• Grace A. Johnson

The Truth (Reign: Part 10)


Part 10: The Truth


I made it a point not to pace. Or fidget. Or really do anything that revealed my internal emotions.

Galen had always paced whenever he was worried or nervous or angry. If he were very bad off, he’d rake his fingers through his hair and huff and puff—and, honestly, there was nothing more agitating to me than that. Not to mention everyone would then know how he was truly feeling, and their confidence in his abilities to handle strenuous situations would waver, and they would begin to worry as well.

So I made it a point not to show any emotion at all—other than the occasional pleasure or flippant nonchalance. The entire kingdom fed off of their leader’s confidence and faith, and when he lacked it, so did they.

But I felt like pacing today.

I held myself in check. I had to, what with Commandant Rubin propping his feet on my desk and Arawn—Galen’s old Guardian—staring at me with a frown on his face and mirth in his eyes. I never could live up to Arawn’s lofty expectations. I had always been too slow, too weak, too reserved, too poor, too...well, nothing like perfect Arawn and his commanding father.

But I’d shown them. Like a petty schoolboy becoming the professor’s most favored, I had risen to the top and gained the approval of the king. Instead of guarding buildings, old traditions, and hunting grounds, I guarded the innermost thoughts of Magni’s king. I guarded the kingdom’s secrets. I guarded her future—something Rubin and Arawn, with their antiquated ideals, would never understand.

I had bigger and better plans than they did. I would bring prosperity and peace to Magni—not scandalous politics, clandestine affairs, and brutal wars. I would restore honesty to the people and faith to the king. Under my rule, everything would change.

Everything would be set right.

And Galen would have justice.

“So you’ve lost them, you say?” Arawn’s smirk was heard in his voice, though his lips did not yet betray him.

“That depends upon your interpretation of the word,” I said, as politely as one could between clenched teeth.

His eyes narrowed to slits as he stalked forward. “Don’t play coy with me, Renout. Tell me the truth.”

You want the truth, Arawn? Then tell me. Where were you that night? Where were you all the other nights? Why didn’t you—

Nay, Renout, you must not go there. What was done is done forever, and there was nothing he could have done to stop them. Nothing you nor Galen nor anyone in this palace could have done.

They made their bed. And now he is forced to lie in it. I leaned over my desk, meeting his unyielding gaze head-on. “I must ask that you refrain from using my first name. You may refer to me as Your Majesty or Your Highness.” Because no one but Galen ever used my first name. No one but Ambrosia, and she doesn’t count.

Because she’ll be dead soon, is that it, Ren?

I inwardly growled at my taunting thoughts, urging them to leave me be. Except for all the lies I’d told to keep my plans under wraps, I was doing nothing wrong. Most likely Ambrosia would be sent to live with a respectable family, away from the castle, and only Brehn would die—depending on the people’s ruling.

And he deserved whatever punishment they deemed sufficient.

“I will call you neither, You Grace,” he spat, spittle literally flying from his mouth as he fisted the folds of my robes in his hands. “Tell me the truth, Regent. Did you lose them?”

I chuckled, flicking my hands to his white-knuckled hands. Shouldn’t leave but a few wrinkles in my clothes. Nothing I couldn’t have ironed out. “What’s it to you if I did?”

“Unlike some people, I care about the well-being of others. And not only do I care to know if my friend and my queen are meandering through the wilderness with no protection, I also would like to know what you plan to do to them!”

“Haven’t we been through this, Arawn? We need to purge the throne of—”

“Foreign blood, we know,” Rubin muttered from his reclining position behind his son. I could’ve sworn he rolled his eyes at me to go with his disrespectful tone.

If only I could tell them the truth. Then they would see.

But Galen wouldn’t have wanted that.

“I know there’s something more at play, Regent. You wouldn’t track them down if you just wanted them gone.” Arawn finally released my robes and stepped back, folding his arms over his chest and frowning once more.

“Who’s to say I wouldn’t? A smart man would keep note of his enemies whereabouts. I wouldn’t want Brehn getting any ideas about revolting or taking over the kingdom.”

“He should. He’s the rightful heir.”

“Don’t give me that rot, Arawn! We need fresh blood—pure blood—on the throne! Brehn...Brehn isn’t fit for the crown. And I can’t trust Ambrosia with his influence over her.”

Brehn wasn’t even fit for the Guardians, let alone the title of prince or king. The wretch deserved to be left on the streets, a pauper free to do as he would, rather than ruining his family’s lives.

“I know you’re up to something. This plot to have the crown...all the lies...the confusion...you’re messing with my mind, Renout. You’re weaving all these little webs, expecting me to get trapped in one of them. But I won’t, trust me. I don’t know if you’re worse off than I thought or if you know something I don’t or what—but I will find out.”

I looked up into Arawn’s eyes, catching the turmoil and uncertainty there. I wished I could tell him. Oh, how I wished! He was presumption and arrogant, yes, but he knew justice. If he knew...he might would understand. He might help me put things right.

And yet...I knew he wouldn’t. Brehn was his friend. And like I stood faithful by Galen, Arawn would stand by Brehn. And like I fought for prosperity, Arawn would fight for ideals.

I sighed, tearing my gaze away and snuffing out my hopes. “The truth is, Arawn, that you don’t want to know.”

Missed Part 9? Read it here!

#theriver #reign #serial #fantasy #theguardiansofmagni

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