|Series||Fable: The Return by Scorponix|
|← Chapter 31||Chapter Chronology||Chapter 33 →|
The quest to the North may have finally made it through the Ice Pack
Screaming. Screaming and the sounds of fire, the sounds of water. The screaming is then drowned by the wind, the fire replaced by shouting, and the water replaced by the crunch of snow under boots. The king awakens, for the first time in two days he is able to move his fingers.
"Where are we?" It is warm where he is, a blanket covers his freezing body. He has yet to open his eyes, yet to see the bed where he lies.
A warm, calming voice responds to him. The voice is very aged, but has an overwhelming sense of wisdom behind it. "You are in the presence of safety, Hero."
"I…I know that voice. Who are you?"
"I am not hiding my identity. Open your eyes, and you may yet see to whom the voice belongs. Now…see."
A wave of strength and calm overcomes him, his eyes ease open after a long sleep. Before him is a pale, thin man. Long white hair covers his head and hangs from his chin for several feet. He has a long face with striking blue eyes, the eyes stare into the king's soul with calmness, but it carries a hint of malice.
"I must say I do not recognize your face."
"Ah, yes." The old man responds. "Age has not served me its finest platter. But then…neither has death."
"Death?!" The king sits up quickly from his position in the warm bed. Around him is a hut decorated with colors of reds and purples. Several pelts hang from the walls, a fire burns in a pit in the center of the room. The old man sits on a white-wood chair. From outside, he can hear the howl of snowy winds still laying on a barrage against the North.
"Oh, do not worry. You are not dead, Hero…not yet at least. Yes, I am a very old man now. I believe you are quite old as well, but unlike me you have found a way to turn back the clock. So, how did you do it?"
"Do what? Become youthful once more?"
"Of course, but before you say anything, allow me to guess. The decrepit hag did it for you."
"That's the name, the name that got me killed. She's a poisoner of lives my heroic friend. She's using you, just like she has used everyone else before you."
"What do you mean? I don't even know who you are!"
"Don't you worry about that, my name is of no importance."
"Were you not the one that said that you were not hiding your identity?"
"Ah, but my name is not my identity. My name is only a title by which the masses would know as hatred. My identity is who I am, it is my life, my story."
"So what is your story?"
"My story is only told by one word, tragedy. For tragedy is all that transpired through my life, tragedy the way it is defined. For my life started in happiness and in content, I rose into power, and then bit by bit it was all ripped away from me. I was a king among men, and it came crashing down…and I had to die before I could realize that it wasn't all by chance. Hero, you think you can live your life for all of the good reasons…but as a king it is the opposite. See, when you try to help yourself in order to help the world, you make the world hate you. It is not a mild dislike to your actions that the people obtain, it is a burning fire of hatred that grows with every breath you take into your body, as if the air you take and give back to the world is black and full of disease. When you hurt the world enough with the air you breath, someone will eventually rise in order to bring you to a strange concept known as justice. You build yourself up to the top of the world, finally about to achieve your final goal…and then it ends with a bullet to the head and a long fall into the harsh water."
"That was a long version of the word, tragedy…Lucien."
"There's a good boy. I wondered how many hints, subtle or not, I would have to give before you remembered me. What did your father tell you about me, that I was an evil sod who meant to bring about the destruction of the world?"
"He and Theresa both."
"All I wanted was my life back, more specifically my dear wife and daughter. Sadly, they passed many years ago, and that's what drove me into my…insanity as the people said. I was a very sad man, until a blind woman in red came to soothe my pains with words of magic and Heroes. She showed me the possibilities of the world around me…just lying beneath the dirt. That's when she told me of the Spire…that's when I really went down a darker path. I murdered an innocent child…and tried to murder another. I wouldn't have died if I had succeeded. And I would have succeeded if it were not for the hag, Theresa. Yes, after all the talk of giving me a way to reunite me with my family…she turned her back on me and decided to end my life instead. She used me, Hero. Just like she's using you now."
"Do you know what I did, Lucien?"
"Allow me to guess once more, you have dug too deep into the world of days long past and caused some form of evil to spread its malevolence over the whole of Albion?"
"You're good at this."
"I've lived a long time, Hero."
The king ponders a while. "You died, and you fell from the top of the Spire. How is it that you are here before me now?"
"When the bullet passed through my head at the top of the wretched thing…I had just been relieved of immense heroic power…power that I had never felt before. Your father took my only hope away with the blasted music box, I was weakened. But…some power must have remained coursing through my veins.I felt the bullet enter my brain…I felt the cold sensation of its metal and the pain of its entry. Still…I felt myself fall from the platform and I could hear the wind passing by my ears on my descent. I didn't think that the smack against the waters would hurt more than the bullet in my skull, but it did. What a normal man would feel for the last moment of his life, I felt for what seemed like an eternity. I was doomed to feel the incredible pain of death without it even killing me. I felt skin and muscle rip from my body and my bones crumble into dust from the impact…but it did not happen. My body was unchanged by the pain…but the pain remained. Once the power in my body finally left me…I fell into slumber. Possibly as Theresa's final act against the joy in my life…she had the waves carry my lifeless body to the cold shores of the North."
"So…I have finally made it to the Northern Wastes."
"Indeed you have…but why you have journeyed so far, and to this accursed place is beyond my vast knowledge."
"I seek to destroy the darkness that I alone have unleashed upon the world."
"What sort of power lies up here? I assume the witch sent you up here, perhaps she did not tell you the Oracle slipped into its slumber once the Hero of Oakvale disappeared. There isn't much left up here besides an old golden gate and a city of ghosts."
"I do not think I can trust you with the knowledge of what I seek."
"After all I have said to you, do you still assume I am an evil tyrant looking to find his way back into the throne of Albion?"
"Maybe I should tell you who actually murdered my entire family…again for the purpose of some future vendetta."
"There is no need…You will poison my ears no longer."
"Poison?! You think I dragged you out of the snow so that I could wake you up and turn you from your oh-so righteous path?!" Lucien stands in fury, his face shaking and turning red. "I know what you have come here for, Hero. And hear me when I tell you…your path will only lead to your doom, no matter what you choose. We all die, Hero. The one thing that is uncertain is how. But what is certain, Hero, is that your death will be the beginning."
"The beginning of what?"
Lucien laughs as he holds up the Queen's mask. He must have taken it from the king's pockets. "I found this while rummaging through your worldly possessions…funny." He chuckles to himself, "I have one just like it."