“ so what do we do now ? “ asked monarch.
“ I may have an idea or two.” Replied killian as he sipped his coffee.
And as this conversation was happening in the garden of the café Monarch worked in, the rotting corpse of the man who attacked them last night was found in the small field where people of Valkin threw there ‘disposable waste’. Lets just say that nobody cared about another dead gangster in a garbage box, it was pretty usual for the towns around this part of the country. Gang wars, Military camps, terrorists; everything happened but nothing took away the cheerful smiles of the very few good people living in Valkin.
“People to take care of kid!” shouted Kern from the counter as a happy couple entered to have those good cookies and make some memories they’ll cherish. They sat right behind the table where Killian was, Monarch brought the coffee mugs and a plate of cookies as they asked and came back to talk with Killian, but this time Killian started asking.
“You need to understand few things before we leave.”
“I do not understand, leave? But for where? That man is dead. End of the chapter right?” asked Monarch as he was getting scared of what answer to this question Killian would give.
“Yes, the end of the chapter..” he paused for a minute took a sip of his delicious irish coffee and continued. “but not the story, kid.”
“What the hell does that even means dad” said Monarch angrily
“That means, our life here is over or on a halt for now kid. We have to leave.” Killian ordered him firmly.
“You are out of your mind? I am not going anywhere. This is your war, your fight; Not mine”
“You became a part of this the day I saved your little ass from those who killed your father. I brought you in, I saved you from ruining your life by your own hands. You would probably be a crying kid who pricks needles into his neck or arms everyday with similar drugs your father made, or if better; you would be somebody like the man who came to beat us to death. But you are not, are you ? and why is that kid ? because a man like me who has no family saw a brilliant young kid with restraint, morals and quality of a young king in you the day you stood listening to your father scream and burn to death. I saw someone who will be a great man someday. And this is how you think of to acknowledge that? But turning back on the only person you love?”
“I am sorry dad.” Said Monarch as a tear fell down from his eye but he stopped before another one blossomed.
“tell me what is happening, explain it to me”
“Okay, so here is the thing- the people he mentioned that I betrayed is a group, a cult of very rich and very dangerous people. None of them even know how to cut a freaking vegetable but they cause chaos and death wherever they keep their hand on. They call themselves the ‘Agency’. They operate in a very cunning way by only one manager who contacts the recently started out mercenaries to get what they need anonymously and pay good amount of money and never work with the same men more than once. Its efficient. So I was also contacted to assassinate your father and burn down the factory so that the drugs in it are also destroyed, but one of the others played a game of his own which they must have found out about.”
“what game dad? I need to know.”
“He thought he will make some more money if he threatens your father that day.”
“for such small thing, this agency is coming for you after so many years?”
“maybe, the manager told us not to fuck with them.”
“its hard to believe but what happened last night was not very good either.”
“Exactly, so we leave tonight. Come home after your home quietly and don’t tell anyone that you leaving.”
“affirmative” said Monarch with a little smile, although what Killian said was not very convincing but he also did not want to fight another man again.
Killian left the café after a while, went home and started packing his bags for maybe they will return pretty late or maybe never. This thought sent some pretty solid chills down his spine, as he was not afraid of his own death but to imagine his little kid in pain and agony was nothing less than a nightmare for someone as mentally strong as Killian.
Sun cloaked the red cape and Monarch finished his work, cleaned the tables and went to Kern to tell him that he is leaving.
“Hey old man! I gotta go. Good bye.” Said Monarch as he opened the door to leave.
“I heard it kid.”
“your run from the bad guys? Yes I heard that.”
“Please don’t tell that to anyone.” Begged Monarch.
“ don’t worry son, I wont. Just be safe and if you need any help back here; you know I can kick some ass in this age too right.” Kern chuckled.
“ haha right old man, so I gotta leave now. Take care of the place I will join back as this chapter will be closed pretty soon by my dad.”
“I know kid. I will be waiting.”
Monarch left the café and walked home. He went down the same road he takes always but tonight it was a little different, it was a little scary. He had the feeling of a permanent goodbye, he was scared that he might not even walk this way or see the colored houses or hear the very gentle chirps from the trees that covered the gardens around the road. He jumped the puddles and went home, he saw Killian standing outside his apartment probably waiting for him. He ran the rest of probably hundred and fifty meters. He was finally home, he asked Killian.
“so this is it ?”
“you and me, on the run in this crappy thing you call a car?”
“this will keep us alive, and whatever keeps us alive; should never be underestimated.”
“alright then dad, lets do this.”
They both got in the car and started driving in the direction which would take them out of Valkin. After of about an hour of driving, Monarch asked Killian “ Where did you get this car from?”
“Somebody owed me a favour.” Said Killian with a blank face.
“ alright, so where are we going?”
“ Somewhere safe, I hope.”
