"Liar!" I screamed in anger. He would not turn me against the Xaj.
"You lie! You want me to turn against Petra and get the people to not trust her. You work for the King, don't you?" I went on, not minding if my voice was loud or not.
"Xerxes, calm down..."
"Stay out of this Ang, your uncle is a liar and right now I am having second thoughts about trusting him..."
"Then trust me Xerxes. Trust me", she said with calm, putting her hands in mine.
It was so infuriating listening to him, I wanted to walk away and never turn back, but I could not. I relaxed a bit while letting her warm hands caress mine.
"Let's hear what he has to say. If you are not satisfied with his answer you can leave and never look back" her eyes pleaded.
Deep down I had a hunch that I was not going to be satisfied with what he had to say, but Ang gave me a convincing look and I had to trust her.
"Fine!" I shrugged away from her grip, "Tell me what you mean when you said that Petra was the traitor?", I directed the last statement to the abbot.
He had a heavy look on his face but I didn't care. He was going to tell me what he knew or I would blow the whistle on him and this entire place.
"It's going to be a long story, so I'd prefer it if you sit..."
"I'm going to stand if that's alright with you" I gave out coldly. "Tell me what you know and stop wasting my time!", my voice had begun to get high once more.
"Xerxes, calm down" Ang pleaded again. "We don't know how your powers work yet. If it is triggered by emotions we could all get buried in here. Be calm" she said softly.
"Thank you Angy..." the abbot sighed in relief but was cut short by Ang.
"I'm not doing this for you Uncle, I'm doing this for Xerxes and Georgey" she said unapologetically. "Whatever you have to say, I'd suggest you start talking before they find out we're missing from the camp."
The lines on his face increased making me wonder why his worries had not killed him yet. He walked to an armchair, dusted it off and sat with a hump.
"During the reign of King Exodus few years before the war, I was a scrivener in the court of the King" he began, straining each word when he spoke.
"Lord Pontius, Petra's father was the Kings right hand man and his adviser, meanwhile Meridius served Pontius as a trainee. There was balance and everything had meaning" his voice wavered on while I tried to imagine every scene in my head. "Children wanted to serve the King with all their hearts, Parents were loyal to the course of unity and gods, demigods, Magicians and Vladians protected the King and his people with their lives. All was going according to how the universe saw fit, however one individual saw an opportunity. An opportunity to rise to the top no matter the cost."
There was a moment of silence to which he gave me a knowing look.
"It was Petra, wasn't it?" I asked softly.
He nodded in affirmation.
"Yes. It was Petra" he answered.
Why would she do such a thing?
Was she really responsible for my parents death? For all the friends I had lost and everything I was going through right now, was she really...?
It hurt to think about it.
"Lord Pontius was always at the Kings side and never left the King, except for urgent matters. He never even got to see his family and Petra grew up without a father" he paused for a moment.
"Her mother..." he said before halting.
I could hear him breathe heavily and I pondered on the possibility of this story being personal for him.
"Forgive me" he pleaded. "Back to the story" he said before moving on without stopping. "Her mother told her heroic tales about the man and that made her grow in awe of her father. She wanted so bad to be her fathers daughter that she enrolled into the academy of the special Magicians. She learnt skills like no other and she earned the title 'Sword of Pontius'. For years, she trained and trained until she became a warrior of exemplary magical powers and abilities. When she got selected to be among the Kings special warriors, her father deselected her and told her that she was not worthy of the title she was given" he nodded in absence as he went on. "I did remember them having an argument which resulted in the destruction of the garden they stood in. Heavy magic still flows in that garden till this very day."
He paused to catch his breath making me wonder how long this story was going to take.
"She disappeared that day and was not seen for many years, when she finally returned she had grown and changed. Her aura was different and she was no longer daddy's little girl. She was now a different breed. She had gone into the depths of the forbidden lands to get powers that were termed evil. When her father saw her coming towards the palace he sensed evil and danger and rushed to stop his daughter from getting close to the King. She was not alone, she had come with friends from the underworld bringing demons and goblins alike. She was ready to show her father that he had made a terrible mistake in deselecting her from the Kings court and she was ready to prove it. Pontius being himself ignored her, told her to go home and walked away. This little act angered Petra even more, her eyes glowed a fiery red with her hands creating a ball of lightening to which she threw at the magician, however Meridius jumped in and caught it with his hands slowly dissipating it into the wind" he paused again, reclining into his chair. His descriptions were detailed and it might be because he was a librarian as well.
He continued his story when he was rested, "Her father saw what she had done and without hesitation told Meridius to aid him in arresting his daughter. I remember him creating a cloud of smoke and within minutes the three of them stepped into it. We could only see lightening and fireballs being thrown in the cover but we could not go in to help. Not that any of them needed it anyway, they were really special and although Petra was nothing compared to Meridius and her father, she was a force to be reckoned with" he admitted the last statement absentmindedly.
"They fought for almost an hour until we heard a shout. I knew who it was however I preferred to not think about it at the moment. It was impossible that such a thing would happen. The cloud of smoke lifted up slowly and there in his pool of blood lay Pontius being held by Meridius as Petra stood at arm's length with a dagger in her hand" he stopped to look at me.
"She had stabbed her father in the back and he was going to die" he said. "I rushed in with the guards to fight against her but she created a fog and disappeared in it."
He sighed heavily before getting on with his story.
