In the dark of the night the royal soldiers of Antharv Kingdom, marched to the queen's palace to kill the residents of the said place and capture the queen by the order of their King Atharva.
Unaware to the marching trouble the queen also known as the High king Salil, laid in his bed thinking of the ways to break the goodnews to his husband, the King. He hoped that this would heal the broken bridge between them. Little did he know that the conspirators had already burned the remains of the bridge he wanted to heal.
The chief of the soldiers expected to find an army of maids and soldiers in the High king's palace but were surprised to find that the palace had just two soldiers, who side stepped to let them in as soon as they saw him marching towards the palace, to protect the gates and Madhur, the High king's personal maid from his homeland, at his service.
Bound by his majesty's order, he slit the throat of the sleeping attendant and marched further towards the High king's chambers.
Salil jerked awake when the doors to his chamber slammed open and the troop of royal soldiers marched in. He quickly fixed his sleeping robes and called for his attendant, Madhur but got no reply. He was about to call for the said attendant again when the cheif of the troop cut in,
"He's dead Prince Salil. And we are ordered to capture you alive by the king." To say the prince was shocked would be an understatement. He was devastated. The only one who truly cared about him was dead. His attendant, his brother, Madhur was dead. The clinking of chains snapped him out of his thoughts.
The soldiers had brought forward the handcuffs. So his husband was finally getting rid of him.
"Can I know the crime I have committed?" Salil asked the chief in a barely audible voice. But what can one say, devastation and sadness does that to you.
"I'm afraid not. We were told to treat you like a tyrant." said the chief as he motioned the soldiers to handcuff the the prince. That was when Salil understood that he was no longer the queen he used to be. He was now lower than a criminal, a tyrant. The king not only wanted to get rid of him but also insult him.
Silent tears escaped his eyes when he saw Madhur lying in a pool of his own blood, eyes closed and a sweet smile on his face. He was killed in his sleep. At least he didn't experience any pain.
With a harsh shove Salil was pushed into the dungeon cell causing him to fall on his side. The pain he felt now was unbearable. He couldn't help the shreik and tears that escaped him but the gaurds scoffed at him and faced away from him like the mere sight of him disgusted them to no end.
It was after half an hour, when the door to his cell was opened and Prince Mohak, the brother of concubine Mayuri walked in. He smiled a sinister smile which made Salil shiver in disgust and fear. He curled into himself, but that didn't help him when the first kick came right into the spot where he was injured earlier. He screamed in pain and tried to move away from his abuser to save the little life growing in him but all in vain. The onslaught of kicks didn't stop. He cried and begged but no one heard it.
When the abuse ended, the prince spat at the bloodied and bruised unconscious body and left. The guards huffed at the bloodied scene thinking of how much cleaning they will need to do but no one paid attention to the blood that seeped from between the legs of the unconscious prince, staining his white sleeping robes.
A few hours later when Salil woke up, he let out a heart wretching scream. The blood that stained his clothes made his fear come true. He sobbed like a child, hoping, praying that all this was a nightmare. That soon Madhur will wake him up and console him. But none of that happened. He had truly lost his child.
It was the next day when the door to his cell was once again opened but now it didn't even matter to him who came to visit him, hit him or possibly kill him.
"Won't even get up to greet me, my dear husband?" Mocked King Atharva as looked at the battered and bruised form of his husband. There wasn't a single ounce of love or humanity in his eyes, all they held was hate and disgust.
"Your Majesty..." Salil jerked from his trance to look at his husband, to ask him why was he treated like that? But not a single word came out.
"I'll come straight to the point cause looking at your face disgusts me. You are being punished for plotting to kill concubine Mayuri's child. How dare you think you could do that?! I can't kill you or your brother may attack my Kingdom but you will rot here for a lifetime for what you did!! How could you even plan to kill an innocent child?! You're a monster!" Spat Atharva and turned to leave the cell only to be stopped by a humourless laughter coming from his former High King. Atharva looked at him like he had gone crazy.
Salil laughed so hard that there were tears in hiseyes but these tears weren't of happiness, they were of sadness, despair and devastation. Noticing he got the kings attention he stopped laughing and said,
"I pity the kingdom of Antharv.... the king who doesn't know what happens in his own palace is their leader.... the who blindly believes what anyone says.... let me tell you Atharva, people around you don't tell the truth always. And I didn't kill any innocent life... you did! " There were tears flowing down Salil's face by the end of his rant. Atharva was confused. What did Salil meant by him killing his own child? He was about to ask Salil to explain when he saw Salil holding something shiny in his robes. And before he could comprehend, with a swift move Salil revealed a sharp dagger hidden in his robes and stabbed his own chest.
