“Get me my adviser!”
A deep baritone voice rang out in the dining hall, accompanied by the crash of fists against the table, and the musical tinkle of breaking cutlery.
“Did you imbeciles hear me? Have you all suddenly gone deaf? I gave an order and I expect it to be obeyed!”
That pompous old windbag was going on and on, and the adviser in question rolled her eyes.
There were rapid footsteps, and a liveried servant skidded to a stop in front of the young woman, breathing heavily.
“His Royal Majesty requests your presence in the dining hall, madam,” He gasped, one hand to his chest. “He asked me to escort you, and he says that is urgent.” Without waiting for an answer, he began to walk down the hall, and the woman followed, rolling her eyes silently.
“I wouldn’t want to keep him waiting,” She murmured, more to herself than the servant, and only the sharpest ear would catch the sarcasm in her tone. They walked, the servant in front and the woman behind him, all the while the king working himself into a lather. How a man with such a violent temper had inherited a throne was beyond even her comprehension.
“You wanted to see me, Your Majesty?” The woman asked, gracefully curtsying, gathering her scarlet, bloodred skirts around her.
“Yes,” The King replied, looking red in the face from far too much wine and rich food. He looked at the servants gathered around them and he scowled. “Leave us.” There was some hesitation, some caught off guard by the sudden command.
At this order, the servants bolted for the door, desperate to keep their heads on their shoulders. The king was always moody, but there was something else bothering him, she could see it in his aura and the way his fingers twitched on the armrests of his throne.
“Whatever is the matter, my king?” Violet asked; he liked it best when she was deferential, though it hurt her pride to play the plaything to a monarch with dwindling power and mental faculties. “It appears that the issue is urgent.”
“Enemies are crossing the oceans, aiming to take our country for themselves and steal our resources, Violet.” He croaked, his bloodshot eyes meeting hers. “I don’t know what to do. Help me.” His voice cracked in his desperation, and it was a good thing that she’d spent so much time at his side; it helped her hold in the laughter bubbling in her chest.
He really was pathetic.
So much so that he had no idea just what she’d done to unseat him; all that power and he had no idea what to do with it, more concerned with his paramours, feasts, and the arrival of another heir, though it didn’t look like that was happening anytime soon. He hadn’t visited the queen’s chambers in months.
That was fine by Violet. It gave her more space to work him just how she wished, and she was looking at the big picture.
Who needed peace when they could go to war, use the peasants as cannon fodder, and ply the coffers with gold made from weapons dealing?
It was all so delicious that she had to restrain herself from jumping from her curtsy and clapping her hands with wicked glee. It was all coming together so perfectly.
“But of course I’ll help you, Your Majesty. My sole purpose is to serve you,” She purred in reply, and he raised a hand, glimmering with jewels, beckoning her closer to the throne. She stood and walked closer, head bowed carefully, avoiding looking him in the eye.
“Come now, Vi, you know you’re trusted more than anyone else in this palace. Look at me like we’re equals.” His tone was pleading, and her stomach turned in response. It was really no wonder that this man was so easy to manipulate; he had no stomach and even less of a spine. Nonetheless, she obeyed. It would not do to buck against his rule, not when she was so close to everything she’d dreamed of achieving.
She looked up, and he frowned at her, his face flushed from too much drink. “Please, tell me what you’re thinking.”
He grasped her hand, and her skin crawled at the overly forward touch. King or not, the feeling of his skin on hers was revolting.
“Would war not be a better solution, Majesty?” Violet said at last, folding her fingers over his and giving him a bland, blank grin. “Use the peasants and rabble as cannon fire. We’ve enough of them to spare, certainly, as well as your private army. Imagine the notoriety we’d receive, after we won.” She leaned closer, widening her eyes at him, whispering in his ear.
“Have I ever led you wrong before, Your Majesty?” Her lips tickled his ear, and she felt him shiver, just slightly. His body tightened, and she bit her lip to prevent from laughing. The man may have been a great bore; his father was much more fun; but he was certainly fun to play with. It was amusing to think that he had a chance with her.
He didn’t, of course, but he didn’t need to know that. She was willing to do just about anything to climb the social ladder.
Someday, she would be sitting on this throne. She just needed to be patient; she was almost there.