Antoni watched them from a distance as the happy couple put on a royal show for all the people naive enough to believe they witness true love in all its shinning glory. He knew better. He knew they only acted as though their feelings were true to appease both their houses. He is mine, you filthy harlot. You may have his body when the eyes of the kingdom watch but I have everything else.
In the days since the announcement, Antoni had locked himself away in his lonely quarters as jealousy gripped his heart and he found it difficult to control his tongue when she was near or even spoken of. He despised the way she looked at him, as if she could see through his carefully constructed façade to the heartbroken and frightened boy hidden beneath. Do not dare to pity me, slag. Instead, save it for yourself for once he is able to break his ties to you and your kingdom, he will commit himself to only me and it will be you who will be seen as the pathetic castoff.
“You have the look of one preparing to take a life. Be careful, though, for if someone were to notice the way you set eyes on the fair princess, you might find yourself tied to a stake in the middle of town.”
Antoni turned to see Tidus leaning against railing of the balcony with a cruel smile. The elder prince had enjoyed Antoni’s pain and picked at the wound every opportunity he found. If you were not Sora’s beloved brother, I would slice you into little pieces and display you in a glass box.
“Even If there were any validity to your… vulgar accusation,” Antoni said with calm forced into his tone, “Sora, my Sora, would never allow any such harm to befall me.” He hated to keep his true thoughts silent and wished to say out loud to the boy who, since the day he washed up on the sand, had wished him nothing but ill will and had done much to have him banished for simply loving his brother.
The smile melted from Tidus’ face and, for a moment, Antoni though he saw fear in his enemy’s eyes. Though it only lasted a moment, Antoni now knew the crown prince was afraid of him.
But why? Tidus was two years his senior and a head taller. Why should I of all people make you nervous?
* * *
“I am telling you,” Tidus said, tired of repeating himself to his own mother who refused to accept the truth of his words, “his eyes, they were black as night, as though he were possessed. There is something frighteningly wrong with that boy. I could see it, more so, I could feel it.”
“Oh, son,” Beatrice sad as she shook her head, “I know you do not like him. I do not like him nor do I approve of what he and your brother refer to as a relationship. But inventing these fantastical tales about him will not drive him away nor will they fool your brother into casting him aside as the treaty dictates he must.”
“Why will you not take my word, mother? Why would I try deceit when I have tolerated the bastard this long with barley two months left until the wedding that will remove him from my brother’s bed for good? Does that not tell you something?”
“Tolerated? My child, do you honestly believe I do not know of your many failed attempts to rid us of the nuisance?” The queen sighed and closed her eyes. “You must find patience, Tidus, and not concern yourself with your brother’s affairs. The boy will be gone from us soon enough so just let it be.”
* * *
Antoni dived into the clear, warm water and wished it could wash away his fears as easily as the dirt. He was becoming something he did not recognize, something dark and borne in the deepest depths of his former empire. When did I begin entertaining these evil thoughts? When did I begin to morph into someone who could wish death and worse on those around him? He stopped swimming and allowed himself to center as he tried force those thoughts from his mind and find the good inside him he thought might be lost forever. Help me, gods of my ancestors, to find my way back to the person I know inside I truly am.
Have you honestly forgotten the deal you and I struck so many moons ago?
Is that…? Antoni opened his eyes and stared wide-eyed at one who he never imagined he would again see. Karinth?
TO BE CONTINUED