Once upon a time, there was a young but powerful king who sought to take over all the kingdoms around his own. He was bloodthirsty but fair and while people respected him, they also feared him.
He was successful in taking over most of the kingdoms except for one. This kingdom was ruled by an old crone, rumored to be a cunning, vengeful witch. The king would never admit it but he feared this woman. He delayed his attack on this particular kingdom, telling himself that he didn’t need another kingdom as he had amassed enough.
On the king’s 28th birthday, he grew restless and his desire for power overtook his fear. He decided to attack the crone’s kingdom at night, with five of his most loyal knights with him.
They invaded the enormous castle, slashing and hacking their way through the crone’s guards. The king reached the throne room alone where he found the crone waiting for him.
“Ah, so you’ve finally found the courage to face me,” she sneered. She sat regally on her throne wearing a cracked golden crown but the king could see that she was old and growing weaker by the minute.
“It seems like I did not need it,” he remarked, lowering his sword. “You are weaker than I expected you to be.”
“I don’t need to be any stronger,” she replied easily. “Are you going to kill me, then?”
The king hesitated, put off by the way the crone spoke to him. She seemed confident, knowingly facing her imminent death. “If I have to.”
She laughed, a harsh sound that made the king uneasy. “Oh but you have to, king,” she cackled. “But a fair warning to you, I have enacted a curse from the moment I saw you coming.”
The king took a step forward, raising his eyebrows. “A curse? How very predictable of you,” he jeered. “Tell me about this curse.”
She smiled, eyeing the king carefully before answering. “On your 35th birthday, you will lose your kingdom and your loyal knights. You will lose everything and you will die alone. Unless…”
The king took another step forward, stopping right in front of the throne. “Unless what?”
She smiled again, baring her yellow teeth as she looked up at the king standing over her. “Unless you find someone who will love you for exactly who you are.”
It was the king’s turn to laugh. “This is not much of a curse, crone. I’m a good, fair king,” he chuckled. “Everyone loves me.”
The crone kept smiling and it was starting to irritate the king. “Do they love you or fear you?” she asked.
The king stayed silent, growing angrier with each passing second.
“You will lose everything,” she declared. “And in the end, I will win.”
The king seethed with outrage. He raised his sword and held it at the crone’s throat. “Someone will love me,” he hissed venomously.
“They will fear you and you will die alone with nothing,” she responded quickly. “There is a reason you are known as the–”
With an almighty scream, the king stabbed the crone and she disappeared in a cloud of smoke, leaving nothing but her broken crown.
Breathing heavily, the king slowly lowered his sword. He took the broken crown and placed it on his head, sat on the throne and waited for his loyal knights to enter. But for now, he enjoyed the silence.
The mad king was alone again.