“ since when did you start hoping for things?”
“shut up kid”
Monarch smiled at his dad and then took a little nap as they still had a long, long way to go.
They drove for another three hours and then Killian stopped the car for something to eat. They stopped around a small restaurant, pretty usual like any other restaurant on highways and country roads; old, dusty and with a very arrogant bearded owner sitting on the cash counter.
they entered and ordered food for themselves, and while eating their food Killian asked Monarch
“ is there anyone special in your life?”
“ seriously? You want to talk about my social life while we are trying to run from people who are trying to kill us?”
“yeah that is why we should talk maybe because in the future we not even get the chance.”
“ No dad, I never found somebody special but when I will do you wil be the first one to know about it I promise.”said Monarch with a pinch of sarcasm
“ okay, let me teach you a little life lesson- You see, it doesn’t matter if you love someone or not, there will be something, someone or some place that will love you. That love is dangerous, you will find it coming around for you, making its presence felt but you wont grasp that lover of yours, she will leave you but never stop coming around to remind you that you will never get rid of her and that type of love my kid is poisonous”
“umm. Okay” said Monarch as he made a confused and uninteresed face and concentrated on finishing his food.
They finished their food and went along the way to the a place they may able to hide.
They started their journey again in that small grey colored hatchback and drove all night. Monarch slept but Killian was kept awake by the thoughts of surviving another day with his beloved kid. When Monarch woke up next morning it was about 6 o’clock and he opened his eyes to see that Killian drove him in the middle of a freaking jungle.
“where in the hell we are?” he asked as he yawned and streched his arms waking up.
“somewhere safe, I told you.” said Killian with a grin on his face.
” in a jungle? Sure! What’s next ? Your best friend is a chimpanzee ?”
” hm. ” said Killian as he raised his eyebrows with a small to tell Monarch to look ahead. It was like an opening of a tunnel, it was a field; not natural as it looked like some hundreds of thousand of people took away the trees. They crossed that field which was over a mile long to reach the end, Killian got out of the car and asked Monarch to come out. They both stood at the end of that empty field just a feet or two from a very steep fall. It felt to Monarch like he was standing at the top of a huge mountain as he looked around and enjoyed the mesmerising potraits of nature Killian pointed down the hill and showed Monarch a small village.
“what is that? A village? Down there?”
” yes kid, a place where we will be safe.”
” how do you know this place?” asked Monarch curiously
” there are a lot of things you still don’t know about me, now help me light this car up.”
“what the.. Why in the world you want to light this car up!” Monarch shouted in surprise as Killian walked to open the trunk of the car and get their bags out.
” Sometimes I don’t understand whatever you do dad. ”
” I know, that’s why I am your dad and not the other way around. ” he smiled.
They set fire to the pretty little hatchback which helped them escape Valkin. They started their descent which will take a day for them. They did not stop as they held every branch as the ran down the hill to reach that village as fast as they can. After about ten hours of walking, jumping and taunting each other about who is faster they finally reached the end of their descent. They still walked about three miles of dense forest which guarded the village and finally the saw the end of the huge trees. They reached the place Killian was so sure would be safe, As they came they were first stopped by the ten guards who were standing at the huge gate which stood about 20 feet tall, it was made up of logs which were very perfectly crafted to be pointed at both ends; made it difficult to climb. So as they were surrounded by the guards with swords and knives. Monarch got scared and got his hands up in a stance to fight; he was entirely covered in sweat within seconds. “Yeah this is very safe, I feel so safe! Now I know why people want to kill you dad!” shouted Monarch as he was surrounded by the swords on his neck
Killian was standing behind everyone about five feet away with a smile while Monarch was inside that circle with about a centimetre away from his death, he took out his pack of cigarettes, light up one and said “I see you all are very young so you probably wont remember me, Just tell Vanko Esios that Killian is here.” Everyone looked at Killian as they were shocked, specially the guards who were in a surprise that how can a man they never saw knows someone from the head family of the village. One of the guards asked the other “Go in and ask about this man to Sir Vanko, if he says yes then we will let them in or I dig a grave using this man’s own bones.”
“yes sir.” Said the younger guard.
After thirty minutes of waiting for Killian and a challenge of not blinking an eye and moving a muscle for Monarch, the younger guard returned and said. “I am so sorry sir, I did not recognize you from the photos in the Family Hall of the village, you never used to have any comrades..” with a pause and continued little hesitated “or.. or a beard, sir”
“ hahaha no worries young man, This is not my comrade he is my kid and about the beard; well, if nothing changed there wouldn’t be any butterflies right ?”
