A Royal Sacrifice Ch. 16byMrsDeathlynx©
"What in the world is going on with you? Don't you have the decency to at least show up to a funeral of someone the queen holds dear?" Muriel spoke loudly as she barged into his office, highly upset that Benedict had not been there.
"Keep your voice down woman, you are speaking to the chancellor." He rose as he spoke, immediately going to the door and shutting it calmly behind her.
She turned around and looked to him, the fire in her eyes was enough to tell Benedict that she was upset. While he remained calm on the outside this was something that he did not like to see in her. Inside it tore him up, especially since they had shared that brief but tender kiss. But apparently that had not mattered as much to her, not a single word spoken between the two of them since, except perhaps in a professional manner.
"Are you listening to a word I'm saying Benedict?" She faced him, now even more upset, maybe he had gotten lost in his thoughts once more.
"I'm sorry Muriel, I have been a little distracted as of late. There are things that I can not get out of my mind. No matter how hard I try..." He had been about to make a confession, however the fiery redhead interrupted him before he got the chance to finish.
"That's no excuse to miss Rebecca's funeral. Queen Evelyn can use all the support she can get right now. Do you not care for others? Do you not take into consideration how your actions will make them feel?" Muriel was not as loud as she had been, but judging by the tone of her voice she was still just as upset as she had been but a moment before.
At first he opened his mouth as it to speak, but no words came out. Was she so daft that she could not figure it out on her own? Had she not been paying attention to anything he had spoken to her?
Now he was beginning to become upset, were all of his efforts to show her attention and affection in vain? If Benedict could not talk to the woman he was quickly falling for, then who could he talk to? If he had not Muriel then he had no one. An old fool such as Benedict should have known better than to have trusted his heart to a woman.
"I have my reasons. None of them are of consequence to you." Benedict spoke coldly, clasped his hands behind his back and started to walk toward his desk.
Muriel just stood there and stared. The not so young maiden was a bit taken back by his actions. What had changed between them then and now? She clenched her fists as she turned around and looked to him; the goal to keep her temper in check. It wasn't easy, but with the cues that came from the man before her it quickly became easier.
"But they matter to the queen, your queen. She could have used the support of those around her. The least you could have done was shown your loyalty to her." It was about much more than that, however her anger was kept well in check and not revealed.
"I will not acknowledge our queen's fondness for a traitorous whore!" Benedict's hands slammed down firmly into his desk, in the process a few pieces of parchment fell to the floor.
"If the queen has reason to believe that she was charmed then we should trust her words, for if we can not trust her then who can we trust?" Muriel literally screamed at Benedict, upset that the man before her was being so stubborn and pigheaded.
"No woman can be fully trusted my dear Muriel. None!" He turned around to face her, his own cold eyes stared straight into hers.
The woman in front of the chancellor took a few steps back. She could hardly believe what had just been said to her. It was a direct insult, flung right at her from a man she thought cared. Something had apparently happened, the man that had begun to open up to her was now more closed off then ever.
"Do you think men are any better? They call women whores yet when they do the same damn thing it shows off his manliness. I saw the way you looked at her after you kissed me, instead of ignoring you took a moment to hesitate and entertain the thought of leaving me for that whore Vivaine. Do not think I am so stupid not to notice such." She did her best to look at him without any emotion, for she knew if any was shown it would end up being tears of pain and she did not wish to give him the satisfaction of seeing such.
"Now it has been confirmed by none other than yourself my dear, you came here with a hidden agenda and are unable to tell the truth about such." He took a few steps toward her as he spoke, eyes locked on hers as if searching for that which he had just spoken of: the truth.
"What in the hells are you talking about Benedict? I came here to question why you did not attend the funeral. It is the words spewing forth from your very mouth that have caused me to doubt your previous actions. You have no one to blame but yourself!" Muriel stared straight back into his eyes, only on the surface of her mind did she believe what she had just spoken.
