Newswire from Gladica, XR - The Queen's Regret
by Bradley Flora, 3.24am July 10th 2021

The Queen thrust her finger forward, mascara running, voice thick with betrayal, "Kill him, and bring me the child, unharmed." Her champion, a giant, moved forward, lumbering under the weight of his jewel-encrusted armor.

At the center of the throne room, on bended knee, was her King. Arms raised, holding up a young boy, no more than a year old, he said, "But I brought him to you. I brought him to you."

Her lips quivered, but she stood fast upon her judgement. Her brow knit as the giant raised his sword, symbol of the kingdom's justice, and lifted it horizontal till the tip grazed the King's forehead. "I'm sorry sire, but.." He trailed off as a nursemaid rushed in, ducking under the blade to pluck the boy from the King's arms.

"Sire," she said with a small curtsy, tears in her eyes.

"It's ok." The King replied, his regard steadfast. Then, holding the boy tight, she moved away quick, mindful of the giants back swing as the sword described an arc whose momentum took him a few steps back.

He could smell it now. The fear in the room. This was always the worst part, the moment before.

 

The giant paused with a glance at the Queen who, eyes rimmed with black smears of salty makeup, gave one brisk nod.

        

It was to her credit, it was later said, that she did not turn away, and that the King accepted his fate without blinking.

When the deed was done, and the blood flowed from the royal neck no more, some say the Queen stepped forward to face her grand vizier, and said, "When my boy comes of age, you will tell him of his father's betrayal. Let him know. If he wants revenge, I'll be waiting."

         

The man nodded, but she still slapped him, once. Bird thin though she was, it carried such force that the sound made even the giant jump and her baby whimper.

         

Her composure broke when she made the vizier's cheek bleed. She fingered the ring on her left hand absentmindedly, then wiped blood onto her sapphire dress.

         

"If you hadn't told him the map existed, none of this would have ever happened."

         

The vizier, stricken, knelt, and leaned forward, angling his neck to expose the thick flesh about his collar.

         

"Your majesty," he whispered, eyes bulging as the King's corpse became a lumpy island on a lake of blood.

         

"No. You shall raise my boy. And when he is of age, you will tell him the truth about this day."

         

With that, she left the room, hem smearing blood as the child began to cry.