I leave Zarcar to get dressed into formal attire and then as he waits for me outside the chamber, I choose to wear a beautiful midnight blue gown that covers my skin and wraps around me like my usurper’s black robe. I paint on the four black dots at the corner of each eye and then I surprise Zarcar with my conservative robe.
He is sitting on my favourite window sill, wearing another royal purple suit with black polished shoes. His hair is tied back and it’s the first time I’ve seen him tie it out of the way.
“A robe?” Zarcar asks, raising a brow in surprise when he sees my choice, “Are you not feeling well, Chyronex?”
“I wish to obey you tonight,” I admit, openly as I close the bedchamber door, “I am meeting your King who kills Queens like me so I think I should learn how to submit... first to you, Master of Witches.”
Zarcar smirks a bit but it doesn’t hide the underlying sadness from his eyes.
“I am glad you understand your place tonight, beside me,” Zarcar stands up and holds out his hand. I take a graceful step forward and slip my palm into his before sliding my arm through his elbow.
“Is your King cruel?” I ask, in a whisper.
“He is kind to all who obey,” Zarcar admits, “Which is why you must obey my direction at all times. Whatever he asks – obey him too. Gain his trust and he’ll never harm you.”
“Are you speaking of yourself or your King?” I joke as he pulls me forward and starts leading me towards the stair case so we can be on the way to the unofficial welcome for the King tonight.
“Tonight is not a game between us, Chyronex. I speak of how you must act to the King. Listen intently,” Zarcar murmurs, “I must warn you that if you do disobey me in front of my King, he will expect that I punish you harshly. He knows me as a Master of Fear more than a Master of Witches.”
“I know you hide secrets from me, but the more you speak, the more secrets I know you hold,” I squeeze his palm, but he doesn’t glance at me, avoiding my questioning gaze. I sigh and add, “I suppose I should know his name.”
“...Chyronex,” Zarcar’s light tone is lost as he speaks an impatient warning, “The less you know the better.”
“Is it because I am a woman or –”
“He will expect knowledge,” Zarcar cuts me off, “You will show him no such thing. You are an eager and obedient slave who looks to me for knowledge. He will name me your Keeper tomorrow and I will do to you whatever he asks. Make sure he asks for nothing but obedience training. He is more cunning than he appears to be, which is saying something. Even I fear his mind – but that is why he is a King.”
“...I understand mostly what you imply... but why can’t I know his name?” I whisper.
“Only those he introduces himself to are allowed to know him by name,” I nod when I see the grim lines on Zarcar’s face.
I get the distinct feeling he has high respect for his King but doesn’t like him one bit.
And I had no idea why.
So, I just focus on my intuition.
Obey Zarcar tonight – and avoid any possible repercussions from this infamous King who even, perhaps, scared Zarcar into perfect obedience.
How and why? Just another question to add to the list of many growing inside my head... and my heart.
The moon is high but covered by clouds and I wonder if Zarcar has blocked my access to the moonlight on purpose – to possibly deter me from using magic in front of the higher lords and ladies of this foreign, invading culture within Swendula.
Candles light the central square of the city, a very tall log on fire in the middle creates the most luminescence for the dance, releasing embers into the light wind. Couples in expensive attire laced with sparkling silver, dance together while a band plays and food stalls hand out free feast food.
I see no sign of a King but to be fair there was a dense crowd gathered.
“Feel free to swoon over me in public,” Zarcar forces on a light tone as he leads me onto the paving where everyone else dances. He swings me in front of him and leads me confidently in a lazy step by step, edging us closer and closer to the fire.
“Where is he?” I ask.
“Who?” Zarcar asks me with a raised brow, pretending to be oblivious to annoy me on purpose. I try not to glare, instead, I raise my chin defiantly.
“I will swoon when I see the King,” I state proudly, “What does he look like?”
“You will see when you see, sweetheart,” Zarcar murmurs lightly while avoiding my gaze and scanning the crowd. As he searches through faces, a drop in my stomach causes me to feel almost instantly nauseous. I watch as a dark shadow behind Zarcar, holds my attention. As I look up, I see a head hiding over Zarcar’s shoulder.
“Did I overhear someone’s request to swoon over me?” the strangely quiet voice is behind my warlord, who swings around to face the man hiding behind him.
My eyes take in the most disgustingly gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on. The kind of handsome where you want to stab your eyes out because you know it’s not real; or couldn’t possibly be. However, my blood doesn’t warm or run hot – it turns icy with a sudden uncontrollable chill. His hair is in locks like that of Zarcar but they are out flowing past his shoulders and blacker than ink. His eyes are the opposite – like mine. They are silver, but the irises almost tend more to white, with black veins coating the irises.
