Part III - A Snare Made for the King (Die Another Day spinoff)
by Li`l Pixie
The two brothers sat in the parlor as Sanae brought them tea with milk and sugar. Nicaise made his way in after thanking Regime for the help. It had been a rough few days for the new king's favorite attendant. Usually, he was on top of everything, but the stress of the old king's death and the possibility of a spy made things worse.
"You've been very helpful lately, Brother," Shawn admitted, taking a sip of his tea. "I am sorry for causing you so much trouble."
"It is of no consequence," Regime said, making a dismissive gesture. "Everyone can use a bit of help here and there, especially you, and especially now."
Turning to his attendant, Shawn offered Nicaise some tea, which he declined, deigning to relax on one of the sofas with his arms folding over his chest as he reclined. Regime was feeling grateful today as well and invited Sanae to sit with them, but she became embarrassed and politely declined, seeing herself out.
"She is a good girl, that Sanae of yours," Shawn observed.
"She is," Regime replied, watching her go. "There is none better."
As the pair talked, Shawn began to become tired. He didn't quite see what was happening until he noticed that Regime's tea hadn't been touched. He was sure he'd seen his brother drink from it, or perhaps he was imagining things.
"Brother, are you alright?" Regime asked, looking concerned.
"Something is wrong." He grasped his head to balance himself. Nicaise glanced up from his seat in confusion.
"I have felt this way before - in the woods," Shawn said. A shock of realization ran through him. "I have been poisoned!"
Nicaise nearly had a heart attack.
"Brother, how is that possible?" Regime said.
"You would know!" Shawn spat. "You are the one that put it in there!"
"What are you talking about?"
"Highness, please," Nicaise begged.
Shawn pushed the unfortunate attendant aside and pointed accusingly, standing up so fast his chair fell backwards with a clang on the stone floor. "You did it! It all makes sense now - no one else would have touched my wine skin! You made that girl Sanae poison my tea! Why else would you not have drunk any yourself?"
"Brother, your stress is getting the better of you. Stop this insane talk!"
"Oh, insane, am I? Insane enough to know the truth?"
"Your highness, please!" Nicaise breathed. "You're being irrational."
"Why would I, your own brother, do this to you?" Regime said, his eyebrows raised in confusion.
"You want my throne, of course," Shawn roared. "There is no other reason!"
Two guards raced in, followed by the anxious Sanae.
"What is going on in here?" one said.
"I heard shouting, so I went to fetch the guards," Sanae admitted sheepishly.
"Thank you, Sanae, but it seems the king just needs a bit of rest," Regime said.
"Rest? I do not need rest! I need my brother arrested!"
"Please, Your Highness, let us take you to your room," the other guard said.
"I am fine! I do not need rest!" Shawn went on, nearly throwing a tantrum now.
"Sanae, see if the physician has anything to help him relax," Regime said. The girl nodded and raced out of the room to find the palace doctor.
"I need nothing!" Shawn insisted. He was guided out of the room by the guards and lead to his quarters, shouting all the way. Soon after, Regime saw the palace physician race by carrying a small bag. The prince's yelling didn't subside until the doctor left the room.
"I gave him a sleeping draught," the old doctor explained. "He should relax soon and hopefully wake up in the right mind again."
"Thank you, Gaius," Regime said with a sigh. "He has been out of sorts lately."
As the night fell, the three men met once again in the old and dark cottage, as usual, disguised in various types of cloaks. Corric's was the only one that hadn't changed. He had come to like his smelly and dirty cloak ever since the fire that sent him away from the palace. He'd only washed it once since then, and that was about three years ago.
That didn't particularly matter to the other two men, who were used to the strange smell of the mushroom-grower's cottage. Right now they had more important matters to discuss.
"Now is the best time to strike," Jyzal said. "I will prepare myself in the palace for your signal as we planned."
