The Dreaming Dead

After a lifetime of debauchery it was finally time to grow up, to move on, to clean up messes rather than cause them. He resolved to be a better person. He promised to make a change; to think rather than to act. These were not idle words. His life had hit rock bottom. The changes would take hold this time.  From this point on he would live a new life. He vowed to be a better father, a better ruler, a better man.

Too bad it was the day he would die.

King Jagred, liege lord of Washburne, lay on his deathbed, gripped in fevered dreams. Meaningless gibberish poured from his lips as a confessor pretended to absolve him of his sins. As if he could. Nothing short of the God himself could do that. This man, now so pitiful, had almost been a primal force. Filled with vitality and a personality too large to comprehend, he had brought his kingdom to financial ruin. War with their neighbors in the Confederacy, a tattered army, too many widows to count, and far too many illegitimate children who even now squabbled over what remained of their inheritance racked his land. Pestilence and other things stalked the dark, brooding forests as years of rain brought ruin to an already impoverished place.

The king’s mind wandered in dark places, already unshackled from any corporeal existence. He saw his life as it could have been: a prosperous if still gloomy kingdom (for only the God could fundamentally change the weather), a people who loved and adored him rather than mocked him, an ideal land for an ideal king. His rheumy eyes flickered and a skeletal hand reached up to grasp the confessor’s hand.

“Tell my children that I am sorry.”

A sneer lit up the confessor’s face. To tell it true he was not qualified for his office, he had been appointed, not out of any faith or scrap of merit, but rather out of political expediency.  The Faith in Washburne was a corrupt thing, a shadow of the shining beacon it had once been. Its light was guttering and dying, too corrupt to rise above the filth it was mired in, its faithful too blinkered to agitate for change.

“Which children do you mean sire? Those born in the light of the God or those born to Darkness?”

The king was past any answer. The light faded from his eyes and with a sigh his soul slipped its earthly shackles.


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