The King of Ys

← Previous Removed Entry | Next Removed Entry →

The King of Ys has an evil hand. This makes it difficult to make sandwiches.

“I can call a servant to make that for you, dear,” says the Queen.

But, “No,” insists the King.

He struggles with his hand. It is the hand of a great rough-skinned beast, grafted with sorcery onto his ruined stump. Sometimes it helps him spread mayonnaise on bread. Other times it strangles him.

“I can make my own sandwiches,” protests the King of Ys.

He is protesting alone. Already the Queen has gone—to summon a servant or to her own entertainments, he does not know.

A great bell rings. It resounds. His nerves throb.

Peevishly he slams down his knife and climbs to the bell tower outside his fortress where the great adamantine bell, too heavy for any normal man to ring, still sounds.

“I’m Llyr,” says the most vocal of the three men who face him there. “This is my brother the Eternal Champion, and this is my other brother, the Eternal Champion.”

“How does that work?” asks the King of Ys.

“My brother the Eternal Champion dies,” says Llyr, “and reincarnates as my other brother the Eternal Champion.”

The brothers nod.

“It happens later,” says Llyr. “But time, it turns about.”

Now the King of Ys is calming. It is beginning to sink in for him, what he faces here.

“You have come,” he says, “to challenge me and claim the sword of Heaven’s End—the sword of Ys—to take it east and face my master the last of the Titans, and with it carve out his heart?”

The Eternal Champions are staring at his hand. It makes the King of Ys nervous and he grips his evil hand firmly in his good.

“Yes,” Llyr confirms.

“Take it,” says the King of Ys.


The Eternal Champions are still looking at his hand. I won’t let you break me, thinks the King of Ys.

“I said,” the King tells them aloud, “take it. Destroy him. Isn’t he a foul beast? Isn’t he the last of an old bad lot, keeping humanity in darkness? Let him be slain; let him meet his destiny of death. I won’t stop you.”

“You can’t anyway,” says Llyr.

“Is that written?”

Llyr frowns. He looks sideways at his brother the Eternal Champion.

“My brother—well, one of them,” says Llyr, “is a greater fighter than any man alive. So it’s not as if you could defeat him. But I reckon it’s not written.”

“Not actually certain?” says the King.


“If I fought you,” presses the King of Ys, “with my good hand, or my evil hand, and won; then wouldn’t that be a tragedy?”

“Fine,” snaps Llyr. “But aren’t you the servant of the Titans?”

The King of Ys looks down.

He can tell that an Eternal Champion is trying to pin him with his gaze, but since the King can’t see him, it doesn’t work as well.

“My brother thinks,” Llyr says, “that you tried to take up the sword against the Titan yourself, and it burned off your hand.”

“That’s ridiculous!” snaps the King of Ys.

“And that maybe you hunted down a great six-fingered rock-ape and grafted its hand onto your stump in its place and hoped nobody would notice.”

“Just take it,” agonizes the King of Ys. “It’s yours. Fine. You win. I’m defeated. Take your sword. Go east. Kill the Titan. I don’t want it!”

“The Titan hid it here,” says Llyr, “in the heart of his power, so that the King of his line would fight us and defeat us—though you probably wouldn’t, of course—and end the threat to his life.”


“OK,” says Llyr.

He tips his hat, which the King of Ys can’t see, and he takes his brother the Eternal Champion, and his other brother the Eternal Champion, and they go into the castle of the King of Ys and take their sword; and then they go away.

But his other brother the Eternal Champion is looking at the King of Ys as they part, and the look is just too much; the King breaks, he howls to the sky, “Fine, I tried to take the sword, nobody likes that Titan any more anyway!”

His shout echoes dimly through the spheres and layers of the world, and somewhere some strand of the Titan’s will takes form to answer it—

Or at least, so claims the work of Time.

It was an answer to him, yes: a response: an echo of his choice.

But in another sense it could never have been otherwise. It might have come at another moment, on another day, in a different fashion, but it could not have been avoided.

The doom of Ys had been brewing, had been brewing since before he touched the sword, since long before he chose to let it free.

It had been born with him, that ill-fated King, he was destined from his birth to displease his master; it had grown with him, surging and swelling in the northwest as he’d laughed and played among childhood flowers; it had been acquiring its strength and malevolence through all the long years of his rule; and it takes no more than an hour from his shouted declaration for the doom of Ys to come.

It blackens the sky, it is blue and orange and black and howling void, and it carries with it plague and death-birds and the rising sea.

And the court asks hm, who brought this thing, who had been their betrayer, who was the architect in the final days of dreaming Ys of this last bleak enchantment.

He cannot help stammering.

He can barely make himself admit to it at all, as he stares northwest at the blazing sky.

“That would be me,” he says.

Ys falls.

← Previous Removed Entry | Next Removed Entry →

View On Imago

Categories: Removed Entries