“Hello, my dear,” said Amfortas calmly, as he entered the cell.
Elaine opened her eyes wearily. “Hmmm,” she muttered. “I was wondering when you were going to come back for some more creepy taunting. Though some of your underlings are very good at it. That girl--Gilly… she’s a champ.” She gave him a bitter smile. “I suspect that’s why you keep her around…”
Amfortas smiled at her. “As the Porphyriad tells us, ‘All things under Heaven have been placed so for Heaven’s reasons, even those that go against the Will of Heaven.’ I pride myself on discerning those reasons.”
Elaine blinked. “Yeah. I’ve heard that bit before. It didn’t seem… as unsettling that time.”
“The truth makes the unworthy squirm,” said Amfortas, lowering his eyelids, “once they understand it.”
Elaine was silent for a while. “Is that… also in the Porphyriad?”
“An original,” answered Amfortas. “You’ve doubtless realized by now that young Gilly serves my purposes, just as you do.” He placed a familiar hand on her shoulder. “You’ve been excellent bait.” He leaned forward and regarded her earnestly. “Thank you.”
Elaine jerked back, her eyes going to the door as she did that. She stared for a moment, as a realization stole over her. “There’s… no one there.” She looked at the Prince. “You… don’t have any guards here.”
Amfortas nodded. “Correct. We are alone.” He smiled gently, peering at her intently. “Do you feel like trying to make a break for it?” Elaine stared at the door for a moment, then glanced at Amfortas. His hand was… uncomfortably close to a dagger on his belt, she realized. Elaine gulped and managed to shake her head. Amfortas’ smile spread a little on his face, and then suddenly he was leaning forward, planting a kiss on Elaine’s forehead. “That’s a good girl,” he whispered in a soothing, confidential tone.
Elaine let out a low whimper as he backed away. “Don’t be sad, my dear,” said Amfortas in perfect good cheer. “Your mother and stepfather have come, as you’ve been saying they would. Indeed, they likely have brought more of your family with them. Really, both of us should be quite happy. Everything has worked out as we desired.”
“Yeah, well, I think one of us is going to be disappointed very, very soon,” Elaine noted, shutting her eyes.
“I am never disappointed,” said Amfortas quietly, his expression cheerful and confident as always
“There’s a first time for everything,” Elaine spat out, almost without thinking.
Amfortas shook his head. “Not for that.” He gave a shrug. “I am a man… blessed with good fortune. Though to be frank I make much of it. Partially by being a man who is easily satisfied. For example, I am going to be asking you to come with me in a short while. If you say yes, then naturally, I will be pleased. But it you say no, I will likely--oh, who knows? Perhaps put a knife in your kidney. Perhaps in some other vital organ. And this also would be quite pleasing to me.” He smiled at her. “So you see--whatever choice you make, I will be happy. One’s outlook on such things is really the key to a successful, satisfying life.”
Elaine simply stared, and wondered how Amfortas could say such horrible things so casually, as if he didn’t quite realize how horrible they were.
Amfortas meanwhile regarded her as if he was committing her discomfort to memory. “Now then,” he said, heading to the door. “I am heading out. Would you kindly accompany me?”
Elaine watched Amfortas hand approach his knife again. And then she nodded.
“Excellent,” said the Prince, smiling broadly, as he took her by the arm.