TAB Chapter 7
Quest For a Dying Ember
Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight
The castle is cold year-round, but these recent months have been unusually frigid. The long, stone hallways are silent, except for the occasional clattering sound of footsteps. The lights are dim at night, and from the outside the palace almost looks abandoned. No one dares to speak above a whisper. We are all tense and mourning. Our once unstoppable king is on the brink of death.
I enter his chambers for my nightly visit. It is no secret that I am one of the King’s favorites. I always sit at his right hand during meals, where his son would go-- if he had one. I am regarded with high esteem in the palace: the servants bow at my feet and lower their eyes as I pass. It also doesn’t hurt that I am one of the most handsome men in the kingdom.
The King is asleep. His skin is gaunt against his square jaw and his hands are tinged blue. He has been wasting away for months; the sickness eating away at his soul. The healers have done all they can, but they say his death is inevitable.
I can’t help but let a few tears fall. The man practically raised me, and now I have to watch the life seep out of him. I look at his face and remember the strong, handsome man he used to be. Now he is one step away from being a corpse. There is only so much I can take. I leave his room.
“Alright, Durmad?” a guard asks.
I flash him a tight smile, “never better.”
“Hey, did you hear about the competition the King is having?”
I stare at him blankly. I had not.
The guard explains the purpose of the King’s competition. To find an heir. Someone worthy to take the throne. I clench my fists and give the guard another tight smile before walking away.
I was raised in the palace and trained with the royal guard. I studied under the best scholars in the kingdom. I harnessed my magical energy at a young age, long before all my peers. When my parents died, the King took me in and raised me as his own. There is no one on this earth more worthy of the crown. I lie awake in my bed, seething from the betrayal.
I wake up the next day to find out we are hosting a ball for prospective competitors, and the thought strikes me: I need to enter that competition. Clearly, I am the most worthy, so I should be a shoo-in, right? I smile at my reflection in the mirror, already tasting my own victory.