Chapter 38: Chapter 38

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Adult Romance  |  House: ROMANCE BOOK HOUSE

Reads: 42

“Alright, spill it, Chamberlain.”

Galien frowned at Brishare’s tone as he looked around his desk at the ambush party seated around him: Brishare, Asher, and the two Captains; he knew why they were here. He eyed each one of them carefully until his gaze settled upon his best friend, “Why do I have a feeling this is all your doing?”

Asher shook his head, “Not this time! Well, not entirely; Brishare is actually the one who said we needed to randomly confront you on… things. I voted against it as I figured you were not ready to divulge your information.”

Galien inclined his head, “I assume you mean… my sudden change in behavior?”

Asher scooted forward to the edge if his chair, “You can be frank with all of us here. I've known since the beginning, you know that Brishare knows, and I know that you are aware of the investigation that Drake and I have been doing on you, which you know that he knows too. Lastly, we told Ewan last night.”

Galien’s gaze slid over to Ewan, “You trust him?”

Asher nodded, “Yes, and all four of us are in agreement on our findings.”

“And pray tell, what findings are those?”

Ewan sighed at Galien’s continued aversion, “For the love of God, Galien, why can’t you just tell us what’s going on? Why won’t you trust us?”

Galien’s gaze hardened lethally, “You want to know why,” he hissed, “Tell me, Captain; have you ever been in a place in your life where you were content with letting your foolish, young dreams go? Just letting them go for good, out of sight, out of mind. Have you ever been there, and then, unexpectedly, the very personification of your every dream come to life is suddenly standing right before you? You ignore the pull at first, thinking how silly of me to still long for those dreams that I thought I locked away… and then the urge, no, the need, to be near her, to hold her close, consumes you,” his eyes suddenly softened, and he smiled, a real smile that Ewan had never seen before, “And then you realize that she returns your affections, and so you finally give in. Suddenly everything is brighter than it ever has been. You understand, finally, what real happiness feels like for the first time in your life and then,” he sighed, his eyes falling lifeless as he stared out into the abyss, “and then you are forced to throw her away like she meant nothing to you when, in reality, she means everything. And all of this, Captain, is because a backstabbing friend was jealous to hurt her if you didn’t comply.” He met Ewan’s wide-eyed gaze, “That being said, I don’t trust anyone right now, Captain.”

Ewan inclined his head, “I understand, Galien, but believe me; I am on your side, and you can trust me.” He indicated the men around them, “Everyone here has shared what they know with me, so yes, I know that you and Naiara are… courting; you don’t have to dance around it.”

Galien smirked and chuckled darkly, “Oh, that’s where you’re wrong; I lost Naiara months ago when your friend forced me to break her. We are no longer courting, as you phrased it, and I don’t think I will ever get the chance to make things right, despite the fact that I never wanted to hurt her in the first place. In fact, I had every intention of reforming whatever laws I needed to in order for us to openly be together one day… but none of that matters now; the only thing that does matter is ending that deceitful maggot’s existence so that Naiara won’t be forced into a marriage that she doesn’t even want.”

Asher sighed, “I think you’re giving her up too easily; you still don’t think you deserve to be happy. That’s what this is really coming down to, Gal; you think giving in and letting yourself be happy made all of this happen, but you aren’t to blame. Either we would have uncovered his plot, or he would have slipped up; it was only a matter of time.”

Galien shook his head, “That might be true, Asher, but again, it doesn’t matter. After all I’ve done to her, I don’t even deserve to see her smile at me ever again, let alone speak to her. She has always been too good for me,” he looked down at his gloved hands, “she is… too pure for my blood-soaked hands to touch. I can’t change the past, but I will protect her future, even if that means I don’t get to be a part of it. I want her to be safe,” he turned away, staring into the fire in the hearth, “I, I just want her to be okay; that’s all that matters to me now.”

Ewan’s azure gaze softened as they filled with relieved surprise, “You… you really love her, don’t you?”

Galien scowled at him, “Which is exactly why I didn’t want to give into my desires in the first place. Love is a weapon that can and will be wielded against you. Unfortunately, it is also a weapon that I am… unfamiliar with,” he rested his forehead against his left hand and chuckled bitterly, “and what’s worse, I didn’t even realize the extent of my feelings for her until the fucking cad jokingly said it.”