“yes sir.” Said the young guard as every one around put down their swords and looked upto Killian very curiously. “who is he” the question every guard was asking in their minds and the look on Monarch’s face could be defined as the funniest confused face Killian has ever seen. The guards opened the door and let them in, as soon as the younger guard closed the door the other nine guards came to him to ask what happened, he said “This is the man who saved us from the four dark years and that bandit, he was living in the Esio’s house when he was hurt and trained with them too! He has picture in the Family Hall but we did not recognize him” Everyone felt guilty to stop and threaten a man who saved their families from severe poverty and death, but they were gone in the village now. Who knows if they will cross a path with that man again.
As for the duo,they finally reached inside the walls and as they walked around the village which was surprisingly bigger than what Monarch expected. Even the people were not what Monarch expected, he thought the people living in the middle of nowhere would be roaming around naked and wearing colorful paints on their faces but he was totally wrong when he saw the very well engineered houses in which people who are probably more civilized than the gangsters in his town lived. The people living in the village were almost the same as the people who lived in the cities or towns, the only difference Monarch could tell was that these villagers were more humble and nicer than the people in the town, or maybe they did not see the darkness of crimes in here as much as it is outside in the hideous world; but he was wrong. They walked around until the saw a house, which was firstly- too modern to be in a village and secondly too neat to be in a town. It was like one of those Japanese temples Monarch saw in the movies, beautifully structured and crafted with some wood around the corner and a garden with small trees added to the beauty of it. Killian stood in front of it and Monarch thought he was too admiring the beauty but to his shock, Killlian said “welcome kid, welcome to The House of Esio’s”
“You say as if you have been here dad, what the hell is going on?” Monarch was now restless as almost everything was getting more and more confusing for him, he walked in with his dad. There was bell which was hanging right outside a wooden door with the carvings of animals on both sides. Killian rang the bell three times and the gate was opened by a very old man, who was probably a butler or servant in that big house. They walked in and Killian asked to that man, “is Vanko home?”
“why wouldn’t I be?” said a voice from the floor above, a man came down who was about the same age as Killian should be. He walked towards Killian and greeted him wiith a smile and hugged him. “long time my friend, how are you?”
“in trouble as usual, my friend.” Replied Killian with a smile
“MY FRIEND? Did you just say you have a friend!” shouted Monarch
“haha yes my dear little Monarch, your dad has a friend.” Said Vanko
“ how do you know my name?” asked Monarch in a very low voice
“don’t worry kid, I only have one friend” interrupted Killian.
“Where are my manners? Come on in you two” said Vanko and took Monarch and Killian inside his house.
The house was even bigger and more beautiful from the inside, with a lot of marble statues and white colored walls with paintings to add the feel of royalty to it. Vanko sat down on a big red colored chair, which suited him, vanko was about five feet ten and kept a big moustache with sutble beard around the cheeks. He looked like a prince recently descended to the throne of the king. They all were brought tea to refresh themselves as the rooms were getting settled by the servants, Monarch was awkwardly sitting with his hands on his thighs and waiting to talk to Killian to clear some air about all the mystery. “you want something kid” asked Killian
“answers, dad.” Swiftly replied Monarch
“let me tell him Killian, you go and rest while I take this young man on a stroll to our heritage and our friendship.” Said Vanko as he got up and asked Monarch to come with him, he took him through a door which opened to a backyard with a small fountain and a big garden, Vanko said come here and sit down. He sat on the soft grass and Monarch sat down too. “so tell me what this is about….”
“you can call me Vanko or Uncle if you wish to.” Responded to the hesitation of the incomplete sentence of Monarch
“how about both.” Smiled Monarch
“alright kid. So what do you want to know.” Said Vanko
“ everything, how my father knows you and everyone here knows him too; I want to know everything”
“okay, so few years back. Before he brought you home, Killian was a very skilled man. A man of his own will and own choices, he went wherever he thought he could help. Our village was in a very bad phase of its history as we were nothing but the collectors or ‘godowners’ as they called us; the miners who used to dig out the gold and precious stones but because they could not travel at night, they hired us to keep their collection of the day safe in our houses in return of some good comission. This was going very well until a bandit arrived in the jungle, he used to loot the carts and even stole a lot from us, and killed a lot of guards and innocent villagers in the process, he used to carry something we don’t use- guns. He was precise and almost as good as your dad. To keep our village safe, my elder brother and my father invented a fighting technique to help our villagers feel safer. We call it the Esio form of fighting. This looting and killing kept going on for four long years, the rich miners forcefully took our men to guard their caravans and eventually almost everyone of them died, until one day a young man came to our door. He looked very tired but you can tell it from his eyes that he was a very focused and determined young man. He asked for the head of the village and my father went to him, all he said was “I can help you, let me help you.” My father trusted his instinct and took help from the young man whose name was Killian, he killed that bandit by keeping the explosives inside the bag of what that bandit thought was filled with rubies or gold. You know when you do thing continuously for a longer time you become careless, and that is what your dad took advantage of but what followed was pure horror. The bandit had a good connection in the market, I guess. A lot of fighters came to destroy our village and kill everyone but it was your dad’s bravery and knowledge which kept us alive. My father and my brother were martyred in the faith that Killian and I can still save this village. In that fight, your father was shot at six different places, four of them flesh wounds though. We brought him in the Esio House and healed him back to health, after healing Killian spent about a year training and learning our culture. He became my brother. This is the history of your father and our village.” Vanko took a deep breath and Monarch was filled with pride but there were some tears brewing in his eyes. He never thought that Killian ever helped so many people and saved so many lives. Later that day he went to Killian’s room and asked “how long are we staying”
“until I figure out a way out of this mess.” Replied Killian as he was looked out of the window and smoking his cigarette
“ I like it here though.”
