(This is a short story that I wrote a couple of months back; but never had the chance to really sit down and edit. With that said, I hope you enjoy reading it)!
Raging Storm, Mighty Roar, and Vexing Visitor
By: R.S. Noel
When the days of ancient lore once breathed wispily throughout these landscapes, there was once a judicial king who ruled over all.
Among the extravagant diadem atop his head; he was possessed by power in all of its phantasmagorical and abhorrently corrupt ways.
The private fortune and unique pleasure, the enamored crowds of willing women wooing over his attention – the King of Everything was a king who had many material keepsakes, and yet at the same time all-too little morality in his personal life.
He was satisfied by nothing; consumed by the darkness in his mind and heart. He was blinded by his status, detracted by his monetary wealth, and careless to the true intentions of those people around him. Whether he knew he was being deceived, or he just didn’t care; was quite another story altogether.
He had, in essence, grown comfortable with this lifestyle of getting what he wanted, when he wanted it. In fact, many-a-times his enemies had been silenced. He quashed and quelled any semblance of opposition. Unopposed by any and all – not by chance, but by the king’s own design. Nobility and peasantry were equally guilty as charged.
The very standards he lived by had undoubtedly become the law of the land he ruled over. Everything he did was seen as the correct method, everything he said was ardently followed-through.
To make matters even worse, he didn’t even allow any of his subjects the luxury, or right, to travel outside his domain. His was a kingdom closed off from the rest of the world.
His power was absolute; his word was final.
But then one day, it happened.
When the king least expected it; his unknown enemy took the chance to make a move.
There had been a raging storm brewing throughout his kingdom. No sensible man, woman, or child would dare leave their house during this chaos. In fact, the King of Everything didn’t even need to order his subjects to remain indoors. He simply knew that his people would already know what he would ask of them.
The sound of thunderous lightning bolting throughout the night sky could be heard far away. Brilliant flashes escaped the darkened horizon of the shadowy mountainous in the distance.
But this most disturbing of days didn’t stop him from arriving at the land owned by the King of Everything. No; in fact, it all started when…
“Hello my mighty King, a guest wishes to speak with you.”
“Certainly I thought all my appointed guest would have canceled their appointment of court?”
“Well…everyone did sir. This guest; however, is not from your kingdom. He traveled from afar.”
“Hm…let me ask you one question then. Has this predetermined meeting been agreed upon by my advisor?”
“If you recall my majesty, your last advisor perished.”
“By your raging hand.”
The king looked curiously out the nearby window pane, “Oh yes, I remember now. He was always quite the vexing man…”
Looking at the royal messenger with a look of peculiarity, the King of Everything seemed a bit phased now as a thought crossed his mind. “Well then, I suppose you can send him in.”
“As you wish, your highness.”
So the royal messenger bowed down in courtesy and moved back a little bit. He soon thereafter turned around to open the large golden adorned doors.
Not thinking much of his guest, The King of Everything looked down at a couple of relevant documents in which he was reviewing. He had better things to do; and attending to such royal matters was what he was ordained to do, at any rate.
Or so, he thought.
The sound of a man clearing his throat quite loudly was the first sign of trouble.
“Please wait, young sir! You mustn’t go in there so reck-.”
“The day is fruitful, and I have plans-a-many. No storm, nor change of weather, could ever quell my fiery soul! I wish to make this brief and concise. Certainly, your highness also has other things to attend to. Or, is he a man without reason?”
The King of Everything gazed up with only his steely grey eyes, as he scanned the incoming man with a sense of deepening displeasure. He didn’t like to be patronized in his own court, especially not on this day when he was already beyond irritable and without an inkling of patience. After all, the king hated the incoming storm. It reminded him of his childhood. A childhood robbed of anything even remotely kind or familiar.
Upon observation of the young man; it appeared that the foreigner certainly did fit the part of a stranger lost in a strange land. The young man wore no gaudy clothes, nor any glittering jewels of wealth. No, he was a man as simple-looking as any.
Strange indeed…the king knew something wasn’t right. For it so happened, that the King of Everything did notice a particular aspect to the fellow.
A certain aura which the king had never witnessed before in any other person who had ever opposed his jurisdiction or threatened his sense of security.
