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The King's Dog
By Elizebeth Camali
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Old men regret and Dogs kill when provoked.
Warning: This story has not be edited. Read at your own risk!
There was once a time when he had a mother and father who cared for him.
There was once a time when he had faithful friends who stood up for him.
There was once a time he had been trained to uphold his honor.
There was once a time he knew about the need for civility.
There was once a time he had a place to call home.
There was once a time he had just been a child.
There was once a time he had innocence.
There was once a time he was kind.
There was once a time he was free.
There was once a time he loved.
But that was a long time ago.
He was so verily and extremely tired.
As the putrid moon devoured the plum night sky, he trended through the blood-drenched meadows. The newly decaying stench of dead bodies massaged his nasal hairs and his gigantic steel sword was painted crimson with its latest blood-drinking.
He so verily and extremely wanted to rest.
But his mission was not yet finished.
The meadow was empty of all breathing creatures. The corpses littered the valley like thorns on a rose bush. As he walked thorough this scene of death, he felt the familiar void of absolute nothingness. He could feel neither disgust nor pity. Neither could he feel sadness or regret. After all, he was the one who had massacred them.
His master had ordered him to destroy this newest rebellion. He had obeyed. If his master desired it, he fulfilled it. The King was his master and he was the pet. Good pets always listen to their master’s voice.
Sleep. He wanted to sleep.
The newest leader of rebellion had still not been found among the bodies. And it was that man that was the biggest threat he had to face. Once a high-ranked commander in the King’s Army, Du’nik Mal had been the least of all men suspected to betray the king.
Commander Du’nik Mal had been a highly regarded member of the Royal Court since his infancy and he had been a common face among the King’s inner circle for years. Only three others had such rights and privileges in this decayed world and to have the favor of the King was a position that was truly envied. Never before had such a wondrously bold treachery been enacted. It was unheard of. It was un-thought of. It was simply impossible. Yet truth was strange - Commander Du’nik Mal has betrayed the King and rallied the people in rebellion and the King had no affection.
The order – Search, Destroy, and Executed, dog.
The purple screen of sky was dyed a darker shade of woe. The closeness of midnight’s hour slithered nearer and nearer. And he felt strangely fatigue once again.
Du’nik Mal hazily laughed.
He had failed.
The great rebellion he had nurtured for seven years was in ruins. His men and their families had been massacred. Guilt drowned his heart. He had a broken ankle and two still-bleeding wounds on his right side. He was dizzy and thirsty. He had a headache and what made it all so amusing was that the Demon King’s most deadly assassin was sniffing for his blood.
Failure had never been so titanic.
Oh, what he wouldn’t give for a barrel of hot yinwa at this moment! The moon had never been as deathly and since it would be his last night in this love forsaken world, he wanted some small miserly sense of pleasure before he was forced to yield up his life.
Ah, no matter.
He laid himself on the mouth of a tiny cave to rest for a moment. The assassin dog was coming and while there was no point in fighting the surety of his death, he would face that man standing and spit in his face.
Disappointed flooded him. Du’nik, like all old men, was filled with regrets of the past. He had wasted his life on foolish aspirations of power, wealth, and fame. He had sold his soul for it and had gotten what he wanted. In his prime, the King depended on him, his fame had been universal, and the riches were unfathomable. He had everything he could possibly ever need. He had everything he could ever want.
And like the old fool he surely was he threw that all away. Two chance meetings and his life changed forever - just because he suddenly acquired the feeling of remorse.
Surely this was pathetic justice? The dog that he trained in his evil would be the one that would murder him in his good.
Bah! Let the King’s Murder Dog come.
Two meetings. If he had never had those two meetings, he would not be in some dark, dripping cave but be in a warm bed, with a warm woman, in a cold life. Still, if there were moments in his life he would not wish to change, it ironically was those two meetings. Those two damn meetings. The memory of the first meeting was fresh in his mind now.
