He sat, watching the dance of the hearth flames. Promises had been made, kept. Everyone had doubted him. A smile tickled the corners of his face. The wine caressed sweeter.

The door crashed open. His most trusted assistant aided a bedraggled, lame man before him.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“This is Zhong.” His assistant cleared his throat. “From your settlement.”

“What news from my people’s anticipated salvation?”

Their eyes cast downward. Bitter wine burned his sinuses.

The man, Zhong, rocked, unsteady. “The settlement is … gone.”

The weight rebounded, crushing, pinning him.

His eyes met his assistant’s. Understanding. Truth must die.

Picture is by Andy Saxton. (100 words)


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