“Bring forth the prisoner!”
Hands bound behind his back, the ragged captive was shoved forward. The king sat in judgment on his throne. Sun shone through the many windows in the stone walled room. It played with the jewels encrusted on the heavy golden crown and a rainbow of lights reflected onto the walls. It was the coldest room in the palace. With nothing but a few rags stuck to the prisoner’s body by dirt and grime, he visibly shook.
The guard on his right smacked him in the head.
“Hey! That hurt!”
“Shut up. You’re not supposed to talk yet.”
The boy rubbed his head as best he could with his bound wrists. Luckily his sister’s jump rope was plastic and had some give to it.
“How dare you, knave. Avert your eyes. It isn’t your place to look upon the king.”
The first guard poked the prisoner in the back and this time he took a step forward. Each successive poke elicited another step forward, towards the foot of the throne. A gesture from the king caused the guards to halt the prisoner.
“Of what crime is this man accused?” the king enquired.
“Thievery, your majesty,” one of the guards spoke up. “He stole livestock from the farm of a neighbor.”
The injustice of the statement horrified the prisoner.
“The cow escaped from the pen because the fence was rotted. It wasn’t the first time she got out. I was bringing her back to—“
The guard struck the prisoner again. “Don’t speak before the king,” the guard threatened.
The prisoner crouched down in the dirt, rubbing the exposed skin on his arm where he’d been hit as best he could, bound as he was. The guard made a motion to hit him again as he started to get up.
“Don’t even think about it, Adam.”
The guard halted his movement and looked up at the king. “My liege…” he pleaded.
The king jumped to his feet. “The prisoner is found guilty of the crime of thievery by the crown. He is sentenced to death. Take him away.”
The two guards leaned in to grab the prisoner’s arms, but the rope binding his hands fell to the ground. The guard on his left took hold of his upper arm and the prisoner swung at him, making contact with the side of the guard’s head. With the prisoner slightly off balance and the guard on the floor, the king was forced to assist in calming the pitiful man down.
“Let me go! I said let go!” Kicking and thrashing about, the prisoner knocked the crown from the king’s royal head. It fell to the ground and landed in a puddle where the cardboard quickly absorbed water and became soggy. The king bent down and retrieved his lost glory, rubbing the outer papery layer with the hamburger chain logo with his thumb.
“Hey!” he exclaimed but his cries were drowned out by those of another.
“Arthur! Time for dinner!”