She had just flung some serious verbal accusations at this man, something that she had not meant to do. Her heart started to scream to her. Muriel wanted nothing more than to take her words back, to let him know that she had not meant to say them. Her heart desperately ached to be on positive terms, to be able to share another one of those kisses that she shared. But she had messed it up, poor Muriel's heart sank as she realized this.
Benedict was now taken back by the words that were spoken to him, had he really done such a thing? He was too blind with anger to see that he indeed had, a proud man to be sure. He had been accused of not caring, something that made him even angrier.
He had given his heart to her, let himself open, but worst of all he had become vulnerable because of the wicked temptress in front of him. "How could I have been such a fool?" He spoke to himself in the midst of his thoughts, not realizing those words had been spoken out loud.
"A fool for what Benedict? A fool for trusting your heart to someone? A fool for making me feel as if I was actually wanted and possibly loved? A fool to now have taken your chance to not sleep with that harlot that tried to charm you in a manner similar to that in which the queen's handmaiden was charmed?"
"Enough!" I have had enough of your unjustified accusations!" Benedict yelled at her as he stormed toward the door, he was not going to stand there and take such beratement from anyone.
"I am chancellor. No one, other than the queen herself, may speak to me in such a manner, especially not her handmaiden!" Benedict paused as he got to the door, he then turned around and looked to Muriel for a brief moment.
He could clearly see the hurt in her eyes. It was hard for her to believe what she had just heard. Too stunned to speak, Muriel just stood there with her jaw dropped. So much was going through her mind right now, yet the connection between what made her think and what made the words come out seemed to be broken.
"Do not worry, as queen's handmaiden you will not have the time to see me anymore. Just the thought of that should make you much happier than you are now." He snapped at her as he opened the door, he then stormed out without even making an attempt to look back.
"Benedict..." Muriel cried out after him. The not so young maiden broke into tears and fell to her knees unable to move.
Benedict heard the sounds of not only her knees hitting the hard stone floor but also the sound of her sobs. For the first time in a long time her tears tugged at his heartstrings, a feeling of nausea tugged at his gut. Still he did not turn back. Instead of turning back he just kept going.
Four words whispered from his lips as he did so. "What have I done...?"
"Wait a minute. Why did I leave my office?" It was almost about ten minutes later that this occurred to Benedict, at which point he spun on his heels and started heading back to his office.
He hoped that Muriel would be gone by the time he got back, not because he did not want to see her but because he had no idea what he was going to say. He had messed up and big time, quite possibly to the point that it would be impossible to repair the rift that he himself had put between them. It was not until the final moments that he had come to the conclusion, the conclusion that Muriel had become his world.
Muriel held his heart in her hands, everything that she said or did got noticed by Benedict. Not only did it get noticed but it impacted greatly upon his mood, more so than he had ever expected for it to. His desire was to speak to her, to hold her, to comfort her. Sure he desired to bed her, but the emotional bond that he shared with her meant so much more, so much so that he would go without pleasures of the flesh if it meant sharing their hearts and souls completely with one another.
Benedict looked up in just enough time to see what was coming, the head rise would prevent him from running into Prince Drest. The older man stopped dead in his tracks, obviously a little confused. Rather suddenly something occurred to him, something that could perhaps save his chances with Muriel.
"You're coming with me." Benedict grabbed the arm of Drest as he continued on toward his office.
"What is the meaning of this?" Drest was more confused than Benedict, but still he went with the chancellor.
In their mad dash Benedict did not say anything, this was not a matter to be spoken of in public. To him it was a matter of great importance, one that would impact him for the rest of his life. Perhaps Drest picked up on the sense of urgency that came from Benedict, whether he did or not the young man did nothing to prevent the physical guidance from the older one.
It did not take long to make it to the chancellor's office. When he opened the door he left out a heavy sigh of relief as no one was in there. No sooner had Drest stepped in behind him then the door shut rather hard. Benedict was obviously not in the mood to mess around. The moment Drest felt the pressure on his wrist release his instinctive reaction to rub it where he had been held.
