Fiction Narrative

Published on

Written by Mia Herrera

From the garden of the palace, Nyx lounged on a chair. Her chin placed between her fingers as she surveyed the citizens below. Her head was pounding, and the sun was too bright for her eyes. As she stared at the sky, black dots appeared and blurred her vision. She snapped her fingers for her aide. In response, a mousy brown-haired girl immediately ran up to Nyx and positioned herself to block the sun from view.

Nyx’s eyes traveled back to King Ignatius, further in the garden. The light reflected off his blonde hair and made it look like he wore a halo. He looked like a bronzed titan bathed in sunlight. She got so lost in her admiration that she had failed to hear the entrance of the praetor. 

The older man let out a cough in an attempt to gain Nyx’s attention. She gritted her teeth at the sound and plastered a pleased smile on her face as she turned. She could feel the stirring of a migraine forming at the base of her neck.

“Praetor Verius, to what do we owe the pleasure?” Nyx questioned.

“Ah Licinia, you flatter. I merely came to review what we have discussed,” as he spoke, his eyes darted to Nyx’s aide. Nyx understood. 

“Fetch us some wine,” she commanded. They were alone in a matter of seconds. 

As Nyx turned back towards Ignatius, her thoughts began to darken. 

“I hate the way the people gather outside. They cling to his foolish decrees,” she muttered low enough for the Praetor to hear. He studied Nyx as she watched Ignatius. 

“You have been watching him for his entire life.” he stated. Thinking of the rumors that had sprouted when Licinia came of age. Was she to marry Ignatius? 

“Your father would have wanted for you two to marry and bind the royal families together. A dynasty to rule Rome for centuries,” the Praetor said cooly. He closely studied Licinia’s micromovements, the way her mouth twitched at the mention of her father, the way her brow straightened, how she twisted her necklace; a beloved gift from Ignatius.

Licinia did not turn to look at him when she replied, “The King wanted a great deal of things. His dreams died with him.” 

“Alas, you’re still the realm’s delight, Licinia. Ignatius would do well to worship his muse,” The Praetor replied, testing the waters. Licinia and Ignatius had been raised together and shared a wet nurse. They shared a great love and raised eyebrows concerning the nature of their relationship. Licinia had been a strong supporter of Ignatius’s claim to the throne. Yet, the Praetor could see the disconnect between Licinia’s love and ambition. Licinia resented being the muse and not the poet.  

“I will do what must be done,” Licinia said quickly, not giving herself time to change her mind. 

The Praetor’s still face broke into a sliver of a smile. He watched as the aide returned into sight. “I’ll send word for you when you have finished the deed,” he hastily said before departing. 

“I always knew I would be the one,” Nyx said to no one. 

Later in the week, Licinia got called before the royal court. She leisurely walked toward the throne with her head bowed in respect. Once at the stairs, she made eye contact with Ignatius. Her heart swelled with emotion, her childhood friend and savior. He always looked so majestic on the throne, like he was meant to sit it. The thought always made her neck tense up. He sits on a stolen throne, she reminded herself.

“Your grace?” She questioned as she kneeled. Before he could answer, the magistrate stepped forward. Nyx watched him from her peripheral vision. 

“The Praetor has paid you a visit. As a citizen of Capua, reveal the intentions behind his visit. Speak girl, if you do not wish to see your head depart your body,” the magistrate informed her. Nyx refused to look at him, the fool spoke to her without knowing his place.

She grew curious. She thought back to the day the Praetor visited. Who had seen them? Who had heard her? The walls have eyes and ears

She feigned rage and offense as she turned to the magistrate. “You would accuse me of treason?” she said incredulously. She turned back to look at Ignatius, “I owe my life to our savior.” 

“A minor formality.  I know you would never harm me,” Ignatius explained. He waved his hand to signal how easily he would shake this claim away.  He had told them this was a mistake, but the magistrate had always hated Nyx.  His engagement to Nyx was fast approaching and those who did not swear fealty would meet their maker. The man would soon die.

The Magistrate looked irate, his face was turning the same shade as blood. He had plotted against her father years before. He had carefully cultivated a plan to have power switch bloodlines. A minor loss would be the murder of the King’s only living heir, Licinia. She had been born of the cursed sex. A princess when a prince should have been born. He had desperately wished to see Nyx’s body among the pile of casualties when they ransacked the capital. Instead he found her in Ignatius’s arms as he sat on his newly conquered throne.

Nyx watched the Magistrate as he paced back and forth muttering about insolence. She knew the old man would not relinquish any suspicion without a performance. She could not afford unwanted eyes in the approaching days. 

She turned back to Ignatius and threw herself on the ground dramatically. Kneeling before him, she pleaded her case.

