Two months. It had been two months since Avalice was invaded. Two months since three kingdoms were ripped apart and cast to the brink of war. Two months since the Kingdom Stone transformed and bathed all the planet with its light. But for two, the most important thing that happened two months ago was the death of Shuigang’s King.
He had been known as many things. A powerful warrior. A fine monarch. A respected ally. A father. To Dail, he had been all of that and more. An inspiration, a role model. The epitome of a great ruler. The King was everything that Dail wanted to be once he took the throne.
He could remember all the days he had spent under his father’s tutelage. All the time sword fighting or studying politics, Dail had hung on the King’s every word, every movement, so that one day, he could be just like him.
But why? Oh, why did he have to be taken away so soon? There was still so much that Dail had to learn, still so much that he could only have learned from the King. His time wasn’t supposed to come yet. Dail was not yet meant to be king any more than his father was yet meant to be buried. Dail wasn’t ready, he wasn’t prepared. Why did the time have to come so soon?
But oh, Dail knew. He knew too well. The King was dead because of him. It had happened so fast, but he remembered clear as day. He saw it, he saw with his own eyes, the swing of the blade and the flying of feathers. He saw, he saw with his own eyes, the limp, decapitated body fall to the ground. Dail, Dail could have saved him, if only he were stronger. But no. He couldn’t save him. He couldn’t even avenge him. It was his weakness, his failure, his fault that the King was dead. His fault. His fault.
“Forgive me, father,” he prayed, and he prayed each and every night, each and every day. “Forgive me for my failure. I’m so, so sorry. I failed you, and my kingdom. It’s my fault that you’re gone. I can never replace you.”
Two months. Two months he had been saying that. Two months he had spent in Shuigang Palace, begging the forgiveness of a father from whom he would never receive an answer. Two months he had spent drowning in his own tears, refusing to take the throne, for the throne was not his to take. He wasn’t ready to be King, it wasn’t his time. He knew that for a fact.
Dail was a failure. He couldn’t be King. If he were strong enough to be King, his father would still be here, and he wouldn’t be in this position. Until he was strong, he couldn’t be King. Until he wasn’t a failure, he couldn’t be King. Dail could not be King.