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    ~Li~ (A Fragmented Accord origin story)
    • Context: Kai and I had a private RP session where Li sparred with Erik. Before this, though, Li had been an asshole and messed around with things on Erik’s desk for lulz, including flipping his quill upside down in his ink pot. Erik told her she owed him a new quill.

      @KyroThePurple is Erik Sabarra.

      ----

      Chapter Eighteen: A Gift

      My Erik,
      I love you!
      -Tuli’a

      It was barely dawn when Princess Tuli’a leaned back, finally finished with her two-night project, the lettering of her message etched carefully into the side of her most recent invention. Despite her lack of sleep, she was eager to hand her gift to her fiancé as soon as she could.

      Standing, she almost ran out the door in just her undergarments since Erik’s room was barely a distance from her own, but paused when she remembered how he reacted when he saw she gave little thought to modesty last time she stripped to wear armor. Snatching up a robe, she quickly put it on and then was out the door. A few seconds later, she tapped her knuckles against his door.

      “Enter.”

      Suddenly self-conscious that she must’ve looked a mess with her unkempt waves of hair and sleep deprivation, Tuli’a smoothed her robe down as best she could and tried to make her hair a little more presentable. Taking a breath, she stepped inside and closed the door behind her.

      “Hi!” She chirped happily.

      Prince Erik Sabarra sat at his desk, brow furrowed as he was very clearly hard at work with his regular prince duties. He raised his sapphire blue eyes to meet hers, his expression softening slightly.

      “Princess Tuli’a, it is rather early for you? Forgive my lack of preparation for your presence...” He lowered his gaze to his work once more as he jotted down a few more words on his parchment.

      For a few moments, Tuli’a just stared at him because, good Gods, he was disarmingly handsome in his royal attire, smoothed-back hair, angular features and piercing gaze. She then realised she was staring dumbly, like some smitten school girl, and cleared her throat.

      “It’s alright! I didn’t tell you I would be visiting you, let alone at such an early hour, but I wanted to catch you before you became busy with your, you know, daily prince-ly stuff.”

      The Prince stood and moved behind his seat. Brow creasing slightly, he asked, “Have you rested well?”

      Tuli’a resisted laughing because that was an awfully polite way of saying she looked haggard and exhausted... but then realised she didn’t want to tell him she had not slept for two days. He’d chastise her and she would very much like to avoid that.

      “Uh… I… have been very busy! So sleep hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind.” She hoped this was enough to dodge his question.

      But of course, it was not.

      “Tuli’a, rest is very important. It is not something you should skip. If you need assistance, we could perhaps ask the court alchemist to provide you with a sleep tonic.”

      “I slept!” The Princess said with her hands on her hips, “for, like, I don’t know, two hours or something, but there were periods of sleep! Sort of.” She muttered to herself as she moved toward him.

      Erik sighed and shook his head. “Well, what can I do for you today, Princess?”

      “Remember that time I flipped your quill in your ink pot, and you were all--” she dropped her voice lower with exaggerated gloominess, “--you owe me a new quill because I don’t know how to have fun--remember that?”

      “I… don’t want to agree… but, yes, I remember.” He rolled his eyes.

      “Yes, well, I am here to replace it. But it’s not a quill. It’s something better! I hope it is, anyway.” From her robe pocket, she pulled out a thin metal instrument with a pointed end. She placed it down on his desk, gesturing to it with a “tada!” and no further explanation.

      Pausing, Erik looked at the strange stick-like device for a moment before saying, “...That’s… great… Tuli’a… Might I know what it is exactly?”

      She gave him a look that said isn’t it obvious? Walking around to his side of the desk, she gestured for him to sit back down.

      He sat, but asked wearily, “This isn’t pay back for the spar, correct?”

      “Pay back?” She asked, confused, “Why in the world would I do that? I won that fight, remember?” She then settled herself down in his lap as she picked up her invention and held it up to his face. “It’s an ink stick! Though I’ve been calling it a pen. It’s like a quill, but not! Here, let me show you.”

      Taking out a piece of paper she had practiced on previously, she clicked the end of the pen and pressed it to the parchment. A few minutes later, there was a figure that looked like Erik being pinned by another figure that looked like her, with the words Tuli’a won the spar! underneath the crude drawing. Turning, she looked at him and smiled brightly.

      Erik stared down at the paper, silent, his face without expression. A few moments later, he said quietly, “Tuli’a… I don’t know how you do it.”

