My brother is not among the living anymore.

I knew the day would come, but I never expected it to happen the way it did. I always expected him to end up next to me, the two of us immortalized as stone guardians outside of a temple or the palace. We would stand there, next to each other, weapons ready for all eternity in silence. We would wait until the day came when we would be needed, when we would spring to life again and fight side by side once more.

My brother is not among the living anymore, but for a short moment I found someone who I could convince to take his place. Keid Dziban was not as close to his brother as I was to mine, but Keid looked like the one who I would stand by for centuries in life and millenniums in death. He danced at the court, danced erotic dances that had pleased generations of Queens. Requests of a King are demands in disguise, and who would dare to deny royalty anything?

The youth who had my brother's face shared my bed, but never my heart and he never joined me with such eagerness as the one before him had. I found affection in Alwaid Kraz, lute player at the court. He came from a poor family, his father a fallen priest of the star god, his mother unimportant, and he fought with tooth and nail to reach the halls of the royal court. Alwaid watched the King when the other youths watched the Queen. The lute player knew where favor could be won and he was not afraid of reaching for it.

One to fool my eyes and another to fool my heart. Keid's face and Alwaid's behavior. Together they could almost replace my brother; together they could almost silence the cries of despair within me. Servants watched as the king cursed his entertainers in his debauchery, and none dared to say a word. No one is entitled to speak ill of my fallen brother, and none dare to speak about anyone else. Let the King enjoy himself; let him revel in his sins. The Queen will rule supreme, and all will be well in the end. So the star god has willed it and so shall it be until the day the mountains crumble beneath us.

My songbirds did not play well together, and Keid fell to his death by the hands of Alwaid. My heart betrayed my eyes, and I had lost my brother once again. Line them up! Line them up! Witnesses, who did you see up in the tower with the beautiful dancer? There are only two answers. I could not see his face. It was Alwaid Kraz, the King's favorite lute player.

Vengeance and wrath are the only words I understand completely. Vengeance for my fallen brother who was torn from my side, may our enemies suffer the wrath of a King. Hang him! Hang my unfaithful heart! Higher! Higher! He loved, he was greedy, he was persistent, he took what was not his to take. Let him hang in front of us all now. Let him burn like the commoners he was born among. He's a traitor, he betrayed your King.

He betrayed not only your King, but he betrayed the rest of you. Dance with me, Alwaid. Dance, dance, dance, lute player, dance. Do not hold back, I lift society's heavy demands from your shoulders. The power I took I will use, use for you, use for me. Dance on the windy beach for me, dance to your heart's content. Fully clothed or completely naked, from the skin to the very soul, I do not care. Here, lute player, here! I, the King, say that you are free. Nothing can keep you back, no bars can hold you, no whips can lash at you, and you will have to answer to no law other than me.

My heart betrayed me, my lust overpowered my reason, my lute player will hang for the murder of my brother. Hang him higher, I say. Hit him harder, one more time, one more, one more is never enough. Hit him harder, tear at his skin, spit on him, my people, go on! Kill the traitor, kill the murderer! I will never stand next to my brother again, never again shall I lay eyes upon the one I loved the most. Kill the traitor, while I kill my brother's murderers. Vengeance and wrath will reach you yet, your King will never be satisfied. Speak against the King and betray your land. We hang the traitors high in these mountains.

Dance for me, Alwaid in the gallows. Dance, dance, dance, lute player of mine, dance for me. Do not hold back, I lift society's heavy morals from your mind. The power I stole I will abuse, abuse for you, abuse for me, abuse in the name of my brother. Dance in the gallows for me, dance to your heart's content. Shreds of skin and flesh torn from your back, long raven hair ragged, and a snare around your delicate neck, oh how I love you. Here, lute player, here! I, the King, say that you will pay for their crimes. Nothing can stop me, no bars can hold me, no whips can reach me, and I will answer to no one other than myself. You will taste the wrath of your King. Vengeance for my brother's murder will be taken upon all of you. But dance for me, little lute player, twirl around so prettily in the gallows, just like that. I hate you; therefore you must suffer at my command. I love you; therefore you must die by my hand.