You crouch down, looking deeply into the older man's wide eyes.
“No,” you reply coldly.
The Skavakian king's head snaps back, mouth gaping open, as the 'King's Dagger' slides into his heart. Blood gushes out around the blade, spilling over the man's broad chest. The king gives one last rattling convulsion, then lies still.
You stand, the full weight of your quest suddenly falling upon you. You feel tired beyond belief, the urge to fall upon the nearby bed whispering seductively in your ear. This is no time to sleep, however...
Stirring yourself into action, you bolt the heavy door. It shouldn't take the soldiers long to head this way. As the sun rises over the hills, its light beaming across the chamber, you head over to the arched window. Throwing back the thick-hide drapes, the blinding sunrise now unhindered, blazing over the mist-shrouded Long Plain, you peer over the window ledge. The curving wall of the Spire stretches down below – too shear for even you to descend. Looking up, you see the lip of the tower's peak above. Unless you can fly, the door is the only route out of the chamber.
The muffled sound of soldier's boots drumming on stone issues through the door. Soon the dull thud of men pounding on its surface will reverberate around the room. A wild thought flashes through your mind – you grasp it, letting it direct your resolve. Maybe, just maybe, this fool's plan could work...
- x -
The door splinters off its bulky hinges, crashing onto the chamber floor. The Skavakian soldiers pour into the room, weapons bared and ready. No enemy awaits them. A Captain pushes through the throng of men, flanked by two beefy Skirmishers. He surveys the carnage, his eyes alighting on the bodies of Prayro and the former king of Skavak.
“Is he dead?” one of the soldiers whispers.
The Captain throws him a vicious glare.
“What do you think, you imbecile?” he barks, his voice wavering slightly.
The assembled men stare down at their fallen lord, the true gravity of the sight seeping into their minds, a deep dread welling within each of them.
“That foreigner must of done it,” someone spoke up.
“The king shouldn't have trusted him.”
“We'll wipe them out for this.”
“Silence, you fools,” spits the Captain. “You'll leave this room and await your orders.”
“Oh, so you're in charge now, huh?” pipes up someone at the back of the group.
“Who was that? I'll have your head - ”
“On whose authority? We've no king; who do you serve?”
“I serve the nation of Skavak, that's who.” The Captain's resolve fades with each barbed challenge.
“I say we march out to meet the main troop – get some of the action,” says someone.
“Yeah, get in on the fight,” another voices chimes in agreement.
“Quiet!” shouts the Captain, nodding to the Skirmishers. The armoured brutes slam their broad shields onto the ground, the metallic clang shocking the soldier's into submission. “Get out, now,” orders the Captain.
The soldiers reluctantly turn away, filing out through the door. The fat soldier separates from the group, looking at the bodies with interest.
“Didn't you hear what I said?” seethes the Captain.
“Um, yes, but...”
“This man,” the fat soldier continues, gesturing towards Prayro's body, “he was killed with a blade.” He points to the gashes and cuts from your sword.
“The king was wielding a flail, but there are no crushing wounds, and nothing that looks like an axe blow...”
One of the Skirmishers steps forward silently, and smashes the fat soldier onto the floor with a gauntleted fist. The fat soldier heaves and chokes, crawling out of the room. The Skirmishers follow him, the Captain leaving last. A flicker of doubt crosses his face as he passes the bodies, but he continues on, exiting the chamber.
- x -
You wrap your cloak tight about you, fending off the stabbing claws of the icy cold wind. Perched on the tip of the Spire, you prepare yourself for a long wait. None of the soldiers ventured anywhere near the window, none of them thinking to check the walls of the tower.
You don't have to wait very long after all. It takes less than a day for the Skav soldiers to turn on each other. Watching from your lofty perch, you observe your King's plan unfolding before you. With a strong leader, the Skavakian army could not be stopped. But cut off the head, and the body dies. In the citadel below, you see tiny specks rushing back and forth, the cries of men and the clash of steel on steel floating up on the breeze. In it's death-throes, a beast can be at it's most dangerous. But if you stand far enough away, you can watch it beat itself into nothingness.
- x -
You leave Rockreach with ease, the Skav soldiers too pre-occupied with their own battles to notice you. As you travel back through the country, you see the evidence that your countrymen also prevailed in their attempts to ward off the Skavs. The city of Herran lies in ruin as you pass through – the Skavs there must have also lost sight of the real enemy once a power vacuum had emerged. The soldiers of your nation are rounding up the last sorry-looking foes – you greet them with the victory salute, letting them know your sworn allegiance to the King.
- x -
As you enter Crownsledge, no-one celebrates your arrival. You left a stranger, you return a stranger. Laughter echoes throughout the lanes and streets of the royal city – news of the victory has travelled quickly.
Although you long to see your son, you head to the palace gate first. The gates open as you approach – the King must have been watching for your arrival. Tired and weary, but eager to tell your tale, you enter the King's chamber, embracing your master with warmth and triumph.
Once you have feasted and related your story, the King releases you from his presence. You lay the 'King's Dagger' down before him, your quest complete. As you leave the palace gate, you see a small figure standing with his ward outside the illustrious arches of stone.
You run into each other's arms.
This time, you allow yourself to shed tears, grasping tightly onto the boy whilst Sister Terray watches, beaming.
“I have returned – but I bring you no grief, only the fire of the sun and the joy of my life,” you say, finishing the passage of the Old Text you quoted to your son days ago.
Your mission is fulfilled.
Although your name will never be written in the Annals of the Nation, as is the custom of your people, you will forever be remembered as a faceless hero who rose up when evil made it necessary.
You are the King Slayer.
And you have finished your quest.