The King and the Carpenter
Sabian has found himself caught between love for his kingdom and his lover.
Prince Sabian is expected to be a good king by producing heirs. He finds this extremely difficult as he is gay and in love with the castle's carpenter, Arion. He is married off to a princess he can't stand and told to do his duty to his kingdom. Sabian hides away from his wife and responsibilities in Arion's room. When his father dies suddenly he is thrown into the limelight and expected to give his people an heir, so he turns to the old apothecaries in the forest for help. But the apothecary seems to have an agenda of his own. Sabian soon finds out that sometimes the biggest enemies come from within.
Prince Sabian approached the throne as he did everything in life, with caution, preparing to run at the slightest upset.
“Get in here, boy!”
Sabian’s heart hammered as the king’s voice boomed across the hunting lodge. He’d done his best to stay out of his father’s way that summer, he wasn’t entirely sure what he had done this time to incite the king’s wrath.
“I said come here!”
Sabian abandoned his need to escape, and instead rushed over to his father’s side. The king, once a man of rippling muscles, now sat hunched in his own ageing chub and wrinkles, almost unrecognisable from the man on the coins.
“You wanted to see me, Your Majesty?”
The king rolled his eyes and looked at his only son, his only child. “Sit,” he barked.
Sabian glanced around, but found no free chairs. He quickly sat crossed legged on the floor, staring up at the throne, the way he sometimes did with his mother.
“Tell me, Sabian, how old are you?”
“I’ll be fifteen in three months.”
“Fifteen in three months,” the king said with scorn, “Boy, do you have any idea what I was doing at that age?”
Sabian’s gaze wandered around the room, the stuffed heads of famous kills littered the walls. “Hunting, sir?”
The king frowned at him, then inexplicably started laughing, “Hunting? Yes, I was, very much so. I hunted every princess in every foreign kingdom until my seed sat on the legs of every royal woman across the land. I was caught between the legs of three rival queens. My father had to go to war three times over to let all the foreign kings know that no woman couldn’t be seduced by me.”
“You’re damn right it’s nice.”
If Sabian was truly honest, it sounded like his grandfather needed a lesson in foreign diplomacy. Surely handing your wayward prince over to be beheaded by a scorned rival king was a far better way to run the kingdom? Sabian tried to hide the smile that tugged at his lips at the thought of his fifteen-year-old father being beheaded.
“And you, boy. What exactly have you been doing with your time?”
“I’ve been studying the stars. My tutor believes the more we know about our universe the better.”
“Blast and nonsense. You are a future king, what the hell do you need knowledge for? Your one and only purpose in life is to have heirs. Understand?”
“But, Father, I have to know how to rule the kingdom. What kind of a king will I be if don’t improve myself through education?”
“A king with no heirs.”
Sabian thought it a bit rich for him to assume one could only have heirs by wooing foreign queens, seeing as the current king was hardly ever without his cock buried in some woman, and yet only had one child.
“My father gave this land twelve princes. Twelve! If I couldn’t rule, there were eleven brothers behind me,” the king sighed deeply. “And what have I given the kingdom? A prince who is caught studying stars instead of between a woman’s legs. You are a disgrace.”
Sabian chose not to take that to heart, seeing as he was fairly confident the king had only ever had a passing acquaintance with a dictionary and probably didn’t know the meaning of the word.
“Listen to me, boy, there is a palace north of our kingdom. It’s for queens who need to be disposed of. I should have sent your mother there and found a new wife.”
The king slammed his mug on the chair. “Because I needed heirs, boy! You are the only hope for this kingdom. There should have been ten boys behind you. But there is only you. Don’t make the same mistake I made, get rid of wives who don’t produce heirs.”
“That seems a bit…harsh!”
“Harsh? You don’t know what harsh is. You have never had your kingdom suffer because there was no heir, no future…for it to be open to invasion.”
“Nor have you.”
Sabian shut his mouth quickly, but it was too late. The words hung between them, heavy with poison, showing the king that his son could officially outsmart him.
He launched off his throne, grabbed Sabian by the shoulders and shook him. “I’m not playing around, boy. If you let this kingdom fall because there is no one to sit on the throne after you, I will curse you from the afterlife. Everything in your life which you love will wither and die.”
He dropped Sabian on the floor and walked away. The prince tried not to show how affected he was, how cold his father’s threat had made him. He rubbed his arms where his father had cut off blood supply, trying to rid himself of the king’s fingerprints.
“Get out!” the king said.
Sabian didn’t need to be told twice. He jumped up and darted for the door.
“And for God sakes, find a woman to teach you things. No queen wants to marry a virgin king.”
He nodded and raced from the room, trying to outrun the feelings of guilt which twisted his stomach.
Was he going to let the kingdom down simply because he’d rather love a boy than a girl?
Five years later
Sabian stared through the window at the mountains beyond the castle. Somewhere out there was the border of a kingdom with no royalty. How he wished he’d been born there.
