Read my tale but forget this not – I am the great King de Blanc. I rule the Flatlands, every square inch is mine, every soldier fights for me. I am not a lenient King. I do not suffer fools or tyrants. I am a god amongst mortals – my word is law.
A fool would hear this story and think me weak. If you believe me weak then challenge me, and die.
My tale starts with a realisation; it was black fear growing within me. Several days it was before I even knew it as fear – for I am great and fear nothing.
I was haunted by a sense of foreboding. At first I believed it to be the battle before me that troubled my heart. Many of my men had fallen early. Some of my bravest warriors went down – their screams haunt me still. But there were casualties on both sides and many of my fallen gave their lives for a greater good, a stratagem of sheer genius.
Then I suspected a weakness in my defences. King de Noir is filth and fights like a dog, he has no right to call himself king. But that peasant army of his are a cunning bunch. They had gotten too close to me before; waited for my turned back and tried to kill me. And so I called my Queen to my side and spake to her thus:
“My Queen! Nowhere in my Kingdom can there be found woman or man fiercer than you. Your beauty shines across the Flatlands bringing light to dark spaces.”
“What is it you require of me, O Great King – my husband?” Strongly and clearly she spake, her voice like a mountain stream in spring time.
“Go forth and survey my lands. For I suspect an evil plot is at hand – all is not well in the Flatlands.”
“To hear is to obey O Great King – my husband.” And with those words she was gone.
It was several turns of the hourglass before she returned to my side. She had seen battle, fought hard, but still she came straight to me in order that my fears may be allayed.
“O Great King – my husband, I have travelled to the four corners of your Kingdom and I tell you this: your masterful strategy remains intact your defences are impenetrable.”
I dismissed her with a kiss and sent her to rest.
My uneasiness was not allayed despite the reassurances of my Fair One.
I became suspicious of a plot amongst my own ranks. I called my advisors, the Bishops, and spake to them thus:
“Before this war began every man in my great army lay before me, touched my feet and pledged an oath of allegiance. Is there any man for whom oath has become lie?”
“Great and Mighty King” they replied “There is not one man in your army who does not love you and who would not lay down their life at your order.
But, Mighty King, you have forgotten your God. If you feel disquiet maybe you need to make peace with him?”
I became furious at these words but sent the Bishops away without showing my rage. I was the highest power in this land. Let those who need a god for a prop worship as they will but they will not find a greater power in heaven or on earth than me.
My lionhearted men fought bravely. I looked on, my thoughts becoming more and more preoccupied with the troubles that beset me. The battle was ours, this was clear. The rabble army were in tatters; their whore queen was dead as were their weakling knights. My winning strategy had played well and would see my army to the coup de grâce. My attention was not required.
Pacing replaced sleeping and my countenance became sunken and sallow. I was consumed from within by demons I could not see; a hidden enemy far greater than any I had ever encountered before.
One night, as I paced the ramparts, I saw my Queen sweeping towards me. She was flushed and excited yet majestic and composed.
“I bring you magnificent news O Great King – my husband.” she declared “Today we have routed our enemy. Victory belongs to you King de Blanc”
And as she spoke I could hear cries of joy and see great bonfires across the Flatlands.
I hardly had a moment to ponder this before I was whisked in to the sky by an unseen hand. It was in that instant I understood my fear and my doom. The thing I feared had come upon me. I was no more than a puppet. The God of the bishops was real.
My arrogance had been my undoing.
From the sky a terrible voice declared:
“You have served me well little King but you were no more than a pawn in my game.”
With these words I was thrown in to this dark cell. Here I have been forced to share close quarters with those I once commanded.
Many sunless days have passed. I sit in my corner, praying to a God I now know to be real, that I will soon be returned to the Flatlands.
© Matthew Dalton
Revenge of the Pawn Short Story Challenge