A Long-Awaited Queen

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This short is written to and meant to be accompanied by music. Please read the entire story before incorporating the track. This will allow you to absorb the content and characters fully before setting the entire story in motion. Name meanings and pronunciations are at the bottom.

Track: "Run Boy Run" by Woodkid

(time signature): //Setting// "Dialogue" Inner Dialogue, Story

Main Characters: Melantha Tueire (née Souhaite), Bran Chevalier, Elio Perte

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(0:00): //A beloved Fae prince announces his elopement with his human lover. The kingdom is rocked by the betrayal of such a core value - never interact with humans.//

(0:04): //A child is born, a daughter of both Blood. She is regarded as a bastard by most of the kingdom's denizens, but is claimed by the Throne.//

(0:07): //An assassination attempt on Prince Souhaite's consort wife results in his death instead. The kingdom is devastated and blames the half-human child, giving her a surname more suited to her fate – Tueire. Killer.//

(0:11): //Before King Souhaite can abdicate to protect his remaining family, his son is assassinated and the group responsible swears an oath - to come for his granddaughter next. The word "tueire" rolls through the kingdom as disharmony knocks on the palace doors.//


(0:14-0:27): //Princess Melanthe, only seven, is woken in the night. Two guards usher her into common clothes and out of her room. One is Fae and the other is Human.//

Bran and Elio rush Melanthe into a secret passage, caging her between them. They haven't uttered a single word, but the princess has always been aware of the danger she lives in. Despite the height of summer, the inky black of the corridor seems to run cold hands, whispering for her to stay. Her hair is twisted up into a hood, hiding the ash blonde. The delicate points of her ears prick at the unseasonable cold as they arrive outside the palace walls. Her horse is waiting for her, pawing angrily at the dirt beneath her hooves. Rough hands pull her from the ground and shove her into the readied saddle. Her companions mount their own horses and dart towards the outer wall.


(0:28-0:49): //Melanthe, Bran, and Elio are past the outer wall – sprinting for the border that separates Human and Fae.//

Breaking past the wall, a gust of wind blows Melanthe's hood back and her hair glows silver under the moonlight. It is a beacon to the murderers that are hunting her. It rips savagely at her cheeks and through the strands, pulling her back to the palace. The two knights seem untouched by the wind. Shouts follow them and soon, so does the stomping beat of pursuit. Melanthe pulls her hood back on, tucking in the waves as best she can without falling off.

"Keep riding. Do not stop, even if one of us is left behind." Bran shouts over his shoulder.

Arrows, spears, and rocks fly past. The wind seems to have formed a shield around the princess but her guards are not so lucky.


(0:50-0:56) //They've hit the forests and boundary is in sight. The three fugitives push harder for it. The Fae do not know how to blend into the Human realm and will not give up their abilities to cross it and pursue them. They have one chance to flee.//

Elio, the human guard, is struck through the collarbone with a viciously barbed arrow. A guttural scream rattles in Melanthe's ears and ice-cold terror floods her spine. Elio's horse slows for a moment as his grip on the reins loosen. The warhorse's nostrils flare as he steadies his path, his rider losing blood rapidly. The trees themselves seem to bend away from the trio, making a tedious and dangerous path suddenly smooth as glass. The assailants slowly fall behind as the crackle of an old magic singes the air. Bran curses in her father's language and brings his steed up against Elio's.


(0:57-1:11) //They cross the boundary and the forest snaps shut behind them. The moonlight previously lighting their way can't seem to break through the dense canopy and a sense of dread creeps along the edge of the tree line. She has left her home and can never go back.//

Melanthe touches a hand to her forehead, her lips, and her heart – a silent goodbye to her home and her family. Bran beckons to her, holding out his hand expectantly. There is a chance that their assailants will cross as well and kill them. Elio, now unconscious and cradled against Bran's body, is still bleeding and they need to find somewhere to go. She looks up at the moon and her hood falls back. Her hair is ordinary, and spills in a dull sheet over her shoulders. Who is she now, cut off from her birthright and homeland? What will the other side of the world be like for them? She turns her mare away and sets an easy canter, following Bran and Elio into the unknown.


(1:12-1:53) //Mel is running along a ledge, a five-story drop to her right and a ten-foot drop to her left. Her bag, strapped tightly to her back, is bulging with stolen goods – some food, quite a bit of cash, and a knife. Her boots are quiet against the brick and the dagger strapped to her lower thigh is in easy reach. A short sword cuts up her silhouette against the skyline of Mentir, her most recent stop.//

Gravel skitters over the edge of the building, and a spiteful grin splits Mel's face. Two braids are woven tight against each side of her head and rustle gently against the numerous straps crossing her shoulders and back. She had always been quicker than a human should be and had made good use of her father's traits in the last 13 years. Her grandfather always beamed with pride when she showed off her impressive abilities, on his rare visits. However, her guardians weren't the biggest fans of her career path, but the lights stayed on and they never worried about making ends meet.

