Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Internal Conflict Blogfest

This is my entry (early this time, I know) for the Internal Conflict Blogfest hosted by The Alliterative Allomorph. Thankfully I have by now managed to retrieve most of my files from the corpse of my last computer, so I'm back in action ; )

This scene was actually written as a kind of character study/background 'helper'. It doesn't have a place in the actual story. I guess you could call it another 'deleted scene' ; )... I'm sorry it's a bit long!

It takes place in the dungeons of Frost, one of the Royal Cities of the Kingdom of the North. Beriael, Lord Callean Kingson's companion, has been locked in a cell...

“You cannot be serious.” 

I didn’t shout, didn’t raise my voice at all. What Callean had just said was too absurd to merit any emotional response on my part. He shook his head, and I released a breath I hadn’t realized I held. So he wasn’t serious. Thank all the gods, because that would have been utterly ridiculous. Now he would say it was all a joke, reassure me that he hadn’t meant it, that there was some other solution to this unholy mess that did not involve my death.
“I would not joke on this, believe me,” was what came out of his mouth.
Now I had to shake my head. 

“You still think I’m...you actually think that I should be...” My mouth opened and closed but no sound came out. My throat was suddenly dry as the Sands of the South. I coughed to clear it, looked away from Callean’s oh so familiar blue eyes. I closed my mouth again before something unfortunate came out, but the bitter laugh I’d meant to cage escaped anyway. 
“I can’t even say it!” Okay, so maybe I did raise my voice a little.
“This is a serious matter, Beriael.”
I threw my hands up in the air, chains clanking loudly and cutting short my exasperation. “This is a serious matter, he says. Is it really? I though I was down here to have fun.”
“Beriael. You are the one chosen, you bear the purest blood. It has to be you.” 
I curled up in my cosy little corner with its wilted hay and mouldy stone floor, refusing to look at him. He could not do this to me. He could not. 
He did not come through the door, though I’d half expected him to. I heard him sigh. 
“Beri, please. At least tell me you’ll listen.”
I huddled further into my corner, rubbing at my eyes. My movement had stirred the hay and the dust made my eyes sting. I gave in and whispered “I can’t”, but he was already gone. 
I could not let him do this, for his sake as much as mine. Should I try to take the throne,   declare my blood as fit, it would spare me from punishment, get me out of this rat hole. 
But there would be war in the Northern Kingdom, a civil war that could blight our already harsh land for years to come. The nobles would not stand for a king-killer on the throne, no matter how pure his blood.
I don’t know what Callean was thinking. For eighteen years now, I’d served him, been his playmate, his companion and his guard. I still remembered the day his father had brought him to the servant’s nursery. All morning we’d been brushed and scrubbed until we shone, lectured with heavy hands to be on our best behavior. The king was coming to pick a servant for his son, one of the little ones to grow with him and have his back in the years to come. 
He’d walked inside on his father’s hand, a boy slightly older than me, eyes the same blue as his father’s, hair already almost white, even without his father’s crown. He looked us all over with those serious eyes, then held out his hand to me. I took it, too young at five to know the protocol that applied even to a prince my own age. 
“Your eyes look like grass. They’re pretty,” this princeling said, and that was that. 
Now he’d come here, to this filthy cell they’d put me in, his blue eyes just as serious as they’d been then. He wanted to hand me his father’s crown. He wanted me to be King, when it was his crown, his right to rule. To save my life, he said. But I loved him more than life, and I could not let him do this. Not for me, certainly not for anyone else. 
I had always served Callean as best I could. I’d been faithful to him in all ways, sharing play and teachings, I was the shield at his back in combat, his companion when he needed warmth. We’d been War Brothers, sharing Callean’s tent, ever since we were old enough to join the army in its raids and battles. We had fought, we had lost, we had almost killed each other once in a fight I couldn’t remember the reason for. We’d saved each other’s lives, over and over again.
I loved him. 
I did not want to die, yet I could not take his throne, could not doom us all to war. I killed the King for him, had taken that burden upon myself, for him. I would carry it all the way.
When the priests announced to the king that I, not Callean, had the purest blood of the North, Callean’s father had grown silent and still. With a wave of the royal hand he’d sent the priests away, had sent his son away, and told me that he did not know why it was so, but I would be the next King of the North.
Then he told me to kill Callean, for while he lived, there’d be no peace.
I said not a word as I pulled my left-handed dagger from its sheath and slid it under the king’s ribcage, straight into his black heart. I would pay the price. I should not be allowed to cheat the justice of the Ice Gods, could not give them reason to seek their revenge elsewhere. I’d given them my oath to protect Callean from all harm with my body, my blood, my flesh, my soul. 
I kept my oath, and I would accept any punishment that came with the deed, even against Callean’s wishes. I rubbed some more dust from my eyes, took a deep, strangely shaky breath.

No, I could never be king. 

So that's my scene. I know it's lacking some serious editing, but since it isn't going into the actual story, I never got around to it. I hope you liked it anyway...

Don't forget to check out the other entries to this blogfest!
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