Marking of the Days

by Sincline Koutaishi

Returning Senses

The first of my senses returns, hearing followed by pain.

"Princess!! Get off of him!"

"Nooo!" She wails. I can feel my Princess lying upon me and myself laid out on the flooring.

"How can you defend him! He was attacking you! You're bleeding!"

"No, I kissed him! Please stop!"

They won't take her from me this time... My arms find their strength and encircle her, my mind fights to clear my vision and I see them hovering above us, trying to pull her off me.

"Get back from me." I muster the most horrific growl and expression that I can. They let her go immediately and back away.

"Don't hurt them... Please. I am so sorry." She is sobbing against me, clinging to my shirt.

"Are you all right?" She is my first concern and I keep my eyes fixed on these four who are determined to take her away.

"No... I think I broke some stitches.." She whimpers.

I sit up slowly, gently taking her into my arms and seeing the red of her blood come seeping through her clothing. I am furious but contain myself in order to deliver her gently back to her sofa and then I turn on them again.

"Fools... Don't just stand there with your mouths open! Go and get the doctor!!"

Two of them run off, leaving two behind—my least favorite of the bunch—the captain and the lieutenant. I pull her blanket from the back of the sofa over to her then slowly pull up her shirt... Her wound has ruptured. She must have broken the stitching by shifting so suddenly to cover me for protection... And these idiots trying to pull her off me... I press the blanket against the reopened wound to stop the flow of blood, wishing I had some liquid skin at hand.

"Mmhh." She winces.

"This is your fault." The captain blusters at me.

"MY fault??" I glare at the man in the red uniform. I have had quite enough of his hostility and insolence. I will no longer be polite.

"You don't belong here!! Get out!"

"I will NOT!"

And again my Princess finds her anger, "Be quiet! It's not his fault! It's YOUR fault! You don't respect my wishes or my privacy and you assume things! I kissed him, he did not do anything other than kiss me in return! How dare you come in here and attack him!"

Gods, she has admitted to kissing me of her own will! It would be another perfect moment if only... if only they hadn't hit me with a concussion blast. If only my Princess were not crying and bleeding. I feel ready to grab that weapon from his stupid little hand and show him how it feels to be on the receiving end of a shot from it.

"Why are you defending him?!"

"I am not defending him, I am telling the truth! There's a difference!" She winced, feeling the strain on her wound from inhaling so much to yell at him. Her hand grips my arm.

"Shhh... You are hurting yourself by chastising him..." I try to settle her, for I am more than happy to put him in his place myself, "YOU... Keep your tongue still in that foolish mouth of yours. You are upsetting her."

"I am not upset." She grumbles.

"Yes, I can tell this from how your eyes are crossing and your face is turning red." I say with a good measure of sarcasm and find a smile for her. The returned smile is amazing to me. The look on the captain's face at this exchange is sour. It pleases me to no end. I make it worse by settling beside her on the sofa, still holding the blanket to her. She leans on me and the captain fumes, marching away to the veranda. The lieutenant just scowls at me and I return his sentiment.

Shortly the doctor and nurses arrive and I am forced to depart from her so they can do their work. I wander to a far corner of the room to stay within sight of her. I will NOT let anything happen to her... Her captain decides at this point to bother me more. The other three keep their distance.

"Why are you still here?" He hisses at me and I see my Princess look in our direction, frowning at his speaking to me again, "You don't belong here. You know it."

She will have to forgive me, but I cannot stand for this, "You have no business addressing me. Especially not in such a manner!"

"I have every right. You are an enemy of this world. You are not welcome here."

"Perhaps not by yourself... I am no enemy of this world. I believe I have proven that fact without question...You have proven that you are more of a danger to her than I."


I take a step toward him, fixing my glare on him, "You seem to think you have not caused her this pain. You seem to think that every hotheaded, foolish thing you do is somehow excusable because of your loyalty to this world and to the Alliance... You should slow down and think before you do things, you puerile little BRAT!!"

"How dare you!"

I am boiling over, "I dare very well... Shut up and listen to me before you make yourself more a fool." I stand now in the young captain's space, leaning down to be face to face with him, "If I had wanted to harm your world, your Princess, I would have not had to lift a finger... She would have died there in that wreckage and I would now be on a beach, enjoying the sun instead of here being harassed by a disobedient little BOY!!"