      “Oh, it’s easy!” She grinned and flipped the pen around her fingers. “See, you put the ink in here--” she pointed to the end of the pen, “--and it flows through to the nib. The nib, though, is what makes it special! It keeps the consistency of the ink even and smooth, so no more blobs and blotches of ink when you write. Further, it actually makes ink use more efficient! As there’s no constant dipping into ink pots, no ink dries before it’s used! Now there’s a clip on the side if you wanted to carry it in your shirt, and the nib is retractable so you don’t stain your clothing, but it also ensures the ink doesn’t dry up…”

      As she continued to prattle on and on, Erik stared down at the paper, in awe. Her creativity and innovation was baffling at its mildest and absolutely genius at its best. There was a time he had referred to her inventions as toys, but he could see now it was so much more… there was much to learn from his Princess.

      “Give it a try!” Tuli’a’s voice cut into his thoughts as she took his hand and placed it on the pen.

      Slightly awkward because he was used to the thinness and lightness of a quill, he scrawled across the parchment. It was somewhat difficult, but a few moments later, a small smile appeared on his face.

      “...I… I love it, Tuli’a. Thank you so much.”

      Her heart soared as her expression lit up. She understood that was not something he said often, so her gift must’ve left quite the impression. Throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him tight, she laughed in delight. “I was worried you’d find it weird or silly or something, but you actually love it! That makes me so very happy!”

      This was more than she had hoped for, truly. Her tinkering was part of her. She didn’t know how else to describe it, but it was more than just building and creating. It was an actual part of her heart and soul, and like everything in her life, she wanted to share that with him. His recent appreciation of her talent overwhelmed her with gratitude and hope, and made her feel even closer to him as most people found her passion to invent a bizarre pastime - especially since she was nobility.

      Pressing her lips to his ear, she whispered, “There’s a message etched on it too, just for you!”

      Turning the pen in hand, Erik read her words neatly chiseled into the metal. He remained quiet for a short while before he said, “I… am very glad you ruined my quill, Tuli’a…” Grasping his gift in one hand, he used his other to gently turn her face to his. “I love you dearly, my Princess,” he uttered softly.

      Eyes widening, she felt herself become breathless. When she found her voice, she stammered, “I.. I-I love it when you say th-that. It makes me feel like… like I can do anything. It makes me feeling we can do anything. Gods, Erik, you’re just so…” she closed her eyes, “...perfect.”

      Pressing his forehead to hers, he stared into her eyes when he said, “Then I am glad we can agree on this… because I feel the same way for you…” And with that, he leaned in and pressed his lips to hers. Slowly, at first, and then with more passion - more so than usual.

      Her response was instinctive; her arms folded around his neck as she kissed him with total surrender and absolute love. She pressed herself to him, wanting no space between them as she returned his kisses without reservation. Truthfully, she became carried away as the intensity of her affection began to rise exponentially.

      His kisses were deep and drawn out as he found himself lost in the moment. Normally, he would show a bit more restraint, but all he could feel was the wonder that the woman in his arms was his to cherish forever. He knew now he had fallen in love with her long before he realised it.

      They remained like this for a long time - wrapped in rapture and hearts beating in tandem with the other, until eventually he broke away with softer kisses as he said, “We will have eternity together, my Princess, soon…”

      Dazed and panting slightly, she blinked… and then realised she had, once again, lost her inhibitions simply because he had pressed his mouth to hers. She frowned, slightly petulant. “You have far better self control than me, Erik. Hmph.” A moment later, she added on, “...Did you know I’ve not slept for two days?”

      His expression became serious. “ Why? You do no one any favour by exhausting yourself, Tuli’a.”

      She lifted her chin nonchalantly. “I was working on your gift. I wanted it done before our wedding, but seeing as I promised you I would attend all my classes and perform all my princess duties, the only time I could was at night.”

      He scowled. “Whilst this gift means the world to me, your free time during the week would suffice rather than sacrificing sleep.”

      “Worth it,” she replied flippantly.

      His scowl deepened.

      Yawning and stretching, she mumbled, “I should sleep now, huh?”

      He nodded. “I will inform your teachers that you will be taking two days off. During that time, you will rest. Understand?”

      “Mm-hm,” she mumbled sleepily as she leaned in and softly kissed him. She then moved off his lap and crossed his room. Dropping her robe, she walked over to his bed, pulled back the blanket and crawled inside. Snuggling and making herself at home, she called out to him, “‘Night, my love!”

