Swallowing the bile coating the back of my throat, I grimaced at the acrid taste of blood. The cancer in my lungs is spreading. I gurgled a laugh. King Jarlovar. Brought low by sickness.
My gnarled and twisted hands rested like dead weights in the lap of my stained robe. If I stared long enough, I could almost feel the leather grip, the added weight of my sword.
Sucking air into my weakened lungs, the memories burned into my mind showed a younger version of myself striding through the corridors, packed with the wounded and a few silent corpses. I hacked down my enemies as they tried to stop me. Blood on the mosaics, droplets spattered across my clothes. Fear drove me, despite injury. I had to save my family.
And for what? Bitterness swelled inside of me. Larger than the disease eating away at my body. I couldn’t stop the Helvan anymore than I could heal myself. I’m a failure, again.
Shrinking against the hard wood of the rotting wooden chair, recessed into the back of the large chamber, I held back the cough threatening to overwhelm me. This dump was my throne room. The royal chambers. I hacked up phlegm, spitting the foul gunge onto the floor.
Cracks spider-webbed the mosaics, littered with dust-covered wreckage and loose stones. The once bright, red plaster work has all but faded and the hand-painted portraits were streaked with water stains from the many holes in the roof. Black mould spotted the walls.
This was home. Or it had been. Once. The Gilded Palace. Locals liked to call it: Fool’s Folly. Maybe, they’d been right. The commoners may have known what I did not see.
Squeezing my hand, my mood soured. The fingers never healed right and refused to cooperate, frozen into a broken claw by my torturers. My days as a bowman are long gone.
‘My Lord…’ a familiar voice thrummed along the corridor and I winced at the sibilant quality to the man’s tone.
Gerridran means well, I suppose, but why does he have to be so damned irritating? Traipsing after me everywhere I go. Even to the garderobe out back, which is basically a hole dug in the dirt, covered with a wooden plank that has a circle cut out. All so my royal arse doesn’t touch dirt. I choked on a laugh. I slept on a pallet and have a thin blanket for warmth.
Huffing and puffing, Gerridran scuttled through the open doorway, clutching a tatty leather bound book under one arm and his long, black robes collecting dust from the floors.
Pushing his sweat-soaked hair out of his eyes, Gerridran squinted up at me. ‘Please, must we continue this charade…Lord?’ He tacked that onto the end to ensure politeness.
My voice is like the sound of gravel crunching underfoot, ‘It’s tradition.’
A brief look at my new short story!!
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