The Black Rose Knight and the Horn-Crowned King

by Motherlygirl

Tags: #f/f #fantasy

Author's Note: Hello! This was last month's second paid chapter, an indulgent oneshot about a knight facing the magical king of a technologically advanced empire. Content warning for identity death and fairly violent imagery. As usual, sending feedback is welcome and you can do that by sending it to my email or by following my twitter @Lovemommyhypno! 

Adelaide Adams took a deep breath. The red flower embedded in her sternum extended its thorns into her body. She closed her eyes and counted to ten. The palace around her, velvet and black and purple, did little to calm her nerves. Perhaps this had been an awful idea, but her love had risked enough fighting this tyrant. Dragging anyone else into this final confrontation was unnecessary. Magical torches blazed from their position affixed to the ten foot walls. Their light was sinister, as were the flickering shadows that they cast. Before her towered an impossibly large steel door decorated with a painting of a great hydra. One of the monsters she'd grown up listening to her father read…no, tell her about at bedtime. A silly distinction to make, given he had a book he used, but it never hurt to remember her roots: a child of two illiterate parents, both deceased. Were they proud of her right now, or crying out from the afterlife that she was making a grave mistake?

Adelaide clutched her magic sword. She never did give it a name. Perhaps after this battle it would become Regicide or Thorncutter. The young knight pulled the blade from its sheath and approached the door. It exuded an atmosphere of power and menace, as befitting the gate to an emperor's lair. She walked closer nonetheless, taking comfort in the custom made jacket given to her by her lady's maids and in the people's faith in her. Each step she took across the soft velvet carpet was another one closer to her greatest enemy yet. 

"Damnit," Adelaide muttered to herself as she tried to shake the fear from her heart. The emperor was just one man! And what's more, he couldn't kill her! It was physically impossible! The worst possible outcome was that Adelaide would have to get chopped to bits over and over until they died of exhaustion, and yet…

Perhaps if her princess-turned-warlord Alexandria were there, Adelaide thought to herself, she would feel more confident. Her greatest feats of heroism were all in the former princess's defense after all. The quiet of the palace weighed heavy on her body as she pressed her hands against the smooth iron doors. There was no turning back. Not anymore. She growled and forced the doors open. They refused to budge at first, but throwing the full weight of her body behind her magically-empowered arms overcame their resistance. She trudged one, two, three steps against them to the sound of massive hinges groaning and grinding. The doors moved slowly apart with great resistance. 

Adelaide planted one foot in front of the other at a time. Each step brought her mind back to a specific person that she'd left behind to face the king alone. There was Alexandria, whose kidnapping by pirates had brought her to this godforsaken empire in the first place. The next step reminded her of Piper, a former maid who had trailed her here to help with the rescue. Her third footfall called to her mind the girl with the sword who had joined her on this mission in search of their missing father. Her fourth, that bizarre cat person who went by the name Schrodinger…

She emerged in the throne room. A huge red square, with a rectangular section on the far end where a set of stairs led up to a platform with the throne. An armored human sat in it, their posture insultingly lax. One leg cast lazily over the armrest, one fist holding up their head by the jaw as it leaned limply to the side. This was Xenon: the Horn Crowned King, the emperor of the land beyond the Devil's Gums mountains, the one who had tried to have Alexandria murdered. Adelaide raised her sword to point it at her foe. As she did, a determined look burned in her eyes. The words she'd said so long ago now returned to her mind. 

<i>I would make valleys of the ocean and turn mountains to dust to get her back! What of it, interloper!?</i>

The sentence to all who sought to harm Adelaide's lady, be they pirate, tyrant, demon or god, was as simple as it was beyond question: Death. 

The king chuckled. Their voice was modified somehow by that armor they were wearing. They hopped to their feet and glared down at her with amusement. Neither they nor her spoke any words, or made any move, for a few seconds. Adelaide gripped her sword and felt an aura of danger assault her, much like the one emanating from the door, but far stronger this time. She felt an urge to back away, but beat it down with ease. A knight never retreats unless absolutely necessary. Her sword hand shook, but only a little. 