"I assume this is a matter of utmost importance Your High Excellency. I may not be Prince of Vix, but I am a Prince." The young man spoke firmly with Benedict. When one was stern they needed to be dealt with in the same manner.
"I am sorry Prince Drest but when I saw you I realized that you are my only hope." The sense of urgency now came out in Benedict's voice, his words a little strained as this was extremely hard for him to say. "I need your help..."
Drest had been about to laugh, the very concept of Benedict asking for help was strange. But when he turned around to look to at Drest, something was seen in his eyes that had never been seen before: desperation. It could not have been a matter critical to Vix itself for surely the chancellor would have notified the queen. This had to be a personal matter. If it wasn't, judging by the desperation in the man's eyes, Vix was about to fall.
"Surely there are many in this castle better suited to help you? What is the reason for you dragging me down the hallway?" He knew he had to handle the situation carefully, yet at the same time be firm and not let Benedict yank his chain.
"You're young, you've wormed your way into the heart of the queen...Just how did you do it?" Benedict spoke in a cold manner, he was trying so hard not to give anything away.
"How did I do it?" Drest chuckled and shrugged. "I was myself, I just let her know who that was."
"What if that doesn't work? What would you do if that failed you?" Benedict asked quite calmly, not realizing his questions clued in Drest as to what was going on.
"You and Muriel had a fight, didn't you?" The younger man looked to the older, the look in his eyes alone gave Drest the answer he needed.
"What is said in this room stays in this room, not a word of it spoken to anyone." Benedict stared coldly into Drest's eyes, the younger man simply nodded in response.
"No matter what I do, things always backfire. If it doesn't backfire, it has already gone wrong before it gets the chance to do such." While he spoke he moved behind his desk and say down, he then looked to Drest as if he expected an answer right then and there.
"You are the most stubborn, arrogant, stuck up, pigheaded, cold and uncaring man that I have ever met." The young man spoke with an even tone, carefully watching Benedict.
"I would choose my words more wisely if I were you. You may be a prince but your insults will not be tolerated. Do I make myself clear?" He stared directly into the prince's eyes, a definite warning within his own.
"Do you wish my help or do you wish for me to leave and watch you fail miserably?" After Drest shot back with his own firmness he continued on. "This is how other people see you. But this is not a type of man a woman would open up to. You need to open up. Let her see that even a man such as yourself is vulnerable. Let her know how you feel, let her know what it is that is in your heart." Drest shrugged as he spoke, to him it was rather simple.
"I have to get her to not be angry with me again. I can do all of those things, I just need to get her to give me another chance." Benedict shook his head and sighed, he knew the argument would be his downfall.
"Do you know what she likes? Some idea of what kind of a gift you can give her?" Benedict shook his head with each question for he did not know the answers.
"Then try to find out. Use your network within the castle. When you find out do what you can, you have to let her know that you are sorry. You have to let her know that you will do anything to show her just how much you care." Drest's words meant that he should let Muriel know just how much she meant to him.
"Just don't give up, be persistent..." As Drest went to speak once more there came a sudden and loud knock at the door. Benedict immediately rose as he realized the urgency in the knock.
"Enter." The single word was spoken, both Benedict and Drest took on much more formal postures.
"Forgive me Your High Excellency, but I have urgent news that can not be ignored." The guard bowed a bit, panting as he had worked hard to get up the stairs as quickly as he could in his heavy armor.
"Spit it out then if it is so urgent." Benedict grew impatient, he had personal matters to attend to as soon as he could.
"A fire in the woods, a rather large one at that." Benedict and Drest looked to each other, immediately they knew what they had to do.
"Go inform the captain of the guards. Have him meet us there." Benedict spoke in a commanding tone.
The guard would simply nod, then did exactly what he was told to do. Drest then went to leave. Like Benedict he wished to investigate, but before he got anywhere he felt a hand on his shoulder. His body stopped while his head turned to face the chancellor.
