The Emerald-Opal Heir - 20

The Emerald-Opal Heir - 20

A Chapter by A.L.
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The Prince

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It wasn’t fair that Beckett was expected to pretend he was bored when the drama of the stuffy nobles was so incredibly interesting. 

This was the third day of endless debates about what to do with the “goddess situation” - what Baelle was not so subtly calling her plan to overthrow the goddesses. So far, no one could agree on anything besides the fact that they all hated each other. 

He met Alys’s eyes across the room, biting his lip to keep from smiling as she mimed vomiting. 

“Of course you wouldn’t agree with my ideas,” the Lady of Faroshin complained, taking another probably unnecessary sip of wine. Beckett didn’t know why wine was even allowed in legal delegations. “Just because I wouldn’t let my daughter marry your pathetic excuse for a son-”

“Oh, so now this is all my fault,” the Lady of Quigon argued. “My son insults you one time and all of the sudden he’s a monster-”

“He told me I looked like a swine-”

“He was four and he was right-” 

Beckett choked back a laugh but caught Baelle’s disgusted look and straightened his expression. If their progress continued like it had, they’d be here for weeks before anything was agreed upon. 

Baelle stood abruptly, shoving back her chair so aggressively that Beckett nearly fell over from his own shock. 

“The meeting is adjourned,” she announced regally, her frustration evident through her gritted teeth. “We’ll meet again in two hours.” She turned and stormed out of the room before anyone could say another word. 

But since she was the queen and a goddess, everyone was obligated to listen. 

Beckett let himself fall into step with the crowd around him, hiding among all the adults that thought they were better than he was. 

During the recesses, Beckett was supposed to return to his room until Baelle resumed the meeting, but she never checked to see if actually listened. The time was probably for her to cool off anyway, so Beckett guessed she probably went off to torture some innocent person for a little while. 

“Beckett!”

Alys’s shrill voice cut through the mumbles of bored nobles. Beckett spun to look for her but was greeted only by a face full of cape. 

Gloved fingers wrapped around his wrist instead and Beckett let himself be pulled to the side of the stampede. The nobles slowly filtered from the room until Beckett and Alys were alone - Steel and Glass unallowed to attend the meetings. 

Alys looked more disheveled than normal, her eyes rimmed with shadows like she hadn’t been sleeping well. She still looked dazzling, though, but Beckett didn’t admit it. 

“Where may I escort you to, milady?” he asked, offering his arm and what he hoped was a gorgeous smile but what probably looked more like an awkward grimace. “Perhaps the gardens for a nice stroll or the library or-”

Alys draped her arm over his and began dragging him along without answering. 

Beckett didn’t like how uncharacteristic she was being. Normally Alys loved that little game they played where they pretended to be the people the world thought they were.

“Is something wrong?” he asked as Alys pulled him faster, her footsteps reminding him of frantic rainfall. 

Alys pressed a finger to her lips and kept walking. 

At least she was listening to him, even if she wasn’t responding. He wondered if she’d gotten word of something that would help with their plan to take out Baelle. 

Since Alys had more freedom than Beckett, Steel, or Glass, she was supposed to be figuring out what happened to Emmeline and the others and where they were now. Maybe she’d finally figured something out or-

“We can talk now,” she whispered as they approached a large fountain spewing crystal clear water. 

“Talk about what, exactly.” He knew he shouldn’t be so irritated - perhaps Alys had discovered something truly amazing. But why was she being so ambiguous, it made no sense to make it suspenseful. 

“We don’t have much time.”

She was talking faster than usual, so fast the words seemed to fly from her mouth too quickly for Beckett to comprehend. 

“My parents made special negotiations with Baelle,” she explained. “They didn’t come here for whatever stupid thing Baelle is making everyone sign. No, they plan to marry us, Beckett.” 

He felt a blush rising to his cheeks. Marriage. Something he’d hoped he would never have to think about. Marriage to Alys … it was still a little early to think about it-

Alys grabbed his hands fiercely, holding them in her own gloved ones. “Take off my gloves, Beck. Take them off.”

A thousand thoughts swirled through his mind, but Beckett listened. He delicately pulled at the fingers of Alys’s gloves, the ones that she never removed. They gave no fight and came off smoothly to reveal… 

“They’re hideous,” she sniffled, letting Beckett hold her fingers gingerly.

Her skin was blackened, dark as the night sky, even her fingernails. But all Beckett could focus on was the heat of her skin against his, the way it made him feel as though he was burning from the inside out. 

“My parents are ashamed,” she whispered, tears streaming down her cheeks. “It’s a sickness, Beck. I’m not going to get better. It’s a miracle I’ve lived this long.”

