Royalty and the Beast CH64
It was obvious that the open area was manmade. All of the trees had been cut down, making enough room for many men. There were hundreds of tents, and even more rolls on the ground because there could never be enough room for everyone. Golden banners with black wolf heads hung everywhere. Evan had almost forgot what they had looked like. The noises got louder and louder as Evan approached. His heart was in his throat as he saw the humans. Again he had to find humor at how uncomfortable he was stepping into a human camp.
As he neared a group of men, he was finally spotted. All of their laughter silenced as they looked at him with confused eyes. The men were not wearing armor, nor did they have swords at their sides.
“Where is Edward?” he demanded.
One of the men stood up, narrowing his eyes. “And just who are you?” the man questioned.
“and what are you wearing?” another laughed.
Evan held his head high, glaring at the standing man. “I am prince Evan, Edwards son. And if you wish to keep your tongue, you will use it now. Where is my father?”
The mans brows narrowed now, anger showing. “The kings son? You bloody survived?”
“this is the brat who has caused all of this mess!” another man stood up. “I had heard the nagas had eaten him!”
“Where. Is. My father.” Evan repeated once more, slowly losing his patients.
“probably in his tent,” one of the men laughed. “Center of camp. You cant miss it.”
Evan glared at the group, then turned and started walking.
“hey, wait!” one of them called, but Evan ignored him. He continued moving deeper into the camp, more eyes seeing him and following him. No one stopped him. No one tried to grab him. As he made his way past the tents, more and more of the humans were following him.
“Prince Evan?” a familiar voice shouted. “what are you doing here?!”
Evan again ignored the voice, pushing past another group that was around a fire. Finally he spotted the tent he had been told about. He immediately recognized it as his fathers. It was larger than any other, with the mark of his city on the side of it. Evan stopped a ways away from it, slowly taking his helmet off. “Father!” he shouted. “I must speak to you!”
The entire camp fell into silences, but no movement came from the tent. Evan raised his chin once more. “Edward!” he yelled. “Come and speak to me!”
Finally the flap of the tent swished open with a rustle. He could feel everyone take a step back. King Edward came striding out of the tent. His boots fell heavily on the ground as he walked to Evan. His hair was tied back, just as it always was. He had the same glint in his eyes, just as Evan remembered. He glanced around, finally locking eyes with Evan. A smug smile appeared on his lips. “So, you lived.”
It took Evan a moment to remember why he was here. He kept his feet nailed to the ground. “Father I-“
“The last thing I had heard of you,” his father muttered as he walked up. “was Howard had captured you. The last time I had seen you? that was the night I had left you in a heap, crying on the floor.”
Evan felt his throat tighten. “Father-“
“and now, you have the nerve to come back, walk straight into my camp and demand for me?” he clenched his fist. “what the hell are you doing here? Where have you been hiding? What in gods name are you wearing?”
“I have come to warn you,” Evan tightened his grip on the helmet pressed to his side.
“warn me? warn me of what?”
“you are about to head into a trap father,” he explained. “Howards men have set up a-“
“where is the naga?”
Evan flinched a little in shock. “The naga? Why?”
Edwards hand pressed over the halt of the sword on his hip. “Because I want what's mine. I want what you stole from me.”
Evans eyes narrowed. “Father, this isn’t about the naga. I am trying to warn you-“
“that’s what this is, isn’t it?” he gestured to Evans armor. “That beast gave this to you, didn’t it?”
“I didn’t come here to talk about him father,” Evan snapped. “Now listen to me!”
Edward glanced Evan up and down. “How did you escape from Howard? Did you make a deal with him?”
Evan was gripping the helmet so tight that he wondered if it might break. “Xeon rescued me,” he said lowly.
“I see. You have been staying with it then?”
“you are going to show me right where they are, understood?” Edward started walking to Evan.
“no!” Evan yelled, taking a step back. “Enough of this! I did not come to talk about the nagas!”
