Red Herring

“His Majesty is far too busy to be bothered,” a frail man in purple robes informed Mr. Castillo. He pulled a small sack of coins from inside his robe and offered it. “However, he thanks you for your aid in the matter.” Angel stood from the seat he spent an hour waiting on and locked eyes with the King’s advisor. He did not bother looking at the small coin purse.

“From the very beginning I’ve been patient and accommodating. The King himself agreed to the terms with no coercement on my part,” Angel shrugged. “If he fails to uphold his part of the bargain there will be consequences.” The advisor smiled and nodded at something behind Angel. He turned and counted three guards walking toward him with drawn swords.

“Not from you,” the advisor said. Angel chuckle and raised his hand part-way into the air. A black hole, large enough to swallow the three guards, appeared under them. They fell through, screaming, and disappeared. Angel wiggled his fingers to make the hole disappeared. He looked to the advisor and discovered him half-way out the door.

“You’re just the messenger, I don’t blame you.” Angel called out behind him. The man turned around in the door and smiled gratefully at Angel. He clasped his hands together and gave a slight bow.

“Thank you!”

“Give the King a message.” The advisor nodded.

“Of course, my Lord.”

“Tell him I’ll be back tomorrow to claim the child. Whether his kingdom is still here after is up to him.” Angel snapped his fingers. He fell into a hole beneath him, then the hole disappeared. The advisor took a moment to rest against the door.

“Foul sorcerer,” he mumbled under his unsteady breath. A loud metallic banging startled him. Upon looking in the room again, he saw three skeletons on the floor wearing the same armor as the three guards. He fled to the King’s chambers to convey the message.

The next day a vertical black hole appeared in the King’s throne room. Angel stepped out of the darkness and greeted the gathered knights with a smile. He counted eight lances around him, and at least that many other knights with drawn swords.

“I’m only here for the child, I don’t want to interrupt your gathering,” he said. Angel noticed several peasants among the rest of the king’s court; he caught sight of a beautiful, red-haired woman. She appeared to be crying while rocking a child in her arms. “I wonder why she’s crying,” he planned to find out after his deal with the King was complete.

“Very well,” The King’s voice boomed from his throne. Angel faced him and gave a courteous bow. The King waved a dismissive hand. “My advisor reminded me of your wonderous powers,” the King chuckled heartily. “I can produce another son much easier than creating another Kingdom!” he laughed harder. Angel nodded.

“That’s very true, Your Majesty,” he bowed low.

“Give the man his child,” the King ordered. A nurse entered the throne room escorted by two knights. She carried a swaddled child to Angel and presented him with the baby.

“My Kingdom is grateful to you for keeping your word,” The King said. “Perhaps in the future, we can arrange another deal, but for now our business is concluded.” Angel moved the blanket away to admire the child for a moment. The baby boy sported emerald eyes and a small puff of bright red hair atop his head. It reminded him of the red-headed woman and he looked up from the child to look for her.

“You did say you did not want to interrupt,” The King said. Angel found the woman seated at a table behind the crowd. She sobbed quietly with empty arms.

“I did, but I changed my mind,” Angel said. He walked toward the seated woman, the small crowd of peasants parted in front of him. “Hi,” Angel smiled at the woman. Her red eyes widened when she realized he spoke to her.

“PLEASE LEAVE!” The King yelled from his throne, but no one moved to make Angel leave. The woman turned to the King for his outburst, but then she turned back to Angel. She tried to maintain eye contact, but her eyes kept sinking to the child.

“Would you like to hold the child?” Angel asked with a sincere smile.  The woman’s head moved back and forth as she tried to shake her head ‘no’. Her face contorted itself to reflect pure sorrow. Water filled her eyes and rushed down her cheeks. Silent, heavy sobs wracked her body while she continued to shake her head no.  Angel nodded and winked at her with his left eye so that no one else caught it. “It’s okay, go ahead. You’ll be safe.” He moved closer and placed the baby in her arms. She immediately pulled it close and cried harder. Angel snapped his finger. The woman and the child sank into a hole and disappeared. Angel stood and looked around at the full throne room.

“You’ve angered me,” Angel spread his arms wide to indicate everyone left in the throne room. “Say goodbye to your Kingdom.” Dozens of tall black portals opened around the edges of the room. Skeletons began marching out of each one.

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