      Erik stared at her blankly, watching Tuli’a brazenly get near-naked and then invade the Prince of Sabarra’s--soon to be King--bed, curling up like a content cat who owned the universe. How in the world was this woman a Princess?

      “You… are unbelievable, Princess Tuli’a, as well as a tidal wave of emotions…” he muttered in disbelief and awe.

      A small smile twitched at her lips. Soon, she fell asleep and was snoring lightly under the covers.


      The post was edited 1 time, last by Malia ().

    • Context: Li visits Erik at night to ask him if he’ll accompany her to the palace rooftop to stargaze.

      @KyroThePurple is Erik Sabarra.

      ---

      Chapter Nineteen:
      Stargazing


      Standing in front of Prince Erik’s door, Princess Tuli’a lightly wrapped her knuckles against it. With a blanket tucked under her arm, she bit her lip as she felt her excitement bubbling in her tummy.

      It was extremely late with most of the Sabarran Dune Palace asleep, but the Princess was still wide awake. It would be a few more days until she would become Erik’s wife, and the very thought filled her with so much joy that she found it difficult to fall asleep at night. It was during this late hours that she felt the impulse to revisit the rooftop of the palace so she could, once again, look upon the starry night sky. However, from her bedroom window she had not the best view of the sky…

      “Enter,” a raspy but strong voice called from the other side.

      Slipping into the room, Tuli’a whispered loudly, “Psst! It’s me! Wanna go do something fun?”

      Pushing himself up on his elbows while in bed, the Sabarran Prince blinked sleepily as he stared at his fiancée for a few quiet moments. Then he said in disbelief, “Tuli’a? It’s rather late, Princess.”

      “I know! I’m sorry! But, Gods, Erik, I just can’t sleep! I’m headed to the rooftop and thought you might want to accompany me?”

      Even in his drowsy state, he could hear the slight command in her voice as though this was not so much a request, as much as it was a demand. He sighed. “This is… highly inappropriate, but… I am also aware you will go with or without me, so allow me a short time to ready myself.”

      Letting out a squeal of delight, Tuli’a bounded across the room and pounced on him, hugging him tight. Before he could respond, she rolled off him and bounced her way out his door, allowing him some privacy to change.

      A few minutes passed before Prince Erik stepped out of his room, dressed in simple but elegant royal attire and looking more refreshed. Tuli’a felt herself blush slightly at the sight of him.

      “I trust this will not be a regular occurance?” Erik sighed as he looked at his princess.

      “Uh…” Tuli’a knew it probably would be as this was one of her favourite passtimes back in Hiana, so instead of answering the question she said, “Well, the sooner we go, the sooner it’ll be over, yeah?” And with that, she took his hand and began leading him through the halls of the palace.

      It was a long walk through several halls, spires and across a few bridges. Humming happily, there was a bounce in the Princess’ step as she looked back frequently at her fiancé, smiling. Eventually they pushed open a door that lead them out onto the vast stone rooftop.

      A warm breeze brushed by as Tuli’a lay out her blanket. Sitting down, she lay back and patted the space beside her.

      Erik did not look as comfortable as his princess did. In fact, he had an expression of alienation and hesitation as he took a step forward and slowly settled himself down beside her. “I suppose the best I can hope for here is neither of us catch a cold.”

      Tuli’a rolled her eyes, “Relax! Just lay back with me and look up at the sky…”

      Lying back, Erik did as he was instructed as he let out a breath.

      “.. You know,” Tuli’a said quietly, “I used to do this all the time with my Mom back home. We stargazed a lot and I told her a lot of things about myself that I never uttered anywhere else… Did you ever do anything like that with your mom, Queen Sabarra?”

      “No. We do not engage in that sort of activity within the family. We take pride in achievement and known action. I don’t think topics like that are particularly popular in the Sabarran family.”

      She frowned. “Well… do you have a best friend? Someone you could share thoughts and experiences with? I have one. Her name is Eva. We got into all sorts of trouble together--” she laughed, “--what about you?”

      “I… wouldn’t really consider any relationship I have had to be of a similar kind. I have gained trust of several commanders, and the respect of noble families who have sworn fealty, whom I do not dislike. As you are aware, I am not the type of person to ‘get into all sorts of trouble.’” His eyes left the sky and moved to meet hers.

