's 2017 Horror Write-off:

Long Live the King

Submitted by Bryan Urbanczyk

The legends you have heard, the demon king who has wrought destruction rather than salvation of his people, and has gestated the lies of evil and dampened the spark of hope, eliminating all chance of a rebellion. Or so he thought. His own people, discarded and left for dead, now plot an attack against his tyrannical rule. As the valiant hero steps onto the grounds of the castle, he knows he must defeat this corrupted ruler, whatever the cost. Shrieks sounded from beyond the castle gates, but not shrieks of monsters, but rather those of anguished humans, tortured for far too long in the depths of this crumbling fortress. As he opened the castle gate, it creaked, and he knew that if there were anything here, it would know where he was.

But nothing came.

He marched across the courtyard, always cautious, always anticipating, yet still, nothing. Finally, he had reached the large, gilded door he was sure led to the throne room of the waiting demon. As soon as he reached for the large brass door handles, the doors swung open with such a force, one nearly came off its hinges. The damp, rotting carpet led to a moth-eaten throne, topped by an equally moth eaten corpse.

This was the king. This was the great evil that had terrorized his people for the last fifty years. He drew his sword, the grinding of the metal against the scabbard echoed throughout the dim hallway. "Demon! You shall leave our people alone!" And he charged. His sword flew, flew straight to the heart of this merciless entity.

The king laughed. A laugh so gravelly, so ancient, that it sent shivers up his spine. "Oh." Was the final word from the mouth of the king before his body burst into flames, slowly disintegrating until only his broken crown remained.

The green gem in the center of the crown called to the knight. He walked slowly towards the object, bending over and gingerly picking it up. All he could think about was that crown. The crown was his. The crown was important. He had the sudden urge to place it upon his head, and his body followed the will of his brain. His hands lowered it delicately upon his head, as if it were a bejeweled faberge egg, and soon his head was topped by the relic. Then, he was gone. The king looked down, looked at the armor that adorned his new body, and smiled. It would be a golden age once more.