He heard his father’s fake cough and quickly turned to look at the man in front of him, trying to concentrate on what he was saying, trying to appear as anything but a pig headed to slaughter.
“And do you, Prince Sabian, take Princess Eryn to be your lawful wife and future queen?”
Sabian’s heart stopped for an extended breath, it wasn’t real. It couldn’t possibly be real.
How could he be standing there marrying the one princess who’d irritated him the most out of all the women his mother had trotted out for him? Why her? He dragged his gaze over to his bride, she’d gone against tradition and opted for an open neck dress: any man taller than her had the perfect view of her large breasts. He sighed; he knew exactly why his father had chosen her.
“Ahem!” the king coughed again, only this time there was a warning only the prince could hear.
“Yes, yes. I do. I do.”
Can I leave now?
“I therefore declare you husband and wife, future king and queen.”
The crowd cheered, Sabian glanced back at them. They were mostly aristocrats and foreign royals. He recognised the new queen from a neighbouring kingdom. Other than that, there was not one person in the audience whom Sabian would have personally invited.
I’ve just got married and hate my wedding guests, the nightmare is now complete.
“Your Highness, you may kiss your bride.”
Sabian stared at the official who’d married him; he’d been wrong. Now the nightmare was complete.
“Ahem!” the king coughed.
Sabian stared at his new wife, she was a year older than him but appeared far more aged than twenty-one years. He supposed she was a good-looking woman, she had nice skin and eyes, but the thought of touching his mouth to hers made his balls crawl up to half their normal size.
His father opened his mouth again, but Sabian acted first. He leaned forward and planted a rough kiss on Eryn’s lips. The crowd cheered wildly. Sabian came within a heartbeat of walking out and never glancing back. His mother was the first to come to him, wrap him in her arms and congratulate him.
“Please, just treat her well,” she whispered.
He nodded, only slightly irritated he had to make this promise to his mother again.
At the announcement of his engagement, she’d sat him down and explained how difficult life as a queen was, and how she didn’t wish it on anyone. As though life as a prince wasn’t filled with its own difficulties.
“Well done, boy!” the king boomed, his voice box hadn’t aged with the rest of his body.
Sabian accepted the congratulations from the rest of his kingdom, but he was somewhere else. He felt himself floating up and out of his body, leaving the castle, and running through the woods.
Where he was most happy.
The wedding was followed by parties, not only in the castle, but across the kingdom. Generations before had celebrated the weddings of princes almost every year, but Sabian was their last heir in this linage, their last chance for celebration. He felt the shift in the air, it was as though the whole kingdom expected to be invaded and ruled over by someone else before their children were grown.
From a lack of heirs.
Sabian was beginning to understand the importance of his father’s words from all those years ago.
“Care to dance?” his mother asked.
“I shall be the luckiest prince in the land,” he said.
He led his mother to the dance floor where his bride was already in the arms of his father, no surprise there.
“She’s a lovely girl,” the queen said, “you are very lucky she chose you over the other prince.”
“Of course. She comes from a very fertile family. Eight daughters.”
“I know. You introduced me to all eight and the only one I liked was the one you refused to let me meet again.”
“You know why,” his mother hissed.
Yes, he did. The princess he’d liked the most had been more interested in books than parties, more interested in learning than him, more interested in marrying to shut her parents up than for pleasure. They would have been a match made in heaven.
“You know we need a girl who will get you into bed. Not one who will throw a book at you.”
“So, you picked the one who’s never even picked up a book.”
“You don’t need a reader, you need a lover,” his mother snapped.
“I need a miracle.”
“Oh, honey, we’ve all been praying for that.”
Despite how much he’d wished for the inevitable to bypass him, Sabian soon found himself in his brand-new wedding bed, with his blushing bride at his side. Although there was very little blushing going on.
Sabian hadn’t undressed, planning to spend the night sleeping in his wedding attire. She took it as an invitation to climb on top and began to prise his clothes off.
“What is it that you like?” she asked as she jerked his shirt over his head.
“I’m quite talented at most things, all though your kingdom may have moves I’ve never seen before, and in that case…” she arched forward, her breasts against his face. “You are going to have to teach me.”
She giggled, the sound like shards in his brain.
“I’m rather tired. It’s been a long day. Why don’t we just go to sleep?”
Her smile dropped along with her shoulders. “You want to sleep? On our wedding night? Really?”
She leaned forward again, almost cutting his air supply off. “Are you sure you want to sleep when you could be playing with these?”
“Yes,” he squeaked.
She took that the wrong way and smiled victoriously. “I’m sure we could find some way to please you with these.”
Taking them out of my face would be a start.
“Maybe,” she said as she pushed her breasts together, “we could place your cock between them and see what happens.”
He bit back on his vomit, grabbed her hips and threw her across the bed. She looked at him as though his wild act was some sort of sex game; she smiled and opened her legs. He scrambled out of bed, and raced from the room. He used the secret passage to get to the library where he slept surrounded by his precious books.