Chapter 1 : Their first day at the Royal Naval College
Apprehension could be read on their faces as they approached the big building. It's Greek inspired architecture with Corinthian columns was not only breathtaking but imposing and intimidating. Liam couldn't be more proud of himself and his brother.
After offering them a commission on his ship, the Captain of the Jewel of the Realm had rewarded them by paying for their meals and lodgings until their official submission in the Naval college which was to take place on that precise day. Unfortunately, his generosity did not extend to their attires, which is why most of the hall was now staring at them in disdain.
As the eldest, Liam has always felt the need to protect his brother by all means necessary, not only from the outside world but also from himself. He knew his brother's strengths and weaknesses and has tried as much as he could to prevent the crew from influencing him. That's why this next step in their lives meant a lot to him. They finally had a shot at being more than what they were and have been since their childhood, be what Liam believed they were destined to be, great heroes, captains in the Royal Navy. That's why he's always believed in good form and put it upon himself and his brother to do what's right and convenient at all time. We need to act like gentlemen little brother, stay away from those beasts and their dishonorable ways to have a chance to be more than just deckhands on a lowly merchant's ship.
Killian couldn't be more thankful to his brother for getting them where they were, even though he believed all Liam had done to get them a commission was due to luck. His brother had raised him like a father, he put him to bed and told him stories of princes and heroes when he couldn't sleep, protecting him from the vile crew and taught him to act and talk like more than just a loathsome sailor. He had to make his brother proud of him and show him that all the effort he has made and trouble he has gone through for him weren't for nothing.
As they further ventured in the building, they both felt a change of pressure on their chests. For the older Jones, the pressure to make sure his little brother was fine started to alleviate since he could finally see a bright future ahead of them, it was no longer hazy and abstract but within reach. However, Killian felt a heaviness and fear settle on his chest, he couldn't disappoint his brother, from now on, he will have to be responsible and studious in order to one day become captain as he wants.
“I can't believe we finally made it little brother” Liam looked around him in awe. He had never seen such grandeur and luxury in one room. Marbled floor and rich mahogany walls adorned a very large room with many doors and an imposing staircase. They both looked around, unable to decide where to go or who to ask for directions yet aware of the lingering stares on them. Navy sailors in all sizes, shapes and ages moving around and about the hall. They stood there a couple of minutes until three officers decided to approach them.
“May I help you ?” One of them said scornfully.
“Good morning sir, we are looking for the admissions' office, would you be so kind as to direct us ?” Liam asked nicely. Punch them with your kindness if you can't hit them with your fist he thought.
The three officers laughed condescendingly at that, “ I think you must be mistaken sir, this is a reputable institution that only accepts upon commission, and you certainly do not look like you can afford one. I do however feel charitable today and will give you a coin for entertaining us” the same officer replied, still laughing while looking for his purse and the doubloons he kept in it.
Feeling humiliated and provoked, Killian almost lost his temper, when luckily another officer joined them with a smile before saying “ You must be the brothers Jones who brought the eye of the storm to the king !” They stared at him askance. “ News spread fast in here” he added matter-of-factly.
“My name is Marcus Parr, I too am assigned on the Jewel” he said as he shook their hands. “Don't pay attention to them, they're jealous, we have all heard of the famous eye of the storm and none ever dreamed venturing near it. Please let me lead you to the admission office, I believe Captain Howard has already made the arrangement for you, all you'll need to do is present yourself there ”
Turning to the other officers Killian put on his biggest smiled “Good day to you”, before accepting his offer.
After formerly presenting themselves, Liam and Killian followed their new crewmate through long corridors and impressive staircases. The building seemed so big and neither of them could believe they'd be one day able to know there way through it.
“Amazing isn't it ? I've been here for 2 years now and I am still astonished by the beauty of this building” Marcus smiled at them understandingly, “ And don't worry, you'll learn how to navigate in this maze, if I could then anyone can”.
“And here is the admissions office. I'll be waiting for you outside, I believe you're going to need a guide to show you your “Houses” and introduce you to the other officers of the Jewel”
“That's very kind of you, we wouldn't want to impose” Liam answered.
“No please, allow me ! It will be my pleasure, you need to meet the other officers and lieutenants of the ship ! We like to consider ourselves as a big family, and family doesn't let any of its members get teased without helping them”
The brothers stared at him, overwhelmed by their emotions. “ Well then M. Parr, we shall be as prompt as is expected” Liam said managing to maintain an impassive stance through the conversation.
“Please Liam, Killian, Call me Marcus”
Liam nodded at him before dragging his clearly overwhelmed brother inside the office.
Captain Howard had not only provided them with a commission on his ship, but also paid for all their fees and lodgings on campus. As students, they were to spend most of the year at the college especially during times of peace in the Kingdom.
The admission officer had informed them the Captain had also managed to secure them monthly allowances from the King himself as well as a derogation that enabled them to skip sailing classes if they successfully proved their value aboard of his ship next week. If they pass that test, they would only have to take theoretical classes such as languages, law and mathematics.
Apparently the captain was persuaded providence wasn't the only thing that protected the Jones Brothers and that they had a bright and promising future ahead.
The officer then handed them some letters, some books and uniform that they would have to get fitted as soon as possible at the local tailor's.
Leaving the office with their hands full, They found Marcus waiting on the other side of the corridor speaking to another officer. Shaking the other officer's hand, Marcus left him to join Liam and Killian at the door.
“ So how did everything go ? I am sure it went well, you've left quite the impression on the captain, apparently he wouldn't stop talking about you and your incredible story” He babbled without leaving them any time to answer, then continued “ You will have to tell me someday, but for now, let's get you to your houses, I am sure you want to put all of those heavy thing of yours somewhere” He said staring at their new belonging.
“That would be much appreciated we have yet to try our uniforms to get them tailored” Liam said joining Marcus, followed by Killian
“You might as well buy new civilian clothes while you're there, the laws of this kingdom forbids all men to wear their uniform outside their their duties, the King said it prevents social interaction by putting barriers between the citizens. Our king is a good man, very wise, yet very old and many say he won't last the year, but they've been saying that for the last 5 years”
Liam nodded in understanding, he had heard of king Gregory's legendary humility and generosity and knew he was loved by his people. Their father would always tell them stories of his valor in battle when they were little. Those memories where the only good ones Liam kept of his father, they always inspired him and made him wish to be more than just a lowlife seaman, a hero. Turning around to check on his brother, Liam was surprised to see Killian was no longer following them.