      Frown deepening, she asked, “So, you’ve had no one to confide in for things in here?” She lightly placed her fingers upon the area where his heart beat.

      He scoffed. “I have no need for that in my life because I find my answers in my faith, and all my actions or feelings are bound to the benefit of my kingdom. I have never faltered in this. If ever a time I question my morals, it is my family whom I turn to in such times.”

      She stared him for a moment. Six months ago, she would’ve scoffed right back and said something extremely rude. However, tonight she found herself turning her eyes back to the sky as she quietly thought on how she could communicate her view without being so pointedly insulting.

      If I can’t show him by speaking directly, then I will show him with love.

      She took his hand. “Let’s play a game; I’ll ask a question and you answer honestly, then you ask a question and I answer honestly.”

      He squinted slightly. “Why exactly?”

      “Because--” her mind moved to speak in a manner that he would find reasonable, “--we are to be partners in ruling Lokaan Ve’ara, and so we should know the other exceptionally well, I think. We may love each other but that doesn’t mean we know all there is about the other person. Who knows, we might learn useful information that’ll later help us make a decision. Knowledge is power after all.”

      Nodding, he looked back up at the sky. “Very well, I will answer as honestly as I can, though this would be an awful time to learn you are actually a spy here to gain political information for a foreign enemy.”

      Tuli’a let out a bark of laughter that echoed across the palace grounds. She then clapped a hand over her mouth, though still laughing.

      “I’ll start,” she said between fits of giggles, “What’s your favourite animal?”

      “Hawk,” was the immediate answer. “Yourself?”

      A haunting memory from her childhood of a celestial being she had once met came to suddenly as she found herself saying quietly, “...Fox.” She then added on, “And no repeating the same question - that’s cheating. Your turn.”

      “But then that rules out information I might want to know if I… Fine. I’ll ask another question.” He thought quietly for a few moments in silence before he settled with, “What’s your favourite colour?”

      It was on the tip of her tongue to say red but as she looked at him, she found herself saying almost dreamily, “...Blue… like sapphires.” She then looked quickly to the sky above, her cheeks flushed.

      A small smile appeared on Erik’s face though his gaze did not leave the starry heaven.

      “Person you most look up to?” She asked.

      “My Father. No question there.”

      Tuli’a shifted slightly. She had met King Sabarra only a handful of times, and while he had been polite and formal, there was still an air about him that disliked her by default. She guessed it was because she was Hianan. He was an intimidating figure of iron morals and power, and she found herself grateful she did not have to interact with him too often.

      “...What’s your favourite colour?” She added on quickly.

      “That’s not how this game works, Tuli’a, you said it yourself.”

      “Oh, come on! I actually WANT to know the answer! You just repeated my question because you couldn’t think of anything else!” Leaning over, she playfully bit his shoulder.

      Unphased, he stood his ground. “This does not escape the ruling you made, Princess. There is nothing more dishonourable than breaking a law that you yourself created.”

      She was already laughing hysterically at his calm and stern reply.

      “Now,” he continued while pretending as though he didn’t notice her mirth, “had you the chance to pick arcane or divine magic, which would you claim?”

      When her waves of laughter died down eventually, she took a breath and tapped her chin, considering his question. “If I could answer honestly? Neither. I want to rely on my own talents and gifts to build my own future and means to live. I wish to protect others with mechanisms that I build with my own hands. However, if I HAD to choose… probably arcane - because you have divine down pretty good, and so I should cover arcane, and then we’d be, like, a super-cool magical duo.”

      Warmed by the first part of her answer and amused by the second, he squeezed her hand and said, “I am sure that you will be able to build such things in the future, Tuli’a.”

      She brightened at his faith in her, her heart overflowing with happiness. Taking a breath, she moved onto her question. “If you could pick a god - any god - and ask them a question, who would it be and what would you ask?”

      “Intriguing…” Erik murmured as he pondered. A few minutes later, he answered; “I would pick Oghma, and the question would be is it possible to obtain a power like that of a god. If not, then at least it brings the assurance that no one else could obtain such a thing.”

      “You... you would want the power of a god?”

      “It’s not about want, my princess, but if such power existed I would wish to acquire it to further aid those whom I protect. Obtaining it would be more a duty than anything else.”

      Nodding slowly, Tuli’a shuffled closer and rested her head on his shoulder. “Your turn.”

