'Madam, here is what relics of your husband the witch sent back.' Said the young soldier.
I looked upon the small bundle and heard the rattle of metal against metal as my shaking hands received it. Sadness and distraught choked me at the throat as I fought back tears of melancholy. I could only nod in thanks.
'If it is any condolence Madam, I knew your husband. It's indeed heartrending that such a noble and valiant man should fall at the hands of the legions of the old wench.'
Seeing that I was still in my grievous state, he said his last condolences and left.
A week ago, the witch of Irim, Faenice the Astute, abducted Prince Luriahk, the heir to the throne of Reccos. Servants of the prince found a letter affixed to the bedpost, asking for the ransom of the King's dead wife, Queen Latease. Fearing that the witch would revive and corrupt his wife, he loaded the rotting corpse of his mother-in-law into a chariot and ordered a strike force to infiltrate the witch's fortress while the witch was receiving the 'ransom'. Apparently the strike force was stopped before the mission was complete, and each soldier was executed in ways indescribable. Each man's bloody helmet, which bore his name and allegiance, was returned. My husband, being a renowned general in the royal army, had his ceremonial dagger returned as well as a warning.
The bundle was made of velvet, scented and dyed in the nation's colours, green and yellow. I struggled to steady my hands. Quaking the way they were, I could not untie the strong knot. Anguish sent tremors up and down my hands and chilled my spine, preventing me from having a firm hold on the velvet. A part of me could not bear to set eyes upon anything that would remind me of the pain, the hurt, the sorrow that I felt on the knowledge of his demise. Yet another part of me yearned to behold what remained of the one whom had embraced and comforted me in my peril. I needed to cherish and preserve what was left holy and undefiled of my husband. Hope of being calmed or at least slightly comforted by the sight. I steeled my heart, mind and soul. Painstakingly, I slowly undid the knot. As the cloth fell away, I stared into the hollow eyes of my husband's helm. Almost immediately a torrent of emotions and memories bombarded me. Pain wrecked my body as every memory, both bitter and sweet filled me, each one stinging on the way up. Soon, it overflowed and took the form of tears of misery. I could no longer contain the sight of the helm. Suddenly, through the mist of tears that blinded me and amidst my own anguish, I heard the sound of paper against the smooth wooden floor. I looked up and saw a piece of paper, a bloodstained page from the leather bound journal I'd bought for his promotion. On the blank side was a poem, written in blood.
Harms thy brethren,
Blood is raised,
Words within steel,
The royal kill.
I sat and read that poem for hours on end. I just could not comprehend what message my husband wanted to convey. All my anguish was clouding my mind. I remembered that my husband loved riddles. I thought and thought and thought and later gave up and put it aside. I would puzzle over it later, I told myself. I took up the ceremonial dagger, a gift from Prince Luriahk himself on my husband's promotion. I was told that the dagger itself was of no use, that it couldn't cut silk and that it was purely for ceremonial and decorative purposes. Though it once seemed elegant and exquisite, it was now battered and crude. The personal insignia of the prince had been scraped upon until it was barely recognizable, and the leather that bound the hilt had fallen off to reveal the cold hard steel beneath it. I pulled off the sheath to inspect the condition of the blade. To my surprise, the hilt came off out to reveal the hollow broken blade, with yet another piece of rolled up paper inside. I pulled it out to read it. It was a page from my husbands leather bound journal. I read in horror at its contents.
I've seen things that I never thought possible. Our prince Luriahk had us all fooled. In his pursuit of power he fell in step with the dark forces that our kingdom have long strived to hold back. Now he is the consort of that wench Faenice and they have made a pact to secure the throne of Reccos. The others submitted themselves to death as betrayal sunk in, but I, not believing, went berserk and broke free. I've been lost in this labyrinth for a few days now. My strength is waning and my will, I fear, is losing ground. The only rest I've had is when I've found an alcove and set my remaining traps outside it. I believe I only had a few hours of sleep until a daemon tripped over a trap and an entire legion of them came after my hiding spot. My full plate armour has been grated and punctured so much it's more of a garment than a suit of armour. I've discarded it in hopes of yet another obtuse demon tripping over it and getting trampled by other alarmed demons.
In my last battle I encountered the reanimated corpse of the King's mother- in-law. As we feared would happen to Fair Latease, her mother had been violated and made undead by the demonic powers of Faenice. The rune-scythe Firepsyched broke in the battle due to constant stress without repair. I was forced to attack her with the last fragment of the scythes blade, which is now embedded in what remains of her body. The ancient magics will prevent further corruption of her body. I now defend myself with the long swords of the demons, which are flimsy and lasts me only a battle apiece. I've lost a lot of fluids and I've had to drink the blood of the fiends, the blood that damn those who drink into blood lust, to stay alive. I battle insanity with what is left of my own and fight to stay human, for I fear that I may turn into one of them. Turned against the holy involuntarily. If anyone finds this, I pray that the king be informed of this treachery, and that my wife will not grieve for my passing. I hear the screams of those Faenice are giving slow deaths, and it pains me to hear my comrades scream so. For I know they are coming for me too. I pray heaven be merciful on what is left of the purity of my blood and soul. Let it be so.
It was signed with blood in my husband's name, and his family's emblem.
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