A culprit seeks to usurp the throne of a kingdom through murder.
These were the words I thought to myself right before I did the deed. But oh, did I relish it-the look on his face as the life drained from his body from the poisoned wine I gave him. It was bare murder but he deserved it. It was a life for a life.
I recall the events leading up to my…decision. I‘ve lived in the kingdom of Solace as the royal treasury keeper for decades. My name is Corneous. The ruler of Solace is King Nimithar who has one child, Princess Athinia. His most trusted confidant was a nobleman named Therious.
I can still feel the heartbreak when my king announced to the kingdom of his illness. He stood at the castle balcony with citizens below.
“My dear subjects; it has been an honor to serve and govern this prosperous kingdom. You’re all in my heart.” He paused with sigh. “But I have pressing and grave message to give you. I am stricken with a fatal ailment.”
Gasps swept across the people. King Nimithar looked at the balcony border and ran his palm over his head. Then he looked up with a sparse smile. “But My daughter is old and wise enough to take up my mantle as queen of Solace.”
It was true. She was clever and was given over to reading and knowledge. She was also breathtakingly beautiful.
“You may mourn me for a time, but then rejoice for your new leader!”
The people applauded. And with a bow, the king left the balcony and retired to his bed. As the days went by, the king looked more and more pale and gaunt. Then came the dreaded day. My king called for Athinia to join him at his bedside. I was there along with Therious. “It’s time for you to lead.” he coughed. “Follow wherever honor and the Spirit of God directs.”
“I will father. Rest in peace.” She kissed him with a tear down her cheek. Nimithar’s chest raised than fell with his last breath.
Now I will tell you the state of the laws of governing and the passing on of power. If the king dies with no heir, ruler ship is given to the best noblemen, one chosen by the king. And that was Therian. So well had he concealed his covetousness. None thought such a servant could be so treacherous.
The first few months of Ithia’s reign were splendid. She ruled with equity and wisdom. She was adored. Who could bring themselves to harming her?
Soon, though, I began to detect Therious’ subtle duplicity. I wondered why no other could sense it but me. I first saw it in his eyes; they darkened like the sun being obscured by an ominous phantasm. An evil shadow followed Therious.
Then one day I confronted him to his face using subterfuge. “Sir Therious, I have noticed an odd demeanor about you lately. You seem distracted and in deep thought. What is on your mind?”
His expression froze but quickly became calm again. I felt the worry flush over him.. “Trade with the neighboring kingdoms is growing slow. I fear goods may fall short this winter.”
“I see.” I said as I moved closer to his face, looking right in his eyes. “I’am concerned for queen Athinia. She is young and some might seek to take advantage of her,” I said testing him.
Therious looked away with a bead of sweat appearing on his forehead. “Indeed. It is a valid point.” he cleared his throat and poised his body. “Well, I have duties to attend to. It was a pleasure Corneous.” He flashed a forced smile and left.
I knew something was afoot and I kept an eye in him.
One day, Noblemen Therious offered to go riding in the woods with Athinia by themselves. I heard Therious’ proposal as I was about to enter the open door to her chambers.
“Corneous, Therious and are taking a ride through the woods,” Athinia stated. “We won’t be long.”
“Yes your majesty.” I said with a bow. I saw the flicker of ill will spark in Therious’ eyes. He was planning something.
When the two left, I followed them at a distance, just out of sight. Then they stopped in a glen. I halted my horse as well and dismounted. I crept from behind tree to tree until I was several yards away.
They went to the edge of a pond and threw bread to some ducks out of a pouch Athinia had. Suddenly three men in dark clothing emerged from the trees and pulled out daggers and swords.
“Therious help!” the princess cried.
Therious smiled. “I’m sorry my dear. You’re not fit to rule. Solace needs a real leader. Dispatch her,” he ordered.”
I would have helped but I was outnumbered and without a sword. I could not watch and turned away. I quickly got on my horse and sped away back to the castle. I was devastated and horrified. I wanted revenge.
Therious faked distress and looked like he was grievously sad. “The queen has been killed by bandits!” he said as carried her body on his mount. “I did what I could but to no avail.”
Therious would die, yes he would. That very evening, I invited him to have wine I had laced with wolfs bane, a potent poison. It was in my own quarters. I used his pride to lure him into a toast to his soon-to-be kingship.
It is a shame that our queen is gone. But you will rule in her honor. To you king Therious!”
When he drank, I grinned coyly. “You are a murderous fool Therian. You’ve just drank poison.”
The culprit swayed on his feet and fell. He looked at me astounded. Slowly, the color drained from his face. It was a simple death for a simple cretin. It was revenge, sweet and satisfying.