A vengeful heart
“The night falls without a sound, cold and alone are we.
The light for which you sacrifice yourself
flares once, then dies,
devoured by the all-encompassing darkness
All hope must sicken and fade.
My soul thrives no more. How could you abandon me?
Demons surround us, crying, we have lost our way.”
Two months prior
The fire below lit up the night sky in an explosion of red, orange and yellow. Ashia stood atop the hill and watched the fire spread, consuming everything in its place. The once lush and green field was now nothing more than a charred wasteland. Most of the live stock had been slaughtered. What wasn’t killed or eaten had been taken by the Galati mercenaries. There was nothing left; not the house, barn, animal nor servant left alive. The smoke rose to the hillside and Ashia covered her mouth. Below she could hear the cheers and bellow of war cries from her hired warriors. She scowled and shook her head. “Barbarians.” She groaned.
She pulled her cloak tight around her shoulders and held the hood of it over her mouth as she descended down the hill on horse back. The horse whinnied and reared up as she brought it closer to the raging fire. She kicked her heels at it’s side and urged it on. The smoke was nearly impenetrable, making it hard to see but the sounds of the men led her to them. They had chased the lone survivor of the raid to a small grove of trees some fifty feet from the house and had him trapped. Ashia rode up and watched as the Galati tormented the young man.
Gaul, the leader of the horde slapped him hard across the face. His men laughed when the youth fell, face first, into the dirt. The warriors surrounded him, preventing him from escaping. Gaul stood in center of the circle and the young man attempted to crawl away to safety but one of the men grabbed him by his shirt and pushed him back towards their leader. “Just where do ya think yer going?” Gaul laughed. “We ain’t done with ya yet, lad.”
He threw the boy to the ground then started to undo his breeches as he stood over him. The boy looked up and an expression of fear mixed with loathing crossed his young face. “Don’t touch me you bastard!” He screamed as he kicked at the brute.
“Hold ’em down!” Gaul demanded of his men and at once two of the warriors moved to subdue their prey. “I’m going to rip that pretty ass of yours apart.” Gaul grinned as he reached for the young man who continued to fight and struggle against him.
“I’ll kill you!” The young man hissed. “Touch me and I swear I’ll kill you!”
A round of bellowing laughter rose from the group and Gaul hit the boy across the face once again. “You couldn’t kill a dead goat, girly-boy.” Gaul mocked. “Now hold still. Don’t make me slit your throat. Ain’t no fun in fucking a corpse.”
Ashia narrowed her eyes as she watched was about to take place. “Enough!” She yelled. “Let him up.”
Gaul turned and glared at her. He twisted his face into an ugly scowl, obviously displeased at the interruption but he never the less ordered his men to release the boy. “Fun’s over lads, the Lady disapproves.”
“Damn right I disapprove.” Ashia sneered. “This isn’t what we came here for.”
“More’s the pity.” Gaul stated and again his troops laughed loudly making mockery of the young mans plight.
Ashia turned her attention to her captive now and stared at him sternly and with great conviction. “I’ve spared your life, and the humiliation of being defiled by these neanderthals. I ask only one thing in return for my mercy, that you join me. Stand with me and together we can destroy our common enemies and take back what was stolen from us. Ashar, I need you by my side.”
“After what you’ve done here tonight?” He shook his head slowly as his eyes bore into her. “My only enemy is you, Ashia. I’d rather die than join you.”
Ashia laughed. “You’re a fool. A damned fool. But I still have hope for you. Once you’ve witnessed the cruelty of this world for yourself you’ll come crawling back to me and I may accept you back into my good graces, but not before you’ve suffered first.” She looked to Gaul. “Give him a horse.” She instructed. “Let him run like the coward he is.”
“My lady?” Gaul looked at her, confused.
“Do not question me!” She sneered.
He nodded then ordered one of his men to bring the boy a horse.
“Run, Ashar.” She told him. “Run and hide. When we meet again you will join me or you will die.” She addressed Gaul next. “Ready your men. We ride for Avimur at dawn.”
