A loud explosion rang out down the stone corridors as the heavy, wooden doors of the throne room were blasted open. Smoke and dust filled the doorway and obscured the view from both sides.
“They’ve breached the throne room,” The Captain of The Royal Guard yelled. “Stop them! Stop them!”
Other royal guards raised their crossbows and aimed at the smoke cloud. They shot steel bolts toward the door and then quickly unloaded. The smoke began to clear as a roar echoed up the hallway. Men and women dressed in thick black cloaks began to rush forward carrying torches, pitchforks, blades, and any other item they could use as a weapon.
“Kill them all!” The Captain shouted as he pointed his cutlass toward the intruders.
The royal guards unleashed another wave of arrows striking the cloaked figures and many fell to the ground.
“Keep fighting. This is our moment. We must take the throne room!”
As another group of figures surged into the throne room, one voice rose above the rest. There standing in the middle of the group was a man with a thick, black beard and bald head. He wore a similar black cloak and held two scimitars in his hands.
“The rogue! Kill the rogue!” The Captain yelled to his men.
The royal guard focused their crossbow fire on the figure, but the rogue was too quick for them. He spun his scimitars and sliced through the bolts, deflected the pieces to the sides. More and more people flooded the throne room and they began their assault on the royal guards. Even though the royal guard members were heavily armored and had heavy crossbows, they could not kill all the intruders. Few reached them and attacked with their blades and torches.
“Do not let them reach the Queen! Kill them all!” The Captain shouted.
While this battle raged in the doorway of the throne room, an old woman barely noticed all the commotion. The Queen sat on her throne, her hands wrinkled and shaky. Her eyes were barely opened as she took in slow, shallow breaths. Once she had been a young girl who had taken the crown from an old King before her. Now she sat here on the throne with the heavy metal crown placed on her head.
“Pitiful,” She said as a bit of saliva spilled from her lips down to her chin.
Sitting at her feet was a young girl about her age when she assumed the throne. However this girl was wearing steel manacles around her wrists which were chained to the armrest of the throne. The girl looked on at the battle before her. Dozens of people all fighting one another as blood was shed and people were killed.
The girl then looked up at the Queen.
“Please, just let me go. Please. I don’t want the throne. I don’t want to be Queen,” The girl pleaded.
The old Queen chuckled a bit but it quickly became more of a cough.
“They are here for you, my child,” The Queen said. “But more importantly they are here for me.”
“What do they want?” The Girl asked.
“They want to unseat me,” The Queen spat. “But they will not succeed.”
“Kill the rogue!” The Guard Captain yelled again as he slashed out with his cutlass, slashing one of the intruders across the throat.
The Rogue dashed through the crowd of people and attacked with his two scimitars, slicing off the arm of one of the royal guards. The guard stumbled backwards and blood spilled from his wound. Then the rogue brought the blades down into the man’s chest.
Then the Rogue’s attention focused on the Guard Captain.
“This is our moment. Let us seize it,” The Rogue shouted and charged forward.
The Rogue leaped forward and struck out with his blades. The Guard Captain intercepted the scimitars with his cutlass and there was a spark from the blades connecting.
“Traitor!” The Guard Captain yelled as slashed at The Rogue.
“You are the one holding up a tyrant,” The Rogue replied. “We are the ones who will make things right.”
The two sword fighters clashed over and over again as the battle raged around them. Many people laid dead and their blood spilled all over the stone floor. Both sides had suffered significant losses.
“Just die like the rat you are and end this,” The Guard Captain shouted.
“We have made it this far and we will not retreat,” The Rogue said. “Not until we’ve killed her.”
The Queen looked on at the two figures clashing and continued to laugh to herself. The young girl looked horrified at the carnage in front of her and was frightened of what would happen next. She strained against her metal manacles, but she knew it was no use.
“You are a fool if you think this will change anything,” The Guard Captain said.
“We cannot let her transgressions pass. We must put an end to her,” The Rogue shouted back.
As the two were engaged in combat, one of the other guards plunged their blade into a cloak figure and struck them down. Then the guard changed focus and began running toward the Rogue.
“Watch out!” The young girl shouted out.
The Rogue turned to look just in the nick of time as the guard approached. The Rogue spun with his scimitars, slicing into the guard and decapitating him in an instant. The Guard Captain took advantage of the temporary distraction and leaped with his cutlass. He plunged the blade into the Rogue’s back and sneered.
The Rogue let out a yelp of pain as the blade punctured his back, striking him through the body.
“Fool,” The Guard Captain said.
“So are you,” The Rogue said.
In a blur of movement, he spun his two scimitars and stabbed backwards with them. The Rogue plunged the two blades into The Guard Captain’s chest.
For a moment they both stood there, but the legs of the Guard Captain buckled and he fell to the ground, the cutlass still in The Rogue’s back.
The Rogue dropped his blades, which clattered to the ground, and slowly turned around to face the throne. All of the royal guards were dead alongside the intruders. It was a total bloodbath leaving just one, heavily injured Rogue.
The young girl let out a gasp as The Rogue slowly made his way forward. Dark red blood stained his cloak and dripped to the floor. But he was determined to reach the throne.
