I remember the day when the old king fell.
He was a tyrant, conquering everyone and anyone. His war machine seemed unstoppable. With him at the helm, the empire grew powerful. It wasn’t long until he conquered the known world.
But our king wasn’t happy with that. He wanted more. And so we continued. We saw strange and marvellous sites, adding them one by one to his growing empire. It wasn’t long until the nation was a bloated, sprawling thing.
And still the king wanted more. He ordered us to build him grand ships, then sailed away in search of new lands to conquer, new riches to add to his ever growing horde.
But he did not think of the consequences of leaving with the majority of his armies.
In a little, all but forgotten corner of the empire, there was a people who had been conquered a long time ago. They were the king’s first conquests. And when they knew their fight was hopeless, they surrendered, biding their time. They moved throughout the empire, speaking out against the king a little at a time, always under cover of darkness. When the king left, they stirred us to rebellion.
I remember their leader, Balthazar was his name. He was so strong, so charismatic. If anyone could overthrow the king, it was him. Myself a conquered citizen, I agreed with Balthazar; enough is enough! All of our countries should be free to govern themselves! We should be free, not slaves to a warmonger’s whims! And so I committed myself to his cause.
In some ways, it is amazing we succeeded. Sure, it was easy to overpower the home guards, there were so few of them left. Over half of them agreed to join our rebellion. But to kill the king when he returned, surrounded by his army, that posed a challenge.
But Balthazar was prepared. When the king’s war machine landed and set camp on the shores, we were ready. We added a sleeping potion to their food and slaughtered them as they slept. Balthazar himself captured the king and paraded him back to the capital. The king was beheaded amidst much rejoicing. Now we were free! The reign of terror was over!
But no one was prepared for what came next. Rather than disband the empire, Balthazar used those remaining home guards to seize control. Those who willingly accepted him became his new citizens. Those who refused became his slaves.
Yes, I remember the day when the old king fell. The relief and the hope for the future. The belief that everyone would be free of the tyrant’s rule. These beliefs are all that keeps me going as I toil in Balthazar’s slave camps, having traded one tyrant for another. Hopefully one day that longed for freedom will be mine in truth.