Title: The one, the Ring and the Farmboy
Category: Clois. Alternate Universe. (AU)
Rating:PG-13 with a few R situations.
Archive: Granted, just let me know.
Feedback: Immensely appreciated. And you know I deserve it! Damn it!
Disclaimer: Not mine, you know it. Don't sue!
Dedicatory: To all the guys at the DI board. You are awesome!
summary: Lady Lois wasn't ready to leave her fate in the hands of Prince Alexander, but he wouldn't give up what she represented for him and his destiny. Little he suspected that a simple farmboy would be the key that would set that destiny in motion, and the prophecy into fulfillment.
The sun had set.
The farm carts had long ago stopped going along the narrow streets and the busy inhabitants were no longer rummaging through the central market, attempting to trade off food or clothes for their last heirlooms, or exchanging their petty coins that some of them still managed to keep from the collectors.
Indeed, Metroporis, capital of the kingdom of Kryptonia, was at peace, -at least for the night- and the entire city had fallen under a dim mantle that silenced any complains or cries. Not that they would reach their ruler's ears, anyhow.
And in the center of the city that had degraded so much from its wonderful glory in so little time, lay the royal fortress of Tehm-El, divine dwelling of the house of El.
Or that's how it had been for centuries until a few years ago, when a new house took over the throne. And now, the head of said house sat comfortably on a chesterfield. A richly engraved goblet rested on his old, wrinkled hand and a wicked smile, on his cruel features.
A man stood in front of him; his back straight, his face proud, his hair already turning grey. He spoke with prudent voice. "My Lord… if you could only give her some time… she is still very young and fire spirited… I'm afraid she might not respo—"
"Samuel, my dear general. You know I would trust my entire army to your command, but I am not asking for your opinion on this matter." King Lionel wouldn't tear his eyes from his dark wine as he spoke with a soft, firm voice that tried too hard to sound dignified.
General Samuel Lane-Eh, leader of the entire army of Kryptonia and Count of Laneria, had to bite his tongue and pretend to believe such nobility.
Yet he had to try again. "But my Lord… I thought you would desire to stay in control for a longer time, to see your plans fulfilled. Why do you wish to rush this matter now?"
King Lionel contemplated this for a moment and then incorporated from his seat and walked to the window where he fixed his eyes on some spot over the dark shire, after that, he spoke; "I am not getting younger, Samuel, but I am not becoming an old fool either. I know my time is coming soon, if not by natural means, then by the iron of my many enemies, or even, from a dagger attached to the hand of my own son, who can't wait any longer to wreath his bald head with my crown.
"No, my friend, by doing this I'm assuring my life. I think I've battled enough and my only desire at this age is to be able to retire to some peaceful palace where I could spend my last days in complete serenity," he said with a sigh. "I think I deserve it."
"Then… you are decided… my Lord." General Lane-Eh, wanted to think of some reason that would apart the man in front of him from his plan, but he knew that that wouldn't be possible, and it tore his heart apart.
"Yes I am, General. Now please, don't set your face in such a grieving gesture. She will be Queen, she is to become the most powerful woman on Kryptonia! By the look of you, one would think you're giving her to the wolves! Or, is that what you think, Samuel?"
"No--! N-no… no my Lord," Samuel raised his hands in denial. "No, I would never think such things, it's only that she's still a child, she is my child. You know how a father feels about these matters."
"Yes, yes, I see your point, but you must remember that this is how it is supposed to happen. Even before she was born, you knew it was going to be this way. It is her destiny." King Lionel caressed his long beard and smiled in a comprehensive way. Somehow, Samuel thought that the gesture collided wholly with the man yielding it.
Yet, he had to obey him, swallow his pride and lower his head… he was a soldier, and he had a king, and a Lane-Eh would never betray his King, even if it meant giving his child to the wolves. Indeed.
"I know, my Lord… everything will be set then… I will let her know of your decision. She must be expecting the announcement already."
"Of course, of course she is. I will be pleased if you hurried this affair as much as you can, General. A week sounds appropriate? Good, Now you can leave." King Lionel waved his hand.
At that sign, one green eye that had been peering through the small gap between the heavy wooden door and the thick stone, started moving nervously and its owner's breath accelerated.
"Yes my Lord, excuse me," said general Lane-Eh and started walking backwards, never giving his back to the other man. As soon as his hand felt for the door, he made his exit.
For a second, Samuel swore he heard steps getting away rapidly, but after keeping some moments of silence, he decided it had been his weariness. He started walking to his own chambers, reluctant guest of the castle as he and his family were.
It would be better if he allowed her one more peaceful night. Tomorrow he would bring her the news. Good lord, a week…
What would she say? Would she be angry? Would she cry?
No… Lois never cried.
"It was a good charade, as always, father."
Lionel turned his head to see someone coming out of the shadows with barely the slightest of surprise. The damned castle had more hideouts and passages that he would ever know and his son had always had the bad habit of spying on him.