"Pontius died before the healers could get to him. The King found out and declared war on anyone who would rise up against him in his thirst for the blood of his friend and adviser." he concluded in haste before looking at a shelf which had a lot of charred books on it.
That was a lot, but I was not done yet.
"If what you say is true, why are you still with Petra? Does that not mean that you are a traitor as well?" I let out with a deep breath.
"Well" he prompted before shifting his gaze to me. "Before he died, Lord Pontius told me to protect his daughter and his people with my life. He told me to defend her no matter the cost. He made me promise my loyalty to her and in return he gave me his magic to do so" he said, exhausted from talking about the past.
"Why would he do such a thing, Uncle?" Ang asked swiftly. "She killed him and started this war" she said with anger in her voice.
"I would have broken the promise I had made to him a long time ago, but I could not do so because the powers he gave to me forbid me from doing anything rash to her" he hacked a cough before moving on. "Another reason was because of her mother."
Why would her mother still be on her side after what she had done?
"Why?", I asked. "Who was her mother to you?"
"His twin sister" a feminine voice answered from the door.
We all froze in place as we knew who had spoken. She walked into the middle of the room with the torch light making her visible and the fear I had felt on the ocean returned.
"Hello everyone. Cat's out of the bag now I guess. I started the war." she said, knowing fully well of the tension she had brought in with her presence.
"How long have you been standing there?" asked the abbot in disgust.
"Long enough to make an entrance" she smiled sarcastically. "Next time let us not stay in catacombs, let us pick the cherry garden or the..."
"Why would you kill your own father?! Why would you do that to him?!" I rapped in anger.
I was so pissed at her. I wanted her to die and never come back to the earth. I wanted to kill her so bad for what she had done but I would have to wait until I got stronger.
"Woahhhhh! I did not kill my father, Meridius did", she chuckled lightly making me frown at the gesture.
How could she laugh at a time like this?
"Ursula did not deserve to die and you killed her and your entire people when you stabbed your father in the back. Your father..."
"Is the worst father in the history of fathers and he deserved what he got!" she screamed without regret. "He abandoned me with my mother and made me who I am today! I might have been the catalyst to this whole song playing right now, but I did not kill my father. Yes, I accept full responsibility for the wars and the people you have lost but I do not accept the fact that everyone thinks I killed my father." her voice faded making the room echo with her last word.
She pulled up a dusty armchair and sat on it with her legs crossed.
"Now that you have all heard his side of the story, am I allowed to give mine?" she asked blatantly.
I looked at Ang who had a cross face and the abbot who had even greater lines on his crown, both of them focused on the Xaj.
"Tell me what I need to know" I demanded. "Don't hide anything from us. If you know you are not guilty and you want us to be on your side, then you have to trust us." I finished with a serious note.
She gave me an intense look
"Fine. I'll tell you everything."
"My father was never home" she began. "He never even visited. He never cared about my mum or me, but I did. I cared about him and wanted to know everything there was to know about him" she yawned noisily before going on.
"One time I asked my mother about my father and she told me tales and folklores but she never told me real things about him. There were songs written about him and he had his own army and stories and I wanted so much to be like the great Xaj that I would often steal away whenever my mother was not looking and infiltrate the palace to see him. I would always get in through the fences without getting spotted but get kicked out publicly through the gate", she chuckled in pain.
"One day I got an invitation from the royal guards to join the academy for the special Magicians. I had no knowledge of my enrollment but somehow I knew it was my mum who knew how badly I wanted to see my father. She had me registered and had you watch over me" she emphasized on the last line, shooting the abbot a look.
"Get on with the story. Don't try to pull me into it" he said ruefully.
"Very well" she said with nervousness. "I trained for years and somehow it felt easier to do all the things that seemed hard for other warriors to do. I had my father's blood flowing through my veins so I accomplished so much in so little time. I had fought so many battles and come out unscathed and I was ready to be selected as the King's warrior, but most importantly to meet my father."
There was a deafening silence as her face began to lose its color.
"On the day of my installment, my own father told me that I was not worthy of my medal. My own father told me that I was weak. My own father who was absent throughout my childhood and adolescent years told me that I did not deserve to have his blood in my veins" she snickered. "He publicly disgraced me and it was at that moment that I knew that I had no father. That I was alone."
I had kept my eyes on the ground since the beginning of her story and I felt a pang of pain when I looked up to see her eyes filled with tears. Her voice had been wavering for that last bit which made me feel bad for her. She had lost her father before the war and none of us knew what to say about it. The abbots heart must have softened for he reached out to touch her to which she rejected with the wave of her hand.
She continued after wiping her tears, "I begged and pleaded for him to reconsider but he looked at me with cold eyes and told me to 'get out'. I was thrown out by the guards and even though I fought back and almost destroyed the entire garden, I was still weak. I watched the gates close as he turned his back on me while that snake Meridius followed him into the Palace. I vowed that I was going to come back stronger and show him that I did not need him anymore. That we did not need him anymore. That I was going to take care of my mother alone and leave this god forsaken place, but first I needed to regain my honour. I needed to be stronger than he was. It seemed impossible at the time, but I had a resolution, if he could do it, I could too. After all, he was my father and we shared the same blood."
The room became silent again before she broke it with more narration.
"I told no one where I was going, I did not even know where I was headed, but I did know that I was not going to be his slave anymore. He wanted me to be strong, I would show him what true strength really was."
She sat back into the chair uncrossing and stretching her legs before crossing them back. Her hands came together as she prepared to continue the tales of her innocence..