Chapter 5: Forbidden Arts
He barged into the dungeon like a bull raging for a fight, his long strides led him to the silly person who dared hurt his queen.
It was one from his tribe, the idea fueled his anger more. To think his own men can do this unspeakable thing to him.
“Who ordered you to do it?” he held the prisoner by the neck and began to squeeze on his windpipes.
The man has never felt such fear in his entire life. He knew what Dominus was capable of, he thought the assassination was sanctioned by him and upon his orders, so now realizing it wasn’t makes him cower in fear.
“We- we thought it was upon your instructions. We have been informed you want the queen dead” the man’s voice trembled.
“You?! You mean to say there are more of you inside the palace walls?” he growled like a wild animal who is about to pounce.
“Ye-yes, maybe. I’m not sure, but there were some ordered by the tribe to assassinate the queen. We were told that all this is under your orders. We were told the reason for your surrender is to be closer to the queen to facilitate the queen’s murder,” the man wetted his pants from fear as Dominus slammed his fist into the wall, shaking the dungeon like an earthquake just took place.
“The tribe chief ordered you to kill the queen?” his lips tightened into a straight line, his fist bleeding from the impact of the blow he had landed.
“Ye-yes, for-forgive me I didn’t, we didn’t know they were lying,” the man begged for mercy as he stuttered from fear.
Dominus let go of the man’s collar, “Go and tell the others it wasn’t under my command. If they lay even a finger on the queen I’ll kill them and their families. This is their last warning.”
The man ran away as fast as he can, exiting through the wide-opened cell as he hurried to save his life.
Dominus let out a growl as the wall in front of him crumbled. He will have to deal with his brother later.
He walked away from the stinking dungeon, his every step shook the very foundation of the rickety cell where prisoners are kept.
He found the queen in the gardens, her carefree smile adorned her pretty face as she played with some of the castle dogs who have decided to lay on her lap as she sat on the ground. To her left is a discarded book, long forgotten.
He tried not to make a sound, enjoying himself with this scene. He has seldom seen the queen so unguarded and so happy that times like this can be considered a luxury.
The queen noticed him nonetheless, the shadow he cast was like that of a giant tree just looming over her suddenly.
“There you are,” she greeted him, but her smile faded as she glanced upon his bloodied knuckles.
Dominus noticed her worried expression, he realized he forgot to at least bandage and clean his wound. He has been used to just not being treated for mere scratches like this.
“Forgive me, my queen. I’ll tend to it right away,” he placed his hands behind his back, and at another time under a different circumstance, she would have found it endearing as he treated her like a child.
“What happened?” the queen hurried to his side and opened her palm, motioning for him to show her his knuckles.
“Nothing, my queen,” he lied, not knowing how to explain his action of almost killing the prisoner and then subsequently setting it free, without implicating himself or his people.
“Nothing? I’ll be the judge of that, now show me,” she demanded.
He sighed in exasperation and showed her his injury. The queen frowned seeing the knuckles scraped.
“Sit,” she motioned for him to sit at the bench which he did so reluctantly.
The queen touched his hand, stretching it out in open. He felt blood rush through his loins seeing her inspecting his fingers one by one. Damn the heavens, why do they test him so?
She kissed each injured finger, which shocked him more, he was about to ask why she did that until he noticed the wounds closing fast, healing.
“My queen,” he looked at her, worried. It was witchcraft, wasn’t it? An art forbidden by the gods and the men who think of themselves as gods.
“Witchcraft, yes. I’ve learned a long time ago. I have used my knowledge to make healing potions and antiseptics. I have used my knowledge in this wise,” she explained, meeting his eyes.
“This is forbidden my queen, if anyone else finds out you will be hanged,” his voice was stern, almost angry.
What was she thinking? How can she learn a forbidden art like that? Plus does she know the consequence of doing so?
His hands gripped the queen’s shoulders when he heard her utter, “Yes, I know.”
“Then why do you do it? Don’t you know even when you can escape the law, your body will suffer greatly for this? Your body will break, it will become barren, sickly, and will lead to an untimely death,” his eyes filled with rage when he understood.
She knew it, she knew that her practice of the forbidden arts is what caused her body to be weaker than normal, her countenance frailer, and the reason why she has not married until this age.
“For my people, at first it was to save one life, and then another, and yet another more,” she smiled without regrets. A weak queen like me who couldn’t stop her own people’s fighting must suffer as well in their midst.
Dominus pulled her close to him, embracing her fully as he looked out into the setting sun.
“I have never seen a more stupid queen,” he said in a surprisingly tender voice.
His heart filled with so much pain listening to her words, but still, he must ask, “How many years have you wasted?” Every year a person practices witchcraft, that person loses a year of her life.
“Twenty years,” she confessed, her body becoming cold already from the night air that started to set in.
Dominus didn’t dare to open his lips again for fear his voice will break. She was silly, wasting her life that way just when other royals seek the secret to eternal life, here is his queen risking it all for her people.
Dominus closed his eyes, trying to forget what he just heard as he took in her rosy scent. Everything will be fine, they have to be. She has to be.
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