Vol 2: Chapter Thirteen – Family

“I came as soon as I could, your highness,” Jeremiah Starfire arrived so quickly after Cobal had sent a servant out that he wasn’t even really ready yet. They were in a meeting room near the palace entrance. Mana, Mirgia, Kimi and Cobal were all present.
“I hope I didn’t interrupt anything,” Cobal replied.
Jeremiah shook his head. “I was in my bath, to be totally honest with you, that’s what I smell so nice right now.”
Two days had passed since the celebration and with the limited information they had, Cobal had made the decision that they would travel to Fitseren, which was a coastal city to the west.
“I need a ship to take the four of us to the port town of Fitseren.”
“That is something I can arrange. When do you wish to depart?”
As soon as it came to business, the casual demeanor that Jeremiah had so far disappeared. Cobal knew he was dealing with a shrewd businessman. Not that a trip to the coast would be something expensive, but there would still be a discussion. “We plan to leave in three days. The weather is slowly clearing up and we’d like to avoid getting stuck in too bad of a storm at sea.”
“I take it that Fitseren isn’t your destination then?”
Cobal nodded. “We’re planning to travel up the coastline towards Rilodar.”
“I’m afraid I can’t take you there at the moment, but I can arrange travel up to Fitseren for forty gold.”
Cobal thought about it. For four people it wasn’t a crazy amount to ask, but he was definitely being overcharged a bit. “I’ll tell you what, we can make the journey by foot no problem, it would just be a bit slower. We’re also not asking for any cargo to be shipped, so pre-existing agreements you might have wouldn’t need to be canceled. I would say that twenty five gold pieces is more than enough, but since it is on short notice we can offer thirty gold pieces.”
Jeremiah thought for a moment although Cobal was pretty confident he didn’t have to think much about an offer like this and was just pretending.
Eventually Jeremiah let out a deep sigh. “You drive a hard bargain, your highness, but I suppose thirty gold will suffice.”
Cobal smiled. “Excellent, we’ll see you at the docks in three days then?” He pulled a small pouch from the belt and removed thirty gold pieces before putting them in a different pouch and handing it to Jeremiah.
“I look forward to our journey together.” With those words and a polite bow Jeremiah left the room.
“Couldn’t you just order him to take us?” Kimi asked.
“I probably could, but it’s not a good look. If we start ordering merchants around to do things for us then they’ll start to resent us. You don’t want the people handling the money in your country to dislike you. But if we just shower them with money they won’t take us seriously. It’s a complicated situation.”
“How do you know how to deal with these things?” Mirgia asked.
Cobal let out a deep sigh. “Lessons. Lots and lots of boring lessons.” He got up. “Now the difficult part. We need to convince the king that this journey is a good idea.”
Mirgia shook his head. “I am going to leave that to you.”
Cobal sighed. “Somehow I’m not surprised.”

Cobal knocked on the door of his father’s study. After the king was done with his meetings and addressing any people that might be in the palace for questions, during the appropriate times, the king would often retreat here and deal with any paperwork that was necessary. 
“Who is it?”
“It’s me.”
Cobal gave a nod to the two guards on the side and stepped inside the study. Where the palace hallways were fairly cold, this room had a hearth in it that was heating up the space quite well.
His father was sitting behind a desk, pen in hand scribbling away at something that looked important. When Cobal closed the door behind him he put down the pen and clasped his hands together in front of him. “Cobal, what can I do for you?”
“I’ve come to talk to you about our investigation surrounding Sapher’s disappearance.”
The king sat upright a bit more when Sapher’s name was mentioned. “By all means, what information do you have?”
“You’ve met Mirgia, my friend from Milinia right?”
“We briefly exchanged pleasantries, yes.”
“Well, the reason he came all the way here shortly after us is because he had a message from Dionil. He dug up some old letters from a friend of his that spoke of similar magic to the circles we’ve encountered here and in Milinia. Our current plan is to accompany Mirgia and try to find this person.”
“Who and where is this person then? We can send some of our soldiers to find them.”
Cobal paused, unsure what to say.
“Out with it, don’t keep me waiting son.”
“Apparently it’s a pirate that’s last been seen off the coast of Rilodar. She goes by the name of Captain Tidescreecher.”
His father let out a deep sigh. “This is ridiculous. A pirate?”
“Look, I know it sounds crazy, but I have full faith that Dionil wouldn’t let us know about this if it wasn’t a good lead. Mirgia traveled pretty much across our entire country just to deliver us this information.”
“And you can vouch for this person?”
“Without a shred of doubt.”
The king paused for a long moment and Cobal was all but sure that he was going to say no to the idea.
“If you don’t get results within a month, I expect you back here, ready to join up with the main forces, do you understand?”
“Thank you very much for believing in us.”
“Make me proud, son. If you can fix this mess without it turning into a big war, that would be a good thing.”
Cobal nodded. “You can count on me.”

