A Gift: Valeris

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A/N:  Click play on the video above: this song is what inspired this whole piece. :)

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Fingers run lightly across the blade's gleaming surface. The touch is soft, gentle, almost like a lover's caress. He gazes at the weapon, eyeing its short length and gentle curve, its sharp point and its ornate, gilded handle. A beautiful weapon. 

A gift, from the King.

He snarls suddenly, lips twisting in an ugly manner. Spinning the blade, he tucks it inside a blue velvet sleeve, its hilt cupped inside his palm. Then he glances to his right at the dressing room's mirror and sees himself staring bitterly back. Velvet finery, golden jewelry, fine leather boots - all attire fit for a noble.

All gifts.

He feels a powerful urge to rip them off. But he refrains, eyes dropping to his right hand where the dagger is half-hidden. A gift, he thinks, and a dark purpose settles coldly over his mind.

He strolls out of the room and down the hall, his boots clacking against the stone floor. The sound matches the rhythm of his pounding heart.

The royal guard lines the halls and they give him a nod of acknowledgement as he briskly passes them. He ignores them. A noblewoman patters toward him, dressed in regal silks and brilliant shades of face paint. She simpers when she sees him.

"Oh, Lord Valeris! You best hurry, the ceremony is already started! The lady and His Grace are about to say their vows!"

Ice stabs through his veins as he comes to a sudden halt. He looks at the lady. Her smile disappears, and she freezes in place, her expression paling.

"M-my lord?" She stammers, but he grits his teeth and brushes past, already putting her existence out of mind.

A sense of urgency has taken over now, forcing him to move even faster. The Grand Hall is ahead; the large doors have been opened and he can see the noble guests just inside. The priest's voice could be heard, rising above the excited murmuring.

It has started.

He breaks into a run, sprinting the last few steps through the door before skidding to a stop. Blood pounds in his head. The hand concealing the blade is sweaty; he closes his fingers around the hilt, terrified that it might slip and clatter to the floor in front of everyone.

The royal guests take notice of his arrival, but he doesn't hear their scoffs.

"After all His Grace has done for him and his sister, the least he could have done was show up on time."

"Ungrateful wretch."

"The King's kindness is wasted on -"

"Hush dear, don't spoil the wedding!"

He's frozen at the end of the long, red-carpeted aisle, watching as the King lowers pink lips onto the trembling bride's. The guests erupt into delighted cheers.

Yet even as the ceremonial kiss happens, the bride's frightened eyes find Valeris', pleading, begging, screaming. Valeris shivers, and suddenly, the ornate dagger is incredibly hot in his grip, burning as his blood boils with dark anger.

A gift, his mind whispers, as he lifts his eyes to the King. The King pulls back from his bride, his lips stretching in a triumphant grin. The bride lifts a hand, covering her mouth to hide her horrified expression. The King turns, notices Valeris, and his grin widens even more.

"My Lord Valeris," he regally stretches out a manicured hand, "Won't you congratulate us? Your sister - the queen, and I - your King?"

Valeris steps forward, his fine boots make no sound as they touch the floor. A gift. As he moves, he looks over to the bride. A gift. Only he notices the tears in her eyes, and only he cares. He looks to the King.

And a terrible calm settles over him.

He stops before the King. He bends in a deep bow. "My King," he says softly, and takes the offered hand with his left. Gripping tightly, Valeris straightens, meeting the other's cold gaze. "I congratulate you. Please, allow me to present you with a gift."

The fingers of his other hand twitch about the warm metal, then wrap properly around the hilt. Just before he draws it out of his sleeve, there is a sudden shout of alarm, as a guard, guest - somebody - realized what is about to happen.

The King jerks back, his proud, condescending smile snapping into fear, the priest gasps, nearby guests reach out, as if they could pull him away, the royal guard lunges forward, their hands going to unsheathe their weapons -

Valeris yanks on the King's hand, pulling him in close. The dagger snaps out, flashing in the light - a gift - before it sinks deep into the King's chest, piercing skin, scraping bone, finding home.

He let go.

The King stumbles back, mouth working wordlessly before he folds into himself, dropping to the floor in an ungraceful heap.

The guards reach him then, angry swords swung by furious hands to cut him down. Valeris doesn't move. He gives his sister a last, sad smile. A gift.


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