The ground beneath the knight gave way and he was indifferent about falling with it. He descended, allowing the stones beneath him to become his resting ground as the crumbled and smashed against the rocks within the mountain. He descended to a death he hoped he would receive all those years ago. Despite the long and tremendous fall the stone and rock beneath him held strong enough to cushion most of his fall until he fell no more.
The mountain still stood, but now hollow with the knight at the very bottom. Past the craggy rocks the knight could see in the far distance up above a light of a clear sky. A sky he had never truly seen, but now it shone so bright a blue that he would never forget it. Sitting up, Sebastian removed his helmet, no longer a knight, but a man seeking his peace in this saved world. However, before he could leave, he heard a groaning faint within the cave around him. Once more he felt a heat, the same energy that he felt at the beginning of his quest up the mountain all those days ago.
It was the energy of the one true king, the King of the Shattered Kingdom. Within the darkness Sebastian could see a shifting form of a man larger than any he had seen, crawling on all fours. Chains clanked as he moved around the chamber like a beaten dog.
“Your kingdom is freed,” Sebastian told the King with a hoarse voice. “Your Prince and Warlock defeated, destroyed, rid of this world for all eternity.”
The King mumbled as he crawled in the darkness. Sebastian could not tell if it was aggressive or pained, but the voice was not kind enough to hint at a congratulations.
“Now I must ask you, King, what you intend to do,” Sebastian announced. “Will there be peace in these times, or will you sit on your throne once more?”
The question was harsh and insulting, the King could not ignore it. He roared a monstrous howl back at Sebastian, but did not attack. He was bitter, but Sebastian had read the King’s intentions perfectly. If he were to sit upon the throne and wear his crown of power there would be no peace. Instead there would be a punishment dealt upon all the living for not believing in his false benevolence. There would be punishment for the knights and people who followed his greedy child to death, but not him who treated them so well.
The monstrous King stopped his circling of Sebastian and approached him slowly. Sebastian watched the King closely as his face entered the light once more. The face of the King was not unlike the Prince; cold skin and jagged teeth. However, the King had a greying beard and long grey hair. His teeth were not covered in lips, but it seemed his face was more of a skull around the jaw.
“Who are you to decide who lives and dies?” the King hissed, his deep voice echoing around them with such power that Sebastian’s body shifted in place.
“I am nobody of importance to kin nor to my village,” Sebastian replied. “But I am your undoing if you are to cause harm to anyone.”
“You have no place in this Kingdom to give me orders!” the King roared with a powerful anger.
“That is true, but I have a place in this land to warn you of consequences.”
“There are no consequences to a king, only rewards when his will is made manifest.”
“Death will be your only reward.”
The King stared at Sebastian with an overwhelming sense of curiosity. What made this young knight believe he was stronger than the King? It did not matter to most, but to the King it did. There was a curious power within Sebastian that reverberated within the King like lightning and in that moment the King knew he would be the fool to challenge the knight.
The two stared at each other in a moment of silence, Sebastian with a clear mind, but the King with a cluttered one that was slowly reaching a final conclusion.
“I will not change to save my life, knight,” the King told Sebastian. “I already feel my mind clouding as darkness take me over with each day, but my hatred is my own and will burn till my last breath.”
“Then you know what must be done,” Sebastian replied, lifting his helm and affixing it once more on his head.
“Aye, but it is not what you believe…it is what needs to be done for everyone to be free,” the King told him.
With that the King bowed in front of Sebastian and brushed aside his hair to reveal his neck. It was pale and bony, but the skin was thick and fleshy. The young knight felt a pang of sorrow for the King and his ways, but would not hesitate. Within seconds the sword clanged against the stone ground soon followed by the heavy thump of the King’s head which rolled limply on the ground. It was the end of the one true King.
The knight continued his slashing, chopping at the head brutally till it was spliced and shredded, a pulp wet with dark blood. The King had retained some humanity that no other inhabitant of the Shattered Kingdom had done. In the end, it was all that needed to be done for the rest of the sordid mountain to sink into the earth. The rocks fell around Sebastian, never harming their savour, but burying themselves in the ground around him. The corpses joined the broken remains along with the swamp and within minutes the Shattered Kingdom with the surrounding swaps had vanished and become one with the land.
Sebastian now stood on the last stone of the Shattered Kingdom, a stone that would remain forever more. Upon this stone also rested the large crown which Sebastian took up in his hands and broke into pieces. The gold light faded to nothing and the last of the spell lay broken with the remnants of royalty. Now, with his quest at an end, Sebastian walked home to deliver the news and become idolized. No more the shunned knight of the village, but the hero who guarded over their homes.
Be sure to follow!