Chapter 14: Chapter 1
The night of the ball finally arrived and the guests were inside the hall dancing, eating and drinking to their fill. Five bulls were slaughtered for the occasion, three goats and twenty chickens. That will explain why Mrs Gibilis kitchen had been busy since the day started. The food was scattered on each table, and there were twenty tables with each table having ten chairs surrounding it. The occasion was special indeed. The table where Artemis, Princess Aeryn, Sir Lancet, Lord Balon and “the four” sat on was on the stage of the hall. This was the sacred space that only those close to the king were allowed to sit.
There was one chair still empty and it was close to Artemis, everyone knew it was saved for one girl and she was none other than Aurora. But did Lancet apologize to Aurora when he was told to
The answer was yes, he found Aurora inside her room taking off her dress when be busted inside. Aurora had to reach for a curtain to cover herself, she only had her drawers but her upper body wasnt covered hence the curtain did the trick. The room was small like any set of rooms belonging to the servant quarters.
The servants of the palace lived a bit far from the main house. There was a chain of their small cabins and thats where they lived, hence every morning they had to walk to the main house even though it was still inside the gates of the palace and walk back to the cabins after they were done with work. Lancet made that walk to Auroras cabin where she slept with two other girls who were assigned to the ball for that night.
When he first glanced at Aurora in that situation, something overcame his mind and it was dirty. Aurora pretended to be clean because people thought she hadnt been touched by a man yet, even Lancet himself wasnt sure if Artemis had already filled his cock with Auroras maidens blood. It was forbidden for girls to sleep with boys during that time and thats because they were supposed to be married while still virgins. Hence if he forces himself inside Aurora and practically ruin her virtue then no one will marry her and she will be doomed.
Thats how much Lancet hated Aurora. He was ready to sacrifice his friendship with Artemis for the sake of Maldonia. “Ill do this and run away. Maldonia must be saved” he told himself while gazing at Aurora who was desperately hiding her naked body with the curtains.
“Stop!” Aurora ordered Lancet. “What you are thinking is dirty and it will get you killed. He will take off your head if you do this” she warned him.
Lancet was shocked “How -” he stuttered. “Its true what they say. You are a witch! A witch!” He started barking like a mad man.
If it was a normal night Lancet would have been recognized the moment he entered inside Auroras cabin by other servants. But all of them were in the main house attending to the royal guests. What a bad luck for Aurora to be all alone that night.
“Im not a witch sir Lancet. Im not a witch” Aurora tried to explain but she was suddenly attacked by Lancet. He took her from where she stood and pinned her on the wall – Aurora didnt even bother herself from crying or screaming. She knew it wouldnt help her nor get her out of that situation, no one would come to help her and even if there was help any how still Lancet would claim to sleep with her just so to render her unfit to be married.
Hence she waited until Lancet let her loose for a second to untie his trouser, and thats when Aurora picked up a knife which was on top of the table and slit Lancets throat. Shocked and in disbelief Lancet held his throat while taking few steps back. His eyes widened with amazement and the moment he fell outside of the cabin and on to the ground he had no energy left to hang on to his throat, hence he let the blood flow and gave up.
The sight of a dead kingsguard of Maldonia on the ground had Aurora panting hard while she was still holding the knife with Lancets blood all over it. “Gods of Maldonia. Help me!” she said. Not even once had she killed a man and hence that was new to her, and she didnt know what to do.
While Aurora was in shock the party inside the main house was exhilarating and the sounds of the music and cheers were over the roof.
Artemis got drunk and he started to dance alongside his men, he span himself while laughing and urging the men to keep drinking on his name. Aeryn had never seen him that happy before, she was expecting him to be sad since Aurora was yet to arrive but it was completely different.
At the table there was a weird energy between Lord Angun and Lord Balon, these two were like a mouse and a cat with each pulling on its side. However they settled their differences just for tonight and thats because it was a big day for Artemis. Princess Sansa came to take Lord Balon for a dance. Lord Balon said his goodbyes and joined his wife on the dance floor.
Silently Lord Angun hissed “A snake amongst us, just waiting to bite” and this caught Princess Aeryns attention.
“You said something my Lord” she asked.
“No, Princess. I... Im just an old man” Lord Angun pretended to laugh and quickly excused himself.
It was different for Aeryn to see Lord Angun like that. But what really caught her attention was Artemis who was charmed than usual showing off his dance moves. Hence she looked at Lord Balrus and Lord Degan “The King looks... different. Good different but different, dont you think so” she said and chuckled softly.
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Lord Balrus cleared his throat “I hear he was visited by four slaves in his chambers earlier. To give him a bath”
Aeryn was startled “A bath”
“Yes My Lady. A bath”
“Huh! That will explain his change of mood. My father always loved the slave servants especially the female ones, they used to bath him and dress him up”
“And I hope youve also heard the rumors my lady” Lord Balrus said. His suspicious eyes all over Aeryn as if studying her silently.
Well the rumors were true and Aeryn had known that for years. The rumors were king Arteides fathered a bastard amongst the slaves who came to bath him inside his chambers. One in particular was the kings favorite even before he married Artemiss mother, her name was Jordy. When he married Artemiss mother he stopped his encounter with the slaves inside his chambers, but he resumed when Artemiss mother died. During that time both Aeryn and Artemis were very young.
This Jordy slave was King Arteidess favorite and they went on to continue their relationship till the day he died. Every day Jordy visited king Arteidess chambers and she didnt leave till noon. Artemis thought she was just a slave hence she paid her no mind.
However, some slaves spoke of the bastard when Jordy gave birth but King Arteides never addressed the bastard nor made a conspicuous fuss of him – he made it clear that he didnt want to see him nor would he like the secret to be out. Some even went further and said King Arteides and Jordy got married in the forest a few weeks after he was crowned King – the priest who performed the ceremony said that before he died of plague. Arteides was eighteen years old when he ascended the throne but he was so in love with Jordy hence thats why he married her discreetly knowing he could never claim her publicly since she was a slave. Even when he married Artemiss mother at twenty years old he was still in love with Jordy.
Hence thats why he freed Jordy and his bastard son a week before he died, and who freed them was none other than Lord Balrus the spy of Maldonia.
That day it was raining heavily and it was foggy everywhere in Maldonia. The winter season was upon them however thats the farthest the cold went on as it never snowed in Maldonia, but it did rain for months and sometimes the sun would disappear for weeks. There was a ship carrying cargos and bulk of goods outside of the kingdom of Maldonia in the midst of the villages where farmers and settlers lived. These were the people who had completely lost hope of ever being relevant, they just froze, grew crops and die.
Lord Balrus was alone as he was supposed to be. Jordy was with his son Aprophil – the bastard. He was a tall man who looked exactly like King Arteides with only an exception that he was black. The reason Arteides wanted Aprophil out of Maldonia was because he didnt want any complications when his son Artemis takes on the throne. Aprophil was two years older than Artemis.