"Ah, Lex, glad to see you're as sharp and vigilant as always. Listening to your father's conversation was a custom of yours I was never very happy about, though. But tell me, of which charade are you speaking?"
Alexander, Lex Luth-Or, prince of Kryptonia, smirked as he poured some wine into his own goblet and sat down.
"About fearing that your own son might kill you, I think that's what cut all the arguments from old Count Samuel."
"Ah, that, yes, well, it was not a charade. You know as well as I do that you would do it, son of mine, if you found no other way to gain the crown," he said with a dry chuckle and blinked, raising his cup, as to what, Lex responded with similar actions.
They stayed in silence while the flames crept up the logs on the fireplace.
"So, it's all set then," said Lex.
"It is, and after that, the house of Luth-Or will finally be acknowledged as the legitimate heir to the throne," Lionel said and then emptied his goblet. "Besides, you will win more than the title, that Lane-Eh maiden is one of the most beautiful girls in the kingdom," Lionel continued.
Lex smirked again and said before draining his own wine, "May the gods bless the prophecies and the ignorant realms that rest their faiths upon them."
She brushed her long brown hair absently as she stared at her reflection. The mirror held a young woman with an empty stare and unexpressive face.
Another day had come and gone… another day of unbearable waiting. She hated to wait. She had always preferred the action, to take things into her own hands and resolve them as best as she could, with no one's help. Her mother used to say that it was as if a fire elemental had incarnated in her.
But her mother was gone now, and her fire was under menace of being extinguished by machinations and plans that she seemed unable to stop.
Lois stomped the brush over her vanity case with such strength that the fine silver it was made of bent under the pressure. She narrowed her eyes.
She hated to be a pawn! She had been born being a pawn and she would not allow it any longer!
A gust of air chilled her back and Lois turned to see her little sister, Lucy, entering her chambers. Her darker hair was stuck to her sweaty forehead and her delicate hand was to her chest, as she breathed in short gasps.
"Lucy? What is going on? Do you feel well?" She stood up and went to her side. Lucy took her sister's arm and tried to talk. Her eyes reflected her anguish.
"Lo—Lois… I came… running… you… you have to…"
"What? What is it?" Lois took Lucy by her cheek and looked at her in the eye. "Calm down and then tell me what is upsetting you so much."
Lucy breathed deeper and said. "I heard them… the Gene--father… talking to the king… They've set up… the date…"
And in an instant their roles shifted as Lucy had to support her sister, for the young woman felt her knees give under her own weight.
A date. They already had a date.
Lois felt for the armchair next to her and sat down. Lucy knelt on front of her and clutched her hand. There was a time when the younger Lane-Eh envied her big sister with almost hatred… because she was the One, the chosen… but she envied her no more.
"When?" Lois asked with a flat voice.
"In a week," was the short answer.
Lois allowed herself a moment of weakness and sank into the chair next to her, taking her hands to her face and rubbing it, as if wanting to wake up from a nightmare.
"Lois? Are you…? You need something? What can I do?"
"I... what did father say about this?"
Lucy looked down before answering, "He tried to talk him out of it, arguing that you were too young yet, but it didn't work… and he complied in the end… you know father, that's how he is." The younger girl tried to apologize the rough man.
"Yes, I know…"
They stayed quiet for some minutes, Lucy never let go of her sister's hand and Lois' eyes seemed to be lost somewhere between the fine willow wood wardrobe and the window. Then, she pressed her lips together and straightened her back. Her eyes set with a fire that Lucy knew too well.
"Sister… you are going to do it… are you not?" Lucy asked.
Lois let go of her hand, stood up and walked to her vast wardrobe, opening it. Then she started looking for something until she produced a leather bag, apparently packed and ready for a journey.
Lucy observed her with apprehension and said, "It is dangerous out there, Lois, there are thieves and I don't dare to think of what else you shall find on your way. And how are you going to avoid the sentinels?"
"I know a safe way out of the castle, besides, I can take care of myself, little sister. If there is something father did well, it was to make sure of that. Did you get the horse along with the provisions as I asked you?" she said as she continued checking her gear.
Lucy nodded. Lois had been planning this for months already, knowing the destiny that awaited her.
"Where will you go?" asked the younger Lane-Eh.
Lois stopped her actions for a second and approached the other girl, taking her hands between her own. "I can't tell you. That way, when they ask you for my whereabouts, you will honestly tell them that you know nothing."
Lucy gave into her emotions and hugged her sister. "I'm so sorry Lois, for even being mean to you, for being such a horrible sister so many times!" she said between sobs.
Lois hugged her back and started caressing her hair, just like when they were children. There was a lump in her throat, but she wouldn't give in.
"It's alright Lucy, It will be alright, I promise I will be fine. You know me," she tried to comfort her… and maybe, herself as well. "…You know me."
After some more moments of holding each other, Lois let go and tried to put a smile on her lips. "Well, now, will you help me get out of this dress? I can't run away with all this weight on me, now, can I?"