“Your grace, from birth we have been like brothers, from different mothers. I yet breathe because of your mercy!” She passionately exclaimed. Ignatius’s hand wrapped to embrace Nyx’s supple cheek. The warmth of his hand made her face heat up. Gods, this was embarrassing. 

She could feel the eyes of the court on her back. Rumors of their relationship would fill the ears of the court for months to come.  

“May the gods strike me down if I forsake you!” She said clearly, loud enough for all to hear. Ignatius looked down at his cousin with such pity in his eyes. He would soon elevate her status and ensure she never experienced this judgment again. He would fulfill her father’s desire’s and restore the bloodline.

“You would accuse her of treachery?” Someone challenged from the crowd, slowly Solonius walked out from his position in the court. He had always been a loyal follower of her father, the true King.

“Good Licinia has been nothing but a loyal servant to the King. Yet, you would ruin good name in pursuit of delusions of treason?” Solonius questioned. The magistrate’s plump face turned a more vibrant red under the scrutiny of judgment. Ignatius watched the interaction and then stood, Nyx watched him rise and admired his form. A true titan of royalty, she thought to herself.

“Licinia has been my most faithful confidante for years. She is an inspiration for me and is a continuous source of advice. What was done to her family will forever be the kingdom’s darkest day. Licinia is like a sister. I love her as deeply as love can be felt. She harbors no ill will towards me. I would not have her be seen as a traitor under my roof.” He told the court, his voice echoing over the silent crowd. 

“Very well, your majesty,” the Magistrate said quietly. The court was a buzz with gossip. Had he called her his sister? Weren’t they in love? Incestous cousins. Didn’t he murder her father?

“My apologies, Licinia. You can be excused.” Ignatius told her. He longed to hold her but eyes were stuck to them. Court had not fully dispersed. He had suffered enough lecturing about their queer relationship from the council. He was to keep distance until the bedding ceremony. 

Nyx made sure to look grateful as she curtsied and bowed. Her face grew hot at the mention of her family. Her mood had soured. Her inner thoughts had sung of untimely deaths and demise but now she felt sick at the notion. Ignatius had remained a trusted friend during all her hardships. He had loved her as intimately as was allowed. She thought back to all the nights he had comforted her after the massacre of her family. Ignatius was beloved to her, yet, it was his family who had ended hers. 

Ignatius had condemned his father’s actions once he had risen to power. He had separated himself from the murder of her family as if it were a minor inconvenience. People took pity on her and admired how kind Ignatius was to have kept her around. Opinions would change and the rumors began. Why did Ignatius keep Licinia around? Why were they so close? Why didn’t the King marry?

Remembering how people viewed her, Nyx fantasized about the day Ignatius left this world. Once he was dead then, they would see. They would realize she was also a poet, and not just his muse. Her father was the King and she was supposed to inherit his throne. The line of succession wasn’t a fickle thing one could brush aside. She wished Ignatius would have just married her. The bloodline was going to be disrupted once she married. She would descend even lower in status. A supposed Queen married off to a lowly knight while her cousin stole her throne. It should have been her, she thought. Nyx’s anger rose in heights again. She dreamed of the days where they would chant her name in the streets, “NYX, NYX, NYX!” She assured herself. 

Nyx heard the chanting for the rest of the day. Until the time came. 

Days later, when suspicion disappeared Nyx used the cover of darkness. She made her way to Ignatius’s chambers. With a heavy heart, she clung the blade to her chest. She had a purpose and would not separate from the blade until it was in the heart of her enemy. 

As the cool of her fingers met his chest, Ignatius awoke to the darkness. He was instantly alarmed when he realized he had been tied to the bed. He tried to speak but his mouth had been filled with cloth. His eyes adjusted enough for him to make out a figure in the darkness. It is Nyx! He thought to himself and began to struggle against the binds. 

Nyx spoke while she worked, “My whole life you were a teacher and friend to me,” she said as she lit a candle. 

“Please know my actions are not motivated only by envy.” Ignatius struggled harder. What happened to her? His cousin. His lover. How many times had she snuck in here before with different intentions. His thoughts cleared and ice filled his veins once he spotted the knife in her hand.

Nyx held his face in her hands and dug the blade into his cheek, “I also have a destiny. This will be art. People will speak of this day for years. This will be history. And I will be great too!” She exclaimed as tears slid down her cheeks. 

She readied herself as Ignatius began to speak. His cries were muffled by the cloth. Yet, Nyx grew annoyed. She removed his muffle, “Any last words?” She questioned, now emotionless. 

“Nyx, you do not have to do this. I can make you Queen. We could marry! We could rule together.” He pleaded. Nyx laughed to herself. 

“Oh my precious King, I don’t want what you have. I want to be you!” She yelled as she plunged her dagger into his chest.

Inspired by Brutus by Buttress.