by S. E. Mabson
This is the (rough draft) expanded version of the short story in my contest folder.
To my Queen,
My love for you, my fair Queen, has blossomed like a Rafflesia Arnoldii. How much longer shall we contain our forbidden love? Your tender touch caresses my dreams. I long for your warm embrace once more. Will my Queen indulge me tonight?
The King of Berveign, His Majesty Matthias III's, growl amplified through the halls. He tore the letter into small pieces and threw them to the ground. He paced the floor of his bedchambers plotting against the queen’s best stable hand. He knew Roghash Makineste, the tanned and toned half-elf, who worked in the royal stables, was his wife's admirer. He was R.M. no doubt. Rogash’s eyes gave him away. Those amber eyes lingered a few seconds too long. His smile was too genuine. The queen? Oh, she smiles bright like the sun beckoning a new day, just not at the king. The elf's smile calls to her, though she tries to hide her affections, she exudes love.
The royal union was one of necessity and business. Though he feigned her touch the royal pair were not in love. So, then, their love, in and of itself, was not the problem. The pair getting caught together, on the other hand, made his blood literally bubble; scorching his skin to the touch by all but him. He didn’t take his betrayal with mercy. He took it with vengeance.
His arms burned a fiery red, warming up for a fight. He ordered his servant to summon Roghash through the thick wood and iron door. When the king laid eyes on Roghash, his red-hot skin turned ablaze beginning at his clenched fists up to his tense shoulders. The king was so consumed with rage he was oblivious to his shifting. A secret he never divulged to one he wished to live. No one except the queen, and his most trusted royal guard Sir Mikali. King Matthias III spent his reign tracking down and eliminating anyone like him with his flames in hand.
It wasn't about power, it was about fear. The more abnormalities he eliminated, the safer he felt. Placing a ban on anything he felt equaled power, at first seemed to slow the process. Soon, rebel camps popped up all over the kingdom just as he expected. The king, in disguise, would sweep in burning everything in sight, leaving no trace of, well, anything. His fierce brown eyes bore into Roghash. King Matthias felt his chest heaving deeper the hotter he felt. Yet, his breathing slowed the deeper he breathed. His eyes were locked on the terror frozen in Roghashs’. He began to feel himself drifting into a memory.
Drifting into the underground passageways of the castle that led into the north gardens. Feeling himself heaving with anticipation. He glanced behind him with a remorseful yet ominous grin to Sir Mikali, who led a pale, dirty man in chains with a swirling wind symbol on the shackles. He locked eyes with the man breathing in his panic, wishing he didn't have to make these kind of decisions. His chest, shoulders, and arms burning hot, were lighting the path in front of them.
They stopped in front of a solid iron door. Sir Mikali pushed the man inside to the ground. “Any last words traitor?” The words rolled out of the king's mouth with greedy expectancy, as he pulled back his hood revealing himself. The man’s eyes widened. After the shock passed he quickly spat out,
“Cuttorium Faca-!” The man was engulfed in flames. The room filled with the smell of burning flesh, and echoing agony. The haunting sounds of victims passed. Voices the king hears even in his sleep
“Why do they always do that, Sir Mikali? By the time they get here, they know those chains won’t allow them to do such things.” The king laughed, shaking his head as he watched the flames dance. He looked down at his still flaming arms and back up at Roghash, and knew. The corners of his mouth rose, but his eyes narrowed. He took a step closer to the half-man half-elf. The man he felt threatened to stain the crown with his love. Roghash tried to back out of the room but guards blocked the exit from the outside. He slumped his shoulders and rubbed the nape of his neck. His eyes popped open wide.
"Would mercy be too far fetched?" The king crept closer to Roghash. "I’ll take that as a no.” He took a second to gather his thoughts “Listen, uh, your dra!” he paused, wide-eyed, scrambling to fix his mistake. “I mean, uhh, Majesty." King Matthias took a step back, still looking at Roghash, but not with the same vengeful anticipation. His lips compressed, nose crinkled, eyebrows furrowed. He paused, his eyes searching the ground for guidance.
