He walked on. After everything he’d lost, all the ways he’d failed he considered laying down to die, but instead he walked on. The kingdom was in ashes, along with his hopes. She died in the raid, another failure, the one person he swore to keep safe, and her death was his fault. Still, he walked on.
The mountains would judge him, a failed hero, a failed rebel. The mountains would decide his fate.
Tendrils of fog clung to the ground, miles below him. The moon, bright and full of power sat heavy on the horizon. It was so cold, so very cold. Nothing but him and the mountain.
It had been a just cause, he was sure of that – the tyrant had had his boots on the neck of the people for far too long, but it didn’t matter. In the end the tyrant was too powerful, too prepared.
It should have worked damnit. They had the sword, unlocked the seals of power. All signs said that he was the chosen one, the one prophecy foretold would bring down the tyrant, restore the land to it’s rightful ruler.
He was born under the third moon of the first month, an event that happened once every thousand years. He had the mark on his chest, his father was the rightful king. The oracle even confirmed it. He was the chosen one, the man of destiny. Years, gathering the right people. Making sure he had hale and hearty companions at his side, the woman he loved, daughter of the snow queen, at his side. He fulfilled every condition of the prophecy.
At first it seemed like everything was going according to the scrolls. They stormed the palace, overcame the guards with ease, broke into the throne room to confront the tyrant. The thing was, Edward hadn’t counted on the tyrant being so… well, powerful was the only word that came to mind. He wasn’t a huge man – slightly taller than average. Trim and efficient in build. Edward drew the fabled storm of sorrows and swung, using all the skills he’d learned over a decade of campaigns, and the tyrant moved out of the way, exactly far enough. The tip of the blade touched one of the buttons on the tyrants shirt, nothing else. Edward swung again, faster, and again the tyrant simply wasn’t there. The tyrant barely seemed to move, just a slight twist, a minor adjustment of posture, and the blade missed.
The companions, and of course Deirdre, beautiful Deirdre, moved forward, entering the fray. Finally, with a dozen men (and one woman) around him the tyrant bothered to move, faster than they could follow. Between two heartbeats he had snapped Deirdre’s neck, thrown Mighty Connor into the fire pit. One blade did touch him, eventually. It wasn’t the sword of sorrows, instead the bard managed to scratch him with a dagger. The tyrant was full of rage, eyes flashing. He broke the bard. First one leg, then the other. Finally, both arms. The bard lay screaming on the ground, ignored now. The rest fell in moments, torn to shreds. Only Edward was left facing the tyrant. Still, even so, he charged forward, swinging the great sword, the blade of legend. The tyrant stepped slightly to the left and took the sword from Edward’s hands. He took Edwards knee out with a kick, and then stood over the heroes fallen form. Edward prepared to go meet Deirdre in the next life, tears streaming down his face.
“I’m not going to kill you.”
“You haven’t earned that right. You don’t get to die today. Instead, I will let you live, let you ruminate over how you have failed. Of course you could kill yourself, not like you have anything to live for. Oh, yes, your mother. I had her killed a few hours ago, so you don’t have a home to return to. You have nothing. Oh, and don’t worry, I’m not afraid that you will try again. You will be transported to the Dragon’s Fangs. With no magic it will take two lifetimes to return. You will have enough to survive, for a time. If you focus your energy on staying alive you might even live a few sad pathetic years.”
More guards, far more than their reconnaissance had led them to believe would be in the palace, entered and took Edward away. The reprisals were just starting, the homes of every supporter, every person who had ever offered Edward succor, aid, even a kind word, were burning.
The transport spell was painful, but Edward didn’t notice. He was broken, deeply, deeply broken.
When he opened his eyes he was high in the mountains, Tendrils of fog clung to the ground, miles below him. The moon, bright and full of power sat heavy on the horizon. It was so cold, so very cold. He walked on.