The Riddle

A tale as old as time with the moral, be careful what you wish for because you just might get him. The Riddle is a fable about survival, a struggle against time as one suicidal Princess fights for her life...only after death has come to claim her.

"What the hell was that?" Sebastian shouted, slamming his brother down onto the table. The sturdy oak shuddered under the impact. Candles toppled out of their holders. Dirty dishes clattered over the edge and smashed to the floor, breaking into pieces.

Saber struggled to push against his brother's grip. Sebastian pressed his forearm into his brother's throat.

"What you did was borderline treason--I don't even want to know how you managed it--but sneaking into a castle uninvited even in a time of peace is call for a hanging. And you waltz in here as I'm trying to convince King Gerasim we are trust worthy." He pressed his arm even harder on his brothers throat. Saber choked.

"I looked like a fool! If our two countries weren't already at war King Gerasim would be well within his rights to start one." Sebastian pulled his brother roughly to his feet and pushed him from his side. Saber stumbled back before catching his footing.

The two brothers had been born nearly seconds apart and had started out identical in appearances. Sebastian had grown taller, stronger and more powerful than his brother over the years and each less tolerant of the other.

"Speak!" Sebastian commanded, his voice resonating through the empty hall. Saber massaged his throat, fixing his brother with a loathsome stare. He didn't speak, but spat defiantly on the floor.

Sebastian rushed at his brother. Saber tried to fight him off. Sebastian pinned his brother against the wall.  

“Stop acting like a child, you are reckless and you are not even clever about it! Father wanted you away from here, he knew you would blunder it.” Sebastian snarled angrily.

Saber braced himself against the wall. Using all his strength he pushed away from the wall. The brothers toppled to the floor. Saber hoisted himself on top of his brother and struggled to keep Sebastian down.

“Who manned the army at Tambov? Huh? And at Silent Hollow? Me! I’ve taken more Siberian lives than the gods themselves and I can win this war for the glory of Russia.” Saber managed through gritted teeth.

 Sebastian pushed his brother off him.

“I know very well it was you! King Gerasim knows, and so does the entire. Kingdom. of Siberia!” Sebastian ran a hand through his hair. His burgundy cloak had rumpled under him resembling a puddle of blood against the snow white marble floor.  

“King Gerasim wants you punished for your war crimes.”

"War crimes.” Saber scoffed amused.

“They want you dead as collateral for the treaty." Sebastian said, climbing to his feet as he dusted himself off. He would not meet his brother’s eye.

“Well you can tell him I want his death too.” Saber grumbled, still splayed across the floor.

Sebastian turned to face Saber angrily.

"After you disappeared for several months I had King Gerasim convinced you’d gone mad, would never be seen or heard again. I had persuaded him to take instead the lives of your commanding officers and he had accepted this bargain--two minutes before my dumb, idiot brother comes barging into the castle uninvited. Not only do I look like a complete and utter liar but I can no longer dissuade him from your death.”

Saber straightened up.

“So you will trade my head for this nonsensical peace of yours?”

“Wars are fought with blood and end in blood, just be glad it is such a small price to pay for our sins.”

“Sins?  Of the victor?! Brother this is madness must we apologize for being stronger, better? Superior in every sense;  I say no! And every self respecting Russian would chant along beside me. Brother…I have a new weapon. They stand no chance.” Saber’s eyes searched Sebastian’s hopefully for any sign of agreement but all he found was exasperation.

Sebastian turned his back on Saber and strode towards the door at the end of the hall; he called over his shoulder as he walked.

“The snow from here to Russia is stained with the blood of both sides; the forest of Tambov haunted by the souls of both armies locked in constant battle. This chapter of our history must come to an end. No more blood.” Sebastian reach the door, his long fingered hand rested upon the knob.

“Except for mine.” Saber spat.

“Every war has it’s martyr.” Sebastian said pulling open the heavy door. A youthful guard stepped in from the other side.

“Take me to King Gerasim, we will continue our negotiations, with no further interruptions.” He glanced back at Saber, no mercy in his eyes. “Keep watch on my brother, he doesn’t leave.”

Saber clenched his fists. Anger was building up inside of him.  A deep growl began rising from within his stomach, his body quivered from the volatile strength of it.  He took in a deep breath trying to calm himself.

“Not yet.” He whispered to himself as Sebastian exited the room. “not yet.”

The growl subsided.

The End

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