Tale of a King

Tale of a King - student project

The man was thrown through the gates, his armour rattling from the impact. Behind him, the massive stone doors closed instantly.

He was already on his feet, frantically searching for his sword. 

"No! No! Open the door!" he commanded, slamming his mailed fist into the gate. "Open it! They need me! Open the bloody door!" 

Panicked, he glanced around, and rushed to the gates on the opposite side of the chamber.

"Open the doors! I can't stay here! They need me! Please!" "Open!"

One last slam, landed with all his strength. The gates didn't budge.

"Fine. I'll find a way out. Whoever's on that side, you've just made an enemy."

As he turned around, he was shocked to see a young boy staring at him. 'Was he here before?'

"How do I get out?" the man asked.

The boy seemed surprised by the question. "You don't."

"What do you mean, you don't?!" the knight erupted as he hastily touched the walls in search of a passage. Or anything.

"You can't. There is no way out. I've been here longer than you."

"Where are we?" the knight asked, keeping his attention on the wall.

"I don't know how to call it. But I died, and I think you did too."

The man wouldn't listen. His hands were working, searching everywhere. 'I need something. Anything. God of Light, I beg you.'

The boy went quiet.

He looked everywhere, touched everywhere. He even searched the boy. Then again. And again... The knight's movements became weaker and weaker. Until they stopped. He stopped...

"It can't end like this. No...No..." he fell to his knees, his eyes misty with tears. "Not now. Not after everything we've accomplished. My people..."

He couldn't hold it anymore.

The room was lit, yet there was no source of light. Massive stone walls, a stone floor, no ceiling, only darkness. The two gates, impenetrable, immovable, cold. In the middle, on stone, two withered stumps. And between them, a still fire pit.

One leg first, then the other, the man got on his feet and took the free stump. "I am dead." he began, staring at the boy in front of him. A blind rage was building up in his eyes. "I died. Protecting MY people!" he shouted. "Fighting for what I believed in!" He stood up.  "And I don't even know HOW I died!"  With every word he said, his voice was rising higher and higher in anger. "How did YOU die?!" he raged, poking the boy in the shoulder.  "What did YOU do?! To be in here! With ME!"

All this time, the boy remained unfazed, looking at the furious man as if nothing was happening.

Finished, the knight collapsed on the stump. "It doesn't even matter. I'm sorry." he apologised. "I'll need a while to process."

He sank, lowering his gaze onto the fire pit. The few coals on its bottom were as lifeless and dark as the void that rose above them.

"You have all the time in the world." the boy joked.

"Shut up, kid." the knight ordered gently. "Funny..." he smiled. 

"It may take a while before the second gate opens." the boy observed.

"A while?"

"Yes. You see, the gate you came from leads to the land of the living. The other one..."

"To the land of the dead." The knight's voice was emotionless, as if nothing could touch him anymore.

"Don't you want to know what's on the other side?" the boy asked.

But the man's gaze didn't shift from the cold coals. "I really don't." Then, he looked at the boy for the first time since his outburst. "How do you pass the time in here?"

"I tried to light the fire, but to no avail." he answered, pointing out the still fire pit. "I needed another person. One with a story."

"What?" the man asked, his brows furrowed.

"The fire will only light if you tell a story. A real one. I've run out of mine. And it's getting cold." As if to emphasise, the boy wrapped his arms around himself and tightly grasped his shoulders.

"So what? We're already dead." the knight remarked, though he could indeed fell the cold in his bones. Making himself more comfortable, he began. "Very well, then. My name is Arthur, though I've never liked that name. I've always gone by the nickname my mother gave me, Alden."

"What does it mean?" the boy asked with naivety in his voice.

"I don't remember, sadly..." His tone was dull, with just a hint of sadness.

"You must have cared a lot about her."

The boy's words seemed to trouble the young knight. "I did. Till the very end. Now please don't interrupt m-"

"Look! The fire." the boy shouted, his face lit in enthusiasm. "It burns."

Indeed, a shy flame was dancing from somewhere beneath the coals.

"What happens if I run out of stories, too?" Alden asked.

"I don't know..." the boy said, calm.

Alden continued. "I guess it all started with it. We called it: the Frost."


-----Author's Notes-----

Any feedback is welcome.

If you see any grammar mistakes or words used incorrectly, I mean it, do tell me.