      Wrapping his arm around her, he pulled her closer. “Your... hm… favourite pla--no. Season.”

      “Spring,” she replied immediately. “I love the blossoms and new life. I love the animals and their babies and new families. I love the soft rain on sunny days. I love the cool ocean breeze that gradually turns warmer. I love petals falling in the courtyard and onto the tip of my nose. I love everything about it. Spring is wonderful.”

      He smiled at her descriptions -

      “First crush?” she whispered cheekily.

      - And then his expression fell flat. “Tuli’a, I do not dabble in such things.”

      “Oh, come on!” She rolled her eyes. “Everyone has had a crush at some point! You telling me you’ve never fancied anyone?”

      “That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Erik replied stiffly.

      “Who was it?”

      “I beg your pardon?”

      “Who!”

      He scowled. “Have you not heard a single word I’ve said?”

      Who!?

      He took a deep breath. “Tuli’a… I. Have. Not. Experienced. Those. Sorts. Of. Relationships.”

      Moving so she was slightly laying on his chest, she looked up at him, silent, her mind working. Slowly, she reached out and touched his cheek. “Realising, then… that you were in love with me… must’ve been something for you?”

      He nodded. “Indeed. It was a feeling of both soaring and plummeting at the same time. I was uncertain at first, but now it is very strong.”

      Her expression softened. “Okay, I accept your answer.”

      “Good.”

      She leaned up and kissed his cheek, and then nestled her head against the crook of his neck.

      “Now, how many times have you snuck out of the Hianan Palace?”

      Her face went blank.

      “Now answer honestly,” he said with an obnoxious amount of smugness in his tone.

      She cleared her throat. “Well… I mean… it’s just that… you see… I didn’t usually have to seek permission to leave, right? And I would do the same thing, but through different… passages… and at night! So, seriously, can you REALLY call it sneaking out? Is there, like, REALLY a difference?”

      “Yes. Immensely.”

      She glared before she snapped, “Okay, FINE! I snuck out 2 - 3 times a week and have been doing so since age 9.”

      He swiftly turned, his arms locked around her, so that they were on their sides, as he hissed, “T-Tul’a! That was incredibly stupid! Age nine is far too young to travel into the capital alone, let alone a princess!”

      She stiffened in his arms. “I-I know! I still remember what happened when I…” her voice trailed off as she remembered how she had met Eva. Shaking her head, she continued, “But I’ve no regrets! I’ve seen a side of Hiana that even my Mother has not witnessed! I know its people because I have walked with them, and I love them, and I would die for them, and… and…” She squeezed her eyes shut, “...I love the freedom.”

      A moment passed as he was unsure how to respond until he finally said, “...You are fantastically lucky to be alive, Tuli’a. Evil lurks at all corners of the world, and especially among masses where you may not be found or heard or… I worry.”

      Again, she realised six months ago she would’ve snapped at him with a firm fuck-you-and-fuck-off. But now… she found herself curling in toward him and hiding her face against his chest. “I… I know. I’ve been an irresponsible princess. I’m trying to do better. You’re teaching me that.”

      Uncertainty filled him, but he shook his head and sighed. “Well, you are unharmed and have become a lovely, difficult woman.” He kissed the top of her head.

      She stifled her laughter, but still smiled. “My turn. Remember the night of the ball where you almost kissed me for the first time? But then that creepy mage guy your family likes to keep around, interrupted us? What compelled you to lean in and want to kiss me?”

      He was quiet for a few seconds before he spoke. “I… remember this feeling of trust… as though I knew you were someone unlike anyone I had met before. It felt… right. It’s hard to explain.”

      Shuffling upward, she became eye level with him as she kissed the tip of his nose. “If it makes it any better, that’s how I felt too.” She smiled.

      “Last question after this one, understood?”

      She nodded.

      “If you could choose to be someone in the next life, who would you choose and what kind of life would you live…?”

      She answered immediately. “Well, I’d want to be with you. I know that for sure. I want to be with you forever.” She said this as a simple matter-of-fact statement, as though it made all the sense in the world.

      “As for the kind of life… Well. I want to save people. I want to make this world a better place. I want to be in a position where I can aid those who are poor and weak and downtrodden. I want to be the kind of hero I’ve always dreamed would come and save me. I guess I wanna be someone like you.”

      He nodded as she spoke, not cutting in, but as she answered, his expression became one of both pride and love.

