The beginning (Pt. 3)
Slowly, the far-off distant terrain appeared ever closer. Henry observed the white sand of the beach while Lord Marcos anchored the boat with a steadfast knot around a wooden pillar in what seemed to be a makeshift harbor, composed of wooden slabs and rusted slacks, with a few other boats, yet larger in proportion, and slicker in design. Red ceilings covered the main entrance of the old harbor, and a dense jungle followed in suit behind it. Lord Marcos made a royal exit out of the boat while Henry almost stumbled out of it. The two bowls of cereal were amused by the vibrant tropical trees and birds whose calls could be heard from their very arrival. Lord Marcos led the way through the jungle following a made-up path in the ground which made them traverse a beautiful natural array of monkeys howling in trees and tossing small tree chunks amongst each other. At one point they encountered a mother hog with her calf, an eagle soaring above the trees looking for prey, along with red and deep blue birds chirping in harmony.
Trouble came when they encountered pesky bees, mosquitoes and other insects who were instantly attracted to the pouring sweet juices of the cereal milk atop their heads. Lord Marcos tossed Henry a piece of cloth and instructed him to place it above his bowlish head to prevent insects from getting in, and the Lord did the same with a spare piece of parchment he had laying around on the inside of his jacket. Although Lord Marcos was confident in where they were going in the current path they were travelling on, he held a worrisome face long enough for Henry to ask: “What’s wrong?”.
“It’s too hot… and humid” answered Lord Marcos with a stern voice. “It affects the condition of our cereal,” he added quickly. The piece of parchment Lord Marcos held over his bowl-of-cereal head wasn’t large enough to cover it entirely, and Henry noticed that the small fedora-like hats Lord Marcos had for cereal were slowly losing their quality, some drowning at the bottom of the plate and looking more and more deteriorated. The once fancy black hats floating in pristine white milk were slowly quenching and creating a sloppy mess. Henry couldn’t even begin to ponder what his own straw-like milk would look like now.
Not long after, the two bowls of cereal walked upon a wooden sign with two slabs pointing in different ways, splitting the path in two. However, the left path looked sharp, neat and clean, with sidelines and distant lights that illuminated the way. The path to the right on the other hand, looked rough, the ground path was broken, had many holes and missing layers. Additionally, after a few meters into it, a huge boulder lay in its tracks, stopping the way for anyone interested in endeavoring on such heinous terrain.
“Damn! It´s blocked” proclaimed his cereal bowlness majesty. The naïve groundskeeper and commoner, now spontaneously turned into a bowl of cereal, was bewildered by Lord Marcos’ harsh reaction. “We’ll have to go through the city,” whispered his esteemed lordship. Henry took his first glance at the sign: it read Oldtown with an arrow pointing to the right, and just below, it read City, with an arrow pointing to the left. Henry was ready to argue that the path to the city was in much better condition for travel, when Lord Marcos brashly said: “Listen Henry… uhm this city… how can I explain this to you… This city in the East is a commercial hub created by the Central Bank of the Colony´s Treasury.”
“The Central Bank? I didn’t know there was a Central Bank” questioned Henry rapidly.
“Yeah, the chief board of directors, composed of the Governor´s most loyal and trusted court nobles, control it. My uncle, my mother’s brother, Lord Baldwin the IV, currently sits in it along with seventeen others. He helps me with dull matters like loans and treasury grants from time to time” Henry was only ashamed of hearing so many unknown court nobles at such a rapid pace. His whole life, the Colony´s authority and himself had felt so distant. His only link with the prestigious reality of the island was Lord Marcos. Unlike the vast majority of the people on the island, Henry Willowstone could pull the curtain of the royal reality from time to time thanks to his lifelong friend. However, a sad deed would pull their bond closer together.
Henry always lamented the fact that Lord Marcos grew up motherless. His mother died in a freakish accident when he was very young. Henry did assume that it was this lack of time Lord Marcos spent without his mother that made a young lord wish to maintain a friendship with a poor commoner like young Heny at the time. Henry´s father, Berry, used to tend the large luxurious lawns, and work the fields of a coastal family property of Lord Marcos´s family. The young Lord used to go on his summers to the property and play with Henry, who was allowed to enter the property and enjoy the time with his friend. Yet, when he was growing up, his father pulled him away from playtime, and made him work the fields, tend the lawns, and learn how to shepherd the cattle. Due to Berry´s known irritable reputation, Henry pondered if his father grew bitter of Henry´s chance of escaping the hard toil of labor in the property, instead of working alongside him, like Berry did with his own father.
“It was through my uncle that I got you the state grant for the land, Henry”. The bowlish groundskeeper looked up in appreciation, and humility, to his royal friend. Henry was used to being humbled by Lord Marcos’ family and entourage. Growing up, Henry knew of the drastic differences between his life and Lord Marcos, yet the court noble never presumed of his social rank or dignity, instead, he would hide it from Henry, and repudiate it whenever his commoner friend brought it up. Lord Marcos was never fond of titles and prestige, and Henry always thought that if Lord Marcos was allowed, he would abandon every social compromise he held with the island´s authority. The Royal Lord growing up had a knack for being mischievous, and a great talent for misbehaving. Once, for the young Lord´s fourteenth birthday, he and Henry snuck inside the Royal Cruiser of a high ranking navy officer, only to sail it ashore and sink it at the bottom of the sea. Luckily, Henry was never found in the plot, and an innocent bystander was charged with the crime. When Lord Marcos came of age, he and Henry stole several bottles of the Governor´s moonshine from the closed reserve he kept at the southern point of the island. It was Lord Marcos´s distinctive ability of being a renowned trouble maker, and his lack of eyesight for prestige that always brought Henry and Lord Marcos together, despite of their enormous differences.
