cero | the birth of the heir
The empty silent echo of the hallways was broken with the scream of a baby, fresh from the womb. He could almost tell without even turning from the cry it was another girl. Disappointment. Three daughters, and now another. His line was ending in disgrace because of the damned woman he had loved enough to marry.
“Your majesty?” A maid came up to him. Surely if it was a boy, she would have just spit it out, tell him he could produce some good in this world, some sort of legacy. She also sounded scared, fearful of the king's wrath. No he was beyond anger.
“It is a son.” She said, she stepped back as he turned from the window. His raven hair, and brown eyes caught the light in the same way a halo would illuminate an angel’s hair and eyes. The full moon added to the eerie silence broken by screams from a woman and child.
“A son?” Disbelief then relief flooded his gorgeous face. Who could have known such an evil soul would have such a beautiful face? The devil must have made love to God to look like him. But, this was not about him, it was about his son.
“Send for the girl-“ The girl? His own child, she had a name, a beautiful one, why would he not use it. Any love, which was already close to none, for the girl, now a woman of beautiful age, in the prime of her life, was dead. Buried in the grave that should have held a third daughter.
But God no. There was a son. The heir, his heir. A king. “-and kill her in her sleep. Tell her sister’s husbands that they must marry their brides in the morning. There will be a great celebration for my son.”
“Kill her sir?” The maid was horrified at her order. She had come to inform the king of his son’s birth, not to carry the note sealing her friend, no, the future queen’s death. She wished she had the strength to look the king in his eyes, but she didn’t have to wish for long.
The king used his two longest fingers to raise the chin of the maid. Forget her first comparison of the King’s lineage. Satan himself could only look as good, yet as evil as the king looked now. “You have received your orders, bitch. Do the deed, or die.”
Defiance was the last emotion the maid was experiencing, and fled the room, her dignity and courage still in the hands of the king. He found himself turning to his throne. It was fitting for him to wait for the arrival of a child in his throne room. The moonbeams shone through the window as the light is supposed to shine into a church.
He walked towards his throne. He had been on the far end of the corridor, now as if he was to be crowned again, he walked slowly, regally. But his echoing footsteps were not alone. His daughter, in her royal dress, walked on the far side of the room, her eyes watching him, a tiger ready to pounce.
He knew she was there, but he walked, steps unchanged. Until he had reached his throne, then he turned, his daughter stood at the foot of the stairs to his throne. Her head was not bowed, nor was she scared. Her steps had faltered either. The devil’s blood was in her too.
“My daughter.” He spit it like something undesired in his mouth. “Anaya. If you are here to beg for mercy, I will not grant it.”
The echoes of his voice rang as the death sentence does for a man who is already dying. It did not faze her. She had already come to terms with her future. Instead, head unbowed, eyes steeled with anger, she spoke.
“I have not come to ask for your mercy. Mercy to me would be death! No. I have heard of your son, the bastard child. I call him bastard not because he is an illegitimate child, but a LEECH. That is my throne. Mine!”
The possessive demand rang in her own ears. She had prepared for this moment for months now, when her own mother had confided in her, she knew she was carrying a male heir. She had spent hours, letting her cold bathwater run over her fingers, planning this moment.
“You dare give my throne away as I live and breathe? As I raise you to be the queen of a great nation, as I teach you how to carry yourself with power? You dare? No, you are the leech. You have sucked at the nipple of the greatest king, the king of Rothan.”
“I have only one request, father. I have long trained to be queen. It would be a waste for such training to be lost. Instead an allegiance, for marriage to a powerful king, would be a death to me. I offer myself, as a bride, if only I go to Prince Rualyn, of Raiden. His father will accept me, as his son’s bride, to form an alliance, for as long as I, and my children, and your son’s children shall live.”
“You seem far too eager to trade your life for your not even newborn brother.” He laughed. “You insult me, and my heir, and then ask for me to spare you the death you deserve? What is this confidence? You are brash, Anaya, it will have you killed in the end. You will accept my mercy, if you have any sense to you.”
“Perhaps, but your stupidity will be the end of you.” She began to climb the stairs. Maybe she held her head a little higher as he watched her, her plan working. “But how would you explain my death to my beloved people? ‘oh an accident, she has died,’ but you have told my handmaiden to kill me, that is why I am here. Maids do whisper, all forms of gossip, how deadly a sin it would be if my maid told the chef, and then the chef told the assistants, and the assistants told their mothers, and their mothers talk about it on the street?”
He almost snarled at her, as her dark hand slid across the back of the porcelain throne. It was gorgeous, her graceful, commanding, cunning beauty contrasting the cold, unfeeling of the throne that should be hers.
“And,” Her eyes slid to his, a tiger turned snake. She let her hand run up to the top of the throne and then down again, like a lover caresses her love, on their wedding night. “if the mothers talk, even if it is a rumor, that their queen, crowned in their hearts, was murdered by her father would they not kill him. Or if not him, his newborn, innocent son. So, father, you will accept my mercy, if you are wise.”
“You are a witch, a fae. Curse you and your children. Be damned, go to your husband, and be his slave. May all your children die at birth and your husband spite you.” He waved his hand, as if that would pardon her. “When am I rid of you?”
“Is that the best curse you can come upon with? Satan himself silenced by a woman with cunning. How your pride has become your weakness. My curse to you, may your daughters be happy, and powerful in life. May your wife be loved, may you never once again find happiness, in woman, or food, or clothing. May you find your confidence as your walls, and may they fall only as your enemy is upon you. And I pray to God that she is a woman.” She turned to exit the room, and, as she was almost out of earshot, her final curse, “and may your beloved son die, as the last of your daughters has her innocence stolen, as you watch him for the first time.”
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