As if he was timing his next move ever so calculatingly, the King of Everything put down the documents he had begun to read; and stared up at the man with a sense of false understanding. He was about to say something; a sort of welcoming gesture but was abruptly cut-off by this foreign man.
“Your Highness, I am beset by your renowned reputation! I am a humble man who comes from a foreign land far-away from this certainly strange yet beautiful landscape. Many stories have I heard of your raging behavior, of your strong actions, and of your royally vexing words. I suppose I am yet unfamiliar with the workings of an authoritative rulership…but, that’s beside the point.”
The King of Everything looked at the young traveler with utter disbelief. He was beyond shocked at this man’s candor and openness to speak so freely. Quite a vexing man indeed. So much so, that the king felt an urge to order this man’s head immediately served on a golden-studded platter!
But for one reason or another, the king allowed this man’s strange behavior to precede his own otherwise fatal actions.
“You see, your majesty; I am a merchant who is seeking out an extraordinary and one-of-a-kind deal. A specific deal that is to be made between you and I. Men of similar status and rank.”
This comment alone sent the King rolling over with death inside. He could never imagine ever being compared to such a lowly-looking being.
But what the merchant said next indeed took the king for quite a surprise.
“I’ve been traveling for about 4 years now – making business connections and propositions with other influential political leaders throughout the five continental nations of Eloruk. As it stands; however, this land of yours is the last I’ve yet to reach during my travels. Surely you must realize then that this very meeting would only come naturally. It holds a great deal of magnitude for not only my business – but also, for your kingdom.”
The King of Everything was momentarily stunned into further silence now.
But that sense of amazement quickly drained out of the king’s soul. The mighty King of Everything was more than upset now; he had suddenly become enraged.
“Young man, if my reputation is so widely known – as you state it is; why do you come in here with such an air of arrogance? Your harsh words serve you no better than any common wench who wishes to be saved by a man of coin. Do you understand what I’m saying? Certainly you must realize we aren’t of the same stature; as a matter of fact, we are far beyond even being closely-compared.”
The young man stared somewhat blankly at the king as he seemed completely unfazed by such words.
The King slowly stood up from his lavished ruby-adorned chair now as he glared openly at the young man. The time for playing around had undoubtedly come to a halt.
“Come closer, boy; I wish to get a clearer understanding of your status.”
Not flinching even for a second, the young man further straightened his back as he walked straight towards the king.
He wasn’t scared, he wasn’t even hesitant. No, the young merchant was quite prepared for such unappealing scenarios as this one. That’s part of the reason he was such a prosperous merchant, to begin with. He was quite eclectic in nature, and he was always ready to change his tactics. Quick on his feet; if you will.
As he reached the King of Everything; the young merchant stared the royal man right in the eyes. Unyielding in his inner-strength; yet in the same breath of defiance, the merchant also showed an unfamiliar kindness the king was not used to.
In fact, the king was quite repulsed by such an understanding appearance.
Clearing his throat with a guttural sound, the King of Everything spoke with his same booming voice. “Do you wish for me to grant you open-trade routes? Of course, that’s the plight of any such foolish and naive man! You may have traveled far-and-wide, but you have yet to cross paths with a man such as me. Your time of fair days is over, young merchant.”
Looking at the King of Everything with a sense of false uneasiness, the young man cleared his throat and responded in a lower tone. “It would be wise for you to reconsider. Though I know I may not be as powerful as you, it would be advisable to remember that situations in our daily lives can change over the course of weeks, months…and even years.”
The King of Everything looked unbothered by this otherwise strange remark. He scoffed at this fellow and turned around as he made his way back to his royal seat. The king indeed took his time, as he slowly moved with an air of greatness.
“Messenger, take this man out of my sight! Tell the guards to throw this rat back onto the streets. He is nothing but a pox on my land.”
The king had yet to even take his seat before he heard a peculiar sound.
It was the sound of the royal messenger being stabbed through the gut from behind.
As the king stopped his movement, turned around, and laid his eyes upon this bloody scene – he gasped silently to himself. But it was so silent, not even he could have heard such a noise full of shock.
Facing the king, was now a small group of about twelve foreigners. One of them, a stealthy ninja, had stuck his elongated dagger into the messenger’s now-helpless body.
