Peter never really liked staying at court when his sister felt the need to flirt and smooch her way into richer men’s beds, the widow who spun webs of information and lies, intel. They were always dreadful. So instead he took a stroll through the lovely countryside of this godforsaken and cold land. His sister had relied on him to follow her into their court, she had wanted to take the best of the family she had said. She brought Peter because he knew the language and he gave excellent and merciless advice. She had taken children with her of course, her oldest, Derek and Laura, at the age to be wed off, she hoped to find her daughter a man in the court, make her position higher and more permanent here. Being a noble. She had taken her younger very very clever child, get her some education maybe, and her bastard brother. Cora had been pleased, she loved Peter, Derek and Laura did not.
He rode slowly through the outer circle of the capital, on his way out of the godforsaken and gloomy town when the townspeople started crowding around in the square further ahead. If it was a riot he didn’t know, he didn’t particularly care, whatever it was about it would surely end in a fight. The buildings were small and picturesque here, the stone-cottages tightly knitted together, no doubt housing more than one family a house down here. In a while he would be out the gate and just outside in the houses there, they were definitely living more than a family per room.
He guessed he should count himself lucky, a lot of bastards were usually thrown out into those situations, no matter their poverty common people had proven themselves to care for those no one else cared for. Bastards were left on doorsteps to strangers and nunneries every day, he could’ve been living here, not here in the cold and gloom but in a town like this one back at home, selling bread or begging in the streets. His father had always reminded him, that the streets had been an option and that he had been a kind man to keep Peter, but he’d never really been a kind man beyond that.
Peter studied hard, harder than his sister and brother had when they had been his age. He excelled in almost everything his father threw at him, but not all. He was a great scholar, speaking most all languages that would be needed for hundreds and thousands and miles from home. He was an even better swordsman. He was a great strategist and could’ve been a very good warlord, he was an excellent charmer and even better at intimidation, but his father was never impressed. He was satisfied that he didn’t bring him shame more than being illegitimate, but he never cared for him. No matter how smart, strong or witty he was his father would never recognize him as more than a lucky bastard who he kept for his own bidding. Even when his brother died when he was sixteen and Peter had been hoping that his father would see him, and maybe even legitimize him as his true son, he hadn’t.
Talia was a good leader, a loyal and just leader for the family, she more than deserved the title as head of the family, Peter never wanted that, but he wasn’t even a true member of the family once his father passed, and he had to be in his sister’s good graces just as he had his father, he had no right to nothing that the others had. Talia was a good leader and she loved him, he had money, he had power and he had ladies and men lined up, but he was still the Hale family’s bastard to anyone but the family. So, when court were doing most of whatever they were doing, Peter did something else unless he was requested or nicely asked to, but today he wasn’t so they could do their lunch on their own.
He didn’t seem to get by the mass of people, his horse stomping impatiently at the ground as he tried to get through the mass of common folks. His ticket came with guards bellowing to pass to the centre of attention and Peter shamelessly rode after them through the mass of people parting like the plague had returned once more.
“There they are, Guards, the boy, he did it again, we kept them in there.” A vicious looking man rumbled proudly and the guard sneered.
“Good, now leave it to me.” He said as he stepped of his horse, his eyes were dark and his looks reminded Peter of that of a crow’s. Peter dismantled his own horse. Whatever could a guard want with a boy? True was the fact that he didn’t know how old this Boy would be but it didn’t rest well in Peter’s ears.
“What about my reward sir?” the man asked, still his voice was heavy with pride.
“You want a reward for selling out the neighbour boy?” he asked and stepped closer to the older ragged man. “Very well, here.” He said and dropped a few coins on the ground, five pieces of gold glimmered in the mud as the man dove after them. Not a lot for men like Peter of not even for men like the city guards, but for the people out here it was a saving grace. The guard sneered disgustedly at the man digging in the mud as he strode towards the bolted door. No one left, everyone anticipating the horror that was undoubtedly about to happen. The guard drew his sword and the others stepped down from their horses and did the same. The holdings were torn from the sparse door to the house and the crying of both adults and a child pierced the silence on the square.
“Get him out, if the parents is trouble, take them too.” He smiled and the other guards nodded and went inside with their swords drawn. People started hurrying off, leaving with their children as the screaming and crying continued.
