I Know He's a King Ch. 07byJane Shield©
"My father is dead..."
It was autumn then. The leaves were bright red and yellow, still hanging from the trees, desperate to leave the higher ground to mould in the warm soft earth. I always loved the autumn back then, but now I look upon autumn with sorrow. The dying part of the seasons' cycle. So much comparing to a human's life. The years before death.
I had no idea what to say, no idea what might comfort him. I had never experienced death in that way. People died in the village I lived in, but never someone I cared for. I knew that Alexander loved his father – he always tried to live to the old king's principles.
I started crying, because I knew what this meant. This meant that Alexander would become king. And a king has no time for a peasant girl, especially not someone who all the time throws him into the dirt and drags his hair.
I threw myself at him – I wanted to hug him, but I did not know how to give him one. I punched him, pinched him, and kicked him. I screamed my lungs out. The only one I loved was going to leave me.
Somewhere in my outrage I slumped down to the ground and I wrapped my arms around my knees.
"I'm sorry..." he said. Then he leaned down and kissed me on the cheek.
The tears stopped when I saw him mount his horse – a horse instead of the usual pony he had always ridden, he truly was an adult now. He did not look back at me. And the red and yellow leaves of the trees fell softly to the earth.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When Wizer Joanja heard what had happened in the fortress she gave me a hard lecture. I wished I could not care about it, but I did. I felt great remorse. No matter how I did everything seemed to go wrong. I had killed a second time, this one I had killed trying to protect Vicdaen.
And I could not tell anyone about it. Vicdaen forbade me to tell anyone that I had killed him. As soon as I had killed the Wiliji Vicdaen had slashed his sword into his heart, disguising the 'unknown' cause of death. He also forbade me to speak of the assassin's real target. Everyone assumed that he was after Alexander, but he had not been. He had been ordered to murder Vicdaen. The more I thought about it, the more confused I got. Why did he want to kill Vicdaen?
Of course, Vicdaen could be called a traitor. He was half-blood Wiliji and was fighting for the humans. That could look like treason in the eyes of the Wilijies. But why care about it? He was only one person. There had to be a greater reason.
There was another thing that got me puzzled. The Wiliji had called me 'Deathbringer'. How could he possibly know that I was called Deathbringer? He also knew that I would kill him when he had finished Vicdaen. It disturbed me a lot that perhaps the Wilijies knew about me. And how? Perhaps it would have helped me if I knew more about the Deathbringer business myself.
Almost the whole army had to stay outside of the fortress. There was barely room for the Royal Guard, and they consisted of only 40 soldiers, though all mounted. And then there were Alexander and I guessed Vicdaen, and his supreme staff.
I did not like the arrangements, but I was afraid to say anything. Bea, on the other hand, felt free to say whatever she wanted about it.
"They leave us out here, while they can feel safe inside. What kind of men act that way? I do not know how to fight. If we are attacked, who is going to protect us? I do not like this a bit."
And then she went inside the fortress, obviously to complain. I wondered who would listen to her. Well, probably not one, except Vicdaen – if she could find him.
I had not seen Vicdaen since Alexander had claimed the fortress. I felt a nagging feeling in the back of my head, which made my stomach grumble from time to time. I did not recognise it; this feeling was brand new to me. It made me quite uneasy. I thought about speaking of it with Bea, or even Goovar, but I felt embarrassed. What if they knew what it was, and what if it was what I feared it was? It would make me feel more uneasy than before.
Goovar had tried to make me sleep in her tent. It flustered me, and I had to struggle to get free of her hold on me when she had asked and I declined. Whatever she was wanting from me I was not willing to give. And she tried to touch me whenever she could, which I could barely stand. And whenever she was not trying to flirt with me she made me follow her around like a little pet dog – which she concealed by saying that she wanted me under observation and training. Oh, I loathed her.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A few days after the event in the fortress a soldier from the Royal Guard, a rather handsome guy with dimples in his cheeks and slick hair like it was wetted, came to the Moonsisters and asked for me. First he asked a girl who was my senior by three years, one of those who despised me the most, and got no answer at all. Probably he was told that there was no Amram Lothansdaughtir here in the Moonsisters, that when he asked me for me, I could not stop laughing. I was sure I hurt his feelings.
"I'm Amram", I answered after I had laughed. "I'm sorry I laughed, I did not know there were any who did not know who I am. I have quite a reputation to live up to, you know."