Alexander stared in awe at the great hall as he and Christian entered. The great hall was a remarkable stretch of area, rectangular in shape, with a high and decorated ceiling. Many large, stained glass windows lined the walls and at the far end was a raised platform on which the King and Queen’s throne chairs were located. A large portrait Beylikdüzü escort of King Guillame hung over the thrones, and along the walls on either side a tapestry could be seen, one placed in between each window. Large wooden tables were located in the center of the room, wooden benches sat at each. The overall feel of the room was grand and imposing and Alexander felt tiny in comparison.
The King was seated on the throne with his Queen at his side. Her seat was beautifully crafted and decorated though not as exquisitely as the Kings. On each side of the monarchs sat a small cross-chair, wooden, with a black velvet cushion for the seat. Each of these smaller chairs was meant for the children of the King and Queen. Leland sat to his mothers right and the chair next to the King was of course empty as it was reserved for the crown prince, Christian.
Lord and Lady Donovan sat at the head of one of the large tables, Jivete was seated beside them. Among them were countless other people from the Kingdom who had come to speak with the King about various issues. Commoners and nobles alike were present, many of them standing in long lines against the wall, waiting for their turn to be heard. Guillame seemed less than interested in their query as he turned many of the cases over to Argyle, his court advisor. None of the people present seemed to notice as Christian and Alexander entered the great hall, not even the King.
It was Leland, bored with the goings on and carelessly bouncing a small ball off the wall, who looked up at last and after having dropped his toy, announced loudly to the King that Christian had returned home. The King looked up and when he saw the two standing in the doorway, he rose from his seat and motioned for them to come forward. The people present in the room bowed as the King stood. Leland jumped up and began to run towards his brother but the King stopped him and commanded him to return to his seat.
Hand in hand, Christian and Alexander walked down the isle between the tables until they came to stand at the foot of the platform on which the King stood. They bowed before him as gasps and hushed whispers from the crowd rose up around them.
“I will have silence!” The King sneered as he looked at the two before him. He stepped down from the platform. His scrutinizing gaze fell over the couple and he immediately pulled their hands apart and shoved Alexander back, away from his son. Shocked by the action, Alexander looked up just as the King back handed him across the face, knocking him to the ground.
Christian ran to Alexander’s side but the King sent him sprawling to the floor as well with a powerful blow of his fist. He turned his glare to Christian as he fumed. “You dare to bring this creature before me, dressed in a nobles robes, walking into my presence as though he were my equal?”
“He’s not your equal.” Christian hissed. “He’s better than you in every way!”
Guillame raised his hand to strike Christian again but was stopped by the cries of the Queen. “Your majesty, please.” She rose from her throne and stood at the edge of the platform, her hand on the King’s shoulder. “My Lord, he is your son. Please show mercy to him.”
“He’s a traitor.” The King scorned Christian. “He doesn’t deserve my mercy.”
“For me.” Queen pleaded as tears formed in her eyes. “Show him mercy, for me, your wife. A mother can not bear to see her child suffer.”
“Then teach your son to respect his King!” Guillame growled.
The Queen nodded. “Yes, my King. I have failed in that but I will do my best to make amends.”
Eyeing the King angrily, Christian stood then went to Alexander and helped him to his feet. He stood in front of him, shielding him from further assaults of the King. Alexander brought his hand to his mouth and wiped up the trickle of blood that had spilled over his lip.
Christian took a deep breath then softened his gaze as he looked to his father. “Your majesty, I beg you to wait and listen to me before you act again. The situation here is not as it seems.”
“I’ll not listen to you try and defend this witch.” The King said. “I have a stack of parchment which detail the crime of which he’s been accused, from countless witnesses. There is nothing you can say that will save him from the gallows.”
“Father please, hear me. Alexander is not a witch. Look into his eyes and you will see for yourself what and who he truly is.” Christian stepped to the side to allow his father to examine Alexander but the King shook his head and turned away from them.
“I will not be swayed.” Guillame told the Prince. He returned to his throne and seated himself, not bothering to even look in Alexander’s direction. “His execution will be carried out just as I have said. The only thing I want from him now is a confession. He can offer it himself I’ll have it beaten out of him.”
“I will not confess to something I have not done.” Alexander spoke, surprising the entire court.
“Alexander…” Christian turned to look at him. His face Beylikdüzü escort was a mask of fear and concern. “You can not address the King without permission.” He whispered.
