King of Spades

“King of Spades” by David J. West – What happens when the dead come back to haunt us? General Joab has to find a way to free his king from the rising specter of a long thought, dead Goliath.

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What happens when the dead come back to haunt us? General Joab has to find a way to free his king from the rising specter of a long thought, dead Goliath.

tags: David West, horror,  action/adventure, fantasy


Author David West
Edition  Volume 0
ISBN 9781370048366
Pages 10
Publication Date May 04, 2017
Publisher  Smashwords.com
Series StoryHack Magazine
BCRS Rating  CA-13
CA-13  BCRS ratings?Learn more

 



KING OF SPADES

by David J. West

  1. A TROPHY STOLEN

A horned moon hung aloof in the sky granting but pale light to the palace below. Soft quick footfalls betrayed the thief’s deft hands though his haunted burden might also have been too large to easily steal away. His shadow slipped away over the wall to a waiting horse bare seconds before David’s guards sealed the gates and awoke Jerusalem town.

“My Lord,” called Joab, as he roused his king from a deep slumber with voluptuous Bathsheba.

“There has been an intruder.”

David had already drawn a dagger from beneath his pillow and he looked to his general with all the wiles of a cornered wolf. “Assassin?”

“I think not. He was seen in your library carrying off something beneath his arm.”

Leaping up, yet retaining his dagger, David made his way to the library. Thoughts raced through his mind over what could have been stolen. All manner of kingly ransom was contained therein as was his plan for a holy temple.

Oil lamps flickered, casting an eerie glow upon the walls. Shelves loaded with scrolls and parchments sat collecting the dust of ages. Finely wrought tribute still captured the sheen of red fire.

Golden crowns remained as did even David’s personal holy ephod.

“I see nothing amiss,” said Joab.

“Nor I,” mused David, still glancing over his miniature mock up of the temple.

“Your tribute from the Edomites is untouched and still in the counting stacks of last week.” “What about—?”

“I have already asked my Lord, and the Levites have assured me the Ark is safe.”

David nodded almost unhearing. His eyes scanned the burdened shelves, his finely polished armor, the bow of his dear departed friend Jonathan and even his grim prize, the sword of Goliath. “It’s all here.”

“No, it is not,” intoned Nathan the prophet, his voice echoing in the darkness.

Joab sneered, “Prattle on storm crow. What is missing?”

“What was once a triumph shall now be turned against the house of David. I see an evil rising to test you once again.”

“What’s missing?” David’s gaze narrowed, “What evil?”

The wizened prophet’s finger pointed at circular space free of dust.

“Your first triumph and I imagine your final test,” said Nathan.

“No riddles,” shouted Joab. “What is missing?” “Goliath’s head.”

  1. A BLACK DEED DONE

Near the valley of Elah is a fortified hill interwoven with caves and holding deep unspeakable mystery. Its name is Adullam, which means ‘resting place’ and indeed it was once for a giant of a man.

A contingent of fine horses and camels were tended by a score of scimitar bearing warriors bedecked in the spiral helms and white cloaks serving King Maacah. They were joined by the hardbitten men of Beth-rohob’s King Toi; fighters and mercenaries of King Hanum as well as cutthroats and sell-swords from the Egyptian pharaoh. All of them had been assembled on the whims of Hadadezer, dread lord of Syria. He alone commanded the respect of the others.

Sharp-nosed Hadadezer dismounted his fine stallion and beckoned the four kings to follow him into the waiting maw of the sephulcre. Accompanying them was a beautiful woman with hair dark as a raven’s wing. A large sack draped over her ivory shoulders.

Musty air met their nostrils as the nameless woman clapped her hands and torches alit from the sharp sound. Suffering to show no fear before the witch, the kings acted as if such sorcery were commonplace. Hadadezer led them on down into the bowels of the earth.

“Strange is it not? That we conspire against David in the very place where he strengthened himself and conspired against Saul.”

Maacah grunted, “Irony is a fickle lover, I find no humor in caves. Especially those as dark as this tomb.”

“This was the only suitable place to commit the ritual. After all, most of the body lies here still,” said Hadadezer.

They continued down serpentine paths into the gloom until a wide chamber opened before them. At the far end where torch light hardly penetrated, was revealed a great stone box.

“Behold, the original throne of David, the very crypt of Goliath!”

The darkling woman was the first to touch the stone lid which she caressed like a lover. “Open it,” she hissed. Though this was her only command, so sure and strong was her voice that the kings obediently complied. It took all five together as one to remove the sarcophagus lid.

