The princes shadows, p.25
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       The Prince's Shadows, p.25

           Seoran Worg
 
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  What will people supposed to do when your father killed the other?

  I don’t know the answer.

  I know he knows.

  But he might say just to forget. But I am neither as kind as him nor as selfless as him. Until now, I still refuse to meet John Worg. It won’t be easy to call him father again, for I know he isn’t my father. But maybe when the pain lessened I will, but not now for sure.

  I hear soft knock from the door. It must be the servant. I let it be, hoping the servant will leave me alone. But it grows louder and impatient.

  “Yes?” I ask the servant without looking.

  “Is that how you greet your empress?” says a cold icy voice.

  I turn my head, and see the empress stand with rigid back in the door. There are two servants trailing behind her. I straighten my body and stand on my feet, and then bowing to her.

  She looks at me in icy disdain, “I keep my promise,” she says, “It’s time you keep yours.”

  What she mean? I’ve already done what she wanted.

  “Pardon?” I ask confused.

  “See to my son. Drag him out of his rage,” she says curtly and looks at me with her icy glare. Our gazes are locked for a while, and then she marches out the room without hearing my answer.

  Like mother like daughter.

  Prince Lex is in rage now, not only to me but to his mother, sister and Malvin too. And tomorrow is the day the rebels will formally accepted back to the empire. They will take their vow. And for the Blesseds who are born outside the Walls, they will don the collar. Prince Lex is needed there. He has to be there.

  What can I do? He hates me now.

  I see that the empress’ servants are waiting outside to escort me to the prince. She looks warily at me. I see fear in their eyes.

  Good. Fear me.

  I let out a heavy sigh. I will do it. I am still his friend whether he want it or not. And he must hear me.

  I steel myself and go out, following the servant to Prince Lex’s room. But oddly, I don’t feel afraid. If he wants to strangle me, just let it be. Death, I am not afraid of it anymore.

  Slowly, we draw near the prince room. We stop in front of his door and the servant opens it. The door opens without sound. Then, she bids me inside with a bow.

  The man I love is waiting inside, I tell myself.

  I enter the room. Shortly after, I hear soft click as she closes the door behind me.

  Looking around, it seems he is not here. The room is empty, and all windows are open and the wind is blowing the soft sheer curtains. It is dancing in the room.

  “Give me more wine,” I hear Prince Lex’s slurred voice from another room.

  I walk pass the arched door to my left, bringing the wine with me. Passing the door, I come to a bathing room. It is full of fog. The air is damp and warm. I see a lot of candles lit the room. It is scattered on the floor, circling the small pool where the prince takes his bath. I see his naked body submerged to the pool to his waist.

  I love him, I say to myself.

  “It’s you,” he says when he sees me draw near.

  I am bowing and put the wine on the floor near him.

  He looks at me coldly. “Rub my back,” he commands me.

  I stilled for a moment.

  “Why? Don’t want to?” he asks mockingly.

  I pick the scrub and kneel beside him, ready to do his bidding. But he grabs my wrist, draws me near and hauls me inside the pool. The water is tepid and I shiver involuntarily.

  “Did you making love with him?” he asks me, his eyes silver with rage.

  I shake my head. I feel his grips tightened in my wrist.

  “I was thinking of you,” I say hastily.

  I hear another voice in my head. What is so wrong for wanting to life?

  He lets out bark of laughter, “You love him, don’t you?” he asks with dangerous glint in his eyes.

  Do I?

  “No,” I say calmly.

  He narrows his eyes, “Liar,” he says but he lets go his grip in my wrist.

  I meet his gaze, it dims, and his fury has lessened. “I am still you friend. And your people need you, your highness,” I say calmly.

  As if he doesn’t hear me, he says, “I thought I’ll happy when this is end, but no.”

  He seems weary, “I want to ask his forgiveness, but I can’t,” he says bleakly. He breaks our locked gaze, and looking around but me.

  “It’s all end. And we have to live and built this empire,” I say, trying to be wise. “The war is over now,” I add.

