She hovered on the edge, hesitating. She’d come here; she might as well go all the way. And yet… what would she meet if she did? Censure most probably. She wasn’t supposed to be here. She knew it very well. And yet, who could blame her for coming?
She bit her lips; she may not be meant to be here but she was. And by summons no less. No one would dare deny a royal request. No matter that the woman who came to the King was what they’d taken to calling a Rat, one banned from Court by her Father no less. Firyal took a deep breath… And turned around.
Only to meet the wall that was Khamul. The Captain of the Royal Guard stood unmoving as she quite literally bounced against him. He’d barely left her side since he captured her some ten days ago: she wondered if he was protecting her from her father or if he feared she would shape-shift and escape like the rat she was.
“You are expected inside Lady Firyal.”
There was that too; she was banned from Court, she was a shape-shifter. A Rat, the plague of this realm. It didn’t matter that most shifters weren’t constrained to the shape of rat, they were considered a menace to the Kingdom. Yet, Captain Khamul called her Lady Firyal and extended her the same respect he did to any member of the court. And he terrified her.
She shook her head.
“I don’t belong there. I was banned. I…”
“You can shape-shift and escape any moment you want. Are you a coward Lady Firyal?”
He was goading her she knew that. But…
“You don’t get it, do you?”
His left eyebrow shot up; by the gods, the man was teasing her! And he frightened her with the easy manner. He was a Royal Guard. She was a Rat. She sighed.
“I grew up among them. They knew me; they witnessed my… fall from grace. They…”
“They don’t matter.”
He placed his hands over her shoulders and made her turn. He stood a head taller than her so he leaned in to whisper at her ear.
“You are here by the King’s summon. Trust him to do right by you. He will.”
Before she could do anything about it, he caught her hands and locked it at his elbow. He walked into the room with her.
Crossing that room… Oh gods, everyone was looking at her. Eyes widened around her, whispers flew across the room. Disappear. She must disappear.
“Don’t you dare shape shift now Lady Firyal.”
The man whispered but he knew. Was it any wonder she feared him? He could read her thoughts… or maybe just her body language.
They arrived in front of the throne. She quickly met her father’s forbidding gaze. He may have banned her from his house but he wouldn’t forgive a misstep or error in etiquette. The Captain let go of her hand as he introduced her.
“My liege, as per your request, I present you Lady Firyal al Nizar.”
Her father’s eyes darkened but otherwise he showed no other reaction, as she dropped in a long remembered curtsy, bowing her head.
“Be welcome in our presence Lady Firyal. It is a blessing for us to have you back at court. We thank you for accepting our invitation.”
The buzzing behind her, which had hushed upon her introduction, started anew. But the texture of the sounds was different. Apparently the Captain had been right about the King’s welcome. But she still felt she was as prepared to be here as a fish to breathe out of water. Four years was a long time.
In response to the Daily Post writing prompt Banned