“who won’t.” said Killian.
Days passed, weeks passed as they conceived a sense of belonging in this village, between these people. Monarch was learning the Esio fighting techniques from Killian and Vanko and everything seemed fine.
“its been two months I guess.”
“yeah more or less.” Said Killian as they both sipped their tea one fine morning in the backyard of the Esio’s House.
“I think we should start some business here dad”
Killian was frozen, he shouted “get in!!”
He heard the noise of the helicopter which was coming their way, he held Monarch from his collar and ran inside dragging him. That helicopter stalled just above the Esio’s House and then the ropes were thrown down, Monarch was asked to sit tight in a room, he went to the window as he saw his dad walking towards the backyard, every guard ran to where the ropes were thrown, and then there was silence, a moment before storm. One gunshot was fired from the end of the helicopter, then a man looked down, he wore a mask. A black colored bag on his face, he held a speaker in his hand and said “I told your mister D’vour we know everywhere you worked and every job pulled off, I must say finding this place was difficult but I am glad we met again, breaking the rules.” Monarch was terrified by the voice of the man, Killian asked one guard to bring his bag of guns and the other to get every man out of this village as soon as possible and then followed the men getting down from the ropes, firing everywhere and at everything they saw. Monarch jerked and went away from the window, he thought a bullet might come through it. He couldn’t see outside now, all he heard were the screams of the guards. He joined his hands and started praying to God to keep his father safe. After five hours of non stop gunshots, screams and blood rivers in the corridor which sent some streams in the room too, it stopped. The door thrashed open, Monarch was standing in the corner holding the walls; he cried he begged for his life to the man who came in with a gun pointing at Monarch’s head. He pulled the trigger to shoot Monarch, he flinched his eye; the man missed. Monarch opened his eyes to see that the man did not miss, his hand was moved the moment he pulled the trigger by a sword that made its way through the chest of that man, as that man fell Monarch saw the saviour of his life- his dad. Killian was covered in red, he fell down on his knees then took the support of the wall beside him, he said “you are safe kid, go get the ladies out of the basement and help every injured”
“but dad, what about..”
“including me kid, including me. Now go!”
“Monarch ran through the corridor, he slipped two times because of the blood. He went to the basement and opened the door to find about fifty women and children, he said “everything is safe, come out and help the injured; those who can” with a prententious smile. After helping everyone alive and letting the families of those who passed away know, he came back to the House and asked the old butler, “ he did not have any family left?”
“ No sir, he had no family.” Replied the butler. Monarch asked the women and the older men about how to perform the last rights, he buried Vanko’s body as the only thing closest to the family he had, but he knew he may have to do another as Killian’s health was getting worse day after day. Killian called for Monarch after three days of the attack in the house. “Remember what I told you about old lovers who won’t leave you?” asked Killian
“yes dad, I do.” Said Monarch as he sat near Killian’s feet on the bed
“want to know about who loved me like that?”
“sure dad. Tell me”
“My lover,kid, was death. She came to visit me so many times in my life but I cheated on her, maybe now I gotta leave to be with her.”
“don’t say like this dad.” his eyes were getting full of tears.
“listen to me kid, I have lied to you in all these years and even about this, I was the one who betrayed the Agency, I was the one.”
“what are you talking about dad?” he was confused
“that day when we were hired to kill your father, I did my homework on your father. I knew he had a family and a kid. When we were at Valkin, I escaped the factory for sometime, I went to your place and after your father was gone to the factory, I took your mother out of the house and I sent her with the neighbours, then I outran your father, reached the factory before he could after that when the neighbours beat him up, he was not able to check if your mother was still in the house.”
“what are you talking about dad!! Is my mother alive!! Where is she!?” he screamed in his cry
“after I brought you home, I took care of her health and I made sure that she gets a new life under a new name and in a place far far away from everyone”
“where is she!” he cried more and begged to his dad to tell him
“in a place where I could never find any redemption..” became the last words of Killian.
Another minute of Monarch’s dream passed, he felt the rain more softly at his forehead. He waited for his death, waited to remember happiness in his life. He waited for another minute of his dream.