The room was musty.
The room was musty, for the air was thick with innumerable dust particles, heavy enough to make most people cough with a violence, and retreat to the outside and fresher air.
Perhaps some of the mustiness came from the old swamp wood that was used to line the dark chamber, the beams of which were marked with images of impish characters dancing in dreadful mischief. Perhaps, but it was much more likely that all of it was coming from the somber throne of the goblin king.
What once was a solid iron chair was now covered top to bottom in mold. Mold made up of vile swaths of dark green, spotted with patches of black dots, some of which were tipped with white spores. Mushrooms appeared here and there, and the whole thing reeked with the smell of rotted food. Indeed, there were many piles of molded over plates and other accoutrements next to the throne. And many little beetles, worms and parasites scurried between the covering jungles of fungus that made it’s disgusting shape.
And upon the throne, in solemn contemplation, was the goblin king, sighing mournfully.
He was actually quite tall and handsome; his face was chiseled, his jaw was square, and his frame solid, suggesting he was of fine build. Yet his features were rather boyish in appearance; his mosslike hair, coiffured, his cheeks, clean of stubble, and his eyes were wide, but still gleaming with darkness like twin pieces of coal, balancing out his eternally pale, sickly green complexion. He was frowning, in his clean clothes which were finely sewn with good linen. His long, pointed ears twitched with agitation.
This throne-room was dark, all light blocked out by high, mottled, rotted curtains, which once had images of past goblin kings upon them, eternally hidden by thick mold. Yet, even such encompassing shadow, all of the room’s features could still be perceived. Soft light poured across the entire circumference of the place, so that nothing could be hidden. Light that was of a gentle kind, sweet and pretty.
All of this light emanated from one source.
In the center of the room was the shape of a beautiful woman, carved from diamond, laying upon a mossy altar. She was beautiful and womanly, with a look that was immortal, swept up in a silver dress inlaid with diamonds that were arranged in ornate spirals. She lay still.
But she was not dead.
The kindly light that poured from her, evidence of a powerful magic, was proof that somewhere in her deep slumber, a remnant of vitality softly glared.
“Aurore,” whispered Mathieu, his voice baritone and measured. He got up from his seat, and as he did, moths flew out from his collar and sleeves, and he adjusted the rapier he kept on his side. In his gray slippers, he strode to her side, overlooking her resting face. Her eyes were closed, yet he could see through her features and onto the pillow he had laid beneath her head.
From somewhere outside of this foul chamber, a slight breeze went through the room and rustled her bangs. Mathieu raised a clawed hand and fixed the hairs on her brow. But closed, her eyes remained.
She might as well be dead. Mathieu felt the anger boiling in himself, and he growled, wincing in deeply bored-in frustration. He had scoured the land, far and wide, robbing, stabbing and stealing every piece of her shattered body.
“You are mine,” Mathieu hissed with an intense lividness. “You are mine, Aurore. Your body is mine, your beauty is mine, your love is mine, your great magic, your wealth, your daughter and everything else that constitutes your being and success, is all mine.
But without her missing diamond heart, she would be this inert piece of useless periphery. Nothing but gaudy furniture, unwanted in such an unwelcoming kingdom. He wanted her magic, to expand,to burn the wretched fungus that covered his palace. To expand his borders and take great leagues of land from the human world. And to fight back against the fairy queen, who insisted on justice, peace, and love for the innocent. To have some of her own magic, to fight against her.
The only way to fight against her. Mathieu reached to his left shoulder, where beneath his shirt lay a deep sear of a scar. A mark from the last time he had tried to fight against the fairy queen, and he had been lucky this was the only mark he had received.
As the moths that escaped earlier from his clothes continued to flutter about his head, Mathieu’s agitation continued to mount, and mount, and mount until it was insurmountable.
“Ergh!,” he screamed, drawing his rapier. In a flashing circle of steel, he cut all of them from the air in a broad, clean arc. As the blade caught them, their bodies exploded in a horrific puff of severed legs and wings.
