Anton stalked down the alley toward the three cornered perps.
“I am the law!” he bellowed as he swung his massive sword swiftly before him, flinging gore and a spray of blood across a nearby wall, evidence of the justice he’d meted out on the others in the gang.
“Your sentence has been decided! Now give me a chance to see you die with some small shred of honor…fight me!” he continued, a mad look in his eyes.
One of the men, a portly brigand known for his cruelty in running several notorious brothels, dropped forward to his knees and began blubbering.
“Mercy! Mercy dread king! I have broken your laws and…and done bad things! Mercy and I will serve you loyally!” be wailed, fighting to hold himself up with one had as he shook in fear.
The other two looked at each other, sharing what they both knew were their last moments alive, and rushed the king, roaring as they moved in on their lone opponent. The fight was quick and final. Anton feinted toward one and used the momentum of the other to slam him mightily against a stone wall, knocking him senseless for a moment. While the other tried to reorient himself, he was beheaded by a wide flat sweep of the king’s greatsword. His body continued for a few more steps, not yet realizing what had happened. Before the head could hit the ground the king wheeled, using his momentum to carry himself completely around. His sword tip scraped along the wall, throwing forth sparks and chips of stone a split-second before connecting with the other brigand’s mid-section, continuing through and beyond it.
The man let out a ragged howl as he looked down to see his entrails spill forth. Involuntarily he tried to gather them up in his hands, all the while howling as he collapsed, slipping in the growing puddle of his own filth and gore.
Ignoring the death throes of the man he’d gutted, the king moved on the still-blubbering pimp, now prostrate at the end of the alley, his legs and arms splayed outward, his face in a puddle of muck.
As the man behind him expired, the sounds of battle receded. Above the whimpering of the man before him Anton could barely hear shouting and the occasional clang of metal on metal from nearby streets. The other kings and Sir Akiros’ MaxTac team were finishing their work, it seemed. Anton studied the man briefly, considering him, what he’d done, and what he represented. In this brief moment Anton reflected on his work and his role as king and symbol of the realm. Had he done right by his people? Were his priorities aligned with his stated goals and values? Had he been a good king? The very existence of these slums was a black mark on his record, he accepted. Glancing at the alley around him, he recognized the mount for a sign no longer there, for a shop opened when this place had been a street, years ago, when Misthaven was young, and such problems were distant.
No, he’d not been the best leader he could be. He’d reveled some in being a king, and enjoyed its trappings…and let this happen. The greatest of kings never ruled without problems, nor challenges. And the greatest of kings owned up to their mistakes. Allowing this rot to take hold in his beloved home was, he accepted, his fault. He would not tolerate in himself such a mistake again.
The pimp’s volume increased, snapping King Anton back to the present. He looked down at the pathetic excuse for a man and pondered his fate…and his own.