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A Proper Villain
King Talon woke that morning to what little sunlight there was reflecting off of the gray and troubled waters outside his window. Gray and stormy was his favorite type of weather. It matched his heart, his mind, his personality and most of all his gray eyes.
The young king pushed back his red velvet hair to expose the widow’s peak on his forehead. He sat up and swung his legs out of bed. King Talon loved mornings. He lived for them. To see the sunrise each morning was his greatest joy. Most often he’d make his maids get up at five am just to open each shade and curtain in his castle.
He stood, clasped his hands behind his back, and strolled over to the window. The sea was churning wildly that day. King Talon blinked twice. Usually he could stand at his ocean view window for hours on end, but today, today was different. He spun on his heels and covered the floor in three long strides. He paused, then took the whistle from his bedside table and blew it three times.
Seven servants rushed into the room. One maid made his bed, another carried his breakfast and another woman sat out his clothes. The three female servants backed out of the room and left so the rest of the male servants could help King Talon dress. Once he was fitted into his kingly garb he shouted “Come, come! Today feels like a nice day for a stroll!” He grabbed a golden chain, fastened it around his neck and went out the door leaving his breakfast un-touched.
The wind blew through his shoulder length, garnet hair and whipped it about his pale pink cheeks. He surveyed the ocean with his limpid eyes. Oh yes indeed, King Talon lived for the days like this. Windy, gray, ill boding and powerful. “Let us go down to the harbor.” He said to his valet. “We should see how our sailors are fairing.” King Talon pulled his thick, black cloak around himself and walked on with the impish servant at his heels.
In the restless waters the ships bobbed up and down as merchant sailors tried to unload their cargo. King Talon looked all about and gazed at the people from distant lands with slight disinterest at first. He caught a glimpse of a man with horribly disfiguring scares all over his body, as if he had been caught in a fire, but then all of a sudden King Talon spotted a woman carrying a crate. Anyone could tell at a glance she was beautiful. Though un-common to the trend she had short brown hair cut up to the back of her neck in the back, and down to her chin in the front. She had moss green eyes that captured light then let it dance about in the irises, and wore a forest green bodice over her white, patched, dress. An exotic sailor girl from across the sea in her best Sunday dress just to make port in King Talon’s country. King Talon just had to have her. He wanted her for his wife. To stare at her all day, to produce his children, to tame the earthy, green, flame burning in her eyes, to make her his own. King Talon took one last long look at her— But not the man behind her— and then returned to his castle.
Of course he couldn’t sleep that night. The green sailor lady, as he had dubbed her, kept running through his mind. Finally, at midnight he sat up, pin straight, and called for his strongest and stealthiest men and did what he had to do…He kidnapped her.
“What do you want from me?!” The green sailor girl screamed when he threw her onto the couch. Her hands were bound with a thick white cord, her hair was a bed headed, disheveled, brown mess that rested atop her head and the fires in her green eyes danced furiously in the dim lights with fear.
King Talon didn’t bother to answer her question directly. “What is your name?” He asked gently
“Katarina, you s—“
“Ssh.” He pressed his three longest fingers to her lips. “Would you like some wine?”
“What? Wine! No! I don’t want anything from you!”
“Hmm. I suppose grog is what you sailors are more accustomed to, eh Katarina?” He said her name drawing out each syllable to hear the music. A shudder wracked her body. Likely a shudder from her very soul. “Oh come now. I’m not that bad.” King Talon said as he seated himself at her feet and took a sip from is wine glass. “Drink.” He commanded pushing it towards her. Obediently she put her lips to the rim and allowed him to hold the glass for her. Once she had a mouthful she spat it his face.
King Talon roared with anger. “Wretch!” He screamed as he slapped her across the face. Katarina bit back tears. She was a strong woman and would never let him see her cry. “You will spend the night in the dungeon.” King Talon said evenly as he pulled a handkerchief from his lacy sleeve to wipe off his face. “Guards!” He called out. Two of them appeared in the doorway. “Show our guest to where she’ll be sleeping.” The guards smiled mischievously then grabbed Katarina and dragged her away.