      “Last question!” She chirped. “Hm… okay - tell me something you’ve never told anyone.”

      “That’s a bit vague - what do you mean?”

      “I mean… something you’ve done or felt or thought that you’ve never admitted. Something that you keep locked up in here--” She placed a hand over his heart.

      He did not answer for some time, starting sentences and halting, until he finally said quietly, “... I… have in the past found shame in the decisions of my ancestors. Quite a large number in our Sabarran bloodline have traveled across waters or across this land to free cities and invaded, slaughtering and enslaving. Over time their names have been written down in the tomes of legends, recording their deeds as outstanding exploits of militaristic combat and trade negotiation. I have a great love for my land, but I also have a deep shame for it. I hope I can have no more foul rulers inhabit this land again. If I spoke these words, though, it’d be considered treasonous… but the thoughts are there…”

      Tuli’a went still in his arms, wide-eyed at his confession. She then reached for him, taking his face in her hands, pressing her forehead to his own. Her voice shook as she whispered, “I love you, Erik Sabarra, so so so much, and I always will no matter what, no matter where we are, no matter what the future brings. My heart is yours.” She understood what it meant for him to say such things to her, and so she did not take this lightly.

      His expression remained stoic, but his arms tightened around her as he planted a kiss on her cheek. “Now, given you broke your own rule earlier, I deem it is only fair that I get to ask the same question in return.”

      She sighed, but did not put up a fuss. “Okay...”

      “...I… act as I do - wild, defiant, contrary - not just because I enjoy it, because I do, but because… I fear following in the footsteps of my Mother, my Queen. She is my inspiration and all who know her admire her so, and I worry that if I really do try to live up to her that I will fail miserably. It’s easier to be a wild child and have people reject me on the basis that I never cared in the first place. But to try and fail, and to fail because I simply was not good enough... I fear that very much.”

      Her confession trailed off into a whisper as she turned away from him, ashamed.

      He was quiet before he said, “Many have made the same decision as you, Tuli’a, and I understand your worry. However… acting like that only makes you weaker, as well as prone to failure. Making mistakes is part of growing and training for greater trials you will face - it is not something from which you should run. Forgive my bold words, but this will only hinder you, not make things better for you, my Princess.” He lifted his hand to her shoulder and gently turned her back to him.

      She did so willingly, rolling back into his embrace as she buried her face against his neck. After a moment, she said, “... Then I will try. I will try to be a strong, kind princess who rules fairly and with justice, and a queen you can be proud of. If you believe in me… I feel like I can do anything.”

      He lifted her face to his by her chin. “That is all I can ask - that we make each other stronger.”

      She smiled through tears… and then whispered, “But what’s your favourite colour?”

      “Shush. Don’t ruin this.”

      She laughed.

      “It is late, my princess, we should be heading back.” He stood and offered his hand.

      She almost argued, but then remembered she wanted to do better. So she took his hand, stood and folded up her blanket. Turning to him, she squeezed his fingers and said, “Did you enjoy yourself tonight, Erik?” She tried to sound casual, but she was nervous deep down as she had insisted they play this game as a means to show him it was alright to open up to her.

      He thought for a moment and then said, “In moderation, I would like to do this again. It was lovely. Thank you, Tuli’a.”

      In moderation she understood to mean don’t drag me out of my bed in the middle of the night. Still, she bit her lip and tried not to laugh. She did, however, throw her arms around his neck. “Thank you so much for tonight, Erik. It means so much to me. Will you escort me to my room?”

      He smiled as he kissed her forehead. “Of course, my lady. To bed.”


      The post was edited 1 time, last by Malia ().

    • Chapter 20:
      Honour. Love. Duty.

      Context: The day of the wedding draws near. Prince Erik and Princess Tuli’a are deeply in love and want nothing more than to start their future together as husband and wife.

      Today is the annual Sabarran Warriors’ Tournament - a festival where fighters from all over Lokaan Ve’ara compete in a tournament for glory and honour. Erik, as he does every year, is competing. Princess Tuli’a watches on from a private balcony.

      @KyroThePurple is Erik Sabarra.

      ----

      The nobility sat in the shade of their private balconies overlooking the blood-stained arena, fanning themselves in the Sabarran heat. The only noble who had completely abandoned her seat so that she could lean over the edge of her balcony to get a better look, was Princess Ata Tuli’a Felaga'i. Wide-eyed and excited, she watched as her soon-to-be-husband Prince Erik Kalal Sabarra, enter his second round against an Elvin combatant. Erik had picked a halberd for this fight while his opponent wielded chains with rounded blades on the ends. When the Prince caught the chain around his weapon and jerked the elf forward, following up with a swift boot to the gut, Tuli’a let out a gasp.