Ewan stood from his seat and braced his hands against Galien’s desk, “Galien, if you love her, you should--,”

“What I feel and want is not on trial, Captain. She no longer trusts me, and I do not blame her. I will happily give her away to someone else as long as I know she is safe from him.”

Asher tapped his chin with a mischievous glint in his eye, “I mean… in theory that could work. If we are able to get her out of this proverbial dance with the devil, and she does still want to be with you… perhaps she could openly court someone else who knows about the two of you and would be willing to look the other way until you both can come forward.”

Galien eyed him with disgust, “As if she would agree to something like that. Besides, even if such a thing was… acceptable, the chances that it would fail are astronomical.”

Drake raised a brow. “Not that I’m backing the idea, but would it really fall apart if several of us already knew the truth? Wouldn’t that make it easier to deflect any rumors?”

Galien chuckled as he thought back to a previous, happy, conversation with Naiara long ago, “You know, Naiara and I had a similar discussion of this very thing. Yes, everything would still fall apart, because lies built upon lies always do. Now, the discussion her and I had was to consider the possibility of her becoming unexpectedly pregnant from our time together.”

Brishare inclined his head, “A reasonable fear, but… that would give you all the heir you desire.”

 Galien chuckled, “Yes, but a child made by her and myself could result in a child that heavily resembles me. Black hair can be easily wave off, but my skin tone is darker than the typical resident of Irenous, and then we have my eyes,” he waved his hand in a sarcastically grand gesture before his eyes, “My eye color would be a dead giveaway that we could not redirect, so yes, it would most likely fall apart at the seams.”

Drake nodded curtly, “Well, at the least the two of you thought things through enough to be careful then. Smart.”

Galien smirked as he chuckled deviously and licked his lips, “Careful? Oh, Drake, we were anything but!”

Ewan grimaced, a heavy confusion in his eyes, “B-but you just said you both worried about it happening and revealing everything!”

Galien’s smirk widened with a reminiscent gleam, “Well, if you’re that curious, Captain, to tell you the truth, our secret affair came with a… forbidden thrill in its youth, and we liked the danger of it; sneaking around and trying not to get caught was a very fun game and just one more log for an already roaring fire. Though our relationship was never just about sex, it was definitely an integral part of it. And as things progressed, a deeper bond and… possessiveness followed. You see, my tastes in the boudoir are… different compared to most others, well, at least in this country they are. But luckily for me, Naiara was very receptive to those tastes. I’m sure this will not come as a surprise to anyone, but I like to be in complete control in all aspects of life; I am no different in the bedroom. In the boudoir, and within our previously set boundaries, my word was law. If she misbehaved or disobeyed me, she was punished and she was rewarded for good behavior.”

Ewan stared blankly at him from what he described, “Ser Galien, that, that sounds hor-,” Brishare interrupted him, “Fascinating; tell me more. Oo, wait, a question first! Asher mentioned a calla lily necklace that you gave to her and that it was a way to openly stake your claim. Was this part of the control aspect, or a reward, perhaps?”

Galien smirked at the king’s interest, “It is part of the game, yes. I suppose it could be considered a reward of sorts, but the true meaning behind it was to give her a visible and tangible representation of our love. We could not marry, or openly show our affections, but I could give her something to remind her that she was mine, and I was hers. To this game we played, it would be the equivalent of a wedding band.”

Brishare nodded, “Interesting… you know, if you don’t mind, after this is all over, I should like to learn more of this; it sounds rather fun!”

Ewan gaped at him while Drake and Asher snickered. Ewan sighed heavily, “Uh, yes… um moving on… Ser Galien, that unnecessary information doesn’t quite explain why the two of you weren’t careful… I mean, you said it yourself; everything could have been exposed. Why would you risk it?”

A naughty glint sparkled in his gaze as he stared at Ewan, “Well, at first it just didn’t occur to us, but the night I gave her the necklace was when we discussed it. You see, in this game that Naiara and I indulged in, possessiveness, as I mentioned before, became an exciting necessity for us. She responded very positively when I exerted my control, power, and possession over her. Given her past, it was imperative that Naiara felt safe; if she didn’t feel safe, or didn’t trust me, it wouldn’t have worked; we wouldn’t have formed the bond we did. The truth of the game is that while I am in control of the scene, she is the one with the true power. She allowed me to do these things to her because she wanted it. I had mentioned boundaries earlier, yes? We openly discussed our likes and dislikes and if there was a grey area, we explored it and made a decision. In my case there’s not a lot I’m not willing to try, but she was different; if there was anything she did not like, we didn’t do it. Now, with that bond established, we were able to progress down a rabbit hole of ideas so to speak.”