"To live up to..." he mumbled. "I am here to bring you to His Majesty, the king."
I must have looked like I had just wakened up. "Why so?"
"Come on, come with me."
"Wait, I cannot go to him looking like this!" I was sweaty, dirty, and I had on my old dress – which was more of a patch job than a dress.
"You look fine." Liar he was, he had hardly looked at me.
"Tell him I will be there in an hour." I had to go to the spring I had found two days ago. After the lack of water in the dry plains, I had found it more than a joy to be able to bathe again.
"It's the king. You can hardly tell him to wait for you!" he objected.
"Believe me, if he really wants to see me, he will wait more than an hour." I was already running into my tent to gather my pants, shirt and hairbrush.
Half a mile from the fortress laid a lake, possibly an old dam used for some watering system for the fields that used to be here. It was completely cold, in opposite to the warm and humid air, and totally black to look into. You could see a perfect reflection of yourself in it. The day I had found it I looked into it and saw me look older than I was. But this time, although muddy and brown, I looked younger, and especially happy.
I undressed quickly, not bothering to look around as I did when I first came here, throwing my clothes all around me. I did not search for any intruders, but I gathered that since there was nobody there now, and I had never seen any soldiers with wet hair in the camp, nobody except me knew about the dam. I was wrong.
I threw myself into the water and took a few strokes into the darkness of the pond. It was cold, but if it had been warm water I think I would rather have been dirty. In this warmth you could give almost anything to alleviate the heat. I dived to the bottom, it was not very deep, and when I came up I heard a whistle.
"So I see that this pond has taken you with its beauty as well, Amram." I recognised that voice. I was happy that it was him and not somebody else, but still, I was naked and he was most certainly not.
I turned around to look at him. He had taken off his hood, revealing the hair that I knew was black as a raven, and in real it was as black. It hung down his shoulder, almost to his waist. He was slowly taking off his shirt, unbuttoning it in small languid motions. "I thought I was the only one who knew about this place. It never occurred to me that someone else would find it." He finished unbuttoning his shirt and let it slide off his shoulders to the ground. Was he going to jump into the water? Naked? With me in it? I had to stop him.
"Vicdaen, can't you go away just now? Come back later, let me finish."
He halted in his movements. "Why, Amram? Even if I'd oblige your wish, I cannot. I have not time to come back later. You'll have to endure my company." He smiled his serene smile at me. Then he untied his pants.
He had bewitched my eyes, forcing them to look at him while he undressed. And I did not want to look away, even though propriety should have forced me I did not. So I watched him undress completely – I was red in the cold that should have whitened my cheeks – and walk into the water. It was not until he was a few meters away from me that I turned my face away from him.
"How are you, Amram?" I startled, his voice was just a breath away from my ear.
"I'm fine, how are you?" I replied. I speculated in where this little quiz would lead to.
"I'm alright. But when I asked, I was more wondering how this situation makes you feel. Please look at me, Amram."
"Vicdaen, I..." I was afraid that if I looked at him I would do things that would... end badly, but when I heard him speak next I could not stop myself from glancing at him.
"I never got the chance to thank you, Amram... You save my life five days ago, and the only thing I did was to ensure that you would not tell anyone of the circumstances of the death, and who he was after. So please forgive me Amram for my rudeness."
I would have forgiven him any day no matter what. "Of course I forgive you. It was not exactly like we had much time afterwards."
"No. Thank you, Amram. It means a lot. Now, what do you say about letting me wash your hair? I have a soap bar here."
He made me turn my back to him and he started massaging the soap into my hair. He took the liberty to massage it into my neck and shoulders as well, but I did not stop him. Instead I moaned – in my very naïve way I did, not knowing what effect it had on him. After I had rinsed my hair thoroughly he asked me to wash his hair. And I did, eager to please him, but I stayed strictly to just massaging his scalp. I did not dare to move my hands further down his body.
He groaned and his whole body shivered and I realised I had pressed my full body into his back in order to reach up to his head. I had not felt it, only that it was warmer than before. And it felt so good I stayed there, even though Vicdaen would take it as an invitation and sooner or later turn around to do something with me. But for the moment I chose not to care.
