A fat, middle-aged man in gaudy clothes sorrowfully wailed in a room wrapped in darkness. The fat on his legs spread on the ground below him as he kneeled in front of an altar in grief. There was a large portrait of an older woman illuminated by two small flames on top of the altar and before the portrait a small, gray urn.
“Sniff… my beloved… Layla…”
The fat man straightened his back and wiped his tears with the sleeve of his clothes.
“Do you still remember how hard I worked to steal you from my father? I do, vividly. It’s what I consider the greatest achievement of my life after all… winning wars, the compassion of the citizens, the summoned heroes… fuck that! Fuck all of that! All I ever cared was you! Ever since that time you visited the castle for the first time…”
The man said with a wave of different emotions.
His arm fat jiggling as he swung his arms in anger.
“The moment I saw you… I knew I had to get you. I also saw how my father was looking at you. We are of the same kind after all. But, while he might have cared about the power you possessed, all I cared about was your heart. So what I was just a fifteen years old brat? So what you were twenty years older than me? I was the crown prince, I was already a man. A man who deserved you by his side…”
The man’s expression softened as he talked about the love of his life.
“That time, when you jokingly asked me to kill father to show my affection for you… I did it without a second thought. Father? Who cares. You were my world. My world! And yet you are dead! Dead! Tell me… Layla… was it an accident? Or were you murdered by someone! Was it the hero who stayed behind with you…? No, no. That wouldn’t be possible… enemies? Where from? Weglana? Stratos? Or perhaps mercenaries from the Undercity…?”
The fat man closed his eyes as he recalled the scene he saw at the training grounds of his castle.
“You must have fought hard, Layla… I still don’t understand how no one noticed before it was too late… a barrier perhaps? No matter… sniff…”
The fat man sniffled as the look of determination surfaced on his face.
“Don’t worry, Layla. I will take a revenge for you and I will definitely protect both of them. Our dear children…”
As the fat man fell into silence once again, the sound of knocking echoed through his empty room.
“Your Majesty! Your Majesty, can you hear me? It has been over a week since you have locked yourself up in the room… please, I beg you to come out! The heroes are growing unrest because of your sudden disappearance… please, somehow… somehow! Please, restrain your grief…!”
The fat man, King Henry, wiped his tears once again and with difficulty raised himself from the ground.
He has been kneeling in this room for over a week, with a minimal amount of food, so his body grew very weak.
However, his newfound determination to find Layla’s killer has given him the strength to keep going.
Henry slowly moved to the door and reached his hand to unlock them.
“Jonathan… how did it go? Have you found any tracks?”
“Yes, Your Majesty. We found two sets of tracks leading to the Abyssal Forest. I have dispatched the best scouts our country has to track the assailants down.”
“Good job, Jonathan. Good job… help us get presentable.”
The head priest, Jonathan, escorted King Henry to a dressing room where the servants put their King in order.
Washed, refreshed and in new clothes, King Henry joined the heroes for lunch.
After exchanging a few pleasantries, the king started asking the heroes many questions to catch up on what he missed.
“My dear heroes, forgive us for our recent absence. We have fallen ill and couldn’t attend to our dear guests. Is your progress going smoothly?”
“My King! My progress is very smooth. Actually, it’s so smooth that I’m already able to strengthen my entire right arm!”
Björn Lundqvist proudly exclaimed.
“Hou, is that so? That’s very reassuring to hear. If that’s the case, we think that the combat training should be started earlier.”
“I wholeheartedly agree!”
Björn shouted excitedly.
“We will talk with your trainers and inform them of our decision.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty!”
The others looked at Björn exhaustedly, as if they have already expected this outcome.
When the lunch with the heroes ended, King Henry gathered the remaining three trainers.
“Wulf, Melone, Jonathan.”
“Your orders, please.”
King Henry looked at the three trainers and sadness assaulted him again when he didn’t see Layla standing among them.
“You three have been in the castle since before we were born. You are loyal to the kingdom and to us and you know more about us than anyone else. We might have a wife and several concubines whom we have children with, but there was only one woman we have loved in our life. Although we have kept our mouth shut about this matter, we are sure you have known about this since the beginning. You know who the mother of our favorite children is. Thus, we ask you… our loyal subjects. Help us take revenge for her, avenge Layla by turning the heroes into perfect killer puppets!”
“Your order is my command, Your Majesty.”
“Leave it to me, I shall turn my students into walking fortresses!”
A smile crept on King Henry’s face as he imagined torturing Layla’s murderer.