      “Did you see that? Did you see that!?” The Princess cried out as she pointed and turned back to the other nobility seated behind her. “That’s my fiancé! He’s going to win this tournament!”

      Polite smiles and mutters of “of course my lady” followed her confident claim.

      Of course, no one doubted this. Prince Erik Sabarra had been competing in this tournament since age 14 and, every single year, landed 1st place. It was known - expected, even - that the men of the Sabarran Royal Family would always dominate at the annual Sabarran Warriors’ Tournament. For everyone else, this was standard. But for Princess Tuli’a, this was one of the most thrilling experiences of her life.

      “That’s my fiancé,” Tuli’a would whisper proudly to any person who walked by, pointing down to the Prince of Sabarra, despite him being one of the most well-known people on the entire continent. At one point, she even grabbed the shoulders of another noble and shook him furiously as she shouted “OH MY GODS, DID YOU SEE THAT!?” while staring down at Erik.

      The fight ended when the elf fell unconscious and the Prince stood over him, victorious. Roaring and cheering erupted from all over the coliseum. Raising his head, his expression remained stoic as his eyes moved to the balcony where he knew his Princess watched.

      Even with the deafening cries of the audience ringing throughout the arena and the congratulatory murmurs from those around her, everything fell silent as her eyes locked with those of her Prince. Breath caught in her throat, she placed a hand over her throbbing heart and smiled dreamily. Despite the distance, she saw a discreet but determined smile curve on his handsome face. No such subtlety was returned as she very blatantly blew a kiss from the balcony, down to the Prince of Sabarra. The action was seen and adored by the audience as onlookers cheered louder.

      The tournament carried on, fight after fight. Tuli’a’s enthusiasm never died. She shouted and flailed, bragged to anyone and everyone about how Erik was her love and he was the most skilled warrior in all of Lokaan Ve’ara. She was brimming with pride and joy as her fiancé took down opponent after opponent, victory after victory.

      It was close to dusk when the final round took place. Prince Erik was to face-off against a goliath warrior from the Raqala Clan. Though the Prince was expected to win, it was no surprise either that one of the Raqala had made it this far; they were a fierce, terrifying tribe with a reputation that kept most of Lokaan Ve’ara out of their territory. Princess Tuli’a gazed down curiously at the goliath - she had heard certain rumours about the leader of the Raqala…

      The fight began. The goliath wielding two warhammers proved very quickly why he was worthy to have made it to the finals; he was vicious and alarmingly durable. Tuli’a had no doubt in her heart Erik would win, but she would still wince whenever a warhammer would strike against her Prince’s shield, the sound reverberating throughout the arena. This battle seemed to draw out longer than the others, and that made her stomach twist with anxiety.

      Fortunately, the end came when Erik found an opening and disarmed his opponent, and then delivered a blow so powerful that the goliath stumbled and fell to the ground, unconscious. Letting out a breath, the Prince stood tall as the crowd roared - cheering, shouting, stamping their feet and beating their chests in honour of Sabarra’s next king.

      Tuli’a leapt to her feet, cried out and clapped, so overwhelmed was she with love for her Prince. Watching as he moved to a podium to, once again, claim his title - the greatest warrior in Lokaan Ve’ara - he gave off an aura of intimidation, power and regal pride.

      It was in this moment where a line of shackled Sabarrans were lead into the coliseum. The audience cried in excitement and outrage.

      Tuli’a cringed and looked away. She was aware of this tradition; the winner of the tournament was given the “honour” of beheading the worst criminals in Sabarra. Those who had committed treason, rape, murder, and had been foolish enough to be caught by the law, were punished by decapitation in front of all of Sabarra. It wasn’t as though capital punishment didn’t exist in Hiana either - the worst crimes were met with execution, but it normally wasn’t made a public spectacle or considered some bizarre way of honouring the land. Further, she plain just did not enjoy seeing any sort of execution. The sight made her stomach turn and… truthfully, she wished for a way to be able to rehabilitate everyone so that maybe… just maybe… such barbaric acts would not be needed one day.

