They called him the Hell Child. In other kingdoms, his existence is simply believed to be a legend, but in Alexandria, the people believe, and they are afraid. The Hell Child was born three hundred years ago, and he was the newborn crown prince of the Alexandrian kingdom. His father was a great king, who united the scattered nations under one banner, and created the city-state of Alexandria. His mother was a wise queen, who did not hide away in her castle, but walked the streets of her city every day, helping those in need, solving disputes among the citizens. The sun shone down on what was Alexandria’s golden age.
Then the baby was born. The king and queen were immensely happy, and the citizens threw lively banquets. The king and queen even came down from the castle and attended some of the revelries thrown by the citizens, and showed the people the newborn son. He would be the hope of Alexandria. When the king died, he would carry on the legacy of peace that his father had brought about. The future was bright.
Years passed. Prosperity continued. Alexandria flourished.
The incident happened on the child’s sixth birthday. No one knows where the fire began, or how, only that the child himself was responsible. He walked the castle in a rage, crying, and threw from his hands fire that licked the walls, burned the carpets and the draperies, and set alight the servants, burning them to their death. The child screamed, furious, as though possessed by some creature of the underworld, and the fires became more powerful, burning through the castle, killing the people therein. The king had just returned from another land, and found his castle set alight. Sword in hand, he and his men charged in, searching for the army that they were sure laid siege to their stronghold.
But the king found him, his only son, sitting on the throne, crying, flames licking the floors around him. When the king tried to speak to his son, the child flung his hands forward and cast flames at his father, setting him ablaze. The fires in the castle grew stronger, and began to spread to the rest of the city, burning the inns and the houses, sending citizens running, panicked, through the streets. The alarms had been sounded already, and the militia mobilized outside the castle, but there was no opposing army to be found. The people were confused.
The king lay dead in his chambers, surrounded by his fallen men, and the child stepped over his father’s corpse, continuing his horrific spree through the castle. As he walked down the steps of the grand foyer, the flames burst around him, knocking over the pillars that held the ceiling aloft, and the castle began to fall in on itself. Half the castle was in flames, the other half was collapsing, and all around, the dying screamed for mercy, for vengeance, for understanding.
It was the queen who found him. The child, crying, huddled in the courtyard, the flames consuming the foliage. Tears streaming down her face, she held in her hand a shining, silver dagger, and came upon her child, raising the knife high above her head. But she faltered. She could not do this. Even in the midst of this terror, even with the death or her beloved husband, she could not believe her child to be responsible. Whatever demon lay inside him, if it meant killing her own son, she could not do it.
The child raised his head, and turned to look up at his mother. With anger in his eyes, he held out his hands, and the fire licked at her skirts, ready to set her alight. Shutting her eyes so that she might not see what she was to do, the queen drove the dagger in the heart of her son, just as the fire consumed her body, and with a cry like that of the devil himself, the child’s flames grew more explosive, more powerful, and carried high into the night sky, lighting the world as though it were day.
And then he was dead. His mother, the queen, lay atop his body, perhaps in death trying to shield him from whatever evil lurked within, and possessed him to do such terrible things. Rain began to fall, and the fires within the castle and within the town began to quell, but the damage was done. Hundreds had died, and the kingdom was never to be the same. No one knew what caused the child to become a demon, no one knew how it happened, but there those within the castle who had seen it and survived the horror, those whose eyes had witness the mother, burning in the night, driving the dagger through her own son’s heart.
Alexandria’s golden age was done.
The king’s brother, living in another nation at the time as ambassador of peace, traveled to the castle, to take the reigns of power and become king over the nation. Having lost his wife years before, and never having any children of his own, the new king brought back to the castle with him a child, the daughter of the old king and queen, and sister to the child who had destroyed his kingdom. She had been in his care, and he loved her very much. He would raise her to become queen. The people, however, were afraid. They knew not what kind of terrible curse had befallen the royal family, and if it might ever happen again. So the new king, in his wisdom, created a council to govern the land of Alexandria, and stepped down as ruler. Though his adopted daughter and her descendants would continue to be monarchs of Alexandria, they would have no real power, and the land would be ruled by it’s people and their elected council members.
Time passed. Wounds healed. But the memory of the event, the great fire that laid waste to the kingdom and it’s age of prosperity, the story of the Hell Child, was never forgotten. The people remembered. They would always remember.