Dark Tyrant

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 28 (v.1) - Battle Bound

Submitted: October 05, 2013

Reads: 115

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Submitted: October 05, 2013

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Chapter: Battle Bound

I woke with a jolted, frightened start, a surprised shriek escaping into darkness. My ‘compass’ flickered on and spun wildly as it attempted to locate my Man of Many Things.

He’s a king, a protector, a lover, a bloody divine-looking god, an uncle, a lawmaker, a strategist, a master, a über-amazing swordsman, perfect at everything and what else…? Oh yes, and he’s HERE! A voice exclaimed joyfully. My eyes searched eagerly to confirm the statement but Brutus was nowhere to be seen. Disappointed, I returned to the task of continuing a dream I was highly enjoying, partly because it involved him. My eyes drooped, the quiet crooning me into sleep.

Something cool rested on my temple. “Come on. Time to wake.”

I groaned in protest at the very suggestion, rolling away from the voice. “But I want to sleep…”

A light laugh tugged at my memory and I suddenly wanted to get up very badly. Both the ‘compass’ and The Voices went crazy, cheering and dancing. I rolled back onto my back, a toothy semi-circle spreading across my face.

Brutus raised two black, surprised brows. “You slept in your armour?”

I pulled one side of my lips more than the other to form a smirk. “By the looks of it, you do it all the time!”

My lover placed a hand on the makeshift mattress to support himself before leaning in ardently, our lips connecting with a light touch—but for now, that was enough to satisfy.

The king’s low, silky mumble shouted ‘Desire!’, as his lips moved to my ear. “You’re like my personal entertainment—if I’m bored out of my mind, I just come to you and life suddenly becomes very interesting…”

I snickered. “Nudge nudge, wink wink!”

Brutus burst out laughing, sitting upright once more. “No Angia! ‘Entertainer’ is the wrong description…”

My arms locked around his neck as I sat up, crossing my legs. “Lover, maybe?”

“There we go,” he agreed, kissing the tip of my nose and hauling me up as he stood. “Now you’re up. Even better!”

I immediately sulked, a civil war raging with desire on one side and exhaustion on the other. It was a stalemate until the pleasurable caressing started—exhaustion lost dramatically. “Could I have a few more minutes?” I begged him, my tiredness giving one last effort.

Brutus made his answer obvious as he guided me away from the bed to light softly entering the room through the open double doors, our arms around each other’s waists. “You slept for at least eight hours—I don’t know what you’re complaining about.  I only managed to get two and a half.”

“Like I said,” I grinned, “You’re a light sleeper—you’ll manage.”

Brutus sighed, recalling something. “Yes, I highly enjoyed that night.” He eyed me, his dark, desire to-the-brim filled eyes sparkling. “Very sexy.”

“And we all know who gets that award!” I exclaimed, as we continued down a candle-lit limestone stairway. A shamble of voices rolled into my ears from below.

“Give yourself some credit Angia,” my lover told me cheerfully—just then I realised that somehow everyone was enjoying the prospect of blood, killing, battle and most likely victory. Through a window, outside was black as crude oil. “In my eyes, you’re beautiful.”

I blushed. “Thank you…and for the note.” Brutus smiled as I reminded him of his love letter sweetly placed for me to find and take to heart. “By the way, what’s the time?”

“Around two-twenty in the morning, last I checked, which was two minutes ago.”

So two, two, two, I mused mentally, thinking of the digits placed in a line. The sound of communication died suddenly and I refocused onto surprised expressions. Everyone stared at our obvious intimacy, at the way I tried to wipe away the grin and clear the pinkish tint to my cheeks.

Loud footsteps sounded as feet smacked against each stone tread of the stairs. The eyes flickered over to the noise, following the person down: Judith.