Goddesses. He was at a complete loss for words, his head light from all the information. 

Beckett pulled one of his hands away from Alys and her face fell until he cupped his palm around her cheek. “Your parents think Baelle can fix it,” he realized. 

Alys nodded. “My friendship with you was set up, Beck. They promised my allegiance and subservience to Baelle in exchange for a position of power and my life.” The words sounded bitter and wrong on her tongue, dripping with barbs. 

It wasn’t real. His heart was sinking fast. 

“It’s not real,” he repeated, beginning to drop his hand. Why did he think that Alys would ever be his friend when she was perfect and he was a mistake? Why did he ever think that she genuinely liked him for who he was?

Alys grabbed his hand and held it against her cheek so he could feel the tears sliding down her face. “This is real, Beck. What we have here is the most real thing in the world.” 

He wanted to pull her in for a hug, but Alys was a few steps away a moment later, hurriedly tugging her gloves back on. She wiped at her face, scrubbing away the tears as Beckett watched awkwardly. 

“That’s not all that I came to tell you,” she continued, knees shaking a little. 

Beckett moved a bit closer to steady her but Alys was backing up, her eyes darting around wildly. 

“What’s wrong? What did you want to say?” he interjected, taking note of how pale and sweaty she looked. Why hadn’t he noticed before? Was this all sudden, or had he just missed it when he was staring into her eyes. “Alys? Talk to me.”

“Baelle is my only way to live, Beck,” she whispered. “I can’t go through with our plan.” 

It took Beckett a moment to register what Alys was implying. With only Baelle able to sustain Alys’s life, there was no way they could kill Baelle now without risking Alys too. 

Baelle’s done so many terrible things to you, Beckett reminded himself. If anyone deserves death, it’s her. 

But then there was Alys - too good and too pure. She was the first person to treat Beckett like he was any other person because she understood the burden of being in the spotlight. As much as Beckett wanted Baelle to suffer for all the pain she’d inflicted on him, he didn’t want Alys to die. He knew Baelle would willingly take out her frustration on Alys. 

“You can continue with it,” Alys continued, her eyes brimming with tears. “I understand, and I want you to finish it, Beck. Please kill her. Just don’t make me a part of it.” 

“I can’t, Alys,” he said, his voice thick with emotion. “I won’t risk you.”

“You have to - she’s going to slowly kill you-” 

“It’s either you or me, Alys, and we both know who has more going for them. You have a family, you probably have friends back home, you have a whole world that loves you. And what do I have?” He scoffed. “All I have is you, Alys. Without you, my life isn’t worth living.” 

“Beck, you don’t deserve to die-”

The picture of a familiar red-haired figure appeared in his mind. He hadn’t thought of her for a long time now, but his heart shattered all the same. “If you knew what I’ve done, you would say otherwise.” 

He didn’t want Alys to see him cry, didn’t want her to see the raw and real part of him. Beckett turned away, wiping at his eyes as he started out of the garden. 

Alys didn’t chase after him, which almost made it worse. 

If she would’ve called out - would’ve done anything at all - Beckett would’ve known then that maybe there was a solution where both him and Alys could live. 

Baelle would drain him away from who he was, yes. She would steal his magic and his power until he was left as a husk of himself. But Beckett was beginning to think no one would care if that actually happened. 


As the next few days progressed, Beckett only became more certain in his own mortality. 

It started with Baelle’s announcement the next day at the beginning of the delegations: “In just a few short weeks, we will be hosting the coronation of Prince Beckett. Our kingdoms need a king, and so a king they shall have.” 

Which, of course, sparked all kinds of new debates that didn’t even slow as the delegations pressed on. 

Alys was noticeably absent, and when Beckett pressed Glass and Steel for details in his spare time, they claimed she’d sent word that she wasn’t feeling well and would no longer be able to attend their nightly secret meetings. 

Beckett knew that was just her way of finalizing her distance from him. 

She’s trying to avoid me so it won’t hurt as much when she has to die, the rational part of him knew. But that only made him want to protect her more. 

As for Baelle… 

“You need to be prepared for anything,” she lectured, pacing around Beckett’s bedroom in a surprisingly humble dress. “Once you become king, there will be many people against you. They will try to kill you-”

“That’s no different than what I’ve already faced,” he mumbled, giving her a pointed glare from his seat on the edge of his bed. 

“They will try to prove that you aren’t worthy of the throne-”

“Surely they can’t point out anything that I haven’t thought of already.” 

“They will take all measures possible to steal the crown off of your head-”

Beckett scoffed. “Sounds like someone else I know.”

Baelle sighed dramatically, turning to face him as her lips pressed into a crown. “You make jokes, but what will happen when the assassins succeed?”

