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A boy has challenged the king to a duel.


This is not a normal occurrence, or even a rare one. It’s unheard of, especially with the state of the boy in the king’s presence. 


His blond hair holds dirt in it’s strands, his face shows sun burn and scratches, his clothes are worn and his armor is pathetic. He holds an iron sword at his hip, and even that is pathetic on it’s own. He wears no shoes, wears no jewelry, wears no symbol that strikes him from any nearby kingdom. 


He declares he is a warrior. He declares, in the middle of the king’s party, that he is a warrior that will travel through the lands and make his mark. He declares that he is better than the man who sits on the throne. 


A sentence like that is punishable. 


The party around him comes to a halt, the music paused, and the food nudged away in fear that the boy is in fact a thief. He says he is a warrior but he is frail, he is small. 


This boy is thin, worn, and weak. Everyone who sees him, themselves dressed in royal clothes, healthy and rich, they see him and think,


This beggar boy has somehow wandered his way into the palace.


The king is not a cruel man, but he is nowhere near kind either. He is not a good man, that much is true. But his morals are hardly a concern to his guests. It does not matter how much innocent blood stains that golden throne, for their only concern is what delicious meal to eat next. 


The boy does not get any concern, and the king waves a hand, tells the guards to get rid of him. 


Said guards are knocked to the ground with their swords lost within a minute. The so proclaimed ‘warrior’ holds his head high and his sword even higher, up towards the ceiling. 


The party has come to yet another halt. And the king grows annoyed at last. 


The king is a sour, unjust man. His crown sits on his head, bright gold standing out against grey hair. His clothes are made of the finest silk, and his food and drink are only the best. His eyes, cold and black, narrow at the boy who stands at the doorway. 


Tommy stands still with his sword held to the sky and his eyes focused on the king alone. 


He says once again, “I am the warrior of these lands, and I have come for my duty. Your people sit on the dirty streets, with nothing to their names and no food to spare.”


“Beggars are not my concern.” The king responds, the guests looking with wide eyes, still gasping and pointing at the guards who lay on the ground unconscious. This boy is small and yet he had fought them off. Perhaps his claim shines true?


“They are your people, so they are your concern.” The boy insists, and he walks forward, whispering floating into the air, rumors already appearing and spreading like wildfire. He speaks with confidence, he speaks with anger, and he speaks with wisdom that a boy his size shouldn’t have. “Get off your throne and stop being a cowardly idiot.”


Time holds still as the boy stands in the middle of the hall, eyes set on the king. The king sneers back, leans into his throne with a wave of his hand. He does not see a single dirty boy as a threat. Warrior or not, he is the king, is he not? No person can harm a hair on his head. No person, no beggar, can even dare to do such a crime. 


The king calls for more guards, who arrive and falter at the sight of their men on the ground at the doorway. 


The king agrees to a duel, and so he calls for his best fighter to fight for him. 


The ‘warrior’ refuses nearly instantly. 


He raises his sword, at the king himself, and ignores the weapons that are pointed at his back as a response. “I’m challenging you to a duel! I ask to fight you on the behalf of your people, who starve at the palace gates. I’m not asking to fight a man who represents you, I’m demanding to fight you.”


Tommy’s eyes burn with fire and an anger that the king will never understand. Tommy knows how it feels to go hungry, how it feels to beg and to have nothing at all to your name. Tommy is a boy with nothing to his name and nothing to his past. 


He is a boy with everything in his future, and everything in his reach. He is one of the lucky ones. He refuses to waste this chance.


“Fight me! Or sit on your throne and prove to all the people here that you really are just a coward, a man who can’t even hold a sword.” 


Whispers flow through the room, glances towards the king, towards his throne that he never leaves. 


“Refuse if you want, it’ll only confirm the fact that a boy off the streets is a braver fighter than you.” Tommy puts his sword back, turns his back to the king and walks away, his bare feet leaving faint footprints on the shiny floor. 


The king stops him just as he nears the doorway. 


The king has accepted a boy’s duel, and the king will fight a frail, dirty, beggar boy who claims he is a warrior. It sounds like a drunken man’s tale. A foolish rumor, but it sits true. 


The king holds a golden sword that’s adorned with gems, beautiful in every way, gleaming in the light. The people stare in awe, point and clap, because oh look, oh look. Their king will fight, their king can fight, isn’t he divine?


The boy holds just his simple sword, and it’s hilt holds no gems, only a layer of dirty bandages that sit pressed against his palm. A simple silver sword, no shine to it, barely even a blade.


A chance of this boy ever winning this duel doesn’t exist. The king will win, he will kill the boy as an example, and the people will clap at the battle well won, will go back to their food, will ignore the poor who starve in the streets. 


With a twirl of his word, the king grins and studies the boy, steps around in the circle, watches as the boy follows, circling as well. 


A man is walking with the boy.


The king falters in his steps. He nearly goes to call for his guards, as to take the man away, for it’s not a fair fight if the boy gets help. But the man is not actually there. 


He fades in and out of view, walks behind the boy with his hands clasped behind his back. As the king stares, he swears he can hear the footsteps in sync with the boys, boots clicking against the ground.


There’s a deep red cape that drapes behind the unknown man, with a long pink braid over it. A crown sits on the man’s head, with less gems than the king’s own crown, but more golden, more divine.


Red eyes, burning with fire, stare unyielding at the king, and the king is struck with the realization of who this is. Or what this is. 


The king has prayed to this god before. Has begged, sacrificed, demanded all he could. He has asked this god over and over, so he may win victories in the wars he waged, so he may see his enemies’ blood paint the ground. 


It is said the Blood God’s blessing can change the entire tide of war, and can make the fighting end brutally and quickly. The king has sought that power, has tried to reach for it, for he knows that if his men had the blessing of the Blood God, no army could ever hope to beat his own. 


But his prayers were never answered. It is said the Blood God will ever only bestow that power, that unimaginable power to those he thinks is worthy.


The king always detested that fact. He is convinced he is worthy. He is convinced he is godly, and that the Blood God should bow at his feet and follow his command, like a soldier does. 


Here the Blood God walks, finally after so much time, but he is not here to serve the king. Instead, he walks beside the beggar boy, tilts his head and narrows his eyes at the king, as if he is judging and threatening and surveying him all at once. 


There’s a quiet message in his eyes, and the king is hit with the terrifying realization that this duel holds much more consequence than he thought. 


The Blood God stops in his steps, and the boy does too. The king fumbles with his sword, goes to raise it again, but it is too late, because he has been distracted by how the Blood King looks away, and smiles


The boy knocks the king off his feet and slices a cut across his chest. Not enough to kill him, but enough to wound his pride, his reputation. The people gasp and stare in shock, and the boy raises his sword to the kings throat. 


The warrior demands for the starving people on the streets to be fed, and for the king to get up off his ass. 


The king who has lost the duel in front of a baffled audience, has no choice but to bow his head, and listen to the command of the boy. 


People in the streets are fed, are taken care of. 


The boy travels away, and he is not seen in the kingdom again. The king does not host a party ever again, and makes sure to keep the people fed. 


After all, he is afraid that if he does not, the Blood God and the Warrior will return again, and will have his head.