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Fantasy LGBTQ+ Romance

Andyne

by Angela Hepworth

Laryians and humans alike shrink back when Andyne rips through the main floor of the castle. The sound of her iron boots hitting the floor, clanking and clattering along with her long, powerful strides, sends the loud, ravenous hall of Freepallian soldiers into silence every time without fail. Queen Sylvia’s first in command, a warrior fiercer than any other, Laryian or human, male or female—Andyne was nearly a queen in her own right, commanding respect with her mere presence alone. Today, certainly, was no exception.

Andyne is a remarkable specimen, Sylvia cannot help but think as the Laryian woman approaches her throne. She is tall and broad-shouldered, with rippling muscles in her arms and legs, and a thick mat of long blue hair the color of the deepest sea cascades down her shoulders when it is not hidden away by her helmet, as it is now. Her purple skin is slightly scaled on her hands and elbows and knees, but her face is smooth and sharp and beautiful, her cheekbones and chin glowing with a natural silver sheen. Her armor is that of a warrior, gifted to her from Sylvia herself.

“Your Highness,” she says, taking a knee and bowing her head low. The human language sounds so beautiful in her twisted Laryian vowels, the low, clipped words slipping firmly, cuttingly, from her dark smear of a mouth. “It is done.”

Sylvia leans forward in her throne, fingers curling around the velvet armrests.

“The king has gotten back to you,” she clarifies.

“Yes, my Queen.”

“And?” Sylvia questions with a tilt of her head. “His response?”

The narrowness of Andyne’s black eyes into slits tells her all she needs to know before Andyne can even answer.

“They don’t want to talk, my Queen,” she says firmly. “The State wants to return to the utter enslavement of the Laryian race. They desire us completely under their control once more. If they cannot have that, they would rather pursue a genocide of us all than talk to you about equality of the races.”

“So it is true,” Queen Sylvia says, crossing one ankle over the other, “that he will go to war with our nation?”

Andyne’s bowed head does not raise. “He says his armies are setting out tomorrow, your Highness.”

Sylvia leans back, considering. She watches the faces of her people, reading the room, before a crack of a smile breaks through on her face.

Before she can so much as utter a word, the crowd around her bursts into laughter, and she cannot help but grin.

“King Ecpert, that old fool!” she declares, slamming her high-heeled foot onto the floor with amusement, and the crowd roars even harder. “Does he not know we are a warrior kingdom?” She stands from her throne, lashing an arm out at the crowd. “Does he not know the power of my people?”

“No!” many people scream. A Laryian in the front row, large and stocky and brimming with excitement, yells it the loudest.

“The king underestimates you,” Sylvia announces, pointing first at the left flank of her army and then gesturing to all of them in one long, accusatory swoop. “He underestimates the Laryian race. And he underestimates the humans that left him to be a part of my kingdom, under my rule.” She jerks a thumb at her own chest. “He hates the power of our nation. He hates that a young girl, a stronger warrior than any of the State’s sorry excuses for them, the rightful queen of Freepall, and her Laryian-human army in all of its unity and glory, will destroy them until we have peace and freedom for all people!” She cannot even hear herself above the screams of agreement amongst her ranks. “Who’s ready to fight for the future of our world?”

“I am!” shrieks the ranks. Among those shouts, a chant has risen up of Sylvia’s name, backed by the pounding of spears onto the castle ground, and Sylvia allows herself to indulge in the glory of being loved and honored by such a perfect people. She feels as if she was slways meant to be Queen as she raises both arms in triumph, resulting in another wave of triumphant cries, before grinning out at her people, pointing out familiar tear-streaked faces, blowing kisses to Laryian and human soldiers alike, roaring in the war-cry way of their people along with them all. 

“I say let them come to us,” Sylvia demands, throwing an arm up in might. “Let them come to die, my warrior men and women! Let them see what happens when Freepall is crossed!”

The crowd is deafening.

Later that night, Sylvia is polishing the head of her spear in her chambers when a sardonic voice rings out from her open doors. “You looked like you were enjoying that a little much, my Queen.”

Sylvia turns slowly to see Idris, her second in command, standing in front of her with dubious disdain in his handsome face. He’s a tall Laryian soldier with short black hair and dark purple skin, and his frown, always prominent, is especially prominent now. 

“Oh, Idris,” she says with a sigh. “You’re no fun.”