It had been when he was still in his youth. As a stupidly young and newly famous general he was out on the field. A rebellion had started and he had been ordered to end it. It was pityingly easy to accomplish.
Du’nik Mal had surrounded the group of rebels in their home village and he had demanded that they give up their leader as a sign for their surrender. To his utmost surprised - they actually obeyed him. (He was use to rebellious group’s refusing.)
The Leader was an old spotted man. He was ancient even back then. Large foggy eyes, colorless hair, smote skin, and ill-fitted clothing was all that could described the man’s appearance, but his presence was anything but plain.
As a young ruffian of a commander, Du’nik felt a sense of power over this old man. Cocky as an eagle, he dismounted his warhorse and encircled the elderly male like a hungry wolf would a rabbit. His dark robes and cape swirling silently around him in the late but warm afternoon breeze.
“Are you the leader of this rebellion?” He had asked, ever so coolly.
“Indeed I am, young man.” The old man smiled softly.
“You do realize that by doing so you have betrayed your King and your Kingdom? The punishment will be a life-time of hard labor for the women and children, torture for the men, and death for you.” Du’nik had continued, slightly irritated by the old man’s calm.
The old leader was silent and then he turned and raised an amused eyebrow to young commander.
Du’nik gnashed his teeth. “Have you gone deaf, old man?”
And to his second surprise in that warm afternoon, the old man smiled. It was completely out of place. Du’nik had nearly taken a surprised stepped back. A sense of wariness had overcome him because of the unusualness of that happy smile and for a moment Du‘nik had wondered if he had fallen into a trap.
“Why do you smile, old man?” The young commander demanded. “What trickery have you thought of?”
“Trickery? I do no trickery against you. Good people do not need to use such tactics to win.” The old man said.
The statement rubbed Du’nik wrong. “I am a good person, old man.”
The old leader shook his head mockingly. “A good person fights for good. You are a servant for evil.”
Du’nik unleashed his sword and pressed the blade to the man’s throat before he realized he had done so. The hiss of the bright silver rang in his ears. He was of the House of Mal. Insults are not received well by the Children of Mal.
“Your tongue speaks against my honor, old fool.” His tongue hissed.
Then the old man gray eyes looked at him, really looked at him, and those disturbing eyes cut him - straight into his flesh and biting at his heart. A rage like no other boiled within him.
The old leader spoke. “Your tongue has given you no honor, you young and stupid fool. But it may not be your fault.” Slowly, the old man pulled his neck closer to Du’nik’s blade and little droplets of his blood gently dripped down the wrinkled throat. In horror, Du’nik quickly removed his sword and back away from the old man completely disturbed.
Unease bounded in Du’nik. Like a master magician, the elderly leader pulled him into a stupor with his words.
“I will tell you a public secret this day, young noble fool. He who you serve is a monster. A demon in human covering. This kingdom is nothing more than a wasteland of death. The common starve and the noble grovel. You are a child of this land of smoke skies and withering fields. This is natural for you, cursed child. This kingdom is home for you.”
The old leader looked at the sky and then looked at the damned faces of his followers. He looked at each face and shook his head. Then he turned to looked back at Du’nik and there was a strange sense of pity in his gray eyes. “Young noble fool, know this, I am not a child of this smoky land. I am a child of a land of blue skies and green trees. I was a child of a land filled with simple beauty. I loved that land and had such carefree dream of cool summers and warm winters. This waste of earth was not what I was born into. This kingdom and land was not what we once had.”
“You make no sense, old fool.” Du’nik said but it was a whisper.
“Young noble child, if only.” The elderly man smiled pityingly. “If only.”
The spell was suddenly broken. With an unknown rage and in a fit of agitation, Du’nik sliced the leader’s wrinkled throat, ordered his men to secure the remaining rebellious fools, and burn down the village. The soldiers did as he commanded.
He had not slept well for seven months afterwards. He had dreams of cool summers and warm winters. How he loathed them.
