Defiance Ch. 15bySumOfAllThings©
It had been a miserable morning that had steadily progressed into a wretched evening. Tate was already sporting a blooming bruise on his cheek where he had been violently struck down. He had since pressed himself in a far corner of the room and was desperately trying to remain unnoticed. He had hoped the princling would drink himself into unconsciousness, but the young man seemed to only grow angrier instead of tired.
When the Lady Phatilia made an impromptu visit everyone in the prince's chambers fell deathly silent. The timing could not have been worse and Tate was not the only one cringing away from the prince's fiancé.
Christian took one look at the young woman and openly sneered. "How fortunate!" He boomed, his voice slurred and dripping with disdain. "My darling wife to be has graced us with her presence." He stood up and performed a sloppy bow. His eyes travelled up and down the length of her petite frame, taking in the skin-tight sapphire gown and towering snowy hair. "You look beautiful tonight Phatilia." He said, the tone turning the words into an insult.
She really did look startlingly beautiful and Tate felt a bizarre pang of sorrow when he saw the hurt and confusion cross her delicate features. "You're majesty had been absent from the court of late." She said smoothly, the pain skilfully hidden in her voice. "I had missed your presence." She took a short step forward but seemed to visibly stop herself from going to him. Her confusion bloomed. "Are you well Christian?"
"I'm perfect Phatilia." Christian said nastily, taking an unsteady step and spilling his wine as he made a sweeping gesture towards Tate. "Just look what I have to amuse me in my rooms. With such a beauty why would I leave to spend time in the hall with you?" He crossed the distance to Tate and grabbed the smaller man around the waste. The halfling had a moment to think Christian couldn't possibly be doing something so incredibly foolish before he was being bent almost in half.
Tate struggled, he couldn't help himself. Christian had never even kissed him before his servants and now the damned fool was exhibiting himself before his betrothed. A tongue forced its way down his throat and the half-blood began to struggle in earnest. He heard a horrified cry and then he was released so suddenly that he fell hard to the ground. He had a moment to see the look of humiliation on Phatilia's face before the devastated woman fled from the room. Christian watched her go, the glee on his face slowly giving way to realisation of what he had just done before his staff and future wife. Items starting sailing through the air and Tate scuttled away from him on his back. At first the prince threw them at random but after a moment he began flinging his possessions directly at his startled staff. The poor fools were too well trained to run away. Tate watched in horror as a young page was struck in the temple by a glass vase. It shattered on impact and the boy crumpled without a sound.
Silence reigned for a few breaths before Christian started screaming. "Out!" he cried, giving the unmoving boy a solid kick to the leg. "All of you get out!"
A few brave servants picked the lad up and dragged him out. A pool of blood followed and Tate was reminded of the soldier the prince had once killed for kicking him. There had been no enquiry into the soldier's death and as far as the halfling was aware he had never been mentioned again. He wondered if the same fate would befall the page boy.
Tate had wedged himself back into his corner during the princes fit. He crossed his arms and dropped his eyes and prayed that Christian would leave him alone. Though he dearly wished to depart with everyone else he knew the prince would not permit him to go. There were a few moment of heaved breath and then a hand slapped hard against the wall beside Tate's head. From below his lashes the halfling watched the prince's heaving chest rise and fall.
"They all think they can judge me." He snarled, reaching out his free hand to fondle Tate's hair. "I can see the look in their eyes. They don't think I'm worthy of being their king. I hear their gossiping, they think I don't but hear them but I always do." His gentle caress became painfully tight "They'll regret their words soon enough. Soon they won't have any other choice but to accept me. Soon I'll be all they have."
"You'll make a good king Christian." Tate said, feeling sickened by his own simpering compliance. The hand in his hair loosened slightly. "Everyone worships you."
"They think me mad." Christian mumbled, leaning into Tate and forcing his leg between the Halfling's clenched thighs. "You do too."
"I live to serve you." He whispered as he coiled in on himself. He was about to be hurt, he was very sure of it, the only question was just how badly. He could see a dagger on the prince's belt and almost grabbed it in desperation when he heard a knock at the prince's inner doors.