Seeing a small smirk full of devious intentions, the young merchant who once had the appearance of a righteous merchant; now appeared to be that of a crazed and insane man ready to do whatever it took to rule these strange and once unhindered lands.
“You foolish king. You thought your kingdom safe from the wicked world out there? You thought yourself so untouchable and so mighty that not even a commoner such as myself could make something of himself and one day come back to the land in which I was birthed? You took everything away from me…”
The King of Everything could see in the young merchant’s green eyes now, a look of deep sorrow and cold pain. He could see it as clearly as the king could see his own pain. This man, was in fact, his equal in status.
“My mother, my sister, my friends…you took the only happiness I once held in life when I was a mere child! You stole a childhood I never could keep. Remember this day as the day you made a mistake in how you ruled over your subjects. Yours is a fate worse than death. It’s of infamy, of dishonor and shame!”
Having led a life of hardened emotions and few words, the King of Everything shook his head in dismay at the young man. “It would appear we are equals after all.”
The young man looked genuinely perplexed by this statement. “Why the sudden change of heart?”
The king scoffed once more as he gazed towards the young merchant and his twelve disciples. “You and I are of the same breed. We were born to take, and take, and take. Born to lead lives full of sin and glory. Yet in the end, we lead lives that are short-lived. Full of gut-wrenching pain; full of unquenchable misery – tis a life only a few chosen men and women traverse down. The path less traveled, or so conventional history says…”
The young merchant warded the deathly ninja to remain motionless now as he addressed the King of Everything once again. “You…you would dare compare yourself to me? The Mad King of Everything knows nothing of suffering, nothing of savagery and inhumanity! You’ve lived contently here in this castle of splendor and succor! You’ve lived ever-so meticulously; not once experiencing the humiliation of starvation or the degradation of prostitution! You call yourself a king, but all I see is a coward.”
The twelve members of the young merchant’s rag-tag team supported these claims – as they cheered out with a profound victory. They had been wronged for too long now. This day, which had once been unimaginable, was soon coming to fruition. Rarely does imagination manifest so clearly in reality.
Feeling the vigor of triumph overtake him now, the young man moved closer to the king as he took out his sword. “Bring me your chalice full of red wine and white lies, for I would dare to dine with such a fellow who compares himself with just another commoner. Yes, I may dress the part of a foreigner; and yes, I may even appear like a stranger amidst a strange land – but this place was once my home. Though I did travel wide and far, I have come home after 4 long years. I’m a better man for it, and I’ve grown stronger than I could ever imagine. It is not youth, nor idealism, that brings about this change inside of me. No, it is a pure passion for doing what is right in this world full of so many wrongs!”
With that, the young man stuck his sword deep into the king’s chest as he could see a look of tired relief befall the king’s creased face.
The merchant was confused.
Why was the king so peaceful-looking?
Yes, the young man would get his answer yet.
The king coughed up a river of blood now as he smiled wryly at the young man and shared his last piece of advice for him. It came out as a hushed voice; but indeed, it was enough for just the young man to hear.
“You would…do well to remember…that the life of a leader is one…fraught with misery. One fraught…with difficult choices. You will find…that being a king is not everything it’s marked-up to be. Take heed, my boy…you’re life is just beginning. And as such, you’ve yet to realize…that I am your future reflection…”
The other twelve ardent disciples did not hear any of this. The young man felt a massive chill run down his spine as he stared at the dying king and felt a sense of dread befall him. Is this really what fate had in store for him? Would he too become a monster unrecognizable? Drunk on power and seeped in pleasure? Indeed, this could not be the truth.
But like many difficult truths in life, one must live through it to realize that the wheels of history have a strange way of repeating itself.
As this night of thunderous applause broke-out, and as the sound of the raging storm outside grew in intensity; the King of Everything lay dead with arms sprawled out and with a face full of forgiveness and acceptance. His was a life predestined for such a doomed destiny. Nothing could have ever changed this fact of life, not even if he were to be a warm-hearted king. For he would have died quicker if that be the case.
Only time would tell whether the king was right in his final words. After all, that was also another strange miracle of life: nobody, not even the King of Everything, could ever predict the future so accurately and with precise diction.
The tales of tomorrow would just have to wait and see what fate had in store for the young merchant in the new day to come…
Forever in Your Debt,