"I agree," Corric said, weaving his fingers together as he sat at the cold, but clean, table. He knocked on the wood a few times for good luck and continued. "Now is when the prince does not know what is real and what is fake. He could pass off something in the night as a dream."
"But if we fail, our heads will fall," Regime chimed in. "If that is the case, I want to be sure those not involved are safe."
"Like that maid of yours?" Corric chuckled.
Jyzal shot Regime an accusatory glance.
"She is a loyal servant. Nothing more," Regime insisted.
Jyzal put a hand on Regime's thigh and squeezed. Regime shot him his own glance and frowned.
"Should we not act now?" Corric asked.
"Tonight is not right. We must allow Shawn to begin drinking again. Tomorrow's evening may be a much better time. He will question what he has been seeing and drink himself to slumber," Jyzal said. When the other two gave him a questioning glance, he continued. "I did not get close to him for nothing."
"Even I did not know that," Regime frowned. "And I share blood with him. How close did you get?"
Jyzal leaned into his lover's face. "Not as close as I get to you," he assured Regime.
"Alright, lovebirds," Corric said with some disdain. "Save it for the bedroom. Tomorrow is the best time - I agree. We must formulate the exact plan."
"I will attend to him," Regime said. "Nicaise will request a few hours off and leave the prince unattended for that time. Only I and Jyzal will be in the throne room, but he will but see one of us."
"How can you be sure Nicaise will request those hours?" Jyzal asked.
"I will make sure he does," Regime replied darkly.
"My, you do have a way with words," Jyzal said, fluttering his eye lids.
"Silence, Jyzal," Corric demanded, glaring at the flirting man. "This is a serious matter."
"I suppose it is," he replied. "Now let us make sure it is carried out well. I will prepare my position in the early evening hours before the new king has taken his seat after dinner."
"You will be sitting there for more than an hour," Regime said, surprised.
"It is well worth it," Jyzal said with a grin, "and I'm sure the reward will be far better than the wait."
Corric slammed his hands on the table. "Enough flirting," he shouted. "Let us get to it!"
"Fine, old goat," Jyzal said with a frown. "No need to become angry."
Shawn had spent the last few hours drinking himself into a stupor. He was so zoned out that Nicaise had to lead him by the arm to the dining table for something to eat so that he didn't kill himself with his overindulgence. The two of them sat and ate in silence, and as Regime entered, even he was surprised at the strange atmosphere.
Sitting down in his usual seat on the kings left side, Regime was served his dinner: veal in a thick gravy sauce. Nicaise sat directly across from him at the king's right. Nicaise watched his boss eat slowly and made sure he chewed enough times to not choke himself.
"Are you feeling better, brother?" Regime asked, cutting his veal.
Shawn did not answer, but he looked at Regime, his eyes sagging like overburdened mules in the market place.
Regime frowned. "I had hoped Gaius might have eased your worries a little."
"I have never had so many of them, Brother," Shawn stated. Reluctantly, he took a bite of his own food as if it had been sullied.
"Perhaps a good night's rest will help you," Regime suggested.
Shawn stood up slowly, but deliberately. "I will retire to my throne for a while. I need a quiet place to think," he said.
"So soon?" Regime asked, genuinely concerned, but not for what Shawn expected.
"Yes, Brother. I need some quiet time."
Before Regime could protest, the king was out of the hall's door already, Nicaise on his tail. He raced after his brother's attendant and pulled him aside, thinking the while about how to get the man away for a few moments.
"Nicaise," Regime said quietly, grasping the other man's shoulder, "let me take care of him. He is my brother after all. I know how to help him relax."
Nicaise's face lit up in thanks. "Yes, I am very grateful, your Grace," he said, bowing. "Today has been a nightmare." He smiled once more and made his way out the side door to the library where he would spend any hours he was not sleeping or with Shawn, which weren't many.
Following the scuffing sound of Shawn's tired gait down the hall. Everything was going as planned.
