A pretty cage is still a cage
The room had been laid out nicely enough, a small bed made up with warm blankets, a table set with a jug and bowl for bathing. A stool, books, a selection of warm clothes and a hairbrush. All simple humble items, everything and nothing at all… The windows were barred and high up the wall, impossible to see any view from, yet the wind howled around the tall ceiling. At times crows would caw at the bars, dancing across the rafters, to fly free again with their mocking cry taunting the Princess prisoner curled up on the rickety bed, wrapped in a military jacket. Her tears had dried upon her cheeks and she felt like there were no more tears to shed. Alleia trembled, cold and afraid. Watching the crows with envy.
The bolt slid back upon the heavy iron door, Alleia flinched, sinking deeper into the jacket as two heavily armed barbarians bustled in with Pepe. “You have ten minutes.” The taller brute barked gruffly. Leaving Pepe alone with his wife, the two thugs waited beyond the door.
“Are you here to gloat?” Alleia sniffed.
Pepe sat on the bed with a creak, gone was his immaculate golden curls, his fine silks, exotic satins and lace he favored. His hair was clipped and styled more masculine, clad instead in a smart suit. “No Alleia, I’m not here to gloat.” He had dropped his former camp tone and sighed heavily. “Your have no idea how badly I desired you and how much it pained me to learn about your affair.” He ran his fingers absently through her hair.
“Was our entire marriage a lie?”
“Yes, of course. A lie built on greed, a hunger for power, for land. Land your father wanted to control, my land. You were a sweet bargaining tool, nothing more and I had different plans for you, rest assured. Then you went and got yourself pregnant by a soldier, a common guard.” Pepe spat.
“It wasn’t an affair.” Her words felt hollow.
Pepe grabbed her face by her chin. “Do not waste your breath on bitter lies.”
“You planned this all along?”
“No, Fendor planned this all along. When you got pregnant, I didn’t want you anymore, you were tainted, touched by another man… I had waited so long to possess you, to claim your body as my own, to drop the whole act, I was waiting for… hummmmm… I’ve said too much, you don’t need to know…” Pepe released her face and reached into his suit pocket to draw out a carefully folded document.
Alleia felt her baby kick.
“I can not save your life, precious, but I can save your unborn.”
“I have my reasons and I have no reason to explain myself to you.” Pepe handed her the document. “I need you to sign this.”
Alleia unfolded the parchment, reading through the legal document. It relinquished any rights the child might have to the throne and named Pepe as guardian.
“You expect me to sign this? To sign my child away as your property?” More tears fell then.
“Yes, Alleia.” He placed a fountain pen into her hand.
“Sign and I shall protect the baby. Refuse and you both die, the guards outside the door have orders to behead you should I leave this room with this paper unsigned. Therefore, if you have any passion for your child, you will sign.”
Alleia sobbed, the pen trembling in her hand. “I hate you.”
She signed her name, broken hearted and torn.
Anne Harrison 04.03.17