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Prelude to Madness

Guest Written by Alex

All around the grand castle, fires raged on as the bodies of countless soldiers were littered across the once-lush green lawn. The magnificent reflecting pool that held every starry night in its grasp was now tainted with spilled blood. Instead of the pale light coming from the two moons that hung high in the sky, the entire castle was illuminated with the dark red of the flames as they laid waste to the countryside.

“FORWAAAAARD!!” the soldier in blood-spattered gold armor shouted. “Don’t let them take this last line! Fight for the lives of the royal family!”

In a wave of red banners and bronze armor, the last defenses of the royal family charged forward, only to be impaled on the sudden line of pikes which suddenly arose from the enemy ranks. Undeterred, the enemy lines marched forward over the dead and dying soldiers towards the front gates of the palace.

*****

“My lord, the enemy has taken the castle.”

Slowly, the king arose from his seat and moved to his bedroom window. Even in the beginning hours of the siege, he had refused to move from the castle–his pride and joy, which he had personally overseen the construction of. “Thank you,” he sighed, watching as the fires continued to consume his beautiful orchards. He remembered planting those with his wife, years ago…

“Shall we not evacuate?”

“No,” the king said, folding his hands behind his back. “If this is fate, than I shall allow it to do what it will.”

Save for the sound of the crackling flames outside, all was silent. The king stood at his balcony, watching the two pale white moons as they watched the carnage from the sky.

“…you have arranged safe travel for Danika?” he asked rather suddenly.

The second man, heavily cloaked despite the heat, narrowed his eyes and grunted. “Yes, my lord,” he said, surprised it did not come out as a growl. “She has…been seen to.”

The king sighed with relief and leaned on the balcony rail. “Rothamar…” he whispered, “I must thank you for your years of service to my family. Even now, in our darkest hour, you do not leave my side. From the bottom of my heart, I–”

A flash of steel…the sound of a choked gasp as a trickle of blood flew from the king’s mouth.

From behind, Rothamar slowly removed the hissing dagger from the king’s back and stepped away as he dropped to the floor, gasping for breath.

“Foolish old man,” Rothamar spat. “You and your misbegotten family have ended. Now I am the ruler of this system!”

Rothamar spun around and quickly hid the dagger as one of the imperial guard swung the door open. “Sire! As per your orders, Danika has been successfully evacuated from the…ohh, my god…wh…”

“An assassin,” Rothamar growled. “He came in through the window and murdered the king as I had my back turned.”

The soldier’s face turned ash white as he dropped his shortsword to the ground. “Th…then we are lost…”

Rothamar scowled and picked the soldier up by the arm. “Give the order to evacuate,” he snapped. “All remaining soldiers are to leave the palace grounds immediately.”

*****

Grinning under the folds of his cloak, Rothamar slowly shut the doors again and made his way over to the king’s body. “I believe I could very well enjoy learning to rule,” he whispered as he placed the crown on his head.

‘Lord Rothamar, the castle has been taken. We are awaiting your command.’

Rothamar chuckled under his breath; De Seis was certainly enjoying his new found power. “Good,” the new ruler said to the empty air. “The king is dead. The plan has succeeded. This shall be the dawning of a new era!!”

Through the castle full of the dead, Rothamar’s unearthly laugh echoed through the empty hallways…

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