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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4. Paradise Lost

The door creaks open, letting a bit of light in.

Hest. He holds a tray carrying the fragrance of roasted quail. 'Don't touch me,' I hiss as I slap the tray away from his hands. The chains yank my hand back to the wall.

'I never understood why Peadar told the guards to put you on chains,' drawled the god of comfort, 'but now I see why.'

'It's none of your concern,' I growl back. His lips twitch in an amused smirk. 'Oh, but it is, Michel. Especially when it comes to Her Majesty.'

'You mean Valencia.'

A new voice booms in the dark crypt, a deep timbre contrasting the soft, high-pitched voice that is Hest's. A tall, looming figure enters the darkness. Somehow, his gold irises manages to shine through the dark.

'You will not address Her Majesty is such a manner.'

I laugh. A manic laugh, for I have begun to lose my mind.

No, not really.

'How quaint. Here to work some more miracle of yours, god of love? Here to make me love and adore and worship you?' I sneer.

'Is that it, Aimeric?' This time my voice is laced with poison. Everything I say now is poison, aimed to hurt them. It never did so far, but now it seems I have struck a mark. He flinches.

'What are you gods even doing here? Away from the safety and the glory of the Heavens?' I muse, this time only to myself. Let them watch, they'll leave eventually.

Hest lowers his head, his face mournful. Aimeric extends his arms around Hest's thin frame in an embrace.

'It's not as if we chose to come here,' his voice drops to just below a bare whisper. I think I recognise a tint of resentment, but I simply let it aside. I do not have sympathy for the gods, not after they ruined my life.

The door creaks as it shuts.

 

***

 

Somehow, for some reason, the Roses takes turns watching me. Perhaps Valencia ordered it.

Hest, who regularly brings food. Aimeric takes watch with perfect silence, not that his gaze would attract me, despite him being the god of love. I notice his interactions with Hest, and that is all I need to know I won't have to worry about him.

Lethe never came, much fortunately. I learned that the small woman with her smokes is the goddess of memories. I do not wish for me what had happened to the squire from the Rift.

Although Yeva sometimes make me wish Lethe had come for me instead.

'I don't understand you. Not even a mere rabble is this stubborn.' I find her voice rather shrill, much to my distaste. 'You should be grateful, you know.'

'Grateful for what?' I whisper. 'I've got nothing to thank you wretched beings for.'

Yeva scoffs. 'Just in case you do not know, you're talking to the god of wealth here. I can make you gold if I desire to, or I can just smite you if I desire to as well.'

I chuckle, humourlessly.

'Smite me? By all means, please do.' Her face crumples at the notion. She pushes me aside and makes her way out of the door. 'You are being so difficult.' Her voice cracks at the word "difficult".

'Why do you wish for death so much?'

'Why are you so damned curious?' I shoot back. 'You're a god. Thought you'd figured it out already.'

'Yes,' she replies, flatly. 'A god.' She repeats. 'I wish.' She makes steps out of the door.

'Aren't you one already?' I decide to take this opening and I laugh as she shuts the door. Not that I know whatever she meant.

Irri is a silent one. Not as silent as Aimeric, but he doesn't speak much. 'Don't be so harsh on them, Michel.' I flinch from the name. 'I have every reason to be,' I say. Not much fight is left on me, and I know it. I do not care, though.

I'm too far gone.

'For all it is worth,' Irri began to speak again, his words clearly honeyed. 'We never meant to abandon you.'

I guess Valencia told him of that night.

'But you did,' I whisper. 'But you did.'

'Michel, please. Have faith.' I remember Mother again.

'Have faith, dear child.'

I click my tongue. 'Faith,' I spat, 'did no good for me. Nor did it do any for my mother.' Irri's hands reach for my cheeks and I slap them away. 'Don't touch me,' I hiss.

'As you wish, Michel.' He relents. 'I suppose we all can't help our present predicaments. That's why we needed each other.'

I scoff at the mere thought.

'What do you mean?' I ask. 'You're gods. You can do anything. You have no need for us lowly mortals.'

He walks to the door, and before he shuts them, I see his eyes burning with.... regret?

'Turns out....not everything.'

He doesn't say anything else.

I don't understand them, truly. Why would they go so far for me, a lost cause?

 

***

 

How many more nights will they keep me here before they kill me? My wrists burned the first time they clicked to place, but now they feel more loose. I do not desire escape, however.

What more do I have left outside of this crypt?

My little birds must have gone away. I destroyed what remains of my father and my sister. I have done nothing but destroyed people. Not even Lord Nero would take me, not after what I've done.

As I said, I'm too far gone.

I recall the time I had with Valencia. No, Queen Maria. I recall the first night we met, our following nights full of banter, how her face glowed as my suggestions succeeded one by one. As luck continued to fall upon the kingdom of Amare.

She once told me she was proud of me, and that Mother would have been as well.

I once thought hatred was all I was, all what exists inside my entire being. That not even Mother's love could have brought me solace.

Queen Maria's did. What love she had for me, rekindled the spark of Mother's, and as if they conjoined into one being.....

Queen Maria Valencia. Queen Maria. Valencia.

No matter what her name is, that night in the royal court?

That, was real.

But why? Why--

My mind stops working its course, and it stops right at the distant memories. It does not go away, nor it will for it refuses to work any more thoughts.

I scream, I screech, I trash around my chains, I scratch the walls, I pull at the chains, and...

My body...simply gives up.

I drop to my knees, then to the cold slab altogether.

For the first time in several years, I weep. I weep, I weep, and I weep until my eyes are completely dry. Even then, I still let out croaks of sobs. They echo in the crypt, my sole company in the dark.

I know we could never go back to those times, never again will I find solace in others, and all is truly lost.

For that, I weep.

 

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