This is my second story… another AU. I don't think I copied this idea from anyone but if I did please let me know and I will give them due credit. It will contain drama, action/adventure and romance… mostly Kaoru x Battousai/Kenshin.
I can only hope you will enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it! And now without further ado- on to the story!
Romancing the King Chapter 1
The end of one, beginning of another
Prayers from all over the country rose to greet the morning sun just peeking over the mountaintops in the East. The Queen was giving birth, and news from the Castle were gloomy when it came to her health. Already two days ad passed, and the new heir to their kingdom had yet to arrive.
Heads bowed the peasants prayed, all work resting as by order of the King, for the health of their beautiful young Queen and the future of their country. Only when the most brilliant ray of morning light reflected off the roof of the castle's highest tower and the joyous tolling of the bells sounded across the land did the people lift their faces, look at each other and silently pray for a better future for themselves under the new King that had been born that instant. Hope died last, even in a country like Dunkelland.
The King was furious. Hadn't he explicitly ordered his wife to bear him a son? Yet not only had she defied his order, but had dared to die in childbirth as well? The King couldn't believe that. Not his faithful wife, not the woman who had killed two female children without any complaint. His glowing reddish-brown eyes settled on the old midwife who had scuttled away from his wrath and was cowering in one corner of the room, a small bundle in her arms.
"You dare tell me I have yet another daughter after announcing my wife is dead?" he roared. The frightened glances of the woman and the thin wail from the bundle in her arms were his only answer.
"I will not have this!" The King was beyond livid. The midwife clung tighter to the child, the last child of her beloved mistress. Her King was advancing on her, his measured strides full of rage and hatred. I guess your life will be short, little one she thought, remembering the Queen gasping as her life ebbed away. A loving look had been in the eyes of the young woman, love and a fear greater than anything a human should have. I promised I wouldn't let her die, I promised my mistress… she said the child was the last gift the Gods had given her… I was not to let her little girl die, the little girl she gave the name of a sweet smell… Warily, she eyed her King come closer.
Suddenly, the King's movements halted altogether. His rage seemed to subside as a sly look crept upon his face. The midwife shuddered when an evil smile touched his lips, more a snarl than the expression of happiness it was supposed to be. Then he held out his hands.
"Give him to me."
The midwife tried to retreat further into the corner, wanted to pretend she hadn't heard what her master had said. Her withered hands clutched the fine fabric wrapping the tiny infant.
"Didn't you hear me? I said to give him to me! I want to hold… Kamiya!"
Trembling, the midwife obeyed the command, knowing without doubt it would be her death if she didn't.
"Thank you." The child looked even smaller in the giant King's arms. The midnight blue eyes of a newborn peered from the folds, staring in rapt fascination into the dreamscapes that conscious thought could never enter. The King didn't look into them; he didn't even look at his child. He held it without love, shifting his grip so the baby was cradled in the crook of his left arm, leaving his right hand free to grab the sword hanging at his side.
"I can't have anyone know that my son is my daughter," the King murmured to himself. A silver flash streaked through the air, and the midwife fell, her gown quickly drenched in red from where her chest had been slashed.
A frightened gasp came from behind the screen separating the Queen's closet from her room. As the King whirled around, the baby in his arms and his eyes glowing a terrifying red, the midwife tried to reach the screen with one outstretched hand.
"No… don't!" her voice was drowned out by her own blood as she drew her last, gurgling breath.
The King didn't even notice her as he stalked towards the screen, yanking it open and exposing the trembling figure of a small boy of maybe five years of age. "You…!" the King screamed.
"What is it, Sir?" The captain of the King's guard came rushing into the room when he heard his master scream. He found him, a baby in one of his arms, his other arm holding a little boy up to face level, his hand squishing the child's throat. Strangely enough, though the boy was shaking in fear he didn't move his gaze from the King's enraged face, large eyes hefted onto glowing red ones.
"Dispose of this while I take care of my son and this woman," the King threw him the boy, who fell short of the captain's arms and crashed onto the floor with a sickening thud. A small cry escaped from his throat as blood seeped from a long cut on his left cheek made by one of the surgical instruments the King had thrown around in his rage. The boy didn't move once his body had come to rest, blood staining the expensive honey-colored wood of the floor. His hands were curled around his midriff, making his figure seem even smaller than it was. The captain bowed, scooped the boy up by the shirt he was wearing and left the Queen's room and its smell of death. So the unfortunate midwife had let the Queen die- the scalpels, bloody rags and the stiff body in the bed were proof of that- but at least not before she had delivered the heir of Dunkelland. But why did the boy have to die?
