I Know He's a King Ch. 05byJane Shield©
Author's notes: Yes, I have given the beautiful man the name Vicdaen, because I absolutely love the art of Linda Bergkvist – she's Swede, just like me. Check her out, by the way. (The picture of Vicdaen does not look like my Vicdaen. Bergkvist's Vicdaen is androgynous, and I do not plan to make my Vicdaen such – that would not do good for this story, would it?)
This one sucks! I hate this chapter... Blublublub....
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"I will teach you to fight!" Lex said. He was carrying two wooden swords with him. "I did not dare to take real swords, but I guess these will suffice. Here, take this."
It felt strange to hold a wooden sword. But the feeling of the wood was nothing new to me. I had ploughed and raked the earth for as long as I could remember. I would not get any blisters in my callused hands.
Soon he was striking me, thrusting his wooden sword against me. "You're not a coward, Amram, I know that. Fight me!"
So I fought him, tried to conquer him with brute force. But he was bigger and weighed more than me. I was trapped beneath him ten breaths later.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I came around all I could hear was whining voices and cries. My back hurt – especially when I turned around to lie on my back. The stretcher where I was put lay on the ground, and I could feel lumps and stones sticking through the fabric, pinching my skin.
"Good morning, sleepy head."
I looked around, surprised by the familiar voice. It was the beautiful man. He himself lied on a bed – not on the ground as me – and his arm was in a sling. He looked pained; I think he had broken his collarbone or something.
"Yes, you're not alone in here."
"How did you end up here?" I asked him.
He tried to sit up in the bed, but the only thing he managed was to groan and then slide back down in the bed. "Well, it's a long story. Care to hear it? By the way, I think it's better for your back if you rest on your stomach."
I did as he told me. Then my back stopped hurting, but I noticed that it felt cold on my back. I realised then that with the cut the Wiliji had given me he had torn open my clothes, leaving my bum bare to the world.
"The view is much better that way", he teased.
"Ha-ha! You're much of a prick, you know."
"Goovar told me to keep you lying on your stomach when she brought you here."
"And you nicely complied with her orders, of course."
"If there's ever a beautiful lady involved I don't mind taking any orders."
"What if I give you an order to quit flirting?"
He laughed brightly. I could see his teeth glistening white, and I noticed that his canine teeth were sharper and longer than of a normal human being. Perhaps there was something more to this man than I had seen before. Maybe there was a reason for him to keep his hair hidden under a hood.
"Well, that will undo the purpose." His smile was serious.
I almost choked. He was really flirting with me, not just fooling around. It felt unusual. The only one who had ever flirted with me before was Alexander, but I think he did it to annoy me – which he usually had no problem achieving. I liked it. The beautiful man was actually flirting with me – of all people! He could have chosen any girl he liked.
"Well, instead of flirting we could always talk..."
He laughed again, this time it sounded more as a low chuckle, as if he liked what I had said. And what he said next proved my idea.
"So you don't disapprove of my advances towards you?"
"Well, you haven't advanced very far yet."
"But I have come a bit, right?"
His smile was serene and warmed my insides. I could feel my cheeks get hot and red. I was sure I was beet-red. I turned away my head to avoid his gazing eyes, then I looked at him again to prevent him from staring at my behind – which he was doing the little time I had looked away from him.
"No one has ever flirted with me before."
"No, you're fooling me."
"Well, alright, there was one who flirted with me. But that was when I was ten years old."
"And nobody has ever since flirted with you?"
"Nope. Well, except you..."
"How come only when you were ten? You're one of the prettiest girls I know, and you escape the worships of men alike?"
"Well, for starters I'm not pretty..."
"Yes, you are", he interrupted. "I am not", I retorted.
"Don't fool yourself", he said almost as if he was angry. And his face went rigid and the look was almost beastlike. I recognised that look from yesterday, but then it had been on the Wilijies I had fought.
"I'm sorry. I did not intend to scare you."
"It's okay. I guess I was unprepared for that..."
"So you know what I am then?" His face now became soft; his features were so beautiful that I got tears in my eyes. I could not believe that he was a Wiliji, but the look he had given me just moments before proved nothing else than that.
I nodded and he sighed. "You're not going to tell anyone, are you? It would not do any good if the rest got to know. It would bring uproar if they knew. They are fighting the likes of me, and I'm in the army fighting for the humans – it does not make sense, does it?"
"How come you are here anyway? Why are you not in Veriton?"
He turned his face away and I could see from the way his chest heaved that he was sighing. I thought he had fallen asleep but after a long moment he answered: "My mother was a Wiliji. And my father was human. And the lineage from my father's side... is royal. My mother sent me here when I became eighteen – that was when all this trouble between Veriton and Aarenion started – because she feared that I was in danger because of my royal blood. Wilijies are keen to the scent of humans. You are supposed to smell... dirty."
"How do they... You can't smell it?"
"Well, no. I don't hold the powers that a full-blood Wiliji has. But on the other hand, my mother fell in love with a human and I don't think she objected to his smell. I think that it's just something they say, Wilijies is a proud race."
"Sounds a lot like nobles saying peasants smell dirty too. In that case I guess it's true, because we normally don't have the time or the energy to bathe."
"And I really need a bath right now... I have never felt a stench like the one I am wearing now."
"You can get your bath right after you're healed, Vicdaen."