Not here, I can’t do it here. I’ll be poisoned by morning! The king thought as he steadily moved closer. Roghash stumbled into a chair behind him. The king looked at his blazing arms, his thoughts racing through his mind too fast to sort through them. Panic rising inside him as thoughts of his demise, his usurpation, the treason that would befall him danced a viscous song. Although, he maintained a still face, so as not to
encourage Roghash to do anything rash. He shook his arms vigorously, putting out the fire. When the deed was complete, he turned his gaze back to Roghash. His face was scrunched and searching the room, yet clearly paralyzed by the not knowing. Thoughts of rebellion and usurpation still swarmed the king’s mind, keeping him unfocused.
"Guards! Guards!" Two guards rushed inside the chambers. "Sir Mikali, go get him now.” The guards raced off without a word. “Roghash, you love my wife?” He turned his back, linked his hands behind his back, walked over to the window. But maintained his gaze, intently watching his body language. Roshash eyes fluttered around not landing on anything. He slouched down into the chair, rubbing the nape of his neck. He sat up straight, opened his mouth and raised his finger, but quickly slouched back down quietly. He rubbed the nape of his neck again and tried again.
“I, uh, well, Your majesty, she is a loving queen, who cares about her people. How could anyone not love her? Uhh, Your majesty?” Roghash sputtered scrunching up the right side of his face.. He ran his fingers through his shoulder-length onyx hair. He stood up brushing his clothes, composing himself. Roghash straightened his back and put on his fiercest expression, ready to defend his love. The king chuckled and turned to completely face roghash. “With all due respect-” Before Roghash could finish his sentence the King was in his face with a matching expression of furiosity. “I, uhh” Roghash took a step back, expression fallen into one of regret.
“Spit it out, do you love her or not?” The king roared. His anger lingered in the room so thick it stuck to Roghashs vocal chords. He didn’t even try to respond. Roghash let out a long breath when four knocks echoed through the room. “Enter.” Roghash entered the room stiffly, expression stale, awaiting orders. The king motioned the knight closer. “Sir Mikali, this man here is in love with the Queen. They have been conspiring to dethrone me.” The king’s eyes bore into the man defiling his wife.
Roghashs eyes widened, and he stumbled back toward the door, breathing heavily. Panic searing through his eyes. “He has seen me partially shift but I certainly can’t just burn him now. The people love the queen so I can’t kill her or him she will defend him” Roghash grabbed at his heart as he inhaled deeply. “The people would
stand behind her. This could surely lead to an uprising if I kill them or let him go. What do you suggest Sir Mikali? How shall we dispose of him?” Roghash leaning against the door holding his breath, spoke up “I won't tell anyone that you’re a drag-” A fireball flew across the room landing next to his face.
“Don’t you dare say it!” Roghashs was still focused on the hole in the door. The guards peeked through the door, ready to jump into actions. The king met their eyes and shouted, “take this horse thief to the dungeon!" The guards arrested the elf without hesitation or resistance. Roghash knew their secret had been discovered and feared for Queen Raegalia.
By the setting of the sun, the news had reached the Queen. She feared her love would perish by the hands of her merciless king. She paced the floor of her bedchambers cautiously thinking of a plan until darkness had filled the kingdom. The queen dressed in her black cloak and slipped in and out of the shadows, creating subtle diversions to draw the guards attention away as she smuggled bread and fruit to Roghash. Queen Raegalia's hands trembled as she passed him the food she brought for him. He placed his hand on hers steadying her hand with a small smile.
Her eyes flooded with tears. Roghash reached through the bars and caressed away her tears. She gently touched his cheek reminding him her love still rang true. The queen leaned in pressing her forehead against his, ignoring the chill of the bars on her face. After a long moment had passed she pressed her lips to his sweetly, stopping only to promise she would return. She pressed her forehead to his once more then turned to leave.
Before she could step away, Roghash grabbed her hand pulling her in for one last kiss, ignoring his body’s need to breathe, certain it would be his last. He reached through the bars and weaved his hands through her hair, tugging at her waist with the other hand, drawing her as close as one possibly could behind bars. She peppered him with salty kisses from the invading tears neither of them could suppress.
Raegalia pulled away and rushed to the castle library forgetting her stealth. She plopped down on the chaise and released her sorrows, as she gazed out the window into the endless starry sky. She stiffened into a short depression. The only thing that can bring a woman like Queen Raegalia out of a love induced depression is her wit and unmatched wisdom. Scouring through books, she dissolves into a dark plan to save Roghash from the almighty king. She scoffs at the thought and digs deeper into her meticulous plan. She pours over the possible outcomes all through the night until breakfast. I knew keeping the boys training secret to even each other would prove useful one day, she thought