But Regime's smile disappeared as his brother bypassed the throne room and continued down the hall. Panic raced through him like a winter's chill. Where was he going? There was no way to contact Jyzal; the guards lining the halls in this area would follow Shawn if he had no one else with him as a security measure.
Turning down the next hallway, the sconces grew dimmer, their flames flickering as if they'd been ignored for decades. Regime had lived in this palace since he was born and he didn't recognize this section.
Shawn stopped at an old-looking wooden door, pushing it open on creaky hinges. Regime peered in through the doorway he'd left ajar and saw it was simply a cozy room with a fireplace that was mysteriously already lit. It was as if it were a retreat, kept warm just in case of these kinds of circumstances.
Swallowing his concern, he sent a mental prayer to whatever gods may exist in hopes that Jyzal would figure out what happened and knocked on the door.
Hearing the footsteps pass by the door, Jyzal tensed. When a second passed the door, he became confused. Peering out from his hiding spot, he saw no one enter to room. If the plan was at least going somewhat accordingly, the second set of footsteps was Regime.
Slipping by the decorative curtain that hid the gigantic window just behind the throne, he made his way to the door. He had already made sure the hinges wouldn't squeak for just this sort of occasion. No one could accuse him of not being prepared.
Jyzal, unlike his lover, knew every part of the castle. He had made it his personal goal to memorize the layout of the place, which took him only about a week. To most, that was a feat worth celebrating, but Jyzal made it his job to memorize layouts. It had saved his life more than once. In this case, the skill came in very handy. He knew where Shawn went when he was this stressed, and he knew more than one way to get there.
The hallway was empty, thankfully. But he had no reason to fear, anyway. Jyzal was a well respected member of the palace staff, and no one would even question why he was going to the new king's "secret" hideout.
Finding the door ajar, he peered inside and saw the two royal siblings chatting away. It seemed they'd decided it was a good time for a heart to heart. Regime was leafing through a book, complimenting Shawn on his choice of decor. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Regime's gaze. He knew this was the signal.
Continuing down the hall, he slipped into a closet, which was actually one of Shawn's secret entrances to the room. Shawn had taken him this way quite a few times to escape duties when they became overwhelming. Originally, he'd expressed that he'd like to keep Regime out, but it appeared that right now, his brother was a welcome sight.
In seconds, Jyzal was positioned behind Shawn's chair. Regime spotted the movement, but did not react, continuing to talk to his brother as if nothing had happened. But when silence fell, Regime stood up.
"Brother, I have a confession," he said.
Shawn looked up at his brother, a strange expression on his face.
"I am the spy you seek."
Shawn blinked, then turned white. He stood up slowly, unbelieving of his brother.
"Tell me this is not true, Brother."
"I am sorry to tell you, it is. I have been plotting this day for many years." He looked at his brother calmly, almost as if this were a normal thing to say. "I am sick of your ambitions," he said, his voice growing louder. "You were supposed to die the night Father was killed, but something went wrong."
Shawn roared and withdrew his sword, lunging. But Regime was ready for him. The younger man parried the new king's blows easily, almost as if he expected the attack.
"How could you do this to me?" Shawn cried. "I trusted you!"
"And that is what made it so much easier," Regime replied.
Their swords clashed, knocking over various decorations. A picture crashed to the rug, and Regime stepped on the glass, making crackling sounds.
"Your private space is falling apart," he commented.
Shawn did not hear it in his rage. His face was crimson, and his bloodlust was high. He slashed rhythmically, throwing everything he had into each stroke.
Regime, on the other hand, was more reserved. He'd expected this reaction, so he was not all surprised at how angry his brother was. If Shawn kept fighting this way, the younger man would have the victory soon enough.
But something changed in Shawn. It was as if he suddenly remembered his lessons, and he grinned, taking control of the duel. Regime felt himself shrink back against the wall. There was only one way out – the door.
Leaping over the table, he made his way to the exit, hoping he would have enough momentum to keep going down the hall. His back slammed into the stone and he flinched, giving Shawn enough time to force him to the ground.
