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Once, he had been a large man. He’d been a Ruler who reigned with power, in his Kingdom as well as in his own physical appearance. Now the sight of himself made him want to vomit on the spot. A gaunt face, framed his sunken eyes, with his forehead covered with liver spots. At the age of eighty-three, he supposed he should be glad he could still get around on his own two feet, as slow paced as that was, but it was not enough. He hardly filled out his purple shirt the way he once had. He always wore purple. He believed that purple, and gold are the two colors of royalty, but gold always seemed overbearing when he wore it. Lifting a hand to touch his bulbous nose it froze half way to his face. Seeing how his hand shook disgusted him beyond words.

“You are nothing more than food for the worms now Harren.” The shadowy figure said, its voice sounding like a thousand whispers. “The twelve children you fathered in your years are those worms. They dream of the day you will die, wondering who it will be that you have named to replace you. A one in twelve chance of gaining the throne is far better than no chance while you live. You know well that you will not live another two years in your health, but I tell you now, you will not live out the year.” With a quick flourish of its hand, the mirror faded away in a collage of wispy tendrils before the dark figure continued to speak in its haunting voice. “You can have your strength back Harren! You can have ten more years to rule and likely longer. Your hands will no longer shake. Your vision will be as good as when you were a young man!” The figure took a tentative step toward the king. “All you need to do--.” It took another smaller step and leaned to look at the old king in the eyes. “— is to serve me! Give me your oath.”

Harren stared into the face. Up close now, he could actually make out the dark soulless pools that were the figures eyes. Harren’s voice shook as much in fear as it did with age as he spoke. “I serve you and I will retain my power as King of Shayle?”

The shadowy figure laughed; a deep and cynical sound that echoed in Harren’s head. “But of course you will keep your power. In fact you will have even greater power, for you will have my strength as well.” The shadow curled its dark hands into fists. “Serve me and you will be king of all that lies between the great seas.”

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