Chapter 4: Selene
The King's throne room, while still grand, was far less impressive than the opulent palace I visited in my dreams. The stone walls and floors of the king's palace, draped in fine tapestries, were nothing in comparison to the white marble halls of the palace in my mind. It was a child's fantasy. That is what I had told myself, but now I was not so sure.
The King sat on his throne, glaring down at me as I stood perfectly still. He was a large man, but even still the throne was far too big for him, making him look more like a child, playing pretend than a King. I schooled my features to a mask of cruel indifference. Each courtier I gazed over stiffened under my stare.
My eyes were kept in a glazed over, far away stare. As if I was not truly looking at anything at all. I knew the drill and how to act like I was under the King’s complete control. I had spent enough time away to lose the blind obedience that I fell into when I stayed in his presence for too long. I could remember that I hated him, but not why. I only remembered feelings, emotions. Something that I also did not have when I was near the King for any long amount of time. The longer I stood there, the more control he had over me. A strange voice, that was not my own, urged me to draw in even closer, to submit to the King entirely.
Staying the night in the forest had been a wise choice. More of the strange dreams that had plagued me since childhood returned. Dreams that I was no longer certain were actually dreams anymore.
I knew that it would be hard to hide what had happened during my journey home from the King. So I practiced my excuse over and over again in my mind. Until it was the only truth I knew. It became so ingrained in me, that even if the King regained his control over me, that version of the story would be the first version I would tell. And hopefully the only version I would tell.
There were two men on the road back to the city. They were rude and I wanted a good fight. I manipulated one of the men into attacking me, and I killed him. The other man ran. I wanted to chase him down. I wanted to kill him too. The headaches came, so I returned to the city.
It was not a lie, but not the truth. I smiled inwardly at my cleverness. Half-truths and twisting the truth was my specialty.
“You were gone for almost four weeks,” The King nearly came to his feet he was so mad. His face was red with fury. I kept my face neutral as I stared at him, or through him. I was not focused on anything. Not willing to let him see a fault in his perfect weapon.
"What is your report?" He asked. I felt the weight, that kept me from speaking before, lift.
“I located and killed the banker in three weeks, my King. He put up little fight, I was not caught or seen,” I kept my voice as monotone and emotionless as my face.
“Do you have a reason for spending an extra week on your journey?” the King sneered.
“No, my King” I replied bowing my head in submission. My body screamed against the action.
“Selene, listen to me,” his calm voice did not match his angry demeanor. I could not question it because my body reacted without me telling it to. I dropped to one knee and bowed my head. Internally I was screaming. I was fighting. Trying desperately to regain control of my body.
“I am listening, my King,” the words came out of my mouth but I was not speaking them. And then the fog returned.
My mind was blissfully quiet. I had only one purpose, to serve and obey the King. I could not remember why I had been so upset. I felt nothing now.
“Report,” the King ordered again. And I did.
“I tracked Roland Terry to a village on the outskirts of Valenl" I began my report on how I tracked and studied Terry. I told him how it took me almost three weeks to get the vile old man, who visited far too many brothels, alone. How he begged for his life and did not even bother to fight me when I killed him in one of those brothels, leaving him for his men to find hours after I had left. The words had poured from my mouth, no detail left out. I looked to the captain of the guard who sneered at me with hatred and distrust. Anger pierced through the fog in my mind, just enough for me to gain what little control of myself that I could.
I flashed the captain a wicked smile as I stood. I tossed the bag, holding the rotting head of Roland Terry, into his arms. The captain winced as he peered into the bag. The King's attention shifted to the man, with expectation. The Captain gagged his teeth as he pulled the slightly decomposed head from the bag.
The King nodded to the captain, what was his name? My mind drifted trying to remember the man’s name but I could not.
“Continue,” the King’s words pulled the fog tighter around my mind. I told him of the two men I met on the road. How I got to kill one, but the other one escaped. I could not explain more before the Captain interrupted me.
“Escaped?” the captain scoffed. My eyes moved from the King to the Captain. I cocked my head to the side as I studied him. He was like a child playing dress-up in strange metal clothes. It made no sense to wear decorative metal like that. Metal armor was meant for the battlefield. My gaze rose to the King's golden crown. It glittered with jewels. Why did one need such a large crown? Did people not know who their King was?
“Selene, answer the Captain,” the King commanded. My eyes settled on the King's face and for the first time since I could remember. I looked into his eyes. Something in me stirred, but just as quickly it was snuffed out.
"The second man did not attack me. He chose to run," I shrugged as if that was explanation enough.
“And you let him?” The Captain gave a mocking voice. Anger flared but died just as quickly. Still, I shifted to look at the metal man.
"I did not want to let him run. I wanted to kill him too,” My voice had lost all emotion as I spoke. The fog squeezed tightly around my mind. I felt nothing and then the pressure lifted.
The man with the golden crown spoke, "Where did you go after the man fled?" he asked.
"I stayed in the Wyldwoods,"
“You slept in the Wyldwoods?” the metal man crossed his arms in disbelief.
"Yes," I said still looking at the man with the golden crown. The man with eyes as dark as the night sky.
“There are monsters in the Wyldwoods!” The metal man exclaimed. I looked him over, cocking my head to the side as I studied him. Why was this man so worried about the Wyldwoods?
The man with the golden crown barked a laugh, "Captain, monsters will not attack the things that they fear,"
The metal man looked at my dull grey hair, still stained a light red from the man I killed. The man I saw on the road with his friends. No, there were only two humans on the road.
"Are you hiding anything from me?" The man with the golden crown asked. My jaw clenched, holding in the scream that threatened to tear out of me as my brain throbbed with pain. Like invisible claws were raking down the inside of my head.
Anger. Pain. Sorrow. I held on to those feelings.
I looked up at the King. I dug my own claws into my mind, ripping free what little control I had. There was something else, but my mind refused to reveal it. I looked at the king in his pitch-black eyes.
"I can not tell a lie,"
So, what do you think about the King and his hold over Selene?
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