|Series||Fable: The Return by Scorponix|
|← Chapter 43||Chapter Chronology||Chapter 45 →|
Tears fell like rain. Blood dripped slowly like sap on a warm summer day. The snow of the Northern Wastes lightly floated from grey clouds and land softly upon the frozen tundra. And Darkness... Darkness shrouded the world.
"My love," Henry cried in despair. "My life!" Henry wept for his home, his people, but mostly he wept for his beloved.
Knight's voice broke the shrill noise of sorrow. "Your village whore did not suffer. You will not receive the same mercy."
Henry tear-covered face grew red with anger. "What did you call her?"
Knight only laughed at Henry's anger.
"She was my wife, my beloved wife! How dare you curse her existence with that wretched word!"
Knight's demonic laughter only grew louder and heavier.
"Speak to me, demon!"
"Henry!" the King interjected. The Queen merely watched from a distance. "Do not succumb to rage; that is what they want from you!"
"Then they have won! I will not sit back and be calm and collected as you. I will not submit to this Darkness!"
"I know you are hurt, my son-"
"They killed my wife!"
"Yes. And my wife stands before us; she too must be killed. This world is not an easy one to live in. Many times, as Heroes, we must make choices that will ultimately hurt either us or another being. Being a Hero means making these decisions, and doing what is best."
"Father..." Henry choked through tears. "What if the best decision causes the most pain?"
"Answering that question yourself is what makes you a Hero... and a King. One day you will know what it means; one day you will have to make these decisions. Do not let this day be the beginning... listen to me on this day. Resist your anger."
"I will try, Father." Henry loosened the tight grip of his fists. His face loses its flushed color. His tears subsided and he stood tall once more.
The Queen spoke loudly to her brother, "Good, now the boy is weak. Kill him. Make it slow."
"Yes, my Queen." Knight lifted his blade again and raised it against Henry. Henry calmly lifted his blade as well, but his father placed his hand on his son's shoulder.
"No, my boy. Let this now be my fight." Henry looked at his father with pleading eyes but eventually backed down. The King drew his blade and ignited it with bright flame.
The King and The Knight began to circle one another, each waiting for the other to strike. "You have caused great pain for my people, and my son."
"Your son is weak. Your people are weak. You are weak."
"I am stronger than you may think."
"I know more than you try to believe. My siblings come from a place of vast darkness and knowledge. We see this world each day - we observe the way it works. We know just who you are. Do not think we did not see you as you are on the day you released us."
"What do you mean?"
"When we rose from the Void once more within those caves, we saw you. We saw the old, frail man you have become. Do not believe that, just because a blind seeress gave you youth, you can still combat the Darkness."
"I have defeated the Darkness many times before. I killed the Crawler and his children. I control it now."
"Yet, you could not control it when it invaded the body of your dear wife and... ripped her apart from the inside." "I wasn't as strong back then..."
"So what makes you think you are strong enough now, old man?"
"I control it now!"
"On the outside you are young and strong, but on the inside you are a walking husk of what you truly are! Inside, your bones dissolve and turn to ash, your blood moves slow just as you do, your muscles weaken you."
"My heart is fire - fire that will burn you for all you've done."
"You think you know fire, old man? You think fire obeys your call? While you stand here in the Northern Wastes and preach of your burning heart, your people burn! Your lands burn! All that you know crumbles to dust and ash! Your son, your only son has only just seen his wife burn! How many wives must die under your rule? How many homes must be razed? How many sons must see their fathers die!" Knight swiftly swung his massive blade toward the King.
The King deflected the blow with his blade and ducked down before the backlash could strike his skull. He narrowly dodged the blow that would have surely ended his life. Sparks of fire and drops of black ooze fell to the ground. The King rose again and began his assault. Strike after strike, blow after blow they fought. Knight and King battled against each other in a blur of shadow and fire. The King's blade slid off of the Knight's claymore, sending burning black sludge in all directions.
Their battle continued as the sun began to fall on the horizon. Both Henry and the Queen watched intently, motionless and calm. Both fighters slid their blades off the other again and backed away. They stood completely still, both breathing heavily. In an instant, both raised their left arms and Will erupted from each finger. The Knight used Garth's own power and summoned black lighting from his core. The King's fire burst from his heart and out of his hand. Both fire and lightning met each other in the very center of Archon's Shrine, creating a destructive orb of electricity and flame.
Knight walked forward slowly, one solid step at a time. The orb moved closer to the King. Henry's eyebrows perked up slightly. As Knight got even closer, he lifted his horrible blade again and prepared to strike. The King raised his own sword in order to defend himself as the orb got closer and closer. He knew that he must keep his Will strong and flowing; he could not lose his focus. Knight took one final lumbering step and finally struck. The King was brought to a knee; he could not withhold many more of those blows on his blade.
Knight lifted the Sword of Malice again and struck the king once more. The King was brought down now on both knees, keeping his sword raised and fire burning forward. "Time to die, old man. I knew you were weak." Again and again Knight lifted his blade and let it fall. A single tear fell from the King's face as his strength neared its breaking point. He had to break his focus on his Will. The King stopped his flow of fire and immediately, the black lighting attached itself to his body and paralyzed him. Knight lifted his great blade for one final blow.
"No!" Henry leapt forward and lobbed off Knight's head; at the same time, he kicked Knight's body several feet away. Henry landed on the ground with the severed head and grabbed the edges of the mask. Knight laughed,
"What are you going to do? Rip it off?! Ha! The bond of this mask is unbreakable, foolish child!"
Henry placed his thumbs on the nose of the mask and started to push while pulling the edges with his other fingers.
"You think that will work, boy? You are weak, just like your father."
Henry said nothing.
"You saw what I did to your wife," Knight laughed again, this time louder, "but not what I did to your little baby."
Henry loosened his grip and the world seemed to stop. His eyes widened, but no tears fell. He seemed to only be... calm. But within, he was far from calm. Within, a fire had lit. This was not a fire of strength like his father's... this fire burned with the fuel of anger and vengeance. Knight continued to laugh through the mask, but Henry screamed. His face glowed red and his body shook. His thumbs drove inward and the mask cracks. Knight ceased his laughing. The Queen's eyes widened in an extremely rare moment of shock.
"You are still weak... boy!" Knight's last words reverberated through the Shrine as one final crack sounded and the mask split.