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Paranoia

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“Out.” The few minutes it’s taken his servants to scrabble around getting the broken remnants of his shardplate off his is already more fussing than Elhokar can bear. He daren’t look at any of them, none of their faces. He doesn’t know if he would see pity or contempt in their eyes. Contempt, he thinks, is more probable, but either would be unbearable, and he doesn’t want- he can’t- “Get out, go! Please.”
“The furniture, your majesty-“
“It doesn’t matter, just leave it, leave it and go-“ Elhokar eyes are stinging, his vision blurring, and he will not cry in front of servants, he can’t, he mustn’t-
They file out. Elhokar slumps back. He lies on the floor in the wreckage of his sanctuary, hot tears spilling over his cheeks and painspren welling up out of the floor and wriggling toward him as the sobs wrack his body and the effort of trying to breathe through them make his chest blaze with an even greater pain than the one his uncle had just inflicted. He covered his face with his hands- that hurt, too, his left wrist aching where his uncle had kicked it, twice, though he had been wearing the plate and he shouldn’t have felt a thing- if he were a real warrior, a proper Alethi like his uncle, or his father or even Adolin he-
Elhokar draws a ragged breath and wipes his sleeve viciously over his eyes to wipe at the tears. He forces himself to role over. He grits his teeth and tries to get his limbs beneath him. Knees and elbows. Then hands. Then pushing to his feet and stumbling backwards, legs almost giving out beneath him again. He clutches at one of the few chairs the Blackthorn didn’t smash to pieces for support, and stares at the wreckage of his desk. His spanreed will be amongst it, somewhere, if that hasn’t also got smashed, and he wishes, not for the first time, that he knew how to write. He wants Aesudan- she’ll probably laugh at him, there’s a distinct probability that she’ll think his uncle is right- his uncle is right, he’s useless, but he doesn’t want to be-but when Aesudan is done lecturing him about how past time it is that he had his uncle sent off somewhere out of the way and tried to do things on his own, for a change, she might…
Elhokar exhales, closing his eyes and gripping so hard on to the back of the chair that his knuckles turn white. News of Gavinor isn’t worth a second beating, albeit verbal- well, written, which he can’t do so it’s all a moot point anyway…he wants Jasnah. She would also make a better King than him, Elhokar thinks, rubbing at his cheeks again, but at least she might give him a hug if he asked- 
Storming pathetic, a voice in the back of his head sneers. Thirty years old, King of Alethkar, wanting big sister to hold you, and crying to boot- The voice usually sounds like his father- now it sounds distinctly like his uncle, and Elhokar wonders why on earth that might be.  He pushes away from the chair, stalks toward his liquor cabinet, and seizes a bottle of Sapphire Wine from it. He uncorks the bottle, raises it to his lips. And then, he hesitates. 
It isn’t that he doesn’t want to get black out drunk. He does. He wants to drink, and drink, and drink, and drink, until the pain in his ribs and the ache in his chest goes all away. The smell alone is tantalisingly intoxicating, all it would take was a few sips. But Elhokar knows without a doubt that Dalinar- the hypocrite that he is- wouldn’t approve of that. And Elhokar hates that he cares about that right now, he loathes it with every fibre of his being and he’s spun around before he knows what it is he is doing, arm winging and then outstretched before him, sapphire wine spilling and then spraying across the wall like blood as the glass shatters and falls to the ground like diamond rain. “I hate him!” Elhokar screams, “I hate him! I hate him, I wish he had died-!”
Mmmm…. A voice buzzes at his ear. Lies…
Elhokar nearly jumps out of his skin, whipping his head to stare past his shoulder and finding…nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing, just Elhokar’s overactive imagination, again, his paranoia and groundless anxieties…Elhokar isn’t a stranger to voices whispering in his head. But this one- this one is a new one. Elhokar shudders, turns back to the liquor cabinet and pulls out another bottle. Pink, this one, nothing too intoxicating, ought to help him stay alert in case, in case….
In case what? His uncle’s voice sneers. You’re being spied on? By spies who risk giving away their position to talk to you? Have some sense boy…
Elhokar pulls the stopper out of the bottle with a shaking hand and takes several long gulps. His chest still hurts. He wonders how badly he’ll bruise, how to explain it to the servants, or whether to just. Undress and dress himself. After all, it wasn’t as though he couldn’t manage that at least…
Elhokar freezes, the bottle halfway back up to his lips. Reflected in the glass, for the briefest of moments, he thought he saw…”Paranoid,” he mutters. “Seeing things.” He puts the bottle away and turns hastily from the faint, twisted reflections. His eye is caught by the royal seal lying in amongst the splintered wood and shattered glass. No one, he notes bitterly, has come in to check that he’s alright, after that crash- he knows, logically, that he ordered them all out not ten minutes ago but he can’t help feeling that it’s less that and more because no one would care. No one would care if his uncle had just killed him…Aesudan perhaps, but would she? Or would she simply care that she was a dowager, now, far less important, except in so far as- 
A shudder runs through him. His son. If Dalinar killed him (shut up, Elhokar, he doesn’t want to kill you, that’s what the whole storming exercise was just about proving) but if Dalinar did turn around and decide to kill him, because he had just proved that he could, if he wanted (he doesn’t! Don’t you ever pay attention!) Gavinor probably wouldn’t even remember, or really care, but would Gav be safe-
“Will you stop it?” Elhokar snaps aloud to himself, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. He tries to take deep, calming breaths and is reminded, yet again, of how much his storming ribs ache, so he changes tactics, shoves up his sleeve, and digs the nails of his left hand in to the flesh of his right forearm. This time, the pain he feels is the useful kind, allows him to concentrate on something other than the thoughts swirling around and stuffing up his head and making it far too difficult to think clearly. 
He stands, and waits, nails digging in to flesh for some long, blissful moments. The seal, he reminds himself- the proclamation his uncle wanted draughting and sent out…well, Dalinar could get his own scribes to do that, he did so like to do everything himself. Elhokar would sign and seal whatever he was told to, and in the meantime…
Your mother and I are now-
 “Storm it,” Elhokar snaps. He drops his arm and strides towards the door, wondering how he had managed to forget about that . “I’m going for a walk,” he tells the guards outside the door, and then adds “You don’t need to follow me.” He doesn’t trust them. Not the ones guarding his door- not any of them, wholly, now he has Dalinar’s reminder that they all belong to the Blackthorn churning around his skull, but the ones who were standing guard on his door he particularly does not storming trust right now. There will be another pair, at the end of the corridor, he will pick them up, and if it comes to it, he has a storming shardblade- for all the good it is with his armour ground to dust and all the use he is with it, but even so.
He doesn’t know where he is going. To his mother, perhaps- if she isn’t too busy courting his uncle…but he does want to see her. Make sure she’s alright. Ash’s eyes, if Dalinar ever, ever lays a hand on her with even a tenth of the force he just used to beat Elhokar black and blue…not that Elhokar thinks that’s a real danger; his mother is one of the strongest people he knows and she can certainly take care of herself, but if…
If he did…
Elhokar rubs at his chest, and barks at the two guards he’s currently striding between to come with him.