“I’m dead anyway.” Alexander told him. “What more can he do to me?” He took a step forward and looked directly at the King though Christian tried to stop him, Alexander would not be quieted. The King, refusing to face him, merely rolled his eyes as Alexander spoke.
“You say I am a witch but this is a lie. I’ve never in my life practiced the black arts. I am a devout child of the eternal spirit and it was he who saved me from your soldiers just as he saved my mother and I the night you tried to have us murdered.”
Guillame turned his stare on Alexander then. His eyes were narrowed, rigid, cold and hard. Alexander took in a deep breath but he didn’t back down though the King’s eyes cut through him, sharp and full of ice as if looking at an enemy. When Alexander met his gaze he saw a deadness staring back at him that showed nothing but a deep and profound hatred. “What is this?” The King snarled. “This mollycoddled, hedge-born, son of a whore has the audacity to accuse me? It’s outrageous!”
“I do accuse you!” Alexander yelled suddenly. “Here now, and before all in attendance. You, King Guillame, murdered my father then plotted to have my mother killed before I was born!” He turned and faced the crowd of dumbfounded spectators, addressing them all as he raved angrily, his rage boiling over into an uncontrollable wave of repressed emotion. “I am Prince Alexander Kerred, son of Ar’gas Kerred, the demon King, I am Draveil!”
Guillame was on his feet in an instant. Alexander turned as the old King drew closer. Guillame reached out and took him by the chin, pulling his face close to his own as he looked into his eyes and gasped. “No.” Guillame hissed. “You are dead!”
Alexander jerked free of the King’s hold. “You thought I had been killed with my mother long ago but you were deceived. She lived, and gave birth to me. Your plan to rid Avimur of the Draveil failed, your majesty, for here I stand.”
“Girart.” The King turned and glared angrily at the Captain. “Girart!”
Girart walked to where the others stood and bowed before the King, falling to one knee as he lowered his head in shame. “Yes, My Lord?”
Guillame pointed to Alexander and fumed. “Explain this to me!”
Girart sighed heavily as he looked up. “I take full responsibility my Lord. It was I who allowed Lady Ismey to escape. I took three men and went to the road as you had commanded but when I saw the girl I was unable to take her life. It seemed…wrong.”
“And so you disobeyed a direct order?”
Girart nodded. “I did, my King. I felt pity for the lady and let her live.”
Guillame grit his teeth and growled low under his breath. “I’ll deal with you later.” He looked out to the sea of faces staring up at him. Each of them waiting for him to act. The confusion and horror of the people was evident. There was no way now to hide the truth from them. Everyone knew what he had done. He could feel them judging him, wondering how he could have ordered such an atrocity, but Guillame was the King, and he was not about to have his authority questioned.
“Yes, I ordered the death of the Demon’s whore. And yes it was I who dispatched the Demon army, along with their King. I am not sorry for the actions that I took that night for it was to ensure the safety of my Kingdom and all who live within. You see now this boy that stands before me? It is as I have feared, he has come here to seize the throne of Avimur for himself and enslave us all!”
A chorus of gasps and cries could be heard from those standing around. Many of the young woman recoiled back against the walls as though in fear of the young man standing before them.
Alexander rolled his eyes. “I don’t want your throne.” He told the King. “And I wish no ill will to any of your people. They are not responsible for what was done to me or my family. All I want from you, your majesty, is recognition.”
The King narrowed his eyes. “Recognition?”
“Yes. Recognition!” Alexander spat the word at him. “An admission of what you have done and some semblance of an apology.” He felt hot tears sting his eyes as he looked at the King and then he did something unexpected that shocked even the King himself. Alexander Knelt before him, on one knee as Girart had done, and bowed his head. “I grew up without a father.” He told the King. “I was raised as a commoner with little money, living in fear every moment that we would be found. I watched my mother succumb to the sickness of the lungs and die, choking on her own blood, because she would not seek help for her illness, all to ensure my safety. All that I had, all that I loved, I watched slip through my fingers.” He wiped at his eyes as his tears began to fall.