Sorcerer. Magic. Demon.
I couldn’t pinpoint his nature. Something about this man...
“My King,” Zarcar suddenly grins wide and I notice the rapid change in tone. My captor becomes a different person as he swings me in front of him and forces me to stand toe to toe with this supposed King.
“Ahm...” I suck in a breath as if the air is thin around this being and I awkwardly lower my head and try to drop to a knee. On my way down, feeling dizzy, I almost lose my footing as I hear a beautiful laugh.
“Stop, stop, please,” the extremely amused King, grabs my chin and guides me back to my feet, “No need to bow on a dance floor,” even though his voice is so, so quiet, it hits my ears like he’s whispering it right next to my cheek.
“Oh,” I huskily try to make a noise and then nervously glance back at Zarcar, just as he grabs the back of my neck.
“Nonsense,” Zarcar keeps me dead still, his hand extremely tight against the back of my neck, as if trying to steady me from stumbling again, “This young and naïve priestess – is willing to bow to you. She views you as her King, as you are mine.”
The ungodly, devilish like prince more than old tyrant King, licks his bottom lip and holds his hands behind his back as if completely relaxed. His casual stance doesn’t match his predatory eyes, so still, so focused. I watch as he takes a moment to lazily glance over the crowd, as if checking for wandering eyes, before abruptly focusing his gaze back on my introduction. I hold my breath and only release it when the King smiles.
“Your name?” he murmurs, slowly tilting his head. Even that makes me feel sick, like his head might keep tilting and never stop.
“Chyronex,” I breathe it just as Zarcar says my name also, and I try to focus.
“Nice to meet you, I’m the Immortal King Rey, but you can call me...” he pauses as he seems to digest me with that steady stare, as equally steady as the hand on the back of my neck, “...your highness.”
“Y-yes, your highness,” I blurt out and avert my gaze. I can’t look in his eyes too long or I think I’ll sink while drowning, never able to escape.
“She’s awfully young,” I hear Rey speak to Zarcar with a hint of disapproval, “Does she know nothing?”
“Would I choose someone full of fight?” Zarcar asks, “She is as sweet as a... daisy. And has the knowledge of a common maid.”
“Have you fucked her yet?” I stiffen when Rey asks that vulgar question so boldly.
“...have you no faith, Rey?” Zarcar tests out some humour and Rey laughs... and the sound of that chuckle floats away like music.
After an intense silent minute, I glance up and I’m shocked to see Rey still right there in front of me.
I had assumed he was gone... away... somewhere else.
I was not lucky.
Instead I wait, as Zarcar holds me still and Rey watches me as if he too, isn’t breathing for a time.
If eyes could eat someone whole, I was still being savoured before being completely devoured.
“You’ll kneel to your King, tomorrow?” Rey asks me abruptly and I nod without hesitation.
“Of course, you rule here now, your highness – I am yours,” I let the words slip out like a tease, using my experience taunting Zarcar to try and please Rey.
He nods at Zarcar more than me, seeming impressed before he finally turns and walks away.
“Lixar and that Split Demoness will bow tomorrow too!” The King commands this with his back to us as he retreats to others, while I simply witness Zarcar’s jaw lock for a tiny moment.
“...of course,” Zarcar lets out the reply smoothly enough.
We wait a long minute before we can meet each other’s gazes.
“I am starving, what about you?” I ask Zarcar and hold his black, ignited gaze. I feel steady once more. I hope to steal him away into a moment of privacy before I asked him more questions.
“I don’t particularly have an appetite anymore,” Zarcar murmurs, “But you will be fed, follow me,” Zarcar takes me away towards a food stall.
I take some cheese and bread, hoping Zarcar murmurs something of interest. However, Zarcar seems lost in thought, so I lead and he follows me as I slowly make my way to the fountain.
I sit on the edge and we are finally away from the main crowd.
Zarcar sits next to me while I cross my legs under me as the fountain pours out behind us.
“...it’s still better that you know nothing,” Zarcar murmurs just as I open my mouth.
“One thing. Are you training me to sleep with... that demonic, poisonous, magic leaching, handsome bastard?” I ask this in barely a whisper while I smirk, even though inside I still feel sick.
Zarcar looks shocked.
“What gave you that impression?” Zarcar asks, raising a brow.
“You said you were training me for him...”
“I wouldn’t bet a single dime that he’d want you in that way,” Zarcar mentions, trying not to scoff.
