King Erik held the scroll with trembling hands, his voice cracking as he read the words to the small trusted group assembled in the ‘war room’ off the Great Hall, “The Kienan Lineage will end with Erik, for his Queen will be assassinated the night of the Feast of Eden. Should he re-marry, he will only succeed in guaranteeing the death of another beautiful little minx. Fear the Rats, for we are everywhere,” he paused before adding, “And it’s signed with a bloody outline of a rat.”
The room was silent as the 28 year old young king put the scribbled note on the table, looking around the room that grew steadily more uncomfortable by the minute. There were only four others – his Uncle Jaime, his personal bodyguard Viktor, his father’s old advisor Walter, and his older sister Nayli.
“Bloody Fookin’ Rats,” his Uncle finally blurted out, breaking the silence, “This is what they do, fear-mongering at it’s finest. It’s bullshit Erik, you know that,” he scoffed.
Nayli looked perturbed, “Uncle Jaime he can’t just … ignore it. They threatened to kill Elena!” she remarked, referring to her brother’s gorgeous wife who had been strategically left out of the secret meaning. “We have to protect her at all costs.”
“I swear I’m going to kill every last one of them bastards. T’hell with them and their lame ass name,” Viktor seethed, angrily rubbing his burly hands together as his scarred face took on a look of pure hatred.
“Well one thing’s for damn sure, that letter doesn’t leave this room,” her Uncle noted with a foreboding tone in his voice. “One little rumor gets out and all of Synia will be buzzing for months. We better double the guards on duty for the Feast of Eden Festival and call in the Royal Palace reserves just in case.” The older man had been serving the Kingdom of Synia ever since his brother had taken the throne nearly 40 years ago, and he and Walter were the senior voices at the table.
Erik looked around the small table where he stood, feeling the tension in the air as the enormity of the decision weighed on him. Synia had been at peace for over a decade, though lately there were little signs and issues that had been springing up all over their lands for the past 18 months, ever since his father had passed on and he had taken the throne. Notably, the Rats – the self named underground clan of degenerates that held allegiance to no one – had been doing just enough mischief to become a nuisance for Synia and the neighboring kingdom of Elyria. From rumors that they set the main port on fire to cause untold economic damage to allegedly sabotaging jousting tournaments to screw with the nobility’s favorite pastime; they were a cult that believed in chaos and disorder and a warped vision on how to bring back power to the lower class.
For the next twenty minutes the group debated the proper course of action as well as trying to determine how someone managed to either break into the palace in secret or pay off someone in the castle to sneak into the Royal Bedchamber to toss the scroll on Erik and Elena’s bed. The young King noticed that Walter had been silent for most of the discussion, as he often was, choosing to listen and think rather than voice the first thought that came to his head. His mannerisms and appearance often led him to be seen as wise, though the old man certainly had his share of skeletons in his closet. The advisor to Erik’s father, the late King Charles, he had survived through numerous political scandals that gave Erik subtle uneasiness about his loyalty. Still, he valued his judgment in situations such as this one as he often had a different point of view.
“Walter, how do you think we should handle this,” Erik asked him bluntly.
Walter gazed back at the young man who was 40+ years his junior, casually stroking his grey sideburns with his thumb and ring finger. “While doubling the guards would help, it wouldn’t prevent Elena’s murder,” he said, his voice somber as the mention of the Queen’s death created a sense of darkened urgency. “There’s at least one person, if not more, on the inside. No typical Rat from town would have the ability to get that scroll past the guards and up the tower to your chambers Erik. Whomever it was knows too much and has seemingly unrestricted access. Your wife isn’t safe within the castle walls.”
The mood of the room seemed to shift from anger to fear, and for his part Erik nervously shifted in his stance. While strong and proficient in battle, he wasn’t the most confident of Kings when it came to strategy, politics, or major decision making. “Agreed, but it’s not like I can just leave with her to go to stay with one of our allies, especially with the festival coming up,” he said, knowing that he couldn’t afford to appear weak to his people.
“No, and I wouldn’t trust your allies any more than your own Kingdom,” Walter responded.
“This is just so horrible! She’s not safe here and she’s not safe somewhere else,” Nayli said, shaking her head and feeling terrible for her sister-in-law. “What are we supposed to do?”
Jaime looked over at Walter, “What are you saying Walt, she needs to go into hiding?”
Viktor, who usually didn’t offer much of an opinion as he was simply the King’s personal guard said, “I know a few remote caves and abandoned huts. Not sure the Queen would like them too much though.”
