Chapter One – As History Books Tell It
King Gareth IX is a figure to behold as he stands in the middle of the arena. He wears a crown forged in the fires of Hell itself. No man, woman and child in the kingdom can walk into the courtroom without seeing a sight so magnificent they would weep.
On the very opposite end of the arena, in the very back, a lone man stands. He can not be more than a man yet he stands ten feet high above the rest of the crowd. His face is unshaven, his hair is long and unkempt and he is wearing the same clothes he was before the match, yet he looks different. His clothes are different from one another, for he is wearing chain mail as opposed to the typical chain mail that goes with a simple tunic and breeches. He may not look much different than the king, but yet the King is so much more fearsome than the man.
The man raises his arm and is immediately bowled back down onto his knees. Though he has barely lifted himself before the King’s feet can touch the arena floor, the man immediately regains his footing. A scowl breaks across his face as he sees that he is now on the receiving end of a blow from the King’s sword. The King’s arm raises, ready to lunge into the man’s chest, but the man suddenly grabs the hilt of the longsword and brings it down hard into the King’s shoulder. The sword falls to the ground, the hilt broken. The man runs at the King, tackling him to the ground and throwing him off the arena into the sea of spectators.
King Gareth’s head collides with the ground, his head cracking across the floor and sending the crowd into a uproar. The King grunts as he picks himself up from the floor. Before he is able to get to his feet, his opponent has him in a headlock. The King throws his hands up and smashes his hands down on the man’s helmet.
“Do you know who you have killed!?” He shouts. “Are you afraid of me!? You will not be able to get away with it!”
“No,” the man grunts, struggling with the man. “No, I am sure. I have never been afraid of you.”
The King raises his head off the floor, staring in the man’s eyes. “Then why are you trying to kill me?”
“Kill you? No, no, you don’t understand.” The man grins from ear to ear. “You are too strong to ever harm me.”
The King chuckles. “I never thought you could be so brave.”
“I have never hesitated in the face of danger!”
“Then why are you here to do battle with me when you could fight with anyone else in this kingdom?”
“I want to be by your side! My time is not finished, my King! I can not go on forever like what began as a simple game to us is happening to the world!”
The old King lets out a sigh. He has seen this man before, a small boy from a village down the road. To him, the boy’s appearance is all the same. This is the same boy who he left to die a few days earlier. It seems that these days the boy can barely crawl into his bed at night. The boy used to speak to the old King of the boy’s travels throughout this kingdom, telling him of the dangers he saw. And yet the King doesn’t even know this boy’s name.
“You are right. You are too strong in this realm to die in combat. In fact, that is your downfall. You will fall into the hands of those who can destroy what I have made. I can’t take your place, and I know that the very moment you leave my realm, I will have no choice in what I do next.”
“You will not take my place, my King! I’ve been by your side for years!”
The King smiles as he sheaths his sword again. “It is time to meet your maker. You have two choices, my boy. One, you may leave this place and never come back.”
The King smiles as darkness creeps over his vision. Soon, he will be free of his kingdom of man.
Chapter two – The True Story
King Gareth IX is a figure to behold as he stands in the middle of the arena. His dark cloak and shining armor contrast starkly with the white backdrop which is his throne chamber, and his headpiece glimmers as the midday sun is just rising over the city. His royal crown rests atop a silver platter as the last of the knights stand ready to go.
I take the stand and take the seat before the King. The King turns to look at me.
“We shall begin. Your Honor, I hereby order my Royal Guard to prepare for the fight.”
He turns to look at the crowd and begins to recite the traditional phrase which they all have heard before: “Fight or flight”. The King turns and looks me in the eyes.
“Ready the sword and shield, Knight 1, for your King will come to challenge.”
“Knight 1, prepare for combat.”
My sword and shield begin to glow as I hold my hands out for the King to see. I can feel his stare bore through my very soul.
My armor begins to heat and form into a red hot ball as I focus all of my will into the blade. With one blow, I can shatter the King’s crown, and with the other I can crush kings bones.
My voice begins to resonate from all around the arena.
“I live a thousand and one years. And I will never stop…”
He closes the book and I walk back to my chair. The crowd begins to cheer wildly. I stand up and raise my right hand.
“… Never stop…”
I open the book and take a seat once more, only this time I raise the crown above my head and bow to the King. My armor shatters and falls to the ground.
The crowd falls silent. I can almost feel the eyes of the King on me as he tries to comprehend a single moment of my glory.
The King stands to the side and clears his throat.