“You just told us we’re going to war tomorrow,” Idris says, shaking his head as he steps into her room without even asking. His accent is thick, almost as thick as Andyne’s. “And our entire army just stood around and cheered as you decided your great war plan is to let them come to us first. Forgive me for desiring to hear a little more of a plan.”

“My dear Idris,” Sylvia says soothingly, putting a hand on the small of his back; the young Laryian stiffens. “They have no chance of winning. The State was a powerful nation once, but that’s long in the past. All of Ecpert’s best warriors have left him in the dust to live in my kingdom, and he knows that. And what better than to be fighting on our own turf? It’s an advantage. It’s inevitable that we will fight, and, my dear Idris, it is inevitable that we will win. The humiliation of Freepall’s wipeout of the rest of Ecpert’s soldiers in my own home will make for a hilarious tale.”

“It’s risky,” Idris hisses. “Surely you must know that. Surely someone must.”

“A pack of lions do not have to try,” Sylvia drawls, “to take down an anthill. There is no risk here, dear Idirs. None at all.”

“You truly believe that?”

Sylvia places a hand on his face.

“I do,” she says.

Idris lets out a long, slow breath through his mouth, his downturned black eyes meeting her own. “Why,” he mutters, “do I fight for such a crazy Queen? I myself do not even know.”

“Because you believe in Freepall,” Sylvia says with a smile. “In our freedom. And our unity.”

Idris observes her idly before giving her a slight bow, and Sylvia’s hand drops from his face. “I will see you tomorrow, Queen Sylvia,” he says finally. “As I fight at your side.”

Sylvia leans her chin on the back of her chair, smiling wryly out at him. “Goodnight, Idris.”

After Idris’s departure, Sylvia eyes her own empty bed. No, this simply will not do. Not tonight.

She scours the entire downstairs of the castle for the person in her mind, and it isn’t until she pushes on the unlocked door of the bathroom on her own floor that she finds the woman right where she stands—Andyne. Andyne, Sylvia’s closest friend and most loyal servant, standing there in all her naked glory. She’s dripping wet from head to toe, and Sylvia can only stare in intrigue as droplets of water drip off the ends of her thick blue hair, because if she’s staring at her hair, she isn’t noticing the exposed expanse of her back, scarred and beautiful, or the generous swell of her breasts, or her—

Andyne turns around immediately, quick and shameless, and Sylvia feels herself burn internally as her eyes latch onto a nipple.

She forces her eyes up immediately. Respect. A queen practices respect, and moreover, self-restraint.

“My Queen?” she says sharply. “What’s wrong?”

“Andyne,” is all Sylvia says unintelligently, right to Andyne’s impressive abdominals rather than to her face. Because she, unlike many of her wonderful subjects, is only human. 

Bare hands, wet hands, seize her shoulders tightly. “Why have you come to me? What has happened?”

Sylvia’s eyes draw up to her face. She shakes her head suddenly and laughs, more to herself than anything.

“Oh, Andyne,” she says generously. “You are too kind to me. Well, firstly—I do indeed apologize for walking in on you. I’ve chosen quite a bad time.”

As if suddenly realizing her current state, Andyne’s eyes widen, and she scrambles desperately for a towel, her long arm clasped firmly across her chest as she scrambles about. Sylvia simply watches the amusing sight, a smile tugging at her lips. “Bashfulness actually seems to suit you, dear Commander. It’s quite endearing.”

“I am not bashful, my Queen,” Andyne says hurriedly, wrapping a long brown towel around herself at an incredible speed. “I simply do not wish for you to see me in such a state.”

“Your body is very beautiful,” Sylvia says before she can stop herself. “You do not have to hide it.”

Andyne’s mouth drops open, then snaps closed. “You… you lie, your Highness.”

“You know I do not lie,” Sylvia reprimands. She takes a step closer, her heart brimming with desire. “On the subject of honesty, I wish to speak my full truth to you, and I hope you can accept my second apology as well as my first.”

Andyne frowns. “My Queen?”

“As you know, we are going to war tomorrow.”

A slow, confident nod. “I am aware.”

“And on my potential last day on Freepall, as Idris believes it to be,” Andyne snorts at that, “I have no one to share my bed with.”

The amusement disappears from Andyne’s face, leaving a rather surprised, mildly nervous look in its stead. “I see.” She clears her throat. “Well… well, your Highness. I’m sure you can find a young gentleman in the castle to share your bed with you tonight, if that is what you wish.”

