Ergron’s thumb pressed against the hollow in Aegryn’s throat. Aegryn rasped out the final words of a sentence, yet those same words were swept away by a fit of sputtering coughs. Both of the men locked eyes with one another, two statues staring at one another for an eternity. Aegryn’s hand swayed this way and that until it caught a steel grip on Ergron’s gold-braided tunic. But he would have none of that today.

Ergron grit his teeth and clamped down his nails on his bastard son’s smooth flesh. He closed his eyes, stifling the tears, and then the warmth of pooling blood congregated around his fingertips. Aegryn’s prying fingers closed in on the hem of his tunic and from his mouth came gurgled pleas for mercy—pleas that Ergron was not willing to heed.

He sunk the weight of his fingers on the boy’s fragile neck, a neck he had cradled in his arms many a year ago, and a neck that would not know the tender kiss of a lover. Another gurgle came, and then his son’s claws scraped along his forearm, rending Ergron’s fair flesh asunder. And then another choke came.

And then the boy’s hand fell limp.

No longer was there a shuffle from underneath him, no longer was there the writhing of one whom toiled in his final efforts to live, and no longer could Ergron say that his bloodline would continue until time immemorial. He cracked open a slit in his eyes, and saw what had once been the beaming pupils of his youthful son were now glazed husks of what they had been in days past. His son’s warm flesh had grown cold.

Ergron let go of the boy’s body, rising up from where he had been crouched over the corpse. Corpse…his last son really was gone. But he could still feel the lad, breathing and pulsing and writhing and striving. That tingle that came from those final gasps for life still lingered on his fingertips, which twitched as though they’d yet to be loosed from the youth’s neck. He’d done it! He’d finally done it! That blasted sword was his!

But before he could go on to ponder over those truths, he sensed the hairs on his cheeks tickling. What caused it? He had yet to know. He brought his bloodstained hand and smeared his cheek crimson. It had been tears that tickled it.

He drew the hand away from his countenance, and gazed at the worn palm that was displayed before him. Ergron took a whiff of his fingertips.

They reeked of iron.

***

  Just a vignette I’d written some time ago. I had the intention of turning it into a sort of mini-series, but I haven’t had the drive to come back to it in recent days. I’ve been too busy with my current novel, which is currently scraping around 200k words (I need to learn to write shorter), but once I’m done with the first draft, I might toy around with this for another while. Questions like what the sword is, why the father wanted it, and many others are still unanswered in my mind. But I feel the prose here stands on its own as an atmospheric piece. Any thoughts or criticisms are welcomed!

   As always, this had been the QuestinAuthor. Keep writing, my friends.

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