Ioan-Vasile Danca participates in the “Short prose” section of the International Literary Creation Competition, 4th edition, from Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Ioan-Vasile is 20 years old. We thank him for his participation and wish him success.
Ascension The city was quiet that night, almost as if it knew of the horrific events that took place at Versailles not long ago. The trees, the alleys, the homes, all life fell silent in Paris, all but the king’s assassins. At the Porte Saint-Denis, despite the nocturnal lockdown, three S.U.V’s were rapidly approaching the checkpoint. As they came to a stop, several royal guards made their way to the second car and as its windows rolled down the senior guard addressed the passengers: “Your Grace! The Queen demands your immediate presence at the Palace.” “We have urgent matters to attend to!” said Princess Bianca de’ Anjou in an attempt to intimidate the guard. “I’m sorry Princess. The Queen’s orders stand. You and Prince Thomas are to go there at once.” and as soon as he finished, the guard returned at his post blocking the gates. Inside the car, the Anjou twins started arguing over their next move, finally deciding to go to Versailles. During the thirty minutes it took them to get there they didn’t exchange a single word. As they approached the palace they could see tens of military personnel patrolling the grounds in light of that night’s events which were nowhere to a close. At the entrance they were received by the lord commander of the King’s Guard, Ethan Floyd, who was instructed to escort inside only Prince Thomas de’ Anjou. The two of them walked for several minutes in complete silence, in spite of being old friends, as if they both knew what was about to happen. They entered the royal chapel which was in complete darkness except the altar, where Queen Isabella was surrounded by her twelve guards. As Thomas approached her, he bowed respectfully before addressing her: “Your Majesty! You summoned me.” “Hello Thomas! I’m sorry to have called you here at this late hour, but something terrible has happened. Francis is dead.” and as soon as she finished her sentence she started crying. But before Thomas could say anything, from behind the altar appeared none other than Francis de’ Valois, his best friend, whom just two hours ago he had killed. “What is it Thomas? You look as if you saw a ghost.” said the king after which he gestured to his sister to leave. After a few seconds of silence, Francis spoke again: “Magnificent, isn’t it?” he said as he pointed to the painting above the altar. “You won’t find art like this today. God I wish I would’ve been there to see the look on Charles de La Fosse’s face when he finished it.” He turned around to face Thomas who couldn’t believe his eyes. The man he chocked to death was now standing right in front of him. He gave in to his fear and fell on his knees. “Francis... please... have mercy!” he begged with tears in his eyes. “It’s too late for that my old friend. But before I kill you I want to know why you did this. Why did you betray me? For what and for whom?” “Betray you?! You betrayed me and my family! You wanted to kill us, just like you killed your uncle, your grandmother and everyone else who you thought were in your path to power!” “Regrettable, but a testament for your brother’s manipulation skills. Your brother, in his blind ambition, saw my refusal to grant him an important place on my Council as a betrayal. And in his anger he imagined that I would do to him what I would normally do to my enemies. He was right about one thing though. I noticed his ambition and lust for power from the start, from the moment I recruited him to support my claim to the throne. But I never imagined that he would turn you against me. I never thought it to be possible that my best friend, a man who secretly had feelings for me, would be capable of such betrayal. Nevertheless, you had a choice: loyalty to me or your brother. You chose wrong and now you will suffer the consequences.” and as he signalled with his right hand, several royal guards with their faces covered materialised from the dark corners of the chapel. As soon as he saw them Thomas tried to escape, but was apprehended by several guards. He struggled in an attempt to flee to the safety of his guards posted outside and he would’ve been successful if the chapel hadn’t been surrounded by the Royal Guards. The struggle started to last longer than the king expected. “Don’t let him escape!” he shouted seeing that Thomas slipped through the guards again. He then turned to Ethan and with a nod he made it clear that he was to finish this at once. From one of his pockets the lord commander took out a white rope, the same rope Thomas used on Francis earlier that night. With one swift move he placed the rope around the prince’s neck who attempted one final struggle. “Tyler! ... Please! ... Tyler! ...” the prince shouted the king’s first name, the name he used before he was crowned. A few seconds later the body of Thomas de’ Anjou laid lifeless on the cold marble floor of the fifth chapel and final construction of King Louis XIVth. Francis approached the body and fell on his knees next to it. With tears dropping from his eyes he whispered something to his dead friend. As he stood back up, the king addressed Ethan: “I want him buried on the estate of Trianon and plant purple roses on his grave. They were his favourite... . Kill his guards and bring me Bianca de’ Anjou.” but as soon as he finished lieutenant Andre of the King’s Guards entered the chapel in a hurry. “Your Majesty! The princess has escaped! We sent guards in pursuit but they lost her tracks.” “Fools! How did you lose a single person with hundreds of soldiers around the palace?! Find her and bring her to me! Lock down the city! No one leaves and no one enters without me knowing it!” shouted the king as he stormed out the chapel followed by his men. Upon entering the palace, the Queen and her husband, the Grand Duke Rossier, approached the King. “Your Majesty! I have called an emergency meeting of your Small Council. They should be here within the hour. Should I alert the Major of the 3rd Royal Garrison?” said the Duke rapidly. “No. If I do that Albert will know that something went wrong tonight with his plans. I want everyone who wasn’t here tonight to think that I am dead just a while longer. That way we will maintain the element of surprise for whatever Albert de’ Anjou has planned. Isabella you are in charge of the crown’s audiences for now. Felix, I trust that you will be able to maintain the order in Parliament for the next few days?” “You taught me everything about politics Francis.” said the Grand Duke with a smirk on his face. “Francis!” shouted the Queen, “You know too well that Albert’s greatest desire is your crown!” “And I’m counting on that my dear sister. His ambitions have blinded him. Even more now that I have killed his brother. He will make a mistake in his anger, a mistake that I will exploit. And just like I dealt with my uncle or my grandmother years ago, I will deal with him too. He will be just another lesson for those who dare to betray my family and the Crown!”