Monday, December 20, 2010

The Spheres of Galia Part 12

In the biggest challenge to the King’s authority for the decades he had reigned, thousands of common folk massed outside the new palace to protest the ongoing war in Vitnu. Through upheavals and bitter strife in the kingdom were natural process, bound to occur in any realm with a large collection of players, there had never been a gathering of opposition so large that the chanting could be heard as far as the Sophrastas Sea.
People had grumbled at his unpopular rulings before in the markets and taverns, it was a minor crime, though a popular pastime. But now, it went beyond irritation, beyond drunk complaints. The people went out in the misty winter air and gathered at the gates to make their discontent known and unmistakably heard. With torches aglow that sent fiery messages to the King in his tower, they chanted into the starry darkness, rocking the metal gates with the collective force of their anger.
It was not long before their presence drew out the Royal Guards. Armed, the Royal Guards drove the rabble forcefully from the main plaza. Eager to administer beatings to members of the unarmed crowd, they drew their batons, their swords, and fists, swinging wildly at any figure without a shield or uniform. There were screams of children and much shouting. No one was spared the hand of the Guard. The people dropped their torches with each blunt blow and small fires broke out, filling the night with smoke.
The violent night left in doubt the next step for the Kingdom. The recurrent doubts as to the true birth right of the King continued to plague the populace. Many scribes and a small number of councilmen had been offended by the King's harsh rule and his resistance to change. They rallied with the peasantry, calling for a change.
The apparent leader of the King’s opposition was forcefully taken from a healing temple by unknown men in common clothes that betrayed no sign of their rank. Bright and two other councilmen had been severely beaten in the clashes with Royal forces, but Willem alone was carried away. The old healer watched in terrified silence as seven men wrapped Willem the Bright in a blanket as he lay sleeping on a bed in the largest temple of healing in the Kingdom. Locked in the neighboring chamber, Willem’s wife screamed for him while the cowering healer watched his patient being carried away.
The High Priestess hid her smile when the news of Willem the Bright’s abduction reached her. His whereabouts remained unknown, though his fate was certain. The King was playing into her hands, making it all the easier for her by removing yet another beloved man of the people. She was astonished at the level of his blindness, his arrogance. He acted as though he had never studied the history of the Spheres.
It mattered little to her that he no longer sought her consultation. These days he kept council with Argus the Torturer and though brutal, his advice was simple to decipher. She would know his next move before it became a thought in his mind. Soon, she thought, it would be time for her to act openly against the King. For now, she was content to watch his unraveling and with it, the unraveling of the Old Kingdom.

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