This short piece of fiction was inspired by the image you see here. It’s a close up of a painting I stumbled across in the Louvre, in Paris. I took an extreme close up of one portion of this painting, the name of which, and the name of the artist who painted it, I completely failed to document.
I put this photo up as a writing prompt earlier in 2011, and decided to write something to go along with it. I then promptly (ha!) forgot about it. Then, in Sept of last year, I stumbled across it again as I was writing Shadows and Bones. This piece of flash fiction then worked its way into that story, and the result was The Prince of Graves. This scene didn’t actually make it into the novella, but the characters do (although the prince in Graves has blond hair).
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The prophet thrust the ancient flask to within a hand’s breadth of his King’s face. Rage flashed behind the sovereign’s eyes, and his countenance remained severe and stormy.
“This is your reward!” the prophet declared. “Blood and loss!” The King reached out and took the ornate vessel, and silently regarded it. He then looked down on his youngest son, who remained kneeling. His armor was battered, and blood could be seen oozing from between the iron links on his left arm.
“Speak,” said the King. The prophet stepped back, and the surviving prince stood.
“Lord, my brothers are dead. The northern army is decimated. Yet, I’ve pulled together two phalanx of riders. At your command, we’ll ride to meet the enemy, and delay them if only a short time.”
The prophet strode to the north window, and pointed to the ghastly clouds that infected the horizon. “To the north is only death. Your arrogance has left you with one heir only.”
The King closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, they were as hard and resolved as the iron of his throne.
“You will ride to the north and meet the enemy. You will not delay them. You will defeat them, or you will not come back.” The prophet laughed a disgusted, disdainful laugh. The Last Price stood.