Ivan Berezin

The Curse of Forgetting or Legacy - A short story by Ivan Berezin

Dear reader, I will only be publishing the first chapter on the website so feel free to download the PDF for a the complete reading experience.
The Curse of Forgetting PDF

Chapter 1

The Kingdomless King rode through lands that were no longer his. Besides him, with a hand on the lead of the horse and a hand on the hilt of my sword, I followed. The hooves of the King’s white mare muted the sound of my own footsteps breaking branches and cracking leaves in the forest.

Apart from the chirping of birds and the occasional fleeing deer, the forest was quiet and alone, the trees would shade us from the sun, while our skins and pelts would protect us from the freezing cold.

I enjoyed the walk and the King seemed to enjoy it too. He had been with me since the start and I had promised to be with him till the end. Everyday we would take the same trip, he would wake me up early, worry in his face, shaking and scared, screaming at me and ordering me to take him to Alzaim, he had to take his kingdom back.

We would ride on the horse, quickly, down this road, all the way to Alzaim, and before we even reached it, from a peak in a mountain, the sight of flags no longer blue, and people no longer free assured him of what he had feared, Alzaim was no longer his, but most importantly, King was no longer he.

After looking at the taken kingdom, he would sit on a rock, slouching. Except for his King’s mantle, not an inch of royalty could be found in his demeanor, and he would sit quietly. While he did his thing, I would make sure the horse was well fed, I would gather the animals my traps had caught, and I would look behind us to make sure no one was coming. It had been more than once that I had to put my sword to use against some pathetic road-side bandits. Little did they know they were stealing from both a King and his best -and probably only- knight. It would suffice to say things did not end well for them.

The King, as he had ordered me to call him, remained static, like a cracked statue. I would eat a sandwich or some crackers, and look back at the city of Alzaim, the place I once called home as well, the King’s legacy, and I knew nothing hurt him more but to see it stolen from his hands.

“When did this happen?” He would always ask.

“About three years ago.”

He nodded.

“Did we put up a good fight?”

“The best we could, King, the soldiers and the people were honored to have a chance to fight by your side.”

“What happened to the prince?”

“He died protecting us.”

After years of repeating this routine I knew what the best way to answer his questions was, the way which would cause the least distress, the way which would ensure some sort of relief, whether it was the truth or not was besides the point, my sole task was, is, and always will be to protect the King, or at least the man who once carried that title.

After hearing of his eldest son’s death the King would close his eyes, holding back tears. He’d then turn around and face me. This was always the part that hurt the most.

“That should have been you, Andon.”

“I know King, I know…”

The Kingdomless King would then stand up. Making a clear effort to avoid my gaze, he would get up on his horse and start riding back the way we came from.

His back was straight, his face stoic -unnaturally calm, every muscle so relaxed and free, that paradoxically the King had to put some effort to keep it like that. The calmness in his face would smoothen his skin, making him seem ten years younger despite his white hairs, and unforgiving wrinkles, his eyes kept the same blue shine that they’ve always have, and if one were to see him like this they would be fools not to see a King.

But then the memories of what once was struck. And we’d lose our King. His back would slouch until he looked like a ball with a head, his face would tense up and make him look as if he was in a constant state of worry, the wrinkles and the brows, now lower in his face, would cover the strong eyes of his.

This had been our daily routine for the past three years, every night his mind would reset, and we’d have to come here for him to get it back. I didn’t know which was worse: if the forgetting, or the remembering. What I did know was that the Curse of Forgetting wasn’t just a legend like I once thought, it was real, and slowly stealing the King’s and my life away. I hoped there would be a way to stop this madness. To find happiness for both the King and I. I didn’t know if it was possible, but I knew there’s little I wouldn’t sacrifice for it.

I wasn’t sure when it had first consumed my King. It seemed to me like it had taken a grip of him shortly after we escaped Alzaim. After the Ronian troops barged in, burning and killing everyone in sight. The King impotent and hopeless as his Royal Guard died in front of him while trying to get him out of there alive, only for us to escape in horseback with blood in our hands, clothes, and faces. The palace and the city behind us burst into flames, and screams, and cries.

Perhaps that is when it started... yes… A Kingdomless King was no longer a King, and so the King was no longer anyone.

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