Galien leaned back in his chair as he looked at his audience who were all listening intently. A naughty smirk graced his lips as he continued and looked directly at Ewan, “As deep as our bond was, the thought of sharing a child together did not deter us. In fact, Captain, her carrying my child would be… exquisite. A child created by the both of us, out of love, would be the ultimate display of my ownership of her. I won’t go into further detail, but the mere thought of her carrying our child brought us…well, it lit an entirely new fire on its own.”

The room fell awkwardly quiet save for Asher’s muffled snickering. Drake cleared his throat after a few moments and slapped Ewan’s shoulder, “Right, moving on then. Ewan, you were saying something about how Galien could trust you?”

Ewan shook his head to clear the haze that had fallen over him, “Right… um, yes, Ser Galien, I promise, I can be trusted with whatever you have to share.”

Galien sighed wearily, “You must forgive me, Ewan, but out of everyone here, I trust you the least.”

Ewan frowned, “Me? B-but… why?”

“Because you have built what seems to be a close friendship with him.”

Ewan nodded, “Duly noted, Ser Galien, but as Asher said, I agree that the duke is our culprit. I’ve had my own suspicions and I’ve been trying to press him,” he paused for a moment while he gathered his thoughts, “I, uh, overheard you and Duke Everette speaking in the hallway a few days ago. I heard him rub the fact that he was marrying Naiara in your face. It didn’t make any sense to me at the time… until last night.”

Galien chuckled irritably, “You mean when he blatantly said he was going to taint and defile her and would take pleasure in the pain it would cause me?”

Ewan cleared his throat, “Uh, yes, that. Afterwards… he happened upon me, and I was able to convince him to play a round of chess with me. I tried to subtly press him, and he briefly slipped up. He became very angry as we spoke about Naiara and the wedding. He said that she needed to buckle down and accept her fate.”

Galien shook his head as his lip curled and Ewan swallowed hard at the fury in his gaze and cleared his throat, “Then he called her his selkie… that’s why I asked you if you had heard of a selkie before and the information you shared with me was… unsettling to say the least.”

Galien inclined his head, “Yes, it is, but it is a fitting pet name given the situation if you examine the lore. A rare, beautiful woman who is approached by a man who wishes to possess her and make her love him. She refuses his advances, and only wishes to return to her true love, the sea. After many failed advances he sees the opportunity to trap her and leave her no choice but to go to him. He plots to steal her pelt, the one thing that allows her to be free. He hides it, forcing her to leave her home and holds her prisoner under the guise of his wife until she finds her pelt and is able to flee.” He sighed morosely, “Naiara and I established, long ago, that she belongs with me; I was the protective pelt she wore, and I was forced to strip her of my protection, allowing Philip to swoop in.”

Brishare hung his head sadly, “This is wrong; we can’t let him win.”

Galien smirked, “Oh, he won’t.”

Asher grimaced, “Not that I don’t believe you, Gal, but what is your plan?”

Galien shook his head, “That is the one thing I will not divulge; if no one knows, they cannot accidentally interfere or slip up.”

Asher inclined his head, “Fair enough, but there are pieces of this puzzle that I would like filled in.”

“If I have the piece in my hands, I will give it to you.”

His friend smiled hopefully, “We have a few questions, but I feel this one is the most curious; how did you find out it was Phil?”

Galien huffed, “Simple; he told me.”

A confused silence filled the room and Galien chuckled sadly, “The day after the gala when he came to meet with me about setting up a date with Naiara he attempted to attack me when my back was turned by pressing a dagger into my back. Honestly, I took it as an insult; a dagger pressed into my back? He should have known I’d be able to disarm him. But I digress, while the dagger was at my back he very subtly confessed, and when I expressed my disbelief, he told me that his full name was Deagan Philip Everett-Malloy. He then began raving about how much he hated me and how all our lives I have taken everything from him. At one point I suppose I offended him when I said that he was always last place for a reason because he slammed my head into the window. Then he finally grew a pair and faced me, dagger to my neck. Our talk progressed, and he told me he knew my dirty, little secret. I attempted to deflect it, but he knew… intimate details. That’s when I learned of the spies, and, I will admit, that rattled me a bit. By this time however, I was done playing around; I spit in his face and after a brief struggle, I was able to restrain him on the floor, but when I pulled him to his feet,” Galien quickly shrugged off his coat and part of his black undershirt, showing them fresh scar, “he stabbed me in the arm.”

