“If you wish to tell a story then tell this one, how do you still live?”
“I would, if only my mouth weren’t so dry.” He offered suggestively.
On cue the innkeeper readied the storyteller’s drink of choice, and like the fools he’d conned before I paid for the drink.
“My name is Shadow, Shadow the storyteller.” He took a gratifying sip of his drink. It was hardly the drink that brought him pleasure but the attention.
“The thing Emperor Saber failed to learn about me is I am a Phantom.”
“You seem pretty solid to me.” I interjected.
“Looks are deceiving. I think you know a little about that.” He continued. “I’m little more than a shadow cast by the thousands of stories, legends that at demand they be told. I’m as elusive as the story that slips away shortly after being heard. As enduring as the legend that does not detriate over the passage of time. My existence is the greatest riddle it can never be solved. My life belongs to the stories it owes the gods and none can end it until that debt is satisfied. Something you might find more interesting than my simple life is way the Emperor sought to take it.”
Conveniently this was when he finished his drink. If that was all the story would cost, I ordered him another drink however, went through two more drinks before the story was over. And it was the not the account Emperor Saber had failed to kill him for but if I were the Emperor this would not help my tempter.
“I knew too much about him, and his brother.” The storyteller began. “There are very few how know the true story of how Saber became Emperor. It was not your simple coronation.
“Forty years ago the Emperor of Russia was very sick and knew that death was near. As law dictated the thrown would pass to the eldest son. However, prince Saber and his brother Syllabus were twins. And the only foreseeable option was for one to kill the other as neither brother showed signs of letting the other rule. The Emperor not wishing to see one of his children kill the other he developed an unorthodox way of settling things. Which ever son could create peace with Siberia, who they’d be been at ends with for over a century now, would gain the thrown.
“Both brothers set out for the kingdom of Siberia under the flag of peace. Prince Syllabus set about arranging meetings to establish a treaty. Prince Saber, never believed in the strength of pretty words and polished documents but rather in the iron strength of the Russian sword. While his brother was hard at work with treaties and compromises Saber was surveying the kingdom for a one night massacre. That would not only end the war but end what he saw as the Siberian menace.
“One night when Saber was searching for the weakest points of the castle he was caught by the Princess of Romania and her ladies-in-waiting. She was visiting the Prince of Siberia and staying at the castle. Saber had been trying to force his way into a forbidden area of the castle. The princess asked him what it was he was trying to do. And when Prince Saber failed to come up with an excuse she disappeared back down the ways she’d come. Saber was almost certain she would tell on him but she didn’t. The next night Saber went looking for the princess to ask her why she hadn’t told the King about him but she wouldn’t answer him. Prince Saber became enchanted by the Princess’ beauty and distracted from his quest as he would sneak out every night to speak to her. It wasn’t long before he became infatuated with her but she did not return his affections. It was not her duty and she had no desire to. Despite her indifference Saber tried to convince the princess to forsake the prince of Siberia and marry him instead.
The princess humored him for a night pretending to contemplate his offer. But by the time the next night had arrived she simple said ‘no.’ when he asked her why she told him, he was no different than the prince she was promised to and would like to retain from causing trouble.
Saber tried to convince her he was different offered her all that he could think off but she refused them all until he promised that her life with him would be amusing, entertaining and always eventful. The princess told him to prove it. Saber offered her a riddle, if she could not solve it then she must marry him. The princess agreed for she believed she could solve any riddle put forth.
“What loves none but kills for love? Saber asked. She had three days and three nights to answer the riddle. But on the evening of the last day, the princess still couldn’t answer the question she sought the help of a wise seer and asked her the question. The seer answered the riddle.
“The answer is he who asks the riddle. He loves no preson but he kills for the love of killing. After hearing this the princess couldn’t bring herself to marry Saber so she journeyed to the Twilight woods and commanded the witches of those woods to turn her into something that could never be married. And they did, they turned her to stone.
Once prince Saber heard the news he grew angry, he’d lost his treasured maiden and he was also out of time, his brother had already successfully completed the treaty between Russia and Siberia. So it would seem his brother had won the thrown but on the journey back to Russia Saber murdered his brother, blamed it on Siberia, achieved his one night massacre, and conquered Siberia. Soon after that the Emperor died and Saber was crowned.”
Finished the storyteller.
“Interesting story, I’m surprised you lived long enough to tell it.” I mused.
The storyteller laughed.
“You forget what I am.”
“You never did clearly tell me.” I reminded.