"<i> old are you, little knight?</i>" The king asked in a synthesized, ugly hiss. They stared at her face, but Adelaide couldn't help but feel something else had their attention. It was hardly a surprise: between her unassuming frame, lack of armor, and the flower growing out of her sternum it would be unusual for the king to take the appearance of such an intruder as herself entirely in stride. 

"I'm twenty," Adelaide answered with confidence. She looked over the plate covering her target. It was all a dark rich purple, except the gauntlets. Those were a vivid red. "And what's it matter to you, despot?" 

"<i>Another youth. How terribly dull.</i>" The king walked down the stairs one heavy plodding step at a time. Adelaide adjusted her sword and her gaze alike to match their movement. "<i>And you come to challenge me with no armor, no comrades, and a single weapon? Your bravery is matched only by your inexhaustible hubris.</i>" The king was close enough now that Adelaide could reach them with a lunging thrust of her sword. Their armor bore details and decorations resembling vines and thorns, most notably with a "crown" of the latter atop the tall helm. This was what had earned them their title, presumably. Adelaide lifted her foot to take half a step back, then caught herself. She stepped forward instead. "<i>You think to kill me?</i>"

"I ACT to kill you," Adelaide snarked. "Evil kings always lose. It's in the rules of the world." 

"<i>Yes, yes, I'm sure you were the hero of your nowhere village and destined for greatness.</i>" The king raised a fist. "<i>You're not the first hero to be cleaned from my chambers with a mop.</i>" Lightning crackled between their fingers. "<i>Say your prayers.</i>" 


The battle raged on. 

"I'll kill you!" Adelaide slashed rapidly at the king's upper chest. Her sword glowed gold, enriched by the faith of the common people who she had helped in her journey here. The king's steel resisted her strikes but was not immune- each attack put a new gash in the king's body beneath it. They grunted in pain and answered with a knee to her gut. Adelaide's eyes rolled backwards in pain. A metal hand punched her in the face and sent her sprawling. 

Green flame poured through her body and reversed the damage she'd taken before she hit the ground. She rolled and used her momentum to hop to her feet, where she landed in a defensive stance. Her body slid three inches backwards. 

"<i>Your gluttony for punishment was amusing for an hour,</i>" the king growled, the voice modulation from their armor unable to conceal their frustration. "<i>But I've grown weary of this.</i>" 

"Too bad," Adelaide laughed. "I can do this all day!" 

"<i>I see. Unfortunately for you</i>," the king reached up and removed their helmet. Blonde locks fell wavy and beautiful to their shoulders. Their soft face and bright blue eyes stunned Adelaide. The Horn-Crowned King…was a woman? 

"You're…" Adelaide muttered in shock. Not that it changed anything. Adelaide had killed more than one henchwoman in her fight so far. It just seemed like a strange thing to bother hiding. What caught her attention more, though, was…

"Yes," the Horn-Crowned King smiled. Her grin was smug and self-assured. She walked backwards, arms up. Adelaide's eyes outlined a ring shaped area around the king's forehead, where curved thick thorns poked out of her flesh at irregular intervals. "I have one of the immortality flowers as well. And I've come up with…ways to deal with your kind." 

Adelaide's heart sank. Of course, she'd known this power wasn't exclusive to her. She'd gotten it from a fae, after all, and said fae had given no indication of the flower being unique or a power other fairies could not bestow. Wiglaf couldn't be blamed for this catching her off guard, especially not with that one-eyed freedom fighter she'd encountered wandering the empire, since he had one as well. 

Adelaide backed away half a step. If she couldn't kill the emperor…she was helpless. She could only struggle until she either gave up hope and lost the flower's blessing, or got taken prisoner. The king smiled with assurance. 

"<i>See? Your fight is hopele-</i>"

Adelaide cleared the distance between them instantly and buried her sword hilt deep in the dictator's jaw. She glared defiantly into the king's face, feeding her frustration and shock to a furnace which burned them and made anger from the remains. She twisted the weapon and heard a satisfying <i>pop</i> as the force snapped Xenon's neck. Then she ripped it out. 