With that, the captain decided to take his chances with striking me. I am glad for the challenge. I have just been waiting for him to throw the first punch. I catch his fist in my hand, my other hand grabbing him by the throat... and I lift him, then throw him down onto his back, "Be smart and stay down." I hiss into his surprised face, standing again.

He doesn't take my advice and tries to right himself for another attack. I kick him over onto his back again and plant my boot on his chest, forcing the air out of him yet again. I had been concerned that the other three would attack in his defense, but they seem to be of the mind that he has brought this on himself and keep their distance.

"Still you insist upon it... Stop fighting me, you fool. I have no intention of fighting you... Get up." I will show you that I am a better man than you... I can control my temper at least... I remove my boot from him, "You insult yourself and your Princess with your unending disobedience!"

He climbs back to his feet, still intent upon arguing with me. I don't mind. He has made himself the fool in this situation and now is just compounding it. I let him ravel on and on, laughing at how red his face is becoming.

"The first chance I get, I'll kill you." He warns me at last, "I would watch my back if I were you."

My laughter continues, "You think I don't already know that? You take me for more of an idiot than I thought!" I shake my head, "Do your best... but I say this to you... I have survived my father's murderous, sick amusements as he tried to put me to death on a daily basis. I believe I will survive you." I turn and march out of the room. Better this than causing him the harm I truly want to. My Princess will be safe now that the doctors are there. Will it always be this way?

As I march along in my anger I realize that I have done something foolish. I have let my anger take me, much as I have accused her captain of doing. I have wandered off on my own in this place filled with people who would like to see me dead. I am so used to having guard follow me about that I have just stormed off without escort. Now I am angry with them and myself. It would serve me right to be killed here.

"Prince! I mean... King... Er, highness??" I realize I am being pursued by the other three.

"Leave me be." I mutter, glaring down the hall in the direction I am headed, "I do not wish to fight you."

"We're not here to fight you... The Princess asked us to make sure you're safe, so we can't really leave you alone."

I stop in my tracks and the large sergeant almost collides with me. I turn on my heel and glare at them. "Go back to your captain." I growl, muscles tightening for a fight.

"We can't. She told us to stay with you... Hey, you said we should be more obedient, right?" He offers with a smile.

"Rrrghhh... My own advice thwarts me... Very well." I resume my march with my strange escort.

They follow me out to my cruiser. I have decided that I should perform some maintenance to take my mind off this situation. I find them of assistance in the end, as they keep the other members of the castle guard clear of me while I work in and about the craft. They are friendly creatures, trying to engage in chatter with their comrades and answer any strange little questions they might have about their former enemy's presence. It amuses me to overhear them. They even have some kind words for me.

I climb up the outside of the hull to end my distraction of listening to them talk. My mind is full and I need to focus. The damnable captain has no idea of the perfection of the moment he has destroyed.

Should I have kissed her before this time? Would it have been better if I had tried to when we were still on Kyerst? No... I think she relaxed herself fully to me only when she realized that I would truly free her, when she was aboard my cruiser heading toward the surface of her world. Everything has happened as it should have... But, this?? Gods, why are you making this so difficult?

I feel my face in full frown, my teeth clenched tightly together. What would I have done if they had left us alone there? What would have happened next? Would I have cried on her shoulder and begged her to be my wife? Would I have let my attraction get the better of me as I have so often, and then done something that would have upset her? Would I have forced myself upon her? I do not think so... All the while she was in my arms, that was the furthest thing from my mind. I was overwhelmed simply by her closeness... and the depth of my love for her.

Yet, what now? Now that I have heard her say she loves me... and I have confessed the constancy of my love for her... what now? Action and consequence, action and consequence... Damn Vidons... After all this time of wanting this, I have no idea what comes next. Will she be my wife? She doesn't even know I have called off my marriage to the Tastian Princess. I should have told her! She kissed me regardless... Would her people even allow this marriage? Would I have to steal her away in order to keep her? I cannot do that again. Is that the best thing for her? Certainly I am a decent proposition for her. I am King of an Empire, not just King or Prince of a planet. Does she want to be my wife? Would her world come to be part of the Empire then? The implications of that are daunting. Her world's entire defense is donated by the Alliance, even her personal guard are sent directly from them... and I know that those in power feel no loyalty for this world. My Princess... she is just a pawn to them.