The night was too silent. Du’nik knew the dog was not too far away.
The memory of the second meeting suddenly rushed to his mind. However, the star in that meeting wasn’t an old man, but a young boy.
Another rebellion had started up again. (It was funny how these rebellions kept popping up.) The leaders of this rebellion had been a wife and a husband. The two were dead but their young son had remained alive. As a trophy from the spoils of battle, the boy was brought to the royal court to be used as entertainment.
Du’nik had neither cared nor pitied the child for his doomed fate and had promptly forgotten his existence for months. However, something strange occurred that would bring the child back to his attention. During a royal gathering, the boy had killed one of the nobles. Du’nik had been trying to woo Lady Sale at the time and stopped at once when he noticed the shocked silence that had descended in the room. No one knew what to do, but everyone had expected the King to be enraged by losing such a valuable, if morally questionable servant. But to their horror, he was not.
The King had laughed. The laughter was frightening in its authenticity. When he had stopped, he called Du’nik forwarded and ordered him to train the boy. Du’nik had been astonished, but he did not refuse. The day following that scarring event, he had his first true meeting with the boy and it was the second meeting he would forever wished to change.
Tear stained eyes was the first thing he had noticed but the boy was as still as stone. It greatly unnerved him. He had never liked crying children. Du’nik stared down at the boy. “Boy! At this moment, I will be instructing you on all the ways of war. You are under my care and my protection. I will train you to be the best because I am the best. You must place all your trust in my hands.”
The boy looked like he was on the verged of crying again. “I killed a man yesterday.”
Du’nik shrugged; he’d never liked that man anyway. He stared at the child.
“Dogs usually kill when provoked.” The threat of tears had immediately stopped and secretly, Du’nik had been glad.
It was funny how he never realized how frightening those careless words would affect this world’s future. The child never cried again and Du’nik had taught him everything he had known. The boy had absorbed the knowledge in a way that made him outwardly proud, but inwardly doubtful. His pride did not allow him to admit he was making a serious mistake.
When the child had turned sixteen, he had learned everything Du’nik could have taught him. He had released the boy into the service of the King and Du’nik soon learned the bitter taste of regret.
It took seven months for the child’s name to be known. It took two years for it to be hated. It took three years for it to be feared.
The King’s Demon Dog was the grown child’s title.
Since then, Du’nik Mal had been haunted by the resurgence of dreams that had cool summers and warm winters.
It was those dreams that had drove him to this rebellion. The stories and tales he had heard. What his eyes had witnessed. What his aging heart remembered. What his soul regretted. All of these little things pushed him into his rebellion. He would establish a kingdom with cool summers and warm winters, if he did not, he would have gone insane because of the unforgettable dreams. But he had failed in the attempted. Failed so horribly to the wrought reflection of all that he hated the most about himself.
Bah! He wanted a pint of yinwa now. He finally understood and laughed.
It did not take long to find the traitorous commander. It is not so hard when the prey was laughing.
When the traitorous commander noticed his presence, the laughing stopped but he kept a smile. He did not understand, but it was provoking. Dogs usually kill when provoked.
“Boy! If I am going to die, then kill me with dignity!” The traitor shouted as he lifted himself up. “Let me see what all have feared!”
He started at the traitorous commander. He was a traitor to the King, but he was still the man who had guided him into this exhausting path. He suddenly felt very weary. So very weary.
He lifted up his sword, but a question still remained on his tired tongue. “Why did you betray your King and this Kingdom?” He asked his voice drained.
The traitorous commander kept his smile. “For cool summers and warm winters.”
The answer did not make sense.
Nonetheless, before the traitor could blink, his head was suddenly reclining on the dirt ground. The mission had finally been completed. He needed to return to his master.
Later that night, he had dreams of cool summers and warm winters.
Site: Elizabeth Camali
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|Reviewed by J Howard
|very captivating story. i must wonder about the cool summers and warm winters and now...will probably dream of them. thank you for this intriguing prose.