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Great King of Kathairo

by S.D. Kang 11 months ago in Sci Fi · updated 6 months ago
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A Tale of Sacrifice

“You may leave.” Aldrich said to his royal guards as he started to undo his robe.

“Yes, your majesty.” The guards replied in a hushed tone as they knew he liked the quietness of the baths.

The bright illumination of the royal bath house and the steam coming from the heated waters always reminded him of his accomplishments. No matter what others said, he was the king who had exponentially increased their electricity generation and made its distribution free to the rest of Kathairo.

The calm and serene waters were almost enough to make him forget about the rebellions in the Outer Ring. He stepped into the main pool, feeling the warmth enveloping his limbs and body. But this reminded him of his wife. She sure liked the baths.

It was hard, however, to not think of the rebellion when thinking of his wife. It’s how things had spiraled into the situation they were in now. People weren’t ever too happy, what with being surrounded by the dark blue toxic wastelands, infected by the Taint. Surely, they understood that drastic measures had to be taken in order to guarantee their survival. Surely, they saw how important the survival of Kathairo was to him. Didn’t they?

But when things got dire and he had to make the tough call to prioritize the Inner Ring of Kathairo, the dwellers of the Outer Ring were unhappy. There were even rumors of some of the officials in the Inner Ring bad mouthing him in public. What other choice did he have other than making examples out of them? He had to deal with them, and everyone was better off for it.

He was Aldrich, the Great King of Kathairo, and he couldn’t have his subordinates doubting him, much less questioning him. Who else could have come up with such a revolutionary solution for their survival? Who else could keep the last clean city of humanity alive and running?

And yet, when his wife found out about the things he did, she was visibly upset like the rest of them. And as the rebellions got worse, he suppressed them even more, to show that he would not stand for such actions. Back then, he still cared for the Outer Ring, he still provided them with energy and supplies, albeit in a rationed manner to keep everyone alive for longer.

But the ungrateful wretches sent people to the castle. They stole his wife and newborn daughter. He waited for their demands, but none came. Whether something went wrong during the kidnapping or if it had all just been a cruel act of revenge, no one came forward regarding the disappearance of his wife and daughter.

Aldrich took a deep breath as he remembered the panic and despair from back then. He opened the silver heart shaped locket that he always wore around his neck, and opened it to see a picture of his baby daughter with a small birthmark above her left eye. He had told of this birthmark only to his closest officials. He didn’t want his enemies on his family’s trail after all. He sent troops to search around the Outer Rings, to break down houses, and eventually even torture for any information.

But he never found them. As the years passed, what he lost in hope, he gained in anger and hatred. He started to decrease the amount of energy and rations that were supplied to the Outer Rings, and soon, the Taint found its way into it. Most likely it was from some fool who thought he could scavenge something from beyond the walls of Kathairo. Soon, the people that were brought in, started to have more and more dark blue spots on their skin.

In his darkest moments, he did sometimes wonder if his wife had taken their child and ran out of her own volition. But, surely, she would have left some kind of trace. And hence, he always came to the same conclusion, that it was someone from the Outer Ring that was at fault. His hatred grew, and as he watched the faces of every Outer Ringer that was brought into the castle, they all blurred and started to look the same.

He hated every single one of them and was disgusted by their Taint ridden bodies, full of dark blue stains. They deserved all the suffering they got.

And before he realized, fifteen long years had passed. It only came to his attention when one of his officials asked him if they should search the young women for the birthmark. But he told them no. If he hadn’t found them in fifteen years, they were dead. Maybe their deaths was what he needed to do what he should have done a long time ago. And so he decreed to shut down all the gates and supply routes to the Outer Ring. From that day forward, the Outer Ring was no longer a part of Kathairo. Let them suffer in their own Taint and vile deeds.

That had been four days ago, during which, Outer Ringers have attempted to invade the Inner Ring several times. All thwarted with ease, of course. Most of the Outer Ring were now half starved, and most of their weapons and tools had been sold to the Inner Ring for scraps of food. They no longer posed much of a threat. And yet, now the Taint was at the gates of the Inner Ring.

He closed the locket and set it at the edge of the pool before taking another deep breath. He started to rub his left shoulder, but realized that his fingers were already quite pruney. Reminiscing about the past had kept him in the water longer than he had planned for.

Click

Aldrich immediately stood up and turned, recognizing the sound of a trigger being pulled. He saw a figure quickly jumping down from one of the pillars of the royal bath house. The masked person dropped an old rusty rifle and drew a crude looking dagger.

