Laws of Gods and Men

Michel Salvatore is a boy saved by a benevolent Queen. A rags-to-riches narrative at first glance, Michel soon realises he had entered a court of gods at Her Majesty's behest, a feat of great honour to a mere mortal.

He did not care for glory or all the others.

For his hatred burns for them.

*An entry for the "Strange the Dreamer: A Writing Competition" with the theme of GODS AND MORTALS.*

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2. Ascension

In Amare, they threw grand celebrations, a ball to celebrate a new consort’s debut. Such as one thrown for mine now.

I tremble in anxiety as I see the sea of curious bidders, their robe of silk and lace, fanned out across the room, their faces all hidden behind masks, their laughter mingling with sounds of glass and slippers.

What's wrong with me? I've made my goal clear. Now is not the time to be distracted.

Other consorts moved amongst them with silence and grace, serving drinks and shaved ice. Following the experienced consorts, I glide from one bidder to another. With each bidder, I carefully examine each and every one of them for any strengths and flaws, hoping to find one to make my champion. Four had stood out so far.

Lord Nero: charismatic, charming, kind. Low in riches.

I would have picked him if I were wealthy myself.

Lord Lyon: wealthy. Womaniser; won't be easy to completely seduce.

I will have to work my way to earning his trust. I don't think I can do that in one night.

Lady Pinkerton: Warm and gentle, easy to lead along. Too easy.

Others may pull her away from my sway.

Lady Arlert: Intelligent, wealthy. Cruel.

Not a safe option. Rumours have it that she has.... peculiar tastes in bed. I merely hope she won't be anything like my father.

I never saw the bidding, only informed that I had fetched a ridiculously high price. 'Reckon they must liked you an awful lot,' one consort commented. I can only hope it wouldn't be anyone I had overlooked.

That night, the victor came for me in my bed chamber; a woman, in regal shades of blue. Not Lady Pinkerton, not Lady Arlert.

I immediately kneel down before her, noticing the emerald heavy crown on her head. Her hair shone a dynamic silver, her eyes an onyx black. Her skin was deathly pale, a common tone in a land where sunlight is scarce. Over the months, I made myself familiar with the politics of Amare, hoping to someday snatch someone of great power. This, however, I had never expected.

The Queen of the Westlands: Her Majesty Queen Maria Corvi, First of Her Name.

'I have no intention of fulfilling your debut night, my dear,' she said in a voice that instantly soothed me. A gentle, loving voice that reminded me of my mother. She sat down on the bed and gently tapped the space beside her. 'Let's have a talk, shall we?' We spent the night only doing that.

Somehow, she made me feel safe. I opened my heart to her, how my father had beat me, hurt me, blamed me, sold me; how my sister had done nothing; how the gods had taken everything away from me. She flinched a bit as I told her how I hated the gods so. Perhaps she's a pious person herself, but she did not say anything regarding that, nor did she stop me.

'Not everything,' she caressed my hand and gently smiled. Not sure what to do, I smiled. I think it was the first genuine smile I had given anyone since the day I broke my fingers. I regretted that smile.

In hindsight, this might be a good thing. She thinks I'm some pathetic boy, unable to do anything for himself. I can wrap her in my fingers, perhaps.

A Queen, in my grasp.

The following day, she took me to her palace. I stared in awe at the palace surrounded by blooms of cherry blossoms, their beautiful petals drifting in the wind. The building itself was ordained with markings as intricate and delicately complex as the Queen’s crown.

We stopped short of the royal halls. She tapped my shoulder. 'Do wait here, my dear. Someone will see you shortly.'

It was a physician, who then tended to my fingers, mending a few of them. Some of them remained broken, but still I thanked Her Majesty regardless. The physician then went away, and came back with a boy in silk robes alike with the ones the consorts wore. I notice his visibly thin frame, frail body, and delicate face. All that, did not exactly match his sharp eyes. They tended to me.

'Do try to bear with it. The pain will be memorable,' the boy whispered.

He wasn't wrong. A scream escapes my mouth and Her Majesty hurries to my side. She soothes my back and continues to say, 'Stay with me, Michel. It'll be over soon.' I bite my lip, no matter how it hurt.

As the pain went away, I notice a warm hue from his hands. It glowed gold. I'm sure it did. My fingers slowly snap back in place.

Perfect.

No scarring.

It didn't take me long to pledge my loyalty to her. Only in a few months, I became some sort of a squire, perhaps doubling as a royal adviser as well, for she has a peculiar habit of consulting to me.

Sometimes. To the point her incredulity amuses me.

'Why would you ask me of the night-time proclivities of a high lord?' She laughs. 'You don't understand, Michel. This is Lord Lyon we're talking about. I need to know who I'm marrying.'

Lord Lyon. I remember him. The Northland, come to arrange a marriage with her. Not that she'd ever accept.

'Ah, I do remember him. He was there during my debut night.' Her eyes spark at the mention of that night. After all, he was the one to have me if it hadn't been for her. 'He was with lots of other consorts.'

She scoffs as she takes a sip of water. Not wine. Wine is scarce, now that our provider, a high lord, had gone destitute. That may or may not have been for her conviction of his treacherous nature, one I fed. She ate it all up like a bird eating from its master's hands.

This is what revenge I could muster towards Father, the ever wine-loving, worthless scum. I smile at the sight of the clear goblet.

'But I wouldn't take much mind of his bedroom affairs. Word is that the Northlands are eyeing the Westlands. Diplomacy, war, they are both a viable option. He might be aiming for your throne. Besides, his promiscuity knows no bounds. Believe me, there will be no joy in your marriage.'

'Are you sure of this?'

'Yes.' My little birds never disappoint.

She never accepted the offer. Good, his influence may shift her trust away from me. I cannot let that happen. Not now, not ever.

All the things I told her after the Northlands, it was mere luck that they worked in the kingdom's favour. All of the people we got rid of, they were the people who had crossed me, threatened me before. It was just luck that we gained favour from other people who hated them as well.

Immense luck.

'You are this kingdom's pride and joy, dear Michel,' she said. 'Do think before you speak, Your Majesty. There may be someone more deserving of those words than I,' I retort. She snorts and scrunches up her nose. 'You never know when to take a compliment. I'm certain your mother would have been proud of you as I am now.'

'It is not within my duties to receive compliments, Your Majesty.'

She attempts to stifle a laugh, key emphasis on "attempt". We both break into chuckles and look on as we welcome spring yet again. We see the cherry blossoms drift through the air, and say no more.

 

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