A little bit too late to submit? Nah, not late yet. I've had the idea for this story for a long time, but now, I finally had a chance to write it. It contains (a bit of) controversial themes, but I promise, it won't get too mature. The story isn't completed yet, but I've decided to leave it like this. If you like it, I will post a second part. You can also share your predictions in the comments. Who do you think that it's guilty?
Sins of a Monarch
"King Benjamin, at age 20, has been found dead in the woods, with a sword in his chest..."
The tragic news soon spread through the kingdom of Auradon. It was indeed a sad day. King Benjamin was truly a good King. May his soul rest in peace...
Mal wore a simple black dress and stepped inside the limousine. She was on her way to see the body of her beloved husband. The advisors had told her to stay inside the palace until the body is ready to be seen, but that would be such a disrespectful thing to do. A Queen must be by her King's side until his body becomes nothing but ashes.
"Your Majesty, are you sure about this?" asked one of the doctors. "I think it is best to visit His Majesty once the research is done and after being cleansed."
Mal looked at the doctor, her face remained expressionless.
"No. I want to see him like how he was found," replied Mal.
The doctor nodded. He stepped aside and opened the door for the Queen. They walked through a corridor until they reached a white room. There was a big table in the middle, and upon it, a body covered with a white cloth.
"Leave us," ordered Mal.
The doctor bowed down and closed the door after he walked out.
Mal walked towards the table. She grabbed the edge of the cloth and slowly pulled, until his upper body was uncovered. His skin was pale and cold, and his face remained frozen. The young King Benjamin will forever remain young.
The Queen placed her hand of the King's face and traced his lips. She would miss his smile the most, followed by his laugh. Her eyes focused on the wound. The sword had been removed, and his blood had formed a thick layer encrusted on his chest. As much as she wanted to touch him, she knew it wasn't the right thing to do. The investigation was still on process, and she’d better not mess with it.
Mal let a small tear roll down her cheek. It wasn't the right moment to break down and cry. She must be strong for the kingdom of Auradon. They need someone to look up to and move on. She pulled the cloth over the body and decided that it was time to go. Everyone must be eager to receive words from the Queen.
The limousine drove Mal back to the palace. Like expected, a mass of reporters and journalists had gathered in front of the gates, waiting for the Queen's annunciation.
Evie had rushed all the way across Auradon to get to the capital city. She had been devastated by the news. Her face was bright red and her eyes were swollen. Ben had been a very important person to her.
"Mal, I'm so sorry," said Evie between sobs. Her arms surrounded Mal.
"E, I'm okay," replied Mal. She let go of Evie. "There's nothing that we can do."
"I know how much he meant..."
"I said I'm okay!" Mal raised her voice. She ran her hands over her head after she realized what she had done. She took a deep breath and lowly spoke, "I'm okay."
Evie understood that her friend needed space. "I'll be in the guest's room. Call me if you need anything." She made an effort to smile and left the room.
Mal sighed. She looked at her reflection in front of the mirror. One of the disadvantages of being a monarch was the fact that she had to look perfect all the time. For the first years, it was unbearable, but as the years went by, Mal had become used to it. Sometimes, people had even forgotten how different she had been back in her younger days.
The press' murmurs could be clearly heard from the announcement room, a simple place that led to the balcony where the Royal Family would go to make an announcement, or simply to show up and wave the crowd. Mal nodded at the guards. They opened the door and she stepped outside. The murmur turned into shouts and roars. Mal raised her hand and they all remained quiet. They slightly tilted their head downwards to greet the Queen.
“Greetings, dear citizens of Auradon. This is a hard moment for all of us. King Benjamin is no longer with us. May his soul rest in peace…”
“May his soul rest in peace…” repeated the crowd.
“However, this is not the end. His legacy shall live on, and it is our duty to fulfill his dying wish. Auradon will remain strong, and together, we will overcome this hard moment…”
Mal knew that as long as she wasn’t in the right shape to elaborate a long speech, the crowd wouldn’t be disposed to listen to all of it, either. She quickly concluded, bid farewell to the crowd and left the balcony. Mal walked through the hall and towards the room that she used to share with her husband. Everything about that place became empty with the mere thought of having to walk down that hall for the rest of her life without him.
The room had been cleaned and neatly organized by the maids. Something about it didn’t feel right. Mal began to crash and throw everything to the floor. The place shouldn’t be the same without him.
After two days, the autopsy on the King’s body had finally reached a conclusion. Every evident would aim to one single suspect: Jay. It was yet another big shock for everyone. The most loyal guard and friend of the King turned out to be a murderer?
