The Author is Dead

Sebastian knew from the moment he threw his lance that it would find its target. He felt it radiating through his bones down from the tips of his fingers as it left his grasp. Even without the blessing that the old crone had placed upon it, he knew its path was true; her spell upon it just made it shimmer as it soared through the air, humming truth before striking hard in its new home: the heart of the Bandit King.

He fell to his knees first, his arms spread wide as though he was shocked, as though he was preparing to throw his arms down in surrender. When his sword and pistol fell from his hands, though, it was because his hands had gone still. The Bandit King would only surrender in death, Sebastian knew, and that was why it had to end like this. When he slumped backward he was held from falling fully prone by the end of the lance where it had passed fully through him. He died that way, pierced to the earth with palms bare and eyes open upwards to whatever gods would take him above.

The bandits that had come with him to battle were already dispersing, cowards now that their King had fallen. Sebastian raised a hand to hold his own retinue back and walked across the space between them, along the line his lance had sailed through the air. He stopped in front of the Bandit King’s body and laid a hand on the hilt of the lance. He tightened his grip upon the lance for a moment and then released it and turned back to his men.

“Let no one take him from this spot,” he called out, voice echoing loud enough that even the retreating bandits had to hear him. “Let him be covered with vine and leaf, let the elements take him until there is nothing left, and let this lance stay buried in the earth as a reminder to those who would attempt villainy against the barony, to those who would aim to sully the pure and noble,” he closed his eyes and put a hand over his heart, thinking of the princess and how her safety now was assured, “to those who would steal and rob and sow discord and fear among an innocent populace. Let those who would do ill here see what becomes of such: righteousness will finish you, and you will be swallowed up by the land that bore you.”

Silence hung in the air after he spoke, not even the birds willing to sing against him. Sebastian looked at the Bandit King, at how pale his face was now. He took the medal from his chest, the one he bore from when he still served in the Baron’s army, before he’d shown himself a traitor. Sebastian looked at it in his hand, saw it to be old and tarnished. “It could have been different for you,” he said, and shook his head sadly. “It could have been so different.” He held the medal tight in his palm, feeling its proud symbols press into his flesh, and turned on his heel to begin the journey home.

The Bandit King remained, blue eyes staring upward, unblinking forever more.

Robin let out a slow breath and stared at his laptop screen. “Well, that’s that,” he said to his empty apartment.

“…Shit,” he said, some five minutes of staring later, and made himself hit ‘save.’