The Death of Thorn
Screams filled the air. Fire lit the crimson twilight sky. A tall lean man on a horse watched as a village before him burned, its inhabitants slaughtered by his men. King Thorn smiled as the smell of burning flesh filled his nostrils. His personal steward and body guards around him covered their noses, attempting to keep the smell out.
“Your majesty.” A soldier said as he walked up to the smiling king, bowing as he halted.
“Report.” Thorn said, never turning his gaze from the last of the villagers as they were killed and skinned.
“The insurgents were discovered and dealt with first. As your orders, we’ve captured everyone in the village. A single kid is unaccounted for, however.” The soldier said, nervousness ran through his voice in the last sentence.
“Is the kid related to any insurgent?” The king asked.
“Then hunt him down later. What’s the progress of the ‘art?’?” Thorn finally turned his gaze to the soldier, who began to take a step back but stopped halfway.
“There were only ten left as I came to report. They should all be dead by now.” The soldier paused, listening for the screams that have silenced. “As you wanted, we’ve skinned them and… positioned their corpses in various postures in the doorways.”
“We’ve made sure they’re in humorous positions.”
“Good. Take the skin and feed it to the tengu. Those savages will eat anything you toss them.”
“Is that really necessary, mi’lord?” The king’s steward asked. Thorn quickly twisted his head towards the questioning man, making him and his horse retreat a little. “What I mean is that if you provoke the tengu, they will attack more ferociously. The insurgents deserve a worse outcome to their bodies, but the fewer problems, the better.”
“Feed their skin to the tengu.” The king said to the soldier as he turned his horse around. His escort followed him as he rode back to Lion’s Arch.
The castle of Lion’s Arch loomed in the light of the night as Thorn and his guard arrived in the capital of Kryta. Few were out at the time and fewer candles were lit. Thorn merely grunted in the remembrance that he too needed to sleep.
On his way to his bedroom, Thorn passed by his herald who was scribbling down something on a parchment. “Bruce! What are you doing so late?”
Startled, the timid herald immediately turned and bowed to the king. “N-nothing mi’lord. Just some reminders for tomorrow.”
“Hmmm, if you say so. Get sleep, little man.”
Thorn watched Bruce as he grabbed the parchment, ink, and quill and scampered off, occasionally turning his gaze back to the king. Thorn returned to his bedroom and fell asleep, his armor from the day’s ride still on.
The next morning came with a jolt to Thorn’s awakening. “BRUCE!” Thorn shouted as he dashed out of his room and down the hall. “Bruce! Where are you?!”
Thorn ran around the halls, shouting for his herald, for several minutes until the timid man appeared behind Thorn as he passed by. “What is it King Thorn?”
“What day is it?”
“Today is the 45th of the Season of the Scion. Why do you ask?” The timid man said, towered by the tall king.
“But what day is it?” Thorn said, grabbing his herald’s shoulders.
“Pardon? It’s the 45th of the Scion, nothing more.”
“Exactly!” Thorn said, shaking the timid man.
“I’m afraid I don’t follow, my king.”
“Almost every day is nothing special, with only a couple days in the entire year! Today is the ides of the Scion! Why shouldn’t we celebrate today? Let’s make a celebration today and every year from here on!” The king began to shout, facing the ceiling. “We can, no will
have the perfect autumn festival, designed for… Me!”
“My king, don’t you think it is a bit… drastic?”
“Drastic? I’m the king! The people love me, and I love me, so why shouldn’t we celebrate our love for me?” The king glared down the herald, making the already timid man shake.
“But, my king… If people love you then why are your people rebelling? Why do you have to ride out almost every day in order to quell revolts?” Bruce said, regretting it immediately.
King Thorn stared at the herald silently for what felt like several minutes, and then turned away. Without warning, the king swung around, grabbed Bruce by the collar, and hurled him through a nearby window. The screams from the herald filled the king with joy.
A woman’s scream came through the window as Thorn searched for Bruce’s body, seeing it pierced by a flag pole. Bruce weakly lifted his arm towards the king before dropping it as his blood dripped onto the street below.
Metal clattered as guards ran through the hallway rushed to the source of the shattered glass. Upon seeing their king, they halted and saluted as they caught their breath.
“My king,” one of the guards said, “what happened? Are you alright?”
“Bruce fell, poor fellow.” The king said.
The guards looked at the window, which was raised four feet from the floor. They realized quickly that the king threw the herald through.
“I have a message to the people.” Thorn said, regaining the attention of the guards. “I want today to be a new festival! Every year, this day, we shall decorate all of Lion’s Arch with an autumn feel to it! Leaves, pumpkins, whatever the people can think of! And not just that, make it spooky at night! Let this day of every year be the year of fright and a sign of autumn!”
The guards stood there, baffled, until Thorn grabbed a nearby candle holder mounted on the wall. The guards immediately saluted and retreated from the king’s presence. What began to feel like hours passed as Thorn watched a carrion fly to Bruce’s corpse and peck at the eyes. Intrigued, Thorn rested his head on his arm as he saw Bruce’s eyes pulled out of their sockets.
