Death of a King & Drigorem’s Curse
Blood pooled, weeping from a gash in his chest and soaking into Drigorem’s clothes. He shivered. The chill stone sucked up his warmth. Boots thudded on stone. Screams and bellows competed with the metal on metal clang of a fight. How had it come to this vile betrayal, this victory via wicked trickery?
Lady Shayari stood in her alcove, her marble face catching the light falling through the slit window. She held her torch topped with a chunk of yellow lumir carved to look like flame; it glowed yellow gilding the five pointed crown on her head. She was old symbol, an icon borrowed from another age as attested by her sandal-shod feet and intricately draped robe. Her other hand clutched a book against her chest but age had reduced the words inscribed on it to an illegible smear.
How did it come to this, my Lady of the free peoples, my Lady of the enchanted forest? How did it come to this? Drigorem pressed his forehead against the stone floor. Its cold kiss leached some of the pain pounding in his head and it cut through the dizziness.
If she heard, she gave no answer. Her icon remained mute and watching. Blood-smeared black boots interrupted his view. Drigorem knew their owner; his brother Reveil. Reveil squatted down, his face pale, his conflicted heart in his eyes. Reveil gripped his brother’s shoulder.
“Where is it, brother? Where have you hidden it? Tell me and I will see you healed–no,” Reveil broke off, shaking his head. Tears pooled in the corners of his eyes. “Tell me and I’ll see you restored to your former vigor. I swear it.”
Drigorem laughed until his guffaws turned to choked coughs and then wet gurgles. Blood had seeped into his lungs and it drowned each breath. Reveil bent over his brother and compressed the gaping wound in his chest and elevated his brother’s head in the hope that the blood would recede enough to permit speech.
“You’ll never find it whole.” Drigorem spat blood before continuing. “It’ll shatter at your touch Betrayer–oathbreaker. Legacy will be broken by your greed.” Drigorem coughed and then strove to catch his breath. He fumbled after the fading crumbs of his power. Feeling his life dwindling with each panting breath, he pushed on gathering the last of his strength to hurl a curse on his brother and their shared bloodline.
“I curse you and all your heirs to an eternity of faithlessness, Oathbreaker. Let all the world know your sins–let your sins wear your face…”
Drigorem’s last breath hissed out and the last dregs of his power lashed out at Reveil. Drigorem’s curse clawed its way into Reveil ripping with invisible fingers into his manhood and making both rod and sacks burn as the curse settled there ready to seed the next generation. It climbed his body like a lover breaking the seal of his lips and diving down to seat itself in his treacherous heart and bind itself to his lifeblood. Reveil Nalshira recoiled, slipped on his brother’s blood and fell in a pathetic heap gasping from the pain. Mashing a mail fist into the stonework, he hauled himself to his feet once the curse had settled and breathing became possible.
Across the throneroom, his brother Mirivin lay dead with a sword through his back. Reveil limped over to him and stretched out his hand for the crown. It was a thick braid of silver and gold that rested on Mirivin’s brow.
“It should have been mine and now it is. It should have come to me dear brother. I’m the eldest; I’m the most worthy,” Reveil shouted at his dead brothers.
Let his rhetoric seep through the cracks in the Mortal Veil and echo in the Gray Between life and death where Mirivin and Drigorem now trod on their journey to the Dead City. Let Mirivin number one more of the crownless wraiths there.
As his fingers grazed the crown, it fell in upon itself and crumbled to dust. Reveil bellowed his rage and pounded his brother’s corpse until blood spattered his face and burned his eyes. It should have been his now. He was the rightful king. He wiped gore from his stinging eyes.
Spotting Mirivin’s sword–the Guardian blade known only as Ironheart. Ironheart’s tip lay in a pool of blood but ancient magic kept its mirrored surface pure. He bounded over to it but before his fingers could brush its gleaming surface, it rose up and impaled itself in the stone at his feet. An apparition of Mirivin stood over it, hand on hilt, his lips forming the words of the Guardian’s Blessing. Though no sound reached Reveil’s ears, the words his brother’s ghost uttered from beyond the grave struck him like stones bearing him down to his knees.
“From earth to earth until another bearer draws you forth, let the dream pass to someone else, let my soul wander where it will through the forests I have protected.”
Mirivin’s ghost vanished but the sword remained sheathed in rock where its last bearer, the last King of of Shayari, had left it.
“No!” Reveil cursed and threw himself upon the blade. His hands slid off its hilt and he could not force them to close around it. Reveil raged and kicked his dead brother’s body; the murdered King of Shayari jerked and slid leaving a blood trail behind. Reveil tore his hair as he stared around the throne room. All this carnage and he had nothing to show for it except a dozen slain retainers and two dead brothers.
Then something sparkled at the statue of Lady Shayari’s feet as if inviting him to pick it up. He flung himself at her leaping over Drigorem’s body and skidding on his blood. He fell to his knees before the statue and extended a hand to the blade that gleamed whitely in the cold sunlight streaming in from the window beside her. His hand gripped the hilt and flame danced across its crystal flat revealing its name–Legacy–Drigorem’s blade. Legacy had passed from father to son down through ages in the Nalshira household since the days of the first Guardians.
Legacy belonged to him now. It should never have gone to Drigorem. Legacy belonged to him–Reveil Nalshira. Reveil the bold, Reveil the brave, Reveil the brother who took what he wanted. He should be king not their bleeding heart of a brother Mirivin, who kept at his right hand another blind fool, their younger brother Drigorem.
Everything was right in the world now; the crown would come to his son. Shayari had only been waiting for him to take up his other brother’s sword–for him to be the Legacy. Yes, he would breed a new line of kings and his legacy would rival the old heroes. Ironheart would come to his son and he would be the father of a king. How much better was that? He’d be regent until his boy came of age and then he’d have all the prestige and riches without all the tedious work of governing as he retired in a manner fitting a king.
Reveil exalted in his victory as the hilt warmed to his touch, then became unbearably hot. He tried to loosen his grip but his fingers locked around the hilt and would not budge. Some fell force closed his fingers about the heated grip.
He screamed as his hand burned. His melting flesh welded his fingers to the hilt sealing his fate. A pulse of white light started at the tip like a ball of lightning threading a needle. Drigorem’s curse echoed in disjointed whispers throughout the throne room. The sword shattered, its shards tinkling like tiny bells as they hit the floor. Reveil caught a glimpse of the charred ruin of his hand still clutching the hilt which now ended in an inch long jagged shard. He toppled over into unconsciousness.