Christian pushed himself away from Tate and impatiently pulled open the door, clearly expecting some foolish guard or servant. Richard stood there, perhaps the only man that Christian would not rage against. The prince visibly calmed at the site of him and ushered the captain inside. "Is it done?" He asked immediately, with some nervousness.
Richard didn't answer immediately. His eyes fixed on Tate and the suspicion there was obvious. "My prince-"
"I know of your mistrust of my squire Richard." Christian interrupted viciously. "You have spoken of it often enough that you should be equally aware how I tire of hearing it. Tate is mine and he will not speak out of term." When Christian turned to look at him the halfling instantly dropped his eyes. He felt the other mans gaze on his for a long moment. "Now tell me captain, is it done?"
"I have acquired a vile of foxbane my prince. The apothecary assured me that the content is tasteless and odourless and will be impossible to detect in food or drink." His eyes flickered momentarily over the half-blood before his face became blank of emotion "As you commanded my liege, the apothecary has been disposed of."
Christian closed his eyes tightly for a moment before mouthing a single, undetectable work. "So be it." He eventually whispered aloud. He seemed to take stock of his ruined room then and looked surprised to find his belonging strewn around the floor. He looked at Tate and his expression softened. "Tate, fetch servants to clean this mess. We'll eat in the main hall today." He turned to Richard and clasped the older man on the shoulder. "You have done well my friend. You'll be well rewarded for your service to me."
"Thank you my prince." Richard said, bowing his head deeply. As he rose back up a huge grin spread across his poisonous face. "Or should I say, my king?"
Tate hadn't meant to, he had no idea what possessed him to react at all, but at the sound of Richards words he gagged. The prince and Richard looked up sharply at the sound of the noise and Tate flinched back in horror.
"Have you something to say Tate?" Richard asked, his expression sly as his eyes latched onto the half-blood.
"No," Tate said quickly. "Nothing."
"The thought of me as your king makes you sick?" Christian asked, his tone absurdly hurt.
"Christian please, I swear it doesn't." The hurt was rapidly fading as the prince began to advance on him. The look on his face was clear, he was about to do Tate harm. He couldn't quite grasp his own idiocy as he started to backpedal and felt a sudden rush of anger. "What do you expect?" He cried. "In the name of the gods, you're plotting to murder your own father!"
Christian's skin whitened as he drew himself to his full height. "You dare to talk to me this way?" He demanded, bearing down on Tate with clear fury.
"Do I dare?" Tate spat, edging away as the prince advanced. "You would kill your own father, Christian. Why? He will give you everything you want it time. You only need wait. Don't you see what you're doing is wrong?"
"He is a fool, too old to rule and too dim to realise It." the princes hand shot out and caught Tate by his shirtfront. His drunken eyes shone with self-importance. "The old man will die and by doing so I will make this country strong again. I am doing this for my people."
"You are doing this for yourself. You are insane." Tate whispered.
"I am doing what needs to be done to keep our people strong." Christian snarled as he twisted his hand in Tate's shirt. "Get out." He said, without bothering to check if Richard has done as commanded. His hand lashed out, striking Tate fiercely with a backhanded blow that sent the smaller man stumbling to his knees. The already prominent pain in the Halfling's cheek rose to a sickening intensity and Tate cursed himself and his treacherous mouth. "And you, beautiful one, should know better than to speak to me in this manner." He reached down towards the half-blood and caught a fist full of Tate's hair. He dragged the older man back to his feet and jerked his head back. Tate let out a quiet grunt of pain and repressed the urge to scream as the princes lips pressed against his neck. "You'll be punished for your disrespect." He whispered harshly. "But more than that, you'll be punished for your lack of belief in me. I will be king soon you silly little trinket, and as my first act as a king I'll see to it that you will learn to never question me again."
Lamidor paused as he spied a brawny young man staring heatedly at the group of solider stood opposite him on the street. Tall, broad shouldered with thick honey brown hair and skin that was just slightly too dark to be pure northern, the man's hair was cut in the short northern style and his clothes were as grey and nondescript as anyone else's on the street. He was different though and anyone who cared to study him closely enough would be able to see that.
