take too long for Ramo to reach the stables. After asking the Stable Keeper to saddle a horse for him, Ramo stared out at the trees. It felt strange to be leaving the castle a second time like this, especially with both of the trips being so close together. The sun didn’t even seem to be shining as brightly as it should have been.
When the horse was ready, Ramo mounted it and kicked it lightly to urge it forward. In a few hours he would be safely back in the castle. He would do this for Jerek.