An enraged Succubus wrapped her fingers around Mel's ankle and yanked her onto the rooftop to her left. Training and instinct twisted her body and she rolled into a crouch in front of what appeared to be a beautiful woman.

"Give me what you took and I'll leave you how I found you." The demon's voice was like silk, but had an oily undertone that left goosebumps.

A vicious smile cracked Mel's face as she replied, "I would love to see you try and take it from me."

The leather of her jacket creaked a little as she drew her sword. The Succubus launched itself at her and Mel hit her side hard with the flat of the blade. The air left the woman's lungs in a rush and she whirled, livid. She charged again, but her hip gave away which side she was targeting. She could hear Elio's voice in her head, telling her to look for every clue and never give any in return. Mel ducked out of the way once more, bringing her blade up behind her shoulder. The muscles in the sides of her hands burned as it kept the sword straight against the weight of flesh and bone. The Succubus' howl of pain wrenched through the night as she clutched her face. A deep, straight gash now ran from the bridge of her nose to her chin. She clutched her face and fell, sobbing. Something sinister preened inside Mel, but sirens quickly blew that feeling away.

(1:40): She turned and ran, sending gravel spitting. She made practiced leaps across the tops of alleys and slid her way down a fire escape. Stowing her sword back in its scabbard, she calmly walked into the street and disappeared into the underground subway station across the way. A young girl grinned at her from across the train platform. I'm glad you think it's a cosplay, kiddo. Mel thought, a small sting in her throat. I was never that innocent to start off with.


(1:54-2:30): //Mel arrives at a cramped two-story house, where Elio and Bran have made a home. Their rivalry had turned to competition as they trained to defend herself in her youth, had turned to comradery when they taught her to fight as a teenager, and had turned into love not long after that. They greet her at the door with an uncharacteristic silence.//

Hand at her dagger, she stalks into the house. She turns the corner and sees an old enemy – her grandfather's general. He is accompanied with a small entourage, all dressed in standard Souhaite armor. He is much older than the hazy childhood memories she has of him terrorizing her in form lessons. His skin is grey, and he looks haunted.

"Your grandfather has been poisoned." The general declared, voice clear. He never had been a man who pulled his punches.

Mel keeps her face calm as she fights to keep her composure. Shouldn't I feel something? She arches a single eyebrow, as if to ask why she should bother to care.

Mel sighed, and shoved past them into the kitchen, grabbing a jar of peanut butter. Despite the warning glances of her surrogate fathers, she unscrewed the lid and dipped her index finger in. Lifting her eyes back to the strange assembly, she nods once, impatiently.

Growing frustrated, he cleared his throat. "When they stole the crown and tried to place their spy upon the throne, it grew thorns to keep them from touching it."

She shrugged and set down the open jar of peanut butter, starting towards the staircase that led upstairs to their bedrooms. 

Does he expect me to care for the fate of a kingdom that was so willing to condemn an infant for the death of her father?

Without turning to where she had walked past, Mel could hardly hear the general's voice. "The thorns drip blood. Fae-kind and...human." The words ground past his teeth, like he was fighting to keep that last word from leaving his lips - human. So disgusting, he could barely utter the existence.

Mel stops, hand against the worn wood of the doorframe. Beneath her fingertips, she could feel the knife marks where Elio and Bran had kept track of her growth in the human lands, her mother's lands. Armor clanged as fists met chests, just above their hearts. Turning towards the general and his soldiers, recognition dimly sparks at the salute. 

"We are sworn to the crown and it has chosen you." Under his breath, he added, "You, an unworthy bastard, to rule."

(2:22): Mel's anger rises and in the blink of an eye, she draws and throws her dagger. It pierces the general's eye, and he falls to a knee. 

What kind of man can stay silent after that? She moves in front of him, with a gentle finger guiding his chin up to meet her gaze. She slowly pulls it out, pressing her hand to the would to staunch the bleeding. A shudder rocks through the general's body, but he keeps himself upright and alert. One of the soldiers grabs a towel from the oven handle and rushes to his commander's side.

"Consider this your only warning from an unworthy bastard, then."

She wipes the edges of the blade on his sleeve and looks up, meeting the concerned gazes of Bran and Elio. Bran nods and leaves the room, going to pack their necessary belongings for the trip back. It's Elio's turn to look haunted.


