Lights Out

Submitted into Contest #114 in response to: Write a story that involves sabotage.... view prompt

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Suspense Fantasy Adventure

Darkness and silence filled the room, hand in hand, as the great door slammed open and all candles were snuffed out. I could smell wisps of smoke dancing in the air with petrichor. Though I could not see, the sound of footsteps on the stone floor thumped towards my throne, telling me of intruders. Whether they were friend or foe, I would not know until their faces and intentions were revealed.

“Let us have light!” I yelled.

As the flames flickered to life, the forms of three men became visible below me. Pieces of sticks, leaves, and mud-coated their tiny bodies. Indeed, they looked like uprooted saplings after a fierce storm. I looked to my servant, who was still shaking from fright. He looked at the strangers with disdain.

“You are addressing King Tiberius,” he began, “Freer of Cities, Father of Sheep and Cattle, Grower of Crops, Son of the Sea, and Master of the Build. You may speak.”

One of the men stepped forward and bowed, letting mud drip onto the perfectly polished stone.

“Greetings, King Tiberius. I am Quintus, Conqueror of Lands and Vanquisher of Foes. We have been cast to this pitiful realm by Poseidon. We are famous adventurers and seek our reward of room and board. What say you to this?”

It did not take me more than a moment to consider this request. In hindsight, my decision should have been much more calculated.

“You insult my land and call it pitiful, Filthy Creature. I have reason enough to kill you where you stand. However, I shall have mercy. Let it be known that your king has never turned away a person in need.”

I swept my hand dismissively at the group, and they left us. The horrid-smelling liquid that they left in their wake clung to the stone like sap. It was as a result of this stench that I moved my party to the ballroom. 

I confess dancing is not a joy of mine; I quickly became bored of watching my people twirl and move. At the first opportunity, I snuck away from the droning piano in search of excitement. Naturally, I set a course to the wine cellar. I was almost upon it when I heard whispering in one of the rooms. I decided to listen.

“Let us review the plan one more time,” a voice said that I recognized as Quintus. “I will go to the wine cellar at sundown and place as many bottles of wine as can fit into this bag. Wait for me outside the northern door where we will rendezvous. I shall give you a third of the loot and we will sell it to your contact.”

“You may rely on me, my lord.”

“Very good.”

Footsteps scurried towards me and I had to duck into an open door to avoid the traitor. Peering with my one eye through the keyhole, I saw my foe. It was my servant, Marcus. Why had I failed to recognize his voice? The man had managed to change his voice! My own servant, who had stood near me through fearsome battles and troublesome quarrels. Granted, Marcus stood more below me than anything else. Nevertheless, this was a betrayal. A plan began to form in my mind. 

Quintus was a greedy fool to be sure. I was certain that the scoundrel would choose the bottles that only looked expensive in appearance. Once I had reached the cellar, I grabbed the bottles that had no value and sprinkled bits of golden Lotus petals into them. The shimmering, delicate leaves swirled inside. Even I, the creator of my scheme, stood mesmerized as the last few rays of rose light dipped under the ocean for sleep. 

The sound of whispers and footfalls awoke me from my trance. Quickly, I hid in wait behind a shelf. 

Without hesitation, Quintus spoke: “If not for that God! That scourge of the sea! If Poseidon had not wrecked us with this oaf, we would be home by now! At least we may get some profit from this miserable ‘castle’.”

Furious as I was, logic overcame me. I stood to listen. In my victory over Quintus, I wished to be able to tell him how he fell into my snare before I killed him. 

“Well, it looks like that thing they call king has some taste after all,” Quintus now held in his hand the special bottle.

The men he had brought with him took up a bottle each in their hands and I watched as their eyes became consumed by the ruby, gold drink. Quintus himself stood as still as a statue, turning the bottle over and over to watch it move. It was then that knew I had him. Before I could alert them to my presence, Quintus slammed the bottle hard on the floor.

“You fools!” he screamed to him men, “Do you not see? There are Lotus blossoms in this drink. You have allowed them to confuse your senses! Let us leave this wretched place!”

Surprised as I was that Quintus had broken free of the Lotus’s spell, I leaped up and made my move. 

“Quintus! You have insulted me and my land for the last time! You collude with my servants, betray my trust, and steal from my cellars! I am the great Tiberius and no one shall treat me so and live!”

I could feel the rage coloring my cheeks and coursing through my veins as I shouted. What exactly I said, I can not remember. By the time I had composed myself, crimson pieces of man dripped from my mouth and onto my shirt. In my fit, Quintus had managed to climb on top of one of the wine racks.

“Get down from there, Filth!” I screamed, pushing over the rack.

The next events only seem like flashes in my memory. Even today, I can see Quintus leaping over my head towards the door. The pain I felt as a shard of glass pierced my eye still pains me. The worst part of the affair was not, as you would presume, the blindness. No, it was Quintus’s cackling laughter as he bragged and shouted. 

Do not fear for my revenge. In those first dark moments, I cast a curse so strong no man could escape me. It comes with great satisfaction to tell my reader that, though I live without light, Quintus has lived without something even more essential - true happiness. 

October 08, 2021 02:55

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