Galien quickly straightened his clothing as his friends listened intently with wide eyes. Asher frowned, “Naiara mentioned that she thought you had hurt your arm, but that you refused to acknowledge it.”

Galien nodded and continued his tale, “After that, he seemed to show remorse and allowed me to dress my wound. Once that was done, we continued talking and he left me with an ultimatum. He said he would give me twenty-four hours to make a choice; either I took Naiara and fled the palace or I break things off with her and hand her to him on a silver platter. On the surface it was an easy choice, too easy. The catch was that if we fled, he was going to have Navon assassinated so that the council would look to put him on the throne.”

Drake cursed, “Shit… you must have been incredibly torn.”

Galien shrugged, “No, while it was a difficult choice, I knew what I had to do. I felt that there was only one option where everyone lived, and that was to give her up, temporarily, until I could find a way to expose him safely. If the spies hadn’t been an issue, I would have simply told Naiara the truth and dealt with him quickly, but, as he so accurately accused, I was too worried that she would be hurt, and that was enough to make me hesitate. These spies had uncovered incredibly intimate details of our relationship through closed doors; they could easily find out that our breakup was fake.”

Asher nodded, “I see and that’s why you couldn’t tell me either.”

“Exactly, and for that, I sincerely apologize for making it seem like I didn’t trust you, Asher.”

The blonde blew a raspberry at him, “Oh, please; I knew something was up. I just needed to figure out what, and then you started leaving me subtle clues.”

Galien inclined his head, “You’re welcome.”

Drake cleared his throat, “Speaking of clues, Isabelle mentioned a contract?”

Galien chuckled, “Oh yes, Philip returned the next day as planned to hear my decision and I presented him with this,” Galien reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a sealed parchment, “I drew up a contract detailing the nature of my demands if I was to play his game.”

Asher hastily grabbed the document out of his hand and scanned over it, “My God… and he signed it with his full, legal name.”

Galien smiled deviously, “Yes, he did, just as I hoped. He was so thrown off by the contract that didn’t realize what he had done. He also didn’t read the contract very thoroughly. In the middle of the contract, you’ll see that I explicitly stated that I was being blackmailed by Philip, and that I was willingly playing along with his game until he hurt Naiara; physically, emotionally, or mentally. He has severely broken that agreement, and there are witnesses that can attest to this, which makes the contract null and void, allowing me to do as I please.”

Asher cackled, “Holy fuck! I can’t believe he made such a juvenile mistake.”

“Yes, and I gave him an ultimatum of my own to ensure his compliance; either he signed, or I would expose him, right then, to the entire court.”

Ewan frowned, “Why didn’t you just do that?”

“Because of the spies, Captain. I didn’t want to risk setting them off until I knew how many there were. If I just blatantly exposed him, his spies would have, without a doubt, exposed themselves to protect the weasel. I didn’t want to put Naiara in harm’s way, but I warned him that I had no issue dying to protect her, and I would take them all, including him, with me. Plus, if I exposed him, he would be the villain and I, the would be the gallant hero; I would be better than him, again.”

Brishare shook his head, “And his ego refused to let that happen.”

Galien smiled, “Correct. So, we both signed the contract, and then I felt myself die a little inside. That’s when he joked that I must love her, and I realized that I did. It made the next part even more difficult. I spoke with Naiara in private a while later and told her it was over between us, and that I had been using her,” he chuckled, “She didn’t believe me; she screamed at me to look her in the eye and tell her I lied. I did, though it killed me, and to dissolve any more doubt on her end, I took back our promise, the necklace I had given her.” He inhaled deeply, biting the inside of his cheek, “I swore to her on that necklace, that I would never leave her, and that what we had was permanent. To take that promise back is… unforgivable.”

Brishare stood, “We need to expose him, now.”

Galien shook his head with narrowed amber eyes, “I’m afraid I can’t let that happen just yet.”

The room looked at him in disbelief and Drake stood, “Why? Why can’t we expose the bastard? You just confirmed our suspicions, Gal. Let us expose him! We can arrest him at his manor!”

Galien met his steeled gaze, “No. We have to do this carefully; I want to strike when he is vulnerable, when he will least expect it, and in such a way that he will never see it coming.”

