Your name is Draconian Dignitary and you are, above all, furious.
You seethe on your way to the latest incident, seeing red all the while. Not that it shows; not that you would ever let it show. What little you feel is for you and you alone. You are a mask of calm, quiet contempt even at the worst of times, and this is no exception.
The paper crushes into your palm as you ball your hand into a fist, watching the purple fleck that is the Prince flee. Perhaps it’s better that way, on some level; there is no doubt in your mind that you would have broken every bone in his body and torn him to shreds. Punishment from the Condesce or no, you would not let this go so easily.
The crowd of Dersites look from you to Brute—Brute’s head, you correct yourself, he’s not all there, that’s not all of Brute and it won’t be Brute again. The Dersites ogle you like they expect something; do they imagine you to be scared? To fear a sixteen year old boy? Or are they expecting the Dignitary to finally lose some of himself, show some sign that he too has limits and buttons and they‘ve finally been pressed?
You would never give them the satisfaction.
“Do you want to be next?” you hiss, ice and venom dripping from every word. You glare at them until they seem to remember who it is standing before them with murder in their eyes and they disperse, mumbling quietly to one another. You stare at Brute’s head, blood gathering on the stone beneath it and familiarize yourself with this as much as you hate to. This is what needs to be avoided. This is what can’t happen again, not to you or Jack or Droll. This is personal, now, you can feel the need for vengeance curl into your stomach and chest, settling there like a stone dropped to the bottom of a lake. Your blood boils and your hands ache for a fight but there is little but peace all around you, everywhere except for this little corner of Derse that, at the moment, is all yours.
The white-hot ball at your core burns as you imagine all the things you are going to do to the brat and the other dreamer for…for…for what? part of you asks; Brute is not your friend. They are simply coworkers. It’s in your programming. You do not feel loss, this is simply…a crime against Derse, a threat to the Queen, that’s why your fists are clenched so tight there is little left of the paper that dared bare Brute’s own mark.
Unsure of how to proceed for the first time in your existence, you radio Jack instead of returning to the Queen immediately.
“How’s everything on your side, Dignitary? Did the big lug do it?”
“The Prince is awake,” you say and hope he understands all that you didn’t say. Static crackles in your ear from the other end. Jack begins cursing up a storm under his breath, something familiar and strangely relaxing at a time like this.
“Fuck,” he settles on. Then, a little louder in a voice of knives against rock, “shit! Little son of a bitch. Fuckin’ brat.”
“Couldn’t agree more. That‘s not the worst—”
In the background, fuzzy and quiet, you hear Droll approaching. “Oh, is that Dignitary? Hi Dignitary! Hi! Oh, tell him I said hi, Jack!”
You and Jack sigh simultaneously.
“He can hear you, dumbass.”
“Tell him how good I did, with blowing up the place and everything!”
“Good job, Droll,” you say, with little sarcasm in your voice. “I’m…proud.”
You could hear him beaming through the radio. Droll is all smiles and naiveté and annoying, but…he’s refreshing, too, in a world stained with the darkest violets and crimson hues.
He asks about Brute, if he’s there and if Brute would be proud too. You know he would be. He was fond of the little Dersite; Brute often took Droll around with him, toting the smaller one on his shoulder or back. They were close, anyone with eyes saw that, and it would have been strange if not for the fact that you knew them both and how much they enjoyed the other’s company.
Neither you nor Jack have the heart to tell him what happened. Part of you doesn’t want to take all that away from Droll. They are not your friends, you tell yourself again, just coworkers, there is no reason for this and yet…the thought of Droll heartbroken, spluttering and crying like you know he would is…wrong. Jack seems to think so too, or else he would not be so silent. Maybe he does have something in that short carapace besides ambition and fire.
Droll will never shut up unless forced to and you refuse to talk about what to do next with him in earshot. He will find out eventually, but you’d like to delay that as long as possible. Even though you have gotten no answers, you cut it short. “We’ll talk when you two return.”
You turn back to Brute. That feeling you don’t know comes back; dread, almost, accompanied by the need to break someone’s head open against a wall with your bare hands.
You don’t know what to do with him—it, it’s not Brute. You can’t leave it here, that‘s…wrong, just like with Droll, wrong in a way you can’t explain. He deserves better than what he received. But the other option is…well.
In the end, against every part of your mind screaming not to, you lift Brute‘s head from it‘s place. It comes free with a wet schluck sound that you wish to never hear again.
You hold it slightly apart from you; you don’t want to get blood on your suit if it can be avoided. Not just anyone’s blood, either—Brute’s blood. It’sdifferent and you know it. With his head in your hands you make the long walk back to the palace, Dersites watching you from every corner, eyes wide and scampering to get out of your way. Good. If someone so much as looks at you the wrong way you’ll gut them without hesitation.
But it’s the Prince you save it for. All that fury, all the desire to run someone through with your spear, the way your blood pounds in your veins…you take it all in, memorize it, lock it away for later. You collect yourself so all that’s left is the flickering flame lit in the back of your mind. A spark is all it will take to let it blaze, for the hunger for violence return full force. You save it for the Prince and only the Prince, because it will be you who impales him and lets his blood run red through the streets of Derse to pay for all he spilt.
After all, blood can only be paid in blood.