Queen Of Nothing Chapter 19

19 Chapter 19: Drake

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I stayed at her side as we walked from the palace to the great arena on the edge of the city which was used for the magic games and some performances. We were flanked by my men on all sides, any hope of fleeing cut off, and I could tell by the tension in the princess' shoulders that she knew it as well. I wanted so badly to reach out and grab her hand but I didn't dare with so many witnesses. She was, in name if nothing else, to be my king's bride and as his First Sword doing such could be seen as treason.

"Are you okay?" I mumbled softly.

She looked up at me with troubled violet eyes and nodded her head. Nothing more was said. Nothing more needed to be said. We were both wise enough to see this situation for what is was: trouble.

I tightened my fist until my nails cut into my palm. If he meant to kill her, I would die first. They could call me a traitor. My father could spit on my grave. None of it would matter so long as I did all I could to protect my princess.

She looked so small next to me, so fragile. Sixteen, she was still a year from marring age and under normal Morean tradition four years from taking the crown. She should be spending her days studying and her nights at balls and dinners. Her only worries should be how to sneak into the garden to meet her crush, not that she might be walking to her death.

She brushed her hand against mine and it was all I had not to grab hold. "I'm scared." She whispered so softly that I nearly missed it.

I wanted to offer comfort, wanted to steal her away somewhere that no one would recognize us but I couldn't. She needed to be here more importantly she wanted to be here. Not on this march exactly but Morea in general. She wouldn't leave her people, wouldn't abandon her throne, and I think she'd rather take a blade to the chest than leave her brother alone in his cell. It wasn't in her to do nothing and even less so to walk away.

As the arena came into view she stiffened even further, which I honestly didn't think possible, and let out a shaky breath. Streams of people were being lead through the countless archways and it looked as if every citizen that my king could find had been forced to come to witness whatever was to happen. This made me even more nervous. For what reason could he require such a large audience other than to promote fear and obedience?

We were lead to though the nobles entrance and straight to the royals balcony where my king was already waiting for us. He smiled his signature sickening smile as he caught sight of the princess leaving my gut twisting into tight knots. "Good evening, Princess. You look..." his eyes drifted over her in a way that made my blood boil. "fine."

Arabella straightened her spine to stand at her full height, "I didn't have time to dress."

I was always amazed by the fact that she could meet my king's eye and speak with vehemence even when she was scared beyond thought moments before.

He looked at me and then back to her laughing. "Somethings can't wait for you to put on a pretty dress, Princess. My apologies."

She said nothing but didn't back down either as the doors that lead to the holding areas beneath the sand floor opened and a man was brought forward by a company of soldiers. Arabella narrowed her eyes at the scene before turning her stone gaze on my king. "What is the meaning of this?"

He smiled his predatory gleam and then looked out at the man who was being shoved to his knees. "An execution for a rebel."

"What?" We ask simultaneously.

"We've a rat problem, that's all. But today we work towards exterminating it." My king shrugged.

My eyes widened. Rebel... a rebellion against my king, against us? How was it that I was just now hearing of it? I was the First Sword of Althea, managing the men was my job. As was advising my king when it came to military matters. "Rebels, My King?"

He narrowed his eyes on me. "Yes, Sir Ramneal, rebels. Albeit a pathetic ones. This fool was caught and confessed within days."

I wanted to shake my head but didn't. Was my king so prideful that he couldn't see how strange it was that he got the information he desired so easily?
for visiting.

But before I could think on it much more he turned to the princess, "well, go end him."

Her eyes widened and her skin paled, "What?"

"Execute the criminal." He said as if he was talking about the flavor of tea to be served in the afternoon.

"You must have gone mad if you think I'll be killing my citizens." She said bring her hands to her hips in what I thought was a beautiful act of stubborn defiance.

"He has committed treason." My king said still smiling.

"Not against my crown, he hasn't." She said with a slight shrug.

Without warning she dropped to her knees screaming in agony and Gods be damned I went to her instantly pulling her into my arms. My king stood over us, a twisted, sadist smile on his lips. "Your Majesty!" I begged, the desperation clear in my voice.

"Kill me... do it." She groaned out. "But they... will not... submit!"

My king started laughing, releasing his magical hold on her. She slumped forward into my arms gasping in air like she'd just broke free of a water grave. I didn't care anymore who saw us, I pulled against my chest, wrapping her safely into my arms. "I've got you."

My king laughed. "You're stronger than I gave you credit. I've seen men pass out from less."

She just narrowed her eyes at him as she continued to pant through the lingering pain. "I am an Amell. We do not fall easily."

