Written by Scottish Princess
Evening sunlight shone through the only window, sparsely illuminating the jail. It was nearing wintertime in the old town, which only made the occupants of the jail more irritable than ever. The three men that shared the main cell huddled together for more warmth, while the only occupant of a much smaller cell did his best to fight against the freezing wind, by crouching in the darkest corner he could find.
"'Tis not fair!" One of the men-Afon, they called him- complained. "They should at least give us a few blankets or something!"
"They don't need to give us anything, Af." A second man replied, shaking his head at Afon's ignorance, "We're criminals, all we're going to be given is work for life, prison for life or death for life."
The man called Afon glared at the other man who had spoken, "Well, thank you for your wonderful outlook on life, Colwyn. That sure helps my current mood!"
Colwyn just shook his head again and didn't say a thing.
Afon turned to the only remaining man in the cell, a big burly man with more muscle than brains.
"What do you think, Glyn?"
Glyn closed his eyes and lay back, ignoring Afon's question. Afon prodded Glyn in the stomach with his finger and immediately found himself in the strongest grip he had ever felt.
"Easy now, Glyn!" Colwyn spoke up, gently putting a hand on the big man's arm. "Af didn't mean to anger you, did you, Af?"
Too scared to speak, Af just furiously shook his head, his eyes as big as saucers.
"See, Glyn, he didn't mean it."
Glyn grunted and released Afon, who crumpled into a ball on the cold stone floor, his eyes still open wide.
Silence reigned in the drafty jail, but only for a moment.
"You don't understand!" The men heard someone yell, "It wasn't my fault!"
The jail doors flew open, to reveal three guards trying their best to keep hold of a screaming, squirming young man.
"Let me go, you blaggards!" The youth yelled at the guards that held him securely, and he began cursing at them in three different languages.
Afon sat up straight staring open-mouthed at the young man, while Colwyn just shook his head. Glyn ignored the goings on around him, merely grunting, and the single occupant of the other cell smiled at the young man's antics.
"Throw him in there!" One of the guards told the others, pointing to the smaller cell.
The guards obeyed and, unlocking the cell door, they tossed the young man into the cell, slamming and locking the door behind him. As the three guards made their way back to the main door, the young man picked himself up and gripped the iron bars.
"Let me out of here!" He shouted after the guards, "I'm innocent!"
The guards paid no attention to him, but rather shut the main door, the grinding sound of the key in the lock echoing around the small room.
"Let me out!" The youth yelled again, his face pressed against the bars.
"Yelling is hopeless, lad."
The youth spun around, trying to figure out where that voice had come from.
Seeing the three men in the adjoining cell, the youth walked over to the bars that separated them.
"Did one of you just say something?"
Both the thin dark-haired man and the big man shook their heads, staying seated and saying nothing. But the tall blonde man slowly stood up and made his way toward the youth.
"No, lad, none of the three of us said a thing, which only leaves Master Tryst as the guilty party."
The youth looked confused, "But, there's only three of you and if none of you spoke, who else is there?"
The blonde man sighed, "You'd better show yourself, Trystan, or the lad will think I've gone mad."
Trystan? The youth's eyebrows knit together. Where had he heard that name before?
A shadow detached itself from the wall and made its way toward the youth and the blonde man. As the dark figure came closer, the youth could distinguish the shape of a tall, thin man.
"Pleased to meet you, I am sure." The dark figure-Trystan, the blonde man had called him-told the youth, bowing slightly. His voice was a low, soft voice, one that you had to be nearly silent to hear, but there was an edge to it, that made the youth's neck hair stand on end. The dark figure spoke again, his voice clipped and educated,
"I am Trystan, as you heard from Colwyn. I take it that you have a name?"
The youth nodded, then, remembering that it was almost too dark to see the gesture, he replied,
"Yes, I do. I'm Brynmor."
"Welcome to the five-star jail, Brynmor," Colwyn said sarcastically, "I hope your stay here is better than mine!"
Trystan brushed off Colwyn's comment, "I think introductions and explanations are due, Colwyn, instead of hopeless and sarcastic comments."
"I suppose." Came the reply.
"Well, Brynmor," Trystan continued, "The big man in there is Glyn. He is a blacksmith and a good man to not have as an enemy. The thin, fearful-looking one is Afon. He is a master thief and also a good man to have on your side. You already know Colwyn. He is the best forger in Wales, if you ask any lawyer; that is why he is in jail. I believe that is all."