"I-I... cou..ldn't... be.. a good... mother... my child... I'm sorry...." A few tears escaped Salil's eyes while Atharva was still trying to understand which child Salil was talking about.
"King A-Atharva.... I wish... I never loved you.... and if I get ano..ther ch-chance at life,... I wish... to nev..er cross paths with you...." said the dying prince as he pushed the dagger deeper in his with a smile chest. Atharva stood in his place frozen as the royal guards rushed in, checking if the tyrant had the audacity to harm thier king.
"The cunt finally died. Now my Mayuri can become the queen. Good riddance." Muttered Nobleman Anwar, concubine Mayuri's father and King Atharva's father-in-law, also the person who had apparently brought the High king's sinister plot to light. Though the words were said in a very low voice, the walls of the dungeon amplified them to some extent and it reached the king's ears, snapping him out of his frozen daze.
That's when the king realised that there was something fishy. Some fact he was missing out.
He commanded the chief of royal troop, Rudra to send the queens body to the healers to get it ready for its cremation and send a letter to the High king's brother, informing him of his death.
When he reached his bed chambers, he found his trusted shadow gaurd, Shikhar waiting for him along with his sister, Swara. They were the only ones who sided Salil when he was slandered for plotting to kill the heir to the throne. And now after hearing his dying husband, he doesn't know what to believe.
"What do you want your Majesty?" Grittted out Swara. There was blazing hate and anger in her eyes, all directed to the king standing before her. She was forced to stand by her king's side by the promise she made to her bestfriend, her dead brother-in-law, when all she wanted to do was leave him to rot here alone.
Atharva didn't fail to recognise the hate and anger his sister held towards him but he paid no mind to it. There were more important things to worry about than his sister's hate towards him.
"I want both of you, Shikhar and Swara to investigate the matter closely. I think there is something we are missing out on." said Atharva. But his statement snapped the thin thread of princess Swara's patience.
"What's the use of it now? You already got rid of Salil like you wanted. Like those Noblemen wanted! What's the use of it when he killed himself?! And you killed his child?!" She shouted, a few tears escaping her eyes.
"Wh-What are you talking about? What ch-child?" asked a shocked Atharva. Was what he assuming right? Was Salil really with a child? All these questions flooded his mind. But Swara looked like someone had just rubbed salt on her wounds.
"Your child you bastard! Salil was so happy.... he thought this might make you love him but it didn't.... I wanted to tell you... stop you.... but your bitch of a concubine stopped you from seeing me! And now he's dead!! You were being fooled from the beginning! Why do you think your concubine always got injured in front of you?! That bitch even tried to kill Salil by pushing him down the stairs when you were out for hunting but Salil refused to tell you cause he thought you loved her and wouldn't believe him! And today she succeeded!" She was bawling by end of her rant. Regret coursing through her veins. Had she tried harder, Salil would've been alive today. Atharva on other hand looked like he saw a ghost. The information he just heard was hard to digest. And if all of this was true then the one who was monster wasn't Salil but him.
"Salil was-" he started but was cut of by a harsh slap on his right cheek. His sister had slapped him.
"You don't get to say his name after what you did to him King Atharva. He loved you but you didn't see it.... why do you think he tolerated all that insults and you forcing yourself on him?! You don't deserve him King Atharva! "
King Atharva. The way his sister addressed him, like some stranger hurt. But what hurt more was the words she said. He was still recovering from the stab of previous words when Swara landed another harsh blow.
"All he had was love for everyone in thsi palace... and what did this palace gave him?! That's it! I renounce this royal family today! I will no longer be a part of such a disgusting place anymore! Goodbye King Atharva!" And with that she stormed out of the King's chambers, tears streaming down her eyes.
"I will send a shadow gaurd to follow princess Swara and start investigating the matter." Muttered Shikhar and left swiftly.
Still shocked from what he just heard, the king did not know what to do except for wait for Shikhar to reveal the truth.
It was only a day since the death of the High king, the king had refused to meet anyone except for his shadow gaurd who was responsible for investigation of the matter. King Samartha, High king's brother was on his way to Antharv. The Noblemen wanted King to prepare for battle in case King Samartha decided to attack the Kingdom but Atharva refused to see any of them. The entire Kingdom was in disarray.
