The demon and the burnt king

I remember that I was walking in the woods during the day, with snow dusting my shoulders. Now, it was the kind of forest where the trees are all old and watchful – a forest all of us will walk through one day, and some more than once, too, all the children, and all the men, and all of the women who are restless.

I walked by a castle that had been burned to the ground long before I was born. A single, singed banner hung from its tower. The castle was gutted from the inside, so damaged in places that the stone had turned to spiderweb. It stood only as a reminder of how nothing remains on the earth – how not everything may die, but everything may change.

I was walking away, when a roar startled me. Like a video game easter egg, there was a burnt throne in the courtyard I had missed. A burnt king rose from the throne – almost offended at my desire to walk on by as if he didn’t matter.

There was one second of fear, and the next second the demon inside me took over, squinting good-naturedly at the bright white snow, drunk on the sliding sound the sheath made, happy to be alive.

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