A Fallen King

                Between the openmouthed gate and through hedgerows of ancient stone fled the fallen king, Justice chasing relentlessly after. His sins finally came to bear. Mist choked the maze he stumbled through, leaving all but a few inches in front of his face little more than indistinct shadows that swirled in the dark. He ran, clutching to his heart the power that augured his downfall, that which he had stolen from a God most frightful and most divine. The secret to eternal life. Immortality to seal his clutches on his kingdom.

                But one cannot steal from a God without consequence. Her powers trump even those of the greatest of great men. Her will, though slow, is inexorable. Her decrees sacrosanct. And so, along with her graces, the king watched all he held most dear slip from his grasp: His kingdom, his family, his respect among peers—fellow leaders of nearby nations all laughed at his misfortune. They knew better than to tangle with the Warrior, than to disrespect the most implacable of Gods.

                The white walls of stone extended far above his head, and from them rained down giant boulders, shaken loose by the footfalls of Vengeance. Each step grew further imperiled as he had to dodge falling death. Soon, he knew, his flight would be at an end.

                Finally he turned down a corridor that ended abruptly at a wall. As a shadow loomed behind him, he inched up against it, the world trembling with its steps as the God approached. Alas, he was trapped. The Warrior came to reclaim what he had taken. There was no other option. The fallen king took to his knees in supplication, and prayed that she would be merciful.

                The Warrior approached, appearing in the mist, herself a moving wall. A 20 foot spectacle. Of dark marble, of muscle hewn from obsidian, of flinty brown eyes, of unkempt dark curls. She was naked, and all the more terrifying for it. Strapped around her bare waist, a simple leather belt with an ornate scabbard. A scabbard from which she might pull a thousand blades. Each member of her arsenal waited for her call in the aether.

                And as she menaced, the king began to beg.

                “Please, Warrior, forgive my foolishness. I meant not to offend, only to-”

                SILENCE! The Warrior did not speak, at least her mouth did not move. The words seeped from the porous stone around them, like the whole world was made of God, like the maze was her bosom, like the king merely fled deeper into her folds. You think I don’t know what you intended? You yourself had dreams of a seat in my pantheon!

                “Mercy, I beg of you mercy.”

                The Warrior got down on one knee, meeting the king’s gaze, and did not respond right away. He felt as if she measured his soul. She snorted dismissively and rose again.

                You think you stole from me. It was not a question. You think you can move without a God’s notice. You think one can become a God without sacrifice, without enduring great pain. Without losing everything. Such is man’s arrogance I suppose.

                These next words she spoke, surprisingly quiet for one of such power. “I was like you once. Only focused on how to grow stronger. I was obsessed with conquering the world, extending myself past humankind’s earthly limits. I dreamed of becoming a celestial creature. And so I did. And the cost…”

                The Warrior paused, her eyes far away, remembering a fateful night on a desolate plain. A plaintive look on a lover’s face. An oasis built on death.

                “But you will not get that chance, ‘king’. You dreamed of power without dues, and connived of shortcuts.”

                “My Queen, my omnipotent liege, I-“

                “You thought you could take from me without my notice. But I am everywhere in this world, from every grain of sand, from every brick, I peer out. You stole Godhood from me because I. Let. You.”

                To this the king had no response. He close his eyes, and shivered. Suddenly it was cold in the maze. The mist clung to him, iron shackles chaining him to his fate.

                “Such a pain it is, being all knowing. At first I wondered why Gods toy with men, dangling before them everything they’ve ever wanted only to affix to it a most burdensome price.”

                The mist began to fade, and the maze with it. The stone became clouds. And for a brief moment, the king floated in Paradise.

                “But now I see… it is because we grow idle.”

                And with that, she let the king fall, robbed of the prize that sheltered him from death.

                It felt like an age passed before he hit the ground.