My horse’s hooves clip-clopped against the cobblestones. I trained my eyes ahead, watching for any sign of movement. Twilight overshadowed the town of Lakes-Dale, giving it an eerie glow. Buildings lined either side of the road and they stood as silhouettes against the moon’s light. Everything was still. Even the wind was silent. I had no hints of my bandits whereabouts.
I rubbed my forehead. Ugh, he must have hidden for the night. I’ll have to find him in the morning. I patted Gray’s sweaty neck and thick mane. Good thing I suppose, you need some rest. I started to scout for the local stable.
Gray’s ears twitched. Something didn’t feel right. I heard shuffling footsteps, not the horses hooves. I pulled him to a halt. Shadows danced off the slumbering buildings, and I was met with quietness. I shook my head. I’m being scared for no reason.
A loud shriek pierced the air. What?
Gray reared like someone struck him. “Whoa, boy!” I tried to grab for the saddle horn, but it was too late. I tumbled to the ground and landed on my right arm with a thump.
I resisted the urge to groan and opened my eyes. The bandit has friends.
Seven black hooded men towered over me, and swords hung from their hips. One man held Grays rein’s. Though it was dark I imagined the others were scowling at me.
Be calm. “Well, isn’t this a pleasant surprise. To what do I owe this pleasure?” I attempted to move to a sitting position, and clenched my teeth. Ouch.
The burliest man came closer, most likely the leader.
I noticed a mask covered his eyes. Blast, if I could see his face at least that would be helpful. Note to self: listen to you superiors and don’t travel at night.
“I have to say your courage is admirable. You hide your fear well.”
Goosebumps went up my arms. He had my full attention. I knew that voice. This is very weird. I gave an unnatural laugh, “Why, what should I fear?” I wish my sword wasn’t strapped to Gray.
“Everything, Kingston Brown.”
He knows my name. “Who are…” Everything went black.
First, I became aware of a pounding in my head. Then, a pain in my arm. Where am I? My eyes felt heavy, and I struggled to get them open. I found myself on a cot. I noticed hard brick walls were to my right and left and sunlight streamed through a barred window. I sighed. I’m in a jail cell.
“Got a pounding in your head do you boy?” asked a scratchy voice.
There’s someone in here?!? Why didn’t I notice? I lifted my head.
A hunched form sat in the darkest corner of the cell. I pushed myself up with one arm and slid my legs to the edge of the cot. “Where am I?”
The old man laughed, “Ha, you must have gotten hit really hard in the head!” He rose to his feet and stumbled across the grimy floor. Thinning white hair went to his shoulders and a stained tunic hung from his body. “We’re in a palace. King Robert the Third’s palace, to be exact.”
I almost fell off my cot. “What?” I hope I’m dreaming.
The older man sat on the edge of the cot across from mine. “You’re not from around here are you?”
I held my right arm close to my side and ignored his question. “So, I’m in Casstledome?”
“Yes.” The man’s blue eyes studied mine.
How did I get from Lakes-Dale to Cassledome? That’s a hundred miles away! And I’m in King Robert's palace? I’ve never even met him! My pulse skyrocketed. Did he employ those men to kidnap me? I scratched my jaw. One minute I’m doing my job, tracking down a thief, and then I’m arrested?!
I looked back at the old man and he was still staring at me. I fidgeted. “What’s your name?”
I offered him my hand. “I’m Kingston.”
Moab’s eyes widened. “Kingston?” His voice grew faint, and I couldn’t hear his quiet mumble. He cleared his throat and pushed himself off the cot.
Moab stared at me with warmth in his eyes and I could tell that he was trying to tell me something. I leaned forward. “Are you alright?” To my surprise, Moab started laughing and sobbing, all at once.
“You have no idea.” Moab outstretched his hands. Tears coursed down his cheeks. “You’re a man, I can’t believe it. My precious boy has grown up. I thought you looked familiar, oh my boy.”
This is bizarre. I stood to my feet. “I’m sorry, I don’t know who you think I am, but…”
Moab’s voice grew stronger, seeming to become much younger. “I do know who you are, I do. Your Kingston Knight, my son. I knew you were still alive! I just knew it!”
Could this man be my father? A thousand different questions raced through my mind. I swallowed hard. “I never knew my real father or mother, they died when I was baby, and someone adopted me.”
His eyes glistened. “I’m sorry they led you to believe that.”
I felt heat rush up my face. “What are you talking about? Are you saying my adopted parents lied to me? What proof do you have, that I’m your son? How do I know that you’re telling me the truth?”
Moab closed his eyes in pain.
He put his hand up. “Don’t speak.” He drew closer and pulled something from his tunic. He handed it to me.
“What’s this?” I held a wrinkled paper.
“Flip it over,” he said softly.
I glanced at his face, but his gaze never left my hands. Okaaay. I turned over the paper.
Three people stared back at me. It was an charcoal portrait. On the left, a beautiful woman smiled at the camera. Her eyes seemed to sparkle and there was something about her smile. I looked at the man to her right.
I gasped. It was me, well sort of. This man’s features were slightly more pronounced but there was no mistaking the similarity.
My gaze caught Moab’s. “This man is you, isn’t it?” I whispered.
“It is. Do you know who the baby is?”
I glanced back down and let myself look at the sleeping baby. “It’s me.” Something wet coursed down my cheek and I wiped at it. I’m so confused.
I glanced back up into Moab’s face. “What am I supposed to do? What does this mean?”
The sound of heavy boots coming close, emanated throughout the cell.
Moab frowned. “I can’t explain everything, just don’t tell anyone what we have discussed.” He took my hand in his rough one. “Don’t let Robert trick you. He is an evil man, and he gets what he wants.”
“But I have no idea what’s happening…”
“I know. I’ll explain everything. Just act normal. Be Kingston Brown, the man you have been for the past twenty years.”
I nodded. What have I gotten myself into?
The footsteps were closer.
Moab squeezed my shoulder. “Godspeed, my son.” Then, he retreated into the corner and blended into the darkness.
I forced myself to look away. I sat back down on the edge of the cot, and ran a hand through my hair.
The cell door opened wide. “Come.”
I didn’t even look at my captors. What was the point? My life was a lie.
To Be Continued…