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Beast in a King (Act two, Scene 1) by Patrick Amaefule

Read the previous scene

 

Two days later. It’s evening. In the city of Ambrogio. Petros  Glykos house in full view. A meeting of the members of the nobility council is on-going in Glykos’ house. Something that barely happens in Vinicius’ regimen.

 

The courtyard is carpeted with flowers. The sidewalks are beautified with petals of green, yellow and white flowers.

 

In the courtyard are three horse-drawn carriages, three riders in wait. A few sentries stand sentinel opposite each other in the entrance leading to the archway of the hall where the meeting is presided.

 

It’s an ideation of Petros in exploring the possibility of unity in the nobility which is of considerable interest for the future of Tarius.

 

Another centre from which the forces of peace and justice might emerge to rekindle their imagination is the Conclave Of The Nobles. It can be as effective or as fruitless as the Big Four wish it to be , and it’s past record shows their convergence had in the old times resolved dangerous diversities between Roman Empire , Tarius Kingdoms and their treaty.

 

There are lapses in the functions of the members of the noble council and they have failed to deal with dispute which endangers peace, and to decide what measures shall be taken when peace is endangered.

 

This nobility council is made up of Petros Glykos-the oldest in the council , Ares Lulu , Jairos Rosas and Alexandros Bastos. They are known as the Big Four elected to help Vinicius in his ruling council.

 

Petros is the only man who has the experience of a king. He has been re-elected severally to the position of a noble. An envy of the nobles.

 

Petros has outlived Vinicius II. He lives in a time of little trust in people which is why he is more an independent entity. Many differences in logical reasonings show Glykos and Vinicius are not a hand in glove.

 

Petros is looking more vibrant than usual in his special Roman-tailored cream apparel with lions rampant design brownly in the cotton material , red and white ropes that gird the garment. He has away with fashion and believes in old values. He has a broad chest, bulky face , but the clean plane of his face is still revealing despite the bulkiness.

 

There is an awe of contrast to other members of the nobility who seem to be less attired even more casually than usual. Perhaps because it’s not a meeting in King Vinicius palace where a mark of subservience is exhibited in all manners of noble fashions.

 

His colleagues now have more influence with Vinicius than he has. It doesn’t make him vulnerable because he is a man of steel determination, strong will power and unexpendabley within the nobles.

 

He sometimes considers Vinicius as apprentice King who is yet to taste the bitter side, trials and strangeness in challenges encompassing leadership.

 

Alexandros Bastos is his old self in a usual garb-like attire that mistakes him appears like a cleric. He wears a customary blue hat that has a shape of a oval pan. He has a frigid blue eyes, narrow chest , slim face that is round with a pointed chin. His total appearance doesn’t place him to a vantage , only his wit does which is what earned him a seat in the nobility.

 

Ares Lulu evidently has imaginary look ; He is tall , has a set of sculptural eyes, brown with their inquisitive circle of gold that seem to embed the eyeball into their sockets. He is well dressed and  has unapologetic look of a demon on a mission . Above all he has an incredible reputation, no more than a humble man whose simplicity and loyalty are rank best amongst the members of the nobility. He is devoted to the Vinicius cause.

 

The meeting in Glykos’ chamber is Petros’ pattern . Tiny snatches of voices reverberate and die off in the hall. Accordance in all discuss is difficult , but not unachievable.

 

There is quietness in the room. In sight are the Big Four ; Jairos Rosas leans back to refill his cup with grape wine , and then forth to regain his position. It’s his traditional way of enveloping his satiation and sense of vanquish in proceedings. His hollow face has a look of insulted pit-bull.

 

He fathoms out what is in the mind of the members of the nobility and what he would need to say. The broadness of his body structure which should have outlandish , emits an impressive heat.

 

There is an aura of physicality around him :

An extraordinary impression about him when he set out to speak that is composed of conviction , forcefulness and exquisite courtesy which is strange in a man whose countenance looks so uncouth.

 

His tiny moustache, the asiatic brownness of his skin colour, dreadful and rudely face, so lively with captivation and arrogant suspicion of all things one can think of in the world. Jairos’ countenance is  coarse and marks with spot. By his facet, he is not a man who would scarcely get a vote for a nobility.

 

He sways his hand in the air to emphasise his argument.

