In a land in a distant reality, a land where many things lived and breathed. All manner of creature existed. Mythical beasts of legend, tiny beings who hovered on wings of light, and even the simplistic charm of a human with animal ears. It was truly a interesting reality to live in.
However, in the reality, there was a kingdom whose king had fallen ill. He was truly a mighty king, a king among kings, even. His subjects loved him, and he loved them. He was stern, though kind. Ever year when the largest came in, he would eat among his subjects in town, a gran feast for all, and he would join in drinks, merry makings, and even private conversation amongst his subjects. Even his most strict adviser, a man known to never smile in the presence of another, always smiled seeing teh king act so jubilant with his subject.
People far and wide had heard of this king, but they didn't know the slowly darkening truth behind this man.
The king was dying, and not quickly.
It was late at night, the moon had faded behind heavy clouds. It was as if the kingdom was darkening at the slowly fading life of their beloved king. He was truly a king man, and to see him slowly dying, slowly suffering from this illness was painful. But he was alone in the darkness of his study. He had planted himself in a comfortable chair, ever so elegant and soft, enough to easily curl up in and drift off. But drifting off was the last thing the king had wanted. He wanted to live, to die on his own terms. He lifted up a nearby bottle of wine, far heavier than he recalled. His pouring was shaky, but managed to fill up the glass. Drinking the thick red liquid, he set it down, only to break into a fit of coughing. He coughed violently, and in no short amount. It had subsided, but only long enough to hear a knock at the door.
"Enter." The king called out. The king looked haggard, lacking in sleep. The illness had taken it's toll on the man. What had been luxurious brown hair had fallen bland and dull. His eyes which shared that similar brown luster fell dull in exactly the same manner, not to mention his thinning facial features.
However, stepping into the room was a man neither dressed to be royal, nor clad in armor to be a knight. He was dressed in patchwork clothing, much like you would expect a peasant to be. Indeed, he was a peasant, but he was far more than that. More than a peasant could ever dream.
He was the brother of the king.
"Ah, you've come." The king says, barely loud enough to hear. His once grand voice reduced the cracking sound of a dying man. He sat up a tad straighter before busting into another fit, motioning to the chair across from him best he could.
"You do not look well, brother." The farmer said. His voice was soft, though manly in a way. His hair was much shorter than the mane of the king. Black as night, but he retained those same, brown eyes as the king. A marker of their philandering father.
"Tis an understatement." The king started. "But I'll be damned if I let a cough govern my life. I'd rather die with a sword in my hand, but there is not such need in times of peace." He said, taking another drink of wine, the brother pouring himself a glass.
"I doubt you have called me here to merely share in wine and to wallow in your pity." The brother commented, taking a drink of the strong liquid.
The king let out a series of soft chuckles, each one sounding as if they were hiding back a cough. "Brother." He started. "I have not called you here to share wine and pity me. You are one of my favorite people. You showed me not to be a man such as our father. I am but a one woman man, and I am much kinder for it." He said, softly, coughing once again, this time producing blood from his maw. He wiped it from his mouth, groaning softly before taking another breath to continue.
"My wife has bore us a daughter." He continued softly. "I love my child. She is the sweetest fragrance on the breeze. My most prized flower." He said, watching the man across from him. "I...do not want her to sit upon the throne." He continued, emptying his glass. "I don't want her to end up some trophy for a man she cares nothing for. I don't want the burden of responsibility weighed upon her, whether she wants it or not."
"Then what do you intend to do about a successor? You know I have no intention of ruling the kingdom." The brother interjected.
The king was silent for a good few moments, blinking slowly before sitting up straighter, finding that he had slouched a fair bit. "That makes what I am about to ask all the harder." He continued, closing his eyes for a moment, breathing deeply, perhaps the clearest he had ever drawn breath in his entire sickness.
"Your son." He said. "I want your son to be the next king."
The brother had dropped his glass, the remaining contents spilling over the table. He seemed in shock, almost in anger, though even with his barely educated mind, he could understand what was happening.
The kingdom had recognized this man as the kings brother. A huge spectacle was made out of it. They tried to remove the king, finding out that he shared blood with such a peasant. But he would have none of it. Soon, the people warmed to the man, and as a result, they very well respected the peasant farmer, who lived with the most beautiful wife, and now a son, who had grown into a splendid young man.
Silence spread through the room like a plague, the king starting to slouch a bit while the brother strokes his chin, a respectable amount of hair to his beard.
"I..." The brother started, starting at his brother in the dim candlelight of the room. "I don't know if my son will be a good leader."
"He will." The king assured. "He has both of our blood in his veins. The blood of a king, and the blood of a hard worker."
"But what if the kingdom rejects him?" The peasant interjected.
"They won't." The king replied, as if positive things would work out fine.
Silence once again rang throughout the room before the brother let out a long, drawn out sigh.
"Very well." He said, standing. "I'll let my son know. In three days time, My son Joseph will be here, by your side, willing to hear you out."
"Thank you, my brother." The king said, looking to his brother with such eyes. Eyes of utter happiness. No regret, no pain, just the loving look of a brother. "You have eased the pain of a dying man. You have my gratitude as a king, and my love as a brother. We may not share a mother, but that won't stop me from loving you all the same." He continued, smiling a bit, even in his sickness.
"Go well, brother." The peasant responded. "And go with love." He added, stepping out of the room silently, closing the door behind him.
The king poured yet another shaky glass, letting out a long, drawn out sigh before another series of coughs, some wine spilling on to the table, joining with the spill from earlier. Both formed an even large puddle, which seemed a bit symbolic, at least to the eyes of a dying, mildly drunk king.
"I apologize for not being true with you, brother." He said. "I need your boy. He is just what I need. Only he can handle that girl and increase the size of our fair kingdom." He took a large drink from the wine, leaning back in his chair.
"Yes, Joseph can marry this lovely woman. I'm sure he would be happy. Such a lovely girl, as fertile as the land you live on." His eyes slowly start to fall shut, and for once, the king was able to sleep peacefully, happily drunk, despite the sobering nature of his previous conversation.
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