The Lupine Saga 137

“King Fidel and his wife had a child. They really did,” Va’il said. Everyone quieted and looked at him. “And yes, that child still lives. In fact, he is here. But he is not standing at the side of the regent. He is an object of ridicule. Of hatred. Of prejudice. Something some of you hate so much, for reasons I don’t understand. And, he’s a product of a taboo, of trust, of youth, and most importantly, love. And for the first time in my life, I can be truly, utterly proud of my father. I am Fidel’s one and only son! A half! But it’s true, this hair is from my father, a silvery white. And I, as his son, finally acknowledge it. I am Va’il, son of Fidel Ou Shin.”

Va’il then turned to Ruby, whose face had turned from fear to shock, and said, “There. Now no one will make you try to marry that boy. You can be free again. Don’t worry about me. Your knight will fulfill his duty.”

Ruby couldn’t say a word, her mind was far too messed up at that moment, and there was still an audience and other issues Va’il had to address. He turned again, waiting.

The room stayed silent for a moment. But all it took were a couple snickers from a few random people to get most of the audience laughing. However, the only person on the stage laughing was the wedding speaker. The laughing only stopped when a gruesome sight moved again. Derlik stood tall and turned around to face Va’il. It was a sight that again made Va’il want to sob, to apologize for carrying on, but he settled for tears.

“My Lord, my king. I apologize for my prior mistakes. Giving up my life for you is not enough to rectify what I did to you,” Derlik said.

“Please Derlik, it’s enough,” Va’il said. “You’ve saved me twice, it’s enough.”

“No, my Lord, please, forgive me with my dying words. I can only take solace that I somehow stopped my hand then, and that I moved now when I did. But my body knew before my mind, forgive me for not acting in your interests always. I know, I realize it now, my Lord, that you must be the true king. How else could I obey you? Thank you, my king, for using me. For giving this foreign-born boy such an important role. Truly, they’ll be proud this time,” Derlik said. He bowed, and then finally fell to the ground, never to rise again.

No one spoke for a minute after that, in a silence for the deceased. After which, several of the guardsmen wordlessly carried Derlik’s body out of the hall.

Va’il’s mind was again shaken and spinning, and he still couldn’t comprehend why Derlik would be the first person to accept him as Fidel’s son, but he had something else of importance to finish, even though he was in the midst of great turmoil. Pushing Derlik’s death to the side of his mind, Va’il faced the boy, Listus, the impostor.

“Though they laughed, you know, don’t you, brother?” Va’il asked while walking towards Listus, who shrunk back while looking for guards. But there were none willing to stop Va’il at the moment.

“You’re not my brother, half,” the boy said quickly, and then hid behind Jin.

“That much seems to be true,” Va’il said. He smiled, but the meaning behind it was clear. Even Ruby would have been afraid if she had seen Va’il’s look at that moment.

“You still haven’t proven you’re Fidel’s real son!” Jin said. “Just because you have some convenient stories and odd hair means nothing! A half, you’re saying that our noble king has produced a half?”

“I am, Jin. And I have the strangest feeling that you believe it. I just don’t know what I should ask you in order to get you to admit it,” Va’il said. And Va’il was right. Although Va’il wasn’t aware of it, Jin had felt confirmation a while ago. As had Jane Melonscone and another member of the audience. For when they thought of Va’il, they had the strange desire to marry Ruby to him. From that only two of them knew that Fidel’s edict, the Right, was taking effect, confirming Va’il’s truth, throwing whatever arguments could be levied at Va’il aside. And both of them were troubled, being ones who knew the truth of the matter. However, the Right still had a way of being broken, and Jin questioned whether he should take the chance and rash choice to continue with his own plans, or to think of something new.

“If no one else will, I shall end this traitor’s speech,” Jin said, and then rushed to a guard and pulled out his sword, the guard offering no resistance to the regent. And just as he took his first step towards Va’il, he was stopped, a single hand on the arm holding the sword, keeping him firmly in place, unable to move. “You move now?”

“I move now,” Doufer responded. The lupus had moved swiftly the moment Jin looked at a guard, and had reached him long before he had any chance of lunging at Va’il.

“Doufer, why are you stopping me? Why are you moving now, not earlier?” Jin asked, his voice beginning to panic. Va’il reacted at the name, recalling that the name belonged to Kelin’s father. He looked at the tall lupus with the black hair and fur. And then he shuddered, uncontrollably, as he was overwhelmed with fear. He couldn’t explain it, but something frightened him, frightened every instinct and sense he had, and he didn’t understand why. He looked at the audience, and realized that all the other non-humans in the audience were also seized with fear, regardless of whether they were avian, felis, bovine, swine, or even other lupus. Even the bearans and rhinos shuddered. The black-furred lupus that was lightly smiling while holding onto Jin had turned them all into frightened infants, unable to run.

“Regent, you know why. That other boy was the prince, but aside from some questions about that, now this boy says he’s the prince. Until the facts are clear to me, I can’t have him endangered, now can I?” Doufer asked. He then let go of Jin and walked up to Va’il. Va’il felt himself stiffen, and his mind told him to run. But he had no control of his body at the moment. And it was confusing him, this feeling that had never appeared in him before, something he had no control over at that moment. “Relax. Tell me, are you really Fidel’s son?”

Va’il looked up at the lupus, and watched the gleaming fangs. Before he could even think about the question, his mouth had already moved, “I am, yes.”

“Oh? Good boy. You’re pretty tough,” Doufer said, and then chuckled a bit.

“Thanks,” Va’il managed to say. He felt like he could somehow push through the fear and say what he needed to now, even though it was still difficult. “You’re Kelin’s dad?”

“Oh? That’s right, it was you with him that day. Ah, yes, I do recognize your scent. And now I fully recognize you. So then, this feeling and those words Fidel spoke to you, they are starting to make sense now,” Doufer said.

“Words?” Va’il asked. He had an idea of what Doufer meant, but didn’t think he could be right.

“How good is a lupus’ hearing, half-lupus boy?” Doufer asked.

“Ah,” Va’il said, and then smiled as best he could under the circumstances. “You heard, then?”

“I’m the only lupus who heard, and only a small unimportant portion, some of the latter half, at that. Kelin didn’t, don’t worry about him. A fortunate matter for you, his prior youth. But if you’re Fidel’s real son, it makes sense,” Doufer said. He then smiled and patted Va’il’s head.

“Doufer, do you recognize him as legitimate?” Jin asked.

“Not officially, but I’m leaning towards it. Do you think this half-lupus lied to me? And if he is the prince, you know what that means. And it’ll be the same until it’s confirmed or denied, Regent Jin,” Doufer said.

“Then, then,” Jin stammered, and then he looked at Listus and started yelling, “who are you? Where are the men who claimed to have found you?”

Jin yelled at the boy behind him. However, each time the boy tried to say something, Jin would yell, cutting him off. He then grabbed the boy by the shoulders, and leaned down slightly while shaking his head, then stood and started yelling again. The boy’s expression kept its look of horror, but he kept his mouth closed and didn’t try to speak while Jin continued.

“Just who are you?” Jin yelled, at which point the boy turned and ran off into the hallway. Jin then turned around and faced Va’il’s direction while holding a hand to his forehead. “I can’t believe it.”

About James Ashman

I write books of the fantasy, heroic, and adventure types. So far. I'm an author who loves fantastic stories.
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