Chapter 5: A King's View
The King stood atop of his castle as he had done the same hour every day. He stared and examined what was before him, his Kingdom. Built and amassed by his great power, it was a large Kingdom, covering the known world and matched by no other in all the land before his mighty reign.
Erected throughout his Kingdom were gold images of himself with the stories of his victories engraved in all of them. The moment of reflection, like most of his days, were to be undisturbed, no matter the emergency. Nothing was more important to him.
It was his time to reflect. To think about how great a King he was; to remind himself of his power, his rule, and his legacy. As before, this was his time to feel young again, to feel alive.
“Oh, how I envy the days of past,” He said to himself. “If only a new brash enemy would rise up and try to run me down so I could do battle once more.”
And as it had been for many years, none would. There had never been a King like him in all the years before. None were so powerful, so feared. He was the King of Kings. The fear he instilled in all the land drove other Kings, lesser Kings, to send over delegations asking for peace and pledging their allegiance.
In one of his battles long before, as many as four Kings joined their armies and marched against him. They failed. With no enemies to challenge him, the King stood high above his Kingdom, yet, he was without peace. Something was missing. To fill the void, the King entertained ideas of instigating wars, small battles allowing him to lead a small group of men against a much larger group. He needed another Kingdom to conquer, even if he needed to travel to the ends of the world. What he had was simply not enough.
“Is it the excitement of having another man’s blood on my hands I seek? Is it the roar of my Kingdom as I ride back in after victory? My Kingdom is perfect, any other King would be content with just a fraction of my power, but as long as I live, as long as I have breath within these bones, I will seek more. I am not like any other King. I am not worshipped as a man among men, I am a god!”
Every Fool knew the risk, but they also knew: without risk there could be no reward. Although Greedy Fool was handsomely lavished with rewards for his work, by his nature, he could not resist helping himself to some of the King’s gold.
The King was vastly wealthy. His combined wealth was accumulated by the many spoils of war, the taxes he collected, and the tribute offerings made in his honor. It was too much for 100 men to keep track of. Still, he expected every trinket of gold to be accounted for and this responsibility was and had always been appointed to the Fool.
Greedy Fool helped himself to the smaller pieces he knew the King overlooked and to compensate he inflated the reported amounts. He avoided stealing the larger and more decorative pieces so as to avoid any suspicion from the King.
Little by little, and with many months apart, Greedy Fool would amass his own treasure trove hidden away for safe keeping. He had many traits but second to greed was patience. He knew if he was patient enough he could leave the Kingdom for another and start a new life with titles and more land than he could dream of.
Greedy Fool wanted to be served and to live a life of pleasure, indulging in all of his fantasies. His favorite moments as a Fool were to look at the King’s face when he showed even the slightest of entertainment. He did this, not for the satisfaction of successfully fulfilling his task, but to capture what it could be like to have more...like a King.
The Queen and her maid servant had already started making preparations for their journey. Eight months had passed and the Queen’s wardrobe had long been criticized in the dark. The villagers and servants were not sure if she had lost her sense of fashion. Her attire had become increasingly more extravagant and overdone and they snickered when they saw her pass. Still, none dared to personally question her.
Unfortunately, her lavish new attire attracted the attention of Greedy Fool. He would count each gold trinket as she walked by him, readying his hands, eagerly anticipating one of them to fall off to be forgotten.
On the night the Queen was to leave, having already given the King an excuse to go away for a while, she left his side at the dinner table early. Greedy Fool knew the walking paths of the Queen as she was, like the King, a person of habit.
He followed her all the same, keeping a close eye on the ground she walked, until something unusual happened. The Queen did not make her way to her room for the night. Instead, she walked through the dark courtyard toward the servant quarters. It was indeed an odd moment as, like everyone else, Greedy Fool knew the King and Queen were never to be seen near the servant quarters. It had become against their custom and out of place by social standards.
He followed the Queen carefully at a safe distance, but he was no longer interested in fallen treasure. He was determined to know the reason for such a secret meeting. The Queen’s maid servant had come out to greet her hastily and guided her inside. Greedy Fool searched endlessly for a way to spy on the meeting before he found a crack within the wood of a closed window.
There they stood, talking about traveling and making final preparations. The Queen, with the help of her maid servant, started to remove her outer garments revealing the secret he was looking for. The Queen was pregnant. There was no doubt in his mind she was with child but why, he wondered, had this been hidden from the rest of the Kingdom? His mind was restless. He wondered if even the King knew of this. He needed to know more.
He ran to the door and banged on it with authority.
“Is there a maid servant here?” he shouted.
Both the Queen and her maid servant went into a panic.
“Is there a maid servant here?” he demanded again as he continued to beat the door.
“My Queen!” shrieked the maid servant, “What should we do?”
“Quickly,” the Queen began, “hand me my…”
“I hear you in there! I’m coming in!”
He busted through the door.
“The King requires…”
“Ah!” They both cried out.
“Oh my, your majesty, I did not…”
Greedy Fool stopped short in his apology to play the part of a man surprised.
“My Queen, I celebrate thee! What a glorious occasion to see you with child.”
“The only surprise,” she quickly replied, “is your unwarranted entrance into this woman’s dwelling. Have you no shame to enter without permission?”
“I am truly sorry your majesty, under any other circumstances I dare not enter in such a manner. However, the King urgently needs an extra hand and told me to be haste. As everybody knows when the King speaks so, we are to act accordingly and spare no expense. All is just for the King.”
“Very well,” the Queen responded, “it is as you say. But let me be clear and speak to you in such a manner you ought to brace yourself as a man. While what you see here is glorious indeed, it is of none of your concern, or anyone else in the Kingdom for that matter. Shall I hear you so much as incite a little thought or curiosity to my present state I shall have you tortured and executed in front of the entire Kingdom for treason and conspiracy to kill the King. Is that understood?”
“With all of my good health, yes it is understood.”
“Very well then, perhaps you shall go and find another maid servant as this one is unavailable.”
“Yes, yes of course your majesty. I shall look for another and I shall keep my thoughts and words far from these events of now.”
“That is wise of you.”
Greedy Fool turned to the doorway as if to leave, but stopped short. He turned to the Queen for one more question.
“My Queen, if I may? Perhaps I can rejoice with my King privately as you wish to keep this a private matter?”
At this, the Queen had become enraged.
“Did you not hear my orders before? Do what you ask and I will make sure your death is slow and painful!”
Greedy Fool turned once again and quickly closed the door behind him.
“We must hurry,” she told her maid servant. “We cannot depend on the word of a Fool.”
“Yes, my Queen. I will prepare the horses and carriage and meet you out back.”
The Queen put on older looking outer garments to avoid being recognized on her journey. She made her way to the door and took one last deep breath. She left.