“The people are no more broken than they were before. It’s just that it’s starting to manifest.”
“Manifest? They’ve destroyed the entire land.”
“The crops are destroyed. The city square lies in ruins and you speak of brokenness? They aren’t broken. You can’t fix this. What they need is strong leadership.”
“And by strong you mean cause more destruction.”
“If that’s what it takes to put the people in their place. You are king now. This is what it means to be a leader, making the hard decisions. Your father knew that.”
“My father was a great king, but not a very good man. I’d rather the reverse any day.”
Jason forced out a sigh like he was hesitant to let the air leave his lungs. He turned and looked at me, his eyes welling with sincerity. “I know you want to do the right thing. You are a good man and I’d like to believe that you saw some goodness in me, otherwise you wouldn’t have made me your advisor. All I’m asking is that you let me do my job. The people are out of control. If you continue the way you’ve been going, you won’t be a king any longer.”
“Is that a threat?”
I knew it wasn’t.
“Of course not, my king. But a king is nothing without a kingdom. If the people continue, there may not be one any longer.”
I stood with my back towards the door as I listened to his footsteps get quieter and quieter.
The truth is I know the people are only reacting out of hurt. I’m their king and I promised them a land where they would be safe from invaders, a home where they could flourish and reach their fullest potential. They are frustrated by the divide between reality and expectation. Jason is right in what he said. The land is destroyed. And he was right in what he didn’t say. I have failed us.
But I will make this right. I will be the leader the people need.
Early in the morning, I hear a knock at my door.
“Sleeping in this morning, sir?”
“Yeah. It’s been a long night… What is it? You looked flustered?”
“The people sir,”
“Well… nothing, sir. The people have stopped rioting. The merchants have left their markets to help the farmers salvage what’s left of the crops. The women and builders are cleaning up the square and the children are planting seeds. It’s miraculous!”
“What do you think changed their minds?”
“I don’t know. But when my men reported to me, I didn’t believe them so I went out to see for myself. They…”
I never seen Jason so puzzled. “They what?”
“Well, sir. Everyone I spoke to had some story about a man who… Never mind. It’s just peasant gossip. It can’t be true.”
“Tell me anyway. I love a good story.”
“Of course, your majesty. Well, the farmers had gathered together last night. You know, because the crops were ruined and they had to share food. One of the farmers said that while they gathered, a strange man came to join them.”
“What was so strange about him?”
“Well, he was dressed like a peasant only the fabric his clothes were made of were rare. I figure he was probably just some wealthy foreigner who was dressing like a peasant so he wouldn’t get robbed. Anyway, the man came right up to their camp site and sat with them. The farmers tried to tell the man they barely had enough food for themselves so he had to leave. Then the man pulls bread and almonds from his bag. He tells them to take it, only he doesn’t eat any of it himself. He gives it all to them and tells them some story about being a merchant looking for new markets in the city.”
“Then the women told me a story about a man who visited them. By their description I assume he was the same man. They were all washing their clothes together to save water and here he comes. This time he pulls out a canteen of fresh drinking water and gives it to them. He doesn’t take a sip, only he tells them that he’s a builder by trade and was in town looking for a job. Well, their stories don’t add up. They can’t be true.”
“Well, it looks like the people got what they needed.”
“Not a great king, but a good man.”