Chapter 22: Always Greedy
King Greedy ventured into the forest on a horse alone. He didn’t worry about safe trails or having to face any dark creatures under the witch’s spell. He wasn’t harassed by any crows and there was no change in temperature because they had made an agreement. Still, all was calm, too calm. It was peaceful and it shouldn’t have been.
The animals residing in the forest were not afraid. They gathered together in the open. A deer even walked in front of King Greedy without taking notice or showing alarm at his presence. He studied the forest, every movement, every passing wind, and every sound. His fear grew. If the witch’s power had somehow been vanquished, his reign was in jeopardy. It would take an army just the right size to challenge him and he could lose it all. All it took was for someone to accidently kill a dead soldier. Word would then spread quickly and not long after people would go for his head. He imagined being tortured, an opportunity for everyone to take a knife to him, one at a time, and he knew he deserved it.
He was holding on to his own kind of hope. Wanting a simple explanation from the witch, he rode his horse faster to get his answers more quickly.
After two and a half days, he arrived. Her home was quiet, surrounded by animals casually walking by, eating what they could find. The small fire was still going, but there was no black smoke and no sign of the witch. He did not call out. He only examined his surroundings before slowly entering her home. This was the first time anyone had done so willingly.
Her home was unimpressive. It contained six rooms, three on each side of one single hall. These rooms were small and bare, simply containing single cots and a single window. In a couple of the rooms he saw what appeared to be scratch marks as well as other forms of markings scrawled on the walls. Some were to keep track of the days as they passed while others seemed like mental notes, names, and places someone didn’t want to forget.
Finally, he made his way to the last room on the left. There she was, laying on the floor in a fetal position, looking as though someone had kicked her in the stomach. She was moaning and writhing. For the first time, her veil was lifted and her whole face was exposed. Her eyes and forehead were grotesquely scarred.
“So close, mine, almost…no, she forgives, how? Close, so close,” she whispered repeatedly to herself.
King Greedy watched her and, for once, was tempted to feel pity, but his anger consumed him.
“All that power,” he said with such contempt, “and for what? Wasted on you! What is it you are whimpering on about?”
The witch, almost in hysterics, looking all over as if trying to fix her eyes on an object flying around, sat up and said,
“The girl, she took it, gone. NOTHING MORE!”
“The Princess…the Princess, little wretched child…so selfish!”
“How could you let a little girl defeat you? Is she powerful too? Does she have your magic?” He asked; attempting to mask his fear of hearing the answer to his question.
“Must be powerful, her touch. Nothing like I felt before, nothing.”
“And what of my army? Is this why they can be killed again?”
“Yes, killed once more, second death.”
“Where is this Princess? If I kill her, will that change anything?”
“No, all is lost, gone…I do not know where…she took it!” The witch was now sobbing and
King Greedy was growing more impatient with her. His anger was setting in.
“Is there anything else?” He asked as he drew out his sword slowly.
“Yes,” she said, unaware of his intentions, “the King…he lives. He will come for you next, you like me…
King Greedy, now furious, impaled the witch with his sword.
“You are no longer of any use to me. You have broken our deal and the penalty is death.”
The witch, now choking on her own blood was gasping for air, her eyes met King Greedy’s as if she could see them.
“Don’t look so surprised,” he teased, “you should thank me. I’m putting you out of your misery as I would a sick dog.”
He pulled his sword back and she fell over, eyes and mouth still wide, motionless.
King Greedy grabbed a lamp nearby and made his way outside toward the small fire. He examined the house for a loose piece of wood and broke it off. He poured the oil from the lamp on it and set it ablaze. Then he proceeded with burning the house down. It caught quickly and was soon engulfed in flames with the witch still inside.
Finally, he kicked off a piece of burning wood from the side of the house. He grabbed it from one end and casually walked to a nearby tree. He lit it on fire as well and continued to do so with every tree surrounding the burning house.
He needed to find the King and Princess before they could challenge him. If they were hiding or still walking in the forest, a fire would force them out and perhaps one of his dead soldiers would spot them.
He was and had always been greedy and there was no cost too great to get what he wanted.