King Evin, hearing Rin's name, roared and went to seize Cavik by the throat, but his mother stepped between them.
As his father snarled and cursed, and his mother pleaded for calm, Rin stepped quietly into the room, and took the knee before them all.
King Evin was aghast; Queen Silia more so, to see the girl in a dress, clean, coiffed (courtesy of Irin) and young, and beautiful, but for her strange eyes.
Silia thought Two colors? That does not bode well.
King Evin settled down, and glared daggers at her: “You are too bold, child, and overstep. You are seconds away from hanging.
“Make your case.”
“May I please stand, your majesty?”
They expected pleading, or explanations, or excuses, but what she said next seemed to stop the air itself.
“I love your son.” She stepped next to Cavik, took his hand, and kissed his palm.
“And we are going to have a baby.”
Silia then lunged for Rin, but Cavik stepped in the way.
His mother was clutching at him, cursing Rin, and his father was crying and thundering the words ‘Bastard’, ‘Traitor’ and ‘Whore’ until Cavik had taken all he could stand, and screamed at the top of his lungs for all of them to be silent.
It was not a request, but an expletive-laced demand.
And they did, more out of shock than obedience.
Rin was crying, but watched the queen and did not drop her eyes in deference.
His father spoke through clenched teeth. “Is what she says the truth?”
“What would cause her to lie and complicate matters any further?”
“I suppose you’re right. How could you do this, Cavik, and behave so impulsively?”
He had a decision to make: lie to his parents for the first time and maybe prevent a disaster, or tell them the truth about the oracle and her vague, unspoken, and worrisome prediction about his impending marriage to Rin.
Rin was staring at him; there’d been no time to tell her any of it, either.
He stepped in front of her, not completely, but enough for her to have a fighting chance at escaping, and to shield her from his mother’s withering stare.
“Rin requested a meeting with me, I rode out to meet her--”
“You crossed the border to Issik?”
“There was talk of rebellion. Rin was concerned, and wanted to head it off if she could.
“We met, and talked, and one thing led to another, and…”
His mother could no longer help it, and broke down crying.
His father helped her to her vanity table, and sat her down.
She buried her face in her hands, and his father, helpless to do any more, let her cry, and went back over to the two of them.
“My heart is broken, son. I never thought you’d lie to us. Has your ‘love’ for her so blinded you that we are now enemies?”
The king held up a hand, stopping his protest.
“I am king, yes, but most of all, I’m your father. I have spies in every village, Cavik, that tell me the pulse of the people’s hearts.
“You went to see the oracle.”
“Cavik…?” Rin said.
The king glared at her, and she lapsed back into silence.
Cavik sighed. “Did Wit tell you?”
“No, son. The oracle herself came to see me. I didn’t believe her, and now,” he glared at Rin again and gestured toward her with a sweep of his arm, “it’s too late.
“She’s not concerned, she leads the rebellion, and you’ve brought her under my roof, into my bedchamber, before my wife, your mother, and the land’s queen.
“You have betrayed the family that loves you, and out of mercy, for the bastard this wench will conceive, I send you both into exile, never to cross into this land again, under pain of death.”
Rin startled. “Your majesty, please, I –“
“Silence, child, or I’ll burn your tongue to ashes in your mouth. I don’t know what filthy words you used to entice him, but I’ll hear no more from you.”
He went to the guard, said something Cavik couldn’t hear, and the man nodded and walked away,
His mother had stopped crying, but couldn’t face him; her face in the mirror was downcast, full of love and anger.
Cavik looked, saw the gray creeping up her auburn hair, and he realized that he’d destroyed her dream for him.
Evin went to the door and spoke to the guard, who nodded and left.
Silia had stopped crying, but found she couldn’t look at her son, except she took a glimpse of him in her mirror, and saw the pain there; her heart was too stubborn to soften and go to him.
Rin said no more, her eyes on the floor, cheeks red with shame, and her body shaking from fright.
I should have waited. I did this to you, Cavik, and I will make it right, I swear.
Captain Lio came in, curiosity in his eyes, but wariness too. “You summoned me, your majesty. I am at your service.”
“Captain, take this bitch outside and put her in the kennels.”
Lio physically blanched: “The kennels, your majesty?”
“Was I not clear, Captain?”
“Yes, your majesty, quite clear, but the dogs—“
“Are the concern of the kennel master, who is by now sound asleep. Take her, Captain. Don’t make me say it again.”
Lio took Rin’s arm, but Cavik held her waist, and would not release her.
“Release her, my prince, by order of His Majesty.”
“She carries my child, Lio.”
Lio let go of Rin, and looked again at Evin. “Your majesty?”
“If this bitch is not in the kennels in the next minute, it will be you instead.”
“Cavik!” Rin called, as Lio tugged at her again.
“Enough!” Cavik said, and though his voice was quiet, the threat was unmistakable.
“I will not allow this to continue, father. Captain Lio, let go of my intended.”
His mother slammed her fists on the dressing table and rushed up to him with the force of a whirlwind, slapping Cavik on his left cheek, then backhanded him, sending him sprawling away from Rin.
“You dare to challenge your father in his house? I will gut this strumpet where she stands!”
She pulled out her hairpin and went for Rin, who stood frozen in disbelief as the queen, her hair spilling down as she charged, plunged it into Rin’s belly.
Crying out in pain, Rin slumped to the floor, and Silia straddled her and raised the hairpin for a killing blow.
Cavik scrambled, just managed to seize her wrist, and bent it back until her fingers opened, and he snatched it from her, hurting her hand.
The king charged Cavik as he gained his footing, and he slashed at his father, slicing his cheek.
The queen, all dignity gone now, was choking Rin, and Cavik, having delayed his father, pushed her off, and sent her sprawling sideways.
Captain Lio, watching in absolute shock, roared at them in incredulous fury: “STOP!”
And it seemed as if a cloud lifted, and senses slowly returned; for a few moments all that was heard was heavy breathing.
Rin was on the floor, gasping and bleeding.
Lio scooped Rin up, and looked at them in sad horror. “Have you all gone mad?”
Hurrying out, he bellowed, sending guards and servants scurrying for the court doctor.
The family, left alone, breathing heavy, sobbing, and muttering, couldn’t look at each other anymore.
Evin touched his cheek; the wound was superficial, but the pain went far deeper; looking at the blood on his fingertips, he walked over to Cavik, and gripped the boy's jaws with strong fingers, making Cavik's lips pucker.
“Leave my house, and leave my lands, for you are no longer my son.” He pushed Cavik's face away, leaving bloody prints.
Cavik, his own voice shaky, replied, “What I told you about her wanting to meet with me, that wasn’t the first lie. I also told her that you were a good king, who listens to his people.”
He threw the hairpin on the floor, and walked out, a deadly calm engulfing him, a quiet rage that extinguished all affection.
If his child was dead, he would not only never forgive them, but he would lead the rebels himself, and set the castle, and everyone in it, ablaze.
© Alfred W. Smith Jr. 2015