Part I - A Snare Made for the King (Die Another Day spinoff)
by Li`l Pixie
Jyzal bowed his head, kneeling before Prince Shawn. At the prince's words, he looked up and returned to a standing position.
"It appears the Losting armies are preparing retaliation," Jyzal explained. "They have a mere force of 2,000 - nothing compared to your Grace's army."
"Good," Shawn said with a nod. "It seems things are going according to plan. Please continue to investigate the situation." He sat back down on his throne, a large metal perch with trace gold filigree etched about the arms. He looked Jyzal up and down as if sizing him up, but said nothing else.
The door was pushed inward and another man stepped through. Shawn glanced up and frowned at his brother, Regime. A servant rushed over to offer him a cup of tea, but the new visitor pushed her away.
"What are you doing?" he demanded.
"I am doing my job," Shawn responded. "What have you to say about it?"
"Must everything be violent?"
Shawn didn't answer him. Instead he turned to Jyzal. "Make sure you are not seen. If you are, I pray your improvisational skills have improved."
"I will continue to do as you ask, your majesty," Jyzal said, bowing. With that, he saw himself out.
Regime scowled at his brother. Would he not stop this ridiculous conquest? All it was doing was hurting innocent people.
"The gods do not smile upon those that destroy lives," Regime growled, but Shawn didn't hear him. His brother was much too interested in the map one of his military advisors had brought to him just moments before. He commanded one of the servants to bring him some Darjeeling with cream and shooed them away.
"Your Grace?" The young maid he just pushed away approached him again. Regime looked at her with a frown. "Sir Alveckson has requested your audience in the library."
Regime's eyes widened in surprise. "Thank you, Sanae," he said with a nod and paced out of the throne room. Shawn looked up as his brother left, but didn't react further.
The library was not far away. Regime was in a hurry, but even if he was not, it was only a few minutes down the hall. He turned the last corner and found himself face to face with Jyzal. Before he could react, the other man planted a passionate kiss on his lips.
Regime's breath caught in his throat, but he pushed Jyzal away. "What are you doing? If someone sees us..."
"I don't know how long I'll be gone this time," Jyzal said, grinning. "I didn't want you to miss me too much."
Regime blushed. "I just hope everything goes well," he responded, putting his hands on Jyzal's shoulders.
The pair swung around upon hearing faint voices down the hall. Regime turned quickly back to Jyzal and gave him a quick peck.
"Come back safe. Our plans are going just as they should," he said.
"For you, I will come back a king," Jyzal said with a smirk.
"I don't think King Titus would take too kindly to that," Regime replied.
"Perhaps he would crown me for the work I have done."
Regime chuckled. "Go!" he hissed. And with that, the other man disappeared down the hall.
Shawn sighed, putting a hand on his forehead. It had been a long day.
"Sire, are you alright?" his closest adviser, Nicaise, asked him.
"Yes, I suppose. I would like some tea," he requested, stepping down from his throne. "I'll take it in the parlor."
Nicaise jumped into action, collecting the tea set from Sanae. The girl looked confused, but Nicaise bowed to her in thanks and raced after Shawn. Sanae, having gotten used to the strange actions of the king's adviser, just frowned, and leaned on her hip.
Shawn made his way down the hall and turned the corner to the parlor. It was an ornately decorated room with a soft plush carpet and furniture with visible legs, making it feel comfortable, but constrained. For some reason, it helped Shawn relax. He stretched, then sat on one of the chairs and slipped off his boots.
Nicaise followed close behind, setting the tea set on the table in the center of the room. Shawn looked at him, normally so strict in the throne room, but here he was relaxed. This was one of the few rooms in the castle he could be himself.
"Please, Nicaise," he said, motioning toward one of the spare chairs, "Sit. Relax with me."
The other man smiled and poured some tea from them both. It was nice when he got to talk to the real Shawn. He sat down across the table from his boss and long-time friend and dropped a sugar cube in his own drink.
"How are the forces doing?" he asked.
"Oh, let us not speak of that," Shawn sighed. "I have had enough of it today." He took of sip of his tea, frowned, and added sugar himself. "The tea is a little bitter today."
"My apologies, highness," Nicaise said, standing up. "I shall get a new-"
"No need, Nicaise," Shawn chuckled. "Relax, it is ok."
Nicaise frowned, and sat back down.
"Is something wrong?" Shawn asked.
"Well, I was just curious about-"
"The rebels. Yes, I was, too." Nicaise nodded. "I know I said I did not want to speak of it, but I do not like seeing you nervous."
Nicaise relaxed a little. "I apologize. I do not get many words about them in my line of work."
