He paces up and down the cold hallway. Slow, measured footfalls, landing softly on the old stone floor yet not disturbing the dust that sleeps upon it.


Worn-out boots adorn his feet, looking ripe to crumble away at the slightest touch. Purple leggings and a regal vest effuse a rotting sense of royalty; upon his head is a circlet made of finest gold, yet lacking lustre of any form. His cloak is one of darkness, a blanket sewn from the blackest nights, and is somehow the only thing that is truly real.


The clothes he wears move not as he continues his ritual. You begin to get the impression they are a prison to him, a cage of silk and velvet holding his withered soul within. His skin is a pall grey, gnarled and wrinkled, wearing the weight of the majestic with heavy resignation.


You realise that you have yet to see his face. At this moment he turns as he reaches the end of the hall, and you stare into the dreadful visage of the ghost king. Dry, dead hair sparsely covers his mottled scalp, desert grass clutching forlornly to the wasted sands. His skin is tight across his gaunt cheekbones, cracking where it reaches the diseased lips, and the broken nose above it.


And his eyes... you look into his eyes, and see endless death, an eternity of hopelessness etched onto those sullen irises. The unseeing orbs stare back into yours, burning past you to embed a single emotion of despair into the rear of your mind.


You begin to understand, as the lonely king stands still and awaits you. The hallway fades away into a royal court, with an assembly of statesmen donning the finest clothes and all nodding respectfully. Sunlight streams from the high windows, and you look out to see rich greenery and a bustling city; markets full of haggling housewives, carriages making their way through the busy streets, men making merry in warm taverns while children dream of dangerous adventure.


And then suddenly you are back in the hallway, staring past the king into a broken window covered in cobwebs. It is quiet.


The king nods slowly, and walks on.

This nodeshell rescue has been brought to you by the letter P, loads of chocolate, and a bouncy ferret.

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