|Series||Fable: The Return by Scorponix|
|← Chapter 3||Chapter Chronology||Chapter 5 →|
The king of Albion descends to the underbelly of the earth for the first time in decades.
If the king had learned anything today, it was that Reaver was just as ruthless as he remembered. He could do nothing to help the man as he fell down the long, dark hole all the way to his doom. He could also do nothing about Reaver: the eccentric man who basically forced a man to crawl into his grave. All he could do was watch in horror as Reaver enforced his right to do as he wished with his workers: the men who were not all that different from slaves to the will of a seemingly immortal master.
"Poor Peter," Reaver started. "He just hasn't been the same since he got old. It was the strangest thing…one day he is young and fit and working well, then the next he comes to the mine an old shell of a man. That's what sending your workers on vacation does to them, I suppose." Reaver smiled as he looks down the hole; the king could tell that Reaver knew exactly what happened to Peter, and he was sure that this "vacation" was not entirely voluntary. "Shall we proceed downward into the dark your majesty?"
The dark… that word passing through Reaver's lips sent a strange chill up the king's spine. He was no longer afraid of any darkness, but there was something about Reaver referencing the darkness that was very unsettling. He stepped up to the gaping hole in the earth and gazed down, taking a long moment of thought and meditation. The shadows went deep; he heard the faint noises of those who were still underground searching for all they could in the cavern. He could hear the howl of air flowing from the underground - a sign that there was more than one way to get into this ancient hall.
"Delightful!" Reaver summoned another miner to bring the ropes. Moments later, the miner returned with several lengths of ropes and delivered them to Reaver, the king, and the guards. "Simply tie the rope around your waist and one of your shoulders and you should be perfect for the descent. Uh, Albert!" A miner popped his head from around a rock. "Give some assistance to the others with easing us down; we want this to be quick."
"Are you sure, sir?" Albert began. "I don't think I should be handling the weight what with my-,"
"No question in the matter!" Reaver said, stopping him short. "Give one of these guards a hand." Albert bowed and grabbed the ropes, ready to do some heavy lifting. The king began his descent just as he noticed the slightly crooked arm of the worried Albert. He hoped that Reaver has used his judgement before trusting this man to care for one of his guards. "Good luck, your majesty; mind your head, for there may be a loose rock or two along the way. Oh! And do watch for beetles. They have caused some problems in the past down these holes."
"Duly noted." With that, a strong-looking miner started to lower the king's rope, and he was soon engulfed in darkness. He could see the hole slowly get farther and farther away as he went lower. Reaver promptly followed on a different rope.
"Ah yes, to be down inside a cave once more - being lowered down a very deep hole and going on a journey to the bottom. We go on this grand - truly grand - adventure to look at a very old hall and a collapsing floor, some pretty paintings, and, of course, some old pieces of paper. This exploration will go down in texts and books as one of your most renowned adventure, your majesty, it surely will."
The king paid Reaver no mind as he felt himself ease lower and lower down the hole. The air around him grew colder; the scent of the air had long changed from the fresh air of the hills to the musky, metallic scent of deep carved stone. He felt relaxed until he heard the loud pop of Reaver's gun firing.
"Just killing some beetle vermin," Reaver clarified. "I sorely apologize for the damage to your ears." The king soon recovered from the loud shot and relaxed once more.
He felt he was almost to the bottom when he heard screams come from the top of the hole. It was Albert crying in agony, "No! I'm not going to give up! No!" He heard a lot of commotion and cracking of armor coming closer and closer. "I lost 'im! Reaver I'm sorry!" Seconds later, one of the king's elite guards came careening down the hole and past the king, rope and all. Screams howled from the guard's mouth, but they were soon silenced by a cold thud onto the ground below. He heard the crack of bones and the light escape of air as the guard's final breath was painfully exhaled.
Reaver's voice echoed from above.
"Oh what ever happened there?" he said with his always cheery voice. "A shame that another young life had to be taken away just as our morning begins. Poor fellow probably had a family… some kids to go home to. I do wonder about memories sometimes… of all the memories I have had. It is an odd thing to think about when another's life is ended, they had memories also. All of those memories shut off in the blink of an eye, imagine it…your last memory is the pain of falling down a hole knowing that you will never see your child's face again. Of course, I don't let this bother me too often. I have too much to live for and going on like this makes me feel like I'm relaying the rambling of an old hag."
The king, at last, reached the bottom of the hole without a word spoken to Reaver. He couldn't help but think about what he said about memories, especially as he gazed upon the bodies of two mangled men lying here at the bottom of the world. He looked into the lifeless eyes of one of his guards - sees the pain of death permanently painted on his face. He sees the pool of blood where the two men lay, a guard and a miner sharing a cold bed of death. The king immediately regrets many recent decisions in his life. He did not know who this man was; he didn't know his name or if he even had a family. How would they know he was dead? Who would tell them? Did he have children? Who would care for them now? A tear fell slowly from his left eye and made its way through the crevices of his aged face. The small drop of water fell through the silvery lining of his beard and finally fell into the pool of blood still collecting around the bodies. He had avoided death and darkness for so long - he had spent years in the castle letting life pass him by. So many things had gone by the wayside and he had been left emotionless - locked in the war room, trying to find the light. But now that he had finally found it, darkness quickly returned into his eyes through the painful form of death.