What am I doing wrong? King Talon asked himself. I offered her a drink and she spat it back in my face!...Let’s how she feels about me after her night in prison. He blew his whistle three times and his man servants came running to help him change.
The next morning he woke with the light of dawn reflecting off the sea and into his face. For most this would be a terrible annoyance that would cause one to swear but on the contrary, King Talon loved to wake up this way.
He jumped out of bed and blew that accursed whistle three times. The maids went about their business and the man servants helped him clothe himself in a dark, velveteen, violet, waist length, dress coat with a white shirt and purple silk rose to match. This time he didn’t want his breakfast brought to his chambers. “Find the woman in the dungeon something pretty to wear. She’ll be joining me for breakfast.” They found Katarina a fancy dress the color of King Talon’s hair. It wasn’t much of a fight to get her to wear it. Though patched and dingy the garment she was wearing was her best.
In King Talon’s dining room two places were set beside one another at a long, long, table. It’s hard to hold a conversation from across the room. He had learned this from living in the palace all his life. He was king. He didn’t have to follow the rules. He made them.
King Talon entered the room shortly after Katarina had been chained to her chair. “Good morning.” He said cheerfully.
He took his place next to her. “How was your night?”
“What? After you kidnapped me, threw me around, and locked me in the dungeon? Dreadful?” She replied
“Well, I can think of a few things to make your stay more comfortable.” King Talon leaned in so close a few strands of his scarlet hair brushed her bare shoulder.
Before she had a chance to reply a servant set two bowls before them. “Porridge?” Katarina asked. “Is this how kings eat?”
“You don’t like porridge?” He asked. “I could have them prepare you some eggs if you like… I just don’t see any sense in wasting food. There are starving common folk out there…” King Talon looked down and stirred his porage.
“Keep your cackle fruit.” Replied the sailor girl tartly. “Do you eat like this to know your subjects better?”
“I guess so.” He said shyly. He’d never really thought of it much.
“Hmm.” She said as if in approval, looking down and stirring her own porridge. She coughed, then shrugged and went on to say “There’s one commoner you should know. Joccobow. He’s in love with me. He will come! Just you wait a—“
“Oh, stop your empty threats.” King Talon said nonchalantly, brushing her aside.
“My threats aren’t empty.” Katarina spat. “He’s a sailor like me. Same ship and everything.” She heaved a feminine sigh. “I believe you might have seen him the day you came to the docks. Yeah, I saw you watching me. He was walking behind me. Joccobow is bald, tall, he’s got red eyes, oh and his most defining feature is his scars. He got caught in a fire when he was a ki—“
“You’re bluffing!” King Talon said sharply, turning his gray eyes on her in anger and fear. That was quite enough to jog his memory. This Joccobow fellow certainly did exist…At least that much, there was no telling if he was madly in love with her as Katarina had said.
“No. I am not.” Katarina said coolly. “Wait and see…I never was fond of him but…Now I know not to doubt a lovesick man and what he can do.” She looked him in the eyes as she said this.
“Shut up.” The handsome criminal replied gruffly, turning to hunch over his porridge.
They ate in silence. After breakfast King Talon ordered her back to her cell while a luxurious room was prepared for her. He himself retired to his chambers. He stood leaning on the sill of his favorite window, watching the ocean caress the sand. He needed sometime alone to think. The window was a great place to think. It was of course had a perfect view of the beach, which of course helped the mind drift away from its body. They had a saying in King Talon’s country, Water makes the imagination run wild. Today however, not even the sea could set him free. He only had one thing on his mind. Katarina. And the troubling things she had said to him at breakfast. She’s probably lying. Joccobow probably doesn’t even exist! I bet she made him up! And if it proves he does exist, then perhaps he’ll be to yellow bellied to come to her aid or not be in love with her at all! He shifted his weight and ran his fingers through his hair. What if he is real and he really does love her?...Get a hold of yourself Talon! Who could love that saucy wench?