Perhaps he is a relative of that woman's the Captain thought, studying the frail figure of the boy who hung motionless in his grasp, breath labored as his windpipe had almost been crushed in the King's fist.
"Are you going to kill me?" the lilting, innocent voice almost brought tears into the captain's eyes when he nodded. He stopped in midstride when a small hand brushed against his cheek, the chubbiness and cool softness of the skin soothing him.
"I understand. It's not your fault," the child said, letting his arms fall from their uncomfortably twisted position they had to achieve to reach the guard's face. He smiled, a sad little smile. "Granny is dead, too, so I won't be alone."
The captain felt his heart constrict. That a child this small already knew death… He silently wept as he carried the boy into the castle's courtyard. "Aren't you afraid of dying?" he asked acting on impulse. The boy shook his head.
"I know the name of the King's heir," he said, "and I have to die." His flaming red hair spilled across his back, blood across his face from the cut, yet not a tear showed in the large, expressive delft blue eyes- only resignation and acceptance.
This was when the captain of the King's guard decided the boy would live.
"What is your name, little one?" he asked his burden. The boy averted his gaze. "My grandmother called me… Shinta."
The captain and the boy had reached the edge of the old, majestic wood that stretched out for miles upon miles behind the castle of Dunkelland- the Dunkelwald. The ominous shadows of the trees reached out to grab them, and the slight figure of the boy shivered under their threat. The captain set him down. He simply stood there, a small statue, eyes hefted onto the ground, arms hanging limply by his side.
"I'm sorry, Shinta." As the captain drew his long, silver sword from its scabbard the boy closed his eyes. He was still a child, and even though he didn't tremble in the face of death he was not brave enough to look it into the eyes and defy it with a glare. "I'm sorry."
Blinding pain shot through the boys' left shoulder, and he cried out in shock and agony. "Run, little one, run!"
His body refused to move, blood dripping onto the ground littered with dried leaves and needles fallen from the trees above. The voice of the captain of the king's guard came and went in waves. "Run! You have been given a second chance at living. Shinta is dead- but you're still alive. The will to live is stronger than anything- you will have to find that will within yourself if you want to survive from now on. There will be nobody to help you or to take care of you. Run, far and fast, straight ahead. If you make it through the woods you will find a house. This is where my brother lives. He will take care of you if you make it this far. Now run! Run and live!"
Despite the weakness in his limbs the boy moved, his small right hand clasped over the deep cut in his left shoulder and arm that was bleeding freely. Without looking back he ran into the waiting darkness of Dunkelwald, more frightened of the events behind him he had witnessed and didn't understand than of the woods ahead.
His sword still dripping with the blood of the boy- Shinta, his name was Shinta- the captain of the King's guard returned to the castle. King Koshijirou awaited him at the third gate, his infant son in his arm. "Have you taken care of the boy?" he asked coldly. The captain dropped to one knee and presented is bloody weapon.
"He has been taken care of, Koshijirou-sama."
King Koshijirou nodded his approval. "You are a very worthy and loyal man, Captain Hiko Shimajirou. Your services will be rewarded well."
Shimajirou bowed his head, still kneeling in front of his lord. Somehow, his act of defiance had made him feel more at ease with himself even though he, unlike his more impulsive and arrogant younger brother sought a stable position in life and didn't mind to subjugate himself to an authority for that.
"Yes, Koshijirou-sama." He bowed deeply before walking away backwards until the king turned his back on him. Then he sighed, turned around and went to practice with his men. However much time would pass, the image of a small redheaded child with disturbingly large, wise delft blue eyes would never leave him, and in a way Hiko Shimajirou was thankful for that, for it forever reminded him of one thing he had done right in his life.
