The Chains of Duty Chapter 1: Enemies We Were, What Are We Now?

AN: This is the first chapter of a multi-chaptered fic I began writing over a year ago. As such, the style is a bit different from how I write currently. Lately, I’ve been feeling a little blue when I try to write the 14th chapter. This is probably because this wasn’t at the top of my priority list and got pushed behind when other things caught my attention. In an attempt to regain some of the enthusiasm so I can resume writing this, I post this here.


 

Nidara stood at the edge of the railing, her yellow dress swaying in the light breeze. Anyone watching from afar would think she was at peace, contemplating life perhaps. Up close, however, anyone could see the distress and anger etched into her more than perfect facial features.

She heard footsteps behind her. She did not want to turn and greet the person. She knew who it was.

“It has been long, Nidara,” the person said upon reaching the railing.

“Yes, Keed, it has been long…” her voice trailed off as memories rushed through her mind. Why did he not annihilate her when he had the chance? She had been his captive during the war. Was he just trying to show her that he was noble?

If that was the case, he had failed. Most definitely, he had failed.

His hand extended toward her.

“I brought you a drink,” he said holding out the goblet of wine.

“Why did you call me here?” she asked in an intimidating manner, ignoring the offer.

His calm features contorted into a frown. “So, it is,” he said, “that you hate me.”

There was a slight hint of sadness in his voice. But Nidara chose to ignore it. It was not something she had time for. She had an empire to run.

“Why did you call me here?” she repeated.

“I was hoping things would be different between us,” he replied, his calm demeanor back in place. “Would you humor me by taking the drink?”

She took the goblet from his yet again outstretched hand. “We are enemies, Keed. Nothing can change that. We cannot escape that fact.” she said harshly.

The war of Yawen, did justice to no one. Keed had been the commander of Xelop’s army. They had been the oppressors. The tyrants.

Nidara, the princess of Yawenin was captured and tortured by Xelop. But Keed had somehow kept her alive. She should have been grateful. However, she was far from that. She was angry. Because she knew the kind of person Keed was. Even if he helped during her rescue, he would never do something against his own benefit in his right mind.

She knew him.

“You are right, Princess. I made mistakes. And I must pay for them,” he said pulling her out of her thoughts. She looked at him through the corner of her eye. His head hung, as if in extreme guilt. “But we will only stay stuck like this if you so choose.”

Nidara turned toward him abruptly. What was he saying? He was the one who betrayed them when he was faced with death. He was the one who got her captured in the first place.

“What are you trying to say, Keed?” she hissed. “I was not the one to betray my country!”

His head hung once again. “What you say is true…” he muttered, almost inaudibly. This time though, she could not ignore the completely defeated and guilty background in his voice. “However, I am more than willing to make amends… if only you would let me, Nidara.”

There was a hopeful edge in his voice… hopeful yet uncertain, Nidara finally allowed herself to notice. And from the look in his eyes he was solemn.

Do I really know him? She let confusion wash over her as she took in his sight. The attire he was wearing for the night made him look charming, if she allowed herself to call him that. Suddenly, she was taken back to the days when there was nothing to fear.

It had been raining. The princesses had yet insisted on going out in the mud and puddle filled garden. As they trudged on, his foot accidentally landed on a puddle of mud.

Mud splattered on to Nidara’s dress.

“Keed!”  Nidara exclaimed, alarmed.

He looked crestfallen. “I am indeed at fault,” he said guiltily, “please allow me to make amends, princess…”

She smiled. “Of course, Keed. You will make amends.”

She turned away from him, heat rushing to her face as he caught her staring at him.

“How can you possibly change things? I am not the only one wary of your safe presence inside the walls of Yawen.” Her voice came lower, calmer. It was obvious that she had weighed her options in a matter of seconds inside her head. The sign of a true queen, he thought.

“That, I am not sure of, as of yet,” he said sighing. “But I am hoping you will help me. Will you not, Nidara, for old times’ sake, if not for now?” Once again, the uncertainty was prominent in his tone. But there was something else as well.

…Longing?…

She remained silent for some time. Then she nodded her head.

He really wants to make amends? How much do I know him exactly? Or do I not know him at all? Or am I pretending to not know him?

“Why did you do all of that if you were going to regret it in the end?” she asked after a while, her goblet now empty.

“Something drove me. I was not myself. It was almost as if I could hear Xelop’s commands inside my head. And somehow, I could not resist them.”

“How did you break free of that?” This was not the first time she had heard about Xelop’s dark powers. But she was curious. As far as she knew, once a person went under the influence nothing could bring them out. There were thousands of such people in the rehabilitation camps as they spoke.

“Once I saw you tied to that post, night and day, something happened to me,” he said hesitantly. “This might sound ridiculous but…” he paused as if looking for the right words, “I think it had something to do with the sight of you in pain.”

She glanced at him as he spoke. To her surprise, he looked like he was feeling extremely uncomfortable.

She trained her eyes once more on the hill in front of her, separated from her by the railings of the huge balcony, and some cottages scattered about, safe inside the inner walls of Yawen. She remembered how she would trust no one to escort her outside the castle if Keed was not coming along. She remembered her desperation when she found out he had betrayed them. She remembered the relief at the sight of him, but at the same time the anger and confusion when she saw who he was standing next to. Her worst enemy, Xelop.

“Perhaps, Keed,” she said slowly, “you could do more than just amend your mistakes.” Her yellow dress once again flowed in the breeze. She let the cool air calm her nerves.

We were friends. We have been enemies. What are we now?…


PS: Yes. I came up wth the names myself.

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