Shawn set his cup down and weaved his fingers together. "Jyzal reports that their forces are growing. It seems more and more of my citizens are not pleased with the invasion of Losting."
"That is a pity," Nicaise said, stirring his tea. "I see many benefits of acquiring the sea-adjacent kingdom. We would gain access to much more trading ports."
"This I agree on," Shawn nodded. "I have asked them to form an alliance, but they have refused because of the actions of my father. So, I shall have to become my father and force an alliance. The rebels have made their intentions clear, protesting in the market. Some have even taken to banging on the palace gates. It so does make my head hurt."
"After we gain Losting, they will see the benefit," Nicaise assured him.
Not far off, Regime made his way down the alleys of the Halsting castle town. Normally, he would not be seen without his disguise, but he was in a rush today, sporting only a simple cloak to cover his royal clothing. He paced down the streets, trying to not draw attention to himself until he reached a rundown house at the edge of town.
He knocked three times, then waited. He heard soft shuffling behind the door, then a panel slid aside in the top portion.
"You know it is me, Corric," Regime said.
Regime frowned. He hated when Corric did this to him. "Pelican featherhead," he stated. The slot closed and the door swung open, seemingly on its own.
"I told you not to come here," the same voice from the door slot said. "I told you that I'd contact you. It's too dangerous for us to meet like this."
"There's been a change of plans," Regime explained. "Jyzal has been instructed to infiltrate the Losting court."
"Has the prince really become that trusting of him?" Corric asked, stepping out from the shadows. He lit a torch on the wall sconce, sending flickering shadows across the cold stone floor.
"This just means we can send messages to King Titus much easier now."
"Has he received the last message?"
"I'm not sure. I have to assume so as the carrier pigeon hasn't returned yet. We can make sure soon enough."
Corric grinned. "This is better than the last night of the harvest festival," he said, mimicking a drinking motion.
"My brother has yet to discover Jyzal's true intentions. He is blinder than a bat."
"Let us hope it stays that way," Corric said with a nod. "Jyzal's charm should keep him in the dark long enough."
"Is the next portion of the plan ready?" Regime asked, looking behind him as if to make sure the door was latched properly.
"I have hired the best we can afford. He gave me a discount because her stance on the prince matches ours. She promises the deed will be done when the morrow's sun rises."
"Perfect. After it is done, the final part of the plan will go into action, and our hold on the throne will be secure." Regime smiled and leaned back against the wall. "I shall insure that you sit at the top of my advisory panel."
Corric nodded. He imagined himself finally sitting in a seat of power with all the money he could ever want. Finally, he would have a say in the kingdom's affairs. He smiled.
"I will summon our new employee when the moon rises. I can promise you, the deed will be done before first light."
"See to it," Regime said with a nod. "I am depending on you."
With that, he slipped out the door and into the twilight. Corric watched him go, glad he had sided with the right brother. He would not make the same mistake again as he did with Prince Shawn.
Only a few years ago, he was promised to be made a noble after the king retired. But of course, the greedy prince went back on his word, exiling Corric from the castle. From the moment on, he promised revenge on the prince.
"Regime will provide that revenge," he said to himself, latching the door.
Regime's expression warded off any questions of his absence, which is what he meant for to happen in the first place. He paced down the hall, his dark jacket beneath the cloak now revealed. He handed the ragged outer garment to a servant and commanded they bring it to his quarters immediately. The last thing he needed was Shawn questioning it.
"How goes it, brother?"
Speak of the devil, Regime thought as he entered the dining room. "Greetings, brother. What is to be served this night?"
"I believe it is roasted quail today," Shawn and Regime's eyes shot to the side doorway. The king had entered, as he did every night for their evening meal. "And how are my fine rulers of the kingdom today?"
"Father, I have no seen you at all today," Shawn said, standing up.
"Please, Shawn, you do not have to rise for me. Though I was king, I no longer am. That is your job now," the old man sighed, and plopped into the chair at the head of the table. "Come, Regime," he added, motioning. "You are my son, as well."
The two brothers sat in the chairs across from each other just next to the king as the servants filed in with cover dishes. Regime watched as the cover was removed to reveal a beautifully prepared quail roasted to perfection. Though it was a treat - quails were a bit rare in Halsting - he was not as pleased as he wished he was.
"Tell me, Shawn," King Janus said, leaning forward. He had a piece of quail on his fork, which Regime was worried might fall onto the ornate tablecloth. "How is your conquest going?"
"It seems well," Shawn said with a nod, sipping from a wine glass. He made a face and called a servant over. "This wine is disgusting." The servant nodded and took his glass, rushing into the kitchen to fetch a new bottle. The prince turned back to his father. "I am sending my best to infiltrate the court and seek a way to get close to King Titus."
