Long Live the King

The King’s breaths came in shallow, desperate pants. His hair, once the rival of any lion’s mane, was now thin and wispy. The eyes which had stared down tyrants and dragons now searched blindly through his own darkness. His hand, withered and useless for war, reached forward. A young knight took it, and kneeling at the bedside, kissed his father’s ring.

“We’re going our own ways, now,” croaked the monarch. The prince said nothing, though his lips were moving steadily in prayer. “I can’t see you; speak.”

“Yes father,” said the knight. “I’m here.”

The king spoke no more but to say, “Good,” and said it so softly I know not if I heard it. He lay back then, the prince clutching his father’s hand, and sighed one last, long sigh. That was how the king died. I had seen the man spur his horse and roust a charging giant. I had seen him once swim across a raging river in full armor only to be near the lady he made his queen. I had seen darkness too. I was there when he passed his judgement on Ralph the traitor, and for the love of my king, not everything I know will I say of that time. Like all men, though, he died; he is interred in stone.

“The king is dead,” I pronounced, “long live the king.”

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