Me. Replied his inner voice.
That night, around midnight his servants woke Katarina and helped both her and King Talon dress. He combed his hair so that every strand lay perfectly and glistened under the lights. In his anxiety he wore one squirt to many of cologne. Just enough that you could still smell him as he walked away. The maids liked it.
He stretched out a hand when she entered the ballroom. “Shall we dance?”
Katarina was still half asleep, but despite it all she looked lovely in her dark green ball gown. It was sleeveless and made her look pale yet sexy. The waist was fitted but the fabric was wrapped in such a way that it rippled down to her hips where the skirt bunch at one side and cascaded to the floor. In the front you could just see the toes of her shoes and the back was long enough to have a five inch long train that drug on the floor behind her. “Do I have a choice?” She yawned.
“Oh come now.” King Talon took her by the hand, spun her around once, and pressed her close to him. “I’m not so bad.” A smile spread itself across his face as music filled the air and they began to gracefully twirl under the light of a million candles.
“I must admit, for such a wicked man you’re quite fashionable.” Said Katarina. “I approve of the dress.” She paused. “Wine, music, candlelight, dancing. You really know how to charm a lady… Except for the whole kidnapping and dungeon thing.”
“Would you have come with me if I didn’t?”
“…Tough to say…You are handsome, I’ll give you that but…I don’t trust you.”
“Oh? And why is that, pray tell?”
She laughed. “You kidnapped me!”
He chuckled and replied “True.”
Suddenly, a brick came flying through the window and landed at their feet. King Talon drew Katarina closer to him, as if to protect her from whatever danger lay beyond.
Through the window stepped a bald man who had obviously been caught in a fire at one point in his life. King Talon recognized him in an instant. He had only glanced at the ugly chap but he knew that he had been the man standing behind Katarina the day he first laid eyes on the green sailor lady. “Katarina!” Called the man.
“Joccobow?” She asked excitedly.
“Aye. It’s me, Kat. Scars and all. I’m so glad to see you’re not hurt.” King Talon watched Joccobow’s red eyes scan Katarina’s body. The ugly man drew his sword. “I came to save you.”
Katarina pushed herself away from King Talon. The future was written in King Talon’s eyes, he saw Katarina run to Joccobow. “What? You didn’t bring a weapon?” She asked.
“Sorry. Didn’t cross my mind. Woulda looked strange carrying two swords down the street anyway.” Joccobow rushed King Talon.
“Wait!” King Talon yelled at the top of his lungs. Joccobow stopped short. “Would you really kill an un-armed man? Have you even thought this through, boy? Killing the King of the country your ship is docked in? That’s a smart move! My people would avenge me. I shall be killed in a proper duel and nothing less!”
Hesitantly Joccobow sheathed his sword. “For the girl then?”
“If that’s how you’d like to put it, then yes. You’re supposed to be the hero here, and I the villain.”
“Let’s do it then.”
“Alright.” King Talon called for a sword to be brought. He didn’t care about getting blood on the sleek, marble, ballroom floor, he just wanted to get it over with. Pulses quickened and breathes stilled. Everyone knew how this would end.
The two men turned their backs to one another, as Katarina picked up her long dress and backed away towards the window. Each took five paces away from the other and spun around on their heels. “Ready? Begin!” Called the servant who had brought the sword and acted as a referee. The two flew at each other with passionate fury. The clang of metal against metal, the sound of a sword cutting through the empty air, a grunt, and finally a groan of pain. King Talon had failed to block Joccobow’s thrust and had taken it to the chest. He went to his knees. His sword clattered to the floor. Katarina ran to Joccobow. King Talon fell face down on the floor covered in blood and broken glass. His vision was blurred but he could see Katarina staring lovingly into the burnt man’s red eyes. Joccobow stroked her cheek and she leaned into his touch until their lips met for the very first time. King Talon didn’t bother to shed a tear. He just closed his eyes and died.