 

JAIROS : (He gently drops the cup on the table and speaks with aura of infrangible tone) Let me say first of all that King Vinicius will never accept the request from Roman Empire for the release of Ambrosine’s body. King Vinicius would have no pleasure in keeping a Roman’s body when it’s of no value to him. His concern is on the disregard this kingdom has met in the hands of the would-be Emperor of Rome who is gradually building monuments of derision over Tarius. This Kingdom comes into conflict with actions that are militating against the rule of law in the land. Ambrosine committed suicide in the square and breached peace and orderliness..

 

ARES LULU : ( Inquisitively looks at Rosas with vacant eyes that roams) We haven’t seen no writ yet, or are we modulating by a message of an emissary?

 

They look him wintry in the eyes as modest nobles of respect must do. They feel his sense of impatient by ill feeling in some affairs that requires judicious proceedings. Aware of their prestige , Lulu fears their sense of prejudice brews more hate for him.

 

PETROS : ( Stares at Lulu with contempt on his face) Lulu, would you allow the process to forge on without your interruptive plunder of proceeding?

 

ARES LULU : ( With a savage grin ,he lowers head to Glykos) Apologies, Distinguished Nobles. I was only about to say the time is now when our subjects would no longer submit to the obsolete colony and will of the Roman Empire..

 

PETROS : ( Shouts him down angrily and smacks on the table ) Lulu ! We did not call this conclave for postulations and plagiarism

 

He raises his voice with a loud tone that pulsates in the building and penetrates in the ears of the guards at the courtyard. There is a long silence. A female servant in her 40 appears from the archway and serves them grape wine. She disappears from the hall.

 

Petros is aware of the glaring eyes leaning on him with a strange stare that awaits further reaction on Lulu, especially Alexandros Bastos who’s been attentive with his eyes half awake, like a tired wolf, speaks with aura of confidence. His baritone voice deepens loyally as if he is an intermediary that brokers peace for the nobles.

 

ALEXANDROS : (  With a look of apathy ) Apologies, lord Petros. The over-hasty action was not aimed at humbling members of the nobility ,or you in the least. All the same I perceive the relevant flaws in Lulu’s interruptive approach , but it is to my interest that we urge Jairos to continue with the proceedings.

 

Jairos has a disappointed , unpleasant look on his face. He deduced what is in Ares Lulu’s mind , who he might rise to become in the nearest future. He thinks of his lack of dexterity. He is aware of Lulu’s origin : He is from the smallest village of Pasydus. He is one of the descendants from Cyprus who fled to Tarius to escape oppressors from Greece in the last 9 decades . Many of them sought for refuge in Ambrogio but the Tarius authority moved them to Pasydus to where they could be accommodated.

 

Pasydusians speak the language of Cyprus or Greek,  observe their cultural attire daily. They hold the Cyprus-Greek custom dearly.

 

Lulu is the man who has maltreated his people. He has never lived up his promise with poor people of Pasydus. He countered the wage per day status for labourers and urged men to work in his field at set wage per day he established. Men would have to labour extra hours at a modicum to work his farm.

 

Before being elected he promised to give them his land to grow wheat and corn for their families . People of Pasydus gave him their votes and he gives them nothing afterwards. Ares Lulu is a highly corrupted Pasydusian . His thought.

 

With all this record in mind , Jairos dwells in stoic-and-still state for a long time, making up what to say next while the nobles lop their ears to hear him out.

 

JAIROS ROSAS : ( Speaks with uncomprehending look) We have to stand as one to preserve our kingdom. What has Rome done for us that we can’t do for ourselves ? We can’t do too badly for ourselves. King Vinicius has resolved to take extraordinary measures to root Roman soldiers out of Tarius.

 

PETROS GLYKOS : ( Interrupts) That will be a devastating action , Lord Rosas. We have treaty with the Roman Empire. We should hold our values and maintain our alliance with Rome.

 

ALEXANDROS : ( Cuts in with his tenor voice that mixes up) Treaties are bound to be broken, Lord Petros. Treaty with Rome is no longer an opportunity for us.

