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Trix is looking for truth
If you are young, healthy and rich – you will certainly want to be more beautiful.
Trix, the sole and full heir of the co-duke Rath Solier, looked suspiciously at his reflection. If the mirror were magical, it would certainly be nervous. Why are there magical mirrors! Any mirrors that value themselves, which are regularly looked upon by female individuals, with such a look, they immediately forget that their work is merely to reflect reality, without embellishing it in any way.
But it was an old, faded mirror, now three generations hanging in the bedroom of male heirs. It is used to seeing the tongue sticking out, a disapproving grimace at the sight of a fresh pimple and cuts from the inept and premature handling of a razor. This is not to say that the young co-dukes Soglier did not pay attention to their appearance, oh no! They paid attention to the really important details: whether all the buttons on the pants are buttoned, interesting objects that are not approved by adults do not bulge the pockets too much, if the hair sticks out too oddly and is well smeared with powder (a thing absolutely indispensable for heirs of any gender) fresh bruise. By that time, when the heirs were beginning to be disturbed by more subtle details of the exterior, other apartments turned out to be at their disposal, with much more experienced mirrors on many.
Tricks in some sense out of luck. Neglecting the useful children’s entertainment of his ancestors, such as hunting, fencing, and fellowship with his subjects, he read too much, talked too much with palace magicians and chroniclers, and started looking at the maids too early.
However, he was also not lucky with the maids. Every rational duchess ensures that by the age of fourteen her son is surrounded by moderately pretty and sensible handmaids who dream at all about a morganatic marriage, but about a small amount of money or a tavern on a crowded highway. But duchess Solieu, apparently due to the same forgetfulness that she had retained her for fifteen years at the age of twenty-five, did not want to understand that her son had already grown. On the last birthday, Trix received from his mother an absolutely wonderful horse – white, in apples. The gift was only spoiled by the fact that the horse was wooden and on wheels. Tomorrow, on the day of his fourteenth birthday, Trix was supposed to get “very cute books.” Fully sharing the opinion that the book is the best gift, Trix did not hurry to rejoice. He suspected that the books would be with pictures … and not at all with the monumental folio “Branch of Oak and Lotus Flower” stolen from the Ducal Library.
So the maids in the castle were for the most part experienced, tested, hired personally by the duchess fifteen years ago. But unlike the Duchess, their age was stubbornly striving for forty years, which, according to Trix, was a great old age.
Fortunately, maids have daughters …
Trix looked in the mirror.
So, let’s start from the beginning. In the sense – from the top. Upstairs was hair – black. Blond, in the eyes of Trix, would be better. Even in red, there would be a certain originality.
But there were no particular complaints about the hair.
Below the hair began to head, which Trix studied especially closely. No, everything individually suited him. Forehead and nose – in the father. Ears – in the mother. Normal ears, not protruding, not too sharp, not too large. And the mouth of Trix quite satisfied, at least with functionality. The chin, with the exception of the absence of a beard, was no better or worse than any other chin.
Trix did not like the result of the addition of all these undoubtedly worthy parts of the body. The result could equally well be called the disgusting word “lad”, the even more terrible word “boy”, but not the “young man”.
And the result looked very peaceful and good-natured. Maybe the blame was puffy lips? Trix tried to tighten his lips – the boy in the mirror turned from good-natured into disgusting. Such a Trix provoked an immediate desire to change the form of government in the country, but in no way embodied the courage and bravery of the ancients.
“Here is an infection …” said Trix to the mirror.
The mirror pretended that it had nothing to do with it.
Trix spun around and headed for the door. There was yet another dull day, filled with compulsory care for the heir to the throne. Everything else is a reception day. First – the presence of the father’s business negotiations. This means merchants, tenants, guild heads and workshops. They all want to pay less and get more. But the same would be desirable for the co-duke Ratu Solier, so the conversations are coming long and tedious.