"I wager you've sent Jyzal," the king responded.
"You know I do not trust him," King Janus said with a frown, shaking his fork at his son. The piece of meat attached to the end went flying off and landed on the floor. "Oh dear," the king said, surprised.
"Jyzal has never let me down before, father," Shawn said, dismissing the accident as a servant came by to clean it up.
Deep in his mind, Regime was laughing. There was nothing funnier than seeing his own brother be fooled by the wonder that was Jyzal.
He was a master of charm, even fooling Shawn into bed a few times. Though Regime was not very happy with those events, he knew they had to be done to keep things tight between them. Jyzal had always assured him that he was his one and only love, even if Regime couldn't help but be jealous.
"How about you, Regime?" King Janus said, drawing his other son back into the present.
"What do you mean, Father?" Regime said.
"How have your days been?"
"A bit dull," Regime admitted, cutting a piece of his meat. "The winter months never allow for much activity. I have been reading more than ever to pass the time."
The king nodded. "Soon the weather will pass, and the sun will come again."
"I hope so. This winter has been cold."
"I hope the citizens will make enough to pay taxes this year," Shawn said as a servant delivered a new glass of wine. He took a sip and nodded. "Much better."
"Last year, they were only able to pay half because of the draught," the king said.
There are things more important than taxes, Regime thought, frustrated. The citizens are not listened to, and I mean to change that.
The rest of the meal passed pleasantly. The king and the prince discussed simple matters, of which Regime had no interest in. After he was done, he stood up and a servant rushed over to clear his place.
"You will not stay for dessert?" King Janus asked, looking up.
"I do not feel like eating anything sweet this night," Regime lied. In reality, he was annoyed, and simply wanted to find something to occupy him until the sun left the sky. He wished the night would come faster - the plan was under way and he wanted it complete.
"I'll send something to your quarters, then," Shawn offered. Regime said nothing, but was glad. The dessert tonight was raspberry trifle - his favorite. He would have hated to miss it, even if the delivery came at the courtesy of the man that would be killed tonight.
The halls were dark, lit only by the occasional torch or sconce lining the walls. Regime also noticed it was quite cold. He made a note to have a fire started in his fireplace as soon as possible. When he arrived in his quarters, he was pleased to see a servant already tending one.
"My apologies, sir." It was Sanae. "I figured it was a bit cold in here, so I started a fire for you."
"That is fine," Regime said with a dismissive gesture. "Thank you for bringing my dessert so fast," he added, spotting the tray on the table near the window. A small teapot and a cup on a saucer sat next to it.
Sanae smiled and bowed. "Is there anything else I can get for you?"
"You can prepare some coals to warm my blankets," Regime replied. "That would be very helpful."
"I will tend to it right away so your blankets will be warm for the night," she said, bowing again. With that, she raced off to retrieve the bed warmers from the hall closet.
Having a few moments to himself made Regime feel refreshed. He sat at the table near the window and poured himself a cup of herbal tea. It had hints of fruit in it, perfect match for his dessert.
Sanae returned with the bed warmers and moved the coals around beneath the burning wood. She glanced over at Regime, glad he was enjoying her presentation.
"It is a cold night," she stated, looking back at the fire.
"Indeed, it is. I hope the servants’ quarters are well warmed," Regime replied, turning his chair toward her.
"They are decent," Sanae said, "though they could use a few extra blankets now and then."
"I shall have a few sent up," Regime said with a nod, placing his cup back down.
Sanae was surprised at this response. She stood up quickly, bumping her head on the mantle. After a moment's pause to rub her pained head, she spoke. "Sir, that is not necessary!"
"I believe it is," he said with a grin. "I can't have my favorite servant catching a cold.
Sanae blushed. "I am glad you think of me that way," she responded.
"You will have a special place in my court, dear Sanae," he said under his breath.
"What was that, sir?" Sanae asked, returning to her chore.
"Nothing to worry about," Regime lied.
As the castle settled down for the night, and everyone drifted off into slumber, there was one that would be wide awake for quite a while. Between the night shift guards wandering the halls, another figure slipped between them like the very shadows she hid in.
Passing by the many doors within the palace, she raced down the halls making nary a sound. Going over the instructions again in her head, she slid up the stairs and began counting the doors.
Six, seven, eight...here. The eighth door. She paused, checking to see if the guards were around.
The eighth door made a soft creak as she pushed it open. Inside, the sleeping form of her target lay, breathing softly. In the firelight, he seemed quite a bit older than she expected. But, having not seen the prince in person, she shrugged. She was here to do a job, and the quicker she got it done, the better.