“I am not going to listen to whatever lies those things have filled your head with,” Edward snapped. “You are coming with me and-“
“No,” Evan planted his feet. “I am not.”
“oh? And what is stopping me from dragging you back home?”
“I didn’t come alone,” Evan answered lowly. “I brought friends.”
The trees all shuddered to life as nagas made themselves known. Every branch large enough had a naga tied to it, bows drawn. The humans yelled in a panic, shooting around. Edward straightened, his eyes turning dark. “DON’T MOVE!” he yelled.
Every human stood where they were, hardly even breathing. Below the trees, a circle of nagas appeared. They stayed at the base, swords out and ready to use. The humans were at a disadvantage, having no armor or weapons. The nagas on the ground moved closer, then stopped at a safe distance away. Only one moved close. Xeon slithered out, his sword at his side, his shoulders tall. He waved his hand and the humans complaied, making a path for him. Evan felt his courage returning, seeing all of the glowing eyes. He turned back to Edward as Xeon stood beside him.
“what is this?” Edward demanded lowly, disgust dripping from his voice. “Have you turned against your own kind, Evan? Sided with the snakes? Do you prefer the company of reptiles?”
“enough,” Evan snapped darkly. “Shut your mouth. I brought Xeon because I knew you would not listen to me. I knew you would cause issues. You are all in danger.”
“yes, you have surrounded us with an army of beasts,” Edward raised his chin.
Xeon hissed but Evan held his hand up. “we are here to help. we are here to save you. we don’t want any harm to come to anyone. Listen to what I have to tell you.”
He glanced around, his hand still on his sword. “It seems I am not in a position to deny. What have you gone so far out of your way to tell me?”
“you have been following a path so far,” Evan started. “You thought it was safe, but it wasn’t. Howard is leading you to where he wants you. He has an army ready with a trap that would kill most, if not all of you.”
“and just how do you know this?”
“we captured one of Howards men,” Evan explained. “He told us everything.”
“…and you believed him?”
“you are telling me that you kidnapped a random man who just happened to know all of Howards plans? And he willingly told you what was going to happen?”
“Evan is telling the truth,” Xeons voice commanded the area. “We have a plan to stop all of this.”
“Do not speak, snake!” Edward yelled. “I will not listen to any lie that falls from your disgusting tongue! I made the mistake of not cutting your head off the first time. I will not do that again.”
“you so much as move for your sword and your entire army will be slaughtered,” Xeon warned. “I will not give you a second try.”
“enough father!” Evan stepped up. “I will not let blood be spilled here. I have come to warn you so we can avoid the loss of all of these lives,” he gestured around to the circle of humans. “Now allow me to speak!”
Edwards chin raised slightly. “Kill them.”
Xeon grabbed Evan, pulling him next to him and turned and looked at the humans. He held his hand up. “If you listen to him, you will all die!” he shouted. “Not just some of you, not just most of you. All of you!”
The few humans with swords that had stepped up froze. They glanced around at the army of nagas that had moved even closer now. Evan could see their barred teeth even at this distance. He took this chance to slip his helmet back onto his head. Xeon scanned over the crowed, seeing no other movement. “Your king will lead you into a trap. He might not value his life but that does not mean that you don’t have to value yours!”
“They will not go against their king! I gave a command! Kill them!”
“you only follow him,” Xeon shouted, still looking around. “You don’t have to die here.”
The few humans that had stepped forward glanced at each other, then one by one dropped their swords into the dirt. They slowly backed into the group. Even Evan was impressed that they had listened.
“fine,” Edward drew his sword. “I will do it myself!” he lunged and swung at Xeon.
“No father!” Evan yanked his sword free, catching his fathers in the air with a clang of metal just before it had hit Xeon. His father looked at him shocked and Evan threw him back. “Put your sword away!” Evan yelled.
“I will not have a naga lead my army!” he yelled.
“we are trying to save you! we are saving your army!” Evan again held him back, shoving him away. “why cant you see that?!”
