A King's Life (fiction)
In The Beginning
There was a great famine that starved the land of all its food, and left its denizens either starving or dying. Now, in this time of great turmoil, there was a king by the name of Alphaz. He had wealth beyond measure, coffers full of gold, and a kingdom that had no rival. But his kingdom was enduring this great famine. This was a problem, he recognized, but how best to reconcile it?
And so he tried...
His top adviser, Alaran came to him one morning and gave him the grave news. "The peasants are up in arms, sire. Those that are strong enough to do so, anyways. This famine will be the death of our empire."
Alphaz threw his cup of wine at the wall, causing it to ricochet and roll out of sight with a loud clang. "I know. I KNOW. You needn't tell me the same news every day. Tell me something good."
"Some traveling salesmen have arrived at our castle, from far-off Andoria, they say. They have wares and some food, but mostly they say they have some few treasures that His Majesty might want to see for himself."
"Treasures, you say. Well, fine! Send them in at once." Alphaz put on his most regal robe, and awaited the supposed treasures. After a while, he grew bored and went to relieve himself. He went to his bathroom, which had a window out to the kingdom so that he could keep an eye on things for about fifteen seconds every now and again. He saw fires burning and not a soul in sight. He figured they were all gambling or fornicating, as peasants often do.
As soon as he was done in the bathroom, he heard the entry of his new guests. He entered the main chamber to greet them and noticed their strange clothing. They had the visage of jesters, but with almost a regal aftertaste. It sickened him. It was as if they had come to mock him. He figured it was unintentional, and let it slide for the moment.
"Your Majesty. We come bearing treasures, from far off lands, unique treasures, that are only fitting for a man of your station." He laid on the table a doll that wore a crown, sewn with extreme dexterity. Next, he laid down an iron-cast model of a castle. It had magnificent jewels all over it, and intricate features, such as drawbridges and levers. Next, he laid on the table a sack-cloth doll with rips and tears all over, with red eyes and a crown as well.
"What is this madness? You bring me child's toys to play with? Who is it that you think you're speaking to?"
"Oh no, these are not children's toys. These are expertly crafted items from a far off land. I've one more treasure that is of immeasurable wealth and has been crafted by a master blacksmith. It can only be seen and bought if the rest is agreed upon before-hand.
The king was an connoisier of weapons and this piqued his interest. He became wide-eyed and asked for their price. They said it would only be twenty crowns. A modest price, he thought, and for a new weapon, a steal, he thought. Perhaps his child would get use out of the other nonsense.
The king handed over twenty crowns, and the salesman brought out a golden dagger that shined brightly as it reflected the sun coming through the window. The hilt was inlaid with jewels and diamonds, and yet the blade itself was sharper than any blade he had ever seen.
"Your Majesty, this set comes together for a reason, for it has meaning and purpose. Please allow me to demonstrate."
"Make it quick, I want to try out the blade."
The salesman placed the kingly doll in the castle, and the beggar-doll outside the castle.
"Oho, a political commentary, how trite."
The salesman walked the beggar up to the gates and sat him there.
"Oh my, a beggar at my door, whatever shall I do?!" the king echoed sarcastically.
The salesman took out the dagger and placed it in the kingly dolls hands, and had the doll walk toward the gate where the beggar sat.
"Oh, now it's getting good. Run the little rat off!"
"As the kingly doll made it to the gate, he waved the dagger around, which was like a greatsword in the dolls hands.
The beggar responded with pounding on the gate.
And then the king turned his sword around and impaled himself, falling over and dying.
"WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?! Guards, I want these men's heads on pikes! How dare they come into MY house and threaten MY life and try to take MY money!"
The salesman, before reacting, moved the king out of the way, and had the beggar occupying the throne.
""Tis just a reenactment, sire. No offense intended."
"Reenactment?! Of what?"
"How this one king Alpha....something... I can't remember his name. He was a fat pig with a lot of coin and no heart, and the people hated him and wanted him dead. One day, he realized his sins and fell on his blade at the gate. A touching story, I assure you."
"YOU WILL DIE FOR THIS!"
"Perhaps, perhaps not."