While the questions and theories circulated back and forth throughout the Kingdom, Mal still hasn’t walked out of the room. None of the maids were allowed to come in, not even to bring food. The Queen’s health soon became the main concern around the palace. For the rest of the week until the funeral, she had barely eaten and not a sound could be heard from her, even an eye contact was rare.
“Mal, I’m serious,” said Evie. She went after Mal and stopped her friend before she stepped in the limousine. “You are not fine. We should talk.”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” replied Mal coldly. She ignored Evie and got in the vehicle. The chauffeur closed the door and started the engine. Before they left, Mal rolled down the window and said, “And even if we do, I’ll make sure to talk to my own reflection first.”
Evie was left stunned with Mal’s answer. A rush of fear overpowered her thoughts. First, Ben was murdered. Then, Mal started to act cold towards everybody. And finally, Jay was declared as culprit. The blue-haired girl ran her hands over her head and closed her eyes. Something was wrong, and whatever it was, she surely played a part in it.
Evie startled when a pair of arms surrounded her from behind and left a kiss on her head. It was Doug. Evie put a hand upon her chest and sighed in relief.
“Doug, next time say something first,” scowled Evie. She wasn’t pushing her boyfriend away, but her uneasy behavior had been estranging them.
“I’m sorry,” said Doug. He let go of Evie and confronted her, “but it seems like you’ve been avoiding me recently.”
Evie pressed her lips together and lightly shook her head. “It’s not that,” she said. She reached his hands and held them tightly. “Everything happened so fast and I just can’t find a way to understand it all. It felt like it was yesterday when everything was fine. Ben was alive, and Mal… Mal was simply another person.”
Doug only nodded. He pulled Evie into his embrace and hugged her.
“Yes?” responded Doug, looking at Evie.
She sniffed and wiped the tears that had formed in the corners of her eyes. Shakily, she said, “What if… what if I tell you that I have done something terrible? If I tell you that…” Evie paused, unsure if she should continue.
“Evie, what’s wrong?” asked Doug, with a certain level of calm that he still could keep.
Evie shook her head. She turned around and ran away.
“Evie, wait!” shouted Doug. He began to chase after the girl he loved.
But Evie didn’t listen. She kept running as fast as she could. Due to her high heels, she tripped and hit the concrete. She tried to stand up, but her ankle had sprained.
Doug rushed to her side and knelt down. “Are you okay?” he asked.
Evie shook her head. “I’ll never be okay,” she said. “I’ve done things… horrific things! Things that I don’t think I’d be able to spend the rest of my life keeping it to myself.”
“Then tell me.”
“But I can’t!”
Doug sighed and stood up. He already had enough of her lies. “Fine,” he said. “Good luck finding someone else.”
Evie watched how Doug walked away and cursed her own fate, but at the same time, she knew that she deserved it. She was a monster hiding under the mask of a princes.
That afternoon was the trial of Jay, accused of regicide. The Royal Council wanted to postpone the litigation, but the Queen said otherwise. She demanded to end it as soon as possible.
Mal sat at the plaintiff’s table and waited for the act to start. The room was soon filled with spectators, all of them bowed down before their Queen as they proceeded. The clock struck five. It was time.
The accused was introduced into the courtroom. His hands were cuffed behind his back, and he walked between two police officers. He was ordered to sit down and instructed to keep quiet. Jay had nothing more to lose, but making matters worse was far from his intentions.
The prosecutor stood up and introduced the case. “Good evening to Your Grace, Queen Mal, and honorable ladies and gentlemen present today at the court. The defendant, Jay, has been accused for regicide, the murder of the late King Benjamin. At the conclusion of the case, we will ask for a verdict of guilty.”
Evie was running late for the trial. She still had her make up smudged since the earlier incident. Two guards stood in front of the door. They had been given orders not to let Evie in.
“Excuse me, madam. You cannot go in,” said the first guard.
“Who gave you this order?” asked Evie.
“Her Grace, Queen Mal,” replied the other guard.
“But what I have to say it’s important,” said Evie. “Let me in!”
The guard shook his head. “I’m so sorry. We can’t.”
“Then could you at least deliver a message?”
The guards looked at each other. They both shrugged.
“To whom?” one of them asked.
“To Mal,” replied Evie.
The guard shared gestures and mouthed something between themselves. They finally came to an agreement.
“What message do you wish to deliver?” asked the guard.
“Tell her… Tell her that I know who actually murdered King Benjamin."