Within, a huge and armored, yet headless body waited. Desiccated skin hung tightly upon massive bone. A frozen six-fingered hand reached in vain for the spear handle, large as a weavers beam resting at his side.

From her sack the woman removed a great skull, so large it could have been placed over any one of their heads easily as a war helm. She then placed a small stone into the broken indentation just above the temple on the skull. “And now you are joined,” she said in triumph. She lit candles and gibbered softly calling forth the cursed names of Nephilim and Asmodeus, Baal and Dagon all while tracing strange forgotten symbols upon the crypt and skeleton, every now and again a mirthless chuckle escaping her lips.

“I need your men. Bring them, now!” she ordered.

“How many?”

The witch gave him a harsh look like a disapproving mother.

“A dozen?”

“All of them.”

The crowd of retainers, warriors and sell-swords flocked into the chamber, each man curious and wondering at the witch’s unholy spectacle.

She began a bewitching song that was ancient when Abraham strode the earth. Tender as flame but cold as the grave, its harsh melody awoke something. Her voice raised as a dank wind blew through the cavern inviting terrible awe in the men and still she grew louder, rejoicing in the summoning.

Some of the king’s men witnessed specters floating through the air and all felt cold ghostly hands rubbing lasciviously over them.

The witch’s cacophony of devilish song grew ever louder until an ear shattering climax made the horde of warriors clutch their hearts and fall over dead in an orgy of stifling terror.

Each man became a husk of their former selves, drained of essence, shrunken and used, but the life did not merely evaporate, it flowed elsewhere. The giant skeleton gained flesh and hair, his very armor filled as muscle rocked into the tomb.

The kings froze in terror astride their scores of dead men.

“These things cost and with a blessing must come a curse.”

Hadadezer spoke, “But the pact is not complete. The giant does not yet live.” “I need more,” said the witch.

“I will lead the horses down,” said Maacah.

The witch shook her finger, pausing her dark invocation to demand, “Human life for human life.”

The prickle of a thousand invisible spiders welled over the kings. Hanum screamed clutching his chest. Toi fell convulsing. Pharaoh turned to run but fell to his knees. Maacah stumbled against the crypt.

“We were not to be harmed, Lilith. You promised,” gasped Hadadezer, as he felt his own life draining from him.

“What care I for the plans of petty kings and fools? I go to break the Creators heart.”

Maacah willed the last of his strength to raise his sword and strike down the laughing witch.

A titanic fist shot from the tomb grasping him by the neck, snapping his spine like dry reeds.

Lilith cried in exultation, “It is done! Go and destroy the Creators favored child! He who is dearest after God’s own heart! Slay your murderer!”

Dead Goliath rose alive, his mottled skin gray and his red beard wild. Eyes like cloudy pearls saw in the dark and fixed on some faraway place. Hunching to clear the passage, the giant grunted while Lilith yet still laughed at the chaos she birthed.

Hadadezer alone of the kings still lived though he appeared to have aged thirty years.

Lilith eyed him without pity. “You alone may yet have some use,” she cooed into his ear, before shouting. “Return to your kingdoms. Rouse your folk, the Philistines. Let them know that Goliath of Gath rises again and will yet have his revenge!”

  1. SECOND COMING

The host of Israel marshaled before Mount Gilboa across from the confederate forces marshalled under Hadadezer and the lost kings. Banners proclaiming forces from all the cities of the plain and north were represented, even foes from beyond the Euphrates had come.

“Who could have rallied these fools?” grumbled Joab. “How many times must I kick the same dog?”

“Three times our number?” questioned David.

“Some accounts say four. But they have arrayed themselves pitifully, leaving the left flank precariously open against those hills. They have no will to fight. Looks like they are waiting to watch Ashtoreth’s nude priestess dance, not a battle.”

“A trap?”

“Certainly. That depression is a killing field. I imagine they hope to contain our chariots there and roll stones upon us. We’ll go around back,” chuckled Joab, “and cut the head off the serpent.” Joab signaled a kinsman to wave the flag for the cavalry and chariot. “Hold,” commanded David. “I think your priestess is coming out to dance.” “Is she naked?” Joab asked excitedly.

“No.”

Joab frowned, shaking his head. “Then she is no priestess of Ashtoreth, lets attack.”

A dark-haired woman in a black gown raised her pale arms calling for silence. The wind lifted her wild hair like a nightmare crown and her voice carried from her ruby lips on the breeze with strength and malevolence. “Hear me, Host of Israel, and know that you serve a false king and a false God!”

