A Dark Night's Sleep by Joel Fagin

Author's note: Hmmm. I don't think there's much to say about this one. Just read it.


You are awake? Good.

I have something for you to consider, for you to think on, my lord. A question...

How much power do you wield?

You answer too quickly, lord. You are wrong to think that. You wield nothing. You are a placeholder, tolerated in a position many think not suited to you – until the heir is found.

Oh, yes. The boy is missing. Didn't they tell you? That, sire, is testament to their trust in you. You are a figurehead, a continuance of government even though they will never let you govern. You will be removed as soon as the heir is found, and the heir is young, easily led, corrupted if you will. They govern now, and when the boy is found, they will govern him as well.

How much do you trust them, my liege?

You hold a position of power, but not by any right. They will remove you as soon as the heir is located, cast you down from your position and deny you any other position you may wish. They will never trust you now that you have tasted power. They want it for themselves...

I speak truth, my lord. You know that I do.

Yes you do. I feel it in your deepest mind. You believe.

You hold here by no right. You will lose it all at the whim of fate. They will find the boy, and you will be as ash on the wind.

But this can change.

Not interested? I feel that you are. Listen, placeholder, just listen...

You are a good king. You know this. The boy is unlikely to be better, even without the others perverting him.

I can help, I can give you the throne, bring you respect, have the world bow at your whim...

How? Oh, easily. Very, very easily. Allow me to explain...

There is one right of rule respected by all. The fist, the sword, and the fire, the right of power. But you must use it, you must let them know you are here to stay and that you will not be usurped. You must remove those who stand before you.

No, it will not be necessary to kill them. It shouldn't be...

But even if you must, it will be worth it. The others will fall into line, and you will rule truly.

You are a good King. You must hold the throne. How can you trust anyone else to do as well as you?

Even the boy...

Oh, no. Blood will not always out. No, never mind. You must do as you feel is right. Find the boy yourself, then. Train him as you will. I am sure he will be a good king. Perhaps not as good as yourself, but competent...

But strike at the others before they strike at you. They will cast you down unless you move first. You must destroy them, kill them all.

And I will be at your side. Your word is all I need. All this and more can be yours.

My lord?

"Sod off," said Lassic and turned over to try to get some sleep.

They changed it, of course. This version didn't make a very interesting game.