The Usurper. Short Story.

Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

I originally intended this to have a much more humourous tone but that wasn’t quite what  here!

On with the show!

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He took a deep breath, steadying himself. He had worked towards this his entire life, from the moment he was born. He was the chosen one. Born to the High King and Queen, he should have had a life of luxury, but that was not his destiny. He had been trained with a sword as soon as he could walk, been trained for this moment, but now that the moment was here he needed a second to steel himself. His sword felt like a part of him, an extension of his arm, he knew he would succeed, there was no other choice. He was to fight the great evil, but first he had to deal with the minions.

The wind blew gently from the cave, it smelled fetid, rotten. He had never seen the creature, very few people ever had.  His horse was back at the camp, he knew it would attract the creatures attention. It needed to be killed now, while it was still young, but only he could do it. This was his first test, he would pave his way forward, carving a path through evil until he defeated them all and emerged victorious from the darkness.

The area around the cave was devoid of grass, the soil itself was tainted, a dull purple colour. Nothing would ever grow there again. The creature was still a child, it hadn’t reached its next stage of development, it needed to be killed now before it grew. He took another breath and went to stand when he saw someone approaching. He crouched down again, cursing mentally. He should have heard him approaching. He did not know the creature had a handler, that would make things more dangerous. The creature was stupid, but handlers were not, if he had to battle both it would be far more difficult than he had anticipated. The man approaching the cave was young, wearing strange miss-matched armour and carrying a sword. It seemed familiar, but he could not pinpoint why. He had no helmet and he looked no different than the other grubby villagers. Probably had a natural talent. He had seen it before, Demonseers finding boys and girls with talent and trying to train them, make them disciples, but often times the child became stronger than could be controlled and killed the Demonseer. This one must be able to read, the rituals for becoming a handler were only shared through writing, after the ritual the knowledge of it needed to be erased from the mind. He himself could use some of the power, but not much. He didn’t have the natural talent for it, but he was still more powerful than any of his siblings, and most of the court. Few were born with the talent, but even fewer were able to learn as much as him.

The youth was approaching the cave carefully, strange. Maybe they had not bonded yet, perhaps the creature was still wild. Good, that would be a moment he could attack during the ritual, kill them both. It would bring him greater glory. He smiled and watched, waiting for his moment.

The youth reached the entrance of the cave, he looked fearful. He eased the sword from the band around his waist. A sudden gust of wind made him gag, breathing shallowly, he entered the cave.

The Prince was waiting, unsure of what to do, if he entered at the wrong time he could be killed before he knew what was happening, if he left it too long, the battle might be overwhelming. He was willing to sacrifice himself at the end, but not at the beginning. He had to win. There was no other option for him, there was nothing else in his life. The ground rumbled as a deep roar burst from the cave. He smiled, the youth was caught and killed, well, that took care of that. The creature would be enraged, rage would make it stupid, he would be able to dispatch it easily. He went to stand again when there was another roar. Odd. Normally after killing it would be busy devouring the meal. There was a high pitched screech, then silence. That wasn’t right. Something was wrong. He waited, trying to calm himself. A few moments later, the youth emerged from the cave, half crawling, he used the cave entrance to pull himself up, then he leaned over and vomited. The youth was carrying something in his hand. The Prince looked at it and felt sick. The youth stumbled from the cave entrance and started to walk away, the Prince was frozen, unsure what to do. He needed that token. It was proof of his deeds. How was this possible? He was the chosen one, only the chosen one would be able to kill such a beast. This wasn’t right. This was wrong. He needed to know who this person was. He crept from his hiding place and stalked the youth, it was a short distance to his camp. An old man was sitting there, tending a fire. A Demonseer no doubt. The old man smiled, “You’ve returned, successful I gather.” He filled a bowl with clear broth, “eat this, it will help. Not many people have done what you have done. You should be proud of yourself.” “I can still smell it on me.” “Once you’ve eaten you can bathe. This will heal any poisons you have gotten on your skin.” The youth took the bowl of broth and drank it quickly. He placed the token down, then stood and went to the river. While he was gone, the Prince surveyed the old man, wondering just exactly who or what he was. If he was a Demonseer he was powerful, few survived longer than fifty. The man in the camp looked as though he was well into his seventies.

The youth returned from the river, “I can still feel that slime on me.” “The feeling will pass, unfortunately it will be something you have to get used to. The lands are clear,  but they won’t be for long, soon the monsters will march from their dens, become common place. We’re entering another Age of Darkness and you will have to be the shining light.” The youth sat down, staring at the token. “I didn’t think I would live through it. Up until it was dead I thought you were wrong. There was no way you could be right.” The old man shook his head. “You are an instrument of light. You must be victorious, if you are not, the entire world will fall into darkness.” The youth nodded. The Prince moved backwards slowly, he needed to get back to his horse, back to the palace. He needed to talk to his advisors, tell his father what had happened, they would know. They would tell him what to do. The old man looked at him, he froze. He was hidden, he knew he was. Something was happening, he couldn’t-

darkness.

He looked around, trying to figure out what had happened. It was night now. The camp was empty, no sign that anyone had been there. Had it been a dream? Some nightmare? He crept back to the cave, trying to be silent. Who knew what evils might stalk the forests here. The cave looked as it had, though the stench from it was stronger. No air moved in the cave. It was dead. He knew it was. He went back to his camp, wondering how much time had passed.

He entered the clearing and stopped. No, this was wrong too. His horse was gone, as were his supplies. There was nothing left that told he had ever been there. They had stolen his horse, his belongings. They were gone. His hand shot to his waist, then he breathed out slowly. His sword was still there. He could hunt. He had a dagger too. No bow, but he would be able to make snares and traps. Without a horse it would take him months to travel home. He had no money, but he would be recognised quick enough. Everyone knew his purpose. He would need to fight the usurper, cleans his sins from the earth. The Prince had a job to do and he would do it well.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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