He had dreamt countless time of the sands of the Colosseum. Now he stood tall while Nazzu’s champion slain at his feet. The crowd roared, chanting for The «Howling King». He would be the talk of the Capital for a long time.
Years of training had led to this moment…
Yet he couldn’t bring himself to savour it.
Anya was dead.
-«She yet lives.» The witch had said.
Hasdrubal knew the old hag was too clever to merely lie. She’d twist her words, stretch the metaphor beyond recognition but would never outright lie. Did Baba Gava meant her sister had reborn as a Samsaran or “lived” through her children? Did she wait the last possible second to announce him she lived as she drew her final breath?
Unlike the “truth” she had revealed, her intention only seemed too clear now. She had informed him that she fed of emotions. She had nurtured his hopes only to feed on his anguish to see them dashed.
He tried the regain control, maintain his composure and deprive the witch of her feast. But the pain was overwhelming. Alchool did not dull it. Trashing his quarters did not sooth it. Nazzu’s blood may have cleansed it but Nazzu yet lived.
It all been but a hollow victory.
He had made a truce with his father but doubted his heart would be able to ever forgive him.
Anya’s children had been taken out of harm’s way but he was still a stranger to them. With Harkenon looking for them, they would have to live on the run, without never being truly safe.
He had fulfilled his vow to his lanista and made him a frighteningly rich man, but he had to sacrifice what might have been the only opportunity he would ever get to avenge his sister.
He failed her. He failed her again.
Hasdrubal’s living room laid devastated, furniture sliced cleaned from Gwalhir’s adamantine blade, glassware and vases broken, their contents spilled, priceless works of art smashed and shattered.
A lone chair still standing in the middle of the room, lit by the skylight above.
The throne of a mad king towering his war-torn land.
Hasdrubal approached, with an half-empty bottle of spirits in one hand and dragging his Falchion with the other.
He couldn’t fight it any longer.
Hasdrubal dropped the bottle on floor and let himself collapse on the chair. He leaned over to rest his brow on the hilt of his sword.
He closed his eyes… Tears rained at his feet.