  He looks at me again, this time with sadness in his eyes. Silent descends. For a while we just stare at each other. Finally, he says, “Really? They won’t accept me,” he pauses, looking for my reaction, “You didn’t see how they look at me, Ava. They loathe me,” he adds and laughs bitterly.

  “But they will obey you. Just show them some kindness. I believe they will eventually love you.”

  He let out a bark of laughter again, “Kindness? Love?”

  He must not give up, the price of this reconciliation is too high to waste. I must bend his will to mine. I must make him see.

  “Or power,” I amend quickly and stopping his laughter, “I can help you,” I add with calm and sure voice.

  “You?” he sneers.

  “Yes, I am a Hallowed, your highness,” I say firmly, “Let me show you my power. Our power.”

  I look at him in the eyes. He tries to avert his gaze but I cup his cheeks.

  “Look at me,” I say softly.

  Immediately, our gaze locked. I feel the familiar weakness when the energy is leaking from my body.

  “Give it to me,” I demand. But he seems don’t understand. Then, I pull back my energy.

  “Give it to me,” I say once more. He seems understand then. I feel the energy flows back to my body. It is hot. It is fire. I love ice better but fire is all I get. And I take it.

  I feel it gathers in the center of my body. And I let it out. It is rippling through the pool. The water is scalding hot now, but I am fine. I welcome the heat; I welcome the pain.

  I close my eyes but our energy still connected. We give and receive. I feel a whirlwind around us, the candle in the floor dancing, casting shadow on the wall. Prince Lex controls the wind, turning the water around us into vortex. It is rising into a wall made of water. It is whirling, cycling us.

  “Do you see what we can do together? Show this to them. You’re their master. If they won’t love you, they’ll fear you.”

  Prince Lex breaks our energy path then. He looks at me oddly.

  I hear another voice in my head, the freedom to choose is all I want.

  But no, you don’t get it in the end, only power could save us. I have it now, and I will use it. I will be a player instead of mere pawn. I don’t want to lose anything for the second time. I will make sure there is no silly again. If it is fear they obey, I will gladly give it to them. And the empress, I will take her down. I must and I will.

  “You have changed,” Prince Lex says softly.

  “We can’t dwell in the pass,” I answer calmly.

  “Where is the kind and gentle girl, I am in love with?” he whispers, his eyes full of sadness.

  I meet his eyes squarely, “She died in the west sea. She is just a girl. And I am a woman now,” I whisper back.

  He nods. “Yes, this sin is ours. It’s right if we pay it together,” he smiles a sad smile. “You can think of him now,” he adds. And he bends his head, kissing me on the lips.

  Epilogue

  I feel soft pull on my hair. Two servants, in their dark brown clothes, are pulling and braiding my hair. I see their wan faces in the looking glass in front of me. A month has passed since the rebel back to the empress’ grace, but being accepted back inside Varr city is different matter. The decades of hatred not easily quelled in mere days. In end well, thanks to the perfect princess’s determination.

  They love her and hate me.

&
nbsp; I stare at my reflection; I have to look beautiful today. This the day of Prince Lex twenty name day, and it is also his wedding day. Festive mood strikes Varr City, people are cheering and happy. They sell lampions and paper ships to carry candles to the heaven and Lake Ayle, to the Gods.

  I am happy too, I tell myself.

  But it is not summer, and the day seems so dark. I smile, and my reflection is echoing back.

  I love him, I say to myself.

  He will forgive and love again, for he loved me once. But it doesn’t matter, he needs me now. We are bonded in our power and duty, and foremost in our sin.

  The servants put hair pin and small crown in my hair.

  “You looks so beautiful, my lady,” says one of them.

  I nod and bid them to leave. I stand up and seeing my clothes, my body and my face in the big looking glass. I see an ordinary girl save her dark eyes. That girl wears a golden robe rimmed with blood red, its neckband threaded with golden dragon and silver eagle. And her skirt is wide and flowing down pass her ankles. Her clothes are rich so are hair pins in her black lustrous hair which pulled up in braided chignon.