“As much as I adore and appreciate the beautiful men of my nation,” Sylvia drawls, “the company of one is not quite what I need tonight.”

Andyne’s eyebrows shoot up to her hairline. “You… would prefer the company of a woman tonight, my Queen?”

Sylvia smiles slowly at her, sly and knowing. “I do on many nights,” she says simply. “As do you, I believe.”

The soldier stares at her, uncomprehending, before bowing her head slightly. “I do not deny it.” She looks rather shocked. “My Queen—forgive my rashness, but I had assumed you and Idris to be lovers.”

“We have been lovers,” Sylvia says, “but I desire a deeper love tonight. An unspoken love.”

“You quite care for Idris, my Queen. You quite like him.”

“I like him because I cannot have him,” she admits. “I like him because he presents a challenge. He makes me want to be a better, stronger leader. But do I desire him ever so badly? Do I want his body, his soul, his heart, to be mine? I do not. Do I love him? In a way, I do. But am I in love with him? I am not.” She places a hand over her heart. “What I do desire is to share mh declaration of love, and have that love be requited. I desire someone who can keep up with me. I want someone who worships me, yet stands up to me without hesitation when it is necessary. I desire a person who can melt into my arms, a person who can mold themselves into my body and my mind and my heart without thinking twice about it. I need a person who is able to take me apart, only to put me back together. A life partner, you see. A good and fair servant.” She lets her eyes roam over Andyne’s long neck, the hollow of her throat, the strong curve of her collarbone. “A hero.”

“Ah,” Andyne says. She looks weak.

“Does that answer your question?”

“Yes, my Queen.”

“Do you know anyone like that, Andyne?” The Queen cocks her head. “Do you have a match for me?”

“I am sure I do not,” Andyne says quietly. 

“Certainly?”

“Certainly.”

Sylvia slowly, silently, places her hand over Andyne’s where it grasps the towel. She leans in. “Then I think it is you who lies, dear Andyne.” 

“Your Highness,” Andyne croaks. “We cannot.”

“You presume to tell your Queen what she cannot do?”

“I cannot. I will not… I cannot sully—”

Sylvia ducks her head underneath her chin, letting her mouth go slack against the curve of her collarbone.

“You wish to sully me, do you?” she murmurs, lips brushing cool purple skin. 

“Your Highness—”

“You desire me, Andyne. You love me. And I love and desire you.” Sylvia entangles their fingers, presses a slow, soft kiss into the crook of her neck. “Come to bed with me.”

“I am not deserving of your affections, my Queen,” Andyne whispers fiercely against her hair, even as Sylvia sees goosebumps ripple across her purplish skin. “That is why… I have not said anything to you about my feelings. Because what you are, who you are, and what I am to you, is too important to lose.”

Sylvia pulls away to cup her cheek. “You will not lose me, Andyne,” she says gently. Her smooth, pale fingers slide against Andyne’s rough cheek. “You will have me.”

Her Commander’s mouth quivers—whether in fear or desire, Sylvia cannot know. But what she does know is that when she leans in and kisses her lips, Andyne does not protest. Instead, indeed, Andyne encases her in those long, strong arms, and the soft skin of Andyne’s mouth opens to hers, yielding to her Queen as her Queen yields to her. 

-

Andyne holds her close later that night, their bodies pressed together in the coldness of the night.

“It’s this young nation against the State,” she says softly against Sylvia’s nape. “Idris may be right. It is not likely, but we may lose.”

Sylvia turns onto her back and draws her in close.

“I am not afraid to lose my life, Andyne,” she murmurs into the curve of her throat. “I am afraid of losing you, and losing those whom I care about. But above all, I am afraid to see the world in which we live now go uninterrupted and undeterred. I am afraid to see the hate of the now pass onto our children, and our children’s children.” She presses her forehead to Andyne’s bare shoulder. “I believe in the strength of our men and women. I will not fear death tomorrow.”

“You are brave, Queen Sylvia.” Andyne’s voice is soft and honest, and the sound of Sylvia’s name on her lips sinks into her. “Braver than us all.” Her hand squeezes. “And history will remember your name.”

“And yours,” Sylvia murmurs, before drawing her commander in for a long kiss, sweet and soft and hot like honey. 

“It will begin soon,” Andyne says quietly when they part. “They will breach the walls in a matter of hours, my Queen. They will come in. And we will fight.”

Against Andyne’s lips, Sylvia’s crooked smile is sure. 

“Let them come,” she says.

March 28, 2024 03:44

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