Edward cried out as again he ran to Evan. Once again, Evan blocked him just as Joel had taught him. He could feel his arm struggling against the weight and power. He moved away, still standing between Xeon and his father. Xeon had his sword drawn, but he was holding back.
Evan looked at his father. He could see the rim of his eyes, the anger and bloodshot white. His hair was falling out of place a bit, he was grinding his teeth. He didn’t look anything like the man from his nightmares. It nearly clicked in Evans head. He straightened, lowering his sword. “This isn’t about keeping your men safe,” he said lowly. “This isn’t about ending some war, is it?”
“what the hell are you talking about?!” the king roared.
“this is about your pride!” Evan realized. “You never once cared about ending this war! You only wanted to take Xeon away! You wanted to reclaim your pet back!”
“How dare you accuse me-“
“that’s what all of this is about!” Evan stepped to him. “You don’t care about a single man here, do you?! you don’t care about your castle, or your city, or your lands! The only thing you care about is the fact that Xeon won!”
“he did not win anything!”
“you just cant stand the fact that he isn’t a monster! that he was more civil then you were! That a ‘reptile’ had more sense in its head then you had in your whole body!”
“watch your mouth boy, or I will cut it out!”
“no! because all you care about is being right! Even if it means the death of everyone here, including yourself!”
Edwards face was turning red with rage. The humans around were speaking lowly, but Evan paid them no mind. He straightened his shoulders. “This doesn’t have to end this way, father. Just listen to us and we can have this entire war ended.”
“I will see everyone here die first,” Edward snapped. “Kill them! by order if your king! Kill them!”
Evan looked back, seeing the confliction in the humans eyes. They wanted to obey, they needed to obey. Evan looked at Xeon. The naga would be right in the middle of all of this. He couldn’t let him be hurt. He couldn’t let this end like that.
“I conscript the right to the crown!” Evan yelled.
The entire area fell silent. Evans fathers face dropped. He blinked a few times. “Do you care to repeat that?”
“I conscript my right to the crown,” Evan repeated. “As the prince, as your son, I have the right to demand the crown when I see fit to take it.”
“You are a child,” Edward said lowly. “How can you even consider this?”
“it is the only way to save everyone here,” Evan called lowly. “You have gone mad father. I will not let them suffer because you hold a grudge.”
The king glanced around. Every eye from both eyes was on him. Evan knew that once he claimed the right to the crown, a king could not refuse.
“you do know that you do not just get the crown, right?” Edward set the tip of his sword into the ground, leaning on it slightly. “You and you alone must best me at a challenge that I determine. No one may help you.”
“I am aware of the rules,” Evan raised his chin. “Chose your challenge.”
Edward again looked around, then back at Evan. He studied Evan closely. Evan did not falter under his fathers gaze. He did not show fear. He knew that was what his father was looking for. Finally he saw a smug smile spread across his face. “what is wrong with your left arm, boy?”
Evan gripped the sword in his other hand tighter.
“I see. Then we will make this easy. We will go with tradition. We shall duel. You and me. No companions, no nagas- just the two of us and our swords.”
Evan could feel Xeon stiffen beside him. The naga leaned down to him. “You don’t have to do this,” he whispered in Evans ear, far too low for any other human to hear. “If you and I kill him, these humans will follow you. They want to follow you.”
Evan only shook his head. “I have to do this,” he answered, just as quietly.
Xeon wanted to say more, Evan could see it. He wanted to pull Evan out of the danger, but instead Evan walked towards it. He swung his sword, testing it. “I accept. The winner will get the crown.”
“so be it,” Edward picked up his heavy sword as well. “Just remember, this is what you wanted. And just so you know, I wouldn’t have hurt you. But now its too late for you.”
“stay back,” Evan told Xeon. “No matter what happens, stay away.”
Xeon hissed lightly but did move back. The humans all took several paces back, leaving enough room for Evan and Edward. Evan slowly walked around the circle. He watched his father move, watched him breathe. He could see his fingers twitching on the blade. He couldn’t help but to feel unnerved. This was like every one of his nightmares.