An uproar of insults flooded from the Hebrew side countering the witch’s statement. A few stray arrows darted and quivered in the earth near her.

“Hold!” commanded David. “Her words take no power from our faith. It is well known whose God is mightier and true. Am I not his champion? All know this well. Speak further devil woman and damn yourself with more lies.”

Lilith smiled that the bait was taken. “And so, if you are his champion of yesterday—are you still today?”

“All know that I am!”

Joab urgently whispered, “She is baiting you. It’s a trap. There is nothing down there but death from a thousand arrows. Agree to nothing.”

Lilith cried again, “And would you face a champion like yourself? Perhaps even one who was cheated long ago? That he may regain his honor?”

“I deny no man their honor. Men are what they themselves choose.”

Joab cursed softly, “Ba’als Devils! My lord, do not do this.”

“I can slay whatever warrior they choose to bring against me. This is theatrics, nothing more,” said David, before shouting, “Bring on your foul champion!”

“Then come and die!” shouted Lilith. She beckoned for the champion and the crowd of Philistine soldiers parted like the Red Sea for Moses. A giant with a massive helm strode through the philistine ranks, a war club made from a small tree in his hands.

“He’s big,” said Joab.

“I’ve killed giants before.”

“Yes, but he’s really big. Goliath big.”

“I killed Goliath remember?”

“Did you? I remember a swift youth killed him twenty years ago. You’re no fleet-footed boy anymore.”

“I can do this.”

“Of course, you can.” Joab grinned, “Bathsheba hasn’t exhausted your will to slay then?”

David checked his sword belt and adjusted his crown. “When this is done, I’ll have to give you a laying on of hands.”

“Yes, my king,” laughed Joab.

David stalked into the vale as the armored giant loomed behind the dark priestess. “All know me as David Ben Jesse, King of Israel. I am the champion of light and of the one true God. Who do I face this day?”

A halting deep laugh echoed behind the helm, it sounded as if echoing from a cavern. Massive grey hands lifted the burnished mask and David beheld the awful countenance of dead Goliaths face. A small black stone lay embedded in his skin, just above the temple on his right-hand side. White eyes stared beneath the red bushy brow and hideous crooked teeth grinned. “You thought me dead, David Ben Jesse. I merely slept, dreaming of this reunion.”

David stepped backward aghast, not from fear of death, for there was none, but from the very idea that his faith so immovable, so inviolate, was—wrong. “God of my fathers! Why have you abandoned me?” He went slack, ready to faint, dropping to his knees as Goliath raised his war club.

  1. BURNT OFFERINGS

David knelt, spirit broken.

Goliath raised his club to deal a crushing blow.

The throng of Philistines cheered. Saul had died here, Jonathon died here—David would die here.

Joab raced down the slope and flung a javelin with all his might into Goliath’s breast. The finelyhoned edge pierced the giants scale armor.

While Goliath was pushed back with the sudden impact, he gave no cry of pain nor hint at death but merely reached and pulled the brazen dart out and dropped it unceremoniously on the ground.

Several of the most valiant of David’s six-hundred bodyguard, rushed in behind Joab. Swift Abashai slashed his great sword across Goliaths exposed calf before the giant cast him aside with a sweep of his mighty arm.

More of David’s men moved in as did the Philistines. A tidal wave of men crashed together and the cry of death burned the heavens. Horns blared and men shouted, each calling on their respective God to grant them the strength to triumph. Victory danced upon the chaos, teasing with either side as blood flowed freely upon the cursed Mount of Gilboa.

“David! Get up! Fight! Fight!” cried Joab, as he slew a pair of Philistines that almost closed the distance to the stricken king.

A mob of Hebrews threw themselves against Goliath and were in turn slain as the giant batted them aside like children.

“David!” screamed Joab, against the din. Casting his gaze about through the heat of battle, a flickering light caught his vengeful eye. A torch for fire arrows burned. Racing for the flame, Joab struck down a pair of Philistines. He captured the torch and ran counting heartbeats. “Take this my king!”

Warding blows, David yielded, “It is him. I never slew him. Lord, my God why have I been abandoned?”

Joab slashed his gory blade across yet another encroaching Philistine bravo. “I’ve never believed in anything but you my king. And I know you can do this again!”

“I’ve been abandoned by the Lord. It is done.”

Joab reached out and slapped David, before turning to strike back at Goliath himself. “It’s a trick!

Don’t you see it is only Goliath’s son! It’s a trick!”

