I was the King

It is said that this paper was found in the center of Europe during an excavation to restore and prop up and old but important castle. The paper was not signed, but it is believed that it was written by a king of a small region in the South of Germany, who ruled from 850 to 875. He was called Perfidious, because during his reign extremely luxurious parties were celebrated while people died of hunger and diseases. It is thought that he went mad when he was thirty years old and that he stopped caring about his subjects. It is said that he was murdered by the chief of his armies, who took over the crown and ruled as usurper from 875 to 879, and who was then murdered by a cousin of the deposed king, who claimed the throne for himself. This cousin was also murdered two years later in the hands of one of his brothers. But the most important part is that the text, which had luckily been copied to be studied by the appointed investigators, was stolen from the museum where it was exposed. Nobody knows where it is right now. But, here it is the transcription:

I was the king and I had given an order. I wanted to decapitate the chief of all armies of my kingdom. I did it because I was certain that he was a traitor. I gave him that position. I am the only person he must obey. But he did not listen to my orders. When I told him he had to fight for victory or die trying, he surrendered his troops to our enemies, which were weaker. I am sure of that.

Once more, I ordered to kill him. However, they did not follow my orders. While I was bellowing the order over and over again, the commander of my armies unsheathed his sword and threatened to slit the throat of the entire court. I was still barking, demanding all the lords of the kingdom confront that man and cut his head. But nobody seemed to listen to me. So the commander, who owed his position to me and had sworn loyalty, approached the throne where I was sitting.

Nobody stopped him, they did not even try. I waited for him sitting down, shouting to him to stop. Neither did I stand up, nor try to run away, as I was certain he would have liked that. When he came near to me, I required him with the calmest voice possible to surrender his sword. And the haughty man laughed. I scowled at him and repeated the order. I told him that if he dared to touch me, the people who loved me would get rid of him. He laughed even louder, almost choking, and when he finished delighting in making fun, he said that the people was fed up with me, that they were dying of hunger, that the children were sick because they had nothing to eat.

I could not believe that a person like him could be so distant from reality. My people was healthy and strong, we had food in excess and there were parties on the street every day. I looked at the lords one by one, waiting for their support, but everyone diverted their eyes. So I spouted forth against them, ordering to say the rebel commander that I was right. Nobody obeyed; everyone just stared at the floor. Those lords who always enjoyed my parties in the palace, who were invited to all the feasts the crown organized, those very same lords, upon my direct order, just stared at the floor.

The commander, who was offering a sullen look, confessed that he never lied and that people really hated me. He told me that he surrendered his army because he realized that people were desperately begging on the streets. And added that the commander of the enemy army only set up the disturbance to demand for a better treatment and food for our people. They also wanted the never-ending feasts of the crown to finish; they wanted us to stop buying expensive perfumes, clothes and precious stones from the most exotic countries, wasting the money of the kingdom. Lastly, they wanted us to lower taxes and to set free those who were in jail for stealing food for their hungry families.

I answered him that I felt insulted for the things he was saying about my kingdom, the largest of them all. I told him that the luxury of the crown was essential to impress the filthy neighbor kings that were always causing trouble. And added that I was the head of the kingdom and I could do what I pleased with its money. My answer was categorical and that made him mad.

First, he commanded to arrest all the nobles and courtiers present. The soldiers found that quite easy. No one offered resistance. Then, he appointed several groups of soldiers to get out to the fields of the kingdom to seize the castles of the nobles who were not there. He finally said that he would force me to fight against him, in the sports ground of the capital city, where more than forty thousand people would attend. He threatened to kill me right there and said that the verdict of the audience would be important. They would decide if I should die or remain alive. He added that I would see the real situation right there.

I thought that the commander was a poor insolent imagining a nonexistent reality. I was certain that people loved me, because I was the chosen one, the man who cared about them, loved them and gave them everything. That was why they worshiped me.

The party began this morning. They freed me from the dungeon after being locked there for three days and took me to the place where the warriors used to get ready to enter the stadium. The smell was unbearable. I was used to the best perfumes and an exemplary cleanness, but nothing like that could be seen over there. Furthermore, I barely ate any bones with almost no meat and drank the dirty and smelling glass of water they gave me. And I was just wearing some dirty and smelly rags.

When I entered that place, the other warriors looked at me with contempt and I promised myself to have them all decapitated when I regained my castle. I was under the constant surveillance of three soldiers of the commander, so I could do nothing to set myself free for the moment. I would have them decapitated as well.

However, the greatest surprise struck me when I went out to the sports ground. I thought I was dreaming. As if I had been taken to a stadium of a mortal enemy city, when people recognized me they stood up and began to insult me in unison and throw all kinds of elements at me. I thought that my enemies were too clever and surely they had paid them several silver coins to insult me. My guards left me alone and then, as everyone went on insulting me, the enemy came out through the opposite door.

I have to admit that the black armor made him look marvelous; I did not name him commander of the kingdom for nothing. But I was not scared of him. He came straight at me running like a silent beast and, as I was a bit chubby as I had abandoned my training years ago, I tried to do the best I could in front of him. I had neither shield nor armor; I was barely wearing a leather chest protector and armed with a short sword. My aggressor gave me countless blows. Some of them cut me and others were given with the flat of his sword.

The sand stuck to my sweated body and I fell to the ground. But I always managed to get up again. Every time he hit me, the audience cheered and when I got up they hissed insults at me. They must have paid them a large amount of gold and silver. After playing with me for a while, I realized that he did not want to kill me; he just wanted to hurt me and make me suffer. I offered no complaint. As proud as everyone knows I am, although my body badly hurt, I never opened my mouth. I am the king. The kingdom would be mine again some day. I have several friends who owe me favors. I will have every person who entered this stadium today decapitated.

The commander let me live. It was a huge mistake, though I was certain that his conscious would not let him kill me. Another big mistake. As two large soldiers were dragging me out of the stadium from the hair, people abandoned the stand to go to the corridor through which I was taken to repeatedly spit me. Idiots. I will not forget any of their faces. I will take revenge; they will regret having accepted that money from the commander.

I am about to prepare a strategy from this sad and repulsive dungeon.  The night has fallen and I am alone in my rock cell, lying down on the dry grass, trying to heal the wounds with saliva, which is the only tranquillizer I have. A small lamp allows me to write on an old scraped-off parchment to be reused, facilitated by one of my guards. He also gave me a pen and some ink.

I can hear the metal door being opened right now, and the sound of some keys. I see some silhouettes under the big door of my cell. I believe that they may have paid someone to kill me. I have nothing to defend myself with, I must accept my fate. Three people have come in. Their appearance is disgusting and the three of them are holding sharp knives. They do not interrupt my writing. Of course, they have all the time in the world. I leave this paper for posterity, as a testimony proving that the legitimate king never screamed or feared his enemies, let alone believe their lies. One of them is getting closer.

Translated by Flavia Marcos and Natalia Riera: Rima Traducciones

Escribo, tomo fotografías artísticas y analizo música clásica y rock, literatura, historia medieval y me atrevo con las noticias de Argentina y del mundo.

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