I scrape the mud from my eyelids and breathe relief with the invaders gone. Peasant clothes and riverbank mud save me from certain slaughter. I am ashamed of my cowardice.

A popular revolution put me, King Merval of Uttimon, on the throne aged seventeen, my rise monumental. People prospered with plentiful summers and substantial stores through harsh winters. They celebrated and danced in the streets. Considering exiled King Stanphic had been an all consuming dictator I fully appreciated their joy.

Five years later King Stanphic has invaded my lands, smashing crops, lives and villages. I fought alongside soldiers as my kingdom fell. Ordered to save myself I fled to the fields with armour gone and simple clothes on my back. I slipped away unseen.

Splashing alerts my heart, fear courses through my veins – have I any right to be scared? I flatten against the riverbank. A young girl runs through the shallows. She turns stumbles and falls. Horses gallop splashing downstream. The girls scream slams my ears.

They will kill her.

My fists tighten and heart quickens. I throw myself over her.

Hooves thunder past then fall silent. I drag her to the bank and hold her in my arms, my hand over her mouth. We are exposed, my river mud gone, and our faces pale. They slowly retrace their steps. An armoured solder dismounts sword drawn. I stand tall.

“My king, thank goodness, we’ve found you.”

The young girl stares up at me and then curtsies – time to take back my peoples liberty. I mount a strong midnight stallion. A sword and shield are thrust into my hands.

“For your freedom,” I speak directly to the girl, kick my rides hind and as the beast rears up, I signal the men, “this day we will prevail and my kingdom will be yours once more.”


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