Some men are born with a destiny, and I was born to be king. It’s a position dreamed of my some and envied by most. If only they knew how lonely it is to sit on that gilded chair, dispensing justice with a twitch of a finger.
It’s the only life I have ever known, revered by a nation, constantly under threat, by friend and foe alike. Not a moment of my day is free. Every second is pre-allocated by fawning navies, hearing petitions, signing decrees, meeting important people. There are men locked in the tower, which are freer than me. For years, I dreamed of leaving this life behind, to live quietly, in a manner directed by myself alone.
All night, I have lain in my chamber, my mind busily toying with the day that lies ahead of me, the day a weight of a kingdom will be lifted from my shoulders. When the darkness of night turns pink with the coming of dawn, I rise and dress in my finest robe, feeling the silk slide over my body like a lovers touch, keeping the chill morning air from making me shiver. A serf delivers my morning fare, and backs out of the room, bowing deeply. Despite my internal agitation, I eat heartily. This is a day I wish to savour in full, for no other will ever be the same as this.
At the allotted hour, there is a knock on my chamber door.
“Come,” I call, and my chief adviser enters.
“Sire,” he says, and bows deeply. In the antechamber I can see rank upon rank of courtiers, ambassadors, and noblemen drawn from across the kingdom. I nod my understanding, and rise to my feet. As I pass my advisor, his bow becomes even deeper. I enter the outer chamber and all those gathered bow low, and avert their eyes. They are forbidden to look upon the face of the king, for that is who I am.
My robe swishes over stone, polished to a high gloss by centuries of bended knees, and fawning underlings. I can hear the throng following in my wake but they are silent. The air smells of candle wax and smoke, light is filtered through coloured glass to lie across my path in solid beams, dust motes fall and rise on invisible currents of air. In the distance I can hear a rumble.
With each step, the noise grows until it is like a long continuous roll of thunder. It shakes the ground beneath my feet. I pause at the door for one last moment before stepping out on the balcony to be greeted with an enormous roar from my subjects gathered in their thousands. As the noise ebbs, a voice rises above all and the words “Off with his head!” rings out clear, and the roar rises to a bloodthirsty crescendo. The hooded executioner shoulders his axe and beckons me forward.