Short Story: Turning Tides

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Wow! I didn’t realise until just now how long it’s been since I posted some original fiction up here! The last one was the comedic mystery sci-fi story of Doc Patient and the Chevy (for which I AM working on sequels!) and there was the utterly insane Chain-Fiction story I did with a couple of friends for fun.

I hereafter hope to put up some new fiction a little more regularly! Hope you like this little tale below, it’s yet again me experimenting with new styles, new narrative and new settings and I very much look forward to hearing what you folks think of it!

———-

Turning Tides

Know great prince, that it was a time of great glory and great sorrows – when the kingdoms of the old world had fallen and chaos was the only way.

The once great peoples of the Indi were scattered to the four winds and bands of bandits and marauders roamed the lands, even as the simple folk and the meek cowered in fear every moment of every day and night. Death and horror could come calling at any moment.

It was from this chaos that HE emerged – once a soldier, once a man of faith, he had become a sell-sword for a time before retreating toward the mountains to live out the end of his days. It was as far away from that throne upon which you sit as a man could get, both in body and soul. The tales tell us that he journeyed away from the burning fields of civilisation as we had known it, for weeks and months he walked through the cold desert that lies between us and the mountains. Some say he wanted to hide and die in the mountains, others that he was merely wandering and yet others who felt that he wanted to do what it was he eventually did, but till this day no one knows his true reasons.

No one had ever made this journey. Many had tried, but none had lived to tell the tale. Those mountains were rightly called the Tombs of the Gods, for any who ventured toward them was seen by all to be as good as dead.

But such was not to be the case with HIM. Somehow he survived the desert and not only that, but made it to the mountains. As his memoires tell it, he reached the mountains and fully expected to die there sooner rather than later and simply kept on going for lack of anything else to be done. Just lying down to die was beyond him and this drive to keep moving and not give up ended up saving him as he emerged one day on the other side!

We still do not know what he saw there, but whatever it was, it revived his soul and created a fire within him that was unlike the world had seen since perhaps the ancient times when Gods and Heroes walked amongst us.

As the rest of the world burned, the man that He had been was gone. In his stead the man that returned from the unknown was the one we remember today as Barakah – founder of the Ekata Empire and for whom the one-throne of the King was built, the throne on from which one day you will rule.

There are a hundred tales, nay a thousand, of how he started with just one and slowly but surely built an army of hundreds of thousands. It was more than just an army, it was a following, for they all believed in him and would have followed him to the ends of the world. There were battles and wars and the world bled – but it was nothing that had not been going on for years since The Great Fall. The difference was that wherever Barakah’s army went, in their wake they left a land with peace and renewed purpose and the faintest flicker of hope. Over a mere three years, he had routed all the major warlords and tribes and over two-thirds of the known world was under his unquestioned rule.

He refused to be crowned king or to hold any title – he even refused all council to rest or rejoice, for his mission would not be complete until all the world was united and at peace with itself. So another two years passed but finally the long bloody road ended and the last of the war-mongers and the greedy were brought to heel and the meek were given their day in the sun as the world was united for the first time and was ruled by a leader beloved by all who followed him.

And it was good.

In the decade after his coronation, the world was united and prospered and there was truly a golden age of learning, of spirituality and of the arts.

But all good things must end, though no one expected it to end quite so soon. King Barakah had taken a Queen in this time, but a fatal illness took her too soon and before they ever conceived an heir – leaving the King alone and devastated at his loss. What none realised at the time was that the Queen had been the person who could temper the fires within him that had been fueling his empire building, in her he found his soul-mate and he was able to slow his racing heart and enjoy the fruits of his labours.

Now left alone, he started to withdraw from the public. In his grief he became less concerned with the matters that should very much concern a King and soon stopped heeding the advice of his trusted councils. Some said that he burned with anger at the Gods themselves for taking away the light of his life after all the selfless good he had done and all that he had endured to make the world a better place.

Before anyone knew what had happened, his drive, his rage, his sorrow all came together and turned him from the hero that had brought our world to this pinnacle of greatness, into a creature of hate. It was almost as if he felt as though the pain in him was not just and the world deserved to share it with him – because if he would not be given a fair chance for happiness, why should anybody else?

So began what we now call the Three Years Of Tears, the time where he became more and more enraged, more and more cruel and heartless and his kingdom suffered in every corner. It became so terrible that the foundation of unquestioned love that he had inspired in his people began to crack and eventually shattered. Resentment grew and eventually there were people who conspired to end his reign – some did it to try and return things to his kingdom, others did it out of greed and yet others chose to do nothing for fear of things reverting to the chaos that had been their world in the past. Many tried, many failed, but eventually it was a small coterie from amongst his advisors and generals who banded together, choosing to bloody their own hands, and on a warm summer day, ended his life and his reign with the swiftest mercy they could manage.

So it was that the rule of King Barakah. But though a dark and uncertain time followed where the powerful fought each other for control, there was a light at the end of that dark tunnel – most of those same conspirators who had ended one kingship, began another, creating the Council of Princes that would rule the realm. They would elect one King every ten years from amongst their own number and would all rule together, so that no one man would have absolute power ever again.

It has now been near a hundred years since the Council was formed, and though you are but a child, it is important you know that you too will one day be a Crown-Prince of this realm and if you are a just ruler and a good man, perhaps even be elected King for a time. I very much hope it is so…

But never forget this tale of King Barakah, for he was a great man. In the end perhaps his tale was a sad one and he became akin to the very evil he had beaten back, but there is no denying that he saved the world – for it was the world he built that survived his end and had the strength to built something even greater from the ashes. Historians may record his story however they see fit, but for many of us, our sadness at what could have been had fate been kinder to him has never ended and the tears never stopped.

THE END

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