The King

I had agreed to single combat, firstly because my kingdom was tearing itself apart from this man’s revolt. Secondly, I wanted to meet him.

 

Despite myself, I am impressed.

 

He is magnificent to look upon. He’s tall, willowy in appearance, but more like bamboo in nature. I couldn’t help but notice his long, platinum blond hair, that one eye is blue and the other brown. I look dull and grey near him, but to be honest, I am grey, and like dull leather. His charisma gleams like his armor of burnished gold….. It’s understandable as to why the people follow him; his personality draws one in. He just might be the one. He declined to wear a helm; he must be confident that I wouldn’t scar his pretty face. Even better, he just said he doesn’t need a shield, not for an old man like me. I must confess that his impetuousness suits him. He may just be the one.

 

He’s challenging me to relinquish my crown, my throne. Expected. He’s promising me mercy by exile? The laughter tore out of my throat with no restraint; I couldn’t hold my mirth back. “Come child,” I say. “Don’t disappoint me. Show me what you are capable of”. There is a hush as we approach each other. I know he has youth and agility on his side, but I have the experience of age. It should be an even match, as long as I do not let it go on for long. The fool is still telling me to reconsider. Like I would just give my throne up? Just like that? Ha! I replied with my blade….

 

He may appear kind-hearted, but his skill couldn’t be denied. He managed to parry my surprise lunge like a pat on the wrist and responded with quick and surprising violence. His control is superb; not a single wasted move. For every blow I manage to land, he replies with two. My defense is beginning to falter. To make matter’s worse, my shield is gone. He is pressing his advantage. I must be fatigued already, for it is not possible for his speed to have increased. The force of his blows are relentless. I really must have been insane to accept his challenge; my ego is about to cost me my life.

 

I’m almost spent, and he can see it.  He’s bearing down on me. By the gods, everybody can see it. They are daring to hope that I fall, that this upstart will replace me. He will be no better than I am. He reminds me of how I was, before I became what I am. Maybe if things were different…… What’s the point? Its too late for regret. I took this path to be king, and king, I will remain. I will rather die than face the shame of defeat! With all that was left within me, I swung precisely with the aim to behead him. He parried, but underestimated my determination: my blow injured him. I knocked his sword out of his hand, but that was where my luck ended. He caught his sword with his left hand and in a full spin, used the momentum of my own attack to cleave through my breastplate, and lacerate my right arm.

 

I was on my knees before I could accept that I was just struck. It was just my rotten luck for him to be ambidextrous. He really could be the one to replace me, but I am not ready to die. It was all I could do to stay on my knees as he confidently approached me, assured of his victory. His sword is on my neck, and the crowd is egging him on. My own guards are not even attempting to help me. I really am hated…. “Mercy!!!” I cried, as he raised his sword. “I place my life at your mercy, My Liege” I emphasized. The crowd just erupted in joy. He’s smiling; he will be magnanimous….. Gods, he’s so quick….

 

He didn’t hesitate for a second. I didn’t even see the swing, or hear the blow, talk more of  feeling the cut, but the silence that enveloped them was death-like. I was drowning in my own blood; he must have severed by carotid artery, as well as my windpipe. Ruthless. I was right about him after all. I could see the confusion and better yet, the fear in their eyes and the laughter gurgled up my throat in bubbles of blood. He knows how to wield fear as surely as he handles his sword. He truly is worthy to replace me.

 

He removes my helm with a flourish to dislodge the bloodied crown and looks at me with eyes so similar to mine. “Well done” I whisper, in death’s grip. “Thank you, Father.” He says..

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