As the palace I called home burned all around me, I saw my life flash before my eyes. All the events that had led up to this point, every wrong turn that was made, everything that had harmed all those filled my consciousness as I ran towards the palace's throne room.
The once beautiful and extravagant hall, decorated with artwork, plant life from all over the empire and portraits of past generations, was now blackened or burnt to a crisp from the raging fire that consumed the hall.
Pushing open the battered door to the room, a wave of emotions tore through me. I could no longer think; I felt sick. There before me was a collapsed throne. The King on his knees begging for mercy, his cheeks reddened from his tears, his robe and attire ripped, burnt and bloodied.
Standing over him, his eyes darkened with hatred, bloody blade in hand, and his sophisticated white attire, an outfit I fell in love with so many years ago covered in blood, was the ‘Crown Prince.’ His name was Prince Alexander.
The royal household had treated the prince as undesirable for all his life. He came to this world through the King's affair with a former palace maid.
As such, the Queen Consort had never seen the prince as a royal family member. In her eyes, Alexander was illegitimate, a weakness of the royal family and a threat to his older brother Prince Marcus, who, like her mother, shared the same distaste for his brother and viewed him as a threat to him claiming their father’s throne.
As the child grew and was slowly introduced to high society, many of the nobles close to the royal family began questioning the boy and, as a result, the King. How can a boy with brown hair and purple eyes be a son to a family whose defining feature was its silky white hair and deep blue eyes?
The Queen Consort devised a plan to silence the rumours that threatened the royal family and her son’s opportunity to have a throne to inherit. In a matter of days, news revealed that Prince Alexander was a distant nephew of the King whose family had since perished during the War of Unification. Alexander was merely adopted into the royal family, and the rumours of adultery were spread by one of the Palace maids. This person was Alexander’s mother.
As punishment for her crime, she was sentenced to a public execution.
I will never forget that day for how dark and horrific it was. Prince Alexander cried day and night, knowing he was about to lose his mother. He pleaded and begged his father to stop this but to no avail. Alas, as this Kingdom was one of many dukedoms, anything that could be used to topple the already fractious state of affairs was welcomed by those who sought the King’s head.
He turned a blind eye, and I think that’s when I saw Alex realize that this world he was born into was unkind, unforgiving and ruthless.
On the day of the execution, Prince Alexander was granted permission to walk with the Palace maid to the execution sight. His head was hung low, tears rolling down his reddened cheeks as he walked his mother through the crowds of people who cursed and disowned his mother.
Never once did his mother waiver, though. Her resolve until the end was steadfast; I loved that Prince Alexander’s mother, she always remained calm and treated each day as a blessing. I watched from a seat high above the execution sight.
Once they made it to the steps of the execution sight, Alexander’s mother turned towards her son, knelt down and embraced the young child. Finally, tears rolled down her face as she gave the boy as many kisses as possible. A smile fell onto her lips as she looked at the boy one last time, mouthing the words “I love you, I love you with all my heart.”
I will never forget the look on the face of the King as he watched the execution. It was dead, almost indifferent. On the other hand, the Queen Consort and Prince Marcus were joyous because they eliminated the only real threat to their power, Alex’s mother.
As you’d expect, Alexander was never the same after that. His treatment within the palace had gotten worse now that there was no one there to oppose the Queen Consort. As for those rumours, they died alongside Alex’s mother on the day of the execution. Never once did anything pertaining to adultery pop up ever again.
His mother died at the hands of his stepmother, and his father did nothing to help. The only ‘saving grace’ awarded to Alexander was that his mother was buried in the furthest corner of the palace grounds, where no one could see the grave.
Every year after that dark day, Alexander would grieve at his mother. He would stay there for hours, staring lifelessly at his mother’s grave. Sometimes, whenever I visited, I would find him asleep at the foot of the grave, his face reddened from yesterday's tears.
It always pained me to see him like that, and I wish I could have done something about it.
“P… Please, Alex… Have mercy,” begged the king as he began to kiss the bloodied feet of the Prince.
Without hesitation, the Prince raised his sword and struck the shoulder of the King, causing the elderly man to scream in pain.
“Mercy?!” screamed the Prince. “What do you know about that ‘father’?!’ he said, driving his sword deeper into his father’s shoulder. “Negligence. Pain. Suffering. Betrayal. Have I missed anything?” Alexander asked as he aggressively cut off the King’s arm.
“Alex, stop!” I cried out
His head slowly turned towards me, smiling deviously, his eyes empty, void of light. His figure only projected hatred. “Fine,” he said before striking the neck of the King with his sword.
He slowly walked towards me with a crown and his sword in the other. On the other hand, I couldn’t find the strength to move; it was as though my feet were moulded into the floor I stood on. Dropping to my knees, I couldn’t help but feel the need to vomit. This wasn’t Alex. The person I loved would have never done anything like this -- this was not him. I refused to believe it.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, lifting my head with his dirtied hands, his eyes locked with mine as I began to shake in fear. These were the eyes of a man who had gone insane. These were the eyes of a murderer, not someone I loved.
“You’re not Alex,” I whispered as tears began to roll down my cheeks. “The man I loved would have never done something as evil as this.”
The Prince strengthened his grip around my cheeks as he pulled me closer to him. “Are you going to commit treason, too?” he asked, smiling at me. “Are you going to betray me like the others?!”
“Please Alex… Please”
“I thought you loved me, Sophie,” he shouted, thrusting his sword into my abdomen.
“In your next life… please save me. For I have committed too many sins,” he whispered, slowly laying me down on my side as life began to slip away from me.
I stared blankly at the body of the King who lay just beyond my gaze. I could no longer feel the heat from the fires around me. It was almost as though the palace was no longer burning. The floor felt cold. I felt my consciousness begin to fade as the support pillars that once held up the roof to the throne room began collapsing.
I’m going to die here.
During my dying moments, I couldn’t help but think of those words “In your next life… please save me”. Despite everything that had happened, in the end, Alexander wanted to be the one saved. How selfish of him.
The Lady in shining armour. It has a nice ring to it. Okay, game on. In my next life, I will make sure to be the one to save you.