(2:31-2:44) //The group makes its way back to the border, Melanthe once again astride her old mare – much older but perhaps her only friend. A familiar crackle dances along her skin, welcoming and warm.//

As she crosses, she can feel her very soul relax. A battle she didn't realize she was fighting was over – her body lightened as the land's magic flowed back into her. Her mare reared back, the ravages of human time fading from her body. Melanthe unwound her braids and her hair, woven in with moonlight itself, poured over her shoulders. She can see and hear for miles, inhumanly far. Well, I'm not exactly. full-blooded human. A half-Fae princess in Fae lands changes things, I guess. She can feel the life of every thing around her, connected to it all by the throne and the power it gave her father's bloodline so long ago. 

She is not powerful; she is power itself. The forest, once dense, clears a straight path for her ahead. Leagues away, she can feel the ocean roar in triumph against the balustrades near the palace. As Melanthe and her mare begin the race towards her home, the animals begin their race with her. She knows they will defend her with their lives, should she ask it of them. Something in her balked slightly at the thought. The wind pushes against her back, urging them faster and faster.


(2:45-2:59) //It is just the trio, once again, racing towards the castle this time. The elements themselves welcome her home and urge her onward. The general and his soldiers tear away, to gather the armies for her. This is her birthright.//

There are no obstacles, not even the palace walls. Improbably soon, she is striding through the doors of her old home, sword and dagger unsheathed. She is met with the usurper that took the last of her family.

"Come now, the fight is over." Melanthe croons, flipping her hands around so her palms face up, taunting the usurper.

"I will never bow to you, bastard child." The Fae man spits back.

"That insult is not quite what you think it is. Look behind you, the throne refuses to have you." Her bottom lip pushes out in a mocking pout. "Pure blood or not."

"I refuse to let you have it. You are sullied with the blood of your whore human mother." The edge of his words has gone imperceptibly softer. Fool, I can taste your fear.

Melanthe smiles calmly but savors the sharp tang mixed with his righteous anger. That same sinister impulse bubbled up, stronger and gorging itself on the magic of this realm. She cocked her head questioningly and, as if in answer, a thorn from the throne speared the Usurper through the sternum with a sickening crack.

"The sea knows I am it's ruler. The land knows I am it's ruler. The plants, and the animals, and the air know I am their ruler." As if in answer, a wave crests impossibly high, thrown into relief by a bolt of lightning and the rumble of thunder that shook the ground. Some strange predator stalks them from the balustrade and her grandfather's prized hounds growl from their place behind the throne. Their snouts slide from the darkness, teeth gilded by the light.The chandelier above her head tinkles like the laughter of the Little Folk. Satisfaction rips through her chest. Slowly, a sinister grin blooms across her features.

"Tell me the truth now. What do you know?" Melanthe purrs, urging him to see her for the namesake she now readily embraced. The namesake that her kingdom bestowed on their princess, the one that had defined her to them as a baby. 

If they truly think of me as one, then I shall be worthy of the name, then.

Blood dripped in a steady stream from his lips and he spluttered, his anger now drowned by his fear. Melanthe could taste the peppery sharpness, mixed in with the honeysuckle-sweet of his approaching death.

"Tue-t-" The ursurper stuttered and choked on his own blood. "Tueire." He finally whispered.

She leaned in and pressed a kiss to his clammy cheek. "Yes," she whispered in his ear. "But I prefer Queen Tueire."

A squelching breath and a wet cough, and he was gone.


(3:00-3:33) //The Usurper is limp and bent backwards, supported only by the thorn through is chest. Melanthe is revenge incarnate in front of him.//

Power reverberates through the air as Melanthe brings her short sword up in a gleaming arc, and back down in a vicious swing. A dull crunch, and the usurpers head is separated from his body. With a wet thud, it hits the stone floor and rocks for a moment before settling into the preternatural stillness of death. The offending thorn recedes into the ornate throne at the head of the room. His body falls to the ground with another dull thump. Dragging the squealing tip of her blade against the stone, she walks in pace with the blood crawling towards it.

(3:27): As the blood touches the base of the throne, the thorns inside the seat slowly retract and Melanthe takes her place as queen – a Queen of Death.

***

Melanthe Tueire: (mel-AN-tha) (TWO-air); meaning "dark flower" and "killer"

Melanthe Souhaite: (mel-AN-tha) (soo-ET); meaning "dark flower" and "wish"/"hope"

Bran Chevalier: (br-AN) (shev-AH-leer); meaning "dark" and "knight"

Elio Perte: (ee-LEE-oh) (p-AIR-t); meaning "dawn" and "doom"

Mentir: (men-TEE-r); meaning "to lie"