In the Victor’s Footsteps
Nallog the Third strode into the cavernous entrance of Saerons Hall. The walls and ceiling were covered in too many paintings to count, but Nallog did not look at them.
His armor – which had gleamed in the morning sun – was now dulled with the blood of countless men. In his right hand he held Rienol, the sword his father had taken thirty years earlier from the dead hand of Raite the Sixth, the former ruler of the Southern Continent. It had served father and son well for many years, but today the tip had broken off around noon. He continued to use it because the battle was so fierce that he could not send for another. He would not use the inferior swords used by the Tirseari, neither would he take a sword from one of his men.
In his left hand he held a severed head still dripping blood. He raised it by the hair until he was looking into the dead eyes. “Come Tember, take me on a tour of your palace.” Laughing at his joke, Nallog walked into the hall, leaving bloody footprints in his wake.
An hour later he sat on a balcony overlooking the Great Ocean with his feet propped up on the railing. In the distance he could see his navy celebrating. “Did you come here often?” he asked Tember’s head, resting on a small stool beside him. “Probably not lately, didn’t want to be depressed at the sight of my navy.” Chuckling, Nallog pulled a bottle of wine from a case he had found in a cellar and drank half of it in a toast to his ships at sea. The first three bottles from the case he had poured over himself in an attempt to wash off some of the blood. It had only partially succeeded.
Nallog held the bottle to Tember’s lips, “Care for a drink?”
“Enjoying your company?”
Nallog dropped the bottle, which did not shatter but rolled away leaving a trail of wine, and glared at his son. “I wished not to be disturbed.”
The Prince smiled. “I dislike your presence as much as you dislike mine, but your soldiers are running rampant.”
“My soldiers have fought for decades, so you can read all your books and never have to lift a sword.” Realizing he should have been holding a sword as he said that, Nallog picked his off the floor and pointed the broken tip at his son.
The Prince slowly advanced. “What books will be left if your soldiers burn them all?”
Dropping his sword and grabbing another bottle, Nallog answered, “You can always write more.”
“But we need the books that exist now in order to continue.”
“Continue?” Nallog stood and shouted, “My grandfather, father, and I have conquered the world! What else is there to continue to?”
In reply, the Prince raised his eyes to the stars just beginning to show in the twilight.
This story began with the image of a guy walking through a castle with a severed head. I wrote it out figuring it could be the intro to something else. I ended up thinking of that something else, but it turned into this huge project of twenty some novels, which I’ll never get around to writing. But I did have a short little story I posted on a site that’s more or less defunct. So I decided to repost it here.