Doranand hadn’t believed it when Ana-Moriah had disclosed the nature of Aliana’s relationship with Milos, but he’d witnessed it on the docks today. He banished from his mind, every single preconception he held about her. The queen was right, Milos hadn’t forced Aliana to marry him. She had welcomed him gladly in her arms today, like she had probably done a million times before in Evan. She seemed happy to see him, happiness of such great magnitude that not even the red flames that crowned her head and when her appearance changed into the beautiful re-incarnation of her mother Queen Allison, could hide it. In fact, it enhanced it, growing brighter for all to see.
He had heard the stories of what happened in the pass from the Garian soldiers. They said that he was the Green Sapphire and wielder of earth magic. Looking at Aliana now, he knew that she had indeed found what she’d been looking for all along. The Red Sapphire. She was the Red Sapphire of Arnay.
Fire and earth magic together was a force to be reckoned with and Garion held them both. The earth shook as if to emphasise this very point. He kissed her fingers while he had his arms fastened around her waist. Then together they walked off. He helped her into the carriage and then turned around searching the crowd. When his eyes found Doranand’s, they no longer roamed. Do you see? They said. I told the truth. She is mine.
He then looked away from him and he waved to the masses once more before joining her in the carriage. Doranand was then helped into another carriage and was carted away to the palace on the hill.
That was over a week ago. Currently he was stuck in the palace in one of the servant’s quarters under heavy guard. Apparently, the dungeon wasn’t good enough for him. Milos had to bring him inside the palace to be further tormented by the rumours of him and his new bride that was bandied about by all in the palace. The blasted prince had even made sure that he was alive long enough to witness it. His scars had reopened and had started festering a bit as he’d told no one about his injuries.
It was after he was found passed out and the Prince summoned were his wounds discovered. The palace physician had been coming to minister to him every day since then. He was obviously very good as he didn’t seem to be dying.
It was while he was laid out on the bed with his wounds exposed that he heard murmuring coming from outside the door. That meant the prince has come for his daily visit. He had expected him to boast about his conquests, but all he did was sit in the bedside chair and then stare at the blank wall in silence.
“Come for your daily wall staring exercise, Your Highness.” he said not turning to face him as the door opened and someone walked in.
“Shit Doranand, when Milos said that you were hurt badly, I didn’t imagine anything like this.” she said coming to stand over him.
He smelled the slight hint of perfume and then turned to find Aliana standing over him. She was dressed similarly to the way she did at home. Close fitting pants exposing her long legs and a loose hanging shirt. Her hair was pulled out of her face though in a tight bun, instead of hanging loose around her shoulders. Then again, she was married and that would have been inappropriate.
“You wear perfume now.” was all he said and then turned away. Her husband prince must have preferred this scent and she would do anything to please him.
“Doran what happened to you? These are whip marks. Did anyone do this to you in Garion?”
“No Your Highness, you did this to me.” he said. “Doctor if you don’t mind covering my wounds. I wouldn’t want to be an eye sore to the princess any longer. Then again, she could just leave.” he growled.
The doctor again started to apply his dressings, but Aliana didn’t leave. Stubborn. Well at least that didn’t change. “Doctor, if you don’t mind waiting out in the corridors until you’re called back in.” she countered.
“Your Highness,” he bowed and left the room.
“What do you mean that I did this to you? I never ordered a single hand to be laid on you!” she yelled.
“You didn’t have to!” he said twisting to look at her. “What did you think was going to happen to me after I went back to Evan and told the king that after we supposedly ran off together to elope, you were taken by a Garian thief, who had turned out to be Prince Milos himself!” he swung himself out of the bed and sat up.
“You didn’t expect me to get whipped in the Evan square by my own father! I received one hundred and thirty lashes. I should be dead, but my father spared my life by tearing the flesh from my left shoulder only, rendering it completely useless. Small price to pay for my life. Did you expect that? Or did you think that they’d hang me in the square and leave my body for the crows!”
“I never thought...” she stammered.
“You never thought what Princess? That after being a loyal friend and following your plans that I would have been walking into a trap. One where you would get to run off into happily ever after with your Garian Prince, the green sapphire to your blazing red. You took me and my whole family for fools. After you led me into a trap, you had the gall to say that I had betrayed you, when it was you Ali that had betrayed me! You betrayed all of Arnay! For what? Love? You had love Ali, my wounds are proof of that.
“Then again my love would have never been enough as you never loved me, not like you do Milos.” he said deflated.
“I don’t love Milos.” she said she sank into the chair beside the bed. “At least not yet, but it is becoming harder and harder not to the more time I spend with him.” he had never seen her look this distraught over anything before. Angry, happy, sad but never distraught. Like she was fighting an internal battle. “What we share goes beyond love, it is hard to explain. I have only met him for a short time and our bond, outside of the sapphire power, it feels right. It feels binding.” she sighed.
“What do you mean you met him for a short time? Weren’t you seeing each other in Arnay and weren’t you with child when you left?”
“Gods no Doran! When would I have the time? You were with me almost every second of each day. I could see how others might believe that, but I thought you would have known better.” she said folding both legs on the chair and resting her head on her knees.
“So there is no baby then?”
“There wasn’t any when I left Arnay, now there is a chance that it could be possible.” he thought he saw her face actually warm with longing. He frowned. “Gods above! Don’t look on me like that Doranand! He is my husband! I didn’t place judgement on your head when I heard the stories about you and all the women in the Arnay court.”
He shrugged. “So you are possibly in love or strongly attached whatever, to a prince of a land that your country, the throne which you would have inherited in a years’ time, is at war with. So whose side are you fighting for now Ali? When soldiers die on both sides of the border, who do you mourn?”
Her forehead crinkled. “I suppose both.”
“It cannot be both! You will have to choose a side eventually.”
“Do I really?”
“Yes Aliana, you do!”
“You don’t understand but the Garian court isn’t like my father’s rulership. Yes it has its share of vipers, but the majority are all good. They don’t want to fight this war, not really, as it will bring them no great benefit.”
“I don’t call more land and increased wealth, no great benefit.”
“Yes those are there, but why would they want to fight for it when they could share in it through my marriage to Milos. Milos has told me of his plans for peace. He is to be the new king of Garion when his father passes on. He has lived among our people for two years. He understands our customs and knows what Arnay means to me. He would never do anything to hurt me intentionally.”
“That sounds good on paper Aliana, but the fact still remains, our countries are at war. Milos isn’t king yet.” he said snidely. “You don’t have the crown of Arnay either, Queen Ana-Moriah does.
“She has the country convinced that you’re a traitor. Sitting on the throne of Arnay will be more difficult than waiting on your coronation on your twenty-first natal day. You and your prince might want peace, but the only way to do that is through war. So like it or not Your Highness, you will have to choose a side or risk losing everything to the muddy witch.
“If you don’t mind, my wounds hurt and I would really like to rest. So could you please call the doctor back in now. Besides, I am sure your beloved Milos must be looking for you.” he saw the look of hurt that had crossed her face when he’d dismissed her, but he didn’t care. He couldn’t stand another second hearing her singing the praises of her too perfect husband.
“Very well,” she said slamming the door behind her.
Well damn her to hell he thought. He’d come here to rescue a princess who didn’t need or even want to be rescued. One way or the other he would be leaving this gods damned prison and leave Aliana with her gods damned prince.