THE MAD KING sat on his throne of bleached bones, his hair spun cotton, sprouting in all directions, stained yellow like his teeth. The bones were of children, tied together with the remains of shredded papers which documented his crimes. He mumbled to himself the same sad lines, and remembered the applause of sycophants echoing through the chamber before the fall. He raised his fists and cursed at his enemies, and the people who remained—the ones he couldn’t kill or drive away. He could hear them shouting in the courtyard outside his broken castle.
The remains of his feeble mind searched for a reason, any reason, that he had fallen from grace. But it found only emptiness, like the vast desert of his soul. He never thought his lies would catch him. He was too fast. Too elusive. Spinning a tapestry of illusion like a black widow harvesting blood. He looked at his hands, red with the pain of mere mortals, stained with the sorrow of those far beneath him. But he felt nothing. He had never felt anything. For them? Who were they to command? Mere animals to be trodden beneath his feet.
The vultures circled far above the shattered tower, waiting, and the sky had a baleful crimson glow. He blamed not himself. Blame was something other people wore, like tattered clothes. The air was thick and smelled of burning skin. His council had at last abandoned him, realizing too late that his disease would follow them to their early graves.
Small, petty, and vindictive, he was. Consumed with his own importance. And when his importance evaporated, so did he, growing smaller and wizened upon his throne, until he was no larger than an ant. He flailed his arms in rage and shouted the four letters that would be carved on his headstone when he was long forgotten.
And then the children who remained, buried him.