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Drama Fantasy Sad

The knife in my hand glistened with the blood of my family that was not yet shed. Tremors ran up and down my body as the millions of hollow dragon skulls stared down at me. The throne room sat just ahead, and as the guards pulled open the door, I saw that he was alone.

Perched upon a throne of corpses, his eyes were lowered to the ground in front of him, and his expression was concealed by shadows. Infuriatingly pure golden locked flowed down around his head, and the fine, crimson robes around his body made it seem as though he was caked in blood.

“What?” I asked when his eyes would not lift up to meet mine. “Why did you summon me?”

“Same reason every man, woman, and child want my head, because I’m selfish.” A defeated whisper seeped out of his mouth, and I realized now was my best chance. The knife still in hand, I could plunge it into my brother and end his tyranny once and for all. Still, no matter how much I willed myself to do the deed, I couldn’t. After all we’d been through, I couldn’t cut ties with him, no matter how many times I tried. I couldn’t walk away when he usurped the throne. I stood by when he turned the kingdom against him, and even now, my inability to act led to our friend’s death.

“You weren’t at the funeral. Everyone waited hours for you.”

“All the better.”

“Dameon fought for you!” I couldn’t hold my anger. “He stood with you back when it was just a few dozen of us against a kingdom. He stayed by your side day after day, and even when you did this, he still believed you were a person worth dying for. Even on his death bed, he told me he’d hang on one more day for when you’d come and see him, but you never came. Why didn’t you? How can you just sit on a throne when your friends are dying for your war?”

“Did… did he any last words?”

“None that you deserve to hear.” I growled as my rage finally compelled me to raise my dagger and cut ties once and for all. However, just as my blade descended, I noticed a puddle at the base of his throne. “Are you crying?”

“He deserved better than me. Everyone: you, them, the kingdom deserve better. So many people died for my war, and now, I’m asking for even more. I’m no ruler, and all I’ve done is cause pain. If only anyone else had been chosen, even you. In just one eulogy, you did more good than in my entire five years.”

“Eulogy? You heard?” I shook my head. “No… we all looked for you.”

“I was down in the sewers beneath the podium. The same path we used five years ago.”

“Wh… why?”

“Selfishness… I wanted to see him one last time.”

“But you didn’t, and the whole court knows!”

“Yeah, because I’m the Tyrant Usurper who’s fallen so far he won’t even attend his best friend’s funeral.”

“They wouldn’t think that if you just did… anything!”

“I know.” He sighed as he reached up and lifelessly plucked the crowd off his misshapen head. “Here’s hoping my successor can do better.”

“Successor. You’re giving up.”

“The rebellion’s army is half a day’s march from us, and the majority of my army has been sent to claim worthless locations.” His hand tightened around the crown. “I never knew such a tiny piece of jewelry could weigh so much. When the leader of the rebellion, Reginald, takes it, don’t let him be crushed by it.”

“You want me to help him?”

“He’s a good man. He knows politics, has met several nobles, was given the finest education for the past two years, and everyone likes him. He’s everything I wasn’t.”

“Education. How… who… how would you even know…” A realization hit me, and confusion swarmed my body. “You… set him up?”

“Pretty selfish, huh. I couldn’t clean up my mess so I found someone who could.”

“You… splitting the army, allowing the rebels to build their forces, taking useless strongholds.” Anger flooded me once again. “You led Dameon to his death on purpose.”

“I never meant to. He’s supposed to be as safe as the other generals… but the ambush…” More tears dripped from his face. “Now he’s dead, and I abandoned him. One more reason I need to die.”

“You… you planned this…” I stared dumbfounded at him, all thoughts of killing him now lost into a void of confusion. “H… how long?”

“I always thought I’d be a good king. I believed I’d be better than the man who torched our village and, once we’d kill him, everything would be alright. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The war I started to gain the throne; how many families were left starving because of it. How many came begging for food we didn’t have. How many relationships with other kingdoms did I ruin because we couldn’t pay the crown’s debts? How many drakes found home in our land where there were no dragon initiatives to stop them? How many times did I think I knew what was right only to make the wrong decision?”

He paused to wipe the tears from his eyes. “By the end of one year, I’d made enemies of over half the realm, and no matter how many times I tried to fix them, things only grew worse to the point where no one would ever accept me as a good king. A rebellion would rise, and even if I won, no one would celebrate. There was no victory so long as the tyrant sat on the throne.”

“So, you started this war.”

“The food I ripped from their mouths is hidden beneath the city. Once Reginald needs it, show him.” He shuddered. “The children I drafted are mostly safe, guarding the northeast towers, and the money from pillaging Duke Ember’s home is with the food. That should hopefully get you and Reginald started on repairing the damage caused by the tyrant.”

“But… you’ll die… if you sued for peace…”

“Peace was never an option. Before I even started this campaign, nobles hated me for usurping their ally, and commoners hated my inability to rule. All my recent actions did was give them the courage to speak their thoughts. Besides, nobody will follow a king who let the Tyrant live.”

“So…” My eyes dimmed as I finally saw the true form of my brother. “That’s why you didn’t come. A person with no friends is not mourned, and if you’re the ultimate monster, that makes Reginald the ultimate hero.”

“Tomorrow, I ride out to meet him, so this’ll be the last time I see you.” He nodded. “I don’t know if it’s worth much coming from a monster like me, but I couldn’t have asked for a better brother.”

“Is that why you told me about all of this?”

“No, as I said, it was selfish I brought you here.” He grimaced. “I… I… I wanted one person to know, to believe in what we fought for. Even if it’s insignificant as history engraves my name amongst the monsters, I want someone, one person, to know the truth about our friends who died to get us here. One person who, regardless of what I am and have done, will remember the me that wanted to make the world a better place.”

“Brother, you did make the world a better place.” I patted him on the shoulder. “You’re the worst person I’ll ever know, but I won’t let what you left behind go to waste.”

“Thank you.” A small sigh of relief passed through his lips as he placed the crown back upon his head, and finally, he raised his eyes to meet mine. “Now, go summon one of the handmaidens to get me cleaned up. I need to look remorseless for when I crush the rebellion tomorrow.”

February 05, 2021 11:39

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