He dipped his hair carefully into the water as soon as I released him and then he grabbed hold of my hands to cross them behind his neck. Now we were standing body pressed to body, and I could feel more of him than I had ever felt before of a man. And it felt good. For the time being I could not let him go, or ask him to let go of me. He kissed me. And I kissed him back.
His lips were so smooth I could not believe it was flesh I was kissing. His tongue was like his hair, like velvet in my mouth, filling me. It was as if he was trying to lap up my whole mouth.
'What about Alexander?' a thought flashed through my head. I pulled away from Vicdaen.
"I'm sorry. I have to go and see Lex."
He nodded silently. I remembered his earlier comments about Alexander. Why did he seem content?
"Do you know that he wanted to see me?"
"The guard talked to me. Alexander never got to know. I came here to... hinder you." He grimaced, as if he had said something he should not have said.
"So he thinks I'm late. Or does he believe I'm not coming?" I panicked.
"How should I know?"
"You're his brother. Why would you want to do such a thing? What kind of trick are you trying to pull?" I let my anger flow over him, and it felt so good. This was not like when I had killed, but it still felt good to let out the rage.
I waded through the water to the beach and quickly put on my clothes, not caring about how wet I was. I was pleased that the colour of the shirt was dark, because if it had been white – as Vicdaen's shirt – you could have seen most of me with just a peek. I walked quickly away from the dam, almost running, to go see Alexander.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I reached the fortress, the pretty soldier of the Royal Guard ushered me inside and showed the way to Vicdaen's quarters. Just outside his door I bumped into Lazlo, the red-faced general, who looked at me scornfully.
"You're a bit late, aren't you, Deathbringer?" He said and walked off.
The soldier knocked on the door and I heard a faint 'Come in'. "Well go on, then", said the soldier. I hesitated and jumped when the door opened in front of me.
"Amram. I thought you weren't coming."
"Hello, Alexander – Your Majesty", I corrected in front of the soldier.
"Thank you, Zorba. You may leave", Alexander said nicely to him and made a welcoming gesture for me into his chamber.
I looked around his room, taking in small details like how his bed was not made and that there lay a pair of pants on the chair in front of the fireplace. On the desk lay a worn book, his journal – which I found out later that day when he asked me if I would like a drink, and when he turned around I carefully opened the cover and saw with big black letters 'Journal of Lex'. I was thrilled to see that he had used his nickname, the one I had given him.
"How come you did not come until now? I thought that you would not come at all."
Should I tell him the truth or say a small white lie to hide what really happened? I chose the latter. "It was a small misunderstanding between me and the soldier you sent to fetch me."
"I told him quite clearly what I wanted."
"Well, then it was my fault", I said quickly. I did not want to risk that the pretty face of a soldier ended up in trouble. "What do you want from me then?" I gasped.
"As the gentleman I pretend myself to be I would like to thank you for what you did five days ago, but frankly I just wanted to see you. Until now we haven't seen each other in..."
"Ten years and seven months. I can count the weeks and days as well." He sighed softly and smiled at me. I loved that smile. Alexander had two kinds of smiles – for me. One was the one of mischief he used to flash at me when we were little, and the other one he gave me when I did not drag his hair or punched him. The one of mischief was a nuisance but this one – the latter – he gave me now and it was enough to make my toes tingle.
That was when Vicdaen decided to barge in on us. We both jumped and turned around to see Vicdaen in the door opening. His hair was as wet as my hair, and Alexander noticed that detail as fast as me. When I turned to look at Lex I saw him eyeing me with a worried look in his eyes.
"Amram..." he whispered.
"Good day, my dear brother. Oh, don't worry about that, she figured that out by herself. I don't think she will tell anyone about our relations."
At that moment Vicdaen was a big bastard with the only thing speaking for him his beauty. And I hoped that he would not tell why both I and he had our hair dripping wet. But of course my wish was not obliged by anyone, in the least by Vicdaen.
"It was a nice bath, wasn't it Amram? I hope to enjoy your company more times when I stroll to the lake in time ahead*. It sure would do me good, if anyone."
Author's note: I have started with a new story. It takes a lot to be writing two stories at the same time, but I can't leave this new one alone. But even though it will take longer time (at least for a while) I will not give up on Amram – it's another matter with the second story. So just because I've said that I've started with it does not mean that I will submit it to Lit. I have to come to like it first.
* Sometimes there is no good way to say some things from Swedish in English. I hope you get what I'm meaning with 'in time ahead'.