I tried to look up at the man who stood by Vicdaen's bed. So that was his name. Vicdaen... While he had flirted with me I had not bothered to ask for his name, and I had not cared to do so anyway.
The man took Vicdaen's arm out of the sling and stroked along his skin. The golden glow that emitted from his hand had to be the healing power.
"Thank you, Devon. That felt nice." Vicdaen jumped up from his bed as if he had never been injured – the less been in a fight just half a day ago. "You wouldn't mind see that my dear Amram here can get a bit of healing herself, would you?"
The healer looked at me, and from where he stood I could see that he went stiff. "I would rather not."
"Come on, of course you can heal her. It's just a small wound in the back. She can't lay there with her arse stuck in the air for the rest of the night. Come on, be a good chap and heal her."
"The king asks for you, Vicdaen", was Devon's only reply before he walked away from my stretcher. I would never forget the contemptuous look he gave me when he walked off to heal another wounded.
"I'm sorry, Amram. I'll see if I can find Bea for you. I'll ask her to help you. Goodnight."
He halted in his movement out of the sick-tent. When he turned around he smiled his usual bright smile, the one that made my insides warm and fussy.
"I'm sorry I did not tell you my name sooner."
"It doesn't matter."
"I sincerely hope it would matter to you, Amram", he said. Then he leaned over me and gave me a peck on the cheek. Again I flushed, my cheeks redder than a tomato, and I shied away from his gaze. "I hope we meet again."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The next dream I had nothing to do with Vicdaen or anyone else I had dreamt about. This dream did not blur its content; I could see every sharp feature.
It was a fortress. A wooden fortress, with sharp poles sticking up from the ground around it. The wooden palisades formed a quadrate. It was on the plain, the cold and harsh environment the same as where we camped. I walked into the fortress and I... I could sense a danger, of that I was sure. I did not know what it was, but when I reached the ladder that went up to the tower I fell on my back.
So I woke up. My body was hot and almost feverish. But although I was hot, the sweat on my forehead was cold – so cold that I started to shiver. I could see nothing in the tent, it was pitch-black.
"Well, well. Who have we here?" said an icy voice just above me.
I turned round and my lower back started to burn again. I gasped from the pain.
"Who's there?" I asked and tried to reach out, but all I could grasp was thin cold air.
It felt a lot colder than it had before. I could see the respiration-fume clouds form in front of my mouth, but that was as far as I could see. I could only hear my own breathing and the thumps of my heart. My heart was up in my throat, as hard as it beat. There was nothing that was greater than the icy horror of real fear.
Time passed – there was no other sound, no icy voice freezing my insides. Eventually I relaxed... Then I fell asleep again.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Amram, wake up."
I could feel a cold slap against my bum. It was Bea, and she was grinning.
"What was that for?" I cried. "You're supposed to heal me, not hurt me!"
"Someone has a lousy morning temper. I've actually never seen that side of you before..."
"Sorry, I was scared this night."
"Really?" she asked while she was healing my back. "Tell me."
So I told her about Vicdaen – not how he flirted with me, but that he was there with me – and about Devon, the healer. Then I told her all about the voice in the middle of the night. I did not tell her of the dream
"Strange thing that it was totally dark. We had fires all night, and I see that there's been a fire burning even inside here."
"About that... What took you so long?"
"Sorry, Amram", she said and she sounded really sorry. "I had the unfortunate responsibility to take care of the killed ones. I only just heard you were in here, Vicdaen told me."
She smiled that knowing smile of hers. I guess she already knew of the time Vicdaen and I had spent together.
"That should do it. Vicdaen told me about your... position of the injury. We had quite a good laugh about it..."
Ha-ha – laughing at my expense. But that actually meant that she had brought a pair of trousers – without a look-through hole at the back. She gave them to me and I changed quickly while she made sure there was nobody looking while I undressed and redressed.
"Good, I think you have to get back to the Moonsisters now..."
I did not want to go back there. I hated it there. Wizer Joanja hated me, Goovar was flirting with me, and the rest of the girls loathed me. I was a nail in the eye, and they were itching to get it out – except Goovar perhaps. But I think she had changed her mind since yesterday. I survived but she was the one who saved me at first.
I wondered who it was who saved me when I went berserk.
"Go now Amram, I have to take care of the rest of the injured."
That was the first time I looked around in the sick-tent. The tent was far from empty. I was shocked. There was no healer in the tent except Bea. She was the only one who was willing to save them. Were all of the healers like Devon, the man who had refused to heal me last night? I knew that the healers of the army were of a number somewhere between two and three hundred. Why would or could they not heal the rest of the injured?
Then I remembered how Devon had come and healed Vicdaen. Vicdaen was an officer of a high rank. And I was nobody, just a private. And the rest of the victims in this tent were all of my rank – if higher, not very much.
"Why aren't they already healed?"
"Amram, go now..."
"There was a healer who refused to heal me last night! Do they refuse to heal anybody who's a private?"
"Amram, there is nothing I can do about that... But what I can do is heal those who can survive, and ease the suffering of those whose fate is to die this day."
"But if there were more healers willing to do this, you could save every one in here... right?"
There was a long silence. Then she sighed. I think she was defeated by her own feelings, because I could feel them reaching out to me. She was just as sorry about this as I was.
"Yes, we could. But I'm the only one who is willing."
That sucked. And I had to go to the Moonsisters. I think my fate was less worse than those in the sick-tent.