Ah, yes. “Well, Shit.” I suppose an epigraph—or should that be an epitaph?—will suffice, emblazoned on the archway in golden majuscules. None of this sans-serif nonsense, only the most majestic and decorative lettering imaginable for to immortalize the very first words I spoke, excepting the standard marching orders given by an invading general mid-invasion, when I first stepped foot in this castle. Can you imagine if it were a marching order? Granted, it would be hilarious for a brief and fleeting moment but if ever there were a way to make a bad day worse, that would be it, and I believe it goes without saying that that day could not have possibly sunk any lower than it already had by the time I arrived. Only, it was then that I arrived, so perhaps I’m wrong on that.
If memory serves—and after the bottle of mead I drank this morning to work of the courage to write this in the first place, it could go either way—it happened in the old King’s private court, a room that we’ve since boarded up. I’d have allocated the funds at some point to preserve it as a memorial to the Old Guard, to honor the dead but, as we’ve well established, I’m a selfish prick, and therefore such a rational and sympathetic act is well beyond my capabilities. Of course, even if I weren’t such a prick as I am (but I am), the cost of repair and restoration would have been astronomical. Keep that in mind in case this gives you an big ideas (and also be sure to credit any big ideas to me. I’ll be watching).
When I first stepped foot in that room, I counted no more than six square feet of dry ground left unscathed by the tidal wave of blood that seemed to wash across the floor, seeping into the dirt between the tiles, as if the earth beneath them were a Sham-WOW. God, I had never seen so much blood and death concentrated in such a small space before. Everyone you had everyone known or loved—everyone they had ever known or loved, as far as I could tell—their fresh corpses littered the ground, fresh with the stench of dying. I remember all the shiny wounds, the wide open eyes that oozed blood and brain from the corners like cataracts from Hell. What I later learned was poison left a thin, shimmering layer on every blade, left all who felt its puncture choking in their own vomit and coughing up their withered, decaying organs. I’d dare say that even the deepest stab wounds and severed limbs went unnoticed by the victims as that potion took its toll. I remember a velvet curtain that adorned the King’s proscenium. The first thing that sprung to mind when I observed its rich majestic coloring would have been blood red, if I hadn’t noticed the rust brown stain of actual blood that dyed its skirt. I remember the cloud of dust that engulfed the room when that curtain finally collapsed from the weight of all the blood it had absorbed, and how it sifted through the air so unsettled.