Broken Empire: Prince Of Thorns Part 29

Broken Empire: Prince Of Thorns -

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I study the page before me, and the quill in my hand, and the ink at its point glistening with dark possibilities. Have I seen without distortion? Looking through the years, how much gets twisted?

The Nuban told me his people made ink by grinding up secrets. Here I am untangling them, and it's been a slow business.

Out in the courtyard I see Rike, a massive figure dwarfing the soldiers he's drilling. I'm told he has taken a wife. I didn't enquire further.

I spread the pages before me. A scribe will have to copy these out. I write in a crabbed hand, a tight unbroken line, the line I've followed from there to here, from then to now.

I see my life spread out across a tabletop. I see the course of my days, how I spun about, aimless, like a child's top. Corion may have sought to guide the destination but the journey, the murderous, random, broken journey, was all mine.

Gog is crouched by the fire. He's grown, and not just taller. He's making shapes in the flames, having them dance. He makes a game of it until it bores him. Then he goes back to his wooden soldier, making him march, running him here and there, charging at shadows.

I think about the road. Not so often now, but I still think about it. About life that begins new each morning, walking on, chasing after blood or money or shadows. It was a different me that wanted those things, a different me that wanted to break everything for the joy of breaking it, for the thrill of what it might bring. And to see who might care.

I was like Gog's little wooden soldier, running in wild and meaningless circles. I can't say I'm sorry for the things I did. But I'm done with them. I wouldn't repeat those choices. I remember them. Blood is on these hands, these ink-stained hands, but I don't feel the sin. I think maybe we die every day. Maybe we're born new each dawn, a little changed, a little further on our own road. When enough days stand between you and the person you were, you're strangers. Maybe that's what growing up is. Maybe I have grown up.

I said by the time I was fifteen I would be a king. And I am. And I didn't even have to kill my father to have a crown. I have The Haunt and the lands of Renar. I have towns and villages, and people who call me King. And if the people call you King, that is what you are. It's no great thing.

On the road I did things that men might call evil. There were crimes. They talk about the bishop most often, but there were many more, some darker, some more bloody. I wondered once if Corion had put that sickness in me, if I were the tool and he the architect of that violence and cruelty. I wondered if having taken his head, if having grown from boy to man, I would be a better person. I wondered if I might be the man the Nuban wanted me to be, the man Tutor Lundist hoped for.

Such a man would have shown Count Renar the mercy of a quick death. Such a man would have known his mother and brother would want no more than that. Justice, not revenge.

From my window I can see the mountains. Beyond them lies Ancrath, and the Tall Castle. Father with his new son. Katherine in her chambers, probably hating me. And past that, Gelleth, and Storn, and a patchwork of lands that were once Empire.

I won't stay here forever. I'll reach the last page and set down my quill. And when that's done I will walk out and it will all be mine. I told Bovid Tor that by fifteen I'd be King. I told him over his steaming guts. I'm telling you that by twenty I'll be Emperor. Be thankful it's just being told over this page.

I'm going down to see Renar now. I keep him in the smallest of the dungeon cells. Every day I let him ask for death, and then I leave him to his pain. I think when I finish my writing I will let him have the end he seeks. I don't want to, but I know I should. I've grown. The old Jorg would have kept him there forever. I've grown, but whatever monster might be in me, it was always mine, my choice, my responsibility, my evil if you will.

It's what I am, and if you want excuses, come and take them.


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About Broken Empire: Prince Of Thorns Part 29 novel

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