It was 10 at night. The flowers had started to bloom. A euphoric scent was in the air. It was the start of spring in Eastavona, a tourist city located on the eastern shore of Angeland. Quail Square and the streets around were packed with people. Horse-drawn carriages were parked along the curb.
Café ReFernek was constructed a hundred and eleven years ago at the end of the Red Water War. Much of Angeland Kingdom’s history before that time had been lost. The Angs won the war but at a high cost. The Red Water War resulted in the death of one third of the dwellers of Angeland Kingdom. More tragic than that, all books and records of history had been burned down.
King Raygor Havvitar took over the rule of Angeland Kingdom after the death of his father, King Tyhem Havvitar, who died from sword wounds sustained while leading his army in the Red Water War. During King Raygor’s ten year rule over Angeland, critical thought flourished. Café ReFernek was established in the second year of his rule. The Café functioned as a public meeting place. Well-known artists from the time, had been known to frequent the establishment during all times of the day as well as the night. A tradition that continued over time.
The Café was run by Professor Lintek. Professor Lintek had spent his life teaching politics at the University of Karaymoore in the ruling city of Kingsight. His outspoken criticism of the current King, Tegron Havvitar and his forefathers, forced him to relocate to his birth town of Eastavona and distance himself from the political and intellectual circles that he was part of for most of his adult life. Upon his return Professor Lintek took charge to manage the family café.
Café ReFernek was a meeting spot for artists, intellectuals and politicians alike. The Café had a history of hosting Open Stage Nights since its establishment. The walls of the café were adorned with sketches and paintings of artists that had performed there as little known amateurs. They later went on to establish a name for themselves all over Angeland. A great number of them established a name for themselves as the King’s Entertainment. A fact that had always been hard to muster for Professor Lintek.
I tied my horse at the hitching rail with the rest of its kind. Brushing shoulders against the crowd I made my way from the entrance towards the other end of the Café. I passed the serving counters and walked through an archway that lead to the main sitting area. There was a raised stage on one side of this section. The brick wall behind the stage had the Café ReFernek logo, a black tea cup with hot vapor nestled inside a circle.
Kerosene lamps hung down from the walls that lit up the café. They had the effect of masking the flaws in the faces of all that visited the establishment. High tables were laid out on the far side of the stage. The tables showed signs of wear that reflected the café’s long history. Individual planks of teak wood were visible to the eye as if unpolished.
The café was getting packed as the seconds ticked off. Kazax Feathard was setting up for the Open Stage Event. The Café had the best acoustics of any establishment. That was the only way of filling up the Café with sound. Kazax had made a name for himself in Eastavona. Most of the people here were for him. He had always been a bit of a local celebrity.
Musicians, poets, sculptors and painter alike all gathered in Café ReFernek. The café facilitated the meeting of minds and the exchange of ideas. The cities on the western half of Angeland never supported such open exchange of ideas. The western city of Riverbranch heavily frowned upon such an acts. Even on the eastern side of Angeland my birth city, Muddywatervillie, frowned upon such acts that largely grew out of Café ReFernek. Eastavona was the appositive of such cities.
The Open Stage Night ran up until midnight. The poets read their verse, the singers sang their song and the players played their instruments. There were few in Eastavona that had any sense of belonging to a tradition. That is what happens when an entire Kingdom’s history is erased. This loss of history gave birth to new movements in art. However, it also lead to a sense of loss. Angeland was a kingdom whose history only went back a century. Everything before that had been burned by the invaders in the Red Water War. Although, there was a growing movement of intellectuals lead by the likes of Professor Lintek, who claimed that Angeland’s royal family played a part.
At the back of the café was the patio. It over looked Ocean Blue. Kazax walked out. I pointed to the empty chair at our table. That was where the best conversations took place. At the end of the night when most of the crowd had dissipated. There was an honesty I found in others that only showed up around that hour.
“The end of another night,” I said. “What are we in for?”
“We’re in it for the music,” said Kazax
“That’s what they all say.”
“That’s what it is. And on days, one is not in it for that, or not in it at all, one feels sad.”
I found Kazax Feathard less intimidating than I used in the days before. My conversations with strangers such as Hope always flowed with ease. That wasn’t always the case with Kazax. Kazax had been part of the art scene in Angeland for the past three decades. I always felt there was nothing I could say that he had not heard before, no conversation that he had not previously been a part of and no discussion he had not previously concluded by pouring his ample wisdom into all its branches.
“In this land,” said Kazax, “you need to know what your worth is. Never settle or any less than that.”
“That’s not what we are in for,” I said.
“No, but you’ll end up just like Inner Essence.” There was a sadness in his tone. A sense of loss in this voice. A look of regret in his eyes. Kazax first made his way to the city of Eastavona about 30 years back. He was now 45. He had made a name for himself playing as part of the music trio, Inner Essence, still fondly remembered in Angeland.
“Should listen to Kaz,” said Tulipa
My lack of interest in the conversation must have been apparent. Tulipa pulled out a chair for herself and sat down. She took a sip of tea and carefully placed the hot cup down in front of her. After a second of silence the conversation turned towards her.
“Word on the street is you’ve been entertaining King Tegron,” said Kazax.
“Word sure get around fast here,” replied Tulipa. She leaned back in the chair. The wooden floor creaked.
“Yea,” he lowered his voice down to a whisper, “you’re royalty now.” Tension was building up between the two.
“Far from it. I’m one of many.” Tulipa took another sip. She now held the cup in both hands erecting a barrier between herself and the circle around her.
“Professor Lintek is going to be disappointed,” said Kazax. There was a mocking sense of concern in his tone.
“He doesn’t know.”
“He will soon.”
“I’m sure he will understand,” said Tulipa. Her lack of interest in this conversation was now apparent.
Kazax pressed on. “What has our King got you writing?”
“I am to praise his life and works as part of the ‘Havvitar Heart’ plays,” replied Tulipa in her familiar sarcastic tone. Kazax and Tulipa had known each other for most of their adult life. They have always been supportive of each other. Although, on that night I sensed bitterness in their tone.
Its hard to know what’s going on in the lives of those around us. That night was no different. We reveal some part of our lives and conceal others. It wasn’t always easy to tell who one is talking to. Each voice concealed just as much as it revealed. The words disguised. Each one of us only to be understood by a few. That too, only if the star are aligned.
“Like it or not he is the King,” said Tulipa.
“The way things are going he will crumble down faster than Rockmount,” said Kazax. The city of Kingsight was built on top of Rockmount. Rockmount was the highest mountain in the mountain range that ran right though the center of Angleland separating the east from the west. Rockmount had started to show signs of extreme mountain erosion. The King’s men had been working to building support structures to stop the erosion. However, the elements were winning this rebellion against the king.
What are we in for? That night the question only managed to raise several more.
Categories: Crimes of Passion