Behold the King in all his glory. His commands shake people to their core, his armies crush all nations who oppose him, his vary word is law. None can oppose his will or resist his demands. His strength is that of the heroes of old with a mighty spear in hand he slaughters his enemies. He wields it with skill and cunning having long since relinquished his blade. Other knights and courtier brag about the prowess of their swords. The strength of the steel, how many drop to their knees in submission before it. But not the king for his treasured blade has grown dull and weak.
The young queen laments not, for her love for him and all he possesses has never wavered. Her personal guard and handpicked aides ensure she is never left wanting and her needs are always satisfied. When king goes off to war his queen is known to do thing but lock herself a way for days on end. Her cries and exhalations of divinity ring out through the halls. For who misses the King more than his ever faithful queen.
But the King’s life is not all happiness and joy. His enemies are all around. Legacies of old rulers that must be crushed. Disloyal citizens who do not see the wisdom in his choices and consort and truck with those beyond the borders. His closest ally the great eastern bear, praises the King’s strength and the value of their alliance. But carries a dagger ready to be thrust into the King’s back should he ever drop his guard.
With the surety of a man apart and with callous disregard the King erects a mighty wall, a great barrier to defend his borders from all who would threaten it. Keeping the barbarians of the south at bay. Do they people cry out with joy? No, they weep and lament. Their tears like a river and a pox upon the land. For the separation of the kingdoms had been but an illusion a divide that mattered only to those who lived far away and those whose hearts overran with hatred.
Who will work our fields now the farmers cried out? Without our friends to the south the wheat and corn will rot before we can harvest it all. Next year’s planting will go unfished and we will not be able to feeds ourselves let alone those who dwell in the cities. To which the old men in the cities replied
“Simply hire more workers from our kingdom they will jump at the chance for work.” But none come and farmers could scarcely afford to hire those who did. Leaving the granaries nearly empty when winter came.
The King in his wisdom fears for his people and so he declares a great festival to bring happiness back to the land. Those closest to him warn him not to follow this path but he is the King and their opinions matter not. Gold pours from treasury like rain water and the granaries are thrown open for all to enjoy the festival to the utmost. While the citizens drink wine and devour fresh meat and bread those same old men plunder what is left in the granaries keeping the best too themselves. Filling their private stores to the brim.
With little food remaining and the poor no longer able to visit the quacks and bone saws for free many die. The bodies begin mounting in large piles outside the cities the grave diggers unable to keep pace with the work. Those who lacked the greed of the old men now trade diamonds and gold for sacks of grain just to keep their own families alive and turn from the plight of those around them.
The king sits safely in his keep. Dining and growing fat and bloated in the winter months as he remains idle and indulgent. With each passing week the court grows smaller. Those proud nobles and allies slipping away across the border with all they could carry. Even the queen looks forlorn and fidgets constantly as if there is a great emptiness within her that has gone unfilled for some time. The King’s greasy hands pawing at only cause her to pull back in disgust.
The bell tolls twelve times on a moonless night in the dead of winter. The King walks through the halls of the castle alone and angry. His face a mask of betrayal and hatred. A fresh memory of moaning and mocking laughter that ended abruptly in blood. The door to the queen’s chamber lies open, the armour of her faithful knight discarded nearby. Below the castle in its depths are massive barrels of wine. Not even bothering with a cup the King smashes them open and drinks his fill. Gorging himself like a fattened pig, the wine flowing freely.
Stumbling out the cellar knocking oil lanterns and candles along the way the King fumbles and trips through the dark, until he arrives at last to the top of his tallest tower. Looking out he surveys the land and all the belongs to him. In his youth he stood here admiring the beauty of the fertile fields and the productivity of the workshops and factories that produced the finest of goods. Now all he sees are barren lands. The cities reduced to decaying shells were only the shadows of people remain. For he is the King of mud and shit. While the castle around him burns the flames growing ever higher he smiles and says
“I have been triumphant in all things; long shall they honour my name.”