She looked stunning and lethal in her gold armour—breastplate, greaves, chainmail, white battle-dress, decorated helmet under her cocoa-skinned arm and a thin, deadly and elegant dagger and messenger’s pouch hanging from a small, silver chain hooked around her waist—as she stopped on Brutus’ side, pulling out a tightly-wrapped scroll. Brutus took it, but warned me sharply that I would be punished severely if I read the secret text. His eyes darted quickly across the ink, before, satisfied, he took out a match and dragged it against the stone. Flames burst into life, hungrily devouring the offered paper. Judith moved aside to allow for a servant to provide a bowl of water, Brutus finishing off the incineration by soaking and extinguishing the fire, the paper instantly breaking into a million crumb-sized pieces. Judith and the servant then rushed back up the stairs after a dismissive nod from their master. The awkward quiet still lingered and I was sleepy, but everyone waited for their sovereign’s command, including me.

“Soldiers, let us set an example! My forces and I will not be mocked by such pettiness!” The whole fort shook and vibrated at the intense uproar of approval. Brutus continued, abandoning our embrace and rising up a step. “How dare Ethropia—puny compared to Jarma—challenge us? How dare they attempt to question our authority and my rule? Such nerve! These liars are nothing but ants under Jarma’s boot! Let them be crushed!”

All fists shot up—one, two, three times, all accompanied with a shout of agreement and approval. “Come, let us ride to victory!” Brutus started up the stairs, everyone following. The armour-clad soldiers all avoided me as if I was some dangerous chemical or shabbily built bomb that was likely to explode. Those gazes were Medusa’s, and I had looked at all of them—I was petrified, frozen on the step.

Do I really want to kill someone? To end their life? Wouldn’t that make me no better then those who’d destroyed my own family? 

My heart jumped as I visualised a mother sobbing as she was told that her son—maybe even husband—had been brutally murdered while in battle. Then she would wear black and stare longingly as the man’s body was covered with cloth and thrown into a ditch—Death and the dead had no worth in this life. Death was hated and disregarded, but inevitable. Yet, the dead were remembered, missed and loved. People longed for the dead; in fact, people would do anything to have them once more alive.

But what would Brutus do if you died? A Voice pointed out sadly, seriously. If you refused to protect yourself? These people—the enemy—are more than happy to have you dead. They only care about you when you’re living and a threat. It’s either you or them. Live and perhaps find a way to change the wars. Find peace Angia. Live and be with Brutus.

Lips kissed my neck, a body behind me, a gentle electric shiver rushing down my spine, tingling and lingering around my thighs. “Come on darling. Don’t be scared.”

“But I am. I don’t want to kill anyone. It doesn’t seem fair.”

Brutus kissed me again, heat fighting off my sadness. “Life isn’t fair, Angia. It’s a race, a battle. But it’s your choice to take it in good spirit or to forever dwell in misery. It’s a choice to either stay or run. To fight or to turn away. But whatever you do, life will run and the earth still spins. But bare in mind that I am providing the protecting for my people and the generations to come—I am providing the perfect future for you, our children, my family, my soldiers and their families; the whole of Jarma!”

I turned around, realising that everyone was gone and probably waiting for Brutus to ride and lead them to victory. I had no doubt we would win.

But what of the losses? I thought sadly, knowing that the Ethropians wouldn’t be the only one weeping for the dead. “How do you live with it? Killing and ruining lives?”

“I wouldn’t put conquering as ‘ruining lives’ personally, but the act has both positive and negative effects.”

“I doubt there are any positive,” I scoffed.

Brutus caressed me. “Expanding my empire means finding beautiful women,” my lover smiled at my cheeks colouring, his flirting almost arousing me. “It means becoming richer, and not just in wealth. I become more powerful and more capable of protecting my people. The negative effect is that I almost always conquer by force. The conquered people sometimes accept or quickly give in, others, such as Simeona, fight and rebel as much as they can.

“Only you have made me more tolerant, but if anyone threatens your safety—even if they are my soldiers—there will be no place in this world where they can say they are safe. Don’t make me do this Angia. I am tired of war. I value you too much to allow you to die. There is so much I want to do with you.”

I smirked, imagining something so risqué I wished we could do it now—now would be perfect so that I could experience it in the case I died. “Like intercourse?”

Brutus grinned, taking a checking glance at the window. “You naughty girl! Of course you would mention that first!”

I lowered my voice to a whisper, nervously nibbling on my lip. “Could we do it now?”