Brishare sighed heavily, “With all due respect, Ser Galien… that is a stupid plan and stupid reason to draw this out. From what I’ve heard, Naiara is devastated and only falling deeper into despair as the days drag on. Why must you drag this out?”

Galien eyed the room with a heated gaze, “I do not expect any of you to understand my reasoning, but I have been forced to hurt someone who didn’t deserve it, and now I am being forced to marry her to the very monster I swore to protect her from. A monster who doesn’t care for her, only her title. He thinks her weak and he needs someone he can bleed whenever he needs to feel powerful in his inferior, pitiful life.”

Galien stood and braced his hands on his desk as he leaned into his audience, “He told me, that after he violates her, he plans to have me tried and put to death. He said he wondered how Naiara would react to the news of my death; would she become a hollow shell, locked away in her room… just. Like. My mother.”

Asher swallowed hard; oof, Phil had made so many horrible decisions in his jealousy towards Galien. He met his friend’s intense glare which prompted Galien to continue, “He has created a personal vendetta against me, gentlemen, and I will throw it right back at him because he thinks me unwillingly compliant. I have murdered all five of his spies, right under his nose and I have taken away the one person he actually cared for. He took Naiara from me, so I took my own father from him. I will continue to meet him, low blow after low blow, until he lies dead at my feet.”

Ewan’s eyes widened, “Ser Galien… you murdered your father?”

Galien laughed darkly, “And I enjoyed every glorious second of it.”

Drake looked over to Asher, “Damn, I owe you twenty francs.”

Asher shrugged triumphantly, “I told you so,” he turned to Galien with uncharacteristically serious eyes, “but that brings me to the question that has personally been plaguing my mind. Galien… why did you kill your father?”

Galien cocked his head with a dismal frown, “Were you not able to uncover the other truth I learned?”

Asher met him head-on, “I have my suspicions, but I want to hear it from you. I need to hear it from you to believe it.”

“Very well,” he looked at Brishare, “I’m not sure if you have heard rumors of my illness, Your Majesty, so I will fill you in; since childhood I have been plagued by a sickness no doctor can seem to pinpoint. It almost killed me in my youth. Now, I can abade my symptoms with various medicinal herbs, but I will never be fully cured of the symptoms I have; rapid heartbeat, fevers, hallucinations, fainting spells and others.”

Brishare stared at him in disbelief, “I, I have never heard a word of this.”

“It is common knowledge around the palace unfortunately. Though not everyone knows all my symptoms; normally all anyone sees is me gasping for air as I brace myself against a wall. When this happens, I know that I have to move fast to get to my room and medications before the debilitating symptoms rear their heads.”

 Brishare blew out a breath, “That sounds… awful.”

Galien met his words with sinister expression, “You don’t know the half of it. Thanks to Philip, I now know the truth behind my illness. Philip also confessed that he and my own father, poisoned me several times to knock me down a few pegs and for their own amusement. The even that almost killed me was their first attempt and they used too much cyanide which they acquired from an apothecary and the seeds from several fruits. When I recovered, they tried again, using much smaller amounts and over the period of a year, possible a bit longer. So, my illness is actually the long-term effects of chronic poisoning.”

The room grew silent again as they each processed Galien’s discovery. Asher released a forced breath through his teeth as his foot tapped angrily against the floor. After several seconds of silence, Galien spoke again, “So you see, I have a very personal reason for wanting to kill him and in my own way. I won’t allow any of you to get in my way or take him down before I do. I want him to suffer for all he’s done to me and Naiara,” he chuckled suddenly and bit his knuckle, “Oh, I just realized… if they hadn’t poisoned me, I would still be Guard Captain; Naiara and I could have been together from the start if fate willed it so… it seems I have yet another reason to hate him.”

Brishare clapped him on the shoulder, “I won’t stand in your way, Galien.”

Drake and Ewan nodded in agreement, followed by Asher, “Galien… we won’t stand in your way, but what if we want to help?”

Galien’s eyes widened momentarily, “You… want to help?”

The room filled various sounds of agreement and Galien eyed Ewan, “Even you, Captain?”

Ewan nodded with no hesitation, “Yes; he is guilty of too many crimes. Crimes against you and Naiara. He needs to be put down and you are the only fitting executioner, Galien.”

A slow, demonic grin lit up his face, “Excellent. I do have things the lot of you can help me take of over the next few days without divulging my bigger plan. Are you ready for assignments, gentlemen?”

Submitted: September 10, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Soteria. All rights reserved.


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