Then – Tricks own reception. Of course, no one will allow him to settle serious adult affairs. But to solve children’s problems. For example, students of the blacksmiths guild staged a fight with students of the bakers guild. Do you think that innocent rolling pin workers suffered in the battle with muscular hammermen? As if not so. The blacksmiths’ assistants most of the time stand by the anvils, squeezing pieces of red-hot metal in ticks or pumping furs – an exercise that is useful for individual muscles, but does not contribute to harmonious development. But the students of bakers are mainly engaged in carrying heavy sacks of flour or baking trays with ready-made pastries. In addition, blacksmiths always save on the students ‘meals, but it is impossible to starve the bakers’ students …
There will also be youngsters caught in the petty levies, unworthy of the attention of the city militia and thefts, begging for the help of orphans and sons unfairly flogged by parents. The sacred duty of the young heir is to delve into the needs of the people on the example of his peers …
Without looking at the maids who were fussing about in the morning, Trix walked to the throne room of the co-duke. The inner door was half open, the outer one leading to the city was still locked. My father was already here – he was sitting on the Half Throne, a metal structure, although comfortable, but leaving a strange impression on half of a huge armchair. In some places, the Half Tron bristled with the points of blades, in some places bristling with cones of hilt.
“Trix,” the father nodded, with light warmth in his eyes.
“Your Excellency,” Trix bowed. He passed to the bench to his left of the Half Throne — also a metal one, also forged from enemy swords. Sat down As usual, I thought that the enemies would deserve much more sympathy if they fought with pillows or straw clubs.
Two guards opened the outer doors. Sometimes, for pomp, a dozen soldiers were on duty in the throne room, but this did not happen often.
Against all expectations, the first in the queue were not the citizens of Salya, but a group of co-ruler guards — co-Duke Sator Griez. In the form, but, as it should be, without weapons and armor.
Trix glanced at his father. He looked at the guards with curiosity.
“Your Excellency …” The elder knight knelt. Behind him – the rest.
– Stand up, noble lord. “Co-Duke Rath Solier nodded.
“We have come to apologize for the events of yesterday evening and surrender to the mercy of your excellency …” the knight began, not rising from his knees.
Trix bored. He heard about yesterday’s scuffle in some beer. The guards of the co-duke Soliau and the guards of the co-duke Griez pushed each other’s sides. Until the blood, fortunately, it did not come down. So now the guards Solier surrender themselves to the co-duke Griese …
Routine. When power is divided between two equal co-rulers – such events are not uncommon.
“I accept your apologies,” said Co-Duke Solier. – Stand up, noble gentlemen. I hope that co-duke Griz will show the same mercy to my subjects …
Knight rose. He ran his hand over the metal belt around his coat; he clicked, straightening and turning into a narrow thin blade.
“I don’t think so,” said the knight.
The door lock rusted a hundred years ago, and the key to it was lost a little later. How many Trix remembered himself, the prison cells were empty: no one was on duty in the guard room, the door to the prison corridor was open, and the lattice doors of the cameras were pretended, but not locked. As a child, he looked into the dungeon a couple of times, but not for long. There was nothing mysterious in them, and even the worst was not. Only rusty iron staircases crumbling beneath the foot, rust-eaten hooks under the torches, rusted doors and rusty grilles. Stone walls, damp with dampness, would also have liked to rust, but the stone was not adapted to this.
Three generations ago, the co-dukes Sollier came to a reasonable conclusion that it would be much easier for criminals to hand over criminals to the city authorities, rather than to keep them in their own casemates. It was much cheaper – there was no need to keep jailers and executioner, much more useful for reputation – because the co-ruler was in no way responsible for the decisions of the city court, and much more unpleasant for criminals – the court of nine anonymous assessors for some reason always passed more severe sentences than one is the only co-duke.
Nobody tried to lock the lock. They simply chose a chamber where the lattice door was stronger, and the silent blacksmith, having heated an iron rod in a portable horn, screwed the lattice to the lintel.
The most reliable lock in the world is one that does not have a key.
Trix sat in the corner of the camera, putting his jacket under him. They left his clothes, but for some reason they cut off all the buttons and took the belt out of his pants. Really not to commit suicide? For a while, Trix maliciously imagined how he would tear off a sleeve from a jacket, sling a rope and hang himself on a lattice door. Did his ancestor, Kelen Solier, manage to hang himself on a single handkerchief, with which his numerous wounds were bandaged?