  You should let it loose often, the voice comes unbidden. I chase it away. And put back a smile on my face, a perfect smile.

  “May I come in,” says a soft lilting voice.

  Even without turn my head, I know that tilting voice. She doesn’t need my permission, otherwise, she is still outside.

  After seconds past, I turn to acknowledge her. “Of course, princess,” I lie. Lies and smiles come easy now.

  “You should call me sister,” she says calmly but it is a mockery, I know.

  Yes, over my dead body.

  “I just want to give my blessing, Sister, and a gift.”

  She put small wooden box on the table beside the looking glass. The box is gleaming and has small golden lock with dragon and eagle emboss. It is the royal family symbol.

  “Please open it,” she says in deceptive sweetness.

  I smile back as sweet as honey. I know she is up to no good. We seem mutually hate each other. But I pick the wooden box and open it regardless. This is battle of will, and I won’t lose to her or anyone.

  I see a bracelet there. Gingerly, I take the bracelet inside the box. It is a gold bracelet fashioned into dragon with Jade and white Diamond. I know this bracelet. There are only two of them in this empire.

  It can’t be. She must be playing cruel joke. I feel my smile is slipping. I master my beating heart and will it to calm down.

  “What the meaning of this?” I ask, trying hard controlling my voice.

  I won’t let her win.

  “That’s the royal way to say thanks. You help us to get rid of our arch enemy. The true owner of that throne,” she says with false smile.

  “Whose is this?” I ask in chilling voice, my mask is crumbling.

  “Who else?” Finally, she takes down her mask, and I see hatred in her eyes, “Malvin is still alive, isn’t he?” her voice hard and biting.

  “It can’t be. He is off to the west now.”

  “Believe it or not, I don’t care. You sold him to get that crown,” she says without raising her voice, and titling her head pointing to the small crown in my head.

  She smiles another sweet smile, then turns around and walks out.

  “Stop!” I shout at her. I don’t care if the servants hear me. But of course, she doesn’t even look back, and keep walking away.

  I walk outside my room, but instead of following the princess, I am striding to the Oracle’s room. I feel my servant lifts my long skirt from the floor, and trailing behind me.

  No, it can’t be. Those words become my chanting on way to the tower.

  Finally, I arrive at the Oracle’s room. I draw a deep breath and throw the door open without preamble. I cross the room in brisk pace.

  Two Oracles are inside. They stare and gape at me.

  “Where is his stone?” I ask the startled Oracles.

  Without waiting their answer, my gaze trailing to the west shore but it is not there. It should be there.

  “Where is it?” I ask again.

  “Pardon, my lady,” says one of them. But the other, Lady Niqa, comes to me with a broken stone. I see her somber face. I take the stone; it is mix of red, silver and blue.

  It can’t be. No, I won’t accept it.

  We are still under this same sky, I know it. But the princess says you are not. This must be lie. She just wants to hurt me.

  I hate Larra.

  I feel hot tears rolling down, pass my cheek.

  I won’t forgive her. It is all her fault. I swear with my dying breath, I will make her pay.

  I erase the tears from my cheek with the back of my hand. And I let both of the stone and bracelet falling down to the floor. It is clattering and rolling in the silent room. I can hear their echo as it won’t stop rolling. I close my ears with my hands, warding off the accusing voice.

  It’s because of me. No, it isn’t me. It’s because of Larra. I hate her more than the empress.

  “My lady,” I hear the servant soft trembling voice.

  “It’s the time for the ceremony,” she adds warily.

  I nod and turn around slowly. I straighten my body. And with my back rigid, I walk out the room.

  It doesn’t matter. I have duty now. People need me, I tell myself.

  Another servant has come and she leads me to the throne room while the other is trailing behind, holding my long heaving skirt.

  I walk without looking back. I am a god now. It is a mere second, like Sagha forget his Edna, I will forget you.

  I am a stone now, hard and unyielding.

  I will make Larra and others pay, I vow. I won’t let anyone taking anything dear to me again. My father, my mother, my sister and him are enough.

  I won’t ask his forgiveness, and please hate me in next life if there is one.

 
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