Brynmor took in all the information he had just heard with interest. But he was curious,
"What about you, Trystan?"
"What about me?"
Something in the other man's voice made Brynmor hesitate, but he asked his next question anyway.
"How did you get here, Trystan?"
There was silence for a moment, all three men in the other cell waiting patiently for their companion's answer. Trystan had never spoken to anyone about his reason for being imprisoned and all three of the original occupants were extremely curious.
Although Trystan's mouth was not being used at the moment, his mind was.The memory came swiftly, too swiftly for Trystan Hier's liking:
Trystan had been walking in town with his young daughter, Gwen, when he had been suddenly confronted by one of his neighbors.
The neighbor, Lord Yorath Bowen by name, had hated and envied the Hier family ever since Trystan could remember.
"Good day to you, Lord Trystan." Yorath said contemptuously, his blue eyes glittering maliciously, "Wonderful weather for a duel, no?"
Trystan was incredulous, though his face didn't show it. He felt Gwen's hand tighten in his and knew he had to do something, fast.
"What do you want of me?" He questioned his hated neighbor.
"A sword duel, to the death, right now in this very spot."
Sudden coolness swept over Trystan, the momentary fear of what might happen, vanishing. Steering Gwen off to the side, he looked down into his seven year-old's white blue eyes.
"Stand right here." He commanded her, "Do not move or speak, unless I tell you to, understand?"
Trystan's daughter, the exact image of Trystan himself, nodded, speechless with fear for her father. Walking briskly, each step as steady as the last, Trystan approached his adversary. As Trystan drew nearer to Yorath, he realised that he was only an inch or so taller than Yorath's own five foot ten inches.
Both men drew their swords at the same instant and crossed them, ready to begin.
Yorath moved instantly. Lunging at Trystan, he expected the younger man to retreat. But, Trystan merely parried, easily countering Yorath's quick attack. Slightly taken aback by the ease with which Trystan had blocked him, Yorath took a step backward. Infuriated, Yorath tried the attack again, only to be blocked once more and forced backward again.
The duelers circled slowly, feeling out each other's patterns and defences.
Yorath suddenly went strongly on the offensive, trying every trick he knew on Trystan, trying to break him. Trystan seemed to waver, but, unknown to Yorath, Trystan was merely toying with him. Had he wanted to, Trystan could have beaten the older man as soon as the duel had started.
Smiling wickedly, Yorath beat
mercilessly upon Trystan, letting his guard down by thinking that he
had he upper hand.
With lightning quick speed, Trystan turned the tables. While he had been only playing with Yorath before, Trystan now let Yorath see how truly outranked Yorath really was. It was now Trystan's turn to beat mercilessly, as Yorath made puny attempts to stop the metallic barrage. At times, Trystan would nearly quell his offensive strikes, letting Yorath relax for just a moment, to only return with such force, inflicting many wounds upon Yorath with his trusty sword.
Trystan's sword was as much a part of him as was his arm. He moved his sword with the grace that a painter would move his paintbrush, while at the same time using such force that only a man who had been thoroughly skilled in sword fighting could use. With stunning speed, Trystan's sword flew around his adversary, twisting and turning, creating all manner of complex figures.
"You should know, Lord Yorath," Commented Trystan, his swordpoint pressing against Yorath's midriff, "I have trained in the arts of swordplay for twenty-four years."
Without blinking, Lord Trystan thrust his sword forward, running his adversary through.
"I am twenty-eight."
Those were the last words Lord Yorath heard, as he fell to the ground, lifeless.
The two lords had been so engaged in their combat that neither of them had noticed that a crowd had gathered. Now, as he released his sword from the dead man, Trystan saw the ring of faces around him. He cleaned off his sword instantly, sheathing it quickly and making his way through the crowd toward where he had left his daughter. The crowd made a path for him, as they dispersed, awed at what they had just seen.
Trystan reached Gwen and held out his hand. She took it instantly, looking up with wide, questioning eyes into her father's face.
"Is Lord Yorath dead?" The girl asked, "Did you kill him, Father?"
Trystan nodded gravely, his white-blue eyes troubled. He had not wanted Gwen to see the battle and he was glad that the crowd had shown up, blocking her view.
"Yes, Daughter, he is and, yes, I did kill him. I had to!" he looked down at her, as they resumed their walk through the town. "Do you know why I had to fight him and kill him, Gwen?"