“YOU CAN’T TAKE MY SON” a woman rushed out, a guard taken aback of her charge towards the door stepped back, getting his throat pierced by the small knife in her hand as she cried for her son in a foreign language, Peter doubted the guard understood, but he did. The guard in charge, the sneering crow, seemed to be smiling as he drove his sword through her.
“Mooom!!” a young child tried to rush towards her and Peter felt rage boil. He couldn’t have been more than ten, at the most. An older man stopping him and holding him near almost crushingly.
“Let him go and hand him over to us Stilinski.” the older man cowered around his son as the guard yelled at him. Peter couldn’t just stand there.
“What do you want with the boy to the point that you need to rob him of his mother?” Peter asked and he knew they would recognize him as a noble. Not as a Hale but as a noble, and he would have to answer.
“The king has requested that all guilty shall be collected Sir.”
“Guilty of what, he’s a boy!” Peter protested
“Heresy, Sir, we are to let no one go free, no matter age or status. You surely understand.” He sneered and pushed past Peter to drag the boy from his fathers arms.
“Let the boy go!”
“Please don’t take my son, not my boy!” Peter watched from behind a muscled guard as they pulled them apart and the boy was dragged into the carriage, into the cage like he was an animal. They then proceeded to strike down his father before the carriage even started rolling.
“Let this be a warning to all, death awaits those who hide heathens and those guilty of heresy in their homes or simply by not telling us!” he bellowed again to strike fear into them all at the square. Peter watched the boy as he cried for his parents and the carriage left the mass of people in distress.
“I knew that boy was an odd one, let’s pray he didn’t infect the other children! Foreigners from ungodly places.” he heard an older woman say before she hurried off. The boy looked back the whole way and Peter would never forget his face, the way his eyes had a depth he couldn’t explain and the moles that dotted his pale skin. He hoped the boy would be shown mercy and get a quick and painless death.
“my boy.” He heard the whisper as in a dream, faint and hollow in the same crude and rough language as before. “my family.” Peter sprung to action quicjer than he thought himself capable of. He carried the man inside, maybe he could save the father when he couldn’t save the boy. He spent the day treating the wounds as he would a wounded warrior on the field. Quickly but efficiently. He sat with him until he woke up. Until he was sure he would make it through the night. He left a pouch of gold on the table before he left.
“I know this doesn’t do anything for your pain, but it will give you peace for a while. I’m so sorry I couldn’t save your boy.” The father just cried as Peter talked but grabbed his hand before he left.
“Thank you Sir, for trying to save him, and for saving me.” He was asleep before Peter could respond.
They always spoke of Peter as a hardened man, a vicious and evil man. He wasn’t a nice man, there was no question about that but he wasn’t evil, he wasn’t naïve and he never lied to be nice, he was honest and people despised honest. But a part of him wondered why he an evil man would save an already lost father from death when he had just had the worst thing imaginable happen to him.
“I need to see the heretics that the guards in town captured today.” He said the minute he made his way to a guard inside the castle walls, his boots echoing in the empty hallway.
“On whose orders my Lord?” the royal guard bowed and Peter angered.
“Mine.” He said harshly, the guard didn’t move to speak. “NOW!” he needed to try to save this boy.
“I’m sorry my Lord but they have already been executed, there is no time to spare anymore for debacles, they seem to be spreading among us.” He looked sad as he said it and Peter nodded in defeat before he turned and walked away. Derek and Laura seemed to pick up on his state of gloom and were particularly pleasurable for the coming weeks, even months when the sadness he felt for the child and for the now lonely father left with no one didn’t leave him. Cora was as always, a pleasure to be around, her childish antics making him enjoy the mundane things in his life in court once more. Every month he sent the father, Stilinski, a basket of finer food, some coins and a letter. It took him to almost three years before he got a response, and when he did the letter was penned by a woman, telling him that he should stop sending the man letters and things to remind him of his loss. He would be alright, there were people to take care of him and support him in his loss. Who would support Peter through his failure of saving the boy? He stopped writing but he still sent money sometimes, just in case, he figured he was easing his guilt, he felt like he could have done something. After a while the money kept coming back with the errand boys he sent them with, the Stilinski man had gone.
After all, his father always said that with a title one could succeed with everything.
Maybe not in saving lives.