18 years later – the second day of the reign of King Kamiya
With a loud yawn King Kamiya awoke an hour before dawn. Throwing back the lush covers of his bed the king got up and went to bathe himself before any of the other inhabitants of the castle of Dunkelland arose. This custom had been ingrained into his very being by his late father, King Koshijirou… rage seethed through the king's veins at the thought of King Koshijirou's death. "Beloved father…" he whispered, his voice a little high and hoarse from the pain and fury that constricted his throat, "I swear, your murderer will be found, and then I'll kill him with my own hands. A crime such as this may not go unpunished- never ever!"
Wrapping himself in a wide robe the King stepped from the bath and quickly dressed in wide tunic, riding trousers and a scarlet cloak as the sign his rank. Even though King Kamiya was still young, barely even of age, he was feared all over the country for his ruthlessness and quick, dangerous swordsmanship. King Koshijirou had driven the young man relentlessly, he wasn't only an exceptional fighter and horseman but could also hold his own in unarmed combat and his shrewd wits and strategic mind had earned him the respect of his army.
He was still unused to being called 'King'- it had only been two days ago that the corpse of his father had been found and ha had been made king… the young man shuddered at the memory of his father's sightless eyes. How the assassin had managed to not only enter into the castle but also into the King's private chamber and kill him wile he slept was a mystery to everyone. The whole of Dunkelland was looking for clues as to the assassin's identity, but the only one found was the one the murderer had left himself- a long, diagonal slash on the King's left cheek, reaching from below the corner of his mouth up to the temple next to the corner of his eye.
King Kamiya shuddered. How could this cruel murderer dare to rob the land of its King and not leave it at this but mutilate his body as well?
"Good morning, Kamiya-sama!" The gray-haired captain of his father's guard, Hiko Shimajirou bowed deeply when he left his quarters. The old man's body shook with the effort it took him to remain standing after a night's watch, and the bruises on his face and neck painted his mistakes in vivid colors. After his failure to protect King Koshijirou he had been stripped of his rank and punished accordingly, and it was only due to King Kamiya's benevolence that he was still alive. After all, the old soldier had served his father and himself faithfully for close to thirty years now. King Kamiya was no monster even though evil tongues dared to speak otherwise. He possessed an iron will and an equally iron hand when dealing with his subordinates, but that did not make him the bloodthirsty despot some people wanted to see.
King Kamiya didn't acknowledge the guard's presence but simply continued on his way to the palace gardens and his practice grounds. He had scheduled a meeting with his new captain of the guard and chief investigator. His route took him almost through the entire castle, past the stables that held the steeds bred for strength and speed and used by him and his most trusted and loyal underlings, past the gardens in which the greens that were served on his tables were cultivated, past the lake that had been formed in one small, secluded quadrangle for him only to use, and past the sleeping quarters of his personal guards. Everything was still deserted, as the hour was ungodly early and the crisp morning air untouched by the sun's rays. Flickering torches were the only source of light for the young king.
Finally, he reached the large courtyard that held the training grounds for himself and the castle forces. A small, cloaked donzel opened the wooden gates for him. Their creaking protests were duly noted by the king.
"You should have oiled the hinges," he hissed, striking the boy across the face hidden within the hooded, dark green cloak that was part of his uniform.
"Yes, Kamiya-sama." The boy's voice betrayed no emotion, not the slightest fearful quivering while he bowed slightly, his back stiff. It wasn't deep or groveling enough, which angered the King whose mood was volatile already without him being surrounded by incompetent servant fools. His kick slammed the slight figure of the donzel against the stone walls harboring the gates, the resounding crack of bones against stones satisfying his anger momentarily.
He proceeded through to the training grounds without sparing the boy another look- and thus failed to see the amber glow radiating from beneath the hood.
"I can't believe that's you," the donzel muttered bitterly picking himself up from where he had slid to the ground after hitting the wall, "but I guess people truly are formed by their surroundings."
… to be continued …Well, how was this for a first chapter? Short? Not really? Shorter than the chapters of my other story at least…
Now, with this story I'm going to depend on you to keep me going. My schedule doesn't really allow me to write two stories at once. Thus, this one is (probably) going to have shorter chapters and will (certainly) not be updated weekly like shadow's Light but whenever I have written a chapter and feel like it. I can't manage any other way, and I apologize for that. I will try not to let more than two weeks pass between updates- but you have to give me inspiration with your reviews? Please?
Since this about all I have to say I'll say but one more thing and that's