The Ashes & the Star-Cursed King

The king knew, in this moment, that his greatest love would also be his ruination, and that both would come in the unlikely form of a young human woman.

He’d been putting off this realization for a long time. Longer, maybe, than he wanted to admit to himself. Clarity, strangely enough, came in a moment of utter chaos—in the raging screams of the audience, in the blood-soaked colosseum sands, in the flurry of bodies and sweat and gore as the young woman barely managed to stave off the brutal onslaught from her aggressor.

The king wasn’t doing much thinking then. He was only reacting. Trying to get the Bloodborn’s attention away from the human. Trying to get between them. Failing every time.

The Bloodborn contestant had one goal and one goal alone: to go after the human.

One strike, and another, and another, and the young woman was on the ground, the Bloodborn towering over her, and the king couldn’t feel anything but his heart in his throat as the sword rose.

And then the king looked up into the stands, and his eyes so easily fell to the Bloodborn prince, standing there with his arms crossed and a cigarillo at his lips, smirking.

He understood exactly what that smirk said: I know what you want. You know what I want.

It was here, in this moment, that the realization hit him.

You have fucking destroyed me, he had told the young woman the night before.

She would destroy him. And it would be worth it.

Because the king didn’t even think, didn’t even hesitate, as he met the prince’s eyes—and he nodded.

One little movement, and he sold away his kingdom.

One little movement, and he knew exactly what he had to do.

The next seconds blurred together. The prince’s smirk becoming a satisfied smile. His signal to his Bloodborn contestant. The contestant’s hesitation, so perfectly calculated, and the human woman’s sword through her chest.

And then it was just him and her, and a prize that only one could live to claim.

Only one choice was left then, of course. He didn’t question it. He had just made a deal to save her life—a deal that would destroy his kingdom, and that he had only one way out of.

Three hundred years was a long time to live. More time, he’d often thought, than any creature deserved.

The two of them stared at each other for several long, silent breaths, unmoving. He could read her face so easily. It was endearing that someone so prickly was also so transparent. Right now, her conflict—her pain— shone through the cracks in her walls.

She wouldn’t move first, he knew. So he did.

He knew her so well by now. He knew exactly how to push her to unleash all that ruthless, deadly, devastatingly-fucking-beautiful power. He was a good actor. He played his role well—even if beneath it, he flinched with every wound his blade opened on her flesh.

Many years later, the historians would whisper, Why? Why did he do this?

If they could have asked him that night, he might have said, Is it really so hard to understand?

Her eyes were the last thing he saw when he died.

They were beautiful eyes. Unusual. Bright silver, like the moon, though usually darkened by clouds. He found many things about the human woman beautiful, but he thought her eyes were the most stunning of all. He’d never told her so. The moment her blade came to his chest, Nightfire surrounding them both, he wondered if he should have.

Those eyes always revealed more than she ever thought they did. He saw the exact moment she caught him in his act—realized he had tricked her.

He almost laughed. Because of course she noticed. She, and those eyes, had always seen right through him.

It was too late, though. His hand gripped her wrist as he felt her balk. His last words were not, You have beautiful eyes.

His last words were, “End it.”

She was shaking her head, the cold fire in her face fading to dismay.

But he knew he was doing the right thing, and those eyes reassured him. Because they were strong and determined and unique, neither human nor vampire, fierce and thoughtful.

Better than his. More deserving of what would come next. “End it,” he said, and pulled her wrist.

And he did not look away from those eyes as he died, by the hand of the only person who deserved to kill him.

Maybe the king always knew that his greatest love would be his ruination. Maybe he knew it the moment he met her.

He’d know it the second time he died, too.

You'll Also Like