However, since the childhood of Trix, the phrase about one handkerchief, which had been tied with numerous wounds, has been embarrassing. And the enemies will not be upset when they discover the young co-duke Trix Soglia dangling on a trellis, with his wet pants sliding down and his tongue falling out. On the contrary, he will only help them seize the throne. Better let it be a penalty. This, with the unjust court, in front of the treacherous people. Oh, he will find something to say to the traitors! Like Digo Solier, whose speech on the scaffold touched even the executioner … like Renada Sollier, who fell into the hands of the robbers – but with a fiery speech, who convinced them to quit the criminal craft and go to serve in the Guard …
Trix chuckled. Of course, he was only fourteen, he adored historical chronicles, but he was not so naive after all. And Digo Solier was executed, even if the executioner was sobbing, raising an ax. And Renada Sollier persuaded the leader of the robbers for three days and three nights, and vaguely it seemed to Trix that three nights played a much bigger role than three days.
It is easy to dream of heroism, turning over the fragile yellow pages of the ancient chronicles. It is much more difficult when your own fingers, fragile and white with horror, are clamped in the tools of the executioner …
Of course, torture in the duchy is strictly prohibited – except for special cases, strictly stipulated and regulated. Forced renunciation of the throne was not among them. In general, to torture a child, and according to the laws of the duchy, Trix was still considered a minor, is allowed only in the presence of a doctor, a priest and a “good woman from the people” who can stop the torture at any time.
But there are so many tortures in the world that do not leave a trace … Once Trix, with a sinking heart, read almost half of the “Honest Interrogator’s Manual” – and he was not mistaken about this.
What they want, they will do it. To overthrow the co-duke was also strictly forbidden.
Trix stood up, walked around the camera, trying to stretch his legs. Pants crawled, they had to maintain. Three on three steps, here what horror! Do people have been sitting in these dungeons for years? Impossible!
A traitorous voice in his heart whispered: “And you still know that …”
Trix shook his head. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense! Either they will bargain with him, demanding that he abandon the throne … or be killed. Leaving the heir to the throne to rot in a stone bag is a sure way to defeat. In all the plays and ballads where the villains threw the young heir into a dungeon, this ended badly for them. A faithful servant let out his master, or he broke through a secret manhole from the dungeon, then the heir gathered a glorious army and brought down his anger on the villains …
Exactly so – unleashed anger!
Trix waved his hand. Then he took the bars, strained, trying to push the bars. He is small, thin, he will slip …
Yes – small. And in addition also weak. The rods, even if they were exalted by time, did not yield. Trix just got dirty in damp rust, and he almost stuck his head between the bars. That would be fun jailers …
How did it happen that they were betrayed?
Trix kicked the bars several times. The shoes were also left for him, but the strings were taken out. Lattice did not even notice his efforts.
Trix sat down again on the stone floor. He was not afraid – not because of some innate courage, but simply because everything happened too quickly … and too ridiculous. Also, probably because no one even hit him. But he even drew a sword … even tried to pierce the guard who had pounced on him …
The sword was knocked out of the hands after the first lunge. Dagger Trix did not even have time to get it. Hefty guard wrung his hands behind his back – very carefully. He grunted that he didn’t have to twitch, otherwise it would be painful. Come two more. Trix was dragged from the throne room into the inner corridors – his father, who was trying to defend himself alone from a dozen attackers, at that moment was pressed into a corner.
Tricks was quickly and thoroughly searched, they removed the belt and straps of the shoes, cut off the buttons, felt the lining of the jacket – and dragged them to the dungeon. Not a single rude word said! And here the blacksmith was already waiting – the court blacksmith of the co-duke Soliau! Gloomy, but not at all depressed. And with his hammer, Trix did not hesitate at all, the blacksmith could easily lay down the whole trio of guards — next to him they ceased to seem so hefty …
The blacksmith heated the rod and locked the door. And he left, leaving the instrument in the corridor, not looking at the young co-duke and not listening to his indignant screams. And the guards left, leaving a torch opposite the cage – already dying.
Trix confusedly rubbed his forehead. He shouted in vain. Some wrong words were. In the chronicles, they looked very good: both about the fact that “for three hundred years your ancestors served faithfully with my ancestors”, and about “betrayal will dry your heart”, and about the “truth” that “always triumphs” …
In the raw dungeon the words sounded funny.
For some reason it seemed that at the top, among the bright tapestries and stained glass windows, the words would feel more confident …
The torch began to smoke. Trix lowered his head to his knees, curled into a ball. Sooner or later they will come for him. This is all on purpose – to break his spirit. So it should be.
