Downfall

Response to this challenge.

He types. Sharp words twist forth from his keyboard, dancing through a cursor into pixellated life. He wants to be powerful, wants to feel the rush of energy that flows with spite and scorn and sanctimony.

The words swim on the screen, biting and cold. It’s an easy matter to press send, to be crushing and dismissive. It’s easier still to feel the spite, to feel the bitterness even as the power rushes through. Words, a valuable weapon when picked right – so easy to sharpen and collect, combing through for just the right ones. Easiest of all is to send, one quick stab of a button.

This time, of all the confrontations, he feels like the winner. It feels regal and strong, infallible. It is not unlike standing atop a mountain, or perhaps on the highest level of a multistorey block, surveying the world below. This must be how kings feel, able to make or break something with just a gesture. It tastes like fine wine, luxuriously dark chocolate and delicately-spiced food. The power is intoxicating, and more words are written in a dull haze, sent to be sharp and biting and break things.

Oh, but his words are weak against an opponent such as this. This is the problem: the king wields weapons with which he has little to no experience, hidden in a tower somewhere. The play of combat is uneven, clumsy against cunning. The opponent – the one who knows words well, the one who twists and turns words – plays and parries deftly, easily. Elegantly. A silk gown will win out over a cotton counterpart, embroidered and rich and carefully done instead of sloppy and rushed.

The silk is presented – elegant, clean, and crafted so adeptly that there is no question: this pattern, these words have all been picked, one-by-one. Mulled over, tasted and tested on the tongue to find the best combination. Salt does not mix with honey, he learns, and chokes on the combination.

Coughing now; it’s apparent that his rebuke was dismissed, waved away as annoying smoke from a candle. The rush of power ebbs away, pales into nothing as he realizes this truth: his opponent has won this round, too, and there will never be a rematch.

He steps off the plateau, hands off the regalia, and leaves quietly in the night.

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