“My father died, due to your brother.”
The bandaged brows furrowed inquisitively.
“Dehoran is no king,” said Olleton. “He taxes us hard to fill his private coffers. Then he forced men into the army so that he could sell their services to foreign kings. My father was among them, and killed in the desert tribe wars of Dabal B’aque. Two years later, my mother died of a fever. For a time, me and my older sister tried to tend to the farm. We lost it through Dehoran’s taxes. Now we have come to the city seeking work. Little chance of that though. Other tribesmen have come in droves to do the same.”
“Dehoran did this?” whispered the Forgotten One.
“I am sorry all of this has befallen you, but Dehoran is not my brother. At the time, I had to have someone replace me in a hurry. Dehoran was a prominent statesmen and a winning orator. I thought he would have been good for Nusalle.”
“He is not. And if he is not your brother, then you can rule again. You are a champion of the poor, aiding people singally. Why not return to the throne? Think of the good you could do then for an entire nation.”
The Forgotten One’s eyes turned glassy.
He turned aside, staring at the floor.
Olleton remained where he stood.
“So is this what you have become? An anonymous dropper of coins in a beggar’s cup? Perhaps you are right. I would not want a man who turns his back on his friends for a king.”
“I have no friends.”
Olleton placed a hand on his shoulder.
“You have one now,” he said softly.
The Forgotten shrugged his hand free and slammed his fist on the small table, smashing it into several pieces.
“Dare you say such a thing to me, boy?!”
He raised his axe above his head. Olleton remained where he stood, unflinching. The man before him was famed for his benevolence. He knew the axe would never fall.
Shuddering, the Forgotten One, slowly lowered his arm.
Olleton nodded resignedly, turned to leave, and stopped in the doorway.
“You might not understand your true worth… but I do.”
He immediately headed into the street. There was nothing more he could do. Best to just go home and salvage what little life he had left with his sister. The Forgotten One was a lost cause, broken by grief and doomed to remain a champion of the gutter.
He almost turned the first corner.
The Forgotten One ran after him, now wearing mail, helmet, and carrying his axe. He stopped beside the youth.
“Come with me, Olleton,” he said, leading with a bold stride. “It is time Nusalle had a new king.”
Olleton beamed brightly, following with short, quicker steps like a toddler. An hour later, they crossed Caliet’s main square and approached the path leading into the gardens of the front palace courtyard.
Two Blue River Guardsmen snapped to attention at the head of the path.