The city was consumed by silence. No one in the crowd made even the slightest noise or movement as the guards chained the gaunt, shadow of a man, a stranger to them all, to the large pole that had been set up for the occasion and others like it in the middle of the city square. Even the man himself seemed too defeated to make a sound of complaint or out of pain. He just stood chained to the pole, head hung against his bruised chest as he waited for his fate. Derek looked up at the man from his place in the crowd. It angered him that he couldn't do anything, that he and everyone else was powerless from saving the man from what they all knew was to come.
King Serebus came out onto the balcony and looked down on the condemned man, his narrow, sharp angled face showing no emotion, his eyes like dark, fathomless pits, cruel and unforgiving. Derek looked at the man who was his people's king with burning hatred as he remembered the circumstances that made him the ruler. Serebus turned his gaze from the man to address the crowd.
“The man you see before you has been convicted of using magic against the court and our kingdom,” He said. “ All who live here know that treason and use of magic beyond the walls of the court is against the law and so is punishable by death.” A hollow, cracked laugh emitted from the man, who was now looking at the king, twisted humor in his eyes.
“If magic is a death penalty, then you should be down here with me my lord,” He said, he same humor in his eyes seeping into his voice.
“As the king of Syrillia, I am, by the laws of the land, obligated to be the sole barer of the magic to protect the kingdom and it's people,” Serebus replied icily. The man laughed louder, the sound echoing off the walls, cutting through the crowds silence.
“Protecting the kingdom? The stories that I had heard about Syrillia as a young boy, this was a place filled with life and laughter! That the very lands themselves pulsed with magic! But all I have seen is a sad shadow, that the land is dying, along with it's people,” The man spat. “ And yet you sit on your throne as if these are your kingdoms most glorious days, taking over peaceful kingdoms that had no quarrel with you other than they weren't under your power.”
“ I have heard enough of your insane ramblings!” Serebus roared. “Let this man's death be reminder to all that the laws of this kingdom cannot be defied and no one can escape punishment.” Serebus raised his hand and a fire started to rise at the man's feet.
“Your past will come back to haunt you Serebus!” The man cried over the flames. “The true heir will return to claim their throne and restore the land's magic!” The flames then consumed the man whole, burning him until he was nothing but a pile of ashes. Serebus let the echo of the man's screams die in the city's silence before he spoke.
“ Make no mistake, what that man said was nothing but a dying man's last attempt to undermine our ways. Rest assured that my son and I are the only ones left of the royal line. In two months time we will be remembering the sad occasion that made this so, but for now, we shall celebrate our victories and the fact that Syrillia still stands tall.” No one applauded or cheered and Serebus didn't expect them to. Once he was finished, the king retreated back into the castle, swarmed by his advisors. Everyone began to move, quiet mutterings between neighbors and friends stirring the quiet.
Derek stayed where he stood, looking at the pile of ash that was once a man. The man who was unfortunate enough to have been born with the second sight and was discovered using it. The true heir will take the throne.... Serebus believed that he was the only line left of the royal family, as did all the other humans in Syrillia. Derek knew otherwise. He made sure that one of the heirs of the former king survived the attack on the family fourteen years ago. He only hoped that the time to bring them back to their home was soon, and that they weren't harmed before that time.