Sometimes I try to write.

An Old King

Dimitri sat alone on a low crumbled wall, the silence of the kingdom behind him as deafening as ever. Looking over the land stretching before him, he sighed, a soft sound that was loud against the quiet. In the distance he could just make out a small group of people on horseback heading his direction up the path that led past him, across the river and up to a town that surrounded a castle. Dimitri was once the king of these lands and the people that once resided here. His kingdom had not been large, but it had been prosperous, strong, and proud. He may not have been loved by all of them, but he had been loved by his family. Now though, the buildings, the houses, his castle, they all lay quiet and rotting. Weeds grew through the cobblestones, ivy pulled apart the walls, time had turned it to ruins. It had been hundreds of years since Dimitri’s kingdom had become silent, since Dimitri had become cursed.

The sounds of horses broke the heavy silence of his world and he stood, straightening himself as much as his twisted and scarred body would allow. Dimitri faced the group of adventurers that approached him taking up his once gleaming sword, now dull and worn. He walked to stand between the gap in the low wall that led to the bridge behind him. His twisted, scarred, and sinewy body was unimpressive before the large horses, and strong young men of the group that approached. Dimitri held out his sword, grasped in a claw like red hand and pointed it at the adventurers. “Halt travellers, I am King Dimitri and this is my kingdom if you have come to pillage it you will need to go through me. For what is here is mine.” Dimitri’s voice was rough and empty coming out almost like a growl. He knew what was about to happen, it had happened many times before as was proven by the countless corpses sunk to the bottom of the river behind him. “Begone old man, no one wishes to fight a crazy greybeard like you.” Dimitri didn’t listen to him, his mind was made up, the bloodlust had taken over.
The first adventurer looked down confused at Dimitri who was now standing by his horse, hands extended and his sword piercing him through a gap in his armour. The adventurer coughed and made to reach for his own sword and was instead pulled from the horse, his armour scraping along Dimitri’s sword before the adventurer was crumpled in the dirt.

Silence fell again upon Dimitri as he slumped back against the stone wall, his gnarled hand wrapped around an arrow buried in his stomach. His blood mingled with the blood of the adventurer’s further staining his already red skin. The bloodlust faded and Dimitri breathed heavily, his thoughts drifting back to the last day his kingdom sang, back to when that monster stood in his throne room, twisted and grotesque, demanding Dimitri’s youngest child.


Back then he had not believed in the Old Gods nor the warnings of the elders. He was young, proud, and defiant, thinking a flimsy ring of gold around his head made him invincible. He had drawn his sword, gleaming and sharp, and had laughed at the beast telling it that if its master wanted his child it could come and try take her from him. That night it’s master had come, the Old One, there was no fire or thunder as the stories had spoke of. There was just silence and the smell of blood as if the world was flooded in it. Dimitri woke to find it in his chambers, its immense unknowable being filled the space smothering the light from the candles that had been left burning. A beaked face turned to him from next to the window and it spoke to him. The words now etched into his memory clearer than his own thoughts. “How quickly you humans forget us, your lives are too short to remember me and you are too proud to believe the stories that are passed down. Since you have not given me what was once promised, I will take my fill.” Dimitri stood defiantly thinking it just a dream, a nightmare. He had drawn the dagger he kept under his pillow and struck out at the Old One. The darkness of the room wrapped around him and the Old One spoke in his ear, a faint clicking of its beak behind its words. “You have fire in you boy, so how about a deal. If you want to save the people of your kingdom, to save your family, give me a life for a life.” With that Dimitri had awoken in the morning to the silence, to the smell of blood and burnt flesh. Upon his chest the Old One had left his mark, the mark of the vulture. That morning Dimitri had stumbled through his small kingdom, no a signs left of his family, of his servants, or soldiers. Only he had been spared.

Now he sat, a very old man, tired and skin stained red with blood. The mark of the Old One had kept him alive. Death would not come for him, but it would use him. Fill him with a mighty lust for blood to take the lives of anyone around him. He had fought in wars, in arenas, had been passed around as a gladiator to entertain those with power in other kingdoms. It takes a lot of time for one man to kill a kingdom worth of people by their self. Hundreds of years had passed, the red stains slowly crept up his arms, his body wasted away and was more scar tissue than not by now. He was tired, and had come back to his silent kingdom to beg and plead, but it all fell upon deaf ears. Had he not killed enough. Was this a trick from the old one? Would he ever be free.

Dimitri looked over his handiwork, five adventurers now lay dead before him, all too young to have been returned to the earth. He looked down at his blood soaked hands and body, it was hard to tell the fresh drying blood from the stains on his skin. The smell of it permeated the air and in that moment the world around him grew dark, the sun looking like a lantern in the fog. “Well done boy. I just have one more thing for you to do, one last life to take and you will have your people back.” The Old One spoke into his ear, its talons sinking into his shoulders. “Where are they? I am tired vulture, let us be done with this.” Dimitri said. Dimitri was lifted to his feet the talons digging into his shoulders and twisting him towards his castle. “Go home boy, you will find them there.” Suddenly the darkness was gone, the mark on his chest burned as painfully as it had hundreds of years ago. Dimitri pulled the arrow from his stomach and began the long walk back to his old home.
It was dark when Dimitri approached the now rotted doors to his throne room. Dimitri leant into the door pushing as hard as he could to budge it. With what little strength he has left he threw himself against the door and it slammed open. He now stood facing a throne room brightly lit by candles. Heads turned and stared at him, taking in his red stained skin, his twisted body covered in scars, and his blood drenched beard and clothes. Dimitri did not notice any of these staring people, he ignored the swords of the soldiers that surrounded him and walked forward. Dimitri’s eyes were fixed on the young man sitting on the throne. A proud and strong young man with a golden crown around his head. “I have come for the child.”