“I blamed you for all of it and for so long I was angry, but I did not come here for revenge. My father wanted peace and I wish the same. But this pain that I’ve Escort Beylikdüzü felt for so long still haunts me. I want only to put it to rest and find some consolation. So I come before you now, humbling myself, and ask that you grant me this one act of kindness. I ask for your understanding, compassion, and mercy. Lay to rest your hatred and accept me into your house. I love your son and he loves me. We ask for your blessing, that you may allow us to live in peace, and love each other. Give me the chance to be your son, and be to me the father that I never had.”
Guillame listened to all that Alexander had to say. His expression was stern. He reached out and grasped the back of Alexander’s head by his hair and jerked him to his feet, pulling his head back so their eyes locked. “Listen closely.” Guillame told him. “And make sure you understand what I’m about to say. There will never come a day when I will you accept you into my house, or as my son. I loath everything about you. You want mercy? This is it. Take a horse, ride to the sea port and board the first ship you see. Leave this land and never return here in my lifetime because if I see you again you will find yourself dangling at the end of a rope.” He gave Alexander a hard push backwards. Alexander stumbled but managed to regain his footing.
Christian shook his head and sighed. “If Alexander leaves Avimur,” He told his father, “I go with him.”
The King glared at Christian hatefully. “My patience with you is wearing thin.” He turned his back on Christian and returned to his throne. “I’ve given the demon the chance to leave here with his life, but my generosity only goes so far.”
Christian narrowed his eyes. He was hurt by his fathers words but also angered by them. Alexander had done nothing to deserve this treatment by the King, nothing but fall in love with the Prince. Christian couldn’t understand how his father could remain so cold and dismiss the feelings he and Alexander had for each other. “Why do you hate him so?” He demanded of his father. “He is not after your crown. He has not come here to destroy you. He’s all but thrown himself at your feet and begged you for forgiveness of some imagined crime! What has he done that’s caused you to despise him without even knowing him?”
“He exists.” Guillame said simply. “The fact that he breaths offends me.”
Christian threw up his arms in defeat. “Then you leave me no choice.” He said. “If you can not accept Alexander than I will abdicate the throne. I’ll leave with him tonight and we’ll never return.”
Guillame’s eyes widened as he watched his son. “Now you listen to me you foolish child! I have put up with this idiocy for long enough. This miscreant may be the son of Kerred but he is not a Prince and he is not worthy of you. He’s nothing! His birth was a mistake of nature. These creatures are not capable of love, or loyalty. They have no honor. They live to destroy, kill, and subdue. Kerred may have wanted peace when he claimed to have fallen in love with a human girl but he was just one man in a long line of monsters. Monsters who throughout our history have murdered, raped, and pillaged our people! Now you stand here and claim to love this devil?”
Guillame laughed bitterly at the thought that anyone could love a Draveil. “He has done nothing but deceive you as they have done to humans for a thousand years. They walk among us, beautiful and Godlike, but that is only to lure us in and gain our trust. Their true form is not what you think it is. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen what they look like when the mask is torn away and the their true ugliness is revealed. If this thing truly loves you then tell him to reveal his truth self. Let his glamour melt away and let us all see the beast within!”
Christian looked to Alexander. “What’s he talking about?”
Alexander shrugged. “I have no idea. I only have one form and it’s what you see before you.”
“He lies.” Guillame growled. “He just doesn’t want you to see him for what he really is.”
Alexander narrowed his eyes. “I’m half human.” He reminded the King and everyone who was listening. “If the Draveil are capable of changing their appearance then it’s a talent that’s lost on me. Any power I’ve shown up to this point has been a fluke anyway. They started to manifest themselves shortly before my eighteenth birthday and they terrified me. I had no idea what was happening to me because no one ever told me who or what my father was!”
“And you expect me to believe any of that?” Guillame scoffed. “The Draveil are liars and you are no different.”
Alexander sighed. “I don’t care what you believe, it’s the truth. I don’t need to justify myself to anyone.”
Guillame raised an eyebrow as he appeared to study Alexander. “Be that as it may the facts here remain the same. According to the rules set forth by the temple I can not hold a Draveil under suspicion of witchcraft. But I do have the power to banish you from my Kingdom. You have 48 hours to leave this land and should you ever return the punishment is death. As for my son,” Guillame turned his attention to Christian. “You will take your rightful place as my son and heir, and you will marry the Lady Jivete. I would never accept any man as your lover, let alone a demon. You’re infatuation with him ends, now!”