The tracker approached causally and lent against a wall beside the young man. Two sharp blue eyes looked hostilely back at him and Lamidor offered a casual smile. "You don't mind a bit of company do you my friend? I could do with a rest after the day I've had."
"There's room enough elsewhere." The man said, his tone as unfriendly as his eyes. His accent was clearly not local.
"True enough, but if I were to move on I wouldn't be in such pleasurable company." He turned around until he was fully looking at the other man. "You've a familiar face." He said conversationally as he thoughtfully studied his nails. "I wasn't sure it was you at first, I'd caught so little sight of you before and you've changed yourself much from that day." He looked up suddenly and stared hard into the young man's startled gaze. "I'm certain now though that you're the one I'm looking for. Tell me something tinker, have you heard of the kings half-blooded whore?"
A look of shock and then the tinker bolted. The tracker watched him impassively, knowing he wouldn't get far from before a number of the strategically placed soldiers caught him. The tinker put up a dismal fight against the soldiers, who quickly had him down and subdued. His hands were tied behind his back and he was dragged roughly to his feet.
"Come my friend." Lamidor said jovially, beyond pleased with his success as the tinker continued his fruitless struggles. "You've got an appointment with our future king."
"You've been avoiding me." Tate mumbled as he fell into step beside Tanis.
The young prince started violently and gave the halfling an incredulous stare. He quickly checked to make sure that no one else was watching them before his startled expression melted into a smile. "Those are not words I ever expected you to utter Tate."
"I need to talk with you." the small man said, his expression intent as he steered Tanis to an open archway that lead to a currently empty corridor. The spot where his hand rested on the small of Tanis's back tingled pleasantly, making it impossible the prince not to smile.
Tate ushered him inside a darkened room and closed the aged wooden door behind them. His amber eyes glowed eerily in the dim light streaming through dust laden windows. "The prophet was trying to tell me something before he caught whiff of Christian. I cannot stop thinking about it Tanis. I have to see him."
"And he you." Tanis said, keeping his voice pitched low. "He commanded that I take you to him over half a score of days ago. I wanted to Tate, I have tried to reach you but it had been impossible. With my lord father so ill and the upcoming wedding, coupled with Christian's growing-" He hesitated as he looked away from Tate's intense eyes. "With Christian's growing obsession it has been difficult to catch you alone. How have you escaped his notice?"
"He's busy, what with your father..." He trailed off wordlessly before abruptly giving his head a quick shake. "Never fear, he won't miss me for a while. Shall we go now then?"
Tanis raised his hands appealingly. "It is impossible, I need to ensure the correct guards are posted and then I need gold to bribe them, and I'm expected on the training field. These things take time to arrange."
"What do you suggest then?" Tate asked softly, his enthralling eyes intent as they peered up at the prince. "I never know when I'll be able to escape the prince's notice and you've no way to get word to me." He reached out suddenly and his elegant hands latched onto Tanis's much larger ones. "He calls to me Tanis; I need to go to him."
"I know that feeling well." Tanis said softly. "However, last time I gave into his compulsions I nearly got us both killed. I will not risk that again. This time we go when no one will miss us or we do not go at all." Tate released him and stepped back. "I grow tired of being dictated to by children and mad men." His voice, though more tired than venomous caused the prince to flinch. "Very well Tanis, I will leave you to plan and I will wait in the prince's chambers, hoping you find a way to reach me." His eyes rose slowly. "Until then, good day."
Tanis did not know what caused him to react. It was the thought of Tate leaving, or perhaps it was the knowledge that they were alone and away from unseeing eyes. He reached out and pressed his lips against the startled older mans in a passionate kiss.
It was everything he had hoped it would be. Tate was soft and sweet beneath him, trembling with desire.
It wasn't until he felt a knee force its way into his balls that sense returned. He crumpled to the floor, gulping for air as he watched Tate's face turn cold and impassive. The small man spat at him, not even speaking before running from the room.
Tanis watched him go with such a feeling of loss that he could not catch his breath. He fell onto his back and wished to the gods that he had more sense. What had he been thinking, how could he have attacked Tate like that with no warning. It had all happened so quickly! He had not meant to, truly he had not.
