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THE QUEEN WITH A SHADOW CROWN – 9

May 11, 2019

“Your Majesty, King Erwin stands at the door, awaiting your presence. He doesn’t seem quiet… tranquil.” the king’s guard woke him.

The king rubbed the sleep from his eyes and climbed down his bed. What did the King want at this hour? Brooding, his dressed in a sapphire doublet and pegged a green cape to it.

A mild haze of grey was beginning to nibble at the dark sky outside – the first call of dawn. Even as the king neared the entrance to his palace, he could hear raucous screams punctuating the calm of the morn. He crinkled his brows and opened the gate for his blood-brother, Eira’s father who stood vituperating outside, a small bronze dagger with a jade and ruby hilt in his fist. Eira stood behind him, a grey hood with white woolen lace draped over her head, her face downcast. He could make out her soft sobs from beneath her father’s screams.

The moment King Erwin noticed him, he charged forth, waving the dagger in front of his face.

“King Damyn, what is the meaning of all of this?” he roared.

The king didn’t understand a thing. Then he saw the thin streak of crusted blood shying at the edge of the dagger’s blade. “What happened brother?” he asked.

“What happened? What happened you ask?” he turned to his daughter. “Oho! Nothing really. Except that my daughter’s prospective bridegroom is capering around, fondling another wench. And when her brother inquired into the matter, he is mercilessly killed and left to rot in the perimeters of the woods.”

“What- what do you mean?” The kind blinked in confusion.

“ I mean what I mean Damyn. Do not act all innocent. I’m aware that you had a hand in this cruel game of your son and that veiled “princess” that you treasured in your own palace. Isn’t that why you invited her during our stay? Not only do you shame me, but also murder mine own kin?

King Damyn’s eyes widened. “I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. But I gather that prince Egard is no more. What really did happen?

“WHAT REALLY DID HAPPEN? WHAT ELSE BUT THAT YOU WISHED FOR. WHERE IS THAT SCHEMING SON OF YOURS?”

The king nodded to a soldier to bring Drykar, and turned back to the Eira and her father. “I’m not aware of any of these. But I share your grievances. I will conduct a complete investigation in this matter. I promise you it will not be taken lightly. After all -”

“ Chuck your dirty promises down the drain,” King Erwin snapped, brandishing the dagger in front of King Damyn’s face

Just then, Drykar rushed through the castle doors, wearing only his fighting trousers. His well-built, muscular body glistened with sweat in the red brightness of dawn, his jet black hair slick and plastered across his forehead.

His eyes darted from his father to King Erwin and to his daughter, then back to his father. “Father, you summoned?” He questioned, slightly out of breath.

King Erwin thrust the dirk in front of him. “ My little boy is dead at the hands of your lover. And we found this.”

Drykar’s eyes grew wide with fear. “This cannot be. She would never do this. Where is she now?”

King Erwin howled with laughter. “Where is she now? Why, she has fled! First, she steals my son-in-law, takes him in the dark in the cover of the woods, and when my son asks her to leave his sister’s bridegroom alone, she stabs him, and runs away!”

At the precise moment, princess Eira let out a sob.

“No way!” The prince breathed, turning helplessly to his father. “ Father I would never believe this. Something’s amiss.”

“Nothing’s amiss,” hissed King Erwin. “Come with me if you must and I’ll take you to my boy’s corpse.”

Drykar opened and closed his mouth several times, but all that came escaped his mouth was air. The wind yanked at their robes, washing dry the sweat from Drykar’s face. Eira’s sobs alone moved in the silence. King Erwin’s eyes glowed with a ruddy coldness, like coiling embers of ice.

In the end, he nodded, breathing out. “You know what this means?” he threatened. “This means war.”

“King Erwin -” Drykar’s father began, but the other king held out his hand to stop.

“Come, Eira,” he barked and stalked down the steps without another glance backward.

When he was gone, King Damyn turned to his son.

“Tell me the truth of what’s happening, now!”

Drykar shook his head, “ Cedra would NEVER do this!”

“Cedra?” his father’s eyebrows knit together.

“Um…Miraea’s real name. That’s another story.

The king shook his head, incredulous. “How much more are you hiding from me? And is it true the prince is dead?”

“I don’t know, Father. But I’ll find out.”

“And how does this prince know about you and Mira- Cedra? Is it true you met her by the woods yesterday”

The prince’s eyes faltered. “ Y- Yes.”

“And pray, what were you doing there? Bidding her farewell for tomorrow’s voyage is it?”

Drykar shook his head slowly. “ I told her not to go. We thought of -” he bit his lips. “ We thought of holding a vote for the queen. To ask the commons whom they wanted for their queen.”

King Damyn’s nostrils flared, fury coursing through this. “WHAT SORT OF BLOODY NONSENSE IS THIS??? Our state needs them for their bonds, and most importantly because river Winhelm originates there. How are the commons to know this? And if I stand against my subjects when they vote for Miraea…? Are you trying to incite a bloody rebellion?

“No. Father, I promise, I’ll sort-”

The king slapped his son hard on the cheek.

“Guards, call the ministers. There’s war coming up.” he roared. Then,
without a further glance behind, he stormed into the palace, leaving Drykar alone to the claws of the cold and his dread.

.

To be continued…

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© 2019 Sahana Narendran

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