Well done mbinks! Great story. Send me a theme for the next one and we can get things going! - Lemex mbinks89 The King and The Jester (780 words) The King looked down from his battlement. He was hunched over, and his eyebrows were knitted with worry. He was wringing his hands and the crown atop his head sparkled, iridescent, each gem and jewel glowing with a small glob of the reflected sun. The Jester was smiling, leaning with his elbow on a crenel. He whistled appreciatively, his red skullcap dangling down to his waist, where it terminated in a bell. Below them: the clangs of swords, the screams of dying men, the whistle of arrows. "Tis a dark day for Elginberry. Darker than the Moor's pupil!" The Jester jeered. The King groaned. His eyes were slits of rage, but the wrinkles of grey beneath them belied the long nights spent pacing the castle corridors, fretting. The Jester could smell his sour fear. “Tell me this, fool, instead of your goddamned jokes. Why, and how, in this great, green land, have forty thousand men revolted against me? Was I not on good terms with the feudal lords?” “Indeed, your majesty. But you . . . overlooked something, I think.” “What!?” shouted The King. “What could I possibly have overlooked?!” The Jester stepped away from the crenel, and an arrow sliced through the air where his head had been. On the battlefield some man shouted that he’d have the king strung out on the rack before the sun’s setting, and already the shadows cast by the forest, a massive black blanket rolling from the castle down to the farms, were growing long. “You remember that peasant? That one who came to you? He was able, by some idiocy of your guardsmen--” “Ah yes! Him. What about it?” “He told you about Lord Tywyn. About how he was beating the serfs. About . . . his, how shall I put it, predilection for the children of the serfs. About his taste for their little girls . . . and little boys . . .” The King was glancing from the battlefield to The Jester. “What about it?” “And you remember how you had him beheaded? For subversion of authority.” “Yes. I suppose you’re going to ask me if I remember sticking his head on a pike. If I remember butchering his family. Yes, I do. I was setting an example.” The Jester smiled, but his smile was wry, as if he had just sipped wormwood. “Talk gets around, your majesty. It spreads, snatched up by the wind, deposited in the ear of a serf. And eventually, when the serfs get angry enough, and enough words are swirling through the air, like the pollen of the flowers in Black Forest . . . other armies decide the soil is ripe, and move in like weeds.” The King turned to The Jester. “How on earth do you know all this?” The Jester shrugged. “Words. They get around. Picked up by the breeze, sprinkled into minds.” The King rolled his eyes. “Tongues,” he said. “They wag in the mouths of court fools, and loll once the idiots are dead. Words. Nothing but breaths of air with certain sounds.” The Jester strolled away, surveying the land below, but also The King, out of the corner of his right eye. The King had turned around, and resumed watching the battle. The Jester smiled, reached under his tunic, and grabbed the hilt of a dagger that was tucked into his waistband. “Words,” he said, “are much more than that, my majesty. Words are like swords, men have been known to say, but I fancy words are more like an alchemist’s powder. Sometimes, they do nothing, save maybe embarrass their progenitors. Other times, they sizzle, spark, and dance . . . but still, they can be doused. And occasionally, when the right words are mixed with the right elements, in the right containers . . . they explode.” The King looked around just in time to see a flash of silver, a glint of sun on steel, and then there was blackness as the dagger jabbed into his eye. The Jester worked fast. He sawed, pried, yanked, and when it finally came squelching off, he held it by the hair. The Jester grabbed his skullcap and threw it on the ground, where it lay like a long red sock, and when he walked to the crenel, his smile full of yellow teeth, he was wearing the crown. He thrust the head in the air. It swung back and forth, and he shouted, “Common folk of Elginberry! Outside liberators! Look at your deposed king now! Look at the bastard Hell has swallowed back!” And below, forty thousand soldiers roared, and then The Jester smiled, and hurled the head.