Image by Luis Royo

The King Is Dead

388 words

Listening. Watching. I know the hunters are out there searching for me, ready to kill me, just as I had killed the King. Now that the snow has stopped falling, I need to be careful. They’ll notice any tracks I leave, just as they hear any snapping branches. But these are my woods, I grew up here, climbing the hills, playing in the valleys, talking to the critters, whistling with the birds. They will not catch me, these foreigners. They may work for the royal family, but they don’t know our land, don’t care about our people. Mercenaries, enforcers, hired thugs.

But who am I to judge? I was paid well for my service, too. Does it matter that I did it for a cause I believe in?

Ah, they’re nervous. The small fire they’ve built to warm themselves, eat a bite of dinner, doesn’t provide much sense of security, but I wonder what happened that made them stand so quickly, grab their weapons, peer into the darkness around them. Do they sense I’m near or was it merely the cry of the eagle that spooked them?

I wrap my cloak around me, becoming nearly invisible. I’ve made my plan. I step on a twig, a sound that lures one man away from the fire, closer to the wood, as I knew it would. He’s the largest of the three and he carries a long sword, but I’m not worried. He’s overconfident, sure a mere woman provides no danger to him. Quickly, silently I circle behind him, slashing his throat with my blade. The noise draws the other two men, but it’s difficult to fight someone you can’t see.

I leave the bodies where they fell. The scavengers will deal with them, if not I’ll be long gone before they’re discovered. I settle down by the fire and dig through the men’s packs, finding a bit of dried meat and bread, a better meal than I was planning on. I leave their weapons, too big and heavy for me to use effectively. I can relax for tonight, by tomorrow evening I should make it to New Haven. The Duchess will be pleased the King is dead. She’s one step closer to the throne. And so am I.

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Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take.