The king marched along the mezzanine level, then down the stairs, ignoring the salutes of his Guardsmen lining the curved throneroom walls. Guardsmen continued to salute him as he passed sentries in the garden area by the palace gates.
“Escort the king,” said an NCO on duty.
The king snarled. “Stay at your posts.”
He crossed the central market place. Only a few stall keepers closed their stalls for the day. On the other side, he entered the main thoroughfare. Following its route, he knew of only his next destination; the Hall of Heroes. After that…
An hour later, he bypassed the great hall’s fountain and approached the two Blue River Guardsmen, flanking the doors. The king recognised one of them as Kal Donis.
“Admit me,” the king said.
Donis bowed, obviously recognising his voice, and pushed one of the double doors open. The Guardsmen saluted as he walked past them, scuffing his sandals on the burnished clay tiles. Togullen rushed forward as the king held up his axe. Recognition of the king’s crest glinted in the chronicler’s eyes, compelling to bow.
The king marched past him and sucked in a breath, swinging his axe full into his statue. It shattered just above the knees, scattering chips from the wall on its crash to the floor.
Togullen stared in disbelief.
“Why?” he gasped.
“I will not be portrayed in such a way. Have another statue made as you see me now.”
“As you wish. But why?”
“Because I will suffer no one to look at me, touch me, or have anything else to do with me, until the day comes that I learn to love others as I should.”
He looked down at the statue’s plaque, bearing his name.
“And my last command as king, is that you shall stricken my name from Nusalle’s records.”
“But, my king. If I am to erect another likeness, it must have some name.”
The king exhaled impatiently. “Then if you must have a name, call me… The Forgotten One.”
He slung his axe and walked towards the door, passing Togullen as he bowed.
His exit from the Hall of Heroes took him back into the city. Did he really want to go there? Anonymity was what he craved; somewhere where he could hide in obscurity. For hours, he walked the streets not knowing where he was going. His every turn took him further into the poorer district.
Selkirts solicited strangers near taverns. Foreign men, possibly sailors entered and left their doors. The occasional thief walked the back lanes, casting their eyes everywhere at once. A lame woman begged for alms from the gutter; her crippled legs covered with a tatty blanket. Metal glinted in the gloom of a neighbouring arch, leading into an alleyway. Trained to espy men in hiding, The Forgotten One saw them all.
He drew his Guardsman’s axe, gripping the haft tightly. Someone shuffled deeper into the shadows, fading from his hearing. Somewhere inside, he smiled, knowing that for this moment, on this eve, he had cleared the street of a dangerous presence.