This was Jyzal's signal. In a rush of energy, the hidden man leaped out and plunged his dagger into Shawn’s back. The king was taken by surprise, and gasped for air as he fell to the ground. Turning to see his attacker, Shawn turned white as a ghost, blood blossoming from his shirt.
"Jyzal?" he breathed. He stood up slowly, as if possessed and grasped his former lover's collar desperately. "Jyzal...how could you...do this?" he gasped out.
"I have never had love for you," Jyzal said, his face turning dark. "And even in the next world, I never will."
Shawn fell to the floor, all hope lost. His face was pale and gaunt, desperately grasping to life. All the paranoia drained out of him like a river, both giving him a sense of pride for being right, but also a sense of loss for everything he had suffered.
"I will care for the kingdom, now, Brother," Regime stated, looking down at Shawn. The dying king let out a soft gasp and fell to the floor.
Jyzal looked at Regime who only slightly looked shaken, but he knew better than that. It was not unusual for the man to hide his emotions. He approached his lover and held him close, calming him.
After they had both relaxed, Regime glared at his brother's corpse.
"Let the guards take care of this," Jyzal suggested. "I shall go inform them. You are needed in the throne room."
Regime nodded and raced off as Jyzal announced his presence with a high pitched scream, pretending to have just discovered the king's body. Regime held back a laugh as he pushed the throne room's door open.
"Nicaise!" he bellowed, having spotted the confused attendant looking for the king. "Alert everyone in the palace to meet me here. There is tragic news afoot."
Nicaise turned white and nodded, racing off to alert all staff in the palace. Regime frowned, wondering how he would handle the news.
As the days passed, Regime's ascension to the throne was uneventful. It seemed more people than not agreed with his reasoning. Shawn was ruthless as a leader, and the people in the kingdom of Halsting suffered for it. There was not much rebellion after the death of Shawn. It was surprising, but not at the same time. Perhaps the people were grateful for his passing, Regime reasoned.
As soon as Regime took his brother's place, he set up a much better tax system so the people of the realm could manage much better than they had been. Instead of people scrounging for food every day, they had plenty to eat and drink. All of the gold that had went to maintaining the military forces was siphoned back into the people in the kingdom, for Regime knew that a kingdom with no people was not a kingdom at all.
As for their conflict with Losting, Regime quickly smoothed over relations with them rather quickly, and as a gesture of gratitude, sent Jyzal and a few other ambassadors to visit and stay for a week. With this gesture, Losting's king was grateful, and trading negotiations began immediately.
But, now that Jyzal was officially an ambassador, he did not have much time at home with Regime. Sanae often offered condolences to Regime, hoping to see him happy once again. Regime was grateful for her service, and even gave Sanae her own room nearby his so that she could live more comfortably.
The entire realm seemed to change, much to Regime's satisfaction. Halsting went from a gray and sad town to a bustling market within a few months, where citizens traded surplus grain, and those working in the communal fields worked reasonable hours for decent pay instead of long hours for a single gold coin a week.
Regime was even surprised to see how well the transition went. People were happier, healthier, and had more energy, according to his appointed supervisors and ambassadors to the city. He was sure to keep informed and make any changes necessary. He even implemented an open-door policy for complaints and suggestions.
Corric, on the other hand, no longer needed to dwell in the darkness of his home. Regime made him a special mask to hide his scars and adorned him in his own specially tailored palace garb. This allowed him to move into the castle and away from his dark home. While he no longer had to make a living growing mushrooms, he often would find himself back at the cottage cultivating a fungus farm. Regime always mocked him for it, but Corric was glad for the trade off of the power and money he’d always wanted.
However, not everyone was so happy with the change. There were those in the shadows that still supported the late king's agenda. They sought wealth and power, and the new Halsting was not able to give it to them any longer. They made moves to sabotage the new policies and blame the issues on Regime, and the leader of this movement was none other than the late king's attendant himself, Nicaise.
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.