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Robert P. Anderson

Short Stories
- Once, King.
- Eight

- Sestina Of Night

Once, King. (34 ratings)
         by Robert Anderson
Page 1 of 4

The King of Elves dies in bed, and the world mourns.

He is the oldest of all Elves, with eyes that look into my soul and seem to read it like a book, and a face that is so aged that it has transcended age. His voice is the voice of a falling leave, and the light summer winds. He coughs, weakly.

"My liege, what may I do for you?"

He smiles at me with frail lips. "My child, so far removed from my body, yet so close to my soul. There is little more thou can do for me. I live, for now, and thou cannot change my imminent death." A single tear rolls down his bronze face.

"My liege, I learned that on their death beds, many elders wish to bare their souls and deeds for the world, to purge themselves of guilt and mortal ties. Perhaps I could serve in this regard."

He looks up at me, puzzled. "Thou may, child. But the deeds of one such as me are not readily understandable by those such as thee. Thou are sure that thou wish to hear?"

"My liege, I am willing."

"Child, I remember thy parents. Brave Elves they were, and loyal in all they did. Thy father, a captain in my army until thou were born, fought besides my great grandchildren in many campaigns. Thy mother, a noble women of impeccable birth and raising, supported me and my throne in all that I so chose. For that I valued them, and gave them a manse in which to raise thou, safe from war and politicking.

"But when war with the Orcish people raged once more, my borders could not withstand their wrath, and so they fell upon my lands and estates, including thine parents'.

"In a bloody battle, thy father and mother were slain, and so thou were stolen from us. Remembering thy parents' deeds to my and my kin, I sent warriors to bring thou back, and they did succeed. And so thou sit today, waiting on me, listening to my last words before death."

I have heard this story many times before, from many different Elves. It was how I was raised in the King's own household, and given a higher place in his heart than his own descendants garnered, a position that they had always hated me for. I remain silent, though, as he begins to speak again.

"But thou knows this story well. I shall tell of the beginning of my reign.

"Five thousand years ago, too much time for anyone, including me, to comprehend, my father's line was slain in battle against the Dreadlords of Karthas. Thirty generations of Elves fell beneath the dark blades of the new race of man, in a bloody fury unrivaled by any before or since.

"The Dreadlords had come from the east, too fast for our armies to mobilize, too fast for the scouts to warn us. They ripped two thousand years of peace in the world to shreds, and scattered those shreds among the bodies of my kin. We fought bravely, but still they came, and the Royal Line was all but destroyed. I was, and still am, the only Elf of pure Royal blood left, all the others buried in shallow graves, or left to the dogs.

"And so I took up the Crown, and the Blade of the Stars. I rallied the Elves to my banner when I was little more than a child of twenty, and drove the invaders out of our lands in a clash of steel and fire."

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Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001 Robert Anderson, All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author. The author has submitted the work in accordance with and in agreement with the following Submission Guidelines.

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