      The moment the blade fell, she was more than aware as the crowd hissed and screamed at the action. Squeezing her eyes shut, she waited for the ordeal to be over. It was the first time she had taken her eyes away from her beloved, so she counted silently in her head and waited for some indication that it was finished. It was when the crowd fell silent and concerned whispers began to weave its through the audience that Tuli’a opened her eyes. When she looked down into the arena, a small gasp escaped her lips.

      An elderly man who was very clearly crippled, was limping in his shackles toward the podium. Guards pulled him along and lead him to Erik. From behind the old man was a small family, also shackled - a woman who looked just a bit older than Tuli’a, two small boys with the oldest one looking no more than 13 years of age, and a newborn baby curled up in the young mother’s arms.

      Breath stilled, Tuli’a felt both horror and terror make her heart constrict painfully.

      “I heard this old fool actually assaulted the Grand Vizier.”

      “How? He can barely walk!”

      “Well, I certainly will not doubt the word of the Grand Vizier!”

      “I’m not doubting! I just -”

      Despite the heat, whispers from other nobility made Tuli’a’s entire being grow cold. Chest heaving, she leaned over the balcony and stared, eyes straining, at the sight below.

      No… he’s not going to do it. Erik would not do this. He’s not going to execute this family. He wouldn’t. I know him. I know my love.

      The family were shoved to their knees, heads bowed. The children were weeping. The baby moved restlessly.

      Erik’s voice played in her head as she remembered the night they star-gazed together:

      I have in the past found shame in the decisions of my ancestors…

      … I have a great love for my land, but also a deep shame for it. I hope I can have no more foul rulers inhabit this land again.

      Erik halted before the family for a moment, and then asked them for their dying words.

      Wait. He can’t do this. He can’t. I know the vows he’s going to recite at our wedding. We practiced them. He said he wanted to be a better person, to rule justly, to-

      The family spoke quietly and he nodded. A soldier appeared who pried from the mother’s arms, her baby. Her arms shook and she let out a wail of despair as she watched her child be taken from the arena.

      The Prince raised his weapon.

      Erik-!” was as far as Tuli’a got before his blade fell.

      It would be an image Tuli’a could not erase from her mind for a very long time. The old man falling, broken and frail. The mother’s crying abruptly stopping as she dropped to the earth. The children curled up in their own pools of blood, their tiny bodies a crumpled mess on the coliseum ground. The echoes of the baby’s cries as it was carried further and further away from its now-dead family.

      Tuli’a stumbled backward, hand on her chest, her breathing coming in harsh gasps.

      “My lady?” A voice spoke, “Are you alright - “

      She turned and ran. Out of the balcony. Down several flights of stairs. Through corridors. She ignored the calls of soldiers, recognising her as she dashed by. Emerging from the coliseum, she fell to the earth and vomited. Holding her gut, her stomach would not cease thrashing and writhing. She vomited again. Pulled herself to her feet. Stumbling, she somehow made her way back to the Sabarran Dune Palace. She didn’t know how because her mind was in a haze of shock and numbing fear, but her feet walked a jagged path back to where she was most familiar.

      Stairways. Corridors. Halls. Bridges and towers. She passed through the palace, barely seeing it. Not wanting to see it. Had she said she came to love Sabarra? How? How did she love a place so cruel, so inhumane, that it could… that it could…

      Her room was opposite Erik’s. She looked at the door she knocked on so often, eager and excited to see the man on the other side. Tremors overtook her body, violently shaking her as she fell to her knees and threw up once more. Weakly, she pushed open the door to her room and somehow found her way to the bed. She collapsed and cried. Tears ran down her cheeks and soaked into her pillow. Misery, betrayal, heartbreak consumed her as she pushed her face deeper into the soft material and screamed. Erik appeared in her mind, smiling, gentle, touching her and whispering that he loved her. She screamed again.

      I can’t be here. I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. Erik. Why? I thought you said you didn’t want to be like this. I thought we could work through everything together. I thought… I thought…

      It had all been a dream. Everything. Love had made her think she could look past the cruelty of Sabarra. She had even foolishly thought she had changed him. She had really, with all her heart, believed that she could make a difference. That she really had been able to touch the heart of the Prince unlike anyone else.

      Why? Because he kissed you? Because he said -I love you-? Because he made love to you? Did you really think that made you special, you stupid girl?

      Overwhelming despair took her as she cried and cried. The tears would not stop.


      The post was edited 1 time, last by Malia ().