This is the 57th a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
To Bend a King’s Will, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 27th January 2012
Word count: 752
“I am a corruption, an anomaly. I have stood upon this land for a millenia before this castle was first built, and the first castle was built a very long time ago,” the young man in worn robes said, sombrely.
“I tire of these theatrics, wizard,” the aged, “Citing your supposed age does not convince me that I should give this barbarian such a dangerous weapon. It would be madness, it makes any that holder blood mad. Barbarians are already blood mad. That’s why we lock them up.”
“This is not a barbarian, but it is true he is a beserker. The weapon was made for true beserkers, only they can control the blood rage,” the wizard said becoming animated, “The evil that approaches can not be faced by anyone else.”
“I have despatched an army, a cadre of my finest and bravest guards, and a quartet of wizards, admittedly they’re not of your supposed stature, but they can face a demon horde well enough,” the king said.
“And they will all be dead come morning. Demons, monsters, myths, legends, all very powerful and all, but they are nothing compared with the true demon that had stirred up this horde,” the wizard said.
“You underestimate my men, they have protected my Kingdom since time immemorial. I only know this barbarian as a murderer and a thief, a poacher and a betrayer. He is not the hero you are looking for, he is not done stout of heart champion destined to wield the Bleeding Sword.”
“His crimes I might dispute, the men he murdered were head hunters, your Kingdom pays a pretty penny for the heads of any barbarian,” the wizard said.
“Pah! Any barbarian who steps foot in my Kingdom receives the same fate. You should know this, if you are as old as you so frequently claim, you would have been there for the war. You would know Barbarians from the south lands did far more damage than these occasional demon hordes. Well do you?”
“I was there, but I remember it differently. The Barbarians have always been what stood between your Kingdom and many of the demon hordes of old, they’re fighting skill, their fearlessness through beserker rages, these were gifts that let them face down demons you hadn’t even heard of. Back then, they came across this demon now, it terrified even those in the midst of blood madness. They had little choice but to flee the South. Your great grandfather, he did not like seeing thousands of Barbarians on the door step of his Kingdom, so he waged a long bitter war to force them back. It didn’t work, they did not fear armies of man. To find an end to the war I had to find the Bleeding Sword, then find the right person to use it. He pushed the demon back into the abyss, and sealed the abyss up for a while. The Barbarians returned home, pursued by a ragged army for a considerable way. That is the truth of it,” the wizard said slumping into a nearby seat, the act of telling the story had been exhausting after a century of keeping his mouth shut.
The king sat mulling the wizards words over in his mind, “If I ever find out you’re lying to me, I’ll do what generations of Kings ought to have done a long time ago and put you to the sword. If these Barbarian turns around and strikes at my Kingdom, I’ll make sure you’re among the first to die,” the King warned.
The wizard visibly restrained himself from replying at first, it would no no good to point out the consequences of the King’s threats, he had one the case. Threats could be dealt with after the world was safe and at peace. “Very good your highness,” the wizard said finally.
“Fetch the Barbarian, and have him taken to the Wizard’s tower, then have the armourer bring up the sword, the Bleeding Sword, to the Wizard’s tower also,” the King called to functionaries that were invisible but ever present and listening.
“Thank you, your highness,” the wizard bowed and turned to leave.
“One last thing, wizard,” the King said, the ire plain in his voice, “That little story you made up, about the war with the Barbarians. Make sure no one else hears it, or that tower will no longer be yours.”
The wizard fought to maintain his composure, “Very good your majesty,” he managed to say and continued walking.