Restless but Complacent

Carena Toy

There once was a small kingdom in a land far away, and while the kingdom was one of the oldest in the region, the treasuries were falling empty. The once prosperous kingdom was now destitute of wealth and resources. The king had pushed for and fought far too many wars, so in search of greater lucre to refill his shrunken coffers and finance future campaigns, he depleted his realm of necessary resources and talent. His greed destroyed any influence or allure his kingdom once had.

Many youngsters, upset to see the kingdom they loved in such poor and pitiful condition, constantly pestered anyone and everyone who would listen to their ideas of revolutions. These ideas were so well received that many citizens would sit and discuss for hours. News quickly reached the king, who had grown bitter in his old age and inability to expand his reach. However, upon the public learning the king knew of unrest but remained inactive, protests ensued. The king decided to round up all the leaders and banish them from his kingdom.

The king thought that he had resolved the situation: protests would cease to exist, peace would return to the city, and higher taxes could be levied. However, all those whom the youngsters had once charmed over started to demand even more insistently that changes be implemented. They all wanted a new king with different ideas who would make the changes they all wanted. Yet the king had always been too focused on conquest and coin to procure an heir or competent council. The old codger king assumed his safety and did not adjust his laws or create self-protecting provisions. So the people tossed the king over the wall. The advisors searched the kingdom high and low for an innovative mind they could work and shape. Ultimately though, the search led to an appointee imported from another kingdom as no citizen the advisors asked cared to take up the crown.

People were overjoyed, they celebrated and showered their new monarch with diamonds and coins. Singing their happiness throughout the streets, they chanted their cheers from windows and exalted their new king. Excited for change, they compiled their cares, their needs, their wants, their demands, their dreams on a stone tablet they transported with great ceremony to the newly minted monarch.

After looking at the list, the new king made his way through all the requests and determined that the problem was a severe lack not of coin but of a common culture. He proposed new trade deals and collaborations both among the various estates within the kingdom, and with neighboring kingdoms, to set up a new art renaissance. They would inscribe icons and draw deities to sell. Yet the new king’s plan couldn’t help but fail because no kingdom wanted to trade with their impoverished one and the people of the different estates were severely opposed to forming collective of any kind.

The people’s anger with the new king’s failure was all the worse because they had been ecstatic over the promised change. Well primed for political patricide, they pitched the new king in a barrel filled with one stone tablet for every failed promise. From there they rolled him down a hill and into the river, tablets bludgeoning his body before the barrel could even reach the water. Dismayed, the advisors were once again on the prowl for a new potentate.

This time, the council urged caution, and the advisors advanced one of their own. They assumed one from within the kingdom who would understand the culture and society would better placate the people. The second new suzerain surveyed the original list and determined the problem was in fact the failure to assess adequate taxes. With their new appetite for aristocratic blood whetted, the people were easily disappointed with the second sovereign's solutions. So, as quickly as they raised him up, they threw him off the throne.

This time the advisors pleaded for anyone to become the new king, but all potential royals were secretly too scared at the prospects to being overthrown and killed. The advisors knew that this time required uncommon craft and cunning. They scoured the ancient archives, consulted the ancient chronicles, sacrificed an ox to the ancestors, and examined the entrails for auspicious omens. And there, the steaming intestines spelled out their solution: a return to the democratic ideals of old. They must head to the market, and find a merchant-macher who had Mercury’s gifts with coin and koine. They must find that conqueror not of kingdoms, but of corporations and conglomerates. No potentates, ever again, but a restorer. Found in a market town on the other side of the river, this miracle worker was installed with fanfare worthy of a new era.

The redeemer looked at the list of demands and proclaimed that no promises could be made. By this time, the people were so exhausted from political whiplash that they simply agreed. Miraculously, the redeemer managed to make the change of throwing out the old crop of counsellors responsible for his appointment. New, more adept advisors were appointed, new boards instituted, and commissions created to find out what was best and most needed. But by this time, the castle contained only poisoned minds. Every now and again there were rumors and rustlings, proclamations and purges. Yet, the redeemer and the ever-increasing ranks of advisors flourished and lived happily thereafter.

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