Wishes of a Dying Knight
Make me a bed
With a stone pillow on it
Under a clear sky
Strewn with glittering diamonds
I'll look at the moon
With a sword clutched to my chest
And make wishes
For the dying tomorrow
A helmet on my head
To keep my ears free
And my meditations
Undiluted from distracting whispers.
He took out the sword from its sheath, and handed it to her. She took it, and pierced it through my heart, and they both said, “be dead!”
Startled I woke up with sweat beads forming fast on my face, my eyes wide open and my heart beating furiously as if my rib cage was not strong enough to contain it anymore. I looked about to bring myself out of the trance, but the darkness acted more like salt to an open wound, than to bring peace to my mind. Lastly I looked up at the window several feet above the foot of my bed. Through the bars, rusting out throughout the ages yet still thick enough to stand even the pull force of five war horses, I saw a solitary star gleaming furiously with hating red luster. Yes he was Mercury, and it meant that dawn was not far off.
A wheezing started from the bottom of my chest. I stumbled out of bed as hurriedly as I could and took two very hasty steps away from the head of the bed to the basin lodged into the corner. Here I coughed my dry cough for some time, and at last spat out what felt like my gut. I snatched the candle from my bedside and lit it. Yes, it was blood all splattered against the walls of the basin. Nothing had changed not even the dream for the past two weeks.
I heard footsteps outside the door. I thought they were the guards who heard me in my misery, and were coming to peek into this cell through the latch and pass obscene comments, just to torment me and get a few laughs out of the process. Traitors! But I really can't blame them for their deeds. If only they knew who I really was. If they would only listen to what I had to say. If only they believed me when I said, that I was their king, to whom they had pledged their allegiance till death took them or me. Ah! But they were led to believe I was dead, my young brother to be my successor, and the sorceress queen's new husband.
The footsteps were none other than my daughter's, who has come to believe me to be her father's murderer. But who can blame her when the reflections in the mirror show nothing different? I did kill a man who looked no different from me, and even had the birth deformity of a missing ear. Little did I know then that the imposter was an innocent man whose body was swapped with mine, and I was unaware that my very own wife was the one to do it. I am left alive by sanction of the queen. Only the gods and she knows why.
Sketch by Adeet M. Rahman
She entered my cage, wearing a white gown, with her golden curly locks falling to her waist. A face to rival the goddess Venus, and her complexion to beat the smoothness of ripe olives. A recreation of her mother's image, but different eyes. Eyes that spreads warmth in a soul, and that spreads not lust.
I knelt in her presence, and greeted her with, “My lady”, else the guards would certainly have beaten me within an inch of my existence. She bowed in reply, and dismissed guards. It would seem strange to anyone else in the world for such a gesture coming from her towards the man who by proof had killed her father, but it was no surprise to me. She loved me as she loved no one else, and she still is holding on to what I have taught her to be manners regarding greeting a person even the enemies.
She sat down on my bed, and we were silent. With a very shaky and sad voice she started, “My uncle, the king, has asked my mother for a favor. It pains him to see the murderer of his brother, his king, my father, to remain in existence, when the deceased should lie under the stars. It has been now two weeks, and still his funeral pyre needs to cool down.”
Welled up tears glided down her cheeks, even though her expression remained composed. “His majesty asked of the queen that your demise should come from the hands of his brother's only child.”
She took out a vial containing a glowing scarlet liquid that illuminated the whole room. She said, “This is poison, that will kill you. But it will do so very slowly. I was instructed to make it myself, and such I did under the supervision of the queen. Slowly it will bring you to a dreamless sleep, and your life will be spent henceforth. Your heart will stop during this sleep, and you will be no more.”
She placed the vial by my bed, and stood up to leave. She walked to the door and I spoke, “My lady! A dying wish, if it is to be granted.”
“Speak hastily! For I am not to enjoy your company!”
“My lady, if I were given a few pieces of parchment and a quill with enough ink, I wish to write down my dying thoughts.”
“So be it”, and those were the last words my daughter had said to me.
Morpheus has shown us so many dreams, but never has he shown anyone one so clear.
My wife, she loved me, but she loved power more than anything else. She wanted me alive till the gods would take me on their own. But she knows very little.
It was the gods who wished I go in such a manner, and in such a manner I shall go! I am no one to defy them on any account. I am grateful for this sleep that is overcoming me.
(R) thedailystar.net 2011