In the distance, the door rumbled. The second. Trix lifted his head, looking hopefully into the corridor through which the flashlight was floating. Maybe the co-warrior Soglier guards? They put down their watchfulness, piled on them, killed the invaders …
A broad-shouldered man in chain mail approached the camera. Sid Kang. The captain of the guard of co-duke Sator Griez. Or should we say already – the captain of the guard of the duke Sator Griez?
And Captain Sid was silent, looking at the boy. A good soldier – this is how Trix’s father spoke of him. He had been in the palace of the co-duke Soglia more than once, and once even spent the whole day trying to teach Trix to shoot a crossbow. The attempt failed, but Sid only shrugged his shoulders and said: “Not yours, practice with the sword.”
– Do not cry? Sid asked. – Good.
Trix grinned contemptuously. If this traitor … although you can call him a traitor, because he faithfully serves Satoru Grisu. If this martinet expects the young co-duke to burst into tears, as if he were sitting in a closet for stealing jam, a disappointment awaits him.
Sid turned, looked at the box with the blacksmith tools. He went to the box, bent down – the chain mail of the thinnest steel links gently rustled. He straightened, already holding in his hands huge ticks. He tried on the rod – and shook his head. Carefully, with respect, put the tool back into the box. And he took the rod with both hands.
Trix snorted. Whatever meanness Syd conceived, steel does not unbend the steel with his bare hands.
Sid Kang frowned, as if remembering something. And he said:
“Strength came like a gust of wind before the storm …”
His palms were enveloped in a pale, faint blue glow.
The spell was weak, either composed by an inexperienced magician, or distributed to too many people. Sid had to strain – muscles in his arms reared, his face reddened. But the thick iron bar straightened reluctantly. Sid pulled it out, threw it to the ground. The stone slabs of the floor were covered with such a layer of dirt that instead of being hit there was a soft slap. The glow around the palms faded.
Sid Kang opened the grill. Looked at Tricks. Said:
– Do not worry, young co-duke.
That means father is dead …
Trix swallowed a lump in his throat. He saw his father more often than a cook or a groom. And yet it was his father.
“Your father died,” said Syd. – In battle. As befits. You too will be killed, co-duke Trix Solier.
“Kill,” Trix whispered. Even trying to resist was stupid. Sid Kang is a good soldier. And he is a bad heir to the throne.
Sid shook his head.
– Do not need it, Mr. Trix. The power is now in Sator. He would have spared you, his son – against.
“I didn’t doubt my beloved cousin Darike,” Trix said. The proud words themselves climbed the tongue and this time it sounded almost worthy. – Do what you ordered, soldier!
The captain silently dropped a light raincoat from his shoulders. Throw Trix.
– Put it on, Mr. Trix. Why shed extra blood. I’ll take you out of the palace.
Trix looked at the raincoat that had fallen to his feet. Asked:
– What is up with my mother?
– She behaved with dignity. She took poison and jumped out the window. – Sid respectfully bowed his head. “Only five people died, co-duke.” Do not become the sixth.
Trix was silent. The act of his mother did not surprise him at all – she acted as the noble ladies did in ballads and chronicles. She probably went to the window overlooking the town square – so that more people could see her brave deed …
“Don’t whine, Trix,” Sid’s heavy hand sank onto his shoulder. – Not by the time.
There was a sheath with a dagger just around the corner of Sid’s belt. Just lend a hand …
“And don’t be silly,” Sid warned.
Trix bent down and raised his cloak.
“Let’s go,” the captain ordered.
“Find me a rope,” Trix asked. I wanted to demand, but it turned out only a request.
– What for? – did not understand Sid.
– Pants without a belt fall down. I’m not going so far.
Sid, without arguing, cut a durable leather belt from the box with blacksmith tools and handed it to Trix.
Under the raincoat it became warmer. Trix pulled the hood over his eyes – as Sid ordered – and looked only at the floor. They climbed out of the dungeons by some narrow dirty corridors, Trix could not even identify them, went out into the courtyard. It was quiet. It was very peaceful and quiet – horses were quietly bellowing in the stable, the clatter of dishes could be heard from the open windows of the kitchen, the clock struck a quarter of the first on the tower. Trix lifted his head – here and there a light burned in the windows. Even the guards were standing where they were supposed to be, only now they were other guards.