 

PETROS GLYKOS : ( Affirms) Yes , treaty can be dissolved but with due process. And don’t forget that  Roman soldiers have played large part in the defence of Tarius in all our borders and have protected us from invaders. There was scarcely no time that the Norsemen did not snake out of their numerous creeks and Island of Baltic to burn , rub and destroy our properties. They continually overran our coast and border lines by so much plunders until we employed the Roman power that came on board , built fleet and fleets to secure command of the sea. From the scratch , they restored order at our territories. ( Inquiringly ) What more do we ask for ?

 

ARES LULU : ( Pops an interjection) No. Prince Baggio is the one asking for more by exercising extraterritorial powers on us with a show of greed, militarism, external dissension and tariff walls. Baggio has sanctioned the High Priest in Rome and restricted him to a definite duties to perform on the fact that they claim more than their due share of authority. He won’t let the High priest and papal control vast province as they did in his father’s reign . They are his vassal . He wants to reduce the power of papacy . He has refused to be crowned by the High Priest . The Holy Temple has been plunged into danger. He wants to be installed by his ailing father against the tradition of Roman Emperor ascension.

 

ALEXANDROS : ( Chips in sardonically ) It is thus , an evidence of his intention to set himself as ‘ Grandest of all Grand Monarchs.’ He has breached the Land Use Act. Almost all the thousands acres our peasants grow everything that makes us food basket  of the kingdoms are under what I called a ‘Roman Impose Land Use Act’ , part of this land Baggio has leased to our peasants on thirty-seventy basis, Prince Baggio unlike his father would provide work tools , supply seeds and transportation , and he would impose an interest rate to be paid from the thirty percent the peasant get. If they refused the bargain he takes the portions from them and leaves the land uncultivated and wasteful.

 

ARES LULU : ( Makes a chuckles) Is this the kind of treaty that we ought to maintain? I don’t think so.

 

There is a silence . Petros sums up the direction in which the whole argument is going to , and he realises that this agitation of Vinicius is fanned by the advocacy of his right-handed men- Ares Lulu, Giorgios Giannis, Alexandros Bastos and Matos .

He stares at them one after another as if he is making a head count. He senses betrayal. He is unsure of Jairos Rosas’ camp. Jairos is a man who by all indication does not trust anyone completely. Jairos can’t even be trusted. His thought.

 

PETROS : ( With a feel of subdue ,he takes a deep breathe ) In a matter of time we will reconvene in King’s palace for further briefing and proceedings.

 

ARES LULU : ( Inquires blankly, sipping his grape wine) Are we going to hear what the letter has to say ?

 

They all gaze at Petros . He makes an involuntary movement then touches the letter, one that looks like a sheathe carved out of a thick wood. The letter has a Roman seal. The writ is rolled up to take the shape of the wooden compartment. He pulls the letter out of the confinement and spreads the material on the table, ready to read out. But on a second thought he senses resentment and begins to roll up the material.

 

PETROS : ( He stocks the letter in its confinement )

Noble men of Tarius , the king must see this first and it shouldn’t be discussed any further without his presence. By the virtue of authority bestowed on me by the great kingdom, king and people of Tarius to chair this prestigious council of nobility , I , Lord  Petros Maximus Glykos do here by bring this conclave to its end. ( Modulates) And we all say :

 

All : To the Vinicius, crowned by Adonias, the greatest and peace-loving Kingdom be life and prosperity.

 

ARES LULU : ( Aside with Jairos ) Don’t you think Petros possession of the letter shows his connection with Roman authority ? There is no telling how treacherous that seems to be.

 

JAIROS ROSAS : ( Grins) The alliance with Roman Empire and Prince Baggio del Navarro could be a vantage for an opportunist. We will see how long that can tarry.

 

[Exit , Jairos , Bastos , Lulu , their sentries and riders.

 

Petros watch through a window as they disperse. He then murmurs  :

 

Noble status has treated me thus :

It has led me among the serrates of the nobility;

Turning back is an impossibility .

And going forward is a great task.

Affairs of this kingdom are like thorns

In it I have plunged myself;

 

When I take caution I can not avoid it’s pinch;

Their sharp tongue cut as keen as swords;

I have no sons to tell my words;

Before I go to the Creator and rest.

 

I will soon take a walk away too far ;

To avoid their savage grudge ;

Brooding over in the nobility.

 

[Exeunt]

 

To be continued….

 

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