David glanced up at the hideous mottled face of Goliath. “No, it is him. Back from the dead.”

“Nay, it’s a trick. Shake these fears from your soul and slay the devils that mock you!”

David looked again, a burning in his bosom kindled into a roaring pyre against the malevolent grin leering from Goliath’s face. The king rose and readied his sword, the very one he claimed from Goliath, and he leapt screaming his wrath at the monstrous golem of flesh.

They hacked at the monster, chopping the man-mountain down to size despite his own strikes and blows. Blood ran down David’s face, a sacrament, a baptism of faith against this most hated foe— doubt. Chopped to pieces, Goliath crumpled to the ground, and as years before, the enemy Philistines fled at his defeat. Joab used his torch and crippled the giant before throwing more fuel on to eradicate the grotesque mass of zombie flesh.

What became of Lilith none could say, but over the course of the summer, through four more battles David was told he slew four more of Goliath’s unknown sons. Each corpse was burnt by Joab and yet the giants came again and again.

Nathan the prophet was of no help, for he said that David would never have peace from the sword so long as he lived because of his indiscretions. Joab cursed him and the prophet left the kingdom for the space of many moons.

The crafty general knew it was time to find another way, because though each time they had won, slowly but surely their armies’ numbers dwindled. And with each triumph doubt crept back in, weakening the Israelites resolve. Soon, that doubt would overcome their hollow, pyrrhic victories.

  1. WITCHVERSUS WITCH

The cave beckoned like a hungry mouth. Joab dismounted and blew a Shoah thrice to announce his presence.

An old woman appeared at the door. Withered and skeletal, she wore a long faded green robe. “Speak your business and be quick about it. My time is soon and the king does not look kindly upon my talents.”

“Oh, Witch of Endor, it is on behalf of the king that I have come.”

“Is it now?” She gave a half smile and gestured for Joab to follow. Within her sanctum, a dozen differing scents pummeled Joab’s nostrils. Spices from Ophir, Khitai, and Cush, purple potions and green extracts, scarlet cloth and black iron. Cats strutted through her home and a bestial ape man brooding in the corner grunted.

“What need for me can the anointed king have?”

Joab flinched at the ape man’s sudden jerky movements but the creature remained where it was.

“The armies of King David have been beset as of late by a returning specter—the very corpse of Goliath raises again and again. I have burnt the bodies, staked them and even cut them into a thousand pieces and given same to the beasts of the field and fowls of the air and yet every moon they arise again. I cannot fight an undying man forever. What can be done against such sorcery? I should also tell you that Lilith is behind it.”

The Witch of Endor frowned at that. “Her power is greater than mine—but not my Master’s. If I deliver the answer, Adam’s wayward wife will seek retribution against me. I would be foolish and call down doom upon myself were I to help you.”

“That I know, but you are wise and we seek whatever help you can offer.”

She pondered a moment and said, “I am not long for this world. I will help, if only to see the kingdom restored to glory as my husband wished it so long ago. My name will ever be soiled through Lilith’s powers and sway, but I shall help for the sake of the kingdom.”

“Anything. I shall heed you.”

“Three things. First, only that sacred sword, which was once known as Goliath’s own sword can truly sever his head and spiritual bond to this realm. Two, the stone which laid Goliath low must be removed from his skull only then will Goliath’s spirit return to the land of the dead—and stay dead. Three, salt and water must contain the unholy monster’s body to prevent Lilith ever raising it yet again. You find the best way to complete that incantation yourselves.”

Joab bowed. “I thank you Witch of Endor. My best to your departed husband, the prophet Samuel.” She thanked him with a wave of her hand and disappeared back into the gloom of her cave.

  1. HEADS WILL ROLL

Joab rode out at the head of David’s armies into the Valley of Gob. Here they would meet the latest Philistine contingent and if God so willed it, crush them.

True, they had won each previous engagement but every time David’s forces were whittled down, each time they were weaker, every man that failed to return home afterward made another desert from the field. It seemed that though they slew a like amount of men from Hadadezer and Lilith’s forces, more and more enemies came joining with their foes, inspired by the return and indomitable Goliath.

The rag tag army had lost its nerve and marched always glancing behind, planning a way of retreat which foretold of imminent disaster.

Joab whispered, “They need a speech, something David, they need to be inspired or we walk directly into a rout.”

The King nodded but looked almost as somber as his men. “I have lost the will myself. How many sons could a dead man have?”

“Do the numbers matter? We have won and will keep winning if you keep faith.”