I am still just a monster to her people. I can see that plainly, no matter how polite I have attempted to be. She is constantly defending me from their verbal attacks... and now their physical ones as well. It is my fault as well that she is hurt now. I should not have let my defenses down so much. I let him do that to me... She felt she had to come to my aid. That is not the way it should be. Would our union only bring her pain? Pains even so foolish as having to defend me from the criticisms of people who will never believe that I am anything but a terrorist... Can I do this to her?

She wants you. Take her! No one here can stop you from taking what is yours by right! Take that fool boy by the neck and shake him until you hear his spine snap!

The dark voices come rushing up at me so suddenly that I have hardly a chance to beat them back. They cry out to me to destroy all that stands in my way as I struggle against their hold.

"No... I will not. I will not prove them right."

I stand up there in the wind, looking out across the fields of her world, raking my white hair back from my face. I watch the pinkish humans milling about below, looking up at me and wondering what horrible thing I will do next, how I will turn on them at last... How I will force their Princess to be my bride. They will never trust me... I realize with great pain that the captain is correct. I do not belong here... I never will.

"But I love her..." I say to the air around me, as though it will have a better answer for me. Not surprisingly, it does not. Warlord, Emperor, King, conqueror of many worlds, reclaimer of my people's territory and survivor of my father's parenting... and there is nothing I can do but see the truth of this situation. Perhaps this is the truest test of my feelings for her... I have to let her go...

I leave my perch and reenter my cruiser, sitting down to write a much more difficult note than the last with no help... I have shut my spirit down. I can't feel a thing at all... Completely numb, I place myself into my flight clothing then return to the castle. I find my Princess with the captain and the other three. She is asleep there on the sofa and he is angry at seeing my face again.

My eyes fix on the captain, "Please leave us to speak to one another." I ask them and they leave upon the nod of their superior officer.

"What?" The captain asks coldly, face locked in a frown, eyes glaring at me. Such hatred...

"You are correct." I say, "I do not belong here... and so I am leaving. Will you at least do me the courtesy of ensuring that she receives this note when she wakes?" I am relieved that she is asleep, that I will not have to face her... I offer the captain my note, "On your honor, pledge you will give it to her unread."

He looks as though he will boil over... but then he relents and takes the note from me, "I will make sure she reads it before anyone else does."

"Thank you... Take good care of her."

"I will."

And with one last glance upon the Princess, I am running back to my cruiser. I am on the verge of collapse as I lift off and fire the engines, seeking open space. My small contingent seems startled as I go jetting past them at full burn, my cruiser spinning toward the northern arm at full power.

"Highness!" Shilne hails me. He is pursuing me.

"Leave me be!"

"Where are you going??"

"Vacation... Go back to Forth. NOW!"

He takes a different tack, bringing up a secure channel, "Koutaishi... What is going on?"

"NOTHING! LEAVE ME ALONE!" I close the channel and shut down the Katsuna center.

The pain I feel is so sharp, I cannot tolerate it. I find a good deal of tavisk in the hold and swallow it, falling back into my seat, tipping it back and praying that it will do its work quickly. "Uhhhhh!!" The blackness takes me into its mercy.

The next thing I know, I am hearing a prox-warning. I am in range of Vidon... My head rolls to the side, my eyes are stuck shut. The only thing that keeps me from more misery is the lingering sedative effect of the tavisk. I lift my arm and set the auto-pilot to take me in by feel alone, drowsing again as I feel the rumblings of atmospheric entry. Perhaps I will crash, then my sadness will be at an end. Yet, no such luck... I wake again to find the craft is still. I have landed.

I stumble out of my seat and find water in the hold, rubbing it into my eyes to free them. There I am, on the landing pad outside of my far-flung beach home. For the first time, it brings me no joy to be here.

I walk slowly down the ramp as it drops, shedding my flight clothing as I go. I hear the closures of my jacket clatter on the metal, and my boots I pull at then walk out of. My feet find sand and I tread wearily toward the surf in the light of two moons then drop to my hands and knees there. The surf cools me and carries away my tears as I sob like a child there, overcome with my anguish, my longing, my loneliness... Never have I been so destroyed... Devastated.

I am not sure how much time passes, but when I drag myself into the house I am covered in sand and sea plants from having collapsed into the surf several times. I fall into my bed, my last thought being only that I wish she was with me... Gods, what I would give to have her arms around me in this moment...

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