“Thank you Viktor, but the Queen needs food and a real roof over her head,” Walter said and Erik breathed a sigh of relief. He didn’t like the thought of his gorgeous wife out on her own fending for herself, “but yes, going into hiding is what I’d recommend. Specifically, taking on a new identity in one of the villages on the outskirts of the Kingdom where she’d be less likely to be noticed. She could stay there until this whole mess is figured out and we uncover the traitors.”
“It’s not a bad idea,” Jaime said, thinking out loud as he rubbed his balding head.
“But … but I won’t be able to see her and make sure she’s alright, the furthest villages are a two or three day ride form here,” Erik said, sounding more like a boy than a man at the moment. His thin frame hunched over the table as he put his hand down on the edge to support himself, his head hanging low before looking back up. “How will I know she’ll be protected? What sort of identity would she take? She’s not exactly used to … village life,” he said, referring to the slightly haughty noble side of his voluptuous wife.
Walter shrugged as he looked up at the young King, “That’s why she’ll need to be ‘married.’ Fake of course, but instant protection,” he said as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
“WHAT?!? Married? I will not have the Queen betrothed to another man,” Erik said, standing up rigid at the suggestion. He shook his head and looking quite flustered. “Plus there’s no chance she’ll ever go for it. Literally no chance.”
“Relax,” Walter said in a condescending tone, daring to talk down to the King a bit. “This isn’t about your feelings Erik, this is about the Queen’s safety. You want her unhappy or you want her fucking dead?” he said, pausing for dramatic flair. Erik remained silent, his eyes narrowing as the words took effect, before Walter continued, “I said fake marriage, it’s only a guise – we have her live with someone we can trust is all, and the only way it will seem normal is if everyone thinks they’re married.”
“I just don’t think …” Erik began before Jaime cut him off, “The plan has merit Erik. There are times that call for tough choices and this is obviously one of them. How would we explain her absence?” he asked, as if it were a foregone conclusion.
“The Flu’s going around … could say she got a bad case of that and is bedridden for a few weeks or a month,” Walter replied nonchalantly.
“A month?!?!” Erik said, flummoxed as he felt his world slipping away from him. Despite not being the best lover himself, he loved Elena dearly. Nayli put her hand on her brothers arm, his blonde sister giving it a gentle squeeze. “I know, it’s awful Erik but it’s not the worst plan. Think how much safer she’ll be in a remote village. I highly doubt many Rats are farmers – they tend to be in the bigger towns, right Uncle Jaime?”
“Yeah, good point Nayli” her Uncle replied. “the Rats have no issues with common folk either, so she’ll be safer there,” he said.
“We just need to make sure it’s someone we can really, really trust,” Nayli said, stressing the point. “Who do you have in mind Walter?”
“I have an old acquaintance who lives out there. Owes me more than a few favors. He’ll expect to be paid handsomely, of course. But I trust him. Harry Jones.”
“Ha, Old Harry, the Trader?” Viktor chimed in.
“Yeah, know him?” Walter asked, raising his eyebrows suspiciously.
“Never met him, but a couple other guards traded with him back in the day whenever war broke out,” Vik responded. “From what I gather he’s an … interesting guy, travels all over, but drives a hard bargain.”
“Right, have to in that business,” Walter responded nonchalantly. “He gets his wares from all over the Six Kingdoms and beyond. Wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine he picked up a ‘wife’ on one of his journeys. That’s where we’ll work Elena in.” Erik sat down in a chair, slumping in it as the reality of the situation was starting to sink in. He sort of listened distantly as the group worked on the remaining details of the plan, already loathing the upcoming confrontation with Elena.
Tanned, bare long legs extended out of the in-ground tub, crossing at the ankles above the bubbles, feminine feet with perfect curved arches resting on the side of the tub as a silver anklet dangled from her left leg. Slender fingers held up a chalice filled with wine, supported by a svelte arm and lightly toned shoulder. Erik gulped as he let his eyes travel from her French pedicured feet down those long smooth legs, tapering into fuller thighs with just the slightest hint of muscle that disappeared below the water. He lifted his gaze, as his wife’s incredible bust came into view, the ripe melons showing off her succulent cleavage as droplets of water sprinkled the top half of her breasts while her lightly darkened nipples sat below the water’s surface. Full, high, and wonderfully rounded, he drank in the sight of those magnificent breasts that were so often the talk of the Kingdom and were the fantasies of boys and men alike, knowing that this might be the last time he’d see them for awhile.
