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Chapter 18: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

1/26/2020 edit: This was previously part of a Christmas Bonus post but in the process of cleaning up my blog for 2020 and starting “Season 2” of the story, I realized that future chapters treat this like canon so it should probably be it’s own chapter!


Vladislaus Straud hardly ever dreamed of the battlefields. 

Of the towering pile of limbs and viscera, those that he hadn’t consumed bodily, too torn to knit themselves back together. Or the flames and singed flesh he watched not with horror, but with hunger.

And he hadn’t wanted to stop either.

William had been there, to run him through with a silver sword. Silver, which would not kill him, for creatures like he were granted no such mercy.

He understood that. Now.

The sword had simply pinned him, gave him a moment to think and shove the darkness back down, caging it behind bone and marrow made mostly of his own willpower.

And the thing that was left, the husk of Vladislaus Straud felt nothing.

Was nothing.

Wanted nothing. 

And in that nothingness that was still anger, and still grief, a certain kind of cruelty began to form.

Not the unhinged madness that burned the abbey of heretical monks and stole and stabbed and killed to survive.

But a cruelty that began to think, wars would be waged, lands would be conquered, and things were best done not by partnership, but by fear.

The dream shifted then. He saw Kaylnn’s face and Atorn’s too. 

He felt egret for what he had traded. 

Recalled the moment he climbed into the mouth of the cave, dropping to his knees, and begging the demon to take this useless soul swirling inside him and grant him clemency from his unending misery.

Remembered how the demon had torn through his flesh and climbed inside, the pain unconscionable; and for a moment, Vladislaus Straud, not yet king, had welcomed it. 


Credits

From Natalia-Auditore:

Emotions 6 by Simmerberlin

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