Antoni waited eagerly among the throng of curious nobles of Biscay in the great hall for the mysterious announcement the royal family had kept secret from all but a few for weeks. The anticipation was palpable; every soul, both inside the castle walls and outside in the courtyard, wondered what news would be announced. Some wondered if the king, long missing from public view, would finally abdicate and raise Prince Tidus to the throne while others wondered if the Crown Prince had finally chosen a future queen. A few even whispered that while it was a wedding announcement, it was the younger prince would soon be wed.
As Antoni moved among the crowd with a hood over his head to hide his identity from his enemies within the crowd who would remove him from Sora’s side if only they had the opportunity to do so he regretted being so carefree with his reputation. He often scolded himself for allowing those outside the royal family to lay eyes on he and his lover in so obviously romantic situations; as a prince of his own empire, he knew he should have been concerned with public opinion and the dangers it can present to someone with even the illusion of power and influence. In the almost ten months he had resided among the humans, more and more of the kingdom’s power-hungry citizens had come to distrust, even despise, him and he knew without Sora beside him, his life could easily be ended.
Demands for silence filled the room and Antoni’s gaze drifted to the balcony above the thrones as Henry, an usher and one of the few friends he had come to find at court, stepped forward and extended his arms. “People of Biscany, Their Royal Highnesses King Benedict V and Queen Beatrice.”
King Benedict and Queen Beatrice stepped through the heavy purple curtain, dressed in the finest attires with their bejeweled crowns above their heads, and looked down at the curious onlookers below. “My dear nobility,” Benedict said, his voice strong and imposing, “it is with great gladness that We announce the official betrothal of Prince Sora to the Princess Annalisa of Duband.”
As the crowd cheered, Sora and his future wife stepped through the curtain, arm and arm, and waved to the celebrating crowd. Antoni felt his heart drop and the air rush from his lungs. Only hours before, Sora and he had shared the young prince’s bed and the two had moved beyond the physical, beyond simply sex. They had become one and Antoni had believed it would only be a matter of days before his beloved promised himself, heart and soul, to him. And the deal he struck with Karnith would finally bear fruit.
But as he laid eyes on the royal couple and saw the light in Sora’s eyes that was once reserved for him cast their love on her, Antoni knew it was all over. He had lost. I shall now be the eternal property of the witch-boy and never know love or compassion again. Everything I have sacrificed, my future, my very essence, has come to mean nothing.
His acceptance woke something inside, something he could not describe. He felt broken in a way he did not understand.
As the crowd continued to cheer, Antoni pulled his cloak tight around himself and weaved through the bodies until he was safely outside the castle gates before running off as fast as his legs could move to the beach he had first looked into Sora’s eyes. He dropped to his knees on the spot and allowed the pain inside to consume him till his body shook and he could hear only his own cries.
TO BE CONTINUED