Oh gods, could it be true, was he just like Christian?
*** It was an almost nightly event that had taken place for what felt like an eternity, yet the sensation of a heaving body smothering his own never failed to ruin the shredded remains of Tate's already broken pride. He bit his tongue to keep from calling out, clenching his hands into the silken sheets as animalistic grunts of pleasure sounded in his ear.
Cruel fingers dug painfully into the back of his neck, pinning him firmly to the mattress and further restricting his already limited freedom. Though it was case of simply gritting his teeth and bearing the feeling of the other man inside of him Tate was finding it agonisingly difficult that particular night. He had been on edge for the past few days, expecting the confirmation that the king had finally succumbed to his sickness and died. Knowing that the reason for the old man's reportedly agonising death was now rutting inside of him was more repulsive than anything else Tate could possibly imagine.
It should have come as no surprise then when he heard the distinctive sound of men talking anxiously outside the prince's outer chambers.
"Christian?" Tate grunted through gritted teeth. "Christian, can't you hear?"
"Shut up." The prince sneered beside his ear.
Though the prince seemed not to notice the noise outside he could not ignore the sudden and furious banging against his chamber door. He pulled away suddenly, snarling viciously as he climbed over Tate and let out a deafening roar. "What?"
The prince's inner doors flew open to admit the captain of the guard and the king's chancellor. Both men stopped short at the sight of the prince lying naked over Tate. "Dear God's." The chancellor boomed as his eyes fell on the halfling. "My prince, I have grave news. Please, if you could-" He gestured helplessly at Tate with flaming cheeks and abruptly looked away.
For his own part Tate was mortified. He tried to squirm out from beneath the prince's bulk but the other man's weight had him firmly pinned. He noticed Richard staring at him and the hunger he saw there caused his entire body to lock in revulsion. He closed his eyes abruptly and buried his face in his arms.
"Can't you see I'm busy?" Christian said, very quietly and dangerously. "If you both value your lives I advise you to get out."
"My prince," Richard said in a strong and unafraid voice. "It's your father."
Christian stilled above him, tensing before abruptly and thankfully climbing off Tate and pulling on a loose pair of trousers. "Tell me." He commanded.
The chancellor looked up at last, though he kept his gaze resolutely away from Tate. "I am most sorry my prince but your most exalted father has grievously passed away. The sickness was too strong for him to fight off."
"Why was I not called?"
"My liege, his condition was stable and then, quite suddenly he could no longer take air. It happened so quickly that there was no time to call you."
Tate raised his eyes to watch Christian then, wondering if the mad prince felt any sorrow for what he had done to his sire. There was perhaps some sadness there but it was quickly diminished by greed and cunning. Christian hurried to his wardrobe and began to change in haste. He dressed himself in some of his best finery before rushing to his mirror and smoothing his unkempt hair. He spared Tate a quick glance before rushing past the chancellor, issuing orders the whole time. "Ring the bells and assemble the court, have my brothers assembled. All of them. Hurry up!" He snapped at the harried chancellor. Both men left the room so suddenly that Tate found himself staring stupidly after them.
So that is it, he thought with no small amount of self-loathing. You had the chance to save a man's life but instead you let him die a horrible death just to save your own.
And Rose's, his conscious reminded him. And after all, wasn't her life far more precious that an old tyrant that had killed countless innocents? But of course that meant that Christian would become king. How many lives would he destroy without the commanding presence of his father?
"Interrupt your fuck did we?" A loathsome voice demanded, making Tate jump in fright. He had been so intent on his own thought he had failed to realise that Richard had not left with the prince. He looked up with a sickening feeling as he hastily pulled a sheet to cover his nakedness. "Look at you you depraved little slut. No wonder he takes you so often, you're all but begging for it aren't you?"
There was something terribly alarming about the expression on Richard's face. It almost didn't look human. Tate edged back in the bed, refusing to lower his gaze because he was quite certain than any show of weakness would make the captain attack. "Think of what you're about to do." The half-blood said steadily. "Here, in the princes...in the kings own chambers. Can you imagine what he would do to you?"