Another in my position may pray to the Gods of Mercy or Compassion, asking for salvation. I, though, pray to the Gods of Fire and Destruction, asking that they unleash their wrath upon these wretched people, bringing this city to its knees. The metallic sound of chains scraping on stone will forever torment me. Each step I take a grisly reminder of the hindrance cuffed around my ankles. Gods am I thirsty. Heat waves ripple off of the scorching cobblestone streets, distorting the air around them. I try to run my tongue over my cracked lips, but the only moisture between them is the blood seeping from the crevices.

Far past the point of exhaustion, my foot drags, causing me to stumble. In that moment of descent, the sharp crack of a whip pierces the air, accompanied by a commanding, 'UP,’ that brings me back to my feet. My back bleeds. The cloths that cover me are stained red by the lashes that cover my body. Each step pulls me closer to my fate, yet I must move forward. Do my legs betray me? It is but a fleeting thought as I trudge on, yet still, it haunts me; I carry myself to my own death, though I'm not sure how much longer I can do so.

Disoriented, my gaze falls upon the burnt remains of a cottage as we pass by—the cottage I used to call home. The cottage that my only friend now lies below, reduced to ash under blackened rubble.

*CRACK*

“MOVE.”

No time to mourn, no, no time for thoughts at all. All I can do is press on, one foot in front of the other.

The city around me moves as the city always has. Clangs still ring out from the blacksmiths forge, Vendors still stand by their market stalls and tout their goods, there’s even children running past as they play in the streets. It’s odd. It’s as if these people don’t see me. I am a ghost amidst their routine, my suffering an overlooked detail in the tapestry of their lives.

As we approach the courtyard, I see the city’s pride on full display - red banners cascade from every window, drape over every terrace, and adorn each wall. The crimson fabric flaps in the breeze. Upon it is sewn the silhouette of a Lion with a snake clamped firmly between its jaws, a symbol of their arrogance. A wooden platform protrudes above the sea of people that have gathered in my name. Upon the platform sits a throne, and on that a King.

“Hear ye, Hear ye!" The herald bellows from atop the podium. I continue to stumble forward as the crowd steps aside, forming a path, making way for their entertainment. What sick fools must you be to enjoy watching a man have his head lopped off? My death will be no more than a spectacle, an event for the ignorant. All of them oblivious to the evil who sits in front of them, high upon his iron throne with a belly full of wine and a mind full of drunken rage. The herald shuffles a bit, uneasy once all eyes are upon him.

“The King will now have a word,” he shouts.

The crowd falls silent, so silent that you can hear his shoes knocking against the wooden stage as he retreats. Now, rising ever so graciously from his throne, their fat king staggers forward consumed by an air of false nobility. Center stage, I await his righteous judgment. Beaten, bloody, and broken I survey my audience. Anger, disgust, and even excitement reflect from their eyes… but not a single one seems to have any sort of pity for the dead man before them. The kings voice cuts through the air like hot steel.

“Noble citizens! I stand before you today with something… truly special. As you all know, today marks 13 years since those savages ravaged our castle. I dare not speak of the horrors that were committed that day… though forever will they torment my memory… BUT! Today… today also marks the 4th month that we have been free from the tyranny, and oppression of our previous ruler. Today marks 4 months since that BASTARD, got what he FUCKING deserved!”

The crowd begins to cheer, but the king raises his hand to shush them.

“Now, to celebrate, and to finally exact our revenge, i present to you;”

A guard violently shoves me to the front of the stage.

“THE SON OF MORTIMUS!”

Applause erupted throughout the castle, their cheers echoing off of its stone walls.

Mortimus?.. Is that who I am? The son of a tyrant?…

It’s odd, never did I expect my death to carry much significance, nor did I expect to be mourned by more than a handful, but it is unsettling to think that my death is not only accepted, but gleefully celebrated by so many. All of these people were so quick to brand me as a traitor, using that sentiment to strip my life of any value… But how could I be a traitor? My own identity is unclear even to me.

“OFF WITH HIS HEAD!” Shouts the King.