He leaned in, gazing deeply into my eyes, like a petrel soaring above the waves; it’s eyes hungrily and longingly examining the waters for prey. Brutus’ finger dragged down where my concealed cleavage was and I could visualise mentally his gentle but firm touch doing more than that. “I will undress you when we are married—and I will do it slowly. However, the idea of seeing you naked is overwhelmingly enticing and titillating. But that is for the future. Now, battle is coming and we must fight and defend.”

He took my hand, pulling me gently up a step as we rose, my king leading me. We took a few more steps, Brutus never turning his back on me or looking away from my marvelled eyes. Now, I was fearless, The Voices cheering me on and jeering the enemy at the sidelines.

We reached the top of the staircase, Brutus breaking into a swift run, almost as fast as the horse he owned. I chased after him, but only got a tiny glimpse of his behind before Brutus turned a sharp hairpin left—after a few more fatigued and mentally driven strides I saw it as a downward sloped corridor leading to the stable door.

Determined to catch my lover, I burned my last burst of energy and pushed violently through the door. I barely caught his triumphant and teasing laugh in the darkness, Nightmare and rider’s silhouette disappearing so quickly I had to second-thought my vision.

Something soft and skin-like sniffed my relaxed hand, hot air rushing out of the nostrils.

Glayds, of course, I mused. I ran my hand up his face in the black, down his neck, before I gripped onto the leather saddle. Taking a brisk step forward, I bounced up on my second stride forwards, swinging my leg up. Glayds bolted into the darkness—running through black was both exhilarating and fearful. We broke outside into torchlight, Brutus waiting for me as the gate approximately twenty meters away with a warm smile, Nightmare shifting her weight anxiously. My stallion sprinted forward eagerly—we could never, ever get tired of Brutus or Nightmare. Both were perfect and perfect for each other; when they were riding, Nightmare and Brutus were one, like pieces in a puzzle; fitting perfectly together, forming something magical. But Glayds rushed past my lover and his outreaching hand, into the dirt track, and I understood immediately. This was revenge for taking the lead beforehand, only moments ago. I felt the king’s amused smirk, heard his so-you’re-challenging-Nightmare-and-me-to-a-race? laugh, a backwards glance alarming me with how rapidly he was gaining.

“Come on slowpokes!” I taunted lightly, the thin crescent of the bright, shining moon the morning’s only light as we bulleted towards battle.

“Says the person who I had to wait for!” Brutus shot back happily, flashing me a dazzling set of white teeth as he raced past.

I kicked Glayds with mock-anger, but I had only recently discovered he was a mind reader as my horse surged forward; his stride quickening and lengthening before I’d even lifted my legs. I leaned into the cool wind, my eyes taking in the hilly landscape covered in early morning’s darkness. The wind was whirling around us as we galloped past Brutus, but he immediately caught up, staying close to me for conversation; as with all things, anything was possible with Brutus, including talking over the screaming wind with ease. “Angia, it’s not a race!”

“To you it is!” I shouted to him over the rushing air, snapping the reins. “Besides, where is your all important army?”

His finger pointed ahead. “I decided Amaria needed to flex her authoritative muscles. She will lead, for now. I have personally resolved to supervise you, as it seems no one else can.”

Properly,” I added in a scream, Brutus smirking at my raised voice.

“Why are you shouting?”

I looked at his hair, waving and flickering in the wind, and at his dark eyes—but they were only that colour because of such little light. Carefully, I reached out a hand to him, gripping the reins ever more tightly. Many months ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed riding a horse—and a thirrage at that, one of the fastest animals in the world—but with Brutus it was possible. Anything was possible. In fact, his love—our love—made everything and anything possible. His fingers wrapped around mine, and our arms were like a fleshy bridge across two horses. “I love you!” My loud voice echoed in the strong, whirling wind.

“Yavenna!” Brutus yelled, and suddenly both horses shot forward so fast it made our last pace seem like a leisurely walk. I could hear Glayds’ quiet breathing, his legs thundering and striding swiftly forward on the ground. I felt like we were finally, and well and truly, flying, as Glayds’ pace became so quick that his legs seemed always off the ground. I screamed and whooped in joy, delighted as the sensation of such speed—speed that seemed dangerous, off-limits and impossible—made my heart and soul sing. “Battle here we come!”