"You should heed your own advice young prince. Perhaps there is hope yet for the both of us." A simple nod was given before both men took off at a full run so they could find out just what was going on.
Muriel knew she had to get herself together, she did have a job to do after all. She had to shake this feeling off. There was no way that she could let Evie know what was going on. Muriel's life was now to live for the queen, she could not let little things like this get to her.
As she got up Muriel wiped the tears from her eyes, even then she felt like an absolute mess. Her heart was broken. It was as if Benedict had given up on everything after their little kiss. What had she done wrong? Had the charms of the Prince's sister gotten to the man she thought she loved?
As she walked down the hallway, she tried to shake these thoughts from her head. Dwelling on the past would do her no good. After all it was the past, wasn't it? The way that he had spoken to her it certainly seemed over, the way he had spoken to her left her no hope.
After she straightened out her skirt she knocked a single time on the door of the queen, a knock that was just for formalities sake. Evelyn should be in the process of readying herself for bed, or rather Muriel was supposed to help her. Things had to go back to the normal on the morrow. A monarch's job was never done.
"My queen." She spoke softly, upon the sight of Evie and low and proper curtsy was performed.
"Muriel, we are alone. You need not do this." Evie chuckled a little as she turned her head and gave Muriel the best smile that she could muster.
As she stood upright she nodded, at which point she gave the queen the same smile that she had been given. There was a slight tension in the air, both of them had much to say, yet at the same time feared to say it. The tension was not a matter between the two of them, the tension was from the weight of the emotions that each carried on their shoulders.
"Let me help you with that, poppet." Her voice was gentle and motherly as she walked up to stand behind Evie and help to remove the pins that held her hair up.
"You call me that as if I am a child." Evie chuckled, no ill will in her words at all.
"To me you are but a child. I was there when you were born. Remember?" That got the both of them to chuckle, Evie shook her head and actually smiled.
"Of course not, if I remembered that much it would be a miracle." The final pin was pulled and her hair let down as Evie spoke, Muriel gently began to run the brush through her hair to remove the tangles.
"You have grown up so fast, my poppet. Your mother would be proud to see the woman you have become." Muriel then ran her hand through the young woman's hair, as it fell to her side she could not help but to let out a sigh.
Evie could not help but to smile. Not only did she think of her birth mother but the one who had raised her as well. As Muriel went to the queen's dresser to grab a nightgown a single tear slipped from Evie's eyes, the memories pleasant yet painful at the same time. There had to be a reason for Muriel to mention this, perhaps something was on her mind that she was afraid to speak of. Evie did not want to be treated differently because she was queen, she wanted to be able to have friends just like everyone else did.
"What is on your mind Muriel?" Evie rose as she spoke, slightly exhausted but still her voice took a pleasant tone.
"There are a lot of things on my mind. Some of them concern myself and some of them concern my beautiful poppet that should be helping me prepare herself for sleep." She chuckled she motioned the queen over, at which point she started the process of unfastening her bodice.
"Your poppet is also queen. Do you not think she deserves to know what concerns her handmaiden so?" She spoke honestly, an attempt to get Muriel to do the same.
She watched as Muriel finished undoing her bodice and removed it. She felt much less confined without it. The bodice was then placed beside the bed, ready for the maid to pick it up on the morrow so that it could be cleaned. Yet the older woman said nothing as she did this, but her movements were still done expertly as if she had been at this for years. In a manner of speaking she had been, albeit many years ago, but she still remembered as if it were yesterday.
"Well?" Evie spoke as Muriel turned around with nightgown in hand, Evie having already taken care to remove the gown that until now had been draped upon her person. Her gaze met that of the older woman, she really did want to know what was on her handmaiden's mind.
"How is it that you can so easily forgive your former handmaiden yet you can not forgive Drest when he is guilty of the same crime?" Muriel spoke as she slipped the gown over Evie's head, but allowed the queen to straighten it herself while she prepared the bed.