"Prince Salil was framed. The maids of the concubine's palace confirmed that the prince hadn't visited her since your birthday, which was four months ago. One of them testified that it was concubine Mayuri and her father's plan to frame the prince and usurp his position. And I also discovered something else..." Shikhar hesitated a bit as the information he was about to deliver may upset the king. But on receiving a grunt of approval from the distressed king he had no other option than to continue.
"Concubine Mayuri was having an affair with the Nobleman Dhruv since she entered the palace... she was planning your assassination..... and the child she carries may not be yours ... According to the healers at the time of her conceiving, your Majesty wasn't here in the palace."
The king jerked out of his stupor staring at Shikhar as if asking him to say that he was just joking but both of them knew it wasn't likely to happen. Shikhar didn't like joking around. The regret that now coursed through him was suffocating. He killed his own child for a bastard that may not be his.
"W-What ab-about Salil's ch-child?" He asked holding back the tears that threatened to fall.
"Healers confirmed that Prince Salil was four months pregnant and was recommended to complete bed rest due his fall a month ago planned by the concubine." answers Shikhar. The words triggered all the simmering rage. He flew out of his chair, knocking it down in the process.
"How did he loose the child? Who touched him in the prison cell?!" He thundered forgetting that he was the one who ordered his husband to be treated lower than a scum. Shikhar couldn't help but roll his eyes at the king's behaviour.
"When the gaurds pushed him in he had a harsh fall and complained about pain and then Prince Mohak kicked and punched him brutally for an hour and as commanded by your Majesty, to treat him worse than a criminal, no medication was provided. " replied Shikhar. Although he wanted to turn away from the king like princess Swara had done, he could not. His oath of loyalty came in the way. But there was one thing that he could do, make his king, his friend, Atharva realise what he lost and the wrong he did.
"Why didn't he tell me Shikhar? Why?!" Shouted the king in desperation. All the information he had just heard shook him to the core. Seeing the king whining in sorrow ticked Shikhar off. The guy didn't have the right to be wallowing in self pity when he was the root cause of this mess.
"Because he thought you wouldn't believe him... like when you did not believe him when he denied your concubine slandering him of spiking your drink on the night of your birthday.... when you denied him of any respect as your legal husband... and this entire palace denied him the respect of a High king... Believe it or not the only worthy of your respect in your eyes, was your concubine..." said Shikhar in a harsh tone making Atharva gape in shock. It was the very first time that Shikhar had raised his voice while talking to him.
"But..." The king tried to counter his loyal gaurd's words but nothing came out. It was like his subconscious knew that he was the one wrong here, no one else.
"There is nothing you can say to deny it, Atharva. Accept it. You're... you never were worthy of his love..." Shikhar cut him short. The words were a punch in the gut for Atharva. He fell on his knees like his legs were unable to withstand the heavy weight of killing his own husband and child. Shikhar stared at the broken king for a minute before delivering the final blow to the already shattered heart of Atharva.
"The respect he didn't get when alive, give it to him now... Its the least you can do for all the wrong you have done..." And with that the shadow gaurd left the bed chambers of the king, blending into the darkness of the night not minding the distraughted king he was leaving behind.
"Nobleman Anwar and his entire clan to be burned alive for treason to the throne. Concubine Mayuri is to be thrown to the dungeons to suffer a much worse fate than she rendered on my husband. After fortnight, she will be publicly beheaded for the treason she committed. Nobleman Dhruv and his entire clan will be beheaded in two days for being alliances in the treacherous plot. The punishments are to be carried publicly to warn everyone who tries to say anything against my belated husband." Thundered Atharva not minding the concubine screaming for mercy as she knelt before him in the throne room. The order out right cruel but none of the Noblemen had the guys to question it as the treason committed by the accused was punishable by death according to the law.
With a flick of his hand Atharva motioned the royal gaurds to drag the screeching lady and rest of the accused away from him.
Finally, his husband, his High King was given justice.
"Forgive me my love.... I did you wrong...but I can't live with this burdened anymore...." sobbed Atharva, lying next to his husband and child's grave. It was six months after he lost his High king and the guilt was eating him alive. It was hard to sleep at night with the visions of his husband's bloodied body haunting him. It was hard to breathe through the suffocating guilt and self hate. It was hard to do anything without his husband.
Slipping out the dagger his husband had killed himself with, from his robe, Atharva stabbed himself in his heart just like his high king had done. Ending his painful existence.
At the same moment, a boy in a far away land, watching all this happen, muttered a spell. Rewinding the time. Giving the couple a chance to make things right. To fall in love and achieve the happy ending they deserved.
It's long ass chapter but I think all the chapters in this story are gonna be long. Do write your thoughts on the chapter.