Edward lunged out, swinging the heavy sword at Evan. Evan lifted his blade, feeling the rattle and hearing the clang of metal as they collided. His arm shook from the force and he stepped back, moving to the side so his fathers sword fell away from him. Before he had a chance to relax, his father swung again, nearly hitting him once again.
“I raised you,” Edward hissed, swinging the massive sword. “I am your father. How could you do this?!”
Evan again held his arm up, blocking yet another attack. His arm was quivering now as he struggled under the weight. His father shoved him back and Evan almost lost his footing. He quickly erected himself and jumped back, swinging his blade. His father blocked him, flicking the thin sword to the side like a child.
“I gave you everything!” he yelled. “I hired the best tutors, the finest crafters, the most well known cooks! I gave you everything you needed to succeed!”
Evan cried out as the large sword cut through the air, nearly hitting him. His arm hurt now. His father was using all of his strength to swing the great weapon. His sword was much heavier. Blow after blow, Evan blocked. He hardly had a chance to attack. It was getting hard to catch his breath. Another powerful hit sent him staggering back. Evan found his footing and again tried to stab. His father stepped to the side, avoiding the sharp metal. He was toying with Evan. That was frustrating.
“you were my son!” Edward yelled. “My only son! You would have ruled over everything one day!” he caught Evans sword once more, throwing his arm with a shocking amount of strength and forcing Evans sword from his hand. Evan fell back into the dirt from the action, looking up in terror as his father came pacing to him.
“and you gave it all away,” his father spat. “For a beast!” he brought his sword down. Evan grunted as he rolled to the side. The sword sunk into the wet ground. His broken arm ached from the action. Evan looked around. His father struggled to pull the sword back out of the ground. Time seemed to slow down as Evan got to his knees. All of the humans were watching with wide eyes. Some had swords, some had gotten bows. Xeons yellow eyes stuck out the most. They were wide and his white teeth were barred. Evan glanced through the humans. The nagas had moved very close now. Right in front, directly across from Evan was Vasson, leading the army.
His father grunted as he continued to try to free his sword. Evan couldn’t win this battle. Not against this man. He couldn’t keep blocking hits. He was getting far too tired to attack. His sword arm was already pulsing with pain. Edward was hitting much harder then Vasson, and Evan knew he couldn’t take another hit.
“don’t get hit.”
He glanced over, seeing Vasson through the crowed. A small smile flicked on Evans lips. Perhaps it was the best advice the naga could have given him.
Evan blinked, looking over to where his sword was thrown. There was a cry as his father finally released the sword from the ground. He came storming to Evan and Evan again rolled away, grabbing his sword and climbing nimbly back to his feet. His father looked at him in surprise and Evan only held his sword out, just as he had watched Vasson and Xeon do.
“I didn’t betray you,” Evan said lowly. “I didn’t give anything away. You did this, all of this.”
His father snorted, raising the large sword above his head. Evan watched it closely. Somehow now that he concentrated on it, it seemed slower. He easily stepped to the side, letting it again hit the ground.
“you knew Xeon was no monster. you knew he could talk. what did you think he would do? what did you think I would do? did you assume that he would never speak? That he would never communicate?”
Again he swung his arm and Evan took just two steps back and felt the air rush past his body as the sword missed him. “He was no beast, and when I found out that angered you. So you tried to take him away from me!”
“I was ending a war!” Edward shouted, slashing at Evan.
“No! you only wanted him away from me! you couldn’t stand the idea that I gave in and showed a bit of humility!”
“a king doesn’t show weakness!” he snapped.
Evan continued to step around his fathers sword. With each swing Evan could see it take its toll on Edward. He could see his arms straining under the weight. He could see his anger and frustration rising. This made him attack more often, tiring him out even more. And Evan had not raised his blade yet.
“it was me who took him from you father. I followed you and took him back. We traveled all the way back to his city and he sheltered me.”
“stay still, you little rat!” his father commanded. “Fight back!”