A Gruesome Display
The King ruminated about this event all night, and all the next day, and decided to order his military to go make a demonstration of the two salesmen in the public square. The king watched from a window in his castle, watched the peasants flock to the execution.
"Tatyana....Tatyana come here."
"Yes, father, what is it?"
"Your eyes are better than mine. What do you see down there?"
"I see a hopeless effort."
"I mean literally, what do you see?"
"A bunch of peasants surrounding two men two disgraced His Majesty to His face."
"You're wondering why they're looking up at the castle and not the execution?"
The King nodded gravely; a bead of sweat trickling down his forehead.
"Surely it is because they have not seen you in a while and miss your presence."
The King slapped her. "Save your flattery for men that actually want you. Get out of here."
With a trickle of blood at the corner of her mouth, she smirked and took her leave.
He continued to stare out the window, but then he felt more and more ill. Whenever he felt ill, he always took to his room. It was his safe place. Safe from politicking, safe from intrigue, and the famine. It was filled with his greatest possessions. He laid in his bed with expertly woven sheets and wondered what he would do next. How could he show them his supremacy? How could he conquer the famine? How? He fell asleep to the chattering sounds of his worries.
When he woke, and he did wake, he was greeted by no one. He felt better, but worse at the same time. He hated not knowing everything. His informants were all but useless, and his own family were like jackals just waiting to inherit his fortune....and the peasants...staring...
He walked out into the main room of the castle and was greeted by no one, he walked around and found no one. All around the castle. No one. He figured he was still dreaming. He looked out his window and saw that the causeway to his castle had been barricaded, and a what looked like a headquarters was erected in the town square, right where the executions had been held.
"The fools! They think they can do this to ME?! I'm the King!"
As silent as a feather falling, his daughter approached from behind, until she was at his back, and put a dagger to his throat.
"Recognize this dagger? You bought it. Those salesman paid for it with their lives."
"Ta-ta-tatyana, you've come to kill your own father?!"
"No, nothing so distasteful as that. I'd rather not have your poisonous blood on my hands, as I have enough of it in my veins already."
"Treacherous bitch!" She pressed in tighter, and forced his head out the window, while the blade made a slight incision in his throat. "No, no, let me go. I'll give you whatever you want, don't kill me!"
"We've already discussed this. Now, look at the peasants. They're building a new capital already, and having an election of all things. They've been storing up supplies of food for just this occasion, and now you've finally given them a reason to rebel. Look! Look and see your handiwork!"
"Damn you! I see what the rabble are doing. They'll be at war in no time, and what then? Blood in the streets and chaos, anarchy! They're all fools! They should have just left things alone!" It was then that he realized there was no dagger at his throat and no one behind him. He turned around quickly and saw no one. The only thing that caught his eye was a golden dagger laying across his throne. He sighed and walked over and picked it up, checking to see if his blood was on it. Yes, it was. So then that wasn't his imagination.
The King sat on his throne, managing no one, ordering no one, and having no one to attend to his needs.
Days, weeks passed, and eventually he had exhausted the castle supplies.
Before he succumbed to starvation, he made his way down to the barricade, where the peasants watched him in pity and disgust, as the rotten old figure of a man sauntered his way toward them. He stopped at the barricade and banged on it weakly a few times. "You've won...... Do you hear me? You've won!"
No sounds came from the other side. "I'm here to surrender. I have treasures in my castle....you are all welcome to whatever takes your fancy. I am old, I am tired, and I can't go on any longer." No sounds came from the other side.
"Can't you hear me?!" He dropped to his knees and began to weep. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" He uncovered his golden, jeweled dagger and said, "All I have is my life to offer. Will that be enough to make amends?! I hope so....." He took the dagger with both hands and pointed it at his chest. He said his final prayers and started to insert it when a strong hand stopped him.
"No, no, enough blood has been spilled in these streets. Come, up, put that dagger away. Here, here's something to eat, you look like hell Alphaz."
The King was at a loss. This man was one of his house guard, but he couldn't place his name.
"We're taking down the barricade tomorrow. You can return to your castle or do as you wish. Here, drink, drink. You're parched."
After the King hastily drank several flasks of water, he asked the question of the day. "Why?"
And the man just shrugged, and life went on, as it always does.