“I kept faith with the Lord God but for one mistake and I will never have peace from the sword. What was once a savage joy, a bloody honor, has become painful. A duty of scorn rather than to be celebrated.”

“Now you sound like the prophet Nathan, no sense of humor that one.”

“Did he offer any counsel on defeating Hadadezer?”

Joab snorted, “He offered only a blessing and the counsel that we should again throw off the shackles of our vanity and serve the Lord better than we have so far.”

“Then we have no plan, no strategy on changing this cycle?”

“I did not say that my King. I do have a plan, but my concern is being able to carry it out. You must win the day for us now that I can end the threat.”

“So full of mystery, what did you discover? To whom did you speak?” Joab grew quiet.

“Answer me,” David commanded.

“It matters not my King.”

“To whom did you speak?”

“The Witch of Endor.”

David cursed aloud and his marching army almost froze.

Joab glanced about fearful at the armies waning courage. “My King, hear me. Do not lose your nerve, we must rally to win the day!”

“Rally? Win the day? When my general consorts with sorcerers behind my back and we march against godless doom and you want me to rally?”

The marchers stopped at David’ tirade against Joab. Too many looked back the way they had come and some few shuffled backward.

“My King, we must use all weapons available to us. We must win no—matter the cost!”

David dismounted and looked upon his wavering troop. “You men of Israel. If we have lost the mercy and grace of God to fight, perhaps we had best return home and spend our last moments—”

“David! Stop! We must turn this day or the Syrians will run us to ground. If they see the army turnabout and flee now they will give chase like hounds and cut us to pieces!”

“But—”

“No! You know I am no godly man, but I am your man! And we must fight and destroy this Goliath to end this. I can do it! But you must rally the men. Convince them we need win one more battle!”

David looked over the faces of his men. From the predatory looking veterans to the frightened farm boys and shepherds who were not so unlike himself years ago. “Men of Israel! My general, Joab, claims he can break our enemies and end this horror! Will you stand with me, your King, and end this evil!?”

Sword and spear tips were raised as cry went up from the host. They would follow this king anywhere so long as he was glad of it.

~

Hadadezer and Lilith watched from across the vale like vultures waiting for a corpse to realize it is dead. Hadadezer said, “So they will indeed fight on, but we have almost twice the men and this time we shall overwhelm them.”

Lilith, whose scarlet robes flapped over her body like a tempest, laughed, calling for Goliath.

“Come warrior and defeat him finally.”

Covered in scars and bizarre unfitting accruements, the massive dead man strode to the forefront of the battle. He had been robbed six times already and now he would claim his due.

~

“See how he leads them like the point of a spear? We must break him my King!”

“Isn’t the point the weakest?”

“Aye, but it is also the sharpest. We are with you. We shall prevail!” cried Joab.

David led from the front, his scale armor gleaming in the golden sun.

Goliath strode forward, his own men cowered more than a dozen paces behind, fearful of being struck down in the great swath of his death stroke. “I send you back to the dark, little king.” David said nothing, but steeled himself to face the towering foe.

Something in Goliath’s eyes dazzled the King. He stepped backward but his foot slipped upon a smear of entrails and blood. He staggered back barely dodging the sudden clashing of steel. Screams of the dying cut through his grim facade. He wanted to run. How could he fight a man who could not be killed?

David dodged away, desperate as Goliath’s swift spear split a man behind to the chin.

Goliath swung the shaft back, cracking David’s right side and sending his helm flinging away.

His sight was replaced with stars swirling in blackness. He struck back blindly feeling his sword sink into human flesh and hearing Goliath howl in pain.

Blessed luck! He had struck his foe blindly while he could not with sight! Arms grabbed him about the shoulders and pulled him away from the giant’s attack.

Goliath’s rage sprang out like oil catching flame. He slammed his sword into the hedge of men and steel behind David.

With his back against Joab and the royal bodyguard, David parried and smote through the madness of the fray, a great voice thundered in the flashing instant he caught a glimpse of the giant form charging through his men. Goliath threw his club. The great bludgeon flew ever closer, like a comet, it brought doom from the sky and then the world crashed into fire shot blackness.

  1. BACKTOTHE ABYSS

Consciousness returned slowly. David was aware of the swaying rocking motion of his whole body laid out in the bed of a wagon. He felt bound up with cords. He could hardly move, hardly feel his hands from the bindings. He knew now he must be a prisoner of Lilith, Hadadezer and the Philistines. They would have some grim torture in store for him, of that there could be no doubt.