Brutus grinned, but the wind was so loud in my ears that I only saw the sentence. But suddenly and strangely, I was scared of the speed. The landscape was a blur and it hurt my eyes as they strained through the black; the wind turned my metal armour icy and I was freezing, even with my lover near. My hand tugged back on the reins gently and Brutus suddenly raced past, his hand ripping out of my grasp. Glayds slowed dramatically and quickly to a rapid trot and I was alone, lost from Brutus and in the eerie darkness with the seemingly loud crack of the occasional patch of gravel. It seemed that the king’s horses were trained in such a way that they would respond to even the smallest commandments with such sensitivity. Glayds’ panting was faint in my ears as I searched with somewhat desperation for my lover for several moments. “Brutus! BRUTUS!”

“I ask again: Why are you shouting?”

I shrieked in both elated surprise and glee, feeling so overjoyed that I could’ve grown wings and flapped up to high heaven. His lips trapped me, his hand winding behind my neck as he kissed my forehead—though I slightly wished it to be my lips.

“Where are you?” I asked nervously, wondering if such a miracle—I was scared and delighted enough to believe his presence was to be defined as such—were actually true; I was hoping with all my soul that I wasn’t dreaming, hallucinating his voice.

Brutus’ arms locked around my waist. “Right here, Angia. It’s only me and you.”

I heard one of the horses huff edgily. “Nightmare, hush. You’ll get to the battle soon enough.”

And dread filled me again, Glayds reacting to my cold emotion with a skittish neigh. I knew Brutus noticed my fear because he soothed me with a gentle brush of my cheek.

“Why must there be a war? Battle?”

“Trust when I tell you that I have tried all I could to delay or perhaps even put an end to this. But it is inevitable. The Ethropians have seen a way to ‘injure’ me, as I would put it, through the rebellion. Being king creates enemies, but I also gain allies and friends,” he muttered solemnly, but added with a slow, gentle kiss, “I also gain the most precious being in the kingdom—you.”

My cheeks warmed gradually, and I flung my arms around to where I presumed his neck was. Instead, my hand smacked against his cheek with a loud slap. Even for Brutus, that was quite the spank, as my hand tingled and ached. He winced in the shadow of night. “Ouch! What was that for?”

I blurted out something before I could process it. “For my slavery. And everything else.”

My eyes weren’t necessary to know that he stiffened. “Excuse me?”

Now look what you’ve done! The Voices grumbled angrily, their imaginary head rocking from left to right.

I knew my harsh, proud tone had wounded Brutus, and I brushed my hand down his jawline affectionately. “I didn’t mean that. Forgiven?”

Possibly,” he answered slyly, a smirk obvious even in the darkness. “But we’ll miss the battle if we don’t get moving. I have a question though: Why did you stop?”

I looked at the ground, even I though my eyes failed at seeing the physical thing the word described. “I was scared. The speed—it became overwhelming.” In fact, thinking about ‘why’ had made me finally resolve and have a revelation on my reasons for slowing.

“Understandable. My horses are the last word in many things—you have just experienced the speed. That is why we reach destinations many distances away in such little time. They are supreme, unmatched in their species. If I wish, Nightmare can clock up at least a hundred and forty-five kilometres per hour.”

I sucked in a breath, astounded. How is this possible? I thought incredulously. Yet, at the same time, I wanted proof. Heart pounding, I opened my mouth. “Show me.”

My eyes shut, hearing his whisper in my mind: Dolce yavenna hasion!

I opened my lids to see darkness once more, but there was a thrill of adrenaline in the air. Brutus’ eyes glistened mischievously and excitably, the thin crescent of moonlight reflecting in his lime-green irises. “Hack!”

And at the word, the wind, the speed, slammed into me, both horses’ hooves digging and catching in the ground, propelling us forward at an insane pace. My skin was being pulled back as Glayds charged forward in the black, and our presence seemed non-existent to where we’d been—there was no evidence that we’d been there, not even the settling of dust or upturned vegetation. There was nothing I could compare the speed to—no word or thing that I knew about was like it. This galloping—something that was so swift, gracious, yet powerful and furious—and the speed at which Glayds ran made me believe that we could even escape Death’s clutches. I felt as if I was freefalling horizontally—suspended in rushing, freezing air, my heart pumping thrill and jubilant into me. Yes, I agreed thoughtfully, my life itself is a triumph.