“Isn’t your job to prevent that from happening?” he pointed out. 

Baelle gave a brief hesitation before, “We must prepare for even the most unexpected of situations.”

Yeah, right, he wanted to say. Unexpected? When Baelle was already planning to kill him? Beckett had no doubt that the moment he was crowned as king, Baelle would do whatever she could to steal the throne right out from under him, even if it meant his death - exactly what Alys had tried to point out to him before. 

“So, what? I write a will?”

He didn’t expect Baelle to actually agree, and her nod left him with the hollowness of shock in his stomach. 

“Most kings designate their throne to an heir, but since you don’t have one, it leaves us in the same predicament we were just in.” Her amusement was obvious and Beckett felt a blush rising to his cheeks. He wasn’t sure if Baelle was referring to Alys or Clara through implication, and he couldn’t decide which was worse. 

“You want me to name an heir,” Beckett clarified. 

Baelle gave a noncommittal shrug, but her excitement bled through in her small smile. “It would certainly make things easier.” 

“Can I choose whoever I want?” 

He knew he was testing Baelle’s limits, wading into the deeper waters. This was a dangerous game to play, and Beckett wanted to win. 

Baelle didn’t react, didn’t even give a sign that she heard him. “Of course, it would have to be someone who knows their way around politics, preferably someone who shares the same views as you.”

“I wonder if Dillon would be interested,” Beckett speculated, referencing Alys’s brother. 

Baelle narrowed her eyes. “Must you make everything a joke? This is serious, Beckett. It’s possible - highly likely, in fact - that someone will try to kill you. Should they succeed, you can’t leave the kingdoms in ruin.” 

“You’re pretty confident I’m going to die, aren’t you?” Beckett said. 

Another shrug. Baelle excelled at being vague apparently. “I’m just saying that it’s very probable-”

Beckett was tired of this. He was tired of her thinking she was talented and invincible and destined for greatness just because she was a goddess. How hypocritical to condemn the goddesses for ignoring those in lower positions and then abusing power anyway. 

“Are you going to kill me yourself?” he whispered. “Or are you going to make someone else do it?”

Beckett’s gaze darkened and her footsteps were rapid as she approached the bed. She towered over him and Beckett scrambled to his feet, trying to be as tall as possible as if that would make a difference. 

“You will not speak a word about whatever rumors you think you’ve heard.”

Beckett felt a grin crack across his face. “I’m right, aren’t I? The second that crown touches my head, I’m as good as dead.”

“It’s nothing against you - it’s for the greater good-”

“I could expose you, y’know. How easy would it be to announce that everyone’s favorite leader is a power-hungry goddess? I could have you beheaded for treason by tomorrow morning-” 

Baelle was glowing with anger, her face monstrous as her features twisted with fury. “If you make any move against me, you can count your friend Alys among the dead.”

Beckett didn’t let her have the satisfaction of a reaction. He already knew of Baelle’s role with Alys’s illness, he didn’t need her to reveal it to him. 

“You think you’re clever,” Baelle smirked, but there was no confidence in the gesture. “But I know all about you and your little ‘resistance’. You, Alys, and the two village boys - I’ve known about your meetings from the very beginning.”

Beckett bit back a smile. Baelle thought she knew the full extent of the meetings, but did she know they were all staged? 

Instead, he masked his face into one of horror despite the excitement sparking inside of him. “How could you-”

“You’re not as secretive as you might think,” she said, her confidence growing again. 

This is your last victory, Beckett thought to himself, wishing he could say the words out loud. And it isn’t even a true win. 

“Fine,” he sighed, trying to sound defeated. “I’ll … I’ll think about picking an heir.”

“I expect an answer by tomorrow,” Baelle decided, stalking away towards the door. “Just remember that there is a wrong choice to make, one with many consequences.” She smiled at the last word. 

Beckett waited until he was sure she was gone until dropping his demeanor of terrified. A small smile played across his lips. 

Plans started formulating in his mind. He could save Alys and himself - there had to be a way. He wouldn’t let his death be at the hands of Baelle of all people. But for it to all work out, he would need someone unexpected to ally with him. 

A pale face came to mind and Beckett could feel his chest lightening with elation. 

She would never see it coming.



© 2021 A.L.


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Added on November 11, 2021
Last Updated on November 11, 2021
Tags: blessed, cursed, adventure, goddesses, sword, love, death, betrayal, kingdom, kingdoms, war, castle, magic, reading, writing, prince, king, queen, royalty


Author

A.L.
A.L.

About
When I was eleven, my cousins and I sat down and decided we want to write a fifty book long series that would become an instant bestseller. Obviously, that hasn't happened yet (and I doubt it will) bu.. more..

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A Chapter by A.L.