The dull throbbing in his head brought nausea. He sought to move and raise his hands when he realized he was not bound as a prisoner but was wrapped in blood-soaked bandages. More blood soaked the bed of the wagon.

His efforts to bring his hands to his face and tear away the bandages were suddenly stopped by a young woman. She responded with a wave of her fingers and a soft voiced, “You were grievously wounded, my king. You must rest. General Joab’s orders.”

“Where are we? Did we lose the battle?”

“We are nearly to the Dead Sea,” she responded. “You must rest. You lost so much blood.” “So, we were beaten?”

“Oh no, it was a victory, but the general says it is not over.” “It’s never over,” David lamented.

He struggled to sit up. Looking behind them in another creaking wagon, he saw a massive lump of body parts. Black, it was because it had been singed and hacked to pieces with more than a score of arrows jutting from its corpse like a sea urchin’s spines. Joab rode up beside him. “My King.”

“What happened, Joab?”

“The tempest has been raging yet we prevailed. We must act fast, my King.”

“Where are we? What are we doing? If we are the victor’s, why are we fleeing the field?”

“We succeeded in taking down Goliath a seventh time. But they still outnumbered us and fought to regain his corpse for the sorceress to raise again.”

“You knew it was him all along!”

“I did, but I had to have you rally the men. We will end this soon.”

“How?”

Joab tossed a small black stone into David’s lap. He recognized it. “That is the first stone you ever used. It is one of many things in the magic’s that I must deal with. You keep it, my King.”

“Where are we going? This is not the road back to the palace.”

“The Dead Sea. Soon you’ll understand my King.”

In a short while, the wagons came to a stop on the sandy beach of the Dead Sea. David remained in the wagon but stared as Joab dismounted and braced his feet. He was bandaged and bloodied too.

“Where are the Syrians and Lilith?” asked David.

“We took Goliath, that is all that matters without their champion they are beaten. I just need to be sure that he can never rise again.”

“You lied to me. It was devilish magic. I was abandoned by God!”

“No, my King. Something beyond even your priests understanding took place here but this will put them to rest.”

It took more than a dozen men to move Goliath’s body to the deck of a raft. The head had been cut off and the black stone removed from his temple. The same men worked feverishly tying strips of cloth and chains to stones. All the weight on the raft was barely keeping it afloat.

“Hurry now. There is not much time,” called Joab.

Two fishing boats side-by-side the raft guided it out into the Dead Sea.

“Watch my King. You will see. This will end the madness.”

When the fishing vessels and the raft were more than a half-mile away from shore, Joab had a flag signal them. The workmen tipped the raft over and the great body wrapped in chains sunk to the bottom of Dead Sea.

“We know that will work, David.”

As a storm covers the sea, rage billowed across David’s face.

Joab continued, “Disposing of his head, your stone there and soon enough the spell will be broken and he will rise no more!”

“Trust in more sorcery?” spat David.

“I swear it will work, my King.”

“Swear to join the host of hell,” snarled David, raising up Goliath’s massive sword in a slow deliberate arc.

Joab didn’t move to defend himself. “My King I did everything I could have done. If you must release me of your service now, so be it. But I have done my duty.” Joab laid his head low and exposed his neck, ready for the killing stroke.

David raised his sword, sunlight glinted across the edge. There was a gasp from the serving girl but the men stood hushed.

Red rage washed over him. His God had abandoned him. He was left with nothing but pagan servants who would conspire with witches and do more damning magics. David drew a breath and raised the sword higher.

But something gave him pause. He no longer saw Joab offering his neck, but his old, dear friend, the departed Jonathan. Had he come to this? To despair and punish those who served and loved him?

Suddenly, the great sword of Goliath dropped to the ground. David grabbed his general about the shoulders and pulled him up taking the man in an embrace. “I’m sorry to have doubted, these were trying times. I’ll not forget your service.”

Joab stood, with watering eyes. “My King. I would do it all again though the gods damned me for it.”

“They likely will, but I’ll stand by you.”

“Let us rebind your wounds, then we’ll run Hadadezer and Lilith to ground. We’ll string them up for good!”

David nodded. Judgement would come swifter than eagles and stronger than lions. “Let us ride!”

The End

 


“King of Spades” is copyright © David J. West

David J. West writes dark fantasy and weird westerns because the voices in his head won’t quiet until someone else can hear them. He is a great fan of sword & sorcery, ghosts and lost ruins, so of course he lives in Utah with his wife and children. More about him can be found at kingdavidjwest.com.

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