Back To Normal?

Entry by: Alobear

1st September 2017
They would be coming soon.

Telantis glanced towards the window. The sun was just dipping below the horizon, bathing the sky with hues of red and orange. It was beautiful, if you liked that sort of thing. And soothing, if you weren’t about to die.

Telantis shifted his attention to the canvas before him. Urgency flashed through him but he kept his hand steady. He wanted to finish the painting, but not at the cost of making a mistake. It was his best work yet, but would be his last.

He took a step back and regarded the painting critically. It showed him, seated upon his throne, his robes of state draped around his shoulders, their rich fur rendered in stark white. In his left hand, he held a globe, representing his mastery over his domain. In his right, the hilt of a sword, which stood straight and proud beside the throne. Sadly, the might it represented was fading fast. No soldiers in gleaming armour would be coming to protect him this night. If there were soldiers amongst those on their way, their swords would likely end up in his belly, rather than defending it.

Telantis sighed. He had accepted his fate, even welcomed it on some level. As long as he had time to finish the painting. If they arrived before he was done, might they allow him some extra time, as a last request? He doubted it. In fact, they would probably burn the painting, finished or not.

But Telantis would die knowing it had existed, if only for the briefest of moments, and that would have to be enough. He tilted his head to one side. The pose was perhaps a little self-indulgent, and the chiseled features perhaps a little too flattering. But, if you couldn’t over-indulge in a little self-flattery with a mob about to batter down your door, when could you?

He couldn’t blame them, of course. From certain points of view, he had been a terrible ruler. And those points of view were now in the ascendant. Bit by bit, they had built their power base and chipped away at his influence. One by one, his supporters had disappeared or gone mysteriously silent. One had even popped up on the other side, spouting mob-inciting vitriol that had been quite hurtful at the time. It paled into insignificance compared to what Telantis suspected would befall him later that night.

Still, it had been marvellous while it lasted. Luxurious clothes, the best food, hot and cold running servants, and all the art supplies he could possibly want. What it was to be a king! Of course, it turned out there was a bit more to it than lounging around on silk divans and spending hours perfecting his use of oils. There were decisions to be made that affected the lives of thousands of people, and complex systems to support and maintain that would ensure the kingdom’s continued prosperity.

Nobody had prepared Telantis for that. He didn’t think it was entirely his fault. If someone had taken him aside and explained things to him sternly, instead of just doing whatever he said without question, perhaps things might have been different.

But everyone around him had given way to his every whim. And he had had so many whims. Banquets and parties. Galas and festivals. Holidays and celebrations. It had been spectacular, and all those at court had been ecstatic in their praise. Telantis had basked in their adoration, assuming it extended right to the kingdom’s borders and beyond, not only as far as the castle walls. Not even that far, it transpired, since the collapse of his support network must have begun from within.

He daubed the canvas with a carefully placed splash of red. Perhaps there would be an art lover amongst those on their way, who would rescue the painting from harm. Or a historian who would want to preserve it for posterity. Even if it ended up being used as part of a cautionary tale for school children, at least it would survive as his artistic legacy.

The sound of shouting drifted in through the open window. Telantis heard many footsteps, drawing closer. So the time of glory was at an end. By tomorrow, common sense and fiscal planning would be back in control of the land, after the brief, bright interlude of his rule. Normality was such a drab and dreary state to which to return.

Telantis was glad he wouldn’t be there to witness it. He put the final touches to the painting and threw a cover over it to protect it from the violent passions of the mob. Then he moved to the other side of the room so that his blood wouldn’t get on the canvas and ruin it.

He folded his hands in front of him and awaited his fate.