“I never had the opportunity of thanking him personally, your uncle”, replied Henry in shame.
“Oh forget about that. Miserable prick doesn’t even know you exist. He’s too busy on the Grand Tower to ever step out of his comfort, drinking champagne and living in luxury”
Ah the Grand Tower, another reminder of how distant Henry truly was to the island´s authority. He could almost picture it atop the tallest hill of his field. A sky-reaching, thin layered structure that rose from the grounds to the heavens. Blocked off by miles upon miles of unsanctioned terrain, only accessible to the court nobles and whoever had business with the Governor. Henry was never close enough to get a clear view of the tower, as heavy dark creamy fog covered it in mysterious fashion, yet he was always intrigued by whatever happens over there. A giant wall, of almost twenty five feet tall in size, separated the island´s commoners like Henry, from the prestigious and elitist court nobles, like Lord Marcos, from entering the unsanctioned lands that led up to the Grand Tower.
“I see,” replied Henry in honesty. He wished to add more, but before he could say anything, Lord Marcos added hastily.
“Listen Henry, there is something imperative you must know. And it´s crucial to what we are doing here in the East”. Lord Marcos took a few steps backwards from the broken right path and gave a sharp look to the neat path to the left. “You must not get distracted. And you must always follow me”, Lord Marcos now looked directly into Henry´s eyes and said: “Now Henry, the most important thing is that you don´t talk to anyone”. Lord Marcos opened his eyes very wide and with a finger pointing to Henry´s chest said: “DON´T SPEAK TO ANYONE. And always, always, keep your mouth shut. Can you do that?”
Henry was perplexed by Lord Marcos´s harsh assessment, yet he simply nodded like he was used to when receiving instructions from his friend. Lord Marcos stepped even closer to Henry, and with a determined look on his face spoke again to Henry: “I need you to say it to me Henry. I need you to tell me that you won’t get distracted, and you´ll keep your mouth shut”
“Okay…“, Henry glanced at the awful path to the right, then quickly to the good looking one on the left, and then looked back to his friend. “I won’t get distracted, and I´ll keep my mouth shut” replied Henry, in the likes of a loyal service dog following a command. Lord Marcos looked away from Henry, and walked a few steps into the neat path to the left. “Good. Let’s go then. Let’s go to the city”.
And so, the two bowls of cereal walked their way among the delightful path, filled with street lamps and benches the likes of Henry had never seen. The well dressed bowl of cereal led the way, as his commoner groundskeeper bowl of cereal followed in suit behind him. Henry didn’t understand why they had to be so secretive and silent about their endeavours in the East, yet he wasn’t going to question a mandate from Lord Marcos himself. He never had. It was his closest friend who always helped and supported Henry. Lord Marcos aided Henry when his father passed, got him out of trouble with the island’s authority hundreds of times, and is responsible for giving him the land which he now tends, along with his second good friend and companion, the old shepherd dog Derby.
“Derby!”, exclaimed Henry in suspense. “What about her?” asked Lord Marcos, as if Henry´s colms were a matter of distraction. “She’s all alone on the island!” said Henry, now placing both his hands on his bowlish head. “The people on the island must be going crazy, what is she going to do without me?!”. Lord Marcos didn’t seem hesitant by Henry´s troubles, and calmly answered: “She´ll be fine. Remind me to tell you the story of how I found her”
“We need to go get her. We need to get back to the island”. Lord Marcos looked back only to stare at an unmoving Henry looking back at him with a glimpse of defiance in his face. Lord Marcos stared at Henry in what could only be amusement, as if the once loyal dog now bit back in arrogance to the hand that feeds him. Surprisingly, Lord Marcos gave a vague half smile and walked back to Henry. Most probably, Lord Marcos was impressed by this sudden act of defiance. This could be the very first time Henry ever told Lord Marcos what to do. Still wearing that vague smile on his face, Lord Marcos answered: “We will Henry. Trust me, we will get Derby back”, Lord Marcos raised his right arm and laid his hand on Henry´s shoulder, “I promise”
Lord Marcos walked further into the path, where he originally stood before being rudely interrupted in his mind, and then spoke again: “But the people Henry, think of the people. They are undergoing the same thing we are going through. I can’t even begin to imagine how scared everyone should be right now.” Lord Marcos looked back at Henry with a worried face, “I brought you with me because I thought out of everybody, you’d be the one to put personal matters behind for the common good of everyone. I thought you´d felt likewise as I do, and would help set things right. But I guess I was wrong. If you wish to rescue Derby, go. Use the boat which is still tied at that ungodly harbor and sail towards the island. The seas aren’t as rough as using the southeast passage, so you should have a smooth sailing”
Henry´s determined face now resembles one of pure embarrassment. He couldn’t believe he dared defy his one true friend, who had always been there for him, and now wished to help everyone on the island. And what did Henry wish to do? He wanted to rescue his companion dog. How selfish could he truly be? His loyal friend is asking for his help on such an important matter, and all Henry wishes to do is go back to the comforts of the island in the sake of rescuing his dog? No, he wouldn’t allow it. He wouldn´t allow his friend to go alone, after everything Lord Marcos had done for him.
“I’m sorry… you are right. We have to help the people”
“I promise you Henry” replied Lord Marcos, “we´ll rescue Derby, and we´ll get back to the island. But we must return to the island with answers. We owe it to everyone.”
And with that said, the two bowls of cereal continued their way to find answers in the city on the East. One way or the other, his royal bowlness, and the commoner bowl of cereal, will attempt to save every single newly turned bowl of cereal in the island, whatever it takes.