I Know He's a King Ch. 11byJane Shield©
They gagged me, blindfolded me, and tied me. It would have been better if they had just blindfolded me, but they manhandled me like a carcass. That was where my killing power laid. If eyes could kill, they called it. I definitely could.
Still I slapped myself mentally, because I had not even tried to get mad at the Wilijies, not attempted to protect Lex and myself. They came, knocked Lex out, and took me away. I tried to reason with myself that it was too a small amount of time for me to react, but it was enough. The real cause for me not to kill them had been the simple fact that I had not felt threatened by them. I almost gave myself over to them. I could have put up a fight, killing them faster than they could kill Lex, whom I knew they were bound to kill if I tried.
Why did I not feel threatened by them? I do not know. Perhaps I was slightly affected by Vicdaen, him being half Wiliji and everything. It was not impossible. I dared not think more about it, because it was land to tread carefully, and I always was clumsy. Then... I felt something. I felt something larger than me... something divine. It could have been divine, it could have been human, or Wilijian, just something that took me over as I recognised my vision from much earlier. It had to have a meaning.
So just for that silly feeling I let myself be manhandled by four musky Wilijies, which by the way were not as horrible as the humans had made me believe. Muted, blinded and unable to move they put me on a bareback horse, and I had to ride it for what seemed like ages, but it was no more than a simple sun turn. As the insides of my eyes went dark they carried me away; I heard noises I recognised – those of a training army, and the more substantial sounds of torture – I was at the Wilijies's army camp. I could hear the rattling of metal, the clangs of steel against steel, and words of encouragement, words of discipline.
I was put down, and released from all the bondage, except the blindfold. Then a door slammed shut behind me. I released a shaky breath, and tried to make out where I was. I felt wood under my fingers, under my hands and feet.
I stopped my search when I felt air slip me by, as something passed by me. I was not alone.
"Start", a cold voice said just above me.
"Are you Amram Lothansdaughtir?" My ears twitched, and I turned my head the way the sound came from.
I did not believe that dishonesty would help me now. "Yes... Who are you?" I dared to request.
"Say it", I heard the harsh voice utter as there was a pause.
"I am Hajieelkhe."
Wait. Hajieelkhe rang a bell, a bell that rang too much to ignore. "I recognise that name..."
"Really", he snarled. "Could it possibly be because I am the general of the Wilijian army?"
"Nope, didn't know that", I said impolitely, before I could stop myself. "It's not that."
He sighed, the sound much more close to a groan than a sigh. "It does not matter." But it did, I knew it did. If I could figure it out, I was sure I would gain advantage.
"What is Vicdaen's main priority?" he asked.
"What is Vicdaen's goal? What does he want more than anything else?" he said with an urgent tone.
"I don't know..."
"He wants you!" the two voices said at the same time.
I laughed, because it felt so amusing. "No, he doesn't want me... He wants his throne... back..." Now I finally remembered. He wanted his throne back, because they killed his mother. Placident seduced the queen's lover, and then killed the queen. And Hajieelkhe... He was the queen's lover, Placident's lover.
"No, you don't say."
"No... I know who you are... May I speak with you alone?" I dared to implore.
"We are alone."
"What? No, we aren't."
"She can hear me."
"Yes I can", I said to that cold voice.
"But you're not supposed to", Hajieelkhe said with a voice that barely hid the anxiety of my revelation.
"I will go", she said, and as if I had been covered in a thin sheet of ice, the cold evaporated and warmth flooded to my skin. Why she left, I do not know. It seemed too easy. Either she was still listening, or she really trusted Hajieelkhe. Who was she anyway?
I pulled off the blindfold, and peered at the sudden flash of light, even though it was still dark, the only illumination coming from a simple oil lamp. I rose up, stretching my limbs free of the bonded numbness. As I did so I carefully looked around, finally noticing the tall beautiful man sitting in an armchair. He looked regal, even more regal than Vicdaen and Lex put together. He had the same cold expression Vicdaen had had when I first met him. He was lean, but still on the muscular side. His hairline was high on his forehead, but not in the way of an aging man, because his forehead was magnificent. His lips were pursed in an arrogant, yet humble way, and the colour made all fashionable lipsticks worthless. His skin was pale, paler than Vicdaen's, and looked hard to the touch. This was the first time I saw and analysed a Wiliji up close, Vicdaen did not count since he was half human. I felt as if I should worship his beauty but there was one thing that stopped me. His eyes... His eyes, almost completely hidden by thick black eyelashes, spoke of great experience... and great sadness.
"Well, what did you want to discuss?"
I shook my head. What to say, what to say? I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but I believed it would be hard to persuade him.
"I don't know if it is true, but I believe that Vicdaen's mother must have been wonderful. She must have been beautiful, kind and generous. And I think that anyone who loved her must have been the same... and are the same..."
As I spoke I watched his expression go from cold and uncaring to tender and loving. When I was finished he slid his hand over his face and hid his eyes.
"You did not know her", he said.
"No... But I know Vicdaen."
"Vicdaen killed her!" he snarled.
Wait... Did he? I thought he said that both his mother and he were supposed to be executed, but he got away. Did Hajieelkhe not know that?
"Wasn't she executed?"
"Yes!" He rose up from the chair and walked towards me. "He executed her."
I shook my head in protest. "Vicdaen is no murderer."
Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, I was snatched from the floor and upheld by my throat at least a head's length above the floor. I struggled to draw my breath, but he clamped down further. I felt the darkness rise in me, that good snug feeling in my chest, but it did not expand as it used to. Instead it rose to a halt, and then was subdued. What was wrong with me?
"I wouldn't love him", I struggled to say, ", if he hadn't been as kind and loving as his brother."
He released a snort, somewhere between a laugh of amusement and a sneer. He released the strong grip on my throat, but still held me tight, balancing me on the soles of my feet.
"Perhaps it is Alexander we will acquire instead of the half prince. We could trade the two of you for Vicdaen. He would..."
"He would give himself for us. Doesn't that remind you of someone that cares? Does a man who killed his own mother do such a thing? He loved her... Placident is the murderer. Placident killed the queen!"
It hit me as a bit frightening to be standing there, upheld by my throat, defending the man who had lied to me. It still shook me that he had lied to me. Why did he lie to me? Why did I take him in defence? Did I love him so much that I could still take him in defence when he was threatened?
"You're a liar, just like him", he snapped. "What you've got coming for you is plain justice."
He released me, letting me fall into a heap on the floor. I stayed there, frightened to draw attention to me. But not long after I heard the bang of the door, and felt brave enough to get up.
I considered the option to bang on the door, demanding to be released, but I knew that was futile. More likely they would only come and shut me up, and which way they would take care of that I strayed from thinking about. Instead I guess I gave up... I felt useless then, in that room with a door as the only exit. I could do nothing, I felt... However childish it is of me to say it, I felt forgotten.
'He should be here by now', I thought. 'Why hasn't he come for me yet?'
Stupid, stupid Amram... What value do you carry? What difference could you make? You're just a peasant girl, nothing more, and probably less.
Then I got angry. "Then why did he ask me to marry him?!"
But it continued on and on, a torrent of anxious and sad thoughts. In the end I felt like banging my head on the wall, intentionally knocking myself out, relieving me of those thoughts. I crawled into a corner of the room, watching the last drops of oil burn into darkness. And it was dark for me too.
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Boys have a thing for fire... Well, Lex had. And I remember Calem had it too. I dreamed of them both, Lex set one of his pamphlets on fire and Calem set a whole forest on fire. I laughed at them. A king burns pamphlets and a peasant burns forests. And in war you burn down houses.
'Houses? Like the one I am in?'
Yes, indeed. It made sense to me why I had dreamt of pyromaniacs and fire when I felt the smoke tickle my nose. It was burning!
I forced my eyes open and saw smoke trickling through the door slits at the floor and ceiling. I immediately started to bang on the door, calling for help, but the smoke pushed me away. I wiped my eyes free from tears and coughed a bit before realising how hot it was. Then I saw the fire starting to flicker from below, scorching the wooden door.
"Help me!" I yelled at the top of my voice. But the roar of the fire drowned what ever sound I made.
"I'd give my cursed death magic for some elemental magic right now."
I barely remember much then. I knew I still wanted to live, my life was in danger, and I did not think about anything else. My survival instinct kicked in.
There was no way out except through the door. But the flames were licking the door from outside, and soon it would burst through the door. I could see the red and orange light through the slit, casting a hellish light on the floor. And that was my only way out of there. One thing was sure; however I chose I would go down. If I stayed the smoke would choke me to death before the fire consumed me. If I broke down the door and tried to break through the raging inferno outside would smother me to ashes, but I preferred that to the slow death of choking smoke.
'Outside here, you have a chance. You're trapped in here, get out of here', my head told me. 'At least try. In here you'll surely die!'
My primal instinct was to escape and survive. I wet myself with water from a basin the Wilijies had so politely left in the room for my comfort. I ripped a large piece from my skirt and wrapped it around my head and torso to ensure me not getting burned. It had to do.
I pulled the chair from the floor and embraced it with the legs sticking out in front of me. I tried, but I did not run fast enough. I felt the door give a bit, but not enough. Second try the door gave even more, the hot hinges letting go of the charcoaled wood.
"Third time's a charm", I said encouraging myself.
Miraculously the door gave. Suddenly I was through the door, only red heat around me. I wasted no breath in staying – I ran, smelling my own burning flesh. And strangely felt large amounts of cold water washing over me.
As soon as I got out I collapsed on the ground. My whole body was pounding, perhaps from the warmth of the fire, or the cold water, or just pure adrenaline.
"Crazy girl, you're lucky we just finished that water spell on the house when you decided to break out."
I opened my eyes wide in amazement and laughed as I saw Joanja hovering above me. "You should have let me know", I croaked.
"Stupid girl. What were you thinking? Got to choose the worse way to die?"
"Does it matter?" I defended myself. "What's going on? Where's Vicdaen?!"
"He's around here somewhere. Don't worry about him... We need to bring you to a healer."
Joanja bent down and picked me up, carrying me in her arms.
"Romantic", I heard Goovar say. "Ugh, that's some nasty burns you've got, Amram."
"We're going to the sick tent", Joanja said.
"That sounds like a good idea. I'm not going to stop you..."
"Good. And perhaps you should let the king and his brother know that she is safe."
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Author's Note: Yeah! I can't believe I actually posted the next chapter. I'm wonderful, I'm the best! No humility here. I just want to say thanks to all of you patient readers who've been sending wonderful emails to me, encouraging me and all. And I have a surprise: I'll be uploading a different kind of story within a few days. Hope you like it.
Thanks to StuckInMyCorner for the editing.