“Hiring a little girl to do their dirty work, typical of Outer Ringers.” Aldrich stated calmly as he stood up straight, for a king must never show fear, no matter the circumstances. He pointed towards the jammed rifle before speaking once again. “Was that all that the Outer Ring could afford in your one attempt to murder your king?”

“I thought you said we were no longer your people.” The small assassin stated as she lunged at him.

Aldrich easily dodged and smacked her face with a backhanded strike, knocking the mask off of her face. She quickly turned and tried to stab him once again, but he grabbed her arms and overpowered her. Her wrists were like twigs in his grasp and he was confident he could snap them should he need to.

“You are the reason the Taint came to the Outer Rings, you are the reason my mother is dead!” the girl yelled and spat at him.

Looking at her from such a close distance, he could see that her hair was matted, the upper two thirds of her face was completely stained dark blue with the Taint, her lips were cracked and bleeding, and anyone could tell that she was heavily malnourished.

“Wretched filth.” He stated as calmly as before, as the guards came in for the noise. “But worry not, child. You will still serve a greater purpose. Take her to the conversion chamber.”

The guards did as they were told. She kicked and flailed, but she had no chance against them in the state her body was in.

Aldrich donned his robe once again and grabbed his silver heart shaped locket from the edge of the pool. He looked at it once again, wondering if he should continue wearing it as a reminder of what he had lost, or to put it away and not let it become a weakness. After just a few seconds of consideration, he put the chain around his neck and closed his fingers around the locket and clenched it. He would never forget. They were all going to pay.

When he arrived at the conversion chamber, they had already put the young assassin in a transparent tube. Her fierce expression of mere moments ago was replaced by one of fear.

“What is this? Let me go!” her scream was muffled by the tube encasing her. “Let me go!”

Something in the expression of the girl reminded him of how his wife had looked at him, back when she found out that he was converting human life force into electricity in order to power Kathairo. They just couldn’t see the geniality behind this solution. With the Taint surrounding them, their resources were limited. Electricity was the only thing they knew that could cleanse the Taint from the water. By using life force, not only did they generate more electricity than they ever could through traditional means, but it also lessened the demand for their limited resources. Kathairo would not have lasted this long without him and that was a fact.

“Start it.” He stated, and a clear green liquid started to pour into the tube in which the assassin was placed.

“You think I am the only assassin? More will be sent, none will rest until you die!” She screamed, as she hit the inside of the tube with her little fists. “Until you pay for all your sins!”

“Your majesty, perhaps she is too ridden with the Taint. Is it wise to convert her?” One of the guards asked beside him.

“Nonsense. The electricity will cleanse the Taint.” He stated as he passed his fingers through his wet hair.

Soon, her screams died down as the tube was completely filled with the clear green liquid. The girl was holding her breath like it mattered. She glared at him with a mixture of fear and hatred as he stared back expressionless.

He made it a point to watch every conversion closely. At first, it had been a moral thing. To witness the cost so as to never lessen its impact nor to ever blame others for what he was doing. After all, a good king takes responsibility for his own doings. But eventually, it became a thing of solace. He took some comfort in seeing a little bit of justice done to those who stole his wife and daughter from him.

He had seen enough of this pathetic excuse of an assassin, however, and raised his fingers almost dismissively. One of the officials pulled a lever and the charging noise started.

The girl’s stare went from his face to his chest, and he imagined her expression becoming that of confusion and perhaps a sudden realization. But he wasn’t too sure, because the large needle probe came down, puncturing through her body and immediately discharging a powerful blast, instantly disintegrating anything that was nonmetallic inside of the tube.

The, now, dark brown liquid swirled about. In the thousands of conversions he had watched, hers was the first that had a change in expression at the very end. He was mildly intrigued, but didn’t know what to do with that information. But before he turned to walk away, he thought he saw something inside of the tube.

When the tube was drained, he opened it and fell to his knees.

How could this have happened? He asked himself as he grabbed an identical, silver heart shaped locket from inside of the tube. And as the torrent of thoughts flew through his head, one thought stood apart.

Surely, she couldn’t have gotten into the castle all by herself in her state. Someone from the Inner Ring must have helped her. Hell, maybe it was someone from the Inner Ring that stole her.

And with that, rage filled his heart once again as he stood up, fist clenched around this second locket.

I will never forget. They are all going to pay.

Sci Fi

About the author

S.D. Kang

Dreamer by birth, Writer by choice.

https://sdkangbooks.wordpress.com/

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