Finally his eyes reached her stunningly beautiful face, her long, wavy, jet black hair contoured around it. Lively, big brown eyes with an intellectual depth to them gazed back at him, her full lips parted as she reached out a finger, curling it to him and beckoning her husband to join her as she slowly parted her legs. Erik felt a pang of arousal shoot through his groin, but he was focused on finally breaking the news to her. It wasn’t the first time he had disappointed her in the arena of lovemaking.
“Sweetie, we have to talk,” he said softly. Elena’s expression changed, her seductive look turning to slight concern as she heard the worry in his voice.
“What’s going on?” she asked, her voice having a regal yet refreshingly sweet pitch to it. Although Erik was the King, it was clear to any who knew the couple that it was often Elena that did the decision-making for them. It wasn’t that she was headstrong, it was simply that her husband could be indecisive at times. She, on the other hand, had a natural way of communicating that didn’t ruffle many feathers, but still got her point across. What’s more, Elena was fairly used to getting her way.
“I found a scroll on your bed that said you’re going to be assassinated,” he blurted out, “It was from a member of the Rats. You need to leave the castle and go into hiding.”
“What?!? Erik are you serious?!” she gasped loudly, standing up suddenly in the tub, the water cascading down her voluptuous naked body. Erik watched as her full thighs and wide hips came into view, and even though she was facing him he could see the side outline of her meaty ass. He was always amazed that such curves could be on a woman with a tight waist, which made her figure even more pronounced. The term ‘hourglass’ didn’t even do her justice. “Why … how?”
“Elena I’m so sorry,” he said, walking towards her, “Someone – we don’t know who – broke into the tower and left the note. I .. I me with Uncle Jaime, Walter and Nayli …”
“You already had a meeting without me?! Erik, what did I tell you about this?!? We make decisions together! When did this happen? Did you check with all the guards?” she said, her mind moving a hundred miles an hour as she processed the stunning news. The color had gone from her face as she looked around their spacious bedchamber that was filled with all sorts of luxury and vivid art, hating the fact that it had been corrupted and invaded by some unseen force. She grabbed a towel and shot her husband a look of contempt for his secrecy as she wrapped it around her body.
“I’m sorry, I just … I didn’t want to alarm you until I came up with a plan. We found it late this morning, right after we hosted Sir Daniels and his men for breakfast. I just got done meeting with them … and, honey we have to be so careful. They said the assassination will be during the Feast of Eden Festival. You’re not going to like this but everyone thinks it would be best if you took on a new identity as part of the plan to go into hiding. They want you to go stay in a remote village on the outskirts of the Kingdom, under the guise of a wife to an older man,” he said, barely able to believe he’s saying such things to her. Erik could feel his head become lighter.
“His wife? Who … what kind of a plan is that? Did Walter come up with this?” she asked sternly, never trusting the older advisor and immediately suspecting that it was his plan given the unusual nature of it.
“Yes but .. everyone agreed, even Nayli. They think it’s the best way for you to have protection without raising anyone’s suspicion. Elena believe me, this is the last thing I’d ever want! The thought of not having you by my said, of not seeing you every day, it’s killing me. I just don’t think we have any other choice until we find these traitors.”
Elena put her hand on her hip, shaking her head as she turned from him and fully stepped out of the tub. “Ugghh, I can’t even … this is ridiculous Erik!” she said with her back to him crossing the floor to look out the window that was open to the Kingdom below. She glanced down at the world she had known for as long as she could remember. “I can’t just leave the Palace .. everyone will know,” she said, trying to remain calm.
“We’re going to say you’re very sick and can’t leave your room. They want to sneak you out under the cover of darkness … tonight,” Erik said softly, coming up behind her and putting his hands around her waist, lovingly.
“How could you agree to this without even consulting me first?” she said, glancing back at him, her face a mixture of emotion and, for the first time, genuine sadness.
“I … you know I would never force you to do anything Elena. But I don’t want you to be killed for goodness sake! But it’s … it’s your choice,” he replied, hating this feeling of distance between them even though he was holding onto her.
For the next few hours they discussed it, her attitude slowly changing from disbelief to questioning the strategy after they had weighed the other options, none of which had much merit. Nayli eventually came up to join them as well, helping to console Elena and offer her thoughts and insight. Finally, with a sort of reluctant sigh, the buxom Queen turned to her husband,
“And just who is this old man I’m supposed to be married to?”