Evan stepped to the side as his fathers sword fell to the ground. He could now see the hesitation to pick the blade back up. with a quick movement, Evan flicked his sword at Edward, cutting his upper arm. Edward cried out, grabbing the cut and looking at the blood in shock. He turned to Evan with wide eyes.
“I didn’t help Xeon to disobey you. I did it because it was the right thing to do,” Evan said quietly. “Then, Howard kidnapped me. He tortured me, father. He didn’t just rustle me up a bit. There were times that I was sure I was dead.”
“I didn’t know-“
Evan brought his sword down, but his father blocked it. with a good kick to the chest, Evan was shot back to the ground. He quickly scrambled up before his father could reach him. “You did know!” he yelled. “You cant lie to me! Howard contacted you, and you told him that you didn’t care! You left me there!”
“you were not worth the price he was asking,” he spat. He flicked his arm. Evan felt a line of warm on his cheek. The very tip of the sword had cut him. He had to be quicker.
“I was your son!” Evan screamed. “I am your son! It doesn’t matter what I had done, it doesn’t matter where I was- you should have came!”
“enough of this!” his father yelled, suddenly knocking Evans broken arm with the halt of his sword. Evan cried out in pain and his father threw him to the ground. “You did this to yourself. I will not clean up your messes! You should have grown up! you should have never spoken to the naga! You should have killed it instead of letting it into my castle! You should have delivered its head to Howard with me! instead you now lie on the ground like a wounded dog! You may be my son, but you are nothing like me!” he yelled as he threw the down onto Evan with all of his might.
Evan watched the blade fall, throwing himself forward into his fathers legs. He flipped to the side, spinning around so he was at his fathers back. His father could not stop his blow and the sword slung into the dirt. Evan slammed his shoulder into Edwards back with all the force and weight he had in his body. His father fell forward into the ground, forced to leave his sword where it stuck.
Evan held his sword to his fathers throat before he could stand. They both glared at each other and panted heavily. The king did not struggle. He did not try to get up. He stayed sitting in the mud, staring at Evan with hatred. The entire area fell silent.
Evan tightened his grip on his sword, his father clenched his fist and teeth. “Do it you little brat!”
Still Evan didn’t move. His fingers twitched on his blade, his heart was in his throat.
“come on!” the king screamed. “Kill me already!”
Evan took a step back. “No,” he answered.
“WHAT?!” Edward screamed.
“I am nothing like you.”
The kings eyes bulged with anger. He looked at his sword that was still stuck in the ground, then looked at Evan. “You cant become king until I am dead. Man up and kill me!”
“you and I both know that’s not true. Your grandfather did not kill his father. He banished him. Because your grandfather had won the duel, the rules were still followed. I don’t have to kill you Edward. You lose.”
Edwards face was turning red with rage. He glanced over at his sword. “Then I will finish this-“ he moved to get up but froze when movement flashed in front of him. Xeon now stood between Edward and his sword. His teeth were barred and his own sword had been drawn. “Enough. It is over. You have been bested.”
Edward glared back at Evan. “what will you do to me then? Banish me? should I just start walking?”
Evan stood straight, slowly sheathing his sword. “I will decide when I have spoken to my Generals. For now you will be tied up with the horses.”
“you cant do this to me,” he shook with anger. “Kill me and leave me with my dignity.”
Finally Evan smiled, looking around at every eye that was watching. “what dignity?”
Edward glanced around and for the first time in Evans life, he realized how small his father actually was. For the first time he saw the eyes of a scared old man, not a king.
“tie him up,” Evan commanded.
“They wont listen to you!” Edward yelled. “You are just a child! This whole thing is a joke! I will have you-“
A loud clang silenced Edward. Evan watched with shock as the mans eyes rolled into the back of his head and he fell forward into the mud. A heavy cooking pot fell to the ground behind him and a familiar face stepped up.
“well, I don’t know about all of you,” Joel started, wiping off his hands. “But I was getting extremely tired of listening to that.”