There were no words for the horrifying shock that Gild felt as the monster tore through the Throne Guard. He had suffered the almost paralyzing pain in order to see what he had hoped would have been the end of the reign of Argentus, only to witness his darkest dreams come to life.

Palwyn Loran had been the first to die, impaled on one of the creature's multitude of limbs, but he was soon followed by his men. Those who chose to run never got further than a few steps before they slashed down by one of a pair of whip-like appendages that sprouted from what could only be called the monster's neck. A fine mist of blood was hanging in the air, accompanied by the screams of the murdered like rain is harmonized by thunder. There was another sound, Gild noticed, just on the edge of hearing. Tearing his eyes from the scene of horror, he looked to the throne, wear the King was laughing and clapping, giddy, no doubt and the success of his gambit.

A body flew of his head and was wrapped round a pillar; such was the force with which it struck.

Gild threw up.

And then it was over, and the monster was standing over him, the hideous mouth, with its circles of teeth, a short yard from his head. Gild studied the monster as it studied him, for though he could see no eyes he was sure that's what it was doing. Around its bull neck he could see a burnished metal collar, engraved with some letters that burned an angry red. Matching bracelets circled two of the monster's many arms.

'What are you waiting for demon? I am too weak to make a sport of it.' He said.

The creature pulled itself to its full dread height, easily twice as tall as any man, and bulkier than any two oxen. Its nightmare head turned to face the throne. Gild, confused and angry, pulled himself up to a sitting position and did the same.

Where he saw a flurry of movement. The King was no longer sitting in his throne, instead he was crouched by a figure on his knees beside the great seat, and Gild could just make out the blood staining that figure's robes. The King's two companions, Salkis and Hew, were hurrying to their King's side. As they arrived, the wounded man suddenly grabbed the front of the King's tunic and pulled his head down to the level of his mouth. Gild watched as the man whispered something into the King's ear, before letting go and falling backwards. The King did not move as his companions bombarded him with questions.

Gild snapped his gaze back to the demon when he heard three successive clanks. The monster had yet to move, but as its feet sat the three bands of metal that Gild had seen wrapped around the monster only a moment ago, the circles broken open like a clasp. Before his eyes, the red fire that filled the letters faded to nothing, and a rust set upon the metal. In seconds, the script that covered the bands became unreadable and the heavy metal fell to dust. Soon even that disappeared.

Without warning, a cultured voice rang through his skull, What were the last words of the Binder, Argentus King?

The King slowly stood up, and turned to face the demon. His noble face was paler than usual, but there was an expression of resolve upon it. 'He said that he was sorry, and that he was wrong. That's all.'

The demon had reverted to its human form, and began walking slowly towards the throne. You will understand. The Binder worried that you would betray your word, like you have done so many times before, so he hid a geas amongst the words that bind us. The demon pulled open his jacket, revealing letters burned into its chest, letters that glowed still. The King gasped, and begun to back away from the monster.

The demon continued to speak, He feared that you would strike him down to protect the secret of our presence in this place, so he wrote that upon the death of the Binder, we must bring down the King. The Binder has passed from the world

A blade that was so black no details could be seen slide into the demon's hand, And we must serve.

Hew and Salkis leapt to defend their King, but they were swept aside with a casual backhand from the demon. There heads cracked noisily against the marble floor as the demon climbed the stairs to where King Illyck sat cowering on the Blasted Throne.

'Stop Hubris! I am your master. You are bound to serve me. Me!' the King said, his voice high and trembling. Gild watched in amazement as the demon carefully stabbed the black sword through the King's throat. Speak no more, the demon spoke as the blood bubbled from the wound.

Thus ended the reign of King Argentus Illyck, First of His Name, called the Gaoler.

Gild rested his head against the doorframe as the demon approached him, sword in hand. He felt it would be fitting for the monster to kill him too, to complete the shattering of the plans of all those who had schemed tonight, but the demon, it seemed, had plans of its own, You will live, Gild of Hormond, because we can choose to let you live. Though it was painful to do so, Gild stood to watch the Abstract leave, walking past the bodies of the Throne Guard it had slain. When it had left, Gild looked to the dead it left in its wake; Lord Palwyn of the Deepwater, his son Robern, Senishai Markis, the General studded with arrows. In the throne room, the King, and his two unconscious companions, Hew and Salkis, as well as the body of the man who was apparently the one who summoned the demon. Feneld and the body of his brother Ruain where nowhere to be seen and Gild guessed Feneld had fled the castle.

He looked down at his blood covered clothes and wondered at his luck, being the only man still standing.

By the God, he abruptly thought to himself, I am the only conscious man in a chamber awash with death.

I hope nobody thinks I did this.