the king:

He steps into the hall, the king, and is met with tumultuous applause. He raises his chin and closes his eyes, basking in the love of his people. They are chanting now. Screaming, stretching fingers to reach their king. Casually, he flicks his cape behind him so that it will stream and billow in the wind as he walks, like they always do in the movies. It also creates an impression of power, he has been told. But the movies say nothing about wind direction. As soon as he puts his foot forward to begin his kingly march, a wayward gust of wind from the open door seizes his coat and wraps it around his ankles, so that his first kingly step is suspended in the folds of the rich cloth, and suddenly, he is falling.

He lurches forward, the king, in a most un-kingly manner, and before he has the sense to throw out his arms, his face makes contact with the ground. There is the small mercy of the floor being covered by a thick purple carpet, but it is a painful crunch nonetheless. Somehow, because of his entangled feet, he ends up with his rear poking out from behind him, a very high-pitched screech having just escaped his lips. And then he hears it. First it is a snicker; a nervous giggle. Then two smothered laughs, and finally, because somehow it has been shown that it is okay to laugh at your king, the whole court is braying with laughter.

He shuffles to his feet red-faced, his rage a pulsing white light at the back of his eyeballs. Presently, there is silence. But not the kind that descends suddenly. Rather, the room grows quiet gradually. There a few scattered laughs here and there as the mirth dies down, with the brave ones extending that final laugh and ultimately signing off with that nostalgic “Aaaah. Good one.” Eventually, though, there is total silence. The king stands in the middle of the room, the treacherous cloak still wrapped around his left leg, glaring at his loyal subjects, and every single person in the room understands that there will be hell to pay.

He orders the guards to lock the doors into the hall, and then he strides purposefully to his throne. There, he rediscovers his kingly pose. He pushes his chest out and pours the full extent of his scorn onto his audience, who have thankfully realized the danger they are in and are now incorporating varieties of terror into their expressions. The king glances casually at his perfectly manicured fingernails, and then leisurely around the hall. When he finally plonks the royal ass onto the royal throne, he can tell his subjects are terrified witless. So he speaks, in the royal timbre he has been practicing all night.

“It would appear that the loose, do-as-you-will style of leadership my father favoured has allowed insubordination to seep into the minds of the people he purported to govern. I take full responsibility for that. I did not make it clear that this king will be a different king. You will do well to remember that I am not my father. I am a stronger, harsher, better looking version of my father, may he rest in peace. As such, I feel it is my responsibility to hit the ground running. As my first decree, I hereby declare it illegal to laugh in the presence of the king- to say nothing of laughing in the direction of the king- without the express permission of the king, except in the occasion-”

A gentle tap on the shoulder causes the king to trail off and whip around furiously.

“Good God, squire! Can you not see I am in the middle of something?! Have you no manners?! I will have your head, boy!”

The squire whispers urgently into the royal left ear.

“What do you mean the mother dies, you errant oaf! That makes absolutely no sense”

The squire whispers some more into the royal ear, each word stretching the frown on the king’s face until he looked positively furious. He jumps to his feet and faces his subjects once more, his initial monotone all but forgotten.

“You must excuse me, my people. I am just now receiving word that two malicious individuals have conspired to shit on nine years of television. These individuals, claiming to be producers, have reneged on a promise to make the finale ‘legendary’. I must go witness this atrocity for myself; the spoilers of my staff simply will not do. You are forgiven, then, for the treason you have committed here today. But only this once.”

And then he is off, the king, stalking from the hall in an agitated huff, the tails of his coat billowing behind him; his hand waving vaguely for his royal tablet, and then he is out the door, the hall ringing with his final words to his squire:

“And Barney? What happens to Barney?”

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