The Husband and Hero
Isn’t it incredible how fast time goes by?
When you’re sitting there waiting for something to happen, time goes by so slowly, where you can hear each second as it ticks away.
By before you know it, all that time that seemed to never happen, is gone.
Today is my 15th birthday and I, Shinkyo Bloodsworth, will fight my brother for the throne. In the last five years, so much has happened that I can hardly recognize myself.
Right after my father’s approval of my candidacy to the throne, I had Birch and Willowcrus train me to be able to hold my own on the battlefield. Every day and every night for the past five years, I’ve been training to use my beloved spear and to become stronger and fight off this illness.
There have been days where the pain is unbearable and I can hardly keep myself upwards. But I kept pushing myself forward, so that I could have a chance. Even now, I know I’m not prepared to fight Killian on a fair ground. But I refuse to give up.
Standing inside the knight’s corridor, I can feel my hands trembling as I grasp my hands around my spear. Anytime now, I will be called out to face Killian. There’s a high chance he'll win against me in battle, and there’s an even higher chance he'll kill me for it.
A now 17-year-old Birch stands before me. In this situation where there feels as though there is no good ending, his gaze is reassuring. If I win, Killian will be torn. If I lose, then the people of this kingdom will lose their lives. I can't spare the feelings of one individual for the feelings of thousands.
Birch: “It’s time.”
Bringing myself together, I lifted up my spear. This is it. The deciding moment. My heart can hardly handle it.
Birch: “Shinkyo, I will stand beside you regardless of who wins.”
Shinkyo: “You don’t have to say something so sappy, Birch. You’re looking at the winner.”
This fake confidence last only for a few moments, as I make my way through the corridor.
The vast open arena feels intimating. The sun is beaming down onto us with a frighten undertone.
Killian is standing across from me with his sword in his hand. I can’t help but become nervous as I imagine myself fighting him. My father, King Bloodsworth, is standing outside of the arena but close enough where we can still clearly hear and see him.
King Bloodsworth: “Shinkyo and Killian, today will mark the beginning of an Era for a new ruler of Robal. Whoever wins this fight will have the honor of begin crowned King or Queen.”
I find myself ignoring my father’s sepal as I lock my eyes on Killian. He is giving off a pleading look. As much as I don’t want to fight you, I can’t afford to lose.
King Bloodsworth: “There are no rules to this fight, you may choose whatever means to win. The battle is won when someone forfeits or the other is dead.”
Biting down on his lip, father’s face darkens. He knows this fight could mean bloodshed and even worst death.
King Bloodsworth: “Now Shinkyo and Killian are you ready?”
Killian gives me one more entreated glance. He’s waiting for my answer before confirming for himself. I’m sorry Killian, but this is what I have to do. For our kingdom. For myself. For you.
Shinkyo: “I’m ready.”
With a dim expression, Killian lifts up his sword and tightens his grip around it.
Killian: “I’m ready as well.”
With a choked-up voice, the king announces the beginning of the battle.
King Bloodsworth: “Then begin!”
Before I can make my first move, I find myself losing track of Killian. Just like the novel said, he’s incredibly fast. Taking the tip of the tilt of his sword, Killian bashes it into my stomach. Hardly withstanding the blow, I find myself spitting out blood. He’s too strong.
You can almost hear the panic running through my father and in Birch as the first blood is spilled. However, the ringing in my ear takes over any nearby sounds.
Killian brings himself back around and proceeds to throw another blow at me; this time in my side.
Killian: “You can’t even hold up your spear! Just forfeit!”
I know I’m not strong enough to defeat Killian through strength alone. I came into this battle knowing I had two options. To leave battered and bruised or to leave dead.
Shinkyo: “I will not!”
Killian’s hands are shaking as he brings his sword back down on top of me. It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my whole life.
Killian: “You can’t win!”
Shinkyo: “I can and I will!”
