I woke up late, as usual.
My mother used to berate me about it, telling me that the animals would be gone by the time I went hunting. I told her she was crazy, animals were everywhere in the forest. It didn’t matter what time you got up, I could always get enough food for both of us.
I was wrong though. Food became scarce.
He usurped the throne, took over the kingdom and taxed the people. He and his knights hunted for sport, slaughtering animals left and right until their population dwindled considerably, leaving almost nothing for the rest of us. He killed her.
I walked out of my tiny wooden hut, sword sheathed by my hip. I headed south, stepping lightly to avoid making noise.
I found a pig soon enough and ran through it with my blade. It didn’t make a noise, for which I was grateful. I didn’t need anyone knowing where I was or where I hunted. Especially because where I hunted was technically illegal.
I was preparing to take the carcass home when I heard someone coming towards me. The footsteps were uneven, as if the person was limping. I quickly dragged the animal behind a nearby boulder, covering it with my cloak.
Careful not to make any noise, I stepped away from the tree and unsheathed my sword. The footsteps were growing louder and I braced myself for what was coming.
A man in a ruby red cloak hobbled out of the trees, followed by two snarling wolves. He was panting heavily as he dragged a sharp, bloodied sword and I briefly wondered why he wasn’t using it.
They paid no attention to me. In fact, I think they hadn’t even noticed me. The man stood facing the wolves with his sword still to the ground. I watched silently as the larger of the two wolves growled and prepared to pounce. Without thinking, I ran forward and sliced the wolf’s head cleanly.
This seemed to wake up the hooded man from his trance and he launched himself to take care of the other wolf. He lowered his sword slowly and tried to stand up straight.
I kept silent, not wanting to startle the man. Although this might have been a late sentiment as I was pretty sure he already saw me murder a wolf.
He turned to me with his sword pointing to the ground. “Thank you,” he rasped as he drew his hood back.
All I saw was the cold blue eyes I’d hated for so long. “You.”
He raised his eyebrow. “The correct answer is you’re welcome, your majesty.”
“You’re not my king,” I spat bitterly. “You’re no king.”
He smirked. “But I am. I’m the Mad King.”