The Scared King (Short Story)
João Pedro, 14
The prince Mark, heir to the throne of the small kingdom of Licamham, has been prepared for 15 years to take the throne when his father, the King Henry, the Great, died. However, not always, was he the heir. The prince Mark had a big brother named. William, the true heir, who was 5 years older than him. But 15 years ago, at the time William was 20 years old, he fought in the battle of Otolder, in the middle of the Second Licamham-Britsburia War (which started 30 years ago and has never ended), against the soldiers of the Britsburian Empire, who were trying to conquer the city. In the middle of the battle, Mark's brother was brutally hurt and many soldiers said he died. But the soldiers have never found his body and anyone has never ever seen him again. And since then, Mark has been prepared to take the throne, what will happen now with the death of the king in a battle against the Britsburians that happened yesterday.
Actually, prince Mark was present at the battle in which his father died. Because of already being a 30-year-old man, the heir had already fought in the great war at many battles. But not because of being forced to fight, just like the teens of the kingdom who turned 17 years, but by the fact of having been educated since he was born, even before his brother's apparent death, to defend his people at any cost. So, even being a little unsure and afraid of dying during a battle just like his brother, he was appointed captain of the Licamhamian army, and he fought together with his father, who was a general.
Some days ago, the soldiers of Britsburia took the city of Mantanburg and were intending to use it as a way of "cutting corners" and then, enter and take the capital of Licamham, the city of Denston. Mark, together with his father and his army, entered the city to take it back. With that, an intense battle began, with many casualties on both sides. Henry, the King, was furious watching his men dying, so he took his horse and went to the enemy base. However, one of the enemy archers hit him with an arrow that went through his belly.
- Dad! - screamed Mark, on a mix of sadness and anger. So the prince ran as fast as he could to remove his father's body from there, taking him behind a wall, for not being struck.
- D-D-Dad! - screamed Mark feeling tears falling from his eyes. He couldn't even say goodbye to the man who raised him since he was born. As much during the easy moments as during the hard moments, like the deaths of Mark's brother and mother. Because of that, people called him Henry, the Great, because he never gave up on fighting for the good of his people. These were the scars of the war, the war that had started so much time ago that if it were up to the Licamhamians, would have already ended. However, the war, that began because of the Britsburian Emperor's selfishness and search for conquering new territories, couldn't end, because the freedom of the citizens of Licamham would be at stake
After the king's death, Mark retreated taking with him his father's dead body to have a worthy burial. He was afraid, scared. Mark already knew his fate: he would be crowned. "But could a good king be scared" he thought "No! A good king like my father would never be scared or afraid".
After the end of the burial, the coronation ceremony began, in which the now king Mark ordered to be as respectful as possible, to pay respect to his father.
But Mark didn't know if he'd be a good king. He couldn't even save his father. Maybe if his brother, William, was there, he would've done something, maybe even won the battle. He was the true heir. He would've never retreated and would've even died for the good of the people. Mark remembered the brother as an honored man who had taken after the father's better characteristics: as being a great strategist and never surrendering to the enemy.
- Majesty! - called Edward, the king's Messenger - We have just received a letter from lieutenant Philip. He said that after we lost Mantanburg for the Britsburians, they advanced more, but his battalion surprised them and now they are battling in Otolder to take control of the city and advance to our capital.
"Otolder", thought Mark, feeling a chill down his spine. Only hearing that name made the king feel being at the bottom of a well, with no help, alone, afraid. Otolder was the city where William was last seen. Since then, Mark had never ever been there, because just remembering that city reminded him of his brother's death.
- He has also asked Your Majesty to send some troops... - continued Edward - ... and, if it is possible, he asks Your Majesty to go there to help them.
After hearing this, he felt being stabbed in the chest. He wasn't prepared, he wasn't ready, he was afraid of dying. "No!!" thought Mark "A good king never runs away from danger if that is necessary for the people. A good king fights until his last breath".
- Okay, I will go. Organize some troops while I get my horse.
- Yes, Sir...
When they got there, the king felt being inside a new world, a dead world. Not only because his brother died there but also because there were many corpses of soldiers and common citizens in the floor. He met with lieutenant Philip inside a house that his soldiers took and were using as a provisional base.
- I appreciate Your Majesty for hearing my request and having come to help us here - Said the lieutenant - At the beginning, the city was totally taken over by enemies, but with much effort we could take more than half of the city back. However, we had many casualties for that to happen. I ask Your Majesty's opinion of what to do to take the entire city back.
- We... We... - He couldn't think on what to do. He had fought many battles with his father, but he had never commanded anyone on a situation like that.
- Fight as much as you can - said Mark without thinking too much - It is not only the king's work but also his subjects' to guarantee the security of the kingdom. Think on your wives, on your families, on your children. Imagine how authoritarian the enemies would be if they conquered us. Not only the freedom of this generation, but also of the future ones depend on in each one of you today. Now I want each one of you to get out of here and fight as if it was the last battle of your lives. Even because it could certainly be.
Mark, after saying that, felt a little less scared. He had made a speech just like his father. He felt he was finally ready for the throne.
The battle was tough and there was a moment where he found himself surrounded by enemy soldiers. Mark thought that would be the end of his life, that would end in the space as his brother's life ended and by the same way as his father's.
Suddenly, a hooded figure came, killing each one of the soldiers and took the king, who was very hurt, to a house to help him.
- Are you okay? - asked the man.
- No... I... have been... hurt - answered the king.
Unexpectedly, the man removed a board from the floor and the king saw it leading to staircases that were swallowed by darkness.
Mark woke up in a bed inside a dark chamber. He had fainted and recently woke up, and he soon realized he was bandaged and the man wasn't wearing the hood anymore. When Mark saw the man's face he felt a mix of emotions. He looked just like his brother William! But something was wrong. William, just like his brother, had green eyes, differently from the man, who had almost-black brown eyes.
When the man heard that, he got scared with what he had just heard:
- Did you know him?
- Yes... I am his brother, Mark. And you? How do you know him and you look so much like him?
- Brother?! ... I... I am his son, Jorge. He never talked about having a brother.
- But, he didn't have a wife or kids. How do you... - Now Mark understood. His brother had survived!!
- Where is him?! - screamed to his nephew - Is he alright?!
- He... He died some months after I was born, sir. He was rescued by my mother, and she helped him, and they got in love with each other during the process. She hid him here while he was not totally cured. However, he had an infection in his wounds some time after and died, while my mother was murdered by these barbarians when they invaded this city some days ago.
- But... William... - Those were the last words of the king who had recently been crowned. However, he wasn't afraid anymore. He knew his brother had survived and now, in the presence of his nephew. He finally understood that a good king didn't have to be afraid of death, because sometimes the kings would have to sacrifice their lives for the greater good of his people.
After Mark's death by infected wounds, just like William. Jorge, the heir of the throne, helped the army to expel the Britsburians from the city, and he revealed himself to everyone, telling the true stories about the deaths of his father and his recent-discovered uncle. Then, he took the army to the place where his mother had buried his father, and they took his dead body, together with Mark's to have an honored burial of both. With that, the army told Jorge he should be crowned. He was a little reluctant in the beginning, but when he heard about all the stories and victories about his father and grandfather, he changed his mind, and he saw what his uncle couldn't see during his short reign: a good king sometimes is afraid, just like anyone else, however, he ignores his fears to sacrifice himself for the good of his people. And after many and many battles, the king Jorge won the war and could bring a period of peace, freedom, justice and security to the kingdom of Licamham.