The King's Assassin

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Chapter 5: Prince Gallen

The breakfast room seemed far too small, even with only Lady Selene and I seated at the ten-person table. The servant woman, who seemed to follow my father’s champion where ever she went, fluttered around the room. She filled drink cups and brought more food to the already crowded table. It was ridiculous the amount of food that was being wasted while my people starved. I glanced up at Lady Selene, who did not even seem to notice the woman. Her cold blue eyes looked up into my own, sending a chill down my spine. It was like looking into the eyes of a wolf that had not decided if they were going to eat you now or save you for later.

I forced my eyes to my plate, shoving the eggs and grits around with my fork. My appetite was gone.

Lady Selene, the King’s Champion. The title was ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as the King still insisting on calling her his ward in polite company. Everyone in the four Kingdoms knew the rumors of the grey-haired girl. It was not a secret. Not when my father paraded her about like some trophy.

I had pitied her when she was first brought to the palace at only ten years old. She was an orphan, the daughter of a lesser lord. Her entire family was killed in one night, and only she survived.

That pitty quickly turned to hate. She had no emotions, no feelings, I would not have put it past her to be the one that killed her family all those years ago. There was something off about her, other than the fact that only a year after arriving in the palace, my father already had her killing for him.

She was always so quiet, too quiet. When she did speak, it was as if she were not really there. The few times there was life behind those cold blue eyes, it was nothing but hate and fury. I had seen it, glimpses of the fury inside her, but it was few and far between. Never lasting for more than a single second.

Part of me wondered if she was mad. Any child who was that good at killing had to be insane. It had not taken me long to figure out what had caused my father to take pity on a strange orphan girl. She was a monster. Selene killed his enemies and left no witnesses behind. She could always be found walking only a few steps behind the King. Like his personal shadow. Never seen, but she was always there.

I shifted uncomfortably as I felt her eyes on me. I hesitated before glancing up into her eyes. There was no far away stare or fury as I had seen before. It was curiosity in her eyes. Like she was actually seeing me for the first time and trying to figure something out. It unsettled me more than I would have liked to admit, the way she looked over me. I held her gaze, staring back into those perfectly blue eyes. And for a split second, I could have sworn that bits of gold flaked her eyes.

Lady Selene sat up straighter. She gave me a pleading look that told me she knew what I had seen. But I was not even sure what I had seen. She looked to the door and not a moment later, the King walked in. I watched as the emotion in her eyes glazed over. For a split second, I wondered if she somehow sensed him coming.

“Gallen,” he nodded his head to me, ignoring Lady Selene. She did not take her eyes off of him. As if she was always waiting for her next order. She was back to her normal ways of quiet indifference.

“Father,” I nodded back before shoving a fork full of eggs into my mouth to avoid having to say anymore. The servant woman filled my father’s cup before quickly bowing and backing into the corner of the room. I glanced up once more at Selene to find her now staring at her food. There was no emotion on her strangely beautiful face. Did she know that she served a monster?

“What do you find so interesting about Selene?” my father asked. Heat flooded to my face as I quickly looked away.

“It is nothing,” I said too quickly. From the corner of my eye, I could see Selene bristle almost imperceptibly. I found myself turning and looking at her again. Only to find her openly glaring at me. Her face twisted into a scowl for only a moment.

The King watched it all and just laughed. I had seen her do that before. Many times, my father had called her his personal lie detector. Like she could sense when someone lied. It sent chills down my spine.

“It is nothing to be embarrassed about Son. She is a beautiful woman,” he stared at her too. For a moment the way my father looked her over, changed. Selene either did not notice or did not care. The thought of my father looking at a girl my age like that made my skin crawl. I wanted to do something, say anything to get him to stop looking at her that way.

“How was your trip, Selene?” I asked. I needed to change the subject to something I knew would anger my father. Just enough to distract him, but not enough for him to punish me.

Selene glanced up at me. There was something like relief in her eyes.

“Why do you ask about that which you have no interest in?” her voice sounded so hollow and cold. I did not fail to notice her avoidance of the question. Any time she did not want to answer a question, she would deflect, asking another question in return.

The King roared with laughter. He always found her backward, roundabout way of answering things historical. More than once he had muttered, half to himself, “You just can’t help your nature,” Each time she had simply replied, “No,” It was like he was the only person she would give a straight answer to.

“Selene, you are excused. I must speak with my son,” The King ordered. That pleading look flashed across her face for only a split second. My father did not seem to notice her eyes darken or the slight pause she gave before rising and leaving the room.

I had seen him dismiss her hundreds of times before, and not once had she ever hesitated. And the emotion that flickered through her eyes, that was new as well. I watched her leave not taking my eyes off of her until the door closed behind her.

I could feel my father’s eyes on me. I did not want him to know what I observed. At least not until I knew exactly what it was. If there was even the smallest possibility that I could get my father’s Champion to side against him. Then maybe my people still had a chance at surviving. I needed allies. And who better than the very weapon my father used to keep his subjects in line.

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