Grabbing onto my spear, I lift myself up. I can feel the hot wind from the tear in my shirt. Before I know it, tears are rushing down my face and onto the ground of the arena.
The color red paints Killian’s face.
Anger, Sadness, Guilt.
All these expressions are drawn all over his face.
Despite this, he continues to throw swings onto different parts of my body. Each one hurting more and more than the last.
Killian: “Just quit! You’ll die!”
His eyes begin bursting with tears as his grip on his sword becomes loosen. Within that moment, there is finally a shimmer of an opening.
In any battle, no one looks at the scars or the blood splattered. The only thing they look at is who won and who lost. And now, in this moment of weakness, I will end this battle.
Using all the strength I’ve stored up, I bring myself upwards and dash my way over to Killian. Within a couple of seconds, I grab Killian’s sword from his hand and push him downwards into the steep floor. Taking out my spear, I tower myself on top of him with my weapon digging closer and closer towards his neck.
Doing the best I can to keep the spear steady and my grip tight, I find Killian with a bewildered look on his face.
Shinkyo: “Forfeit or I will slash your throat!”
These words, while painful to hear, are my true feelings. This life I have lived beside him has made my heart open to him. But no matter how much I love him, no matter how much blood we share, a thousand deaths are worth more than one.
Killian looks directly into my shaken eyes. I’m terrified at the thought of taking his life. I don’t want to.
Killian: “Is me being King that bad?”
Shinkyo: “It’s not that Killian! I-I can’t tell you why yet, but I need to be the heir.”
Tears swell up in my eyes again and down my face onto Killian’s.
Shinkyo: “Please forfeit…I don’t want to hurt you.”
I can hardly speak; my hands are shaking and my heart can’t take it.
With this moment of uneasiness, Killian grabs the tip of the spear and throws it off of the arena.
I couldn’t, even with all this time, change fate.
Standing up, Killian makes his way over to me and cups my face with his hands.
Killian: “I don’t know your reasoning, and I’m hurt that you won’t tell me. But I’m going to trust you.”
Killian: “I forfeit this fight!”
His voice echoes throughout the arena. Words I never thought would come out of his mouth fills my ears. Despite these bruises and cuts, joy fills my body. I couldn’t beat Killian in the end. But somewhere in this life, I was able to change his heart.
Father rushes onto the arena and over to the both of us. Only when he finally arrives do I realize how injured I truly am. My back is completely torn open with a cut down the middle and there are bruises placed in every corner of my body with cuts all over my arms.
King Bloodworth: “Killian, you can’t be serious!”
Killian: “I forfeit…”
Killian, who has always been one-sided with his emotions, is flooding with them. He must be crushed by the reality that he renounced his right to the throne. Terrified and uneasy that I took his place. And possibly happy that we’re both alive.
As the wind picks up, I find myself at peace for a moment. My long hair gently flows against it and my cuts resound to the heat.
And with the end to the battle against Killian, I, Shinkyo Bloodsworth, at age 15 became Queen.
Throughout these past seven years, much has happened to prepare for war. Begin in charge of the entirety of the kingdom made it easy to control distributions and preparations. All of the knights immediately began harsh but necessary training provided by Killian and father worked with the citizens of the kingdom to build better shelters while I planned out for war.
While everyone else was busy with one task or another, I had a special task only Birch could fill.
Three years after I took the throne from my father, I knew that the character Erebus was to appear in the city of Frostala. Erebus is a wandering merchant who after saving a child from a bandit, is promoted as a knight by King Harness. This event was set to unfold, but never did.
Instead, Birch took his place while I brought the real Erebus into our Kingdom.
As of today, it has been four years since Birch has taken the disguise of Erebus and I have missed him ever since. Although it is what’s best for our kingdom, he is terribly missed. I sent him off with three tasks.
Task one: To spy and send messages back to the Kingdom.
Task two: To convince the other characters aside from Fern to join up with the Kingdom of Robal.
And Task Three, a selfish request: To find Zaro.