Cobal and his companions spent the next few days preparing for the journey. Mana and Mirgia went into town to do some shopping for their travels ahead. Cobal had a lot of things to take care of, including a chat with his sister and his mother to let them know where he was headed. Now it was the evening before they would depart and he found himself strolling through the palace. He’d only been back for a few weeks and he was already leaving again. He wasn’t quite sure how to feel about the quick developments in his life, but he liked the thought of being on the road again. It was still in that early part of spring where the nights were freezing and the days were often filled with cloudy, rainy skies. After a long day he sought some respite in the palace garden. Leaning on the edge of a small bridge he watched the clouds pass by in the sky. He heard footsteps behind but assumed it was one of the guards on patrol.
“So you’re leaving in the morning?”
Cobal looked up to see his father standing next to him. “We are, yes.”
“You know, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.”
Cobal didn’t interject and waited out the long pause that followed.
“With Sapher being gone all of a sudden it’s really changed my perspective on things. I wonder what her parents think about her sudden disappearance.”
So that’s what this was about, Cobal thought to himself. He’d thought about this as well. Mana didn’t talk much about this part of her past, so he didn’t know all too much about how she felt about it. Cobal could only guess.
“I suppose you could start by apologizing to her.” Before the words had left his mouth he realized he was being harsh, but he meant what he said.
His father scoffed. “You’re probably right.”
“I hope we find something solid on our journey, I have a good feeling about this,” Cobal said, changing the subject.
“I hope you’re right. The hero is supposed to be capable of great feats. That’s what we’ve always been told about the previous hero, after all.”
“It’s a shame what happened to him though,” Cobal said.
“These kinds of things are all part of running a kingdom. It’s not the way I would have handled things, but it is how it was handled.” The king sighed. “So you know what happened then, right?”
Cobal nodded. “Dionil told me about it. We got into a bit of a fight over it at first, but when he learned that I had no knowledge of the entire thing we made up.”
“I suppose I could have informed you ahead of time. After you left I was worried you would find out and judge your family harshly for it.” He looked at Cobal. “You know that the reason your brother went on his own journey was partially because he found out about our family’s history.”
“I didn’t know that.” Cobal’s eldest brother was the one that was missing, but Cobal was the third prince of his kingdom, not the second prince. His middle brother left the family to go on a journey a couple of years ago. They’d get a letter from him every so often telling them things were going well and he had made some new friends. Ocerian had always been a strange one and although he was always kind to his little brother growing up, there was never a real connection there.
“I do have a question for you,” Cobal said.
“I’m all ears.”
“After what our family did to Might, did it not occur to you that summoning another person from a strange world might not yield the kind of results you were expecting.”
There was a long silence, almost long enough that Cobal expected no answer at all, before his father spoke again. “I worry for the future of our kingdom. A few years ago we were visited by a seer from the temple of Owlana. They told us that there would be a threat to our kingdom that would destroy us completely within the next decade. I was advised to take precautions against this by any means. This person could not tell us what kind of threat we could expect, just that there was something terrible coming. They had a vision of a kingdom in ruins and wanted to tell me. I thanked them for their visit, said some prayers out of politeness and sent them on their way back. I didn’t believe what they were saying, but as time went on I saw cracks in the well-run kingdom. I got scared. That’s when the idea crossed my mind. I dismissed it at first, of course, but it started to gnaw at me. Once we summoned your friend, I think I realized it was a bad idea immediately. That’s why I was so willing to let you go off on your own. Now that Sapher has gone missing, I think I might have made the right call. At the very least you’ve made more progress on finding something.” he sighed. “My father was a great ruler. I tried to follow in his footsteps, but it’s gotten mixed results.”
Cobal had never heard his father be vulnerable like this. Not with any of his kids at least. It made him seem more human than ever. His father wasn’t unkind, but he was always the King. That’s just how things were.
“Well, if I can give my opinion, I think you’re trying to do the right things, and that’s a great first step. But the things we think are right aren’t always right. When I first met Dionil, I tried punching him in the face because he insulted my family. After I found out what happened to Might, I realized Dionil had good reasons to dislike our family. It’s the same with everything. You need to learn about the people around you before you can effectively work with them.”
“Maybe you kids have it all figured out with your journeys and your traveling. Perhaps once I retire I shall do the same.” He turned away from the bridge they were leaning on. “I wish you well in your travels, Cobal, and I hope you find Sapher.”
“So do I,” Cobal replied.

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