Now we reach the final installment of my Runaway King short story. I hope that you have enjoyed it, and I plan to have something else coming your way for next Friday.
Thinking that the boys planned on running through the tunnel and leaving the city, Byron began chase. If someone else knew about his tunnel, it was only a matter of time before the whole city would be told and everyone would use it for escape. Byron didn’t want to be around for this to happen. The boys had a head start, but with his longer leg span, Byron closed the gap easily. He hid his torch as he got close to the two boys ahead. Judging by the extra layers of dust and the general direction they were traveling, Byron calculated they were close to the tunnel entrance. After the entrance, it was a short journey until he was free of the kingdom.
Byron snuffed the light of his torch as he entered the tunnel, using the light from the exit and the the boy’s torch to lead his way. He crept in the darkness behind the boys to overhear their conversation.
“The army should be close to here by now.”
“Yes they should, this is the time Captain Kron told us to be here and open the gates. Then we’ll get our reward when the city has fallen.”
Shit, Byron thought to himself, they are going to lead the army straight through my tunnel and my only exit. Byron stepped out of the dark and unsheathed his sword. The boys heard the rustle and quickly turned around at the sound of a weapon being drawn, each pulling a dagger of their own.
“What do you want servant man?”
“You will stop what you are doing right now!” Byron yelled.
“Why should we, you know as well as we do that this city has been ripe for the picking. Someone is finally stepping up and doing it.”
“If you think that sword scares us, you are dead wrong.” the second boy put in.
Byron didn’t say anything. He wondered where these boys had come from and what family had allowed this blatant disrespect for the kingdom. He focused back on the boys whenever they split up and started to circle him. Byron raised his sword in defense as the boys closed the distance. Silence swept over the tunnel as each adversary was waiting for the other to strike.
The boy on Byron’s right struck first. He moved with a quick jab at Byron’s chest. Byron brought his sword up to block and tensed as he sensed the boy behind him poise for a strike on his back. Byron blocked the first dagger and spun around to catch the second with his broadsword. He ducked out of the circle the boys were forming around him.
Knowing the numbers were not in his favor, Byron went on the attack. He brought his sword above his head and prepared for an angle cut. The boy adjusted for the cut and sidestepped. Byron had hoped for his defensive move, and jabbed out with one of his hands, catching the young boy on the jaw. The force of the hit sent him falling backward into the tunnel wall. Byron stepped back towards the tombs, hoping to get a wider area to face the remaining foe.
The remaining boy slowly followed Byron towards the tombs. Noticing that the tunnel was widening and noting the disadvantage, the boy thrust with his dagger. Byron, not expecting the thrust, turned his shoulder and winced as the dagger cut through the servant’s clothing and into his skin. The cut wasn’t deep, but the thrust threw Byron off balance and he tumbled to the ground. Bringing his sword up quickly, he blocked the dagger cut that came at his exposed stomach. Byron shoved out, making the boy stumble a bit, and spun the opposite direction, getting to his feet and raising his sword. Byron then saw the unconscious boy come up from behind his friend and bring his dagger in a defensive stance.
Byron knew he was in trouble. If these boys were supposed to unlock the tunnel gate and let the invading army in, then his time was limited before his escape would be cut off. He couldn’t afford to spend much more time fighting these young ruffians. One of the boys broke his into his thoughts by taking slow step forward. Byron brought his sword back up in front of him. The tension was thick in the air as the three waited for the attack each knew was coming. The boys struck first, one bringing a dagger in low while the other boy cut high. Byron had the advantage of a longer blade and he slipped out of the low cuts reach and used his sword as a wall to block the high dagger. Catching the blade on his sword, Byron twisted his wrist and wrestled the dagger out of the boys hands. It made a small sound as it bounced off the tomb walls. Seeing his friend weaponless, the second boy shoved his friend out of the way of Byron’s quick falling blade. The sword sparked as it missed the boy and slammed into the ground.
Byron took an inventory of his surroundings. He was in the tombs of the nobles. Looking to the left, he caught a glimpse of a shield with the family crest of Lasher on it’s face. Byron started to step towards the casket. The boy shadowed his steps. Byron took a chance, he brought his sword in an overhead cut, forcing the boy off balance and he dove for the shield. Wrapping his arms around the shield, Byron came back up with confidence as he knew he had the advantage in the fight.
Byron had lost track of the other boy. He wasn’t too worried though because he did have the advantage. The boy in front of him tried to feint with his dagger, but Byron didn’t fall for it. He patiently waited until he had his opening. The boy tried to angle the dagger to strike at his kidney but Byron brought his sword down in a block and used his shoulder to push his shield into the boy’s face. The action caught the boy off guard and he took the full force of the hit. The boy fell back against the wall, blood coming from his nose. Byron was ready for a second attack, but the boy was unconscious.
Byron started down the tunnel to find the other boy whenever he felt the tip of a dagger against his back. A quick look told him the second boy had found his dagger and came back to help his friend. “Boy, you don’t want to do this.”
“I believe I do servant. I am going to walk you out to the invading army and watch as they hang you.”
“As much as I would like to comply, I won’t be moving.”
“Then you’ll die right here. I have no qualms about that.” The boy pulled the dagger back to drive it home when Byron dove forward and out of the boy’s grasp. Jumping back to his feet, Byron held his sword above his shield and used it as a spear to skewer the boy in his rush. The boy’s eyes looked at him as they started to glaze over. Byron watched the life force being pulled out of the boy.
Byron stepped over to the unconscious boy. He knew that he should let the boy live, but no one could know of his escape. Even if they hadn’t recognized him as the king, Byron could not let anyone believe that he had left the kingdom. So while looking at the boy laying on the floor, Byron pierced the heart of the unconscious boy with his sword. His breathing shallowed and eventually stopped. Byron wiped a tear from his eye as he turned and started down the tunnel.
Byron found himself running, fearing that the invading force would soon be getting close to the exit of the tunnel. Byron breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that no one was at the exit. Byron pulled the key from inside his coat and threw the lock away after it clicked open. He swung open the door and took a deep breath of fresh air on the outside. It felt like everything that had been weighing on his shoulders over these last years, was lifted. He only had himself to worry about. Damn this kingdom and damn this office. I was never fit to be king, I never wanted it. Damn my family for putting me in that position.
A mixture of smoke and fog fell down on the kingdom as Byron walked into the woods. One quick look back at his old life showed Byron a kingdom in flames, a castle that was breaking apart at the seams, and screams from his subjects as they were cut down for defending their home. Byron shook the image from his head. He broke into a run to put some distance between himself and the kingdom. He had a new life now.