Evil King

Tonight is the night of my coronation.

A grand public celebration has been prepared for the circumstances. The people were informed one month ago. Everything has been made so that, tonight, only joy and cheerfulness would resonate in Merjakk, the capital city of the new Empire of Lystrea.

And yet, all I can feel in the people’s eyes, as I stare down at them from the height of my magnificent golden throne, is deep, burning hatred.

I know. I know why they look at me with such animosity. I know that the reason they won’t raise a hand is merely because my soldiers keep their wives and children at bay. I know I do not deserve their acknowledgement.

I thought I could handle it. However, I must say, how painful it is, to get pierced by a thousand daggers looking at you. Ten years ago, as a destitute heir, forced to flee from a coup, I could only dream of this scene. My father was a tyrant. I suspected that much, even if he himself didn’t believe it. Now, I am sure of it. At the time, the people glared at him the same way they glare at me, today.

The man who killed my father was one of his generals, loved by the people and renowned for his chivalry. Everybody supported him. Even I, as I was standing on the same ground as the peasants when he declared himself the new king of Lystrea, thought it would be the birth of a new era. One of prosperity and peace. If only.

It was soon clear that the general wasn’t cut to be a king. As soon as he took power, he increased the taxes to ensure the kingdom’s treasury would enable him to achieve his reforms. However, as he failed to make the other kingdoms acknowledge him, he instead started waging war to the neighbouring countries. This was the spark that lighted a chain reaction of unbridled ambitions in Primevera, the whole region. After six long years of meaningless and gruesome battles, the belligerents settled for a status quo. Therefore, nothing changed. What was left, in the aftermath, was a kingdom of devastated lands, where plains were ridden with rotting corpses, where diseases ran rampant in the ravaged cities, and where not a glimmer of hope subsisted.

In the middle of the war, I left Primevera, and travelled to the other side of our continent, to seek asylum in a country which was once a trusted ally of ours. I revealed my identity to their king, who welcomed me with open arms. My ancestors, in times past, had helped his retake their throne. He was still grateful for this favor, and swore that he, at long last, would be repaying this debt.

I came back to Primevera with a small, but powerful and well-trained army, mainly constitued of people who originated from my kingdom and swore fealty to me.

When I saw how dire the situation was, I wondered how I could solve it. It did not take much time for me to come up with the answer.

I would bring all those countries under my own rule.

I took down the eastern Primeveran countries, which had just got out of their own intestinal war, with ease. I could not afford to let a revolt hatch in this new base of operations, so I kept the citizens in poverty so that they would be too weak to protest. As they realized an invader was coming, the other countries scraped what was left of their defenses together and formed an alliance. How ironic, that my own kingdom would ally with its enemies of yesterday to protect itself from its legitimate heir. Not that it would matter, of course.

I learned much from my soldiers, many of whom were experienced veterans, about tactics and strategy. Their advice often proved to be very wise, especially Pheram’s, a clever war officer who acted as my trusted aide. With their insight and my drive, we led our army to victory. I took back Merjakk, and all the other kingdoms' capitals. I despoiled the nobles of their riches and brought it all in the treasury of Lystrea. I confiscated all weapons and war artefacts and put them all under the control of my army. I sent to jail whoever would openly criticize my rule. And I sent all the remaining people — men, women and children alike — to mandatory reconstruction labour. Thanks to this, the cities of Primevera could be rebuilt in no time. As soon as Merjakk regained its former glory, I made an announcement. Soon, the kingdoms of Primevera would be no more. They would all be unified in the Empire of Lystrea, with me at its head.

Tonight is the night of my coronation.

As I stand just before my throne, in front of thousands of my subjects, I set the crown on my head. I open my mouth,

“I thereby declare myself crown emperor of the Empire of Lystrea!”

“Long live the Empire of Lystrea!” my soldiers shout.

However, a commotion breaks out among the citizens. A few cries reach my ears.


“You devil!”

“Give us back our kings!”

“Silence!” I command.

“Dear subjects, I will have you know that everything I did, I did for the people!”

“Liar!” someone shouts.

“You’re working us to death!”

“Silence!” I repeat. “Anyone who dares to speak again will be sentenced to death immediately!”

No one speaks anymore. As if a spell was thrown, the whole capital is suddenly silent. Only now do I realize the beauty of the streets of Merjakk, illuminated by myriads of lights and decorated with somptuous banners. How magnificent. I’m glad I could see this adventure to its end. I open my mouth again.

“Dear subjects, I — "

Suddenly, something pierces through my abdomen.

I see a blade covered in blood protrude from my belly and fall to my knees, my strength suddenly leaving me. As I slowly lie on my side, I see my aggressor’s face. Pheram.

“Citizens of the Empire of Lystrea!” he proclaims. “You have just witnessed the end of the Empire. We proclaim the birth of the Republic of Lystrea! We have the duty to inform you that this is the result of months of careful preparations. The whole army has been negotiating behind the emperor with representatives from the whole Primeveran region!”

As he declares so, he points at a group of about thirty people behind him. Those are all well-known nobles, merchants and knights from all over Primevera.

“Our goal is to achieve sustainable peace and to focus on economic recovery! We will use the resources unjustly stolen by the emperor to make the necessary reforms. In addition, the army swears to remain separated from political involvement once the new governement has been established. Last, we will set free all those who have been unfairly jailed over the past few months!”

Pheram pauses for a few seconds, and finally shouts, “Long live the Republic of Lystrea!”

“Long live the Republic of Lystrea!” the soldiers shout.

The people, below, are lost for a few seconds. Then, cheers of triumph begin to swell, and soon the whole capital resonates with euphoria.

“Long live the Republic of Lystrea!”

“Long live the Republic of Lystrea!”

“Long live the Republic of Lystrea!”

Pheram finally turns his head down. He looks at me, lying on the side, at his feet.

I feel tears running down my cheeks. As he sees my face, tears well up in his eyes, too. Eyes filled with sadness and with joy look at each other.

However, the eyes filled with sadness aren’t mine.

As his tears start overflowing, Pheram asks me, “Was my performance up to your expectations, my liege?”

“Yes, Pheram. You did well. Thank you.”

As Pheram kneels at my side, he takes my hand in both of his. His tears fall on my hand. Such a comforting gesture. Who knew one could feel such warmth?

“No, my liege. Thank you. We will forever be grateful to you. For taking us back to our homeland and for building those new foundations. We will definitely make your dream come true. Definitely. So, please…”

He refrains a sob and looks at me in the eyes. I can feel his determination.

“Please watch us from above.”

The vicious circle has been lifted. With my death, the evil of this world has been vanquished. My fears of yet another revolution having vanished, I can now depart from this world with peace of mind.

“Yes, Pheram. I will.”

As I close my eyes softly, my counsciousness slowly fades away. Only a weak echo of the festivities in Merjakk’s streets still finds its way to me.

Everything I did, I did for the people.

Despite all that I have done, that sentence, at least, was not a lie.