Damned be the Fall
It was about eleven years after the birth of Prince Garril. It was eleven years after the neighboring dukes of Elvinia came by to fawn over how cute the baby was, and how their duchess could not make something as beautiful as he. Eleven years after even the other kings and queens would go the castle to admire the king and queen simply for having so many children. That all came to a stop, and the goings-on of the country had finally slowed to its regular cadence.
And then it all started to slip.
Its decline was not perhaps because of Garril, but because of the king. King Syrami was growing old and had failing health. The queen and the princes knew it was coming—even the gardener Roczorhod, the dullest in all the land saw it: King Syrami of Elvinia was going to die.
Garril was probably too young to understand why his father had been bedridden for the past few months months. He could not grasp the concept of aging. But whenever he saw his poor father lying in his bed, on the border of sleep and awake, it depressed him. Each day, Garril would try to take on the duties of his father’s maid Ariel. The boy did a poor job of it.
“Damn it, Garril,” his brother Syrregain would criticize him. “Why don’t you just leave father alone?” Syrregain was twice as old as Garril, but Garril decided he need not take directions from him. His other brother Terronen would always follow in Syrregain’s pathway no matter what he did, and so her criticized his younger brother as well. He was as blind a sheep, and would probably follow Syrregain to a cliff if Syrregain wanted to.
Only Letorry seemed to care about Garril, seeing as their mother was almost always by the King’s side, uselessly praying for his return to health. He reminded them that his brothers were simply idiots and that the only one he need take orders from was his father and his mother. Because of that, he soon started to obey Letorry as well.
The entire kingdom was in outrage. Soon, their beloved king would depart from the living world. For the months he had been sick, the people had been praying tirelessly for him to become better. Needless to say it never worked.
Fate caught up with the king that next year when Garril was twelve. It was storming outside relentlessly, and everyone had retreated home to avoid the rain. Elvins—Tulla Elvins especially—believed that when it was storming, the wrath of the Goddess was falling on them.
Garril believed it was a harbinger of death. He, along with his brothers, his mother, and two maids were gathered around the King’s bed. The night was growing thin, and the King looked far from even remotely healthy. His pallid face looked even paler beneath his graying beard. His short sharp breaths would stop now and again, and it seemed as if he was breathing no longer. Sometimes his whole body would suddenly twitch, and with every convulsing movement, he looked as if he was ready to fall apart.
Everybody gathered around the king was weeping for the man—so much that even the sheets around his feet had become soaked with tears of depression and fear.
He opened his mouth once, and everybody leaned in toward him. A failing gasp escaped his dry throat.
“Letorry...” the king wheezed.
“Yes?” Letorry said, half-whimpering.
“You will become the king soon...and I trust you to take good care of your family and your kingdom.” The king breathed in and out slowly. It seemed to take him everything to finish that sentence. By the end of it, Letorry had broken down in tears.
“Syrregain...and Terronen...” whispered the king next, hoarsely. The two were unable to even look at the dying man before them.
“You will serve as knights...and become the best knights Elvinia has ever seen.” The king coughed—and even those were raspy and barren. Syrregain and Terronen both looked away from him. The King turned his attention to his wife, the queen.
“Anukka...” he started. The queen threw her arms around him.
“Don’t leave, please,” she whimpered, crying into his thin, frail chest. He coughed once, and she let him go immediately. Unable to bear the grief predominantly in the room harboring the king’s deathbed, she stormed away in burning tears.
Garril was standing alone at the foot of the bed, his face red and swollen with tears.
“Father...don’t go father...” was all that the boy managed to say.
It was hard to say for sure what emotion the king had. Nor was it easy to figure out what had given the king enough strength to say what he said. But what he said was what left Letorry, Syrregain and Terronen in stunned shock, and what left Garril in tears.
“I want to leave Elvinia forever, Garril! You are the worst disaster that could have happened to me! Leave now should my knights spear you to death! Go! Hell with you, the child that destroyed my princess!”
After that, the King coughed once and died right then and there.
