High on a cliff the castle loomed, overlooking the foamy green sea. Lord Mortan stood before the wide window facing the sea, gazing down at the tool of his justice. Sharp rocks filled the turbulent water around the base of the cliff like a hungry maw. Decaying bodies lay on some of the rocks, more fortunate to have met a sudden end than those who had fallen straight into the sea, doomed to die in the horrors of drowning.
His rise to power had come at the cost of many lives, and he would continue to sacrifice as many as were necessary to maintain his position. He turned around as the sound of jangling chains filled the throne room. His guards flanked an old man whose wild white hair was tinged with green, as though moldy. The old man’s unkempt beard reached down to his chest.
Mortan climbed the rostrum, sat upon the ornate throne, and looked down with narrowed eyes upon the old man. “Who is this you bring before me?”
“A malcontent who spreads dissent among your people, my lord,” one of the guards said. He jerked on the chain, forcing the old man to his knees. “He is called Orsair, and he incites rebellion, saying it is the will of the Holy Sea.”
Orsair knelt on the hard stony floor of the throne room, clutching at the chain around his neck and staring at Lord Mortan with rage-filled deep green eyes.
“Do the same with him as the others,” Mortan said, giving a dismissive wave. He rose from the throne and walked back to the window overlooking the sea as the guards began to drag the old man away.
Orsair spat on the floor. “You may be lord of this castle, Mortan, but heed my warning. The Sea has spoken—he shall stand no more innocent blood. You are an abomination to him. He does not abide tyrants!”
“Silence!” Mortan wheeled around. “You are just like the rest of the vile dissidents, except you come here claiming to be some kind of prophet of the will of the Sea.”
“Doubt my claim at your own peril. How many dozens of men, women, and children have you cast from the cliff into the Sea, bound and weighted with stones? Do you think the Sea will stand for such wanton killing?”
“Each man, woman, or child I have tossed into the Sea has earned such a death. The Sea is the bringer of justice, and he has brought justice to those who oppose my divinely foretold reign here.”
“There is nothing divine in your reign,” Orsair said. “Sky and Sea abhor you. You rightly say the Sea is the bringer of justice. Repent and leave this place, lest he visit justice upon your head!”
Mortan motioned to the guards. “Take him away. Cast him into the Sea he so foolishly believes he speaks for.”
“You will pay, Mortan!” Orsair shouted. “You will pay for innocent blood with your own!”
The echoes of Orsair’s voice faded as the guards dragged him away. Mortan looked out the window, waiting to see the mad old man fall to his death. His wait was not long; the guards brought the still-raving lunatic to the edge of the cliff, bound tight in chains. Mortan clenched his jaw, bracing himself for the all-consuming thrill of watching his opposition be destroyed.
The guards shoved Orsair over the edge, and he plummeted down, sinking beneath the foamy green waves.
Mortan closed his eyes as a shiver of exhilaration shot along his spine. “All the power of Sky and Sea has been appointed to me, old fool.” He laughed. “None shall triumph over me, least of all a madman!” He opened his eyes again, looking down at the majesty of the sea, the majesty of his vindication.
Dark clouds bloomed in the sky, blocking out all the sun’s light. Lightning split the sky in two. Thunder roared through the air. Wind bellowed. Waves crashed wildly against the cliff in a frenzy. Higher and higher they climbed, spraying spume and salt through the air.
Heart racing, Mortan took a step back from the window. Within moments, the sea splashed so high it poured through the window. He turned and ran from the throne room, each panicked footstep raising his fear. Another wave surged through the window, and a tendril of water like rope shot forth, looping around Mortan’s neck. He could not even scream as the wave pulled him back out through the window, swallowed whole by the hungry sea that pulled him down into the rocky maw at the cliff’s base. He struggled against the water, but it pulled him deeper and deeper. Lungs burning with agony, he could hold his breath no more. Cold salty water filled his lungs as he sank to the bottom to join all those he had killed.
Sated, the sea calmed.
Orsair stood on one of the rocks, free of chains and swathed in sea-green robes blowing in the wind like waves. “I warned you I do not abide tyrants.”
“Sea and Lord” copyright 2017 by A.L.S. Vossler.
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