And, of course, The Voices were screaming, cheering and jumping up and down with their imaginary selves all the way to high heaven—for once, we all agreed that we were on cloud nine. My eyes stung and watered as they attempted to stay moist, and I closed my eyelids, letting the movement, the wind—the sound of it as it screamed in my ears and the rush of the air on my face—and everything fade away. I leaned down, digging my head into my stallion’s long, windblown mane, listening to his deep, synchronized breathing as it was pushed out of his lungs. Battle was coming and this would be probably the last time I would be definite about something: whatever happened, people—however innocent or guilty—would die tonight.

 

We waited in morning’s quiet.

For the sign. My eyes searched anxiously for it—everyone’s did. The sign that the Ethropians were here and we should charge. All three hundred and fifty of us were concealed in the shadowy arms of a large pine forest that enwrapped a huge, grassy clearing, snow-capped mountains partially-revealing an awe-inducing sunrise, the soft oranges and yellows lighting up the sky like Heaven’s kiss. I looked to my left and right, at the people who would both kill and protect. My heart was pumping madly, beyond nervous. Fingers wrapped around my sword’s rose-decorated hilt—my mind was so unnerved at it took me a moment to realise that these were my fingers. The action itself was a reassurance. I knew that I had every possibly of being killed here. Maybe I would have to die—Brutus would be so enraged at my death that the Ethropians wouldn’t have a hope, that way we would certainly be victorious. I knew that he would mercilessly—perhaps sadistically—avenge me; he would decimate the enemy until their blood fertilized the grass in this field. Brutus would inflict punishments, lashing out torture and executions in the most horrific and gory way possible, or at the limits of his imagination. Because, when I looked in his eyes, I saw more than his love. I gazed on the deep, powerful determination to accomplish much with me—marriage, children and the climax of his empire. Most importantly, peace. I did not know how, but Brutus thought I was the key to that ambition. Suddenly, a branch snapped, the crack loud in my ears. My pulse rocketed as it throbbed clearly in my ears, reminding me all too well of what was coming. I searched harder. There. In the distance, a few faint, black sticks. And I wasn’t the only one who was anxious—even through the padded, leather saddle, Glayds’ heart was knocking against my greave-protected legs. I took a deep breath, a gentle breeze weaving through the knee-high grass as it swayed gently.

Angia, you’re not going to die. Not today, not at this moment. A blush caressed my cheek as I remembered Brutus’ last words to me, my bicep tingling as it recalled his hand. My mind flashed back to his kiss on my brow and gentle, yet serious voice. I love you. Survive this and we’ll be together. Survive this and we’ll talk about being queen consort. And whatever you do, don’t die. That would force me to enact some serious harm to the enemy.

I smiled grimly, taking another glance at the soldiers who might just save my life in the next few moments. Even The Voices were silent, biting their lips and holding their breaths on the sidelines. My eyes took in the Ethropians filing into the clearing in the very far distance, all on foot except for a one man leading them. And we continued to wait, time proving the enemy’s army to be a considerable size, consisting of both rebels and Ethropians. But, almost suspiciously, they all stayed well clear of the outskirts of the forest—strategically speaking, this was wonderful, as it would make it easier to surround the enemy. Of course, this was only my opinion—as per usual, Brutus would find a successful plan in even the direst of times.

I always get what I want,”, I thought, repeating his words said with such slyness. A whip cracked abruptly and we charged, breaking free from the tree line, coming on the enemy swiftly, surprising them as they scrambled to assemble themselves into some form of defence.

Yes, we came down on them like a falcon, our talons sharp, lethal and inescapable. We formed ranks, our arrow-shaped form spreading its wings and become a belt of power and fear. I unsheathed my sword, Glayds easily striding the last few meters in seconds, the enemy’s swords being held out valiantly in defence, perhaps even finding courage in all their feebleness. Then battle hit us like an explosion.


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