She shook her head. Trystan quickly searched for the correct words.
"Because he would have killed me, Gwen. He would have killed me and then immediately killed you. But he would not have stopped at just us. He would have killed your mother, both your brothers and your uncle and he would have taken over our property. Property that has been in the Hier family for countless generations. In doing so, he would have become a tyrant, one of the worst." Trystan paused, "I had to fight him to keep order and peace in our land, and to keep our people from being controlled by a power-hungry tyrant. Now do you understand, Gwen?"
The girl nodded and for the first time, since the beginning of the duel, Trystan smiled. A slow smile, a warm one that spread across his normally serious face. Gwen reminded Trystan so much of himself when he had been that age.
A slightly built, quiet girl, Gwen took after her father more than anyone could have thought. Her actions were done in the same naturally silent, quick way, her ideas thought out in the same serious, thorough manner. She spoke only if she had to or if she needed to better understand the things around her. She always watched what other people did, but especially her father, committing every action to memory. Although she was only seven years old, Gwen was as mature as her ten year-old brother.
Trystan and Gwen spent several more hours in the town, stopping at several shops, just to visit and admire the merchandise. When they were just about ready to make the return journey to their home, Trystan noticed a small squad of soldiers; six at most, halfway down the street. The soldiers turned from the villager they had been talking to and followed the direction of the man's outstretched arm, making their way toward Trystan and Gwen. The speed at which the soldiers were moving towards him signified to Trystan that something was amiss.
"Hey, you!" One of the soldiers called to Trystan as they came closer, "Stay where you are!"
Knowing that something had to be wrong, Trystan's first concern was for Gwen.
The moment her father said her name, Gwen was ready for anything that he might ask.
"I need you to run home right now." He told her, looking down at her upturned face. "Tell your mother that it may be a while before I get back. And tell only your uncle what has happened. Can you do all that?"
Trystan turned and saw that the soldiers were only twenty feet away.
"Then run, Gwen, run NOW!"
Trystan said the last word with such fierceness, that Gwen did not hesitate. She took off like a startled rabbit, sprinting down the street at a speed that surprised those watching. Trystan allowed himself a small smile, before turning to face the soldiers.
The moment he turned, he found himself in the hard grip of two soldiers and his hands were bound tightly behind him. As a third soldier removed Trystan's sword, a fourth spoke to him in a nasally, condescending voice.
"You are under arrest for the killing of Lord Yorath Bowen. There is no use in resisting, it will only harm you."
The way the soldier said the word 'you' made it seem as if Trystan was a common thief.
Trystan's face showed no emotion whatsoever, but on the inside he was filled with an anger that would overpower any other person. His eyes alone showed any sign of anger or resentment and none of the soldiers looked at him because of it.
The soldiers marched Trystan off to the jail, with Trystan offering no opposition. As the soldiers entered the jail with their prisoner, they immediately stopped at a desk.
"Name?" A gruff voice from behind the desk asked impatiently.
Having been in a similar situation before, Trystan knew what was expected of him.
"Trystan Hier." He said in his quiet voice.
The man's head shot up, his wrinkled face suddenly pale. "Lord Trystan Hier?"
Trystan nodded, noticing that some of the soldiers had suddenly gotten nervous.
The man swallowed and looked up at the soldiers. "And his crime?"
"The cold-blooded killing of Lord Yorath Bowen."
Looking into the white-blue eyes of Trystan, the man behind the desk somehow couldn't imagine Trystan as an outright killer. Master swordsman and duelist, yes, but not a killer. But the man's job wasn't to decide for himself if prisoners should be set free or not; he was merely the prisoner recorder. Returning back to his papers, the man muttered.
"Take him along, but mind you treat him well."
Trystan smiled inwardly, these men were afraid of what he might do if they said the wrong thing or acted in the wrong way. The two soldiers that had held his arms from the beginning steered Trystan along a dark hallway, past two doors on the left, and through a heavy metal door. In the room on the other side of the door there were two cells; a large one that already held three men and a smaller one that was empty. The three men, who occupied the much larger cell, watched Trystan, all intensely curious.
The soldiers untied Trystan's hands and pushed him into the smaller cell, closing the cell door and locking it.
And so it was that Lord Trystan Hier had come to the small, drafty jail.
A/N: What do you think so far?
Are there any spelling/grammar problems that need to be fixed?
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