There was no sound.
There was no movement.
There were no smiles.
Garril tried to run down the tower of the castle, trying to escape what had just ensued back at the tower. Blindly, he tripped over stairs and chair legs as the king’s final, biting words echoed throughout his mind. Tears of anger, sorrow and fear began to stream down his face as he fled from the castle, and tried to run—anywhere, everywhere.
His chest heaved in and out—a steady, morbid cadence, thumping out against his skin. No matter where he turned, there was nowhere for him to hide from the haunting voice of the king. That, and the thunder made Garril’s skull tingle with angry noises.
The icy rain falling over the half-baked ground created a haunted-looking mist. The fleeing boy tripped over things hidden by it.
The cacophony of noises was nearly deafening. Only a child like Garril, could be ill-witted and ill-fated enough to be outside on such a night. It would have caused one to become too and faint.
And that is exactly what Garril did on the side of the road on the outskirts of the capital.
“AHH!!!” Garril exclaimed in excruciating pain when he awoke next. A mind-numbing wave of pain erupted from his lower right arm and his forehead. He found them covered in bandages—red from blood. He was sitting up in a haystack with a mildly itchy burlap blanket over him. It, too, had some stains of blood.
“Ah...that hurts...” he hissed as the pain began to subside.
“You’d better get used to it then.”
Garril whirled around—and hit the back of his head on a low beam.
“AHHH!!!” he cried in pain once more. He felt thin, yet firm arms catch him as he recoiled in pain.
“You’ve got a mouth on you there, dear,” said a female voice in a thick Tulla accent. He recognized that accent—it was like the one his mother spoke with.
“What happened?” Garril finally asked his supposed captor.
“I found you,” the lady said; “knocked out just outside my farm.” Garril looked at her.
If she was an Elvin, she looked rather unusual for one. Her straight black hair draped over the right side of her face contrasted from the pale blond most Elvins had. Her hair was so long it covered half of her face. She wore a long crimson robe that looked a little more suitable for a queen rather than a farm worker.
“My name is Tarja,” she said. Even her name was not that Elvin, not even all that Tulla.
“I am Garril.” Tarja’s face—what Garril could see of it—turned paler, and her visible eye bulged.
“Prince Garril?” she gasped, and lowered herself in a genuflecting position. Garril felt mildly ashamed of the lady’s addressing him as an important figure.
“Tarja...please don’t,” he said in a begging tone. Tarja looked up from her position, but did not shift from it.
“Why? Is this not how I address a prince?” she asked. Tarja finally stood from her position, and towered over the boy now. Garril looked away from her, not wanting to explain. He feared he’d hear his father’s cruel words ringing once more in his mind. He moved his arms to cover his ears, for fear they would return.
LEAVE ELVINIA FOREVER... ...WORST DISASTER... ...CHILD THAT DESTROYED MY PRINCESS...
Garril? Garril! GAR...RI...IL...
The morning light was painful as it entered Garril’s eyes once more. It revived the blinding pain in his arms and forehead.
“AAAAAAHHHHH!!” he screamed once again. Tarja was still beside him, carefully re-bandaging his wounds.
“Stay still, dear,” Tarja instructed him calmly; “or it will become gangrenous.” She peeled off the bandage on his arm. Garril did not need to know what ‘gangrenous’ meant to know it was something wrong. Tarja’s voice was a dead giveaway on that.
“Stay still, dear,” Tarja repeated as she held down his writhing arm, attempting to re-bandage the gruesome, bloody thing. Within minutes, she had finally calmed him down and had bandaged his arm perfectly. He lay limply on the haystack with his arm hanging off to the side.
“For just a child, you have the loudest mouth,” Tarja sighed, wiping nonexistent sweat off her forehead. In return, she only got a soft snore. Garril was fast asleep. Tarja sighed again, this time slightly more exasperated.
“The child can’t stay awake,” she said to nobody. Feeling mildly fatigued herself; Tarja lay down on the pile of hay beside him. She closed her eyes, and let the world vanish beneath darkness.