“Should I be offended?” I ask, “Or do you mean... he just prefers men.”
“No, no. My King finds your kind more a nuisance rather than optional as potential lovers,” Zarcar struggles to find the right words without giving too much away, “He prefers mortals anyway. You should consider yourself lucky. He is a smart King, but all his lovers end up dead – one way or another.”
“He kills them?” I ask, almost spitting out my food when it turns to bile in my throat pretty quickly.
“No,” another mystery, Zarcar looks me in the eye, however, as he adds, “They simply get unlucky.” I raise a brow and Zarcar reaches out a hand and grabs my elbow, pulling my arm over – he strokes my skin and thinks to himself.
“No offence, dearest warlord... but I think Rey really, really likes me. The way he looked at me,” I murmur, “When a man lusts after a woman.”
“Make no mistake, Chyronex,” Zarcar finally sounds triggered into a small fury as he growls and holds my wrist tonight, “You are nothing but an enslaved Draconess to him.”
There he goes, talking about himself again. Or so it seemed.
“...and to you, what am I?” I ask.
“Everything and m–” Zarcar murmurs too quickly, snapping his mouth shut before abruptly changing tactic, “What I mean is – you are what you are, sweetheart. You, ah,” Zarcar pauses again and quickly finds his words while I try not to smile, at least I want to smile until he admits, “You’re my guest and my prisoner. My war prize. But, what’s important is also what I am now. I am your Keeper. I will guide you to act appropriately when my King is around. Our King now,” Zarcar forces those last words out and even though the tone is perfect, the moonlight is reflected out of his eyes for a brief moment.
Moon guide me into his truth.
I whisper it in my mind, not caring if Zarcar can feel the energy shoot through my skin like a transferrable itch.
Even as Zarcar snaps knowing eyes to me, he can’t stop the flash that fires through my mind like a scarring image.
I see his black eyes expanding into diamond ovals, cracks of blue light, scales coloured shiny brown-black, like his polished shoes and the sense of completion. Identity. A true soul.
I feel a touch at my chin and I snap back to reality with Zarcar’s hand on my jaw, forcing my attention back on him as he cruelly grips me.
“...too late... Master,” I whisper provocatively, letting out a hint of spite as I smirk with my small victory.
I know I had to obey but that didn’t mean I would let him control everything else about me. Who I was.
“Home time,” Zarcar growls, “We’re leaving. Now. And you’ll not say a word out of line from this point on.”
"Of course,” I smile too widely, “Let’s go.”
“...careful... sly witch,” Zarcar raises my hand, in his iron grasp, up to his lips. He presses a kiss to the back of my palm, randomly after scolding me.
“What was that for?” I ask, too sweetly.
“...I like the taste of you,” Zarcar openly admits, frowning, before standing and jerking me up with him. He takes me back to the dance, so we may walk through towards my Moon Tower.
When I casually glance around – I’m looking for the handsome devil I met not long ago.
I wonder if that dizziness will hit me again. When I do spot Rey, however, I’m surprised more than anything else, by what I witness.
He’s sitting on a throne by the food stalls, a random young woman is sitting on his lap looking distantly into the night sky as if she’s dreaming of somewhere else entirely.
Rey looks up through the dense crowd and catches my gaze, as if the accident is entirely on purpose... he’s whispering into this woman’s ear, his lips are slowly reaching lower and lower until he’s kissing her neck.
The entire time he watches me. His black veined, silver eyes hold mine steady through the entirety of the distance separating us as the kiss on the woman’s neck turns into something more.
A harmless love bite.
Until... a line of blood slithers down her porcelain skin – staining her basic cream dress, crimson. My eyes narrow and I see his lips starting to stain red while on her soft neck. Rey was drinking her blood and I didn’t know why, but I knew what he was conveying as he stared me down all the while, refusing to break my curious gaze.
The King doesn’t smile once and even if he managed too, I knew it wouldn’t reach his ungodly eyes.
Mere moments ago, I had teased Rey with my loose declaration of obedience to his rule.
I felt like Rey was teasing me back with an unclear warning.
I better obey – or my life would be cut short quickly.
Why else would he glare at me through the crowd like that?
I understood Zarcar’s reactions around Rey, now. I understood the fear.
And now, I also know the reason and source behind that icy nausea that hit me before. It was from a separate mirrored truth from Zarcar, but not from comfort or protection.
A truth consumed entirely around death. Around the King, I felt like my death was close.
Far too close for any kind of comfort to remain while Rey was near.