A King

I was engulfed by the throne.  My feet didn’t quite rest flat on the floor, the back towered far above my head, and my arm looked shrunken in comparison to the large golden armrests.  I was too young to be king, but tomorrow a crown would be placed on my head and this throne would be mine.

I gazed into the shadows of the empty throne room and imagined it filled with people all looking to me to lead.   I felt the weight of their expectation press on my thin shoulders.  Even the grand red and gold décor looming in the flickers of my candle seemed to demand greatness.  I closed my eyes, blocking out the imagined people and the elaborate room.  I wasn’t a king.  I was a child.

The sound of a throat clearing bounced off the walls, and I opened my eyes.  The three men who stood before me looked as different from each other as silk is from velvet.

The first man stood strait and ridged with a large book under one arm.  His hair and beard were neatly trimmed and his long robe draped regally to the floor.  I recognized its white and black colors as that worn by the law handling priests.

In contrast to the first, the second man’s grooming was poor.  The bottom of his grey cloak was layered in dust, as if it had been dragged through all the streets in the kingdom.   His wiry grey hair wasn’t brushed in any particular way but sat in a windblown heap on his head.  His beard wasn’t in a neat trim like the priest’s, but so long he must have been growing it all his life. His eyes held a wild gleam, not of one entirely crazy, but a kind of knowing gleam of a prophet.

The third man was taller than the other two.  His chest was covered in leather armor. He had no beard and the hair on his head was closely cut.  His thick arms were dark from hours of practice in the sun and laced with scares.  One hand lay comfortably on the hilt of the sword at his hip. He was clearly one of the kingdom’s warriors.

The priest spoke first. “Tomorrow, the crown will be placed on your head, but a crown doesn’t make a king.”  These were bold words to speak to a future king, but I didn’t stop him.  “There are three offices that must live within you if you are to be a true king.”

He took the large book from under his arm and held it out to me, the black and white sleeves of his robe swaying from the movement.

“The Book of Law,” he said as I took the book from him, my hands dipping from the weight.  “We Priests are dedicated to it, and you must be too.  A kingdom cannot be run without laws.  Like a priest, you must hold yourself to a high standard and keep the rules that are made for your subjects.  You must not uphold the law blindly, but understand why the rules are in place.  This book will help you do that.  Don’t only read the book like a priest would.  Be a priest.”

The man with the long beard stepped forward.  “Law alone is not enough to rule a kingdom.  Your people need a purpose—a vision.” His blue eyes looked steadily into mine.  “You have to be the one to give them that.  Your kingdom will not amount to much if you don’t have vision into the future.”

“But how will I see the future?” I asked him.  “I’m not a prophet.”

His eyes twinkled and he reached under his grey cloak and pulled out a globe the size of an apple.  In the middle of the sphere was a single blue flame.

“This will reveal things to you that you never could have known.  It will give you vision to what cannot be seen,” said the old man as he placed the encased fire in my hands.  The flame had no kindling to burn, but hung suspended.

“Keep it with you at all times,” he said gravely, “Without a king who is also a prophet, the people will be directionless and the kingdom will fall.”

The last man strode forward.

“Rules and sight are no good without this.”   A metallic zing bounced off the walls as the warrior unsheathed his sword.

“You may be able to see a future for your kingdom and have the rules in place to make it happen, but it will mean nothing if you don’t have the strength to carry it out.”  He laid the sword in my hands.

“Some will challenge the laws and, most won’t see the same things you do.” His eyes moved to the flame.  “So you must be able to defend the law and carry out the vision yourself.  You will have to kill to defend your kingdom.”  The warrior looked into my eyes and though his gruff voice was low, it filled the throne room.   “If you aren’t willing to kill, then don’t go through with the ceremony tomorrow.”

I looked at the long piece of steel in my hands and imagined plunging it into a person’s stomach.  Was I ready to shed blood for my crown—for the people it served?  I set my jaw and looked up, ready to tell the warrior that I was brave enough to defend my kingdom, but he was gone.  They were all gone.  I was alone in the throne room with a book, a flame, and a sword.  I squared my shoulders, no longer feeling like a child. I was a priest, a prophet, a warrior.

I was a King.


This story is entered in the WOW 555 Writing Challenge.  Make sure you vote!

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