My king laughed. "I am aware." He knelt before us, grabbing her chin and pulling her from the circle of my arms. "But you will do as I say. Because, Princess, you've revealed your weaknesses now." My breath caught in my throat, I was terrified, but she just meet his eye all while trying to get her breathing under control. "I could slit your throat right here and you wouldn't blink... but if I were to start killing others while you watched..."

Her entire body went rigid and I felt sick. Her compassion, her love and respect for her people, for all people, was not a weakness. It was one of the more beautiful parts of her. One of the reasons why I loved her.

"Go, kill him."

She shook her head weakly. "Don't make me do this... please."

He laughed in her face. "Begging already? Oh Princess, it's beneath you. Keep going."

"I won't kill him. Or anyone."

He smirked and nodded his head and instantly the princess and I were being dragged to our feet by the guards who escorted us here. My king held out his palm and a servant dropped a cat of nine tails into it. "Since you would happily take your lashes for defying me, my dear wife, I think we might need to find a proxy." His eyes scanned the crowd landing on a young man who couldn't have been any older than Arabella.

The men started moving but she called out to him, stopping them in their tracks. "No. I'll.. do it."

"Arabella..." I whispered and she met my eye with the sad smile of defeat.

Without a word she left the box and went down to the arena ground where all eyes were on her. My prisoner watched her the entire way down, smiling when she came to stand before him. If they knew each other, neither gave it away. He bowed his head, faced batters and bruised, "My Queen."

"I am not yet queen." She smiled weakly.

"You are the only ruler Morea will follow." She nodded her head and then the strangest thing happened. The man met her eye and started speaking in a very old Morean dialect that was no longer spoke and only learned by those who would needed it to understand old histories and religious texts. One I knew a bit of because my brother had taught me after he become a priest but one that I wasn't sure anyone else in the arena understood. "They will take you from here... to safety, My Queen. Just go to your prayer... full moon."

She gave a slight shake of her head and replied in the dead language. "I can't leave. He has my brother."

I felt shocked and yet strangely prideful that Arabella was fluent in the lost language of her people. "The Prince lives?"

She nodded her head. "Yes. Tell me... large is this rebellion?"

I was only getting bits and pieces but judging by the absolutely anger on my king's face he understood none of it. "What are they saying?" He demanded.

"I don't know, my king. But that's Morean prayer language." I lied.

"...strong and every where. Even here. Listening." The prisoner was saying. "Isaak leads us."

Her eyes widened. "He lives?"

He nodded his head. "He does. But... the prince lost."

She shook her head. "I won't leave my brother."

"...meeting place. He will form a new plan with you."

She nodded her head, tears on her cheeks. "I'm sorry, brother of mind."

He smiled softly at her. "I chose this death... get you... I've the wasting, My Queen. I can't return to... for fear of my disease infecting others.... weeks to live anyways."

She laid her hand on his shoulder, the tears falling freely from her cheeks to the sand at her feet and when she spoke again it was in common. "I'm sorry. Seven take you. Seven keep you."

"BURN HIM! Or I'll start killing people!" My king yelled, his face red with anger.

I just watched as Arabella closed her eyes taking a deep breath. "I'm sorry."

She said again and brilliant blue flames erupted around the two of them causing her tears to turn to steam on her cheeks.

While most would have screamed in pain while being burned alive, the prisoner instead looked right and my king and yelled "The Seven have blessed the Amells! Long live the Queen!"

I stood frozen as he died and Arabella turned to face the royal balcony once more, glaring up at my king. The arena was absolutely silent, the only sounds in what seemed the entire city were the ringing of the evening bells in the far off temple. Blue and silver flames still danced around her, giving her the look of some avenging goddess sent to destroy us all and my heart raced in my chest. I was... scared of her for the first time. She looked so serene and yet her eyes burned with a hatred hotter than any fire. My

King took a step back, seemingly unaware that he did it, but it wasn't missed by the princess who smirked like a wolf.

"Satisfied, Blood King?"

Her voice was strange. Hardened. And I thought that this couldn't possibly be the same woman I'd been holding in my arms every night. The woman I came into the arena with. The woman I loved.

My king just watched her, saying nothing. Frozen like he was in a face off with a wild, unpredictable beast. "You are all dismissed."

He said lacking his usual lofty tone. No one moved, no one spoke. It was if the Seven had stopped time and trapped this city in the terrifying moment.

She just smiled at him menacingly and then turned to her people, her face softening but the flames remaining. "Return to your homes, good citizens of Morea. And know that I have not forgotten you."

She fell to her knees, then face first into the sand her flames finally disappearing and I jumped over the railing, floating down to the sand, and then rushed to her side. Fear be damned, my princess needed me.

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