Withdrawing her dagger, she made sure the blade was well coated. She knew it was, having finished working on it a few hours before her job began, but it never hurt to check. The poison was dried well enough; it was clear, so only she could even tell it was poisoned.
Just one cut and he will be done, she thought with a grin.
The sound of footsteps outside the door snapped her back to the present.
"The door is open," a voice said.
"That's strange. It was closed when I passed by fifteen minutes ago."
The woman frowned. She would have to be fast. Choosing a bare spot on the sleeping man's neck, she made a cut so small that he would think it was a moth walking along his skin. Before he knew better, he would be dead.
The door swung open just as she was finished.
"There's someone in here!"
The guards charged at her, their swords raised, but she was already out the window, catching the wall on the way down. She raced into the night, ignoring the shouts of anger following after.
Regime shot awake. An alarm had been raised; the main bell of the palace's tower was ringing loudly.
He put a hand on his forehead, trying to ignore the pounding behind it.
"What is going on?" he grumbled.
Sanae rushed in with a candle, nearly out of breath.
"Your Grace!" she whispered. "Your Grace, the king has been murdered!"
Regime sat up, a chill running down his spine.
"The king?" he said, shocked, but for a different reason than Sanae expected.
"That's right," Sanae gasped. "Isn't it awful?"
Her face was as white as a sheet. She was scared, Regime observed.
"It is alright, Sanae. I will not let the fiend hurt you," Regime assured her. He stood up, reaching for his sword when the door slammed open.
"Your Grace! Oh, you are already awake," the guard said. "I must get you to a safe place. The assassin could still be present."
"Very well," Regime said with a nod. "Sanae, bring me my robe."
The girl raced to the closet to retrieve her master's robe and helped him into it over his night gown. He thanked her and followed the guard out of the room to a safer room for rest.
The plan will take a new turn this night, Regime thought with a frown. Things will progress rapidly if this is not remedied.
"I knew we had a spy!"
Shawn paced around his throne room the next morning, having refused breakfast. He was too worked up to keep anything down, and pacing had only barely calmed him.
"I knew we did," he repeated.
"Brother, you must calm down. We must find the interloper, and we cannot do so if you are so stressed."
"Our father was just murdered, brother!" Shawn exclaimed, stopping to turn to Regime.
"I am aware of this, but we cannot solve anything if you will not calm down."
"I suppose you are right," Shawn admitted, putting a hand on his forehead.
"Sanae, will you fetch the prince some calming tea?" Regime asked his faithful servant. "I must see to a few errands, but I will be back. See that the prince is cared for."
Sanae bowed and raced off to the kitchens as Regime pushed the throne room's door open. On the way out, he passed Nicaise, who seemed more upset than Shawn. Regime shook his head. That man was going to give himself a hernia.
Pacing quickly to the bell tower, he passed some guards who gave him a questioning look. But he shot them a glare that silenced them. Upon reaching the top, he whistled a short tune to summon a strange-colored raven.
"I am glad you are well, Atella," he said as the purple and green bird alighted on his finger. The bird replied with a soft caw. "Please take this to Jyzal," he instructed her, attaching a rolled up paper to her leg. The bird cawed again and took off, heading for the Losting castle.
When Regime returned to the throne room, his brother was no better off. Nicaise was following him around, trying to offer him tea, which of course, Shawn was refusing.
"That isn't going to help him at all, idiot," Regime said, putting a hand on his face. Sanae looked at him, the tea pot still on her hands and shook her head.
"Perhaps we are better off somewhere else?" she suggested.
"Yes, I agree," Regime said with a nod. "Will you tend to my room while I attend to further business?"
"With pleasure, your Grace," Sanae said, bowing and managed to drop the tea pot.
Regime leaped forward and caught it just before it crashed to the floor.
"I am terribly sorry, your Grace!" she exclaimed, blushing in embarrassment.
"It is quite alright. Continue to be careful," Regime said, grinning.
As Regime went to exit by the main doors, Shawn shouted for him.
"Brother, where are you going? We have a crisis!"
"Please try to relax, brother," Regime insisted. "I have business to attend to. Nicaise will take care of all your needs."
"Very well, but we must attend to this at dinner," Shawn replied. "We will find the culprit and put him to death."
"As you wish, your Highness," Regime said, half mocking. Thankfully, Shawn didn't notice, and continued pacing, finally accepting the cup of tea Nicaise had offered.
A Journey Out of Sanity
Just logs of things I'll like to read about and occasionally remember. Also contains stories, oneshots and drabbles revolving around RPs I'm in.