I stared at the hanging rope a short distance in front of me and listened to the whispers of the crowd at my back. Thief, murderer....traitor they called me. The intensity of their gaze was like a physical weight on my back, trying to press my face into the wooden boards I knelt on.
Time and time again I had watched the same civilized people turn on their friends and neighbors. But like a fool I had expected my trial to be different. That the men, women and children I had fought for my whole life would laugh in the face of the crimes levied against me. “So much for that.” I muttered.
The sound of clinking plate mail silenced the crowd as sure as if they had all been made mute. Of course, the sight of the King Johns, better known as the Iron King could do that.
I swiveled my head to see a beast of a man, covered head to toe in green armor trimmed in gold, striding across the wooden platform towards me. The floorboards creaked audibly below his considerable weight. He had strong, yet unpleasant features. The highlight of which was the empty eye socket that seemed bottomless in the wrong lighting.
I felt my mouth twist into a silent snarl as the figure following the King stepped out into plain view. High Priest Malachi appeared as he always did, his slight form almost ethereal in his robes as he glided across the stage. Even with the hood covering his face I knew that he would be looking down his long nose at me, smiling in satisfaction.
King Johns stopped before me, his lackey at his side, and had the nerve to grace me with a brief look of pity. Pity! When every action I had taken in the previous months had been at his order. I fought the urge to spit at his feet like a common criminal.
“Citizens of Kimeda!!!” The King roared, his powerful voice easily carrying. “Sir Darrius Mikealson has been found guilty of crimes against the kingdom. And crimes against the gods themselves. You all will bear witness to his execution! Let this be an example to us all that even the best among us can fall.” With that he stepped to the side and Malachi knelt in front of me.
“Finally.” He hissed from beneath his robes. “The great and mighty Darrius, brought low and only minutes away from his own demise. For so long I labored to see this day arrive.”
Now I spat, straight into the darkness of his hood. “You are a stain, Malachi. My only regret is that I will not be the one to rid this kingdom of your degradation.” I turned to the King. “I did what was asked of me, as I always have done.” A flash of shame crossed his face, quickly masked behind a solemn expression.
Standing, Malachi addressed me for the crowd to hear. “Darrius Mikealson. You have angered the gods for the last time!”
Ignoring him I looked up at the cloudy, gray sky. “Prove it.” I say, just loud enough to make myself heard.
“Blasphemy!” Malachi yelled. “The gods have no need to prove their justice to any man! Guards! Hang this man before his words anger the gods who provide for us!”
King Johns waved away the approaching guards and picked me from the ground himself. I stayed silent as he wrapped the rope around my neck and placed me above the trap door. I felt somewhat glad for the rain that started to fall, followed by thunder high in the sky. I’d always wished to die on a stormy day. Now facing the crowd, I could see the expectant looks on their faces and closed my eyes at the sight.
In slow motion the King stepped away and motioned to the executioner behind me. Overhead lightning flashed and the storm intensified. For a brief moment, I felt weightless as the door opened under my feet. But before I could fall my world was swallowed in a split second of blinding light and intense pain.
As the world went dark and quiet I thought I heard a voice. “We have use for you yet.” It whispered. And then I knew nothing at all.