“King Thorn, your message as been sent to the public.” A guard said behind Thorn, startling the king. The guard moved backwards in fear. Moments of silence passed before the guard spoke again. “There’s also a report of Hakewood housing rebels.”
“So close? Do my people not love me anymore? I give and give for them, yet they take and take and want more! So be it, they want, and I shall give. Death shall be given to all who rebel – as always. Darelum, get my guard. I’m tired of these revolts. I want my personal guard to handle this one.”
“Shall I send word to cancel tonight’s feast?” Darelum asked.
“No, I had to cancel yesterday’s feast with my noblemen, today won’t be a far ride. I’ll be back before they know it!”
“Yes sir.” Darelum said as he saluted the king then rushed out.
Thorn looked out the window once more at the partially devoured corpse, and then made to the royal stables. A skinny young man stood still with a broom in hand as the king passed him by. Thorn stopped at the first empty stall. “Stable boy, why does this stall have an extra lock?”
The young man stared at the king for a few minutes before finally answering. “Because it is empty, my king.”
“Empty? What are you talking about! My favorite horse is in here.” Thorn said, reaching in and petting the air. “Isn’t that right? Oh, you’re such a good animal. Don’t worry, that stable boy won’t keep you locked up for long. I’ll make sure of it.” Thorn turned to face the stable boy as he finished talking, continuing to pet the air.
“Your Majesty… There’s nothing there. The horse that was kept there died twenty-some days ago.”
“Nonsense! My beloved horse is right here in front of me! Can you not see it? Well, obviously you can’t, can you. Don’t worry my invisible horse. Your little king Thorn will make sure you’re not forgotten. Unfortunately because someone
locked you up extra tightly, I can’t take you to Hakewood. I’m so sorry; you can join me next time, okay?” Thorn said, nuzzling the air with his hands and cheek as if there was a horse in his grip.
Thorn sighed and walked to the next stall that held a large horse that breathed into Thorn’s face as the king advanced. Instantly, Thorn tossed a saddle on the horse, let it out of the stall, and rode out of the stable towards Hakewood. Before leaving Lion’s Arch, his guard had caught up to the king, surrounding him.
“My king, I’m sorry, but we cannot let you leave.” The leader of the guards said. “Please return to the castle. I’ve sent soldiers to Hakewood in your stead.”
“No, Vulgamor! I will not! If I do not go, this will continue! I will have my people love me! Love me or die!”
“My liege, I am sorry, but I cannot permit that.” With a brief wave of his hand, half of the guards got off of their horses and enclosed the king.
“I will go!” The king shouted at the top of his voice. The guards knocked Thorn off of his horse and tried to pin him onto the ground. With more strength than the average man, he knocked guard after guard onto the ground and tried to get back onto the ground.
One of guard pulled out a knife and lunged toward the king.
“No! Do not harm the king!” Vulgamor shouted as the king fell to his knees. “Why? Why did you do that?!”
“Vulgamor, you remain loyal to the king even after what he’s done?” The guard who stabbed King Thorn said. “Starved us, made us poor, and killed on whims? We do not follow those loyal to this abomination.”
“We will execute him in front of everyone, to show him in his final moments that he was loved by none. None but those insane like him… Like you and his court. And you will join him, ‘leader.’” Another guard said as the group now enclosed their former leader, ignoring the unconscious king.
“Ugh…” Thorn awoke with a sharp pain in his back. Rough stone attempted to scrape his cheek as he tried to get up. Intense pains shot through his arms as he placed his palms on the ground and his back tensed up with pain. Thorn couldn’t help but scream in agony as he plopped back onto his chest. His eyes shot wide open, seeing the people – his people – stare at him emotionlessly as he struggled in pain. The night sky was lit with an eerie orange glow.
The king tried to call out to them, but nothing came out. A bloody knife was tossed to him as he reached out to his people, begging for help, only to see a bloody stump at the end of his arm. Confused, he began to push himself up again. A heavy force came down on his back, cracking his elbows as they slipped on the ground.
Thorn turned to find the source of the pressure, to see a large ax come down before everything went black.
"My people!" A tall, lean man with a crown on his head stood atop a balcony. "Soon, at midnight tonight, the first anniversary of my father's death shall be upon us. We all shall celebrate our freedom from the insanity of his finale days, but I ask that you also mourn him. Mourn the great man that we lost to his insanity. He was a noble man in his youth and if it were not for my mother's gruesome death that he bore witness to, I am sure he would be as great of a king as he ever was. Remember not the tyrant, but the man who ended the strife with Elona, the man who brought peace with the tengu of this land for a time, and the man who suffered more than any being should."
"What a kind speech, my son." A deep cracking voice said behind the new king. The too-tall-to-be-human being, appearing out of no where, laughed as the pumpkin head tottered back and forth. The sky brightened with a dark orange glow as the clouds transformed and the moon cracked open with a sinister smile.
"Why King Thorn, you have a pumpkin on your head!"