The difficult part of my plan was at hand. I knew that the masked hero was the prince of the kingdom. I knew that he was on his way to deal with me personally. I knew that he knew everything about me. So, I waited at the far end of a quarry. To my back, the sheer face, and to my front, a wide, open area where Prince Rivara would challenge me to a duel once he arrived.
I slowed my breathing and slowly checked myself in a mirror. My lips were stained red, and my cheeks were rosy. I looked every bit like the woman he remembered from his childhood. A small smile of pride tugged at my lips. His mother’s dress hugged my form as I looked down. I tucked my mirror into the small bag that hung from my wrist and sat to wait.
As the morning mists began to fade, I saw him riding along the rim, to the thin ramp that led down to our arranged meeting place. He looked so grand and gallant. I almost ran forward to greet him. Instead, I rose slowly from my seat as he pulled to a stop in front of me. His expression was easy to read, and his confusion was apparent. He did not expect to see me like this.
He did not expect to know as much as he did about me.
Prince Rivara was not expecting to face against his mother, thought to be dead.
“Rivvie.” I murmured. This was my first time spying him so closely, and his eyes were just as I remembered them.
“Mother?” His voice broke, like a child just entering manhood.
“Yes, Rivvie. Are you sure you still want this?” My voice was quiet, and he leaned close to listen as he dismounted slowly from his gelding.
Rivara approached me. Beneath his mask, tears moistened his eyes. “I have to.” His resolve was firm.
“Just go home, Rivvie.” I urged. “Please, just go home. You have a father who needs you, and a country. You are the only heir to the throne. Without you, war will ravage your father’s lands when he dies, and many will die.”
He took a deep breath. “Mother, be silent. I know what will happen if I fall. I will not fall.” He rested a hand on his sword’s pommel. His words began quietly, and rose in volume. “If I walk away, you will continue to carve away at my father’s lands. If I walk away, your treachery will only continue. If I walk away, I walk away from the hundreds of lives you have ended, and their stain will cover the hands of all who aided me in finding you!”
Rivara drew his sword from its sheath slowly. “I challenge you, mother. First blood. If I win, you must return with me to the castle to face justice.”
Regret swept through me, and I let go. He made his choice. “If I win, armed only with what I hold on my body at this moment, you will leave me in peace. You use what weapons you hold now, and I use whatever I have right now.” I forced a smile at him. To all appearances, I looked completely unarmed.
He paused for a moment. “I can’t fight an unarmed woman.”
“You can, or you forfeit. Perhaps you have even less masculinity than your father, somehow.”
My son narrowed his eyes at me, and I smiled. “Perhaps you don’t want to fight me because you truly believe that I will win, even unarmed, and shame you horribly?”
Anger swept through his features. “I pick the time and place. Here, now!”
Finally, a rash decision. “I win.” I murmured as I reached into the bag on my wrist and pulled out my other mirror. He charged at me. I danced to the side. “Now now, you are quite slow, dear. Have you been neglecting your dance lessons?” I didn’t even look at him as I taunted him. There was no need. I stepped aside as he swung his sword at me. “Do you even know how to use that? It is a wonder you defeated my dear friends. I should punish you for that, I suppose.” My feet spun me behind him, and I kicked him in the back of one of his knees. As he fell, he spun and sliced deeply into my side. I aimed the small mirror at him, and his features, bright with victory, faded as his face fell slack.
With care, I slowly tried to push my innards back where they belonged. I looked into the mirror and saw my silent son as he struggled to free himself. With the edge of the mirror, I made a slice on his smooth cheek, then stumbled back to my chair.
My son was mine again, and I won the duel, even if I did fight it dishonorably. My chest felt heavy as I continued to shove my slick, stinking insides back. Dizziness reigned. I felt myself slump forward as I stuffed and struggled.
My lover approached with needle and thread and slowly stitched my side back together. I set the mirror aside and kissed him. My Rigo was such a thoughtful man. “Rigo, I’ve won.” I murmured. “I think it’s time to reward myself.”
He stared at me for several moments before he nodded mutely and began to make love to me. His thick, massive hands were deft and gentle, and his body was warm. I closed my eyes and screamed with passion. Rigo was talented, even on an uncomfortable stone ground. He finished and pulled away from my grasping hands. Slowly, I opened my eyes. Rigo was rifling through my belongings. “The pills are inside my bag.” I murmured. He dumped the bag onto my exposed breasts, then reached to one side and picked something up. I turned my head, and looked straight into the bloody mirror. My blood was on it. White filled my vision, and when I could see again, I was inside a void, and only a hexagon window stared out, though all I saw was darkness. I felt the blade of my son dig into my flesh many times, and the loving hands of my Rigo touch me, and soon, both sensations gave me the same reaction of profound joy.