"No. Yours is." She imagined her father, that blacksmith, the innkeepers who gave her maps and free food, the swordswoman from another land who revered her as a sister, the maids who crafted the jacket she wore. The sword in her hands glowed like molten iron. Their belief in her bolstered her body and weapon alike with magical energy. "I have fellowship you could never DREAM OF!" With three swings, she blasted off three swaths of Xenon's armor and sliced deep into her as many times. The king screamed in agony and smashed an armored boot down on Adelaide's foot. She squealed in pain and felt something crunch. 

A fist impacted her jaw and sent her across the room where she flipped and landed on her feet. Adelaide laughed. "It'll take more than that to stop me!"

"I know," the queen muttered. She floated into the air and muttered an incantation. Her armor fell off of her piece by piece. Light enveloped her, shone through the room so bright it seared Adelaide's eyes useless. She clamped them shut and shielded them with an arm but it was still painful. A few seconds passed, then the light extinguished. Adelaide open her eyes, which recovered quickly. 

The king was wearing black and red armor, sleek like the machines that patrolled the empire's capital. Its plating looked almost more like form-fitted glass than armor, complete with a sort of convex bulb that covered her chest. The face…helm…visor…resembled a black dragon, and the pauldrons similarly imitated the visage of that greatest enemies of Knight and Princess alike. The king's feet wore high heels, from the inner arch of each of which spouted a yellow-orange cone of magical fire that held her aloft. She floated lower and lower, one leg bent such that the two of them formed a triangle. 

"You're going to regret that," the king growled, then twisted her head once in each direction. Both times, it made her neck crack. "Fly, my fangs!" A multitude of attack drones detached from her, propelled by a single jet each, and fired off bright yellow beams of light at Adelaide. She scrambled forward in a serpentine pattern and dodged multiple shots. Each beam burned a little crater into the floor and produced and explosion. If one hit her…

"I'll kill you!" Adelaide cried and leapt towards the king. She thrust with her sword, only for the queen to zip in an agile circle around her with ease. She tried to turn to face her target, but a hand caught her face and shoved her straight down into the ground. Her vision swam with tears. Where were her arms? Her legs? 

"No, you won't." Explosions ravaged Adelaide's body. She flew across the room, burning. Her body hit the ground with less spring than usual. Adelaide's limbs twirled wildly as she bounced repeatedly off the floor like a stone skipping across a pond. When she regained control of her body, she only had a moment before hands seized her by the upper torso and plowed her through a wall two feet thick. The impact knocked the wind out of her. Her attacker smashed her into another wall and dragged her across it so fast the friction shredded her coat. She was thrown aside. She landed dazed, but unwilling to give up.

"You…!" She groaned as she shakily stood. Her flower sent its energy all throughout her body to repair her multitude of damaged bones and organs. 

"Hmmm." The king landed. The suit's visor retracted into the dragon's maw above it, revealing that the face beneath was sporting a sadistic smile. "Perhaps I <i>can't</i> kill you. But if simply drowning your conviction in pain won't work…" she approached. As she did, her eyes danced across Adelaide's body. The king's helmet and the armor over her throat vanished into light as she grew closer. The rose knight stumbled backwards. Fear finally set in. What had she done!? Gods above, who would protect Alexandria- what had she DONE?

"Stay back! I'll kill you!" It was an empty threat. Adelaide's sword was somewhere in the previous room, possibly in pieces. She didn't know enough magic to return or replace her weapon, let alone contend with this enemy unarmed. 

"Oh, but darling," the queen teased. She muttered another incantation. Gold runes formed a circle around her left hand, which danced all about. "You'll never hurt me again." Her hand completed its gesturing and a flash of light placed a black shard of some kind of crystal in her grasp. Adelaide grimaced. She growled.

"Nobody calls me that but Alexandria! NOBODY!" She rushed forwards and threw a punch at the king's neck. This was so unexpected that the attack actually met its target. Xenon stumbled backwards, her right hand clutching at her crushed windpipe. Adelaide sprinted past her. The king's flower would save her without a doubt, so she only had a moment-

Xenon shoved Adelaide down onto the ground. Then she turned her over, a single splayed palm holding the knight down. She kneeled over Adelaide, hair hanging from her shoulders. Her other hand rose above her, the crystal glinting between its smoothly chrome-plated fingers. The arm plummeted, stabbed the crystal into Adelaide. It immediately rotated into position embedded in the girl's flesh and parrelel to it. The king stood and stepped back. Adelaide kicked up onto her feet.