“Your reign of terror is over,” The Rogue said as he wiped blood from his mouth.
The Queen let out a small laugh.
“I am not the one with a blade in my back,” She said.
“Not yet,” The Rogue said as he stumbled forward and fell to one knee.
“Bowing before your queen?” The Queen asked in a mocking tone.
“Just catching my breath,” The Rogue said as he spat blood.
“You have failed,” The Queen said as she moved her shaking hands to the armrests of the throne.
She slowly lifted herself to her feet as The Queen looked down at The Rogue.
“This is my throne and I am the Queen,” She said.
“Your time is running out,” The Rogue said as his eyes turned to the young girl. “She is destined to take the crown and the throne.”
“Not if I kill her,” The Queen said as she looked toward the girl.
“What? No! Please. Just let me go,” The girl said as she struggled with the manacles.
“You think that will stop anything? The cycle must continue,” The Rogue said.
The Queen turned back to the Rogue.
“Foolish! The cycle. No one knows anything about the cycle. They all just pretend as they pass the throne on to the next ruler year after year. That ends now,” The Queen said before she began coughing.
The Rogue, still on one knee, reached to his belt and pulled a hunting knife from it.
“You still plan on killing me? Haven’t you learned anything from this failed coup?” The Queen asked.
“I’m not going to kill you. She is,” The Rogue said.
He shoved the blade forward with all his might and it slid across the stone floor, resting at the young girl’s feet.
“No!” The Queen yelled, but the young girl was much quicker.
Even manacled, the girl was able to reach the blade and she gripped it with both hands, pointing the tip toward the Queen.
“Don’t be foolish, girl,” The Queen spat.
The girl looked at the Queen and then to The Rogue.
“Do it,” He whispered as he clung to life.
The girl charged forward and stabbed with the blade.
The Queen screamed out in pain as the blade pierced her skin. However, there was no blood. Instead as the blade stabbed the Queen, there was a ripple across her entire body. The Queen began to disintegrate rapidly, starting at the stab wound. Her entire body turned to dust and the metal crown fell to the floor with a loud bang.
“You did it,” The Rogue said as he slumped to the ground.
“Wait! Hold on!” The young girl pulled at the manacles one again and this time they gave way without any resistance.
She then ran over to the dying Rogue.
“Sir. Sir. I can help you. Just hold on,” The girl said as knelt down next to the rogue.
It was very obvious that this man had lost a lot of blood. His cloak was completely soaked with crimson and his breath was shallow and shaky. He was moments away from death.
“You did good,” The Rogue said as he laid there, eyes closed.
“No, you saved me. You freed me from her,” The young girl said.
“It doesn’t matter now,” The Rogue said. “The Queen is dead. It’s your turn to take the throne.”
“But I’m not a Queen. I’m just a girl.”
“Boys. Girls. They all came in here just like you. Young rulers without any idea what to do.”
“How do you know that?” The young girl asked.
The Rogue did his best to give a smile as his eyes opened once again.
“I was once a part of the court. A royal advisor to the Queen you just killed. But shortly after her rule, things got worse. Raging fires. Threats of global war. The Plague. All of it under her watch. It was then I knew that she would not be like other rulers. She would fight as long as possible to rule. She would not give up the throne. Then I decided I had to stop her at all cost. We knew this was the moment to strike when she would be at her weakest. We had to come in here and kill her so you could continue the cycle.”
“But what do I do?” The girl asked.
“I do not know,” The Rogue replied. “The crown and throne is yours to take. Once you sit down on the throne, you will be recognized as the new ruler.”
“But what if I don’t want to be Queen?”
“An empty throne,” The Rogue chuckled. “We’ve never had one of those.”
“I…I just don’t know what to do. I need help,” The girl said.
“We all need help,” The Rogue replied. “All the people out there need help. They’ve been through a lot. Some might say that it was unprecedented and trying times. It was rough and many people suffered the old Queen’s reign. But you have a chance to change that. You taking the throne won’t change things in an instant, but it just might give people hope. Hope that things can change for the better and that our best times are still ahead of us. I can’t help you. But you can make the sacrifice of all these people worth it. It will take time to undo the damage the old Queen has caused, but we have to start somewhere. Do you understand?”
The girl nodded.
“Good,” The Rogue said. “Queen 2020 is dead. Long live Queen 2021.”
His final words came out in a whisper as his body relaxed and his last breath left his lips.
2021 sat there for a moment looking at the Rogue’s body and then out toward all the dead men and women who laid at the entrance of the throne room. Her attention then shifted to the empty throne which sat before her.
She got to her feet and wiped tears from her eyes. She took a deep breath and stepped forward, picking up the heavy, metal crown. She held it in her arms as she looked back at the empty throne.
All this death, destruction, disease, and pain. Could she really undo it all? She had her doubts but knew that the people were counting on her. She would have to assume the throne and be a beacon of hope for all of those suffering.
She placed the crown on her head and took a seat on the throne as she looked out at the throne room.
“Love live Queen 2021,” She whispered to herself.
Header Photo Credit to Adobe Stock Photos