Chapter 5: Episode 21- "The Road to Jong Kabur"
“Are we there yet? Remember that one?” Regal called back to Hercule as the two walked the dirt highway to Jong Kabur: the capitol of evil in Kodia. “We used to say that to dad about a million times on every trip he’d take us on.” Regal smiled, reminiscing in his mind of his father’s face and the way he’d tell them that there was still further to go before they arrived. Hercule said nothing and stared blankly, the effects of torture on the mind took more than medicine and rest to heal, he still had not recovered from the mental wounds. There were fresh and flowing gashes in his mind that may never fully heal: but time would tell all things. “Remember what father would always tell us?” Regal continued his thought train without a response from his brother. “He’d always say, not yet little one. But the longer we walk, the closer we are to where we are going, and the further we are from where we came from. That’s why we always bring a piece of home with us, so we will never be far from where we belong.” Regal remembered the words of their father, the voice in which he had said them, and couldn’t count how many times James Savoor had to tell his little, impatient children that. But as long as he’d know the man, no matter how many times the question was asked, the same answer was given and with the same kindness and patience. James Savoor was the a busy man, often stressed but always in control, sometimes afraid, but never too busy or confused to make his children feel like the most important things to him: because they were. There was never a moment in his childhood that Regal had ever felt unloved or unwanted, and he was sure the other children felt the same.
“We’ll reach the city by dusk. So, another hours or so. By now perhaps word has reached Cora in Vens Vay and she’ll be joining us in the city… but it’s a large city. I don’t know how we’ll find her. I’m still working on that bit.” Regal threw a random glance over his shoulder to check the road behind them and noticed Hercule’s morose state. “You okay, Herc?” Regal’s face showed concern, but he didn’t stop walking. They had places to be, and beyond that, their relationship was built on respect and distance. To bring up personal issues or question the strength of a brother was insulting and hurtful. Regal knew it was far better for Hercule to request a break from the journey than for himself to suggest it. That was how they’d always been, battling for dominance, or at the very least, independence.
Hercule didn’t speak, but his blank stare turned to gaze in Regal’s direction. As if speaking with his eyes and the empty expression on his face, Regal knew Hercule’s mind was broken. He hated to see his brother like this: a man who even as recent as this morning was fully cognitive and composed was reduced to this… It was to be pitied, but Hercule did not need pity. If anything, Hercule needed something to engage his mind, allowing it to snap back and become active again. Dormancy was causing his mental stamina to wane and his brain to become stagnant and stale.
It was apparent that Regal would be doing the talking on this trip. Regal shrugged, trying to compose himself and maintain the pretext that this didn’t effect him; that he and Hercule were so distant and he was so selfish that he did not care what befell his brother. But it did effect him, and he did care. Showing it seemed weakness, maybe it was fear or maybe it was wisdom that made Regal hold back the way he feels.
Did it make him somehow stronger if he denied his feelings? Did it make him less human to not show them? Would it really matter if he did or didn’t? Regal felt confused but knew what he would do and what he would not. What he would do was keep walking, not slow down, continue to move forward. What he would not do was allow any emotion, any feelings of shame or sorrow, pain or grief to distract him from the task set before him and Hercule and the other three. This was more important than what he felt. His concern for his brother’s wellbeing was natural, but it clouded his judgment and tainted his decisions.
Blocking his feeling, fighting the welling tears for the condition of Hercule, the pain he had suffered and the lasting effects on his mind he would bear for the rest of his life, Regal swallowed hard and thought of other things: happier things.
“Remember that lake we used to visit every….” Regal’s voice droned off as he talked to Hercule, but really to himself for the rest of the journey. Hercule was in his head, pondering things in an empty white space. Unlike the void of his unconscious subconscious, this white space was more of a blank canvas that constantly erased itself. Words written, actions done, things that he did or thought were there and then gone. Hercule was aware that this was occurring but had struggled in vain to stop it or bring clarity to his mind.
There were not many passers by on the east road to Jong Kabur. The dusty road was calm, no carts with noisy oxen to stir up the dust in the warm atmosphere. No horsemen of the Imperial Army making prints on the dirt path. No bustling travelers to market or from market to home in the outlying villages. No one wanted to go to Jong Kabur. The city was a bastion of everything the country of Kodia detested. Those who lived their did so in fear or willful ignorance of the evil powers ruling over them all as overlords and taskmasters. The people of Kodia at large despised the Imperial Dynasty, which was a dynasty of villains and cruel rulers. The most recent on the throne was no exception to this pattern.
Kodia had attempted to revolt. The southern half, in objection to the laws of the previous Imperial Ruler, taxes, abuse, crimes against the people, rebelled. Under the leadership of a few rogue Imperial Generals, the people of the south broke off and formed their own nation. Now, Southern Kodia was not a recognized nation by the rest of the world, but they operated differently than Northen Kodia. Still everyone referred to it as simply, The Rebellion.
Hercule had fought for The Rebellion during one of the many conflicts as they were called. It had been a considerable number of years since the great war when the countries split. Since then on a regular basis things would flare up between the two and extended into heated skirmishes. Never anything as serious as an all out war, but serious and lengthy enough to not be considered a fray.
The road looked empty. There were no travelers out today. Hercule looked at the trees to the side of the road, growing in clumps like squadrons of soldiers. Like the type of thing he’d seen during his time in one of the conflicts between North and South Kodia. He’d been a soldier on the side of The Rebellion. Wait-, had he been here before?
Hercule felt deja vu, like vertigo for thoughts he didn’t know up from down. He was slipping. He thought he’d just remembered those things. Had he said anything out loud or was it all in his head? All his thoughts seemed to repeat themselves, but was he really losing his mind if he was aware of the ways he was losing his mind? He was at least aware enough to know that he was not aware enough to not repeat about how aware enough he was or was not…. He was really losing it now. Hercule felt his sense begin to dull, as a man drunk beyond what he can handle. His motor skills continued without his mind giving them orders as he followed Regal.
Hercule’s older brother was unaware of the conflict in Hercule’s mind. To Regal, it just appeared as thought Hercule was lost in thought, staring off into the distance. At least it would have looked that way to him if Regal was not preoccupied telling himself stories for distraction. Hercule didn’t know what was going on, but knew that he didn’t know what was going on, and that was something. Maybe everything would be alright. He would get better with time, he just needed to allow his mind to heal and get back to normal. What was normal? How much time? For now he kept his mouth closed about all of this, too embarrassed to be a burden on anyone. But there was no feeling more lonely than losing your mind when there's no one to help you find it.