Soft footfalls and the insistent sound of water dripping from the ceiling onto the cold stone floor echoed through the corridors. Stone walls and metal bars lined the corridor. Metal bars that separated the unfortunate from freedom. There were rows of cells with many different types of people. Some people were more desperate than others, clawing at the ground and throwing themselves at the bars. Some had accepted the situation and simply sat there in disinterest in what was going on around them. And others had simply fallen into the pits of despair. Sobbing and wailing. These individuals were unable to accept that this had become their reality. The only thing that all these different individuals had in common was their reason for being there. They had all done something wrong. Broken some law to cause them to end up here. Some were wanted criminals who had committed unforgiving crimes. Some were marked for death, and others would probably be set free in the morning, but they were all still criminals all but two.
As the footsteps of a cloaked figure traveled down the hall some of the prisoners tried to lunge through the bars to harm the figure. The figure simply ignored them, their feet steady and confident. They walked with a purpose. The hood of the cloak hung low over their head hiding their features from those around, yet the cloak did not fool anyone. It was obvious who hid behind the cloak. A sword hung from the figure’s waist, the design on the handle an intricate snake. Jeweled figures rested on the hilt of the sword and black apparel hid beneath the confines of the cloak. The figure came to a halt in front of one of the cells. Turning to face the occupants of the cell the figure smiled.
A man sat on the floor of the cell arms wrapped around a small child. Shifting slightly the mad looked up. Cold black eyes bore into the figure and the man pulled the young girl closer to his body. The child in his arms shifted and turned to look up at the figure with equally black eyes. The figure smile turned sickly sweet before they reached up to pull down their hood. Blonde curls fell from the cloak and cold emotionless blue eyes stared right back into the cold black ones.
“After all this time and this is where you end up,” The woman smirked her blue eyes turning to look at the young child in the man’s arms, “You have indeed fallen far.”
The man said nothing only glaring harder than before in an attempt to show no weakness. The woman let out a small chuckle and amusement crossed her features. Taking carefully measured steps the woman walked up to the bars of the cell blue eyes returning to their previous cold indifference, “Do you honestly think I can’t see through you? That I don’t know your biggest weakness. Do you think I can’t see your fear?”
Both the man and the woman turned to look at the child who stared up at the man with her trusting black eyes. The man turned to look at the woman with angry black eyes that were laced with fear. “This fight stays between me and you,” His voice was hard and one of his hands raised to brush through the young girl’s black hair, “Leave the child out of it.”
Laughter peeled itself from the woman’s lips echoing throughout the dungeon, “Between me and you. Really? Is that so? Oh, you have fallen so far. You still think you have power.”
The young girl shifted and buried her face into the man’s neck. The man laughed mirth and humor reflected in his eyes. “And you think you have control?” More laughter, “You will never be able to control the people. I am still their King and you...you are just an oppression. Something to be overthrown. You are the one who has fallen.”
Angry morphed into the woman’s face and she slammed her fist into the bars. The young girl jumped and hugged the man harder. “I am their Queen! People sang about me. They sang about Queen Akosua the beloved!” Akosua shouted with rage. Silence filled the dungeon broken only by the Queen’s breathes for air.
“Yet you are no longer their beloved. You lost that title when you tried to kill me. When you tried to kill your child.”
A gasp of air left Akosua’s lungs and her blue eyes filled with tears and a sob escaped her lips. Shaking her head in denial she sunk to her knees. The man slowly stood pushing the child back behind him. Striding up to the bars he crouched in front of Akosua, “Are you happy now? That you achieved your goal. Your goal to gain all the power. That you pushed away your own family. Or are you done? Done playing this game.”
Akosua looked up her blue eyes bloodshot reaching out her hand she touched his black hair. Running her figures through his hair she laughed a broken laugh. “A game...Yes, a game. Let’s play a game,” Akosua stood slowly staring down at the man that was her husband, “A game that involves a choice. A choice between life and death.” More laughter fell from her lips and she pulled the hood up over her head before standing and walking off.
The man watched her go, fear piercing his face and wrapping its cold arms around him. A small hand grabbed his hand. The man turned to look at the young girl. The child smiled softly, “It will be okay Papa.”
Town folks crowded into the seats all trying to see the middle of the auditorium. Guards stood erect and straight, sharp spears clutched in their hands. Whispers filled the crowd and many figures pointed at the man who was sitting at the table. The man who was their king. Their king who was heavily guarded and without his crown. The man who they had sung about in the streets when he had returned from a great battle. The king who was betrayed by his queen. By the woman that he had loved. The woman that had taken the throne. The woman who was playing a game. Who was gambling everything she had taken and gained. The woman who was gambling the life of her family. The woman who now called for the game to begin. A game of choice. Two cups. One filled with water and the other with a deadly poison. Two contestants. One who was the king. The two cups were placed on the table in front of the king. One to the left and the other to the right. Both choices had their consequences and the king had to choose.
No one but the king knew which one held the poison was. He was the only one to know whether the poison was in the cup to his left or the cup to his right. If he was to drink the cup of water he would live. He would live and the crown would be his. He could save his people from the tyranny of the queen. However, if he lived and the other contestant would die. If the king lived his daughter would die. The king was being forced to play an awful game. A game of choice. A game of life and death. A game between that forced him to decide between his daughter and his people. The choice that was his and his alone to make. It was all up to him. The poison could be in either cup. It could be in the cup to the right or the one to the left. The left or the right.
The king’s daughter stared straight at him. Her black eyes trusting ready to drink whatever he gave her. The king reached forward and his hand clutched the cup to his right. Lifting it he turned to look at the queen. He raised one eyebrow before placing the cup in front of his daughter. Grabbing the left cup he raised it to his lips, his daughter doing the same. Both drank from their cups. Two cups. One water and one poison. Only one would live and only the king knew who.