Mathieu barely noticed.
“Aurore, you selfish woman.”
He remembered when the shining stone that once was skin wasn’t cold rock, but warmth. Pure, pure warmth. Warmth that he could hoard and keep to himself. Warmth that he could control, that was like a good hunting dog that could always be depended upon to come back.
It happened like that time and time again. When she would mess up the stew, she could be counted on to try again until she made it right. When she refused to give him her own gold for maintaining the castle, she would always pay him the right amount. And every time they had a vicious, vicious argument, and she could show that she could be so nasty and cruel herself, she would always, always come back to him.
That was why he loved her so.
“Curse you, fairy queen. Curse you, curse you, you wretch.” Mathieu’s eyes were suddenly drawn to some movement on the floor. One of the moths was on the ground, still alive, but missing a wing, which was actually close to it. It was trying to make it’s way to this phantom appendage which used to grant it freedom-and Mathieu suddenly thought of Aline, Aurore’s horrid daughter.
The daughter had always been in the way.
He raised a slipper covered foot and ceased the poor nuisance. He then smeared his shoe across the stone.
The diamond heart. That’s all he was missing, all he needed.
And the goblin king stirred. He left the throne room and meandered his way to the grand hall. It was listless, empty, it’s blue stone walls moist and oozing with damp earth. All about, bugs stirred, spiders crawled and worms writhed and slimed amongst its many crevices. A musty breeze wheezed its way through the length.
Mathieu suddenly fell to his knees. He felt dizzy, as his mind spiraled around and around with his want of Aurore and all the comforts she would bring him once he had her back.
“Aurore, I made you fall in love with me once, I will make you fall in love with again. Again and again and again. Again, you are mine. You are mine, you are mine, you are mine.
“I will play this game as long as I have to. You are the prize that was taken from me and I will have you back.
“For you are mine and mine alone.”
So consumed with greed for Aurore was he, he did not notice his goblin minions-small, vile, fanged and wretched things-lift their king up. They held his hands and kept him sturdy as they took him along the rest of the hallway and into the ballroom. Their, many goblin seigneurs and their goblin ladies were partaking in grog and other wretched sundries. They were naked and dancing around in crazed, evil states. But when their king entered, they all stopped and stared.
Mathieu seemed shaken but steady. Then, a noise was heard from up above the rafters.
They watched as a crow flew in from a high window up with a poisonous agility. It dropped and landed upon the floor in a hectic prattle, cawing shrilly. For a moment it seemed to be more bug than bird.
Then, it’s back arched up and snapped. It’s wings suddenly shriveled and twisted, audibly breaking in many places as it fell to the floor. The bird twitched a few times and was still with shattered death.
From it’s beak, a black fog, slow and heavily viscous, emerged. It rose from the dead bird as a small cloud.
Mathieu was slowly coming to from his daze. His gaze centered on this perforating fog. “A splinter of mind has returned,” he spoke to himself.
A few of the other goblins in the room leapt upon the bird carcass and pulled it apart, before eating it in a flurry of blood and feathers. At the same time, the fog suddenly shot out at Mathieu with great speed-like a viper striking at it’s prey.
Mathieu’s eyes rolled back as the fog forced it’s way into his body through the corners of his eyes, which began to bleed green blood at their edge. A few wisps forced their way into his body through his fingernails, breaking them.
Their was a hiss, as eventually all the smoke entered his body. He gasped as his eyes rolled back into place.
Then, he smiled a sick, twisted goblin smile. One most befitting of his rank.
“I’ve found it.”
The goblin parties in the ballroom roared in triumph, excited at this news. They jumped back into their festive orgies and continued to slog in swaths of spores, preparing for whatever their king planned next in the only way they knew how.
Behind the goblin king, a few yards away was a bespectacled goblin stroking his chin in contemplation. He was standing before a few birdcages, each holding one or two crows. After a moment, he reached for one in particular. The bird inside it jumped around frantically.