E is for Executions
TW: Murder, torture
When Aldred left, they took every source of light. The smells of the dungeon pressed in on Godwin, the occasional sniffle and distant cry the only reminders of life elsewhere. He shook, not certain if it was the cold, fear, or the pain in his head that was causing his muscles to spasm. What was Aldred doing?
Noise erupted in the distance. Feeble cries. Angry shouts. The crack of a whip.
Light flooded into the room as armored guards forced – even dragged – unwilling people to stand against the wall at Godwin’s side. Godwin squinted into the brightness. Grant appeared in front of him. Aldred was close behind. Smirking.
“This one’s already dead,” remarked a guard as he dragged forward the limp body of a man.
Aldred sighed and tugged the body’s head back by the hair. Hervey’s empty eyes gaped into space.
“Dead alright.” He turned to Godwin. “Recognize your brother?”
“What have you done?” mumbled Godwin.
“He’s happy he’s already dead,” said Aldred nodding to Grant.
Grant drew a broad knife and slid it across Hervey’s throat. Thick blood ran out.
“He’d be dead now, anyway,” said Aldred, dropping Hervey’s head as the guard let go. Hervey’s body slapped to the floor.
A woman cried out.
“Oh, let’s be done with her,” muttered Aldred. The queen, Bertram’s wife and Godwin’s step mother, was dragged forward. She struggled.
“Oh please no,” moaned Godwin.
One of the guards restraining her pulled her head back, exposing her throat. Grant quickly slashed across it.
Godwin felt a warm splash across his face.
The queen gargled something as she was dropped on top of Hervey.
Godwin sat as his half sister and two half brothers were likewise executed right in front of him. He wept in his seat, begging for the killing to stop.
“You want it to stop?” said Aldred. “You know you’re the second-to-last of your bloodline.”
“I don’t care,” Godwin howled.
“You could be the king.”
“I’m not the king,” Godwin cried.
The last prisoner was dragged forward. “There, Bertram,” spoke Aldred. “There is your bastard heir.”
“Aldred…,” started Bertram.
“He tells me he’ll be glad to be king,” Aldred went on.
“No,” barked Godwin. “I never said that. I’m not the king.”
“You could be,” Aldred sing-songed.
“Please stop,” said Godwin.
“What do you—.” Bertram’s words were cut short as Grant yanked his head back.
“No!” cried Godwin. “Stop.”
Aldred clicked his tongue.
“I loved your mother, Godwin,” gasped Bertram. “I loved her—.”
Grant raked the knife across Bertram’s throat.
Godwin cried out as Bertram’s body dropped.
Aldred came close and hissed in Godwin’s ear. “Think about it. The crown is yours.”
And then they were gone, and Godwin sat in the dark again.