She felt…something. A foreign influence in her mind. It was…


Adelaide fell like lead and hit the ground like a ton of bricks. Her body burned as a wave of information hit her in a language that was so foreign she could not grasp that it was a language. Numbers and impenetrable oceans of information surged over her memories, swamped them, shoved them out of her reach like a tidal wave erasing a city. She struggled to rise to her feet but her body locked up. She trembled with exertion and fear. The onslaught ripped away names and faces and places faster than she could understand what was happening.

She locked down. Alexandria, Piper, her father…if she could just secure those, she could withstand this. Her mind seized everything about the three that it could, but she could tell that the corruptive influence had seared some of it away already. Dread started to form in her chest but, fortunately, that too was disassembled and removed.

A suit of armor started to form around her resembling the king's. Bright black and vivid purple, it covered her chest and accentuated her breasts and reached out over her arms and legs and encased them in a metal tomb. Adelaide opened her mouth to scream but no sound escaped. 

<i>I am a knight.</i>

A voice that she knew wasn't hers echoed through her. It…was not her, right? It didn't sound like her, she was pretty sure…?

<i>I would make valleys of the ocean and turn mountains to dust to get her back! What of it, interloper!?</i>

She'd meant Alexandria when she first said it, but this echo was…wrong. It was referencing the woman here in this room, not her lady from back home. That wasn't her! Her lady was a white haired one named Alexan…named…

She forced herself inwards and focused on the face in her mind. Her grip on the other two figures from her past loosened for just a second- but that was more than enough. The ocean of information tore them from from her mind, seemed to delete those memories entirely. Adelaide quaked as more emotions welled up in her, too fast for the invading presence to erase it all. 

"Daaaamn youuuu….god damn you to helllll!" 

"Hmph." The king smiled. Had she been so…beautiful before?

No, no, no! Adelaide squeezed her eyes shut and imagined Alexa…Alex…Lex?...her face. Her clear white eyes and blue-white hair were solid, but seemed to be made less so each passing second. Her…her b….what did the rest of that woman look like again?

"D…damn you…!" 

More memories were plucked from her grasp, torn away, removed from Adelaide entirely. No fake ones seemed to be taking their place, but that was assuredly a possibility. Alex….Al…her face started getting fuzzier and more distant. Adelaide struggled to grab the image, but the fingers of her mind were exhausted and sluggish. They slipped away.

Who slipped away?

<i>A knight's greatest honor is to die for his lady.</i>

That one- the armored figure standing in front of her- that was the lady in question, Adel knew it, but…why did it feel like that meant she should keep fighting?

<i>Because that tyrant isn't my lady!</i>

She wanted to scream. But…that WAS her lady, right? Her majesty, the king! 

Adelaide screamed and thrashed her head. Her body strained beneath the suit of armor, drenched in sweat. With just her fists she struggled and shakily forced her upper body off of the floor. 

The king's face filled up her memories. She was loyal to the queen. Dedicated to the queen. 

The sentence to all who sought to harm her lady was as simple as it was beyond question: Death. 

Adelaide snapped and collapsed to the ground sobbing as the last of her old self was torn from her mind and locked away. At last she found the strength to stand, dry tears still on her cheeks. The king's armor dissipated, replaced by a beautiful gown. 

"You seem troubled. Is something amiss?"

"No, your highness," Xenon's knight answered. She blushed. "What's…do I…have a name?"

"No," answered the king with a cruel smile. Her knight shivered. The emperor's smile was a rare sight reserved for those few blessed enough not just to know she was a woman, but that she'd voluntarily show her face. It was an honor and a privilege. The king wiped dry tears from her face. "You need no name, and you have no name. You are the Black Rose Knight, and need no identity besides."

"Yes, Mi'lady," the Black Rose Knight answered. The king's fingers were delicate, tender, affectionate. Hands unblemished by the taint of toil and free from the ugliness of callouses. There was nothing her knight would not do to preserve those hands. 

"Let's draw you a bath, dear," said the emperor.

"Of course, your highness." 


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