Chapter 9 - Sabina
“How about some combat practice?” I approached Shalena in the hall. “A mercenary like me and a raider like you need to keep our skills up.”
“I’ve got more important things on my mind right now,” Shalena said.
I folded my arms. “You can fight, can’t you? After all, you are Shalena the Raider, aren’t you? Or are you someone else?”
“I’d love to spar,” she said, giving a forced smile. I led the way to the combat room. We went in and I shut the door, inserting myself between her and the entrance.
“What is the real reason you’ve brought me here?” Shalena asked, looking around suspiciously.
“Draw your sword,” I commanded, quickly drawing mine. She saw that I was serious and hurriedly drew her sword as well.
I advanced on her while she hastily backed away. As soon as we reached the center of the combat room, I raised my sword and slashed. Shalena quickly parried my attack with a strong defense. So she was mighty after all. We continued fighting for several minutes, Shalena’s skills not a disappointment, but after a time she began to tire.
“Why do you keep dodging the questions about my sister?” I asked in a low voice.
I swung at her once more. She gasped and just barely leaped out of my way, surprised by my fervor.
“Because I want my inheritance. I won’t answer you until I reach my goal,” she said, swinging her sword.
I swung and parried her attack and we stared angrily into each other’s eyes.
“So you’re using this info as leverage, aren’t you?” I hissed.
“In a way,” she agreed, then jumped back and we circled each other like lions after their prey.
“You are the cruelest person I’ve ever met,” I aimed for her head and swung my blade. She ducked and danced away, gasping for breath.
“I’ve trained for years but you’re one of the best fighters I’ve ever seen,” she said, a bit breathless.
“It’s because I had to learn to fight in order to survive,” I said. “I had no other option.”
“I really respect you,” Shalena said, her eyes softening.
“Stop buttering me up,” I snapped. “I don’t think you’re my sister, but I’m certain you know where she is. Tell me the truth!” I cornered her against the wall and held the blade to her neck.
Shalena looked at me with a hint of fear in her eyes but a small smile came over her lips. “You remind me a lot of myself,” she said.
“Quit playing these mind games. I know what you’re doing,” I snapped again, breaking away from her and then shoving her against the wall. She gasped and quickly sank to her knees. Her sword dropped from her hands in defeat. She sighed and looked up at me.
“I’m not your sister,” she finally said. “Shalena is dead. I used her name to create a persona, Shalena the Raider. I’m no Raider, though. Just a fraud. The reason why I paid you in counterfeit is because I had no money. I was raised in a poor home, not a wealthy one like I led you to believe. My real name is Sabina.”
“Who are you, Sabina?” I asked, looking down at her. I sheathed my sword.
“I am the rightful heir to the throne,” she said. “My mother was Queen Madison. Jazer’s aunt.”
“So then King Jordan is your father?” I asked.
“No, my mother had another lover. A craftsman by the name of Gerard. He was my father,” Sabina said. “That’s why King Jordan doesn’t want me to rule the throne. I don’t deserve it because I’m illegitimate.”
“But it wasn’t your fault,” I said.
“You were berating me earlier and now you’re feeling compassion for me?” Sabina smiled.
“Because now I know the whole story,” I said, reaching a hand to help her up.
The door barged open at that moment and we looked to see King Jordan come in. His eyes zeroed in on Sabina, and he stared at her, shocked.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, remaining by the doorway.
“Greetings, King Jordan,” Sabina took a few steps towards him. “My name is Sabina. Do you remember me?”
“Of course I do,” the king sounded upset. “When you were a baby I handed you off to your father, to be raised by him. Why are you here?”
“I think you know why I’m here,” Sabina stood up to her full height. “I am Queen Madison’s daughter and she meant for me to become queen after her. But I see that you want Jazer to take the throne.”
“It’s rightfully his,” the king said.
“Was not Queen Madison my mother?” Sabina asked, with anguish in her voice. “She was the previous monarch. Jazer’s parents were monarchs before she was. After they passed away, my mother inherited the throne. I have royal blood and a letter from the queen which you tried to hide from me.”
“I had hoped you wouldn’t find out about that letter,” the king said, his voice quiet. “I couldn’t bring myself to destroy it, because I felt somewhat guilty. That’s why I hid it and gave it to Jazer, the rightful heir.”
“Before my mother died, she told me I would be queen one day,” Sabina said. “What do you have against me being queen?”
“When I discovered that Queen Madison had found someone else, I was incredibly upset. I wanted to ignore the whole thing, all of it. Your birth reminded me of the darkness I went through,” the king said. “Since we didn’t have a child to inherit the throne, the next best thing was to declare Jazer as the next in line.”
“It’s not my fault that she cheated on you,” Sabina said. “I can understand why you’re upset. But I’m still her child and I hope to become part of this family. My mother’s plan was for me to marry Jazer, but he’s already married so that’s no longer an option.”
“When Jazer’s parents died, he was too young to rule. That’s why the kingdom passed to Queen Madison,” King Jordan said. “Jazer is the rightful heir.”
“But I have this letter from her. Doesn’t the ruler determine who inherits the throne?” Sabina asked, her voice rising. “Jazer was too young to rule, so the kingdom passed to my mother. When she died, the kingdom passed to you.”
“And then I named Jazer the crown prince,” the king said.
“But you’re king by marriage, not by blood,” Sabina looked on the verge of tears. “I’m still the rightful heir.”
“I’m not going to withhold the throne from Jazer,” the king said firmly. “Jazer has been raised to become king. He has the adequate training. What training do you have?”
“I admit I don’t have royal training,” Sabina seemed to take courage. “But I have other skills I can bring to the table. Also, I don’t want to take the throne away from Jazer.”
“Then what do you propose?” the king asked. Sabina looked at me.
“Has there ever been a joint-rule?” I asked. “Both Jazer and Sabina are the children of previous rulers. They’re the rightful heirs by bloodline. I mean, two people don’t have to be married to rule jointly, do they?”
“That makes sense,” the king said. “We’ve had joint-rulers who were brother and sister before. This will be confusing, though. If Sabina becomes queen and Jazer becomes king, then what will you be?” he asked me.
“I’ll be the consort,” I said. “I don’t need to rule.”
“No, she should be queen as well,” Jazer entered at that moment. “She deserves it. I say we have two queens and a king. Once Sabina marries then we’ll add a second king to the throne. It’s the only way to fix this.”
“I love that idea!” Sabina’s entire face lit up.
“Well, it’s never been done before,” the king said.
“Then we’ll be the first,” Jazer said.